Budapest Case - the history of the murder of Gurgen Margaryan
Lt. Gurgen Margaryan
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Speech at the Permanent Council of OSCE


Armenian citizen Gurgen Margaryan, 26 years old, was hacked to death while asleep by Ramil Safarov, a Lieutenant of the Azerbaijani Army. Both were participants of an English language training course within the framework of the NATO-sponsored “Partnership for Peace” program held in Budapest, Hungary.

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Speech Delivered by Ambassador J. Tabibian at the 497th meeting of the Permanent Council of Organization For Security And Cooperation In Europe (OSCE)

Mr. Chairman,

Allow me to deal with a rather sad and very disturbing subject.

First the facts:

Early in the morning of February 19th, at 4:45 am, an Armenian military officer was murdered in his sleep in Budapest, Hungary. The victim, Lieutenant Gourgen Margarian, 26 years old, was participating in a NATO sponsored Partnership for Peace English Language Training course, held at the Zrinyi Miklos National Defense University in Budapest. The arrested murderer now in police custody, a member of the armed forces of the Republic of Azerbaijan, was also a participant in that same language-training course that had begun on January 8, 2004. It is understable that this crime committed with "unusual cruelty" to quote the police, has provoked indignation, anger, and deep concern in my country. My Government's first Statement to this effect was distributed to all delegations at the OSCE, last week.

Before I discuss the full and unsettling implications of this murder, may I be allowed here to say a few words of very sincere appreciation to the delegation of Hungary. Having just returned from Budapest, I can only recognize the cooperative and supportive attitude extended by the Hungarian Authorities to our diplomatic and military personnel who had come to deal with a complicated and complex situation. Dismay and shock were evident everywhere. There was incredulity that on the grounds of the Defense University, in one of the officers' residences, such acts could take place. It was unprecedented.

My Government has every confidence that the police and the courts of Budapest where the crime was committed, will, with the full vigor of the law, pursue the judicial process, dispense justice and apply the strictest and maximum punishment to be served in Hungary, a punishment that a gruesome murder deserves. It was a murder, committed in cold blood, deliberate and premeditated, according to the accused's own admission.

My delegation wishes it could have extended the similar appreciation it did to the Hungarian Authorities to all those others who unfortunately chose and continue to choose to remain silent. We are deeply disappointed, and surprised by such silence or equivocation in this clear cut case where an officer of one participating State, murders with an axe an officer of another participating State. We must argue that neutrality is not silence nor silence neutrality. It is silence, selective muted statements, mutism in general that play politics. Under the guise of avoiding "politicizing" a situation, those who chose to stay on the sideline, fail in the most basic of our norms and commitments: the explicit condemnation of violence driven by hatred. This year alone, the OSCE will hold three conferences related to various forms of intolerance. One of them will be specifically addressing hate speech. Yet when there is actually a hate crime, a murderous and barbaric act driven by pure hatred, the hatred of the enemy, of the other, this hall is subdued. Anyone looking from outside in, will marvel at the OSCE's sanctimonious declarations about intent, and values and principles, while at the same time choosing to remain cautious and ambiguous in the presence of hateful actions.

When we fail to condemn the act of the murderer in Budapest, we condone the words and the actions of Azerbaijan as it implicitly condones such acts itself. Fanning the flames of hatred, state sponsored and propagated Armenophobia in and by Azerbaijan provides a pretext, a reason, a motivation, better yet, a license to those who are inclined to operate outside the law, thinking they are doing national duty.

Subsequent to the crime committed in Budapest, the Statement issued by Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Azerbaijan is a case in point. Its structure and intent are so deceptive, that some colleagues suggested that my Government should welcome this gesture, and see in it a sign of reason and comprehension.

Mr. Chairman,

Unfortunately, a careful and close reading of the statement is both instructive and very disappointing. Instead of an unequivocal condemnation of the act, the official statement provides explanations as a justification. Besides the fact that in the very first paragraph it mentions that an Armenian serviceman was killed, there is no link between the murder victim and the murderer referred to in the second paragraph. This entire paragraph is an exercise in blaming the victim, an old and vicious practice, used throughout history to justify persecution and genocide of the "impure other".

We find it particularly offensive and bothersome that the Azerbaijani leadership by its own words thinks the defense of the offended "honor and dignity" of an officer can be redressed by the gruesome action of the supposedly offended officer by decapitating another officer in his sleep, defenseless and unarmed. A very starange idea of honor! Suffice it to add, that nowhere in the police reports, or the statements of the witnesses and fellow students of the course, there is any reference to any supposed hostile exchange or an altercation between murderer and victim.

We find it discouraging that the perpetrator of a cowardly act is, right before our eyes being transformed into a hero, entrusted with defending memory and righting wrongs in this reprehensible manner. It is symptomatic that such brutality is being referred to as an "incident" throughout the Azerbaijani's statement. Or suggesting to the millions of refugees around the world, including to those of Armenia, that they should encourage self-appointed avengers operating outside the law and state structures, even as they wear the uniform of a state's armed forces. Actually, perhaps the Azerbaijani officer detained for murder did not think he was acting outside his government's and his superiors' wishes, designs and ideology, since his leaders encourage people to act vengefully.

Mr. Chairman,

Let me conclude by saying that Azerbaijan uses the prevailing Armenophobia in its population as an obstacle to peaceful resolution of the NK conflict, where compromises may have to be made on both sides. But no one is telling Azerbaijan that the prevailing level of murderous hostility and hysteria is the result of the authorities' own actions, encouragements, distortions, exaggerations, in short their effective hate propaganda.

Mr. Chairman,

A few weeks ago, here at a Permanent Council meeting I expressed my Government's indignation at Azerbaijan's refusal to issue visas and allow Armenians to attend a preparatory Conference in Baku for forthcoming NATO/PfP "Co-operative Best Effort" exercises. Flaunting blatantly and unapologetically its engagements even within multilateral arrangements such as PfP, where its obligations are clear, it has received no public rebuke. There was none here. When we fail to explicitly condemn so-called little things, we eventually face the dilemma of what to say about monstrous acts.

At every step Armenia has stated and demonstrated its willingness to co-operate wherever possible, to create and implement confidence building measures. My Government continues to do so. Without building such confidence, neither side can convince its own population to accept peace. At each step and every opportunity Azerbaijan has refused to demonstrate any flexibility or willingness to start a process of unfreezing the conflict in the minds of its own population. The Azerbaijani statement has it all backwards: it is the reduction of tension, hostility and pumped up hatred that will lead to resolution and peace, not the other way around.

It is the responsibility of all of us to see this sequence in its proper order: Security and co-operation as well as through co-operation. Otherwise, we are all out of bussiness.

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

Source: Official web site of the
Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Armenia



Armenian response
Responses by Azerbaijani officials and public figures