Speaking at Home Beautification Day in Räpina, President Toomas Hendrik Ilves honored this year's recipients of prizes and reserved some criticism for an initiative that would have names of old homesteads changed without their owners' consent.
"This week we read the news of how old farmsteads are being ordered to change their existing names. It is like a desire to erase the historical memory. How can we order someone to change the name of their home farm? All this is the opposite of the home-like, home-centered Estonia, the Estonia of our people. It is the opposite of the whole idea of our freedom," said Ilves at the ceremony, held on Sunday at the Räpina School of Horticulture.
As reported by Eesti Päevaleht on August 21, officials are planning a blanket action that would see up to 30,000 place names changed to better align them with the rules of orthography. For example, historical Mokko farm would have to change to "Moko."
The idea has drawn criticism, including a scathing piece from writer and Ambassador to Sweden Jaak Jõerüüt, who said:
"How would the initiators like it if, using the lowest-common-denominator argument that the state has too little money, I were to posit the same slogan: let's start a popular movement for the sacking of 30,000 bureaucrats, starting with ones who seek to justify the renaming action?"
At the ceremony, Ilves said: "Let us not be the ones to destroy the richness that we have, in the name of some standards or incomprehensible simplification," adding that he hoped that "peasant wisdom" would prevail.
Ilves thanked 83 families and local governments for their work in beautifying their homes and surroundings.
"A beautiful home is singular, made by one's own hands and soul - only then does a home become warm and home-like," said the president.
Four or five winners were picked from each county and the four biggest cities, representing private homes, farms, municipal institutions and towns. There were several special prizes, including even "best industrial landscape."