Nobel Arustamyan, a Russian-Armenian journalist for the Russian Match TV channel has been accredited for covering the UEFA European Championship after initially being banned by Baku, informs Maria Zakharova, the Spokeswoman for the Russian Foreign Ministry.
Zakharova thanked UEFA for helping settle the issue.
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Arustamyan’s accreditation was initially blocked by Azerbaijan’s Football Federation over his visits to the Republic of Artsakh.
Elkhan Mammadov, the Vice President of the Azerbaijani Football Federation, confirmed his country was behind the refusal. “This person has repeatedly visited the occupied lands of Azerbaijan for many years and during these visits did not receive permission from the relevant structures of Azerbaijan,” Mammadov told journalists.
“He violated the laws of our country, showing disrespect for the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan,” added Mammadov.
Arustamyan, commenting on the issue, said, “Yes, I have really visited Nagorno-Karabakh – and I speak about it openly. This is the homeland of my ancestors, in particular my grandfather, whose surname I bear. My roots are there, and I am not ashamed of it. And this has never been a problem for me.”
“Of course, I did not plan to visit Baku this summer anyway. They do not expect me in Azerbaijan, they do not welcome me there – just as they have not welcomed all the Armenians for a long time. I am well aware of the local Armenophobia. I come from Baku, my parents were born there, my grandfather is buried there, and my whole family is from there. We all had to leave there at the end of the 80s,” added Arustamyan.
Arustamyan post runs as follows,
“What about my Euro accreditation? It’s time to explain
I was not going to be PR on this whole story, so I ask for petitions from colleagues who are attacking me these days and ask to speak out. In no case do I want to make myself popular on this topic. I will say a few words here and now, when the situation has already been resolved.
At the end of May, I was denied accreditation for Euro 2020. I have not passed police control. According to UEFA regulations, if at least one of the host cities blocks me, I cannot work at the tournament.
Of course, I did not plan to visit Baku this summer anyway. They do not expect me in Azerbaijan, they do not welcome me there – just as they have not welcomed all the Armenians for a long time. He is well aware of the local Armenophobia. I come from Baku, my parents were born there, my grandfather is buried there, and my whole family is from there. We all had to leave there at the end of the 80s.
So I had no illusions. I wanted to work in other cities. And the block of Azerbaijan was generally expected. I took it very calmly, even with an ironic smile.
Now about the visit to Nagorno-Karabakh, which Azerbaijan and the local football federation recalled to me. Yes, I really have been there – and I speak about it openly. This is the homeland of my ancestors, in particular my grandfather, whose surname I bear. My roots are there, and I am not ashamed of it. And this has never been a problem for me.
The Karabakh conflict is a sore, very personal topic for me. I have always been only for his peaceful resolution. They send me my own posts last autumn about the outbreak of war – but it’s pointless to find fault with them. I have always called on both sides for a peaceful settlement, not for war. I only wanted the Karabakh conflict to calm down, and people did not die.
A new wave of aggression from Azerbaijan last fall is a great tragedy. Thousands of deaths on both sides, tens of thousands of ruined destinies, the peaceful coexistence of Armenians and Azerbaijanis that is distant for decades – such wounds, unfortunately, cannot be healed quickly.
I visited Karabakh only for peaceful purposes. So, I participated and organized a children’s football tournament there. I know that for 30 years the people of Nagorno-Karabakh have been living in a daily sense of war. That tournament is perhaps one of the brightest events for local children. I am proud of my involvement in it.
But I know people who bypassed the ban anyway – even after visiting Karabakh. The point is definitely not only that I went there.
Official Azerbaijan, for several months after the war ended, every now and then reports: one must live in peace. And at the same time, he still holds more than two hundred Armenian prisoners, despite all the agreements at the end of the war. And – this is a trifle against the general background, but still – he acted so petty in relation to a journalist from Russia, who, firstly, covers football, and secondly, and did not plan to go to Baku.
My case shows: the authorities of Azerbaijan as a state (here it is important to emphasize that I know many Azerbaijanis who understand that it is impossible to live in hatred for each other any longer) has zero tolerance towards the Armenians of the whole world. Okay, I – I will not give hundreds of examples when people with twenty-five percent of Armenian blood, with a passport of another country could not enter Azerbaijan just because of their surname. They were simply not allowed to check in for the flight.
Euro 2020 and sports in general should bring peoples closer together and make the world a friendlier one.
UEFA always speaks about its values - respect for all people, regardless of nationality. The only sad thing is that there are states that do not accept such values.
I’m glad the situation is resolved.
Once again, I am grateful to everyone for their support!
I am still convinced that chauvinism towards any nationality, including Armenians or Azerbaijanis, is unacceptable.
I believe the world will change, and someday the relationship between Armenians and Azerbaijanis will change – I would like to see it with my own eyes.