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Greetings and Speeches

Opening ceremony
16 June 2021 in Tartu

The 8th World Congress of Finno-Ugric Peoples
Opening ceremony
16 June 2021 in Tartu

At the opening plenary session of the VIII World Congress of Finno-Ugric Peoples, the Presidents of Estonia, Finland, Hungary and Latvia addressed the representatives of the Finno-Ugric Peoples, guests and observers of the Congress. The Estonian, Finnish and Russian Ministers of Culture and a representative of the Hungarian Ministry of Human Resources also spoke.

On this page you can read all the calls immediately after the opening ceremony.


Video greeting from President of the Republic Sauli Niinistö to the World Congress of  Finno-Ugric Peoples held on 16–18 June 2021 

Honourable representatives of Finno-Ugric Peoples and observers of the World Congress, 

I would like to thank President Kaljulaid for the kind invitation to participate in this VIII World  Congress of Finno-Ugric Peoples. 

The World Congress is held every four years, but (there are people who work) work for the  Finno-Ugric languages and culture is carried out every day. We appreciate this important work  you are doing for fostering and developing our shared cultural heritage.  

I would love to be present in the beautiful town of Tartu with you. Unfortunately, the pandemic  situation did not allow it this time. In any case, it is particularly valuable that the event that was  postponed from last year can be finally realised this year.  

It often feels that we are living in the middle of constant turmoil. We all also long for stability,  for things that give us a sense of security amid global changes. Own culture, own language, own  traditions – they are matters that offer continuity and focus to our lives.  

This year, one of the themes of the World Congress is climate change. Climate change touches  every one of us. It affects our environment and demands action from all of us, both from states  and individuals. There are Finno-Ugric peoples living in areas that are already being shaken up  in fundamental ways by climate change. In the Arctic region, the climate is warming up three  

times faster than global average. It is important that information on climate change is available  also in small minority languages. 

The Finno-Ugric co-operation is based on trust, openness and dialogue. We know each other.  Between acquaintances, we can support each other, both in fostering our common heritage and in  addressing common challenges.  

In current times, when we are unable to travel and meet each other in the normal way, it is  important to maintain the contacts by other means. Technology allows us to exchange thoughts  even when we are physically far apart. We can also create new routes for co-operation between  Finno-Ugric peoples, and within them, and find new ways to maintain and strengthen our  languages and cultures.

However, virtual communication can never fully replace meeting face-to-face. I hope that we can  also soon continue this work by meeting each other in person and visiting each other. I wish all  of you, both the participants there in Tartu and all those attending the event remotely, an  interesting and productive congress.



16 June 2021

Address of the President of Latvia, Egils Levits, at the VIII World Congress of Finno-Ugric Peoples

Good afternoon der participants of the Finno-Ugric congress,


Conservation of diversity in nature and among people has become a global priority in recent years. We want diversity in terms of national languages and cultures, especially the ones on the brink of extinction that mankind has ignored for many years.

Nowadays, we appreciate every language that contributes to human ecosystem and believe that number of those speaking the language does not determine how unique or valuable in economic terms this language is.


Finns, Estonians and Livonians, who have inhabited the shores of the Baltic Sea since ancient times, are our Finno-Ugrian link to these languages and cultures.

Livonians, which is in terms of speakers the smallest Finno-Ugrian nation, still inhabit Latvia and form one of the core components of modern Latvian culture and language. Livonian traditions have contributed to Latvia’s unique European cultural identity.

In 2014 we acknowledged and enshrined this sacred bond in our constitution, the Preamble of Satversme of the Republic of Latvia. It is engrained in our constitution and also the Historical Lands bill.

Our Official Language Law also seeks to preserve, protect and support the development of Livonian language as the indigenous language of Latvia. Law obliges our state to take care of and protect the Livonian heritage by supporting research and promoting public awareness. However, historic justice requires us to strengthen the Finno-Ugrian elements of our past and enable more intense interactions between Finno-Ugrian and Latvian identities.


The home of Livonians – Latvia – is committed to taking care of its other indigenous nation.

We are working on a comprehensive horizontal policy for indigenous Livonian people. Everyone from government departments and other bodies to local governments and Livonian communities is on board.

Three years ago, as we celebrated the centenary of Latvia, we inaugurated the University of Latvia Livonian Institute, a facility dedicated to researching Livonian heritage. Latvia has become a respected partner of many global research institutes and universities.

Latvia also attaches great importance to Decade of Indigenous Languages announced by UN. We felt compelled to join the initiative by designating a Latvian delegation and Livonian representative to the steering bodies of this crucial initiative.

I am absolutely certain that Livonian renaissance has reached unprecedented heights in modern history of Latvia, largely thanks to numerous very committed, dedicated and active members of the Livonian community.


Dear participants,

We have an impressive Livonian delegation taking part in this congress. It is comprised of publicly well-known figures, keepers of traditional and contemporary culture, researchers and enthusiasts of Livonian language and its preservation. This shows that despite being one of the most endangered indigenous communities in the world Livonians still have plenty of energy and will to keep going.

Despite various historical challenges and powers, and Soviet occupation that spanned five decades and wiped the last Livonian homestead on the north-western coast of Latvia off the face of the earth, Livonians continue to live on. I am truly astonished at that.

I think all nations can learn from Livonians how to nurture your own language, traditions and culture and how to ensure they continue into the future.

I think this congress is a wonderful venue for learning valuable experiences and ideas on how to maximise one’s efforts in ensuring continuity of Finno-Ugrian languages and people, as well as co-existence with and continuity of other nations, languages and cultures that belong to Finno-Ugrian and other global language families.

I hope one day this Congress will take place in Latvia, bringing Finno-Ugrian people from different places to the country which still strongly relies on its Finno-Ugrian roots.


I wish you lots of inspiration, courage and luck! I hope you never fade and will always be able to garner the strength necessary to come back stronger – the way Livonians living in our common home, Latvia, have done numerous times and the way Latvia Livonians, Valts Ernštreits, does, especially through his work and poetic endeavours.

Every voice, even the smallest, matters for the Finno-Ugrian community. May the voice of Livonians and Latvians always be part of the Finno-Ugrian song.

Knaššõ ja rikāzt sūomõ-ugrõd rovd mōīlma kongressõ! (I wish everyone a wonderful and inspiring Congress of Finno-Ugric Peoples!)


Welcome address by Minister of Culture Anneli Ott at the opening of the 8th World Congress of Finno-Ugric Peoples

Honourable President of the Republic of Estonia, Excellencies, dear conference participants, and friends of the kindred people movement from near and far!

The movement of kindred peoples has held a firm position in the national self-awareness of Estonians for more than 100 years. We are connected the Finno-Ugric peoples by our cultural commonality, by our language, worldview and traditions. Belonging to the family of Finno-Ugric peoples makes us bigger, helps us understand the past and look toward the future.

The home of Estonian culture is the Estonian National Museum, which was established 112 years ago. I am sincerely pleased that today’s congress is taking place in this beautiful and magnificent building. The Estonian National Museum is also the bearer and custodian of the cultural heritage of all Finno-Ugric peoples. This building is only five years old, but has great symbolic value. This is where our cultural memory and the wisdom of generations — our common Finno-Ugric cultural heritage – is stored. 

This year, the title of Finno-Ugric Capital of Culture is held by Abja-Paluoja in Mulgimaa. The idea to initiate the Finno-Ugric Capitals of Culture movement was proposed at the World Congress in Hungary nine years ago. The fact that the university city of Tartu will bear the title of European Capital of Culture in 2024, only three years from now, is also part of the Finno-Ugric world. 

Dear friends! As representatives of the Finno-Ugric peoples, we are culturally richer if we all jointly keep our language and the cultural heritage, skills and wisdom of our ancestors alive. Every year, the world is becoming easier to embrace and grasp, and distances are seemingly disappearing. This simplifies the communication between peoples, and also reshapes our way of thinking. We are all impacted by the global developmental changes that seek to steer us towards uniformity. However, protecting the world’s cultural heritage also requires the ability to preserve differences, originality and uniqueness. As well as to highlight and protect small nations and cultures. Without small nations, the world would be a more boring and poorer place.

The need for a balance of and a connection between differences and similarities is also observed in the work of the 8th World Congress of Finno-Ugric Peoples. Each of the Finno-Ugric peoples is like a diverse cultural landscape, whose unique frame of mind and language are our common property, not only between the protective walls of museums, but as a natural part of our daily lives. Differences in cultures, ways of thinking, and lifestyles do not pose a threat, but rather comprise the wealth of the world around us. Our wish is to help our friends, who have come here today from near and far or are watching the congress online, make the Finno-Ugric world more visible on the world cultural heritage landscape, so that it will last for centuries to come. Hope and faith in our survival is what we can contribute to each other, and this is based on our cooperation, mutual support and trust. 

The gathering of so many different Finno-Ugric nationalities for the World Congress confirms that we take pride in our identity, language and culture. As the Minister of Culture of the Republic of Estonia, I am convinced that it is culture that helps us to remain ourselves and enables us to offer many unique and necessary things to other peoples as well. 

The well-being and cultural heritage of the Finno-Ugric peoples are important to us all. It is clear that in an increasingly online world, hope for the continuation of our cultural traditions lies primarily with our children and young people. If we teach young people to appreciate the values and beliefs of their cultural space, they will be able to appreciate those of other cultures as well.

I wish the 8th World Congress of Finno-Ugric Peoples good luck and success, as well as meaningful discussions and good decisions. Thank you everyone!


Suomalais-ugrilaisten kansojen VIII maailmankongressi 16.-18.6.2021, Viro, Tartto  

Tiede- ja kulttuuriministerin Antti Kurvisen videotervehdys

Hyvät suomalais-ugrilaisten kansojen edustajat ja maailmankongressin tarkkailijat ja kaikki vieraat! 

Koronapandemian aikana tuntuu erityisen merkitykselliseltä voida tervehtiä teitä kaikkia näin etäisyydenkin päästä. Haluan lausua kannustuksen ja kiitoksen sanat sille kauaskantoiselle työlle, mitä teistä jokainen tekee tällä foorumilla suomalais-ugrilaisten kielten, kulttuurin ja pohjoisten kansojen tulevaisuuden eteen! 

Tapahtuman teema – Cultural Landscapes – Language and Mind – katsoo vahvasti tulevaisuuteen pohtien tärkeää kysymystä kulttuuristen maisemien olemuksesta ja sen suhdetta kieleemme. Kieli on ajattelun ja tunteiden ilmaisun väline ja siten olennainen osa kaikkien ihmisten persoonaa. 

Olemme tänä keväänä käynnistäneet Suomen opetus- ja kulttuuriministeriön johdolla kansallisen kulttuuriperintöstrategian laatimisen. Tässä työssä näemme kulttuuriperinnön laajana, kaikkia koskevana – ja ennen kaikkea kaikkia ihmisiä yhdistävänä asiana. On tärkeää löytää toimivat tavat ja välineet, jotka herättävät yhteiskunnan eri toimijoiden kiinnostuksen kulttuuriperintöön ja avaavat sen mahdollisuudet ja potentiaalin voimavarana ennen kaikkea kestävän tulevaisuuden rakentamisessa. Katseemme kansallisen kulttuuriperintöstrategian valmistelussa ulottuvat on aina vuoteen 2030 saakka. Uskon, että tällä työllä on voi olla annettavaa myös laajemmalle suomalais-ugrilaiselle yhteisölle, jossa pyrimme osaltamme yhdessä vahvistamaan suomalais-ugrilaista kulttuuriperintöä ja pitämään sen elinvoimaisena ja vireänä myös tulevaisuudessa.  

Vaikka koronapandemia on aiheuttanut yhteiskunnillemme moninaisia haasteita, se on samalla avannut tien sellaisten digitaalisten taitojen kehitykselle, joka on mahdollistanut entistä matalamman kynnyksen tehdä yhteistyötä suomalais-ugrilaisten kielten tutkimuksen, erilaisten hankkeiden ja kulttuuritapahtumien suunnittelussa ja toteuttamisessa. 

Viime vuonna virtuaalisesti järjestetyt sukukansapäivät tavoittivat Suomessa ilahduttavasti uusia osallistujia. Olemme sen puitteissa saaneet todistaa, että yksittäisen kansanmusiikkiyhtyeen konsertissa on ollut reilusti yli tuhat kuuntelukertaa – joita ei mitenkään olisi voitu saavuttaa ilman virtuaalisia kanavia. Hyvänä esimerkkinä toimii myös kasvava kiinnostus suomalais-ugrilaiseen sarjakuvayhteistyöhön, jossa tärkeää on kuvan ja kielen sitominen toisiinsa. Tavoitteena onkin, että yksittäiset kieltenpuhujat pääsevät yhteistyöstä osallisiksi ja saavat vahvistusta omalle kulttuuri-identiteetilleen, oli heidän asuinpaikkansa missä tahansa. Tärkeää on, että voimme tarjota nuorille suomalais-ugrilaisille sukupolville innostavia ja saavutettavia kulttuurisisältöjä ja -elämyksiä. 

Meistä monilla on vahva kokemus siitä, että tieteen edustajien väliselle dialogille on nykymaailmassa suuri tarve. Vastaavaa tarvetta on ilmennyt myös oman äidinkielen opetuksen menetelmien kehittämisessä, laatimisessa ja käyttöönotossa. Eritoten tieteen kehittämisestä vastaavana suomalaisministerinä haluan osaltani kannustaa suomen kielen ja kulttuurin tai suomalais-ugrilaisten kielten ulkomaisia jatko-opiskelijoita ja tutkijoita hakemaan Suomen Opetushallituksesta apurahaa opinnoilleen suomalaisissa yliopistoissa tai tutkimuslaitoksissa. Opintonne Suomessa voivat kestää yhdestä kuukaudesta vuoteen ja apurahoja voi hakea myös lyhyttä, viikosta neljään viikkoa kestävää vierailua varten. Uskon, että lyhyetkin kansainväliset kohtaamiset voivat avata uusia yhteistyön polkuja suomalais-ugrilaisten tutkijoiden kesken.  

Hyvät kuulijat, 

Kerran neljässä vuodessa pidettävä suomalais-ugrilaisten kansojen maailmankongressi on suurtapahtuma, jonka järjestäminen vaatii tekijöiltään suurta henkistä ja taloudellista sitoutumista. Kongressin konsultaatiokomitea ja sitä koordinoiva Suomi-Venäjä-seura ovat tehneet pitkäjänteistä työtä luotsaten kongressia nopeasti muuttuvassa maailmassa kohti tulevia yhteistyömahdollisuuksia. 

Erityisen kiitoksen haluan lausua kongressin isäntämaalle Virolla, joka on mahdollistanut monipuolisen hybriditapahtuman ja koonnut suomalais-ugrilaiset kansat jälleen yhteen pitkän tauoan jälkeen. Olette tehneet arvokasta työtä vahvistamalla osaltanne hybridimuotoista yhteistyökonseptia suomalais-ugrilaisten kansojen kesken. 

Nyt on koittanut kauan odotettu aika kohdata vanhat ystävät ja uudet yhteistyökumppanit, keskustella, vaihtaa kuulumisia ja heittää ilmoille uusia ideoita tulevat vuodet ja uudet projektit mielessä. Toivotan kaikille innostavaa ja uutta rakentavaa kongressia – sekä hyvää terveyttä!


István Kovács – Ministry of Human Capacities, Deputy State Secretary for International and EU Affairs


Welcome speech

By O.B. Lyubimova, Minister of Culture of the Russian Federation 

At the opening of the 8th World Congress of Finno-Ugric Peoples

Dear delegates, observers and congress guests!

I greet the participants of the 8th World Congress of Finno-Ugric Peoples, who have gathered both in person and online. One of the main goals of cultural policy is to create a system of both organizational and economic conditions that promotes the preservation and development of different ethnic groups.

Russia has historically developed as a multinational country. Our cultural code organically includes the almost 190 peoples and nations who live in our country, including, of course, the ethnocultural traditions of the Finno-Ugric people.

Activities aimed at preserving and supporting the national and cultural uniqueness of the Finno-Ugric peoples play a special role in the state and cultural policy of the Russian state. After all, most of the Finno-Ugric peoples and all the Samoyed peoples live in our country. Without their culture, it would be impossible to imagine both Russia’s cultural heritage and its modern life.

In 2020, based on the decrees of the President of Russia, we celebrated the centenary of the formation of three republics: the Mari, Karelia and the Komi Republics. Significant budgetary resources were allocated, and dozens of key regional infrastructure facilities were built or reconstructed.

Every year, dozens of Finno-Ugric festivals are held throughout the country with support from the Russian Ministry of Culture. The largest federal museums have excellent collections that introduce the historical, cultural and spiritual heritage of the Finno-Ugric peoples. The Vepsians and Karelians, Mansi and Mordvins, Udmurts and Khanty – they all have colourful ethnocultural identities and we take equal care to the preserve and develop these cultures.

Russia and the Finno-Ugric peoples there are prepared to have an equal and dignified intercultural dialogue. For a dialogue without politicisation in which there are no large or small peoples, but which is based on mutual respect, the knowledge of historical truth and a desire to support each other’s cultural originality.

I wish all the participants in the 8th World Congress continued success in preserving their unique ethnocultural heritage. 

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