Chancellor of Justice criticizes Narva council session in Russian | New

The Chancellor of Justice was responding to a request for an opinion on an August 15 session of the Narva city council, which was held in Russian, for the most part.

In her response, the Chancellor of Justice stated that according to the Constitution, the entire state and local government administration should in general be conducted in the Estonian language.

Legislation may, however, stipulate the extent and order in which the language of the majority of permanent residents of a respective locality is used, in the internal affairs of local government, the Chancellor of Justice said.

“As regards, so to speak, the choice of the foreign affairs language in which residents communicate with the authorities, the Constitution provides for the right of everyone to address local authorities in Estonian and to receive replies in Estonian .”

The Local Government Organization Act stipulates that the language of administration in local government is Estonian and stresses that legislative and executive sessions must be held in Estonian.

The Chancellor of Justice recalls that Article 11 of the Language Act stipulates that in a municipality where the language of the majority of the permanent residents is not Estonian, the language of the majority of the permanent residents of that municipality may , on the proposal of the local government leadership and on the decision of the national government, be used as a working language, within the framework of the internal administration of the local government, in addition to Estonian.

However, Madise continued, “As far as the Chancellor of Justice is aware, the Government of the Republic has not made such a decision regarding the town of Narva.”

The Narva City Council held an official and public session (and was streamed live via Youtube) on August 15, during which the deputies spoke mainly in Russian.

While the issue of the tank monument located just outside the city, now relocated to a museum near Tallinn, was on the agenda, the majority of the council decided at short notice to abandon this debate.

The tank was removed and relocated on August 16.

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Sylvester L. Goldfarb