Azerbaijan to Maintain Ban on Turkish Journalists

1001ntv copyBAKU (Today.az)—The Turkish NTV television station, temporarily banned from Azerbaijan for interviewing the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic’s Foreign Minister, will not have its media accreditation reinstated until the Azeri Foreign Ministry is “sure” it will will no longer report on Karabakh, Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Elkhan Polukhov told a press briefing on Thursday.

The Azeri Foreign Ministry revoked the accreditations following an interview of Nagorno-Karabakh Foreign Minister Georgi Petrosian conducted on September 9 by NTV and the Turkish Milliyet newspaper. Baku has accused the television company’s reporters of illegally crossing into “occupied Azerbaijani territories” to conduct the interview.

“There may be a matter of renewal of accreditation, but it requires the television channel to take all necessary steps to enable the Azerbaijani side to be sure that television channel will not repeat such kind of moves in future,” he said.

Polukhov said also that “those who made the decision” to send reporters to Karabakh “should be punished because they showed disrespect for the law of the Azerbaijan Republic, which is a close ally of Turkey.”

“Only after this the question of restoring accreditation of the Turkish TV channel may be considered upon request,” he said, adding that the decision will not be reversed until the “said steps are taken.”

In response to the move by the Foreign Ministry to bar the journalists from operating in Azerbaijan, NTV faxed a letter to the ministry expressing “support for the sovereignty and recognition of the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan,” Polukhov said. “However, we consider such formal reply unsatisfactory. Just a statement of the fact that the leadership of NTV television channel supports sovereignty and territorial integrity of Azerbaijan is not a reason to renew the television channel’s accreditation.”

He said Azerbaijan wants to make it clear to all media outlets throughout the world that there will be consequences to “performing certain actions which violate the laws of Azerbaijan.” He added that any “illegal” visit by a reporter or journalist to Karabakh will be met with a “tough and uncompromising” reaction.

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