Accessibility links

Breaking News

World: New U.S. Ambassadors Appointed In 'Dance Of The Diplomats'

By Julie Moffet and Sonia Winter

Washington, 30 July 1997 (RFE/RL) - In Washington, summer is the season for the State Department shuffle or "the dance of the diplomats" -- when dozens of new ambassadors are appointed by the White House to replace others going on to new posts.

A White House official says nearly 30 ambassadorial nominations have been announced so far and there are more to come.

Tuesday, six of the nominees appeared before the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee to show they are qualified for the job and get the Committee's approval.

A legislative aide told RFE/RL that the Committee plans to vote today on a batch of appointments that could include the six, as well as new ambassadors to Russia and Turkey, who testified before the Committee a week ago. He said the list was still tentative.

The Committee's recommendation later goes to the full Senate where all 100 members must vote on the nominations.

At the Tuesday confirmation hearing, there was no dispute about the qualifications of the ambassadorial hopefuls -- all were seasoned, experienced professionals with records of achievement in their chosen field.

Richard Kauzlarovich, to be ambassador to Bosnia-Herzegovina, joined the State Department 29 years ago and is an experienced peace negotiator. In his previous position as U.S. Ambassador to Azerbaijan, he participated in talks to resolve the longstanding Armenian-Azerbaijani dispute over the Nagorno-Karabakh enclave.

At the hearing, Kauzlarovich said U.S.leadership put together the Dayton peace agreement for Bosnia and that "U.S. leadership alone will bring its success or failure."

He said that after a spring review of its Bosnia policy, the U.S. convinced international partners to support more assertive implementation of the Dayton accords.

Kauzlarovich said that as U.S. Ambassador to Bosnia, he will do his utmost to pursue the aggressive new policy.

James Pardew, appointed U.S. Special Representative for Military Stabilization in the Balkans with the rank of Ambassador, said he will focus on a program to train and equip Bosnian Federation armed forces. He said it is essential to continue the program until U.S. troops leave Bosnia and the U.S. develops a more normal relationship with the Bosnian government, providing regular security assistance.

Pardew, a decorated U.S. Army Colonel, working at the Defense Department, said the purpose of the Train and Equip program is to make Bosnian forces of Muslims and Croats strong enough to protect Sarajevo and deter aggression.

He said the U.S. goal is to achieve "a military balance at the lowest level of armaments in the region."

Pardew was also one of the U.S. peace negotiators in Dayton in December 1995, working on the team of then Secretary of State Richard Holbrooke. He said he has a special understanding of the region because his grandfather came to America from the town of Rijeka in Croatia and often told tales of life in the old country.

The man expected to be the next U.S. Ambassador to Belarus, Daniel Speckhard, said it has been difficult to watch the promising start Belarus made at the beginning of its independence deteriorate into systematic destruction of democratic institutions.

He said the U.S. hopes to encourage and inspire change in Belarus and that he will work hard to encourage the Belarusian government to reverse its present course.

Speckhard said democratic checks and balances to government must be reinstated, the economy liberalized and dissent allowed in the government and the media, or Belarus risks economic decay and further isolation from the international community.

But Speckhard said "there is hope for the future if Belarus adjusts its current policies."

Speckhard said he brings to the job of Ambassador in Minsk four years of experience in promoting democratic and economic reforms in the former Soviet Union as deputy to the State Department's chief coordinator for the newly independent states, and many years of work in foreign assistance programs.

Another career diplomat -- Keith Smith -- is to be U.S. Ambassador to Lithuania. He joined the State Department Foreign Service 35 years ago and has lived in many countries, mastering several languages, including Hungarian. Smith said he is now learning Lithuanian. He has served in Norway, as well as Estonia, and said he has worked on Baltic issues for the last five years.

Smith said he will work for the integration of Lithuania into the international democratic community. He said he very much supports the eventual inclusion of Lithuania, as well as Estonia and Latvia, into NATO.

Smith said he is proud the U.S. never recognized what he called a "temporary suppression of Lithuanian sovereignty" during 50 years of Soviet occupation.

He said now is a time of great progress in the consolidation of Lithuanian democracy and that the world is also witnessing a continual strengthening of Lithuanian sovereignty.

The only woman among the nominees testifying yesterday, Anne Marie Sigmund, is to be U.S. Ambassador to Kyrgyzstan.

She said Kyrgyzstan is a pacesetter and model for reform in Central Asia. It is in the U.S. interest to see that the Kyrgyz people succeed in building a stable democracy and to support their efforts, Sigmund said.

Sigmund is a veteran U.S. diplomat of more than 25 years and speaks several languages including Russian, Polish and Serbo-Croat.