Appropriately enough the award ceremony took place at Rundāle Palace itself, of which he was the director from 1976 until 2019. During his tenure the baroque palace was transformed from a state of near dilapidation to a pearl of European culture and is now one of the Baltic region's top tourist attractions.
"The title of EUROPEAN OF THE YEAR IN LATVIA is awarded to a person who has made a significant contribution to strengthening the common European values in Latvia and promoting the name of Latvia in Europe," said organizers The European Movement, which was founded in 1997, and is an NGO working in the political sphere. The EML is a member of the European Movement International.
The winner of the annual title was determined in a public vote. Previous winners have included Sanita Osipova, the Chairperson of the Constitutional Court, former President Vaira Vīķe-Freiberga, singers Renārs Kaupers, Marija Naumova and Ralfs Eilands, former EU Development Commissionner Andris Piebalgs, Catholic Archbishop Zbignevs Stankevics, and Ilmārs Poikans, a researcher who exposed the questionable financial dealings of various high-profile figures under the pseudonym 'Neo'.