By Edmond Y. Azadian
Outrage among Armenians and some human rights groups continue around the globe against the Hungarian government’s reckless violation of international law, parallel to the outrage in the Islamic world, triggered by the release of a video insulting the prophet Mohammed. Armenian outrage remains below the radar of the international news media, as opposed to the Islamic one, because the latter takes place in countries that affect the Western interests, i.e. countries that provide oil and host military bases.
The protest movement against the Hungarian government’s remanding convicted murderer Ramil Safarov to authorities in Azerbaijan and the latter country’s hero’s welcome for him took on a life of its own, beyond Armenian anger, because it undermined the European legal system and moral norms. Also, it provided ammunition to the opposition in Hungary, which joined the Armenians in protesting the government’s actions in Budapest.
The Hungarian opposition has been demanding the resignation of Prime Minister Victor Orban, touching a raw nerve. That is why Hungary’s Foreign Minister Janos Martonyi, adding insult to injury, has threatened Armenia with “serious ramifications” for severing diplomatic relations with Budapest.
The Hungarian government’s shoddy handling of the Safarov case and the failure of its economic policies domestically may indeed hasten the overthrow of the present administration. If that happens, no tears will be shed in Yerevan.
This brewing crisis coincided with the visit of Mr. Anders Fogh Rasmussen, NATO’s secretary general, to the Caucasus. In Yerevan he bluntly condemned President Ilham Aliyev’s actions, and he repeated the same comments in Baku. That helped tempers to cool down in Yerevan to a certain extent. But his comments did not go further than “deep concern” rather than what he should have said, “serious ramifications.” What is more disturbing is that the secretary general did not assume any responsibility on behalf of NATO, even though the crime was committed during a NATO-led language program, by one member of the military against another, Lt. Gourgen Markarian, who had been invited to Hungary by NATO for training.