U.S. President Joe Biden will nominate Mark Gitenstein, a former ambassador to Romania, to be Washington’s envoy to the European Union, the White House announced Tuesday.
Mr Gitenstein, served as Washington’s ambassador to Romania from 2009 to 2012. He was nominated by former President Barack Obama in 2009 and later confirmed by the U.S. Senate.
He is a highly regarded lawyer and diplomat and longtime aide to the current U.S. president. He served as a member of the advisory council of the Biden-Harris transition team last year after Donald Trump failed in his bid for re-election.
Mr Gitenstein is of Romanian-Jewish descent. His grandparents emigrated from the northern city of Botosani which had a thriving Jewish community before WWII.
The U.S.–Romanian Ballistic Missile Defense Agreement was signed and negotiated during his tenure in Bucharest.
As ambassador, he traveled to Afghanistan three times to visit U.S. and Romanian troops. He also acted as a human rights advocate for the marginalized Roma population.
His worked to establish Restart Romania, a project designed to harness the power of the internet and social media to support transparency of public institutions, and promote grass roots efforts to fight corruption.
He was named as a leading choice to lead the Office of Legal Policy in the Department of Justice in 2009. However, he was rejected after public reports of his extensive work as a registered lobbyist for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.
The choice of Mr. Gitenstein, a longtime chief Democratic counsel to the Senate Judiciary Committee, which Joe Biden formerly chaired, had been considered a done deal, with his connections to the Vice President and close relationships in the legal community.
Biden’s also named a number of other ambassadors on Tuesday. His picks must be confirmed by the Senate.