In 2014, Vaira Vīķe-Freiberga, former president of Latvia and co-founder of the Club of Madrid, delivered the 13th Europe Lecture. The theme of this lecture was 'Peace and Security' i. Professor Jonathan Holslag i also shared his view on the topic of peace and security in Europe. They were introduced by Tom de Bruijn i, alderman of the city of The Hague.
Dr. Vaira Vīķe-Freiberga (1937) is the former president of Latvia and is, to this day, involved in global political affairs through various organisations. When Latvia acceded to both the EU and NATO in 2004 many attributed that success in part to dr. Vīķe-Freiberga's leadership. After two terms in office (1999 to 2007) dr. Vīķe-Freiberga co-founded the Club of Madrid and became involved in a number of other initiatives that promote democratic development, as well as organisations that stimulate the arts and culture.
Dr. Vīķe-Freiberga was an official candidate for the post of UN Secretary General in 2006, and was unofficially considered for the post of permanent president of the European Council in 2009. Dr. Vīķe-Freiberga is well-respected internationally, and has received close to a hundred honours, awards, honorary doctorates and orders of merit of the first class.
May I say how happy and glad I am to be here among you and to be participating in a yearly event called the Europe Lecture. The very fact that The Hague and the Netherlands has gone to the trouble of instituting such a tradition is something that I find très sympathique. I am truly delighted to be here and honored to be among you on this occasion.
The topic for this year’s European lecture is European security and this turns out to be singularly appropriate for the year 2014, which has seen a number of unexpected developments. These have not exactly been conducive to an increased sense of security among a great many Europeans, particularly those living on the Eastern margins of the European continent. But the year 2014 also marks the centenary and bi-centenary of memorable historical events, which have been commemorated in various ways. I’d like to start by referring to them briefly, because I think that the historical perspective is always useful to gain a clearer understanding of the present situation and its prospects for the future. Granted that humans don’t really learn from history, granted that an extrapolation from past data is always a risky undertaking, particularly so in history and politics, I do believe that a glance back in history can help a good deal to better understand the present.