Zurab Azmaiparashvili: "You Can't Exclude Kasparov, You Can't Exclude Kirsan, And There Is One More..."

Время публикации: 06.10.2014 14:43 | Последнее обновление: 17.10.2014 00:33

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Duration: 1 h 08 min (in Russian).

E.SUROV: Chess-News is talking to Zurab Azmaiparashvili who has been recently elected President of the European Chess Union. It's October 1st, we are in Baku now. Hello Zurab!

Z.AZMAIPARASHVILI: Good afternoon! I'm pleased to meet you in the city of Baku. First of all, I enjoy this city, and secondly, I have many good memories related to Azerbaijan. I'm always happy to be here...

E.SUROV: How long have you already been ECU President? A month or more?

Z.AZMAIPARASHVILI: Almost two months.

E.SUROV: Time goes by fast... Have you already got any achievements as ECU President?

Z.AZMAIPARASHVILI: Let's say I was not expecting any achievements so quickly. First of all, the field after the previous team should be cleaned up, but this is not the president's job. My job will start when the place is clean enough. [...] For example, we have to clarify the matters with our office. We have already decided that it will no more be in Belgrad. The ECU wasn't even registered in Serbia as a legal entity - nice, eh? I have already had several meetings concerning our future office - for example, in Turkey. Right now, I'm expecting their offer. We have already informed them what the parameters of the office should be, so if they offer us something suitable the ECU office can appear in Istanbul. And of course, I cannot exclude the possibility of having the office in Tbilisi.

E.SUROV: The head office?

Z.AZMAIPARASHVILI: Yes. I'm going to work on that. [...] There is one important condition about the office: it must be free of charge for the ECU. That is, the rent must cost us nothing, as well as the utility bills, the secretary... [...] Of course, we will pay our employees ourselves, but anything else, like telephone or water bills, must be free. I'm sure a respectable country or federation can find this money.
Next, there have been a lot of contracts signed by the ECU which we can't understand. For example, the previous president Silvio Danailov has signed the contract with some Bulgarian PR agency till May 2015... All those companies want us to pay them. But for what? We can't even understand what their services are... Finally, Montenegro chess federation has claimed us Eur.30200 for some complicated business it had had with the ECU... I'm not going to sue or even blame anyone, but we have to clarify all those matters so that the situation becomes even and the ECU is able to work efficiently.

E.SUROV: Have you had any formal meeting with the previous president, Danailov? There is some standard procedure of handing the business over, isn't it?

Z.AZMAIPARASHVILI: There wasn't. I won the elections, the previous president went home, and that was just it. I thought we would meet in Bilbao but he didn't come there. So, we had no other choice than to hire a lawyer... She is going to address all our questions to the former ECU president, as well as the former secretary general and the treasurer. When we get their answers it will be already a little step forward... So, this is the drudgery which we expect to finish before the special General Assembly in Batumi on October 25, where we must determine the budget for 2015. I'm certainly not going to work with the budget approved by out predecessors.

E.SUROV: Why? Is it smaller than you expected?

Z.AZMAIPARASHVILI: First of all, it is smaller. Secondly, it is not clear at all. [...] As for me, I'm not going to manipulate the ECU budget... [...] I'm also hoping that we will have an established sponsorship before we approve on the new budget so that the budget will be real... Most likely, we are to terminate some contracts - it means losing some money, but if we keep working without any guarantees we can lose much more. Losing a part is better than losing everything.

E.SUROV: Your sponsor, as I understand, is going to be solid and permanent. Will it be the same sponsor that supported your election campaign?

Z.AZMAIPARASHVILI: Who do you mean? Many people supported my campaign... Well, I have many friends who can support us, I'm sure. I just need to begin with something. [...] Those who will possibly become our sponsors advised me to establish my own fund, the ECU President Fund. It wouldn't be bad. Actually I've already done this. They trust me more than... [...]
The reason for this fund is to support chess projects, like educational ones, Chess In Schools and so on. None of the ECU Commissions will be paid just for the fact of its existence. Not as before... Now, a Commission will have to present its concrete project to the Fund and give reasons for project's budget, which I will approve or not (if the project is something crazy).

E.SUROV: So, you're now optimizing your expenses, to put it simply.

Z.AZMAIPARASHVILI: Yes, of course to waste money just because you have enough money is wrong. [...] For example, Men's and Women's European individual championships are very costly events, although I think we will find the way to keep them. You know, we don't have any problems at all with youth championships. But we do have problems with European Club Cups... The Club Cup for men is in crisis, the Women's Club Cup is in worse crisis still. [...] I think the men's Cup can be saved if we divide it by 2 separate leagues so that both weak and strong clubs can be satisfied. But... There were only 8 club teams in the women's Cup and no one was representing the organizers! For me, this is the worst - when no participants represent the organizing side. Shame! [...]
For example, we can think of using the bonus system, when a country which wants to host some attractive tournament will get approved on the condition that it must host some difficult tournament as well. If we see that a country has hosted "difficult" tournaments previuosly then this country will be favoured. Actually, this idea was used by FIDE which granted Norway the Olympiad in Tromso on the condition of hosting the World Cup as well. [...]
By the way, I think that Men's and women's championships should take place together... For example, I promise that the 2018 championships will be hosted by Georgia. We already have Eur. 200000 for that - I only have to find some additional 50 to 100 thousand for the prize funds, which I will do.

E.SUROV: This means chess will resound in Georgia in 2018!

Z.AZMAIPARASHVILI: Certainly! We are also going to host a stage of Women's Grand Prix in 2016... This all is in order to help organizing the Olympiad.


E.SUROV: Probably my next question will be typical: are you going to run for FIDE presidency?

Z.AZMAIPARASHVILI: Well... I know how many problems they have to deal with in FIDE. It's difficult to find $600000 in one day. That's why the Women's championship has been postponed. How can one organize the championship if there is simply no money for that? But I'm not criticizing FIDE harshly because we have to cooperate and find a compromise... Maybe only in a friendly, useful way. [...] For example, I recommended them to reorganize the Women's world championship cycle because it looks quite absurd currently. Everyone knows that Hou Yifan is the best woman player but she can't secure herself the title: someone would win the knock-out championship and become the women's world champion of no real value. You can't explain this to anyone, you cannot "sell" this title to sponsors... [...]

E.SUROV: But anyway, regarding my previous question...

Z.AZMAIPARASHVILI: I can consider becoming FIDE president only if Kirsan Ilyumzhinov decides than I will be better than him at this position. But I don't think he will decide so. FIDE has a real lot of problems and concerns... The FIDE president must be a person with a very serious financial background, a solid sponsor. Even though I may be suitable enough for FIDE presidency, I wouldn't run for elections if I don't have enough financial support, even if offered. And now I don't have such background. [...]
Who can run for FIDE President in the next elections? We can't exclude that Kasparov can. We can't exclude Kirsan. And there is one more... I've read your recent interview with Filatov in which he had said he wasn't going to run for FIDE president, but anyway I think he is the number 3. So, I think there will be enough candidates... This all also depends very much on the political situation in Russia. Will it change or not? [...] For example, in Georgia it's clear that the country is heading towards the integration into the European Union regardless of what the government is. If our government changes (I wish this won't happen because they are my friends!) it won't seriously influence Georgian chess life. In Russia, this is different: if there is a change of the Russian government then Russian chess life can also change quickly... In Russia, you cannot stay independent from the government even if you want to... [...] At the same time, I'm analysing the situation in the world and understand that the crisis can come at any moment.
So, those are the factors. But we are only guessing because 4 years is a long way to go. Anyway, my goal is to be good as the ECU president so far. It isn't that difficult because I have got the sponsor and I'm going to stick to more open policy than my predecessors did. But I'm not feeling capable of ruling FIDE, it's a very complicated mechanism...

E.SUROV: Putting aside the "backgrounds", who's program you liked more - Ilyumzhinov's or Kasparov's?

Z.AZMAIPARASHVILI: Let me say something about Kasparov's program. I think the suggestion of cancelling or diminishing FIDE membership fees is totally wrong. Those fees are the basis of FIDE because otherwise it would depend only on sponsors. [...] Also, it looked strange when he introduced Mr. Sinquefield to us only the last day, even with no contract signed. I would have never behaved like that. Maybe that was what provoked Ilyumzhinov to say his famous "20 million already today!". After he had said this, I just wanted to stand up and cry out "50 million"! Because it was already some kind of game. Only a half of the audience knew who Sinquefield was, and there was no paper contract.

E.SUROV: But okay, what about Ilyumzhinov who has been promising everything without any contracts for 20 years, just talking?

Z.AZMAIPARASHVILI: Why just talking? Ilyumzhinov has been supporting FIDE long enough and solidly enough... There were rumours that he sponsored many Grand Prix stages. Maybe he even wanted people to believe that there were different sponsoring companies while he was the sponsor himself. But anyway, he has been supporting, spending... [...]
I'm not going to fight with anyone. I am going to cooperate with Kirsan and to stay friends with him. Because we are already friends. But if Garik likes some of my projects, wants to join them, wants to cooperate with me as well, it will be great too. Whatever anyone would say, he is a person of extreme importance for the chess world. All the world knows Kasparov, any sponsor knows him. So, I can cooperate with Garik, with Polgar, with other outstanding chess persons. I need such people.


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