Dr Charles Tannock

Member of the European Parliament for London

Azerbaijan: the case of Ramil Safarov

Delivered in Plenary - 13th September 2012

Mr President

The ECR Group regards the granting of a pardon by President Aliyev, and the hero’s welcome given to Ramil Safarov immediately after his return home to Azerbaijan, as deplorable.

This is contrary to the reported diplomatic understanding by Hungary, where he lived because he was convicted and serving a life sentence in prison for carrying out the brutal murder of an Armenian citizen. It is also against the spirit of the European Convention on the Transfer of Sentenced Persons, which is supposed to mean that returned prisoners serve out their sentences in their home country in order to be closer to their families and in their home culture and language.

Although what was done was strictly speaking legally permitted within the laws of Azerbaijan, politically it sends all the wrong signals to Armenia by escalating tensions in an already fraught situation. Azerbaijan is a member of the Council of Europe and participates in Euronest, the EU Eastern Partnership and various other bodies, like the OSCE, which all purport to uphold democratic values and human rights. Clearly this case is illustrative of the increasingly bellicose attitude taken by Baku over the Nagorno-Karabakh territorial dispute.

Renewed efforts must now be made by the European Union, through the Minsk Group, to try to resolve this frozen conflict and establish a long and lasting peace between Armenia and Azerbaijan and allow the whole of the South Caucasus to develop and prosper.