In Favour of International Agreements
DEAR MR. SCHWEER
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
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?
Personal Assistant to the Mayor.
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