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Hungary: Government Criticized for Its Handling of Ramil Safarov's Case

The extradition of Ramil Safarov to Azerbaijan was based on the belief that he would continue to serve his life sentence there (the Hungarian government claimed this in an official statement [hu] on Friday). After Azerbaijan gave amnesty to the convicted murderer, however, Armenia suspended diplomatic relations with Hungary.

In 2004, Safarov was arrested in Hungary and later convicted for killing Gurgen Margaryan, an Armenian citizen, while both were participating in a NATO course in Budapest.

The Hungarian government has entered a very sensitive conflict, and Hungarian bloggers expressed their disappointment over the country's extremely unfortunate diplomatic resolution of Safarov's case. (A GV text on the reactions of Armenian and Azerbaijani bloggers is here.)

Ramil Safarov's portrait is set on fire during the protest by the Hungarian Embassy in Armenia's capital Yerevan. Photo by Steve Storey, copyright © Demotix (31/08/2012).

Örülünk, Vincent? blog wrote [hu]:

After the session of the National Security Council, Serzh Sargsyan, the Armenian President, announced that he gave an order to the Minister of Defense to put the Armenian Army units on special alert, and at the same time he announced that they were severing diplomatic and other ties with Hungary. Wow.

This is the greatest success of the Hungarian diplomacy so far. We have never gotten into a fight with any country this fast before. [...]

Kettős Mérce blog's reaction [hu] was to mock the Hungarian government's rhetoric on opening up to and strengthening economic ties with Azerbaijan:

[...] But the punchline is still the fact that despite the Azeri government's promise that the young man would serve his remaining term, today the Azeri news agency reported that he got amnesty from the Azeri president. Long live the policy of opening up to the East, the reputation of Hungary and the truth that can be bought!

Vastagbőr blog cites the main events that led up to the current situation. The title of the post is “For money, anything” [hu]:

2004: Ramil Safarov, Zrínyi Miklós National Defence University's Azeri student, killed with an axe his Armenian fellow student. In his country he became a hero, because, according to them, killing an Armenian is [freaking] cool.

2006: The Hungarian court convicted Ramil Safarov to life. Azerbaijan has continuously demanded the man's extradition, but the Hungarian state kept refusing.

July 2012: Viktor Orbán [the Hungarian PM] in Azerbaijan: “closer cooperation with the Caspian Sea region.”

July 2012: [The Hungarian PM's spokesman] Péter Szijjártó's discussion with the Azeri Minister of Economic Development during his two-day visit to Baku.

August 23, 2012: A source close to the Ministry for National Economy told the Figyelő [weekly] that Azerbaijan might buy 2- or 3-year Hungarian bonds worth 2 or 3 billion Euros. This sum would cover the majority of our country's planned foreign currency bond issues this year.

August 25, 2012: Armenian NGOs protested against the potential extradition of Ramil Safarov, known as the Azeri axe murderer, who was convicted and is serving his term in Hungary.

August 31, 2012: Today the [Ministry of Public Administration and Justice], complying with the demand of Azerbaijan, transferred the convicted murderer to Baku, since “the Azeri ministry informed the [Ministry of Public Administration and Justice] that they woulnd't alter Safarov's conviction, but directly countinue carrying out the conviction based upon the Hungarian sentence.

While no official comment has been released on behalf of Hungary regarding the suspension of diplomatic ties with Armenia yet, Hungarian social media users are circulating the U.S. statement condemning the extradition.

Due to the flood of English-language comments critizing the Hungarian government, commenting has been disabled on PM Viktor Orbán's offical Facebook page. Harsh comments have also been posted on the Facebook page of the Embassy of Hungary in the United States.

Arsen Kharatyan, who protested in front of the Hungarian Embassy in Washington, D.C., shared a photo of himself holding a poster that read, “Buy justice in Hungary for 2 bln. $.”

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