European Parliament Condemns Safarov Pardon

European Parliament chambers

BRUSSELES—The European Parliament, in a vote of 58-13 with 5 abstentions, adopted a resolution Thursday deploring Azerbaijan’s decision to pardon convicted axe-murderer Ramil Safarov and the hero’s welcome he received after being extradited from Hungary to Baku on Aug. 31.

The final text of the resolution, however, relieves Hungary from any responsibility in the matter. Earlier drafts of the bill called on Hungary to urge Azerbaijan, through diplomatic avenues, to adhere to its earlier claim that Safarov would serve the remainder of his life sentence upon extradition.

Budapest released Safarov, a soldier, to Azerbaijan last month where Azeri President Ilham Aliyev pardoned him on arrival. Safarov had served eight years of a life sentence for killing an Armenian officer during a NATO-sponsored training session in Hungary in 2004.

Armenia immediately broke diplomatic ties with Hungary and said that releasing Safarov, who was given a hero’s welcome on his return, was a “grave mistake.”

In the resolution the European Parliament said it “Deplores the decision by the President of Azerbaijan to pardon Ramil Safarov, a convicted murderer sentenced by the courts of a Member State of the European Union… is further concerned that this act is jeopardizing all peaceful reconciliation processes within the societies concerned and may undermine the possible future development of peaceful people-to-people contact in the region.”

The resolution also said the Safarov’s pardon “runs contrary to the spirit of that international agreement, which was negotiated to allow the transfer of a person convicted on the territory of one state to serve the remainder of his or her sentence on the territory of another state.”

“Considers the presidential pardon granted to Mr Safarov as a violation of the diplomatic assurances given to the Hungarian authorities in Azerbaijan’s request for transfer on the basis of on the Convention on the Transfer of Sentenced Persons,” said the resolution.

The European Parliament also said it “Deplores the hero’s welcome accorded to Mr Safarov in Azerbaijan and the decision to promote him to the rank of major and pay him eight years’ back salary upon his arrival, and is concerned about the example this sets for future generations and about the promotion and recognition he has received from the Azerbaijani state.”

“The ANCA joins with all those committed to peace and justice in the Caucasus in welcoming the European Parliament’s sharp rebuke of President Aliyev’s pardon, praise, and promotion of unrepentant axe-murderer Ramil Safarov as a grave human injustice and a dangerous threat to regional stability,” said ANCA Executive Director Aram Hamparian.  “This principled European stand underscores the need for the global community to stop President Aliyev’s active incitement of his nation to violence, his massive arms build-up, and his steady march toward a renewed war against Armenia and Artsakh.”

Below is the complete text of the final resolution adopted Thursday by the European Parliament:

Azerbaijan: the case of Ramil Safarov

The European Parliament,

  • having regard to its previous resolutions on the situation in Azerbaijan, in particular those concerning human rights,
  • having regard to the established practice of international law regarding transfer, namely the Convention on the Transfer of Sentenced Persons, under which it was agreed that cooperation should be developed in order to further the ends of justice and the social rehabilitation of sentenced persons, by giving them the opportunity to serve their sentences within their own society,
  • having regard to the statement issued by its President, Martin Schulz, on 5 September 2012 concerning the pardon granted to Ramil Safarov in Azerbaijan,
  • having regard to the joint statement issued by the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Catherine Ashton, and Commissioner Štefan Füle on 3 September 2012 concerning the release of Mr Safarov,
  • having regard to the statement issued by the Secretary-General of the Council of Europe, Thorbjørn Jagland, on 4 September 2012,
  • having regard to the official letter received by the Ministry of Public Administration and Justice of Hungary on 15 August 2012 from the Deputy Minister of Justice of the Republic of Azerbaijan, Vilayat Zahirov,
  • having regard to its resolution of 18 April 2012 on the negotiations of the EU Azerbaijan Association Agreement,
  • having regard to the statement issued by the Hungarian Prime Minister, Viktor Orbán, on 3 September 2012, in which he gave an assurance that Hungary had acted in accordance with its international obligations,
  • having regard to the Partnership and Cooperation Agreement between the EU and Azerbaijan, which entered into force in 1999, and to the ongoing negotiations between the two parties on a new association agreement to replace the previous one,
  • having regard to Rules 122(5) and 110(4) of its Rules of Procedure,

A. whereas Ramil Safarov had been jailed in a Hungarian prison since 2004 after brutally killing an Armenian colleague during a course sponsored by NATO’s Partnership for Peace Programme in Budapest; whereas Mr Safarov had pleaded guilty and had expressed no remorse, defending his action on the grounds that the victim was Armenian;

B. whereas on 31 August 2012 Mr Safarov, a lieutenant of the Azerbaijani armed forces who had been convicted of murder and sentenced to life imprisonment in Hungary, was transferred to Azerbaijan at the longstanding request of the Azerbaijani authorities;

C. whereas immediately after Mr Safarov was transferred to Azerbaijan the Azerbaijani President, Ilham Aliyev, pardoned him in line with the Constitution of the Republic of Azerbaijan and Article 12 of the Convention on the Transfer of Sentenced Persons;

D. whereas Article 9 of the Convention on the Transfer of Sentenced Persons, to which Hungary and Azerbaijan are both signatory parties, states that a person sentenced in the territory of one state may be transferred to the territory of another in order to serve the sentence imposed on him or her, provided that the conditions laid down in that convention are met;

E. whereas the Deputy Minister of Justice of the Republic of Azerbaijan, Vilayat Zahirov, sent an official letter to the Ministry of Public Administration and Justice of Hungary on 15 August 2012, in which he stated that the execution of the decisions of foreign states’ courts regarding the transfer of sentenced persons to serve the remaining part of their prison sentences in the Republic of Azerbaijan were carried out in accordance with Article 9(1)(a) of the convention, without any conversion of their sentences; whereas he further gave an assurance that, according to the Criminal Code of the Republic of Azerbaijan, the punishment of a convict serving a life sentence could only be replaced by a court with a term of imprisonment for a specified period, and that the convict could be released on conditional parole only after serving at least 25 years of his or her prison sentence; and whereas the Azerbaijani authorities subsequently denied having given any diplomatic assurances to the Hungarian authorities;

F. whereas Lieutenant Safarov received a glorious welcome in Azerbaijan and a few hours after his return was granted a presidential pardon, set free and promoted to the rank of major during a public ceremony;

G. whereas the decision to set Mr Safarov free triggered widespread international reactions of disapproval and condemnation;

H. whereas on 31 August 2012 the Armenian President, Serzh Sargsyan, announced that Armenia was suspending its diplomatic relations with Hungary;

I. whereas Azerbaijan participates actively in the European Neighborhood Policy and the Eastern Partnership, is a founding member of Euronest and has committed itself to respect democracy, human rights and the rule of law, which are core values of these initiatives;

J. whereas Azerbaijan has taken up a non-permanent seat in the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) for the 2012-2013 period and committed itself to uphold the values enshrined in the UN Charter and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights;

K. whereas Azerbaijan is a member of the Council of Europe and a party to the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) as well as to a number of other international human rights treaties, including the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights;

1. Stresses the importance of the rule of law and of honoring commitments made;

2. Deplores the decision by the President of Azerbaijan to pardon Ramil Safarov, a convicted murderer sentenced by the courts of a Member State of the European Union; regards that decision as a gesture which could contribute to further escalation of the tensions between two countries, and which is exacerbating feelings of injustice and deepening the divide between those countries, and is further concerned that this act is jeopardizing all peaceful reconciliation processes within the societies concerned and may undermine the possible future development of peaceful people-to-people contact in the region;

3. Considers that, while the presidential pardon granted to Mr Safarov complies with the letter of the Convention on the Transfer of Sentenced Persons, it runs contrary to the spirit of that international agreement, which was negotiated to allow the transfer of a person convicted on the territory of one state to serve the remainder of his or her sentence on the territory of another state;

4. Considers the presidential pardon granted to Mr Safarov as a violation of the diplomatic assurances given to the Hungarian authorities in Azerbaijan’s request for transfer on the basis of on the Convention on the Transfer of Sentenced Persons;

5. Deplores the hero’s welcome accorded to Mr Safarov in Azerbaijan and the decision to promote him to the rank of major and pay him eight years’ back salary upon his arrival, and is concerned about the example this sets for future generations and about the promotion and recognition he has received from the Azerbaijani state;

6. Takes the view that the frustration in Azerbaijan and Armenia over the lack of any substantial progress as regards the peace process in Nagorno-Karabakh does not justify either acts of revenge or futile provocations that add further tension to an already tense and fragile situation;

7. Expresses its support for the ongoing efforts of the European External Action Service (EEAS), the EU Special Representative for the South Caucasus and the Member States to defuse tensions and ensure that progress is made towards peace in the region;

8. Supports the Co-Chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group in their efforts to secure substantial progress in the peace process in Nagorno-Karabakh with a view to finding a lasting, comprehensive settlement in accordance with international law;

9. Insists that the EU should play a stronger role in the settlement of the conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh by supporting the implementation of confidence-building measures which will bring together Armenian and Azerbaijani communities and spread ideas of peace, reconciliation and trust on all sides;

10. Reiterates its position that the association agreement currently being negotiated between the EU and Azerbaijan should include clauses and benchmarks relating to the protection and promotion of human rights and the rule of law;

11. Condemns all forms of terrorism and the use of threats of terrorism;

12. Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the EEAS, the European Council, the Commission, the respective governments and parliaments of the Republic of Azerbaijan and the Republic of Armenia, the Council of Europe, the OSCE and the UN Special Rapporteur on human rights and counter-terrorism.

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38 Comments

  1. Kyle said:

    Well its about time the Europeans condemned safarov’s scandalous pardon. obamby needs to grow some balls and stop pussyfooting around with artificial even-handedness and do the same.

  2. ARA said:

    sad thing is- who is going to do anything about it? no one- Israel and our govt supports the azeriz- OIL and Iran-their neighbor- POOF to the killer is the thing to do! POOF him down!

  3. Pingback: Notícia Urgente: Parlamento Europeu condena atitude do Azerbaijão de libertar assassino ‹ Portal Estação Armênia

  4. zograp said:

    Azerbaijani President, Ilham Aliyev, and Minister of Justice of the Republic of Azerbaijan, Vilayat Zahirov, thay are a human cancer”

    • a said:

      I wondered about that too.

      This is the best part:
      “9. Insists that the EU should play a stronger role in the settlement of the conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh by supporting the implementation of confidence-building measures which will bring together Armenian and Azerbaijani communities and spread ideas of peace, reconciliation and trust on all sides;”

      How can they expect an Armenian to trust a Turk…ever?

    • maria nicolaou said:

      There are several MEP’s from a given country. So the 13 may be from 1-2 countries.

    • Anahit said:

      Good question – which countries were against? but anyway, we should let go of blaming Hungary and concentrate on Azeries- they are the enemy, not Hungary. But we, Armenians, were never good diplomats.

  5. Kevork said:

    Yeah I agree, I am more interested in knowing the 13 against and 5 abstainers than actually caring about a fake “condemnation” which is just another piece of European hypocrisy on paper.

  6. MK said:

    There is NO teeth No bite,a piece of paper to pacify Serzh that’s all.

    A waste of paper.

  7. Satenik said:

    So after 13 days , with 13 voting against ( we can have a good guess as who they may be), the European Parliament has at last found its voice to condemn the axe killer Azeri, let’s see how long are they going to take to do something about it, if any!

  8. Armenian said:

    Against:

    Corina CREŢU Romania [Against]
    Ismail ERTUG Germany [Against]
    Kinga GÖNCZ Hungary [Against]
    Fiona HALL United Kingdom [Against]
    Edit HERCZOG Hungary [Against]
    Anneli JÄÄTTEENMÄKI Finland [Against]
    Evgeni KIRILOV Bulgaria [Against]
    Ramona Nicole MĂNESCU Romania [Against]
    Norica NICOLAI Romania [Against]
    Kristiina OJULAND Estonia [Against]
    Hannu TAKKULA Finland [Against]
    Alexandra THEIN Germany

    • Random Armenian said:

      Where did you get this list? And also, did any other members from those country vote for the resolution? In other words, was this on an individual basis or all member of a country vote together? There is only one person from UK voting against.

  9. Fred said:

    It is about time that the international community clean their dirty hands of Azerbaijan. This terrorist nation should not even be called a nation. It’s sole existence is to attack Armenia, it has no other goal or aspiration. The only possible action left is tatal WAR. We must settle this issue once and for all. Baku Oil should be confiscated from these barbarians and used to develop a civilized infrastructure in the reagion.

  10. Fred said:

    An Axe Murderer was pardoned promoted and glorified for killing an innocent human. Yet The so called civilised Western world, whants Artsakh to capitulate to Ilham Aliev and live under Azery law. That will obviously not happen. But the fact that the West is thinking of doing it for the sake of Oil is simply proof that the Western world is devoid of all morality. The fact that the Turkish blocade of Armenia is not condemned and actioned up on by the West is a proof that the West is devoid of all morality. So we must stop demanding these immoral barbarians to recognise the Armenian Genocide. In order to condemn an act of genocide you need to have some basic morality which we have prooved they don’t. As Clinto said. Recognising the Armenian genocide is a dangerous act. Well it is obvious they do not have the moral back bone to make such a dicision. So lets just stop beating the dead dunkey and start putting our efforts toward strengthening Armenia and Artsakh.

  11. Alex said:

    Most likely the Muslim nation voted against with UK of course, for them money talks only, not justice unless injustice was done towards them, then the laws matter.

  12. AraK said:

    “Whereas” Aliyev doesn’t give a sh*t about EU’s puppets. Europe needs oil and soon this incident will be swept under the carpet. Let’s not cry victory because they are taking us for idiots.

  13. Gagik said:

    I wonder, why these countries of so called “Civilized” Europe, aren’t breaking their diplomatic ties with Azerbaijan (so called country), unless this criminal is brought back to EU prison?
    Are they making just a “statement” to ease Armenia’s stand towards Hungary and criminal Azerbaijan?

    I think this is just another sham and nothing more!
    EU can bring back Gurgen Margaryan from Death with this “resolution”?

    The 13 countries who ever are they, have to think, that they are harboring a murderer, just like azerbaijan, turkey and most NATO states!

  14. Paul said:

    @kyle president obama has condemned the pardon and the state department has asked for an explanation from Hungary

  15. Arman said:

    Nothing will happen, as always no one will do anything for us, when are we going to wake up as a nation and stand up for our selves and take care of our own people and country, this is just to shut us up, the only thing will happen is the azeris will kill the coward and blame it on us and start a war with us. So all we need to do now is prepare for war and win the war again but this time go all the way.

  16. Heghapokhagan said:

    Which elogical/inhumane unjust 13 countries voted against this?
    and why AZBAREZ didn’t mention those disgusting countries?

  17. Alfred said:

    I do not understand what the punishment gone be for safarov ? Is that killer remain free?

  18. Parsk said:

    I tried to get the list of voters on internet, but no avail, it seems to be confidential, but I could guess the list should go like this, there sure are Turkey and Azerbaboongan and Hungary herself, then Euro-muslem countries like Albania, Bosnia, Kosovo and maybe Macedonia and Malta, then comes those historical turkophil states like Germany, England and their close allies in Europe

  19. ani said:

    Those 13 , who were against to this resolution must be out of their seats. They can not be in that position and fight for human rights and peace. This is absolutely unacceptable. They are danger for the countries and human rights. They don’ t even know what kind of responsibilities can have. Shame on them!

  20. alex said:


    Corina CREŢU Romania [Against]
    Ismail ERTUG Germany [Against]
    Kinga GÖNCZ Hungary [Against]
    Fiona HALL United Kingdom [Against]
    Edit HERCZOG Hungary [Against]
    Anneli JÄÄTTEENMÄKI Finland [Against]
    Evgeni KIRILOV Bulgaria [Against]
    Ramona Nicole MĂNESCU Romania [Against]
    Norica NICOLAI Romania [Against]
    Kristiina OJULAND Estonia [Against]
    Hannu TAKKULA Finland [Against]
    Alexandra THEIN Germany

    Good to know. Armenian nation will remember their names. Interesting that as many as 3 of them are Romanians. Romania has a huge Hungarian minority.

  21. George said:

    Armenia should attack Azerbaijan and let the West worry on the consequences in the region, Armenia should not wait (like a laim duck) untill Azerbiajani soldiers are trained and ready for war, I believe Russia is not acting agressively to solve Armenias problems, they are like the West Business as usual, upon solving Syrian crisis they will pressure on Armenia, both Russia and the West to settle on CRUMBS AND LEFTOVERS while using Armenia as a playing card in the region.

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