Guntis Ulmanis

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Guntis Ulmanis
Flickr - Saeima - 10.Saeimas deputāts Guntis Ulmanis.jpg
Guntis Ulmanis
5th President of Latvia
In office
July 7, 1993 – July 7, 1999
Prime Minister Ivars Godmanis
Valdis Birkavs
Māris Gailis
Andris Šķēle
Guntars Krasts
Vilis Krištopāns
Preceded by Kārlis Ulmanis
Succeeded by Vaira Vīķe-Freiberga
Personal details
Born (1939-09-13) September 13, 1939 (age 75)
Flag of Latvia.svg Riga, Latvia
Nationality Flag of Latvia.svg Latvian
Political party Latvian Farmers' Union
Spouse(s) Aina Ulmane
Children Guntra
Alvils
Alma mater University of Latvia
Signature

Guntis Ulmanis (born on September 13, 1939) is a Latvian politician and was the fifth President of Latvia from 1993 to 1999.[1]

Early life[edit]

Guntis Ulmanis was born in Riga on September 13, 1939. His grandfather was the brother of Latvian leader Kārlis Ulmanis. In 1941, Guntis Ulmanis and his family were exiled to Krasnoyarsk Oblast, Siberia, Russian SFSR. In 1946, he came back to Latvia, but his family was not allowed to settle in Riga and so they stayed at Ēdole in the Kuldīga area of the Latvian SSR.

In 1949, the remainder of the Ulmanis family was supposed to be exiled again, but Guntis Ulmanis was able to avoid that fate, as his mother remarried and his surname was changed to Rumpītis. They then moved to Jūrmala, where he went to school. After graduating, he entered the economic faculty of the Latvian State University.

Career in Latvia[edit]

After completing his studies in the university in 1963, he was drafted into the Soviet army, where he served for two years. In 1965 he joined the Communist Party of the Soviet Union. He began working as an economist at a construction site and was later promoted to tram and trolleybus administrator in Riga. He was then advanced to the position of deputy chairman of the planning committee of the Riga Executive Committee (city government). However, his past family ties with President Ulmanis were discovered and he was sacked in 1971. He then worked at lower positions in the Riga municipal service system. For some time he worked as a teacher of construction economics at the Riga Polytechnical Institute and of economic planning at the Latvian State University.

As Latvia was heading for the restoration of its independence, Guntis Rumpītis quit the Communist Party in 1989 and returned to using his original surname - Ulmanis. In 1992 he was appointed Council Member of the National Bank of Latvia. He also joined the Peasant Union of Latvia the same year. In 1993 the Saeima elected him as the 5th President of Latvia (the first since the full restoration of independence in 1991). In the first round he finished third (after Gunārs Meierovics and Aivars Jerumanis), but won in the runoff as Meierovics quit the race.

Presidency[edit]

As President, Guntis Ulmanis focused on foreign policy, building relations with international and regional organizations, as well as other countries. A major achievement was the conclusion of the Latvian-Russian treaty on the withdrawal of Russian armed forces from Latvia. During his presidency, Latvia joined the Council of Europe and sent its application to the European Union. He announced a moratorium on the death penalty, in accordance with the norms of the European Council.

In 1996, he was re-elected in the first round of elections, defeating Saeima speaker Ilga Kreituse, Imants Liepa and former Communist Party chairman Alfrēds Rubiks, who was in jail at the time. In 1998 President Ulmanis actively supported amendments to the Citizenship law, that would allow all people born after August 21, 1991 to obtain citizenship and would eliminate so-called "naturalization limits" (in which only a limited number of non-citizenship could receive citizenship within a given year). However, he was forced to send the law project on a referendum, after 36 nationalistic deputies, opposed to the amendment petitioned him to do so. He then actively and successfully campaigned for the adoption of the amendments by the population.

Retirement and subsequent return to politics[edit]

Guntis Ulmanis' term finished in 1999 and he was succeeded by Vaira Vīķe-Freiberga. He retired from politics but became a social activist, founding the Guntis Ulmanis Fund, organizing the 2006 IIHF World Championship in Riga and heading the Riga Castle reconstruction council.

2010 marked a return to big politics for Guntis Ulmanis. He became the chairman of the newly created party alliance For a Good Latvia, which was composed of the People's Party and Latvia's First Party/Latvian Way. The alliance won only 8 seats in the October 2010 parliamentary election. However, Ulmanis became a Saeima deputy. In 2011 he announced he did not want to run for another term as deputy in the 2011 election. He therefore ceased being a deputy in November 2011, after the 11th Saeima was inaugurated.

Guntis Ulmanis has been married to Aina Ulmanis (maiden name Štelce) since 1962. They have two children: Guntra (b. 1963) and Alvils (b. 1966) and three grandchildren: Paula (b. 1994), Rudolfs (b. 2000) and Matīss (b. 2006). In his spare time Guntis Ulmanis enjoys reading history books and memoirs, playing tennis, basketball and volleyball. He has written two autobiographies: No tevis jau ne prasa daudz (Not much is required from you yet) (1995) and Mans prezidenta laiks (My time as President)(1999)

He is a member of the international advisory council of the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation.[2]

Honours[edit]

National Honours[edit]

Foreign Honours[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Guntis Ulmanis: Latvijas Valsts prezidents 1993-1999" (in Latvian). Latvijas Valsts prezidenta kanceleja. Retrieved 2010-04-02. 
  2. ^ "International Advisory Council". Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation. Archived from the original on 2011-05-20. Retrieved 2011-05-20. 
  3. ^ Estonian Presidency Website (Estonian), Estonian State Decorations, Guntis Ulmanis
  4. ^ Icelandic Presidency Website (Icelandic), Order of the Falcon, Guntis Ulmanis, 8th June 1998, Grand Cross
Political offices
Preceded by
Kārlis Ulmanis
Presidents of Latvia
1993 – 1999
Succeeded by
Vaira Vīķe-Freiberga