For his own sake, Ioannis Marinos would have to consider himself
fortunate at the timing of the TWA flight that was hijacked in
Athens, Greece, about two weeks ago.
"I was scheduled to take that flight," said Marinos, director and
editor of an economic magazine called "Economikos Tachydromos" in
Athens. "However, because I was to receive first prize in a
journalist competition, I had to postpone my trip to the next day."
For the sake of Greece, its economy and its relations with the
United States, however, the hijacking was "unfortunate," Marinos
Marinos was in Oklahoma City this week during a journey to study
the U.S. economy and the impact of economic policies and programs.
The timing was signficant, because the trip was planned long
before the hijacking. The Marinos journey was a way for Greece to
unofficially study potential changes in its socialist economic system
by studying the effects of free enterprise.
Oklahoma was suggested by the U.S. State Department as a major
stop in this study.
The timing of the hijacking was unfortunate, he said, because of
the subtle changes that already were under way in the socialist
government of Greece and its effort to improve the economy of Greece.
That, of course, was before the declaration of President Ronald
Reagan that American tourists should avoid Greece, because Greece
released three of the hijackers.
"I felt the climate was changing in the relations between our two
countries," said Marinos. "I had the feeling, from talking to our
ministers in Greece, that changes might be made in our country that
would lead to economic talks.
"We need foreign investment. Our own capitalists are not large
enough to improve our economy by themselves. If we can attract
foreign investment, it is possible that our own investors might
Tourism certainly is extremely important to Greece. The country
attracts about 6 million tourists a year. That's more than half the
population of 9.5 million in Greece.
In terms of money, tourism may bring in as much as $5 billion,
Marinos said. That makes a major difference in the balance of
payments in Greece. The country exports only about $4.5 billion in
goods, while importing $12 billion.
"We hope the declaration of President Reagan will not hurt too
much," he said. "We don't think it will, because this is the peak of
the tourism season, and most people have made their plans."
However, the long-range problems of the Greek economy involve far
more than tourists. The major industrial operations are owned by the
socialist state. Unions are strong, and industry needs updating to
compete in what Marinos called "the third industrial revolution" of
Beyond that, Greece must import about 30 percent of its energy.
Foreign investment is needed to bring the Greek economy up to
date, said Marinos, but attracting foreign investment is a delicate
problem. It requires a profit motive and tax incentives for
"Because we are a socialist state," he said, "we can't just say we
were wrong all this time. One of our big questions is what we would
do with the money if we attract it."
So, Greece is looking for ways to develop its own methods of
incorporating free enterprise into the socialist state, something
like the way the Peoples of Republic of China is seeking its own
combination of free enterprise and Communism. …