Fran├žois Mitterrand

President of France (also, co-Prince of Andorra)
Born: 26 October 1916 in Jarnac, Charente. As a sergeant in the French Army he was wounded and captured in 1940 but successfully escaped to Vichy ruled France in 1942. He worked in both the Vichy Government and eventually in the French resistance movement during the war, which put him in situations where he was forced to involve himself in politics. After the war he remained in politics, aligning himself with the Socialist Party. He was elected as President of France in May 1981 and became the first socialist president of the Fifth Republic and the first left-wing head of state of France since 1957. He held office for two full terms; at almost 14 years is the longest serving President of France to date and was also the oldest President of the Fifth Republic, leaving office at the age of 78 in 1995. Francois Mitterrand died on 8 January 1996.
Anatalojs Gorbunovs and Karina Petersone (the director of Gorbunovs' office) visited Mr. Mitterand in the Elysee Palace in Paris before the demise of the Soviet Union and at that time he expressed disbelief when Mr. Gorbunovs told him the Soviet Union was on the verge of collapse and that Boris Yeltsin was the new power to watch. When Gorbachov was placed under house arrest during the putsch attempt, Mitterand indicated a willingness to work with the putschists. However shortly thereafter, France became the first Western country to send its Foreign Minister ot the now indpendent nation and Francois Mitterand became the first Western President to visit Latvia after the restoration of independence. During his visit to Latvia he formally reopened the French Embassy in Riga. The house was prepared for him and the road between Riga and Jurmala fixed in anticipation of his visit, however during his time in Latvia he was not feeling well and so stayed in Riga. As a token of appreciation for all the work she had done in preparation for his arrival, he sent a gift of a scarf to Mrs. Vanaga, the housekeeper; a gesture she still vividly remembers.