Zurab Azmaiparashvili, Grandmaster and 1st Deputy Minister for Sports in Georgia, announced at gala dinner in Warsaw his candidacy for the President of ECU in 2014.
He first hinted the possibility during the FIDE Grand Prix in Thessaloniki and later repeated the intention in an interview with Chessdom. Here is the speech of Zurab Azmaiparashvili.
“Dear Presidents of the National Federations and ECU delegates,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Our organization, the European Chess Union, was founded just twenty-eight years ago and I would like to make use of this opportunity and express my sincere gratitude to the people who took an active part in its establishment and further development. Hereby, I would like to give special thanks to Professors Littorin and Jungwert, as well as Mr. Kutin.
ECU became a part of my professional life when I was elected as the President of the Georgian Chess Federation in the year 1998. From the very first day I have strived to be proactive and have positively cooperated with ECU. With mutual efforts we have organized a number of novel and high profile tournaments, including the 1st European Women Championship and the 1st, albeit regrettably the last, intercontinental match between Europe and Asia. What is more, we showed full support to ECU in 2002, when following the withdrawal of the organizer (the reason being the allocation of merely five qualification places to the tournament), we managed to organize the European Individual Championship within a span of few months’ time. During the same period was first established the European Championship under the age of 8, which later became part of the Youth Championships.
During Boris Kutin’s presidency ECU became a strong organization, both politically and financially. Before he left the office the ECU annual budget was more than 200,000 Euros, while also having a deposit of 300,000 Euros on its account. Boris Kutin left ECU in the year 2010, when he felt the necessity to inject some new blood in the organization in order to bring in new ideas and opportunities.
Silvio Danailov became the new President in 2010. I have known Silvio before as a successful manager and organizer; we have all clearly observed his immense organizational skills during the M-Tel Masters tournament in Sofia. In view of the aforementioned I had the confidence that during his presidency ECU would achieve immeasurable levels of development and therefore, gave him full support during the elections.
Unfortunately, for the past three years the ECU management has apparently failed to attract significant sponsorship deals, with the consequent decline in both the level and the prize fund of its main competitions (e.g. Individual Championships, European Club Cup). Surprisingly, the same period has witnessed a rise in ECU office expenses, thus adding to the inefficiencies of the organization. However, we have to point to the positive developments as well, namely the recommendation of the European Parliament regarding the Chess in Schools Program, a joint effort of Silvio Danailov and Garry Kasparov.
Standing by Danailov’s side in 2010 I was thinking about the extent of success that ECU will enjoy before the elections in 2014. However, I have to regrettably admit that being a successful manager and organizer has not translated into being a successful chess executive and politician!
Whilst feeling the full responsibility in front of ECU for my decision in 2010, I would like to officially offer you my candidacy for the President of ECU in 2014. One might legitimately ask as to what made a successful politician in his home country enter the ECU politics. The answer is as simple as it is. Chess is my life and my soul is with chess.
To be honest, I was offered much more prestigious positions then the 1st Deputy Minister for Sports by our leader and the Prime Minister of Georgia. However, my aspiration was to return to the world of chess. He gave me his personal support and probably that is one of the reasons I am currently standing here.
My dream is to lead ECU to new heights and to transform it into a very strong organization with a guaranteed minimum sponsorship package of 100,000 Euros per year. I don’t like giving promises, as during my life I am executing all promises I have ever made. Certainly I have my minuses, with the most being well-known to you, but one thing that I can really brag about is that I have always kept my word and promises!
I am not going to use ECU as a political tool to contest or criticize FIDE. It is not a secret that to a certain extent FIDE elections will probably interfere with our elections too. However, in case of my presidency, I will do my best to cooperate with FIDE regardless of the outcome of its elections. I strongly believe that the mutual cooperation between ECU and FIDE has no viable alternative!
I promise you that the ECU office will again be based in Central Europe and I have already started the relevant negotiations. Furthermore, I promise you that the European Individual Championship, as the name implies, will turn into a prestigious and successful competition, while the winners’ names will no longer be easily forgotten. I also promise you that all fifty-four nation states will take part in the World Cup Qualification tournament, and we will give even more support to the smaller nations with the aim of having their representatives at the FIDE World Cup.
What is more, we will start important negotiations with the organizers of prestigious Open tournaments to establish a European Grand Prix competition.
We will continue the ongoing work to successfully establish the Chess in Schools Program across Europe.
Dear colleagues, I am not going to announce the members of my ticket today. Yet, I can promise you that my ticket will comprise of people with varied and complementary skills and experience – managers, producers, administrators, organizers, and PR and marketing professionals.
I am here to listen to you; to listen to your advices and suggestions. I am ready to cooperate with each of you, individuals capable of bringing something new to ECU.
We are all members of the same team; we all represent Europe, and therefore, we have to work hard to transform ECU to a modern and efficient organization prepared to face challenges and striving for success.
Let’s walk the path together!”