Azerbaijan’s President Ilham Aliyev and first lady Mehriban Aliyeva expressed Sunday their gratitude toward the two Turkish weightlifters who dedicated their 2023 European championship medals to Azerbaijan.
The Turkish weightlifters’ gesture won hearts due to the fact that Baku had earlier pulled out of the tournament, held in Armenia’s capital Yerevan, after an accredited official desecrated Azerbaijan’s national flag.
In an official statement, President Aliyev and first lady Aliyeva congratulated Cansu Bektaş and Gamze Altun on winning three gold and one silver medal, respectively.
The Azerbaijani leaders praised the Turkish athletes’ performance and dedication, saying, “Their achievements showed high skill, determination, and will to wave the flag of Türkiye on the global stage. The playing of the Turkish national anthem made all the people of Azerbaijan happy.”
The statement also highlighted the strong ties between Azerbaijan and Türkiye, with Baku saying that Bektas and Altun’s victories were a testament to the unbreakable Azerbaijan-Türkiye brotherhood.
“This proved once again that where Azerbaijan is not, Türkiye always represents us and supports our rightful cause. This is another manifestation of the unbreakable Azerbaijan-Türkiye brotherhood,” President Aliyev said.
Bektaş and Altun won their medals at the European Weightlifting Championship.
In response to the incident, President Aliyev condemned the act, saying, “We express our strong protest and anger against this ugly incident. The enemy who committed this provocation against Azerbaijan not only insulted our flag but also showed disrespect to the entire Turkish world.”
The Azerbaijani Youth and Sports Ministry also released a statement, saying that the incident was “an insult to the entire Azerbaijani nation” and that they would take all necessary measures to ensure that it would not happen again.