Azerbaijani President: “The decision, adopted on 12 December 2012, was historical”

Baku: “Today, Azerbaijan has the opportunity to hold such a large-scale event like the European Games”

“Two days ago, we witnessed the opening of the first European Games. Presentation made a deep impression on all of us. For our guests it was an opportunity to get more information about Azerbaijan, its culture, music, traditions, and for our audience – to see Europe’s top athletes, representatives of all international and European Olympic family and experience the pride of their country.

You can imagine that after the opening I have received numerous appeals of our citizens clearly saying that they are proud of their country,” said Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev during his speech at a reception for members of the Olympic family on the occasion of Baku 2015 First European.

The President noted that the decision adopted on December 12, 2012, was historical: “We could organize the largest international sporting event in scale after the Summer Olympic Games. And for European sport it has become a solution to restore justice, because, as you know, the other continents carried out their games for many years, and only in Europe, these games were not held.

Therefore I think that it was a manifestation of justice, because Europe is the birthplace of the Olympic movement, the Olympic ideas and Olympism. It began in ancient Greece, and later Baron de Coubertin revived it. Now justice has been restored, and we can be proud of the work done. ”

President Ilham Aliyev stressed that Azerbaijan has ancient traditions, a great history, historical figures: “But as an independent country we live only 24 years. In 1991, we regained our independence, but the first independent democratic republic was established in 1918 after the collapse of the Russian Empire. It was the first democratic republic of the Muslim world.

Republican government system in Azerbaijan was at the time a choice founders of the republic. Women were granted the right to vote before in many European countries. The first opera in the Muslim world, the first ballet, the first theater were created in Azerbaijan, and we are proud of it. Azerbaijan at all times is a space of interreligious coexistence, multiculturalism, ethnic and religious diversity. It has always been an integral part of our identity. And in the years of independence these positive trends, that the world needs, strengthened and I’m proud of it. ”

The Head of State noted that the Azerbaijani society is multicultural: “I recently signed a decree on the establishment of the Center of multiculturalism in Azerbaijan, and the monument to tolerance was opened in one of the most beautiful corners of Baku – near Flag Square. All of this – part of our life and politics. ”

President Ilham Aliyev said that Azerbaijan plays a role of a natural bridge between Europe and Asia: “It is not only geographical, but also cultural, economic and political bridges. Thus, the years of our independence were a period of reforms.

We had to create not only the state but also to transform it from one system to another. Reforms led to the success and prosperity of our country. Today, Azerbaijan has the opportunity to hold such a large-scale event like the European games. This is – an indicator of the progress, made by us in the past years. Political reforms were supplemented by economic reforms. The priorities of our policy are the policy of democratization, rule of law, protection of fundamental freedoms and human rights.

Azerbaijan has all the guarantees of freedoms – freedom of the media, free uncensored Internet, 70 percent of our population are Internet users. There is freedom of political activity, freedom of assembly, freedom of religion and conscience. At the same time as a result of economic reforms we are pursuing an independent foreign policy, as today, it is difficult to defend its position in the international arena while being economically weak.

Today, Azerbaijan is a country enjoying great prestige in the world. The most obvious proof of this was the fact that Azerbaijan, whose candidacy a few years ago was put forward as non-permanent UN Security Council members – the most powerful structure of the world, was supported by 155 countries. Azerbaijan was represented in the UN Security Council for the first time. It was the top of our political and diplomatic activities. Without economic reforms, we probably would not have been able to achieve this. ”

According to the President, today, despite the crisis, Azerbaijan’s economy is stable, sustainable and growing: “The last 10 years have been years of unprecedented development of our economy. Our economy has tripled. We managed to reduce poverty from 49 percent to 5 percent. Unemployment is less than 5 percent.

Our foreign debt is less than 10 percent of gross domestic product. In January of this year, the Davos Economic Forum, where we together with the President Patrick Hickey made a presentation of the European games, honored Azerbaijan the 38th place in terms of global economic competitiveness. Exactly these reforms allow us to be optimistic about the future.”

President Ilham Aliyev stressed that the ongoing games in Azerbaijan should be for Europe: “As Mehriban (the First Lady, chairperson of the Baku 2015 First European Games Organizing Committee Mehriban Aliyeva) said at the opening ceremony, these Games are held for athletes, visitors and thousands of people, come to Azerbaijan. I am sure that these people will want to come back to Azerbaijan, as they are here witnessing the hospitality and respect. Azerbaijan is proud of it. I am sure that the athletes feel at home here, and each of us enjoys the memorable days of our lives. ”

SOURCE: Azeri Press News Agency