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Issue no: 1121

• FEBRUARY 1 - 4, 2019 • PUBLISHED TWICE WEEKLY

PRICE: GEL 2.50

In this week’s issue... Henrik Hololei on Georgia’s Transport & Economic Goals POLITICS PAGE 4

Rural Communities to Choose How to Spend the Budget POLITICS PAGE 6

Europe’s Easternmost Port

FOCUS

ON GEORGIA'S FUTURE We interview the PM to get his take on Georgia's economy now and moving forward

PAGE 7 BUSINESS PAGE 8

Georgia Leads Eastern Europe & Central Asia in Fighting Corruption

JSC Nenskra Hydro Signs Memorandum of Cooperation with Ministry of Economy of Georgia BUSINESS PAGE 9

2019-2020 Tbilisi Infrastructure Projects SOCIETY PAGE 10

BY THEA MORRISON

T Image source: TI Georgia

his year’s Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI), released by Transparency International (TI), reads that Georgia leads Eastern Europe and Central Asia countries with its score of 58, above Montenegro (45) and Belarus (44). At the very bottom, Turkmenistan earns the lowest score in the region (20), with Uzbekistan (23) and Tajikistan (25) earning only slightly more. The report reads that given its average score

of 35, Eastern Europe and Central Asia is the second lowest scoring region in the index, ahead of Sub-Saharan Africa which has an average score of 32. The level of perceived corruption is the lowest in Denmark (88 points) and the highest in Somalia (10 points). Georgia has advanced its score by two points since last year, taking 41st place among 180 countries. However, the CPI 2018 reads that the country now faces “democratic backsliding, making it both vulnerable to high-level corruption” and is “a country to watch moving forward.” Continued on page 2

Turkish Embassy Hosts Screening to Mark Int’l Holocaust Remembrance Day CULTURE PAGE 15

Pachulia: “If there is peace in the world, everything else is doable” SPORT PAGE 15


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NEWS

GEORGIA TODAY

FEBRUARY 1 - 4, 2019

Seven Die as a MEP: With Salome Result of Carbon Zurabishvili, Georgia Monoxide Leak Leads the Way Again in Tbilisi BY MARIAM MERABISHVILI

S BY KETEVAN KVARATSKHELIYA

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carbon monoxide leak has claimed seven lives at 67, Ketevan Tsamebuli Avenue, in Tbilisi, on Thursday. Their bodies were found on the 7th floor of the building where they were renting an apartment. The neighbors say the victims were working on the construction site of a branch of Liberty Bank. Davit Sergeenko, the Minister of IDPs, Labor, Health and Social Affairs of Georgia, has confirmed that carbon monoxide intoxication caused the tragedy. Law enforcers were working on site and rescue and emergency services were mobilized.

The Mayor of Tbilisi Kakha Kaladze has offered his condolences to the families of deceased, and stated that regulations have to be tightened: “Of course, we need tighter regulations. I find it difficult to answer this question as I am not an employee of the ‘KazTransGas Tbilisi’ company,” Kaladze said. KazTransGaz also released a statement regarding the incident, claiming that the water heater had been illegally and inappropriately installed, which resulted in the accumulation of CO in the apartment. “Representatives of ‘KazTransGas Tbilisi’ business center visited the mentioned apartment. They removed the heater and refused to provide natural gas from a gas pipe due to a violation of terms of use. Presumably, the owner of the apartment voluntarily reconnected the heater [to the gas pipe],” reads the statement.

alome Zurabishvili once again caught the attention of foreign politicians and press. Euroactiv published an article about the new President of Georgia written by Member of the European Parliament (MEP) and Co-Chair of the Friends of Georgia Group in the European Parliament, Clare Moody. In it, she says that Zurabishvili is a worthy member of the small group of women in the club of world heads of state and government. Moody spoke about Zurabishvili’s visit to Brussels, her first overseas meeting since taking up her new post, and noted that it was an important one for both Georgia and European member states, which were pleased to meet the first woman President of Georgia. In her article, the MEP demonstrated a positive attitude towards the President and underlined the existing negative one towards gender inequality in politics. “Depressingly, only 7% of heads of state or government around the world are women. Despite such a range of achievements and experience, Zurabishvili sadly faced what so many other women in leadership face– a level of abuse that no men have to endure. Georgia is well known for having ‘robust’ political debates, but commentators have remarked that the tone in this presidential election was particularly prejudicial,” Moody wrote. “It is to Zurabishvili’s credit that she

Image source: www.euractiv.com

faced down the misogynist attacks, and it is to Georgia’s credit that despite them she won the final round of the election with nearly 60% of the votes. In contrast to her treatment during the campaign, her own platform was based on a very positive agenda,” she added. Moody mentioned the President’s experience, achievements and character, which included her return to Georgia in 2003, her posts as French Ambassador in Georgia and Minister of Foreign Affairs, her founding of political party ‘Georgia’s Way’ in 2006, her leading role in revising the Constitution and her support of the Georgian Diaspora, the occupied territories, education, science and culture and more. Moody noted Zurabish-

vili’s time spent in the Paris Science Po University and New-York Columbia University. She also highlighted that as Georgian Foreign Minister, Zurabishvili reached agreement on the withdrawal of Russian bases from Georgia. According to various EU assessments, Georgia has made remarkable progress in enshrining democracy, human rights and the rule of law. The country remains on the right path of development. “Many hope it is only a matter of time before Georgia fully integrates into the EU and NATO. There is no doubt in my mind that Salome Zurabishvili is prioritizing this agenda and will continue to work tirelessly for her country, doing all she can to promote these aims,” Moody wrote.

Georgia Leads Eastern Europe & Central Asia in Fighting Corruption Continued from page 1

“This downturn is due to a lack of accountability of law enforcement, corruption and political interference in the judiciary and government-sponsored attacks on independent civil society, among other issues,” the report reads. TI added that despite an urgent need to investigate cases of corruption and misconduct in the government, Georgia

has failed to establish independent agencies to take on this mandate. The watchdog claims that impunity contributes to public distrust towards state agencies in Georgia. “Progress in anti-corruption will continue to stall and reverse if the Georgian government does not take immediate steps to ensure the independence of institutions, including the judiciary, and support civil society, which enhances

political engagement and public oversight,” the report reads. In the ranking, 100 points indicate the lowest level of perceived corruption while 0 – the highest. Georgia’s CPI scores during the recent years are: 2012 – 52 points, 2013 – 49, 2014 and 2015-52, in 2016 Georgia was placed 44th with a score of 57 and in 2017 – 56 points and 46th place. However, according to the survey’s

methodology, a two-point change is considered statistically insignificant. Notably, Georgia does not appear on the list of the countries whose CPI score has changed significantly, either for better or for worse, since 2012. Also, the survey does not reflect the alleged cases of high-level corruption publicized in late 2018 which could have a negative impact on Georgia’s position in the ranking in the future.

The document urges the Georgian government to take immediate steps to ensure the independence of institutions, including the judiciary, and support of civil society. The index is prepared based on research conducted by reputable international organizations, each containing an assessment of the situation prevailing in various countries with regard to corruption.

20 People Die from H1N1 in Georgia BY THEA MORRISON

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total of 20 cases of death caused by the H1N1 "swine flu" virus have been confirmed in a laboratory in Georgia,- Amiran Gamkrelidze, Head of the National Center of Disease Control (NCDC), announced Wednesday. However, the exact numbers of flu cases will only be published following the winter season. “We had the highest rate in the last week of December. The tendency is decreasing in January, though there is no sharp decline. There is a decrease in the rate of flu cases, as well as in the rate

Image source: newsbeezer.com

of hospitalization. Hence, at this stage, we have a relatively calm situation,” he said. The Georgian government stated they

will cover all expenses related to the cost of antiviral medicine Tamiflu and distribute it to all citizens diagnosed with influenza free of charge.


NEWS

GEORGIA TODAY FEBRUARY 1 - 4, 2019

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Tbilisi Hosts Georgia & the World 2019 Economic Conference BY KETEVAN KVARATSKHELIYA

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n January 29-30, Tbilisi hosted a two-day Economic Conference ‘Georgia and the World 2019,’ at Tech Park (TechnoPark), under the aegis of the World 2019 annual edition of The Economist. The conference aimed to examine Georgia’s progress in numerous fields and the current position of the country’s economy, consider the future challenges the country may face on the pathway of development, and discuss existing opportunities in the working environs. The event brought together more than 100 delegates, including the representatives of the Government of Georgia, international organizations, the diplomatic corps, the business sector and academic circles. The agenda of the conference comprised a number of panels, with speakers and guests of honor discussing, among other themes: Georgia’s potential towards integration into the global economy; Innovative reforms in the financial sector; Georgia’s tourism potential: new markets and tourism; and product diversification. The Prime Minister of Georgia, Mamuka Bakhtadze, addressed the audience and answered questions from The Economist’s ‘The World in 2019’ Georgia editor George Sharashidze, Georgia Today Group being the official licensee of The Economist in Georgia. The PM

talked about the strategies and aspirations of the country, noting as he did that even though Georgia has made multiple steps forwards in accelerating the process of development, a number of major problems, including poverty, still remain. Bakhtadze spoke about the country’s desire to become the region’s economic hub and summarized the fruitful outcomes of the World Economic Forum held in Davos, Switzerland. He accentuated the significance of an education-based economy and human resources. “Our society, our citizens are our country's main asset. I have pointed out repeatedly that our economic policy will enable us to reduce poverty in the country, but we will never be able to advance Georgia to the category of developed economy unless we as a state invest heavily in the education sector to transform it into the dominant component of our economy as a whole,” he stated. See more from the PM on page 7. A welcome speech was also delivered by the honorary guest of the Economic Conference, Henrik Hololei, DirectorGeneral for Mobility and Transport at the EU Commission (See page 4). The second day of the Economic Conference was equally as important and interesting. Various themes were covered during the panel discussions, among them Georgia as an agricultural country, Georgia’s tourism potential, and the country’s capabilities of becoming an entrepreneurial country. Giorgi Kobulia, Minister of Economy

Image source: Georgis Today

and Sustainable Development of Georgia, participated in one of the panels and spoke about the prospects of the country in terms of the development of entrepreneurship, presenting the program of the country’s economic growth which involves achieving three main goals: the creation of work places and decreasing the level of countrywide unemployment; the amelioration of trading potential of the country; and attracting innovationbased investments.

Kobulia also focused on the challenges faced by the country in terms of economic expansion and examined ways of overcoming them. “As a government, we aim to first overcome the obstacles in our priority sectors, which were outlined as a result of investigation of the Georgian economy: power engineering, logistics and transportation systems, agriculture and nutrition industry, enterprises, natural resource management and innovations

and technologies,” he said. The Minister further focused on the fields with the highest prospects in the sector of entrepreneurship and named the production of clothing, leather goods, furniture, means of transportation, and assembly of electric devices as the major priorities for the government. He also mentioned agriculture and noted the possibility of credit financing for particular entrepreneurs satisfying given criteria.

Georgian Politicians Assess NDI Poll Results polls, which have “made it clear that politicians need to have more communication with society.” “The results of the poll raised serious discussions throughout the whole political spectrum because it is obvious that people are disappointed in politicians,” he said. Gigi Ugulava, one of the leaders of the parliamentary minority European Georgia, says the survey shows how acute corruption is in Georgia. “The erosion of democracy is also

BY THEA MORRISON

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ecent poll results released by the National Democratic Institute (NDI) and CRRC Georgia on Wednesday were followed by varied assessments from the opposition and the ruling Georgian Dream (GD) politicians. The results of the political part of the survey read that 92% of Georgians assert that living in a democracy is important, and a majority believes a western-style democracy is best for the country. 46% of the interviewed people stated that Georgia is a democracy, while 43% claim the opposite. NDI notes that this lack of belief in Georgian democracy is at its highest since 2013. The results are worst in Tbilisi, with 53% saying Georgia is not a democracy. In addition, Georgians do not believe they have significant influence over their country’s decisions, with 36% saying they have no say in decisions, and 14% believing that they have a lot. Regarding the performance of the government, half of the respondents assessed it as bad and 44% as good, with more negative assessments in Tbilisi (60%). Parliament has a worse evaluation, with

71% reporting that the body is dominated by political bickering, 55% saying it has failed to put forward important policies, 57% believing it is poorly organized and inefficient, and 63% saying it fails to investigate important matters. “Georgians also do not see their MPs as qualified, working hard for the country, behaving in an ethical manner, or being inclusive. Only 28% can name their majoritarian representative,” the survey reads. When it comes to political parties, only 13% believe the parties represent the interests of the citizens. 27% say that the ruling Georgian Dream (GD) party is closest to them, followed by the United National Movement (UNM) at 12%, and European Georgia (EG) and Alliance of Patriots both at 3%. 52% say they are undecided about how they would vote in an election tomorrow. In a future vote, GD has 24%, the UNM 11%, and Alliance of Patriots 3%. Furthermore, the majority of Georgians believe there is some corruption in all government structures: state institutions, police, local government, prosecutor’s office, courts, parliament, ministries, and political parties. In all bodies, the majority points to nepotism as the main type of corruption. One of the leaders of the UNM, Grigol Vashadze, says he fully trusts the NDI

alarming. The majority of the population says that we are not living in a democratic country. This is a direct result of informal governance,” he said, referring to Bidzina Ivanishvili, GD founder and Chair. However, the ruling party disagrees with the survey results. Maia Tskitishvili, Minister of Regional Development and Infrastructure of Georgia, says she does not trust the NDI research. “I greatly respect NDI as an institutionally strong partner of democratic devel-

opment but I would like their surveys to be more reliable… Not only is the fight against corruption very active, but also the prevention of corruption too. We have no reason to worry in this regard," said Tskitishvili. The results reflect data collected from December 6-20, 2018, through face-toface interviews with a nationwide representative sample of Georgia’s adult population, excluding occupied territories, that included 2,205 completed interviews.


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POLITICS

GEORGIA TODAY

FEBRUARY 1 - 4, 2019

Henrik Hololei on Georgia’s Transport & Economic Goals markings. Secondly, vehicles must be in a safe condition. The introduction of mandatory vehicle testing in Georgia is a step in the right direction, but Georgia still has many unsafe cars on the road. Finally, there is the human component. Road-users must change their driving behavior by not speeding or drink driving. Behavioral changes are the most challenging, Hololei notes. From our discussion, it is clear that Georgia has huge potential to harness its geographical location and transport to grow its economy and improve the quality of life of its citizens. By overcoming challenges and creating a stable and predictable environment, Georgia could attract further investments for future infrastructure projects. “I see a strong commitment from the government and developers,” says Hololei. With EU support and further investment, Georgia should be able to create better, greener, and safer transport in Georgia, fullybenefit from its trade potential and become a transport hub for the region and beyond.

EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW BY AMY JONES

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ue to Georgia’s strategic location on the Silk Road, it has historically been one of the most important transport and trade routes in the world, connecting Europe and Asia. Transport was a key topic at the Economic Forum in Tbilisi from 29 to 30 January. The ability of Georgia to reestablish itself as an important transit hub is key to its economic development. We sat down with Henrik Hololei, the European Commission’s Director General for Mobility and Transport, to discuss how the EU is working together with Georgia to help them achieve the county’s transport and economic goals.

ON TRANSPORT AND TRADE The EU and Georgia have been working together on numerous projects to improve infrastructure and exploit Georgia’s advantageous geographical location. By developing its transport networks and potentially also opening processing centers, Georgia can benefit from adding value to its transport systems. However, as Hololei says, “in order to be able to get these goods, you have to have links that guarantee a seamless and smooth movement of goods. For that, there is a lot on the table and a lot to do.” He notes that the Tbilisi-Kars railway as a game changer in the region and a very important trade route asset, but adds Georgia should not just develop its transport links on land, but also at sea. “There is no doubt that Georgia needs a deep-sea port. 75% of ships are unable to call at Georgia because of the current limitations. Georgia needs to re-establish itself in the Black Sea,” he says, “Black Sea trade is very important because that is the direct link to the European Union”. The EU recently pledged EUR 233 million in investment towards the construction of the Anaklia Deep Sea Port. The development of the Trans-European transport network to Georgia and other Eastern Partnership countries will further facilitate easier trading between the EU and Georgia. In addition, the Transport Implementation Action Plan, developed in January, will continue to build on these corridors. With the target of EUR 3.4 billion in consolidated investment, the EU has identified 18 priority projects both in Georgia and the EU. “That is creating predictability and clarity for potential investors by identifying the priorities,” says Hololei. “We very often understand

Image source: Georgis Today

what the problems are but not what the priorities are. Europe’s issue is how to better link the Eastern part of the EU to the West, because the transport networks there are not that intense. For Georgia, it is a question of how to use such a geographical location for the maximum benefit of the transport corridors.” The European Commission recently decided to extend its Ten-T project to Georgia. “This is the backbone of European connectivity and the European infrastructure policy,” says Hololei. “Of course, the world doesn’t stop at the European borders.”

ON AVIATION At the Economic Forum, Hololei praised Georgia as being the leading aviation country in the Eastern Partnership. How has Georgia managed to become so successful? We asked him. “Georgia has dared to make bold decisions and it has also considered aviation as a strategic sector,” he replies. “Most importantly, it has opened itself up and said ‘we are keen to have more connectivity.” Since the Georgia-EU aviation agreement was signed in 2010, as well as Wizz Air’s establishment in Georgia, traffic between the EU and Georgia has grown

by more than 9% every year. Georgia benefited from joining the agreement early on. “Other Eastern Partnership countries that have signed or are in the process of signing this agreement, have done so much later. Georgia has had the firstmove benefit.”

ON POLLUTION Air pollution in Georgia, especially Tbilisi, has become a priority for the Georgian government. With transport being a major emitter of harmful substances, cleaner transport plays in an important role in becoming greener. “I’m very encouraged that in discussions with the Prime Minister as well as the Mayor of Tbilisi, they both underlined the need to modernize and ‘green’ the economy to make it more sustainable.” The government is looking at ways to replace the current fleet with cleaner cars. However, “it’s important to have the whole eco-system in mind,” says Hololei. “For example, roads should not just be new, but smart and sustainable, ‘smart’ meaning they embrace digitalization which is a tool to deal with pollution. They also have to include charging stations.” In addition, by implementing a cleaner, more reliable and modernized metro

system, as well as carsharing and pooling, the government hopes to incentivize people to leave their cars at home. Fewer cars on the road could also encourage people to cycle. “Here [Tbilisi], you hardly see anybody cycling and this is not a common view in most European cities,” says Hololei. “Many cities have already made a lot of effort and developed programs to incentivize people.” Yet he is positive about the government’s efforts for sustainable transport. “There needs to be a good understanding on both the city and government level. To me, it seems that the government level is definitely there, and I am sure that they will be working hard towards their environmental goals.”

ON ROAD SAFETY Road deaths in Georgia are on average 2.5 times higher than elsewhere in Georgia, although still lower than in most Asian countries. “The Prime Minister has underlined his very strong commitment to improving road safety and minimizing the number of people killed on the roads,” says Hololei. He goes on to discuss the three components upon which road safety is built. Firstly, infrastructure must be safe, with, for example, roads displaying the correct signs and

There is no doubt that Georgia needs a deep-sea port. 75% of ships are unable to call at Georgia because of the current limitations. Georgia needs to re-establish itself in the Black Sea. Black Sea trade is very important because that is the direct link to the European Union

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POLITICS

GEORGIA TODAY FEBRUARY 1 - 4, 2019

Moving Nowhere

Image source: vestnikkavkaza.net

OP-ED BY ZAZA JGARKAVA

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he snowfalls closed the roads, in particular all the transport corridors connecting Georgia to Russia. The KobiGudauri section of the Jvari Gorge was closed due to avalanche risks, while the actual avalanche happened by the Roki tunnel on the occupied territories. Once again, the weather saw fit to influence the local political agenda, forcing people to actively discuss the need to provide humanitarian aid for those trapped in the snow siege- most of all for those in the occupied Tskhinvali region, which was left without the option to import food or other products for weeks. Markets in Tskhinvali, Java and Akhalgori were all but empty. Around 56 thousand people were left at the goodwill of the weather and the occupational regime: either the weather gets better and the avalanche by the Roki tunnel can be cleared, or the occupational regime will terminate the quarantine established at the so-called border of occupied Akhalgori in order to “protect locals from the Swine Flu,” which has seen cases popping up throughout Georgia. Aleko Elisashvili, leader of the Civil Movement, was the first to react to the Tskhinvali situation, calling for the government to send a humanitarian convoy. His initiative was supported by Ketevan Tsikhelashvili, State Minister for Reconciliation and Civic Equality, who called for the de facto government to accept humanitarian aid from Georgia. Tskhinvali rejected the offer, saying: “We went through the war, the blockade and endured. We will endure this crisis too.” What fueled this optimism is unknown, but it could have been enhanced by the fact that the de facto leader Anatoly Bibilov was on vacation in Moscow, and so unaffected by the discomforts of the avalanche. Despite his luck, people were standing by the Roki tunnel and in Akhalgori for days, demanding the right to get to Tbilisi or Vladikavkaz to seek medical aid. Apart from the humanitarian aspect, the weather seems to be influencing a few other political nuances. Georgia was recently visited by the newly elected Prime Minister of Armenia, Nikol Pashinyan. The meeting in Bolnisi was held while Armenian trucks, loaded with goods, had to stop at the Larsi check-

point and wait for the roads to open. Media and analytical circles thought the visit to be connected with discussing the transit of Armenian goods, especially when the agreement signed with Russia is ready and could be activated. Said agreement suggests the opening and movement of transit corridors through the occupied Abhkazian and Tskhinvali regions. But it seems the preliminary forecasts were mistaken, because, although the Armenian and Georgian PMs did discuss transit, it was not about going through Sokhumi and Tskhinvali, but from Iran via Armenia to Batumi. Media outlet Echo Kavkaza wrote that the European Union is ready to allocate EUR 780 million if the parties present a mutual Armenian-Georgian application for this project. An anonymous source suggested that apart from a budget for the construction of the highway, the project will also cover a few side roads leading to it and checkpoints at the Iranian-Armenian border. The idea of building a road from Armenia to Batumi is nothing new, though, and Official Yerevan was asking for permission to build it from Jvakheti as early as 1917, during the times of the Transcaucasian Sejm. President Saakashvili held negotiations with the predecessor of PM Pashinyan, but without results. A preliminary agreement has only been made about the mutual rehabilitation of Goderdzi Gorge, and it seems that Yerevan only just realized that Goderdzi Gorge is just as risky in terms of avalanches as Jvari, and came to recall this century-old project. As for the issue of opening the border corridors from Sokhumi and Tskhinvali, Georgian Dream remains silent. Even if the border terminals and Swiss observers are there, this doesn’t mean that cargo will start moving via Abkhazia and Tskhinvali. Who would carry out border passport control for one? Who would collect the taxes? And one more thing, we have an active Law on Occupied Territories, which restricts the transit or any economic activity on the non-controlled territories. So, will Armenian businessmen need to get a special permit from the Georgian government to move their cargo through the un-controlled territories? Some think no-one will demand a change of government just because it allows the transit of goods, and while the Georgian Dream has two more years before the parliamentary elections of 2020, the economic benefits gained during this period could outweigh the existing political nuances.

Venezuela’s Temporary Government Ready to Abolish Recognition of Occupied Zones BY AMY JONES

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he temporary Venezuelan government is ready to abolish their recognition of Abkhazia and South Ossetia as independent countries. Gustavo Tarre Briceno, a Venezuelan politician in the National Assembly and a Special Representative to the Organization of American States, expressed readiness to change their stance during an interview with the Kurier newspaper. When asked if Venezuela would continue to recognize Abkhazia and South Ossetia and his opinion on potential difficulties with Venezuela’s relations with Russia, he said “of course. You don't even need to ask this question. We're not going to continue as the Maduro administration. We’re not afraid of the Russian Federation.” The Former Ambassador to the United States

Photo source: La Prensa

William Braunfeld also spoke about Venezuela’s recognition of Abkhazia and South Ossetia. He believes that Georgia has the right to insist that Venezuela abolishes their recognition. Venezuela, Russia, Nicaragua, and Syria are among the countries that recognize Georgia’s occupied territories as independent states.

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POLITICS

GEORGIA TODAY

FEBRUARY 1 - 4, 2019

Who to Orbit? OP-ED BY ZAZA JGARKAVA

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he two-day visit is over. The leaders of the Ecumenical Patriarchate visited Georgia in support of the autocephaly of Ukraine, but, alas, they returned to Istanbul without results. The Georgian Church states that the visit was unable to influence their position and seems still reluctant to share its decision as to whether to recognize the autocephaly of Ukraine or not. Now it is time for the Russian Church to visit Georgia and try to convince its Church leaders not to support Ukraine. The meeting should be held in a few days. The results of the visit from the delegation of the Ecumenical Patriarchate were predictable, with, a few days prior, both secular and clerical authorities openly stating anti-Ukrainian positions. Bishops Iakob, Shio and Spiridon said that it wasn’t wise to spoil relations with Russia, and, in order to support his argument, Bishop Spiridon brought the example of Patriarch Filaret who was refused baptism. MPs Zviad Dzidziguri, Gia Volsky and Zaza Papuashvili were more radical in their public statements, claiming it was “not worth” angering Russia by recognizing the autocephaly of

Ukraine. MP Irma Inashvili wrote an open letter in the name of her political party to Patriarch Ilia II in which she stressed the “criminal” actions of the World Ecumenical Patriarchate and its supporters: “These church leaders forget that the Church is not an NGO, and the divided opinions within should not

become public beyond its borders.” In her letter, she called on Ilia II to recognize Patriarch Kirill and the Patriarchate of Moscow as leading rather than the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople and Bartholomew I. Unlike the Alliance of Patriots and other governmental parties, the political opposition

fully supports Ukraine, with the exception of Mikheil Saakashvili, who has decided to remain uncharacteristically silent for the moment and has yet to share his position publicly on this epic event. When it became known that the delegation from the Ecumenical Patriarchate was visiting Georgia, the Georgian Orthodox Church released the following statement: “The granting of the tomos to the Church of Ukraine has given rise to disputes throughout the Orthodox world, both in secular and ecclesiastical circles. Two opposing sides have surfaced in our country, and each is trying by all means to defend the position they consider just. There have been political and religious assessments, and statements made by religious and secular personalities. Neither side abstains from offensive and contemptuous expressions, as well as blackmail, thus casting a shadow on all. We need to know that the responsibility of each of us is great, and that hasty and reckless actions will not lead to any good. At this time, the most important thing is to preserve the unity of the Church, to make sure the tension is reduced, and to create a peaceful environment based on justice. Our efforts should be directed to this unity with prayer and work. We therefore call on all of you to be respect-

ful in your relationships with one another.” The leader of the visiting delegation, Metropolitan Emanuel of France, told the media that the aim of the visit was to inform the Georgian Patriarchate about the decision and details of the granting of autocephaly to Ukraine, rather than “imposing a certain idea or pressure.” He also added: “We know that the Catholicos-Patriarch of Georgia Ilia II has wisdom and will make a wise decision.” The French Metropolitan stressed repeatedly that, “Now is the time to maintain unity within the Orthodox churches.” He also maintained that the visit was not due to any disagreements between the Ecumenical Patriarchate and the Georgian Church. “We are not here because of any problems in our relationship with the Georgian Church. We have a common position, common views, and this is just an ordinary friendly meeting between brotherly churches.” What we must do now is wait for the visit of the Russian Church leaders, whose comments will shed clearer light on the position of the Georgian Church, which plans to discuss the issue of recognizing Ukraine’s autocephaly during the Holy Synod this spring. This will also mean deciding who to orbit: Moscow or Constantinople?

Teachers' Trade Rural Communities Union Against to Choose How to Abolishing SchoolSpend the Budget Leaving Exams BY KETEVAN KVARATSKHELIYA

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ithin the framework of a government program aimed at contributing to the development of rural areas, the residents of 3,700 Georgian villages will be given an opportunity to allocate a set budget according to their own needs and priorities. The final decision will be made as a result of negotiations with government bodies. The project is

BY THEA MORRISON

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eorgian Teachers’ Trade Union says the decision of the Ministry of Education to abolish the school-leaving exams is unacceptable. The President of the Teachers’ Union, Manana Kobakhidze says the abolition of the school graduation exams will “diminish the role of the school, will reduce the motivation of students and lead to negative processes in schools.” “This will merely increase the role of private tutors in subjects which the students

need to pass for universities,” she noted. Kobakhidze called on the Education Ministry to thoroughly reconsider all aspects of the planned reforms and not to rely on the assessments of a number of experts. School graduation exams will be abolished from 2020, Sopho Gorgodze, the Director of the National Examination Center, announced at a presentation of the new education system model. Gorgodze stated that major changes will be enacted in the education system from 2020. Prior to that, in 2019, 11th graders will be exempted from graduate exams, but these exams will be retained for 12th-grade students.

planned to be carried out by March 1. The Minister of Regional Development and Infrastructure of Georgia, Maia Tskitishvili, focused on the importance of including the local population in the decision-making process about the vital issues: “We see a very important platform being created. Direct communication will take place between the central and local governments and the local population,’’ she said. Meetings between the local government authorities have already been held in 800 villages. Repairing drinking water infrastructure; irrigation and drainage systems;

coastal work; road and bridge renovation; street lighting; sporting grounds; and cultural facilities are among those areas the locals want finances allocated for. The initiative comes from the Fund for the Implementation of Regional Projects, managed by the Infrastructure and Regional Development Ministry. A total of 20 million GEL has been allocated by the government to support the development of small infrastructure projects in the rural areas of the country. If a village fails to reach consensus about future projects, the assigned finances will be returned to the Fund.


BUSINESS

GEORGIA TODAY FEBRUARY 1 - 4, 2019

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The Prime Minister on the Davos Forum & Georgia’s Economic Prospects TRANSCRIBED AND TRANSLATED BY KETI KVARATSKHELIYA

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xport to EU countries increased by 11% in 2018, mostly thanks to the Free Trade Agreement (FTA) Georgia has with the EU. Georgia is also a unique country in that it has FTAs with both the EU and China. On the World Bank Doing Business Rankings, Georgia is in 6th place, and in 2018 it saw eight million tourists grace its shores. Overall, the situation seems to be looking up. But much still needs to be done to keep it up and boost it further. Prime Minister Mamuka Bakhtadze recently returned from Davos, Switzerland, where he attended the World Economic Forum (WEF) and saw himself and his country evaluated very positively by the high-level figures there, including the President of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development. George Sharashidze, Editor-in-Chief of ‘The Economist World in 2019 – Georgia’ sat down with the Georgian PM to find out more.

WHAT WERE THE EXPECTATIONS OF GEORGIA AT THE WEF? The World Economic Forum 2019 was especially successful for Georgia. Our major strategy is to make Georgia an economic center of the region in trade, finance, logistics, tourism and education. At the Forum in Davos, we received a positive reciprocal connection from all the major players participating in the event, including the representatives of both the business and political sectors. Georgia was also assessed positively [there] for its reforms. Georgia is considered the most successful country in this region in terms of democratic and economic transformation. The reforms that are set for future implementation in our country also received good reviews. The possibility of online registration for companies is one of the most important future reforms. Another new legislative initiative under consideration comprises offering special tax rates to transnational companies which launch headquarters in Georgia and serve their customers from our country. Large technological companies which set up part of their research and development infrastructure in Georgia will also benefit from the same offer. These offers have already garnered interest, with negotiations begun with a number of major companies in Davos. Such initiatives will certainly contribute to the attraction of important and valuable investments. And we are well aware that even though the World Economic Forum 2019 was effective, we will be expected to present the fruitful outcomes of the above mentioned initiatives when we visit Davos in 2020.

YOU HAVE AN AMBITIOUS PLAN TO INCLUDE GEORGIA AMONG THE TOP 5 COUNTRIES IN ALL THE MAJOR RANKINGS. HOW WILL YOU DO IT? Coming 6th place in such a prestigious ranking system as Doing Business already proves that Georgia has the potential and capability to obtain leading positions in

Image source: Georgis Today

other major rankings as well. Moreover, if the country has the ambition to become a regional economic center, it is a primary necessity for Georgia to be included in the Top 5 countries. We are involved in the global competition and, thus, we need

Georgia is considered the most successful country in this region in terms of democratic and economic transformation to maintain our position and even advance it. Being included in significant ranking systems is not an aim without purpose: it is an opportunity for the country to overcome the challenges facing it in the economic sphere, the most painful among them being poverty. I believe more effective integration of Georgia into the global

economy will help us to better deal with these obstacles. Sadly, in the Human Capital Index, Georgia is not very successful. In the 21st century, an era of technological development, human capital is of a paramount importance. I do believe that Georgia has incredible prospects in human capital, and one of our main aims is to invest in education and develop our country’s human resources, which will finally contribute to the inclusion of Georgia on the list of developed countries.

WHAT ARE YOUR PLANS TO ACCELERATE GEORGIA’S INTEGRATION INTO THE GLOBAL ECONOMY? DO YOU EXPECT AN FTA WITH THE USA AT ANY POINT? Our aim is for Georgia to be effectively integrated into the global economy. Without completing this task, Georgia will fail to become the regional economic hub. Having a free trade regime with the EU and China is certainly a historical achievement for Georgia. Yet, it is important not to take the given success for granted and to use it efficiently. Although we have those FTAs, it is clearly impossible to double the rate of exports immediately. However, the existent augmentation of this figure clearly underlines the FTAs’ importance for the economic development of the country. As we are involved in the global competi-

Georgia has incredible prospects in human capital, and one of our main aims is to invest in education tion, we need to meet particularly high standards. One of the major aspirations is for Georgia to become a full member of the EU, and our successes in the economic field help us to make steps towards this goal. Nevertheless, there are a number of issues faced by the country in satisfying the standards. There is lack of wellequipped laboratories and infrastructure for the fast and appropriate development of the agricultural field. And the government is putting a lot of effort into this

and has allocated a budget to eradicate these troubles. It is also vital to take into account that attracting major players to the Georgian market is incredibly important for us to be involved more effectively in the global economic chain. The idea of offering special tax rates to transnational companies has been catalyzed by this aspect. And we are actively in the process of negotiating an FTA with the USA. I’m very optimistic about reaching a consensus on this topic.

TOURISM IS ONE OF THE FASTEST GROWING INDUSTRIES IN GEORGIA. HOW WILL THE GOV’T BOOST THIS AND WHAT WEAKNESSES HAVE BEEN IDENTIFIED IN THE SECTOR? Tourism is and will remain the most dynamically developing industry in our economic sector. We are certainly interested in diversifying our tourism options; however, we also need to overcome particular barriers. The number of direct flights to European cities is not yet satisfactory, and sea transportation also needs to be developed. We must ameliorate the quality of tourism and adopt new segments in this industry, as well as improve the infrastructure of the country. Georgia has real potential for establishing recreational, health and cultural tourism. The government aims to especially support these fields.


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BUSINESS

GEORGIA TODAY

FEBRUARY 1 - 4, 2019

Europe’s Easternmost Port BY S. FREDERICK STARR

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hat is one of the world’s largest dredging vessels doing in Georgia, a country that is several thousand miles from the nearest ocean and boasts some of Europe’s highest mountains? It is there because little Georgia, with a population of only 3.7 million, is constructing a major international deep sea port on its Black Sea coast. Anaklia, as the new port has been named, will be a game changer in just about every respect. Anyone who has seen the huge ships in the Bosporus at Istanbul knows the problem Anaklia is designed to solve. An ocean-going freighter from the Americas or Africa can pass into the Mediterranean at Gibraltar or arrive from the Persian Gulf via Suez. All of these, as well as large ships from any port in Europe, can pass easily into the Black Sea. But if their cargo is headed to the East—Azerbaijan, Central Asia, China, Afghanistan or even Pakistan—there has not been any port on the eastern end of the Black Sea that can accommodate them. The same problem existed for goods coming from the East. New Caspian ports being built by Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, and Azerbaijan will enable goods to go directly West by rail from Baku, Azerbaijan, to Georgia and on to Turkey. But the alternate sea route from Georgia to the rest of the world has been blocked by the absence of a deep-sea port. Such a port must accommodate ships with a draft of up to seventeen meters. That will be Anaklia. Once functioning, Anaklia will be the only deep -sea port east of the Bosporus able to host “Panamax” vessels, i.e., those that can traverse the widened and deepened Panama Canal. Goods crossing from Anaklia can then proceed by ship into the Danube system, or by train to anywhere in Central or southern Europe. Or they can proceed directly to the Mediterranean and beyond. Since 2017, hundreds of workers from the surrounding area have been hard at work constructing the new port. In the near future they will begin building Anaklia City, which is designed to be a free-trade zone and regional commercial center serving Georgia, Armenia, Azerbaijan, the Russian Caucasus, and northeastern Turkey. Because of the country’s central location, its sixth place ranking (out of 190 countries) in the World Bank’s “Ease of Doing Business” report, and to its having the second lowest perceived incidence of crime in Europe, according to the NUMBEO Crime Index,[1] Georgians hope that firms from both Europe and Asia will find it convenient to base their Silk Road offices in the new city. Many countries have eyed the route from the Caspian Sea through the Caucasus to the Black Sea as key elements of the emerging continent-spanning transport corridors. The European Union launched its TRASECA program (Transport Corridor Europe-Caucasus-Asia) in order to open the Caucasus and Central Asia to the West. Then Azerbaijan, Georgia, Turkey and western partners teamed up to build a new pipeline from the Caspian to the Mediterranean and then a new highway and railroad from the Baku clear through Georgia and Turkey to Istanbul and beyond. Topping off this massive multinational effort was the construction of no fewer than five entirely new ports on the Caspian Sea itself. Throughout the Soviet era the Caspian had served mainly as a north-south sea link between Iran and Russia. Thanks to these initiatives arising from both the Caucasus and Central Asia the Caspian has been transformed into a major corridor of east-west transport. To achieve this, the littoral countries—Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, and Turkmenistan –have constructed modern new ports at Aylat, Aktau, and Turkmenbashi to serve what they expect to be

Source: europeaninterest.eu/

the massive growth of east-west and west-east transport over the coming years. All three of these mega-projects will pour goods through Anaklia and will in turn serve as entrepots for goods being sent east from Anaklia. The Government of Georgia has moved quickly to expand its relations with China and to make sure that its Anaklia project occupies a significant place on China’s global transport maps. It convened a “Silk Road Forum” in Tbilisi in 2015 and then in 2017 held a “Belt and Road Forum,” with strong representation from China. Georgia also bought 28 Chinese freight locomotives and agreed to collaborate with China on developing both its energy network and agriculture. China has become Georgia’s third largest trading partner, an increase of 40 times since 2002. The Anaklia project is expected to receive up to $400 million in loans from the diversified pool of four European, American, and Asian financial institutions, with China’s new Asian Infrastructure Development Bank providing 25% of the total. Further funding comes from the Government of Georgia and private Georgian investors. SSA Marine of Seattle, one of the world’s largest port managers, will run Anaklia’s terminal. Anaklia City’s judicial and mediation services are expected to operate on the basis of British law. German, Swiss, and Danish logistics giants are expected to dominate west-east shipping. The Georgians have not forgotten the Russian army’s invasion of their country in August 2008, nor can they ignore the pressure Moscow is exerting against Ukraine’s Black Sea ports at Kerch, Berdyansk, and Mariupol. However, for the time being, Putin and his foreign minister, Sergei Lavrov, have kept their silence about Anaklia. To be sure, in an interview with Russian journalist D. Aslomov, Lavrov hinted that Russia would respond to any military activity in Anaklia, but he went no further.[2] Perhaps he and Putin want to avoid further conflict with Europe and America or, more likely, are not prepared to oppose something favored by its nominal ally, China. Or perhaps they have concluded that the new port does Russia no harm and could even benefit its impoverished and conflicted provinces in the North Caucasus. If Anaklia poses no direct threat to Russia, it will be a positive boon to Central and East European countries that were once under Moscow’s sway. For Poland, it mitigates the risk of depending on the unreliable Belarus-Russia border and the railroad line running south to Kazakhstan, which Russia could close at any time. Polish goods will be able to reach Anaklia through the Krakow-Constanza route or via Katowice and Odessa. Indeed, Polish producers are already looking to Anaklia as the gateway through which they can reach markets in Central Asia, China, the Middle East, and India. Simi-

larly, Romania will benefit by being linked to the East through its major port of Constanza, while other Central European countries will gain similar access via the Rhine-Danube Corridor and its direct link to Constanza. Meanwhile, of course, Europe’s Mediterranean and North Seas ports will be able to send goods to the entire East through Anaklia. If this happens, Georgia’s new port will have enabled Poland to implement its centuriesold dream of connecting the Baltic and Black Seas. At first glance Turkey might seem to pose a problem for Anaklia. Has it not invested heavily in the railroad connecting Baku and Istanbul by way of northeastern Anatolia? But Georgia has been a partner in that Baku-Tbilisi-Kars project from the beginning and sees the rail and sea links not as competitors but as complementary to one another. Moreover, Anaklia will give eastern Turkey’s agricultural hinterland ready access to a deep-sea port, whence foodstuffs can be sent to diverse markets on several continents. Much the same can be said of northern Iran. To be sure, the Iranians are working hard to complete a modern rail line from Turkey to its new Gulf of Oman port and free trade zone at Chabahar, currently under Indian management. This could eventually provide competition to the railroad running between Baku and Istanbul, although important impediments (of which sanctions are only one) would first have to be overcome. But if shippers from India wish to get their goods to northern Europe or North America, a far more efficient route than sending them by rail from Chabahar to Istanbul would be to trans-ship them directly to Anaklia via the railroad connection through Baku. Finally, we should note the potential value of Anaklia to the countries of Central Asia. Uzbekistan, for example, is the world’s fourth largest producer of raw cotton, much of which it still markets through the distant Baltic ports, which they reach via the Russian railroad network. Both Tajikistan and Turkmenistan grow cotton as well, and share Uzbekistan’s difficulties in getting their crop to market. Anaklia could greatly speed this process and also cut costs. Other products of landlocked Central Asia could reach markets more efficiently by being shipped from the eastern Caspian ports of Aktau or Turkmenbashi to Aylat in Azerbaijan and thence by a short overland trip to Anaklia. In the absence of a functioning deepwater port on Georgia’s Black Sea coast, and with the Caspian ports of Aktau and Aylat only now beginning to flourish, nearly all cargo from China has reached Europe by crossing Kazakhstan and then diverting northward to Russia’s TransSiberian Railroad, and thence to northern Germany. Anaklia, working in tandem with Aktau and Aylat, should attract a

significant part of this Europe-bound trade to the Caucasus route, i.e., to the EU’s TRASECA. The exact extent of this shift will depend less on governments than the judgment of the market. At any rate, China itself seeks to make greater use of the Caucasus route and therefore has supported Anaklia. Meanwhile, the size of the labor force of the Indian sub-continent (India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh) is soaring while the number of its retirees remains relatively small. With a labor force that will be twice the size of China’s within a generation, it is all but inevitable that the Indian sub-continent will become a world economic center, as indeed is already happening. This will generate great demand for east-west transport, which will be met by a combination of sea and land routes. The Great India Road, India’s counterpart to the Silk Road to China, is older and longer than the China route. Until it was cut by the Soviet borders, it also carried more goods and was less frequently interrupted than the Silk Road between China and Europe. This route went straight to the Caspian shores at Baku, Azerbaijan and thence to the Black Sea. The revival of this long-forgotten Great India Road will more than make up for any long-term decline of Chinese shipping through Anaklia that might occur. Indeed, the first steps towards this revival are already being taken. Thus, Afghanistan and Turkmenistan are working to revive what they call the Lapis Lazuli Corridor from their common border clear to Europe via the Caucasus. And only recently Afghanistan, Pakistan, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, and Russia signed a deal to complete the rail connection across the width of Afghanistan to Peshawar in Pakistan. Meanwhile, two newly built ports on the Arabian Sea– Pakistan’s Gwadar and Iran‘s Chabahar– will enable goods shipped from the East to proceed westward by land, with the route through the Caucasus to Anaklia being a strong option. There is no lack of hypothetical impediments to the future success of Anaklia. Among them, none is more compelling than the possibility of continued low international prices on oil. This would reduce the cost of shipping goods from China to Europe by sea and could therefore cut into the volume of land cargo from the East that should feed Anaklia. But that shift would at the same time benefit Anaklia by reducing shipping cost for the deep-sea vessels it will accommodate. In other words, like all the other potentially retarding factors discussed here, there are good reasons to think that this one may not prove significant, if it emerges at all. On the other side of the ledger are the many potential benefits that Anaklia may bring. First, it will facilitate trade and interaction between Europe and China.

China’s BRI has elicited a skeptical response from many in the West and many elsewhere as well. However, neither in the Caucasus nor in Central Asia are the declared interests of China, Europe and the United States in conflict. In fact, these are regions where one could imagine East and West working out practical understandings. If Anaklia could help bring that about, it will have been an agent of compromise in a situation otherwise defined by conflict. Second, Anaklia–port and city–will be as the biggest development project ever undertaken in the western Caucasus. As such, it has the potential to impact positively on the entire region, including both Russia’s North Caucasus, Armenia, northern Iran, and the poorer regions of western Georgia itself. In light of the fact that these regions have been several times been riven by conflict since the collapse of the USSR, the economic and social development Anaklia fosters is bound to be beneficial. Third, the benefits this new port and commercial center will bring to Georgia itself are notable. They will create thousands of jobs, most of them requiring modern skills and a significant number of them being in emerging sectors of technology and finance. This in turn will diversify Georgia’s economy and make it more self-sustaining, which in turn will render the society more modern and forward looking. Anaklia looks both east and west, but its strongest impact on Georgia will be to strengthen its ties with Europe and the Atlantic world. Georgians themselves have already declared integration with European life and culture to be their strategic objective. By offering European economies a new path by which their products can reach the East, it will strengthen Europe’s appreciation of Georgia, not just as an attractive if curious distant land but as a country that contributes directly to Europe’s own welfare. These and many other considerations underscore the value and importance of Anaklia for the United States. True, it will bring profits and jobs to the port’s builder, Conti Group of New Jersey, and to SSA Marine of Seattle, which will oversee its operations. And by expanding the channels for continental trade across Eurasia, Anaklia (and the upgraded but smaller port at nearby Poti) will create opportunities for American manufacturers and their branches in Europe, and for American firms in such diverse areas as shipping, logistics, insurance, hotels, and storage. These important developments will all have a positive impact regionally, involving equally Azerbaijan and its new port at Aylat, and both Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan, with their new Caspian ports. Others who will benefit from the expanded corridor created by Anaklia will include Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and Afghanistan, all of which figure prominently among U.S. interests. Such developments will help both Washington and Brussels to define a new strategy towards the Caucasus and Central Asia, one that stresses continental trade through the region, and which is prepared to find common cause with other powers–including China, Russia, and India–so long as they respect the sovereignty and self-determination of both regions. In the end, Anaklia benefits all countries that seek a new order in the Caucasus and Central Asia based not on confrontation and interference but on trade and cooperation. Anaklia is a fifty-two year project and it is only now beginning its second year. Many aspects of its future development have yet to be worked out, and its impact on the world around it for now remains hypothetical. What is already clear, however, is that Georgians are capable of conceiving, planning, and carrying out highly complex and significant projects that serve their country, their region, and the world. Not bad for a country of 3.75 million that is better known for its wine and tourism than for its contribution to continental commerce.


BUSINESS

GEORGIA TODAY FEBRUARY 1 - 4, 2019

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Approaching European Standards by Developing Skills in the Construction Sector BY KATIE RUTH DAVIES

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n 29 January the Ministry of Education, Science, Culture and Sport of Georgia and the Infrastructure Construction Companies’ Association (ICCA) hosted the Cooperation Forum ‘Skills for Construction – Construction for Skills’ with the support of GIZ, at the Georgian Technical University. The guiding theme of the event was vocational qualification in the construction sector in Georgia. Representatives of construction companies, associations, training institutions, and ministries engaged in a lively dialogue about how to provide construction professionals with the skills needed to meet European standards. The event particularly considered the state of implementation of dual vocational training which recently started in ten construction companies and three vocational colleges. Dual TVET is a specific form of vocational education that is particularly responsive to the job market and is jointly designed by the state, the business sector and civil society. It combines training at the VET College and in the company and provides "better skills for better business." Irina Abuladze, Deputy Minister of

Education, Science, Culture and Sport of Georgia, highlighted the necessity of skills related to occupational health and safety (OHS) and energy efficiency. “The construction sector is one of the most rapidly growing and dynamic sectors in Georgia. Companies seek young people that are

well-trained and bring a combination of up-to-date theoretical and practical professional skills,” she stated. This was confirmed by construction companies that underlined their commitment to contribute to training young people in the Georgian construction sector.

Practical orientation for construction companies to enhance the energy efficiency standards in buildings was provided by distributing and discussing the guidebook ‘Energy Efficiency in Construction’ – a result of the programme ‘Private Sector Development and Tech-

nical Vocational Education and Training in the South Caucasus’ (PSD TVET SC) in close cooperation with the Union of Experts for Sustainable Energy and Environment (UESEE). Successful participants of the training ‘Occupational Health and Safety in Construction’ were handed certificates by the Deputy Minister of Internally Displaced Persons from Occupied Territories, Labor, Health and Social Affairs of Georgia, Tamila Barkalaia. OHS training helps to save the lives of Georgian construction workers and to introduce international standards to increase safety on construction sites in the shortterm and to improve the competitiveness of Georgian construction companies in the long run, as they adhere to EU standards and expand their businesses. The event was supported by the Private Sector Development and Technical Vocational Education and Training Programme South Caucasus, implemented by Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ), on behalf of the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ). It highlighted the fruitful cooperation of Georgia and Germany in supporting the private sector in adapting to European standards, particularly in the fields of energy efficiency and work safety in the construction sector.

JSC Nenskra Hydro Signs Memorandum of Cooperation with Ministry of Economy of Georgia BY KATIE RUTH DAVIES

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n January 28, a Memorandum of Cooperation was signed between JSC Nenskra Hydro and the Ministry of Economy and Sus-

tainable Development of Georgia. The signing of the Memorandum was part of the official visit of Mr. Hak Soo Lee, Chief Executive Officer of Korea Water Resources Corporation, the Nenskra Hydropower Plant (HPP) Project investor company. The Memorandum was signed by George Kobulia, Minister of Economy and Sustainable Development, and

Sunyoung Kim, Chief Executive Officer of JSC Nenskra Hydro. “During our meeting with the Minister, we discussed the issues of current and future cooperation within the framework of the Nenskra HPP project,” said Mr. Hak Soo Lee. “We intend to continue our close cooperation with the Government of Georgia and local self-government

with the purpose of developing the region and the well-being of the local community. This will remain the most significant guarantee of the project success.” Founded in 1967, Korea Water Resources Corporation K-Water is a state-owned company. K-Water has implemented 67 high complexity projects in 24 countries. Presently, K-water is managing 16 multifunctional dams. Nenskra Hydro is a project-based company established in 2015 as a result

of cooperation between Korea Water Resources Corporation K-water and JSC Partnership Fund. The company will construct the Nenskra Hydropower Plant in the Nenskra and Nakra River Valleys in Mestia Municipality of the Samegrelo-Zemo Svaneti region. The 280 MW Nenskra Hydropower Plant will generate approximately 1,200.00 GWh of electricity annually, which will be fully consumed by the Georgian market.

Georgian Business House Opens in China town, Guangzhou BY MARIAM MERABISHVILI

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he Georgian business house of the One Belt-One Road initiative was opened with the support of the Georgian Chamber of Commerce and Industry in Guangzhou, China on January 28. According to the Chamber, the project is unprecedented in that it enables numerous Georgian products to be presented to the Chinese market

for the first time. Ambassador of Georgia to the People's Republic of China Archil Kalandia, and representatives of local self-government, took part in the official opening ceremony. According to Beka Mikaberidze, Special Representative of the Georgian Chamber of Commerce and Industry in Guangdong Province, the project echoes the initiative of the President of the People's Republic of China about uniting One Belt-One Road states on one platform. At the first phase, up to 20 Georgian companies were exhibited in the Geor-

gian Business House, including products such as Georgian wine, chacha, canned products, mineral water, honey, olive oil, lemonade, and tea. The Special Representative of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Georgia has been functioning in Guangzhou, China, since September 2017 with the purpose of promoting trade relations between the two countries. Representations give consultation about the Chinese market to Georgian entrepreneurs and help to establish business communication with local business.


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SOCIETY

GEORGIA TODAY

FEBRUARY 1 - 4, 2019

2019-2020 Tbilisi Infrastructure Projects BY SAMANTHA GUTHRIE

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his Tuesday, Tbilisi Mayor Kakha Kaladze presented the major infrastructural projects planned for the city in 2019-2020. Large projects will be implemented by Tbilisi City Hall’s Infrastructure Development Department, while small and medium projects will be implemented by the governments of Tbilisi’s districts. “The everyday routine of our work is a step-bystep approach to building a European, modern, orderly, comfortable and safe city…These are the issues we have accumulated over three decades, and each of us is puzzled. Of course, it is impossible to solve all the problems with one hand, but I am sure that we will solve everything with a united effort,” Kaladze said. The major projects for the coming two years include: • A new road connecting Machavariani Street and Marshal Gelovani Avenue, 18 million GEL ($6.8 mln) • Renovation of the underground crossings at Heroes Square, 3.8 million GEL ($1.43 mln) • A new road leading to Lisi Lake, supporting the area’s developing infrastructure (tender to be announced soon) • Dighomi Chalebi park will be completed in 2020, 11.6 million GEL ($4.37 mln) • A new sewer network in Dighomi village, 3 million GEL ($1.13 mln) • A new sewer network in the Mukhiani settlements, 1.9 million GEL ($72,000) • Renovation of the underground crossing at First Republic Square (near the Radisson Blu hotel), 2 million GEL ($75,000) • Renovation of the vehicle tunnel near Rustaveli metro 1.3 million GEL ($49,000) • Full rehabilitation of the Kakheti highway, 45 million GEL ($16.95 million) plus 7 million GEL ($2.64 mln) for street lights and 7.1 million GEL ($2.67 mln) for green spaces along the highway • Renovation of the monument “Man and Sun,” near the Tbilisi Airport, 3.6 million GEL ($1.36 mln) • Renovation of Chavchavadze Ave., 13 million

Image source: Tbilisi City Hall

GEL ($4.9 mln) • Renovation of Vekua-Khizanishvili streets (the two main streets of Gldani), 10 million GEL ($3.8 mln) • Renovation of Kandelaki St., 1.6 million GEL ($60,000) • Renovation of Kikvidze Park, 4.9 million GEL ($1.85 mln) • Repair work on the bridges over the Gldanula River in Gldani, 4 million GEL ($1.51 mln) • A new vehicle bridge connecting University Street and Tskneti highway (Bagebi), 20-30 million GEL ($7.5 – 11.3 mln) • The construction of multiuse community centers in Didi Dighomi and Vareketili, 12 million GEL ($4.52 mln) each • Converting concrete road islands into green spaces, 753,773 GEL ($283,906) • A new road to the settlement of Vashlijvari, 2.7 million GEL ($1.02 mln) • Renovation of Dry Bridge and the Saarbrucken Square area, 9.9 million GEL ($3.73 mln).

• Renovation of Pirosmani Street, 50 million GEL ($18.83 mln) • Renovation of Gudiashvili-Purtseladze streets 45 million GEL ($16.95 mln) • Mtkvari River area development, 110 million GEL ($41.43 mln) Kaladze noted the importance of the area of Dighomi for the city’s ecological health, saying “The next very important project is to regulate the area of Dighomi. We talk a lot about improving ecological conditions, what the municipality and the population should do to improve the situation. We have already tightened regulations on construction. Also, we pay great attention to the creation of green spaces. Not one construction permit has been issued from our side [that would damage] green spaces, sports grounds, etc. Special attention is paid to creating a lot of green spaces.” The Kakheti Highway project is a major undertaking, which began in 2018. “At the first stage [of the project], we started to adjust the right and left

frontage roads. All communication networks have already been replaced. The greenery and lighting network will be fully renovated. In the area around the [Man and Sun] monument, we have a similar approach – green spaces will be created. Within the works, a drainage system, lighting, and an artificial lake will be created to make a nice space in the city,” Kaladze explained. Kikvidze Park, officially called the Veterans’ Rest and Culture Park, will be renovated by the end of the year. “The renovation of this park is carried out within the projects that serve to create green spaces and improve ecological conditions. Here, we have two directions: first - regulation and maintenance of the existing parks, and second, the construction of new city parks and squares, which the governors [of Tbilisi’s districts] perform at a very high level…New spaces will be created for children, an amphitheater and bicycle area will be arranged. In this and every other city park there will be a sports zone with equipment for people of any age to use,” said the Mayor. Multiuse community centers are planned for Didi Dighomi and Varketili, in line with Kaladze’s election campaign promises. “Of course, we will fulfill this promise,” said Kaladze, “Last year, one complex was opened in Temka, but it is not enough. This year we are launching two important projects in Didi Dighomi and Varketili. These are multifunctional centers where there will be all kinds of sport facilities, a swimming pool, a mediathek [digital library and co-working space], cafes, libraries. We will present similar projects in different districts and will start implementing them next year.” There are also plans for a major renovation of the area around Dry Bridge and Saarbrucken Square. “We are planning to rehabilitate the surrounding area, including Dedaena Park. Green spaces, which are in poor condition, need care and attention. In this area, interest is high. The complete rehabilitation of Orbeliani Square will soon be completed and the two parks will be in harmony with each other,” promised Kaladze. Some of the biggest projects include the renovation of Pirosmani Street, Gudiashvili-Purtseladze streets, and the redesign of the territory along the Mtkvari River, near Gorgasali Street in central Tbilisi. Kaladze explained that the Pirosmani Street work will take two years. “Every house on this street is in a state of emergency,” he said, “Within the framework of the project, all this will be sorted, starting with underground communications which needs to be entirely replaced and repaired. I'm sure local businesses will be involved in the process. The renovation works on Gudiashvili and Purtseladze streets are important projects that will be completed in 2020.” Speaking of the Mtkvari riverbank development, the Mayor said, “This is a very important project. We would like to arrange a vehicle tunnel and, above the tunnel, have a pedestrianized green space with 10 hectares of landscaping. We also want to construct a pedestrian bridge that will connect directly to the Avlabari metro station.”


SOCIETY

GEORGIA TODAY FEBRUARY 1 - 4, 2019

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British Council Runs ‘Licensing & Copyright in the UK’ Workshop BY KATIE RUTH DAVIES

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s part of the British Council’s Selector PRO programme, Chris Cooke, a journalist and media entrepreneur from the UK, was invited to deliver a workshop on ‘Licensing and Copyright in the UK’ on 30 January for producers, musical events managers and journalists. The three-hour workshop was followed by a Question and Answer session where participants had the chance to get additional information about the issues raised and share their experience and challenges. Chris Cooke is an editor, journalist and media entrepreneur. He is co-founder and MD of CMU, a company that helps people navigate and understand the music business. It does this through media like the CMU Daily bulletin, Set list podcast and CMU Trends library; through consultancy unit CMU Insights with its training courses, conference

sessions and research reports; and through education programme CMU:DIY, which supports early-career artists and future industry talent. Of the Tbilisi workshop, Cooke said: “It’s great to meet people who are members of the music industry working with arts and songwriters in Georgia. Back in the UK, we believe everyone should know the basics of copyright.” The British Council Programme Selector PRO aims to share the UK experience of managing in the music industry in order for Georgian professionals to build on the existing knowledge and enhance their skills in the management of the music industry. The idea for Selector PRO evolved out of the Selector radio show produced by the British Council, which has been bringing the best new music from the UK to Georgian audiences since 2010 through Radio Green Wave (FM 107.4) and features exclusive live sessions, mixes and interviews with some of the most exciting British artists, covering styles of music from indie, dubstep, folk, soul, electro and everything in between.

Dighmis Chalebi - Georgia Leading Safest Dighomi's Newest Countries of Caucasus Park Moving Region Forward BY THEA MORRISON

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eorgia is the leader in the Caucasus region on the list of Safest Countries 2019 in the world, based on the rating of Global Finance Magazine Safety Index. On the list of 128 countries, Georgia takes 49th place with 9.68 points and leads the other states in the Caucasus region.

BY SAMANTHA GUTHRIE

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n June last year, Tbilisi City Hall announced plans to rennovate parks throughout the city and build several new parks. At least two new parks will be built – in the Dighomi area, a park called ‘Dighmis Chalebi’ and a park called ‘Temkis Khevi’ in the Temka area. There are also plans to build a third new park in Gldani’s VI microdistrict which will be more than three hectares in size. The Dighmis Chalebi project will cost 11 million GEL, and will take nearly two years to complete. The project is part of the Tbilisi Land Use Master Plan, explained Mayor Kakha Kaladze at a presentation on Tuesday,

and city planners see the space as one of Tbilisi's best recreation areas in the future. "We are talking about the ecological situation and its solutions. We pay great attention to tightening regulations and creating green spaces. We have not issued even one permission at the expense of green spaces and sports grounds during this year,” said Kaladze. By the end of 2019, City Hall plans to renovate 12 big parks in Tbilisi, including its most well-known public green space – Vake Park. The renovations will include benches, lighting, footpaths, and different attractions for children. In Vake Park, there will be a special dog area for pets and their owners. There are also discussions to build a small amusement park in Vake Park, as there was during Soviet times.

Armenia is in 62nd place, Azerbaijan – 71, Turkey – 107, and Russia – 108. The 2019 Global Finance safety score for countries equally weighs each of three factors: war and peace, personal security, and natural disaster risk. The list of the top safest countries 2019 is as follows: 1 Iceland 6.16 2 Switzerland 7.01 3 Finland 7.04 4 Portugal 7.07 5 Austria 7.08 6 Norway 7.27 7 Qatar 7.28

8 9 10

Singapore Denmark New Zealand

7.34 7.41 7.42

The list of the 10 least safe countries is: 119 Mali 14.15 120 Chad 14.31 121 Bangladesh 14.66 122 Colombia 14.79 123 Pakistan 14.80 124 Nigeria 14.88 125 El Salvador 15.43 126 Guatemala 15.81 127 Yemen 15.93 128 Philippines 17.70


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SOCIETY

GEORGIA TODAY

FEBRUARY 1 - 4, 2019

Stand Up Comedy in Tbilisi BY SAMANTHA GUTHRIE

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tand-Up Tbilisi (SUT) is a group of people interested in growing the art of stand-up comedy in the capital city, comprised of diverse performers that want to get better at stand-up comedy and make people laugh. The team is currently made up of around 10 regular performers and several others who occasionally get on stage. Georgia’s first English language stand-up comedy event series was founded by Rezi Arsenidze, Jora, Pasqualino Masa, and Nate Eubanks. GEORGIA TODAY sat down with Nate to talk about his involvement and the city’s growing comedy scene.

HOW DID YOU GET STARTED? My brother and I have always loved comedy. Possibly because my dad was so funny, and my mom had such a great laugh. I encouraged my brother to perform, and I wrote some jokes for him. He started performing more improv comedy, so I also gave it a shot. I love it. I think I’ll always write jokes and try to make people laugh…I’ve been fortunate enough to perform in over a dozen countries on excellent shows and made friends with comedians around the world. I moved to Georgia to be close to my wife’s family. My wife is Georgian. We met when we were both living in Kuwait. I know, it’s little cliché: move to Kuwait, fall in love, end up in Georgia. You probably get that all the time. I love Georgia. I love how close people can be to family, friends and neighbors.

WHEN YOU STARTED, WHAT WAS THE COMEDY SCENE LIKE IN TBILISI ? WHAT MADE YOU THINK ENGLISH STANDUP WOULD WORK HERE?

There wasn’t much of a comedy scene here at all. Many people told me comedy here was a TV show, [but] stand-up comedy is in a global boom. People want to laugh. There has never been a better time for stand-up. We were fortunate enough to find each other and make it happen, but if we hadn’t, it would have happened here eventually. English comedy works here because English for the most part is a global language…We want Georgian stand-up events as well. In fact, SUT will be holding Georgian stand-up events again soon.

YOU’VE PERFORMED ALL OVER THE WORLD. DO YOU HAVE TO TAILOR YOUR JOKES TO AUDIENCES IN DIFFERENT COUNTRIES? WHAT ABOUT GEORGIA IN PARTICULAR– WHAT IS PEOPLE’S SENSE OF HUMOR LIKE HERE? Always. I edit my material for the country in which I perform. Performing internationally, the focus has to be on what is universally funny. It is beautiful when people from different countries and cultures laugh together. Laughing sounds

Laughing sounds the same in every language. When we laugh, we are fundamentally the same.

the same in every language. When we laugh, we are fundamentally the same. It took some time to write specifically for Georgia. I was incredibly surprised to find a joke that was my best joke, my closer when performing regularly in Sydney, Australia and the USA, gets absolutely no laughs here. I had to write about my experiences in Georgia and the differences between our cultures, and the different ways my wife and I experience the world. Georgians are funny. From time spent with my in-laws in Kutaisi, I know most Georgians can tell a story that makes those around them laugh- and what great laughs! Georgians are a durable people and have experienced incredibly difficult hardships in their past and recent history. They find joy in each other and relationships.

HOW HAS THE DEVELOPMENT PROCESS BEEN FOR STAND-UP TBILISI? We want to make something good and something that lasts. For us, that means expanding when it makes sense. Our home is Creator Bar and, recently, we have had up to 10 comedians performing and a nearly full room. It is starting to look reasonable to expand to other nights… Our challenges are to make a quality event, grow as performers, attract an interested audience, and bring them back again. Since Tbilisi has a small metropolitan area, we have to write new material more often, which is challenging. My long-term vision for Stand-up Tbilisi is huge. In the near future, we hope to bring regional English-speaking headlining comedians to Tbilisi. But my vision is bigger than that. With regular performances, our local comedians will improve to where they perform internationally in shows and festivals. I have such high hopes for what we are trying to build here. What is the best part about doing stand-

up, and what is the worst? The best feeling in the world is making a room full of strangers laugh. The worst feeling is bombing. Every performance has the chance for either of those outcomes. A friend of mine recently performed for the stand-up for the first time. He claimed stand-up was scarier than when he was in a war zone. He may have been exaggerating, but there is some truth to it. Writing jokes takes listening to your own thoughts and communicating your ideas to strangers and hope they think it’s funny. If they hate it, in a way, they hate you because it is your thoughts they hate. The euphoria of the magical connection, where shared thoughts make a laugh spontaneously appear from nothing, is often worth those harrowing, excruciatingly painful bombs.

HOW CAN SOMEONE GET INVOLVED IN PERFORMING? The thoughts or stories you find yourself repeating, write them down.

Have an idea of what you want to say. Then, either contact us on Facebook, IG, or twitter and we will put you on the lineup Thursday evening. We welcome new performers. We are especially looking for more female comedians. Performing is frightening, but our audience is kind. They want you to succeed. A common mistake is drinking before performing. Do not get drunk before performing. It’s not better: it’s worse. Only you think it is better. Don’t do it! For those not quite ready to get up on stage, come watch, says Nate, “Watching a new comedian develop, and get more and more laughs, is a beautiful thing to see…you are witnessing the infancy of future great comedians and the birth of a comedy scene in Tbilisi. Come laugh with us!” Learn more about Nate at http://nateeubanks.com/ (including a sneak peak at his comedy routine!) and catch the next Stand Up Tbilisi show by following facebook. com/standuptbilisi and @Standuptbilisi.

Feminism, Gayism, Drugism & All That Jazz OP-ED BY NUGZAR B. RUHADZE

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hese are not just naïve innocuous terms describing regular human weaknesses. These are the woes that hurt Georgia’s future which absolutely and irrevocably depends on its multiplying for success. Everything else, including economic efforts, political endeavors and social labors makes no sense without nationwide demographic prosperity. OK, but what has feminism got to do with Georgia’s national exigencies and what’s so terribly wrong about it? a radical feminist might ask. The rest of humankind would answer that the worst part of feminism is the outrageous belligerency of gender warriors who want to weaken the family as such and eliminate marriage as the most convenient and productive union between Mars and Venus, letting their offspring grow and mature in bi-parental love and care. The much-deliberated-on and talkedabout equality of sexes and female social integration are tolerable ideas and even have the potential to give additional sense to a traitional male-female union in general, but hardly anybody knows how to handle in the meantime the nonstop filthy anti-family and anti-marriage propaganda promoted by feminists of

Image source: krystalwoodbridge.com

the world. There is no doubt that women should not have to face discrimination neither in employment nor in educational opportunities, but how to quieten the loud-mouthed feminist truth-killers who say that a babysitter or daycare is better for children than their own biological moms? Everyone knows that rape, sexual harassment and domestic violence are intolerable vices of human society that have to be relentlessly fought and eliminated, but should we in the meantime be putting up with flagrant

feminist idea that fathers and husbands make women’s worst enemies? Should we really believe that there are no innate sex differences in existence? How fair and civilized is it to arrive at the conclusion that kids no longer need motherly love because it is a myth that men have created, as some most celebrated feminists would say. Certainly, the radical egalitarian attitude will never admit that the world is clearly divided by gender and nothing can change the pattern unless a sexual Armageddon takes place.

Tens of books are being written on the topic, trying to prove that a daycarecentered society is better than a momoriented civilization. In a word, feminists are on the assault and the rest of the globe is on the defensive, and controversy between them seems to be interminable. I couldn’t care less, but when the feminist movement makes its way into the Georgian national reality, things become scary because the Georgian ethnicity and culture have no way to survive except through family, in which we have to see involved as many young men and women as possible. Again, nothing makes sense if we are not bodily here. Marriage, family and baby boom are the only builders of this nation’s future – not politics, not education, not arts, not technology and not economy! And the feminist stupor, in an accelerated fashion, is killing our chance to survive because its aim is to expunge from human memory values like family, marriage and maternal care. But the epidemic, called feminism, is definitely not the only killer of the joy. There are other pests that are curtailing our national survival opportunity, and those are drug addiction and the homosexual alternative to the physical life of the sexes. The Georgian people need rich and ripe posterity which cannot happen without an excessive number of childbirths, and kids are made, as we all

know well, within a healthy familial environment with male-female participation, not with the help of gay partnership. So “gayism” is also the stopper of a demographic boom in Georgia. I am an extremely tolerant man and a very reasonable citizen, but a baby boom for me is the most elevated worth in this country. I believe less in all the attributive values that are displayed around us. And finally, drug addicts make lousy procreators, whereas Georgia needs to guarantee its future survival and development only based on the advent of a physically and mentally strong generation, which is practically impossible to achieve through drug-based marital couples. It does not take a genius to happily conclude that the suggested discourse is extremely simplistic but unpopular, which does nothing to save the day. The day-saver is buried deeper in our national psyche within which the priorities are pathologically confused. I just wonder if our western friends and partners understand this. Thank you for the precepts in democracy, human rights and fair elections; thank you for being so humanly tolerant towards feminists, homosexuals and drug fiends. But would you by any chance have some usable tips for your beloved Georgia on how to guarantee its physical survival? Yes, physical!


SOCIETY

GEORGIA TODAY FEBRUARY 1 - 4, 2019

Flat: Khaishi, Svaneti

BLOG BY TONY HANMER

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he dreaded day came for which I had practiced and had experience in my earlier car, but so far had been able to avoid in this one for over 2½ years. It happened when I was driving a car completely full of shopping for our shop back up from the Zugdidi trip, which included the vehicle inspection I wrote about last week. Driving with all four wheels active, in 2nd gear in snow, a couple of km below Khaishi, suddenly an extra vibration began, something new. It was that gentle. Had I been barreling down a highway somewhere at 110 km/h, the result on my control could have been far scarier. As it was, I was able simply to pull to a stop from my 20 km/h and have a look. A Flat Tire, rear passenger side. Evening was approaching; snow had already been coming down for quite a while and I had this to deal with on my own. Dig out the bag with all my travel goodies in it: steel tow cable, jumper cables, jack, tools, shovel and more. I removed the spare tire from its position under the rear of the car, loosened the bolts of the flat tire with the tire iron

and my full weight of c. 55 kg, and jacked up the car as high as the jack would allow. Not high enough, as it turned out, to remove the damaged tire! That alone left me stuck and needing help. A call to my insurance company, which has been receiving $65/month for the privilege of being such, was no help at all, even when they eventually found me in their system, while my name and phone number had done nothing to locate me (vehicle ID did the trick). Svaneti is, apparently, outside their zones of support, or a flat tire doesn’t count as an accident, or something. Note to Self: DROP them, loudly enough to be heard for a large radius. Replace with something better. By this time, Georgian Mountain Law being what it blessedly is, a minivan with three men had stopped and jacked me up high enough to exchange the wheels. One of them was local and insisted on putting me up for the night; otherwise I would have walked to Khaishi and tried my luck there, where at least there are a couple of guest houses and such. I drove slowly behind them to his house, parked the car, brought in to his freezer a couple of things needing the cold, and was installed for the night. It turned out that the young man’s mother was a teacher at Khaishi school, and we had given her a ride to Zugdidi once; she was delighted to put me up.

Some elarji (potatoes and cheese) and ajapsandali (mixed vegetable stew, spiced up for the Mingrelian renovation guys) and wine later, I retired for the night, most grateful for a roof, full belly, warmth and safety. Next morning, we retrieved an electric tire pump, filled the somewhat disuseddepleted spare tire, I said my goodbyes, was allowed to borrow said pump as a just in case for my onward journey of nearly 50 km, and off I set again, uneventfully, home. Further Notes to Self: buy a similar pump (mine was recently spoiled by local guys; don’t lend out the new one!), a higher-extending jack, a new tire as the flat one is really irreparable; and consider winter tires into the bargain, despite the expense and the hassle of swapping out and storing the other set… Be Prepared better, former Boy Scout, for as much as possible! Tony Hanmer has lived in Georgia since 1999, in Svaneti since 2007, and been a weekly writer for GT since early 2011. He runs the “Svaneti Renaissance” Facebook group, now with nearly 2000 members, at www.facebook.com/groups/ SvanetiRenaissance/ He and his wife also run their own guest house in Etseri: www.facebook.com/hanmer.house. svaneti

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CULTURE

GEORGIA TODAY

FEBRUARY 1 - 4, 2019

WHAT’S ON IN TBILISI THEATER

GABRIADZE THEATER 14 Shavteli Str. February 1, 2 REZO Animated documentary film Directed by Leo Gabriadze Script: Revaz Gabriadze Genre: Animation, Biography Language: Georgian English Subtitles Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 15 GEL VASO ABASHIDZE MUSIC AND DRAMA THEATER 182, Aghmashenebeli Ave. February 1 MARRIAGE Directed by Davit Doiashvili Choreographer: Konstantine Purtseladze Musical Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 15-20 GEL MOVEMENT THEATER 182, Aghmashenebeli Ave. TEL (+995 32) 598 19 29 36 February 1 IGGI Jemal Karchkhadze Directed by Kakha Bakuradze Music: Sandro Nikoladze Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 10-15 GEL February 2 ASTIGMATISTS Directed by Ioseb Bakuradze Composer: Sandro Nikoladze Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 10-15 GEL February 3 SILENCE, REHEARSAL! Directed by Kakha Bakuradze Performance consists of various short novels: "Good Morning", "Cinemat", "Welcome-Host", "Shirley Beis", "Painter", "Bohemian Rhapsody" Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 10-15 GEL SHALIKASHVILI THEATER 37 Rustaveli Ave. February 1, 2

REFLECTION Show dedicated to the memory of Amiran Shalikashvili Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 10 GEL CINEMA

THE FAVOURITE Directed by Yorgos Lanthimos Cast: Olivia Colman, Emma Stone, Rachel Weisz Genre: Biography, Comedy, Drama Language: English Start time: 19:30 Language: Russian Start time: 22:00 Ticket: 15 GEL

AMIRANI CINEMA 36 Kostava Str. TEL (+995 32) 299 99 55 www.kinoafisha.ge

CAVEA GALLERY 2/4 Rustaveli Ave. TEL (+995 32) 200 70 07

Every Wednesday ticket: 5 GEL February 1-7

Every Wednesday ticket: 8 GEL February 1-7

GLASS Directed by M. Night Shyamalan Cast: Sarah Paulson, Bruce Willis, Samuel L. Jackson Genre: Drama, Mystery, Sci-Fi Language: Russian Start time: 19:30 Ticket: 11-19 GEL

GLASS (Info Above) Language: English Start time: 13:30, 19:30 Language: Russian Start time: 16:30, 22:30 Ticket: 11-19 GEL

BOHEMIAN RHAPSODY Directed by Bryan Singer Cast: Rami Malek, Joseph Mazzello, Mike Myers Genre: Biography, Drama, Music Language: English Start time: 16:45 Ticket: 14 GEL

HOLMES & WATSON Directed by Etan Cohen Cast: Will Ferrell, John C. Reilly, Ralph Fiennes Genre: Adventure, Comedy, Crime Language: Russian Start time: 12:00 Ticket: 10-15 GEL

MARY QUEEN OF SCOTS Directed by Josie Rourk Cast: Saoirse Ronan, Margot Robbie, Jack Lowden Genre: Biography, Drama, History Language: Russian Start time: 16:45 Ticket: 14 GEL GREEN BOOK Directed by Peter Farrelly Cast: Viggo Mortensen, Mahershala Ali, Linda Cardellini Genre: Biography, Comedy, History Language: Russian Start time: 22:00 Ticket: 15 GEL SERENITY Directed by Steven Knight Cast: Matthew McConaughey, Anne Hathaway, Diane Lane Genre: Drama, Thriller Language: Russian Start time: 19:45 Ticket: 15 GEL

BOHEMIAN RHAPSODY (Info Above) Language: English Start time: 22:15 Ticket: 16-19 GEL AQUAMAN Directed by James Wan Cast: Amber Heard, Jason Momoa, Nicole Kidman Genre: Action, Adventure, Fantasy Language: English Start time: 19:15 Language: Russian Start time: 22:30 Ticket: 16-19 GEL MUSEUM

GEORGIAN NATIONAL MUSEUM SIMON JANASHIA MUSEUM 3 Rustaveli Ave. TEL (+995 32) 299 80 22, 293 48 21 www.museum.ge

Exhibitions: GEORGIAN COSTUME AND WEAPONRY OF THE 18TH-20TH CENTURIES NUMISMATIC TREASURY EXHIBITION STONE AGE GEORGIA ARCHEOLOGICAL TREASURE NEW LIFE TO THE ORIENTAL COLLECTIONS

Until February 24 FELIX VARLAMISHVILI (VARLA) SOLO EXHIBITION For the first time, enjoy more than 60 artworks by the author from the Georgian National Museum and private collections.

Until February 28 In the framework of the celebrations of the European Year of Cultural Heritage in Georgia the Georgian National Museum presents the exhibition WISDOM TRANSFORMED INTO GOLD

Until February 20 Multidisciplinary exhibition project IN-BETWEEN CONDITIONS ‘In-between conditions’ displays 18 work contributions expressing cultural impulses affected by political or social forces.

MUSEUM OF SOVIET OCCUPATION 3 Rustaveli Ave. TEL (+995 32) 2 99 80 22, 2 93 48 21 www.museum.ge Until March 1 Exhibition RED TERROR AND GEORGIAN ARTISTS A showcase of artworks by Dimitri Shevardnadze, Petre Otskheli, Henryk Hryniewski, Richard Sommer, Kiril Zdanevich, Vasily Shukhaev, Elene Akhvlediani, Lado Gudiashvili, David Kakabadze, Ucha Japharidze, Aleksandre BajbeukMelikov, Korneli Sanadze and more. The exposition also showcases documentary footage depicting the 1920-30s repressions. TBILISI HISTORY MUSEUM KARVASLA 8 Sioni Str February 8-15 A RETROSPECTIVE SOLO EXHIBITION OF GEORGIAN PHOTOGRAPHER VAKHO KHETAGURI The exhibition displays 12 series created in eight different countries and covering various genres of photography - conceptual, documentary and photojournalism. Exhibition curator: Myriam Grigalashvili. GALLERY

THE NATIONAL GALLERY 11 Rustaveli Ave. TEL (+995 32) 215 73 00

KHIDI V. Bagrationi Bridge, Right Emb. Every Tuesday, from 15:00-20:00

WINDOW PROJECT GALLERY 7 Tatishvili Str. TEL (+995) 577 55 35 53 VAKHTANG KOKIASHVILI’S SOLO EXHIBITION SECOND ORDER DÉDICACE GALLERY 27 Atoneli Str. Until February 11 KOTE JINCHARADZE’S EXHIBITION SAND GLASS MUSIC

DJ. KAKHIDZE CENTER FOR MUSIC & CULTURE 123a Agmashenebli Ave. February 2 Concert of Tbilisi Symphony Orchestra Conductor– Revaz Djavakhishvili. Program: Symphonic poem “The Youth of Hercules” by C. Saint-Seans, Symphony N3 by C. Saint-Saens and Concerto for bassoon and chamber orchestra by Vivaldi with young soloist George Alavidze. Start time: 19:30 Tickets: 10-30 GEL CAFE MZIURI Mziuri Park February 3 SAKVIARO FOR CHILDREN Great fun with invited guests Start time: 12:00-14:00 MOVEMENT THEATER 182, Aghmashenebeli Ave. TEL (+995 32) 598 19 29 36 February 2 JAM SESSION Every Tuesday Musical art director- Sandro Nikoladze Entry: Free BASSIANI 2 A. Tsereteli Ave. February 1 Fast Forward Productions: SUGAR, SCHACKE, REPRO HOROOM: HVL, MERCURRIO Start time: 23:55 Ticket: 20-30 GEL February 2 Vodkast Records with DJ Fett Burger, Zurkin, Vakho Start time: 23:00 Ticket: 10-20 GEL KHIDI V. Bagrationi Bridge, Right Emb. February 1 999999999 SEPT JORJICK A.TABUKASHVILI DJ SOUL EXPLOSION Start time: 23:55 Ticket: 20-40 GEL February 2 CILLIAN QUERUBIM YASAMANI Start time: 23:55 Ticket: 10-20 GEL


CULTURE

GEORGIA TODAY FEBRUARY 1 - 4, 2019

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Turkish Embassy Hosts Screening to Mark Int’l Holocaust Remembrance Day BY LIKA CHIGLADZE

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n January 24, the Embassy of Turkey in Georgia marked International Holocaust Remembrance Day, which commemorates the tragedy of the Holocaust that occurred during the Second World War. In relation to the Day, the Turkish Embassy in Georgia organized the screening of documentary film ‘The Story of Lina Amato.’ The event was attended by the ambassadors of other countries to Georgia, diplomats, media, and other guests. H.E. Fatma Ceren Yazgan, the Ambassador of Turkey to Georgia, welcomed guests and highlighted the importance of the day, noting that each victim of the Holocaust has a story and these stories should be told. “We are here today to commemorate the International Day of the Holocaust. It is our duty to remember and to tell the next generations what happened,” the Ambassador told GEORGIA TODAY before the screening. “The Holocaust is important in many terms; it is pain not only for Jewish people all over the world, but also for all of us. This documentary shows the memoirs of one of the survi-

vors who was living with her family on the island of Rhodes, Greece, when the Nazis occupied the island. More than 1700 Jews were living there then. The Turkish Consul-General Selahattin Ülkümen falsified documents to save some on the basis of their Turkish citizenship. He was one of a group of Turkish Consuls serving in Europe at the time. This is their story and we would like to stand and respect the memories of all the victims and all the survivors,” she said. The film was made in association with the Turkish Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Turkish Embassy in Pretoria. ‘The Story of Lina Amato’ is based on the true story of Lina Kantor (Amato), one of the few remaining survivors of the Holocaust, now residing in Cape Town, South Africa. This extraordinary documentary by filmmaker Johnathan Andrews uncovers the rare account of how the interventions of Turkish ConsulGeneral Selahattin Ülkümen saved 42 Jews from deportation by the Nazis to Auschwitz in July 1944. In the film, Lina speaks from the heart as she guides viewers through the history of her time spent on Rhodes Island as a child, and how her family was saved through the efforts of Ülkümen. Eventually, the Germans attacked Ülkümen’s home in retribution for his efforts, lead-

ing to his wife’s death. Amato clutches her red Turkish passport, a symbol of her freedom, and says how she regrets she never had the chance to meet Ülkümen and thank him. Yad Vashem, The World Holocaust Remembrance Center, ultimately recognized him as “Righteous among the Nations” in 1989. ‘The Story of Lina Amato’ is an honest and unforgettable story in commemoration of International Holocaust Remembrance Day. The film features clear historical context by Richard Freedman, director of the SA Holocaust and Genocide Foundation, and a brief interview with the current Turkish Ambassador in South Africa, Elif Çomoglu Ülken. But the essence of the story is captured by Lina herself. Her words are carefully chosen; her silences, devastating. The main hero of the film also honors Italian residents on Rhodes, Girolamo and Bianca Sotgiu, family friends of the Amatos, who took Lina, then eight years old, into their care when Jewish citizens were ordered by the Gestapo to report to the local barracks. She tells how they taught her Catholic ways, including the recitation of Latin prayers, to protect her. Lina’s parents had Italian passports, but her grandmother was Turkish. She describes how Bianca Sotgiu came up with the idea to approach Ülkümen, and

Lina Amato. Photo by Johnathan Andrews

how he agreed that he would save as many Jews as he could under the pretext of their being Turkish citizens. After the war, Lina and her parents left Rhodes for Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) and later moved to South Africa. Ambassador of Lithuania to Georgia Giedrius Puodziunas , who also attended the screening, elaborated on the International Holocaust Remembrance Day.

“This is one of the biggest tragedies of human history of the 20th century. We have to remember this issue and not forget the heroes. We are happy that the Turkish Embassy organized this documentary screening dedicated to this important day. We need to know our past to learn the lesson and fight all phobias of the present day,” he told GEORGIA TODAY.

SPORTS

Pachulia: “If there is peace in the world, everything else is doable” Yes, we’re developing 700 young players, but we are also giving our coaches the opportunity to grow as professionals. We put a lot of effort into training the coaches who are raising our kids. It goes hand in hand. You need good coaches to teach the best basketball. We take it very seriously, and we are happy that the NBA is helping us. Coaches Vaso Mchedlishvili and Guga Pataraia will benefit from this NBA experience, and I’m confident other coaches will enjoy similar opportunities.

EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW BY ALFONSO ARAMENDÍA (WASHINGTON)

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n 2017, Georgian basketball star Zaza Pachulia became the first Georgian ever to win the NBA champion’s title. He was also awarded the Order of Honor in recognition for his efforts to develop local sport and represent his country abroad. We caught up with him last week to find out the latest.

THE SUCCESSFUL DEBUT OF SLOVENIAN PLAYER LUKA DONCIC IN THE NBA OPENED A DEBATE ABOUT THE BEST WAY FOR A PLAYER TO BE DEVELOPED: NCAA VS EUROPEAN CLUBS.

IN THE PRE-SEASON, YOU TOOK CLASSES AT HARVARD BUSINESS SCHOOL (HBS). TELL US ABOUT THAT EXPERIENCE. I believe in educating oneself, in working hard and developing. HBS is one of the best places to learn. We had an amazing professor, Anita Elberse, who leads a mentoring program for professional athletes. It’s called "Crossover into Business." I enjoyed learning from her and from the other students. It was a great experience. I’m glad I made that decision and I’m thankful for the opportunity.

Both approaches have pros and cons. I guess it depends on your personality, on what team you’re in, on what position you play, and on what kind of opportunity to play you get. It’s very hard for a 16-yearold to play with professionals, including former NBA players and players who have been through a lot and know the game very well. There’s a big difference between strength and basketball IQ. But Luka is so gifted and has a lot of confidence. I think for Luka it worked better to become a professional player in Europe at such a young age, though not every young European player has those skills.

TWO COACHES FROM THE ZAZA PACHULIA BASKETBALL ACADEMY IN TBILISI WERE INVITED TO ATTEND A TWOWEEK NBA SEMINAR. PUBLISHER & GM

George Sharashidze COMMERCIAL DEPARTMENT

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GEORGIA TODAY

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For some players it might be better to come to the US for high school or college and play with players their own age. It’s important to choose what suits you personally.

LAST MONTH, THE NBA CELEBRATED MARTIN LUTHER KING (MLK) DAY, AND TEAMS HAD THE “I HAVE A DREAM” MESSAGE ON THEIR SWEATSHIRTS. IF YOU WERE TO HAVE AN “I HAVE A DREAM” MOMENT, WHAT WOULD IT BE? My dream is world peace. Unfortunately, we still see a lot of tension among countries and that’s not good. MLK’s message was more political and domestic. He was talking about peace and equality in the US. I would draw a parallel at the world level. Since MLK’s speech, the world has become a more open space in terms of borders. But that openness doesn’t make sense if there’s no peace. It’s enriching to visit places, to meet new people and to learn from other cultures; but to have peace is a prerequisite in order to do that. If there is peace in the world, everything else is doable.

AND YOUR DREAM AT A MORE PERSONAL LEVEL? My dream is to enjoy playing basketball, which I do, to win games, and to spend quality time with my family.

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Profile for Georgia Today

Issue #1121  

February 1 - 4, 2019

Issue #1121  

February 1 - 4, 2019

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