Archive for the ‘Vike-Freiberga’ Category

Latvian candidate speaks to US Congress

June 7, 2006

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.


FP on the candidates

June 6, 2006

This is a reprint of a Foreign Policy article on the UNSG race.

Jayantha Dhanapala

Why he’ll get the job: The Sri Lankan presidential advisor is one of three men—all Asian—who have openly thrown their hats into the ring. Traditionally, the post has rotated from region to region, and Asia is next in line. (The last Asian who held the post was U Thant of Burma, whose term expired in 1971.) Considered by many in the diplomatic community to be the front-runner, the former under secretary-general for disarmament knows how to navigate the United Nations inside and out. The 67-year-old also has the right temperament for the job: He’s self-effacing, likeable, and effective. In addition to Sinhalese, French, and English, he also speaks Mandarin, which should be a big plus with Beijing.

Why he won’t: When the pressing issue facing the world body is reform, being a familiar face at the United Nations may be a strike against him. After 10 years of Kofi Annan, the ultimate U.N. insider, the Security Council could want someone from outside the system. Also, as the former secretary-general of the Sri Lankan peace process, Dhanapala’s chances may be hurt by the rising conflict between the Singhalese and the Tamils on his island nation.

Odds: 6 to 1

Ban Ki Moon

Why he’ll get the job: South Korea’s minister of foreign affairs and trade has been spending a lot of time campaigning in New York lately. Sixty-one-year-old Ban, a lifelong diplomat, is well liked by the United States and China, which, as permanent members of the Security Council, have veto power over any candidate. Also, Ban’s prominent role in North Korea’s six-party talks has raised his diplomatic profile at the right time.

Why he won’t: Some argue the nuclear talks are so important, the Security Council might prefer that he stay on the Korean Peninsula and see the negotiations through, without the distraction of the rest of the world’s problems. Plus, Asia isn’t united behind Ban’s bid; Southeast Asia wants one of its own to get the corner office.

Odds: 15 to 2

Surakiart Sathirathai

Why he’ll get the job: The deputy prime minister and former foreign minister of Thailand was the first candidate to openly campaign for the U.N. secretary-general post. The job has traditionally gone to a citizen of a nonaligned country, and Surakiart fits that bill. Plus, he has the most support from Asia. All 10 member nations of ASEAN have endorsed his candidacy.

Why he won’t: Surakiart, an early favorite, might have been campaigning a little too aggressively, a little too early. Controversial Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, Surakiart’s biggest champion, could also be his downfall. His crackdown on Muslims in southern Thailand doesn’t play well among Muslim U.N. members. Surakiart has also expressed public opposition to the International Criminal Court. And, at only 47 years old, some may believe he’s a little too young to lead the world body.

Odds: 15 to 2

Kemal Dervis

Why he’ll get the job: Kofi Annan has said the next U.N. leader should be Asian. The United States has said the most-qualified candidate should get the job. Others have suggested that since Eastern Europe has emerged as a power in its own right, it deserves a shot at the top spot. As a Turkish citizen, the 57-year-old well-respected World Bank alum could be the perfect compromise candidate. And as head of the U.N. Development Programme since August, he’s already earned respect for running an efficient program. Consider Dervis to be at the top of the dark-horse list.

Why he won’t: He says he doesn’t want it. Then again, the United Nations’ first secretary-general, Norway’s Trygve Lie, also said he didn’t want the top spot.

Odds: 12 to 1

Aleksander Kwasniewski

Why he’ll get the job: The 51-year-old Eastern European has all the trimmings of a world leader—he’s young, energetic, telegenic, and a former head of state. By securing membership in NATO and cultivating closer ties with the European Union (EU), the former president of Poland proved that he understands how international institutions work. Plus, the reformed communist backed U.S. President George W. Bush in invading Iraq.

Why he won’t: He backed U.S. President George W. Bush in invading Iraq. It’s hard to imagine the French forgiving that. Besides, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has privately said that there’s no way he’d allow Kwasniewski to take the post.

Odds: 18 to 1

Vaira Vike-Freiberga

Why she’ll get the job: Nicknamed the “Baltic Iron Lady,” Vike-Freiberga is the only female candidate whose name has been seriously bandied about. The 68-year-old Latvian president has an impressive record for someone who’s been in politics for only seven years, getting Latvia across the NATO and EU finish line. She has a compelling personal story, too. A psychologist by training, she was born in Latvia and spent her early years in German refugee camps before immigrating to Canada. She returned to Latvia in 1998 to run a government information agency, and ran for president as an independent the following year.

Why she won’t: Russia.

Odds: 20 to 1

Bill Clinton

Why he’ll get the job: Everybody loves Bubba. Since leaving office in 2001, the former U.S. president has circumnavigated the globe countless times, spreading goodwill, helping tsunami victims in Southeast Asia, raising money to combat AIDS, and glad-handing everyone and everything within sight. He loves to talk. He loves to give speeches. He loves to hold court. What wouldn’t he like about the job?

Why he won’t: He’s American. The U.N. secretary-general has never come from a permanent member of the Security Council. Plus, the current president and Hillary may not agree about much, but neither wants to see the former president steal their thunder.

Odds: 1000 to 1

Russia weighs in

April 10, 2006

Just days before Ban Ki-moon visits Russia, it appears that Russia is making its ideas known. There are two important parts of this. First, this article reports that Russia is actively attacking the Eastern European candidates for Secretary General. Second, this article reaffirms that they are backing an Asian.

First, the attacks:

Russian diplomats and secret servicemen started actively diffusing information that tars Latvian President's reputation, in order not to allow her appointment as the UN Secretary General. Another target of the Russian discrediting campaign in the former President of Poland

Moscow elaborated and started realizing a secret plan of discrediting the Latvian President Vaira Vike-Freiberga, reliable sources told AIA. The Kremlin shows a growing discontent with regard of Washington's alleged intention to suggest Vike-Freiberga for the UN Secretary General at the end of this year. As a permanent member of the UN Security Council, Russia has a right to veto any inconvenient candidature for that position. The Russian administration, however, decided not to bring the case up to the necessity of using this right, caring of its image in the eyes of the other members of the UN General Assembly (it is enough to recall the negative attitude of the UN members to the regular usage of veto by the USA in what concerns the resolutions condemning Israel). The Kremlin has elaborated another scenario. According to a special plan which was approved at the highest level, the Russian official institutions having contact with foreigners, and first of all the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Intelligence Service, are now deploying a propaganda campaign aimed at slandering the Latvian President.

In addition, the article says that the Russians are leaning towards Sathirathi:

Russia has already announced, through its representative in the UN Andrey Denisov, that it will support the candidate from the Asian continent. Most probably it will be the abovementioned Thai politician, whom Beijing openly favors. As for Vike-Freiberga's candidature, it is unacceptable for Moscow not just because of highly strained relations with Riga in such issues as the state border and the Russian minority in Latvia. The Kremlin was extremely negative concerning Vike-Freiberga's recent speech during the Davos World Economic Forum, when she announced the necessity to reduce the authorities of the five UN Security Council permanent members, and called to view a possibility of changing the composition of this body.

It strikes me that a position of weaking the P5 would be a difficult campaign strategy. And unlikely that that position would make her a viable American candidate.