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The Jász people, an Iranic ethnic minority present in Hungary since the 13th century, is an example to European nations in its “ability to survive”, Speaker of Parliament László Kövér said in his address to the Jász world congress on Saturday. Kövér, the patron of the three-day meeting, said Jász minorities have an opportunity at the world congress in Jászkisér, eastern Hungary, to find each other and strengthen their sense of community.

The secret to that ability to survive, Kövér said, was a strong identity. “If they take all your wealth but you preserve your identity, you can get everything back. If your identity is lost, you lost everything and have no chance of recovering it,” he said.  The Jász ethnic minority in the 18th century paid the “enormous sum” required of them to be liberated from serfdom, Kövér noted. This was a “lesson” they taught to the peoples of the world, he said. Today’s message to the world is that those who “consider themselves indebted to their homeland” will survive, thrive and will determine the course of history, he said.

The Jász were a nomadic people originating from Ossetia, an area in modern-day Iran. Their language was of the Iranic language family. The Jász settled in northeast Hungary in the 13th century, after which their original language was gradually replaced by Hungarian. The Jász held their first world congress in 1995, on the 250th anniversary of their liberation from serfdom.