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President Karis: ‘We must not become indifferent to the fate of our kindred people amid other concerns’

In October, Estonia celebrated its Finno-Ugric identity throughout the month. The celebration culminated in and centred around the Finno-Ugric Day, also known as Kindred Peoples’ Day, on the third Saturday of the month, this year on 21 October. The celebration was held in the Estonian National Museum and attended by the President of Estonia, Alar Karis. His speech is translated into English below.

Karise foto inglise uudisele
President of Estonia, Alar Karis. Photo: Arp Karm

Dear kindred brothers!

Where else but here in Tartu – the city of the University and the Estonian National Museum – is the perfect place to get together on the occasion of the Kindred Peoples’ Day.

Ilmari Manninen already symbolises very nicely the joint work of the kindred peoples, from which something so solid and strong grows that the future can build on it.

Now is the time for a breakthrough.

Our kindred peoples have lived through times in their long history when everything seems to be a dark dead end. Even now we see Russia sending representatives of our kindred peoples to die in a war where Ukraine is fighting for its freedom.

Thus, loud propaganda drowns out the cynical policy of making the small nations vanish. Its refrain has become the repression of their language from the public space and their role as mere decoration at festivals. A deliberate attempt is being made to replace the indigenous culture of these peoples more and more with Russian.

In the background, we also have the cruel knowledge that, by the end of this century, a quarter of the world’s languages today could disappear, fade away and dissolve. A quarter of the world’s peoples.

However, we must not be discouraged by these difficult times, with concern always comes hope. Hope, however small, helps to keep the spirit alive. A spirit filled with hope is stronger in the face of any adversity.

In these difficult times, time and again, the kindred movement has helped to find a remedy. By supporting their language and culture as the world tree that allows a nation to endure.

We must not become indifferent to the fate of our kindred peoples amidst other concerns. We too were not treated indifferently in difficult times. This compassion, support and understanding helps us to endure and thrive.

We need to carry out work for the kindred peoples on many levels. In a big way through the United Nations, and boldly using the decade of indigenous languages that began last year for the survival of kindred languages and peoples. But also everyone Finno-Ugric at heart, at their own personal level, supporting and connecting with kindred people.

It is important that Finno-Ugric enthusiasts continue to work for the benefit of their people in their own land. Our unique network of Finno-Ugric relations is precisely what can help here, even in the most difficult times and in the most diverse ways.

And, of course, we must also speak about the kindred peoples in Estonia itself and explain their situation honestly and in every way.

In other words, we will try to help in every way we can. Even with small things. To keep hope alive.

Therefore, thank you, dear kindred friends. Something very certain – the future – can be built on the collective work of kindred peoples.