President of Latvia (1999-2007)
Date and place of birth:
1 December 1937, Latvia.
Ms. Vike-Freiberga obtained a B.A. (1958) and a M.A. (1960) in Psychology from the University of Toronto. Resuming her education at McGill University in Montreal, Ms. Freiberga earned a PhD in experimental psychology in 1965.
Dr. Vike-Freiberga has held prominent positions in both 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. 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.
To escape the Soviet occupation, her family fled Latvia in 1945 and became refugees. In 1998, Dr. Freiberga returned to Latvia from exile in Canada to head the Latvian Institute, an organization devoted to promoting Latvian awareness abroad. A year later, in June 1999, she was elected President of Latvia. She was not a first-round candidate, but when the Latvian Parliament failed to elect a President in the first round of voting, Freiberga was drafted as she was well-known and respected but not affiliated with any political parties.
As Latvian President, Ms. Freiberga is known for her role in Latvia’s NATO membership and its ascension to the European Union, which the country joined in 2004. She has actively exercised the powers conferred upon the President by the Constitution of the Republic of Latvia and also initiated a discussion to introduce compulsory voting in General Elections aiming to fully engage Latvian citizens in the political processes of the country.
In April 2005, then United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan named President Freiberga as a member of his team of global political leaders helping to promote a comprehensive UN reform agenda. Dr. Vike Freiberga has been a Member of the Council of Women World Leaders since 1999. She has also participated regularly in the World Economic Forum (Davos), and the annual meetings of the American Academy of Achievement since 2000.