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2021.01.12 08:00

White Russia or Belarus? Lithuania mulls changing name for its eastern neighbour

BNS, LRT.lt2021.01.12 08:00

Lithuania is ready to consider changing the Lithuanian-language name of Belarus from "Baltarusija" to "Belarus", the country’s Foreign Minister Gabrielius Landsbergis said on Monday. 

"The name by which we call our neighboring country should not entrench the [Soviet-era] understanding of Belarus as part of Russia," Landsbergis told BNS.

He discussed the issue with Belarusian opposition leader Svetlana Tikhanovskaya last Friday. Lithuanians now refer to the neighbouring country "Baltarusija", which translates directly to "White Russia".

"Belarus means White Rus, not Russia, and that must be reflected in the name we use," he said. "If Belarusians express such a wish, we'll certainly consider this issue, just as we have already changed the name of Georgia to Sakartvelo."

Read more: Lithuania approves Sakartvelo as official name for Georgia

The State Commission of the Lithuanian Language has recently approved "Sakartvelas" (Sakartvelo) as the official name for Georgia, formerly referred to as "Gruzija", meaning that it has to be used in all official Lithuanian-language documents.

According to BelarusFeed, other countries still use a name consisting of “white” and “Russia” when referring to Belarus.

Among other countries, Belarus is named Baltkrievija in Latvia, Weißrussland in Germany, Lefkorosía in Greece, Hviderusland in Denmark, Valgevene in Estonia, Biélorussie in France, and Bielorussia in Italy.

In November 2019, the Swedish foreign ministry also announced it would change the old name Vitsyssland to Belarus.

Read more: Zhyve Belarus from Minsk to Vilnius – where does the slogan come from?

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