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The Lithuanian Embassy in Washington, DC, is the longest-serving Lithuanian diplomatic mission abroad. It is considered a living symbol of the continuity of Lithuania’s diplomatic service.
After reestablishing its independence following the First World War, the most important task for the new Lithuanian Republic was to gain international recognition and to strengthen its economy. In 1919, realizing the importance of the United States in securing international recognition of its statehood, Lithuania sent its first representative, Jonas Vileišis, to the United States.
Voldemaras Čarneckis (1921-1923) continued Vileišis’ work. On July 28, 1922, the United States recognized Lithuania de facto and de jure. On October 11th of that same year V. Čarneckis presented his credentials to the State Department. That date is considered the official start of the Lithuanian Legation’s activities in the United States.
After received U.S. recognition, Lithuania sought to acquire a building for its legation. Lithuanian envoy Kazys Bizauskas (1923-1927) purchased a building at 2622 16th Street NW in Washington DC, for $90,000, on a large 17,000 square foot (1,580 square meter) plot of land. On June 1, 1924, Lithuanian diplomats moved into the new premises, which are still in use today.
After the departure of Kazys Bizauskas, legation staff member Mikas Bagdonas (1927-1928 and 1934-1935) took over as Lithuanian Charge d’Affaires a.i. Later, Bronius Kazys Balutis (1928-1934) and Povilas Žadeikis (1935-1957) served as Lithuanian envoys. P. Žadeikis became the longest –serving Lithuanian diplomatic representative in the United States, having held the duties until his death in 1957.
Following the 1940 Soviet occupation of Lithuania, the legation in Washington performed a key diplomatic role continuously raising the issue of Lithuania’s independence and helping maintain the United States policy of non-recognition of the Soviet occupation of Lithuania.
Juozas Kajackas served as Lithuania’s Charge d’Affaires a.i. between 1957 and 1976, when Dr. Stasys Antanas Bačkis (1976-1987) became Lithuania’s envoy to the United States. In 1987, when the health of S. Bačkis deteriorated, Stasys Lozoraitis, Jr. (1987-1993) a counselor at the legation took over the duties of Lithuanian envoy. When Lithuania declared independence on March 11, 1990, the Lithuanian Legation took on embassy status and S. Lozoraitis was named ambassador.
The first ambassadors from newly independent Lithuania to serve in Washington, DC, were Dr. Adolfas Eidintas (1993-1997), Stasys Sakalauskas (1997-2001), Vygaudas Ušackas (2001-2006) and Audrius Bruzga (since 2007).
The ambassadors were also responsible for the actual embassy building which, thanks to generations of diplomats and Lithuanian-Americans, had served Lithuania for more than 50 years. The building underwent a fundamental reconstruction in 2004-2009.
The Lithuanian Embassy in Washington, DC is located at 2622 16th Street, NW. Telephone: (202) 234-5860.