by Alexandra C. Vovolini
As we are already approaching the middle of this year under quite tough conditions on all fronts, one really has to hope that some calm will allow us a break for the summer. That is, if one can overlook the dramatic situation of the war going on in Ukraine (Greece hosts already 26,000 refugees), the resulting high energy prices as well as the overall social pressures of inflation.
In Greece, outward-looking initiatives strive to build on positive thinking. In the last DEF, earlier in spring, many topics about current challenges were dealt with by experts from all over the world, bringing people back together to the beautiful and highly symbolic place of Delphi. Tough issues were approached in ways that — by and large — tried to introduce an element of optimism.
In the coming days, the important international shipping conference Posidonia is back in Athens after 4 long years.
During this time, the whole world has changed priorities due to the growing problem of climate change. Shipping, the most important way of moving goods worldwide from the dawn of time until today, is affected heavily by this concern.
That fact strongly affects Greek-owned ships, which amount to 59% of the total EU fleet. Which brings the discussion to the shift of energy sources and the rising cost of replacing the energy forms we have used so far with new ways to power our energy-hungry economies. At this same point, geopolitics are also changing beyond recognition. Weaning European economies off Russian natural gas and oil, while at the same time striving to fight climate change, proves a daunting challenge. The future relationship of the West (reconstituted as a defensive force following the aggression to Ukraine) with Russia is a matter of growing concern, while the energy dependence of Europe does not help in any way.
In these crucial times, the valuable support of the Greek Diaspora was proven once again, having secured the success of Greek PM Kyriakos Mitsotakis’ visit to the US. Further away, the role of China in the ambivalent steps of de-globalisation that had started once the coronavirus pandemic brought out the risks of the prevailing economic order is still worrying.
When one hears of a new sort of Cold War lurking ahead, one cannot but wonder how alliances and conflict zones will eventually play out. Will the European Union end up more united, as it was hoped it would in order to face adversity, or will it disappoint with superficial moves? Closer to us, will Greece operate successfully as an energy hub, mainly importing LNG so as to serve adequately its own needs, as well as Bulgaria’s and the Western Balkans’?
As the overall outlook for the world economy gets gloomier by the week, as costs go up and growth goes down, Greece wakes up to new challenges, looking for a balance amidst these delicate circumstances, just as it was hoped the country and its people would end up on definitely positive territory by the end of this year or the beginning of the next one. Just right now, doubts are once more present. So, one cannot but hope that shipping and tourism will help us, as usual, to ride the wave.
May I say: just enjoy the summer — and hope for the best!
The editorial of the May/June issue of Greek Business File published this week and available here.