Dalia Grybauskaitė

Dalia Grybauskaitė (Lithuanian pronunciation: ​[dɐˈlʲɛ ɡʲrʲiːbɐʊsˈkɐ̂ˑɪtʲeː]; born 1 March 1956) is a Lithuanian politician who served as the eighth President of Lithuania from 2009 until 2019. She is the first woman to hold the position and became in 2014 the first President of Lithuania to be reelected for a second consecutive term.[2][3]

Dalia Grybauskaitė

Dalia Grybauskaitė 2012-06-13 (2).jpg
8th President of Lithuania
In office
12 July 2009 – 12 July 2019
Prime MinisterAndrius Kubilius
Algirdas Butkevičius
Saulius Skvernelis
Preceded byValdas Adamkus
Succeeded byGitanas Nausėda
European Commissioner for Financial Programming and the Budget
In office
22 November 2004 – 1 July 2009
PresidentJosé Manuel Barroso
Preceded byMichaele Schreyer
Markos Kyprianou (Budget)
Succeeded byAlgirdas Šemeta
European Commissioner for Education and Culture
In office
1 May 2004 – 11 November 2004
Served with Viviane Reding
PresidentRomano Prodi
Preceded byViviane Reding
Succeeded byJán Figeľ (Education, Training, Culture and Multilingualism)
Minister of Finance of Lithuania
In office
12 July 2001 – 1 May 2004
Prime MinisterAlgirdas Brazauskas
Preceded byJonas Lionginas
Succeeded byAlgirdas Butkevičius
Personal details
Born (1956-03-01) 1 March 1956 (age 65)
Vilnius, Lithuania
Political partyCommunist Party of the Soviet Union (1983–1989)
Communist Party of Lithuania
Independent (1990–present)
EducationSaint Petersburg State University
Net worthUS$0.7 million[1]

Grybauskaitė has served as Minister of Finance, as well as European Commissioner for Financial Programming and the Budget from 2004 to 2009. She is often referred to as the "Iron Lady"[4][5] or the "Steel Magnolia".[6]

Early yearsEdit

Grybauskaitė was born on 1 March 1956 to a working-class family in Vilnius during the Soviet occupation of Lithuania. Her mother, Vitalija Korsakaitė (1922–1989), was born in the Biržai region and worked as a saleswoman. Her father, Polikarpas Grybauskas (1928–2008), was an electrician and driver. He also was a NKVD serviceman during the Second World War.[dubious ][citation needed] Grybauskaitė attended Salomėja Nėris High School. She has two brothers, one living in Lithuania, and the other living in Colorado Springs, in the United States. She has described herself as not among the best students, receiving mostly fours in a system where five was the highest grade. Her favourite subjects were history, geography and physics.[7]

Grybauskaitė began participating in sports at the age of eleven, and became a passionate basketball player.[7] At the age of nineteen, she worked for a year at the Lithuanian National Philharmonic Society as a staff inspector. She then enrolled in Saint Petersburg State University, then known as Leningrad A.A. Zhdanov State University, as a student of political economy.[8] At the same time, she began working in a local factory in Saint Petersburg. 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 and so she moved to the Vilnius Communist Party High School, where she lectured in political economics and global finance.[8] From 1983 to December 1989, she was a member of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union and after the Communist Party of Lithuania broke away from the CPSU in December 1989, she was member of the CPL until June 1990. In 1988, she defended her PhD thesis at Moscow (Academy of Social Sciences).

In 1990, soon after Lithuania reestablished its independence from the Soviet Union, Grybauskaitė continued her studies at the Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University, Washington D.C., in the Special Programme for senior executives.[9]

Early careerEdit

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 agreements. She also chaired the Aid Coordination Committee (Phare and the G24). Soon afterwards, she was named Extraordinary Envoy and Plenipotentiary Minister at the Lithuanian Mission to the EU.[9] 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' Lithuanian embassy. She held this position until 1999, when 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.[10] Lithuania joined the European Union on 1 May 2004, and Grybauskaitė was named a European Commissioner on the same day.[8]

European CommissionEdit

Grybauskaitė initially served as European Commissioner for Education, Culture, Multilingualism and Youth. She held this position until 11 November 2004, when she was named European Commissioner for Financial Programming and the Budget within the José Manuel Barroso-led Commission.

In November 2005, Grybauskaitė was named "Commissioner of the Year" in the European Voice Europeans of the Year poll. She was nominated "for her unrelenting efforts to shift EU spending towards areas that would enhance competitiveness such as research and development." She commented:[11]

I don't usually participate in contests, so this is a very pleasant surprise for me. I consider it a distinction not for me personally, but for all the new EU Member States, both small and large, as an acknowledgment of their bringing a new and fresh perspective to the EU. I think that it's also a prize for having the courage to speak the often difficult truth and to point out the real price of political rhetoric in Europe. As for results, we still have to wait for them. An agreement on the budget for 2007–2013, which Europe really needs, is most important.

As Financial and Budget Commissioner, she strongly criticized the EU budget, stating it was "...not a budget for the 21st century."[12] The majority of the EU budget was spent on agricultural programmes. Grybauskaitė presented a 2008 EU budget in which, for the first time in its history, spending on growth and employment constituted the highest share of the budget, exceeding that of agriculture and natural resources.[13] She frequently criticised the Lithuanian Government, headed by Prime Minister Gediminas Kirkilas, for its lack of response to the approaching financial crisis.[14]

2009 presidential electionEdit

On 26 February 2009, Grybauskaitė officially announced her candidacy for the 2009 presidential election. In her declaration speech, she said:

I decided to return to Lithuania if the Lithuanian people decide I am needed there now. I think that we all long for the truth, transparency and responsibility for our country. We all want to live without fear, with confidence in ourselves, in each other, and in tomorrow. I can and I want to contribute with my experience, knowledge and skills to expel shadows from morality, politics, and economics to create a citizen-ruled Lithuania – a state of citizens. Therefore, I will run for the Lithuanian presidency.[15]

Grybauskaitė giving an interview during her 2009 presidential campaign.

There were three women and four men as presidential candidates. Opinion polls taken in February 2009 showed that Grybauskaitė was the undisputed leader in the race.[16] She ran as an independent, although she was supported by the dominant Conservative Party as well as by NGOs, including Sąjūdis.[17][18]

Her campaign was primarily focused on domestic issues. After years of strong economic growth, Lithuania faced a deep recession, with double-digit declines in economic indicators. The unemployment rate rose to 15.5% in March 2009, and a January street protest against the government's response to the recession turned violent.[19] 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 programme.[20] She also promised a more balanced approach in conducting foreign policy, the primary constitutional role of the Lithuanian presidency.

Grybauskaitė celebrating her landslide victory in 2009.

The election was held on 17 May 2009. Grybauskaitė won in a landslide, receiving 69.1% of the valid vote.[21] The 51.6% turnout was just above the threshold needed to avoid a runoff election.[22] In winning the election, Grybauskaitė became not only the first female president of Lithuania, but won by the largest margin recorded for a free election in Lithuania.[23]

Political analysts attributed the easy victory to Grybauskaitė's financial competence and her ability to avoid domestic scandals.[22] The international press was quick to dub her the "Lithuanian Iron Lady" for her outspoken speech and her black belt in karate.[24][25] Grybauskaitė, who speaks Lithuanian, English, Russian, French and Polish,[24] has mentioned Margaret Thatcher and Mahatma Gandhi as her political role models.[26]

Presidency (2009–2019)Edit

Grybauskaitė inaugurating Arvydas Pocius as the commander of the Lithuanian Armed Forces on 28 July 2009.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry meets with Grybauskaitė in Vilnius, 7 September 2013
Grybauskaitė and Chief of Defence of Lithuania Arvydas Pocius.

Grybauskaitė assumed presidential duties on 12 July 2009, and accepted half of her presidential salary (312,000 litas).[19] Her first presidential visits abroad were made to Sweden and Latvia;[27] in April 2011, she made a state visit to Norway.[28] Grybauskaitė supported the NATO-led military intervention in Libya.[29]

On 19 December 2013, Grybauskaitė decided to boycott the Sochi Winter Olympics together with other Western leaders, including German president Joachim Gauck, French president François Hollande, and the US president Barack Obama, due to Russia's human rights violations, attitudes and behaviour with Eastern partners and Lithuania.[30]

In 2014, Grybauskaitė was reelected President. She received 46% of the vote in the first round, and defeated Zigmantas Balčytis of the Social Democratic Party in the run-off with 58% of the vote.

Foreign policyEdit

Relations with RussiaEdit

Grybauskaitė and Petro Poroshenko in Kiev, Ukraine, December 2016
Grybauskaitė during the 53rd Munich Security Conference 2017
Grybauskaitė with Volodymyr Zelensky and his wife Olena in May 2019

At the beginning of her first term, Grybauskaitė tried to reset relations with Russia and check whether pragmatic relations with Russia were possible. In 2010, Grybauskaitė even met with Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin in Helsinki. However, after this meeting, relations between Lithuania and Russia began to cool down.[31]

Relations with Russia markedly deteriorated during the second Grybauskaitė's term in office, due in part to her hard line stance against Russian influence in Europe and the Baltics, especially after the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

In May 2014, Grybauskaitė called the dependence on Russian gas an "existential threat" to Lithuania.[32]

Following her reelection in May 2014, she said "Dignity, self-respect and mutual benefit, these are the principles that should set the basis for relations between countries and no doubt, knowing that this is our neighbor, we wish this country to democratize and cope with the arising economic challenges".[33]

In June 2014, Grybauskaitė told the German news magazine Focus: "[Putin] uses nationality as a pretext to conquer territory with military means. That's exactly what Stalin and Hitler did." She also claimed that Russia and Putin were "characterised by aggressiveness, violence, and a willingness to overstep boundaries."[34]

On 20 November 2014, Grybauskaitė, commenting on the conflict in Ukraine, characterized Russia as "a terrorist state which carries out an open aggression against its neighbors".[35]

In June 2018, Grybauskaitė said that Lithuania should be ready for Russian invasion. She also said that Western states will "wake up" only "when they have been attacked" by Russia.[36]

In December 2018, Grybauskaitė told Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko that Lithuania would increase military assistance to Ukraine: "We will additionally supply more ammunition, send more military instructors and cyber security experts to help repel hybrid attacks, especially during the elections."[37]

Relations with the EU and United StatesEdit

In December 2014, Grybauskaitė said that Lithuania will have to take the responsibility for the secret CIA-operated prison in Lithuania.[38]

Regarding British Prime Minister Theresa May's comments on acting as a "bridge" between the European Union and the United States, Grybauskaitė said that "I don't think there is a necessity for a bridge. We communicate with the Americans on Twitter."[39][40] In March 2017, Grybauskaitė criticized the government of Poland and Prime Minister Beata Szydło for not endorsing Donald Tusk again for the President of the European Council.[41]


In January 2019 Grybauskaitė said a "no-deal Brexit" would be better than delaying Brexit. She said the EU would negotiate mini or sectoral arrangements to mitigate a no-deal scenario.[42]

Personal lifeEdit

Grybauskaitė is unmarried and has no children. In addition to her native Lithuanian, she is fluent in English, Russian and Polish, and also speaks French.[43] Grybauskaitė has a black belt in karate.[44]


Grybauskaitė has received the following national and international awards:

Year Award Issuer
2003 The Commander's Cross of the Order of the Lithuanian Grand Duke Gediminas Lithuania
2009 The Order of Vytautas the Great with the Golden Chain[45] Lithuania
2011 Commander Grand Cross with Chain of the Order of the Three Stars[46] Latvia
2011 Knight Grand Cross of the Royal Norwegian Order of St. Olav[47][48] Norway
2011 Knight Grand Cross of the Order of the Falcon[49] Iceland
2012 Member of Xirka Ġieħ ir-Repubblika Malta
2012 Grand Officer of the Order of Saint-Charles[50][51] Monaco
2013 Knight Grand Cross with Collar of the Order of the White Rose of Finland[52] Finland
2013 Knight Grand Cross with Collar of the Order of the Cross of Terra Mariana[52] Estonia
2013 Gran Cross Special Class of the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany Germany
2013 Charlemagne Prize for 2013[53] Aachen
2015 Order of the Republic[54] Moldova
2015 Collar of the Order pro merito Melitensi SMOM
2015 Knight of the Order of the Seraphim[55] Sweden
2016 Order for Exceptional Merits[56] Slovenia
2016 Collar of the Order of the Star of Romania Romania
2018 Knight Grand Cross of the Order of the Netherlands Lion[57] Netherlands
2018 Knight Grand Cross of the Order of Merit of the Italian Republic with Collar[58] Italy
2018 Member of the Order of Liberty[59] Ukraine
2019 Knight of the Order of the White Eagle[60] Poland

Further readingEdit


  1. ^ "D.Grybauskaitės turtas per metus sumenko beveik 300 tūkst. eurų, turtingesnis netapo ir S.Skvernelis". 15min.lt.
  2. ^ "Lithuania's first female president sworn in for second term". EuroNews. 12 July 2014.
  3. ^ Skard, Torild (2014) "Kazimiera Prunskiene and Dalia Grybauskaite" in Women of power – half a century of female presidents and prime ministers worldwide, Bristol: Policy Press, ISBN 978-1-44731-578-0, pp. 335–40.
  4. ^ Martyn-Hemphill, Richard (21 May 2015). "The Baltic 'Iron Lady': Putin's solitary foe". The Politico. Retrieved 23 July 2015.
  5. ^ Peleschuk, Dan (20 November 2017). "Meet the Iron Lady of Lithuania". The Politico. Retrieved 13 December 2017.
  6. ^ "Lithuania's new president Steel magnolia". The Economist. 29 May 2009. Retrieved 1 June 2009.
  7. ^ a b Jablonskaitė, Dovilė (7 March 2009). "Mąslių akių mergaitė" (in Lithuanian). Klaipėda diena. Retrieved 18 May 2009.
  8. ^ a b c Grybauskaitė, Dalia. "Apie Mane" (in Lithuanian). Archived from the original on 20 April 2009. Retrieved 20 May 2009.
  9. ^ a b "Curriculum Vitae of Dr. Dalia Grybauskaitė". European Commission. Retrieved 18 May 2009.
  10. ^ "After Restoration of Independence". finmin.lrv.lt.
  11. ^ "Dalia Grybauskaitė News 2005". European Commission. 29 November 2005. Retrieved 20 May 2009.
  12. ^ "Grybauskaite: "Today's budget is not a budget for the 21st century"". 1 August 2005. Retrieved 18 May 2009.
  13. ^ "The 2008 EC Budget" (PDF). European Union Committee. Retrieved 19 May 2009.
  14. ^ "D.Grybauskaitė: kritika Lietuvai – oficiali EK nuomonė". Delfi.lt. 25 June 2008. Retrieved 19 May 2009.
  15. ^ "D. Grybauskaitė sieks prezidento posto" (in Lithuanian). Lithuanian National Radio and Television. 26 February 2009. Retrieved 20 May 2009. Aš apsisprendžiau, kad sutinku grįžti į ietuvą, jei Lietuvos žmonės nuspręs, kad esu reikalinga dabar Lietuvoje. Manau, kad visi esame pasiilgę tiesos, skaidrumo ir atsakomybės už savo šalį. Norime visi gyventi be baimės, pasitikėdami savimi, vienas kitu ir rytojumi. Galiu ir noriu skirti savo patirtį, žinias bei gebėjimus tam, kad išguitume šešėlius iš moralės, politikos, ekonomikos ir sukurtume tokią piliečių Lietuvą, piliečių valstybę. Todėl dalyvausiu Lietuvos prezidento rinkimuose.[dead link]
  16. ^ "Po D.Grybauskaitės apsisprendimo politologai nemato jai konkurencijos" (in Lithuanian). Lietuvos rytas. 26 February 2009. Archived from the original on 1 March 2009. Retrieved 20 May 2009.
  17. ^ "Lithuanians vote in female president". Deutsche Welle. 18 May 2009. Retrieved 20 May 2009.
  18. ^ "Lietuvos Sąjūdis nusprendė paremti D.Grybauskaitę" (in Lithuanian). Klaipėda diena. 14 May 2009. Retrieved 20 May 2009.
  19. ^ a b "Lithuania president-elect vows to fight recession". Associated Press , reprinted by CBC News. 18 May 2009. Retrieved 20 May 2009.
  20. ^ "Grybauskaitė: reikia taupyti biurokratų, o ne paprastų žmonių sąskaita" (in Lithuanian). Alfa.lt. 29 January 2009. Retrieved 20 May 2009.
  21. ^ "Central Electoral Committee of the Republic of Lithuania, European Election Database". vrk.lt.
  22. ^ a b "Lithuania gets first woman leader". BBC News. 18 May 2009. Retrieved 19 May 2009.
  23. ^ "Šampanas iššautas: D.Grybauskaitė be didesnės konkurencijos išrinkta Lietuvos prezidente" (in Lithuanian). Lietuvos rytas. 20 May 2009. Archived from the original on 21 May 2009. Retrieved 20 May 2009.
  24. ^ a b "Dalia Grybauskaite: Lithuania's 'Iron Lady'". Khaleej Times Online. Archived from the original on 8 June 2011. Retrieved 19 May 2009.
  25. ^ "D. Grybauskaitę vadina Lietuvos "geležine ledi"". Lithuanian National Radio and Television. Archived from the original on 25 May 2012. Retrieved 19 May 2009.
  26. ^ "Lithuania elects first female president". ABC News (Australia). 18 May 2009. Retrieved 20 May 2009.
  27. ^ Premjeras prezidentės pirmojo vizito į Švediją nelaiko posūkiu užsienio politikoje. Retrieved on 7 October 2009
  28. ^ "Det Norske Kongehus". kongehuset.no.
  29. ^ "Libya: Where do Nato countries stand?". BBC News. 21 April 2011.
  30. ^ "Prezidentė Dalia Grybauskaitė į Sočio žiemos olimpines žaidynes nevyks". Archived from the original on 20 December 2013.
  31. ^ Janeliūnas, Tomas (25 January 2021). "Janeliūnas T.(2021): Changes and adjustment in the foreign policy of Lithuania during Dalia Grybauskaitė's presidency". Journal of Baltic Studies: 1–24. doi:10.1080/01629778.2021.1876120.
  32. ^ "Lithuania's president wins second term on anti-Russia platform". Reuters. 26 May 2014.
  33. ^ Sputnik (26 May 2014). "Re-Elected Lithuanian President Hopes for Friendly Relations With Russia". ria.ru. Retrieved 14 September 2015.
  34. ^ Martin, Michelle (22 June 2014). "Lithuanian president compares Putin to Hitler and Stalin-magazine". Reuters – via www.reuters.com.
  35. ^ "Dalia Grybauskaitė: Rusija yra teroristinė valstybė". 15min.lt. 20 November 2014. Retrieved 14 September 2015.
  36. ^ "Lithuanian leader says Western powers naive about Russia: report". Radio Poland. 20 June 2018.
  37. ^ "Lithuania imposes sanctions on Russian citizens involved in Kerch Strait incident". TASS. 7 December 2018.
  38. ^ "President Grybauskaitė: Lithuania will have to accept responsibility, if CIA prison allegations prove correct". The Lithuanian Tribune. 10 December 2014.
  39. ^ Boffey, Daniel (3 February 2017). "François Hollande leads attacks on Donald Trump at EU summit". The Guardian. Retrieved 4 February 2017.
  40. ^ Boffey, Daniel; Walker, Peter (3 February 2017). "EU leaders round on Trump and reject May's bridge-building efforts". The Guardian. Retrieved 4 February 2017.
  41. ^ S.A., Wirtualna Polska Media (17 July 2014). "Prezydent Litwy Dalia Grybauskaite: nie damy się Polakom". Retrieved 28 August 2017.
  42. ^ "Lithuanian president: No-deal Brexit better than 'chaos' of delay". 24 January 2019.
  43. ^ "Curriculum Vitae of Dr. Dalia Grybauskaitė". European Commission. Retrieved 5 September 2014.
  44. ^ Adams, William Lee (16 September 2011). "Dalia Grybauskaite, President of Lithuania". Time.
  45. ^ Lithuanian Presidency Archived 19 April 2014 at the Wayback Machine, Lithuanian Orders searching form
  46. ^ List of recipients of the Order of the Three Stars since 2004 Archived 10 May 2013 at the Wayback Machine (.doc file)
  47. ^ "President of the Republic of Lithuania". lrp.lt. Retrieved 14 September 2015.
  48. ^ "Noblesse et Royautés" Archived 15 April 2011 at the Wayback Machine (French), State visit photos
  49. ^ Icelandic Presidency Website (Icelandic), Order of the Falcon, Grybauskaite, Dalia Archived 13 July 2015 at the Wayback Machine, 25 August 2011
  50. ^ Sovereign Ordonnance n° 3987 of 15 October 2012 (French)
  51. ^ Video of the state visit of Monaco in Lithuania 15 October 2012
  52. ^ a b "Prezidentė Dalia Grybauskaitė". lrp.lt. Retrieved 28 August 2017.
  53. ^ "Grybauskaite: responsible leadership strengthens Europe". The Baltic Course.
  54. ^ "RECOMANDĂRILE preşedintelui Lituaniei pentru ca Moldova să se integreze cât mai repede în UE". publika.md. 22 April 2015.
  55. ^ "Švedijos karališkasis vizitas – šalių bendrystės įtvirtinimas". lrp.lt. Retrieved 28 August 2017.
  56. ^ "Red za izredne zasluge" [Order for Exceptional Merits] (in Slovenian). President of the Republic of Slovenia. Retrieved 15 May 2018.
  57. ^ State visit to Lithuania
  58. ^ Lithuania and Italy stand united against challenges
  59. ^ "President of the Republic of Lithuania". lrp.lt.
  60. ^ "President of the Republic of Lithuania".

External linksEdit

Political offices
New office Lithuanian European Commissioner
Succeeded by
Algirdas Šemeta
Preceded by
Viviane Reding
European Commissioner for Education and Culture
Served alongside: Viviane Reding
Succeeded by
Ján Figeľ
as European Commissioner for Education,
Training, Culture and Multilingualism
Preceded by
Michaele Schreyer
Markos Kyprianou

as European Commissioner for the Budget
European Commissioner for Financial Programming
and the Budget

Succeeded by
Algirdas Šemeta
Preceded by
Valdas Adamkus
President of Lithuania
Succeeded by
Gitanas Nausėda
Diplomatic posts
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Tarja Halonen
Chair of the Council of Women World Leaders
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Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović