A 53-year-old businessman of the Diaspora and a 55-year-old politician with Greek roots are the two people who are the most prominent successors of Geoffrey Pyatt at the US embassy in Athens.
On July 14, the 57-year-old ambassador from San Diego, with excellent relations and recognition from both major parties in the country and deep knowledge of Greek data completed five years as the US ambassador in Athens. After Joe Biden was elected President of the United States, it was the turn of the ambassador to be replaced.
According to information from OrthodoxTimes, the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee is called upon to choose between two persons: the Greek American businessman George James Tsounis and Eleni Kounalaki, deputy governor of the State of California.
Tsouni’s candidacy is being promoted by New Jersey Democratic Sen. Robert Menendez, known for his tough stance on Turkish policy in the Mediterranean.
In fact, Menendez, as Chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee of the US Senate, has a significant influence on who will take over as head of US diplomacy in Greece and Tsounis seems to be the most dominant successor so far.
Tsounis was a candidate – during the presidency of B. Obama – to take over as US ambassador to Norway, something the US Senate did not approve. Tsouni’s company operates the Hilton, Marriott, and Intercontinental hotels in New York, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, and Rhode Island.
On the other hand, in recent months in Washington, the name of Eleni Tsakopoulou Kounalaki, the current vice governor of the State of California, has been discussed.
Prior to her political career, she was president of AKT Development Corporation, one of the largest land development companies in the United States. She was a successful US diplomat and Ambassador to Hungary until July 2013.
She is the daughter of Angelos Tsakopoulos, one of the main sponsors of the Democratic party. Her studies include Dartmouth College and the Haas School of Business.
Her husband is the journalist Markos Kounalakis. Together they created two university chairs in the Department of Greek Studies at Georgetown University and at Stanford, which focus on a deeper understanding of the roots of the Athenian Republic and took their name.
She has served for about 10 years as Administrator of the World Council of Religions for Peace and has been awarded the St. Paul Medal by the Greek Orthodox Church.