September 28, 2014

Presentation of Baku-2015 European Games in Athens

Presentation of the first European Games to be held in Azerbaijan in 2015 took place in Athens, September 28.


Azerbaijan’s First Lady, President of the Heydar Aliyev Foundation Mehriban Aliyeva addressed the ceremony.


Address by Mehriban Aliyeva:


Dear President of the Greek Republic’s Parliament!


Dear ministers, MPs, members of the European Parliament, ambassadors!


Dear President of the Greek Republic’s Olympic Committee Spiros Kapralos and my dear friend Marianna.


Respected guests, friends, ladies and gentlemen.


Welcome to this grandiose space. Thank you for joining the dinner arranged on the occasion of the presentation devoted to the first European Games to be held in 2015 in Baku. Returning to Greece made me very happy. Thank you for your perfect hospitality. Yesterday, we all enjoyed a nice concert at historical Irodio Theatre, and  despite a rainy weather forecast, weather was very fine. The weather being fine was a very good sign. I would like to express my sincere gratitude to my dear friend Marianna Vardinoyannis for her valuable contribution. I’m very glad to have found a true friend in her personality, with whom we have been cooperating both through UNESCO and our bilateral relations.


Dear friends, let me start with the relations between Greece and Azerbaijan. These are strategic partnership relations relying on mutual respect, interest and friendship. Although our countries do not have common borders, our nations have always shown special sympathy and warm attitude towards each other. I’m very pleased to have seen serious progress in  the relations between our countries in a number of areas, including political, cultural, economic and scientific spheres. Dynamic growth in the Azerbaijani economy has favoured favourable conditions for our bilateral relations in a number of areas, in particular, in the spheres of trade and investment. Despite the after-effects of Armenia’s occupation of 20 per cent of Azerbaijan’s territory and over 1 million refugees and IDPs, our country could manage to achieve three-fold increase in the gross domestic product, and today Azerbaijan accounts for over 70 per cent of the South Caucasus region’s gross domestic product. Our cooperation in the energy sector has risen onto a new level. By recently launching the South Gas Corridor Project, Azerbaijan has contributed to the energy security of Europe, including Greece. Implementation of this strategic project will serve to strengthening of our bilateral relations further, and Greece will be the first European Union country to deliver Azerbaijani gas to  the European market.  


Dear Friends, today I would like to especially note our cooperation in the humanitarian field. For the last several years, relations between universities, schools, libraries, museums and research institutes have intensified. I’m hopeful direct ties built between Ganja and Saloniki cities will be an example for other cities of our countries and bring our nations closer. Another important area in which our countries have built close cooperation ties is sports. I would like to note our partnership relations with the International Olympic Academy, which will ensure our youth’s quality education on Olympic subjects. These few examples show that relations between Azerbaijan and Greece have strong potential and I’m hopeful this potential will be fully realized in future. Dear friends, as you know, the first European Games will be held in Azerbaijan. Despite the fact that the Olympic movement had started and restored in Athens, Greece, as opposed to other continents, no European games have ever been held so far. We are pride of being given this historical opportunity to organize these games in our country. Over 6000 sportsmen will compete on 20 types of sport during the 17-day  games. This decision of the European Olympic Committee has been welcomed by the people of Azerbaijan with much delight and support. For this historical decision, I would like to thank the European Olympic Committee represented in the person of President of the Greek Olympic Committee and Chairperson of“Baku-2015” Coordination Commission mister Spirius Kapralos.


Today Azerbaijan is well known as a sports country. After we have regained our independence, development of sport has been one of the high-priority directions of the state policy. Our sportsmen have participated in Olympic Games since 1966, and we may take pride in the achievements we reached in this short span of time. At the last Olympic Games, our  sportsmen won 10 Olympic medals, and Azerbaijan was listed in the first 30 countries for the number of medals. Over 40 modern Olympic complexes were built for the last 10 years, and this gave new opportunities for those who chose sports as a professional career. At the Olympic Games recently held among the youth, our sportsmen won 12 medals, including 5 gold ones, and our country was listed 10th among all participants and 6th among European countries. We have rich experience in hosting a number of European and World championships, and all these competitions have been highly appreciated by participants and officials. As an example, I would like to cite the European championship for rhythmic gymnastics held in June 2014 in Baku. All achievements of our sportsmen, the state support provided to sport’s development and our country’s perfect economic growth were the main factors that were conductive to the decision of the European Olympic Committee. We approached this decision both with joy and responsibility. The first games will define standards for future games. Azerbaijan is determined to hold the first European Games on the level of Olympic Games. As a chairperson of the Baku-2015 Games Organizing Committee, I can assure you that we will do our utmost to make sure that the Games are held at the highest possible level and sportsmen, officials and local residents  created necessary conditions. Despite being given only two and a half years for the preparation for these Games, today we are sure all the preparation works will be completed on time. We are pleased with our fruitful and strong cooperation with the European Olympic Committee and the International Olympic Federation, and I strongly believe that the principles of justice, friendship and solidarity of Olympic games will be followed in the games to be held in Baku.


In conclusion I would like, dear friends, to invite you all to participate in these historical Games and discover the old country of Azerbaijan, located at the crossroads of the West and East, which has rich culture and history, and is very well known for its diversity, tolerance and kindness. I wish the country of Greece and its friendly people  happiness, successes and prosperity.


I would like to once more thank you for your hospitality and wish you to enjoy your time.


Thank you for your attention. 

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