Cyprus Shipping Chamber (the “CSC”) turned 31 Today!!!
31 Years of Operation and Contribution to both Cyprus Shipping as well as the Economy and Society of Cyprus.
Most people that know the CSC Director General, Thomas Kazakos, will immediately associate him with Cyprus Shipping, the Shipping Chamber, Lobbying for Shipping in Cyprus and abroad.
In Cyprus, we have come to know him being the “first port of call” for any shipping or shipping related company and all the Members of the Chamber, which require assistance or advice on how Shipping operates in our country. We have seen him working “hands on” with successive Cyprus Governments for the important approval of the Cyprus Shipping Taxation system by the EU, passionately representing the Shipping Industry in Parliament (sometimes even a bit “too passionately”!!!), as well as, “being the Voice of Shipping” at the Cyprus Employers Federation (OEB), the Cyprus Chamber of Commerce (KEBE) Board of Directors and CIPA and talking “24/7” to the Media/Press…, always about Shipping!
Abroad, we have read about his active involvement at the International and European Shipowners lobbying associations, namely ICS in London and ECSA in Brussels (few of us will know that for a number of years now, he is the “longest serving” CEO of national shipowners association at these international shipping bodies, and mind you, he is not the oldest there!!!). We have come to know him as one of the first Cypriot shipping representatives that participated at shipping meetings at the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) in London, the International Labour Organisation (ILO) in Geneva. He has visited Brussels for meetings at the EU, more than any other place he visited in his life, meeting various EU Commissioners and Commission officials and EU Parliamentarians. He travelled from the Faroe Islands to Melbourne always to “Preach” about…. what else?…. Shipping!
All the above, might already been well known or been reported few times already.
CSN wanting to be “different” than other shipping media, decided to “interrogate” Thomas Kazakos in a completely different way. Using our close personal relationship with him (as is usually the case in Cyprus…, he is our “koumbaros”/best man) that dates decades now, we have coerced “Mr. Cyprus Shipping Lobbyist” to share with us, a personal side he hardly reveals:
What did you want to be when you were growing up?
Making the common mistake of thinking Law is all about “fairness” (and not what you can prove as being “legal”), since the age of 12, I wanted to study Law…, which I did, some “decades” ago! Since then, although I call myself, a “Shipping Lobbyist”, most of my associates present me more as a “Quasi Dirty Politician”!!!.
How did you get involved with the Sea and Shipping?
Through Fishing, the Scouts and Music!!!!
First, in the early 70’s, at my parents’ house literally built on the sea, at the most beautiful beach of the occupied “Ghost” city of Famagusta, where I spent endless hours swimming and fishing.
Then, in the early 80’s, where I spent countless days rowing as a Sea-Scout at the old Limassol Port.
Finally, in the late 80’s, earning the money to buy my first motorcycle, by playing the guitar and singing on small coastal tourist cruise boats in Limassol with two male friends of mine from Famagusta (the Trio “Los Ammochostos”), with whom I am still very close till today…, the one leaves 3 minutes away from my home in Nicosia!!! (small world), a “koumbaros” of mine!!!
Are you Impulsive or Organised?
Operating as the main “Lobbyist” for the Chamber, which has to continuously convince with arguments, representatives from the Government, Parliament, Trade Unions, Media, “impulsiveness” is a “luxury”, I cannot allow myself to have.
Although I was born on the last day of the “Leo” star sign, my wife, Evangelia, stormy believes that I am “Virgo”…!!!, as she thinks that if I do not “update my tasks” 3 times a day, I do not function properly!!!
Batman or Superman?
“Lobbying” for the Chamber, requires for me to act in many “characters” and “roles”…, so one day “Bat(d)man”, the other day, “Superman”…., but more often than usual, as the “Invisible Man”!!!
What non-Shipping special moments do you treasure from your long career?
I can name numerous, but I will refer only to three.
Firstly, in the early 1990’s when I used to be a “hell angel”, I drove one day to Parliament in Nicosia on my motorcycle for a Parliamentary Hearing wearing a biker’s overcoat and a helmet. As I was late for the meeting, I parked my motorcycle infront of the entrance of the Parliament behind the Parliament President limousine and immediately two policemen almost grabbed me by the hands as they thought that I was “the wrong person, at the wrong place, at the wrong time”… When I unzipped my biker’s overcoat and they saw “the suit and tie” and I told them that “I had a meeting with the guy whose car you are guarding”.. they immediately let me parked my bike there and stood by watching over it until I finished my meeting…, three hours later!!!
Secondly, through the Chamber, the Shipping Industry has been involved in various forms of “social contribution” following the slogan that “Shipping, does not only carry out cargo and passengers, but also messages of social support for the Society at large”. As part of these CSR efforts, many years ago, the Chamber started associating itself with the commendable work of the charity organisation “One Dream, One Wish” that inter alia, fulfils wishes of young children suffering from cancer. I will never forget the warm smile of a young boy who “made himself better” so he can leave the hospital and receive a full-size snooker table we bought for him which filled up the home living room. He was smiling and I was crying impressed by his mental will. I was even more speechless (something that does not happen often) when he approached me a few years later on a wheelchair at a social Open Fair the Chamber organised at the Limassol sea front, the “Day of the Sea”, only to tell me ….”Sir, Sir it’s me…. You brough me a snooker table, I am still alive…”!!!
The other vivid memory that I have kept, was my personal participation at the Negotiations for the Solution of the Cyprus Political Problem, the famous “UN Annan Plan”, as well as a number of other Bi-Communal Initiatives between Greek and Turkish Cypriot Business people (the “Peace Dividend” Initiative), where I was astonished how few differences both communities in Cyprus had…once they sat around a table.
What is the biggest lesson you have learned in life?
Like all of us, I have learned from life’s experience.
Seeing a two year boy who could not speak and could hardly see, to give you so much love without asking anything in return, or seeing your loved ones to go through serious illnesses and pain without even the slightest complain but instead, to give you strength, has made me adopt the life motto: “Never give up, never get disheartened, even if you fall down sometimes…., take a breath and stand up and fight again”.
What are your hobbies?
One… my wife, Evangelia!!
Joking aside, Evangelia, who stood by me “through good and bad times”, has also helped me over the years, as her name demands, ie “Good Angel”, to implement the above motto in a positive and optimistic way aiming always for the right “Life Balance” between work and family.
We started with Walking/mild Hiking and then tried Cuban Salsa Dancing (nevermind that we might have been the oldest couple in class!!), not to mention that I almost got hernia trying to stay “in tune” with her on a Dragon Boat Race!!!
The most rewarding though “amateur hobby” that I have been convinced by my wife to take on, is “Baby” Marathon Running…, in an orchestrated effort “for me to run after her…, rather than her running after me…”!!!. In the last two years, we have run in more than 20 charity “Marathons”, as part of the CSR efforts of the Central Bank of Cyprus where she is employed. The feeling of managing to finish (even a 5km corporate race) at the “Kallimarmaron” Stadium in Athens where the “legend” started, cannot be described in words.
The capping stone of “positive female” influence was my wife’s encouragement recently, in addition to the more “business orientated” social media of Tweeter and LinkedIn that I have been using at work, to accept to “learn the wonders” of Facebook even at this “mature age”!!!
What do you do in your free time?
As a keen music fun of Chris de Burg, and especially (the lyrics of) his song, “at the end of a perfect day”, I enjoy most…. “simple things in life”…, quality time with family and friends, in a totally casual dress code and etiquette, far different than the normal “formal work style” of suits and (of course, shipping) ties!… give me a kebab or a fish plate by the sea with good old friends in Cyprus or in Greece or cruise with my wife and family under the summer Mediterranean sun (even under 40+ degrees) and “take my soul”.
What are your pet peeves?
Up until a few months ago, I considered myself to be the “house pet”… well trained, self-cleaned, self-sustained, quiet and playful…! Then, one fine summer day, when I return home from another business trip abroad, I discovered (to my utmost pleasure) that I was replaced by a 2 month, all white, lovely black nose and deep brown eyes, Maltese puppy, called “Jo Jo”. Love at first sight!!!
What type of music do you listen?
From old and new Greek songs to American Country and the latest Ed Sheeran and Lady Gaga! In fact, at work, when I have to really concentrate to read a complex legal or policy document, I will always listen to Enya either “boxed in” at my office or in my earphones on a plane!!!
Wine or Water?
Despite the fact that an old school friend (another “koumbara” of mine) once told me that a “friend to everyone is a friend to no one”, being a “sworn alcohol abstentionist”, has made me “very popular” amongst all my friends who, knowing that I will only drink water at our social outings, they automatically consider me the “permanent designed driver”. At work though, having this unusual “nasty habit”, very often made many business associates to ask me the same question…, “You don’t drink at all? What’s wrong with you? Are you sick?”!!
To “add salt to injury”, when my wife started introducing me to her family and friends, she used to say… “when I met Thomas, I started drinking”!!!. I had to try a few times before I could convincingly explain to them, how she really meant it!!!
Cigarette or Cigar?
As it took me years to literally “forced” my late father to stop smoking and I am not a Shipowner….at least not yet…, so I can enjoy a good cigar as they tend to…, I abstain from both, with the end result, to usually receive questions such as…, “you don’t drink, you don’t smoke, you don’t gable, you don’t go hunting or to football matches, you don’t know how to cook a barbeque like every Cypriot man does… what is Your vice then???”
What do you like most about Cyprus?
“Small is Beautiful”… and “Cyprus is small”!.
Describe Shipping in Cyprus in 3 words
“Navigates Cyprus Worldwide”!!
What do you look forward for Cyprus Shipping in 2020?
CSC, 31 Years of Operation & Contribution Today!
They say .., “The future is something we create”.., let’s create the future…, United, with one “Voice”, for an even Stronger & more Competitive Cyprus Shipping…
Let’s make therefore, the “Voice of Cyprus” a real Winner…. And in the words of Rod Steward…. “We are Sailing”!!!