With the passing of Ron Asmus, we have lost an exceptional figure in diplomacy and scholarship. I had the privilege of knowing Ron for years and am proud to have called him a confidant and friend.
Ron dedicated his life to the idea that the United States and Europe are inseparably bound by ties of culture, interests and values, and the belief that this Trans-Atlantic partnership is the foundation for a peaceful and prosperous world. From his early career with Radio Free Europe and the RAND Corporation to his service with the Department of State under Secretary Albright, he fought for the realization of a Europe whole, free and at peace.
Ron was a voice for NATO enlargement at a time when many felt that the Alliance had outlived its usefulness. As an expanded NATO leads the way today in Libya and Afghanistan, we are grateful for Ron’s foresight in insisting that not only was NATO still essential, but it would be better and stronger if it were open to all European states that met the requirements of membership.
While at the State Department, Ron worked tirelessly to ensure that Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania were able to decide their own futures. In Poland, the Czech Republic and Hungary, Ron is remembered as the man who made possible the historic NATO Summit of 1999, when those three nations joined the Alliance. They were the first – but not the last – to benefit from Ron’s vision of what NATO and the transatlantic community could be.
Following his work with the Department of State, Ron continued to advocate for the U.S.-Europe relationship and to support the aspirations of all European nations that desired to join Euro-Atlantic community to help Europe – and indeed the world – prosper.
Ron will be missed for many things - the passion he brought to the world of diplomacy, his commitment to the ideals of freedom and democracy, and for his wise counsel to decision-makers in Europe and in America. He was a statesman of the highest caliber and his loss is felt the world over.
Today my thoughts and prayers are with his wife, Barbara Wilkinson, their son Erik, his brothers Peter and Jeffrey, and his mother Christine Wittke.