III World Congress of the Finno-Ugric Peoples

Helsinki (Finland) December 10–13, 2000

 
   
 

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Consultative Committee
of the Finno-Ugric Peoples

   

SPEECHES OF THE PEOPLES' REPRESENTATIVES

V. KONAKOV,
deputy head of government of Republic of Mordovia, Saransk

Dear participants of the Congress! Dear friends!

On behalf of the Erzya and Moksha delegations of republic of Mordovia I would like to give you our fervent fraternal regards and wishes of a fruitful work to so high a forum! Whole-heartedly I wish health and well-being to all the present and to your nations - peace, happiness and prosperity.

It is very much symbolic that our forum takes place at the joint of two ages, two epochs. This is a good occasion to look back at the way passed and to muse upon it.

The peoples of the Finno-Ugrian world cover a huge expanse of Europe and Asia in spite of their relative paucity. Their lands stretch from the banks of the Danube to the Pacific ocean. In this vast territory in several thousands of years they have created an original culture whose distinctive feature is its humanistic essence. For example, Finland and Hungary which found their independence not long ago are among the most civilized and prosperous countries of the globe.

The Finno-Ugrians of Russia have another fortune. As early as the dawn of their statehood they happened to be involved into the orbit of the activities of the Russian state. In the 7th -9th centuries the Chud, Merya, Ves, Izhorians took an active part at formation of the Novgorod feudal republic; the Merya together with the Novgorod people called upon the Viking princes headed by Ryurik to come to rein there; in the 13th-16th centuries they fought together with the Russian principalities against the Golden Horde, thus facilitating to the strengthening of the Moscow state and formation of a new historical communion of peoples - the Russian nation - and by that they became a part of it. And now we do not see an alternative to living in the single Russian state. But, nevertheless, problems of preservation of the nation have been accumulating.

Fundamental changes in the historical destinies of the Finno-Ugrian peoples of Russia occurred during the years of the Soviet power when they created their statehood and relatively successfully started developing their national culture. At once they continued to incur great losses together with significant achievements and that was above all expressed in the diminution of their numerical size. When we take the Mordovian ethnos, the main reason of its decrease lies in its intensive Russification. Aside from social and economical reasons, the waning of the Mordovian nation was conditioned by such psychological factors as penetration of motives of the ethnical chauvinism into the self-conscience of the people and erroneous under-estimation of the historical perspectives of the own people.

In the modern epoch when a thaw occurred in the intergovernmental relations ample ways open for the small nations. And how they will be driven - it depends primarily upon those nations themselves. The main provision is that they must believe in their own strength, show love to their own nationality and readiness to work for its weal.

The Mordovian nation is one of the largest nations of Russia, its number amounting to 1200000. A historical peculiarity is that the main half of the ethnos is outside Mordovia. Enough to say that the Mordovians live in 45 republics and regions of the Russian Federation of the former Soviet Union including the regions which are now represented at the Congress.

The republic of Mordovia is an inalienable chain of the peoples' economy complex of the Russian Federation. It represents an industrial-agrarian region disposing significant economical and manpower potential. The republic acquired and holds stable positions in the Russian and international division of labour, in particular, in production of the light bulbs, semiconductors for high-voltage techniques and electronics.

Our republic is the biggest manufacturer of electric lamps, cement, power-shovels, technical rubber wares, antibiotics and the latter-day cable production.

When speaking about economics it must be said that in Mordovia like in the whole Russia the transition to the market economy's conditions is felt very in a very painful way. An abrupt drop occurred in the volume of the industrial production. Nevertheless, insistent transformations carried on in the republic in the last years fructify some results already. Lasting tempo of the increase in the industrial production is foreshadowed, the state of matters in agriculture is improving. Gasification of the village is running actively - the village being a cradle of the nation, and the volume of residential construction is increasing.

But devotion to the solving of solely economical and applied problems nurses a danger of oblivion of one of the most important verities of the public entity: "We do not live by bread only".

A person needs moral, political and social conditions for the life of a full value, he needs conditions and capacities to get education and comprehension of all the historic legacy, first and foremost, the legacy of culture, language and national traditions.

In the republic a lot is done for the national revival, support and development of the languages and preservation of the ethno-cultural ambiance. A faculty of the national culture was opened and functions at the Mordovian state University. A State committee on the nationality policy was founded in the republic of Mordovia which coordinates all the work on the national renaissance in accordance with the national of the official nationality policy of the Russian Federation, the Decisions of the World congresses of the Finno-Ugrian peoples and the program of development of the Finno-Ugrian peoples of the Mordovian republic.

In Constitution of the republic which declared freedom and equality of all the nationalities many a principle is declared and fixed, containing attention to the preservation of the originality of the peoples living in the territory of Mordovia. The Erzyan and Moksha languages was given the status of the official ones. A painstaking work to a detailed design of that constitutional provision ended in the adoption of the law on "Official languages of the republic of Mordovia".

We see clearly that the official bodies and public organizations of the republic have to solve with more insistence the existing problems and secure a whole development of economical, cultural and national traditions and potential of the Mordovian people and the Finno-Ugrian world.

The present congress which was convened on the eve of the III millennium will discuss all the entirety of humanitarian problems facing us now. Taking into consideration the significance and nation-wide status of the tasks scheduled, it is necessary to design a state program of their realization and found a coordinating and supervising body. In my opinion, many of the problems marked in the program of the Congress could be more successfully settled under the condition of founding a center of business and cultural cooperation of the Finno-Ugrian peoples on the basis of combination of a public initiative with a help of the state. That Centre could be situated in Saransk, the capital of the Mordovian republic. We are ready to accept this big responsibility.

The Finno-Ugrian world faces problems common for every nation belonging to it:

  • Preservation of language and national culture and their adaptation to the reality of the modem world;
  • Strengthening and development of their national statehood, what can be largely facilitated by contacts on the level of Parliaments and governments of our republics;
  • Social and economic development where a great role can be played by the integration of the efforts of the representatives of business and business-related circles of our peoples.

The second millennium to what our conscious history falls was hard and, possibly, the most unfavourable for the Finno-Ugrian peoples. The 3rd millennium which we enter in a few days could be if we wish it the beginning of a new era in the development of the Finno-Ugrian peoples - the era of prosperity and welfare. We do hope that it will be just so.

Source: III World Congress of the Finno-Ugrian Peoples. Helsinki, 2000 [Joshkar-Ola,2001], pp 53–56.

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I - Syktyvkar, 1992
II - Budapest, 1996
IV - Tallinn, 2004