Hungarian Turkish history
How did you come into contact with our country?
I travelled to Hungary for the first time in 1997; since then, my attachment to the country and the people of the land have grown ever stronger. I made Turkology research in Hungary. I'm a general Turkish historian, which means I'm researching the pre-Islamic period, which is an integral part of Hungarian history as well. Namely, we lived at the same area, and the two people were in close contact at that time; the Ottoman times were not the first time we met. Hungarians had a very prominent place in the history of the world in the Middle Ages. I felt the need to learn Hungarian and research Hungarian sources. In general, all Turkish people are interested in Hungary; the love of the Hungarian people is an integral part of the Turkish tradition for thousands of years. But even in accordance with the Hungarian tradition we are brothers and sisters, relatives and friends. The Turks, in one thing are very grateful to Hungarians: You started Turkology research, and the world's first Turkology Department was established at ELTE University in Budapest, which is still continues researching the subject.
You speak excellent Hungarian.
I was very afraid of the Hungarian language the first time. For example, I spent two and a half years of my life to learn Arabic, I spent two years to learn English. Then I started learning the Hungarian language, I was shocked to realize how easy it was to me to learn this language; roughly, after about six months, I was semi-fluent, and I made a Hungarian language exam. All of my initial fears have gone: I noticed that Hungarian has the same logic and grammar like the Turkish language, and we have many common words, which are not originating from the Ottoman period but are part of the deep structure of the language. I had the feeling that Hungarian was a dialect of the Turkish language. But you should know that the Hungarian language carries the characteristics of the western-Turkish structure, while the Turkish carries its eastern characteristics.
According to the good old tradition, a major war is going on in Hungary, among those supporting the Finno-Ugric and those advocating the Turkish origin of our language. What is your take on this issue?
The Finno-Ugric theory is the officially accepted theory of the Hungarian government and has already entrenched in common thinking since about 150 years, but the Altaic origin is a two thousand years old tradition. I feel the Finno-Ugric theory beginning to lose its significance, and the Altaic seems to grow ever stronger. The view of Finno-Ugric theory may change first, among academics and later, among the population. We, Turks have no right to take sides in this academic debate. My job is to compare Hungarian and Turkish linguistic structures and come to some kind of conclusion. But Turkish society too has something to say about the identity of Hungarians.
Turkish society is very open towards Hungarians, but how do you see the attitude of Hungarians?