The European Games

Azerbaijan is hosting the first European Games. The opening ceremony was splendid, indeed. The games were devised by the European Olympic Committees, the concept being a continental multi-sport event along the lines of the Olympic Games. In total, 50 European countries will send around 6,000 athletes to compete.
We know that despite the UNand’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights, European countries believed they had to publish their own declaration of human rights in the context of the Council of Europe. Thatand’s why it is not bizarre that the European continent had the feeling that organizing continental games is necessary despite the existence of universal Olympic Games.
Sporting events are often presented as initiatives that contribute to international peace and brotherhood among peoples. If this is also one of the goals of the European Games, one can only applaud it. Besides, one can see that the organizing committee of the European Games has a vast understanding of and”Europe,and” as it didnand’t only invite the members of the European Union but also athletes from countries such as Ukraine, Russia and the Caucasus. Moreover, it believed Baku, on the Caspian shores, was an appropriate venue for these games. Apparently, Europe looks much bigger from Rome, where the European Olympic Committees have their headquarters.
Sporting events have to play a conciliatory role between nations. Even for the athletes, national ties are not as important as they were in the past, as many athletes compete in the name of countries where they were not born. Unfortunately, we have to admit that sporting events donand’t always contribute to peace and reconciliation. Sometimes, these events provoke conflict among nations or remind people of antagonisms of the past.
This is what has happened during the opening ceremony of the European Games. We noticed that very few European leaders attended the ceremony to support their national teams. The absence of Franandcois Hollande, Angela Merkel and David Cameron in particular was noticeable. We, of course, can imagine that their absence had nothing to do with the host country, Azerbaijan. As long as this country possesses rich natural resources, no country in the world would want to be on bad terms with Baku. One also knows these leaders were not against the concept of holding and”Europeanand” games. Even Cameron, who is a renowned Euroskeptic and is planning to hold a referendum on his countryand’s EU membership, is not against the idea of holding European Games. After all, Great Britain has sent one of the biggest teams to the event.
So if they are not against the host country, or the event, why didnand’t they attend the opening ceremony? Has it something to do with the presence of other leaders — Russian President Vladimir Putin, for example?
President Putin was present at the opening ceremony, probably because he believes he has to attend such a big event organized in the Caucasus, as he thinks the region is Russiaand’s backyard. He probably knew that European leaders wouldnand’t attend the ceremony as they wouldnand’t want to have a family photo taken with him, but that didnand’t prevent him from going there.
European countries know that Russia has become the obstacle for European powers that want to have influence over Syria, Iraq and other Middle Eastern countries. Maybe they even believe Russia is behind some of the terrorist and cyber-attacks that have targeted Europe lately.
The problem is we, the ordinary citizens, are not as informed as our political leaders. Or, thankfully, we are not as informed as they are, because we still have to come together with people of other nations in sporting, artistic and scientific events.

SOURCE: Today’s Zaman