The Azerbaijani government said on Wednesday that it will likely blacklist prominent Turkish Cypriots who have visited Nagorno-Karabakh to take part in a seminar on conflict resolution without its permission.
The round table was organized in Stepanakert at the weekend by the London-based peace building group International Alert. It reportedly involved six Cypriot politicians, scholars and human rights activists representing the ethnic Greek and Turkish communities of the divided island.
The guests shared with Karabakh Armenian officials and civil society members their experience in inter-community dialogue. They also discussed the impact of mass media and public diplomacy on the unresolved conflict in Cyprus.
The Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry spokesman, Elkhan Polukhov, told the APA news agency that the Turkish Cypriot participants of the event will be banned from traveling to Azerbaijan if information about their Karabakh trip is officially confirmed. He said the Foreign Ministry has contacted “the Turkish side” for that purpose but has not received a reply yet.
It was not clear whether the inquiry was sent to the government of Turkey or the unrecognized Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC). Baku has already imposed such bans on dozens of other foreign dignitaries who have traveled to Karabakh without its prior consent.
One of the Turkish Cypriots who participated in the Stepanakert round table is Kutlay Erk, secretary general of the Republican Turkish Party (CTP), which governed the TRNC from 2005-2010. Erk is also the former mayor of the Turkish part of the Cypriot capital Nicosia.
The two other participants set to be blacklisted by Baku are Emine Colak, a human rights lawyer sitting on the Turkish Cypriot High Judicial Board, and Meltem Samani, a historian and peace activist.