George J. Tsunis: An ambassador that ‘has the ear’ of the US President

Certain quarters launched a bevy of spiteful comments when the US administration chose a successful Greek-American businessman, George J. Tsunis, to succeed Geoffrey Pyatt as the new US ambassador to Greece, rather than a career diplomat, as per the usual practice.

That’s because US presidents sometimes make use of the executive privilege they enjoy to appoint whomever they want as the nation’s ambassador to another country, assuming that the appointee subsequently achieves Senate ratification. This is often a manner by which to reward significant campaign support.

Except that everything so far shows that George Tsunis will probably prove to be one of the best American ambassadors to represent that nation in Athens, precisely because he’s not a «career diplomat», but someone who empathizes with the needs and interests of this country, Greece – and especially when he also has access to the White House itself.

This is exactly what the former US House of Representatives speaker Nancy Pelosi emphasized, speaking at a reception held as part of the Delphi Forum in Washington D.C., in honor of Greek-American businessman and Greek Diaspora benefactor Angelo Tsakopoulos, who was honored with the Leader Award for his outstanding contribution to Hellenism over the decades.

Amb Tsounis has the ear of the @POTUS .I hope you know that…I know that he is beloved in #Greece, but he is also beloved in the WH.»” was Pelosi’s characteristic comment, made during the awards ceremony for Tsakopoulos, which was also attended by former US Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy, and of course, Amb. Tsunis himself.

In any case, the very fact that Pelosi referred to Amb. Tsunis, during Tsakopoulos’ award ceremony, shows that the Greek-American community still carries significant political weight in America, and can also serve as an important foreign policy tool, along with the promotion of Greek interests.

The fact that such a leading personality of the Greek-American community today heads the US diplomatic mission to Greece is an opportunity that shouldn’t be missed.

Obviously, the US ambassador to Greece first and foremostly represents the interests of his country in Athens. However, his national origin, his close relationship with the institutions of the Greek Diaspora and his sincere love for his country of origin lend to a better understanding and a greater sensitivity for Greek positions.

This certainly doesn’t overturn fact that promoting Greek national interests is essentially and primarily a matter for which the Greek side must exert its own efforts; burnish its credibility and draw up a strategy. Nevertheless, such a development is a favorable condition, because it’s always good to have someone that «the President of the United States listens to» — as long as Greece has something to say, of course, and that his something is based on planning.

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