The European Union will seek explanations from Baku on why it violated agreements with Hungary on the extradition of a Azerbaijani national, convicted for murder, a spokeswoman for the EU foreign policy chief said on Wednesday.
Ramil Safarov had been serving a life sentence with a possibility of parole only after 25 years for hacking Gurgen Margaryan to death with an ax during a NATO training event Budapest in 2004. He attacked Margaryan as the Armenian slept, striking him an alleged 16 times.
On August 31 Safarov was extradited to Azerbaijan, where he was pardoned by President Ilham Aliyev and promoted to the rank of major. Hungary said it had agreed to return Safarov to Azerbaijan after receiving assurances that his sentence would be enforced.
"According to what we know now, on the basis of the information gathered, it would appear that certain conditions and commitments that were agreed between Hungary and Azerbaijan on the transfer of Ramil Safarov have not been met," Maja Kocijancic, a spokeswoman for EU Foreign Affairs chief Catherine Ashton, said in an interview with Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty.
“In that respect we will continue or we will try to be in touch with the Azeri side to hear the explanation why this has happened and why the behavior that is endangering the fragile situation in the region is continuing," she went on.
The EU foreign action service spokeswoman called on both sides to show restraint in their public statements.
When asked about possible EU actions in connection with the dispute, Kocijancic said that “we follow the situation, and we will see accordingly whether there is a need for additional steps.”
She said that the issue might be discussed by EU foreign ministers, who will gather for an informal meeting on Friday and Saturday in Cyprus.
Parliamentary State Secretary of the Hungarian Foreign Ministry Zsolt Nemeth on Sunday handed over a note of protest to the Azerbaijani ambassador to Hungary. The Hungarian foreign ministry accused Azerbaijan of breaching the extradition agreements and described Safarov’s pardon as “inadmissible.”
Armenia has suspended diplomatic relations with Hungary over the extradition. Defense Minister Seiran Oganyan ordered Armenian troops to be put on higher alert.
Armenia and Azerbaijan have been at odds since fighting a bitter war over the mainly Armenian Nagorno-Karabakh enclave in the early 1990s. A ceasefire was signed in 1994, but relations continue to be strained.