The new US ambassador to Athens George Tsunis will have his first official meeting with Greek Foreign Nikos Dendias on Tuesday.
Tsunis replaces Geoffrey Pyatt and is a Greek-American businessman with extensive experience in the tourism industry.
He is also the founder and CEO of the Chartwell Hotels group and has long wanted to be a diplomat.
Chartwell Hotels group has a strong presence in all the northeastern states and collaborates with important names in the field, such as “Hilton”, “Marriott” and “Intercontinental”.
The son of Greek emigrants from Nafpaktos – James and Eleni Tsunis – he earned his bachelor’s degree from New York University and his law degree from St. John’s University.
He practiced law at Rivkin Radler, New York’s largest law firm, before founding Chartwell Hotels.
The tourism expert continues to reside with his wife, Olga, and their three children in Long Island, New York.
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.
Tsunis travels to Greece regularly and had a very traditional Greek American upbringing – going to Greek school, speaking Greek at home, being active in the Orthodox Church.
He is well known to the Greek American community and has been involved in major institutions in the community, including the Archdiocesan Council of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America, the Faith and Leadership 100 Endowments, the Hellenic American Leadership Council (HALC), and the Hellenic Initiative.
As a political appointee, Tsunis’ political relationships will be particularly important for Greece. He has a long relationship with US President Joe Biden, having served as the chair of Greek-Americans for Obama-Biden in 2012.
He knows Secretary Antony Blinken quite well and is very close to Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Menendez.
Tsunis also enjoys other long-standing relationships with other Senators – Democrats and Republicans – on the Foreign Affairs Committee.
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