Date: 2016 May 04

“Ganja - European Youth Capital 2016” project opening ceremony was held

The event participants included the Azerbaijani President's Assistant for Public and Political Affairs Ali Hasanov, head of the Ganja Executive Power Elmar Valiyev, Minister of Youth and Sports Azad Rahimov, parliamentarians, heads of central executive bodies, representatives of the European Youth Forum, the members of the Network of European Youth Capitals, the Advisory Council on Youth at Council of Europe, YEU - Youth Understanding and Exchange Organization, authoritative foreign national councils, Horizonti YEU, BCM, Partners LLP, ambassadors of foreign countries, the United Nations Development Programme Advisor on strategic partnership, and other official guests. The event participants first laid flowers in front of the monument to the national leader Heydar Aliyev, paid the tribute to the memory of the great leader.
At first, a video tape reflecting the culture, antiquity, tolerance, multiculturalism and population of Azerbaijan, including Ganja was viewed at the event. The video tape was welcomed by the participants with interest.
The Head of the Ganja Executive Power Elmar Valiyev who delivered the opening speech, welcomed the participants of the ceremony and said that he was pleased to see the guests at the European Youth Capital, one of the most beautiful cities of the ancient and rich culture, the motherland of great Azerbaijani poet Nizami Ganjavi, and declared the event open.
The Azerbaijani President's Assistant for Public and Political Affairs Ali Hasanov read out a congratulatory letter by Azerbaijan's President Ilham Aliyev to the event participants. 
Ali Hasanov mentioned that in the years of independence, Azerbaijan has implemented a youth policy, which can be an example for the whole world, and said that the youth policy the foundations of which were laid by Heydar Aliyev, is successfully continued by President Ilham Aliyev. Ali Hasanov said that the election of Ganja as European Youth Capital is a success of Azerbaijan’s young people who successfully represent the country at international events in recent years. He mentioned that young people aged 14-29 years make 28% of world’s population, this figure – 21% in Europe and 29% in Azerbaijan. This figure in Ganja stands at 29,8 percent which also confirms that Ganja deserves the European Youth Capital status.
Addressing the event, the Azerbaijani Minister of Youth and Sports Azad Rahimov said that a special action plan on youth policy has been developed by the presidential order, and various events are underway. The minister said that the main focus of the state policy is the comprehensive development of young people and the creation of conditions for their active participation in society. Azad Rahimov noted that there are more than 350 youth organizations, and dozens of international event are held in the country every year. Azad Rahimov added that in 2011-2015, the ministry implemented 542 projects on youth policy, and some of them are connected with the city of Ganja. A board member of the European Youth Forum Lora Lyubenova said that the election of Ganja as European Youth Capital would give the city a greater chance to improve relations with Europe. Lora Lyubenova noted that watching the video on the eve of the opening was amazing. The video provided extensive coverage of Ganja and its youth. Lora Lyubenova who has been in Ganja for the first time, noted that the city is very nice. Its ancient history creates a beautiful harmony with modern buildings.
The Executive Director of Network of European Youth Capitals Andras Farkas said that the election of Ganja the European Youth Capital creates additional opportunities for young people. Throughout a year they will be able to establish close contacts with their European peers. Andras Farkas said about other projects to be held in the short term and noted that the European Youth Capital project lasts 1 year and has great potential.
United Nations Resident Coordinator in Azerbaijan Ghulam Isaczai in his speech expressed his gratitude for being invited as a guest. Ghulam Isaczai emphasized that the event was very well organized and wished success in hosting the "Ganja European Youth Capital 2016" project at a high level.
The vice mayor of the city of Braga, Maria Sperro said that Ganja is the best ally in the project. This project speaks of the importance of learning the culture and traditions of one country by the others. Maria Sperro congratulated Ganja with the election the European Youth Capital 2016 on behalf of Braga and wished future success.
Governor of Turkey`s Eskişehir province Azim Tuna Gungor said that the close familiarization of Europe with our common culture will bring success. Azim Tuna Gungor said that he always supported Ganja which was among 5 cities elected for the final round from 12 cities and became the winner of the competition in the tense fighting. Azim Tuna Gungor expressed his satisfaction with the fact of his being in the motherland of Nizami Ganjavi who created Leyla and Majnun.
The chairman of the Advisory Council on Youth at Council of Europe Marko Grdosić congratulated Ganja with success and emphasized the importance of its election the European Youth Capital. Marko Grdosić who stated that a number of projects should be implemented within the Ganja European Youth Capital project this year, emphasized that it will lead to development.
It is to be recalled that the "European Youth Capital" project is implemented by the European Youth Forum since 2009. The goal of the project is the development of international cooperation between local and foreign youth organizations, exchange of experience between youth organizations and the national councils of the countries of cities elected the European Youth Capitals. The city of Rotterdam was elected the first European Youth Capitals in 2009. Later, Turin (Italy), Antwerpen (Belgium), Braga (Portugal), Maribor (Slovenia), Thessaloniki (Greece) and Cluj-Napoca (Romania) were the European Youth Capitals. Ganja is the 8th city that received the baton. A decision on its election the "European Youth Capital 2016" was announced on April 10, 2013 in Thessaloniki, Greece.
"Youth home" was opened and put into operation in Ganja after the official opening ceremony of the "Ganja European Youth Capital 2016". The conditions created in the building made a great impression on visitors. Local and European guests who attended the opening, were met in front of the "Youth home" located in the Heydar Aliyev Park under the sounds of Jangi. Athletes, weightlifters, taekwondo wrestlers’s performances were watched with interest. Then, the red ribbon symbolizing the opening of the building was cut. The "Youth home" the construction of which began in the Heydar Aliyev Park in 2013, consists of 4 floors with a basement. The building is constructed at the area of 975 square meters. There are 50 different purpose rooms in the building. In the basement of the building a biliard hall, a fitness hall and dance halls are available. On the 1st floor of the Youth Home, there are an electronic library, a book storage room, a meeting hall, an assembly hall, a wardrobe, an information corner, a young intellectuals club, a conversation club, a knitting and sewing club, and service rooms. On the 2nd floor of the building, there are an art studio, an environmental circle, a patriotic club, a techniques and inventors club, an exhibition hall, a career center, a vocational orientation center, and service rooms. On the 3rd floor of the three-storey building, there are an air bath balcony, a storage room, auxiliary rooms, and the guests accommodation rooms. The building is fully equipped with modern equipment and inventory. The building surroundings are landscaped. All the conditions for the organization of young people's leisure time have been created here. The European guests attending the "Youth Home" opening ceremony highly appreciated the conditions created for young people of Ganja elected the European Youth Capital. The Chairman of the "European Youth Capital - 2016" Public Union Elmir Valiyev congratulated the Ganja and all the Azerbaijani youth on the occasion of the opening ceremony of the Ganja  European Youth Capital 2016 project. The fact that Ganja became the winner of the European Youth Capital project was the result of attention paid to young people by President Ilham Aliyev who decently continued pursuing the youth policy founded by national leader Heydar Aliyev. The Head of Network of European Youth Capitals Andras Farkas said that the whole event has been organized at a high level, and that the infrastructure built for young people in the city creates the impression on the people. Andras Farkas particularly emphasized that the opening of the Youth Home is encouraging because young people here improve themselves. The head of the National Council of Youth Organizations of Russia Anton Shaparin said that the city residents demonstrated a high level of hospitality. Many buildings were built here. Anton Shaparin said that the development of young politicians is one of the state priorities of Azerbaijan and noted that the relationship between Azerbaijan and Europe, as well as between Azerbaijan and Russia will be strengthened from year to year. European delegates emphasized that such projects play a major role in expanding relations between the countries and that Ganja may host any international event at a high-level.
Then, the event was continued at the city’s Javad Khan Street.
The guests first got acquainted with the "Old Ganja" exhibition. The corners reflecting the moral values preserved by the Azerbaijani people for centuries, the most beautiful samples of national kitchen and clothes and folk art were demonstrated to the ceremony participants. The colorful dances of the city's dance groups, performances of professional musicians playing the most ancient musical instruments were welcomed by the festivity participants with interest.
In front of the Center named after symbolic Mahsati Ganjavi local and foreign guests were greeted and congratulated with the significant day. Performances of the Ganja State Philharmonic national musical instruments players and soloists, the Ganja State Chamber Orchestra soloists, and the national dances were greeted with applause by the guests. Then, the ceremony participants were welcomed with a symbolic Nizami Ganjavi's image. An outstanding poet, a great scientist and philosopher Nizami Ganjavi’s "Khamsa" poem’s pieces were demonstrated.
The "Ganja European Youth Capital 2016" Public Union official opening ceremony took place with the release of 2016 balloons and 216 pigeons into the air. The ceremony participants reviewed the conditions created in the office. The guests were informed about the future activities of the office.
In the "Ganjachay" Park Boulevard Complex, the event participants watched the dance of the heroes of the animated films. The kindergardens’ groups greeted the guests with exciting dance numbers in the allocated corner. The guests were familiarized with the exhibition of works of art. Choral ensembles’ performances added a specific color to the event. The guests also tasted the pilaf at the event.
After the "Ganjachay" Park Boulevard Complex, the ceremony participants arrived in the "Ganja European Youth Capital 2016" park accompanied by soldiers and horsemen holding the three-color flag in hands. The entertaining performances of young people, European dances, and patriotic military showings in the park were met with applause. 
In the end, the guests and the young people took memorable photos.