Czechia wins top backing but opposition voiced to shortened name for Czech Republic

Photo: CTK

Czechia in English, and other variants of the name Česko in other languages, has taken a big step forward towards becoming the shorthand name for the Czech Republic at official meetings and international sporting events in the future.

Photo: CTK
So-called top constitutional officials, basically the president, prime minister, leaders of the two houses of parliament, and ministers of defense and foreign affairs, gave their backing to the formulation on Thursday night. In English the shortened name would be Czechia, in French La Tchéquie, and similar shortened forms would follow in other main languages.

President Miloš Zeman’s support was far from a surprise. He already created something of a shock when during an official visit to Israel in 2013 he voiced support for the use of Czechia.

“I use the term Czechia because it’s shorter and not so cold like the term Czech Republic.”

But although top officials appear to be reading from the same page, and all saying Czechia, a battle over the shortened name for the Czech Republic, or even if such a name needs to be adopted, appears to be brewing up.

The Czechia proposal must still go to government and win sufficient support there, and there are already signs that the favoured option sticks in the moths of some ministers.

Karla Šlechtová,  photo: archive of Czech Government
One of the most outspoken early opponents of Czechia in all its forms has been the Minister for Regional Development Karla Šlechtová. In short but uncompromising language on her Twtter account the minister said she didn’t agree with the term Czechia and is worried the country will be confused with Cechnya. The minister added that the logo Czech Republic had been bought at the cost of a billion crowns and she intended to fight.

Cechnya is the troubled oil rich Russian province in the North Caucasus known for a series of wars of independence against Moscow. Terrorist attacks, such as the Boston Marathon bombings, have already created confusion with the Czech Republic in the past.

The views of the non-party minister appear to be shared by ANO leader Andrej Babiš, the head of the party which nominated Šlechtová to her post.

“It is certainly not a good idea. I think that we are known as the Czech Republic, though for some further away its still rather often Czechoslovakia in spite of the fact we are now the Czech Republic.”

On the opposition side of the political fence, TOP 09 leader Miroslav Kalousek says he can live with the Czechia name but leading members of the cente-right Civic Democrats say they are opposed.

And leading Moravians have also spoken out against a name that appears to emphasize the Bohemian half of the country. Foreign Minister Lubomír Zaorálek says his mission is a simple one: to sell the Czech Republic and a shortened name is simply part of that package.

Lubomír Zaorálek,  photo: Filip Jandourek
“When we are talking about the good name of the country there shouldn’t be any doubts about precise name should be for example in foreign languages. That is what we are dealing with and I hope the government will confirm the name so we can submit it.”

The submission of the shortened name should be made to the United Nations and the process there could in theory be wrapped up within a few months.