September 13, 2012 - 17:55 AMT
PanARMENIAN.Net - Azerbaijan used to mind what policymakers in Brussels and NATO thought. Now it does not, European Voice said in its “Moral Compass Goes Awry” article.
“Azerbaijan and Hungary both have serious questions to answer about the case of Ramil Safarov, an Azeri military officer attending a NATO-run English-language course in Budapest, who murdered a sleeping Armenian fellow-student with an axe in 2004. But the most unpleasant consequences are for Brussels and Washington, DC.
Even if the two countries had been at war, Safarov's behaviour would have been criminal. Killing an unarmed enemy combatant in his sleep, in cold blood, in a neutral country is wrong.
The Hungarian authorities have not explained convincingly why they last month let Safarov – one of their country's most controversial prisoners – go back to Azerbaijan. So the allegation that Hungary took this step in return for a large lump of Azeri money (some say €3 billion) deserves scrutiny.
The Azeri reaction in instantly pardoning Safarov, awarding him back pay and an apartment, and treating him like a national hero, is deplorable. Glorifying Safarov has made Azerbaijan look hysterical and morally suspect in world eyes. That is hardly a triumph for Azeri diplomacy. Hungary looks at best gullible and, at worst, greedy and deceitful.
But the big point is that both countries seem to think they can get away with their behaviour. The case illustrates the huge collapse in the moral authority of the EU and NATO since 2004. In preceding years, joining Western clubs was a matter of great pride for those newly admitted, and of great priority for those outside. They took care not to break the rules and (sincerely or not) to please international opinion.
Azerbaijan used to mind what policymakers in Brussels and NATO thought. Now it does not. It sees no realistic chance of membership in either organisation. It is bulging with oil money. It exploits cannily its useful geopolitical niche as a place to spy on (and perhaps bomb) Iran.
Hungary is not bulging with money. Indeed, its public finances feature gaping holes. But it too cocks a snook at Brussels (and Washington). Victor Orbán, the prime minister, makes his own decisions (often bad ones) and waits for the world to get used to them.
The knots that bound countries' behaviour in Europe since the mid-1990s once seemed indestructible. Now they are fraying fast,” the article said.