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Eastern Finno-Ugrian cooperation and foreign relations

Abstract

This study focuses on the eastern Finno-Ugrians, those located in the Russian Federation, whereas the western Finno-Ugrians live mainly in states that are part of the European Union (Finland) or hope to join it (Hungary, Estonia). Under the present conditions, one might expect the eastern Finno-Ugrians to have more in common with the other minorities in the Federation than with the western Finno-Ugrians. However, the strongest ethnically distinct peoples within the Russian Federation are Turkic and Muslim, and they look southward for cultural and political models. Excluded from this Turkic fraternity, the remaining indigenous minorities in the northwestern part of the Federation might be expected to establish a separate sphere of cooperation practically by default, based on common circumstances and vulnerability. The Finno-Ugrian label supplies a common denominator, strengthened by the myth of common origins. The scope of this article is cooperation and foreign relations involving the eastern Finno-Ugrians. It excludes cooperation among the western predominantly Finno-Ugrian states and their foreign policies, unless these affect the eastern Finno-Ugrians. The basic issues are: the level of interaction; the type of interaction-political, economic, social, or cultural; and how this interaction matters, if at all.

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