Ambassador Tsunis’s Remarks at International Conference: Cybersecuring Democracy

Ambassador Tsunis at International Conference "Cyber Securing Democracy" at Zappeion Megaron Athens, June 2, 2022 (State Department Photo)

With University of Piraeus and University of Southern California
Zappeion Megaron, Athens

Thursday, June 2, 2022

(As Prepared)

Kalimera.  Professor Nikias thank you very much for your introduction.  It is great to join all of you today for the opening of the “Cybersecuring Democracy” Conference.

I would like to thank the University of Piraeus, University of Southern California, and the Council for International Relations-Greece for bringing us together to discuss such an important issue.

This conference could not be happening at a more critical time, as Vladimir Putin wages his war of choice in Ukraine, challenging the very foundations of our democracies and the international rules-based order upon which our peace and prosperity are founded.

As my boss Secretary Blinken has said, we must be united in our resolve to resist those who seek to manipulate historical memory to advance their own ambitions.  Putin has tried to twist history to justify his brutal war.  As we’ve all seen, Russian disinformation has been deployed to spread lies about the invasion and cover up atrocities and horrific war crimes.

We are at the forefront of the struggle between democratic values and the voices of tyranny and authoritarianism.  Our collective response today will determine the future of our world tomorrow.

As custodians of democracy, it is imperative that we work together to counter untruths, confront disinformation, and protect our democratic ideals.

And I can’t think of a more appropriate place in the world to have these discussions than here in Athens, the birthplace of democracy.

The U.S. Embassy is committed to countering disinformation and standing with Greece to champion the democratic values that have united our countries for more than two centuries.

This conference is a testament to the strong cooperation between educational institutions, academics, policy makers, business leaders, security officials, and media experts who understand the need and who are committed to confronting the unprecedented challenges our democracies face.

This conference is also evidence of what we can achieve through collaboration between our educational institutions.

For the last several years, education has been a real bright spot in the U.S.-Greece relationship.  It’s a critical area for partnership and one that I’m personally committed to deepening and strengthening.  It is an area of cooperation that is captured in the people-to-people pillar of the U.S.-Greece Strategic Dialogue, which underpins the U.S.-Greek bilateral relationship and is the process through which we advance all of our shared foreign policy goals.

And President Biden himself is committed to further deepening the strategic relationship between our countries.  Our leaders reaffirmed this commitment during Prime Minister Mitsotakis’s recent historic visit to Washington.  I participated in his meeting with President Biden at the White House and attended his remarks to a joint session of Congress.  I can attest to the strong enthusiasm and support for Greece by the American people and our elected leaders.

Minister of Education Niki Kerameus was also on the trip to Washington.  I would like to commend her for her remarkable efforts to accelerate reforms in the Greek educational system, advancing the internationalization of Greek universities, and the expanding their relations with educational institutions throughout the United States.

These efforts have made it easier for U.S. and Greek universities to work together.  And our Embassy will continue to support these endeavors.  We still have many milestones that we can achieve together.

Internationalization is an incredibly powerful force.  It draws people together – just look at us here today.  And the technology of an interconnected world provides us with countless tools to promote inclusivity and strengthen our democracies.  Thanks to recent advancements in technology, we have the opportunity to use it as an instrument to promote civic dialogue and tolerance.

This powerful tool, though, comes with significant challenges and the potential to pull people apart.  Now more than ever, we see technology used to reinforce prejudices, promote disinformation and sow confusion, which is threatening the fabric of our societies.

In fact, disinformation is emerging as one of the greatest challenges that our democracies confront.  At the U.S. Embassy, we are working to combat disinformation and promote democratic values through a number of programs, including media literacy workshops, disinformation trainings, and professional and academic exchanges for media experts.

Our democracies are not perfect.  But that’s what makes programs like today’s so important.  It’s a chance to gather and listen to each other, and work together to address our shared challenges.  Because only together can we build strong democratic societies that are resilient.

I look forward to learning from the conference’s distinguished speakers.  Thank you for inviting me to be a part of today’s special event.

Efcharisto poli.