Top European Affairs Diplomat to Resign from State Department, Amid Growing Transatlantic Tensions

Washington D.C. | 23 Jan 2019 (Tirana Echo) – A top diplomat in charge of European and Eurasian affairs at the US State Department has announced his resignation in February, as tensions between the US and EU allies are expected grow during 2019.

Wess Mitchell, US Assistant Secretary for European and Eurasian Affairs announced his imminent resignation in a letter sent to US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, underlining that as the Trump administration completes its second year in office, he felt that he had accomplished his given tasks in the top diplomatic position.

As such, I believe that the time has come for me to spend more time with my young family, who have endured many days without me over the past several months,” he wrote to Pompeo.

It is yet unclear what prompted Mitchell’s sudden decision to resign at such a delicate moment in Transatlantic relations, but during an interview he insisted his departure is not in protest of President Trump’s policies and that he fully supported the work of Secretary Pompeo.

Mitchell, 41, has since October 2017 been covering diplomatic relations with 50 countries in Europe and Eurasia, as well as with NATO, the EU and the OSCE.

His departure comes at a time of strained relations between the Trump Administration and the European Union, following Trump’s decision to impose tariffs on EU steel and aluminum, pulling out of the climate accord as well os of the previously agreed Iran nuclear deal. As a result of his continuous criticisms of EU policies, Tump has had particularly strained relations with Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron.

Mitchell has been particularly engaged with the countries of Central and Eastern Europe and last year he openly accused Russia of playing a destructive role in the Balkans, prompting political commentators to raise concerns over his departure’s effect on US policy in the region.

As a firm advocate for strong transatlantic relations and for defending the security of countries facing Russian aggression, Wess Mitchell’s departure is a tremendous loss for the administration and for NATO,” said Alexander “Sandy” Vershbow, a distinguished fellow in the Atlantic Council’s Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security who has served as deputy secretary general of NATO and US ambassador to Russia.

We do see Russia playing an increasingly destructive role in much of the Balkans in spreading disinformation, undermining democratic institutions,” Mitchell said during a joint press conference with Kosovo’s President Hashim Thaçi last year in Prishtina.

Prior to joining the State Department, Dr. Mitchell spent twelve years at the Center for European Policy Analysis, a think-tank dedicated to the study of Central Europe. A co-founder of CEPA, he served as President and CEO from 2009 to 2017 and Director of Research from 2006 to 2009. Dr. Mitchell played an instrumental role in CEPA’s growth to become a leading transatlantic think-tank with offices in Washington, DC and Warsaw, Poland.

Secretary Pompeo said on Twitter that Mitchell had done “an outstanding job as Assistant Secretary.

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