BY GAREN YEGPARIAN
Hungary, Azerbaijan, Armenians… the latest mess. What to make of this all?
Armenians are rightly incensed at the heroification of an axe murderer by his government, that of Azerbaijan. Although deep down no one is surprised at this Azeri behavior, it might be considered ill-mannered to actually say so… So what’s next? What to do?
Demonstrations are being held at Hungarian embassies and consulates around the world (even the tiny Armenian community in India organized one). In the Los Angeles area, the September 6 demonstration held at the local consulate saw more than 600 people expressing their disapproval of Hungary’s behavior. In this case, we got a two-fer. The building housing that consulate also housed the Azeri consulate. So it was extra fun. And, when a note was to be delivered, building security blocked entry, even when the “messenger was Paul Krekorian, one of the 15 city councilmembers who govern the city in which both of these consulates are located. That’s pretty brassy!
But, it also suggests what one of class of actions we might pursue might be!
Regardless of what you think of Hungary’s protestations of innocence and ignorance (that Azerbaijan’s dictator-president planned to unconscionably release of axe-murderer Ramil Safarov), they did transfer a criminal serving a sentence to a country whose governmental behavior is not the most stable. A government that is high on oil-vapor, i.e. money. There is also the possibility that this was an “I’ll scratch your back and you scratch mine” type of arrangement with Azerbaijan buying billions of dollars’ worth of Hungarian government debt. There’s also another factor. Currently, the party in power in Hungary is from the right-wing segment of the political spectrum. These parties tend to be more nationalistic. So it is surprising that given Hungarians’ experiences with the Turks, they did not connect the dots so to anticipate that the Turks’ self-avowed “cousins,” the Azeris, might do something internationally unacceptable, given historic patterns of behavior. If either of these considerations has merit, then regardless of whether the Hungarians knew exactly what was coming, they have some atonement to do.
Of course there’s no question of Azerbaijan’s culpability in this mess. I even saw a headline suggesting this might trigger war. Plus who knows, this might just be the lever needed to pry apart Azerbaijan from that part of the international community that is hung up on the misrepresented “inviolability of border’s” that the Azeris use to “support” their claim on Artsakh (as Harut Sassounian intimated in his latest column).
So what can we do?
We should work on the local level— cities, counties, states (and their equivalents in other jurisdictions and countries—villages, towns, parishes, shires, provinces, etc.) to impose a cost —financial, diplomatic, cultural, reputational, or whatever else we can come up with— to show that this type of egregious, human rights and decency violating action, will not go unnoticed, be quickly forgotten, or end up imposing a heavy burden on the violators.
If you’ve got ideas on this front, please air them in whatever venue you can find— a letter to the editor, a blog posting, even a Facebook entry!