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Seatrade Middle East and Indian Subcontinent Awards 2010

Dinner speech

October 25, 2010

Seatrade Middle East and Indian Subcontinent Awards 2010
25 October
Dinner speech
by Efthimios E. Mitropoulos
Secretary-General, International Maritime Organization
Excellencies, distinguished guests, Ladies and gentlemen,
Once again it has been my pleasure and my privilege to assist in the selection of the winners of these Seatrade Middle East and Indian Subcontinent Awards. As ever, the standard among all the entries was high; and, among all the shortlisted finalists, it was superlative. The task, therefore, to choose the best among the many good has not been an easy one.
But the satisfaction one derives, from being introduced to so many examples of quality, innovation, diligence and dedication, such as those highlighted in the nominations received, is immense.  At a time when the shipping community faces challenges on so many fronts, it is a source of great encouragement and gives me renewed confidence that the future of the industry is in good hands.
It is particularly gratifying to be able to make such positive reflections in the host country and in a part of the world that, in spite of its remarkable progress in economic and financial terms in recent years, has had to endure more than its fair share of difficulties in the maritime context –  not only because of the current and persisting global financial crisis but also because of its vicinity to a region that has borne the brunt of the epidemic of piracy and armed robbery against ships – an epidemic that has been spawned by the many and varied difficulties confronting Somalia, and where matters of security are more frequently ‘urgent’ rather than ‘routine’.
The benefits of the international co-operation among navies from far and wide, including the support provided by the United Arab Emirates, that is now manifested in the region – and of the collaboration between navies and other government security entities, such as that announced recently in connection with the escorting of oil tankers in Abu Dhabi waters – cannot be overstated.  I, therefore, take this opportunity to reiterate the gratitude of IMO and the global maritime community for the protection that the navies assembled in the region are providing to innocent seafarers, fishermen and passengers on board ships sailing off the coast of Somalia, in the Gulf of Aden and in the wider expanse of the Indian Ocean.
Ladies and gentlemen, in a year that has been dedicated to raising the profile and promoting the cause of seafarers the world over, it is worth recalling, once again, how much we all – and by that I mean everybody, not just those in the maritime community – depend on ships and the seafarers who man them. The global economy is underpinned by shipping, which remains the only really effective and efficient bulk delivery mechanism for the commodities, fuel, foodstuffs and finished goods that make the world go round. If shipping is the locomotive of global trade, seafarers are the lubricant without which it would simply grind to a halt.
So, our sincere gratitude goes to all those who serve at sea on ships. And I think that they, too, would take great heart from the quality of the products and services outlined in the various nominations, from which they themselves also stand to benefit, and would readily join us in extending congratulations to the winners of the Awards we have gathered to present this evening. Indeed, all those nominated, shortlisted for, and winners of, such competitive and highly regarded honours should certainly be proud of their achievements.
Finally, a word about this event itself, and about its organizers; the success of the Awards scheme and this celebration, apparent for all to see, demonstrates yet again the professionalism, dedication and hard work of all those involved. On behalf of all of us, who celebrate shipping here this evening, I wish to thank the Seatrade organization for convening this event, and to congratulate them for their achievements in promoting these Awards, which have rightly become a regular and highly regarded international gathering. 
Their support of the Mission to Seafarers has few parallels and they deserve our unreserved appreciation for that. 
Thank you, Seatrade!
Ladies and gentlemen,
Thank you.