Minister of Maritime Affairs resigns following tragic ferry incident

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In the wake of a tragic incident involving a ferry passenger in Piraeus last week, Minister of Maritime Affairs, Miltiadis Varvitsiotis, tendered his resignation on Monday.

According to government spokesperson Pavlos Marinakis, Christos Stylianidis, former Minister for Climate Crisis and Civil Protection in Kyriakos Mitsotakis’ previous administration, will assume the role.

The incident, which was captured on video and circulated on social media, elicited widespread outrage. The footage depicted the passenger attempting to board the Blue Horizon ferry just before its departure, only to be forcefully pushed off the loading ramp into the turbulent waters churned by the vessel’s propellers.

Regrettably, no rescue efforts were made, and the ferry continued its journey far from port until it was eventually recalled, reported Ekathimerini.

Varvitsiotis expressed his profound shock and sorrow over the incident, while identifying the victim as Antonis Karyotis, aged 36. However, during a separate television appearance, he remarked: “Today, there are people grieving for the unjustly departed; yet, the families of those who were seeking a day’s wage and are now facing accusations of a heinous act are also in mourning.”

This statement sparked considerable backlash, with many interpreting it as an attempt to equate the actions of the crewman with the tragedy suffered by the victim. Varvitsiotis sought to clarify that his words were misconstrued, attributing the misinterpretation to political motives. Nevertheless, the criticism persisted.

Minister of Maritime Affairs, Miltiadis Varvitsiotis. Photo: AFP.

“In recent days, I have become the subject of a vitriolic attack, taking on increasingly toxic overtones. A statement of mine was easily misinterpreted and caused tremendous consternation. I promptly and sincerely extended my apologies.

“I never intended to draw a parallel between the victim and those responsible. I never absolved the shipping company of the responsibilities it vehemently shirks,” he asserted in a statement announcing his resignation.”

He added, “Both my political trajectory and personal integrity dictate that I relinquish my role as Minister of Maritime Affairs and Island Policy. Consequently, I have submitted my resignation to the Prime Minister.”

Varvitsiotis’ departure marks the second resignation within Mitsotakis’ government in under two months, following Notis Mitarakis’ decision to step down from his position as Citizen Protection Minister after vacationing on a yacht near the island of Patmos while devastating wildfires ravaged Athens.

Mitarakis had also faced widespread criticism after two of his announcements regarding the police were subsequently retracted by Mitsotakis himself.

Read more: Ferry crew members testify on passenger’s death at Port Piraeus

Source: Ekathimerini

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