OPINION

Hellenic-German Chamber chief steps down in protest at Berlin stance on Turkey

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The honorary president of the Hellenic-German Chamber of Industry and Commerce, Michalis Mailis, has stepped down after three decades as a member and 12 years at the helm of the organization that was co-founded by his grandfather in Berlin in 1924.

Expressing his disappointment and anger at Berlin’s recent stance toward Turkey and its recent violations in the Eastern Mediterranean and the Aegean, Mailis announced his resignation on Tuesday, in the following letter to Kathimerini:

Ever since the age of 18, my relations with Germany have been close and decisive – through university, as an engineer at German factories, and later through constant and undisturbed business relations. I was a member of the Hellenic-German Chamber of Industry and Commerce for a decade in the 1980s and spent the last 12 years as its president. (Let me also note that my grandfather was one of the founding members of the Hellenic-German Chamber in Berlin in 1924.)

As president, I dedicated what was truly a lot of time and effort to helping and promoting Greek-German relations, beyond the narrow confines of commercial and economic ties. During the difficult years of the bailout memorandums, the Chamber battled not just to help salvage the Greek economy, but also to improve the climate, which, both in the Greek and German media but also in public opinion on both sides, had become dangerously and extremely tense, testing the historical relationship between the two nations.

We at the Hellenic-German Chamber deeply believed and still believe in the European vision and in European values. Today, though, I am in deeply disappointed, but also angry – and I am not alone. I feel betrayed on a personal level and dismayed to see our friend Germany putting its narrow financial and commercial interests above all else.

I find it unconscionable that in the face of Turkey’s flagrant and constant violations of the sovereign rights of Greece, a European Union member-state, Germany, a European Union leader, should, in contrast to other European countries, act in such an aloof manner, that it should fail to assume a clear position and should even arm the aggressor.

It is with great sadness that, in what is also a symbolic gesture, I have tendered my resignation to the Hellenic-German Chamber of Industry and Commerce today.