Photo by Jānis Buls /Diena/
Art historian, writer, and politician Sandra Kalniete was born in Siberia in 1952 to a Latvian family deported to the Tomsk district. In 1957, Kalniete and her parents returned to Latvia. In 1981, she graduated from the Latvian State Academy of Art, where she researched folk art and decorative applied art, particularly textile art, in the Department of Art History and Theory. Kalniete later worked in the fine-arts editorial division of the publishing house Liesma, and was the secretary of the Artists Union from 1987 to 1990. In 1988, Kalniete became involved in the formation and activities of the Latvian Popular Front. Since 1990, she has been employed in the Latvian Foreign Ministry; worked as Latvia’s temporary charge d’affaires at the U.N. in Geneva; and, from 1997 to 2002, served as the Latvian ambassador to France and Spain. Kalniete was Latvia’s Minister for Foreign Affairs from 2002 to 2004. Currently working for the European Parliament. Sandra Kalniete has published two books about 20th century Latvian history: the first looks at the Latvian Popular Front; and the second deals with her family’s deportation to Siberia. Kalniete has received the third-class Order of the Three Stars (1995) and the Medal of the Latvian Artists Union (1988). She is also an honorary officer of France’s Légion d’honneur (2001) and is an officer of the Palmes académique (2002).