A leading Swedish newspaper has thrown its support behind former Latvian President Vaira Vīķe-Freiberga to become the next president of the European Council, which is the European Union’s main decision-making body.
“Europe needs a strong, respected and unifying figure as a new, permanent president,” the newspaper Dagens Nyheter said in an editorial published Nov. 5. “Her name Vaira Vīķe-Freiberga.”
Vīķe-Freiberga, who served two terms as Latvia’s sixth president, is one of several candidates—including former British Prime Minister Tony Blair—mentioned for the post.
With the Czech Republic’s ratification on Nov. 4 of the 2007 Treaty of Lisbon, changes to the structure and operation of the European Union are expected to take effect Dec. 1. Among them is the selection of a president of the European Council to serve a 2.5-year term. Currently the presidency rotates among EU member states every six months. Sweden holds the presidency now, while Latvia would have been scheduled to take over in the first half of 2015.
Among reasons the newspaper supports Vīķe-Freiberga is that it believes the time has come for the European Union to elect a woman as president, as well as to select someone from the EU’s newest members. Latvia joined the EU in 2004.
In its editorial, Dagens Nyheter argued that Vīķe-Freiberga would be a good representative for Europe because of her speaking skills, her fluency in five languages and because she “has a strong commitment to Europe.”
Vīķe-Freiberga was born in Latvia in 1937. Her family fled during World War II to Germany and then relocated to Morocco. After settling in Canada, Vīķe-Freiberga completed her education and became a professor of psychology. She returned to Latvia in 1998 to head the Latvian Institute and was elected president in 1999.
The newspaper acknowledged that her candidacy could be troublesome for some critics because of Vīķe-Freiberga’s strong ties to the United States, because Russia might object and because some people believe someone who has grown up in Canada should not be president of the European Council. Dagens Nyheter dismissed the arguments.
Meanwhile, support for Vīķe-Freiberga’s candidacy is growing online. One Web site, A Woman to Head Europe, has gathered nearly 2,800 signatures supporting the former Latvian president.
“An exceptional character, Ms. Freiberga is a woman of peace, a committed, determined European,” according to the Web site.
The Web site was registered Oct. 28 by David Juni of Saint Mande, France.
© 1995-2023 Latvians Online
Please contact us for editorial queries, or for permission to republish material. Disclaimer: The content of Web sites to which Latvians Online provides links does not necessarily reflect the opinion of Latvians Online, its staff or its sponsors.