Lady President in Latvia – Cosmos Tour

By sandra. Filed in Cosmos Jewels of the Baltic Tour, History, Latvia  |  
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Latvian President

Vaira Vike-Freiberga was the 6th President of Latvia, the first female President of Latvia and the first female leader in Eastern Europe. Vike-Freiberga’s family fled the Soviet takeover of Latvia after WWII, moving to Germany and Morocco before settling in Canada in 1954. All of this moving around led to her to being fluent in English, French, Latvian, Spanish and German.

In Canada, Vike-Freiberga  married, had kids and led a regular life after earning degrees in Psychology from the University of Toronto and then in 1965,  a PhD in Psychology from McGill in Montreal. She became a prominent professor of psychology at the Universite de Montreal, teaching psychopharmacology and psycholinguistics and authoring 11 books.

When the Soviets tried to put down a Latvian rebellion in 1998, her son Karlis joined the protests that helped lead Latvia, her former country, to independence. She followed him home to help and took a position leading the Institute of Latvia, an organization that promotes Latvia abroad. In 1999, when the Latvian Parliament failed to elect a President in the first ballot, she was chosen as a compromise candidate, as a highly respected person not affiliated with any of the political parties – and wound up winning the presidency.

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 still active in international politics and was official candidate for UN Secretary General in 2006.

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