The Armenian president on Tuesday asked the country’s citizens to stop burning Hungarian flags in protest against the extradition of an Armenian soldier’s Azerbaijani killer.
Ramil Safarov was sentenced to life in prison for hacking Gurgen Margaryan to death with an ax during a NATO training event in Budapest in 2004. He was recently extradited to Azerbaijan, where he was pardoned.
Protestors, who gathered at the Hungarian embassy on September 1, burned Hungarian flags.
“I would like to address to our society, especially young people, and to ask them to refrain from burning Hungarian flags, because the flag of Hungary is not the flag of the ruling party, not the prime minister’s symbol,” President Serzh Sargsyan said.
“What one person or one party did should not become grounds for hostility towards all Hungarians. Of course we should express our protest, but this should not cause us to betray ourselves and our values,” he added.
Hungary said it had agreed to return Safarov to Azerbaijan after receiving assurances that his sentence would be enforced.
But Armenian President Serzh Sargsyan has said Hungary made a "gross mistake" in sending Safarov back to Baku, where he was greeted as a national hero, and announced that Yerevan was severing its diplomatic ties with Budapest.
Armenia and Azerbaijan have been at odds since fighting a bitter war over the mainly ethnic-Armenian enclave of Nagorno-Karabakh in the early 1990s. A ceasefire was signed in 1994, but relations continue to be strained.