Valdas Adamkus

Valdas Adamkus
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Valdas Adamkus

Preceded by
Succeeded by

Political partynone
SpouseAlma Adamkienė
ReligionRoman Catholic
Signature
Enlarge picture
Valdas Adamkus's signature


Valdas Adamkus ( (helpinfo), born Valdemaras Adamkevičius on November 3, 1926) is the current President of the Republic of Lithuania. It is the second time (although his terms were not served consecutively) that he is serving in this position. In Lithuania, the President's term lasts for five years; Adamkus' first term in office began on February 26, 1998 and ended on February 28, 2003, when during the presidential elections of 2003 he lost to another candidate, Rolandas Paksas, who was impeached and removed from office by a parliamentary vote on April 6, 2004. Soon afterwards, when the new election was announced, Adamkus ran for president and was re-elected. Adamkus has one of the highest approval rates among politicians in Lithuania[1] and is regarded as a moral authority in the state.[2]

He is married to Alma Adamkienė, who is involved in charitable activities in Lithuania.

Biography

Adamkus was born to a Roman Catholic family in Kaunas. His father was one of the first heads of the Lithuanian Air Force School in the Republic of Lithuania. As a young man Adamkus joined the underground against the Soviets. During World War II, his family escaped to Germany from the Soviet occupation. He attended the University of Munich in Germany before emigrating to the United States in 1949. Fluent in five languages - Lithuanian, Polish, English, Russian and German - he served as a senior non-commissioned officer with the 5th Army Reserve's military intelligence unit in the 1950s.

After arriving in Chicago, he also worked in an automobile factory and as a draftsman. Adamkus graduated as a civil engineer from the Illinois Institute of Technology in 1960. While a student in Illinois, Adamkus, together with other Lithuanian Americans, collected about 40,000 signatures and petitioned the United States Government to intervene in the ongoing deportations of Lithuanians to Siberia conducted by the Soviets.[3] The petition was presented to then-Vice President Richard Nixon. Adamkus also raised concerns about other Soviet activities in occupied Lithuania with United Nations Secretary General Dag Hammarskjöld in 1958, and with President John F. Kennedy in 1962.[3]

Career in the United States Environmental Protection Agency

Adamkus joined the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on its inception in 1970 and was appointed regional administrator by President Ronald Reagan in 1981. Prior to that he worked for the EPA in Cincinnati. He was responsible for all air, water, hazardous waste, and other pollution control programs in Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio, and Wisconsin. In 1985, President Reagan presented him with the Distinguished Executive Presidential Rank Award — the highest honor that can be bestowed upon a civil servant.

Adamkus managed to visit Lithuania for the first time in almost thirty years in 1972. He was a member of the official delegation from the U.S. attending an environmental conference in Moscow. During perestroika in the Soviet Union, his visits to his homeland became more frequent. Valdas Adamkus served as regional administrator for 16 years and retired in 1997 after 29 years of federal service. Upon his retirement, he received a congratulatory letter from President Clinton and a Distinguished Career Award from EPA Administrator Carol Browner. EPA Region 5 presented him with the newly established "Valdas V. Adamkus Sustained Commitment to the Environment Honor Award". While serving in the U.S. government, Adamkus was a Republican, but was also respected by members of the Democratic Party for his personal and professional integrity.

Lithuanian Presidency, 1998 — 2003

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President Adamkus meeting with the Vice President of the United States Dick Cheney in Lithuania. The meeting took place during the Vilnius Conference 2006: Common Visions for Common Neighborhoods.
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A friendly chat with Viktor Yushchenko
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Adamkus shaking hands with George W. Bush in the Presidential Palace in Vilnius. In the background is a copy of a famous sculpture by Juozas Zikaras, the Statue of Liberty.
Shortly after leaving the EPA, Valdas Adamkus moved back to Lithuania. Soon after his decision to run for presidency in 1998, he faced a legal battle in the Lithuanian courts, as doubts arose whether Adamkus was eligible to run for presidency due to the length of time he had spent abroad and the possibility that he might not meet minimum residency requirements. However, the court resolved the case in Adamkus' favor and no other obstacles remained other than his U.S. citizenship, which he officially renounced at the American Embassy in Vilnius. He was elected as President of Lithuania in 1998, defeating Artūras Paulauskas in the runoff, serving from then until 2003, when he ran for re-election, but was unexpectedly defeated by populistic Rolandas Paksas. He returned to politics as surprisingly as he had left, after the presidential scandal of 2003/2004, when his former rival Paksas became the first European head of state to be impeached and removed from office. Adamkus ran for the presidency again and was re-elected.

The first round of the 2004 election was held on June 13, 2004, with Adamkus securing 30% of the vote - more than any other candidate. Paksas could not run for office again, because a ruling from Lithuania's Constitutional Court disallowed him from running for public office and he was, therefore, unable to register as a candidate. A runoff election was held on June 27, 2004, which Adamkus won with about 52% of the votes against Kazimira Prunskienė. Since his inauguration on July 12, 2004, he has again been serving as the President of the Republic of Lithuania.

In 2003 Valdas Adamkus was named UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador for the Construction of Knowledge Societies. The Director-General of UNESCO, Koïchiro Matsuura, noted that Valdas Adamkus was named as Ambassador "in recognition of his dedication to the Organization's aims and ideals and with a view to benefiting for the construction of knowledge societies from his wisdom and extensive experience in many of UNESCO's areas of concern, in particular promotion of social development, cultural diversity, dialogue and international cooperation."[4]

Lithuanian Presidency, 2004 — present

Foreign affairs

Under the presidency of Valdas Adamkus, Lithuania actively promoted democracy in the formerly Soviet Eastern European and Asian nations. President Adamkus, together with President Aleksander Kwasniewski, Javier Solana, Boris Gryzlov and Ján Kubiš, served as a mediator during Ukraine's political crisis, when two candidates in the 2004 presidential election, Viktor Yanukovych and Viktor Yushchenko, each claimed victory. President Adamkus recalled in an interview that "when I asked what we could do to help, Kuchma said the friends of the Ukrainian people should drop whatever they were doing and come to Kiev immediately."[5]. The next day international mediators met in Ukraine. The crisis was resolved after a new election was held.

Valdas Adamkus and his Estonian counterpart Arnold Rüütel rejected an invitation to participate in a commemorative celebration of the end of World War II in Europe in 2005. President Adamkus expressed the view that the war's end, in Lithuania, marked the beginning of a fifty-year Soviet occupation and repression. In response, on July 22, the United States Congress unanimously passed a resolution that Russia should "issue a clear and unambiguous statement of admission and condemnation of the illegal occupation and annexation by the Soviet Union from 1940 to 1991 of the Baltic countries of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania," [6], but Russia refused.

President Adamkus supported an active dialogue between European Union member states and those former Soviet republics such as Georgia, Ukraine, and Moldova, that are actively seeking membership in the EU. He expressed support for these candidate members during the Community of Democratic Choice in 2005, at the Vilnius Conference 2006, and on several other occasions.

Domestic affairs

Valdas Adamkus enjoys a very high approval rating in Lithuania. He was also recognized for the second time for his support of Lithuanian youth. President Adamkus was actively involved in government reorganizations in 2004 and 2006. In his 2006 State of the Nation address,[7] Adamkus stated that his top priorities were:
  • Increasing public participation in the political realm
  • Targeted and transparent use of the EU funds and opportunities for building a greater well-being in Lithuania
  • Reforms in public governance, education and science, social support and health care
  • The development of professional competence among civil servants, especially in assessing regulatory impacts
  • Approval of a political code of ethics
  • Direct mayoral elections, and elimination of the county system
  • Construction of a new nuclear power unit in Ignalina
  • Legislation regulating the selection, appointment and promotion of judges
  • Controlling "brain drain" by supporting research and higher education infrastructure

Awards

Valdas Adamkus has been honored with the following decorations:

Honorary Doctorates

Valdas Adamkus holds honorary doctorates at universities in Lithuania, the U.S., and other countries, including:

References

1. ^ V. Adamkus išlieka populiariausiu Lietuvos politiku (Adamkus Remains the Most Popular Politician in Lithuania), Baltic News Service (BNS), 22 July 2006, Delfi.lt. Accessed 7 September 2006.
2. ^ Leonidas Donskis, Užsikimšusios politinės lyderystės arterijos (Clogged Arteries of Political Leadership), Klaipėda, 24 April 2006, Delfi.lt. Accessed 7 September 2006.
3. ^ "Valdas Adamkus". Encyclopedia Lituanica I. (1970-1978). Ed. Simas Sužiedėlis. Boston, Massachusetts: Juozas Kapočius. 16. LCC 74-114275. 
4. ^ Roni Amelan, Valdas Adamkus to be named UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador for the Knowledge Societies, Bureau of Public Information, UNESCO. Accessed 7 September 2006.
5. ^ Steven Paulikas, A House Divided, Newsweek, 24 January 2006. Accessed 7 September 2006.
6. ^ [1] Russia should admit occupation
7. ^ Valdas Adamkus, State of the Nation 2006 (PDF), Office of the President of Lithuania. Accessed 7 September 2006.

See also

External links

Preceded by
Algirdas Brazauskas
President of Lithuania
19982003
Succeeded by
Rolandas Paksas
Preceded by
Artūras Paulauskas
President of Lithuania
August 2004 – present
Incumbent

Leaders of Lithuania since 1919
Presidents Antanas Smetona | Aleksandras Stulginskis | Kazys Grinius | Jonas Staugaitis* | Aleksandras Stulginskis* | Antanas Smetona | Antanas Merkys* | Justas Paleckis
LKP First Secretaries Antanas Sniečkus | Petras Griškevičius | Ringaudas Songaila | Algirdas Brazauskas
Presidents Vytautas Landsbergis | Algirdas Brazauskas | Valdas Adamkus | Rolandas Paksas | Artūras Paulauskas* | Valdas Adamkus
* denotes acting


Persondata
NAMEAdamkus, Valdas
ALTERNATIVE NAMESAdamkevicius, Valdemaras
SHORT DESCRIPTIONPresident of Lithuania from February 26 1998 until February 25 2003, and from July 12 2004 to the present
DATE OF BIRTHNovember 3 1926
PLACE OF BIRTHKaunas, Lithuania
DATE OF DEATH
PLACE OF DEATH
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