In December 2016 New York Times reported that then President elect of the United States of America, Donald Trump, has issued an edict requiring politically appointed ambassadors to leave their overseas posts by his Inauguration Day. This caused an uproar in the diplomatic community and the global media. To a layman, this sounds like a significant turn of events, but is nothing more than breaking of an established practice of granting of a few months grace period to the diplomats before appointing new ones. In reality, the resignation and replacement of politically appointed ambassadors at the end of the presidential term is an expected routine.
President of the USA (POTUS) can nominate and with the consent of the Senate appoint “Ambassadors, other public Ministers and Consuls”. United States ambassadors may be career diplomats hired as Foreign Service Officers or political appointees, both nominated by the POTUS. These political appointees can be people from non-government backgrounds. Around 70 per cent of the U.S. ambassadors are professional career diplomats.
The information of hastened and forced resignation of the U.S. ambassadors interested the public in the Balkans countries, since foreign ambassadors (especially United States ambassadors) are perceived as powerful political actors in the countries of their appointment. The fact is that all of the current top diplomats in the countries encompassing Western Balkans are career diplomats, unaffiliated with the old or new U.S. administration. All of them have been confirmed by the U.S. Senate around the end of 2014, and have assumed their posts at the beginning of the 2015. Since most career diplomats serve a tour of roughly estimating three years per term, we can expect regular cadre changes around the end of this or the beginning of the next year in the Western Balkans.
Albania: Donald Lu
He was sworn in as U.S. Ambassador to the Republic of Albania on December 17, 2014 and assumed his position one month later. In the 25 year long career in the United States Foreign Service this is his first ambassadorial assignment. Before moving to Tirana, Albania he worked on the Ebola crisis in West Africa as Deputy Coordinator of Ebola response.
Bosnia and Herzegovina: Maureen Cormack
Ambassador Cormack officially became the U.S. Ambassador to Bosnia and Herzegovina on January 16, 2015. She has joined the Foreign Service in 1989 and in early assignments served as Director of the American Centers in South Korea and Poland.
Croatia: Julieta Valls Noyes
Julieta Valls Noyes was nominated by former President Obama as Ambassador to the Republic of Croatia on March 26, 2015 and confirmed by the Senate on June 24, 2015. She has graduated from Wellesley College in 1984 and joined the Foreign Service the following year.
Kosovo: Greg Delawie
Mr. Delawie was sworn in as Ambassador on July 24, 2015. He presented his credentials to the President of the Republic of Kosovo Jahjaga on August 21. His early State Department career included stops in Ankara, Frankfurt, and assignments in Washington.
Macedonia: Jess L. Baily
Ambassador Jess Baily was confirmed by the Senate to be the U.S. Ambassador to Macedonia in December 2014, but presented his credentials on February 12, 2015. He most recently served as Chargé d’Affaires at the U.S. Embassy in Ankara, after arriving there in July 2011 to serve as Deputy Chief of Mission.
Montenegro: Margaret Ann Uyehara
Margaret Uyehara was confirmed by the Senate to be the U.S. Ambassador to Montenegro in December 2014. Ambassador Uyehara has assumed office on February 19, 2015. She is a career member of the Senior Foreign Service, class of Minister-Counselor.
Serbia: Kyle Randolph Scott
Kyle Scott, a career member of the Senior Foreign Service, class of Minister-Counselor, presented his credentials as Ambassador to Serbian President Tomislav Nikolić on February 5, 2016. Thi is the first ambassadorial assignment for this expert on Eastern Europe and Russia.
This article has been produced with the support of the Balkan Trust for Democracy. The content of this article and the opinions expressed herein are the sole responsibility of the portal European Western Balkans and in no way reflect the views and opinions of the Balkan Trust for Democracy nor the German Marshall Fund of the United States.