FILE - The US Ambassador to Greece George Tsunis speaks at "The 2nd Thessaloniki Metropolitan Summit" of the Economist on Friday 9 September 2022. (Photo by Eurokinissi)
In many ways, 2022 was a year most of us would like to see gone.
In the overall context it will be remembered for the 10 live televised public hearings on the January 6, 2021 storming of the Capitol by a mob and by the war in Ukraine – the first war in Europe since World War II.
This war leaves a lengthy, menacing shadow over Europe – the end of which no one can predict.
In the overall Greek context, 2022 will be remembered by the ever-increasing provocative statements of Turkey over Greece’s sovereignty and the escalation of its military belligerence in the Aegean and in Cyprus.
On the positive side, 2022 will be remembered as the year Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis addressed a joint session of Congress – the first ever – and left a lasting, memorable impression.
And in the context of our Omogeneia, our community, these events stand out: The completion of the magnificent Saint Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church and National Shrine at the World Trade Center and the appointment and confirmation of Greek-American George Tsunis as U.S. Ambassador to Greece.
St. Nicholas Church will be a great, new world center of Greek Orthodoxy, in a most pivotal area of the world, a symbol of excellence and unpresented achievement of the community, a place for prayer, a place honoring the memory of those innocent people who lost their lives in the terrorist attacks of 9/11.
Glory be bestowed upon all those who made its completion possible, headed by a remarkable Greek-American, Mr. Michael Psaros.
Greek-American relations have vastly improved these past several years with the United States gaining access to eight military bases in Greece.
It is the realization, on both sides of the Atlantic, of the common values and interests that bind them, and the unpredictability and untrustworthiness of Turkey.
And it is the role played by the ever-increasing power and involvement in the political arena of both countries of the Greek-American community.
A prime example of that is the appointment of a Greek-American as U.S. Ambassador to Greece.
George Tsunis represents the best and the brightest of a new generation of Greek Americans.
A proud son of immigrants, with many summers spent in his parents’ birthplace as a youngster, a longtime, active member of our community, a successful businessman and a very active and influential individual in politics – local and national – Tsunis has proven his ability to lead an organization, to make friends, and negotiate complex deals.
And being a friend of the President of the United States makes him an even more influential ambassador, in both the Greek capital and in the State Department – than a career diplomat would be.
In addition, due to his knowledge of Greece, he acts as a bridge between the two peoples, bringing them even closer than before, opening the doors of communication wider to young Greek-Americans and others, making the U.S. even more popular than before; for the first time, the U.S. today is the most popular foreign country in Greece, replacing France – facilitating trade, improving the cooperation between them in all areas, including tourism, investments, foreign affairs, and security issues.
Yes, Tsunis is the second Greek-American to head the U.S. Embassy in Athens. The first one, Michael Sotirhos, appointed in 1989, by then-President George H.W. Bush was involved in our Church affairs under Archbishop Iakovos of blessed memory. Yet, he did not seem sensitive to his Greek roots.
In the few months since Tsunis arrived in Athens, he has made quite a name for himself. With his humble but no nonsense, dynamic personality, he has been established as a major player, but also as a beloved Greek-American by opening up the Embassy to more people than before, visiting the countryside, earning respect as a person, but also as an ambassador of the United States.
This is not a small accomplishment in today’s troubled world.
It’s for all these reasons that we name George Tsunis The National Herald’s Person of the Year.
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