BAKU—Azerbaijan will ensure the security of Armenian participants of the World Chess Cup 2015 and the World Chess Olympiad 2016, Azerbaijani Youth and Sports Minister Azad Rahimov said Wednesday during contract signing ceremony, reported the Trend news agency.
In February, Armenian Grandmaster Levon Aronian, in an open letter warned the World Chess Federation (FIDE) Chairman Kirsan Ilyumzhinov that he would not be able to take part in the federation’s World Championship tournament if it is held in Azerbaijan.
“I’d like to inform you that the general atmosphere in Azerbaijan and the continuous tensions between our countries make my participation in such a high-level tournament in Azerbaijan impossible,” Aronian wrote in his February letter.
Armenia had put in a bid to host the events, but a final decision was made in September at the General Assembly of the World Chess Federation in Istanbul that Baku would host the next round of championships.
Armenia won the World Champion title in September, returning to Yerevan as heroes, amid the controversial extradition by Hungary and pardon by Azerbaijan of convicted axe-murdered Ramil Safarov, who in 2004 killed Armenian soldier Gurgen Markarian at a NATO Partnership for Peace gathering in Budapest.
“An important event, such as the Candidates Tournament, requires peace of mind and special concentration. No circumstances, if they are not chess-related, should prevent the grandmaster from demonstrating all of his skills. Unfortunately, at this moment no Armenian can find favorable or adequate psychological atmosphere in Azerbaijan, whereas that is something absolutely necessary. In my opinion, all the participants should be in equal conditions, which is impossible in the event the tournament is held Azerbaijan. Security guaranties and any kind of additional support cannot be a remedy,” explained Aronian.
“Taking into account the aforementioned considerations, I would like to inform you that I would be delighted to take part in the Candidates Tournament in any other country. However, my participation in the candidates’ tournament in Azerbaijan has to be excluded,” said Aronian.
“We are ready to host chess players from Armenia, with all security issues to be addressed at the appropriate level. This is not the first time Azerbaijan is hosting Armenian players,” Rahimov said.
Ilyumzhinov announced that Yerevan will play host to the FIDE presidential council from January 18 to 20, 2013, which will focus on the safety, accommodation and participation of Armenian players at the events.
Commenting on FIDE proposals on holding a children’s chess tournament with participation of young Azerbaijani and Armenian chess players in Nagorno Karabakh, Rahimov said that Baku could support the initiative if security of all Azerbaijani guests were ensured.