Dr. Zorab Aloian

 

Kurdish Theme in the Hungarian Universities

(1945-1995)

 

During the Socialist era, there have been no Kurdish studies in Hungary and almost no publications on the Kurds. All the Kurdish-related material in Hungarian libraries was coming from abroad and mostly the USSR. As in the case with the foreign policy, Hungary together with other socialist states had to follow the Moscow definitions of "progressive" and "reactionary" forces.

Yet, there are a couple of nuances for the Kurdish topic in Hungary. First of all, a book of Kurdish fairy tales was translated from Russian by Judit Pór and Dóra Keresztes.[1] Apart from this, in 1964-1966, the Department of Iranian Studies of the Eötvös Loránd University (ELTE) in Budapest had set up the Kurdish language classes led by Iraqi Kurd Mr Farouk Hafid who later emigrated to Sweden.[2]

It appears that the Kurdish theme was of no validity in economic contacts between Hungary and the four countries with the Kurdish minority problems - Turkey, Iran, Iraq, and Syria. As is seen from the work of Kemény, even those contacts were of minor importance for Hungarian economy which in  terms of foreign trade was rather oriented towards the Socialist (65 %) and Western states (26 %).

By 1980s and later, that is, closer to the time of changes in the whole Socialist block, Hungarian and foreign doctoral candidates started to be dealing with the past and present of the Middle East. Apart from the above mentioned dissertation of Kemény, there were eleven dissertations defended in Hungary: three on the Ottoman period in Hungarian history and eight about various aspects of the modern Middle Eastern politics and economy.

As far as the Ottoman topic is concerned, the dissertations had no word on the Kurds, the fact which has already been elaborated. Thus, for the Hungarian scholars, the Ottoman army and administration were free of nationality issues.

With regard to the Middle Eastern topic, they somehow reflect the image of the Kurds in the academic circles of Hungary. Though only one of them is written by the Hungarian national, all of them had Hungarian supervisors and opponents and became possible in the atmosphere of total avoidance of the Kurdish factor.

The three dissertations about Syria, defended in 1983 and 1984, refer to the Kurdish issue. This includes notes on the projects to divide the Ottoman Empire and create, on its territory, several national states including Kurdistan. Mr Nassouri and Mrs Ács mention that some of Syrian richest landlords who later would enter politics, either directly or using dependent figures, were Kurds. Moreover, Ács - perhaps because of her Hungarian background - is more devoted to the ethnic and religious mosaic of Syria, which also involves the Kurds.

The Iraqi dissertations could not avoid evaluation of the Kurdish problem. Mr Amin Ali is definitely hostile to the demands of "the Kurdish terrorists", even hesitating to use the term Kurdistan. The same attitude is displayed by Mr Mahmoud, who, while analysing technological development in Iraq, throws angry arrows against "terrorist activities of Kurdish nationalists".

Mrs Ali speaks of the role of agriculture in Iraq and Iraqi Kurdistan in a more professional, less emotional manner. This is her typical quotation: "In Iraq wheat production was unstable due to the political unrest in Kurdistan. Seventy five percent of the wheat area of Iraq is in Kurdistan... Political stability in Kurdistan will play a decisive role in increasing wheat output".

Mr Halima discusses the conflicts in the Gulf area and the UN role. His main argument is that all the regional conflicts since 1950s have chiefly been caused by oil factor. Halima’s references to the Kurds are neutral and informative, being correct in factual terms. His following remarks deserve to be provided:

“The Kurds came originally from the Middle of Asia a very long time ago. They have their own features, traditions, history, language and culture yet they are Sunni Muslims. Since the end of the 19th century, they have been struggling to establish a Kurdish state”.

"The Kurds in Iraq were recognized as a people, having their own cultural identity and granted full status as Iraqi citizens. It was hoped that the Kurds and the Arabs would be integrated to form the Iraqi nation. After the independence, the upsurge of pan-Arabism by the new generation, raised the Kurdish suspicion about the future of their identity".

The expert in international law, Mr Aksha in his Human Rights in the Arab World, pays a particular attention to the atrocities committed against the Kurds and other civilians in Syria, Turkey, Iran and especially Iraq.

In addition to establishing links between Kurds and Hungarian mass media reporters, Dr Moustafa Mousa was consulted by József Benke who extensively refers to the Kurdish issue in his very informative and objective book Az arab országok története [A history of the Arab countries]. It contains data on the Kurdish issue in Syria and Iraq some of which is hard to obtain otherwise.

 

References

 

Ali, a gyáva vitéz. Kurd népmesék [Ali the fearful knight. Kurdish fairy tales], trans. from Russian by Judit Pór and Dóra Keresztes. Budapest: Móra Kiadó, 1978.
 
Ács, Ilona, 1984. Politikai küzdelmek Szíriában a függetlenség kivívásától a Baath Párt politikai hatalmának megszilárdulásáig (1946-1970) [Political Processes in Syria from the independence until the power stabilisation under the Baath Party, 1946-1970]. Budapest, Candidate of Sciences Dissertation. Code in the Library of the Academy of Sciences: D 10782; pp. 28, 114-116, 120-121.
 
Aksha, Izeldien Khalil, 1992. Human Rights in the Arab World. Budapest, Candidate of Sciences Dissertation. Code in the Library of the Academy of Sciences: D 15723; pp. 95, 100, 109, 110, 122.
 
Ali, Sabria Ismail, 1990. The Role of Agriculture in the Economic Development of Iraq and Hungary with Special Regards to Wheat. Budapest, Candidate of Sciences Dissertation. Code in the Library of the Academy of Sciences: D 14002; pp. 22-23, 82, 89, 91, 178-180.
 
Amin Ali, Jalal al-Din, 1989. A Shatt al Arab folyó nemzetközi jogi szabályozásának története [A history of the Shatt al Arab river regulation]. Szeged, Candidate of Sciences Dissertation. Code in the Library of the Academy of Sciences: D 13683; pp. 19, 27, 32, 196, 199, 202-203, 206, 214, 217, 223.
 
Benke, József, 1997. Az arab országok története [A history of the Arab countries], vol. 1. Pécs: Alexandra; pp. 290, 327, 331-335, 341, 343-344, 353, 355-359, 361-362, 378-385, 378-385, 387-389, 396-397.
 
Halima, Salah A., 1993. The Conflicts in the Gulf Area and the Role of the United Nations Organization (1980-1990). Budapest, Candidate of Sciences Dissertation. Code in the Library of the Academy of Sciences: D 15780; pp. 27, 39, 46, 51-55, 57, 84, 87, 88, 168, 198, 205.     
 
Kemény, Viktorné, 1966. Geografiia vneshnikh ekonomicheskikh sviazei Vengerskoi Narodnoi Respubliki [The geography of foreign economic relations of the Hungarian People’s Republic]. Perm’ (USSR), Candidate of Sciences Dissertation. Code in the Library of the Academy of Sciences: D 3594.
 
Mahmoud, Ali Mohammed, 1990. Technology Transfer Process and Technological Development in Developing Countries between 1960-1985. Case Study: Iraq. Budapest, Candidate of Sciences Dissertation. Code in the Library of the Academy of Sciences: D 14637; p. 180.
 
Nassouri, Mohammed, 1983. Szíria független államiságának kialakulása és védelme az imperialista törekvésekkel szemben (1946-1958) [The birth of the Syrian statehood and its struggle against imperialism, 1946-1958]. Budapest, Candidate of Sciences Dissertation. Code in the Library of the Academy of Sciences: D 10163; pp. 17, 54, 55, 58, 59, 67, 81.
 
al-Sineh, Riyad, 1983. Szíria társadalmi-politikai fejlődése a Közel-Kelet térségének nemzetközi viszonyai között az első világháborútól az 1960-as évek végéig [The social and political development of Syria and international relations in the Middle East between World War I and the late 1960s]. Budapest, Candidate of Sciences Dissertation. Code in the Library of the Academy of Sciences: D 10156; pp. 3, 14, 16, 20


[1]Ali, a gyáva vitéz.
Judit Pór has also translated Russian authors (Blok, Mayakovsky and Pasternak) as well as the French writers (Saint-Exupery and Guy de Moupassant).
[2]Information provided by Mr Tahsin Lutfi Akraui.