#mindpower: Latvian ex-President Vaira Vīķe-Freiberga explains the significance of Rainis and Aspazija

On 4 May, Latvia celebrated the 25th anniversary of the restoration of its independence. To continue the festive mood, the#mindpower short film project visits Latvian ex-President Vaira Vīķe-Freiberga, who talks about the part played by the poets Rainis and Aspazija in the culture and history of Latvia.

In this 17th episode of the #mindpower project, Vaira Vīķe-Freiberga explains the importance of Rainis and Aspazija in the creation of modern Latvian literature and the literary language through the influence of their original works and of their translations of foreign literature.

She emphasises the worldwide relevance of Rainis’ ideas on human rights, equality and justice, and on the contrast between light and darkness in a person or in a society. Vaira Vīķe-Freiberga points out that, after World War II, the whole European Union project was based on the principle of forgiveness that was always an essential element of Rainis’ works.

She also speaks about Aspazija’s role in the fight for women’s rights and is convinced that the great poetess would be pleased to see the progress made in women’s emancipation in modern-day Latvia.

The episode features a fragment of Vaira Vīķe-Freiberga’s speech at the conference on Women’s Economic Empowerment and Sustainable Development – the Synthesis for Success. In her talk she emphasised that women should not to be forced to give up their own gender when they take on responsibility and manage political and economic processes. The episode ends with Aspazija’s words that in the society of the future there should be no borders between women and men or different nationalities and social classes when they strive for freedom.

Vaira Vīķe-Freiberga has been one of the most influential public figures in Latvia since the restoration of independence. Born in 1937 in Riga, she and her family fled from the Soviet army during World War II, first to Germany, then to Morocco and Canada where she earned her PhD in psychology and became a professor. She served as President of Latvia from 1999 to 2007 and played a leading role in securing Latvia’s membership of NATO and the European Union. She became the first woman to hold such a high position in any country of the former Soviet Union. Since 2013, Vaira Vīķe-Freiberga has been the president of the Club de Madrid world leadership alliance.

The #mindpower (#domasspēks in Latvian) project is dedicated to the 150th anniversary of the Latvian poets Rainis and Aspazija. It features a collection of 29 short films in which celebrities from all the EU Member States read excerpts from the works of Rainis and Aspazija in their native language. The project is part of the Presidency cultural programme.

Each week a new video is released on the Presidency’s website EU2015.LV. You can also watch the episodes on the Presidency’s official Youtube channel and on the project’s Facebook page.

Source of information: https://eu2015.lv/news/media-releases/1579-mindpower-latvian-ex-president-vaira-vike-freiberga-explains-the-significance-of-rainis-and-aspazija