Dec 092016
 

The report released by the Human Rights Defender (Ombudsman) of Artsakh Republic highlights the war crimes committed by Azerbaijan during the 4-day war in April, 2016 (torture, execution and mutilation of dead bodies). The findings are based on the results of Ombudsman’s fact-finding mission and the publicly available information.

The conclusions of the report are as follows:

  1. During the 2016 April war, the Azerbaijani AF committed war crimes of torture, execution, and mutilation. The war crimes had a systemic and well-organized nature, as they were committed in all three areas by all the regiments of the Azerbaijani armed forces that established control over the NKR civilians or NKDA servicemen on April 2, 2016.
  2. None of the 3 civilians and, presumably, the 4 combatants hors de combats survived the control of the Azerbaijani armed forces. Their murders seem to be executions merely for being Armenian.
  3. 27 out of the 31 NKR civilians and NKDA servicemen (about 90%), who fell under control of the Azerbaijani armed forces as a result of the Azerbaijani military aggression against NKR, were tortured, executed, or mutilated.
  4. All the NKR civilians under Azerbaijani control were executed and mutilated. One of them, a 92 year old woman, was also tortured.
  5. Three NKDA servicemen were beheaded. Two of them were beheaded postmortem, and one was executed by ISIS-style decapitation.
  6. The most widespread war crime was mutilation (24 cases), including 21 cases of ear cuts-offs. There were 5 cases of torture (including hands cut off, and throats cut). There were 7 cases of execution, mostly by gun-shots.
  7. Under the IHL, Azerbaijan bears State Responsibility for the war crimes of its armed forces, and has an obligation to investigate and properly prosecute the perpetrators and others who bear responsibility. The perpetrators and their commanders are also individually responsible.

File: Second Interim Report on Atrocities committed by Azerbaijan during the 2016 April War
Source: Artsakh Ombudsman (Human Rights Defender) Continue reading »

Mar 172016
 

The European Commission against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI), established by the Council of Europe, is an independent human rights monitoring body specialised in questions relating to racism and intolerance. It is composed of independent and impartial members appointed on the basis of their moral authority and recognised expertise in dealing with racism, xenophobia, antisemitism and intolerance.

In the framework of its statutory activities, ECRI conducts country monitoring work, which analyses the situation in each of the member States regarding racism and intolerance and draws up suggestions and proposals for dealing with the problems identified.

Here is what the 2016 ERCI report on Azerbaijan says about recurrent hate speech towards Armenians:

25. Other sources confirm recurrent hate speech towards Armenians, which is connected with the conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh, the frequent ceasefire violations at the contact line and the resulting deaths and injuries. The Advisory Committee of the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities (ACFC) for example noted “a persistent public narrative surrounding the conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh identifying [in]variably Armenia or Armenians as ‘the enemy’ and openly promulgating hate messages”. According to other sources, there is a conflict-ridden domestic political discourse and Azerbaijan’s leadership, education system and media are very prolific in their denigration of Armenians. Political opponents are accused of having Armenian roots or of receiving funds from Armenian sources. An entire generation of Azerbaijanis has now grown up listening to constant rhetoric of Armenian aggression. According to a 2012 survey, 91% perceived Armenia as Azerbaijan’s greatest enemy. As a result, the Armenians living in the country need to hide their ethnic affiliation and there is no organisation of the Armenian minority in the country with which ECRI’s delegation could have met. The human rights activists Leyla and Arif Yunus, who worked inter alia towards reconciliation with Armenia, have been arrested and sentenced under controversial accusations to heavy prison terms. Both were conditionally released at the end of 2015.

[…]

38. ECRI has not received any official information about violent hate crime based on ethnic affiliation committed in Azerbaijan in the last five years, but, given the ongoing conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh, ECRI is concerned that the on-going waves of hate speech create a risk of violence. In this connection ECRI expressed, in a press release of 4 September 2012, its consternation at the pardoning and release of Ramil Safarov, shortly after he had been transferred from Hungary to Azerbaijan in order to serve there a sentence of life imprisonment imposed by a Budapest court for the murder of an Armenian army officer in 2004. Moreover, Ramil Safarov was promoted to the rank of major, given a flat and the pay he had lost since his arrest in Hungary. In its press release, ECRI pointed out the risk that such action could cultivate a sense of impunity for the perpetrators of racist crimes of the most serious nature.


File: 2016 ERCI Report on Azerbaijan
Source: Publications, European Commission against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI)

Mar 012016
 

“The Story of Nakhijevan”

ShushiBy Emanuele Aliprandi
MIA Publishers, Rome 2016

Historically, Nakhijevan has been one of the most prosperous regions under the rule of all Armenian kingdoms. Since the early history of the Armenian people until the 20th century, Nakhijevan was famous as a highly developed spiritual and cultural centre. In pre-Christian times the singers of Nakhijevan’s Goght’n province were very famous throughout Armenia. Then, in the early Christian period, the fi rst Armenian churches were founded in various areas of Nakhijevan. In this region, Mesrop Mashtots and his disciples preached and taught, gradually coming to the conclusion that Armenians needed their own alphabet. During the following centuries Nakhijevan became famous in one of the most signifi cant spheres of Medieval Armenian culture, that is. crafting stone crosses (khachkars).

After the collapse of Armenian statehood, the Nakhijevan region struggled to preserve its Armenian identity. In the late medieval period, the Armenian merchants of Agulis played an important role not only in regional trade deals, but also in the trade between the East and the West.

Nakhijevan has also continuously been subject to foreign invaders’ forays. Nevertheless, as much as they attempted, the geopolitical calculations of the Arab, Seljuk, Tartar, Turkmen, Ottoman and, later on, of Kemal-Bolshevik invaders, failed, and they were not able to remove the Armenian imprint from this region. The policy of the complete cleansing of Armenians and annihilation of all traces of Armenian culture and history from Nakhijevan was implemented after the region was annexed to a state created in the 20th century – Azerbaijan. Despite the fact that, according to the Moscow and Kars Treaties of 1921, Nakhijevan was to be a protectorate of Azerbaijan, the authorities of Soviet Azerbaijan initially took full control of the region and afterwards commenced to implement a policy of ethnic cleansing, whilst simultaneously conducting a fi erce campaign against the Armenian language. The authorities of the already independent Azerbaijan were not content with the complete ousting of the natives out of their homeland and took steps towards the full annihilation of all traces of the Armenian presence. Cemeteries, which were evidence of the physical existence of Armenians, as well as churches, which were part of the spiritual heritage in the area, were deliberately destroyed. The last stroke of this barbaric policy was the destruction of one of the last masterpieces of the Armenian culture in Nakhijevan – the stone crosses in Old Jugha Medieval cemetery.

Such was the fate of the Armenian autonomous region given to Azerbaijan by the will of the Bolsheviks. When nowadays in front of the whole world the authorities of Azerbaijan are promising high autonomy to another Armenian region – the Republic of Artsakh (Nagorno-Karabakh), it is the example of Nakhijevan that reveals the genuine motives of those promises to every reasonable human.

FILES:

Feb 012016
 

“Why is the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict still not Resolved”

KocharyanBy Shavarsh Kocharyan
MIA Publishers, Yerevan 2016

The current phase of the Nagorno-Karabakh issue has started since the last years of the existence of the USSR and turned into a conflict as a result of the policy of power adopted by Azerbaijan in response to the implementation of the right to self-determination by the people of Nagorno-Karabakh. The Nagorno-Karabakh conflict differs from other conflicts of the former Soviet area by the fact that the people of Nagorno- Karabakh impeccably implemented its right to self-determination within the legal frameworks before the collapse of the Soviet Union.

The Nagorno-Karabakh conflict was the bloodiest conflict of the post-Soviet area with tens of thousands of victims, hundreds of thousands of refugees and massive destruction. The military phase of the confl ict ended in May 1994 with an open-ended ceasefire agreement. Notably during the past 22 years the large-scale military operations have not been renewed, and the relative peace has been preserved without the involvement
of international peacekeeping forces.
The mediators in the negotiation process of the Nagorno-Karabakh confl ict resolution are the 3 out of the 5 permanent members of the United Nations Security Council – Russia, the USA and France. Despite the consistent efforts of the mediators, the Nagorno-Karabakh confl ict remains unresolved. The main reason is that Azerbaijan acts in contrary to the purposes of the United Nations.

The opinions presented below may differ from the opinions of the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic (NKR).

FILES:

Jun 162015
 

In the Grand Chamber judgment in the case of Sargsyan v. Azerbaijan (application no. 40167/06) the European Court of Human Rights held, by a majority, that there had been:

a continuing violation of Article 1 of Protocol No. 1 (protection of property) to the European
Convention on Human Rights;

a continuing violation of Article 8 (right to respect for private and family life) of the Convention;
and

a continuing violation of Article 13 (right to an effective remedy).

The case concerned an Armenian refugee’s complaint that, after having been forced to flee from his home in the Shahumyan region of Azerbaijan in 1992 during the Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh, he had since been denied the right to return to his village and to have access to and use his property there.

It was the first case in which the Court had to decide on a complaint against a State which had lost control over part of its territory as a result of war and occupation, but which at the same time was alleged to be responsible for refusing a displaced person access to property in an area remaining under its control.

There are currently more than one thousand individual applications pending before the Court which were lodged by persons displaced during the conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh.

In Mr Sargsyan’s case, the Court confirmed that, although the village from which he had to flee was located in a disputed area, Azerbaijan had jurisdiction over it.

The Court considered that while it was justified by safety considerations to refuse civilians access to the village, the State had a duty to take alternative measures in order to secure Mr Sargsyan’s rights as long as access to the property was not possible. The fact that peace negotiations were ongoing did not free the Government from their duty to take other measures. What was called for was a property claims mechanism which would be easily accessible to allow Mr Sargsyan and others in his situation to have their property rights restored and to obtain compensation.


Source: ECHR Case of Sargsyan v. Azerbaijan
File: ECHR Case of Sargsyan v. Azerbaijan

ECHR Press Release with the summary: Grand Chamber judgment Sargsyan v. Azerbaijan – Armenian refugee’s lack of access to property

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