BY ARA KHACHATOURIAN
Public outrage around the world is on the rise following Hungary’s extradition on Friday and Baku’s subsequent pardon of Ramil Safarov, the axe murderer who killed an Armenian soldier in 2004 and received a life sentence for the crime in 2006. US, European and other stakeholders’ reaction, however, has been tepid at best, expressing “concern” about the incident, but failing to issue terse condemnation to Hungary and Azerbaijan for their brutal breech of justice and international law.
The OSCE Minsk Group Co-chairmen scrambled over the weekend to manage the crisis and the impact this issue will have on the peace process. Reportedly at the urging of Armenia, the Co-chairmen, Robert Bradtke of the United States of America, Igor Popov of Russia and Jacques Faure of France, along with the Personal Representative of the OSCE Chairperson-in-office, Andrzej Kasprzyk met separately with Armenia’s Foreign Minister Eduard Nalbandian and his Azeri counterpart Elmar Mammadyarov in Paris over the weekend.
“They [the co-chairmen] expressed their deep concern and regret for the damage the pardon and any attempts to glorify the crime have done to the peace process and trust between the sides,” said an official statement released following the Paris meetings, reiterating the imperative for a peaceful solution to the Karabakh crisis.
Asbarez reported on Friday that the White House issued a statement saying “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.”
Likewise, the State Department said it was “troubled” by the extradition and pardon and “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.”
Similar restrained expressions of “concern” were made by the EU’s Catherine Ashton and Stefan Fule, as well as the foreign ministers of France and Russia, the latter going a step further by saying that the actions by Baku went counter to international norms.
The strongest statement was made by the Secretary General of the Collective Security Treaty Organization, of which Armenia is a member.
“This move, which apparently was made for some political reasons, cannot be justified. Making a hero out of the criminal will only contribute to the escalation of the already high tension in the region. I am convinced the international community will not hesitate to give an impartial assessment to what happened,” Nikolay Bordyuzha of the CSTO in his statement.
Furthermore, it took Hungary three days to summon the Azeri Ambassador to Budapest to demand a response for Azerbaijan reneging on its promise that Safarov would serve his life sentence in Azerbaijan, claiming that Baku’s actions are unacceptable.
“Hungary refuses to accept and condemns the action of Azerbaijan, which contradicts the relevant rules of international law and sharply contrasts the undertaking of the Azerbaijani side in this matter, confirmed by the Deputy Minister of Justice of the Republic of Azerbaijan in his letter of 15 August 2012 addressed to the Ministry of Public Administration and Justice of Hungary,” the document reads.
But the most egregious of all is NATO. Hungary is a NATO member. NATO has invested a lot of capital in advancing the “Partnership for Peace” program, which was the reason why Ramil Safarov and Gurgen Margaryan were in Hungary in 2004. Yet NATO has yet to speak about this incident.
These stakeholders, who claim that the Karabakh conflict is of utmost importance, should have condemned both Hungary and Azerbaijan for their callous disregard for human life and not merely express “concern” over this incident, which can have far reaching ramifications on the peace process.
This latest ploy by Azerbaijan to make a hero out of a murderer clearly proves the threat of what the international community has been pursuing for the past 20 years, with the US, the EU and NATO colluding to curtail the fundamental rights of Karabakh citizens to self-determination.
The international community’s refusal to express outrage and condemnation to the parties involved, signals their unwillingness to face the realities, about which Armenians have been talking and continue to pursue their failed policies of artificial even-handedness at the risk of harming the national security of Armenia and the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic.