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 traditions.

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 co-operation.

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 family.

Thank you for your attention.

Source: III World Congress of the Finno-Ugrian Peoples. Helsinki, 2000 [Joshkar-Ola, 2001], pp 7–9.