Baku, Azerbaijan, Jan. 21
European Olympic Committees (EOC) President Patrick Hickey awarded the EOC Order of Merit to the First Lady of Azerbaijan, Mehriban Aliyeva, at IOC Headquarters in Lausanne Jan. 21 in recognition of her work as Chair of the Organising Committee for the inaugural European Games, held in June last year in Azerbaijan's capital city Baku.
The Order of Merit is the highest distinction the EOC can award and the ceremony - which is the EOC's last gathering at the current IOC Headquarters - provided an illustrious curtain raiser to the first EOC Executive Committee meeting of 2016.
"Mehriban Aliyeva has played a crucial role in helping the EOC achieve its long-held dream of hosting our own continental Games," EOC President Patrick Hickey, who is also an IOC Executive Board member, said. "Her leadership as head of the Organising Committee was inspired and decisive - an approach which was vital to Azerbaijan's delivery of the Games in only 30 months."
"On behalf of the European Olympic family, I want to thank Mehriban Aliyeva, and His Excellency President Ilham Aliyev, for delivering the first ever European Games for Azerbaijan and for Europe. Baku 2015 has provided an excellent blueprint for future editions of the European Games".
Addressing the event, First Lady Mehriban Aliyeva said: "I would like to express my gratitude to you for appreciating my activities and for your valuable efforts to ensure the successful delivery of the Baku 2015 First European Games."
Following the ceremony, the EOC Executive Committee held its first meeting of 2016 at ANOC Headquarters. During the course of the meeting, the Executive Committee received reports from the Secretary General, the Treasurer, the EU Office in Brussels, the organisers of the next European Youth Olympic Festivals, the head of Olympic Culture and Education Commission, as well as updates around the EOC Seminar in Tarragona, Spain, taking place from 20-21 May this year.
Then, a documentary on the European Games was demonstrated.
The event was also attended by Azerbaijan`s Youth and Sports Minister Azad Rahimov, Vice-president of the National Olympic Committee Chingiz Huseynzade and Vice-president of the Gymnastics Federation Altay Hasanov.