Lithuania welcomes discussions in Georgia on using the native name by which Lithuanians call their country.
© Reuters/Scanpix

Khatuna Salukvadze, the Georgian ambassador to Lithuania, has said that the country's language watchdog has started considering switching from the Slavic name "Litva" that is now used in the Georgian language to "Lietuva".

The move comes after the Lithuanian language watchdog allowed using "Sakatrvelas" as an alternative to "Gruzija", the official Lithuanian-language name for the Caucasus state.

"The grateful Kartvelians or Sakartvelians decided to make a reciprocal move. Well, that is a nice, symbolic gesture of gratitude," Audrys Antanaitis, chairman of the State Commission of the Lithuanian Language (VLKK), told BNS on Monday.

The Georgians will probably be able to write "Lietuva" in their alphabet, but they will not be able to pronounce the name as they do not have the diphthong "ie" in their language, he noted.

According to Antanaitis, Lithuania is not seeking to have the name "Litva" changed, because it would have to ask many Slavic countries to do so.

"In don't see any problem about that: many countries use Litva," he said.

Rasa Jakilaitienė, spokeswoman Foreign Minister Linas Linkevičius, says that changing the name of Lithuania in the Georgian language "would be an excellent example of bilateral cooperation".

"Both Lithuania and Sakartvelo celebrate the centennial of their statehood this year, and we wouldn't mind the name of our country sounding closer to that in our Lithuanian language," she said.

VLKK in early May gave the green light for using Sakartvelo alongside the official name for Georgia. Tbilisi had asked it to approve the alternative name, saying that "Gruzija" was the Russian name for the country.

The Lithuanian Foreign Ministry has said that it will use Sakartvelo in office work. Lithuania's top officials also intend to use the alternative name.

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