President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Dear friends, dear festival participants!
I would like to greet everyone here at the first International Festival of Finno-Ugric Peoples. I would like to thank all our guests and first and foremost my colleagues – the President of Finland and Prime Minister of Hungary. I would like to thank all those who came to Mordovia today.
160 nationalities live in Russia and 13 of them are Finno-Ugric peoples. The Finno-Ugric peoples are scattered throughout the world. However, you have not lost your desire to share your common heritage, your cultural and historical heritage. I am very glad that representatives of the most diverse peoples from an extremely wide range of European countries have gathered on Russian soil today. The festival that we are opening today will certainly help further the cultural development of Finno-Ugric peoples in Russia itself, and will also facilitate a rapprochement between very different countries. And this is only one important merit of the Finno-Ugric peoples. Thank you.
In Russia we always have paid and will continue to pay the most devoted attention to the development of national cultures. Each people – every ethnic group no matter how small – must feel comfortable in Russia, and be aware that Russia is its native land, now and in the future. This feeling constitutes the basis of Russia's stability and sustainable development. I congratulate you on the festival's opening. Shumbrat, Finno-Ugria!
President of Finland Tarja Halonen (translated from Russian):
Dear Mr President, Mr Prime Minister, Mr Governor and Mr Head of the Administration. Dear representatives of Finno-Ugric peoples and festival guests! Dear friends!
I would like to thank all of you, and to thank the organisers for their kind invitation to participate in this celebration of the culture of Finno-Ugric peoples in Saransk. It is a great pleasure and honour to be here and to greet you on behalf of the Finnish government and the Finnish people. It is a heartwarming sight to see such a large audience and speakers that represent so many different Finno-Ugric peoples. And I speak for myself when I say that this is a very impressive and extremely interesting event because this is the first time I have been to Saransk.
It is true that we, Finno-Ugrians, are only a small group of people within the large family that constitutes humanity. But I am confident that our interest in each other is sincere. And despite the fact that we do not always understand each others' languages, we nevertheless share common customs, traditions and cultural traits. Cultural and linguistic diversity represents a valuable and shared resource. Language is the birthplace of the soul. And for that reason the right to one's native language should not exclude the possibility of loving other languages and gaining access to the cultural riches that they hold.
Multilingualism is part of humanity's shared wealth. Teaching students in their native languages is certainly important, but it is also important to preserve language and cultural heritage within the family. And in this respect I am addressing you and ourselves: women and mothers. We must ensure that our language and cultures will be preserved in the future.
A tradition of very advantageous, beneficial cooperation between our peoples has been established. Let us continue this. I hope that we will see each other next year in Khanty-Mansiysk. I would like to thank you for the warm welcome and to wish you success, success within the festival Shumbrat, Finno-Ugria! And I would like to wish the festival's participants many happy reunions with old friends. Thank you.
Prime Minister of Hungary Ferenc Gyurcsany (translated from Russian): Dear Madam President, Mr President, ladies and gentlemen!
One of our most prominent composers and scholars, Zlotan Kodaly, said that ”culture cannot be inherited. Our ancestors' culture would instantly evaporate if each successive generation did not appropriate it again and again“. As I look at many of the festival's participants – their songs, dances and clothes – I am confident that the traditions they represent will be preserved in the millennia to come. We might seem different but we are actually the same. Our unity is a part of our thousand-year long cultural tradition. And when I refer to tradition I am referring to the fact that we are not only a product of where we came but of where our journey will take us. I am confident about this and hope that we will continue this way, protecting our values and traditions.
The people that communicate in Finno-Ugric languages live in Finland, Estonia, Russia and Hungary. We share the responsibility of ensuring that we protect these languages and cultures. And that no political disagreements prevent us from doing so. Dear friends, we are happy and proud to be here. I ask you to find the strength to protect our common traditions and pass them on to future generations. Thank you.