Latvian president chosen as advisor to U.N.

  • 2005-04-20
  • By TBT staff
RIGA - United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan named President Vaira Vike-Freiberga as the fifth member of an international team developed to promote his agenda for reform.
The group of leaders will work toward the goals outlined in the report, "In larger freedom, toward development, security, and human rights for all." The reforms are expected to be the most far-reaching in the U.N.'s 60-year history, which will be celebrated in September.

Vike-Freiberga joins Irish Foreign Minister Dermot Ahern, former Foreign Minister of Indonesia Ali Alatas and two former presidents: Joaquin Chissano of Mozambique and Ernesto Zedillo of Mexico.

"As Latvia's head of state, President Vike-Freiberga has actively supported the need for U.N. reform. Elected to a second term in office in 2003, she has successfully guided her nation through a period of active reforms, leading to full membership in the European Union and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization," the United Nations said in a press release after the announcement had been made.

At a press conference on April 13, Vike-Freiberga said, "Together we should arrive at a solution that would help this global organization act out and perform its obligations with more success, greater efficiency and less obstruction."

She also stressed third-world aid, alleviating poverty, and security issues, mentioning in particular Dafur, Sudan, where the international community has been highly critical of, but hesitant to act in the face of large-scale murder and a refugee crisis.

The state's foreign ministry said a working group would be set up to help Vike-Freiberga with her new U.N. duties. Gints Jegermanis, Latvia's former ambassador to the U.N., will likely head the group.

U.S. politicians have repeatedly criticized the organization, which recently suffered a shameful blow when the oil-for-food scandal was made public.

Meanwhile, Russia's response to the appointment was muted.

"As to the role of the appointed special envoys, we see that among them there are two representatives of the European Union. This gives grounds for hope that the EU will feel its responsibility to help work toward the 2005 Summit, [and make] responsible decisions about ways to strengthen international cooperation in all fields, including, of course, promotion of the report's task - ensuring human rights for all," Alexander Yakovenko, spokesman for Russia's Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said at a press conference.