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'Obama must apologise for envoy gaffe'

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'Obama must apologise for envoy gaffe'
George Tsunis speaking to the US senate on Tuesday. Source: Screengrab
09:48 CET+01:00
Norway's Progress Party has demanded a personal apology from US President Barack Obama after his nomination for Norway's new ambassador described its members as "fringe elements" who "spew out their hatred" (PLUS VIDEO).
"I think this is unacceptable and a provocation," Jan Arild Ellingsen, the party's justice spokesman, told Norway's TV2 television channel. "I expect the US president to apologize to both Norway and the Progress Party". 
 
George Tsunis, a Greek-American property millionaire who was one of Obama's biggest individual campaign donors, displayed only the scantiest knowledge of Norway at a senate hearing this week ahead of his appointment, describing the Progress Party, which has seven ministers in the government, as if it were a fringe far-right group. 
 
He then referred to the country's "president", apparently under the impression that the country is a republic rather than a constitutional monarchy. 
 
After Norway's right-wing parties won power last September, the Progress Party, some of whose politicians use anti-immigrant rhetoric which would class them as far-right in other countries, complained at the way the international media described them.
 
They were particularly incensed at descriptions of them as the "Breivik Party", despite the fact that the country's far-right mass murderer was once an avid member. 
 
Progress Party leaders pushed Norway's diplomats to persuade press and politicians abroad that the party is not extremist, and the party held a conference for international press intending to convince them that it is not an "anti-immigrant" or "anti-Islamic party". 
 
"What we have here is a 'hotel concierge' who has not done his job in advance," Ellingsen added, mocking Tsunis for Chartwell Hotels, the hotel management company which made his fortune. 
 
Tsunis and his wife were among the largest individual donors to Obama's 2012 campaign. After registering as a Democrat in November 2009, Tsunis raised $988,550 for Obama’s 2012 campaign, and donated $300,000 to Democratic super PACs and $75,800 to the Obama Victory Fund, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. 
 
Tsunis became a Democrat in November 2009, after giving $50,000 to Republican Sen. John McCain’s 2008 campaign.

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