Council Of Europe Chief Condemns Safarov’s ‘Glorification’

Thorbjorn Jagland, the Council of Europe’s secretary general

YEREVAN (RFE/RL)—Thorbjorn Jagland, the Council of Europe’s secretary general, condemned Azerbaijan late on Tuesday for turning an Azerbaijani army officer, who had hacked to death an Armenian colleague in Budapest, into a national hero.

“I do not want to comment on the legal proceedings, but I find it unacceptable that a convicted murderer is welcomed as a hero,” Jagland said in the latest in a series of statements by European officials criticizing the pardoning of Ramil Safarov immediately after his extradition from Hungary.

“I reject the prospect of a world whose moral code begins to fray, where respect for human dignity is denied,” he said. “This is not the Europe that we should wish for future generations.”

“I condemn such glorification of crime, and urge that we all work to uphold the respect for life, and our values as defended by the Council of Europe”, added the Norwegian politician.

Safarov received a hero’s welcome when he returned home on Friday more than eight years after axe-murdering Armenian Lieutenant Gurgen Markarian during a NATO training course in the Hungarian capital. The Azerbaijani government promoted the 35-year-old to the rank of major and gave him a free apartment and eight years’ worth of back pay.

Azerbaijani officials have strongly defended President Ilham Aliyev’s decision to pardon the murder convict. They have also sought to effectively rationalize Markarian’s brutal killing, claiming that Safarov was deeply traumatized by the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict and repeatedly taunted by the Armenian officer. A Hungarian court that sentenced Safarov to life imprisonment in 2006 did not find the insult allegations substantiated, however.

Like representatives of the European Union, Jagland avoided criticizing the Hungarian government for extraditing Safarov to Azerbaijan, a move angrily condemned by Armenia. The latter has cut diplomatic ties with EU member state Hungary in protest.

The government in Budapest says the extradition was based on a European convention signed in Strasbourg, home to the Council of Europe headquarters. It has also accused Baku of reneging on a promise to ensure that Safarov will serve the rest of his life sentence in an Azerbaijani prison.

Catherine Ashton, the EU foreign policy chief, appeared to back the official Hungarian line earlier on Tuesday. “According to what we know now … it would appear that certain conditions and commitments that were agreed between Hungary and Azerbaijan on the transfer of Ramil Safarov have not been met,” Maja Kocijancic, a spokeswoman for Ashton, told RFE/RL in Brussels.


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  1. HARUTUYN said:

    whether u rejected or not it is not inuff for any of you leaders to bullshit around and the Armenian government should take all the steps to do whatrs got to be done to recognise Arsax and liberate the whole aArmenian world

  2. Peter said:

    If the EU wants to allow more ax murderers into the European Union, they certainly can allow Turkey and Azerbaijan to join but they will be very sorry. Don;t forget that September 11th was the anniversary of the defeat of the Turks in Europe which halted the threat of the Turks and saved Christianity. That is why the 9/11 terrorists picked that date.

  3. George said:

    And Now What? the message that the Azeri population received is killing Armenians is a patriot act.

  4. Chris said:

    I am going to deeply condemn Mr. Safarov’s barbaric actions, but what happened was is that in the early 1990’s, Armenia committed a sneak attack against Nagorno Karabagh, expelled the non-Armenian inhabitants and now there are ethnic Azeri refugees who cannot return to there homes in NKR. Or what about how Armenians massacred civilians via the Khojaly massacre and you cannot claim that it was inside job either because that is as stupid of a claim as saying that 9-11 was an inside job.

    Survivor of a massacre you guys cannot deny:

    I am going to condemn the pardoning of Safarov but don’t take advantage of this move because we all know you guys are hell bent in wiping off Azerbaijan from the map and you cannot have any secretive plans to snitch lands from your neighbors.