“Hungary and the Crisis in Western Sahara”, a new book published by Hungarian expert in the conflict Dr. János Besenyő

Budapest (Hungary) 11/05/2020 (SPS)- A new book on the conflict in Western Sahara was published this May 2020 under the title “Hungary and the Crisis in Western Sahara”, written by Hungarian expert in the issue and ex-member of the UN Mission in the territory, Dr. János Besenyő.

The 460 page book is the result of 10 years of scientific research, and is unique in several respects, mainly because the author is the first peacekeeper to serve in Western Sahara and use his experience to get a PhD degree publishing several books and studies on MINURSO's activities and other aspects of the Western Sahara conflict.

In this book, the writer deals with Western Sahara but from a special aspect, he explored the connection points between Hungary and Western Sahara.

In fact, few people would know that back in 1898 Spain had tried to hand over its “Saharan colony Rio de Oro” to the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy.

Eventually, negotiations that had lasted for nearly two years were unsuccessful and the area remained under the colonisation of Spain.

But few also would know that there were several Hungarian legionnaires serving in the Spanish Foreign Legion, many of them in the mid-1970s, when the Spaniards withdrew from Western Sahara and Polisario Front established the Saharawi Republic.

In addition to using various scientific sources, the book also present recollections and interviews with those former soldiers.

In another chapter, the author explored the diplomatic and political cooperation and relations between Hungary and the SADR, using the encrypted documents of former governments in the Hungarian National Archives.

He explores in this chapter the reasons why the Soviet Union and European socialist countries - except Yugoslavia - did not recognize the Saharawi Republic an independent state, and how they followed and occasionally supported Sahrawi independence aspirations.

Of particular interest is the political-diplomatic war that has taken place in Western Sahara and the way in which the participating states and international organizations have acted.

The author devoted separate chapters to the UN operation of MINURSO and the activities of the Hungarian police and soldiers who served in it, with whom he conducted interviews, filled in questionnaires and incorporated their personal experiences in the book.

Dr. János Besenyő works as university professor in the Doctoral School for Safety and Security Sciences of University of Óbudai and is leading the Africa Research Center. He completed his military career as a colonel, then conducted this unique research to use not only materials from the Hungarian archives, the SADR archives, the Vienna Archives, and the UN archives, but also the oral history told by actors who participated in the events.

The value of the book is increased by the maps and pictures included in it, which have not been published elsewhere, and which show the activities of Hungarian peacekeepers and Western Sahara.

The writer’s research interests include contemporary and recent history of Africa, migration and the Middle East, peacekeeping, military logistics, Hungarian peacekeeping operations in Africa, with particular reference to Western Sahara, and in addition, comparing political cultures, political communication and intercultural communication, DDR programs in Africa, terrorism, and Christian-Muslim relationship on the continent.

Having served several times in Africa (Western Sahara, Darfur) and Afghanistan, he received his PhD in Military Science from Miklós Zrínyi National Defense University in 2011. In 2017, he received a habilitated doctorate at Eötvös Lórant University. In 2014, he established the Scientific Research Center of the Hungarian Defence Forces General Staff, and was the leader of it from 2014-2018. (SPS)

090/500/60 (SPS)