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So it is against this background of war, ethnic cleansing and ancient hatreds that Safarov performed his heinous deed. The hatred of the Turkic-speaking Azeris for Armenians was also reflected in responses Azeri officials made upon Safarov’s release. These responses correspond closely to those Arab hardliners make when a successful terrorist attack has been carried out against Israelis. One Azeri Member of Parliament (MP), for example, called Safarov “one of the heroes of our people.” (Which shows the level of Azeri civilizational development when an axe-murderer is called ‘a national hero’. In normal countries, such accolades are usually reserved for Nobel Prize winners.)
“…this is a great event not only for Azerbaijanis living in Azerbaijan, but for the whole Turkish people living inside and outside Azerbaijan,” the MP added.
Another MP stated that Safarov’s release “has made a contribution to the liberation of Karabakh.”
Many Hungarians are outraged about Safarov’s release and believe government officials may have been bribed or received some other inducement. There may be some merit to this. In another controversial setting free of a criminal, that of the Lockerbie Bomber, it was eventually revealed Libyan terrorist Abdelbaset al-Megrahi’s early release substantially helped British Petroleum obtain a $900 million oil exploration contract from Gaddafi. Time will probably tell whether something similar occurred in the Safarov case.
Hungarian officials have defended their actions, saying Safarov was sent back to Azerbaijan as part of an international prisoner transfer agreement, where the prisoner does his remaining sentence in his land of origin. They said Azeri justice officials informed them Safarov would remain in prison and not be released.
But some Hungarians claim their government should have known that Safarov would be set free once back in Azerbaijan. The Azeri government had even established an embassy in Budapest to influence the Hungarian government regarding Safarov. Evidently, the Azeris were successful.
In the United States, a National Security Council spokesman said that “President Obama is deeply concerned” about the Azeri president’s pardon of Safarov and the government will communicate to the Azeri authorities “our disappointment.”
“This action is contrary to ongoing efforts to reduce regional tensions and promote reconciliation,” said the spokesman. “The United States is also requesting an explanation from Hungary regarding its decision to transfer Safarov to Azerbaijan.”
The Obama administration, however, cannot afford to take too harsh a stand against Azerbaijan, since American companies have investments in that country’s large oil industry. Azerbaijan also serves as a hub for the important Caspian Sea-Central Asian energy pipelines. But the administration has to at least adopt an appearance of “concern” since the two million strong Armenian-American community is concentrated in key states like California where their votes could make a big difference in the upcoming election.
The lesson Armenia should learn from the Safarov affair is that it is on its own and therefore should arm itself as much as possible. The murder of Lt. Markarian and the feting of his murderer are symbolic of the hatred and the fate the surrounding Turkic populations have in mind for Armenia, much like the Arabs have for Israel. The historic Armenian population of Anatolia is now extinct, massacred by the Turks in 1915. As the Safarov case indicates, it appears they are now more than willing to finish that job.
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