Valdas Adamkus (born
Voldemaras Adamkavičius on November 3, 1926) is a
former President of the Republic of Lithuania.
He served for two terms as President of Lithuania
, although they
were not served consecutively. In Lithuania, the President's tenure
lasts for five years; Adamkus' first term in office began on
February 26, 1998 and ended on February 28, 2003, following his
defeat by Rolandas Paksas
next presidential election. Paksas was later impeached and removed
from office by a parliamentary vote on April 6, 2004. Soon
afterwards, when a new election was announced, Adamkus again ran
for president and was re-elected. Adamkus has one of the highest
approval rates among politicians in Lithuania and is regarded as a
moral authority in the state. 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.
was born into a Roman Catholic family
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
During World War II, his family fled Lithuania in
order to avoid the second Soviet occupation in 1944. He attended the
Munich in Germany before emigrating to the United States
Fluent in five languages - Lithuanian
- he served as a senior non-commissioned officer
5th Army Reserve
intelligence unit in the 1950s.
arriving in Chicago, Illinois, as a
displaced person, he had to take on
menial jobs, and worked in an automobile factory, but later as a
draftsman. Adamkus graduated as a
civil engineer from the Illinois
Institute of Technology in 1960. While a student, 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 which were
being conducted by the Soviets.
The petition was presented
to then-Vice President Richard Nixon
Adamkus also raised concerns about other Soviet activities in
occupied Lithuania with United
Secretary General Dag
in 1958, and with President John F. Kennedy
Career in the United States Environmental Protection
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
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 United States attending an environmental conference in
Moscow. While perestroika
evolving in the Soviet Union, his 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
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 active in the Republican Party
, but was
also respected by members of the Democratic Party
personal and professional integrity.
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.
He was elected as President of Lithuania in
1998, defeating Artūras
in the runoff, serving from then until 2003, when he
ran for re-election, but was unexpectedly defeated by populistic
. 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.
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.
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
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."
Lithuanian presidency, 2004 – 2009
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
and Ján Kubiš
served as a mediator during Ukraine's
, when two candidates in the 2004 presidential
election, Viktor Yanukovych
, each claimed
victory. President Adamkus recalled in an interview that "when I
asked what we could do to help, Kuchma
the friends of the Ukrainian people should drop whatever they were
doing and come to Kiev immediately.". 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",,
but Russia refused.
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
He expressed support for these
candidate members during the Community of Democratic
in 2005, at the Vilnius Conference 2006
, and on
several other occasions.
Valdas Adamus is a member of the Club of
. He is an Honorary Member of The International
Raoul Wallenberg Foundation
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, Adamkus stated that his top priorities
- 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
- 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
- Controlling "brain drain" by
supporting research and higher education infrastructure
Valdas Adamkus has been honored with the following decorations:
Valdas Adamkus holds honorary
at universities in Lithuania, the United States and
other countries, including:
- Vilnius University, 1989.
- Indiana St. Joseph's
College, USA, 1991.
- Northwestern University, USA, 1994.
- Kaunas University of
- The Catholic
University of America, USA, 1998.
University of Agriculture, 1999.
- Illinois Institute of
- Eurasian University,
- DePaul University, USA, 2001.
- Law University of Lithuania, 2001.
- Vytautas Magnus University, 2002.
- Lithuanian Academy of Physical
- Yerevan State University, Armenia, 2006.
- Baku State University, Azerbaijan, 2006.
- Donetsk University, Ukraine,
- University of Notre Dame, USA, 2007.
- Nicolaus Copernicus
University, Poland, 2007.
- Tallinn University, Estonia, 2008.
- University of
- Klaipėda University, 2008.
- John Paul II Catholic
- ISM University of Management and
- 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
- Leonidas Donskis, Užsikimšusios politinės lyderystės arterijos (Clogged
Arteries of Political Leadership), Klaipėda, 24 April
2006, Delfi.lt. Accessed 7 September 2006.
- Roni Amelan, Valdas Adamkus to be named UNESCO Goodwill
Ambassador for the Knowledge Societies, Bureau of Public
Accessed 7 September 2006.
- Steven Paulikas, A
House Divided, Newsweek, 24 January 2006. Accessed 7 September
- http://jbanc.org/hres128.html Russia should admit
- The Club of
Madrid is an independent organization dedicated to
strengthening democracy around the world by drawing on the unique
experience and resources of its Members – 66 democratic former
heads of state and government.
- Valdas Adamkus, State of the Nation 2006 (PDF), Office of the
President of Lithuania. Accessed 7 September 2006.