September 1, 2012 - 10:58 AMT
PanARMENIAN.Net - The Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA) welcomed President Barack Obama's expression of concern over Hungary's extradition and Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev's subsequent decision to pardon Ramil Safarov, who was convicted for brutally murdering Armenian soldier Gurgen Margaryan, in his sleep, during a 2004 NATO exercise in Hungary.
The White House statement, issued in the name of National Security Council Spokesman Tommy Vietor, underscores the President's view that, "This action is contrary to ongoing efforts to reduce regional tensions and promote reconciliation." Vietor goes on to note that "The United States is also requesting an explanation from Hungary regarding its decision to transfer Safarov to Azerbaijan."
The Department of State, through a formal announcement issued by Acting Deputy Spokesman Patrick Ventrell, also took a stand against Hungary's extradition and Azerbaijan's pardon, explaining that: "The United States is extremely troubled by the news that the President of Azerbaijan pardoned Azerbaijani army officer Ramil Safarov, who returned to Baku today following his transfer from Hungary. . . . We are expressing our deep concern to Azerbaijan regarding this action and seeking an explanation. We are also seeking further details from Hungary regarding the decision to transfer Safarov to Azerbaijan."
Just days prior to the release, the ANCA had formally cautioned Hungarian authorities against the extradition of Safarov to Azerbaijan.
ANCA Chairman, Ken Hachikian, in a letter sent earlier today to President Obama, explained that: "The facts of this brutal murder are as clear as the imperative for our government, which serves as a mediator of this conflict through the Minsk Group of the OSCE, to publicly criticize Hungary’s extradition of a known and unapologetic terrorist, to openly condemn Baku’s subsequent release of Safarov, and to demand his immediate re-incarceration for the remainder of his life sentence." Hachikian stressed that: "A lack of a forceful American response to this grave injustice would, in addition to compromising our nation’s moral standing, undermine prospects for peace by emboldening an increasingly heavily armed Azerbaijani government to continue inciting its own citizens to violence, and encouraging it to continue its threats and actual acts of aggression."