On 31 October 2019, as part of his working visit to Vilnius, the Foreign Minister of Latvia, Edgars Rinkēvičs, met with the Foreign Minister of Lithuania, Linas Linkevičius, in order to present the Balts Award bestowed by the Ministries of Foreign Affairs of Latvia and Lithuania. In an official ceremony, the Balts Award was presented to Professor Alvydas Butkus in recognition of his invaluable contribution to the preservation of the Balts’ heritage and the strengthening of relations between the Latvia and Lithuania.
During a separate bilateral meeting, the Foreign Ministers discussed current bilateral and regional issues.
At the presentation of the Balts Award, the Latvian Foreign Minister thanked Alvydas Butkus for the Latvian-Lithuanian dictionary he had compiled. The dictionary is freely accessible online and contains 43,000 words. The Professor has also established a Latvian Studies Centre at the Vytautas Magnus University in Kaunas and been at its helm for more than 20 years.
At the ceremony for the Balts Award, a performance was given by the Diplomatic Choir of the Lithuanian Foreign Ministry. Both ministers were of one mind that the award has become a beautiful tradition that promotes diplomatic ties between the two neighbouring countries and contributes considerably to strengthening of bilateral cooperation between Latvia and Lithuania.
The Balts Award was bestowed by the Latvian and Lithuanian Foreign Ministries for the second time. Its aim is to recognize the excellence and achievements related to individual contributions and accomplishments 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 historical heritage, as well as investigative journalism on Latvian and Lithuanian history, culture and tourism. The monetary value of the award is EUR 3000, co-funded 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 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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