MEP Frank Engel on Azerbaijan and Hungary’s decision to extradite Ramil Safarov

In an interview with the Budapest Beacon MEP Frank Engel has spoken about revelations that the Azerbaijani Laundromat has been used to bribe European politicians, Hungary’s connection to the laundromat, and Hungary’s controversial decision to extradite convicted axe-murderer Ramil Safarov back to his native Azerbaijan.

Engel explained that this scandal’s effect in the European political establishment will be seen once PACE has concluded its internal inquiry, which is expected to finish by the end of this year. He also added that the Azerbaijani Laundromat proves once again that you could buy politicians.

During the interview, the MEP admitted that he closely followed what the Laundromat revealed about the case of Ramil Safarov.

“Well, under normal circumstances I would have said I could not believe it. Under normal circumstances… But since I knew what kind of Hungarian government had come into office in 2010, I wasn’t that surprised. And my first thought, of course, knowing Azerbaijan, was that they (the Hungarian government) had been bought,” said Engel.

“This man, Safarov, had committed a heinous crime on Hungarian soil. He was convicted by a Hungarian court to serve a criminal sentence in a Hungarian prison for a long time. The Hungarians were not just going to hand him over to the Azerbaijanis — before the return to power of Fidesz. [Former prime minister] Gordon Bajnai will tell you the same thing,” he continued.

Engel stated that when the former Prime Minister Ferenc Gyurcsány was in power and was told by Azerbaijan that Azeri authorities would make Safarov serve the sentence announced by the Hungarian Court, he didn’t believe it and did hand the man over.

Then Viktor Orben had come to power after a visit to Azerbaijan and it was under him that Safarov was handed to Azerbaijan. “Nobody can tell me this had nothing to do with money. There would be no reason why the champion of Christianity in Europe, Viktor Orbán, would forsake his nation’s friendship with the first Christian nation on Earth, which is Armenia, if he and his government were not paid for doing it, if they were not paid for risking the Armenian element in order for some other elements to arrive [Safarov murdered an Armenian in Budapest],” said Engel during the interview.

He explained that after the transfer, rumors were being spread about 3 billion Euros being invested in Hungary by Azerbaijan.

“Obviously, now, when we suddenly discover interesting flows of Azeri money to a Hungarian bank account at precisely the relevant time back in 2012 between – in the wider sense – Azerbaijan and Hungary, I must say that even if the amounts are nowhere near the 3 billion that I heard about at the time, but are the 8 or 9 million Euros that we are talking about now, and which are difficult to contest for the Hungarian authorities, it pretty much looks like pocket money received in return for a favor. But who received it is of course something we do not know,” said Engel.

The recent revelations of the Azerbaijani Laundromat now show that a constant inflow of money from Azerbaijani sources to Hungarian networks took place immediately after Orban’s visit to Baku, according to Engel.

“The transfers stop a year or so afterwards, the companies are dismantled, and interestingly, the Hungarian dimension of this seems to have taken place within a bank which – as far as I gather – belongs to a very close associate of the Prime Minister of Hungary,” he continued.

Engel then elaborated on the present Azerbaijani hostilities toward Armenians and what the reasons for Safarov’s murder was. He emphasized that Safarov has become a hero and a propaganda agent for the Azerbaijani government since he returned.

“The people of Karabakh are under daily threat by the likes of Safarov and their commanders, and are in urgent need of protection,” added in the interview.

Engel concluded by claiming that something was sealed between Azerbaijan and Hungary in 2012 that included Safarov and more beyond that.

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