BREAKING NEWS: Obama Disappointed Over Safarov Release and Pardon

President Obama

US requests explanation from Hungary regarding its decision to transfer Safarov to Azerbaijan

Members of Congress Join White House in Condemning Azerbaijani Government Action

WASHINGTON—The Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA) today welcomed President Barack Obama’s expression of concern over Hungary’s extradition and Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev’s subsequent decision to pardon Ramil Safarov, who was convicted for brutally murdering Armenian soldier Gurgen Margaryan, in his sleep, during a 2004 NATO exercise in Hungary.

The White House statement, issued in the name of National Security Council Spokesman Tommy Vietor, underscores the President’s view that, “This action is contrary to ongoing efforts to reduce regional tensions and promote reconciliation.” Vietor goes on to note that “The United States is also requesting an explanation from Hungary regarding its decision to transfer Safarov to Azerbaijan.”

The Department of State, through a formal announcement issued by Acting Deputy Spokesman Patrick Ventrell, also took a stand against Hungary’s extradition and Azerbaijan’s pardon, explaining that: “The United States is extremely troubled by the news that the President of Azerbaijan pardoned Azerbaijani army officer Ramil Safarov, who returned to Baku today following his transfer from Hungary. . . . We are expressing our deep concern to Azerbaijan regarding this action and seeking an explanation. We are also seeking further details from Hungary regarding the decision to transfer Mr. Safarov to Azerbaijan.”

Pallone, Sherman Issue Statements Condemning Safarov Release

Members of Congress have begun expressing their concern about the Hungarian and Azerbaijani decisions to release Safarov, with Congressional Armenian Caucus Co-Chair Frank Pallone (D-NJ) stating, “I am outraged by the reckless actions taken by the government of Azerbaijan in freeing Ramil Safarov, an Azerbaijani soldier who brutally murdered an unarmed Armenian soldier during a NATO-sponsored training program in Hungary. It is extremely egregious that the President of Azerbaijan has issued a decree granting pardon to a convicted murderer and has allowed him to walk free despite his conviction. These are not the actions of a government that is dedicated to justice and peace. Unfortunately, the actions taken by Azerbaijan only further confirm their desire to facilitate and condone violence against Armenia and its people.”

House Foreign Affairs Committee senior member Brad Sherman (D-CA) noted, “I am deeply dismayed by the Hungarian government’s decision to release an Azeri military officer who was sentenced to life imprisonment for murdering an Armenian officer in cold blood in Budapest in 2004. . . I stand by our friend and ally Armenia in her ongoing quest for peace and security for her citizens. I call on the Azeri government to bring this individual to justice instead of freeing a convicted criminal.”

ANCA Leads Armenian American Protest Response to Safarov Release
Just days prior to the release, the ANCA had formally cautioned Hungarian authorities against the extradition of Safarov to Azerbaijan.

ANCA Chairman, Ken Hachikian, in a letter sent earlier today to President Obama, explained that: “The facts of this brutal murder are as clear as the imperative for our government, which serves as a mediator of this conflict through the Minsk Group of the OSCE, to publicly criticize Hungary’s extradition of a known and unapologetic terrorist, to openly condemn Baku’s subsequent release of Safarov, and to demand his immediate re-incarceration for the remainder of his life sentence.” Hachikian stressed that: “A lack of a forceful American response to this grave injustice would, in addition to compromising our nation’s moral standing, undermine prospects for peace by emboldening an increasingly heavily armed Azerbaijani government to continue inciting its own citizens to violence, and encouraging it to continue its threats and actual acts of aggression.”

Thousands have already responded to ANCA action items posted on Facebook and urging activists to criticize Hungary’s action and to call upon President Obama to condemn Safarov’s release.

The ANCA Action Alert.

The full text of the White House statement and the ANCA letter are provided below.

August 31, 2012

Statement by NSC Spokesman Tommy Vietor on Azerbaijan’s Decision to Pardon Ramil Safarov

President Obama is deeply concerned by today’s announcement that the President of Azerbaijan has pardoned Ramil Safarov following his return from Hungary. Safarov confessed to the murder of Armenian Army officer Gurgen Margaryan in Budapest in 2004, and was serving a life sentence in Hungary for this brutal crime. We are communicating to Azerbaijani authorities our disappointment about the decision to pardon Safarov. This action is contrary to ongoing efforts to reduce regional tensions and promote reconciliation. The United States is also requesting an explanation from Hungary regarding its decision to transfer Safarov to Azerbaijan.


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    • a said:

      Obama is so upset, he is going to reward Azerbaijian with drones and other weapons. He’ll show them how disappointed he is.


    This action by hungary and azerbaijan one more time shows that justice can be purchased and sold any time. Those who think that any question involving relations with government of azerbaijan can be resolved in civilized manner are naive and/or in a sleep.
    Action of US government is inadequate and shorthanded.
    Government of Armenia took first proper measure and shall continue to take proper steps to punish of the parties involved.
    I do not think that any International body can and will correct this in order to bring justice.

  2. Arthur said:

    Are you stupid Armenian’s getting excited again when Obama’s throw’s crumbs ?

    Now I say “Remember Obama 2008″

  3. Ruby Minas said:

    You must be either very naive or ignorant to believe Obama after all he has NOT DONE for Armenians.
    He has not done anything but harm to Americans and you expect him to care for Armenians?

  4. Gary said:

    Time has come for Armenia to take execive action. let’s show the entire world that any Armenian killer/turks could run but can’t hide forever. Let’s show our Israeli friends that we can also able to hunt and kill these cowards/animals and bring them to justice.

  5. danoog said:

    Hooray! Once again, our wonderful president closes the barn door after the cows are out. Hey Obama, ever hear of the word “pro-active.” This issue has been on the table for weeks. A warning to the scumbags who run Hungary would have stopped them in their tracks. Let’s just hope Romney has bigger balls than this weasel.

  6. Avery said:

    Being ‘disappointed’ and ‘concerned’ is a totally empty, meaningless gesture.
    Words like ‘disappointed’, ‘concerned’, ‘disturbed’….harrumph !…..harrumph !…..are meant to show fake sympathy to the sheeple, yet at the same time not committing the Pres to anything. Of course he is ‘disappointed': why not ? It costs nothing.

    OK Mr. President, you are supposedly concerned: now what ?
    You want to really show your concern ? Call Ilham and tell him: “Reverse your pardon, send the ax murderer back to Hungary, or else…..”

    Otherwise, please stop blowing smoke: we are not children.

  7. Gary_S said:

    When it is a low level criticism of a country, presidents use someone unimportant to do it. Why not someone important like Hillary Clinton or himself? This way the media doesn’t cover it. We need a better criticism!!!

  8. A. Hayrapetian said:

    This action is unfair and it’s against the human rights. Azeri president should bring Safarov to justice.

  9. 4 AR said:

    Armenian president should refuse to meet NATO general secretary!

    The ugly pictures and show broadcast to the world from Azerbaijan remind us of dictator Gaddifi #s Libya, as he did welcome one of criminals who was involved in Lockerbi bombing

  10. Greg Nazaryan said:

    Disappointment and condemnation by President Obama is not enough. He has to take an action against a Terrorist Government.

  11. Satenik said:

    Action speaks louder than words! Get on with it Obama! And what about Clinton? She usually has a very big mouth about these issues, have we heard anything from her “ladyship”? How would the world react if the shoe was on the other foot?

  12. ARA said:

    Disapponitment? ( I’m disapponited in him..BIG TIME remember his promise about the GENOCIDE? ) Didn’t this crime took place at NATO exercises??? where are those so called” civilized countries who form NATO??”
    Hello Putin are you around?

  13. Fredrick said:

    It is election year again and he will say anything for few votes. Just like when he said he will recognize the Armenian Genocide before the elections last time. I agree with David,,actions speak louder than words.

  14. Serge said:

    The Armenian goverment should take Hungary’s goverment to European court and sue them for blood money for Gurgen’s family.

  15. Simon Laszlo said:

    I do not remember President Obama expressing his concerns to Ireland when they denied the extradition of Ciaran Tobin, who killed two kids in Hungary while speeding in a village. He was convicted by Hungarian court, but had left Hungary before that. He is at large in Ireland, not serving his sentence. (At least not a national hero, but otherwise Ireland is acting similarly to Azerbaijan.)

  16. Vartan said:

    Didn’t read the article the headline was sufficent for me to believe that he (obama) had something to do with this. what an esh

  17. RS said:

    I wouldn’t believe that he’s genuine! Is he after the Armenian votes until he spits on us again once re-elected?

  18. Andranik said:

    Well, well, well…. When oil is involved there is no JUSTICE, RELIGION… This was a slap to all democratic countries, to all humane values. Killing a human being in his sleep??? These are the values of the majority of the turks. Thanks to Obama, Clinton ……….. for warming up to them, SHAME ON YOU !!!
    Shame on you for not keeping your promise for the recognition of the Armenian Genocide,that you promised us in front of the cameras !!!

  19. Bill Paparian said:

    Typical limpwristed response of the Obama administration. A soldier, an officer of an allied Army, is murdered in his sleep — hacked to death — during a training NATIO training exercise. The perpetrator is set free and the US government is “concerned?” How about taking decisive action and demand that the murderer be brought to justice. Better yet send in a MARSOC team and arrest him if the Azeri government doesn’t surrender him forthwith.

  20. Hrant K. said:

    President Obama, in return, should pressure Turkey to release Abdallah Ojalan from his prison cell in Turkey! At least Ojalan is a freedom fighter, not a coward like most Azeris!!! The Azeri Army should be listed and labeled
    as a terrorist organiztion not the PKK!!!

  21. MK said:

    I don’t believe Obama being genuine in his words as his track record shows that he is a liar.

    As far as the Hungarians people are concerned nothing against them as 3 Hungarian Armenian generals fought for Hungary with distinguished war record ,so much so that every years their names are remembered in Hungary along with over 1500 Armenian Hungarians who fought for Hungary.The three Hungarian generals from 1848-49, who had Armenian roots: Ernő Kiss and Vilmos Lázár (both wre executed by the Austrians in 1849) and János Czetz, who had to immigrate and settled down finally in Argentina.

    Sadly the present Hungarian government is a bunch of crooks and stinks with corruption.

    As far as the Azeris are concerned after this its plain obvious that there cant be any negotiations Armenia must:

    1. Recognise Artsakh as an independent country.

    2. OSCE has become a redundant group.

    3. Armenia must have a military treaty with Artsakh.

    4. Protocols should be thrown in the dustbin of history.

    5. Armenia must be ready to give a knockout blow to the Azeris including destroying all their oil facilities.

    6.Armenian intelligence must locate the where abouts of this murderer and deal with him as such.

  22. bigmoustache said:

    yalla wheres hillary clinton now? let me hear ONE AMERICAN say that an armenian can live under a turk.
    recognition of artsakh by america and american technology for our self defence army.

  23. Pingback: Protest at the Hungarian and Azeri Embassies « Armenian Student Association

  24. Garo said:

    Obama’s “condemnation” is the last chapter of his government’s tacit deal to have Safarov be extradited to Azerbaijan. Didn’t he promise also to “duly” recognize the Armenian Genocide? OPEN your eyes people… NO US president will recognize Armenian Genocide when they embolden Turkey with the other hand.

  25. M.L. said:

    Is someone after the Armenian votes, as soon as he secures his second term (God forbid), then Armenians are pushed aside like a dirty rag! We should not fall for him again.

  26. John Ahmaranian said:

    The best way for the Obama Administration to show disappointment and sorrow for the
    Azeri shamful act, is to release Hampig Sassounian from jail.
    In this case I would like to see the reaction of Turkey and Azarbeyjan.

  27. Hungarian guy said:

    As a Hungarian I am deeply concerned about the actions of the post communist radical prime minister Viktor Orban. They are not representing the will of the Hungarian people. They are corrupt crooks! They sold this shameful killer for gas, oil and government’s bond trade. We all know the fact of history how Armenians supported Hungary in 1848 freedom fight. Don’t think Hungarians betrayed you! Our prime minister Viktor shameful Orban put his cards on the table to show he is NOTHING!