The State Commission on Lithuanian language considered appeal of Belarusian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and adopted a decision to refuse to call Belarus as "Belarusia". "The Commission on Lithuanian language, having studied the opinion of Lithuanian historians, has decided to leave the old version — Baltarusija — despite the fact that it is the legacy of Soviet times", commission's chairman, Irene Smetonene, said.
According to the Lithuanian specialists, Belarusian side «asked very reasonably how the name of the Republic of Belarus could be reflected in Lithuanian language». Irena Smetonene noted that Lithuanian institute of history sent them a letter, stating that «yes, there was Baltoji Rusia (White Russia) once, and that the name Baltarusija is a legacy of Soviet times, but it has already become traditional», DELFI informs.
Commission on Lithuanian language also received a letter from University of Vilnius, which stated that «majority of the scientists of the faculty of history suppose that it is impractical to change the name of a neighboring country and advise to continue to call it as Baltarusijos Respublika — contracted as Baltarusija», the head of the commission said.
«We agree with this point of view, we should not change country’s name without big necessity», Irene Smetonene said. «Commission’s members did not vote on this issue and agreed that the old version of Lithuanian name of neighboring country remains».
«Despite the fact that historically there were White Russia and Kievan Rus, the ending «-ija» is quite acceptable for Lithuanian language and means «a group of people living together», the head of the commission stressed, adding that there is a frequent phenomenon in world practice when the original sounding of country’s name does not coincide with its pronunciation in other languages.
Irena Smetonene also reminded that in Lithuanian language there is a variant of naming Belarus as Gudija. «This variant was once the main. But now the official name will be Baltarusija, and Gudija remains as traditional name», the expert said, adding that both names are used.