BAKU, Azerbaijan – Azerbaijan has declared US celebrity chef Anthony Bourdain persona non grata over a visit to the Armenian-controlled breakaway territory of Nagorny Karabakh, officials said Thursday.
The television star reportedly travelled to Karabakh earlier this month to produce an episode of his award-winning culinary show "Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown," which explores culture and cuisines of lesser-known places around the globe.
Bourdain "has been put onto the persona non grata list for his disrespect of Azerbaijan's territorial integrity and sovereignty," foreign ministry spokesman Hikmet Hajiyev told AFP.
Nagorny Karabakh has been under Armenian control since it was seized during a bloody conflict in the early 1990s after the break-up of the Soviet Union.
The territory is still internationally recognized as part of Azerbaijan and visiting it without Baku's permission is a criminal offense in the country.
"Filming a food show on Azerbaijan's occupied territory is an insult to one million Azerbaijani refugees who were forcefully expelled from their homes," Hajiyev said.
The ex-Soviet republics of Azerbaijan and Armenia remain locked in a bitter dispute over Nagorny Karabakh, with frequent exchanges of fire along the volatile frontline nearly restarting an all-out conflict last year.
The two sides never signed a definitive peace deal and attempts to negotiate a final settlement have long been stalled.
Baku has blacklisted some 700 foreign nationals over visiting Karabakh, banning them from entering the country.
Bourdain's travel and food show on CNN television has won five Emmy awards. – Rappler.com