On 3 October 2018, the Foreign Minister of Latvia, Edgars Rinkēvičs, met with the Foreign Minister of Lithuania, Linas Linkevičius, who was in Latvia on a working visit. Foreign Minister Linkevičius presented a book entitled “Neregėta Lietuva” (Unseen Lithuania) as a gift to the People’s Bookshelf at the National Library of Latvia. In an official ceremony, the Ministers congratulated a professor and linguist, Laimute Balode, as the first recipient of the Balts’ Award for her invaluable contribution to the preservation of the Baltic peoples’ heritage.
During their meeting, the Foreign Ministers discussed current bilateral issues and the implementation of regional projects in the field of energy and transport, as well as looking at the ways to expand cooperation in the security sector. Views were also shared on cooperation between the two countries to protect their interests in the EU’s next Multiannual Financial Framework, and on Europe’s future.
As he presented the Balts’ Award to Laimute Balode, the Latvian Foreign Minister thanked her for academic research in Baltic linguistics over many years and her contribution to the development of the Lithuanian language and culture in Latvia. Both Ministers noted that Laimute Balode was the only candidate nominated by both Lithuania and Latvia.
At the event, the Foreign Ministers thanked all the 11 nominees for the prize for their contribution to preserving the Baltic heritage: translators Jurgis Algimantas Banevičius, Indra Brūvere-Daruliene, Silvestras Gaižiūnas, professors Alvydas Butkus and Zenonas Butkus, doctoral student Viktorija Jonkute, teachers Ieva Križevica and Ieva Valutkevičiene, and journalists Skirmantas Pabedinskas and Zina Paškevičiene. Edgars Rinkēvičs expressed appreciation of the fact that the nominees represent various walks of life – linguistics, history, translation, research, education, and journalism.
The award-giving ceremony included a performance of the Latvian Diplomatic Choir, who sang two songs – “Baltas paukštis” in Lithuanian and “Nevis slinkojot un pūstot” in Latvian. Both Ministers were unanimous that the Balts’ Award will become a beautiful tradition and promote cultural contacts between the two neighbouring countries.
The Balts’ Award established by the Ministries of Foreign Affairs of Latvia and Lithuania was presented for the first time. Its aim is to recognize the excellence and achievements related to individual contribution and accomplishment in the promotion of Latvian-Lithuanian and Lithuanian-Latvian translations, teaching and enhancing the use of the Latvian and Lithuanian languages, research on the Latvian and Lithuanian tangible and intangible cultural and historic heritage, as well as investigative journalism on Latvian and Lithuanian history, culture and tourism. The monetary value of the award is EUR 3000, contributed equally by the Ministries of Foreign Affairs of Latvia and Lithuania.
The idea of the Balts’ Award was first put forward by the Latvian Foreign Minister and his Lithuanian counterpart on the Balts Unity Day, 22 September 2017. In accordance with the Balts’ Award competition rules, the annual award-giving ceremony is to be organised alternately by Latvia and Lithuania.
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