16 June 2021 in Tartu
The 8th World Congress of Finno-Ugric Peoples
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.
My fellow Finno-Ugrians,
It is my great pleasure to be speaking to all of you here in Tartu, as well as to those of you unable to attend this congress in person. Your inability to be physically present does not diminish the significance of the congress in the slightest: being members of the larger Finno-Ugric family unites us, whatever the distances between us, and whatever contrives to keep us apart. We have experienced all of this before, and we know that many a hopeful gaze is being directed at Tartu today.
I would be hard pressed to suggest a more appropriate host city for this world congress than Tartu. After all, as the home of the Estonian National Museum and the University of Tartu, it has long been at the global forefront of studies of Finno-Ugric peoples. It is symbolic that the first person employed as the director of the museum almost 100 years ago was Finnish ethnographer Ilmari Manninen, who described Finno-Ugric-related work as our “duty of honour”.
The World Congresses of Finno-Ugric Peoples have been helping to build bridges between us for almost 30 years. The network this has created is unique for enabling everyone – Livonians, Hungarians, Finns, Votians – to express their thoughts on an equal footing, to speak freely about our joy and our concerns, and how we can better protect and promote our languages and cultures by relying on one another’s knowledge. There is no broader representation of the actual cooperation that takes place between Finno-Ugric peoples than the congress, which passes on the integration that has been achieved over successive generations.
In focussing on what we Finno-Ugric peoples have in common, it behoves us to consider continuity, to think a number of generations ahead, so that our languages and cultures are preserved for the future. All the more so now that many of our peoples are faced with the loss of school education and worried for the future of the written word in their own languages, not to mention the careless use of natural resources and their rights as indigenous populations. But no one is alone in those concerns: we share them, and must all strive to turn them into shared hope.
We live in a world where the influence of bigger languages threatens the identity and indeed the very survival of smaller languages. Statistics from the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues indicate that an ancient language vanishes from the face of the Earth every two weeks, and vanishing languages mean peoples under threat.
As such, the linguistic identity of Finno-Ugric peoples everywhere is something we must all care about. The majority of the languages we speak are small ones, so there is a clear threat that if they should vanish, so might the very things that set us apart, along with the desire to represent our peoples and pass on cultural values that date back centuries.
The ‘Finno-Ugric issue’ is therefore one that pertains to the perpetuity of all of our peoples. It is also what sets us apart – which is worth preserving in its own right – and an invaluable contribution to world culture.
No greater influence is wielded on our ethnic identity than by the language we speak. Over the last century, our Finno-Ugric mother tongues have come under more pressure than ever before from bigger languages.
Danger arises when the impact of a language is so all-pervading that people give up on speaking and learning their mother tongue, which by that point has already begun to stagnate, with no new terms being coined and the existing language no longer evolving. Using your own language becomes something to be ashamed of, which can lead to you rejecting your ethnic roots altogether. Sadly, the linguistic and cultural space of some Finno-Ugric peoples is dwindling rapidly, as is the number of those who speak their languages due to the constant pressure being brought to bear on education in those languages and the field of use of the languages growing ever smaller as a result. We must not sit by and let this happen.
Our unique languages and cultural traditions are inseparable parts of our roots, of where we come from. The world may have become a bigger place in quite a number of ways, but this growth need not come at the expense of its wealth of cultures. In that sense, by working together as one Finno-Ugric family, we are championing the preservation of global cultural diversity. A good example from here in Estonia is the people at the heart of this year’s Finno-Ugric Capital of Culture, Abja-Paluoja: the Mulgi people. As with the Seto and Võro people and the islanders of Kihnu, the ingenuity and determination of the Mulgi people is helping to preserve and reinstate their dialects.
While the speed of modern information technology enables us Finno-Ugric peoples, spread out as we are across a wide area, to keep in close contact and arrange to work together, we need to think about how we can use the latest technology to develop our languages, make them more visible and popularise them. None of us want to see our languages reduced to curios spoken only at home whose sole purpose is as a marketing tool for niche tourism: such languages have no future.
My fellow congress participants,
We, the Finno-Ugric peoples, first and foremost those of us who enjoy statehood, must work together as one to promote and preserve our ancient languages. It is the very basis of cultural identity, of diversity, of traditions and of intercultural dialogue. Next year marks the start of the UN’s International Decade of the Indigenous Languages, which will help to keep endangered languages in focus. The international community as a whole must wield more influence and increase its efforts to improve the situation of such languages.
This much-needed and worthwhile initiative will require any country that forms part of a group of united peoples to take concrete action and tangible rather than superficial steps. This includes in areas of life in which indigenous peoples promote school education and the written word in their languages and seek to resolve environmental issues. In doing so, we must think about how we can support such peoples while at the same time developing the economy in a way that takes both the nation’s and national interests into account. It is indigenous populations more than any others who are suffering the effects of climate change today, even though they contribute the least to the generation of greenhouse gases.
As such, our concerns are global concerns, and our wins will be wins for the whole world. I am sure we will be able to succeed in such a complex situation, but only by supporting one another, because the network of friends we have around the globe is our greatest strength.
My fellow Finno-Ugrians,
I would like to thank those of you who managed to bring us together once again at such a difficult time for this event. I wish all of the participants a fruitful and fulfilling congress. Our dignity is rooted in our languages and cultures; our pride and the wealth in which we share have their roots in everything that makes us unique.
Let’s stay united.
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.
“Every kind of peaceful cooperation among men is primarily based on mutual trust and only secondarily on institutions such as courts of justice and police.” – said Albert Einstein.
Esteemed Madame President,
Even Einstein’s ideas could have inspired the creation of the World Congress three decades ago.
The first World Congress, held in the capital of the Komi Republic on the initiative of the Finno-Ugric peoples living in the Russian Federation, was born out of a peaceful cooperation between well-meaning nations enjoying a kinship with each other.
Having trust in each other was what provided the basis for this unity.
Hungary was happy to join the cooperation not only because of the kindred but also because of the community of fate.
After all, millions of Hungarians have been living in minority for 100 years now.
Few people know that of the nearly 90 languages spoken in Europe, only 37 are official languages, and that some 100 million people on the old continent belong to different linguistic and ethnic minority communities.
Minority status carries one of the great contradictions of our human existence: while we have a desire to join the majority, we also wish to be recognised and valued for our uniqueness.
The European Union, which currently has 27 Member States, considers diversity to be a value in principle, as expressed in the Community’s motto: “United in Diversity”.
Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen,
Over the past 29 years, we have witnessed the good that can come from the cooperation between Finno-Ugric peoples on numerous occasions.
Just one example to illustrate this.
In 2016, some Hungarian experts approached the President of the Estonian Academy of Sciences, Mr Richard Willems, who they knew had established one of the world’s leading population genetics research centres in Tartu.
The Hungarian researchers requested the assistance of their Estonian counterparts to test a hypothesis.
Their hypothesis was that the gene pool of the communities living in the area of the former Magna Hungaria, known from medieval records, around the region of the Kama and Volga rivers, might still contain elements that could substantiate a distant relationship with the Hungarians.
The enormous database and excellent methodology of the Estonians yielded success.
The hypothesis of the Hungarian researchers was confirmed.
It turned out that the genetic cluster investigated can be found in three areas in Eurasia: in the Carpathian Basin, in Tatarstan among the Khanty and Mansi people, and in a particularly high proportion of around 50% in some Bashkirian regions.
In other words, thanks to Estonian-Hungarian cooperation, it was possible to find the remaining traces of Hungarians in the East, among people, the Bashkirian population, who themselves sent a delegation to the Second World Congress in 1996.
Let me use this opportunity as well, to appreciate our Estonian friends for their active role in this research and its financing.
Distinguished delegates, dear friends,
I am proud that Hungary is also a member of the World Congress of Finno-Ugric Peoples, where all participants can make their voices heard equally, as each nation has one vote.
In this organisation, different peoples are equal partners.
This is why I believe that our friendly cooperation built on trust not only has a past but also a future.
As the French linguistics professor Jean-Luc Moreau, a prominent proponent of Finno-Ugric unity wrote:
“Despite the Tower of Babel, the diversity of languages is not a curse, nor a devastating scourge. It is useful, helpful, productive, like genetic diversity. Language is a tool for thinking, but each language is a different tool. Indeed, our thinking is only fluent in our mother tongue. (…) The charm of our part of the world can be mainly attributed to its linguistic diversity.”
Let us preserve this linguistic and cultural diversity, not only for the benefit of the Finno-Ugric peoples but for all the nations of the world.
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.
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.
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
Speech at the VIII World Congress of Finno-Ugric Peoples
Honourable Committee, Honourable Minister,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Allow me to express my warm greetings to the Chairmanship of the Consultative Committee of the World Congress of Finno-Ugric Peoples and to the participants of the Congress both in person and online.
We are very grateful that Estonia has agreed to host the Congress in the midst of all this uncertainty due to the epidemiological situation. This is a notable sign of commitment not only for the Finno-Ugric peoples, but also for the whole world.
Since the establishment of the World Congress of the Finno-Ugric Peoples in 1992, Hungary has always considered it important to contribute to the strengthening of the Finno-Ugric peoples’ relations and sense of belonging. One third of Hungarians live as minorities outside Hungary’s borders. We have experience regarding the challenges of surviving in a foreign language environment, of what it means to fight for linguistic and civil rights and for the survival of our culture.
For centuries, Hungarian people have clung to their mother tongue, defended it on numerous occasions in wars of independence, and though it has blended with several other languages over the centuries, the majority of our artists, creators and scholars were able to create solely in their mother tongue. An integral and important part of our history and culture is the history and culture of the Finno-Ugric peoples. The common origin of our language is an important link, an emotional bond between us.
From the very beginning, our Hungarian scholars have taken an important part in the research of Finno-Ugric cultures, together with Finnish and Estonian experts. Our cooperation today is still primarily in the fields of science, education and culture. Our intention is to contribute to the success of this World Congress through a strong professional attendance.
There are significant differences in the situation of the Finno-Ugric peoples. Some of us have formed states independently and some with other peoples. We Hungarians, as representatives of the most populous members of the Finno-Ugric language family, feel a responsibility to research and preserve the languages and cultures of our smaller language-speaking relatives.
The interest of the Finno-Ugric peoples in each other is explained by the facts of linguistic kinship discovered centuries ago. Even if we were to disregard this scientific basis for kinship, the knowledge and understanding that have been built up over centuries of research would still oblige us to undertake to represent each other in all places where this is necessary. And indeed there are many such places. The majority of peoples are minorities. Wherever minority issues are being discussed, Finno-Ugric people have a place.
The issue of bilingualism and multilingualism is a key element in much of the Finno-Ugric world. The official language must be learned, but the mother tongue must never ever be forgotten. The endangerment of the mother tongue is an everyday problem for Finno-Ugric people, if not for the majority, this is certainly the case for those living in minorities. However, it is important to know that we are not alone. We have friends to share our happiness and concerns with, and friends who feel obliged to help each other.
Finno-Ugric cooperation has multiple benefits for all of us. The awareness of linguistic kinship is a factor that generates affinity, mutual sympathy and willingness to cooperate between partners, and helps to stimulate political, economic and cultural relations both between Finno-Ugric peoples with independent states and between the Finno-Ugric peoples living as part of other states.
I wish the World Finno-Ugric Congress movement continued success and meaningful discussions during the sessions.
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.