New appointments in the Baltics

  • 2001-03-22
Philipp Schwartz, 29, a former visiting lecturer at the EuroFaculty in Riga has become the head of the liaison office of the German federal state of Meck-lenburg-Western Pomerania for the Baltic states, in Tallinn. The main task of the office, founded in 1993, consists of promoting all kinds of contacts between Mecklenburg and Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, which has in the past focused on justice and on boosting business contacts. Activities in the future will concentrate on Latvia and Lithuania.

Lithuanian President Valdas Adamkus appointed Vygaudas Usackas to be the Lithuanian ambassador to the United States and Mexico. Usackas, 36, was Lithuania's chief EU negotiator before the appointment. He left the EU post at the beginning of this year.

Usackas has a degree in law from Vilnius University Ð his graduation thesis dealt with the legal aspects of the philosophy of Thomas Jefferson Ð and has studied political science at the University of Oslo in Norway and the University Aarhus in Denmark. He was Lithuanian liaison officer to NATO from 1994 to 1996. He is married and has a daughter and a son, and speaks English, Russian and French.

Center Union party candidate Rimantas Taraskevicius was elected mayor of Klai-peda, Lithuania's port on the Baltic Sea, on March 1. In a secret ballot, 22 of the City Council's 31 members voted for Taraskevicius. Most of the votes came from the New Alliance (Social Liberal) faction. The other candidate, Vytautas Grubliauskas, from the center-right Liberal Union, received just 7 votes.

Outgoing Mayor Eugenijus Gentvilas, who left to head the Ministry of Economics, was a popular member of the Liberal Union. The Liberals, with 10 seats, are the largest political force in Klaipeda's municipal body. Lithuania's ruling coalition includes the Liberal Union, the New Alliance and the Center Party. Two of the votes deposited in the ballot box were void.

Before his election Taraskevicius was the Western Lithuanian Industrial and Finance Corporation's construction department director. The new mayor quit his old job on March 6. He said he was a hired employee at the corporation and had never served any special interests. The Western Lithuanian Industrial and Finance Corporation is an influential financial group made up of many Lithuanian industrial enterprises, including timber processing and maritime freight.

Taraskevicius, 51, is a construction engineer by trade. He promised to perform his new duties competently and be a dependable mayor. Liberals in Klaipeda said they held no doubts Taraskevicius would be a fine mayor, provided he distances himself from his former employer. Otherwise, they said, the city could face danger.