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Meet the Most Kickass Leader in the European Union

Lynne Everatt

Lynne Everatt

"Dalia Grybauskaite 2014 by Augustas Didzgalvis" by Augustas Didžgalvis - Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0 via Wikimedia Commons -
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She has a black belt in karate, Norway’s Order of Olav and Putin’s chagrin. Second-term President of Lithuania, Dalia Grybauskaitė (dal-LEH GREE-bohsk-eye-teh) is the most kickass leader in the EU.

They call her the Baltic Iron Lady but she’s more like the Baltic Lady Gaga–the woman who isn’t afraid to speak her truth. On Tuesday when Euclid Tsakalotos (Greece’s newly-appointed Finance Minister) appeared at the EU summit without a single new angle to offer, she said…

“You know, there was a promise for today. Then, they’re promising for tomorrow. For the Greek government it’s every time ‘manana’.”

It’s a shame that nobody pays any attention to President Grybauskaitė because she has a lot of fascinating things to say and can say them in five languages–English, French, Polish, Lithuanian and Russian.

What she says in Russian, Vladimir Putin (who also has a black belt in karate) doesn’t like to hear…

“Putin uses nationality as a pretext to conquer territory with military means. That’s exactly what Hitler and Stalin did.”

Grybauskaitė’s remarks aren’t like Anaheim standing up to Disney where there is no downside. Lithuania is a tiny country, independent of the Soviet Union since 1991 and energy-independent of Russia since October, with a President who is not afraid to face down an ever-present military threat. She calls Russia a “terrorist state with blood on its hands” and has said she will take up arms herself if Lithuania is invaded.

But she also has a soft side

“Women are more focused on the development of the quality of life in their countries. They are more involved in social and family policies, childcare, and poverty reduction. Female leaders are more oriented toward real and long-lasting results of their policies.”

She hangs out with rock stars…

And candidates…

In response to a Lithuanian DJ’s homophobic Facebook rant, she said:

“The sooner Lithuania becomes more open and more tolerant, the better it will be for the country.” 

Dalia calls for openness, yet her personal life is a closely guarded secret. She is single, has no children, no siblings, no living parents and no allegiance to any political party. Her life is “only work, work, work”.  And karate. Is Dalia Grybauskaitė the Lithuanian president or is she James Bond? A former member of the Communist Youth League educated in St. Petersburg Russia and at Georgetown University in Washington, some think her true identity is Red Dalia, a KGB agent also known as the Goddess of Fate. That would be so Octopussy.

Clearly, Dalia Grybauskaitė is a woman like no other. Along with Norway’s Order of St Olav, she has received numerous other awards and honours, among them Iceland’s Order of the Falcon, the Lithuanian Order of Vytautas the Great with the Golden Chain and Glamour’s 2010 Woman of the Year, an award she shared with several luminaries including Donatella Versace, Janet Jackson, Cher and …


It’s hard to look dignified when you’re holding an award that looks like an electron designed by Fredericks of Hollywood, but Dalia pulls it off. Sort of. Here she is on Glamour’s red (not communist) carpet.

Who is this glamorous Dalia Grybauskaitė? Do we really need to know or can we just heed her motto and enjoy the show?

“My motto is any work you do, do it the best you can and achieve the maximum result.”