Armenia has announced that it is cutting all its diplomatic relations with Hungary after Budapest released an Azeri soldier convicted of killing an Armenian officer.
Armenia’s President Serzh Sargsyan said in a statement posted on his website on Friday that “Hungarian authorities should understand that they have made a grave mistake” by sending the Azeri serviceman, Ramil Safarov, to Azerbaijan, where he was pardoned and freed by his country’s president.
“I officially announce that as of today we cease all diplomatic relations and all ties with Hungary,” the president added in a press release distributed by his administration.
In 2006, Safarov received a life sentence in Hungary for murdering Armenian officer Gurgen Markaryan in 2004.
The incident took place at a military academy in Budapest where both servicemen attended English-language courses organized by NATO military alliance.
Hungary returned Safarov to Baku after the Azeri government gave an assurance that he would serve his prison term. However, upon his arrival at the country on Friday, the Azeri convict received an official pardon from Azerbaijan’s President Ilham Aliyev.
During his trial in Hungary, Safarov stated that the Azeri-Armenian war over the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh region and insults from the Armenian officer were the main reasons behind his actions.
Azerbaijan and Armenia have long been at loggerheads over control of Nagorno-Karabakh.
Some 30,000 people lost their lives and hundreds of thousands of people were displaced in both countries in a war between the neighbors in the 1990s, which saw Armenia-backed separatists take the mountainous territory.
Years of negotiations since the 1994 ceasefire has failed to yield a final peace deal, with frequent exchanges of gunfire reported along the frontline.