By Nigar Orujova
The highly-anticipated opening ceremony of the Baku 2015 European Games did not disappoint as onlookers from around the world got a glimpse of the heartwarming history of Azerbaijan.
A team of world-renowned artistic and production team provided audiences around the world with breathtaking performancesof traditional Azerbaijani folk and classical music, poems from famed national poet Nizami Ganjavi, and showcased the national symbols of Azerbaijan like carpets and the pomegranate.
Pop singer Lady Gaga surprised audiences with a moving rendition of John Lennon’s ‘Imagine’, adding a special touch to the spirit of the event.
The ceremony was attended by Azerbaijan's President Ilham Aliyev, Chair of Baku 2015 First European Games Organizing Committee First Lady Mehriban Aliyeva, as well as official representatives from various countries, including Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Russian President Vladimir Putin, Belorussian President Alexander Lukashenko, Serbian President Tomislav Nikolic, Turkmenistan’s President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov, Tajikistan’s President Emomali Rahmon, and Filip Vujanovic, the President of Montenegro.
The ceremony also attracted Chairman of the Presidency of Bosnia and Herzegovina MladenIvanic, the Grand Duke of Luxembourg Henri, Prince Albert II of Monaco, Prime Minister of Georgia Irakli Garibashvili, Kazakh Prime Minister Karim Masimov, Romanian Prime Minister Victor Ponta, Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borisov, Saudi Prince Abdullah bin Mosaad Abdulaziz, President of the International Olympic Committee Thomas Bach, ISESCO Director General Abdulaziz Othman Altwaijri, as well as high ranking officials from San-Marino, Switzerland, United Kingdom, Slovakia, Czech Republic, Islamic Republic of Iran, Ukraine, Oman, Kuwait, Qatar and many more. Many other prominent political and sports figures were also in attendance.
The Chair of the Baku 2015 Organizing Committee, First Lady Mehriban Aliyeva, addressed the audience, thanking the EOC and IOC members present and welcoming athletes to Azerbaijan.
She spoke with pride of what the country has achieved in only 24 years of independence, culminating in the decision to host the first European Games.
“Today, here, a new page is being written in the European Olympic movement history in the beautiful city of Baku thanks to success and achievements that we gained during our independence,” she said.
“However far the Flame of the European Games travels in the years to come, the spirit of Azerbaijan and Baku 2015 will be there, burning brightly,”the first lady added.
The President of the EOC, Patrick Hickey, expressed his gratitude toward President Aliyev, First Lady Aliyeva, and the Azerbaijan nation for their contribution to the advancement of sports Europe.
“Through Europe’s first Games, we bind the five continents of the Olympic Movement even closer together,” said Hickey.
He went on to urge athletes “to strive for excellence and compete in the true Olympic spirit of friendship and respect.”
Lastly the Head of State President Ilham Aliyev officially declared the First European Games open.
The spectacular show of an unforgettable nightconcluded with the national dance of Azerbaijan 'Yalli', as fireworks across Baku lit up the skies and hearts.
Nigar Orujova is AzerNews’s staff journalist, follow her on Twitter: @o_nigar
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