26 May 2024

Sunday, 12:41


Zsolt Andras Biro, chairman of the Hungarian-Turan Foundation, a historian and anthropologist, replies to questions put by R+



- Mr Biro, there are few nations in Europe who can be proud of their historic roots going back so far into ancient times. One of the most ancient nations is the Hungarians. What is it like to be the modern descendants of the Huns?

- The Hungarian nation is an amazing one. Although the Hungarians have been living in Europe for over a thousand years now, they still remember their noble warrior ancestors, who conquered enormous territories and arrived in the Carpathian Basin from the east, from the Eurasian steppes. To this day, the Hungarians have preserved many elements of their ancient culture and also their special, ancient oriental language. The great ruler Attila is one of the most important figures in Hungarian tradition; the Hungarian elite has been proud of him for many centuries. The pedigree of the kings who descended from the Arpad dynasty, which ruled over Hungary for many centuries, also originates from Attila. After the death of Attila (in the year 453), a considerable number of the Huns withdrew from the Hungarian territories and returned to the east and settled in the northern Caucasus.

Later on, the alliance of Hungarian tribes set off again to the west from there and, under the command of Arpad, took over the Carpathian Basin.

The Hungarians are very proud of their origins and their glorious ancestors. Thanks to their special history and outstanding oriental culture, the only one like it in Europe, they have been able to preserve their own specific nature (although Europe has had a great deal of influence on them over the last millennium) and their own national character, even among the numerous European nations. Hungarian statehood, which has existed for over a thousand years now, is the oldest on the continent! The majority of Hungarians are justly proud of this and passionately preserve their national traditions.

- Every year, in order to preserve their traditions and customs and pass them on to future generations, a Hun-Turkish kurultai (congress) is held in your country, to which well-known personalities and public figures are invited. Next month there will be an "Attila Day" festival. What can you tell us about the significance of such events? Have you managed to achieve your main aims over the last few years?

- Once every two years, the Hungarian-Turan Foundation organizes a grandiose international event devoted to the preservation of ancient traditions, the Hun-Turkic Tribal Assembly, that is the Kurultai. This is a celebration to commemorate the great history of the Huns and the Turkic peoples, and it also boosts the solidarity among fraternal nations. Apart from that, in the year in between (every second year), in cooperation with more than 100 Hungarian culture preservation groups, the Hungarian-Turan Fund organizes an "Ancestors' Day". On this day, the Hungarians commemorate their greatest ancestors and the founders of the dynasty, to whom they owe their country. This way, they commemorate both the great ruler Attila and the leader Arpad, who are the Hungarians' greatest ancestors. Hungarians from all over the world come to these celebrations in order to rejoice and join together in the commemoration.

Many nations in this world lose their own special characteristics and their roots, and as a result, they lose confidence in themselves. For this reason, these celebrations are even more important, as they bring together the different parts of the nation and generations. In order to counteract globalization, which destroys national cultures, these celebrations can be a source of strength and healthy pride for the Hungarians and their fraternal nations, Azerbaijan in particular.

- Mr Biro, you have been head of the Hungarian-Turan Foundation for a long time now. What dictated the need to set up this foundation? What projects is the foundation working on at the moment and what are its plans for the future?

- The reason why I established the Hungarian-Turan Foundation was that I felt it was necessary for science to assist in preserving ancient Hungarian traditions. Besides the many other events aimed at preserving Hungarian traditions, I wanted to create a completely special one, in which national clothing, weaponry, and other exhibits would truly reflect those of the past (that is, they should resemble the clothes and weaponry that our ancestors used in ancient times as closely as possible). Apart from that, my purpose was to let everyone see for themselves the rich Hun-Turkic culture, to boost cooperation among fraternal nations due to their similar historical roots and cultural parallelism.

The cooperation between Hungary and Azerbaijan is playing an important part in this. For example, it is making people aware that, in spite the big (geographical) distances, the Azerbaijani and Hungarian people are not only similar to one another owing to their shared past, but they are actually related. The great challenge of the future will be to record the history of the Huns and Turkic peoples with the help of scientific projects, based on modern scientific data (anthropology, genetics). I hope that numerous projects like this will be initiated in the very near future.

- There is an ambiguous attitude to Turkic peoples and Huns in Europe. Numerous artificial barriers have been raised to including these nations in the European family. Unjust accusations are being put forward regarding their past. How would you explain the existence of such stereotypes?

- It's natural that every nation tries to present its own historical actions or role as more important than those of others. For this reason, it's partly understandable that those conquerors from outside of Europe (the Huns and members of the Turkic peoples), who also had a different culture and religion, are presented in a very negative way in the written history of Europe. They are sometimes even described as some kind of demons. Nevertheless, with time these false images will eventually fade away. Also, the modern world and its publications (books, articles, and films) provide a more scientific point of view, which help people develop a more realistic image. On the other hand, these negative views should not be regarded as very significant, since those nations with a great history (like the descendants of the Huns and the Turkic peoples) will always be envied and criticized. We should not respond to these views with anger, but rather with appropriate pride and scientific statements.

- As the president of the Hungarian-Turan Foundation, you have been to Azerbaijan and met with officials several times. If it is not a secret, in what spheres are you planning to cooperate with official and civic institutions in Azerbaijan?

- Not only is cooperation between Azerbaijan and Hungary excellent, but the two countries are also strategic partners. This cooperation between Azerbaijan and Hungary is especially important to the Hungarian-Turan Fund. Over the years, we have acquired many friends and partners in Azerbaijan. Our visits have always been a great experience and, thanks to our excellent hosts, we have always felt very much at home in Azerbaijan. We also make sure that our Azerbaijani guests feel welcome when they attend our programmes; they are always among the most honoured guests among the representatives of the other related nations.


We aim to cooperate with cultural and scientific organizations in Azerbaijan, and it is our goal to create joint publications. Our cooperation with the Azerbaijani deputies is also very important; we have already organized several joint programmes with some of them. One of them is deputy Qanira Pasayeva, who was a guest of honour at the Kurultai in Hungary. We have excellent ties with the Baku-based International Eurasia Press Fund, with whom we are planning several joint projects. One of our most experienced advisers on international cooperation is the Fund's Chairman, Umud Mirzayev, who is well aware of the situation in Hungary too. Regarding the preservation of the Hungarians' ancient culture, the Turk Cumhuriyetleri Birligi Koordinasyon Merkezi [Turkic-speaking Countries Coordination Centre] is our most important partner. In order to implement future projects (both scientific and aimed at ancient culture preservation), we are looking for possibilities to collaborate (with scientific institutions, universities and sports associations). I believe in successful, mutual cooperation between Azerbaijan and Hungary and in the prosperous future of both nations, including the restoration of Azerbaijan's territorial integrity.