London meetings on port and ship safety and Greek shipping

Britain and Greece will set up a joint committee that will examine ways of applying the International Ship & Port Security (ISPS) code in both countries even beyond next year’s Olympic Games in Greece, according to an agreement reached in London on Monday by Greek Merchant Marine Minister Giorgos Paschalidis and his counterpart, parliamentary undersecretary at the Department of Transport, David Jamieson. «Port and ship security will be a permanent issue for the rest of the decade,» Paschalidis said. The ISPS code must be implemented in Greece’s eight Olympic ports and those receiving international sailings by July 1, 2004; about 50 more ports must adapt to the ISPS measures by 2007. The two ministers also discussed issues relating to the state of the shipping industry and dealt with by the Greek presidency of the European Union in the first half of the year, as well as programs for attracting young people to maritime professions. ‘Committee’ Paschalidis also met with the board of the London-based Greek Shipping Cooperation «Committee,» a shipowners’ organization, to which he presented his recently announced measures for boosting the competitiveness of the Greek shipping register; these include additional government subsidies for seamen’s training practice at sea, lower taxes for newly built ships, the option of Mediterranean sailing vessels being listed on the Athens Stock Exchange, and boosting Greece’s presence in the International Maritime Organization (IMO). According to sources, the committee urged the Greek government to undertake joint initiatives with shipowners toward bolstering the industry, creating a sound trading and financial basis for its future and securing the quality of the fleet and safety in navigation. Paschalidis and the committee also discussed ways of promoting the Greek proposals for the revision of IMO regulations regarding means of access to oceangoing vessels for inspection purposes, and the issue of firefighting on vessels, which is due for discussion at ministerial level in the European Union. The Greek shipowners take a strong interest in both issues. Paschalidis also met with IMO’s Secretary-General-elect Efthymios Mitropoulos and his outgoing predecessor William O’Neil.