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Cablegate: Farewell Gala Caps Three Successful Years for Ambassador

VZCZCXRO4096
PP RUEHAG RUEHAST RUEHDA RUEHDF RUEHFL RUEHIK RUEHKW RUEHLA RUEHLN
RUEHLZ RUEHPOD RUEHROV RUEHSR RUEHVK RUEHYG
DE RUEHRA #0050/01 0291535
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 291535Z JAN 08
FM AMEMBASSY RIGA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 4675
INFO RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE
RHEHAAA/WHITE HOUSE WASHDC

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 RIGA 000050

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: SCUL ODIP PGOV PREL LG
SUBJECT: Farewell gala caps three successful years for Ambassador
Bailey

1. Summary: A January 25 farewell gala, attended by 160 guests was
the formal event to mark the conclusion of Ambassador Bailey's three
years as US Ambassador to Latvia. A wide range of Latvians from
government, the arts, education and business came to show their
appreciation for the work of the Ambassador. The evening was capped
by an extraordinarily warm and personal tribute to the Ambassador
from former President Vaira Vike-Freiberga, who praised Ambassador
Bailey for "going beyond the role of the average Ambassador." The
emotion in the evening was warm and genuine and served as a mark of
how successful the Ambassador's tenure has been. End summary.

2. Ambassador Bailey marked the conclusion of her assignment in
Latvia with a farewell gala January 25 at the Small Guild. It was
in this same room that President Bush spoke May 7, 2005, and that
legendary singer Odetta performed in February 2006 as part of the
Embassy's program for Black History Month.

3. The event was attended by over 160 individuals, including former
President Vike-Freiberga, six members of parliament, the former
Speaker of Parliament, the current and former Mayors of Riga,
members of the diplomatic corps, senior members of the foreign and
defense ministries, leading figures in academia, media, theatre, and
the arts, the board of the American Chamber of Commerce and many
leaders in business. Throughout the evening, attendees reflected on
their experiences working with the Ambassador during her tenure in
Riga and expressed uniform praise for her energy, creativity and
commitment to the Latvia - U.S. relationship.

4. The official program was hosted by Ojars Kalnins, former Latvian
Ambassador to Washington, who noted the history of the venue and the
Ambassador's personal contributions to the successful activities
that had previously occurred in the room. He was followed by Ivars
Linis, director of the Dailes Theatre, who praised the Ambassador's
efforts to build cultural ties between the two countries. He
specifically highlighted the May 2007 visit to the Dailes Theatre by
award winning Broadway composer and lyricist Steven Schwartz, who
put on a concert and conducted master classes, and the subsequent
trip to New York for further training by several of the theatre's
performers. Linda Leen, a popular Latvian singer who participated
in the activities both in Riga and in New York, then brought down
the house with performances of three standards, "Fever," "My Funny
Valentine," and "Mein Herr" from Cabaret. Ms. Leen thanked the
Ambassador for her personal role in securing the Schwartz visit to
Riga and the Dailes Theatre trip to New York, with Ms. Leen noting
how important they were to her professional development.

5. A reflection video, including tributes from the staff of Embassy
Riga, senior Latvian officials, and former White House Chief of
Staff Karl Rove, and interspersed with clips from the Ambassador's
tenure in Latvia, was shown to the audience, who were visibly moved
as the images helped them recall all that they had achieved in
working with Ambassador Bailey.

6. The emotional capstone of the evening, however, came at the
unplanned remarks from former President Vike-Freiberga. In her
remarks, the former President spoke eloquently, and without notes,
about the warm, personal relationship she had built with Ambassador
Bailey. Vike-Freiberga praised Ambassador Bailey's energy,
creativity and commitment to improving the bilateral relationship.
Addressing members of the diplomatic corps who were present, the
former President said that while she had worked with many
Ambassadors who effectively represented their countries, Ambassador
Bailey stood "head and shoulders above the others." She noted in
particular how Ambassador Bailey's personal connections in
Washington resulted both in high level visitors to Latvia, including
two visits by President Bush, and high level meetings for Latvian
officials visiting the US. The former President termed Ambassador
Bailey an active agent for keeping a strong bilateral relationship
and said that, unlike other Ambassadors, Ambassador Bailey was
willing to explore possibilities for cooperation "outside the narrow
constraints set by capitals." The remarks brought the crowd to its
feet and concluded with a toast.

7. In her remarks, the Ambassador, joined at the podium by Mr.
Bailey and clearly moved by the warm words of Vike-Freiberga,
reflected on the achievements during her three years, offered praise
for the resilience of the Latvian people during the second half of
the twentieth century, and applauded the achievements since the
restoration of independence. She offered thanks to all those who
had helped make her assignment a success and offered a special word
of thanks to the more than 20 members of the Embassy staff in
attendance by asking them to stand and be recognized, which drew
warm applause from the crowd.

8. At the very end, the Latvians in attendance offered the highest
praise in their culture. They sang a song. Ms. Leen, in a
completely unplanned act, led the room in a traditional song of good
wishes for health, success and good fortune. Following the event's
conclusion, many of the Latvians in attendance stayed to mingle and
chat, highly unusual in this culture. The whole evening served as a
showcase of the health of the bilateral relationship and the

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contribution of Ambassador Bailey to strengthening it during her
tenure in Riga.

Bailey

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