Bulgarian PM Among Few EU Leaders to Attend Opening of European Games in BakuWorld | June 13, 2015, Saturday // 17:00| views
Fireworks illuminate the sky during the opening ceremony of the 2015 European Games at the Baku Olympic Stadium, Baku, Azerbaijan, 12 June 2015. Photo: EPA
Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borisov was one of the few EU leaders to attend the official opening ceremony of the First European Games in Azerbaijan on Friday.
Most EU leaders decided to boycott the opening in Baku due to the poor human rights record of the country, which has been accused of gross violations.
Azerbaijan has been criticitsed for imprisoning many government critics and denying international human rights officials and some media access to the country.
Azerbaijan has dismissed the accusations and in return blamed the West of trying to politicise the event, the BBC reports.
The President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev opened the games, entering the national stadium in Baku with a flaming torch.
Among the other European political leaders attending the ceremony were Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Turkish counterpart Recep Erdogan.
Putin and Erdogan, who are meeting behind closed doors on Saturday with Turkish Stream and Syria dominating their agenda, did not miss the opportunity to comment the absence of EU leaders.
The ceremony also marked the first appearance of Kosovo represented with its own flag at a major event.
The lavish opening ceremony celebrated Azeri culture and among the highlights were a giant bull representing Greek god Zeus, dancers forming a large Azeri flag and a huge pomegranate bursting with floating seeds.
Lady Gaga made a surprising appearance, performing the song of John Lennon “Imagine” behind a piano covered in flowers.
The European Games will last from June 12 to 28 with more than 6000 athletes from 50 European countries competing in 253 medal events.