However, a spokesperson for the Armenian ministry of foreign affairs, told CNN that
The toleration of racist targeting of Armenians in the Azerbaijani public and the media, and manifest security risks have made it impossible for Mkhitaryan to travel to Baku, Spokeswoman at Armenia’s Foreign Ministry Anna Naghdalyan has told CNN when asked to comment on the situation around Henrikh Mkhitaryan who will miss out the Europa League Final.
“The Europa League Final could be a good opportunity for Azerbaijan to live up to its alleged commitment to keeping politics separate from sports as well as to demonstrate its capacity of tolerance and non-discrimination. This opportunity has been spectacularly missed,” said Anna Naghdalyan.
Meanwhile. Azerbaijan’s Minister of Youth and Sports, Azad Rahimov, told CNN Sport that there is nothing more his country can do to allay Mkhitaryan’s fears given the Azeri government provided more written assurances than on any previous occasion for an athlete entering the country.
“More?” Rahimov said when questioned by CNN Sport’s Amanda Davies. “What do you mean when you say more? More than a guarantee? More than 100%? Our feeling and our understanding about the security, we did all that. What more could we do?
“We can send a private jet for him? Accompanied by two F16 Fighting Falcons … a navy machine? I don’t know what more we could do.”
CNN next reports that Mkhitaryan’s absence and UEFA’s decision to award the game to Azerbaijan has also focused scrutiny on the country’s human rights record.
Kate Allen, Amnesty International’s UK director, said in a statement that it is important Azerbaijan isn’t allowed to use the Europa League final to “sportswash” and distract from a crackdown that has seen “journalists, bloggers and human rights defenders being ruthlessly targeted.”