US Ambassador George Tsunis presents credentials to President of the Hellenic Republic

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Newly accredited US Ambassador to Greece George James Tsunis presented yesterday May 10,  his credentials to the President of the Hellenic Republic Katerina Sakellaropoulou.

Ambassador Tsunis said: “It was the honor of a lifetime to present my credentials as the U.S. Ambassador to Greece to The President of the Hellenic Republic  today. We are fully committed to working with the government and people of Greece to advance our shared goals for peace and prosperity.”

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On Tuesday, at a reception at the Jefferson House Residence, Athens, Ambassador Tsunis referred to the ideals of goodness (kalosini), love (agape), and above all, the love of honor (philotimo), as “some of Greece’s greatest gifts to the world,” instilled in him by his Greek parents, during his first address after presenting his credentials to the President Katerina Sakellaropoulou on Tuesday.

Tsunis acknowledged the work and achievements of former ambassador to Greece Geoffrey Pyatt and the embassy and consulate staff, and said “there could be no better time to serve as the US ambassador to Greece.”

“The US-Greece relationship has never been stronger nor more consequential, as a sovereign European state faces a full-on invasion so close to us,” he underlined, adding that US President Joe Biden is “a great friend of Greece” and reaffirming that the United States “strongly supports Greece’s growing leadership role in the Eastern Mediterranean, the Western Balkans, Black Sea region, and beyond.”

Greece’s role

Ambassador Tsunis said that though much had been accomplished, the two countries had room to further deepen cooperation: “It’s more critical than ever that the United States and Greece and our transatlantic allies work together. That includes advancing shared goals for strengthening democracy throughout the Balkans. We commend Greece’s leadership role to that end because it fosters regional prosperity and stability. Though we have accomplished much, there is room for us to further deepen our cooperation.” He added that he was fully committed to working with the government and people of Greece, as well as the Greek diaspora, “to advance our shared goals for peace and prosperity, together.”

Referring to Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis‘ visit to the United States, Tsunis said he would be accompanying him to the White House, where President Biden will welcome the premier on May 16, before addressing Congress on May 17, by invitation of House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

The invitations, he said, were extended to the Greek PM “because what happens in Greece matters – not just for Greece and the United States.  It matters for the entire Eastern Mediterranean region, and much more.” He also added that working together “strengthens NATO. It makes the European Union more prosperous and secure,” and that strength and unity is more important now than ever.

Ukraine war

The US-Greece relationship “has never been stronger nor more consequential,” the newly installed ambassador underlined, “as a sovereign European state faces a full-on invasion so close to us.” Speaking of Russia’s invasion in Ukraine, Tsunis called it “an unprovoked war of choice that has claimed so many innocent lives and that has tragically brought to ruins Mariupol, a bastion of Hellenic identity.” He also quoted US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, urging that “we must increase our resolve to resist those who now seek to manipulate historical memory to advance their own ambitions.”

Ambassador Tsunis underlined that NATO remains the cornerstone of US and European defense policy, while “the success of our transatlantic alliance, more important now than ever, lies on the collective aspiration of all NATO members to protect peace around the world and the values of freedom, democracy and self-governance that we all share and hold dear.”

The event was attended by several Greek ministers, representatives of political parties, and other political figures, as well as diplomats serving in Greece. The ambassador’s mother was also present, while his family will arrive in Greece at a later date.

Amb Tsunis Credentials Reception

Full Address by US Ambassador George Tsunis:

May 10, 2022

Kalispera everyone, esteemed guests.

I am incredibly happy to welcome you this beautiful spring afternoon to the Jefferson House residence of the U.S. Ambassador to Greece.

I look forward to when my wife, Olga, and our three children – James, Eleni, and Yanna – join me here and you all have a chance to meet them.

At the top, I would like to take a moment and acknowledge all of the great work and achievements over the past several years of Ambassador Pyatt, our DCM, David Burger, and the amazing team at our Embassy and Consul General Lee’s in Thessaloniki.  We would not be where we are today without it.  Theirs is a remarkable legacy leaving behind the solid foundation we have to build on.

As you know, I am a proud Greek-American with deep ties to Greece.  And it is an honor of a lifetime to return to my roots and to have the opportunity to serve America here.

I am incredibly grateful to my parents who taught me to never forget my roots and the Hellenic ideals of goodness (kalosini), agape, and above all, the love of honor (philotimo).  Along with democracy, I believe these values are some of Greece’s greatest gifts to the world.

I had the great honor of presenting my credentials to President Sakellaropoulou this morning at the Presidential Palace.  As I told the President, there could be no better time to serve as the U.S. Ambassador to Greece.

The U.S.-Greece relationship has never been stronger nor more consequential — as a sovereign European state faces a full-on invasion so close to us.

An unprovoked war of choice that has claimed so many innocent lives, and that has tragically brought to ruins Mariupol, a bastion of Hellenic identity.

On Sunday, we celebrated the 77th anniversary of Victory in Europe Day and the victory of Allied forces over Fascism and forces of tyranny.  It was also an occasion to reflect on Greece’s role in this victory.

As you all know, Greece was the first Allied power to defeat an Axis force.  The Greek people inspired the world with their strength of character when they courageously stood up and said “Oxi” to Mussolini on October 28, 1940, a day Greeks proudly commemorate as their entry into World War II every year.

As Putin’s war of choice rages in Ukraine, as Secretary Blinken said, we must increase our resolve to resist those who now seek to manipulate historical memory to advance their own ambitions.

Putin has tried to twist history to justify his unprovoked and brutal war.  Those who genuinely study history know President Zelenskyy and the brave people of Ukraine embody the spirit of those who prevailed during the Second World War.  They are defending their sovereignty, their democracy, and Ukraine’s rightful future in a Europe whole, free, and at peace.

Through the multiple threats we face, NATO remains the cornerstone of U.S. and European defense policy.  The success of our transatlantic alliance, more important now than ever, lies on the collective aspiration of all NATO members to protect peace around the world and the values of freedom, democracy and self-governance that we all share and hold dear.

We are at the forefront of the struggle between democratic values, born right here in Athens, and the voices of tyranny and authoritarianism.  Our collective response today will determine the future of our world tomorrow.

All democracies globally have a sacred obligation to foster democratic ideals and stand united against these forces of darkness that seek to overturn the international rules-based order upon which our collective security and prosperity is based.

At times like these, it is useful to turn for guidance to the Ancient Greeks.  Epictetus once asked, “Where is good?  In our reasoned choices.  Where is evil?  In our reasoned choices.”

We must always choose to do what is right, based on our reasoned choices and not merely as potential rewards.  To stand, as Prime Minister Mitsotakis has so aptly put it, “on the right side of history.”

It’s more critical than ever that the United States and Greece and our transatlantic allies work together.  That includes advancing shared goals for strengthening democracy throughout the Balkans.  We commend Greece’s leadership role to that end because it fosters regional prosperity and stability.

Though we have accomplished much, there is room for us to further deepen our cooperation or, to use the wonderful Greek term, synergia, which I think comes much closer to the spirit of what I’m getting at.

In that spirit, I am fully committed to working with everyone here, Prime Minister Mitsotakis, the entire Greek government, the people of the Hellenic Republic, and the incredible Greek diaspora to advance our shared goals for peace and prosperity — together.

As you know, President Biden is a great friend of Greece.  And the United States strongly supports Greece’s growing leadership role in the Eastern Mediterranean, the Western Balkans, Black Sea region, and beyond.

Next Monday, May 16, President Biden will welcome Prime Minister Mitsotakis to the White House.  I will proudly accompany the Prime Minister and his delegation for this historic visit.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi has invited the Prime Minister on behalf of the bipartisan Congressional leadership to address a Joint Meeting of Congress on May 17.  This is the highest honor that our legislature can bestow upon a visiting foreign leader.

This invitations were extended because what happens in Greece matters – not just for Greece and the United States.  It matters for the entire Eastern Mediterranean region, and much more.

Our work together strengthens NATO.  It makes the European Union more prosperous and secure.  That strength and unity is more important now than ever.

Our work together, our synergia, is founded on our shared democratic values, the values, born here in Athens, that brought freedom to our peoples — and the world.

I am grateful to President Biden and Secretary Blinken for the confidence they’ve placed in me.  And while proud and excited, I take very seriously this obligation and responsibility I’ve been entrusted with.

No matter the challenge or the opportunity, we are all in this together, and only by working together can we succeed.  So I look forward to continuing our partnership, and getting to know you all better in the weeks and months ahead.

These are consequential times, and we must work to solve the challenges collectively.

Along with my entire team at the Embassy, we’re committed to taking this remarkable U.S.-Greek partnership to greater heights, working with our democratic and peace-loving friends and allies for peace and stability.

Our children, all of our children, deserve no less.