YEREVAN—Hungary is ready to restore relations with Armenia anytime, Hungary’s Ambassador to Georgia Sandor Szabo said in an exclusive interview with Public Radio of Armenia.
Armenia suspended diplomatic relations with Hungary in August 2012 after the extradition of Azerbaijani officer Ramil Safarov, who axe murdered Armenian officer Gurgen Margaryan in his sleep while both were attending NATO-sponsored educational courses in Budapest. Safarov was subsequently pardoned and given a hero’s welcome upon arriving in Azerbaijan from Hungary.
The Hungarian ambassador noted that immediately after the suspension of relations, his government took steps to reestablish diplomatic relations. “Unfortunately, these steps were not successful, but we should never give up,” the Ambassador said. He’s hopeful the issue will be solved very soon through diplomatic channels and negotiations.
Ambassador Szabo said both sides should take steps to mend ties, because the solution of the issue is the task of the two parties.
Armenian Foreign Minister Edward Nalbandian said recently that Armenia is ready to restore diplomatic relations with Hungary, but expects Budapest to make the first step.
“He’s right that the Armenian side is waiting for Hungary’s steps, but as I told you, the Hungarian side has taken those steps, and not only once. Hungarian Foreign Minister János Martonyi sent a letter to his Armenian counterpart soon after the events. Moreover, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Hungary sent a note verbale to the Armenian Foreign Ministry to express our willingness to reestablish diplomatic relations. But unfortunately, there has been no progress so far.”
“We think these steps on the Foreign Minister’s level should find a positive response from your country,” the Ambassador said.
Asked whether it’s possible for Hungary to recognize the Nagorno Karabakh Republic, Szabo said the issue is not on the agenda, not only in Hungary, but also in many other countries. “Hungary is not late, as Armenia has not recognized the independence of Nagorno Karabakh yet,” he said.
After years of negotiating the Association Agreement with the European Union, Armenian President Serzh Sarkisian declared on September 3, 2013, his government’s intention to join the Customs Union of Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan.
“It was not easy for my country, as the supporter of the Eastern Partnership Project, to absorb this information, because we had supported Armenia, Georgia and Moldova on this path,” the Ambassador said.
“After the Vilnius Summit and after the Ukraine events, Armenia and the EU started some consultations to find a way out of this situation, to save the Association Agreement, but as far as I know, there have been no concrete results so far,” Szabo said.
“Armenia and the EU have done a lot of work in the recent years,” he said, voicing hope that the sides will find a way to save the fruits of their labor. “It is a question of the future,” he added.
Ambassador Sandor Szabo hopes to visit Armenia one day not only as a Hungarian citizen, but also in his capacity as a Hungarian ambassador to meet people and to start the cooperation planned two years ago, when he presented his credentials to the Armenian President. “It is my wish,” he concluded.