2001 - 2005
to the North Atlantic Council
Ambassador R. Nicholas Burns is the United States Permanent Representative
to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. Appointed by President Bush,
he was sworn into office by Secretary of State Colin Powell on August
8, 2001. As Ambassador to NATO, he heads the combined State-Defense Department
U.S. Mission to NATO. The Mission promotes U.S. interests on the range
of Alliance issues, including counter-terrorism, the Balkans, missile
defense, relations with Russia and Partners, NATO enlargement and military
capabilities, and NATO's relations with the European Union.
Prior to his current assignment, Ambassador Burns was U.S. Ambassador
to Greece from November 1997 until August 2001. During his tenure as Ambassador,
the U.S. expanded its military and law enforcement cooperation with Greece,
strengthened our partnership in the Balkans, increased trade and investment
and people-to-people programs.
From 1995 to 1997, Ambassador Burns was Spokesman of the Department of
State and Acting Assistant Secretary for Public Affairs for Secretary
of State Warren Christopher and Secretary Madeleine Albright. In this
position, he gave daily press conferences on U.S. foreign policy issues,
accompanied both Secretaries of State on all their foreign trips and coordinated
all of the Department's public outreach programs.
Mr. Burns, a career Senior Foreign Service Officer, served for five years
(1990-1995) on the National Security Council staff at the White House.
He was Special Assistant to President Clinton and Senior Director for
Russia, Ukraine, and Eurasia Affairs. He had lead responsibility in the
White House for advising the President, the Vice President and the National
Security Advisor on all aspects of U.S. relations with the fifteen countries
of the former Soviet Union.
Under President Bush, he was Director for Soviet (and then Russian) Affairs.
During this time, he attended all U.S. - Soviet summits and numerous other
international meetings and specialized on economic assistance issues,
U.S. ties with Russia and Ukraine, and relations with the Baltic countries.
He was a member of the Department's Transition Team in 1998, and served
as Staff Officer in the Department's Operations Center and Secretariat
Mr. Burns began his Foreign Service career in Africa and the Middle East.
He was an intern at the U.S. Embassy in Nouakchott, Mauritania, Vice Consul
and Staff Assistant to the Ambassador in Cairo, Egypt between 1983-1985,
and then Political Officer at the American Consulate General in Jerusalem
from 1985 to 1987. In this position, he coordinated U.S. economic assistance
to the Palestinian population in the West Bank and East Jerusalem.
Mr. Burns has been awarded the State Department's Superior Honor Award
for outstanding performance three times, the Department's James Clement
Dunn Award for Excellence in 1994, and in 2000 the Charles E. Cobb Award
for Trade Development by an Ambassador. He was also awarded the Order
of the Terra Mariana by Estonian President Meri for his work in securing
withdrawal of Russian military forces from that country.
Mr. Burns was born on January 28, 1956. Raised in Massachusetts, he earned
the Certificat Pratique de Langue Francaise from the University of Paris
(Sorbonne) in 1977. He subsequently earned a B.A. in European History
from Boston College in 1978, graduated Summa Cum Laude and was elected
Phi Beta Kappa. He then received an Masters degree with distinction from
John Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies in 1980 in International
Economics and American Foreign Policy. He has received honorary doctorates
from eight American universities. In 2001, he was given the Public Service
Award by the Boston College Alumni Association. In 2002, he was presented
the Woodrow Wilson Award for Distinguished Government Service by the Johns
Hopkins University. He was named Communicator of the Year by the National
Association of Government Communicators in 1997.
Before entering the Foreign Service, Mr. Burns worked as Program Officer
at A.T. International, a non-profit organization specializing in economic
assistance for Third World Countries.
Mr. Burns is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and the Order
of St. John. He speaks French, Arabic, and Greek. He and his wife Elizabeth
Baylies have three daughters.