Beginning on Monday, residents of the Kambja Municipality formed as a result of a forced merger between the former Kambja and Ülenurme Municipalities will be able to vote in a referendum regarding which of the former names the new municipality should take.
Kambja Municipal Council chairman Heiki Sarapuu explained to ERR's radio news that the decision to hold a referendum on the matter was based on the fact that the name issue is one that had concerned people ever since the forced merger issue first came up.
"A lot of people were asking then already what the new municipality would be called," Sarapuu said. "Locals' sense of justice was infringed upon — their municipality was being taken away, and their name was being taken away. And so we thought, let's ask the people whether they would prefer Ülenurme, then, or to stick with Kambja."
Once again, however, the government will have the final say, as it did regarding the forced merger against which both municipalities were in the first place.
The government ruled to name the new municipality Kambja in accordance with the recommendations of the Place Names Board. Board deputy chairman and linguist Peeter Päll said that they had recommended Kambja for two reasons — because Kambja is a more historical name, and because the majority of the newly merged municipality falls within the borders of the historical Kambja Parish.
"The Place Names Board has at some point provided general recommendations for the deciding of municipality names, and these recommendations include two main points to consider: first, according to such a historical territory, municipality or parish, which is ideal; second, based on the municipal center," Päll explained.
"If it turns out in the referendum that the majority wants the name Ülenurme, as the majority lives in Ülenurme, then this meets the criteria of the second recommendation and is in my opinion suitable."
Minister of Public Affairs Jaak Aab (Center) said that, as far as he knows, there have been no other such referendums regarding name changes organized elsewhere in Estonia, and not one application for the changing of a municipality name has yet reached his desk either.
Editor: Aili Vahtla