Lithuanian language watchdog OKs Sakartvelas as alternative name for Georgia
The State Commission of the Lithuanian Language (VLKK) has officially approve "Sakartvelas" as an alternative name for "Gruzija", the current name for Georgia used by Lithuanians, VLKK chairman Audrys Antanaitis told BNS Lithuania on Thursday.
He said earlier that together with the new name, the Georgian people might also be called Kartvelians, and all Georgian residents could be called Sakartvelians.
"The Kartvelians are the main nation we all call Georgians. But there are also the Megrelians, Svans, Abkhazians and Ossetians. So there will be Georgians or Kartvelians, as a synonym, and Sakartvelians will comprise all citizens, including the Svans, Megrelians, Ossetinians and Abkhazians," Antanaitis explained.
The Lithuanian watchdog had consulted the Georgian Embassy on the issue after it handed over the position of Georgian linguists.
Following the language watchdog's decision, the Georgian Embassy introduced itself using the new name in a commentary sent to BNS Lithuania.
„The Embassy of Sakartvelo congratulates the Republic of Lithuania on the State Commission of the Lithuanian Language's decision on May 3 to approve Georgia's alternative name. Our country can now be called Sakartvelo," the embassy said.
It stressed that "this step has a special symbolic meaning, taking into consideration strong cooperation and exceptional friendship between Georgia and Lithuania".
"It's also a unique gesture on the Republic of Lithuania's part, dedicated for the 100th anniversary of the restoration of Georgia's independence and the foundation of the First Democratic Republic, we'll mark on May 26,: the embassy said.
VLKK decided in April that "Gruzija" would remain the official Lithuanian-language name for the state, but alternative names would also be allowed to be used, including in official documents.
Georgians have asked Lithuanians to change the name they use for their country, saying that "Gruzija" reflected the Russian name for the nation.
The language watchdog said earlier that it saw no grounds for changing the name, noting that "Gruzija" had a long history of use and a unique form that fits the Lithuanian language and that "Sakartvelo", the native name of Georgia, was not officially used by any EU member state.