BAKU (RFE/RL)—Azerbaijan on Friday rejected a European Parliament resolution condemning the pardoning of axe-killer Ramil Safarov, saying that Armenian lobby groups were instrumental in its passage.
“The resolution once again demonstrates that the European Parliament is dependent on the influence of the Armenian lobby,” Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry spokesman Elman Abdullayev was quoted by Russian and Azerbaijani news agencies as saying.
Abdullayev again defended President Ilham Aliyev’s decision to pardon Safarov immediately after the Azerbaijani army officer was extradited from Hungary, where he had been sentenced to life imprisonment for hacking to death Armenian Lieutenant Gurgen Markarian in 2004.
“For Azerbaijan, the case of Ramil Safarov is closed,” the official said. “His extradition was carried out within the framework of both Azerbaijani and Hungarian legislation. His subsequent pardoning also fully corresponds to the constitution and laws of Azerbaijan.”
Abdullayev reiterated Baku’s claims that “Armenia’s continuing occupation of Azerbaijani territories” is the root cause of Markarian’s gruesome murder. He faulted the European Parliament for not agreeing with this stance.
The resolution backed by all major factions in the European Union’s legislative body deplores Safarov’s release from prison and a hero’s welcome given to him in Baku. It says that this “could contribute to further escalation of the tensions” in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict zone.
The resolution was also denounced as “one-sided and not objective” by Ali Ahmadov, executive secretary of Aliyev’s ruling Yeni Azerbaycan party. According to the Trend news agency, Ahmadov said the European Parliament itself will fuel more Armenian-Azerbaijani tensions with its criticism of Baku.