During her formative years she wanted to become an artist. But then the struggle for independence from the Soviet Union boiled over and Sandra Kalniete dove into a career in international politics.
Sandra Kalniete will soon be Latvia's representative on the European Commission
Kalniete is far more than just an experienced diplomat. She's also the only esthete among the future EU commissioners. Between 1977 and 1981, Kalniete studied at the Faculty for Art History and Art Theory at the Latvian Academy of the Arts. In 1992 she spent a year at the Institute for International Studies at Leeds University in the United Kingdom. Three years later she moved on to study at the Graduate Institute of International Affairs at the University of Geneva. In 1996, she completed her university education with a master's degree in art history.
Kalniete's career began in 1987 when she became general secretary of the Latvian Artists' Association. One year later she became the general secretary of the coordinating committee of the Latvian People's Front party. At that point in time, the political upheaval in the Soviet Union became public and in Latvia the desire for independence grew. The Latvian People's Party strongly pushed for independence.
On May 7, 1990, Kalniete was named Latvia's deputy foreign minister after the People's Front won the first public elections to be held in the newly independent country. And in November 2002, after a long period of political independence, Kalniete became Latvia's foreign minister.
Kalniete saw as her primary task the goal of taking Latvia down the path toward the European Union and membership in NATO. Two weeks after she was named foreign minister, Kalniete was guest at the NATO summit in Prague where the decision was taken to bring seven new members on board, including Latvia. In Brussels, she will also be appreciated as a polyglot -- she speaks Russian, English and French.