CURE Interview: Vaira Vike-Freiberga

Ayca Ariyoruk’s earlier interviews with Jayantha Dhanapala and Surakiart Sathirathai provided the public a desired insight into their goals as candidates for the world body’s highest office. Her most recent interview of Latvian President Vaira Vike-Freiberga - who has not yet confirmed her candidacy - focuses more the office and the selection process from the candidate’s perspective. It also provides more background on what inspired her to work for the well-being of people, regardless of office.

In offering a different view on the selection of the UNSG, Vike-Freiberga challenges the fervent calls for more openness in the process.

“It is not the kind of job where you can submit your CV and apply.  If they did that, it would, severely restrict the candidates to those who would only go for an open candidacy.  The idea of it being very discreet and behind the scenes is very much like the search for top level executives for large multinationals or large corporations.  It is usually done very discreetly so as not to embarrass potential candidates who would want to be considered or whom the organization would want to consider without causing embarrassment to others who are not selected.”

While she believes “transparency and some kind of coherence in the process are important,” she wouldn’t want to see it turn into a ‘circus’.

“I would hate to see the selection of the secretary general being the sort of a process where candidates run around the world looking for financial supporters, where financial supporters affect the selection process and where votes are bought. It opens up a rather horrifying prospect.”

As regular readers will understand, Vike-Freiberga’s principle obstacle remains the likely veto by Russia to any candidate from its former sphere of influence. Aside from her geographic origins, her public demand during a WWII commemoration parade in Moscow for an apology for Stalin’s aggression against Latvia won’t help. Nonetheless, the President believes there are “positive signs” for understanding.

In addition to her thoughts on the selection process and relationship with Russia, Vike-Freiberga shared her views on what Ariyoruk describes as “geographic discrimination” (the regional rotational process), the opportunity for women candidates for UNSG, and the administrative authority of the UNSG in overseeing the Secretariat.

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