Rome - While Italian shipowners seemed poised to go on the warpath, Mario Mattioli is sending out messages of peace. He has obtained the approval of the Assembly, and since yesterday is the new president of Confitarma, Italy’s association of shipowners. “This is not a presidency split in half,” he explained in the following interview to the Secolo XIX/TheMediTelegraph, as he appeared to be keeping the door open to all, “even to Onorato: as long as we all share the same mission. And for us that is safeguarding the International Registry.” You managed to get elected president ... “It was an interesting day at the assembly, I received much support and a large majority. We stand united over the goal of pursuing our demands.” According to some, however, you’ve become the president of an association split in half ... “That’s not so. Confitarma has lost some important associates, it’s true. But this remains the home of Italian shipping, and the doors are always open to everyone.”
Do you still have hopes that some members may return?
“I’m even wearing my green tie today ... Hope is eternal. Of course, we must proceed, upholding the collective interests of the association. In plain words, we must not consider just the business-side of things, otherwise we would have an association for each group or shipowner ... “
Does this mean you’d welcome even Vincenzo Onorato?
“By all means... but I repeat, only if our base for understanding is the common good of the whole sector: the International Registry has been instrumental in the development of the Italian merchant fleet, and it’s of strategic importance. If someone wants to do away with it, that goes against the interests of the entire sector, not just a single operator. I invite all those who agree on this to join.”
Does the launch of Confmare worry you?
“Look, I think that there should be a confluence of interests between Confmare and us. I can only wish them well. Sure, it’s a move that doesn’t add any weight to Italy’s shipping. It would make sense for us all to be all under the same banner.”
Is the result a fragmentation?
“I continue to think that if we were all united, we would be much stronger. If five, six associations are out there, each with different banners, then that is fragmentation. The mission of any association is fundamental: it’s not possible to create internal cohesion exclusively through economic interests. Otherwise, it would be mayhem: an association for every shipowner.”
The shipowner Lefebvre d’Ovidio has said that opening Confitarma to companies that do not fly the Italian flag, but that have significant interests in this country, is an idea worth considering. Do you agree?
“We need to look at everything closely: I still need to grasp completely what he meant. We’re going to discuss it in private. Overall, however, it’s a notion that could be considered; if it coincides with Confitarma’s interests. But it must not be a move just to broaden our membership base: I am interested in sharing common topics. “
You’ve been accused of being a spokesperson for tugboat operators ...
“I don’t just feel like the president of Italy’s tugboat operators. I do have a stake in that segment, I can’t deny it. But they don’t even represent the largest component in my group. I have always treated everyone with the same regard. And, what’s more, we’re past the old opposition between customers and suppliers. “