Lithuania ponders brave new image …and name

The Baltic Times
Laima Vaiga, VILNIUS

A specially established commission on image creation, chaired by Prime Minister Gediminas Kirkilas, on Jan. 25 approved a strategic marketing concept for the presentation of Lithuania around the world. The plan calls for an image makeover underscoring Lithuania”s bravery, creating a representative Web site, and possibly changing the country”s name in English.

Paulius Senuta, head of the marketing expert group in charge of creating the conceptual idea, told BNS that Lithuania is one of many countries competing for investments, tourist flow and export. Finding a suitable and attractive image is therefore very important.

“The goal of the idea is to provide our country with a “face,” create a clear and inspirational conceptual idea, which would both be interesting to the world and provide us with character,” Senuta said.

The face that commission finally chose was “bravery.”

“Bravery marks our history – from being the last pagan nation in Europe to a nation which sparked the Soviet Union”s downfall, and today”s resolute steps,” government spokesman Laurynas Bucalis is quoted by Reuters as saying.

The brave new Lithuania will be presented by new Web site, to be launched in the near future.

Experts also suggested making a Hollywood movie about brave battles of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania as a possible boost to the “brave” image.

The most controversial idea that was floated during a presentation of the concept was changing the name of the country in English. The current name “Lithuania” is too long and difficult to pronounce for non-English speakers, the experts claim.

Choices for the new name were not given, however a poll of editorial staff at The Baltic Times yielded suggestions such as “Cepelinia,” referring to the national dumpling dish, “Suicidia,” and “Lethalia,” connected with the country”s bad driving habits, “Lithland,” “Bravia, “Jurgaland” and “South Latvia.”

Irena Smetoniene, head of the State Commission of the Lithuanian Language, called the idea “very strange,” saying that Lithuanians cannot tell other nations what to call them, Delfi reports.

In 2001 Estonian journalists similarly raised the idea of renaming their country “Estland” to give it an edgier, less Eastern-European sound.