On May 24, 2012, President Barack Obama nominated a career diplomat who has served mainly in Africa to be the next ambassador to the West African nation of Guinea.
Alexander Mark Laskaris would succeed Ambassador Patricia Moller, who has been chief of mission to Conakry since October 9, 2009. The nomination is subject to Senate confirmation, and the Senate Foreign Relations Committee is expected to schedule a hearing in July.
Born circa 1967 in Monterey, California, Laskaris earned a B.S. in International Relations Service at Georgetown University in 1989 and later an M.A. in Strategic Studies at the U.S. Army
War College. Prior to joining the Foreign Service, he worked as a high school English teacher in South Africa.
A career member of the Senior Foreign Service, Laskaris joined the Foreign Service in 1991. Early assignments included service as vice consul in Monrovia, Liberia, from 1991 to 1992, a period of civil war; and as political and economic officer at the embassy in Gaborone, Botswana. For the next seven years, Laskaris served a series of stateside assignments interrupted only by service as political officer at the embassy in Luanda, Angola, from December 1997 to October 1999.
He served as desk officer for Rwanda and Burundi from 1996 to 1997; as advisor on African affairs to the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, Richard Holbrooke, from 1999 to 2001; and as a member of the Secretary of State Colin Powell’s Policy Planning Staff from 2001 to 2003. He returned to Africa as deputy chief of mission at the embassy in Bujumbura, Burundi, from 2003 to 2005, followed by service in the same position at the embassy in Pristina, Kosovo, from 2006 to 2009.
He then took two “hardship posts” in Iraq, first as team leader for the Ninewa Provincial Reconstruction Team in Mosul, Iraq, from June 2008 to June 2009, and then as consul general at the Consulate in Erbil, Iraq, the capital of the Iraqi Kurdistan Region, starting in July 2010. In the year between these two postings, Laskaris studied Kurdish at the Foreign Service Institute.
He told a Senate delegation that his No. 1 job in Erbil was keeping Kurdistan in Iraq.
Quite the polyglot, Laskaris speaks Albanian, Greek, Spanish, French, Kurdish and Portuguese.