SPEECHES OF THE PEOPLES' REPRESENTATIVES
chairman of All-Mari council,
Dear participants of the Finno-Ugrian forum!
On behalf of hundreds of thousand Man - men and women, aged and young who live on the bend of the Volga and on the arborous banks of the Kokshaga, the Kama and the Vyatka -I should like to cordially greet the representatives of the kindred Finno-Ugrian peoples. Millennia have passed, efforts of our brilliant researchers and attractive energy of enthusiasts - all that was required to enable the best sons and daughters of all the Finno-Ugrian peoples to meet for the third time in the modern history in the end of the 20th century to discuss their strategic goals in the development of the Finno-Ugrian world in the III millennium.
The ideas of the Finno-Ugrian community, cultural, economical and scientific cooperation among our peoples are very popular with the Mari. In the republic Mari El they highly appreciate our relations to each other, we intend to further initiate and realize constructive and consistent programs and projects, thus pursuing one goal which is marked as the main issue of the World congress: “The Finno-Ugrian world in the III millennium - perspectives of its development". In our judgment, the future of our kindred peoples in the 21th century will be determined by several fundamental factors. Firstly, will they find - in Europe and in the world - civilized means and mechanisms of preservation of small nations, bearers of unique cultures? The majority of the 19 Finno-Ugrian ethnoses belong to the peoples subjected to the threat of assimilation and disappearance. The present generation of the Vod, Izhorians, Vepsians and Livonians can be the last one. We can be bystanders to their send-off from the historical arena into non-existence. In this respect we welcome and wholly support the activities of the Consultative committee of the Finno-Ugrian peoples at UN commissions on problems of the aboriginal peoples, cooperation with Council of Europe and with its Parliament.
A second most important moment. It concerns the Finno-Ugrian peoples living in the Russian Federation. The eastern Finno-Ugrians can grow educated, dynamic and healthy nations in the future in prosperous, economically booming Russia only. The earlier our country manages to come to the road of social progress and stabile development, the more definite and reliable are perspectives of reaching the civilized heights by the Man, Komi, Udmurts, Mordovians ... Our present lagging behind our western brothers is not in the intellectual, spiritual or personal aspect, but in that we are in a worse social and economical situation. In this respect we in Russia drag not for many a decade all in all, as it is said sometimes. High algebra of the life always provides several variants of solving the posed task. Equations with the Russian society were always done by history in an unusual and unexpected way. We believe that the crisis will be overcome in a short time without disturbances, without "dismounting" the small nations by Russia.
The third determining factor is the ability of our peoples to self-organize and self-develop. Hard conditions of habitation made the majority of our nations rather viable. This quality unconditionally is the most important in the estimation of our ability of national expansion.
We hold that 700,000 Man will be proud of that they are Man. The last sociological polls carried out during the preparation to the V All-Mari congress convincingly showed an increase in the national self-consciousness of our nation, return to the national roots - the native language, culture and heathen religion. We are gratified by the fact that the youth began to show more interest in the past of its nation, attraction of the youth to education is growing. Government of Man El adopted and realizes a program of national development of the Mari people embracing the spheres of education, culture and language.
A most serious task for us is recovery in a normal demographic situation. A
decrease in the number of the eastern Finno-Ugrian peoples and the absolute
majority of the nations in Russia is taking place in the last years. To overcome
this tendency our federal and local authorities have to solve complex social,
economical and psychological problems.
The future membership of the Consultative committee, big Finno-Ugrian organizations, in our opinion, must back the moral and physical health of the Finno-Ugrian peoples with every means and in every may possible. Distemper, disturbances in Russia should not ruin eternal values in our conscience - care for the motherland, the native people, respect for the elders and domesticity. The Man-wide movement - Mari national congress - and the All-Mari council hold the formation of high civic qualities of the Mari people one of the main directions of their activities. Government of Mari El is joint with us. Upon a proposal of Mari society government of Mari El carried a decree to validate the 10th of December as an official holiday - the Day of Mari written language; on 26th of April we organize official events devoted to the Day of the Mari hero. National sanctities, historic heroes of the nation and the cult of the Mother-Nature return back into the world view of the Mari. This a natural and a very significant side of the Mari mentality. But at the threshold to the 21 century we think about participation of the Man at global processes transforming the human society. Partaking at the integrationist movement in our continent presupposes mastering of new technologies, knowledge of foreign languages and readiness to embark into a dialogue of cultures. These issues were discussed by us in details at the V All-Mari congress in the last summer. On the strength of the decisions of that meeting we supposed for the Consultative committee that a Finno-Ugrian Internet forum should be prepared and carried out in 2001. And it will take place in two phases, one being in Yoshkar-Ola and the next in Syktyvkar.
However, now the concern of every Mari is the problem of broadening of the native language's functions and its adaptation to the conditions of the information society. Government of Mari El with an active participation of the All-Mari council settled down to the Programme on development of the Mari language. Its main result will be a significant increase in the information volume received by the Mari in their native language. Now, regrettably, we receive by means of the Russian language above 80% of the information necessary for obtaining the education, making a carrier in occupation and creative work. In the next 1-15 years we purpose to change the situation: introduce the teaching of the basic subjects in the Mari language at school, expand TV and radio broadcasting in the native language, translate and publish quality works of the world classic literature in our mother language and practically realize its official status in the republic. The experience of the language construction in Hungary, Finland and Estonia - which they generously share with us - is of special importance for us. We are truly thankful to governments and parliaments of Finland, Estonia and Hungary for their moral and material support to our programs of national development.
Here in Helsinki many projects and programs on assistance to the Mari, Komi, Udmurts and other eastern Finno-Ugrians originated and were developed. In the Finnish capital, big scientific centres hundreds of enthusiasts study languages, culture and history of the Finno-Ugrians of Russia. We hear the voice of Helsinki in the Mari language over the ether. On behalf of the Mari people I should like to express sincere gratitude to the Finns - the organisers of this forum - I wish peace and prosperity to the Finnish people.
Dear friends, relatives!
Our spiritual unity and pursuit of cooperation has one high goal - preserve the multicolour of languages and cultures in the Finno-Ugrian world. For the sake of this great goal we came together here. The Mari have made a worthy contribution and are ready to make it further to strengthening of our relations. I wish prosperity to every and all of our nations! Thank you!
Source: III World Congress of the Finno-Ugrian Peoples. Helsinki, 2000 [Joshkar-Ola, 2001], pp 50–52.