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Armenian MFA won't mind Henrikh Mkhitaryan's trip to Baku if security is guaranteed
2019-05-21 12:40:54

The Armenian Ministry of Foreign Affairs will not oppose Henrikh Mkhitaryan’s trip to Baku for Europa League final.

“The Foreign Ministry will not oppose Mkhitaryan’s trip to Baku in case the latter provides sufficient security guarantees that will satisfy the player and the team,” MFA Spokesperson Anna Naghdalyan told a briefing today.

She added that the fact that Azerbaijan creates obstacles for the entry of Armenian fans to the country is worrisome.

“It would be good for Azerbaijan to remain committed to its earlier statement that sport is above politics,” she said.

Furthermore, Naghdalyan added that “racism and xenophobia have no place in sports." Therefore, she said, the failure by Azerbaijani to provide security guarantees or the ban of Armenian fans from the country is nothing but a “new expression of such racism.”

“This actually questions Azerbaijan’s ability to host international events of this scale,” the Spokesperson stated.

She added that this match could be a chance for Azerbaijan to demonstrate to what extent it is ready to work towards preparing peoples to peace.

Meanwhile, Azerbaijan's UK ambassador Tahir Taghizadeh has told Sky Sports News that Henrikh Mkhitaryan can contact him directly to guarantee his safety in Baku for the Europa League final. 

"This is a Class A event, if our purpose is to play political games around it is something different, you are being paid as a footballer not a politician, let’s leave other issues aside," teh Ambassador said.

He added that the problem with the player’s entry is that he has previously visited Nagorno Karabakh. “This entails consequences including blacklisted by the government,” Tahir Taghizadeh stated.

Arsenal are still facing a dilemma with Mkhitaryan’s visit to Baku for Europa League final against Chelsea.  Arsenal have been in contact with UEFA, who have offered assistance in obtaining a visa for the 30-year-old which would enable him to travel in and out of the country.

There are no diplomatic relations between Armenia and Azerbaijan because of a longstanding Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.

While playing for Borussia Dortmund in 2015, Mkhitaryan did not travel for a Europa League tie against Azerbaijan Premier League side Gabala because of security concerns.

And he also missed Arsenal's 3-0 Europa League win at FK Qarabag in October, with manager Unai Emery saying "he cannot travel here."