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Dalia Grybauskaitė

(President of Lithuania)

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Biography Dalia Grybauskaitė
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Dalia Grybauskaitė was born on 1 March 1956 in Vilnius. She is a Lithuanian politician and the current President of Lithuania from July 12, 2009. She was previously Lithuania's Vice-Minister of Foreign Affairs, Finance Minister, and European Commissioner for Financial Programming & the Budget. She is often referred to as the "Iron Lady" and is Lithuania's first female head of state.

Her mother, Vitalija Korsakaitė worked as a saleswoman; her father, Polikarpas Grybauskas (1928-2008) worked as an electrician and as a driver. Grybauskaitė attended Salomėja Nėris High School. She has described herself as not among the best of students, receiving mostly fours in a system where five was the highest grade. Her favorite subjects were history, geography and physics.

She began participating in sports at the age of eleven, and became a passionate basketball player. At the age of nineteen she worked for a year at the Lithuanian National Philharmonic as staff inspector. She then enrolled in Saint Petersburg State University as a student of political economy. At the same time she began working in a local factory. In 1983 Grybauskaitė graduated with a citation and returned to Vilnius, taking a secretarial position at the Academy of Sciences. Work in the Academy was scarce, however, and she moved to the Vilnius Party High School, where she lectured in political economy and global finance. Between 1983 and 1990 she was a member of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union. In 1988 she defended her Ph.D thesis at Moscow's Academy of Social Sciences of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (now the Russian Academy of State Service).

In 1990, soon after Lithuania re-established its independence from the Soviet Union, Grybauskaitė continued her studies at the Georgetown University (Washington DC) School of Foreign Service.

Between 1991 and 1993 Grybauskaitė worked as Director of the European Department at the Ministry of International Economic Relations of the Republic of Lithuania. During 1993 she was employed in the Foreign Ministry as director of the Economic Relations Department, and represented Lithuania when it entered the European Union Free Trade Agreement. She also chaired the Aid Coordination Committee (PHARE and the G-24). Soon afterwards she was named Extraordinary Envoy and Plenipotentiary Minister at the Lithuanian Mission to the EU. There she worked as the deputy chief negotiator for the EU Europe Agreement and as a representative of the National Aid Co-ordination in Brussels.

In 1996 Grybauskaitė was appointed Plenipotentiary Minister in the United States's Lithuanian embassy. After this position she was appointed deputy Minister of Finance. As part of this role, she led Lithuanian negotiations with the World Bank and International Monetary Fund. In 2000, Grybauskaitė became Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs, going on in 2001 to become Minister of Finance in the Algirdas Brazauskas government. Lithuania joined the European Union on 1 May 2004, and Grybauskaitė was named a European Commissioner on the same day.

Dalia Grybauskaitė giving an interview during Presidential elections, 2009
Opinion polls taken in February 2009 showed that Grybauskaitė was the undisputed leader in the presidency race. She ran as an independent, although she was supported by the dominant Conservative Party as well as by NGOs, including Sąjūdis.

During the campaign, Grybauskaitė stressed the need to combat the financial troubles by protecting those with the lowest incomes, simplifying the Lithuanian bureaucratic apparatus, and reviewing the government's investment program.

Dalia Grybauskaitė won in a landslide, receiving 68.18% of the vote. In winning the election, Grybauskaitė became not only the first female president of Lithuania, but won by the largest margin recorded in presidential elections.

Dalia is known for her outspoken speech and her black belt in karate. She speaks Lithuanian, English, Russian, French and Polish, Margaret Thatcher and Mahatma Gandhi are her political role models.

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