Czech Republic or Czechia? Ever since gaining independence after their peaceful split with Slovakia in 1993, the Czechs have been poring over a correct short form for their country’s name.
“I use the word Czechia because it sounds nicer and it’s shorter than the cold Czech Republic,” Mr. Zeman once said.
The Czechs are going to propose that the United Nations registers the names of Czechia in English, Tchequie in French, Chequia in Spanish and Tschechien in German as translations of the Czech version, Česko.
But the issue has sparked controversy even inside the Czech centre-left government: “I disagree with the name ‘Czechia’,” regional development minister Karla Slechtova said. “I don’t want people to confuse our country with Chechnya.”
The search for a short name has been a puzzler in a land that was founded, according to ancient legend, by the mythological “Forefather Cech”. It comprises the historic regions of Bohemia (Cechy) with 6.5 million inhabitants, Moravia (Morava, 3 million) and Silesia (Slezsko, one million).
Ondřej Hýsek, head of small political party The Moravians, argues the country should be called “Czechlands” or even “Czechomoravia”. “Czechia” and its non-English equivalents are “an anti-constitutional attack on the identity of the Moravian people”, he said.
The government expects to discuss the new name in May before submitting its request to the UN.