LOS ANGELES—Amid news of the visit to Artsakh by a delegation of California elected officials, organized with the help of the Armenian National Committee of America-Western Region, the foreign ministry of Azerbaijan has made an announcement that the officials will be banned from visiting Azerbaijan in the future, as the Baku’s new policy dictates.
The Azeri foreign ministry’s spokesperson, Elman Abdullayev, expressed anger at the planned visit and confirmed that the delegation, which includes California Speaker of the House John Pérez and Los Angeles City Council Member Bob Blumenfield, will be added to Azerbaijan’s newly invented list of personae non gratae.
The Azeri government announced this policy in August of 2013 and has so far added more than 300 government officials, journalists, and renowned artists on its blacklist.
Prior to the visit, the Turkish-Azeri lobby in California sent online instructions to its followers, asking to help stop the planned visit. The Turkish-Azeri lobby accused the ANCA of being deceitful and interfering in American foreign policy.
ANCA Western Region Chair Nora Hovsepian, speaking to PanArmenian.net, said, “We are proud to serve as a bridge between government representatives and the people of California and Armenia and are looking forward to what promises to be a very memorable trip that will set the foundation for similar visits with other officials in the future.”
The former Consul General of Armenia in Los Angeles, Grigor Hovannissian, who helped to arrange the visit, said, “The California State legislative delegation to Armenia is a long overdue and groundbreaking development. We are very pleased that Speaker Pérez and a bipartisan group of legislators will be arriving in our country at the invitation of the Governments of Armenia and Artsakh.”
He added, “We are hopeful that this first in kind mission would leave a lasting impact and contribute to strengthening political contacts between the Republic of Armenia and the great State of California.”