The Senate Foreign Relations Committee will hold a confirmation hearing for George Tsunis the US Ambassador nominee to Greece on Wednesday, January 12.
The Committee, under the chairmanship of Senator Robert Menendez, will be called to decide whether Tsunis meets the criteria for the post, as the US and Greece have been strengthening their diplomatic, economic, and military relations over the last few years.
Tsunis is a personal friend of the US President. Once proposed by former President Obama to be an ambassador to Norway, the businessman, whose family is from Nafpaktos, is said to be a personal choice of Menendez.
Tsunis, born in Queens, New York, spoke only Greek until he went to kindergarten. He is the son of immigrants from Greece, James and Eleni Tsunis. He earned a BA at New York University in 1989 and a JD at St. John’s University School of Law in 1992.
As a practicing attorney, Tsunis was a partner at the law firm of Rivkin Radler LLP. He married Olga J. Antzoulis in November 2004. They live in Lloyd Harbor, Long Island, with their three children. He has two sisters.
Tsunis withdrew as nominee for Ambassador to Norway
His first nomination to an ambassadorship hit the rocks after his nod for the post in Norway fell apart. After being nominated as Ambassador to Norway on September 10, 2013, the nomination process lagged for many months.
His nomination was part of a backlog of nominees for ambassadorial positions across the world as Obama battled the Congress regarding many of his nominations to posts. Norway, an important fellow member of the NATO alliance, had never been without a US ambassador for that long.
Tsunis’ nomination hearing generated some controversy, both in Norway and in the US, after he confessed to never having been to Norway and showing his apparent ignorance of current Norwegian political issues. He did not impress at his confirmation hearings, and Senator John McCain took a stand against his appointment.
According to some sources, the U.S. Embassy even apologized for some statements that had been made to the Norwegian government and other involved parties in Norway.
In statements to the press in December of 2014, Tsunis indicated that he was no longer seeking the nomination as ambassador to the Scandinavian nation.
Tsunis, a hotel executive, is a major donor to the Democratic Party. If approved, Tsunis will have some enormous shoes to fill, as current ambassador Geoffrey Pyatt has thrown himself wholeheartedly into the position, becoming a cheerleader for Greek business and for increased defense ties between the US and Greece.