Opposition leader Vazgen Manukyan has asked grandmaster Levon Aronian to return to Armenia, weeks after the chess player left the country to represent the United States.
Aronian announced in late February that he was leaving Armenia to represent the United States, maintaining that the Armenian government had not been honoring its commitment to develop chess in the country.
Manukyan said Thursday that the current authorities will be ousted soon, and that he will make sure chess receives the attention it deserves.
"I have always been proud of you, you have always been a source of inspiration for all of us. Thanks to you, Armenian chess has reached new heights and brought many victories to our country," Manukyan said Thursday, March 4.
Manukyan, who is the leader of the coalition of 17 opposition parties calling itself the Homeland Salvation Movement, asked Aronian to revise his decision and offered a meeting.
Former President Serzh Sargsyan said on Wednesday that grandmaster Levon Aronian has promised to return to Armenia when "the attitude towards him changes, and chess is respected" again.
Aronian had been the leading Armenian chess player since the early 2000s and is much loved by the public and Armenians worldwide. He won the FIDE World Cup in 2005 and 2017, led the Armenian national team to the gold medals in the Chess Olympiads of 2006 (Turin), 2008 (Dresden) and 2012 (Istanbul) and at the World Team Chess Championship in Ningbo 2011. Aronian won the FIDE Grand Prix 2008–2010. He was also world champion in Chess960 in 2006 and 2007, in rapid chess in 2009, and in blitz chess in 2010. As of February 2021, Aronian is No. 6 in the world, with a FIDE rating of 2781.