A Turkish arm-wrestler has reportedly been barred from entering Azerbaijan and participating in a major competition there because of his last name which Azerbaijani immigration authorities felt is Armenian.
Zafer Noyan, a 24-year-old resident of the Turkish city of Diarbekir, flew to Baku last week to compete in the 2014 European Armwrestling Championship along with other members of Turkey’s national team.
Several Turkish news services reported on Thursday that immigration officers at Baku airport told Noyan that he cannot enter the country because they believe he is an ethnic Armenian. They said the young athlete was put on another plane and flown back to Istanbul despite his assurances that his surname and ethnic origin are not Armenian.
It is not clear whether the Turkish team managers or the European Armwrestling Federation protested against Noyan’s expulsion.
The Azerbaijani authorities have long banned Armenian nationals and ethnic Armenian citizens of third countries, including Turkey, from travelling to Azerbaijan. They consider any Armenian presence in the country an affront to its honor and the memory of Azerbaijanis killed in the unresolved conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh.