During a visit to Washington, D.C., a delegation from the Union of Greek Shipowners (UGS) met today with Assistant Secretary of State for Political-Military Affairs Andrew J. Shapiro, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Political-Military Affairs Thomas M. Countryman, and Robert W. Maggi, the Department’s Coordinator for Counter-Piracy, to discuss the threat to international shipping posed by pirates operating of the coast of Somalia and up to 1000 miles beyond its territorial waters.
UGS President Theodore Veniamis, Vice President Michael Chandris, Georgios Gratsos, a UGS Board Member and President of the Hellenic Chamber of Shipping, John Lyras, a UGS Board Member, and Dr. Anna Bredima, UGS’ Director of International and EU Affairs, discussed with these Department officials the importance of continued government-industry coordination, the measures the shipping industry can take to deter pirates, and the effect of piracy on the economics of the shipping industry. Assistant Secretary Shapiro reiterated the United States’ hope that the shipowners, who control around 20 percent of the world’s capacity (in deadweight tonnage), will find it in their own best interest to implement appropriate self-protection measures on their ships, and that Greece will consider signing the New York Declaration. The Declaration is a political commitment signed by countries to ensure that vessels in their registries implement appropriate self-protection measures, including guidance issued by the International Maritime Organization.
As the United States and Greece both participate in the Contact Group on Piracy off the Coast of Somalia (www.state.gov/t/pm/ppa/piracy/contactgroup/index.htm), officials also discussed the new international trust fund that has been agreed to by the Contact Group. When the trust fund is activated, governments and private shipping companies will be able to make contributions to support countries’ efforts to prosecute suspected pirates or fund other Contact Group initiatives to combat piracy. The UGS delegation was also encouraged to explore the possibility of providing training and career opportunities for Somalis in the maritime industry.
While in Washington, the delegation also held consultations on various maritime issues with the Department of Transportation, Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Coast Guard, Federal Maritime Commission, Military Sealift Command, Environmental Protection Agency, and with staff of the House Subcommittee on Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation.
To learn more about piracy off the coast of Somalia and the United States’ and international response to it, visit http://www.state.gov/t/pm/ppa/piracy/index.htm.
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