Call our country Georgia, demand Georgians
The Georgian authorities have appealed to other states to officially refer to their country as Georgia rather than using the Russian-favoured name Gruziya, the foreign ministry said on Monday.
“We have asked those countries who call Georgia ‘Gruziya’ to change our country’s name in their respective languages to ‘Georgia’,” foreign ministry spokeswoman Ia Makharashvili told AFP.
Several countries around the world including Russia and other former Communist states use the name Gruziya — a reminder of a Moscow-dominated past which ex-Soviet Georgia’s pro-Western government is trying to eradicate.
The ministry said that South Korea had just announced it had become the first to make the switch and that the authorities were lobbying other countries such as Japan, Poland and the Baltic states to start using the name Georgia.
However, Georgians actually call their own country Sakartvelo, a name derived from the country’s legendary founder Kartlos.
The name Georgia is believed by some historians to have ancient Greek or Latin roots.
Georgia fought a brief war with arch foe Russia in 2008, the culmination of years of tension partly fuelled by Tbilisi’s attempts to escape Moscow’s influence and join Western institutions such as NATO.