Old and new entrepreneurs

One day in October 1976, when I was waiting to see the coordination minister, Panagis Papaligouras, I was made to wait for an inordinate amount of time. I later discovered that the minister had been talking to Bodossakis Athanassiadis, a leading entrepreneur, and the defense minister, Evangelos Averoff. Papaligouras later told me in confidence that the three had been arguing vehemently because Athanassiadis insisted on collecting the full amount of a nickel subsidy owed to him according to Law 1574, which was passed by the dictatorship. The sum was huge, more than $20 million, and National Economy Minister Evangelos Devletoglou had told him the budget couldn’t take it; but Athanassiadis wouldn’t back down. As they were arguing, said Papaligouras, Averoff came in and told him that Devletoglou had to send a check at once to the Bremen shipyards to pay for a Greek frigate. Devletoglou refused, because his ministry was out of money. Athanassiadis, who had heard all this, turned to Papaligouras and said, «Listen, Panagi, since the frigate is for Greece, give Averoff the money you owe me.» The ministers were astounded, and when Bodossakis assured them he was serious, they fell into each other’s arms. I don’t know how this man made his fortune, but I do know that the old school of self-made tycoons like Bodossakis and Onassis had moments of magnanimity. They loved their country, as their acts of charity showed. Today’s businesspeople don’t resemble them. Heartless and greedy, they demand more and more from the state without putting their hands in their pockets to help Greece.

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