Speech by Ilham Aliyev at the reception of Azerbaijani national team participating in European Wrestling Championships in Hungary
08 April 2022, 09:56
Hello, please sit down.
At the European Championship held in Budapest a few days ago, our wrestlers once again made our people happy and returned home with a great victory. Winning 16 medals, our wrestlers raised the sporting glory of Azerbaijan again. One of these medals was won by our female athlete and the rest by our freestyle and Greco-Roman wrestling teams. Thus, our freestyle wrestling and Greco-Roman wrestling teams finished first in Europe. This is a great victory and a tremendous achievement. Becoming first in Europe, becoming first in any sport can be considered a huge success. Of course, Azerbaijani wrestlers have once again promoted our wrestling, because wrestling is our traditional sport. Wrestling has great traditions in our country, and these traditions live on.
Some time ago, during a meeting with young wrestlers in this very room, I told them that when they enter a competition, they should not forget that they represent the victorious country and the victorious people. While sincerely congratulating them on the first place in the European Youth Championship, I said that they should make us happy in the future too and repeat this success when competing in tournaments among adults. I want to say again that finishing first in Europe both among young and senior athletes is a tremendous achievement. It shows that our wrestling traditions live on and a strong young generation is growing up in the country. Among adults, we always reaffirm our strength, and this enhances the sporting glory and the reputation of our country as a whole.
I am sure that when competing in the championship among adults, our athletes cherished the same thoughts and feelings and understood this high responsibility. Because it is a great honor and a great responsibility to represent the people who have won a great historic victory in a matter of 44 days. The development of sports and sporting achievements not only promote our country in the world and show our strength, but also strengthen the sense of patriotism in society. It was patriotism, devotion to the Motherland and incredible self-sacrifice that led us forward in the war for the liberation of Karabakh.
The young generation must be definitely raised in the spirit of patriotism, in the national spirit, on the basis of national values, and the Azerbaijani state takes advantage of every opportunity to achieve this. One of the factors that further strengthens patriotism is, of course, our historic military victory, as well as our sporting success. I am sure that the people of Azerbaijan – both sports fans and those not particularly interested in sports – are always delighted to hear about victories in sports. We are all very happy because you have achieved this victory. This is a very significant and unforgettable event in your life. These titles – European champion, silver and bronze medalists – will stay with you forever. And we are all happy because the young generation is growing up, young people represent the Motherland with dignity, everyone is in their place – an athlete, a soldier, a specialist. Every citizen of Azerbaijan contributes to the strengthening of our country through his work. That is why Azerbaijan is recognized as a rapidly developing country in the world and one of a handful of countries that is in charge of its own destiny, pursues its own policy, and gets the upper hand both on the battlefield and in the political arena.
As I mentioned, wrestling is a very dear sport for all of us. It is probably the most popular and famous sport in Azerbaijan. Therefore, taking this factor into consideration, coaches and representatives of the sports federation, the Ministry of Youth and Sports, should, of course, pay special attention to wrestling. I am sure that we will be in the forefront in future competitions too, of course. As for future competitions, the Summer Olympics will be held in two years. There is little time left, and I think that not only wrestlers but also athletes who will win a license in all other sports must already start preparing for this main competition. The right training camps and competitions must be determined. I am sure that it will be the case, and we will once again show the strength of our country and the strength of our sports at the Summer Olympics. Because Olympic Games, the Summer Olympics, of course, have a special place among all sports competitions. In general, I think that Azerbaijan can be very successful in the next Olympic Games. I can't say anything now because we are still two years away from that, but we must make every effort to achieve this goal. There is also the issue that we are already getting used to these victories. As they say, it will be difficult to maintain these high results. Anything can happen in sports – both defeats and victories. But I am sure that despite the results in future competitions, the main thing is that our athletes represent our country with dignity, as they have done to this day. I was also following the championship in Budapest. I saw that in the most difficult moments, when the opponent was behaving inappropriately and in an unsportsmanlike manner, our athletes were able to put the opponent in their place within the rules. While I watching that, I recalled the events of the second Karabakh war when the contemptible enemy was being defeated on the battlefield, was fleeing and had 10,000 deserters, it was committing the ugliest deeds, the ugliest deeds. They committed acts of terror against our civilians. Our peaceful cities were fired upon with ballistic missiles at night, killing more than 100 civilians, including children, women and the elderly. But as the war progressed, I said that we would never repeat the actions of the Armenians. We will retaliate the enemy on the battlefield. We will respond in a manner they will remember forever. I saw the same character at the European Championship, the character of the Azerbaijani people. Justice but, at the same time, mercy, and a certain degree of compassion for the defeated side are inherent in our people. The main thing is that we must defeat the enemy or a sports opponent within the rules, following the principle of dignity. Seeing this, I was once again convinced that the future of the Azerbaijani people will continue to be very bright. It will continue to be the case in any sport. For example, we have now seen this in football competitions. Our famous coach Gurban Gurbanov acted with great dignity and said in a situation that could be qualified as a goal that we do not need that, we do not need fake achievements, we do not need undeserved success. Whatever we have earned, we have earned it through hard work. We have also resolved the Karabakh issue with our own hard work, strength and intelligence. In sports competitions, the concept of fair play should not be forgotten and Azerbaijani athletes must always follow these principles. Because it is more important than victory. You know, victory, of course, is very important for every athlete, it leaves a huge mark on their life, so to speak. But dignity is even more important than victory, and we fought the war with dignity. Today, the whole world can see again the greatness of our people, everything is clear. This should be the case in sports too. It is the case now. You have won this well-deserved victory due to your talent and hard work, and at the same time, you have once again shown the greatness of our people. I congratulate you on both the victory and the dignified behavior. Of course, we, all the people of Azerbaijan, expect new victories from you. Thank you.