November 26, 2014

Presentation of “Baku-2015” first European Games in Paris

Presentation of “Baku-2015” first European Games took place in Paris, November 26.

Azerbaijan’s First Lady, President of the Heydar Aliyev Foundation, Chairperson of the European Games Organizing Committee Mehriban Aliyeva delivered a speech at the ceremony:

- Dear Guests.

Ladies and Gentlemen.

Dear Friends, I welcome you to this event from the bottom of my heart. Welcome to the presentation of the first European Games.

As you know, by a decision of the European Olympic Committee, the first European Games will be held next year in Baku, Azerbaijan’s capital. Over six thousand sportsmen will participate in the Games and compete on 20 types of sports.

Beyond all doubt, the European Games will open a new page in the sports history, and to prepare for, receive and hold the first European Games, which will remain in the history as the first games, is a great honour and great responsibility for Azerbaijan. This decision of the European Olympic Committee has been welcomed by the people of Azerbaijan with great support, and I would like to thank the President of the European Olympic Committee and all its members.

Dear Friends, it’s been 23 years that an independent Azerbaijan has taken its worthily place on the world map. We are a nation with old history and culture, and the independence, we have longed for centuries-long, is our wealth. Achievements reached during the independence years are of great importance for the people of Azerbaijan.

Having performed economic and political reforms during the years of independence concurrently, Azerbaijan has managed to build a free society and strong economy relying on democratic principles. Today, all freedoms exist in our country. Free Internet is operating in the country, and over 70 per cent of the population is benefiting from it.

Azerbaijan is a multinational and multi-confessional state. Representatives of different religions and nations have lived in this country in an environment of brotherhood and mutual  understanding. After we regained our state independence,  these tendencies have strengthened further, and it is by no chance that Azerbaijan has turned into one of the hubs of multiculturism of the world, and recently the International Multiculturalism Centre has been established in our country.

Recent years, Azerbaijan has become one of the most rapidly growing countries of the world. For the last decade, Azerbaijan’s economic growth was threefold, and the level of poverty and unemployment was reduced to 5 per cent.

We are approaching development of the education system with much attention. Significant works have been carried out in the education system. For every country, for every nation, its future, future development and achievements depend on the human factor, its knowledgeable youth. Over three thousand schools have been built and renovated for the past decade, hundreds of Azerbaijani young people are studying at leading universities and higher schools of the world under state support.

Azerbaijan’s influence on the international arena is becoming stronger year-by-year, and Azerbaijan is recognized as a reliable partner in the world. As a testimony of this, Azerbaijan had been elected, with the votes of 155 countries, a temporary member of the UN Security Council, the most reliable organization of the world, for 2012 -2013. Two weeks ago, Azerbaijan’s chairmanship at the Cabinet of Ministers of the European Council, of which member we have been since 2001, was successfully finished.

Our country has been contributing also to ensuring Europe’s energy security. Two months ago, the foundation of the South Gas Corridor was laid, and, in a few years,  Azerbaijani gas will be transported to Europe, thus Azerbaijan will be making stronger contribution to Europe’s energy security.

We have built cooperation with international organizations of Europe, and have been building our relations with European countries on the basis of mutual interest and respect. France is a leading state of Europe and, after our country regained its state independence, the French - Azerbaijani cooperation rose to a completely new level. These relations cover political, economic and humanitarian spheres. Interparliamentary relations are becoming stronger, and I’m very pleased to head the Azerbaijan-France Friendship Group at the Azerbaijani Parliament.

This year, the Friends of Azerbaijan Association in France has been restored. Over fifty French companies are operating in our country and hundreds of Azerbaijani students studying at French universities. A French lycée has been admitting its first pupils, and negotiations are being held on opening of a French university in Baku.

A residential centre called “White City” is being constructed in Baku, and part of the construction here is carried out in French style, an architectural style of Paris.

Relations between our countries in the sphere of sports is also developing, and I’m hopeful all capacities created during the European Games’ preparation period will be used and these relations will strengthen further.

Dear Guests, I can talk a great deal about our country and the friendly relations between Azerbaijan and France. I would like to say a few words about the event and sports.

Supporting sports and Olympic movement is one of the priority directions in the state’s policy in Azerbaijan. Building of the sports infrastructure in our country is approached with  much attention, and over 40 new modern Olympic centres have been constructed in Azerbaijan in the past decade. We take pride in the achievements of our sportsmen. As an independent country, Azerbaijan joined Olympic Games in 1996, and, number of medals won is increasing year-by-year.  During the last Summer Olympic Games, our national team won ten medals, two of them being gold, and by this result, Azerbaijan took the fifteenth place among the European teams and the thirtieth among the all participants.  At the Youth Olympic Games held this year in China, our young athletes won twelve medals, five of them being gold, whereby took the tenth place among some two hundred countries. Of course, this is  great achievement. Taking all these factors, achievements of our athletes, strong state support to sport’s development, existing sports infrastructure and, of course, the country’s rapid economic development, the European Olympic Committee resolved to hold these Games in Azerbaijan. Although two and a half years have been allocated for the preparation works, Azerbaijan is determined to hold these games at the level of Olympic games. All necessary actions are taken and steps made for this purpose, the Organizing Committee has been working in cooperation with international sport organizations. Sports facilities under construction will be timely completed and  test competitions held in each of them.

Guests coming to our country in connection with the 43rd General Assembly of the European Olympic Committee held in Baku a few days ago  have made themselves closely acquainted with the preparation works.

I hope the first European Games will be held in an environment of friendship, sound competition and solidarity - the primary principles of the Olympic movement.

In conclusion, dear Friends, I invite you to Azerbaijan to watch this historic Games.

I would like to thank each of you for being tonight with us and wish you to enjoy the evening. 

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