Latvian candidate speaks to US Congress

Today the President of Latvia, Dr.Vaira Vīķe-Freiberga, spoke to a joint session of the US Congress. We don't take her seriously as a candidate. The Russians would veto her, no doubt. Just consider this part of her statement:

Fifteen years ago Latvia, along with neighboring Estonia and Lithuania, regained its independence after fifty years of Soviet occupation. The Baltic Singing Revolution achieved this by non-violent means, and the sheer courage and determination of the peoples of these countries. They were ready to face Soviet guns and tanks with nothing but their unarmed bodies and the deep conviction of their rights, knowing full well that, at any moment, these guns and tanks might crush them as they had crushed so many others before.

Putin would veto for this alone. But this is still quite an interesting speech. First, this is the first candidate to speak to Congress in a format that is reserved only for the highest level dignitaries. The new Prime Minister of Israel Ehud Olmert, Tony Blair, Jose Maria Aznar, etc. Those are the kinds of people that speak to Congress.

After a long passage on Europe, she spoke on the United Nations. I think that we can assume thather statements on the UN to represent a position that the US is maximally comfortable with. This sounds like an American or someone who is self-consciously being a "friend of America". We have excerpted below the passage related to the UN:

I was pleased that the General Assembly managed to agree in principle on the necessity for sweeping and fundamental reforms. The new Peace-building Commission was created, which we need for diffusing long-lasting conflicts. Too often in the past, the UN has been unable to prevent genocide and lasting bloodshed: in the Congo, in Rwanda, in the former Yugoslavia and in the Darfur region of Sudan.

 

One of the UN’s fundamental roles lies in the defense of human rights. The newly created Human Rights Council must become more credible and more effective than the Commission that preceded it. Its best way to gain credibility would be by starting with a thorough and unbiased evaluation of the human rights record of its own newly elected Council members.

She comes out swinging.

Most dangerous [challenge] of all is the continuing and growing gap between the developing and developed nations. The great divide between North and South, between haves and have-nots is as dangerous as the divide between Eastern and Western blocs ever was during the Cold War. We have to do our utmost to reach the UN’s Millennium Goals of reducing poverty in the developing world.

Unlike Ban, she makes a link between security and development.

Brutal and unremitting poverty is a scourge, unsolved in spite of decades of massive international aid and countless well-meant programs. Clearly, the quality of governance in aid-receiving countries has a crucial role to play, as well as their readiness to foster reforms and progress. But the quality of aid-providing efforts also needs to be improved. We need better international coordination of results-oriented programs, which should be constantly monitored for their effectiveness.

Note that this ignores a significant criticism of so much American aid: it is tied.

The world-wide spread of terrorism as well as the growing signs of intolerance and xenophobia in many countries underscore the urgent world-wide need for a meaningful and sustained Dialogue between Civilizations. As already recognized at the Millennium General Assembly of the United Nations, our common goal is to overcome the prejudice, misperceptions and polarization that stand as barriers to better understanding and consensus among members of different races, religions and cultures.

Terrorism is the closest we have to security issues, other than non-proliferation, which comes below.

Due to the enormous importance of nuclear non-proliferation, the world’s democracies should maintain a coherent position regarding the nuclear program of Iran. We welcome the recent joint initiatives by the United States, the UN Security Council and the European Union to offer a constructive solution to the Iranian nuclear issue, and hope that the Iranian leadership will respond in kind.

Again, we don't consider her to be a serious candidate, as such. Merely an expression of the ideal type of the United States.

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