Greek-American George J. Tsunis has been officially confirmed by the United States Senate as the next Ambassador of the United States to Greece following a voice vote late in the evening on March 10, 2022.
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 powerful Democratic philhellene senator Bob Menendez of New Jersey.
Confirmed by voice vote: Executive Calendar #782 George J. Tsunis to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to Greece.
— Senate Cloakroom (@SenateCloakroom) March 11, 2022
Tsunis “blessed to live the American Dream”
The Senate Foreign Relations Committee, chaired by New Jersey Senator Robert Menendez, green-lit Tsunis’ nomination following a January 12 appearance on Capitol Hill. He will succeed the outgoing Ambassador of the United States to Greece, Geoffrey R. Pyatt.
Addressing his hearing in January, Tsunis noted that as a first-generation American he was “blessed to live the American Dream,” stating that his parents had “heard Emma Lazarus’ calling” when they emigrated to the US from Greece.
He went on to laud US foreign policy in the past, saying that “If it wasn’t for the Truman Doctrine, Greece would have been pulled into the Soviet orbit” in past decades. He stated that he saw his possible Ambassadorship as “a way to give back to the country that has given me so much.”
Declaring that “what happens in Greece matters” in areas including defense, his top goals if confirmed, Tsunis stated, would include the furthering of trade relations between the two countries as Greece continues to emerge from its economic problems of past decades.
Son of immigrants from Greece
Tsunis 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 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.
His confirmation to this particular ambassadorial post comes at a critical time both because of the ongoing Russian invasion of Ukraine and because Greece and the United States are currently in the midst of likely the warmest period of relations between the two countries in living memory.