Address by Margaretha MICKWITZ,
Director-General, International Relations, Ministry of Education
Vice-Chair, Executive Board, UNESCO
It is an honour and a pleasure for me as Vice-Chair of the Executive Board of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization to represent the Organization and to read out its message in support of the III World Congress of the Finno-Ugric Peoples.
One of the most important advances of the past century is without any doubt the recognition and understanding of the plurality of the world's peoples and their civilizations, cultures and languages. We are adapting to modernization, new technologies and development in general while endeavouring to keep our traditions without giving up our identity. All ethnic groups of the world, including their cultures and languages, are in principle being regarded as the heritage of humanity, and, yet, further progress has to be made in this specific field. The role of UNESCO, which has always worked in favour of the promotion and respect of diversity in all its fields of action, has thus become crucial. Language is one of the most important factors for the preservation and promotion of cultural diversity.
You are assembled here because you have links that make you belong to one family - the Finno-Ugric family - but you have, as individuals, your characteristics that make each of you unique.
You have been able to preserve your differences and your common features and your cultures have influenced and enriched one another and will hopefully continue doing so.
I hope that this Congress will be paving the way further in that direction in this new century, so that we can all enjoy and share our diverse cultures in harmony and peace.
On behalf of UNESCO I wish the world Congress every success.
Source: III World Congress of the Finno-Ugrian Peoples. Helsinki, 2000 [Joshkar-Ola,2001], p 22.