05 December, 2003
Thursday's meeting of the Cabinet focused primarily on shipping-related issues, government spokesman Christos Protopapas said.
During the meeting, Prime Minister Costas Simitis underlined that the Greek merchant fleet was currently the largest in the world and that careful handling was required to ensure that it retained its status and prime position.
He also noted that the issue of monohull tankers had been dealt with during the Greek European Union presidency.
Referring to an article in the French newspaper ''Le Monde'' that criticized Greece on commercial shipping issues, he said it was indicative of the suspicious attitudes toward Greece from certain quarters.
He stressed that there were two approaches regarding the operation of merchant shipping: one proposed preservation and protection of the environment and strengthened the prestige of Greek shipping, while the other was only interested in profits and the laws of the market.
Presenting an overview of ministry actions over the past four years, Merchant Marine Minister George Paschalidis stressed preparations for the country ports in view of the Athens Olympics in 2004, especially the new security systems being installed at all Olympic ports that will be monitored by a force of 4,000 men during the Games.
He particularly noted efforts to make the port of Piraeus a "European shipping metropolis" through projects to be used both during the Olympics and afterwards and Olympic preparations at eight ports around the country and the Flisvos Marina.
Among the ministry's initiatives, he listed the implementation of a safety code for ships and ports, starting with international voyages until July 1, 2004 and gradually extending to all ships and all Greek ports at a later date.
The minister also outlined incentives for the shipping sector, such as reduced tax for new builds and new ships, subsidies for training voyages and others.
Source: Athens News Agency