Армянофобия в Азербайджане. Борьба с ксенофобией.

Армянофобия в Азербайджане. Армения Азербайджан, Ксенофобия
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Chapter 5. Entry ban to Azerbaijan

An extraordinary manifestation of armenophobia and incitement to hatred take form of banning the entry for ethnic Armenians who are not Armenian residents or nationals.

The practice of banning entry is quite common worldwide. Thus, certain conflicting, warring or ideologically opposed countries impose similar bans (Israel and Muslim countries), significantly complicate the entry visa issuing procedure (India and Pakistan) and sometimes go as far as imposing fines or arresting the person concerned (Georgia and Abkhazia or Southern Ossetia).

Azerbaijan, in its turn, has mimicked the practices of other countries amalgamating their methods into an arrangement that above all is in contradiction with its commitment to the principles of tolerance avowed domestically and internationally. The emotional character of this decision along with its chaotic application and insufficient elaboration made the enforcement of this mechanism quite perplexing. This latter circumstance frequently leads to scandals and some singular incidents.

First, the self-ascribed commitment to the principle of tolerance prevents Azerbaijan from placing a legislative ban officially proscribing the entry of ethnic Armenians into the country. Second, the absence of an unambiguous regulatory document such as a law or a sublegislative act lends absurdity to the actions of the Azerbaijani officials. Third, the citizens of Azerbaijan themselves and the officers of international agencies have hard time pinpointing where the denied entry, removal, detainment or deportation of a specific person is legitimate and where it is not so.

Two football players from the Russian club Torpedo of Armavir were deported from Azerbaijan immediately upon their arrival at the airport of the city Ganja in July 2011 on the account of their Armenian origin. Mehman Allahverdiev, the head coach of the Azerbaijani football club Kapaz, had invited Armenian football players for an audition, however, it was reported that he had had no prior knowledge of the Armenian origin of the Russian players. Their arrival drew a great uproar at the airport of Ganja. The officers of the State Border Service returned the Armenian football players who held Russian passports on the same plane in which they had arrived.[114]

In 2010, the Armenian delegation was unable to board a plane from Moscow to Baku to attend the 64th General Assembly of the European Broadcasting Union due to the wrongful acts of the Azerbaijan's representative office of Aeroflot Air Company.[115]

The representatives of the Armenian delegation were about to board the plane when the representative of the Azerbaijani side asked the passengers if there were any Armenians among them. Hearing an affirmative answer, she asked Armenians to hand over their boarding passes and step aside. After all passengers including numerous participants of the EBU General Assembly boarded the plane, the boarding passes of the Armenian representatives were shredded, and they were told that passenger seats in the plane were complete which by definition could not make any sense as the tickets of the Armenian delegation members were in the business class. Moreover, the boarding pass indicates a seat assigned to a specific passenger; therefore, it is virtually impossible to register two passengers for the same seat.

In November 2011, the officers of the passport control service at the airport of Baku denied entry to the interim head of the Public Relations Department of the company Beeline Kazakhstan, Mr. Bayram Azizov on the ground that he had previously been to Yerevan on a working visit;[116] incidentally, he was a citizen of Kazakhstan and an ethnic Azerbaijani. The aggrieved person had to spend 48 hours in the transit zone of the Baku airport before his deportation to the country of origin. It is worth mentioning that Mr. Bayram Azizov tried to seek assistance from the head of the Azerbaijani state by posting a message on the Twitter account of the president Ilham Aliyev: "Good day! Please, help me! I'm a citizen of Kazakhstan. It's almost 48 hours since I have been in the transit zone of the airport of Baku. Border guards have seized my passport, and I don't understand the reason of my detention. I have to sleep on the floor and feed myself on instant noodle! I'm running out of money! The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Kazakhstan has been made aware of the situation". Unfathomably, both postings somehow disappeared from Aliyev's Twitter account.
In reply to a remark from a journalist of Vesti.az news agency to the effect that a person who had visited Armenia would face difficulties in entering Azerbaijan, the aggrieved person said that he had traveled into Georgia approximately a year prior to that and could easily cross Georgian-Armenian border despite his Azerbaijani ethnicity indicated in his passport.[117]

Reasons for denying entry:

• Visit to Nagorno-Karabakh Republic through the territory of Armenia;[a]
• Visit to Armenia;
• Armenian origin, existence of Armenian relatives or friends, expressing feelings of sympathy towards Armenia or Armenian people;
• Incapacity to secure the safety of Armenians visiting Azerbaijan;
• Suspicions of a terrorist threat;
• Existence of a law to that effect;
• Names that arouse suspicions because they sound Armenian, or an alleged relation to Armenians;
• Persons whose relatives or acquaintances have committed insulting or outrageous acts from the Azerbaijani perspective (a concert by a popular singer Philip Kirkorov was canceled in Baku because at the time his father was helping an Armenian disabled boy[118]).

Sufian Zhemukhov:[119]: The secret of my name was revealed during my visit to an international workshop in Baku, to where I flew from Istanbul. At customs, a goodlooking Azerbaijani lady checked my passport. < …> In fact, that lady called an officer of Azerbaijani special services and handed him my passport. The officer joined his colleague at the other end of the hall where they long conferred together and even made some telephone calls. After that, they beckoned me and asked: "This name of yours, what is it?" < …> Then they asked me bluntly: "So, this means it's not an Armenian name?" Then, it all dawned on me. These cloaked Turkish officers and their simple-minded Azerbaijani colleagues took me for a crafty Armenian trying to sneak into their country!
<... > "No, no, Sufian is not an Armenian name", reassured them I. And I breathed a mixed sigh of relief and anguish. It seemed that the problem was not my name but their anti-Armenian complexes. < …> Later, An American told me that he, too, had had problems at the Azerbaijani customs because his passport had an Armenian visa. Although as it is, it appears that they should never stop bowing, if they take an American passport into their hands. This put my mind in rest about my red-skin passport. Of course, I have heard that Armenians and Azerbaijanis dislike each other, but I never knew that it was that serious.

Zurab Dvali:[120] The first hassles started when we measured the height of the wall once and then began to build the same scene for the shooting."But you have already measured the wall, why are you doing it all over again?" asked a cheerless party official sporting a golden signature of H. Aliyev pinned on his lapel. <…>
<...> "Oh, no," groaned the vigilant party leader Abbasov. "You are deceiving us; you have come here to shoot something else!" And precisely at that moment he noticed a book in Georgian that a member of our expedition, geographer Kakhi Jelia was holding in his hands. "What is this?" he asked. "A book on ancient Georgian architecture".
< … > The book published back in 1979 and authored by a famous scientist Ilia Adamia was a bombshell for Abbasov. All of a sudden, he started calling someone and went off into a loud discussion accompanied by an intensive body language. Then, seeing our bewilderment, he finally uttered: "The Armenian finger!" We all exchanged bewildered glances without understanding the meaning of it. Only later did we find out that the party bigwig somehow thought that the last name 'Adamia' was an Armenian one. Another ten plain-clothes officers rushed to his ear-piercing scream. We were surrounded, but refused to hand over the book. But our work had to be done, and amid this disapproving buzz of the local populace, we started the shooting. Our every step, our every move around the village was supervised from three cars that accompanied us.
< …> We had no other choice but to give everything up and head for the border. As we were leaving Balakan, we were intercepted by a state security car cutting in front of us and were escorted to the Office of Islam Rzayev, the Chairman of the Executive Committee of Balakan region. The indefatigable party leader kept pointing his finger at our book and finally asked: "Who is Adamia?" "A Georgian scientist", we replied. He looked at Abbasov. "Georgian? Not Armenian?" asked Rzayev again with a dubious voice. "ADAMIA is a Mingrelian last name", we all admitted in unison.

The first point is more or less clear; yet, in the remaining cases, a question stands: is it about the law or security??

Thus, Diana Markosyan, a photo correspondent of Bloomberg agency, a national of the United States and Russian Federation, was deported from Baku to Istanbul on the ground of her Armenian origin in June 2011.[121] The press service of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Azerbaijan confirmed the deportation of the Bloomberg photo correspondent because of her Armenian descent:

"Markosyan's stay in Azerbaijan will raise issues related to securing her safety because of her Armenian origin". It is hard to guess why an accredited journalist, a national of the United States and the Russian Federation may face the need to ensure her protection and security on the territory of a civilized and tolerant state. However, Ali Hasanov, the Head of the Department of Public and Political Issues of the Administration of the President of Azerbaijan, refers to violating a law, which does not exist: "This media company had sufficient other options and they could have sent another photo correspondent. Yet, insisting on the arrival of this specific correspondent is an affront to the laws of the country and is insulting to us. We cannot put up with this".[122]

After the scandal with the Russian citizen Sergey Gyurjian[b] the Azerbaijani newspaper Yeni Musavat made an attempt to figure out whether the entry ban for Armenian citizens and nationals of other countries with Armenian lineage was official, or the arrangement was enforced informally.[123]

In October 2011, the representatives of Azerbaijani airlines (AZAL) at Domodedovo Airport prevented the representative of AVTOVAZ OJSC, Sergey Gyurjian, a Russian national, and his colleague Demitri Schuhmacher, an Israeli national and director of LADA International Limited company, from boarding the plane from Moscow to Baku where they went as a part of the delegation to strike a deal for shipment of LADA cars to Azerbaijan.[124] An officer of the airline company who handled the registration of boarding documents asked a question about his ethnicity: "What is your ethnicity? Armenian?" To that, Gyurjian replied that he was a citizen of the Russian Federation, and his ethnicity had no bearing on the flight registration. However, Elgar Aliyev, the representative of AZAL Company, refused to proceed with the registration referring to an instruction from his management: "Not to register passengers with Armenian names".[125]

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Azerbaijan skirted around a blunt question from the newspapers, and the head of the AZAL press service, Mehriban Safarli stated that their company "only dealt with passenger transportation and not their citizenship". In her turn, Svetlana Rodionova, the representative of the Domodedovo Airport, stated that "the management of the airport prohibits the registration of Russian citizens of Armenian origin for flights to Baku"

Unlike the management of AZAL, the head of the press service of the Azerbaijani Railways, Nadir Azmamedov stated that "the entry of Armenian citizens and ethnic Armenians who are nationals of other countries is officially prohibited"


В связи с нашумевшей историей Сергея Гюрджияна представитель авиакомпании Магеррам Сафарли заявил: «Как известно, 20 процентовIn relation to the notorious incident with Sergey Gyurjian, a representative of the airline company, Magerram Safarli stated: "It is known that 20 percent of Azerbaijan's territories[c] are occupied by Armenia. Therefore, a trip to Azerbaijan is considered undesirable for ethnic Armenians. For this reason, they can visit the country only as part of international events", added Safarli.

Nevertheless, international events, too, are far from hassle-free. Thus, the Director of the Regional Studies Center Richard Giragosian was denied an Azerbaijani entry visa in March 2012 for participation in an international conference in Baku on the ground that the nomination of an Armenian expert was "unacceptable".[126]
The same lot was reserved for a citizen of Turkey[127], who had come to Baku as part of a Turkish delegation and a citizen of Latvia[128] who had arrived to Baku as part of the delegation of the Latvian President.

< …> a few days ago, a Turkish singer Sertab Erener arrived in Baku. A musician named Burak Bedikyan, who came with the delegation of the Turkish singer and was a Turkish national of Armenian origin, was denied entry to Azerbaijan and had to return to where he came from. Upon his return to Turkey, Bedikyan made up his mind to give the local press a detailed tearjerker account of his stay at the airport of Baku. He insists that his denied entry to Azerbaijan related to his Armenian roots. Incidentally, this is not the first case when citizens of different countries who are ethnic Armenians are unable to gain entry into our country. On every such occasion, however, it is emphasized in Baku that they see no reason to give any clarification whatsoever as "authorizing or denying entry" is the right of every sovereign state.

< …> Another such incident happened during the visit of the Latvian President to Azerbaijan. Similarly, this time the Latvian delegation included an Armenian citizen of Latvia. "Despite the fact that he had arrived with the Latvian President, he was not allowed entry to our country and had to turn back.

In his commentary on the incident related to Mr. Bedikyan, who was a citizen of the "fraternal Turkey", a department head of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, T. Tagizadeh clarified: "He can even be a citizen of Vatican! Only we can decide who gets the visa and who doesn't".[129]

The absence of a regulated line of conduct can lead to the fact that entry into the country may be barred at three different levels:

  • By the attending staff level of airports, airlines, railways or hotels. They may claim to do so at the behest of their superiors;
  • By the staff of consular services, embassies and visa departments of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Azerbaijan;
  • By the staff of the border guard service.

Forms of denying entry:

  • Straightforward communication;
  • Procrastination in issuing an entry visa;
  • Issuing an entry visa and canceling it upon arrival in Azerbaijan;
  • Entering the person's name into blacklists before arrival or after departure.

A few years ago, the practice of blacklisting was introduced in Azerbaijan. This practice is quite common worldwide and concerns, as a rule, terrorists, internationally wanted criminals, drug lords, persons who have repeatedly violated visa procedures and recently has come to include corrupted public officials (Magnitsky List). This practice involves procedures, parameters, techniques and legislative instruments that have long been elaborated and are perfectly intelligible. Azerbaijan, however, has such a list, but it lacks a principle for entering and removing names.

In the beginning, such blacklist targeted persons who had ever visited Nagorno-Karabakh. Further, such lists were extended to include persons of Armenian lineage (Svetlana Loboda,[130] Avraam Russo).

The impulsive and chaotic practice of blacklisting signals a lack of consistency, where people in identical situations may be penalized selectively.

В некоторых случаях пресс-служба МИД Азербайджана грозится «разобраться» и «держать в центре внимания» вопрос посещения многочисленными международными делегациями Нагорно-Карабахской Республики. Но часто результаты этих расследований азербайджанским внешнеполитическим ведомством не публикуются и остается только гадать, по каким стандартам тот или иной политический деятель или журналист попадает в список, а другой нет.On certain occasions, the press service of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Azerbaijan issues threats to "investigate" and "keep in focus" numerous visits of international delegations to Nagorno-Karabakh Republic. Frequently, the results of these investigations by the Azerbaijani foreign office never surface, thereby making the selection criteria for blacklisting a specific political figure or journalist completely unfathomable.

For instance, Joseph Simitian, the American Senator of Armenian origin, visited Baku as part of the Parliamentary Commission of the U.S. Senate. His Armenian descent was no secret in Baku, still, no issues occurred in relation to "securing his safety" or "flouting the law" as was the case with the representative of a leading Russian automaker Sergey Gyurjian or the reporter of the Bloomberg network Diana Markosyan. Moreover, as reported by Musavat newspaper,[131] the spiritual leader of Azerbaijan, Sheikh ul-Islam Allahshükür Pashazadeh, addressed to the Armenian Simitian a request to assist him with obtaining an entry visa for another trip to the United States.

After the Senator's departure from Baku and his visit to Nagorno-Karabakh, he was immediately blacklisted, while other people who had been to Karabakh on numerous visits were spared this sanction.

In 2011, in the wake of a scandal over the visit to Karabakh by a journalist Sergey Buntman and his subsequent blacklisting, a fellow journalist from Ekho Moskvy (Echo of Moscow) radio station was invited to Baku; it was the first deputy of the editor-in-chief Vladimir Varfolomeyev[132] who had also been to Nagorno-Karabakh Republic back in 2003. Two years later, in 2013, after his visits to Stepanakert and Baku, Varfolomeyev too saw his name in the list.[133]

The astronauts Charles Duke (USA) and Claude Nicollier (Switzerland), who set foot on Moon and in Nagorno-Karabakh Republic, were also included in the blacklist of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Azerbaijan.[134] In case of the Washington Post reporter Will Englund,[135] the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Azerbaijan announced that it was well aware of his visit to Nagorno-Karabakh Republic and had no objection. Nevertheless, despite the assurances of E. Abdullayev[136] that "foreign nationals who seek official authorization from the Azerbaijani side to visit occupied territories of the country will not be included in the list", the awareness of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Azerbaijan failed to save Englund's name from appearing in the blacklist. Will Englund, in his turn, stated that in his coverage of Nagorno-Karabakh, he gave an impartial commentary on the issue and a truthful account of what he personally saw, and the capital city of Nagorno-Karabakh Republic for decades has borne the name of Stepanakert and not Khankendi, as claimed by the Azerbaijanis[d]

In May 2013, a Georgian journalist Margarita Akhvlediani was detained at the airport of Baku and not allowed to enter the country, while the citizens of Great Britain who were accompanying her were allowed to gain free entry into Azerbaijan.

"Indeed, yesterday I arrived in Baku by plane at the invitation of Avaz Hasanov, Head of Society for Humanitarian Research, to hold trainings among refugees and internally displaced persons. However, I could not make it through the passport control as I was simply not allowed to pass. I had to spend almost 24 hours at the airport of Baku, without hearing any explanation. Only later did I find out that I was denied entry to Azerbaijan because of my visit to Nagorno-Karabakh. Yet, my passport contains no stamps or seals attesting my visit to Karabakh. I'm a journalist and may visit any country in my professional capacity. Interestingly, British nationals who accompanied me and had also paid a visit to Karabakh faced absolutely no claims. I studied the legislation of Azerbaijan, and unlike Georgian legislation, it does not provide for any penalty or sanction for visiting Nagorno-Karabakh. This incident is currently handled by the Embassy of Azerbaijan to Georgia, and I am also waiting for explanations from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Azerbaijan", concluded M. Akhvlediani in her interview.[137]

The journalists from Euronews TV channel who visited Nagorno-Karabakh Republic and produced some footage covering the real daily life of the local population could also avoid blacklisting. To be fair, they were required to make amends and shoot a similar film from the Azerbaijani perspective. Peter Barabas who is the chief editor of the TV channel agreed to prepare an equivalent report from Azerbaijan but "on the same terms which we solicited from the Armenian Government, i.e. the report will be based exclusively on our editorial policy and guiding principles", stated P. Barabas.[138]

It is possible to be blacklisted for a single use of the word Karabakh. A popular Daghestani singer Timur Temirov was blacklisted by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Azerbaijan after he recorded a song named Our dear Caucasus, in which he confessed his love for Armenia and sang of its sights, including Artsakh. In his interview to Vesti.az, Timur Temirov stated that after the airing of the music video, he was denied entry to Azerbaijan: "Last year, they turned me back, and I don't want that it happening again".[139]

There have been recorded cases of removing a name from the blacklist. The removal procedure is also quite obscure and opaque; yet, past experience indicates that it takes showing some remorse and asking for forgiveness, although in certain cases, it is enough to admit verbally that the person in question visited Karabakh unknowingly or was tricked into going there ("they didn't say where they were taking us"). However, it does not always work with everyone. Or you can hail Azerbaijan preferably by showing your dislike of Armenia; however, this requirement may be dispensed with.

After the Russian singer Katya Lel gave a concert in Karabakh and was subsequently blacklisted, she gave an interview to the Azerbaijani information agency AzerTAc where she expressed a wish to have her name off the blacklist of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Azerbaijan; she was allowed to give a free concert in Baku.[140] A famed French actor Gerard Depardieu and Head of the Georgian Writers Union Makvala Gonashvili[141] had their names removed from the blacklist after they publicly repented.

Journalists from Zerkalo newspaper set a goal of finding out what are Azerbaijan's requirements for removing a name from the blacklist.[142] To believe the press secretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs E. Polukhov, there are absolutely no requirements. He clarified that placing a person's name on the list of undesirables was not the Ministry's responsibility: "Once we receive information that a specific person has visited Nagorno-Karabakh, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs forwards this information to the appropriate public bodies which are authorized to ban entry to the territory of the Republic of Azerbaijan. The border guard service which is responsible for defending the country's frontier has such a list".

This being said, it is still unclear who makes the decision on removing a specific name from the list. E. Polukhov suggested that journalists might seek clarification on issues of their interest at law enforcement authorities, i.e. Azerbaijan's Ministry of National Security and the State Border Service.

Following Polukhov's advice, the journalists turned to the Ministry of National Security of Azerbaijan for an elucidation. However, the Ministry's Head of Public Relations, Arif Babayev stated that this matter was beyond the scope of their Ministry. Next, the journalists asked the Ministry of Interior Affairs of Azerbaijan to comment on the issue. According to the Ministry's press service represented by Orhan Mansurzadeh, their Ministry did not handle the placement or removal of names on the list of undesirables. The State Border Service of Azerbaijan communicated through the officer of its press service, Jabrail Aliyev that the name of a person was removed from the list of undesirables by the same organization which had placed the name on the list.

It must be noted that despite Azerbaijan's threats of blacklisting those who visit Karabakh, the number of official and artistic visitors grows year by year which cannot go unnoticed by the Azerbaijani side.

They can see that draconian measures not only fail to discourage visits to Karabakh but also increase in inverse proportion the number of names on the list which means that these people will refrain from visiting Azerbaijan.

Abulfaz Garayev, Azerbaijan's Minister of Culture and Tourism, claims to see through this devious scheme: ''Armenians are implementing a willful policy trying to rob Azerbaijan of famed artistic figures and take various singers to Karabakh by deception".[143]

Reporters without borders, which is an international organization defending the freedom of the press has voiced its concern over the situation where the Azerbaijani authorities restrict the work of journalists who cover the Karabakh conflict. "In doing their work, journalists must enjoy freedom and unimpeded movement without having to obtain the permission of any party. Blacklisting journalists is inadmissible and inefficient," says the press release of the organization.[144]

Using visits to Armenia as a pretext to deny entry to persons who constitute a threat for the country's political regime is yet another peculiarity of the blacklist. It was the case in the situation with a journalist Milrad Fatullayev who was an ethnic Lezgin.[145]

A working visit turned sour for Milrad Fatullayev with his less-than-pleasant stay at the airport of Baku where he had to spend a whole day locked up by the border guards. No intelligible explanation was given as to the reasons of Fatullayev's detention. <... > "Absence of any justification is the most interesting justification. Because I came here, to the Baku airport, at 3 o'clock in the morning, my passport was taken from me for control and I never got it back. In addition, I was given no explanation; here I am sitting and waiting. < …> I remember a similar case when I was checked in the same way in Baku after I had been to Armenia, but that was a year and half or two years ago. < …> At that time, I could go through the controls and returned to Moscow after visiting Azerbaijan. So, I thought that now it was about the same thing. I kept waiting, but by 5 o'clock I made up my mind to figure out what the matter was. < …> I introduced myself as a journalist of Nezavissimaya Gazeta newspaper to an officer who tried to expose me as a person who was breaking the law. Well, I stood there trying to explain to him that I came there to a specific person for a specific reason.< …> As I could learn, I was denied entry to Azerbaijan because of taking part in a conference held in Yerevan and initiated by Mr. Levon Melik-Shahnazaryan. Another Dagestani journalist, Marko Shahbanov, the leader of Avar National and Cultural Autonomy, had earlier faced problems attempting to gain entry to Azerbaijan.< …> While crossing the border, he also underwent a verification procedure, but was allowed to go through in the end. Last year, I also had my documents checked, but they finally let me go through. Now again, there are Azerbaijanis coming up to me and asking: "What is it? Have you been to Karabakh?" No, I haven't been there".

Alexander Lapshin (Puerrttо), a traveler well-known in the blogosphere for visiting various countries and crossing countless borders, describes how to bluff your way past customs officers at the Georgian-Azerbaijani border:

"Things were quick and easy on the Georgian side. Next, I walked over a border bridge and set foot in Azerbaijan. There, everything was very different from Georgia. The setting epitomized an unmistakable Soviet spirit. Georgian policemen wearing smiles and nice uniforms were replaced by gloomy tommy gunners wearing soviet military fur hats with earflaps, while numerous signs reading ''Bribery is punishable by 7 years of imprisonment" were replaced by ubiquitous portraits of the Aliyevs: both father and son. A very cold and standoffish man in plain clothes demanded: "Passport". I handed my passport over to him. He examined it for a long time scrutinizing every page. For some reason, he tried to scratch my Georgian visa with his fingernail <...>. Next, he said something to me in the Azerbaijani language. I replied that, regretfully, I didn't speak Azerbaijani and asked in my turn: "Do you speak English?" in case the man did not speak Russian. He smirked at me and said in an immaculate Russian: "In fact, I asked you in Armenian". Wow, can it be possible that an Armenian works in the Azerbaijani State Security Service? That was incredible. So I asked him: "I beg your pardon, are you Armenian?" His eyes popped out in shock. "What?? What makes you think that I am Armenian? I am Azerbaijani. Then, I asked him why on earth had he spoken to me in Armenian? He cut me short: "That's it, enough talking, if I ask, I do it for a reason".
Another minute went by as he examined my passport for the fifth time. Then, all of a sudden, he shot a question at me: "Have you been to Armenia?" I answered in the affirmative sensing that I was up for a tough conversation. Then the officer went off with his next question: "And you must have been to Karabakh too, right?" I replied that these were only his assumptions and unfounded at that. He looked up: "So you must be a lawyer then?" I let the remark go unanswered. He tapped me on the shoulder and said: "Welcome to Azerbaijan!" So, I got another stamp in my passport.[146]

On August 2, 2013, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Azerbaijan published a list consisting of 335 names placed on the blacklist.[147] Despite the assurances of the official representative of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Azerbaijan, Elman Abdullayev to the effect that "illegal visits to the occupied territories of the Republic"[148] were the underlying reasons for that, over 50 persons were blacklisted without any reason specified.


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[a] It is impossible to cross the border from the territory of Azerbaijan since the passage is mined, and Azerbaijan neither controls the territory of the selfproclaimed Nagorno-Karabakh Republic, nor recognizes it considering it a part of its own lands.

[b] A citizen of Russian Federation, Sergey Gyurjian, was prevented from boarding a plane of the Azerbaijani airlines at Domodedovo Airport. He was given to understand that he was refused boarding because of his Armenian surname.

[c] Widespread rounding practice in Azerbaijan

[d] The denial of the toponym Khankendi in favor of Stepanakert gives in itself sufficient grounds for blacklisting.