Valdas Adamkus

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Person.png Valdas Adamkus  Rdf-entity.pngRdf-icon.png
(politician)
Valdas Adamkus.jpg
Born3 November 1926
NationalityLithuanian
Alma materIllinois Institute of Technology, University of Munich
Member ofClub de Madrid
US exile community Lithuanian 'parachuted' in to run country

Employment.png President of Lithuania

In office
12 July 2004 - 12 July 2009

Employment.png President of Lithuania

In office
26 February 1998 - 26 February 2003

Valdas Adamkus (born Voldemaras Adamkavičius)[1] is a Lithuanian politician who has spent most of his life in the US. He was the President of Lithuania from 1998 to 2003 and again from 2004 to 2009.

In Lithuania, the President's tenure lasts for five years; Adamkus' first term in office began on 26 February 1998 and ended on 28 February 2003, following his defeat by Rolandas Paksas in the next presidential election. Paksas was later conveniently impeached and removed from office by a parliamentary vote on 6 April 2004. Soon afterwards, when a new election was announced, Adamkus again ran for president and was re-elected.

Biography

Valdas Adamkus was born on in Kaunas. He was originally given the name "Voldemaras Adamkavičius" but had it anglicized to "Valdas Adamkus" in 1955.[2]

His uncle was Edvardas Adamkavičius, who was the general in Lithuanian Armed Forces during the interwar period.[3]

His father was one of the first heads of the Lithuanian Air Force School in the Republic of Lithuania, and later the Chief of Police of Kaunas Railway Station. His mother worked in the Ministry of Transport. During World War II, his family fled with the Germans in order to avoid the second Soviet occupation in 1944.

Valdas had already as a young man (age 14), joined the underground against the first Soviet occupation of 1940. However, when the family in 1944 found refuge in a war refugee camp near Wroclaw (then Breslau), he returned to Lithuania to join the Homeland Security Team of Lithuanian Volunteers ('Werewolves') formed to fight against the Red Army. (This implies some military training, the biography is unclear where and when he received it). There he was appointed interpreter of the battalion staff. He finally left Lithuania in October 1944, as he writes in his memoirs, hiding under a tank in a retreating German army column.[4]

In Germany, he graduated from Eichstadt Lithuanian Gymnasium in 1946 (where his future wife Alma Nutautaitė also studied), and entered the Faculty of Natural Sciences of the University of Munich (Munich was a CIA/BND hub during the Cold War). After a year of study, in 1947, he moved to Augsburg, where he found employment with the World Union of Young Christians, 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 United States 5th Army Reserve's military intelligence unit in the 1950s.

After arriving in Chicago, Illinois as a displaced person, he first worked in an automobile factory and later as a draftsman. Adamkus graduated as a civil engineer from Illinois Institute of Technology in 1961.

In the seventies, together with his wife Alma and the American Lithuanian businessman Juozas Bačiūnas, he acquired and administered the Tabor Farm holiday resort in Michigan.

Career in the USA

While living in the United States, he became a member of the Republican Party and became actively involved in political activities in the 1960s. During that time, the Eastern European exile groups became a powerful force in the party Initially, he participated in the local election campaign for a local Republican candidate in Illinois. Later, in 1968, as a Republican candidate, he ran in the Chicago Sanitary Board of Trustees and lost the election to the Democratic candidate.

While living in the United States, he took an active part in the social and political activities of the Lithuanian diaspora, organized protests against the occupation of Lithuania, and organized various petitions, which were also given to the highest-ranking US federal government politicians, to then-Vice President Richard Nixon. Adamkus also raised concerns about other Soviet activities in occupied Lithuania to United Nations Secretary General Dag Hammarskjöld in 1958, and to President John F. Kennedy in 1962. In 1958, he sent a protest telegram to the Vatican on behalf of the expatriate youth organizations, speaking out against Pope John XXIII's decision to close the Lithuanian embassy in the Vatican.

He became chaimanr of the Santara-Šviesa federation, a liberal non-governmental organization. He was a member of the American Lithuanian Community Council (ALT).

He joined the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) at its inception in 1970, working in Cincinnati. In 1981, he was appointed regional administrator by President Ronald Reagan, and was responsible for all air, water, hazardous waste, and other pollution control programs in Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio, and Wisconsin.

In 1972, Adamkus visited Lithuania for the first time in almost thirty years, as a member of the official delegation from the United States attending an environmental conference in Moscow. Since 1972 every year, sometimes several times a year, he went to Lithuania. Here he communicated with the representatives of the local intelligentsia, took an interest in the problems of nature protection in occupied Lithuania, brought environmental protection and literature on illegal emigration from the Soviet Union, and was able to visit his and his wife's family members.

From 1993, he began to actively participate in the political life of the newly restored Lithuania. 1993 In the Lithuanian presidential election, he was the campaign manager of the presidential candidate Stasys Lozoraitis. In 1996, he actively participated in the parliamentary election campaign, mobilizing moderate central political forces.

President of the Republic of Lithuania

In 1998, he was elected President of the Republic of Lithuania. Soon after his decision to run for presidency in 1998, he faced a legal battle in the Lithuanian courts. Doubts arose whether Adamkus was eligible to run for presidency due to having spent over half a century abroad, raising 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.[5]

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 Rolandas Paksas.

He returned to politics after the presidential scandal of 2003 and 2004, when his former rival Paksas was impeached and removed from office. (this scandal might imply some help from higher forces - like US services). In the first round of the 2004 election, held on 13 June 2004, 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 27 June 2004, which Adamkus won with about 52% of the votes against Kazimira Prunskienė.

Personal Life

He is married to Alma Adamkienė, who is involved in charitable activities in Lithuania. Following the end of his term as president, Adamkus remained involved in international development, and is a member of the European Academy of Diplomacy.

Valdas Adamkus is an Honorary Member of The International Raoul Wallenberg Foundation.

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