With the recent appointment of John F. Tefft as the US Ambassador to Russia, there will now be two Lithuanian speaking diplomats in Russia representing the world's major political powers. The other Lithuanian speaker is Vygaudas Ušackas, who has been the European Union's Ambassador to Russia since September last year. While Vygaudas Ušackas is a native Lithuanian speaker, John Tefft learned Lithuanian before his appointment as the US Ambassador to Lithuania (2000 - 2003).
US Ambassador John F. Tefft.
Photo courtesy wikepedia.org
During his first press conference in Vilnius John Tefft pleasantly surprised the audience by addressing them in Lithuanian. He was the first US Ambassador to Lithuania who spoke Lithuanian. It was during his term as Ambassador to Lithuania in 2002 that President George W. Bush, on the steps in front of Vilnius Town Hall, uttered the celebrated words: “Anyone who would choose Lithuania as an enemy has also made an enemy of the United States of America.” These words are now commemorated on a plaque affixed to the Town Hall. Ambassador Tefft was a key person behind President Bush's historic visit to Lithuania and has been credited to being the author of these words. He made a big contribution towards Lithuania joining NATO in 2004 and ensuring America’s support.
After his posting to Lithuania, John Tefft became the US Ambassador to Georgia (2005 - 2009) and to Ukraine (2009 - 2013).
EU Ambassador Vygaudas Ušackas with Lithuania's President
Dalia Grybauskaitė. Photo courtesy lrytas.lt
Further Information: www.lrytas.lt 19/05/14
On this website - News Archive/ Lithuanians in the News/ 28th July 2013 - "Ambassador Vygaudas Ušackas Meets Australian Lithuanians in Sydney"