Dec 062012
 

DUBLIN, 6 December 2012 – Foreign Minister of the Russian Federation Sergey Lavrov, Secretary of State of the United States Hillary Rodham Clinton, and Minister Delegate for European Affairs of France Bernard Cazeneuve issued the following statement today:

“On the occasion of the OSCE Ministerial Council Meeting in Dublin, we, the Heads of Delegation of the OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chair countries, call upon the parties to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict to demonstrate the political will needed to reach a peaceful settlement. As our Presidents stated at Los Cabos on June 18, 2012, the parties should be guided by the Helsinki principles, particularly those relating to the non-use of force or the threat of force, territorial integrity, and equal rights and self-determination of peoples, and the elements outlined in our countries’ statements at L’Aquila in 2009 and Muskoka in 2010. Recalling the statement of our Presidents at Deauville in 2011, we again urge the parties to take decisive steps to reach a peaceful settlement.

“We regret that the expectations of more rapid progress in the peace process, which were raised by the Joint Statement of the Presidents of Armenia and Azerbaijan, with the President of the Russian Federation at Sochi on January 23, 2012, were not met. Instead, the parties have too often sought one-sided advantage in the negotiation process, rather than seeking to find agreement, based upon mutual understanding. While recognizing the decrease in serious incidents along the Line of Contact and the border in recent months, we remind the parties of the need to continue to respect the ceasefire of 1994, and that the use of military force will not resolve the conflict. We urge the parties to refrain from actions and statements that foster feelings of enmity among their populations and have raised tensions in recent months. The leaders of the sides must prepare their populations for the day when they will live again as neighbors, not enemies, with full respect for each other’s culture, history, and traditions.

“We call upon the parties to demonstrate a greater sense of urgency in the peace process and to work with the Co-Chairs to give full and careful consideration to ideas presented by the Co-Chairs during their trip to the region in November. We welcome the readiness of the Foreign Ministers of Azerbaijan and Armenia to meet jointly with the Co-Chairs early in 2013 to continue these discussions. Our countries continue to stand ready to do whatever we can to assist the parties, but the responsibility for putting an end to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict remains with them.”


Source: OSCE Minsk Group page

Dec 012012
 

“The Sumgait Syndrome. Anatomy of Racism in Azerbaijan”

MIA Publishers, 2012
By NGO “Against Xenophobia and Violence”

Sumgait is 26 kilometres from Azerbaijan’s capital, Baku, and was home to some 18,000 Armenians in 1988. On 26 and 27 February 1988, demonstrations were organised in Sumgait under the slogan
“Death to Armenians!” What took place on the streets of Azerbaijan during the following three days has been referred to ever since with the horrific name of “Sumgait”.
The massacre of Armenians in Sumgait, February 27–29, were merely a continuation of the Azerbaijani authorities’ unswerving policy of racism towards Armenians and ethnic cleansing of the Armenian population, with unpunished killings and deportations.

FILE:

Continue reading »

Sep 202012
 

By Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty

WASHINGTON — The United States is “not satisfied” with explanations from Baku and Budapest concerning the case of an Azerbaijani officer who brutally murdered an Armenian soldier at a NATO seminar in Hungary eight years ago.

Philip Gordon, the U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs, told RFE/RL at the Center for European Policy Analysis’ U.S.-Central Europe Strategy Forum on September 20 that Washington continues to express “dismay and disappointment” to Budapest about its decision to release Ramil Safarov to Baku.

He said Washington is sending the same message to Azerbaijan’s government, which pardoned Safarov and then promoted him after his August 31 return to the country.

“We were appalled by the glorification that we heard in some quarters of somebody who was convicted of murder,” Gordon said. He called the case “a real provocation in the region.”

The European Union, the OSCE’s Minsk Group, Russia, and Hungary also expressed concern about Safarov’s pardon and promotion.


Source: RFE/RL

Sep 132012
 

P7_TA-PROV(2012)0356
Azerbaijan: the case of Ramil Safarov
European Parliament resolution of 13 September 2012 on Azerbaijan: the Ramil Safarov case (2012/2785(RSP))

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 Neighbourhood 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 honouring 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 jeopardising 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.


Source: EuroParliament P7_TA-PROV(2012)0356 or Texts adopted at the sitting of Thursday 13 September 2012

Sep 102012
 

By PETER RUTLAND
Published: September 10, 2012

In recent days there have been two symbolic events that run the danger of igniting hostilities in an already tense neighborhood of the Caucasus.

On Aug. 31 a former Azerbaijan Army lieutenant, Ramil Safarov, flew back to Baku after serving eight years in a Budapest jail for killing Gurgen Margarian in 2004. The victim, an Armenian officer, had been a fellow participant in a NATO Partnership for Peace exercise. Safarov hacked him to death in his sleep with an ax.

The Hungarian government transferred the prisoner to Azerbaijan on the understanding that he would serve out the rest of his life sentence in his home country. But immediately upon his arrival in Baku, Lieutenant Safarov was pardoned by President Ilham Aliyev, restored to military duties, promoted to major, given an apartment and awarded back pay for his time in prison. These actions drew universal condemnation from Washington, Moscow and European governments.

Apart from the fact that such a step is an affront to basic notions of justice and the rule of law, even more troubling is the message that it sends to the rest of the world: that the Azerbaijani government thinks it is acceptable to kill Armenians. Apparently, the grievances they suffered in their defeat by Armenian forces in 1992-94 are so profound that even murder is excusable. It is hard, then, to ask the Armenians living in Karabakh to quietly accept the idea that the solution to their disputed territory is for them to return to living under Azerbaijani rule.

This one single act could undo the patient efforts of diplomats and activists over many years to try to rebuild connections and work toward mutual trust — without which any kind of peace settlement will be a pipe dream.

Compounding the problem was a less significant but still noteworthy gesture. On Sept. 3, Richard Morningstar, the new U.S. ambassador to Azerbaijan, paid his respects to Heidar Aliyev, the deceased former president (and father of the incumbent), by laying a wreath at his statue in central Baku. Apparently it is standard protocol for U.S. ambassadors to include this stop in their round of duties when arriving in Baku. Photographs also clearly showed the ambassador bowing his head before the monument, though a State Department spokesman later denied this.

Mr. Morningstar’s far from empty gesture sent two wrong signals.

First, it is disheartening to Azerbaijani democratic activists to see the United States so cravenly supporting dictatorship as a suitable form of rule, a pattern all too familiar from U.S. policy toward the entire Middle East.

Second, it signals to Armenia — and its principal ally, Russia — that the United States is an unqualified backer of the Azerbaijani government, warts and all. Strategic interests — Caspian oil, access to Central Asia, containment of Iran — count for more than the niceties of human rights and democratic procedure.

This makes it all but impossible for Armenia to expect the United States to act as an honest broker in the peace process. And if the United States cannot play that role, no one else will.

Diplomacy has long revolved around such symbolic acts. In 1793, the Earl Macartney, British ambassador to China, was thrown out of the country when he refused to kowtow before the emperor. More recently, visits by Japanese government ministers to the Yasukuni Shrine in Tokyo, commemorating the souls of warriors, have triggered protests from China and South Korea.

By contrast, when Chancellor Willy Brandt fell to his knees before the monument to the Warsaw Ghetto in 1970 he turned a page in German atonement for its past atrocities. In the same spirit, Vladimir Putin sent a clear message of reconciliation when in 2010 he knelt at the monument to the Polish officers killed at Katyn on Stalin’s orders.

What we need in the Caucasus are leaders willing to follow the examples of Mr. Brandt and Mr. Putin, with the courage to show contrition and a willingness to meet with their former adversary and figure out a way to live together. We may be in for a long wait.

Peter Rutland is a professor of government at Wesleyan University in Middletown, Connecticut.

A version of this op-ed appeared in print on September 11, 2012, in The International Herald Tribune.


Source: New York Times

Sep 082012
 

Hungary’s recent extradition of a convicted axe murderer to Azerbaijan has caused a scandal. At home, the killer was pardoned and celebrated. It’s rumored that Hungary and Azerbaijan brokered a deal for the extradition.

The last time a diplomatic gesture made by Hungary had geopolitical consequences was in June 1989, when Hungary’s then-foreign minister, Gyula Horn, and his Austrian counterpart Alois Mock cut through the border fence between the two countries. The gesture marked the beginning of the end of the Iron Curtain between East and West.

Potentially grave consequences

This time around, 23 years on, a diplomatic gesture made by Hungary could have far less positive – some even say disastrous – geopolitical implications. Hungary has extradited a convicted murderer to Azerbaijan, where he was instantly pardoned. This brought tensions between Armenia and Azerbaijan to a new climax and the Caucasus region to the verge of a new war.

The US, the EU and NATO have taken crisis diplomacy measures in an attempt to prevent the worst case scenario between Armenia and Azerbaijan from emerging.

Meanwhile, Hungary’s government is rumored to have agreed to a foul deal with Azerbaijan. In return for the extradition of murderer Ramil Safarov, Azerbaijan is said to have promised Hungary to buy some three billion euros ($3.84 billion) worth of its government bonds.

The Safarov case

During a NATO-sponsored training session held in Budapest in 2004, Azeri soldier Ramil Safarov murdered a fellow Armenian course participant in his sleep with an axe. Safarov said the killing stemmed from traumatic childhood experiences in which his family was driven out of Nagorno-Karabakh, the Armenian enclave in Azerbaijan. Disputes over the region have put the two former Soviet republics in a state of war with each other for almost 25 years now. Due to the intense brutality of his deed, Safarov was sentenced to life in prison; and pardoning him would only have been possible after a minimum of 30 years.

Safarov has since been celebrated as a national hero in Azerbaijan, and Azeri diplomats tried for years to convince the Hungarian authorities to extradite him. The Orban government finally agreed. On August 31, Safarov was flown out of Hungary in an Azeri special plane. Some say that Azerbaijan did make a promise to Hungary at the time that Safarov would have to continue serving his sentence in prison. But no sooner had the plane arrived at Baku airport than the 35-year-old was greeted as a hero. He was pardoned and even promoted to the rank of major by Azerbaijan’s President Ilham Aliyev.

The move caused Armenia to stop all diplomatic relations instantly with Hungary, and Armenians abroad took to the streets worldwide in protest against Hungary.

Fortunes to spend

Azerbaijan, which has accrued significant capital with crude oil, is said to be planning an investment of up to three billion euros worth in Hungarian state obligations. Hungary could use the money. The country is in a dire financial situation and has been in long negotiations with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) about a possible stand-by loan – without success so far.

Potential donors in China and Saudi Arabia denied Hungary loans not long ago. So could the country have turned to Azerbaijan for money? Both sides are denying that Baku promised to invest billions in Hungarian bonds in return for Safarov. However, in early August, Hungarian economic media outlets had already reported on a possible bond buying deal planned by Azerbaijan. Both countries are also in talks about intensifying economic cooperation.

Hungary’s leadership has since commented nonchalantly on the potential disaster stemming from Safarov’s release. Hungary doesn’t “consider the conflict to be of particular importance,” but rather was taking notice of it “in calmness and optimism,” said Prime Minister Viktor Orban on Monday (03.09.2012) in Budapest.

Consternation and criticism

Politicians from the Hungarian opposition and a number of independent observers are appalled at the government’s conduct. The head of the Socialist Party (MSZP), Attila Mesterhazy, asked in parliament: For “just how much money has Viktor Orban sold Hungary?” A commentator of Hungarian daily “Nepszabadsag” wrote that Hungary hasn’t been left with much of an international reputation to start with. Now, the country would be regarded even more suspiciously, the commentator continued.

While both the US and Russia voiced open criticism of Hungary’s extradition, the EU in Brussels is holding back official comments of concern for now. Hungary had signed a bilateral agreement that was quite obviously broken by Azerbaijan, said a spokesman for the EU’s foreign policy coordinator, Catherine Ashton, to DW.

It’s likely, though, that there’s behind-the-scenes consternation in Brussels on Hungary’s course of action, which could have a direct impact on the overall stability in the Caucasus region. That’s what most observers in Hungary are concerned about, too. In an essay, philosopher Gaspar Miklos Tamas criticizes what he calls the “lack of responsibility and ignorance” demonstrated by Hungarian leaders.

“The fact that the Hungarian state is governed by some aging adolescents who are aggressive, irresponsible and incapable of finding their way in matters that concern the world at large is simply appalling,” he wrote.

Author Keno Verseck / nh
Editor Greg Wiser


Source: Deutsche Welle

Sep 072012
 

Spokesperson for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights: Rupert Colville

We are seriously concerned about the case of Ramil Safarov, an Azerbaijani military officer who was sentenced to life in prison in Hungary for the brutal 2004 murder of an Armenian officer, Gurgen Markaryan, who was taking part in the same NATO training programme in Hungary. The murder was clearly ethnically motivated.

The concerns relate to the fact that, around a week ago, Safarov was extradited from Hungary to Azerbaijan, where instead of serving out the rest of his sentence, he was pardoned by the President, publicly praised, and promoted by the Defence Ministry. This has resulted in an international furore.

International standards regarding accountability for serious crimes should be upheld. Ethnically motivated hate crimes of this gravity should be deplored and properly punished – not publicly glorified by leaders and politicians.

We are also in full agreement with the Co-Chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group who earlier this week expressed deep concern about “the damage the pardon and any attempts to glorify the crime have done to the [Nagorno-Karabakh] peace process and trust between the two sides.”


Source: Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights

Sep 062012
 

HIGHLIGHTS OF THE NOON BRIEFING BY MARTIN NESIRKY, SPOKESPERSON FOR SECRETARY-GENERAL BAN KI-MOON

SECRETARY-GENERAL VOICES CONCERN OVER CASE OF AZERI MAN

  • In response to questions about Ramil Safarov, the Spokesperson said that the Secretary-General is concerned about the developments surrounding the case of Mr. Safarov since his 31 August 2012 transfer to Azerbaijan and subsequent pardon by Azerbaijani authorities.
  • Nesirky said that the UN underscores the responsibility of Member States to adhere to international standards and principles of rule of law in criminal cases in order to ensure accountability and fight impunity
  • As highlighted by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) Co-Chairs in their recent statement, he added, we hope that this issue will not damage the Nagorno-Karabakh peace process and trust between the sides. There is no alternative to a peaceful settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.

Source: Office of the Spokesman for the UN Secretary-General

Sep 062012
 

By Joe Sterling, CNN
September 6, 2012 — Updated 0930 GMT (1730 HKT)

(CNN) — An ax murder. Then, jail time. Sounds like a morbid crime story.

Yet this tale has taken a sudden and unexpected twist: The killer got a pardon and a hero’s welcome.

That has stirred fears of a war.

The parole has exacerbated long-standing tensions over disputed land between Armenia and Azerbaijan, former Soviet republics that are nestled in the Caucasus region near Turkey, Iran and Russia.

The nations fought a war two decades ago over the region of Nagorno-Karabakh and surrounding Azerbaijani territories. Much of the area is now occupied by Armenia.

A return to warfare could suck in world powers, analysts warned Wednesday. Thomas de Waal, an expert on the Caucasus with the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, told CNN world energy markets would be disrupted in a conflict since an oil and a gas pipeline carrying Caspian oil curves around the conflict zone in Azerbaijan.

Mosque shooting, suicide bombing hit Russia’s Caucasus region

The ax killing happened in 2004 at a NATO center in Hungary, where troops from Armenia and Azerbaijan were getting training. Ramil Safarov, a soldier from Azerbaijan, killed Armenian officer Gurgen Margarian. Both men were studying English.

Safarov was sentenced to life in prison in Hungary, but that country recently extradited him to Azerbaijan with the understanding that he would serve at least 25 years of the sentence.
Not long after Safarov arrived in Azerbaijan, though, Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev pardoned him.

Armenians recoiled at what happened next: The killer got an apartment and a promotion.

“Mr. Safarov has been glorified in Azerbaijan as a national hero at all levels — including the top level,” said Zohrab Mnatsakanian, Armenia’s deputy minister of Foreign Affairs. “This is a blow to the conscience of Europe, to the civilized world.”

Azerbaijan’s Foreign Affairs Ministry said on Twitter that the “issue must be considered in the context of aggression and ethnic cleansing against Azerbaijan by Armenia.”

The United States, meanwhile, was among those nations objecting to the pardon. It expressed “deep concern” and asked Hungary for more information on why it extradited Safarov.

“We are communicating to Azerbaijani authorities our disappointment about the decision to pardon Safarov,” a spokesman for the National Security Council, Tommy Vietor, said in a statement the White House released. “This action is contrary to ongoing efforts to reduce regional tensions and promote reconciliation.”

Sabine Freizer, director of the International Crisis Group’s Europe program, said world powers have taken note.

“There is an awareness among government officials, both in the United States, Russia, and among European officials, that this conflict is getting worse. There should be something done to stop it,” Freizer said.

“This takes us a whole step downward,” said the Carnegie Endowment’s de Waal.

The tensions over Nagorno-Karabakh reflect strong cultural attachments for both peoples, what Sergey Markedonov, visiting fellow of the Russia and Eurasia Program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, likens to a “Jerusalem for both societies.”

Animosities over the disputed territory have simmered since the end of World War I. The Soviet Union’s collapse in the 1990s triggered a war from 1992 to 1994 that killed 22,000 to 25,000 people and uprooted more than a million others.

The war ended “with a shaky truce,” the International Crisis Group said.

The disputes between the countries over Nagorno-Karabakh and other territories remain an “unresolved conflict of the Soviet period,” Freizer said. Amid the creation of newly independent countries after the Soviet collapse, she said, “no one was focused on the conflict.”

“The kind of support for Yugoslavia,” whose breakup led to major wars in Bosnia and Kosovo, was “never given to this region.”

Over the years, violence has flared. Both countries occasionally talk tough about each other. And Azerbaijan’s oil and gas wealth is making its way into the budget for a military preparing for war, Freizer said.

“Since 2011, we feel the situation has gotten worse,” Freizer said.

The killer’s pardon prompted a certain outrage factor, she said.

“People were shocked by this.”

Hungary defended its extradition and said it received assurances the killer would carry out his term. But the country criticized the “sudden and unexpected release” and called it “unacceptable.” Armenia suspended its relations with Hungary.

The disputes are unfolding in a tough neighborhood.

Turkey has been mired down in fighting with Kurdish rebels. Russia fought a brief war with Georgia four years ago and has battled Islamic insurgents in its northern Caucasus region in recent years. Iran supports Syria’s government in its civil war.

“Russia is a military ally of Armenia. Azerbaijan has strong military links with Turkey and they (Armenia and Azerbaijan) are both on the border with Iran,” de Waal said.

Also, he said, the Armenian-American community “will beat the drum” and push for U.S. action.

Markedonov said a deteriorating conflict could spawn an arms race.

The incident reflects a lack of willingness among many citizens to compromise and get back to peacemaking, Markedonov said. This could play into upcoming elections, with both Aliyev and Armenian president Serzh Sargsyan seeking to look strong for the voters.

De Waal also wrote in a column that the BBC published Tuesday that Hungary negotiated the extradition “for reasons that have yet to be fully explained.”

He called the events a “black week” for a peaceful resolution to the conflict and said it’s “now a full-blown state-to-state row, with as yet knowable consequences.” He cites worries that “a fanatical Armenian will try to commit a revenge attack.”

“From the political perspective, to call the Azerbaijani government’s actions a mistake is an understatement. It is a worrying indication of the quality of advice that President Ilham Aliyev is receiving from his inner circle.”
De Waal said diplomats must work harder now. When there is no peace process, he told CNN, “the vacuum is filled by war talk.”

“If there is any silver lining to this dark episode it could be that the international community pays more attention to the dangers of a new Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh,” de Waal wrote in his column.

“The reception given Safarov suggests that the situation is moving closer to war than peace.”

Black Sea city aims to be ‘Las Vegas of the Caucasus’

Jo Shelley and Stephanie Halasz contributed to this report


Source: CNN