Presentation of the “Olympic Excellence” Special Honorary Prize of the International Olympic Academy

On June 16, opening of the 54th International Session of Young Participants of the International Olympic Academy took place in Athens.

Azerbaijan’s First Lady Mehriban Aliyeva addressed the ceremony:

- Mister President of the International Olympic Committee.

President of the International Olympic Academy.

Dear participants, dear friends.

Ladies and gentlemen.

I’m greatly privileged to have been awarded a prize by the International Olympic Committee and received this influential award on the ancient Greek soil.

I’m pleased to participate in today’s ceremony together with all of you. I would like to thank President of the International Olympic Academy Mister Isidoros and all the members of the Academy for highly appreciating my activities in promoting the Olympic values.

We highly appreciate the achievements reached by the Olympic Academy in Azerbaijan towards preserving, developing and worldwide dissemination of the Olympic values. Together, we have developed an education program for the youth of Azerbaijan, as well as officials having relationship with sport, and for the European youth. We have been working in partnership to provide support to “Baku-2015” Organizing Committee.

Azerbaijan is an active member of the International Olympic Movement. Development of sports, promotion of the Olympic values and ideals are among priority directions in our country’s policy. Ever since the regaining of independence, we have always felt the support of the International Olympic Committee towards development of sport in our country. I would like to personally thank President of the International Olympic Committee Tomas Bach for supporting our initiatives.

As an independent country, Azerbaijan has been participating in Olympic Games for less than 20 years, and we take pride in successes of our sportsmen that win more and more medals as years pass. In the last Summer Olympic Games, our sportsmen won 10 medals, two out of which were gold. Azerbaijan was the 30th among the participants of the Summer Olympic Games  by the number of medals, and 15th among the European countries. We have been investing a significant amount of money in the development of the sports infrastructure. During the last 10 years, over 50 state-of-the-art Olympic centres were built in the country. Achievements of our sportsmen, modern sports infrastructure, strong state support to sportsmen, development of sports and promotion of sports ideals, as well as our country’s rapid development were among the principal factors that the European Olympic Committee took a decision to hold the First European Games in Baku, Azerbaijan’s capital, in 2015. We thank the European Olympic Committee for this historic decision. Although the Olympic Games are believed to originate from Europe, no European Games had ever been held earlier.

Organization of the European Games is a matter of national pride and responsibility for us. I can say that this decision has been strongly supported by the people of Azerbaijan. As the head of the Organizing Committee of the First European Games-2015, I can assure you that we have been doing our best to ensure that the European Games are held at the highest level, and perfect conditions are created for sportsmen and members of delegations, guests and local residents. I’m sure the Games will be held in an environment of friendship and solidarity.

Dear Friends, I take this opportunity to wish the Greek people happiness and prosperity. Greece is a country with ancient history, culture and traditions. The Greek people have for centuries preserved its culture and history for the whole world. I’m very happy to heve witnessed the bilateral relations between Greece and Azerbaijan developing successfully and covering a number of spheres. Both the countries are benefiting from the cooperation in economic, political, cultural and other spheres based on mutual respect and partnership. We have been good partners and friends.

In conclusion, dear friends, I would like to express my gratitude for honouring me with such a prestigious award. I take this opportunity to invite all of you to the European Games to enjoy, together with us, this holiday of sports, solidarity and friendship. Thank you very much again. I wish you every success.