New Greek gov’t to avoid clash with shippers

While Greece’s new leftist government seems set on a collision course with the European Union, it is likely to steer clear of confronting the country’s critical shipping industry.

The SYRIZA party of Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, which swept to power last Sunday, once promised to take on shipowners and their generous tax allowances.

But in recent months, it went quiet on tackling an industry which, along with tourism, is one of the few in which Greece remains globally competitive.

Since forming a coalition, SYRIZA has confronted fellow EU governments with radical plans to renegotiate Greece’s debts, overturn austerity policies and cancel privatizations.

Its stand on shipowners, by contrast, has been decidedly conciliatory.

“We are here to solve problems, not to create new ones,” said Economy Minister Giorgos Stathakis (photo), who oversees the shipping portfolio.

“There will be dialogue, discussion, and we will look for the best possible solution,” Stathakis, an economist who comes from a shipping family, said during a handover ceremony at the Shipping Ministry.