AMBASSADOR TSUNIS: (In Greek.)
Welcome, everyone. It is truly an honor to have you here today. It is especially an honor to have someone that, in all fairness, I have to categorize as my friend but also my boss, the Secretary of State Antony Blinken, with us today.
It is well established that Greeks have a penchant for quoting their own philosophers when they want to make a point. And if there was ever the embodiment of the rule of law, the democratic ideals and values that were born right here in Athens, then I am certain Diogenes would put the lantern at Secretary Blinken’s feet.
This is truly a milestone, as we sit here at what is known throughout Greece as American democracy. If anyone – this is the most recognizable building, other than the Acropolis in the city, in my humble opinion. And our commitment to expanding it, our commitment to renovating it, also speaks to the ever-growing relationship that the United States and Greece has. It is something that speaks to our common values. It is a commitment to the rule of law; it is a commitment to regional peace and prosperity.
And I’m very grateful to be the United States ambassador here. It is an honor of a lifetime, and what I’m very grateful that President Biden and Secretary Blinken for. But I’m especially grateful for the opportunity to work with my colleagues in this building, who are amongst the most dedicated people I have ever met in my life. But I’m also grateful to serve in this country because of our shared values.
Now at this moment, I’d like to call upon my friend, his beatitude, the Archbishop of Greece Ieronymos.
ARCHBISHOP IERONYMOS II: (In Greek.)
AMBASSADOR TSUNIS: It’s my privilege to invite Secretary Blinken to the podium to give remarks, please.
SECRETARY BLINKEN: Please, thank you, be seated, everyone. Thank you so much. As I said earlier today, I left my voice in Washington, but clearly I’m going to be leaving my heart in Athens. It’s hard not to. But good afternoon to everyone here today.
I’ll keep my remarks brief, because my voice may give out, but this is an important moment, a symbolic moment, but also a practical moment for our mission here. I want to thank all of our colleagues in the Greek Government who’ve made – help make this possible.
But I especially want to thank my friend and our remarkable ambassador to Greece George Tsunis. We could not have a better representative of the President of United States in Greece than George. He is a close partner in everything that we’re doing here, and I’m grateful for his leadership. Now, I understand, George, that you may be one of the more popular people in Greece as well, and that’s a good thing.
Let me just say to the archbishop, thank you for gracing us with your presence today. We’re grateful for that and grateful for your words as well. And to the mayor, thank you Mr. Mayor for being here, the governor. Mayor, members of the embassy family, the Athens community, thank you all for joining us today.
So we have come together to celebrate our relationship and mark our continued commitment to our ally and friend, Greece. And we do that here in a space that evokes the deeply rooted values that we share, the democratic values we share, what Prime Minister Mitsotakis has called a miracle that all free peoples cherish but that binds Greek and Americans in a special way.
I was thinking earlier to something that I’ve heard President Biden say on many, many occasions. He said that what makes America different and unique is that we’re not founded on any particular race, religion, ethnicity. We’re founded on an idea. And it so happens that idea is a Greek idea. That’s an incredibly powerful thing in binding our people together.
And over the decades here in Greece, the extraordinary people serving at this embassy have played a central role in strengthening the ties between our countries and advancing the many shared priorities that we have. This expanded and modernized U.S. presence is a concrete – or maybe I should say marble – investment in our bilateral relationship. And while the renovations will draw to a close, the work of strengthening the alliance between us will continue year after year.
Now, we’re about to cut the ribbon on the north wing. One of the great things about this job is something I’ve never gotten to do before, which is to get a large pair of scissors and cut a ribbon. So I will happily take part in that now. George, will you join us? And also can we have Deputy Director Dykhouse join us as well?
To everyone, thank you for being here today, but especially thank you for being here every day in your respective ways to make this partnership one for the ages, as it already is. Thank you.
(The ribbon was cut.)