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