Ambassador to Hungary in diplomatic fracas
What do you get if you combine an Azerbaijani ambassador to Lithuania, a Lithuanian ambassador to Hungary and some off-the-cuff remarks about Armenia all filtered through the viral video-inducing power of YouTube? According to a story making the rounds in Lithuanian media, the result is one sticky international incident that may well be considered a “provocative action” in diplomatic circles.
The problems began with a posting to the video-sharing website about three weeks ago. Entitled “This is how Lithuania really treats Azerbaijan,” the clip consists of a recorded purported phone conversation between Lithuania’s ambassador to Hungary, Renatas Juška, and Zenonas Kumetaitis, a deputy director within the country’s Foreign Affairs Ministry. After some small talk regarding mutual contacts and a protracted bit about BlackBerry use, Juška states (at about 4:55 in the below-embedded clip) that “I'm supportive of those who lead Armenians. They are also Christians and the Stalin regime also made them suffer. Their territories were also reshaped just the way it was with us.”
On his part, Kumetaitis says that, when choosing sides on such a conflict, “one should consider who sides more with Russia and who doesn't.” He goes on to state that "from the religious or just common human point-of-view, Armenia seems closer, though they are also [rotten]."
And Juška in "Part 2" of the video states that "We pass the wishes of Hungary in the name of partnership, just as our own," because "It is most undesirable that Hungary would spoil relations with anybody."
Naturally, Azerbaijani interests were not amused. The country’s ambassador to Lithuania, Hasan Mammadzada, released an official statement calling the posting to YouTube “a new provocative action” against both Azerbaijan and Lithuania; Mammadzada went on to state that such a conversation “would be impossible between two high-ranking diplomats” and that he couldn’t believe “the Lithuanian ambassador to Hungary would express an opinion” counter to his country’s official position.
“I am confident that my real colleague … knows that nowadays, relations between the countries are based on fundamental norms and principles of international law and do not have any alternatives” and that Juška’s alleged “approach to the [Azerbaijan-Armenia] conflict based on religious values [from] the Middle Ages concerns us.” Ambassador Mammadzada said.
While the Lithuanian Ministry of Foreign Affairs is currently investigating the incident, having recalled both Juška and Lithuanian Ambassador to Azerbaijan Artūras Žurauskas to Vilnius for questioning. Some reports state that Žurauskas has in fact already resigned his position.
Meanwhile, a couple of questions remain. Firstly, who posted the clips in the first place? And how will Turkmenistan interests respond to a second pair of clips entitled “This is how Lithuania really treats Turkmenistan”…?
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