Presidents Tarja Halonen of Finland, Laszlo Solyom of Hungary and Toomas Hendrik Ilves of Estonia also spoke at the opening ceremony.
The theme of the Congress this year is ”Identity in a Changing World“. The forum normally focuses on ethnic-political issues, rights, language and education, health, culture, demography and the family. This year some 300 delegates and 350 observers from 11 countries are taking part. The Congress lasts until 30 June.
In Russia out of 24 Finno-Ugric and related peoples 19 peoples are living as compact population groups in five republics (Karelia, Komi, Mari El, Mordovia, Udmurtia), two regions (Perm and Krasnoyarsk) and two autonomous districts (Khanty-Mansiysk and Yamalo-Nenets). Representatives of these peoples also live in many other regions of the country. Among Russia’s population there are more than two million Finno-Ugrians.