Ilham Aliyev received participants of 7th European Wrestling Championships held in Bulgaria

17 march 2022, 10:30
Ilham Aliyev received participants of 7th European Wrestling Championships held in Bulgaria

President of the Republic of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev has received members of the Azerbaijani team participating in the 7th U23 European Wrestling Championships held in Bulgaria.

The head of state made a speech at the event.

Speech of President Ilham Aliyev

- At the recent European Championships in Bulgaria, our young wrestlers represented our country with dignity and achieved great success, winning a total of 16 medals, including seven gold medals. It is a tremendous achievement. In particular, we must consider that our team has finished first in the team standings. First of all, I would like to congratulate the athletes and their coaches, the Wrestling Federation, on this occasion. It shows again that sport is successfully developing in Azerbaijan. Azerbaijan is a country of sports. Our athletes demonstrate their strength and power in international competitions among adults and youth.

I know that competition in all sports, including wrestling, is growing every year, strong athletes are emerging in different countries. Therefore, becoming first in Europe in the face of growing competition is an outstanding achievement. Our national anthem was played seven times. Of course, athletes, sports professionals and all citizens of Azerbaijan have welcomed this victory with great pride.

Wrestling has a special place among all sports in Azerbaijan. Wrestling is our national sport. We have always had strong wrestlers – both during the Soviet era and particularly during the years of independence. Our wrestlers have worthily represented Azerbaijan in various competitions. We have many Olympic, world and European champions. Of course, wrestling traditions are quite strong in Azerbaijan, and I am glad that the younger generation continues these traditions now. I am sure that our athletes who recently won medals will be European, world and Olympic champions in the future. I am also confident that this experience, knowledge and skills passed down from generation to generation will continue to make Azerbaijan one of the leading wrestling countries in the world. We are first among young athletes in Europe and, according to my information, a total of 34 countries competed in this championship. I want to emphasize that this is a truly remarkable achievement. Of course, taking into account all these factors, I have invited you today to personally congratulate you and express my hope that you will continue to represent our country with dignity and with the same determination in the future.

The affairs within the Wrestling Federation recently had been causing concern. There was certain stagnation there. The governing mechanism of the Wrestling Federation had weakened, and there was arbitrariness. Of course, this also harmed the results, which is only natural. Therefore, it was necessary to replace the leadership of the Wrestling Federation, and so it happened. I am confident that the federation will now eliminate all the shortcomings and analyze the situation. I am told that this work has already begun. Of course, necessary conditions should be created for both young and senior athletes. When I was elected President of the National Olympic Committee, I set the task that we must create conditions for athletes and then expect results from them. These two main factors were the basis of our great successes. Therefore, I am confident that the Wrestling Federation, together with the Ministry of Youth and Sports and the coaches, will succeed in taking the proper steps. I consider today's victory one of the first manifestations of this work.

Our athletes have been promoting Azerbaijan in the world for many years. During meetings with the sports community, I have repeatedly said that sport is our state policy and that it reflects the power of each country. If we look at the rankings of countries in international competitions and the Olympic Games, we can see that it is usually representatives of developed countries that achieve great success. This is natural because the holding of training camps, preparatory work in general, and economic infrastructure all play an essential part. Of course, public policy is a leading issue here, and Azerbaijan is among such countries. We are among leading countries not only in the economic and other spheres but also in the field of sports, and we must maintain this leadership. It is no coincidence that international sports organizations have great respect for Azerbaijan. Otherwise, two world-class competitions would not have been held in Azerbaijan – the European Games and the Islamic Solidarity Games. The hosting of two major events in one country and one city in a matter of two years is a sign of the attitude of the international sports community and federations to us. We hosted these competitions at a high level, and our athletes made us happy. We have close relations with international sports organizations, the International Olympic Committee, the European Olympic Committees, and international federations. Of course, these relations help us conduct a proper sports policy in Azerbaijan. Sports competitions held and scheduled to be held in our country should also become regular. Because thanks to the opportunities of our country, as well as the hospitality and sports infrastructure available in Azerbaijan, we can hold all kinds of sports competitions. For example, the European Games were joined by more than 5,000 athletes, many of whom noted that the Games were held at the level of the Summer Olympics.

In other words, we have created all these conditions for athletes to maintain the glory of our state at a high level and promote sports. This is one of the tasks I set before the Minister of Youth and Sports, its new leadership – promoting sports and using the existing infrastructure in all regions. Because we have modern Olympic sports centers in every region, about 50 such centers have already been built, and we must use them effectively. Selection work should be done correctly. There are talented children in many regions; you simply need to choose them and involve them in sports and sports clubs.

Of course, our renowned athletes, the example of Olympic, world and European champions should be a stimulus for young people. They should try to be like our famous athletes. I know that our well-known and outstanding athletes set an example in terms of their achievements in sports and their behavior. I am delighted that the Azerbaijani sports community and our athletes, the vast majority of them, are and should be examples in their everyday life. In short, I am optimistic about the prospects of wrestling, and I am confident that we will have more successes in both the Olympic Games and world championships in the coming years.

I would also like to touch upon another issue. You represent the winning country today. When we joined major sports competitions as an independent country before, we were a country whose territory was occupied. We had to prove, and we did, that we have the strength and resolve. The skill and capacity we show in international sports arenas would also be shown on the battlefield. In any case, the sports factor has played a significant part in educating our people and youth in the spirit of patriotism. Knowing this, I have always tried to maintain a high sense of patriotism among our young people. These feelings of patriotism, love, and devotion to the Motherland played a crucial part in the Patriotic War. Of course, we have a strong army, equipment, weapons, and ammunition, but our warriors' perseverance and their devotion to the Motherland preconditioned our victory. It stems from true patriotism.

For almost 30 years, we were represented in the international arena as a defeated country – both in sports and in the political arena. Difficult as it is to acknowledge that it is what it is. In other words, we must know and tell the truth the way it is. True, there were reasons for that defeat, the betrayal of the anti-national government, the lack of an army, the assistance provided to Armenia by foreign countries – all this was there. These very factors led to the defeat. The truth was that our lands were under occupation, and we had to prove that we would liberate our lands from the occupiers at any cost. I want to say again that the successes in sports, including raising our flag and playing our national anthem, strengthened the feelings of patriotism and showed each of us again that if we can defeat the enemy in sports, we will win on the battlefield as well. And this is precisely what happened.

You, young people, represent a different Azerbaijan now. You represent a victorious nation. I am sure that when you enter the sports arena, you must have these feelings in your heart. Today, Azerbaijani citizens and Azerbaijanis living all over the world feel proud talking about the second Karabakh war and conveying the truth about Azerbaijan in the countries they live in. Of course, you join international competitions in different countries, and you are probably too young for that and have just started participating in international competitions. However, I am sure that our senior athletes, coaches and sports professionals can see just how much the attitude towards Azerbaijan has changed because we represent a victorious country and a victorious people.

We fought the war with dignity and followed all the rules of warfare. We did not fight against the civilian population, we did not bomb buildings, and we did not commit atrocities. However, there was always a feeling of revenge in the hearts of our people. After all, the Armenians committed acts of genocide against us, they conducted a policy of ethnic cleansing against us, so there must have been a sense of revenge. But I said we would exact revenge on the enemy on the battlefield only. The whole world, all military experts have repeatedly noted that Azerbaijan had waged this war with great skill and mastery, achieved what it wanted in a short time, and respected all the rules of warfare. The civilian casualties on the enemy side were less than 30, and only because those civilians were involved in the fighting.

I want to emphasize this in particular. Wars have been waged, are being waged and, unfortunately, will be waged in many parts of the world. If we pay attention to these wars, I think that both the Azerbaijani people and the entire world community will see the greatness of the Azerbaijani people and the responsibility of the Azerbaijani leadership again. Of course, this is an additional incentive for our athletes. Because we represent a dignified nation and a country that deserves great respect, you athletes will represent a victorious country for generations to come because our victory is eternal. We are the people who liberated Karabakh from the enemy and are creating a new life in those lands.

Of course, sports must be developed in the liberated lands. We are already working on that. Stadiums, sports centers and other sports facilities are part of the master plans of all liberated cities. The federations and the Ministry of Youth and Sports must submit projects from now on because the master plans of cities envisage sports facilities as well. But what will their appearance and architecture be? This must be submitted by relevant federations and the Ministry of Youth and Sports.

In short, dear friends, guys, coaches, professionals, I congratulate you again and wish you continued success and victories.

Namig Abdullayev, head coach of the Azerbaijani freestyle wrestling team: Mr. President, with your permission, I would like to say a few words about this success on behalf of our federation and our wrestlers.

Dear Mr. President, on behalf of the Azerbaijan Wrestling Federation, coaches, athletes and the entire wrestling family, I would like to thank you for the invitation and the meeting. We have always felt your attention and care for sports. The fact that you are receiving us after the European Under-23 Wrestling Championships in Bulgaria also indicates this attention. Our national team was successful in all three types of wrestling at the European Championship. We won two gold, one silver and two bronze medals in Greco-Roman wrestling, one gold, one silver and two bronze medals in women's wrestling, and four gold and three bronze medals in freestyle wrestling. Our freestyle wrestlers became European champions in the team event. Our Greco-Roman wrestlers finished in third place. In total, we have won 16 medals. Azerbaijan has won seven gold, two silver and seven bronze medals and finished in first place in the overall standings. This is a record result in the history of Azerbaijani wrestling.

Mr. President, I would like to take this opportunity to say that the Greco-Roman Wrestling World Cup will be held in Azerbaijan in November this year.

Mr. President, we have more prestigious competitions in store for us, and I can confidently say that this meeting will be an excellent stimulus. We will do our best to make you and our people happy by succeeding in future competitions. Thank you for your attention.

Mikayil Jabbarov, President of the Azerbaijan Wrestling Federation: Mr. President, first of all, I would like to express my deep gratitude to you for finding the time in your busy schedule to receive us and give your recommendations both as head of state and President of the National Olympic Committee. Your valuable recommendations on the work of the Wrestling Federation are the basis for us. Taking this opportunity, I would like to assure you that under your instructions, we are working closely with our colleagues, the Ministry of Youth and Sports, to promote sports, especially among youth and adolescents, as well as professional sports. As you said, this is our national sport, which constantly inspires us. Thank you for your trust and confidence. We promise that all our athletes and coaches will do their best to represent our flag with dignity in the future, and we will provide the necessary support. Thank you again.

President Ilham Aliyev: Thank you.