Clergyman named European of the year

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Clergyman Juris Calitis has won this year's "European Person of the Year in Latvia" Award.

Calitis was honored at a ceremony Tuesday in Riga for his work as founder and director of the Zvanninieku House - a Christian-based communal sanctuary for young people from broken homes and problem families.

He beat a field including Prime Minister Laimdota Straujuma, a pair of beach volleyball players and Latvia's Eurovision entrant.

Calitis was controversially booted out of the established Latvian Evangelical Lutheran Church in 2005 over his support for gay and lesbian Christians and has since been part of the Anglican congregation in Riga.

This was the 18th time the award was presented by the European Movement - Latvia, an NGO.

At the presentation ceremony, Latvian Foreign Ministry state secretary Zanda Kalniņa-Lukaševica (who is also a board member of the NGO) lauded the achievements of various state institutions during the past year in their promotion of European values.

"Caritas [Latin for compassion - ed.] is in the European blood and in the core of their values; therefore, we have made every effort this year to save people in the Mediterranean and to provide shelter to those fleeing the horrors of war and disaster," said Zanda Kalniņa-Lukaševica.

Her praise of the achievements of Latvia's EU Presidency during the first half of 2015 was even more emphatic.

"The Latvian Government, ministers, civil servants and diplomats have clearly demonstrated Latvia’s ability to preside over the Council of the European Union and make strategic decisions. Our Eastern partner countries, especially Georgia and Ukraine, have also been convinced of Latvia’s capacity," she said.

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