Armenians say Hungary made no effort to resolve friction over Azeri murderer

Over the past year the Hungarian government has made almost no effort to resolve the friction that resulted from the repatriation of an Azeri murderer who was freed after arriving home, the head of the self-government of ethnic Armenians said, politics.ru reports.

Azeri officer Ramil Safarov, who was sentenced to life imprisonment for killing an Armenian in Budapest in 2004, was transferred back to his home country on August 31, 2012 under an extradition agreement. Although Azerbaijan formally pledged that the life sentence handed down to him in Hungary would be directly continued when he was returned to his homeland, the Azerbaijani president granted him clemency. Armenian President Serzh Sargsyan announced the same day that Armenia suspended diplomatic relations with Hungary.

Two days later State Secretary of Foreign Affairs Zsolt Nemeth summoned the Azerbaijani ambassador to his office and condemned the Azerbaijani step as unacceptable to Hungary in a diplomatic note.

The head of the Armenian self-government  Sevan Sargsyan told the press that it is still not known what advantage Hungary had gained from the repatriation of Safarov. The European Union could put pressure on Azerbaijan through the Eastern Partnership programme but Hungary has made no steps to achieve this, he added. According to Sevan, the “total lack of interest” demonstrated by Hungary in this matter is “shocking”.

The Foreign Ministry said in response that the Hungarian government had taken several steps to restore Hungarian-Armenian diplomatic links, for instance Foreign Minister Janos Martonyi sent a letter to Armenian counterpart Edvard Nalbandjan about this on September 7, 2012. The ministry also sent a diplomatic note to the Armenian ministry to confirm the wish to restore relations.

The Foreign Ministry initiated dialogue with the officials of the self-government of ethnic Armenians in Hungary right after the repatriation of Safarov, the statement added.

“It is in Hungary’s interest that Hungarian-Armenian friendship should further deepen and cooperation between the two countries should strengthen and broaden in every field of life, including diplomatic relations,” the ministry said.

The ministry also said that the standing of diplomatic links between Hungary and Armenia must not, and does not, have any effect on the situation of ethnic Armenians in Hungary. The ministry, moreover, rejects charges by the Armenian self-government that the government handled ethnic Armenians in Hungary as “traitors” and that they cannot feel safe in Hungary anymore. The ministry also rejects the claim that the ethnic Armenians in Hungary are left out of efforts to restore diplomatic links between Hungary and Armenia.

In line with Hungary’s constitution, ethnic minorities are part of the Hungarian political community and are state-forming elements, and Hungary guarantees to nurture and protect the minorities’ language and culture, the statement said.

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