On 31 August it was reported that a Canadian MP will be added to the ‘persona non grata’ list, a list of the people who are banned from entering Azerbaijan for visiting Nagorno-Karabakh without the permission of the Azerbaijani government. On 30 August the German press reported that two German MPs had been added to the list as well. The number of those listed as persona non grata has increased from 330 in August 2013 to 667 as of June 2017.
‘The illegal visit by Tony Clement, a member of the Canadian Parliament, to the part of Azerbaijan that is occupied by the armed forces of Armenia is another political provocation by Armenia,’ said Hikmat Hajiyev, the head of the press service of Azerbaijan’s Foreign Ministry.
Tony Clement is in Nagorno-Karabakh with fellow Conservative MP, Rachel Harder, on what he calls a ‘fact-finding mission,’ but Hajiyev said that Clement’s illegal visit had been organized by the Armenian National Committee of Canada and the Armenian lobby, with which he had established close relations in return for remuneration.
‘In return for remuneration, this person, whose name had repeatedly come up in corruption deals and bribery, visited the occupied territories of Azerbaijan and tries to justify the aggression and the bloody policy of ethnic cleansing being carried out by Armenia against Azerbaijan. The Canadian Foreign Ministry and the Canadian Parliament have been notified about Azerbaijan’s discontent and concern in connection with this matter. His name will be included on the list of unwelcome persons,’ Hajiyev said.
The Globe and Mail reported on 1 September that Rachel Harder has also been banned from entering Azerbaijan.
In February 2017, two German state MPs from Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, Holger Arppe and Enrico Komning of the Alternative for Germany party (AfD), traveled to Nagorno-Karabakh as election observers. On 30 August Vugar Gafarov, Press Secretary at the Azerbaijani Embassy in Berlin, announced that the trip had been illegal, and that Azerbaijan was considering opening a criminal investigation. It is unclear why the Azerbaijani Embassy reacted months after the trip occurred.
Note: On 31 August Holger Arppe resigned from AfD after his chat history was exposed. In his chats Arppe attacked allies and opponents alike, sometimes indulging in fantasies of brutal violence and rape. He remains an MP in Mecklenburg-Vorpommern.
The list of personae non gratae in Azerbaijan lists people who are banned from entering Azerbaijan because they violated the “Law on the state border” of the Azerbaijani Republic and visited Nagorno-Karabakh without permission from Azerbaijan.
In August 2013, the Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry published a complete list of 330 people who had been declared persona non grata, including parliamentarians, politicians, journalists, students, painters, artists and other people from many countries and international organizations. As of June 2017, there are 667 people on the list.
Popular Russian-speaking travel blogger Alexander Lapshin is currently in prison in Azerbaijan for violating the ‘Law on the State Border.’ In 2011 and 2012 Lapshin visited the breakaway republic of Nagorno-Karabakh, resulting in his being banned from entering Azerbaijan. However in 2016 the blogger, who has Russian, Ukrainian, and Israeli citizenship, visited Baku using his Ukrainian passport where his name is spelled differently (Oleksandr) than in Russian or Azeri (Aleksandr). At the request of Azerbaijani authorities, Belarus extradited Lapshin in February 2017. Having been sentenced to three years in prison, Lapshin has formally requested extradition to Israel.