Release and pardon of killer jeopardises Armenia-Azerbaijan ceasefire
Wednesday, September 5, 2012
Following's release and of convicted axe-murderer , who subsequently pardoned, announced it is "ready for war".
The declaration is in-response to Safarov's pardon and promotion, despite the Azeri officer having been given a life sentence — with a minimum jail term of 30 years, byauthorities in 2006. Safarov was found guilty of the 2004 murder of Armenian officer in , when both Safarov and Margaryan were attending a Partnership for Peace programme. Safarov killed Margaryan in his sleep with an axe; the attack allegedly stemming from a desire to avenge Azeris killed during the and being mocked by Margaryan and another Armenian.
On his return home, Safarov was met with a hero's welcome, given a pardon by president, promoted to the rank of major, awarded eight-years of back-pay and given a house. Armenia sees these acts, when it was expected that Safarov would serve out his prison term in Azerbaijan, as highly provocative.
Armenian Presidentdeclared: "We don't want a war, but if we have to, we will fight and win. We are not afraid of killers, even if they enjoy the protection of the head of state" .
Historically both Armenia and Azerbaijan lay claim to some of the same territories, an issue complicated by the intermingling of ethnic populations so some areas have no clearly demarcated Azeri and Armenian border; these potential sources of conflict remained quiescent whilst both nations were subsumed by greater powers. However, the collapse of the Ottoman and Russian Empires in the wake of the First World War led to the. With the demise of the short-lived Armenian-Azerbaijan-Georgia , fighting broke out which only ended when the two nations were annexed by the expanding .
With the USSR's collapse, Armenia and Azerbaijan re-emerged as independent states — as-did old rivalries over territory. Between 1988 and 1994 over thirty thousand people died, and a million werein bitter ethnic fighting between Armenians and Azeris over the enclave of ; despite an brokered ceasefire, no final armistice has been signed and intermittent violence between them the two states continues. Nagorno-Karabakh remains legally part of Azerbaijan, but under effective Armenian control. On multiple occasions president Ilham Aliyev has stated his willingness to resort to force in order to assert Azeri rule, with oil wealth tipping any local arms race in favour of Azerbaijan.
On Friday, The National Security Council of Armenia decided to break ties with Hungary during an emergency summit, describing the Hungarian actions as a "grave mistake". In turn, the Azeri ambassador was summoned by Hungary on Monday regarding the breach of Azeri assurances that Safarov would serve out the remainder of his sentence in Azerbaijan.
- AFP. "Armenia 'ready for war' over axe killer's pardon" — , September 4, 2012
- "Armenia cuts ties with Hungary over Azerbaijan killer pardon" — , August 31, 2012
- Andrew Andersen, PhD. "Armenia: Nation Building and Territorial Disputes 1918-1920" — , Accessed September 5, 2012