20 December 1997


(Rīga, 25 April 1997)

[Russian version]

1. By the invitation of the State Land Service of Latvia the Second Meeting of the Baltic Division of the United Nations Group of Experts (UNGEGN) was held in Rīga, Latvia, at the premises of the State Land Service of Latvia on the 25th of April 1997.

2. The meeting was attended by 39 experts from 10 countries, including 32 participants from the four member countries of the Baltic Division (Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Russian Federation) and 7 observers from 6 countries (Canada, Finland, Norway, Poland, Sweden, United States). The list of participants is attached in annex 1. The list of working papers is contained in annex 2.

3. Immediately before the Divisional Meeting, on 22—24 April 1997, the State Land Service of Latvia, The Scientific Laboratory of Regional Cartography and Toponymy at the University of Latvia, the State Language Centre, the Latvian Language Institute and the Baltic Division of UNGEGN organized in Rīga the International Training Courses in Toponymy of the Baltic Division of UNGEGN that was attended by 74 participants from 10 countries, including 6 lecturers from countries outside the Baltic Division of UNGEGN (Canada, Finland, Norway, Sweden, United States). The programme of the courses, presented materials and the list of participants is attached in annex 3.


4. Vice-Director-General of the State Land Service of Latvia, Mr. Vitolds Kvetkovskis opened the meeting and welcomed all participants of the meeting. He noted that five years had passed since the creation of the Baltic Division of UNGEGN and he thanked the Chairman of the Division for the work done in that period. He also noted that the International Training Courses in Toponymy, held immediately before the divisional meeting, had been a success, and expressed his gratitude to all lecturers of the courses. He introduced the participants to the history of the State Land Service, its structure and especially the Toponymy Section created in 1994.

5. Mr. Kvetkovskis (Latvia) chaired the Second Meeting of the Baltic Division, Ms. Elvi Sepp (Estonia) acted as secretary to the meeting.


6. The participants adopted the following agenda:


7. Mr. Päll briefly mentioned the earlier meetings of the Baltic Division member countries (regional meeting of the Baltic countries in Tallinn, 7—8 May 1992; first meeting of the Baltic Division in Tallinn, 26—27 October 1995; working meeting of the division in Rīga, 6 May 1996) and also the sessions of UNGEGN held in that period. He cited the resolution adopted at the meeting in 1992 and compared ideas expressed in the resolution with present-day situation. While many problems had been overcome and situation had improved significantly there still remained a lot of work in the field of names standardization. He thanked participants of the Baltic Division for their active contribution to the work of the Division and expressed his hope that this cooperation would successfully continue. He particularly thanked the organizers of the International Training Courses in Toponymy for their immense work in preparing the courses, smooth organization and exceptional hospitality shown during the courses.


8. Mr. Duksa introduced working paper No. 1 on the activities of the Geodesy and Cartography Department of the National Land Survey of Lithuania. The department was responsible for national mapping programmes and also dealt with the standardization of geographical names. Mapping included both topographical maps, sea charts and air navigation maps. Other ministries and offices were responsible for compiling various registers: the register of administrative units and populated places, register of state roads, register of streets, register of protected areas, cadastre of forests, cadastre of lakes and reservoires, etc. Many of these are not yet completed, they will be supplemented with new data, and the geographical names in these must be standardized. He noted with gratitude the work done in the United States with respect to the toponymy of Lithuania (Gazetteer of Lithuania). Answering a question by Mr. Ringstam he told that the register of forests contained the names and locations of forests. Data was constantly being updated.

9. Ms. Krauze-Tomczyk told about the activities of Poland in the field of geographical names standardization (working paper No. 2). She noted recent changes in the administrative structure concerning also the two main bodies responsible for geographical names (the Commission for the Establishing Names of Localities and Physiographic Objects, the Committee for Standardizing Geographical Names Outside Poland). Toponymic guidelines for Poland were published in 1993. In 1994 - 1996 four volumes of the "Polish Geographical Names of the World" were published. A new list of country names was being prepared. Answering an inquiry by Ms. Närhi about the romanization systems used Ms. Krauze-Tomczyk told that the United Nations systems were used as much as possible but certain additions were also needed.

10. Ms. Sepp informed about the planned new reform of rural settlements in Estonia. In May 1997 new lists of settlements would be submitted by local authorities to the Government. As a consequence, many names abolished during the 1977 reform would be restored. It was hoped that the national list be concluded during 1997. The names would also be checked by the Place Names Board. Mr. Kavacs, Mr. Duksa, Mr. Imants Mētra and Mr. Pētersons asked Ms. Sepp about the criteria used in the reform of settlements, boundaries and the number of inhabitants needed for establishing new settlements. There followed a discussion on that matter, including also the status of the so-called gardening co-operatives.

11. Ms. Razmukaitė reported about the standardization of dialectal names in Lithuania (working paper No. 3). Main principles were laid down already in the 1930's when lists of populated places were compiled for all of Lithuania. The principles were developed later by Aleksandras Vanagas. Morphological and derivational peculiarities, also original accentuation of dialects were mainly preserved, but phonological features were treated according to the requirements of the standard language, using special rules. The lists compiled so far contained linguistically standardized toponyms but new editions of the lists were being planned.

12. Mr. Boginsky told about the activities of the Russian Federation in the standardization of geographical names (working paper No. 4). Responsibility in this matter lied with the federal authorities. In 1994 an Interdepartmental Committee on Geographical Names was formed by the Government. In March 1997 the State Duma adopted at first reading the Law on Naming Geographical Features, for final adoption it still needed the approval of the Federation Council. Work with normative instructions and gazetteers was ongoing, main directions included the dictionary of hydronyms of Russia and other C. I. S. member states, gazetteer of European countries, gazetteer of the Russian Federation and reference book on countries and territories of the world. In 1996 work was begun to prepare a National Catalogue of Geographical Names that would include up to 400,000 names at the end of the first stage. Mr. Boginsky also told that the GOST-83 system for the romanization of geographical names in Russia continued to be widely used.

13. Mr. Päll introduced the toponymic guidelines for Estonia (working paper No. 5). This was the draft of the second edition, the first was presented at the 6th United Nations conference in 1992. Main changes since then included a more liberal attitude towards the representation of dialectal names in Võrumaa, formation of the Governmental Place Names Committee in November 1992, compilation and subsequent adoption by Parliament of the comprehensive Law on Place Names (December 1996, provisional translation provided in working paper No. 6). He then highlighted some of the main points of the law.

14. Mr. Kavacs informed about the legal procedures in Latvia concerning the approval and use of geographical names (working paper No. 7). First regulations went back to 1922, since 1924 many duplicate and also non-Latvian parish names were changed. In 1936 further instructions were given on the standardization of farm names. 1991—1994 laws and other legal acts were adopted that determine the use and approval of geographical names in Latvia at present. Names of districts and centrally governed cities were approved by the Saeima, names of parishes, other towns and boroughs were approved by the Cabinet of Ministers, names of farms, streets and other minor features were the responsibility of local authorities. The State Land Service approved names of physical features, the Ministry of Communications was responsible for naming railway stations, ports and airports.

Paragraphs 11, 12, 13 and 14 concern some of the papers, submitted to the meeting but actually presented at the concluding day of the International Training Courses in Toponymy, 24 April 1997. Summaries are included here for the sake of integrity

15. Opening the discussion Mr. Boginsky noted that a lot had been achieved during the past five years. He expressed his wish that divisional reports be discussed by the member states prior to their submittance, also that Chairman of the division would generalize the information presented at international forums on the standardization of geographical names and distribute this among member states. Concerning the compilation and joint publication of toponymic guidelines for the Baltic Division member states he noted that it could be difficult for practical reasons. Instead, these guidelines should be compiled by member states and distributed to other divisional members by chairman of the division as soon as possible. Also, information material concerning the International Training Courses in Toponymy, should be compiled and distributed.

16. Mr. Päll thanked Mr. Boginsky for these suggestions and expressed his hope that the new Chairman of the Division would fully appreciate these. He also offered technical aid in the final production of the joint edition of toponymic guidelines. Concerning preparations for the Seventh United Nations Conference on the Standardization of Geographical Names he noted that in addition to each country's national report and other possible documents there would be a short report summarizing the activities of the Baltic Division as well.

17. Both Ms. Razmukaitė and Mr. Bušs expressed their satisfaction with the work done so far in the Baltic Division, Mr. Bušs supported the idea of publishing materials of the courses. Mr. Helleland also noted the successful work carried out in the Baltic Division in the past years and stated that the Norden Division of UNGEGN would be interested in continuing contacts with the Baltic Division. The Chairman of the latter had also been invited to attend the next session of the Norden Division.

18. Ms. Kerfoot outlined some of the documents that would be valuable at the United Nations meetings on the standardization of geographical names. These included toponymic guidelines for map and other editors, contact data of names authorities and/or persons, lists of administrative units and other places, instructions on the use of geographical names on maps, information on various databases, etc. Also it was important to distribute nationally the information about other countries and their practice of names standardization.

19. Summarizing the discussion Mr. Päll expressed his hope that joint edition of toponymic guidelines would remain in the agenda for the time being.


20. Following a decision taken at the First Meeting of the Baltic Division Mr. Päll proposed that Latvia would co-ordinate the activities of the Division for the next five years since the Seventh United Nations Conference on the Standardization of Geographical Names. This was unanimously agreed.

21. Mr. Bušs, Vice-Chairman of the Baltic Division, expressed his opinion that Ms. Strautniece should be elected Chairman of the Division. However, Ms. Strautniece proposed the candidature of Mr. Kavacs. The member countries of the Baltic Division unanimously elected Mr. Jurģis Kavacs Chairman of the Division. Mr. Kavacs stated that he would continue on the basis of the previous work, also he would be supported in this by his colleagues.

22. Member states of the Division unanimously agreed that the Vice-Chairman of the Division be elected among the Lithuanian delegation. However they also agreed that the name of the Lithuanian representative be submitted to the Chairman of the division after consultations in Lithuania that would take no more than one month after the divisional meeting.

On 15 May 1997 it was reported that Mr. Vidas Garliauskas from the Institute of Lithuanian Language would assume the responsibilities of the Vice-Chairman of the Division.

23. It was agreed that future working meetings of the Baltic Division be held as needed but not less than once in between the UNGEGN sessions. The Third Meeting of the Baltic Division was scheduled to take place in Vilnius in 5 years time, before the Eighth United Nations Conference on the Standardization of Geographical Names.


24. Participants of the meeting thanked the hosts for the organization of the meeting and especially the International Training Courses in Toponymy, noting that they had been extremely valuable.

25. Mr. Kvetkovskis closed the meeting, thanking distinguished experts for their contribution to the success of the meeting. He also thanked the Chairman of the Division and expressed his hope that Mr. Kavacs would succesfully represent Latvia and the Baltic Division of UNGEGN at the next international meetings on the standardization of geographical names.