Vaira Vike-Freiberga, President of Latvia

This is a partial transcript from Your World with Neil Cavuto, February 19, 2003, that was edited for clarity. Click here for complete access to all of Neil Cavuto's CEO interviews.

Watch Your World w/Cavuto weekdays at 4 p.m. and 1 a.m. ET.

NEIL CAVUTO, HOST: If the French have problems getting tough with Iraq, they might want to chat with this next lady. Her country knows very well the scourge of terror and totalitarianism. With us now, the president of Latvia, Vaira Vike-Freiberga.

Madam President, thank you very much for joining us.


CAVUTO: I don't know if you had a chance, ma'am, to hear the British professor who said that there's not enough convincing proof, essentially, to go after Saddam, what do you say?

VIKE-FREIBERGA: I think if we start looking at it in terms of burden of proof, then it could go on forever as a debate as to how much proof you would require and where would be the line and the criteria that you would accept. I think we have to go back to the resolution of the United Nations, Resolution 1441, where one had complete agreement, one had unanimity about what the definition of the situation was. And I haven't seen evidence or proof of things having so substantially improved since the time this resolution was taken.

CAVUTO: You know, your strong position, ma'am, has put you conflict with some of the more established nations, certainly within NATO and the European Union. But you have stuck to that. What do you think of the French who all but dismiss your position?

VIKE-FREIBERGA: It is, of course, their right to think as they see fit. We in Eastern Europe and certainly in Latvia have felt the results of indecision. We have felt the pain of tyranny. We have felt the price of oppression for half a century or more. There is hardly a family in Latvia that hasn't been touched by it. And in many ways you could say what we have been through has been the result of appeasement and of acceptance of tyranny.

CAVUTO: Madam President, Jacques Chirac seemed to threaten some of these Eastern European countries, your own included, that they should just be quiet. What did you think of that treatment?

VIKE-FREIBERGA: I think the Europe that we're all trying to build together, which we would like to think of as our Europe, is one where every nation will have a voice. And the more recently joining nations, as far as we're concerned, we haven't heard a precondition for membership that says that we should be seen but not heard. We've just completed our negotiations, got our invitation to Copenhagen, and such a clause was not included.

CAVUTO: Let me ask but the state of Europe these days. Has anyone ever told you, Madam President, that you stuck your neck out long before many other nations did. My hat's off to you for that. But you took a great deal of political risk in doing so. And that now France and some of the more established countries, including Germany, seem to be threatening your very membership eventually in the E.U., and NATO. Are they strong- arming you?

VIKE-FREIBERGA: That remains to be seen. We would like to think that our negotiations with the European Commission, the process -- the enlargement of the European Union -- will proceed according to the Copenhagen criteria, according to our ability to close all the 31 chapters of negotiations. And that other considerations which are not in the books as we were starting negotiations or indeed finishing them, that these will not prevail. And that the kind of Europe that we have been thinking we are joining is the one that we will, in fact, be joining in First of May, 2004.

CAVUTO: Have you feared that because you stuck to this position, you have never wavered, you have never vacillated, that there's going to be hell to pay for you and other Eastern bloc countries that have essentially sided with America?

VIKE-FREIBERGA: I would like to think not. I think it's something that may raise certain feelings of disappointment in some countries. But I think it is nothing that diplomacy could not settle. And I would like to.

CAVUTO: Well, are you bitter, ma'am, at the French? They are the ones who seem to be telling you, Mr. Jacques Chirac, to shut up.

VIKE-FREIBERGA: With the past that we have had in Latvia, we can't afford the luxury of being bitter at anybody.

CAVUTO: So you just accept it, you take it.


CAVUTO: What do you do if the French or the Germans come back to you and say, you want in to the E.U, you want in to NATO, you'd better change your view?

VIKE-FREIBERGA: Well, the European Union has 15 members in it. And I would like to think that they would have to have a serious debate about changing the rules of admission. So far, you see, we have come complied with them all. If any new ones are to arise, then certainly two countries alone will not set the tone, it will have to be a consensus. That's why we like the European Union. It works by consensus.

CAVUTO: All right. Madam President, a real pleasure.

VIKE-FREIBERGA: It's been a pleasure.

CAVUTO: Thank you very much. The president of Latvia, Vaira Vike-Freiberga.

Content and Programming Copyright 2003 Fox News Network, Inc. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. Transcription Copyright 2003 eMediaMillWorks, Inc. (f/k/a Federal Document Clearing House, Inc.), which takes sole responsibility for the accuracy of the transcription. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. No license is granted to the user of this material except for the user's personal or internal use and, in such case, only one copy may be printed, nor shall user use any material for commercial purposes or in any fashion that may infringe upon Fox News Network, Inc.'s and eMediaMillWorks, Inc.'s copyrights or other proprietary rights or interests in the material. This is not a legal transcript for purposes of litigation.