On 21 January 2016, a regular sitting of the European Olympic Committees’ Executive Committee took place in the city of Lausanne, Switzerland.
Azerbaijan’s First Lady, chairperson of the first European Games Organising Committee Mehriban Aliyeva addressed the ceremony:
- President of the European Olympic Committee, dear Mister Patrick Hickey.
Esteemed members of the European Olympic family, ladies and gentlemen, dear friends.
First of all, I would like to thank you for such sincere welcoming. Mister President, thank you for such a pleasant introduction. I’m very proud to be here. I’m pleased to see all of you again. Thank you for inviting me to this meeting. I’ve brought cordial greetings of all your friends in Azerbaijan. It is great honour and pride for me to accept such a high award of the European Olympic committee for my services. I’m very happy to have been honoured with this award on the occasion of the first European Games’ success. Mister President, let me accept this award on behalf of the Baku-2015 team.
Mister President, I would like to thank you for the significant contribution you have made to ensure that the Games are held successfully. Your confidence and infinite support was the basis for taking a decision on holding the first European Games in Europe’s sports history. In fact, the idea of holding such games originated from Mister Patrick Hickey. We are grateful to you for the confidence you have shown towards our country, and for your help and strong support. Thank you for staying at our side. Today, the whole sports society and the people of Azerbaijan regards you as a friend of our country.
I would also like to thank President of the International Olympic Committee Mister Thomas Bach for the constant attention shown to the Olympic Movement in our country. His personal participation in the first European Games’ opening ceremony is highly appreciated in Azerbaijan. I would once more like to thank all the members of the European Olympic Committee and chairperson of the Coordinating Commission, our close friend Spiros Capralos for the great support, recommendations and partnership in the Games’ preparation process.
The first European Games were a historical event for Europe’s sport, and Azerbaijan. As the chairperson of the Organizing Committee, I’m very happy we managed to hold these Games on a sufficiently high level. We had been allocated two and a half year only for the preparation works. Nevertheless, citizens of Azerbaijan, participants of the Games and guests, all of them, are of the opinion that the Games were successful. We did our best. I’m hopeful and believe that we could create an environment of friendship and solidarity for over 6 thousand European sportsmen and guests. During these 17 days, we were as a family, and I’m sure these games will remain in the history not only as the first European Games, but also an international forum of friendship, solidarity and mutual understanding. Creating such an environment strengthens relations between peoples and countries, as well as mutual respect. I’m confident this is what the world today needs.
The Games gave us an opportunity to demonstrate the development of a modern Azerbaijan, which is going to celebrate the 25th anniversary of regaining its independence. The years of independence were full of development and progress, and achievements in a number of areas of our life. I can say that high-level of participation of our sportsmen in the Games, taking the second place having won 56 medals - 21 being gold – is an obvious example of this development.
Today, Azerbaijan is known in the world as one of the hubs of global multiculturalism. People of different nations and beliefs have centuries-long lived together in the conditions of peace and tranquillity. We have been doing our best to preserve and strengthen our traditions. This year, we are going host the 7th Global Forum of UN’s Alliance of Civilizations. In 2017, the 4th Islamic Solidarity Games will be held in our capital. Thus, Baku will have hosted the European and Islamic Games, bringing together over 100 countries within two years. This is our contribution to the strengthening of international relations, mutual respect and understanding, and tolerance. Taking this opportunity, I would like to invite you to visit our country and participate in these significant events.
Dear Friends, in conclusion, I would like to thank all of you for your high appreciation of my activity, and sincere welcoming. I’m very happy to be here. This is my first visit to this place. I’m hopeful our meetings will be interesting and fruitful. I would like to wish you and your families sound health, happiness and successes in the new year. Thank you again.