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President Kaljulaid invites heads of state of three Finno-Ugric peoples to attend world congress


President Kersti Kaljulaid today issued invitations to President Sauli Niinistö of Finland, President János Áder of Hungary and President Vladimir Putin of the Russian Federation to attend the 8th World Congress of Finno-Ugric Peoples being held in Tartu next summer.

The congress, which will take place at the Estonian National Museum from 17-19 June 2020, will focus not only on preserving and passing on language but also the impact of climate change on people and issues related to cultural innovation. “I am very pleased that next year’s World Congress is being held at the Estonian National Museum, whose permanent exhibition on Finno-Ugric peoples provides an overview of the rich heritage we share,” President Kaljulaid wrote in the invitation, adding that the congress represents a good opportunity to discuss the preservation of the cultural heritage of Finno-Ugric peoples in a changing world.

Viia-Kadi Raudalainen, the director of the NPO Fenno-Ugria, which is organising the congress, explained that although the world congresses of Finno-Ugric peoples are civic initiative-based forums independent of governments and political parties, the attendance of the presidents would add weight to the event and contribute to more effectively fulfilling its objectives. “It would help develop and protect the self-awareness, cultures and languages of Finno-Ugric peoples and promote cooperation between them at a range of levels,” she said. “It would also have the benefit of informing a much wider audience of the problems facing Finno-Ugric peoples.” The congresses have been held in Russia, Hungary, Finland and Estonia every fours years since 1992, and have been attended by the heads of state of Finland, Hungary and Estonia each time since 2000. Then Russian President Dmitry Medvedev attended the congress in Khanty-Mansiysk in 2008.

President Kaljulaid also invited all three of her counterparts to make a bilateral visit to Estonia at the same time as attending the congress. “That way we will be able to continue our constructive discussions, which will hopefully contribute to better mutual understanding between our countries, strengthen neighbourly relations and boost cooperation in the Baltic Sea region and on the world stage more broadly,” President Kaljulaid said. Verbal invitations have previously been issued to the heads of state.

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