I would like to thank President Kaljulaid for the kind invitation to participate in this VIII World Congress of Finno-Ugric Peoples.
The World Congress is held every four years, but work for the Finno-Ugric languages and culture is carried out every day. We appreciate this important work you are doing for fostering and developing our shared cultural heritage.
I would love to be present in the beautiful town of Tartu with you. Unfortunately, the pandemic situation did not allow it this time. In any case, it is particularly valuable that the event that was postponed from last year can be finally realised this year.
It often feels that we are living in the middle of constant turmoil. We all also long for stability, for things that give us a sense of security amid global changes. Own culture, own language, own traditions – they are matters that offer continuity and focus to our lives.
This year, one of the themes of the World Congress is climate change. Climate change touches every one of us. It affects our environment and demands action from all of us, both from states and individuals. There are Finno-Ugric peoples living in areas that are already being shaken up in fundamental ways by climate change. In the Arctic region, the climate is warming up three times faster than global average. It is important that information on climate change is available also in small minority languages.
The Finno-Ugric co-operation is based on trust, openness and dialogue. We know each other. Between acquaintances, we can support each other, both in fostering our common heritage and in addressing common challenges.
In current times, when we are unable to travel and meet each other in the normal way, it is important to maintain the contacts by other means. Technology allows us to exchange thoughts even when we are physically far apart. We can also create new routes for co-operation between Finno-Ugric peoples, and within them, and find new ways to maintain and strengthen our languages and cultures.
However, virtual communication can never fully replace meeting face-to-face. I hope that we can also soon continue this work by meeting each other in person and visiting each other. I wish all of you, both the participants there in Tartu and all those attending the event remotely, an interesting and productive congress.