The European Parliament condemned Azerbaijan late on Thursday for pardoning and giving a hero’s welcome to the Azerbaijani army officer who axed to death an Armenian colleague in Hungary more than eight years ago.
In a special resolution, the European Union’s legislative body said President Ilham Aliyev’s decision to free, promote and financially reward Ramil Safarov immediately after his extradition from Hungary “could contribute to further escalation of the tensions” between Armenia and Azerbaijan.
The resolution accuses Aliyev’s government of reneging on “diplomatic assurances” that Safarov will serve out his life sentence, given by a Hungarian court in 2006, in Azerbaijan. It cites in this regard a letter sent by Azerbaijan’s Deputy Justice Minister Vilayat Zahirov, to the Hungarian government on August 15, two weeks before the convict’s repatriation.
The Azerbaijani and Hungarian governments say the handover was carried out on the basis of the European Convention on the Transfer of Sentenced Persons.
EU lawmakers did not challenge these assertions or fault the Hungarian government for repatriating Armenian Lieutenant Gurgen Markarian’s axe-murderer, aiming their criticism only at Baku. They said that Safarov’s pardoning “complies with the letter” of the convention but “runs contrary to the spirit of that international agreement.”
Their resolution goes on to deplore “the promotion and recognition [Safarov] has received from the Azerbaijani state.” It adds 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.”
The European Parliament further called on the EU to play a “stronger role” in the Karabakh peace process by supporting confidence-building measures between the conflicting parties.