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To the participants of the 77th Congress of the International Sport Press Association-

Dear representatives of the media!

Let me welcome you to the capital of the Republic of Azerbaijan Baku and extend my congratulations on the start of another high forum of your organization.

It is remarkable that the 77th Congress of the International Sports Press Association coincides with the 90th anniversary of the organization. Having entered the anniversary year, the Association has managed to bring together sports journalists from most countries of the world and become a center successfully coordinating their activities.

The fact that such a representative congress and the anniversary ceremony of your influential organization are held in Azerbaijan is a significant event in the public life of our republic. In general, Azerbaijan has earned itself a reputation as the host country of various summits, meetings of intergovernmental structures, forums on inter-civilizational dialogue, and competitions continental and world scale. International sports organizations have decided to hold the 2015 inaugural European games and the 2017 Fourth Islamic Solidarity Games in our country. We view these decisions as a manifestation of great confidence in the atmosphere of high tolerance inherent in our society, the work being done to create a sophisticated sports infrastructure and our extensive experience in organizing major international events.
Azerbaijan, which restored its state independence in 1991, has guaranteed freedom of speech and expression, is home to numerous civil society institutions. It is a space of pluralistic media published in various languages. Today there are thousands of media outlets in our country, including television, radio, newspapers, magazines, web sites and news portals. Around sixty of them are directly related to sport.
I believe that the 77th Congress of the International Sports Press Association will make a significant contribution to the development of sport journalism in participating countries, strengthen the cooperation between representatives of the media, promote a healthy lifestyle and improve the activities of the organization. I wish the Congress success and congratulate all the participants on the 90th anniversary of the Association.

Ilham Aliyev
President of the Republic of Azerbaijan

Baku, 28 April 2014