Finno-Ugric Congress Delegates Look to Freedom in Face of Challenges
The sixth world congress of Finno-Ugric peoples opens today in Siófok, Hungary.
Represented at the event, which runs until Friday, are nearly all of the Finno-Ugric and Samoyedic peoples, extending from central Europe clear across Eurasia.
Estonia sent a delegation of 20, including researchers, journalists, cultural figures, heritage protection specialists, and the minister of culture. President Toomas Hendrik Ilves traveled to Hungary today to address the conference.
In his remarks, President Ilves reflected on the multi-level approach to natural conservation - function-based, evolution-based and ecosystem-based - and argued that cultures should enjoy similar complex protection.
"For cultures, […] mere cultural autonomy may not be enough. The legal right to practice one’s culture is not enough if the surrounding environment, from which the culture has received its strength and in which it has its roots, is quickly or unrecognizably changed. This tragic picture is a familiar one, from the world’s oil and gas fields to illegal logging sites in forests."
Ilves singled out the recent publishing of a Livonian-Estonian-Latvian dictionary, praising the Latvian government for providing co-financing despite its austerity budget.
"Free and democratic societies are the ones that consider it necessary and are brave enough to support projects that are essential for the preservation of cultures," Ilves said.
The mention of free societies was germane considering the context of this year's congress. According to some, political strain has been injected into the proceedings by the increasing crackdown on liberties in Russia. In an article in Postimees, Estonian delegate Jaak Prozes charges that Russia padded the lists of delegates attending the congress with local leaders friendly to the Putin regime.
Another complication is the growing trend in the host country Hungary of considering the nation to be descended from Huns, not First Nation peoples, uudised.err.ee reported.