Madrid – On Friday 2 December, the IOC hosted a diplomatic flag-raising ceremony for Uzbekistan and Saudi Arabia as well as the inauguration of the Garden of Peace at the Organisation’s headquarters in Madrid.
Bilateral meetings were held between the ministers of agriculture of various IOC member countries before the ceremony began at 11:30. Speeches were given by Abdellatif Ghedira, the Executive Director of the IOC; Khaled Hanifet, the Chair of the IOC and Minister of Agriculture of Jordan; and Jakhongir Ganiev, the Ambassador of Uzbekistan to Spain. Malek E Otalla Twal, the Ambassador of the Arab League also intervened to thank the IOC for its efforts, before closing speeches were given by Elyes Hamza, the Minister of Agriculture of Tunisia, and Luis Planas, the Minister of Agriculture of Spain.
The event also saw the announcement of the latest accession to the Organisation – Saudi Arabia, the IOC’s 19th member. Azerbaijan has completed the procedure and now needs to deposit its instrument of accession with the United Nations to become the 20th member of the IOC.
The event continued with a ceremony to raise the flags of Uzbekistan, which became a member in August 2021, and Saudi Arabia. These two flags now stand tall alongside the flags of the other member countries of the IOC in front of the headquarters of the Executive Secretariat.
The IOC’s Garden of Peace, which contains olive trees from IOC producer countries around the world, was officially opened by Francesco Serafini, President of the Garden of Peace Association. The Ambassador of Cyprus, Helena Mina; the Ambassador of Libya, Walid Abuabdallah; and the Minister of Agriculture of Jordan, Khaled Hanifet, planted olive trees of varieties indigenous to their countries. Representatives of other member countries and diplomats were pleased to see olive trees from their countries planted in the garden and took photos. This included the Ambassadors of Albania, Algeria, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Iran (R.I.), Jordan, Morocco, Palestine, Saudi Arabia, Tunisia, Turkey and Uzbekistan. Also present were heads of delegations from IOC members and authorities from other countries – such as the ambassadors of Bosnia-Herzegovina, Indonesia, Mauritania, Qatar and Sudan as well as representatives from the United States and the Chair of the IOC Advisory Committee for Olive Oil and Table Olives, Ali Hadj M’Barek.
Guests were then invited to try specialities from Uzbekistan, courtesy of the Uzbek authorities.