By James Crook at the Lenexpo Exhibition Complex in St Petersburg

145311854May 28- Baku 2015 hope the how the inaugural European Games in two years time will provide a springboard for Azerbaijan to become more integrated within the continent, it was claimed during the City Forum at the SportAccord International Convention here today. 

"The Right Fit- Matching Events With City Priorities" was the topic of discussion for the panel, which also included Western Cape coordinator of the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa, Laurine Platzky, Hazem Galal, State and Local Government sector global leader for professional services firm PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) and moderator Peter Bayer, the former chief executive of last year's Winter Olympic Games in Innsbruck.

"Part of the thinking was that this had to be an event with a unique European personality, and we looked for cities that also wanted to communicate a clear European vision, and we selected Baku" said said Andrew Craig, a senior advisor for Baku 2015.

"Azerbaijan is a young, emerging nation a young dynamic country with a relatively small population, but importantly, this is a nation which has a future in the west, and it was very important for Baku and Azerbaijan to position themselves as part of Europe, and there's probably not a finer way of doing that than by hosting the European Games"

baku olympic stadium f090810 2-1Baku has a number of ambitions plans for new facilities, such as the Baku Stadium, which will be at the core of the 2015 European Games

"Clearly what we are trying to achieve is two things; one, to address the problem with European sport but also to work with a country that wants to be perceived as European."

The inaugural European Games are set to be held in the Azerbaijan capital in 2015, after a majority decision was made on the notion at the 41st General Assembly of the European Olympic Committee in Rome last December.

The panel discussed how event organisers can tailor their needs to the types of events they host in order to benefit the host location, as well as how cities and countries can be left with a long-lasting legacy as a result of hosting events that suit their specific needs.

The discussion followed a key-note speech from Dr Beatriz Garcia of the University of Liverpool, who discussed the main challenges facing those hosting major events, and the ways in which organisers can avoid building stadiums and landmarks for events that go on to become "white elephants".

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