Dr. Vaira Vike-Freiberga is the former President of the Republic of Latvia (1999-2007). She was born on December 1, 1937 in Riga, Latvia.
Since 1957, she has been actively engaged in community service, focusing on questions of Latvian identity and culture, and the political future of the Baltic States.
Dr. Vike-Freiberga has held prominent positions in national and international scientific and scholarly organisations, as well as in a number of Canadian governmental, institutional, academic and interdisciplinary committees, where she acquired extensive administrative experience. Recipient of many medals, prizes and honours for distinguished work in the humanities and social sciences.
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.
On 17 June 1999, Vaira Vike-Freiberga was elected President of the Republic of Latvia by the Parliament (Saeima). In 2003 she was re-elected for a second term of four years with 88 votes out of 96.
She has actively exercised the powers conferred to the President by the Constitution of the Republic of Latvia and has played a leading role in achieving Latvia’s membership in NATO and the European Union. Invited speaker at numerous international events. Outspoken pundit on social issues, moral values, European historical dialogue, and democracy, she was awarded the 2005 Hannah Arendt Prize for political thought.
Member of the Council of Women World Leaders since 1999. Regularly invited participant to the World Economic Forum (Davos), and to the annual meetings of the American Academy of Achievement since 2000.
Since 1999, she has received many medals and awards, twenty-seven Orders of Merit and ten honorary doctorates. Three biographies about President Vaira Vike-Freiberga have been published in Latvian, English, French, Spanish, Italian, Finnish and Russian.
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.