Tribal meeting of the Turanians with Hungarian government support

It was two years ago that I wrote about a Turanian tribal meeting in Hungary. At that time a friend of mine sent me a link to a Hungarian-language paper published in Romania. The article he called my attention to was a detailed description of Kurultaj 2010, a three-day affair organized by the Hungarian-Turanian Foundation.

Those were the good old days. By now the fourth Turanian tribal meeting that is being held in Hungary starting today is a semi-official, government sponsored affair. One doesn’t have to go to an obscure Romanian website to read a description of  the event. Today, one of the Fidesz deputy speakers of the house is the sponsor of the tribal meeting and the Hungarian government is providing a generous grant of 70 million forints to the foundation to hold the gathering.

Last year apparently 150,000 people attended the affair, but this year the organizers are expecting 250,000. And while two years ago the delegations of 12 countries took part in the event, this year the number of participating countries is 25. The organizers expect forty newspapermen from Turkey alone. Ten countries’ television crews will also be present. The entertainment is being provided by 111 groups made up of people with an interest in early Hungarian history and customs.

Sándor Lezsák greets the visiting tribal leaders in parliament

The participants coming from abroad, allegedly relatives of the Hungarians, were greeted with great fanfare in parliament, in the chamber of the former upper house. Even the Foreign Ministry was represented by Ernő Keskeny, the head of the department dealing with Eastern Europe and Central Asia. He emphasized that “the organization of Kurultaj is in accord with the present government’s foreign policy strategy, the politics of opening toward the East, and it will surely contribute to its success.” Until now this event was associated exclusively with Jobbik, but it seems that the Hungarian government is now actively supporting this yearly gathering of  the Hungarian-Turanian Foundation.

There are two problems with Turanism. The first is that it is a completely bogus theory that has no scientific foundation. The second is that Hungarian Turanism is associated with Ferenc Szálasi’s Hungarism as well as the ideology of Jobbik.

The term “Turanian” was coined by Max Müller (1823-1900), a German orientalist. He called all languages that did not belong to the Indo-European or the Semitic language families Turanian. Linguistically it turned out to be a faulty theory, but “Turanian” continued to be used in a geopolitical sense for a while. Turan is the Persian name for Central Asia, and the original Turanians were an ancient Iranian tribe. Jobbik’s support of Iran can perhaps understood not only as a reflection of its anti-Semitism but also of its attachment to the idea of Turanism.

Turanian lands and people according to the Hungarian-Turanian Society

Turanism in Hungary became especially fashionable in far-right circles after World War I. They were disillusioned with the West because of the Treaty of Trianon and turned toward the East in search of new allies. Doesn’t that sound familiar? The most radical Turanians actually stressed the superiority of Eastern culture and race over the Caucasians of the West. Ferenc Szálasi was among those who believed in the existence of a Turanian-Hungarian race that also included Jesus Christ; this idea became a key part of his ideology of Hungarism.

Today Jobbik and its president are wholehearted supporters of Turanism and Pan-Turkism since Jobbik considers Hungarian to be a Turkic language. And it seems that the Hungarian government is ready to join ranks with Jobbik in supporting Turanism, thereby standing behind an absolutely unscientific theory. Two years ago I thought that Sándor Lezsák (Fidesz) might not be familiar with the history of Hungarian Turanism. By now, I am certain that he knows all about Turanism past and present and belongs to the extreme right of the party whose ideology includes a belief in Turanism. I would put László Kövér in the same category. With the “rehabilitation” of the Horthy regime comes a revitalization of Turanism. Where will this all lead? Certainly not back to Turan but perhaps out of the community of European nations in spirit and ideology.

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Guest
August 10, 2012 6:35 pm

Funny then, how Hungarians don’t look Eastern. Most are Slavic in appearance, with a fair number of what look like northern European/Germanic.

Even funnier that the only ones who look genuinely ‘eastern’ (geographically, at least) are the Roma.

I wonder if the Fidesz-Jobbik nutters see the funny side of that?

Member
Some1
August 10, 2012 6:58 pm

Mark my word, there will be Hungarian citizenship given out shortly based on DNA. It will be printed on dogskin and each recipient will also receive a leather bound Basic Law, and a registration card for voting. Hungary will set up voting stations from Uyguristan to Lappland in 2014. In 2013 Orban will have some scuffle with the EU as he will make a speech about how the foreign-hearted Turks pushed us back from lands that still belongs to early Hungarian tribes, hence to Hungary, and it is time for the USA and the EU to do something about this and stop wasting their time on such non-important issues as Syria for example.

Guest
gdfxx
August 10, 2012 10:01 pm

Some1 :
In 2013 Orban will have some scuffle with the EU as he will make a speech about how the foreign-hearted Turks pushed us back from lands that still belongs to early Hungarian tribes, hence to Hungary, and it is time for the USA and the EU to do something about this and stop wasting their time on such non-important issues as Syria for example.

I think you are wrong. After all the Turks are also Hungarians. Thus they will also receive Hungarian citizenship. And this will be the way into the EU for Turkey (under the name of The Greatest Hungary). Minor modifications of history will be required, like the fights between Hungarians and Turks will be re-characterized as civil wars.

Guest
Karl Pfeifer
August 11, 2012 2:16 am

I went during the 90ies into the foyer of “Magyarok világszövetsége” in Budapest which was once the house of soviet culture. There was a fellow who sold books like one of Zajti about Jesus who was not Jewish and arrow cross propaganda about “világhóditók”.
Nice to see the catholic Sándor Lezsák making propaganda for pre-Christian mythology.

Guest
August 11, 2012 4:43 am

Maybe a bit OT, but …

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/P%C3%A1l_Tur%C3%A1n

Turán Pál was a brilliant Jewish Hungarian mathematician, working with Erdős but famous in his own name. From his biography:
http://www-gap.dcs.st-and.ac.uk/history/Biographies/Turan.html
” One might have expected that this brilliant young mathematician would have easily found a university position. However, this was far from the case since the severe discrimination against him because of his Jewish origins meant that he could not even obtain a post as a school teacher. In order to support himself financially, and give himself the chance to continue his mathematical researches, he had to make a living as a private mathematics tutor.”

And things became worse – he was sent into one of those work camps in 1940 (!) but that probably saved his life …

There is a very moving story about this frail man: Another worker in the camp called him and one of the guards heard the name “Turan” and asked if he was related to the famous mathematician … When he said “I am Paul Turan” the guard arranged for some lighter (office ?) work for him so he could go on doing mathematics and survived …

Life is strange …

Guest
August 11, 2012 4:49 am

OH! Well it is the Cucumber season. These weirdos and loonies have to be given a free(ish) run to divert attention from the ‘nastiness’ coming from the Viktator’s maties.

It has also re-awakened my interest in the Cumans as my late wife had ver Cumanish features.

Guest
Kirsten
August 11, 2012 5:40 am

Karl Pfeifer :
Nice to see the catholic Sándor Lezsák making propaganda for pre-Christian mythology.

That was explained to us by Kovach recently (indirectly), you must look at Hungarianism as a religion, then it starts to make sense (Holy Crown, membership based on belief…). Why these strong believers in Hungarianism also consider themselves Catholic, is an open question to me, but the hierarchy of their values clearly puts the nation first. It identifies Hungarians also firmly as Europeans as they have adopted specific European thought on the nation and the race.

Guest
w.a.
August 11, 2012 6:26 am

Paul :
Funny then, how Hungarians don’t look Eastern. Most are Slavic in appearance, with a fair number of what look like northern European/Germanic.
Even funnier that the only ones who look genuinely ‘eastern’ (geographically, at least) are the Roma.
I wonder if the Fidesz-Jobbik nutters see the funny side of that?

Sorry to doubt your last remark: If there is one characteristics of Fidesz’ leading members, it is the absolute lack of a sense of humor.

Guest
Rettegő Iván
August 11, 2012 6:42 am

It is off-topic, just some addendum.

As far as I know, turanism does not have only extreme-right roots. Before the I World War, for example, the leader of the Turanist Association was Mihály Károlyi, other leaders/members were the famous jewish scholars Ignác Goldziher and Ármin Vámbéry.

The turanism was based upon the notion that the Hungarians came from East. In 1235 king Béla IV. sent monks to find the other Hungarians, who did not participate in the foundation of the Hungarian Kingdom. According to monk Julianus, he found them. It is another source to Hungarian Turanism.

Member
Some1
August 11, 2012 8:16 am

Rettegő Iván : The turanism was based upon the notion that the Hungarians came from East. In 1235 king Béla IV. sent monks to find the other Hungarians, who did not participate in the foundation of the Hungarian Kingdom. According to monk Julianus, he found them. It is another source to Hungarian Turanism. I do not think anyone on this blog questions of have a problem with people studying Hungarian origins. THe problem we are having is the importance that Fidesz and Jobbik puts on this issue. It is in an interesting subject but for the government to flip over a quarter million euros to have a conference about it in this economy is a ‘bit strange. We were also surprised to hear how welcoming the Fidesz and Jobbik are to the idea (facts) of having all sorts of different blood circling the true Hungarian human’s bloodstream, while they are clearly having problems with Jewish, Romany, Chinese and with other variations. I did eloquently asked Mr Kovach at some point, who would he consider True Hungarian (Kovach is the perfect sample of the supporter of Orban/Jobbik Hungarian nation) and his answer were very much aligned with what the Jobbik and… Read more »

Guest
petofi
August 11, 2012 8:21 am

Kirsten :

Karl Pfeifer :
Nice to see the catholic Sándor Lezsák making propaganda for pre-Christian mythology.

That was explained to us by Kovach recently (indirectly), you must look at Hungarianism as a religion, then it starts to make sense (Holy Crown, membership based on belief…). Why these strong believers in Hungarianism also consider themselves Catholic, is an open question to me, but the hierarchy of their values clearly puts the nation first. It identifies Hungarians also firmly as Europeans as they have adopted specific European thought on the nation and the race.

Perhaps it’s the sneaky Catholic Church’s attempt to ally itself…and, ever so modestly, present itself as second in importance to the nationalist aspirations…?

Guest
Rettego Ivan
August 11, 2012 10:14 am

I don’t really understand this blood issue. What is the meaning of Kurultaj in this context? I don’t understand what Mr. Kovach thought about True Hungarians, I don’t understand this notion itself. I don’t really understand why this issue would bring division amongst the Hungarians. This Kurultaj thing is about geopolitics: Hungary needs Central-Asian, etc markets and raw materials, they need advanced technology. They picked up the notion of Hungarians’ distant origin, civic movements organised conferences (Kurultaj started 6 years ago, first conferences took place in distant countries, like Kazakhstan), Hungarian gvmnt built up a cultural diplomacy based on this. FIDESZ sees it as an investment to foster good economic relations. Hungarians actually came from the East, why not make advantage of it, just like the U.S. took advantage of its anticolonial past (“US. can’t be a neocolonist power, since it was a colony itself” – they say.) The oil to the EU comes from the region where the participants of the Kurultaj live. We have been there in that region since the 1970es. End of story. It’s a pity that this issue has extreme-right origins as well, and awakens bad feelings. But personally I don’t see this turanism as… Read more »

Guest
petofi
August 11, 2012 1:29 pm

Eva S. Balogh : Rettego Ivan: “This Kurultaj thing is about geopolitics: Hungary needs Central-Asian, etc markets and raw materials, they need advanced technology. They picked up the notion of Hungarians’ distant origin, civic movements organised conferences (Kurultaj started 6 years ago, first conferences took place in distant countries, like Kazakhstan), Hungarian gvmnt built up a cultural diplomacy based on this. FIDESZ sees it as an investment to foster good economic relations.” I’ll tell you what the problem with it. That it is unscientific and misleading. Eva S. Balogh : Rettego Ivan: “This Kurultaj thing is about geopolitics: Hungary needs Central-Asian, etc markets and raw materials, they need advanced technology. They picked up the notion of Hungarians’ distant origin, civic movements organised conferences (Kurultaj started 6 years ago, first conferences took place in distant countries, like Kazakhstan), Hungarian gvmnt built up a cultural diplomacy based on this. FIDESZ sees it as an investment to foster good economic relations.” I’ll tell you what the problem with it. That it is unscientific and misleading. Raw materials from Karakhstan? You got me there. What would that be that they couldn’t get from European countries? Is this some usual Russian deviousness to tie Hungary… Read more »

Guest
August 11, 2012 1:46 pm

What is the opinion of the Hungarian Academy of Science on the government promoting unscientific ideas?

Guest
gdfxx
August 11, 2012 6:01 pm

Eva S. Balogh :

Jean P :
What is the opinion of the Hungarian Academy of Science on the government promoting unscientific ideas?

They don’t seem to worry or at least this is what I learned from a conversation yesterday with a turkologist. To summarize it. Yes, it is ridiculous but they can do whatever they want. As long as it doesn’t seep into the scientific community. I think he is wrong.

The reaction of an ostrich. They should learn form the Ceausescu experience, his wife, who supposedly graduated from elementary school, had herself elected into the Romanian Academy of Science and practically took it over. The way Orban and his clique go, something similar would not surprise me.

Guest
August 11, 2012 7:01 pm

I am so glad that anything that has to do with Hungarian history brings out the obvious hatred in many blog acolytes with a good mixture of ignorance. First of all, to my knowledge’ nobody is forcing anybody to be a Hungarian in Hungary. If you feel that you are a “guest” there at least have some respect for the majorities customs and beliefs. Every (well almost every) nation has a history which is in some cases loaded with myths. Nobody denies Asiam origins of the Hungarians who occupied the Carpathian basin. Do not go for contrary references to recent books, there are a good amount of contemporary Greek, Persian, Arab writings about those days. I trust those more than a 1980 book referencing a 1910 book referencing an 1860 book without original sources given. Lots of culturally useful items came out of Asia including from the areas where supposedly Hungarians also originated. Tamed horses, the wheel, wagons, etc. and the proofs for those are not in Hungarian propaganda. As an example wheeled transport originated at the Ural/Volga region and spread from there both to the West through the Carpathian basin and directly South toward the Middle East. The current… Read more »

Guest
Kirsten
August 11, 2012 7:16 pm

Louis Kovach, have you heard already of the 21st century? Perhaps a calender could be of great use to check the relevance of what you write. Have you already heard of the concept of a nation and how old that concept is in the interpretation that you use?

” there are a good amount of contemporary Greek, Persian, Arab writings about those days. I trust those more than a 1980 book referencing a 1910 book referencing an 1860 book without original sources given.”

Please do. But what makes you so sure that the original sources from the Greek, Persian and Arab writings are “original”? In your words: I am quite curious how you will prove that.

Guest
gdfxx
August 11, 2012 7:37 pm

So here we are: the Hungarians invented the wheel. The only thing I don’t understand then: why didn’t they arrive in cars instead of riding horses? Maybe they were preparing for the Olympic games…

Guest
August 11, 2012 8:44 pm

GDFX: “Europe Between the Oceans: 9000 BC-AD 1000” by Barry Cunliffe 2008 by the Yale University Press.

You may peruse it bewtween your Hungarian bashings. But please do not play Some1 with me, I did not say it was the Hungarians.

Guest
August 11, 2012 8:45 pm

KIRSTEN: “Louis Kovach, have you heard already of the 21st century?”

Yes I have, but I prefer my history not freshly made!

Member
Some1
August 11, 2012 11:21 pm

Louis Kovach : You may peruse it bewtween your Hungarian bashings. But please do not play Some1 with me, I did not say it was the Hungarians. I made it to Louis’ vocabulary! “play Some1” means, translating what is implied through previous comments (or actions) OR simplify the real message. For me by the way Louis the more important part of this blog entry was not that anyone is “forcing anybody to be a Hungarian ” quite the contrary, there are a selective group of Hungarians who they try to strip off the rights of those who lived and worked in Hungary for centuries and enriched Hungary. Many from the same group spends millions of forints to try to find something that shows Hungarians that we are not alone in this small planet, because we still have places where they paint “Tulip motifs” all over. Is this really that important for a country where anti-semite writers are embraced, where nazi supporters are receiving their own statues? THe problem here Louis are the priorities, and that a country should embrace what they have at first and spend money on promoting that versus spending money on finding the missing link.. By the… Read more »

Guest
gdfxx
August 11, 2012 11:51 pm

Louis Kovach :
GDFX: “Europe Between the Oceans: 9000 BC-AD 1000″ by Barry Cunliffe 2008 by the Yale University Press.
You may peruse it bewtween your Hungarian bashings. But please do not play Some1 with me, I did not say it was the Hungarians.

I don’t play with people like you.

It is not “Hungarian bashing”, just stupid-Hungarian bashing. Or are you claiming that there are no stupid Hungarians ?

Guest
Karl Pfeifer
August 12, 2012 2:49 am

In Bugac Fidesz pretends to take out the wind of Jobbik sails. But in reality it is preparing already now a possible coalition Orbán-Vona.

Member
Some1
August 12, 2012 7:22 am

Karl Pfeifer :
In Bugac Fidesz pretends to take out the wind of Jobbik sails. But in reality it is preparing already now a possible coalition Orbán-Vona.

I think so too. When Orban moved to the right from the left in order to remain a “player” he had no idea how much right he has to move in order to remain in power. It is not about his personal beliefs no more, it is about what will keep him in the game.

Guest
August 12, 2012 9:06 am

gdfxx: “It is not “Hungarian bashing”, just stupid-Hungarian bashing. Or are you claiming that there are no stupid Hungarians ?”

No, I do not, there are very good examples right here on this blog.

Guest
August 12, 2012 9:07 am

Some1: “p.s Louis, Do you remember how you love my misspellings? You wrote Asiam instead of Asian, and bewtween instead of between.”

You are better than a spell checker. :-)

Member
Some1
August 12, 2012 10:29 am

Louis Kovach :
Some1: “p.s Louis, Do you remember how you love my misspellings? You wrote Asiam instead of Asian, and bewtween instead of between.”
You are better than a spell checker.

lol Finally you made me smile in a good way.

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