(AGI) Rome, Mar 5 - Baku is to host the first edition of theEuropean Olympic Games in Baku from June 12 to 29. Presentingthe event at Rome's National Gallery of Modern Art was MahribanAliyeva, president of the organising committee of the Games andwife of Azeri President Ilham Aliyev. There are close cultural,humanitarian, economic and sporting ties between Azerbaijan andItaly. Mrs Aliyeva mentioned the recent go-ahead for theTransatlantic Pipeline, which will carry Azeri gas to Italy,Azeri funding for excavation and upgrading projects at Rome'sImperial Fora, for the monument to poet Nizami Ganjavi at VillaBorghese and the restauration of the Roman catacombs ofMarcellinus and Peter. Now both countries were looking forwardto new sporting collaborations. Twenty sporting disciplines,253 gold medals and more than 6,000 athletes will compete inBaku, which has built 18 ultramodern and cutting edgefacilities, 12 of which will then be turned over permanently tothe city. It was a great challenge for Azerbaijan, saidEducation and Research Minister Stefania Giannini, and it couldcount on Italy's support and experience in organisinginternational events. With only 100 days to go, Italy would betaking one of the largest delegations to Baku, said ItalianNational Olympic Committee President Giovanni Malago. Mayor ofRome Ignazio Marino chipped in to reiterate Italy's commitmentto support Baku. The city had been chosen to host the firstEuropean Olympic Games, said European Olympic CommitteePresident Patrick Hickey, and he was sure the government andpeople of Azerbaijan would pull out all the stops to live up toexpectations. The European Games were created at the GeneralAssembly of the European Olympic Committees in Rome. (AGI). .