GR US

What Does It Mean for a Greek-American to Be Appointed U.S. Ambassador to Greece?

The National Herald

Greek American businessman George James Tsunis. (Photo by TNH Archive)

The White House announced, a few days ago, the candidacy of the well-known Greek-American, George Tsunis, to be U.S. Ambassador to Greece. The National Herald’s Greek edition reported the news in a front page article with a 5-column headline.

This is a significantly positive event that honors our Community, that rekindles the interest in public service of our children, and which promises to contribute even more to the recent improvement in U.S.-Greece relations.

Tsunis is well known in Community for his participation in various organizations, and for his contributions to them. A source in the White House also mentioned to Reuter’s the importance of his participation in our community life.

His ties with Greece and Cyprus are also strong. The son of immigrants, he spent many summers as a child in his parents' homeland and later often visited Greece with his own family.

George has developed long-standing friendships with leading American politicians which will prove particularly valuable to the success of his mission.

For example, he has maintained a 20-year friendship with President Joe Biden, from the days when the current president was chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. That is a key position in the exercise of U.S. foreign policy and it is currently held by his close friend, a Philhellene, Robert Menendez.

These are valuable relationships that will help him be effective in the performance of his duties and avoid the traps that will be set by the various sharks of the State department, some of whom are already active.

According to Reuters, former U.S. diplomats criticized the choice of “a hotel developer George Tsunis for U.S. ambassador to Greece,” saying his “lack of preparation when he was nominated for U.S. ambassador to Norway in 2014 showed he was unfit to represent the United States abroad.”

 The two cases are not comparable. Where Tsunis is concerned, Norway and Greece are completely different cases. Few people in the U.S. Foreign Service know Greece as well as Tsunis.

In addition, it is outrageous to accuse one of our compatriots of being unfit for this position because he is not a career diplomat, when so many other non-diplomats are appointed to very important positions that impact their parents' countries of origin, in agencies such as the State Department, the National Security office, and the Defense Department – even being appointed ambassadors – without anyone saying a word.

Unfortunately, some media outlets in Athens, following their well-known short-sighted and in some cases destructive policy towards the Diaspora and Greek-Americans in particular, have also entered the game of criticizing Tsunis.

But they themselves would speak with enthusiasm if the new candidate for U.S. ambassador was named… Smith – instead of Tsunis.

In my contacts in Athens over the past few days, I heard words of joy about George's candidacy – but they also wanted to know more about him.

It's only logical. They don’t know him the way we do.

Along with all the positives that I told them about, I also advised them not to repeat the mistakes of the past. Remember, I would say, that George, no matter how ‘Greek’ he is, will be America’s ambassador to Greece.

He will of course be an American ambassador who cares about his country of origin, but he will be – as he should be – promoting American interests as its ambassador.

Having said that, the candidacy of such a man – intelligent, experienced and successful in business, an exemplary head of a family and with deep, well-watered roots in the Greek-American community and a deep love for the Community and Greece – is an excellent opportunity for further strengthening America's relations with Greece.

I hope, therefore, that his candidacy will be approved soon by the Senate and that he will assume his duties at the American embassy in Athens at the earliest.

An embassy that I have no doubt will open wide its doors to the Greek-American community.

Good luck in your great mission, George Tsunis.