The prime minister Andrej Babiš was halfway through an interview last March when he was told somebody had officially changed the name of his country to Czechia.

“Who changed it? You changed it?”, Babiš said to his aides, swinging around in his chair.

One of the aides stepped forward and quietly explained that the U.N. had acceded to a proposal to recognize the Czech Republic under the new name.

“I didn’t know this. I don’t like it at all,” he said, in the interview with The Wall Street Journal.

“It’s because then you will confuse Czechia, Chechnya, I don’t know. I don’t like this. We are Czech Republic. We are Czechs. And I don’t know who came with such a stupid idea. Crazy.”

President Zeman prefers Czechia, a centuries-old name that he said sounds nicer, and more evocative.

“I am strongly against,” said Mr. Babiš, the prime minister, whose stationery retains the name Czech Republic. Mr. Babiš heads the government and constitutionally holds more power than President Zeman.

“The prime minister has a different opinion than the president. This is freedom and democracy. That is all,” said the president’s spokesman Jiří Ovčáček.

The United Nations officially calls the country Czechia, as does internet giant Google. In communities such as online guide Wikitravel, contributors are changing the name back and forth with increasing frequency. At the moment, the name appears as the “Czech Republic.”

“We rarely use the short name and personally I can’t remember the last time I have used it in my remarks,” U.S. Ambassador Stephen King said recently. “I know that in all official communications we use Czech Republic as do I believe most Czechs.”

In 2013, when Zeman won the presidency, convinced the government to send a notification to the U.N. to start using the new name in official documents and databases.

A U.N. information bulletin published at the time claimed that the first recorded use of the name Czechia was in 1634 in Latin, centuries before the country even existed. The U.N. hasn’t updated its social media accounts even though it has had four years to make the changes.

 

View Comments (8)
  • With all due respect I would like to point out that the Prime Minister of Czech Republic is not Czech, but Slovak. The dispute over the form of the name of the state is legitimate and old, but has already been decided. His poor sense of language is proverbial, and this applies not only to Czech.

  • The Germans refer to the Czech Republic as Czecbia and as they seem to call the shots in the EU and are too lazy to use the correct name of the country, we now have others following because they think it is correct.
    Zeman is old and feeling the affects of many years of alcohol abuse, and just like the sheep in the EU he should also be ignored.
    Czech Republic is the correct name, or Czech for short, but Never czechia.

  • It’s Zeman’s attempt to make us sound like an Eastern European country with strong ties to russia. Incredible how weak and shortsighted our governments are.

  • To Ondřej: “Sound like an Eastern European country”? What nonsense! Austria, Australia, and a lot of similar names have the suffix -ia in English. Moreover, Russia is also an English word in English spelling, so stop scaremongering, please.

  • “Sound like an Eastern European country”? What nonsense! Austria, Australia, and a lot of similar names have the suffix -ia in English. Moreover, Russia is also an English word and spelling, so stop scaremongering, please.

  • Of course, Czechia is the correct short-form name in English. We desperately need it and we should try to promote it in favor of all the wrong terms and abnormalities: explicitly Czech, Czecho, Czech Rep., Czech R., CZ etc.
    We have Czechia, so let’s get it done.

  • I write it for the second time – the first comment was not published – CZECHIA is the correct short name of our country, no matter who says what… CZECHIA is the English translation of ČESKO- That´s it! It was decided by the Czech goverment back in 1993 already, yet due to the inactive and ignorant political represantation it took till 2016 when the short name CZECHIA was included in the United Nations’ UNGEGN and UNTERM lists of official country names: https://unstats.un.org/unsd/geoinfo/geonames/ and https://unterm.un.org/UNTERM/search?urlQuery=Czechia).
    PLEASE ACCEPT IT and don´t write sensational articles like this! You should bring the stupid annoucement of our prime minister to the right reasoning and oppose it! Not to make the stupidity even sounder!

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