Ambassador Tsunis’s Remarks at 2022 Fulbright Commission Awards Ceremony 

Ambassador’s Residence, Athens

Tuesday, June 7, 2022

As Prepared

Kalispera!  Thank you very much Artemis.  It is a great pleasure to welcome you all here today and host this event in person for the first time after a two-year pandemic hiatus. As the newly arrived U.S. Ambassador to Greece and as someone whose own studies have bridged our two countries, its a real privilege to welcome so many bright young scholars and students to the residence this evening.  

Minister Kerameus, members of the Fulbright Board and staff, Fulbright scholars and students, Fulbright Foundation donors, and distinguished guests, thank you all for joining us to celebrate this years remarkable class of Greek and American Fulbright scholars.   

We are here this evening to recognize the accomplishments of an incredible cadre of students and scholars who serve as ambassadors in their own right.  For the Greek students who will travel to the United States in the fall to start your programs, we are so pleased to launch your Fulbright journey.  And to the Americans who are concluding your programs here in Greece, we congratulate you on your extraordinary accomplishments.      

This year, 65 American and Greek students continue the Fulbright tradition of cooperation, friendship, and shared ideals that stretches back to the founding of our modern nations.   

The students and scholars among us represent an impressive array of research fields, ranging from literature and history to cancer studies, from agriculture and environmental studies to structural engineering and security studies, from music to nuclear physics. 

The Fulbright program is a cornerstone of the U.S.-Greece bilateral relationship.  Established in Greece in 1948, Fulbright Greece is the oldest Fulbright program in Europe, and the second oldest continuously operating Fulbright program in the world.   Since its establishment in Greece, the Foundation has offered free educational advising services to thousands of individuals and has awarded grants to more than 6,000 U.S. and Greek citizens.   

At the helm of the Fulbright Greece program, Artemis Zenetou and her team work tirelessly each and every day to advance our people-to-people ties.  Artemis has headed the Foundation since 2001 and is the first Greek citizen and the first woman to lead Fulbright Greece since its establishment in 1948.  Artemis, you are a trailblazer and your tireless dedication is an incredible asset to the U.S.-Greek relationship.   

But none of this would be possible without the outstanding support we receive from the Ministry of Education.  I would like to commend Minister Kerameus and her entire team for the fantastic progress weve seen in our university and academic partnerships over the past couple of years.  Educational cooperation is a real bright spot in our extraordinarily positive bilateral relationship and the Minister has been an outstanding leader and advocate.  We are also grateful to the Minister for increasing Greeces contributions to the Fulbright Foundation, which will extend academic exchange opportunities to more and more students.  

Student mobility is something I am personally very passionate about.  Prior to my arrival as Ambassador to Greece, I traveled around the United States visiting presidents of leading universities to tell them that they need to be in Greece.  They need programs in Greece.  They need students in Greece.  To that end, this coming October, the Ministry of Education, the United StatesInstitute for International Education, and the U.S. Embassy in Athens will welcome a large delegation of leading U.S. universities here to Greece for the International Academic Partnerships Program.  I am pleased to report that the number of participants in this program keeps growing.   

Just last week, Greek representatives attended for the first time the United StatesNAFSA conference, the preeminent global event on international education.  Greece is becoming a major educational hub, with limitless potential. 

In the U.S.-Greece relationship, the Fulbright program stands as our most powerful tool for academic exchange.  It equips us to welcome more Americans to Greece, and more Greeks to the United States.  While in each other’s countries, they connect with people, they build knowledge, and they carry these experiences with them for a lifetime.   

I am optimistic that in the years ahead we will see even more students and scholars moving in both directions, and even deeper ties forged between research institutions that are building the future of our knowledge-based economies. 

To our students and scholars here today, I extend to you my heartiest congratulations.  You are an integral part of the U.S.-Greece relationship, and you will remain ambassadors for the rest of your lives.   

We are very proud of your achievements and your participation in this exchange.  You represent the best of both U.S and Greece.  You represent the shared values and principles that keep our countries so closely connected.  

I wish you all the very best, and look forward to seeing where this exchange may take you. 

Efcharisto poli!