Government rejects proposal to rename Kambja municipality

Kambja Church.
Kambja Church. Source: Siim Lõvi/ERR

The Estonian government decided to leave unchanged a 2017 decision made in the course of Estonia's nationwide administrative reform regarding the name of the name of the newly combined Kambja and Ülenurme municipalities — the merged municipality will continue to bear the name Kambja.

The issue of Kambja Municipality's name has awaited the government's position on the matter for some time already, as Kambja Municipal Council believes that the municipality should be renamed Ülenurme, said Minister of Public Administration Jaak Aab (Centre).

"Both sides have valid arguments, both among those residents seeking to change the name as well as those in favor of keeping the [current] name," Aab said. "We based [our position] on the decision made by the government during the administrative reform and the recommendation of the  Place Names Board, which considered it a bigger priority to preserve the historical parish name of Kambja."

On April 6, 2018, Kambja Municipal Council submitted an application to the government seeking to change its name to Ülenurme Municipality, as it considered the borough of Ülenurme its seat and the latter is also home to the majority of the new merged municipality's residents.

"The Ülenurme name won't be going anywhere, though, and it will remain a borough within Kambja Municipality," the minister stressed.

In 2017, the government ruled to name the new municipality Kambja in accordance with the recommendations of the Place Names Board. In February 2018, 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 general rule of thumb in selecting a place name is to prioritize historical names — first and foremost parish names, which have been the most enduring regional names. Another option, considered to be of secondary importance, is the name of the municipal seat.

The Estonian government rules on any possible name changes to administrative units, taking into account all relevant factors and in accordance with all conditions as prescribed by law.


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Editor: Aili Vahtla

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