Hungary Aware of Backlash Before Safarov Release

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban

BUDAPEST (Reuters)—Hungary knew its decision to hand convicted killer Ramil Safarov over to his native Azerbaijan would spark a diplomatic backlash from Armenia, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban said on Tuesday.

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”.

Orban was asked at a news conference about a report by news portal, which said the prime minister had taken the decision despite being warned about the risks of such a move.

“There was coordination within the entire government about this,” Orban said. “Each ministry presented its opinion, the justice ministry about the legal side and the foreign ministry about the diplomatic consequences.”

Orban said he had then announced the decision personally in line with general procedure.

“The foreign ministry had forecast precisely what types of consequences this or the other decision may have. Nothing happened after our decision that we would not have reckoned with in advance,” he added.

Hungary has said its actions were consistent with international law and that Azerbaijan had promised to uphold Safarov’s sentence.

While the two countries were in talks about developing closer economic ties, these were in no way linked to the release of the soldier, the Hungarian government has said.

Yet despite these calculations, the Hungarian Foreign Minister Hungary warned Armenia on Monday to restore diplomatic relations or face “serious ramifications.”

In a letter to his Armenian counterpart Edward Nalbandian revealed by Hungarian media on Monday, Hungarian Foreign Minister Janos Martonyi again defended his government’s decision to extradite Ramil Safarov to Azerbaijan more than eight years after the brutal murder of Lieutenant Gurgen Markarian in Budapest. He said the extradition stemmed from a European convention and was not aimed at offending the Armenian people.

The Hungarian government also claims that it had received formal assurances from Azerbaijan that Safarov will serve the rest of a life sentence given to him by a Hungarian court in an Azerbaijani prison.

Armenian leaders have brushed aside such statements, saying that Budapest was well aware that Safarov will be set free if sent back home. They also say that Hungarian officials had repeatedly assured Yerevan, including in the days leading up to the extradition, that the Azerbaijani army officer will not be repatriated.

“The Armenian people will not forgive that,” President Serzh Sarkisian said as he suspended diplomatic relations with Hungary on August 31 just hours after Safarov returned to Baku to a hero’s welcome.

In his letter that was first reported by the Hungarian MTI news agency, Martonyi expressed regret at the dramatic move, citing “Christian values connecting the two peoples for a thousand years.”

The Hungarian minister also warned, “Suspending diplomatic relations could have serious ramifications that would not serve the interests of Armenia.” He apparently did not elaborate.

Fear of War
The Safarov release and subsequent pardon have thrown a monkey wrench in the already contentious peace talks. Some fear that this could escalate tensions to a point of war.

Diplomats and analysts say that if another war breaks out, it is likely to end in stalemate, according to Reuters.

“The Azeris can’t retake Karabakh now. They are militarily incapable of doing it. I don’t think they could dislodge the Armenian forces from the high ground. I think that’s extremely difficult.”

Yusif Agayev, an Azeri military expert and veteran of the war, said there was no mood for a protracted fight.

“I think it would be a month or two,  that is the amount of time our armed forces could fight for. If it drags on longer then it will become a war that society will have to participate in, not just the army,” he said. “I don’t think the society of my country is ready for war.”


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  1. Vahe said:

    You would think Orban wanted there to be a war between Armenia and Azerbaijan from his actions.

    • justasking said:

      Why would he want that? How exactly, would this war benefit Hungary or Hungarians?

  2. Hrant K. said:

    The European Court Authorities should investigate those bribes from Azerbaijan to Hungary and transfer them 2-3
    Billion $$s to Gurgen Margarian’s family members!! This way they could find out , who the rotten apples are in azerbaijan and in Hungary!!! Only then can we accept the hungarian apology and will be some comfort ( not enough
    though) for the axing of Gurgen Margaryan!!! Armenian Lawyers move your asses and get busy!!!
    We’ll see were those serious ramification threats will lead!!!

    • Tsayt said:

      This deal with Azerbaijan was made between governments. It is up to the Hungarian people to draw conclusions and give a proper verdict. Not Europe but Hungarians would be able to teach this guy a lesson, if they disagree Orban, that is. Who knows perhaps the majority in Hungary will think Orban did this out of Hungaian national interests ???? we’ll have to see.

  3. Lusik said:

    Just don’t let the oil-lubricated media and politicians to divert our attention and frustration from Azerbaijan’s crime, and channel it into a misdoings of some Hungarian bureaucrat.

    We have to make all the high forums to express unequivocally their understanding that Artsakh must be free. Point. After all, Armenians won the war, Armenians build democratic country. Who does more than this to claim the right for free, independent life?! Simply life!

    No Orban, no Morban.

  4. bigmoustache said:

    “serious ramifications” who the hell does he think he is talking to us like that?! maybe we should show him the serious ramifications for messing with armenians..
    armenians are an old nation and therefore have old memories. we never forget friendship and goodwill, and we never forget betrayal. if need be we can wait 1000 years for revenge!

  5. amb said:

    Isn’t there possibility of any legal action Armenians can take in an international tribunal or court to reverse this? If, for example, Azeris wrote down on the agreement with Hungry – I doubt this but if they did – that they won’t release the prisoner but they did then that could be grounds enough for legal action.

  6. Tsoghig said:

    I’m glad the read the last few sentences of this article. However, the part about the Hungarian government saying there would be grave consequences to Armenia for cutting ties…what a joke! What more could they do??? Are there any other Azeri’s in their prisons for cold blooded murder they will release?

  7. garbis Baghdassarian said:

    If Azerbaijan broke it’s promess to the deal
    then Hungary should break it’s diplomatic ties with
    Azerbaijan or recognize Karabagh
    instead of blackmailing Armenia with “serious ramifications “

  8. vrej said:

    This is but one of many examples of why Armenia cannot trust the West, the EU and NATO.

    Armenians, just like in the late 19th century, have no choice but to put their bid on Russia.

    Both Russia and the West are unreliable, of course, but undoubtedly the EU much more so.

    Also, we should nurture our good relations with Iran.

    To hell with the EU!

  9. vrej said:

    Indeed, this Orban guy should explain why his country hasn’t cut its diplomatic ties with Azerbaijan if money isn’t part of the equation!

    Armenia should not participate in any NATO-projects in the future.

    Armenia MUST keep its hitherto relations with Hungary cancelled, lest we not be taken seriously by the world.

    Armenia should not lick up to the West by, for example, walking out from the U.N. when Ahmadinejad says something against Jews.

    Iran is a friend, Israel and the West are not.

    Also, this article clearly shows that it is actually Hungary that decided to cut the diplomatic relations with Armenia, not viceversa. They expected this and made their choice.

    Good luck, assholes.

  10. vrej said:

    <<Yet despite these calculations, the Hungarian Foreign Minister Hungary warned Armenia on Monday to restore diplomatic relations or face “serious ramifications.”<<

    The impudence. The impudence!

  11. Alex Postallian said:

    I didnt realize the turkees were real mooches,befriending azerbaturk,its the oil money,and again,is it their common heritage,no the oil money.Plus the ugly turk in Hungary orban oglu.

  12. Fred said:

    Hungarian threat to Armenia are quite small compared to Turkish blockade and constant Azeri act of
    War. May be Hungarians should come and live in Artsakh under constant Azery sniper fire and then venture a worning coment. Because at the moment their Threat is commical. But to be honest the Hungarian people have to think who is in control of their country. Obviously the hungarian president was ordered from a higher power to act as he did. And the timing is crusial. War is being manufactured. A war that will ignite the third world war. The Hungarian people should be ashamed of their part in this international circus.