Azerbaijan is really moving up the European map. This year, Baku became the song capital of Europe, and, soon, it is going to be the continent’s sports capital, too.
With a vote of 38 to eight (Armenia among the three countries abstaining), the European Olympics Committees last weekend chose the oil-and-gas boomtown to host the debut of the 2015 European Olympic Games, a continental version of the Olympics.
Strangely, Baku was also the only venue-candidate for the Games, but Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev , head of the country's Olympics committee, didn't let that dint his joy at the decision.
Terming the Games "truly a historic event," Aliyev underlined to citizens that Azerbaijan's "international authority" had played the largest role in securing the event for Baku.
The event is not just going to earn Azerbaijan a major PR score, but also, potentially, big bucks. The country expects an income from 120 to 130 million euros ($156 million - $169.1 million) from advertisements and sales of broadcasting rights.
Perhaps mindful of Azerbaijan's Eurovision experience, event organizers also want to put on a dazzling show for the opening of the games, but don’t all come at once. Azerbaijan hopes to limit the number of participating athletes to a maximum of 4,200 and, also, perhaps with an eye to freeloaders, wants to cap the number of official guests .
The betting is that, true to its traditions of hospitality, Azerbaijan will be ready, arms opened wide, to welcome any number of guests. But in terms of another regional competition -- that of democratic development, pretty much a sports event in itself -- outside observers  say that the country is less prepared than neighbors Georgia and Armenia.
Azerbaijan has shown it has the cash and the ambition to play the big-time in Europe. Perhaps one day, Baku will become the European capital for human rights as well?