News / Europe

    Armenia Cuts Ties With Hungary in Soldier Dispute

    Azerbaijani military officer Ramil Safarov (C) walks in Martyrs' Alley, national memorial in the Azerbaijan's capital Baku, August 31, 2012.Azerbaijani military officer Ramil Safarov (C) walks in Martyrs' Alley, national memorial in the Azerbaijan's capital Baku, August 31, 2012.
    x
    Azerbaijani military officer Ramil Safarov (C) walks in Martyrs' Alley, national memorial in the Azerbaijan's capital Baku, August 31, 2012.
    Azerbaijani military officer Ramil Safarov (C) walks in Martyrs' Alley, national memorial in the Azerbaijan's capital Baku, August 31, 2012.
    Stefan Bos
    BUDAPEST, Hungary — Armenia says it is cutting all ties with Hungary for allowing an Azerbaijani soldier who killed an Armenian officer to return home. On Friday, Hungary sent the soldier back to Azerbaijan, where he was immediately pardoned and freed by his country's president.

    Azerbaijani Lieutenant Ramil Safarov was warmly welcomed in the capital, Baku, after arriving from Hungary, where he was imprisoned for murder.

    Safarov was given a life sentence in 2006 by the Budapest City Court after he confessed to hacking to death Lieutenant Gurgen Markarian of Armenia in his sleep.

    The incident happened while both were in Hungary for a 2004 language course of the NATO military alliance.

    Yet, as soon as Safarov arrived at the Baku airport, he received an official pardon from Azerbaijan's President Ilham Aliyev.

    In a short statement, the president said he decreed Friday that Safarov “should be freed from the term of his punishment.”

    Safarov told reporters that he regards his freedom as a "restoration of justice." He explained that he is "very happy" and that "it is difficult to find words" to express his feelings. Safarov said he wants to "express gratitude to the Supreme Commander-in-Chief [President] Ilham Aliyev and everyone who supports him."

    Armenian President Serzh Sarkisyan said in published remarks that "Hungarian authorities should understand that they have made a grave mistake." He added that as of Friday, his nation would "cease all diplomatic relations and all ties with Hungary."

    The State Department issued a statement saying the United States is "extremely troubled" by the news of the soldier's pardon and that it is expressing its "deep concern" to Azerbaijan regarding the action. The State Department also said it is seeking further details from Hungary regarding the decision to transfer Safarov to Azerbaijan.

    The press chief of Hungary's Foreign Ministry, Gabor Kaleta, said that it was too early to comment on his country's future relationship with Armenia or Azerbaijan.

    And at Hungary's Ministry of Public Administration and Justice, press officer Veronika Szucs made clear that this was not the time to ask the hard questions.

    "We don't have anyone who can give you an interview, or read the statement," said Szucs. "Just a written statement exists. The title is 'Ramil Sahib Safarov's sentence will continue to be' [enforced by Azerbaijan]."

    In the statement, seen by VOA, the ministry said Safarov was extradited under the '1983 Strasbourg Convention on the Transfer of Sentenced Persons,' which Hungary and Azerbaijan have signed.

    Hungary, however, said Azerbaijan promised that it would respect Budapest's judgment, meaning that "Persons sentenced to life imprisonment may, at the earliest, be conditionally released after serving a period of 25 years."

    The killing has underscored tensions between Armenia and Azerbaijan over the disputed territory of Nagorno-Karabakh.

    The territory lies within Azerbaijan, but has remained under the control of Armenian troops and ethnic Armenian forces since the end of a six-year separatist war in 1994, which killed 30,000 people and left about 1 million homeless.

    During his trial in Budapest, Safarov claimed that the conflict was at the root of his actions after the victim allegedly provoked him.

    The decision to extradite Safarov comes shortly after Hungarian media reported that oil-rich Azerbaijan may lend Hungary up to $3.8 billion by buying special bonds to help it pay off its debt. Hungarian officials later played down the reports, saying they first want to conclude talks with the International Monetary Fund and the European Union.

    Hungarian radio reported Friday that Azerbaijan's president has canceled an upcoming visit to Hungary, following the controversy over the released soldier.

    You May Like

    Top US General: Turkish Media Report ‘Absurd'

    General Dunford rejects ‘irresponsible' claims of coup involvement by former four-star Army General Campbell, who led NATO forces in Afghanistan before retiring earlier this year

    Video Saving Ethiopian Children Thought to Be Cursed

    'Omo Child' looks at efforts of one African man to stop killings of ‘mingi’ children

    Protests Over Western Troops Threaten Libyan 'Unity' Government

    Fears mount that Islamist foes of ‘unity' government plan to declare a revolutionaries' council in Tripoli

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunitiesi
    X
    VOA News
    July 25, 2016 5:09 PM
    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
    Video

    Video London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunities

    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
    Video

    Video Recycling Lifeline for Lebanon’s Last Glassblowers

    In a small Lebanese coastal town, one family is preserving a craft that stretches back millennia. The art of glass blowing was developed by Phoenicians in the region, and the Khalifehs say they are the only ones keeping the skill alive in Lebanon. But despite teaming up with an eco-entrepreneur and receiving an unexpected boost from the country’s recent trash crisis the future remains uncertain. John Owens reports from Sarafand.
    Video

    Video Migrants Continue to Risk Lives Crossing US Border from Mexico

    In his speech Thursday before the Republican National Convention, the party’s presidential candidate, Donald Trump, reiterated his proposal to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border if elected. Polls show a large percentage of Americans support better control of the nation's southwestern border, but as VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from the border town of Nogales in the Mexican state of Sonora, the situation faced by people trying to cross the border is already daunting.
    Video

    Video In State of Emergency, Turkey’s Erdogan Focuses on Spiritual Movement

    The state of emergency that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared is giving him even more power to expand a purge that has seen an estimated 60,000 people either arrested or suspended from their jobs. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports from Istanbul.
    Video

    Video Calm the Waters: US Doubles Down Diplomatic Efforts in ASEAN Meetings

    The United States is redoubling diplomatic efforts and looking to upcoming regional meetings to calm the waters after an international tribunal invalidated the legal basis of Beijing's extensive claims in the South China Sea. VOA State Department correspondent Nike Ching has the story.
    Video

    Video Four Brother Goats Arrive in Brooklyn on a Mission

    While it's unusual to see farm animals in cities, it's become familiar for residents of Brooklyn, New York, to see a little herd of goats. Unlike gas-powered mowing equipment, goats remove invasive weeds quietly and without adding more pollution to the air. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, this is a pilot program and if it proves to be successful, the goat gardener program will be extended to other areas of New York. Faith Lapidus narrates.
    Video

    Video Scientists in Poland Race to Save Honeybees

    Honeybees are in danger worldwide. Causes of what's known as colony collapse disorder range from pesticides and loss of habitat to infections. But scientists in Poland say they are on track to finding a cure for one of the diseases. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Wall Already Runs Along Parts of US-Mexico Border

    The Republican Party’s presidential nominee, Donald Trump, gained the support of many voters by saying he would build a wall to keep undocumented immigrants and drugs from coming across the border from Mexico. Critics have called his idea impractical and offensive to Mexico, while supporters say such a bold approach is needed to control the border. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from the border town of Nogales, Arizona.
    Video

    Video New HIV Tests Emphasize Rapid Results

    As the global fight against AIDS intensifies, activists have placed increasing importance on getting people to know their HIV status. Some companies are developing new HIV testing methods designed to be quick, easy and accurate. Thuso Khumalo looks at the latest methods, presented at the International AIDS conference in Durban, South Africa.
    Video

    Video African Youth with HIV Urge More Support

    HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, is the top killer of teens in sub-Saharan Africa. But many youths say their experience with the virus is unique and needs to be addressed differently than the adult epidemic. VOA South African Correspondent Anita Powell reports.
    Video

    Video Pop-Up Art Comes to Your Living Room, Backyard and Elsewhere

    Around the world, independent artists and musicians wrestle with a common problem: where to exhibit or perform? Traditional spaces such as museums and galleries are reserved for bigger names, and renting a space is not feasible for many. Enter ArtsUp, which connects artists with venue owners. Whether it’s a living room, restaurant, office or even a boat, pop-up events are bringing music and art to unexpected places. Tina Trinh has more.
    Video

    Video Scotland’s Booming Whisky Industry Fears Brexit Hangover

    After Britain’s vote to leave the European Union, Scotland’s government wants to break away from the United Kingdom – fearing the nation’s exports are at risk. Among the biggest of these is whisky. Henry Ridgwell reports on a time of turmoil for those involved in the ancient art of distilling Scotland’s most famous product.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora