Chef de Mission, Finland
The idea was born already decades ago, but it took a long time to reach the needed consensus throughout the European National Olympic Committees and sport federations.
2) What makes Baku the perfect host city to stage the inaugural European Games?
Baku was the only applicant to host the Games. We will be able to evaluate whether Baku was the perfect host city or not afterwards.
3) How big do you think your team for Baku 2015 will be and how many sports will you be represented in?
We will be sending around 150 athletes in 15 sports.
4) How important is it for the success and appeal of the European Games that some sports afford athletes the opportunity to qualify for Olympic Games?
This plays a crucial role in the European Games. This is the key feature.
5) What is the significance of the Games for the European Olympic Movement and how confident are you that they will become sport's flagship event on the continent?
The event is significant for the European Olympic Movement, but the more important question is, will it be significant for the European sports in general?
Currently, there are too many one-sport championships and multi-sport competitions fighting to have a spot in a packed competition-calendar.
We need to have better coordination between different sports and probably we reed to rethink the competition system in general. The future of the European Games will be determined as a part of this process.
6) How impressed have you been by the facilities to be used for the European Games and the work of the Baku 2015 Organising Committee in ensuring their delivery and readiness?
The preparations look good and we believe that the facilities will meet all the requirements of modern top class sports. We look forward to having a great Games in Baku.
7) Are there any sports not represented that you would like to see in the European Games?
Without the participation of the top athletes in the biggest sports, the European Games is in danger of remaining a curiosity, not a flagship event. Track and field, swimming, football, basketball and volleyball... these sports need to be involved in the highest level if the European Games want to be the main competition in Europe.
8) How symbolic is it that the first ever European Games will take place in a country that has experienced a major re-birth of its own since gaining independence in 1991?
Sure it is symbolic and interesting. Be it good or bad, sport is still closely related to national identities and nation-building.
The European Games is a major opportunity for Azerbaijan to establish itself among the European nations.
9) How interested do you think the public in your country will be in the Games?
Right before the Games and during the Games the interest in the media will be quite big, but the public interest won't be very high due to holiday-season and overlapping events.
10) What are you looking forward to most at Baku 2015?
To see how the new concept works in practice.
Interview by Gary Anderson