CWIHP e-Dossier No. 67

List of Documents

 

Bittersweet Friendships: Relations between Hungary and the Middle East, 1953–1988

by Csaba Békés, Centre for Social Sciences, Institute for Political Science, Hungarian Academy of Sciences; Corvinus University of Budapest, Institute of International Studies; Cold War History Research Center, Budapest
László J. Nagy, Szeged University
Dániel Vékony, Corvinus University of Budapest

 

INTRODUCTION

In this e-Dossier, we present a collection of documents that deal with the relationship between Hungary and countries of the Middle East. Using the term “Middle East” we refer to the states of the so-called greater Middle East, or what the World Bank refers to as the MENA region, meaning Middle East and North Africa.[1] We chose to include Sudan in this group since there were tangible relations between the two countries during the Cold War era. This chosen unit mainly covers Islamic countries with the obvious exception of Israel. However, in accordance with the World Bank grouping, we will not deal with those Muslim states that lie east from Iran.

The history of the Hungarian connections with countries of the Islamic world and the Middle East can be traced back to several centuries. Even though there was no constant Islamic presence in Hungary, the country got into touch from time to time with Muslim communities and states where Islam was the dominant religion even before the 20th century. After the breakup of the Austro-Hungarian Empire in 1918, only a marginal Muslim presence remained in the country.

As Hungary became part of the Soviet Bloc after World War II, the country needed to give heed to the line that was directed from Moscow. Since the countries of the Middle East were not significant for Moscow under Stalin, this early period cannot be characterised by intensive relations between the Soviet Bloc-countries and those of the Middle East. It is worth mentioning the Zhdanov doctrine which divided the World into two camps, made it difficult to deal with countries that were not part of either bloc, and those Middle Eastern countries that gained their independence by this time did not play a significant role in the new bipolar world. Besides, before 1953 a number of territories of the Middle East were still under direct or indirect control of the colonialist European powers. Moreover, at that time the focus of the Kremlin’s attention in world politics was in Europe and Asia (Korea), which is another cause why the Middle East was not of high importance to the Soviet Union and her satellite states. Hungary was no exception to this trend; the country’s relationship with Middle Eastern countries was marginal during this period. The only exception in the region was Czechoslovakia that took a significant role in supplying weapons to Israel during the 1948-1949 conflict. Significant connections between Hungary and the Middle East restarted only after the death of Stalin in 1953, but a few years were needed for closer and more tangible connections to be rebuilt after years of neglect.

The following parts of the introduction will present the documents in five thematic groups. Firstly, we deal with the subject of political relations between the Middle East, Hungary and the Soviet Bloc. Secondly, we will cover those documents that deal with economic relations. As we will demonstrate below, the region was a significant export-market for Hungary. Afterwards, we will focus on military cooperation. Export from Hungary to Middle Eastern countries played a major role in this spectrum as well. Fourthly, we discuss the relationship between Hungary and the communist parties of the region. Finally, we will present documents that deal with the Iraq-Iran war that lasted for almost eight years between September 1980 and August 1988.

  1. Political relations

Before turning our attention to the archive documents that deal with political relations between the Middle Eastern countries and Hungary, let us see, in which countries of the region Hungary established diplomatic missions.[2] As one of the main partners in the region, Egypt was the first country Hungary came into contact with after World War II in 1947. However, diplomatic relations with Iraq were established as early as 1937. Nevertheless, establishing diplomatic relations is only the first step that is followed by their build up until the point of having a permanent representative or envoy in the given country. Egypt is also an exception, since the first and last minister of the Hungarian Republic, Viktor Csornoky arrived there in 1947 only to be called back and later executed by the Rákosi regime in 1948. Then, it was only in 1957 when a new Hungarian envoy was delegated to Cairo by the Hungarian Peoples’s Republic, proclaimed in 1949. Israel was the second country, with which Hungary established diplomatic relations in 1948, however after the six-day war in 1967 these official links were cut-off, only to be restored just before the regime change in September, 1989.  In 1951, the connections were taken up with Iran, but it was only in 1964 when the Foreign Ministry could open an Embassy in Tehran. Syria and Sudan are similar cases, with diplomatic relations established in 1954 and 1956, and Embassy openings in 1961 and 1966, respectively. With Tunisia and Morocco, the case was simpler. Embassies there opened in the year of the establishment of diplomatic relations, namely in 1956 for Tunisia and 1959 for Morocco. Yemen is another example for a country where Hungary managed to set up links in 1959, but Embassies were only opened in 1963 in Sana’a and in 1968 in Aden respectively. Hungarian Embassies were open in Somalia in 1960, in Algeria in 1962, in Kuwait in 1963 and in Jordan in 1964. The last country of the region was Libya, where relations and an Embassy were set up only in 1967.

And now let us take a look at how some of the relationships between countries of the region and Hungary developed after 1953.

The death of the Soviet dictator did not bring a prompt and tangible policy change vis-vis the Middle East in Moscow; it was only in 1955 that the first deals regarding the selling of weapons to Egypt were agreed. Nevertheless, we can see an abandonment of the Zhdanov doctrine for a more global approach. With the stabilisation of the situation in the Europe from the early 1960s, the Soviet Union and the countries of the Eastern Bloc could turn their attention to other regions as well.

The policy of the Soviet Bloc in the post-Stalin era cannot be characterised by a monochrome red. One can rather see many shades of this colour when examining the foreign policy of the countries allied with Moscow. Conducting an effective diplomacy in this region proved to be a difficult task sometimes for the socialist countries, as they called themselves. The main problem was that although many countries were deemed as “friendly” with a “progressive” government, this did not mean that these states were socialist in a classical Soviet sense. It is true, one could see numerous leftist elements in the policies of these “friendly” Middle Eastern countries, such as land reform or nationalisation of key industries. However, often these very same governments spared little effort to marginalise their national communist parties in order to further their grip on power. This meant a considerable burden in bilateral relations, because Hungary as well as other socialist countries maintained strong connections with the communist parties of these Middle Eastern countries. In many cases the close links between the Hungarian Socialist Workers Party (HSWP) with the national communist parties, resulted in strained relations in regards to the governments of these states, such as Syria and Egypt.[3] For instance, the Hungarian diplomatic body refused to accept the idea that the Syrian government was building socialism. The Syrian government was pushing to have this recognised in joint statements issued after an ambassadorial bilateral meeting in 1973. However, the Hungarian delegation refused to recognise this, thus eventually the joint statement was not published.  The case was different with the Czechoslovakian delegation that agreed to a similar Syrian initiative and thus a joint statement was produced. What we can see here is an interesting example of significant difference in the foreign policy approach by two loyal allies of the USSR. In this case the Hungarian delegation kept a closer line to the communist ideology, whereas the Czechoslovakian decision betrays more pragmatism.

Hungary’s relationship with Egypt was one of the closest in the region. Nasser planned to visit Hungary as early as 1956. However, because of the unfolding Suez crises and because of his meeting with Tito and Nehru a couple of weeks earlier, he  cancelled his Eastern-European trip during which he would have visited Hungary too.[4] This clearly indicates the tightrope act Nasser played in order to avoid confronting either of the super powers. He wanted to strengthen his image as a non-aligned leader, not leaning towards the Eastern Bloc amid the stifling atmosphere that preceded the Suez crises. That might be the reason why he needed to cancel his planned trip to the region.

Egypt was very understanding towards the Hungarian government as far as the so-called ‘Hungarian question’ was concerned in the UN after the 1956 Hungarian revolution.[5] The Egyptian president and his government supported the Hungarian government in the UN according to Document 1. This report suggests Nasser’s opinion was that the Hungarian question was used only for propaganda purposes. Nasser drew a parallel between Hungary and Jordan in regards to the US role. He pointed out that the US and her allies did not raise the ‘Jordanian question’ of 1957, when the government, supporting Arab unity was ousted in a short conflict by the king and his troops.

The Bloc countries’ diplomatic missions received regular foreign policy updates from the Soviet ambassadors in the capitals of the Middle East. A good example is Document 5 which gives insight on the main concerns of Soviet foreign policy in the 1960s. During the negotiations between Nasser and Prime Minister Kosigin in May, 1966, all the topical issues of World policy were discussed and the question of China came up as well. Kosigin rejected Nasser’s comment on the crisis of the “progressive forces” allegedly caused by the Sino-Soviet split.  Besides, he labelled China’s policy as one of an adventurer’s. As for the Middle East situation, Kosigin remarkably warned Nasser against a preventive war on Israel, hardly a year before the six day war in 1967, arguing that” real danger in the case of a possible war is not Israel”. The Soviet Prime Minister also told Nasser that “Israel is not in a position to be able to make a nuclear bomb and launch a nuclear attack against the Arab countries. Therefore, it is not necessary for the UAR to begin nuclear tests….”

 Another significant point is that the Soviet delegation could not give a positive answer for the Egyptian request for wheat imports. This clearly showed the limits of possible Soviet support for these countries. Moscow was able to give financial and military support for “friendly” governments in the Middle East, but as far as food aid was concerned, Moscow’s hands were tied due to the inefficiency of the Soviet agricultural sector. As we will demonstrate below, the Eastern Bloc could offer industrial and military support for these countries. Moreover, during the 1960s, 70s and 80s, Hungary and other Bloc countries hosted a number of students in the tertiary education. These former students are still considered the backbone of the informal relations with the countries in the region until the present days as well. Besides, Hungary sent several industrial experts to these countries to help kick-start industrial projects. (Egypt dominated the scene in this case as well.)

The question of Palestine came to the fore again after the successful coup in Iraq in 1957. According to Hungarian diplomacy, both general Qasim and Nasser wanted to use the issue for political purposes.[6] Document 9 falls in line with the Soviet Bloc policy of the time. It points out that the ever-stronger Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) and Fatah[7] mean a challenge for the Arab governments who had used the Palestinian question for their own political purposes so far. The report is favourable to the PLO regarding it as an anti-imperialist force fighting Israel that is vilified in the report. The watershed regarding the Soviet-Palestinian relationship was the 1970 visit of Yasser Arafat in Moscow. Before this event, Hungary treated some injured Palestinians and accepted a small number of Palestinian students, but after Arafat’s trip, Moscow indicated that Hungary should deepen relations with the PLO. Not long after the international recognition of the PLO in 1974, the Office of the Palestine Liberation Organisation opened its doors in Budapest. As a result of Hungarian policy favouring the PLO and its dominant member organisation, Fatah, Yasser Arafat visited Hungary several times in the 1970s and 1980s. Hungary needed good relations with the PLO to maintain close contacts with other Arab states in order to keep up the flow of goods and people between Hungary and the region. In this aspect, good relations with the PLO were the token of strong connections with the wider Middle East.

As Hungary cut diplomatic ties with Israel after the 6-day war in 1967, Hungarian diplomacy was forced to perform another balancing act. As the country had a tangible Jewish population, there were many connections between the two countries outside the political sphere. Besides, trade relations with Israel meant much needed western foreign currency for Hungary. Consequently, despite the fact that Hungary did not have official diplomatic relations with Israel after 1967, this did not mean zero relations between the two countries at all. Document 11 deals with the financial support given to the Israeli Communist Party (ICP) that was having financial difficulties. The report from 1971 states that 13,000 USD support had already been given to the ICP, and an additional 5,000 USD should be transferred to them. The furthering of relations between the ICP and Hungary is demonstrated in Document 16 according to which in 1981 the ICP requested the Hungarian government to ease the restriction of the travel of Israeli tourist to Hungary. As the ICP held a monopoly of organising such travels, it meant a reasonable income for the Party. The report points out that such enhanced travel arrangements had been already organised between the ICP and Bulgaria. This is another example of the relative autonomy of the foreign policy of the states allied with the Soviet Union. As we pointed out earlier this was a delicate balancing-act since the majority of Hungary’s trade in the region was conducted with Arab states antagonistic to Israel.

Thanks to the briefings by Soviet ambassadors to top Hungarian politicians, the Hungarian political leadership was aware of the challenges the Soviet Union was facing during the Cold War. As Document 7 describes, Moscow was interested in détente as much as the USA. In relations to the 6-day war in 1967, the report states that the Soviet leadership was interested in the warming of relations between the two superpowers since, besides the problems caused by China, the Soviet Union itself had major domestic challenges such as raising the living-standard and introducing reforms. The report suggests that down to the Vietnam conflict, the US was also interested in the amelioration of relations between the two blocks. The possible predictions in case of a radical change in the bipolar situation is also worth noting.

The Soviet Union had considerable leverage on the Egyptian government too at the end of the 1960s, and in the early 1970s. Having a look at the negotiations upon which Document 10 reports, we can see that the Soviet diplomats were able to convince their Egyptian counterparts about accepting the Rogers Plan – a US attempt in late 1969 and early 1970 to end the stand-off between Israel and Egypt. The Soviet Union also managed to moderate relations between Iran and Egypt, another good example of the Soviet influence on Egypt and in the region. Besides, in this case we can see a notable instance of realpolitik and détente in the converging interest of the Soviet Union and the USA in regard to the management of the Arab-Israeli relations.

Despite the fact that we emphasised the multi-shaded foreign policy of the countries of the Eastern Bloc, Document 12 is a case in point for the Kremlin’s defining the future strategy of the states allied with the Soviet Union in relation to the Middle East. With the losing of Egypt in the 1970s, the strategy focused on other Arab states, such as Syria and Iraq.

The intensive connections between the countries of the Warsaw Pact and countries of the Middle East resulted in the former countries’ thinking about initiating the establishment of official connections between the Warsaw Pact and the Arab League in 1987. As Document 31 shows, there were many obstacles in front of this endeavour. First of all, the institutional structure of the Warsaw Pact was not designed to maintain relations with other multilateral international organisations. For this to happen, deep institutional reform would have been needed. The question as why the Warsaw Pact and why not the COMECON should have been the organisation that would get into touch with the Arab League was brought up by the Czechoslovak delegation. As the initiative for closer connection between the two organisations came too late, nothing materialised from it. However, it shows how the leaders of the socialist countries wanted to further open their export markets to the Middle-Eastern region during a time of ever increasing economic hardship.

2. Economic relations

The region was a major market for Hungarian exports[8] from the 1960s. In fact, the Arab countries meant the biggest market for Hungary where it could trade in US Dollars, resulting in a positive trading balance in regards to the region.[9] Hungary exported machinery and other industrial goods, as well as weapons. In return, the country imported raw materials and agricultural goods such as cotton. Since Hungary faced a constant shortage of western currency down to a continuous trade deficit, trade with the countries of the Middle East did not only mean political influence but was also an economic necessity for the country.  Commerce with the region was also a chance for Hungarian industry to balance the predominance of agriculture, which showed massive excess in the country’s export mix.

However, commercial connections were marred by a number of problems. One of them was that before the 1973 oil crisis, trade was conducted through a clearing system. This, paired up with several barter agreements, meant that the country could not always get the much-needed hard currency out of these deals. Indeed, the pre-1973 commercial relationship with the “friendly” countries of the region was founded more on political then commercial grounds. During the 1960s as the socialist countries’ economies were still growing relatively fast, governments of the Soviet Bloc usually gave loans to developing nations.

A Foreign Ministry memorandum in 1965 exposed this problem in the following way:

“The demand of better loan-conditions can be experienced in our relationship with Arab countries and with developing nations generally. The foreign currency conditions of these countries are further deteriorating, we will have to count with their increasing demand for loans.”[10]

Because of this problem and because the Hungarian industry’s inability to absorb large amounts of these imported raw materials such as cotton, some of these imports had to be re-exported. As a result, prices in the world market experienced a downward pressure that put the very countries, which wanted to benefit from these trade relations, in a difficult position. Besides, the reliability of these partnerships was not as good as those of Hungary had with westerns countries. The following excerpt is a good example of the numerous challenges of Hungary’s trade relations with the region.

“Our trade-relations are developing, but the biggest problem is that the majority of these countries cannot offer goods that are useful for our domestic economy and could offset the value of our exports, thus on the one hand we conduct re-export, a major cause of complain of the partner countries (in regards to the UAR, Morocco), or they regularly intervene since we do not buy from them (in case of Iraq, Lebanon and Jordan).”[11]

Thus the states of the region could be put into two groups: there were intensive trade-relations with the so-called “friendly” countries (Algeria, Egypt, Iraq, Libya, and later Syria), but there was hardly any flow of goods in regards to those states that were closer to the western sphere of influence (Saudi-Arabia, Kuwait, etc.). There were some states that fell between these two groups, such as Lebanon, Tunisia, Morocco and Syria. In case of these countries close political relations as well as commercial connections could not be very intense either.

3. Military cooperation

In a number of cases, commercial relations between the Soviet Bloc countries and “friendly” or “progressive” regimes in the region had a “special” dimension. “Special” was the codename for military in the Soviet Bloc official jargon, so “special” relations usually meant exporting military equipment to these countries.

The first attempts to import military hardware from Hungary were made by Egypt as early as 1947. Egyptian politicians contacted the Hungarian envoy inquiring about the possibility of such shipments[12]. No reaction was given to this request. A few years later in 1951, Amransy, the deputy of the Egyptian envoy to Hungary, contacted the Hungarian government, with the same intentions. When Andor Berei, the first deputy of the Ministry of Foreign affairs, pointed out that Hungary does not produce the heavy weaponry Egypt was interested in, Amransy replied that Egypt was interested in any kind of available weaponry.[13] It seems, after the 1948 Israeli victory, Egypt was desperate to obtain any kind of armament. However, we do not have information about any deals that actually materialised before 1953. The first arms shipments from the Eastern Bloc were sent to Egypt in 1955, but this time, Hungary did not play an active role; the main players were Czechoslovakia and Poland. Czechoslovakia was the main exporter besides the Soviet Union. As János Kádár pointed out in July, 1967 in Document 6/B regarding a possible arms shipment to the region:

“Here, we need to “conspire” with the Soviet Union. We need to say that this is the situation, we have not responded yet, and they should say what they think. Or, if you will, we can expand the range of participants in the consultation, because the actual suppliers were two socialist countries.”

Thus, as Egypt and other countries gravitated towards the Soviet Union, from the mid-1950s, Hungary joined other Bloc countries and started to deliver weapons and other military hardware to Cairo and other “friendly” Arab governments (Documents 6/A, 6/B and Document 8).

Document 8 also gives an insight in the complexity of links between some “friendly” Arab states and the Eastern Bloc. In this Foreign Ministry report from 1969, the behaviour of the Egyptian politicians is very telling. It demonstrates that members of the Egyptian ruling elite had great leverage over the governments of the Bloc. If the Soviet Union and her allies wanted to keep these countries close, they needed to fulfil their demands. This report also shed light on signs of the upcoming rupture between the Soviet Bloc and Egypt. The pressure for shipping the demanded military equipment was so great that the Soviet and the Hungarian leadership decided to develop certain manufacturing capacity for those systems that were not available in any of the Soviet Bloc countries. In this aspect, the arrogant behaviour of Egypt meant technology transfer and additional investment in the Hungarian defence industry. Besides, it is worth pointing out that although the Warsaw Pact conventional forces were superior in dimensions such as headcount and the number of tanks to NATO, even in the 1960s the Eastern Bloc countries had difficulty in supplying sophisticated military equipment such as locators (radars) to “friendly” countries in need.

During the 1973 Yom Kippur war Hungary was playing an active role in supporting the Arab states. János Kádár, the leader of the HSWP, received a confidential report from Moscow about the imminent attack in the afternoon of 5 October, just one day before the start of the offensive.[14] On 9 October 1973, when the Israeli counter-offensive gathered momentum on the Golan-Heights, the Syrian leadership turned to the Soviet Bloc (except for Romania) for support, which they received. The Hungarian decision-makers decided the dispatching of 90 T-54 tanks, 12 Mig-21 planes and F-13 fighters with rockets, anti-tank weapons and ammunition to the Syrian army via the air-lift provided by the Soviet Union.[15] Cuba sent personnel of an armoured regiment and 10 well-trained pilots. North-Korea also sent a number of pilots, since Soviet advisers regarded Arab pilots unprepared for the flying missions.[16] Hungarian army personnel did not take part in the actual fighting, but a number of Soviet soldiers did, mainly as part of the anti-aircraft defence. Two Soviet “advisers” were decorated after the conflict with the merit of the Hero of the Soviet Union, since they were very successful in shooting down Israeli planes.[17] It seems Soviet support for the Arab states was much more significant than US support for Israel in this conflict.

4. Relations with local Communist parties

The close connection between the HSWP and the communist parties of the region provide us with valuable insight concerning several domestic issues of the Middle Eastern politics of that time. During the Cold War era the Communist parties of “friendly” states enjoyed various degrees of freedom. As Document 3 shows, the Communists played a significant role in the 1958 coup d’état in Iraq. The detailed information provided by the Iraqi communists sheds new light on the dynamics of the coup. It reveals that general Qasim, in accordance with the Iraqi Communists, turned down the first possibility of a coup in 1957, since he and his Communist allies deemed the situation immature for a take-over. It is also interesting to note how the military led by general Qasim could play an independent and initiative role in the process of the coup. This demonstrates the total lack of control of the political parties over the military, which is characteristic of young weak states even today.

As mentioned earlier, the Eastern Bloc countries had very close links with the national Communist parties of any given foreign partner, sometimes closer than with the government of the country in question. These links did not break down even in a case when the activity of a given Communist party was considered incorrect or even damaging. Document 4, dealing with the domestic politics of Algeria after the coup of 1965, is a good example of how the Soviet Bloc states had to manoeuvre between realpolitik and foreign policy based on ideological solidarity from time to time.  It is interesting to see that the Hungarian embassy in Algiers, receiving information mainly from the Algerian Communist Party (ACP) that had not supported the coup, became very critical about the participants of the coup d’état. Back home in Budapest, however,  the Foreign Ministry led a more pragmatic  line, based on the numerous channels of information available to them, thus it disapproved that the ACP, although it had been invited, decided not to participate in the new government.[18]  The memorandum is rather critical concerning the ACP’s handling of the political process after the coup.  It condemns the fact that the ACP is fractured and chose not to get involved in the new government, despite the fact that Boumedienne, the leader of the successful coup offered them ministerial posts. Even though the author of the report is worried about the possibility of the shift to the right in the Algerian government, this report demonstrates the dilemma of the Hungarian diplomatic body. By this time, the two countries had several business contracts with each other. Thus, the condemnation of the coup could have meant the breaking of these links as well between the two countries, which would have had negative effects on Hungarian external trade. It is clear that the relationship between the Eastern Bloc countries and the “friendly” Middle Eastern states was not harmonious all the time. From time to time there was a crackdown on members of the Communist parties of the region, which strained the relationship between the countries. However, these periods of strained relations did not always reach the public sphere of the Socialist Bloc. As an example, we could mention Nasser’s turn on the Communist party in Egypt, which took off in 1958 with his speech in Port Said. Not long after, a report from 1959 produced by the Hungarian embassy in Cairo described the Egyptian regime as “resembling the Nazi regime in Germany as far as their methods are concerned”.[19] However, there was no public condemnation about the maltreatment of Egyptian Communists until Khrushchev’s speech in early 1959, but even this speech did not trigger any further action on the diplomatic front. It seems the interest of keeping Egypt close to the Eastern Bloc overrode ideological solidarity with the Egyptian Communists. This demonstrates that although the Communist connection was a very strong and deep one, its priority was not absolute, rather only an element of a complex foreign-policy equitation.

 

5. The Soviet Bloc and the Iraq-Iran war

The Hungarian documents on the Iraq-Iran war shed light on the challenges the country and the Eastern Bloc were facing in regards to that conflict. The revolution in Iran in 1979 meant that one of the major bastions of the American encirclement policy towards the Soviet Union turned against its former ally. At the same time, the fact that Iran did not start to reach out towards the Eastern Bloc was disillusioning and worrying for the Communist states. It was worrying, since as Document 15 indicates, at the early stages of the conflict, Iraq was slipping out from the Soviet field of influence. This report predicted that with the end of the war the American influence would become even more significant.

Document 14 seems to contradict the previous analysis of Hungarian diplomats. The report on the visit of the special envoy of Saddam Hussein to Hungary in October 1980 notes that the intention of the Iraqi leadership is to free the Gulf-region from any US influence. However, the Iraqi National Charter, proclaimed in 1980, states that the aim is to keep distance from both superpowers and to keep them away from the region. This was a clear demonstration of the regional ambitions of the Iraqi leadership that eventually urged both superpowers to find a country to balance Iraq. In the case of the Soviet Union this country was Syria and later Iran.

Document 15 deals extensively with the causes behind the souring of relations between the Iraqi and the Soviet leadership. Among others, one can read about the deteriorating political environment of the Iraqi Communist Party and Iraq’s overtures towards the Western Bloc.

Iraq’s negative attitude towards the Soviet Union and the Iraqi Communists resulted in the halting of arms shipments to the country. This posed a major challenge to Hungary, since by the early 1980s, Iraq became the biggest trading partner of Hungary in the developing world (Document 20), and the halting of “special” exports could have led to deteriorating commercial relations in other sectors as well. Iraq’s need for weapons and ammunition, however, pushed the country to change her attitude towards the Eastern Bloc.

Document 17 gives a good example of the efforts Iraqi diplomacy made on a number of fronts regarding the Soviet sphere of influence in the early 1980s. In this document the Iraqi deputy prime minister visiting Hungary in May, 1981 states that his country would like to strengthen the relationship with the Socialist countries.  Iraq badly needed the resumption of the weapons shipments at that time, therefore the delegation offered to open further economic sectors to the Communist countries, such as the petro-chemical sector. This new direction in Iraqi foreign policy eventually proved to be successful. According to Document 18, one year after the visit of the Iraqi delegation in Budapest, the Soviet leadership decided to lift the embargo regarding military hardware in 1981.

Document 23 is notable firstly, since it is another good example of strained relations due to the harassment of Communist activists in Iran. Secondly, this document from 1983 proves that Iran received Soviet military support as well. In this regard, Soviet policy towards the two warring states is parallel to the foreign policy of the United States. It seems the Soviet Union had its very own policy of double-containment.

The fact that the Soviet ambassador asked for the help of Hungarian diplomacy in warming up the relations with Iran in 1981, shows us the significance of smaller states in the Soviet Empire. It seems the Soviet leadership used the services of its allies when its own foreign policy staff could not achieve the desired results. This sheds further light on the proactive role the allied states played in regard to external relations of the Eastern Bloc. One example for such a diplomatic activity is Document 32. This report covers the high-profile visit of a Hungarian government delegation led by prime minister Károly Grósz to Iran in 1988. This visit was made in return to a visit by Iranian politicians in Hungary two years earlier. Besides, since Hungary participated in the activity of the UN supervisory forces charged with overseeing the ceasefire between Iraq and Iran, the visit was even more important for Iran. The Iranian politicians understood that one road to Moscow leads via Budapest, so they went out of their way to emphasise the role of the Iranian revolution in breaking up the encirclement of the Soviet Union. During the negotiations the need for closer bilateral connections was raised, but because of the eventual fall of the Communist regime in Hungary, this never materialised.

One also has to point out that the Iraqi efforts to keep the superpowers outside the region backfired completely, since it only resulted further involvement of these states  both in Iraq and in Iran.

Documents 24 and 25 give valuable insights in the internal issues of an Iraq that was tangled up in a conflict that would not finish. Indeed, the Iraqi regime wanted to end the war quickly, but that plan never materialised. These two documents describe the effects of the on-going military struggle and the deteriorating strategic situation. By 1984, in five years time, Iraq, a country of previously promising regional perspectives, was then struggling to keep the conflict under control. Thus, Saddam Hussein eventually failed to realize his goal of obtaining a regional power status and keeping the US away from the conflict and from the region as a whole.

Studying these documents one would suggest that the policy of double-containment during the 1980s was successful. The worsening military situation paired up with a war economy in a downward spiral questioned the future regional perspective of the regime in the longer term. The dynamics of domestic politics reveal how the regime softened its line amid the growing difficulties of the population. The main goal was to kick-start the economy again by resuming the petroleum exports. However, an ever-deepening division between the ruling elite and the rest of the society and expansion of the informal economy clearly demonstrated the growing difficulties of ordinary Iraqi people.

Re-establishment of diplomatic relations between Iraq and the US in November 1984 did not concern the Hungarian diplomats in Baghdad, as Document 27 shows. The relatively passive American attitude towards Iraq ensured that the country would remain a stable market for weapons shipments from the Eastern Bloc. This report regards Iran as a strategic partner of the United States, a persisting point of view of the Hungarian diplomats residing in Baghdad. Besides, as Document 28 further suggests, as the war dragged on and as the relations between the Soviet Union and the United States started the reach a new phase, the conflict between Iraq and Iran became of secondary or ever tertiary importance for the US. The need to somehow stabilise the conflict in order to enable the US to focus on other major global events can be read out from these documents.

Document 29 from 1986 gives us a rare insight into the dynamics of a dictatorship in crisis. This Hungarian embassy report sheds light on a number of survival tactics of the regime, such as how Saddam Hussein decided to stay in the background during the difficult times of the conflict and how ancient religious and folk myths were “rediscovered” by the government in order to forge unity among the population.

Document 19 covers the effects of the Israeli bombing of the Osirak nuclear site in Iraq in 1981. The report suggests that the Israeli operation would have devastating effects for Egyptian foreign policy. The author of the report emphasises the decreased international latitude of Egypt after the Camp David accords. According the report, the bombing of Osirak came at the worst possible time, as Egypt was on the verge of retaking its place among the Arab countries. This military strike threatened to complicate Egypt’s position in the region. This sheds some light on the wider effects of the Israeli operation. This report proves that the bombing of Osirak should be examined in a wider regional perspective. Thus, according to the authors a stable Iraq could play a tangible role in resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Document 33 from 1987 describes the internal issues of Iraqi politics. As the situation deteriorated, the opposition in Iraq became ever more active. The report gives us some valuable information on the Kurdish and Shi’ite opposition and their role in the conflict. Even though the situation for the ruling party was very dim, there was no real alternative to the ruling regime, according to the report.

Document 21 deals with unfavourable military situation for Iraq and its possible political and economic consequences in 1982. Since Iraq was a key economic partner for Hungary, the weakening strategic position of Iraq could have meant a fall in Hungarian exports. Nevertheless, the report emphasised that Hungary’s ordinary and “special” (military) trade relations had grown in the previous years.

The increasingly difficult Iraqi situation in regard to Iran leads the country to seek early exit from the war in 1983. Document 22 covers the attempts of the Iraqi ambassador in Budapest to this effect. The ambassador suggested Hungary should play a bigger role in moderating between the two warring countries. The ambassador also emphasised that the Soviet Union should also play a more active role in the region, since according to him, the politics of the region were dominated by the US and the division between Arab countries.

Document 26 reports on the negotiations between the Hungarian deputy foreign minister and top Iraqi politicians in Baghdad in 1984. During these negotiations Tariq Aziz, first deputy Prime Minister and minister of foreign affairs, betrayed the dire situation of Iraq. Besides trying to demonize the Iranian leadership, claiming that they were mentally insane, he voiced Iraq’s concern about the shipment of arms from the Soviet Bloc to Iran. He suggested the Soviet Bloc was able to influence the Iranian position by introducing sanctions against the country.

Document 30 deals with the internal politics of Iraq in 1986. As the balance of military power shifted in favour of Iran, the Iraqi political system started to teeter. Riots by the Shi’ite community were more severe. Besides, cracks were visible within to the ruling regime itself. It is interesting to see how Saddam Hussein managed to eliminate all the potential threats coming from inside and outside the party. According to the report, he managed to marginalise all possible rivals within the Baath party. The mentioning of Egyptian guest workers returning to their homeland is also very telling about an increasingly deteriorating Iraqi economic situation.

While Document 30 covers the situation of the Iraqi society and economy, Document 32 focuses more on military issues. Although, both Iraq and Iran showed signs of fatigue, the situation was evidently in Iran’s favour by 1987. As Iraq failed to convince the Arab states to regard the war against her neighbour as a defensive struggle, the country could not unite the Arab countries behind her. The report also mentions the deteriorating relationship between Iraq and the Gulf countries, the main financial supporters of the Iraqi military struggle. The difficult Iraqi situation forced the leadership to look for support wherever it was possible. This was the reason for an attempt for rapprochement with Syria.

By the end of the conflict in 1988, both warring countries became increasingly isolated. Iraq could never ensure the unified support of the Arab states, and Iran turning more assertive due to its military successes started to worry her neighbours and the great powers as well. Both Documents 30 and 34 deal with the above problem, while giving some insight into domestic issues on both sides as well. Iran’s increasing confidence led to an extension of her influence in the Gulf and the straight of Hormuz. This was worrying not only for the countries in the region, but also for the Soviet Union, having a number of military and civilian ships in the region. The hostile attitude of the Soviet leadership can be felt from Document 32. This explains why the top Iranian politicians were at pains to ensure the goodwill of the country towards to the Eastern Bloc upon the high-profile visit of Hungarian politicians, mentioned above (Document 34). As for Iraq, the country that initiated the war became increasingly isolated. Document 30 describes this isolation, both in a regional and in a wider global aspect.

Conclusion

To sum up, we can state that the relationship between Hungary and the countries of the Middle East could be characterised by certain dichotomies.

As mentioned above, the states of the region in question could be put into two categories. “Friendly” states had closer connections with the Soviet Bloc, and naturally with Hungary as well. However, with those countries that were in the US sphere of influence connections were rather shallow.

Another dichotomy can be found in regards to relations with the “friendly” states of the region. On the surface, relations with these countries were cordial. However, the documents published here show another, more complex picture. Under the surface, both Hungary and the Middle Eastern countries tried to profit as much from these relations as possible. This intention of profit maximization on both sides leads to strains in relations on a regular basis. Good examples for this are the difficulties that occurred between Egypt and Hungary in regard to the military support in 1969 (Document 8).

One might ask why these strains in relations did not come to the fore. The reason may be a certain degree of interdependence that characterised these relations. On the one hand, Hungary was in constant shortage of hard currency during the Cold War years. The fact that the currencies of the Soviet Bloc were not convertible and the unofficial social contract between the post-1956 HSWP and Hungarian society was based on constant amelioration of living standards, the Hungarian government was in constant need of Western convertible currency in order to import those goods the economies of the Eastern Bloc were unable to produce. Consequently, the Hungarian government needed good relations with the countries of the Middle East, since these were markets where Hungarian goods could be sold for US Dollars. As these countries were happy to purchase those Hungarian goods that were otherwise uncompetitive on western markets, economies of the Middle Eastern countries meant an opportunity for the Hungarian government to compensate for the otherwise negative trade-balance. Indeed, exporting manufactured goods to the Middle East also meant an attempt to rebalance the export mix of Hungary that was heavily dominated by agricultural products.

On the other hand, these “friendly” countries needed not only military hardware, but also industrial products and expertise to be able to decrease dependence from the western dominated global economy. In the post-colonialist and highly nationalist atmosphere of the time, good relations with the countries of the Soviet Bloc were of high importance in order to have economic progress in these rather underdeveloped economies. The documents reveal that the pursuing of self-interest and the interdependence mentioned above, encouraged both sides to keep these sometimes fierce debates away from the spotlight, giving them greater room for manoeuvre behind closed doors. However, even these transfers of hard currency could not stop Hungary’s indebtedness to increase in the long term after the 1970s, which reached a critical level by the early 1980s. Indeed, Hungary’s financial situation was so dire that it needed a loan of 100 million USD from China to be able to pay the financial contribution needed to join the IMF and the World Bank in 1982. The desperate financial situation may be a reason why the Hungarian government decided to deepen economic relations with Israel, even if this meant putting good connections with friendly Arab states at risk.

With these economic necessities in mind, it is fair to say that realpolitik gained the upper hand many times. Not denying the fact that the connections between the communist parties of the region and the ones of the Soviet Bloc and Hungary were rather close, these parties were let down if the interest of the Eastern Bloc demanded good relations with the government of a given country.  However, in a number of cases, the amelioration of relations between Arab countries and the Soviet Bloc meant greater freedom for local Communists to operate as well. Thus the local Communist parties were sometimes used as bargaining chips in the complex bi- and multilateral relations between the Middle Eastern countries and the Eastern Bloc.

Finally, we would like to emphasise again Hungary’s room for manoeuvre as far as foreign policy is concerned. Keeping in mind that the government needed to keep itself to the line defined by Moscow, within this framework following the policy of constructive loyalty, Hungarian diplomacy could pursue its own interests as well.[20] This supports the idea of a multi-layered foreign policy as far as the countries of the Soviet Bloc were concerned. Moscow could not and in reality did not want to have total control on the foreign policy of the allied countries. One instance, when this proved useful was when the Hungarian diplomatic service was used to pave the way for the thawing of relations between Moscow and Tehran in 1983 (Document 23).

To conclude this short introduction we would like to emphasise again that relations between friendly Middle Eastern countries and Hungary were mainly built on mutual interests while common elements of ideology only played a secondary role.

Annex I.

The Establishment of diplomatic relations between Hungary and the countries of the Middle East during the Cold War in chronological order

Country & City

Date of the Establishment of Diplomatic Relations

Current* Status of Representation

Iraq/Baghdad

1937

Embassy (since 08/03/1958)

Egypt/Cairo

1947

Embassy (since 06/15/1957)

Israel/Jerusalem

1948(-1967)

Legation (1948-1967)

Embassy since 09/1989

Iran/Teheran

1951

Embassy (since 05/12/1964)

Syria / Damascus

1954

Embassy (since 10/12/1961)

Sudan / Khartoum

1956

Embassy (since 11/12/1966)

Tunisia / Tunis

1956

Embassy (since 08/30/1956)

Morocco / Rabat

1959

Embassy (since 10/23/1959)

Yemen, People’s Republic of /Aden

1959

Embassy (since 02/02/1968)

Yemen, Arabic Republic/Sanaa

1959

Embassy (since 02/28/1963)

Somalia / Mogadishu

1960

Embassy (since 10/16/1960)

Algeria/ Alger

1962

Embassy (since 04/07/1962)

Kuwait / Kuwait

1963

Accredited Embassy (since 05/1964-1975)

Jordan/Amman

1964

Embassy (since 07/01/1964)

Libya/ Tripoli

1967

Embassy (since 07/01/1967)

 

 

Source: A szocializmus útján: A népi demokratikus átalakulás és a szocializmus építésének kronológiája, 1944. szeptember-1980. április. (On the Road of Socialism: The Popular Democratic Transition and the Chronology of the Build-up of Socialism, September 1944 –April 1980). 2nd ed. Budapest: Akadémiai Kiadó, 1982.  603-630. Available online at the web site of the Cold War History Research Center, Budapest: www.coldwar.hu/Finding aids.
*In 1980

 

Annex II.

List of Middle Eastern countries with diplomatic representatives from Hungary

Country & City

Date of the Establishment of Diplomatic Relations

Current* Status of Representation

Name & Position

Appointment by the Presidential Council (PC)

Presentation of credentials

Withdrawal by PC

 

Algeria/ Alger

1962

Embassy (since 04/07/1962)

László MÁTYÁS Amb.

11/15/1962

12/15/1962

06/28/1968

 
     

Elek TÓTH

06/28/1968

No handover

02/23/1970

 
   

Amb.

 
     

Lajos SZALAI Chargé d’affaires ad interim

 

(1968-1969)

   
     

Zoltán ZSIGMOND Amb.

02/23/1970

04/03/1970

08/04/1975

 
     

Zoltán SZÉPHELYI Amb.

08/04/1975

10/24/1975

11/18/1980

 

Egypt/Cairo

1947

Embassy (since 06/15/1957)

Viktor CSORNOKY Min.

11/22/1947

12/28/1947

07/30/1948

 
     

Péter NAGY

08/01/1948

08/01/1948

09/ /1948

 
   

Chargé d’affaires ad interim

 
     

György ZÁGOR Chargé d’affaires ad interim

11/ /1949

12/08/1949

10/25/1955

 
     

György ZÁGOR Min.

10/22/1955

11/28/1955

08/30/1957

 
     

Lajos SZIJÁRTÓ Amb.

08/30/1957

10/28/1957

08/27/1963

 
     

Pál RÁCZ

09/27/1963

01/02/1964

08/22/1968

 
   

Amb.

 
     

Károly SZARKA Amb.

08/22/1968

10/19/1968

05/28/1970

 
     

Dr. Jenő RANDÉ Amb.

05/28/1970

09/01/1970

08/09/1974

 
     

Lajos S. NAGY Amb.

08/09/1974

10/29/1974

10/25/1978

 

Iraq/Baghdad

1937

Embassy (since 08/03/1958)

Vencel HÁZI Amb.

09/23/1958

10/29/1958

11/15/1961

 
 
     

Károly RÁTH Amb.

11/10/1961

12/20/1961

05/08/1964

 
     

Lajos S. NAGY Amb.

05/08/1964

07/09/1964

07/30/1969

 
     

József FERRÓ Amb.

07/30/1969

11/15/1969

10/15/1970

 
     

József HORVÁTH

02/03/1971

04/06/1971

07/06/1976

 
   

Amb.

 
     

Lajos GONDA Amb.

07/06/1976

10/16/1976

06/09/1981

 

Iran/Teheran

1951

Embassy (since 05/12/1964)

István MURAI Min.

11/06/1951

12/22/1951

02/21/1958

 
 
     

Károly BONYHÁDI Chargé d’affaires ad interim

03/19/1959

03/21/1959

   
     

Károly BONYHÁDI

09/09/1962

09/20/1962

04/16/1966

 
   

Min.

 
     

Károly BONYHÁDI Amb.

07/16/1964

09/12/1964

12/29/1966

 
     

László GYÁROS Amb.

02/25/1967

03/16/1967

10/28/1967

 
     

József VÁRKONYI Amb.

02/29/1968

04/04/1968

06/02/1972

 
     

Bálint GÁL Amb.

06/02/1972

09/17/1972

05/31/1976

 
     

Dr. József MIKÓ Amb.

05/31/1976.

10/02/1976

04/18/1981

 

Israel/Jerusalem

1948-1967

Legation

István ROMHÁNYI Chargé d’affaires ad interim

03/09/1950

No handover

09/18/1954

 
 

After 1967, Sweden represented Hungary in Israel

   

István KÁLLÓ Min.

02/12/1957

03/19/1957

11/11/1959

 
     

Gyula NYERKI Chargé d’affaires ad interim

11/11/1959

No handover

07/ /1965

 
     

Kálmán CSÉCSEI Chargé d’affaires ad interim

08/ /1965

No handover

06/ /1967

 

Jordan/Amman

1964

Embassy (since 07/01/1964)

István MURAI Amb.

08/03/1964

10/01/1964

08/12/1968

 
 
     

Pál MÁNYIK Amb.

09/18/1968

12/02/1968

11/16/1970

 
     

János VERES Amb.

02/25/1971

05/10/1971

06/24/1975

 
     

László SZIKRA Amb.

06/24/1975

02/02/1976

   

Kuwait / Kuwait

1963

Accredited Embassy (since 05/1964-1975)

Lajos NAGY S. Amb.

10/12/1964

11/30/1964

11/12/1969

 
 

Until 1975, the Ambassador in Baghdad was accredited

   

József HORVÁTH Amb.

11/12/1969

01/14/1970

10/15/1970

 
     

József FERRÓ Amb.

04/01/1971

05/17/1971

09/08/1975

 
     

Károly SZIGETI Amb.

09/08/1975

11/04/1975

09/1980

 

Libya/ Tripoli

1967

Embassy (since 07/01/1967)

Pál RÁCZ

10/06/1967

12/01/1967

08/22/1968

 
   

Amb.

 

Until 1975, Ambassador in Cairo was accredited

   

Károly SZARKA Amb.

10/23/1968

02/24/1969

0l/14/1971

 
     

Dr. Jenő RANDÉ Amb.

01/14/1971

03/23/1971

08/17/1974

 
     

Dr. Gyula BOGNÁR

 

(1972-1974)

   
   

Chargé d’affaires ad interim

 
     

Lajos NAGY S. Amb.

08/17/1974

 

09/12/1975

 
     

Pál SZŰTS Amb.

09/12/1975

11/06/1975

08/31/1978

 

Mauritania / Nouakchott

1965

Accredited Embassy - Rabat (since 12/07/1965)

Győző KÁRÁSZ Amb.

02/03/1966

04/11/1966

11/30/1966

 

Until 1972, the Ambassador in Conakry, since 1972 the Ambassador in Rabat is accredited

   

Gusztáv GOGOLYÁK

11/30/1966

04/12/1967

11/18/1970

 
   

Amb.

 
     

Imre SZTANKOVICS Amb.

11/18/1970

 

01/12/1972

 
     

László MOLNÁR Amb.

01/12/1972

10/03/1972

01/25/1977

 
     

Dr. Frigyes LÉDERER Amb.

01/25/1977

07/30/1977

01/19/1980

 

Morocco / Rabat

1959

Embassy (since 10/23/1959)

László GYÁROS Amb.

04/30/1963

11/19/1963

09/12/1966

 
     

Kálmán ÚJLAKI Chargé d’affaires ad interim

08/10/1966

Nem történt átadás

12/01/1968

 
     

Raymond TÓTH Chargé d’affaires ad interim

11/22/1968

Nem történt átadás

10/14/1970

 
     

László MOLNÁR Amb.

09/21/1970

01/15/1971

08/21/1975

 
     

Dr. Frigyes LÉDERER

08/21/1975

12/18/1975

12/19/1979

 
   

Amb.

 

Somalia / Mogadishu

1960

Embassy (since 10/16/1960)

Dr. Károly SZABÓ Amb.

01/24/1968

06/10/1968

03/02/1970

 

Ambassador in Dar-es Salaam is accredited

   

Dr. Miklós BÁRD Amb.

03/02/1970

05/06/1970

10/08/1976

 
     

Gyula BARANYI Amb.

10/08/1976

10/16/1976

02/17/1989

 

Syria / Damascus

1954

Embassy (since 10/12/1961)

Károly BONYHÁDI Chargé d’affaires ad interim

03/01/1954

05/13/1954

03/22/1957

 

At the time of the union with Egypt, a General Consulates worked here

   

János RADVÁNYI Consul-general

03/23/1957.

 

08/01/1958

 
     

Pál MÁNYIK Consul-general

08/01/1958

 

06/ /1962

 
     

István MURAI

03/10/1962

06/07/1962

08/12/1968

 
   

Amb.

 
     

Pál MÁNYIK

08/12/1968

08/24/1968

11/16/1970

 
   

Amb.

 
     

János VERES

01/06/1971

01/30/1971

05/15/1975

 
   

Amb.

 
     

László SZIKRA Amb.

05/15/1975

10/25/1975

09/27/1979

 

Sudan / Khartoum

1956

Embassy (since 11/12/1966)

György ZÁGOR Min.

02/18/1956

04/21/1956

11/28/957

 

Until 1970, the Ambassador in Cairo was accredited, the Embassy in Khartoum is led by the Chargé d’affaires ad interim

   

Lajos SZIJÁRTÓ Min.

11/28/1957

01/21/1958

09/27/1963

 
     

Béla TÓTH

06/ /1960

No handover

07/ /1962

 
   

Chargé d’affaires ad interim

 
     

Pál RÁCZ

12/07/1963

04/17/1964

11/22/1966

 
   

Min.

 
     

Pál RÁCZ

11/22/1966

02/05/1968

08/22/1968

 
   

Amb.

 
     

Károly SZARKA Amb.

08/22/1968

12/17/1968

07/02/1970

 
     

Sándor PATAKI Chargé d’affaires ad interim

 

(1968-1974)

   
     

Lajos BENCZEKOVITS Amb.

07/02/1970

07/27/1970

08/12/1974

 
     

István FODOR Chargé d’affaires ad interim

 

1974-

   

Tunisia / Tunis

1956

Embassy (since 08/30/1956)

László MÁTYÁS Amb.

09/01/1965

09/30/1965

06/28/1968

 
     

Elek TÓTH

06/28/1968

No handover

02/02/1970

 
   

Amb.

 
     

Lajos SZALAI Chargé d’affaires ad interim

 

(1968-1969)

   
     

Zoltán ZSIGMOND Amb.

04/23/1970

05/ /1970

08/04/1975

 
     

Zoltán SZÉPHELYI Amb.

08/04/1975

11/13/1975

11/13/1975

 

Turkey / Ankara

1947

Embassy (since 08/08/1967)

Béla ANDAHÁZY-KASNYA

12/13/1946

 

07/03/1947

 
     
 

Min.

 
     

György GULÁCSY Min.

08/27/1947

10/13/1947

04/30/1949

 
     

János GYETVAI Min.

03/17/1949

04/05/1949

06/30/1950

 
     

József GÁBOR

06/30/1950

08/23/1950

10/28/1954

 
   

Min.

 
     

István MURAI

11/21/1954

01/31/1955

02/21/1958

 
   

Min.

 
     

Dénes FELKAI

09/05/1958

10/16/1958

09/14/1962

 
   

Min.

 
     

Imre KUTAS

09/14/1962

10/25/1962

10/24/1967

 
   

Min.

 
     

Imre KUTAS

10/24/1967

12/20/1967

06/27/1969

 
   

Amb.

 
     

György ZÁGOR Amb.

06/27/1969

10/27/1969

07/23/1973

 
     

Károly KAPCSOS Amb.

07/23/1973

10/10/1973

06/29/1977

 
     

Dr. László ROSTA Amb.

06/29/1977

10/20/1977

10/20/1977

 

Yemen, People’s Republic of /Aden

1959

Embassy (since 02/02/1968)

Károly SZARKA Amb.

08/25/1968

05/20/1969

12/18/1970

 
 
     

Dr. Jenő RANDÉ Amb.

12/I8/1970

01/20/1971

08/17/1974

 
     

Lajos S NAGY Amb.

08/17/1974.

11/27/1974

12/29/1977

 
     

Lajos BENCZEKOVITS Amb.

12/29/1977

03/29/1978

09/83

 

Yemen, Arabic Republic/Sanaa

1959

Embassy (since 02/28/1963)

Lajos SZIJÁRTÓ Min.

03/25/1959

04/19/1959

02/28/1963

 
 

Ambassador in Cairo is accredited

   

Lajos SZIJÁRTÓ Amb.

02/28/1963

04/18/1963

09/27/1963

 
     

Pál RÁCZ

12/07/1963

05/02/1964

08/22/1968

 
   

Amb.

 
     

Károly SZARKA Amb.

08/22/1968

05/20/1969

12/18/1970

 
     

Dr. Jenő RANDÉ Amb.

12/18/1970

01/20/1971

10/16/1974

 
     

Lajos S NAGY Amb.

10/I6/1974

01/15/1976

12/29/1977

 

 

Source: A szocializmus útján: A népi demokratikus átalakulás és a szocializmus építésének kronológiája, 1944. szeptember-1980. április. (On the Road of Socialism: The Popular Democratic Transition and the Chronology of the Build-up of Socialism, September 1944 –April 1980). 2nd ed. Budapest: Akadémiai Kiadó, 1982.  603-630. Available online at the web site of the Cold War History Research Center, Budapest: www.coldwar.hu/Finding aids.
*In 1980

Annex III.

Trade between Hungary and her five main Arab partners 1960-64

Export (Billion HUF)

1960

1961

1962

1963

1964 I-IX.

UAR

79.3

103.9

185

144.8

53.4

Algeria

0.17

0.05

0.1

0.9

5.5

Iraq

52.1

25

40.8

31.5

25.4

Syria

14.2

12.4

19.5

26.5

29.9

Morocco

9.3

8

34.8

46.1

16.3

Total Export:

155.07

149.35

280.2

249.8

130.5

 

 

Import (Billion HUF)

1960

1961

1962

1963

1964 I-IX.

UAR

90

104.6

67

149.3

128.8

Algeria

0

0

0

0

0.1

Iraq

1.4

0

5.9

3.9

0.3

Syria

7.6

10.4

9.5

30.9

27.1

Morocco

2.2

3.1

29

39.7

14.8

Total Import:

101.2

118.1

111.4

223.8

171.1

 

Source: MOL, Küm, XIX J-1-j, Arab országok Tük, 1965. 111. d. IV-14.

 

List of Documents

Document 1 - Foreign Ministry report on the Hungarian government delegation’s trip in Egypt in 1957

Source:  Magyar Országos Levéltár [Hungarian National Archives], henceforward MOL Küm, XIX-J-1-j, Egyiptom Tük, 1957. 5.d. 5/b–004399/1. Visit of a Hungarian government delegation to Egypt. Cairo, 26 September 1957. Report by the ambassador (excerpts).

Document 2 - Report of the Hungarian Ambassador in Cairo on the establishment of the United Arab Republic and the Syrian public opinion in 1958

Source: MOL-M-KS 288 f.32/1958. 8.ő.e. Copy from the report of the Hungarian Embassy on 31 January 1958

Document 3 - Report of the Hungarian Ambassador in Baghdad on the preparations for the Iraqi revolution in 1958

Source: MOL M-KS 288.f.32/1958 7.ő.e. Copy of the report of the embassy in Baghdad composed on 18 December 1958

Document 4 - Foreign Ministry memorandum on Algeria’s political background after the coup in 1965

Source: MOL Küm, XIX-J-1-j, Algéria Tük, 1965, 12.d. 00888/6/1965. - analysis made by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (excerpts)

Document 5 - Report from the Hungarian Embassy in Cario on Kosigin's visit in the UAR 26 May 1966

Source: MOL XIX-J-1j SZU/IV-10/003348/1966 104.d.

Document 6/A - Report of the Inter-ministerial Expert Committee for the HSWP PC on military support for “friendly” Arab countries in 1967

Source: MOL M-KS 288. f. 5/430. ő. e. (1967.07.18.).

Document 6/B - János Kádár’s speech at a HSWP Political Committee meeting on military support for “friendly” Arab countries in 1967

Source: MOL M-KS 288. f. 5/430. ő. e. (1967.07.18.)

Document 7 - Report from the Hungarian Embassy in Moscow on Soviet foreign policy on the crisis in the Middle East in 1967

Source: MOL XIX-J-1-j-SzU-1-001684/1/1967 (89.d)

Document 8 - Report for the HSWP Politburo on weapons exports to the UAR and Syria by Minister of Defense Lajos Czinege            

Source: MOL M-KS 288. F. 5/501 ő. E (1969.10.21.)

Document 9 - Foreign Ministry memorandum on the Palestine Liberation Movement in 1970

Source: MOL Küm, XIX-J-1-j, Palesztina Tük 1971. 72.d. 001302/8. The state of the Palestine Liberation Organisation (excerpts) Budapest 10 August 1970. Foreign Ministry analysis.

Document 10 - Foreign Ministry memorandum on Soviet Ambassador Titov’s briefing on Soviet foreign policy

Source: MOL XIX-J-1-j-SzU-146-00358/17/1970

Document 11 - HSWP CC Foreign Affairs Department Proposal on the financial support for the Israeli Communist Party

Source: MOL M-KS 288. f. 5/563. ő. E (1971.09.07.) 47R/79

Document 12 - Foreign Ministry report on current foreign affairs

Source: MOL XIX-J-1-j-SzU-144-00-1577-3/1974 (106d)

Document 13 - Saddam Hussein’s political portrait - compiled for foreign minister Frigyes Puja prior to the Iraqi leader’s visit to Hungary in May 1975

Source: MOL M-KS 288.f. 32/1975. 9.ő.e. - Frigyes Puja ordered the compilation of information on Saddam Hussein two months before his visit to Hungary

Document 14 - Report to the HSWP Political Committee on the visit of the special envoy of Saddam Hussein in Hungary

Source: MOL, 288.f. 32/1980/62. ő.e.

 Document 15 - Report of the Hungarian Embassy in Iraq on the developments of Soviet-Iraqi relations

Source: MOL, 288.f. 32/1981/60. ő.e.

Document 16 - HSWP CC Foreign Affairs Department proposal on the development of tourism between Israel and Hungary

Source: MOL M-KS 288. F. 5/823. ő. e (1981.03.28.) 1R/67

Document 17 - Foreign Ministry report on the visit of the Iraqi deputy prime minister in Hungary between 18-20 March 1981

Source: MOL, 288.f. 32/1981/60. ő. e.

Document 18 - Announcement by Prime Minister György Lázár on the new Soviet position concerning the shipment of arms to Iraq and Iran at the HSWP Political Committee meeting on 14 April 1981

Source: MOL, 288.f. 5/829.ő.e.

Document 19 - Report of the Hungarian Embassy in Egypt on the evaluation of the Israeli terrorist action against Iraq in 1981

Source: MOL, M-KS-288 f. 32./ 60. ő. e. - 1981

Document 20 - HSWP CC Department for Foreign Affairs Memorandum on Hungarian-Iraqi relations

Source: MOL, 288.f. 32/1981/60. ő. e.

Document 21 - Foreign Ministry evaluation of the situation report of the Hungarian Ambassador in Iraq in 1982

Source: MOL, M-KS-288 f. 32./ 54. ő. e. – 1982

Document 22 - Foreign Ministry memorandum of conversation with the Iraqi Ambassador in Budapest in 1983

Source: MOL, M-KS-288 f. 32./ 45. ő. e. - 1983

Document 23 - Information by the Soviet Ambassador in Budapest on the situation in Iran

Source: MOL, M-KS-288 f. 11./4415.ő.e.

Document 24 - Report of the Hungarian Embassy in Iraq: on the emergence of an internal crisis in the top Iraqi leadership

Source: MOL, M-KS-288 f. 32. 45. ő.e. - 1983

Document 25 - Report of the Hungarian Embassy in Iraq on the changing of the internal power structure in Iraq and its consequences in 1984

Source: MOL, M-KS-288 f. 32. 42. ő. e. - 1984

Document 26 - Report on the negotiations of Deputy Foreign Minister Róbert Garai in Iraq between 11 and 13 December 1984

Source: MOL, M-KS-288 f. 32. 42. ő. e. - 1984

Document 27 - Report of the Hungarian Embassy in Iraq on the development of Iraqi-US relations since the restoration of diplomatic relations in 1985

Source: MOL, M-KS-288 f. 32. - 31. ő. e. - 1985

Document 28 - Report of the Hungarian Embassy in Iraq on the development of the Iraqi-American relationship in 1985

Source: MOL, M-KS-288 f. 32. - 31. ő. e. -1985

Document 29 - Report of the Hungarian Embassy in Iraq on the negative impact of the war on the Iraqi domestic situation in 1986

Source: MOL, M-KS-288 f. 32. 27. ő. e. - 1986

Document 30 - Report of the Hungarian Ambassador in Iraq on the developments of the military conflict between Iraq and Iran in 1986

Source: MOL, 288.f. 32/ 27. ő.e.-1986

Document 31 - Foreign Ministry report on the consultation regarding the establishment of a working relationship between the Warsaw Treaty Organization and the Arab League in Prague 27-28 April 1987

Source: MOL M-KS 288. F. 5/996. ő. e.

Document 32 - Report of the Hungarian Ambassador in Iran on recent developments of the Iraq-Iran war in 1987

Source: MOL, 288.f. 32/1987

Document 33 - Report of the Hungarian Embassy in Iraq on the characteristics of the activity of the opposition forces in Iraq and the reaction of the Iraqi leadership

Source: MOL, M-KS-288 f. 32. - 31. ő. e. - 1987

Document 34 - Report on Prime Minister Károly Grósz’s official visit to Iran between 25 and 27 October 1988

Source: MOL, 288. f. 32. /31 ő. e. -1988


[1] World Bank, Middle East and North Africa  - Countries, Source: http://web.worldbank.org/WBSITE/EXTERNAL/COUNTRIES/MENAEXT/0,,menuPK:247619~pagePK:146748~piPK:146812~theSitePK:256299,00.html - accessed: 5 February 2014

[2] For more information of these diplomatic missions, see Annex I and II

[3] Magyar Országos Levéltár [Hungarian National Archives], henceforward MOL M-KS 288.f. 32/1972 1. ő.e., 125.o.

[4]  The report of the Hungarian minister in Cairo 19 and 21 July 1956. - MOL Küm. XIX-J-1j, Egyiptom Tük, 8.d 0107/2 and 0107/3

       [5] On the Hungarian Revolution see: The 1956 Hungarian Revolution. A history in documents. Csaba Békés, Malcolm Byrne, János M. Rainer [eds.] CEU Press, Budapest–New York, 2002.

[6] MOL Küm XIX-J-1-j, Irak Tük, 1945-1964. 3. d. 25/1960. 

[7] The Fatah Movement, founded by Yasser Arafat in 1965, quickly became the dominant force in the PLO

[8] For this section we rely on the following document: Foreign Ministry report on the relations between Hungary and the Arab states in the mid 1960s - MOL Küm, XIX-J-1-j, Arab országok Tük, 1965 111 d. IV-14.

[9] For aggregate data from the first part of the 1960s see Annex I.

[10] MOL Küm, XIXJ1-j, Arab országok Tük, 1965. 111. d. IV-14.

[11] MOL Küm, XIXJ1-j, Arab országok Tük, 1965. 111. d. IV-14. 

[12] MOL Küm, XIX-J-1-j, Egyiptom Tük, 17. d. document no.:110. and 116.

[13] MOL Küm, XIX-J-1-j, Egyiptom Tük, 1. d. document no.: 87

[14] MOL M-KS 288 f. 32/1973 1. ő.e. - Report for the HSWP Central Committee regarding the events in the Middle East 8 October 1973

[15] MOL Küm, XIX-J-1-j, Közel-Kelet Tük, 1973 121. d. 00970/86.

[16] MOL Küm, XIX-J-1-j, Közel-Kelet Tük, 1973 122. d. 00970/331.

[17] MOL Küm, XIX-J-1-j, Közel-Kelet Tük, 1973 122. d. 00970/178.

[18] MOL M-KS 288.f. 32/1965 3 .ő.e.

[19] Annual report of the Hungarian embassy from 1958. MOL Küm, XIX-J-1-j, Kairó Tük, 1945-1964 13.d. 139/1959

[20] On Hungarian foreign policy in the Cold War era see: Csaba Békés: Hungarian foreign policy in the bipolar World, 1945–1991, Foreign Policy Review [Budapest], 2011. 65–97. (Available online: www.coldwar.hu/Publications/Bekes)