Letter: Azadian Asks US, NATO to Play Bigger Role in Punishing Azerbaijan


(The following letter by Edmond Azadian was sent to President Barack Obama.)

Dear Mr. President,

At this moment, as the presidential election campaign intensifies, understandably, an Armenia soldier’s assassination cannot be ranked among your top priorities. However, the issue is not confined to the loss of a single soul, that of 26-year-old Lt. Gourgen Markarian of Armenia, who was hacked to death in his sleep by Lt. Ramil Safarov of Azerbaijan in Budapest, Hungary.

After receiving a life sentence in Hungary, Safarov was extradited to his native Azerbaijan this week, where he received a hero’s welcome, was pardoned by President Aliyev, promoted to the rank of major and awarded lavishly by Azerbaijani government, which had assured the Hungarian authorities earlier that according to the extradition terms the racist criminal would serve the balance of his term in an Azerbaijani jail.

We were reassured by the statement the White House released that you had expressed “concern” about the case and had requested clarification from the Hungarian authorities.

But, Mr. President, before reaching out to the Hungarian government, the responsibility rests at your own doorsteps, because Lt. Gourgen Markarian was enrolled in NATO-sponsored partnership for peace. Therefore, he was under the legal umbrella of NATO. The US being the leader and major partner of NATO, bears the prime responsibility to safeguard the security of program participants in the first place. This unjustified extradition and ensuing “license to kill” not only renders international law a mockery, but also sanctions assassination of targeted ethnic groups, as Ramil Safarov’s attorney has spelled out during the trial “ that killing Armenians is not a crime.” Armenian contingents have served honorably and in an exemplary fashion in Kosovo and Afghanistan, putting their lives in harm’s way under NATO command, but NATO has failed to protect their colleague, Gourgen Markarian, from the murderous axe of an Azeri colleague who had enrolled in the same program.

Therefore, “concern” is not enough from distance of a third party, because the US, as the leader of NATO, is the first party. That the Hungarian government has been guilty of underhanded practices in its shady deal concerns the Hungarian people who are genuinely outraged at this scandal.

This murder case and its subsequent extradition are charades that trample the many principles that NATO purports to advocate, such as human rights, international law and the moral high ground. Our government in the US should address these concerns if we wish other nations to respect our moral posture around the world.

Respectfully yours,

Edmond Y. Azadian President, Armenian Rights Council of America