Hikmet Hajiyev is on a roll these days.
The Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry spokesperson’s latest victim? None other than American food and television icon Anthony Bourdain, who was recently in Armenia and Artsakh to produce a segment on the region for his CNN television show, “Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown.”
Speaking to Russia’s RIA Novosti, Hajiyev confirmed that Bourdain would be put on the now-infamous (and ever-growing) Azerbaijani “blacklist” for “illegally visiting the occupied territories of Azerbaijan.”
In 2013, Hajiyev’s Foreign Ministry issued a list, which disclosed the names of more than 300 individuals from more than 40 countries, who had visited the Republic of Artsakh “without Baku’s permission.”
They were listed as “persona non grata”—unacceptable and unwelcome in Azerbaijan. Today, that list—published right on Azerbaijan’s Foreign Ministry’s website—has ballooned to nearly 700.
Parliamentarians, scientists, academics, artists, journalists, entertainers (the list goes on)—all of them accused of undermining “the national sovereignty and territorial unity” of Azerbaijan.
Late last week, Hajiyev tried something new and personally attacked—and threatened—Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA) Executive Director Aram Hamparian in a series of tweets, accusing him of being a terrorist, racist, and a “mafia boss.”
“The Foreign Affairs [Ministry] is ‘punching down’ when it punches a lobby,” Hamparian said about Hajiyev’s latest move.
— Hikmet Hajiyev (@HikmetHajiyev) October 22, 2017
And it’s true, Mr. Hajiyev. The attack on Hamparian and the Armenian lobby is a tactical mistake on your part. By doing so, you only build up the ANCA, and your fallacious tweets only become a PR tool for the Armenian lobby.
People are not as stupid or ignorant as you may think. It doesn’t really take that much research to see how drastically your government’s record on freedom of expression, assembly, and association has continued to deteriorate over the years.
Your ever-expanding “blacklist” and your baseless, unfounded attacks on the ANCA will only hurt your nation—and prove to all what most the world already knows about your country.
So, Mr. Hajiyev, if not for the love of truth, then at least for the love of Azerbaijan… just shut up already.