Monthly Archives: September 2012

Vacation

Hello Dear Readers,

I apologize for the recent lack of activity. Now is a transitional time for me where other projects are taking priority. I’m going to be in Istanbul for the next week without my computer, so it’s very unlikely I’ll find the time or ability to make a post then. On the plus side, I promise hundreds and hundreds of photos of Istanbul in only a week’s time!

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More Significant Update: Hungary Accepts Mediated Talks with Armenia. Armenia Rejects Them

Hungary has accepted a Swiss offer for mediated talks with Armenia. Armenia has said no.  The Armenian Ministry of Affairs has said “there is [no] need for mediation. What we need here are clear steps from the Hungarian authorities.” Requiring prior conditions before mediation can quickly be self-defeating for Armenia. The point here is not to punish Hungary, but to ride this pro-Armenia wave to develop stronger ties with allies while alienating Azerbaijan.

Assorted but related news:

  • Current list of criticizers of the pardoning: US, Russia, France, EU, Minsk Group, OSCE, Council of Europe Secretary General, Foreign Affairs Committee of the European Parliament, [Update:] NATO. Not even Turkey is defending Azerbaijan on this.
  • Cyber attacks between Armenia and Azerbaijan have died down.
  • Someone faked a threatening letter alleging to be from the Armenian Secret Army for the Liberation of Armenia. Besides the error pointed out in the article, the fact that the news service has a picture which is supposedly a scan of a fax of an email from Diane.Neil @ hotmail.com. And the “full-size” version of the picture has been shrunk to a tiny pic. Finally, “ASALA Fighters” as the subject line? Really? Does Al-Qaeda send emails saying “Al-Qaeda Fighters”?
  • NATO will visit Armenia for an unspecified reason.
  • There are lawmakers calling for national unity. With Armenia’s long history of using external threats to crush internal dissent or criticism, any call for national unity is disconcerting.

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Filed under Current Events, Regional Politics

Minor update on Safarov’s extradition: More Anger at Azerbaijan and Isolating Hungary

The EU is also formally against the pardoning. The co-chairs of the Minsk Group have come out against the pardoning of Safarov, pointing out how much of a step back it was to the peace process. Interestingly, the first article notes that the pdf of the Azeribaijani assurances, which I linked to in my previous post, was leaked by the Hungarian government as retaliation against Azerbaijan. The same article also provides some evidence of a informal agreement between the Presidents, implying Hungary knew what would happen and turned a blind eye. Thus, it’s still unclear how much Armenia should be retaliating against Hungary. Overall, it seems that states are very much against the pardoning but are cushioning their disagreement in whatever language they need to to ensure they can keep good ties with Azerbaijan for oil or military support.

Armenia has pulled out its prosecutors from courses at the International Law Enforcement Academy in Budapest. The US government paid for the prosecutors to be there. The US embassy is going to be annoyed at this pull out, but can they blame Armenia? If nothing else, it’s hard to say it’s not legitimate to pull out your civil servants from an international training when one of your soldiers was killed at an international training in the same city. So, now the US embassy will have to find another location besides Hungary if it wants to hold events that include Armenia, further isolating Hungary (if only marginally).

Finally, an Azerbaijani expat heavily criticizes her government and has a clear-headed critique on the nationalism that permeates Azerbaijan. There are unstated issues that are legitimate, e.g. Karabakh, but it’s hard for any sane person to support the idea about promoting an axe murderer to the status of a national hero.

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Reblog: Guest post – Reality during Elections in Armenia

To keep a long story short, the governor was calling to threaten me that if I used my influence in the community in favour of Artur Atayan in the mayoral elections, “no one would be able to save me”, those are his exact words. He made absurd accusations about the fact that I was too involved in politics; I was using my public image to gather support for Mr. Atayan, and that if I didn’t back off, “no one would be able to save me” and I’d have problems.”

An excellent read on the mayoral elections in Kapan, and the political intrigue that comes with it. After reading the link, read the distressing result.

Go read: Guest post: Reality during Elections in Armenia.

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Filed under Current Events, Elections, Internal Politics

Releasing a Murderer and/or Hero

Yesterday, Hungary extradited the Azeri soldier Ramil Safarov to Azerbaijan. Safarov was found guilty of brutally killing a soldier at a NATO training in Hungary. Safarov used an axe to kill the soldier in his sleep (almost severing his head) and planned to kill another. He was sentenced to life in prison in 2006, but after years of work, Baku was able to have him extradited to Azerbaijan. When he stepped foot in Azerbaijan he was promptly pardoned by the President and promoted to the rank of Major. Did I mention that the soldier he killed was Armenian?

Gurgen Margaryan, the Armenian soldier killed in his sleep by Ramil Safarov.

Gurgen Margaryan, the Armenian soldier killed in his sleep by Ramil Safarov.

Safarov’s brutal pre-mediated murder and attempted murder resulted in six years of prison followed by national acclaim. The national acclaim came swiftly, legitimizing his actions almost immediately. At the time, the human rights ombudsman of Azerbaijan said that Safarov should be “an example of patriotism for the Azerbaijani youth.”

Armenians are legitimately pissed about this. There have been protests, almost exclusively focused on Hungary for letting Safarov go. There’s little point in protesting Azerbaijan, so instead Hungary is the target for acting as an accomplice. Today a group of protestors went to the Hungarian consulate, threw eggs, 10-dram coins (like throwing pennies) and burned the Hungarian flag.

The Armenian government has reacted by cutting diplomatic relations with Hungary. Armenia had consistently warned Hungary about Safarov’s hero status in Azerbaijan. In Hungary’s defense, they say they received assurances from Azerbaijan. This just goes to show how weak diplomatic assurances are in political cases, but that topic is beyond the scope of this blog post. Unfortunately for Hungary, Azerbaijan was within its rights within the text of the 1983 Convention on the Transfer of Sentenced Persons as Article 12 gives the right for a signatory state to “grant pardon, amnesty or commutation of the sentence in accordance with its Constitution or other laws.”

A big question is why did Hungary make this transfer, and the answer there explains whether Armenia reacted wisely or not. If Hungary knew about or was willfully blind to Safarov’s imminent release, as most Armenians claim, then the Armenian government acted appropriately. Armenians are pointing at Azerbaijan’s intention to buy $3.77 billion worth of Hungarian bonds as evidence of the deal. The Ministry of the Diaspora has called on all Armenians to unite, organize, and protest Hungary. The Armenian Bar Association goes both ways by blaming Hungary while acknowledging that Hungary might just be “the latest nation of a long list of nations which have been hoodwinked by the deceptiveness of the Azeri government.”

If Hungary wasn’t aware of the imminent pardoning of Safarov (as I believe), then the Armenian government is letting its impulsive reaction get in the way of effective politicking. Armenia could turn to Hungary not as an enemy but an ally and make a joint statement condemning Azerbaijan’s action. Condemnations of Azerbaijan are coming from different governments (e.g. the US [Update 3:] and Russia), putting Armenia on the side of the majority against Azerbaijan. This could lead to deepening of ties between Armenia and Europe and political isolation of Azerbaijan. A win-win for Armenia. Instead, Armenia may be making an enemy of Hungary; and, if the diplomatic relations stay cut long enough, all of Europe might start to get annoyed at Armenia. A lose-lose for Armenia.

[Update:] The Hungarian people are organizing a protest against Safarov’s pardon as well. If the Armenian and Hungarian government’s can’t work together, perhaps their peoples can?

[Update 2:] Below is the alleged fax showing Azerbaijan’s assurances to Hungary.Azerbaijani assurances to Hungary

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Pictures: Tbilisi Time!

For all those that are sick and tired of posts about human rights, politics, or Armenia, this post is for you. I can guarantee (most of) these pictures are Armenia-free!

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