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At its today’s sitting, the Foreign Affairs Committee of the Riigikogu (Parliament of Estonia) was given an overview of the activities of Estonia in supporting the Finno-Ugric nations. The Committee admitted that the Finno-Ugric nations living in Russia under increasing pressure of Russification should be shown more support.

Deputy Chairperson of the Committee Keit Pentus-Rosimannus, who chaired the sitting, said that the pressure to remove the Finno-Ugric languages from the school programme caused concern. “Starting from this academic year, learning the Komi language is not a part of the compulsory school programme any more. If a pupil wants to learn the language facultatively, in addition to the school programme, their parent has to submit an application, which will be considered. However, the signal to the society has been given,” Pentus-Rosimannus explained. 

In Estonia, we know very well how important it is to preserve the language in order to preserve the culture,” she said. “Therefore we can and we must keep the situation of the Finno-Ugric languages in the focus also in the international community.”

In the opinion of member of the Foreign Affairs Committee Andres Herkel, it is regrettable that learning of the languages of national minorities was made facultative in the Russian Federation, because this endangers the native languages of these nations.

The participants of the sitting found that deterioration of the situation of Finno-Ugric languages was taking place rapidly, and if the languages were not taught at school any more, then soon there would be no need for Finno-Ugric literature and media. “Teaching of languages is like a foundation, if it starts to crumble, then everything else will also soon fall apart,” Counsellor of NPO Fenno-Ugria Jaak Prozes said.

Deputy Head of the Foreign Relations Department of the Ministry of Culture Madis Järv emphasised the continuing importance of the Kindred Peoples Programme. The purpose of the programme is to support the preservation and development of the languages and cultures of the Uralic (Finno-Ugric and Samoyed) peoples.

Member of the Finno-Ugric Consultative Committee Andres Heinapuu, Director of Fenno-Ugria Viia-Kadi Raudalainen, Desk Officer of the International Organisations Division of the Political Department of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Heidi Koolmeister, Adviser of the Language Policy Department of the Ministry of Education and Research Kadri Sõrmus, Adviser of the Citizenship and Migration Policy Department of the Ministry of the Interior Ursula Kaasik and Programme Manager of the Finno-Ugric Capital of Culture 2015 Rieka Hõrn also told the Foreign Affairs Committee about the activities of Estonia in supporting the kindred peoples.

Photos of the sitting

Riigikogu Press Service
Epp-Mare Kukemelk
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