Accessibility links

Breaking News

Lithuania Moves To Change Official Name For Georgia To Sakartvelo From Gruzia

Lithuanian parliament speaker Viktoras Pranckietis raised the issue after a trip to Tbilisi.
Lithuanian parliament speaker Viktoras Pranckietis raised the issue after a trip to Tbilisi.

Lithuania has moved to change the name it uses for Georgia from the Russian name "Gruzia" to "Sakartvelo," a name used by Georgians when they refer to their country, media report.

The speaker of the Lithuanian parliament, the Seimas, Viktoras Pranckietis, said Lithuania's official name for the Caucasus nation will be changed by 2018 as a "great gift" from Vilnius to the Georgian people, the website BaltNews reported.

"Georgians do not like the word 'Gruzia,'" Pranckietis said. "They prefer their country to be called 'Sakartvelo,'" he said, a word that means "a place for Kartvelians," or Georgians.

Lithuania like a number of other former Soviet states had used the Russian name Gruzia despite a campaign Georgia launched in 2011 asking "friendly nations" to switch to the name Georgia.

Media reported that Pranckietis raised the issue before the Lithuanian parliament after a trip to Tbilisi where he was told by Georgian President Giorgi Margvelashvilli and other Georgians that they were unhappy Vilnius still used the Russian name.

BaltNews reported that the change already had considerable support in Lithuania's parliament.

Georgian officials have said they consider the name Gruzia to be a relic of the 200-year rule of the Russian Empire in the country, while they say Georgia is a more "contemporary" name.

The Georgian Foreign Ministry in 2011, amid souring relations with Moscow, asked ambassadors from foreign states in Tbilisi to press their governments to make the name change.

The ministry later announced that South Korea became the first country to make the switch to Georgia from Gruzia.

"This is of special importance for us, taking into consideration the fact that a number of countries, including those which are our friends, have failed so far to do so," Nino Kalandadze, Georgia's then-deputy foreign minister, told reporters at the time.

Based on reporting by Eurasianet, RFE/RL's Georgia Service, and BaltNews

RFE/RL has been declared an "undesirable organization" by the Russian government.

If you are in Russia or the Russia-controlled parts of Ukraine and hold a Russian passport or are a stateless person residing permanently in Russia or the Russia-controlled parts of Ukraine, please note that you could face fines or imprisonment for sharing, liking, commenting on, or saving our content, or for contacting us.

To find out more, click here.