WASHINGTON, DC – Greek-American entrepreneur and philanthropist George J. Tsunis cleared the next-to-last but most important hurdle in the process that will culminate in his appointment as the U.S. Ambassador to the Kingdom of Norway.
The full Senate Foreign Relations Committee voted 12-6 in favor of President Barack Obama’s nominee. In the coming days the full Senate, which is controlled by the Democratic Party, will vote in what is traditionally a formality to support the nominees approved by the committee.
Democrats Robert Menendez, the Chairman of the committee, Barbara Boxer, Benjamin L. Cardin, Jeanne Shaheen, Christopher Coons, Richard J. Durbin, Tom Udall, Chris Murphy, Tim Kaine and Edward J. Markey were joined by Republicans Jeff Flake and Rand Paul.
Rand Paul has close relations with the Greek-Americans across the country and community leaders expressed their appreciation to TNH for Paul’s crossing party lines to vote for Tsunis.
Tsunis appeared before the committee for his confirmation hearing on January 16 when Senator Chris Murphy of Connecticut, the chairman of the Subcommittee on European Affairs presided.
Tsunis was joined by two other candidates who were also nominated by President Barack Obama, Robert C. Barber for Iceland, and Colleen Bradley Bell, for Ambassador to Hungary, succeeding to the service Greek-American Eleni Tsakopoulos Kounalakis.
Tsunis, along with U.S. Senator Charles Schumer of New York, who spoke in behalf of the former at his confirmation hearing, will serve as Grand Marshals at the 2014 Greek Independence Day Parade on Fifth Avenue.
During his introduction at the hearing, Schumer expressed great confidence in Tsunis. “He is a perfect candidate for ambassador. He is smart, successful, practical, he has knowledge of foreign affairs, and he has a generous heart,” which he said will win the appreciation of the people of Norway.
Schumer noted Tsunis’ public sector experience prior to becoming Founder, Chairman and CEO of Chartwell Hotels, LLC; “which owns, develops and manages Hilton, Marriott and Intercontinental hotels throughout the Northeast and Middle Atlantic states.”
Tsunis said, “I am grateful for this opportunity to serve my country and I would be remiss if I did not thank the many people who made this journey possible, first, my parents who immigrated to this country of opportunity and meritocracy seeking to build a better life for their family.”