Address by President
of the Republic of Hungary Ferenc MÁDL
to the III World Congress of the Finno-Ugric Peoples in Helsinki
on 11 December 2000
Madame President, Presidents, Friends, Ladies and Gentlemen, Finno-Ugric
Brothers and Sisters!
It is with pleasure and thanks that I have the honour to represent
my country, the Republic of Hungary, in the year of its millennium
at the World Congress of Finno-Ugric Peoples, the most important
international forum of the Finno-Ugric movement which serves the
cause of preserving, keeping alive and cultivating the ancient
I am happy that this prestigious international congress, now
meeting for the third time, has been organized by Finland, land
of the Kalevala, described by the Hungarian writer Janos Kodolanyi
as the “perfect unity of culture and civilization”.
“There must be an original homeland somewhere...”
- is the title Mihaly Vaci, one of our major 20th century poets
gave to one of his poems. Many small peoples and communities could
express a similar thought, that they preserve their past in their
language and traditions but know very little about their beginnings.
Large nations cannot know this feeling; they are not constantly
troubled by the question of where their common homeland was.
The Hungarian novelist Aron Tamasi wrote that “we are in
the world to be at home in it somewhere”. Somewhere in Finland,
somewhere in Estonia, somewhere in Hungary, wherever it has been
given us to live we must create the conditions that make a house
into a home and a country into a homeland.
“What is our purpose in the world?” - asks Vorosmarty,
a respecter of the ancient ideal of greatness, and he replies
with sincere faith: “to strive with all our strength for
the noblest”. Yes, for we ourselves, the noblest, the vehicles
of thousands of years of culture and tradition, so that we can
live with dignity and bring up our children, the future generations.
So that we can answer the question raised by Tasman, the hero
of the novel by Yuvan Shestalov, the Vogul writer: what must we
do for man to be man?
This is why we have come together again here at the 3rd Finno-Ugric
World Congress, because we know that somewhere we had a common
homeland, because we are at home in the world, because we want
man to be man, and we belong together on this basis.
As a result of the far-reaching social and political changes
taking place in the world, the demand for Finno-Ugric international
cooperation was expressed with new force in the early nineties.
The way opened for closer ties among the Finno-Ugric peoples.
The ten years of transformation and the beginning of the process
of democratization in Russia promoted the “resurrection”
of the Finno-Ugric ideal. The changes brought the strengthening
of the national identity and national movements of the Finno-Ugric
peoples living in the territory of the Russian Federation as well
as the awakening of solidarity of the Finno-Ugric peoples and
nations with independent statehood. The aim was to improve the
material, cultural, linguistic and moral situation of the small
Finno-Ugric peoples. The Finno-Ugric peoples with independent
statehood rightly feel that such solidarity is our moral obligation
because, thanks to centuries of research on our linguistic relationship,
we are closest to each other, we know each other, our problems,
values and interests best.
The convocation of the 1st Finno-Ugric World Congress in Syktyvkar
was of great significance in this process.
Hungary has sought possibilities for co-operation with the other
Finno-Ugric peoples principally in the field of cultural and economic
cooperation for the preservation of traditions.
Since then the congress, as a non-governmental organization, has
created a system of Finno-Ugric co-operation in which the Hungarian
people are also participating effectively and with responsibility.
Such collective thinking and action by the Finno-Ugric peoples,
guided by noble intentions, can be regarded as a kind of regional
One of the major themes at the 2nd World Congress held in Budapest
in August 1996 was the identification of further tasks related
to the political and legal situation of the indigenous Finno-Ugric
peoples living in minority status, and further steps for the preservation
of national culture, language and identity. Over 600 delegates
met in six sections on economic affairs, culture, media-information
technology, health and demography, and youth to discuss the specific
problems most affecting the Finno-Ugric peoples.
It is my hope that this 3rd World Congress of Finno-Ugric Peoples,
being held with the motto “The Finno-Ugric world in the
third millennium - the perspectives for development,” will
open new prospects for the Finno-Ugric peoples to play a role
in the 21st century in cultural, economic and political integration,
in national self-fulfillment, in the struggle for the preservation
and self-fulfillment of the indigenous Finno-Ugric peoples.
The fact that the Hungarian delegation represents practically
the whole society, the parliamentary parties, youth, culture,
science and the media, in itself demonstrates what great importance
we attach in our complex and constantly changing world on the
threshold of the third millennium to preserving for future generations
the general human values, ideals, historical and cultural legacy
of the Finno-Ugric community.
We Hungarians look to the World Congress for successful workshop
work and richness of thought to provide a guide and point of reference
for our peoples in the physical and spiritual nurturing of the
rising generation and in cultivating Finno-Ugric traditions, a
precious part of the world heritage, in culture, history and language.
We continue to attach importance to the modernization of legislative
activity ensuring the rights of national minorities and we look
to the World Congress for further guidance in this field.
I also take this opportunity to thank the Congress hosts for
their kind hospitality and excellent organization.
Dear Finno-Ugric friends, brothers and sisters,
I wish you a merry Christmas and happy New Year, strength and
good health, and much success for yourselves, your families and
a peaceful world in the third millennium for our whole Finno-Ugric
Thank you for your attention.
Source: III World Congress of
the Finno-Ugrian Peoples. Helsinki, 2000 [Joshkar-Ola, 2001],