Featuring Vaira Vike-Freiberga, former president of Latvia (1999-2007)
A lecture with reception to follow
Dr. Vaira Vike-Freiberga is currently President of the Club de Madrid of 96 former Heads of state and government. She was elected President of the Republic of Latvia in 1999 and re-elected in 2003. She successfully implemented the foreign policy interests of her country, by guiding its entry into the European Union and NATO and raised the nation’s recognition in the world through her work at the UN, the EU and other international activities. She was named Special Envoy to the Secretary General on United Nations reform and was official candidate for UN Secretary General in 2006. Since the end of her presidency in 2007, she has been actively participating as an invited speaker at a wide variety of international events.
Having left Latvia as a child refugee, Vaira started schooling in a refugee camp in Germany in 1945, continued it in then French Morocco, and then obtained higher education in Canada, with a B.A. and M.A. at the University of Toronto and a Ph.D. in experimental psychology (1965) at McGill University in Montreal.
Dr. Vike-Freiberga emerged as a prominent spokesperson on politics and science whilst Professor of psychology and interdisciplinary scholar at the University of Montreal (1965-1998). She has held leading 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. Since the beginning of her career, she has been actively engaged in community service, focusing on questions of Latvian identity and culture, and the political future of the Baltic States. She returned to her native country in 1998 to head the Latvian Institute.A year later, in June 1999, she was elected President of the Republic by the Latvian Parliament.
Dr. Vike-Freiberga is a member, board member or patron of 32 international organisations, including the Council of Women World Leaders, the International Criminal Court Trust Fund for Victims, and the European Council on Foreign Relations, as well as four Academies. Among her international activities, she was appointed by the European Council vice-chair of the Reflection group on the long term future of Europe. In 2011-2012 she chaired the High-level group on Freedom and pluralism of the media in the EU. In December 2014 she was elected president of the Club de Madrid.
She has been awarded 34 Orders of Merit (1st class) and 19 Honorary doctorates, as well as many medals, prizes and honours, for distinguished work in the humanities and social sciences, including the 2005 Hannah-Arendt Prize for political thought, the 2010 Konrad Adenauer Prize for her contribution to the political construction of a united Europe, and the 2013 Knight of Freedom award of the Casimir Pulaski Foundation.
Dr. Vike-Freiberga has published 14 books, and is the author or co-author of some 200 articles, book chapters, reports, and 12 audio-visual materials. Five biographies and three documentary films have been produced about her.