Hungary has again urged Armenia to normalize bilateral relations that were frozen by Yerevan in response to the release from a Hungarian prison of the Azerbaijani axe-killer of an Armenian army officer.
“The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Hungary wishes to declare the interest of the Government of Hungary to end the unilateral suspension of diplomatic relations by the Republic of Armenia without preconditions,” it said in a diplomatic note sent to Yerevan on Monday.
The ministry explained separately that the note posted on its website is a “formal answer” to a written notification by the Armenian Foreign Ministry about the suspension of diplomatic ties.
Hungarian Foreign Minister Janos Martonyi made a similar appeal in a letter to his Armenian counterpart Edward Nalbandian early this month. Martonyi reportedly warned Yerevan of “serious ramifications that would not serve the interests of Armenia.”
The Armenian government resorted to the extraordinary measure on August 31 just hours after the convicted axe-killer Ramil Safarov was extradited to Azerbaijan and immediately pardoned by President Ilham Aliyev.
The Hungarian government says that it had received formal assurances from Azerbaijan that Safarov will serve the rest of a life sentence given to him by a Hungarian court in an Azerbaijani prison. It also insists that his extradition conformed to a European convention to which both Hungary and Azerbaijan are signatories.
Armenian leaders have brushed aside such statements, saying that Budapest was well aware that Safarov will be set free if sent back home. They also say that Hungarian officials had repeatedly assured the Armenian side, including in the days leading up to the extradition, that the Azerbaijani army officer will not be repatriated.
“Armenia’s position remains the same,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Tigran Balayan told RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun.am), commenting on the Hungarian note. He declined to elaborate.
In separate comments to Yerkir-Media television, Balayan said Yerevan expects “practical and clear steps” from Budapest. He did not specify just what the Hungarian side should do.
The Hungarian government has also been criticized by the United States and Russia. U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Philip Gordon told RFE/RL late last week that Washington is “not satisfied” with the Hungarian explanations regarding Safarov’s extradition.