May 1998                                       113

In Favour of International Agreements

Burgermeister Runde has received your open letter in the March edition of ”Scilly up to date” and has asked me to contact you ....
Burgermeister Runde only came into office on November 12th. Even though it is unlikely, I therefore cannot deny the possibility of the letter being lost during the moving that took place following the change of mayors last fall. In this case I would like to apologise for a possible mistake of our office. Nevertheless I can assure you that all letters addressed to Burgermeister Runde are being answered. Courtesy certainly is not a forgotten virtue in Hamburg! Please do understand that I cannot respond specifically to the accident of March 26th you have referred to. There are indeed international agreements and insurance regulations in order to secure liability in cases of ship accidents and environmental pollution by ships. Hamburg as a major ship town has always been in favour of such international agreements. Why these regulations in this specific case did not lead to a liability of the owner, I cannot say. As you have stated this would though be a matter between your community and the ship-owner himself.

Yours sincerely,

After our letter of September 1997 had not been honoured with an answer, now the open Letter to the Mayor of the Free and Hanseatic City of Hamburg, we published in No. 112, has inspired his office to an attentive reply. We had appealed for a gesture of solidarity by the head of one of Europe's most important harbours because the owners and insurers of the shipwrecked MS ”CITA”, situated in Hamburg, had let down our islands with the substantial cost for the subsequent clean-up. As everybody knows it is the very purpose of flags of convenience to relieve shippinglines of all kinds of responsibilities. The fact that our first letter obviously arrived in Hamburg while a change of government was taking place might be accepted as a plausible reason for it getting lost, being aware of the turmoil such an operation usually causes in administrative quarters. In a phonecall to the Pressestelle des Senats however there seemed to exist a vague knowledge about our letter and its enclosures: the ”Cita” booklet and several photocopies of available documents. That the Hamburg MEP, Mrs Randzio-Plath also claiming not to have received our letter, sent the same day as the other one, is casting a bizarre light either on the German Post or the organisation of the MEP’s office. Or ought one to assume that a mail-steamer had been shipwrecked?

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