Being a long-time reader of The Budapest Times I cannot but help express my disappointment about Robert Hodgson’s article “Eastern Promise” in the 12-18 October issue. The story was supposedly meant to cover the long-scheduled visit of the Minister of Economic Development of Azerbaijan, Mr. Shahin Mustafayev, to Hungary, but regrettably the article only slightly touched upon this great event, while most of the space (80 per cent, unbelievable!) was allocated by the author to the completely irrelevant issue of Ramil Safarov’s release.
Can anyone explain what the Mr. Safarov affair has to do with state-level visits? Is the media going to write mostly about Ramil Safarov every time when the word “Azerbaijan” comes to the headlines, irrespective of the context? Would The Budapest Times allocate 80 per cent of an article to O.J. Simpson’s killing of his wife, leaving the rest of the story to the visit of Mrs. Hillary Clinton to Budapest?
As a matter of fact, Mr. Hodgson should not be entirely sure (and I bet he will fail to provide any undeniable reference) when he alleges that upon his arrival in Azerbaijan Mr. Safarov was “feted as a hero”. Whilst making this false conclusion, he falls into the trap of the Armenian state propaganda and fails to check the official position of the government of Azerbaijan and the statements of the top authorities, who clearly noted that “Ramil Safarov committed a crime, yet he was given an excessively long jail term” (e.g., see the speech of President Ilham Aliyev, the statement of the president’s senior advisor Ali Hasanov, etc.: http://www.origo.hu/
Instead, the author, presumably, bases his judgment on public sentiments, failing to understand that it is the government’s position that matters when making such conclusions. Incidentally, there are undoubtedly many extremist far-right groups in Mr. Hodgson’s home country, however this does not let anyone jump into conclusion that his country favours xenophobia and hatred, since we all know that the government does not share such views.
Meanwhile, as long as Mr. Hodgson chose to touch this subject, he might probably be aware of the irrefutable fact that, contrary to Azerbaijan, in Armenia many convicted terrorists and murders were welcomed not only by public but by the government officials too. And, yes – officially feted as heroes.
The convicted terrorist Varoujan Garabedian, who in 1983 planted a bomb in the Paris Orly airport, killed eight people and was given a life sentence, was suddenly released in 2001 from the French prison and transferred to Armenia. Within a week after his arrival in Armenia, the then-prime minister Ara Markarian warmly embraced the terrorist in his office. Another murderer, Gurgen Yanikian, who ruthlessly assassinated two of his guests, Turkish diplomats, during lunch in Santa Barbara, California, in 1973 and was given a life sentence in the U.S., was glorified in Armenia to the extent that during his presidential tenure Robert Kocharian attended the national Opera House to watch and, probably, enjoy the performance specifically devoted to this treacherous murderer.
In 2000 the entire cabinet lined up at the Yerevan airport to greet the remains of the Nazi general Drastamat Kananyan, brought from the U.S. with a government-sponsored chartered plane. Another Nazi general, Garegin Nzhdeh, was too glorified in Armenia, and there is even the “Garegin Nzhdeh Medal” established in this country (has anyone seen the “Ramil Safarov Medal”?). Numerous streets, squares, monuments and even towns in Armenia are named after the murderers who committed genocide against Azeris in 1918-1920, such as Andranik Ozanyan, Stepan Shaumyan, Amazasp Srvantsyan and many others.
A few weeks ago, the member of the city council of Los Angeles, ethnic Armenian Paul Krekorian wrote an angry letter to the Hungarian Consul General in California, László Kálmán, blaming our country for the extradition of Ramil Safarov. Ironically, it was the very same Paul Krekorian who petitioned the federal authorities to pardon the convicted terrorist Hampig Sassounian, who assassinated the Turkish diplomat and currently serves his life sentence.
Finally, the perpetrators of the Khojaly Genocide and similar genocidal acts all over the occupied regions of Azerbaijan not only have not been brought to justice, but today many of them are holding senior governmental positions in Armenia despite international warrants issued by Azerbaijan to Interpol.
Can anyone explain why Ramil Safarov, after having spent 8.5 years in the Hungarian jail, should spend any extra day in prison at home if the perpetrators of the Khojaly Genocide haven’t tried the jail food even once?
I believe it is always useful to say also “B” after saying “A” or not go into the subject at all.
[Abbreviated. The article to which this letter refers dealt with three pieces of news from the week in question: the Azeri minister’s visit, an interview on Hungarian television by Armenia’s president Serzh Sargsyan, and allegations relating to Safarov’s transfer by a Hungarian opposition Green MP. The rest of Ms Kolyi’s letter can be read on The Budapest Times website. – ed.]
Azeri military officer Ramil Safarov after his return to Azerbaijan. On 31 August, Safarov – who brutally murdered a sleeping Armenian officer during a NATO-sponsored training course in Budapest in 2004 – was transferred from a Hungarian jail where he had been serving a 30 year sentence and promptly pardoned by Azerbaijan’s president Ilham Aliyev. Armenia was outraged and the affair prompted expressions of “concern” from the US, EU, OSCE, Russia and others. The Hungarian government said it had received assurances that Safarov would not be released.
“Another victory of our diplomacy – Returning home of Ramil Safarov who gave a deserved response to the Armenian officer by defending his officer’s honor is the success our statehood policy and logical expression of President, Supreme Commander-in-Chief Ilham Aliyev’s resolution. Today our country is joyful,” ran a post on the website of the ruling New Azerbaijan Party on 3 September. Safarov was promoted to the rank of major, received eight years’ back pay and was presented with a free apartment.