Azerbaijan eases visa requirements ahead of UEFA Europa League final match

President Ilham Aliyev has recently issued a decree to simplify visa procedures for foreigners coming to Azerbaijan on the occasion of the UEFA Europa League final match, which will be held on 29 May in Baku.

Between 15 May and 1 June, foreigners with official documents such as a ticket for the final game and an official invitation from the Association of Football Federations of Azerbaijan will be able to obtain a visa upon arrival at the airport. It is expected that the eased procedures will benefit primarily citizens from the EU.

In contrast to many other countries in the former Soviet space, Azerbaijan still applies visa requirements for EU citizens. The only other countries to do so are Russia, Tajikistan and Turkmenistan.

Only citizens of former Soviet republics currently enjoy visa-free travel to Azerbaijan, while citizens of number of countries from the Middle East and Asia may obtain a visa upon arrival at one of Azerbaijan's international airports. People with Armenian citizenship or citizens of other countries with Armenian ethnicity are prohibited from entering the country, due to the ongoing conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh.

According to activist and AIESEC Azerbaijan founder Bakhtiyar Hajiev, visa requirements for EU citizens should be abolished or at least facilitated to allow visa issuance at the country’s international airports. He believes that the security risks regarding visitors from the EU are low, and that those who have traveled to Azerbaijan would return home with positive impressions, boosting tourism.

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