At an historic ceremony in parliament, Lithuania’s so-called “Iron Lady” has been sworn into office as the Baltic state’s first female president. Dalia Grybauskaite takes over from veteran Valdas Adamkus, who at 82 is retiring after serving two five year terms.
His successor’s straight-talking style and conservative reformist stance are behind comparisons with Britain’s former leader Margaret Thatcher. An ex-finance minister, Grybauskaite has also spent time in Brussels. Her efforts in helping reform the EU’s budget earned her the title European Commissioner of the Year in 2005. She will be hoping to use her economics experience to help turn things round in Lithuania which has been hit hard by the global downturn. After rapid growth following EU entry in 2004, the country’s economy is expected to shrink by more than 10 percent this year. Lithuania’s new leader certainly has the confidence of her fellow citizens, having won a landslide victory in May’s elections.