Valdas Adamkus

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Valdas Adamkus
Valdas Adamkus in 2005.JPEG
President of Lithuania
In office
12 July 2004 – 12 July 2009
Prime Minister Algirdas Brazauskas
Zigmantas Balčytis (Acting)
Gediminas Kirkilas
Andrius Kubilius
Preceded by Artūras Paulauskas (Acting)
Succeeded by Dalia Grybauskaitė
In office
26 February 1998 – 26 February 2003
Prime Minister Gediminas Vagnorius
Irena Degutienė (Acting)
Rolandas Paksas
Irena Degutienė (Acting)
Andrius Kubilius
Rolandas Paksas
Eugenijus Gentvilas (Acting)
Algirdas Brazauskas
Preceded by Algirdas Brazauskas
Succeeded by Rolandas Paksas
Personal details
Born (1926-11-03) 3 November 1926 (age 95)
Kaunas, Lithuania
Political party Independent[1]
Spouse(s) Alma Adamkienė
Profession Civil engineer, civil servant
Religion Roman Catholic
Signature Valdas Adamkus's signature
President Adamkus meeting with Vice President of the United States Dick Cheney in Lithuania. The meeting took place during the Vilnius Conference 2006: Common Visions for Common Neighborhoods.
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.

Valdas Adamkus (Template:IPA-lt; born in Kaunas, Lithuania; 3 November 1926) was 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 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. His approval ratings were high[2] and he was regarded as a moral authority in the state.[3] He chose not to run for re-election during the Lithuanian presidential election in 2009 and was succeeded on 12 July 2009 by Dalia Grybauskaitė.

He is married to Alma Adamkienė, who is involved in charitable activities in Lithuania. The President remains involved in international development, and is a member of the European Academy of Diplomacy.


Adamkus was born into 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 first Soviet occupation of 1940. During World War II, his family fled Lithuania in order to avoid the second Soviet occupation in 1944. 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 United States 5th Army Reserve's military intelligence unit in the 1950s. During his youth, Adamkus was interested in track and field. He also set national record at 100 metres running.[4] In 1951, Adamkus got married to Alma Nutautaite. However, they have no children.

After arriving in Chicago, Illinois as a displaced person, he worked in an automobile factory and later as a draftsman. Adamkus graduated as a civil engineer from Illinois Institute of Technology in 1961. While a student, Adamkus, together with other Lithuanian Americans, collected about 40,000 signatures petitioning the United States government to intervene in the ongoing deportations of Lithuanians to Siberia by the Soviets.[5] The petition was presented 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.[5]

Career in the United States Environmental Protection Agency

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 1985, President Reagan presented him with the Distinguished Executive Presidential Rank Award – the highest honor that can be bestowed upon a civil servant.

In 1972, Adamkus visited Lithuania for the first time in almost thirty years. He was a member of the official delegation from the United States attending an environmental conference in Moscow. As perestroika took root in the Soviet Union, Adamkus's visits to his homeland became more frequent. Valdas Adamkus served as regional administrator of the EPA for sixteen years, and retired in 1997, after twenty-nine years of 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".

Lithuanian presidency, 1998–2003

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.[6] 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 as surprisingly as he had left, after the presidential scandal of 2003/2004, when his former rival Paksas was 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 13 June 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 27 June 2004, which Adamkus won with about 52% of the votes against Kazimira Prunskienė. By 2009 he had served the two presidential terms permitted by the Constitution of Lithuania and was succeeded as president by Dalia Grybauskaite.

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."[7]

Lithuanian presidency, 2004–09

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 Kwaśniewski, 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.".[8] 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 22 July, 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",[9] 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.

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

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,[10] 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

Honours and awards

Valdas Adamkus has been honored with the following decorations:

Year Award Issuer
1985 President's Award for Distinguished Federal Civilian Service United States
1998 Grand Cross of the Order of the Falcon[11] Iceland
1998 Grand Cross of the Order of St. Olav Norway
1998 Member First Class of the Order of Prince Yaroslav the Wise Ukraine
1999 Collar of the Order of the Cross of Terra Mariana Estonia
1999 Grand Cross of the Order of the Redeemer Greece
1999 Knight Grand Cross with Collar of the Order of Merit of the Italian Republic Italy
1999 Knight of the Order of the White Eagle Poland
1999 Grand Cross of the Order for the Services[clarification needed] Malta
1999 Knight Grand Cross of the Order of Merit of the Republic of Hungary[clarification needed] Hungary
2000 Recipient 1st class of the Order of Friendship Kazakhstan
2001 Commander Grand Cross with Chain of the Order of Three Stars Latvia
2001 Grand Cross of the Order of the Legion of Honour France
2001 Sash of the Order of the Star of Romania Romania
2002 Recipient of the Order of St. Meshrop Mashtots Armenia
2002 Collar and the Grand Cross of the Order of the White Rose Finland
2002 Member of the Order For Special Merits[clarification needed] Uzbekistan
2002 St Andrew 'Dialogue of Civilisation' prize laureate[clarification needed] Russia
2003 Recipient of the Order of Vytautas the Great with Golden Chain Lithuania
2004 Collar of the Order of the White Star Estonia
2005 Dame of the Collar of the Order of Isabel the Catholic[clarification needed] Kingdom of Spain
2005 Grand Cross Special Class of the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany Germany
2006 Grand Cordon of the Order of Leopold Kingdom of Belgium
2006 Knight Grand Cross of the Order of the Bath United Kingdom
2006 Member First Class of the Order of Merit Ukraine
2007 Member of the Order of Mother Theresa Albania
2007 Grand Cordon of the Supreme Order of the Chrysanthemum Japan
2007 Recipient of the St. George's Victory Order Georgia
2007 European of the Year
2008 Knight Grand Cross of the Order of the Netherlands Lion Netherlands
2008 Collar of the Order of the Merit of Chile Republic of Chile
2009 Grand Star of the Decoration for Services to the Republic of Austria Austria
2009 Member of the Order of Stara Planina Bulgaria
2009 Recipient of the Order of Liberty Ukraine

Honorary doctorates

Valdas Adamkus holds honorary doctorates at universities in Lithuania, the United States and other countries, including:

See also


  1. Miles, Lee (2003). The European Union: Annual Review 2002/2003. Blackwell Publishing. ISBN 978-1-4051-2986-2.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. V. Adamkus išlieka populiariausiu Lietuvos politiku (Adamkus Remains the Most Popular Politician in Lithuania), Baltic News Service (BNS), 22 July 2006, Accessed 7 September 2006.
  3. Leonidas Donskis, Užsikimšusios politinės lyderystės arterijos (Clogged Arteries of Political Leadership), Klaipėda, 24 April 2006, Accessed 7 September 2006.
  4. Mindaugas Augustis (19 April 2011). "Knygoje – V. Adamkaus sportinis kelias" (in Lithuanian). Retrieved 27 March 2011.CS1 maint: unrecognized language (link)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  5. 5.0 5.1 Simas Sužiedėlis, ed. (1970–1978). "Valdas Adamkus". Encyclopedia Lituanica. I. Boston, Massachusetts: Juozas Kapočius. p. 16. LCC 74-114275.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  6. "Lithuanian Return U.S. Passport". The Washington Post. 26 February 1988.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  7. Roni Amelan, Valdas Adamkus to be named UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador for the Knowledge Societies, Bureau of Public Information, UNESCO. Accessed 7 September 2006.
  8. Steven Paulikas, A House Divided, Newsweek, 24 January 2006. Accessed 7 September 2006.
  9. Russia should admit occupation
  10. Valdas Adamkus, State of the Nation 2006 (PDF), Office of the President of Lithuania. Accessed 7 September 2006.
  11. Icelandic Presidency Website (Icelandic), Order of the Falcon, Adamkus, Valdas, 8 June 1998, Grand Cross

Further reading

  • Fredriksen, John C. ed. Biographical Dictionary of Modern World Leaders: 1992 to the Present (Facts on File Library of World History) (2003) pp 5–6
  • Eastern Europe. ABC-CLIO. p. 196.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

External links

Political offices
Preceded by
Algirdas Brazauskas
President of Lithuania
Succeeded by
Rolandas Paksas
Preceded by
Artūras Paulauskas
President of Lithuania
Succeeded by
Dalia Grybauskaitė