Vaira Vīķe-Freiberga

Vaira Vīķe-Freiberga (born 1 December 1937) is a Latvian politician who served as the sixth President of Latvia and the first female President of Latvia. She was elected President of Latvia in 1999 and re-elected for the second term in 2003.

Dr. Vaira Freiberga is a professor and interdisciplinary scholar, having published eleven books and numerous articles, essays and book chapters in addition to her extensive speaking engagements. As President of the Republic of Latvia 1999–2007, she was instrumental in achieving membership in the European Union and NATO for her country. She is active in international politics, was named Special Envoy to the Secretary General on United Nations reform and was official candidate for UN Secretary General in 2006.

She remains active in the international arena and continues to speak in defense of liberty, equality and social justice, and for the need of Europe to acknowledge the whole of its history. She is a well-known pro-European, as such, in December 2007 she was named vice-chair of the Reflection group on the long-term future of the European Union. She is also known for her work in psycholinguistics, semiotics and analysis of the oral literature of her native country.

Vaira Vīķe-Freiberga currently serves as the President of Club of Madrid, the world's largest forum of former Heads of State and Government. She is also a member of the International Programme Board of the Prague European Summit.

Vaira Vīķe-Freiberga

Ministru prezidenta tikšanās ar eksprezidenti (4108711953)
6th President of Latvia
In office
8 July 1999 – 8 July 2007
Prime MinisterVilis Krištopans
Andris Šķēle
Andris Bērziņš
Einars Repše
Indulis Emsis
Aigars Kalvītis
Preceded byGuntis Ulmanis
Succeeded byValdis Zatlers
Personal details
Vaira Vīķe

1 December 1937 (age 81)
Riga, Latvia
Political partyIndependent
Spouse(s)Imants Freibergs
Alma materUniversity of Toronto
McGill University
Vaira Vīķe-Freiberga's signature

Early life and education

Vaira Vīķe was born in Riga, Latvia. At the end of 1944, as the second Soviet occupation of Latvia began, her parents escaped to Nazi Germany. There she received her first education in Latvian primary school at a displaced persons camp in Lübeck, Germany, where her baby sister died.[1] Then her family moved to Casablanca in French Morocco[1] in 1949. In Morocco she attended French primary school at Daourat hydroelectric dam village where she learned the French language. She then went on to attend Collège de jeunes filles de Mers-Sultan in Casablanca. In 1954 her family moved to Toronto, Ontario, Canada, where she completed high school.

Vaira Vīķe attended Victoria College of the University of Toronto, graduating with a Bachelor of Arts in 1958 and a Master of Arts in 1960, in psychology.[2] She worked at the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce as a teller and part-time as a supervisor in Branksome Hall Boarding School for Girls. In 1958, being fluent in English, French, Latvian, Spanish and German,[1] she worked as a translator and the next year went on to work as a Spanish teacher for grades 12 and 13 at Ontario Ladies' College. Upon completion of her master's degree, Vīķe became a clinical psychologist at the Toronto Psychiatric Hospital in late 1960. She left in 1961 to resume her education at the McGill University in Montreal while also lecturing part-time at Concordia University. She earned her PhD in psychology from McGill University in 1965 with a dissertation supervised by Dr. Virginia Douglas, entitled "Concept Learning in Normal and Hyperactive Children."[3][4][5]

Professional life

From 1965 to 1998 Vaira Vīķe-Freiberga pursued a professorial career at the Department of Psychology of the French-speaking University of Montreal, where she taught psychopharmacology, psycholinguistics, scientific theories, experimental methods, language and cognitive processes. Her experimental research focused on memory processes and language, and the influence of drugs on cognitive processes. At the same time she did scholarly research on semiotics, poetics and the structural analysis of computer-accessible texts from an oral tradition—the Latvian folksongs. During this period she authored ten books and about 160 articles, essays or book chapters and has given over 250 speeches, allocutions and scientific communications in English, French or Latvian, and gave numerous radio, TV and press interviews in various languages.[6]

During that period Dr. Vīķe-Freiberga held prominent positions in national and international scientific and scholarly organizations, as well as in a number of Canadian governmental, institutional, academic and interdisciplinary committees, where she acquired extensive administrative experience.[7] She is the recipient of many medals, prizes and honours for distinguished work in the humanities and social sciences.[8]

In June 1998 she was elected Professor emerita at the University of Montreal and returned to her native land, Latvia, where on 19 October the Prime Minister named her Director of the newly founded Latvian Institute.

President of Latvia

Vaira Vīķe-Freiberga, Davos
Vaira Vīķe-Freiberga at the 2007 World Economic Forum.

Vaira Vīķe-Freiberga became President of Latvia in 1999. Although not a candidate in the first ballot, she was drafted by the Saeima (Latvian Parliament) and was elected to the office of President of Latvia on 20 June. She was sworn in on 8 July. Her approval rating ranged between 70% and 85%, and in 2003 she was re-elected for a second term of four years with 88 votes out of 96.

President George W. Bush stands with President Vaira Vike-Freiberga of Latvia, and NATO Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer
Vaira Vīķe-Freiberga with George W. Bush and Jaap de Hoop Scheffer, at the NATO Summit in Riga 2006.

She actively exercised the powers conferred on the President by the Constitution of the Republic of Latvia. She also played a leading role in achieving Latvia's membership in NATO and the European Union. She was an invited speaker at numerous international events (such as the joint session of the United States Congress,[9] in June 2006), as well as an outspoken pundit on social issues, moral values, European historical dialogue, and democracy. During her presidency she regularly visited towns and villages to meet her constituents in person, and received many thousands of letters yearly from Latvians.

In April 2005, the United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan named Vīķe-Freiberga as a member of his team of global political leaders helping to promote his comprehensive reform agenda.[10] In September 2006, the three Baltic States officially announced her candidacy for the post of United Nations Secretary-General.

After the presidency

Since the end of her presidency in July 2007, Dr. Vīķe-Freiberga has been actively participating as an invited speaker at a wide variety of international events. She is a founding member and current President of the Club of Madrid, founding member and Co-Chair the Nizami Ganjavi International Center, a member of the European Council on Foreign Relations, and honorary patron of several Foundations. She was a member of the Support Committee of the 2007 European Book Prize and an honorary patron of the Paris Colloquium on the Teaching of European literatures. On 14 December 2007 she was appointed Vice-president of the Reflection Group on the long-term future of the European Union. In 2008, she became a member of the European Council on Tolerance and Reconciliation. During the Spring semester 2008 she was an invited Senior Fellow at the Institute of Politics, John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University. She was chair of the European Research Area Board Identification Committee (2008), chair of the Review panel of the European Research Council (2009), and since December 2007, vice-chair of the Reflection group on the long-term future of the European Union. Vaira Vīķe-Freiberga has also been appointed on the Advisory Board of European Association of History Educators EUROCLIO. In October 2011, she was made chair of the European Commission High Level Expert Group on Media Freedom.[11]

She was a candidate for the first permanent President of the European Council. Herman Van Rompuy was eventually chosen for that position. Vīķe-Freiberga has said that under the Lisbon Treaty and beyond, a federal Europe is desirable.[12]

Vaira Vīķe-Freiberga is a member of :

  • the Global Leadership Foundation, an organization which works to support democratic leadership, prevent and resolve conflict through mediation and promote good governance in the form of democratic institutions, open markets, human rights and the rule of law. It does so by making available, discreetly and in confidence, the experience of former leaders to today's national leaders. It is a not-for-profit organization composed of former heads of government, senior governmental and international organization officials who work closely with Heads of Government on governance-related issues of concern to them.
  • the Fondation Chirac's honour committee,[13] ever since the foundation was launched in 2008 by former French president Jacques Chirac in order to promote world peace. She also participates as jury member for the Prize for Conflict Prevention[14] awarded every year by this foundation.
  • the Nizami Ganjavi International Center Co-Chair. Located strategically in the capital of Azerbaijan, Baku, the NGIC inspires leaders all over the world to address critical to global governance and peace. Based on the ideals of love for humanity, courage and ethics of the great Persian poet Nizami Ganjavi, the Center attracts attention and has an impressive network of leaders from all walks of life. Its vision is to become a global center for discussing global issues affecting peace in open and creative ways, as a nervous centre between East and West, between world religions and cultures.
  • Vaira serves on the Leadership Council for Concordia, a nonpartisan, nonprofit based in New York City focused on promoting effective public-private collaboration to create a more prosperous and sustainable future.
  • Vaira is the Member of Board of Thinkers of Boston Global Forum[15]

Medals and honors

Vīķe-Freiberga has received many medals and awards, including the 2005 Hannah Arendt Prize for political thought, the 2007 Emperor Otto Prize Prize for contributions in defining European identity and future, and the 2009 Friedrich-August-von-Hayek-Stiftung for promotion of freedom and free trade. She has been awarded 37 Orders of Merit and 16 Honorary Doctorates. She is a member of the Latvian Academy of Sciences, a fellow of the Royal Society of Canada and an associate member of the Royal Academy of Belgium. In 2013, she received the Knight of Freedom Award for her promotion of democratic values throughout the world, fighting for equality of women, as well as efforts for social justice.

Coat of Ams of Vaira Vīķe-Freiberga (Order of Isabella the Catholic)
Coat of arms as dame of the collar of the Order of Isabella the Catholic
LVA Order of the Three Stars - Commander BAR
LVA Order of Viesturs
LVA Cross of Recognition
EST Order of the Cross of Terra Mariana - 1st Class BAR
Order Sint Olaf 1 kl
FIN Order of the White Rose Grand Cross BAR
Order of Vytautas Commanders Grand Cross Ribbon
PRT Order of Prince Henry - Grand Cross BAR
POL Order Orła Białego BAR
Order of Isabella the Catholic - Sash of Collar
POL Order Zaslugi RP kl1 BAR
EST Order of the White Star - 1st Class BAR
Order of the Seraphim - Ribbon bar
JPN Daikun'i kikkasho BAR
AZ Dostlug Order ribbon-2

Four biographies about President Vaira Vīķe-Freiberga have been published (in Latvian, English, French, Finnish, Italian, Russian and Spanish), and a full-length documentary film The Threefold Sun in 2008.

Family and personal life

Vaira Vīķe-Freiberga is married to Imants Freibergs, formerly a professor of computer sciences at the University of Quebec at Montreal. He was the President of the Latvian Information and Communications Technology Association (LIKTA) while his wife was President of Latvia. The couple met at the Latvian Students Club in Toronto. They have two children, Kārlis and Indra. Dr. Vīķe-Freiberga and Dr. I. Freibergs have founded a company “VVF Consulting” that offers consulting services to public and private organizations.

Selected works

  • Vikis-Freibergs, Vaira (ed.) (1989). Linguistics and Poetics of Latvian Folk Songs: Essays in Honour of the Sesquicentennial of the Birth of Kr. Barons. McGill–Queen's Studies in Ethnic History 4. Kingston, Ont.: McGill–Queen's University Press. ISBN 978-0-7735-0661-9. OCLC 22859230.CS1 maint: Extra text: authors list (link)
  • Vike-Freiberga, Vaira (2000). Latvia's Place in a New Europe. European Essay 13. London: Federal Trust for Education and Research. ISBN 978-1-903403-26-6. OCLC 45682632.
  • Melngailis, Emīlis (2005). Vīķe-Freiberga, Vaira (ed.). Saules balsi: Latvian Sun Song Melodies (in Latvian and English). Riga: Karogs. ISBN 978-9984-505-82-4. OCLC 68609088.[19]

See also


  1. ^ a b c Vaira Vike-Freiberga, a Canadian-European, The Economist, 21 August 1999
  2. ^ (in English) "Curriculum vitae of Vaira Vīķe-Freiberga (until 1999)". Chancery of the President of Latvia. Archived from the original on 2007-09-27. Retrieved 2007-09-06.
  3. ^ Vīķe-Freiberga, Vaira (1965). "Concept learning in hyperactive and normal children".
  4. ^ [1]
  5. ^ Freibergs, Vaira; Douglas, Virginia I. (June 1969). "Concept learning in hyperactive and normal children" (PDF). Journal of Abnormal Psychology. 74 (3): 388–395. doi:10.1037/h0027601.
  6. ^ "Latvijas Valsts prezidenta mājas lapa". Archived from the original on 4 June 2016. Retrieved 14 May 2016.
  7. ^ "Latvijas Valsts prezidenta mājas lapa". Archived from the original on 4 June 2016. Retrieved 14 May 2016.
  8. ^ "Latvijas Valsts prezidenta mājas lapa". Archived from the original on 4 June 2016. Retrieved 14 May 2016.
  9. ^ (in English) Vīķe-Freiberga, Vaira (June 7, 2006). "Address to joint session of the United States Congress". Embassy of Latvia to the United States. Retrieved 2007-09-04.
  10. ^ (in English) "Latvian President named envoy to help promote Annan's reform agenda ahead of UN summit". UN News centre. 12 April 2005. Retrieved 2007-09-04.
  11. ^ "European Commission – Press release Digital Agenda: high-level group to discuss freedom and pluralism of the media across the EU". 2011-10-11. Retrieved 2011-10-16.
  12. ^ Vaira Vīķe-Freiberga (2009-11-21). "Focus on the big issues, not the bananas". The Times. Retrieved 2009-11-21.
  13. ^ "Honor Committee". Fondation Chirac. Retrieved 14 May 2016.
  14. ^ "The Jury". Fondation Chirac. Retrieved 14 May 2016.
  15. ^ "OCTOBER 3: Global Media and CyberTerrorism Conference". Retrieved 14 May 2016.
  16. ^ "CIDADÃOS ESTRANGEIROS AGRACIADOS COM ORDENS PORTUGUESAS - Página Oficial das Ordens Honoríficas Portuguesas". Retrieved 14 May 2016.
  17. ^ " - Documento BOE-A-2004-17853". Archived from the original on 2018-04-23. Retrieved 2018-04-22.
  18. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2012-08-28. Retrieved 2012-09-04.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
  19. ^ (in English) "Summary of publications by Vaira Vīķe-Freiberga". Chancery of the President of Latvia. Retrieved 2007-09-03.

Further reading

  • Torild Skard (2014) 'Vaira Vike-Freiberga' "Women of power - half a century of female presidents and prime ministers worldwide", Bristol: Policy Press ISBN 978-1-44731-578-0
  • Vitols-Dixon, Nadine (2005) [2006]. A Life's journey: Vaira Vīķe-Freiberga, President of Latvia. Riga: Pētergailis. ISBN 978-9984-33-174-4.
  • Čaklais, Māris (2003) [2003]. Izaicinājums (in Latvian). Riga: Pētergailis. ISBN 978-9984-33-062-4.
  • Cimdiņa, Ausma (2001) [2001]. Brīvības vārdā (in Latvian). Riga: Jumava. ISBN 978-9984-05-375-2.

External links

Political offices
Preceded by
Guntis Ulmanis
President of Latvia
Succeeded by
Valdis Zatlers
Diplomatic posts
Preceded by
Wim Kok
President of the Club of Madrid


2006 United Nations Secretary-General selection

A United Nations Secretary-General selection was held in 2006 to succeed Kofi Annan, whose second term as Secretary-General of the United Nations ran until 31 December 2006. Seven candidates were officially nominated for the position.

The United Nations Security Council conducted a series of unofficial straw polls between 24 July and 2 October. South Korean Foreign Minister Ban Ki-moon led the polls from the start, emerging as the only candidate with the support of all five veto-wielding permanent members of the Security Council (P5). After the final straw poll, all of the other candidates withdrew. The Security Council conducted a formal vote on 9 October and forwarded its choice to the General Assembly, which elected Ban on 13 October.

Andris Ārgalis

Andris Ārgalis (born August 18, 1944) is a Latvian politician. He was the mayor of Riga from 2000 to 2001.

Andris Ārgalis graduated from the Latvian Academy of Agriculture in 1969.

In 1997 he was elected to the Riga City Council as representative of the For Fatherland and Freedom/LNNK, a Latvian nationalist party. In 2000 and 2001 he was the Riga City Council Chairman (mayor). In a poll conducted in December 2000, he was the third most popular politician in Latvia with a rating 35.4 points on a scale from -100 to +100, after President Vaira Vīķe-Freiberga with 54.6 points and Bank of Latvia President Einars Repše with 52.5 points.In 2002 he left the City Council Members' office, and was elected a member of Parliament. In 2005 he resigned from Parliament and was re-elected to the Riga City Council, became a deputy mayor and chairman of the board of the Free port of Riga, a post traditionally held by the mayor.

Doles sala

Doles sala is a peninsula in the Daugava River, near the borders of Riga. There is an old mansion on Doles sala, which now serves as the Daugava Museum.

Greece–Latvia relations

Greek-Latvian relations are the bilateral relations between Greece and Latvia. Both countries are full members of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe, of NATO and the European Union. The Latvian embassy in Athens was established in 1998. Latvia also has two honorary consulates in Piraeus and in Thessaloniki. The Greek embassy in Riga was opened in January 2005.

Guntis Ulmanis

Guntis Ulmanis (born September 13, 1939) is a Latvian politician and was the fifth President of Latvia from 1993 to 1999.

Hannah Arendt Prize

The Hannah Arendt Prize for Political Thought (German: Hannah-Arendt-Preis für politisches Denken) is a prize awarded to individuals representing the tradition of political theorist Hannah Arendt, especially in regard to totalitarianism. It was instituted by the German Heinrich Böll Foundation (affiliated with the Alliance '90/The Greens) and the government of Bremen in 1995, and is awarded by an international jury.

Iceland–Latvia relations

Iceland–Latvia relations are foreign relations between Iceland and Latvia. Iceland was the first country to recognize the independence of Latvia in August 1991. Both countries re-established diplomatic relations on August 22, 1991. Neither country has a resident ambassador. Iceland is represented in Latvia through its embassy in Helsinki (Finland). Latvia is represented in Iceland through its embassy in Oslo (Norway) and an honorary consulate in Reykjavík.

Both countries are full members of the Council of the Baltic Sea States, of NATO, and of the Council of Europe.

Indulis Bērziņš

Indulis Bērziņš (born in 1957 in the city of Madona) is a Latvian historian and diplomat, former Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Latvia.

List of Latvian women writers

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List of ambassadors of Latvia to China

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Miervaldis Polis

Miervaldis Polis (born 23 July 1948, Riga, Latvia) is a Latvian painter and performance artist. In the early 1970s, he and Līga Purmale, his wife at the time, started a new trend of photorealism in Latvian painting. In the early 1980s, he turned to performance art, one of his most notable performances being The Bronze Man, wherein he roamed the streets of Riga, Latvia, in a bronze suit, covered from head to toe in bronze paint. In the 1990s, after Latvia regained independence, Polis became known as the Latvian "court painter," receiving commissions to paint the portraits of the Latvian elite, including former presidents Guntis Ulmanis and Vaira Vīķe-Freiberga.

Modris Tenisons

Modris Tenisons (born March 19, 1945 in Riga, Latvia) is a mime artist in Lithuania and Latvia. He is especially well known in Lithuania. He is also a multidisciplinary artist: a theater director, stage designer and theater consultant.

Mārtiņš Bondars

Mārtiņš Bondars (born 31 December 1971) is a Latvian financier, politician, and former basketball player. He has been member of the Latvian parliament since 2014. Bondars previously served as chief of staff to then President of Latvia Vaira Vīķe-Freiberga and chairman of the Latvijas Krājbanka board (until 2009).He was the leader of the Latvian Association of Regions and a member of its constituent party, the Regional Alliance. He participated in the Latvian election for President in 2015 as the nominee of his alliance. On July 28, 2017 he quit his post as the head of the Regional Alliance, protesting the party's decision to support Inguna Sudraba as head of the recently established parliamentary committee investigating the so-called "oligarch transcripts". On December 18 Bondars also left the alliance. In 2018, he joined their former allies during the 2017 Riga City Council elections, the party For Latvia's Development.

President of Latvia

The President of Latvia (Latvian: Latvijas Valsts prezidents, literally "State President") is head of state and commander-in-chief of the National Armed Forces of the Republic of Latvia.

The term of office is four years. Before 1999, it was three years. He or she may be elected any number of times, but not more than twice in a row. In the event of the vacancy in the office of the President, the Speaker of the Saeima assumes the duties of the President. For example, after the death of Jānis Čakste the Speaker of the Saeima, Pauls Kalniņš, was acting president briefly in 1927, before a new President could be elected.

Unlike his Estonian counterpart, the Latvian president's role is not entirely ceremonial. However, he is not as powerful as the President of Lithuania. Unlike in Estonia, he shares executive power with the cabinet and Prime Minister. However, he is not politically responsible for carrying out his duties, and all presidential orders must be countersigned by a member of the cabinet – usually the Prime Minister.

The tenth and current officeholder, and sixth since the restoration of independence, is Egils Levits, who was elected on 28 May 2019 and began his first four-year term on 8 July 2019.

Prostitution in Latvia

Prostitution in Latvia is legal and regulated. The country is a destination for sex tourism.Sex trafficking, child prostitution, and HIV are all problems in Latvia.

Signatories to the Treaty establishing a Constitution for Europe

The Treaty establishing a Constitution for Europe was signed in Rome on 29 October 2004 by 53 senior political figures from the 25 member states of the European Union. In most cases heads of state designated plenipotentiaries to sign the treaty, but some presidents also signed on behalf of states which were republics. Most designated plenipotentiaries were prime ministers and foreign ministers.


Vaira is a feminine Latvian given name. Notable people with the name include:

Vaira Paegle (born 1942), Latvian politician

Vaira Vīķe-Freiberga (born 1937), sixth President of Latvia

Vilnius Conference 2006

Vilnius Conference 2006: Common Vision for Common Neighborhood brought together delegations from the Baltic and Black Sea regions to discuss common interests and reinforce their commitments to the advancement of democracy and common values in their respective regions. The Conference took place in Vilnius, the capital of Lithuania, and was hosted by the President of Lithuania, Valdas Adamkus.


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