UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon hopes that tensions between Armenia and Azerbaijan over the pardoned killer of an Armenian soldier would not affect the settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh issue, his spokesman Martin Nesirky said on Thursday.
Relations between Armenia and Azerbaijan, who have been at odds since fighting a bitter war over the mainly Armenian Nagorno-Karabakh enclave in the early 1990s, have been aggravated by the extradition and subsequent pardoning of Ramil Safarov.
“We hope that this issue will not damage the Nagorno-Karabakh peace process and trust between the sides. There is no alternative to a peaceful settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict,” the spokesman said.
Ramil Safarov had been serving a life sentence with a possibility of parole only after 25 years for killing an Armenian soldier during a NATO training event in Budapest in 2004. He attacked Gurgen Margaryan with an ax as the Armenian slept, striking him an alleged 16 times.
On August 31, Hungary extradited Safarov to Azerbaijan, where he was pardoned by President Ilham Aliyev, greeted as a national hero 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.
“The UN underscores the responsibility of member states to adhere to international standards and principles of rule of law in criminal cases in order to ensure accountability and fight impunity,” Nesirky said.