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Opening remarks of the exhibition “Finno-Ugric and Samoyed Peoples” by the Permanent Representative of Estonia to the UN, H.E. Mr. Sven Jürgenson, 19 April 2017


Opening remarks of the exhibition “Finno-Ugric and Samoyed Peoples” by the Permanent Representative of Estonia to the UN, H.E. Mr. Sven Jürgenson,
19 April 2017

Dear guests,  

Thank you all for coming. I am delighted to open the exhibition „Finno-Ugric and Samoyed Peoples“ together with my esteemed colleagues from the United Nations: Assistant Secretary-General, Mr. Andrew Gilmour and Chief of the Secretariat of the Indigenous Peoples Forum, Ms. Chandra Roy-Henriksen.

As you will be able to see, the exhibition portrays the cultures of the Finno-Ugric and Samoyed peoples. We especially hope that visitors and viewers will be able to recognize and get an overall understanding of the diversity in languages, traditions and ways of life that Finno-Ugric and Samoyed People hold dear. Today, three of them have their own nations – Finland, Estonia and Hungary. One of the first images you will come across is a map, showing the vast areas Finno-Ugric and Samoyed Peoples live on. Most certainly, diversity is also expressed in this large range of geographic environments. Despite huge distances apart, there is something that connects all these people together - language. Although Finno-Ugric peoples might not linguistically fully understand one another, the subtle similarities are living proofs of our roots and our historic course as human beings.
Overall there are around 25 million Finno-Ugrians in the world. Still the number of those who speak Finno-Ugric languages is declining. When a language dies, the knowledge of and ability to understand the culture of who spoke it, is threatened because the teachings, customs, oral traditions and other inherited knowledge are no longer transmitted among native speakers. Therefore, in order to make it possible for the various small nations to survive, we must find a way to promote their languages and cultures whilst keeping up with the times, and think how we could reach more people. Although the world has become larger, we must not allow it to become poorer in terms of culture. The real wealth of the world is in its diversity. Thus, free and democratic societies must support projects essential for the preservation of diverse cultures, they must support diversity to ensure that the languages and cultures of the smallest nations survive. Preserving the diverse legacy is our common responsibility.
For Estonians, the future of Finno-Ugric peoples with whom we are linked in kinship and language is particularly close to our hearts. We consistently support cultural and educational projects for Finno-Ugric peoples, such as Finno-Ugric Capitals of Culture. The next World Congress of the Finno-Ugric Peoples – a joint forum with the aim of discussing issues dealing with the preservation of the languages and cultures of Finno-Ugric and Samoyed  peoples as well as issues concerning the rights of indigenous and minority peoples, will be held in Estonia in 2020.
To present our exhibition today is even more meaningful, as next week we will celebrate the 10th anniversary of the adoption of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. Hereby I would like to commend the good work of the secretariat of the Permanent Forum of the Indigenous Peoples and excellent job of the four Advisors for helping the President of the General Assembly to hold consultations on the processes concerning ways to enable the greater participation of indigenous peoples at the UN meetings.
I hope you will enjoy the exhibition and I would also like to invite all of you to the film screening next week on 26 April at 6.15 pm in Conference Room 4.  The film is written and directed by our former President Lennart Meri and would show all the different Finno-Ugric peoples in their everyday environments.

Thank you. 


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