Former Latvian President Dr. Vaira Vike-Freiberga delivered the second annual Christopher J. Makins Lecture, hosted by Ambassador Jonas Hafström at the House of Sweden. She was introduced by Dr. Zbigniew Brzezinski as “a symbol of the New Europe,” noting the parallels between her own amazing journey and that of the countries of Central and Eastern Europe who suffered under Communist tyranny.

Vike-Freiberga expressed her gratitude to NATO and the EU for their embrace of her country as an equal partner and for modeling a path to leapfrogging the West’s long path to peaceful prosperity. She emphasized the need for constant transformation of these institutions along the themes of engagement, openness, and readiness.Atlantic Council President Frederick Kempe noted that this lecture series was created in 2005 to honor “a great man and friend,” Christopher Makins, “a diplomat and intellectual leader in the policy community” who served as president of the Atlantic Council for six years before his untimely passing in January 2006.  He observed that it was not all that long ago that those who spoke of freedom for the Baltic States were considered extremists.

Kempe and Rob Liberatore, Head of External Affairs and Public Policy for Daimler AG, honored Yosabeth Weldemedhin of Converse College, South Carolina as the winner of the Atlantic Council Transatlantic Essay Contest, which was designed to challenge students to write on “Partnerships and Rivalries in the EU and NATO: The challenges of pursuing the US Foreign Policy Agenda.”

More about the Christopher J. Makins Lecture Series:

Quickly becoming recognized as the preeminent annual analysis of transatlantic relations, the Makins Lecture series focuses on the state of the strategic Atlantic partnership, its future direction, and the prospects for the furtherance of common European and US interests.  It is directed at policy makers and political leaders around the world and provides a platform for the importance of the Alliance and the need for continued transatlantic cooperation.  The Atlantic Council intends the series to be a reference tool for policy makers, legislators, the think tank community, academic scholars, and the media on both sides of the Atlantic.

The lecture series honors the life of Christopher J. Makins, president of the Atlantic Council from 1999 to 2005, who passed before his time in January 2006. After more than a decade in the British Diplomatic Service, he chose to settle in Washington and tackled defense, arms control, and other security issues in the nonprofit community.

The Makins Lecture series complements the Atlantic Council’s ongoing mission to promote constructive US leadership and engagement in international affairs, based on the central role of the Atlantic community in meeting the international challenges of the 21st century.