US Ambassador to Greece nominee testifying before Senate committee

US Ambassador to Greece nominee testifying before Senate committee

George Tsunis, nominated by President Joe Biden to be the new United States Ambassador to Athens, is testifying before the US Senate’s Committee on Foreign Relations.

Committee Chairman Bob Menendez (D-NJ) welcomed Tsunis’ nomination.

“Your nomination…comes at such a high point in the US-Greece relationship. Greece is a critical US ally, a strategic partner, and a linchpin for security and democracy in the Eastern Mediterranean. As the birthplace of democracy, Greece continues to be a beacon of freedom in southeastern Europe,” Menendez said.

“In recent years, we have taken several important steps towards strengthening our strategic partnership with Greece. Congress has reaffirmed its strong bipartisan support for Greece with the landmark Eastern Mediterranean Security and Energy Partnership Act in 2019, which I led with Senator Rubio and other members of this Committee.

“Last year, we made strides in strengthening NATO’s southern flank with the passage of the US Greece Defense and Interparliamentary Partnership Act, which I also led with Senator Rubio and other members of this Committee. And Secretary Blinken and Foreign Minister Dendias recently signed an updated and expanded defense cooperation agreement, furthering our ability to stand with our allies.

“Mr Tsunis, if confirmed, you will inherit the strongest US-Greece relationship in history, one that is well poised for even further growth. You know Greece and the dynamics of the region well, and I am confident in your ability to bring the US-Greece relationship into the next era,” Menendez added.

In his opening statement, Tsunis said the following, among other things: “If confirmed, I arrive in Athens at a crucial moment in US-Greece relations. Our relationship is at an all-time high. The annual Strategic Dialogue has helped define the key pillars of the US-Greece relationship, including cooperation on defense and security, law enforcement and counter terrorism, trade and investment, disaster preparedness, energy and climate, and people to people ties. Greece continues to make progress on all fronts as it pursues economic revitalization, overcomes the challenges of the pandemic, and grapples with tensions in the Eastern Mediterranean. What happens in Greece matters, not just for Greece, but for the East Mediterranean region, NATO, the European Union, and the United States. Opportunity is vital to the United States and to Greece. If confirmed, my top economic and commercial goals will be built on the efforts to accelerate trade and investment opportunities.”

Tsunis, 54, is not a career diplomat, but a businessman, and a Democratic party donor. He is best remembered for his unsuccessful nomination, in 2013, for the post of Ambassador to Norway, from which he withdrew several months after a disastrous performance at a hearing before the same Senate committee, in January 2014.

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