European Games: a chance for Azerbaijan

24 June 2015

FIGAROVOX/TRIBUNE – The first European Games started in Baku, Azerbaijan, on 12 June 2015. Faced with criticism that surrounds the event, this platform called to discover the realities of the country and to support its development.

Attending the opening of the First European Games in Baku, we saw their perfect organization, the popular enthusiasm they arouse and the ability of Azerbaijan to meet the existing challenges, far from the harsh and recurrent criticisms dealt out indiscriminately.

In a record-breaking time of 30 months, Azerbaijan was able to organize all of the most efficient facilities to accommodate in the best conditions some 50 countries, 6,000 athletes and 20 sports. A huge challenge whose success was not only limited to financial means, but was rather nourished by the will, energy and know-how of an entire people proud of its historical and cultural roots, as was so clearly shown the ceremony inauguration, but also open to the world and so anxious of the values of hospitality and brotherhood of the Olympics that even Armenia, engaged in a tragic and unjust territorial conflict with Azerbaijan, was in its place as everyone else in this peaceful sport competition.

If we were to believe those distant commentators, the Azerbaijani population would suffer from the event and would even reject it whereas it was enough to have seen and heard the enthusiasm of 68,000 spectators during the opening ceremony or wandered with families who came in the evening to participate happily in all events related to the Games, to understand that this people is indeed proud to be part of the Olympics. This was a unique opportunity to meet on the terraces of bars a largely Muslim population of a country where the veil is rare, where women got the right to vote 30 years before the French and where Shiites, Sunnis, Jews and Christians live harmoniously in mutual respect while elsewhere religions collide tragically.

Finally, Azerbaijan still faces many challenges beginning with the permanent one – its very independence under pressure from Russia to the north, Iran to the south and the Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict in the West. Hence, the country’s demand in Europe and especially in France to which systematic criticism may inflict irreparable damage. Rather than denigrate this young state that has gained independence only 24 years ago, let us contribute to its political, economic and social progress.
What touches us when reading the French press is the injustice committed against Azerbaijan and its leaders by condemning them peremptorily whereas it would be sufficient to come here and to learn the realities of this country on the spot. Can we hope that one day we will write about Baku seen from Baku and not only from Paris?


Jean-François MANCEL - MP, President of the Association of Friends of Azerbaijan
André RECHARDT - Senator, President of France-Caucasus Friendship Group
Nathalie GOULET - Senator, Vice-President of the 'Association of Friends of Azerbaijan
David DOUILLET - MP, former Minister
Yves JEGO - MP, former Minister
Georges FENECH – MP
Sylvie GOY-CHAVENT – Senator
Christian NAMY – Senator
Jean-François LEGARET - Counselor of Paris, Mayor of the 1st District of Paris
André VILLIERS - President of Departmental Council of Yonne
Patrick GENDRAUD – Mayor of Chablis, Departmental Counsellor
Robert HOSSEIN – actor, film director
Marc RESTELLINI - President of "Pinacothèque de Paris"
Reza DEGHATI – Photographer
Pierre CHEREMETIEFF - President of the 'Association of Russians living abroad
Author:   FigaroVox

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