Vaira Vike-Freiberga was sworn in as President of Latvia on July 8, replacing Guntis Ulmanis, whose second term of office expired on that date. Each of these presidents in his or her way symbolizes the legal and cultural continuity of Latvia through the vicissitudes of the Soviet occupation. Ulmanis, the first president of the restored state, is a descendant of Karlis Ulmanis, the last pre-occupation president, who perished in Russia in 1942. Vike-Freiberga, who was elected president on June 17 of this year (see profile in the Monitor, June 18, 21-22) returned to Riga fifty years after having been engulfed in the westward exodus of Latvians driven out of their country. In her July 8 inaugural address as president, Vike-Freiberga thanked the friendly countries which supported Latvia’s restoration, underscored Latvia’s goals of joining NATO and the European Union, and urged her countrymen to dispel the notion that a small people such as the Latvian is inherently weak or unable to control its own fate (BNS, LETA, July 8-9).
NEW LATVIAN COALITION REFLECTS REALIGNMENT OF FORCES.