Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Interview with ASA President regarding Ramil Safarov's release

News.Az interviews Tomris Azeri, President of Azerbaijan Society of America (ASA) and the co-founder of the Pax Turcica Institute (PTI) about the Azerbaijani-American reaction to the recent release of Ramil Safarov 

- How did Azerbaijani-Americans react to the extradition of Ramil Safarov by the Hungarian authorities and his release to freedom in Azerbaijan?

Generally, Ramil Safarov's extradition from Hungary and pardon in Azerbaijan is a legal matter that would be properly assessed by the legal experts. But leaving those specifics aside, many Azerbaijani-Americans and ASA members reacted sympathetically to the fact of Safarov's release.

The primary reason for such compassion to Safarov is the fact that, like hundreds of thousands of other Azerbaijanis, he lost his home and family members as a result of the ongoing Armenian occupation. While focusing on a case of one murder, the international community remains largely indifferent to the fates of thousands of other people, who were either murdered or lost their homes in consequence of Armenian aggression without any justice served.

- How do you assess the Armenian reaction to this issue? I’ll remind that deputy speaker of the National Assembly of Armenia Eduard Sharmazanov said that Safarov’s pardon “proves the politics of hatred towards Armenians and fascism of Azerbaijan”?

I am not surprised by the reaction from Armenia. What else may one expect from the country that continues to occupy fifth of Azerbaijan, keeping hundreds of thousands of people outside of their homes? What other response do we expect from the nation that continues to either deny or applaud its involvement in the 1992 Khojaly Massacre, murdering 613 people including 106 women and 63 children? Safarov's case is not just about a murder, it's about the consequences of Armenian aggression that brought to the situation that we have. How many Safarovs are there in Azerbaijan and Armenia today, and why? This is the real question that Armenia and its sympathizers in this case shall ask themselves.

Furthermore, on April 23, 2001, under relentless pressure from the Armenian community, the French authorities released a convicted ASALA terrorist, Varoujan Garabedian, from prison, on the condition of his deportation to Armenia. Garabedian was serving for the July 15, 1983 bombing of the Turkish Airlines counter at the Orly Airport in Paris, which left 8 people dead and 55 injured.
Upon his return to Armenia, Garabedian was cheered as a hero and met by high-ranking Armenian officials, such as Prime Minister, Andranik Margarian, and Yerevan Mayor, Robert Nazarian. The latter pledged to provide him with employment and full accommodation. After all, unlike Safarov, Garabedian targeted several representatives of one ethnic group, not just an individual.

- What do you think about intervention to this issue of the US authorities, which are already criticized Baku and condemned Safarov’s pardon?

It is very sad that the White House and State Department rushed to issue statements criticizing Safarov's pardon. Neither government agency has an authority or an expertise to decide whether Safarov's extradition or pardoning were carried out in accordance with the proper international legal procedures. And given the silence over Garabedian release in 2001, these statements are obviously aimed only at appeasing the Armenian-American community and nothing more. They lack legal and moral basis.

I sincerely wish that instead of another round of a tit-for-tat, members of the Armenian-American community really try to understand the environment resulting from the cause that they supported all along. I sincerely wish that before authoring another Turcophobic ode, Mr. Harout Sassounian, for instance, analyzes what can be done to resolve the Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict.

- Will this intervention harm relations between Azerbaijan and the US?

I don't think so. With the upcoming elections in November and the heated debates over economy, Safarov case is less than relevant for the broader American audience and U.S. foreign policy.


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