The Presidents of Armenia and Hungary attended the inauguration of Bálint Kovács as a doctor honoris causa

  • 29.03.2024
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Vahag Khachaturyan: We are striving to present the intellectual richness of Armenia

During his official visit to Hungary recently, President of the Republic of Armenia Vahagn Khachaturyan paid a special visit to Pázmány Péter Catholic University in Budapest, where Armenian Studies Department is since 2016 working. On the ceremony, the Armenian State Pedagogical University awarded an honorary doctorate to Bálint Kovács, Head of the Department of Armenian Studies.

The first speech was given by Rector Géza Kuminetz: “In the great family of nations, every nation has its place, since all nations are equal in dignity, even if they differ in demographic, economic or cultural importance.” – said the Rector of Pázmány Péter Catholic University.

After the Rector`s opening the Hungarian State President, Katalin Novák mentioned that there was a period in the relations between Hungary and Armenia when diplomatic channels did not work, but recently they managed to overcome the differences and difficulties.  “Hungarians and Armenians have a responsibility towards each other, and together we would like to send a message to the world: Christianity has a right to exist, values must be stood up for and fought for, it is not war but peace that can contribute to our prosperity, and its creation involves renunciation. This is the message that I would like to pass on to the next generation and to those who come from Armenia to study here with a Hungarian state scholarship, or who come from Nagorno-Karabakh.” – highlighted the Hungarian President.

The Armenian State President, Vahagn Khachaturyan, who arrived in the Hungarian capital on an official visit, expressed his sincere pleasure at the existence of the Armenian Studies Department in Hungary. The president said that “Armenia is eager to show its intellectual and historical richness, and Pázmány Péter Catholic University can help it in this endeavour”. The Armenian President stressed that the aim of the Armenian Studies department is to help Armenia’s culture and traditions better known. The Armenian President highlighted the long-standing relationship between the Armenian State Pedagogical University in Yerevan and the Pázmány Péter Catholic University.

The two institutions signed a bilateral cooperation agreement in 2016, which led to the establishment of the Department of Armenian Studies in Hungary. The President of the Republic praised the outstanding work of the head of the department and expressed his gratitude for the bilateral relations. As he said, although we do not have as much treasure as the neighbouring countries, we do have an spiritual treasure, our culture. Both the Hungarian and Armenian peoples are trying to promote their culture, because science and knowledge are the most important, without them we cannot develop. The Head of State expressed confidence that the two nations can continue to work together in the higher education and science as well.

As a highlight of the programme, Srbuhi Gevorkyan, Rector of the Armenian State Pedagogical University, awarded with the honorary doctorate Bálint Kovács, Head of the Department of Armenian Studies at Pázmány Péter Catholic University, for his pivotal role in the establishment of the Department of Armenian Studies at Pázmány Péter Catholic University and for his internationally recognized research activities as a historian in the field of Armenian Studies with a pioneering focus on Armenians in Eastern and Central Europe.

In his laudatio, Edgar Hovhannisyan, Dean of the Faculty of History of the Pedagogical University of Armenia, said that Bálint Kovács has been a research fellow at the Institute for Central and Eastern Europe at the University of Leipzig, GWZO, since 2008, where he edited a publication series entitled “Armenians in Eastern Europe” under the supervision of Professor Stefan Troebst. He has successfully integrated his research into the international professional-academic community, which led to the establishment of an independent Armenian Chair at Pázmány Péter Catholic University in 2016. “This happened at a time when there was no diplomatic relationship between Armenia and Hungary and Armenian Studies Departments were closed in many places in Europe and America. “We Armenians have a lot of things to thank for Bálint Kovács” – said the Dean, Edgar Hovhannisyan.

In his speech, Bálint Kovács thanked for the honorary doctorate and recalled the start of his academic career, which was connected to the Armenian Library of Elisabethopolis: “Being honoured by an Armenian university for my work in Armenian studies is far beyond what I could have imagined for myself in 2002 when I entered an almost forgotten Armenian library in Transylvania. I would never have imagined that I would be asked to establish a department, nor that I would receive this wonderful award for all my work in front of presidents of states beyond the narrow academic sphere.

Bálint Kovács expressed his gratitude to the Gulbenkian Foundation and the Hungary Helps Program for the scholarships and he expressed his pleasure for the international faculty who are contributing as professors or as supervisors at the Department of Armenian Studies of Pázmány Péter Catholic University, from the universities of America, London, Graz, Berlin, Leipzig and Yerevan. The head of the Armenian Studies Department also mentioned that after terrible events such as the genocide against the Armenians, or the tragedy of Western Armenia, Nakhichevan and nowadays Artsakh / Nagorno Karabakh, there is not only sadness, but optimism for the future as well.

Following this, the Rectors of the two universities signed a document in the presence of the two Heads of State, further strengthening the eight-year agreement between the two universities. The document defines the requirements for the establishment of a Hungarian History and Culture Centre at the University of Yerevan and the role of Pázmány Péter Catholic University in its activities. The aim of the center is to teach and promote Hungarian history and culture in Armenia and to further strengthen existing bilateral relations.

The ceremony was concluded with the opening of a photo exhibition of Ara Zarian (Italy): “Armenia – Mural Paintings of Armenian Churches of the VII-XIII Centuries”.

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