aaus-list @ ukrainianstudies.org -- [aaus-list] Daily Press Briefing -- October 19 (Kiev is now Kyiv)

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---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Thu, 19 Oct 2006 16:11:02 -0400
From: statelists@STATE.GOV
Subject: Daily Press Briefing -- October 19

Daily Press Briefing
Tom Casey,Deputy Spokesman
Washington, DC
October 19, 2006



       U.S. Board of Geographic Names Decision to Change Official
       Spelling of Kyiv


QUESTION: The State Department recently officially changed its spelling of the
Ukrainian capital from the Russian transliteration to the Ukrainian language
transliteration. I wanted to know why.

MR. CASEY: Well, first of all -- and I'm so glad you asked this question,

QUESTION: You were ready for this.

MR. CASEY: I was, you know -- been waiting for this for several days. First of
all, let me explain about decision in Ukraine. The U.S. Board of Geographic
Names, which is a federal body, in case for those of you that don't know, it
was created 1890 and was established in its present form in 1947. It's
comprised of representatives from several different government agencies. And
for those of you that didn't know, the Board is authorized to establish and
maintain uniform geographic name usage throughout the federal government and
this is actually a responsibility it shares with the Secretary of the Interior.

Now, this decision was made to change the spelling of the capital of Ukraine to
what is now currently spelled K-y-i-v. The reasons for this as I understand the
board's decision making was that this is more in keeping with how the
Ukrainians themselves pronounce the name of their capital. It is also now in
keeping with how a number of international organizations, including NATO and
the UN, are now spelling it. So basically it was a change designed to be more
consistent both with local pronunciation standards as well as to ensure some
consistency with what other international organizations as well as the
Ukrainians themselves are doing.

QUESTION: My grandmother's hometown is now Lviv and it's been Lviv for years
and years in Ukraine -- it was Lvov. I mean, that switch was made at least ten
years ago.

MR. CASEY: Well, I'd refer you to the --

QUESTION: I'm just curious --

MR. CASEY: Honestly, Barry, I don't the answer to that.

QUESTION: (Inaudible.)

MR. CASEY: I'd refer you to the board themselves in terms of their
deliberations and how that process works.

QUESTION: But if I may, this decision appears very political because only half
of the Ukrainian population speaks Ukrainian and half speaks Russian. So the
State Department seems to take side.

MR. CASEY: Well, I don't think that this decision has anything reflective in
it, other than what I said. The board itself is not involved in foreign policy
matters or discussions. And again, I would simply treat it as a continuing
effort to standardize practice with other international organizations and in
keeping with what the Ukrainian Government's doing.

QUESTION: The State Department is on the board?

MR. CASEY: Yes, we are.

QUESTION: And why haven't you changed Burma to Myanmar?

MR. CASEY: You know, I'll have to get back to you on that one, Arshad. But I
think there is actually some public statements regarding that. But for now,
Burma is known as Burma.

QUESTION: Did you hear anything from Macedonia lately?

MR. CASEY: I haven't -- (laughter) -- but as you know and as Mr. Lambros well
knows there was in fact a change in how the United States Government referred
to Macedonia.


MR. CASEY: Yes, exactly.

QUESTION: In spite of -- (laughter).

MR. CASEY: Only as annotated in certain NATO documents.

QUESTION: Mr. Casey, since you mention that --

MR. CASEY: Actually, Mr. Lambros --

QUESTION: -- what is the position vis--vis to the name which is difference
between Greece and Skopje in the FYROM government the name because it's very
important since FYROM has applied to become a NATO member and also a member of
the European Union with the support of the U.S. Government?

MR. CASEY: Mr. Lambros, as you know, the decision that the United States made a
little while ago with how to refer to Macedonia is a decision that is
reflective of U.S. policy. As we've always said, we look to the discussions at
the UN between Macedonia and Greece to ultimately work out an agreement between
them on the naming issue. That continues to be our policy.

QUESTION: That means also that you recognize also the existence of Macedonia
language and ethnicity?

MR. CASEY: Mr. Lambros, it means we recognize Macedonia, the country, by its
constitutional name. The United States Government does not recognize languages
or other sort of sub-national groups like that as far as I know.


(The briefing was concluded at 12:12 p.m.)

DPB # 169

Released on October 19, 2006

See http://www.state.gov/r/pa/prs/dpb/ for all daily press briefings
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