September 4, 2012 - 17:02 AMT
PanARMENIAN.Net - The National Council of Churches president and a former NCC president have joined international ecumenical leaders to protest Hungary’s release of Azerbaijani army lieutenant Ramil Safarov convicted in 2006 of killing Armenian officer Gurgen Margaryan.
Archbishop Vicken Aykazian, a former National Council of Churches president and a member of the World Council of Churches Central Committee, said Hungary “has fallen victim to the continued anti-Armenian policies and actions of Azerbaijan.”
The release of an officer convicted of killing an Armenian on Hungarian soil “does nothing to further our quest for peace and stability for all people in the region,” said Aykazian, legate of the Eastern Diocese of the Armenian Church in America.
National Council of Churches President Kathryn M. Lohre, also a member of the WCC Central Committee, said the amnesty “threatens to undermine justice and peace in the region through the cessation of diplomatic ties, and the strain on human relationships. We commit ourselves to pray for and stand in solidarity with all those who strive for human rights, peace, and understanding.”
The Rev. Dr. Olav Fykse Tveit, in a letter to Prime Minister Viktor Orbán of Hungary, said the release of Safarov “appears as an action that was not properly considered on the part of the Hungarian government. Safarov’s release by the Azerbaijan government, despite his life sentence, runs counter to normative practices of justice.”
Tveit condemned “actions that severely undermine justice and reconciliation for the peoples of Armenia and Azerbaijan and the region, who have a right to live side by side with dignity, respect for human rights and in freedom.”
In a letter to His Holiness Karekin II, Catholicos of all Armenians, Hungarian church leaders expressed their dismay over their government's action.
Bishop Péter Gáncs, Presiding Bishop of the Lutheran Church in Hungary, and Bishop Gusztáv Bölcskei, Ministerial President of the Synod of the Reformed Church in Hungary, wrote: "On behalf of the Protestant communities in Hungary, please accept our sincere sympathy on the unacceptable amnesty given to the Azeri criminal who was extradited from Hungary to his homeland Azerbaijan. While we cannot question that the Hungarian authorities acted in accordance with the applicable international law, we regret that the extradition resulted in the intolerable amnesty granted to the convict by the President of Azerbaijan."