Page 1

Issue no: 977

• SEPTEMBER 1 - 4, 2017



ON BOOSTING TOURISM THROUGH RACING British Formula 1 driver Zoe Whittaker teams up with Georgia to promote its tourism potential



In this week’s issue... Adjara to Celebrate Batumoba NEWS PAGE 2

Georgia’s Kvirikashvili Holds Meetings in Turkmenistan POLITICS PAGE 5

Trump Hopes for Better Relations between US & Russia


Georgia to Host World Tourist Guide Associations Convention BUSINESS PAGE 8

3rd Chaglar School Shut Down, Parents & Pupils React BY NINO GUGUNISHVILI

World’s Population Dynamics & Georgia SOCIETY PAGE 10

Memorandum between GNM & Sokhumi State University Updated


he Private Demirel College was officially closed on Tuesday in a decision made by the National Center for Education Equality Enhancement, a trusted source informed GEORGIA TODAY on Tuesday night. The school's manager, Mustafa Emre Çabuk, has been detained since May 24, with his preextradition in a detention facility extended for another three months last week for alleged association with Fethullah Gülen‘s terrorist organization. The closure of Demirel is seen by some as a continuation of Turkey’s efforts to shut down schools associated with Gülen, a former Islamic Cleric and former ally of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. The ‘Fethullah Terrorist Organization (FETO)’ is considered a terrorist group only by Turkey. There has been a great political focus on Georgian-Turkish schools since the coup against Erdogan’s government last year, especially those schools educating non-Georgian students. Continued on page 6





SEPTEMBER 1 - 4, 2017

Adjara to Celebrate Georgian Wine Named Among 15 Best Rosé Batumoba Wines in the World BY NINO GUGUNISHVILI


n a recent article published by Conde Nast Traveller, Georgian 2015 Pheasant’s Tears Takveri Rosé was named among the 15 best Rosé wines, based on the choice of sommeliers from around the world. “Hailing from a country with 8,000 years of vitis vinifera history, and still producing 525 indigenous grape varieties, it’s safe to say that this is the oldest rosé you’ll ever try,” the article quotes Samantha Payne, Australian Sommelier and wine writer. “Takveri, when made into rosé, has a balsamic strawberries-and-sage character running through

the palate” she says, going on to recommend it to red wine lovers “when it’s too hot outside to drink red wine.” The 2015 Mahana Pinot Noir Rosé from New Zealand, 2016 Pittnauer Rose from Austria, 2016 Schlossgurt Diel Rosé “Rose Del Diel” Pinot Noir (Germany), and 2016 Chateau Musar Jeune Rosé (Lebanon), are also among the 15 Best Rosé Wines listed. “While French Rosé is still the most popular, nowadays, some of the best rosé wines are made outside France,” the author writes. The popularity of Rosé wine has increased significantly; as the article states, sales doubled last year alone, reaching $258 million, which, “as experts note, could be due to its rising popularity among the millennials today”.

Photo: Batumoba 2016



atumoba, a yearly festival in which Georgia’s seaside town is celebrated, will kick off this weekend starting September 2. The program for the event, which is set to run over the course of two days this year, has been released. Schedule for the opening of Batumoba 2017 on September 2: • 12:00 -Memorial service for the fallen heroes who fought for the unity of Georgia (behind the drama theater). • 12: 30 - Parade on Memed Abashidze Avenue, accompanied by a brass orchestra. • 12: 30 - 17:00 - Concert by local musicians

and bands in Europe Square. 12: 45 - Opening ceremony of 'Batumoba 2017', cutting of the ribbon at the start of the event. • 13:00 - Parade on Memed Abashidze Avenue. After the opening ceremony, guests will be able to enjoy a variety of events, including exhibitions, with Batumi's rich history described through photos and art instillations. Local dance group 'Batumi Start' will perform at the Batumi Summer Theater at 6pm, alongside numerous other artists set to perform throughout the weekend. Batumoba 2017 will be brought to a close on September 3 at 9PM, with a Gala concert to be held on Europe Square. Performers include the group "Ursa," Nodiko Tatishvili, Salome Bakuradze, Datuna Mgeladze, Tamta Chelidze, Niko Beridze, Zviad Bolkvadze, Sopho Khalvashi and the group 'Rezo and Children'. •

Public Defender Says 189 Public Schools Threaten Children’s Safety BY THEA MORRISON


eorgian Public Defender (Ombudsman) Ucha Nanuashvili has addressed the government with a request to improve the infrastructure of public schools and to implement necessary

measures for the safety of school pupils. The Ombudsman stressed that the buildings of 189 public schools are damaged across Georgia, posing a threat to the safety of the children. “In 2016-2017, the Public Defender’s Office has been actively studying the infrastructural situation and physical environment of general educational institutions,” he stated. “It has been revealed that conditions in a significant number of general educational institutions are not safe for pupils. The situation is particularly grave in high mountainous regions and rural areas”. 42,394 pupils currently study in damaged buildings, and although “some measures” are being taken for the safety of students in the damaged schools, the Ombudsman claims that such measures, in most cases, cannot ensure the proper safety of pupils. In 2016, 209 public schools were functioning in damaged buildings, 42 of which are beyond repair. “Almost all public schools need some form of repair and rehabilitation,” Nanuashvili noted. Some new public schools were constructed in different regions of Georgia in the period of 20152017, but the number “is small”. Preliminary data suggests that of the planned construction of public schools, 22 were started and only eight actually completed within the framework of the 2015-2017 Infrastructure Development Plan of the Educational and Scientific Infrastructure Development Agency. The Public Defender welcomed the fact that the rehabilitation of 35 public schools and partial rehabilitation of 518 public schools is planned within the framework of the 2017 Action Plan for Educational and Scientific Infrastructure Development. “However, it is necessary for the process to be implemented in a more timely manner and for the start of the 2017 autumn semester not to be hampered,” he added, going on to underline that the State must take all necessary measures to ensure the relevant standards in general educational institutions. “The infrastructure of general education institutions should be improved and the educational inventory should be upgraded, particularly in rural areas and mountainous regions,” he concluded.




SEPTEMBER 1 - 4, 2017

Out with the Russian Framework: the Untold Story of the Georgian March OP-ED BY ARCHIL SIKHARULIDZE


n July 13, members of various conservatist, nationalist and ultra-nationalist groups, alongside numerous regular citizens, marched in Tbilisi with pretty unpopular demands that irritated Georgia’s so called liberal elite. In response to the “Georgian March,” on July 23, a counterstrike was held by the Movement for Liberty - European Georgia that united representatives of various political powers and social movements protesting against what they believed to be an expression of fascist and xenophobic attitudes. The majority of international experts and actors condemned the Georgian March as a negative that could affect the country’s image and push away potential investors. And while we may generally agree with the lion’s share of said allegations, there are very important issues that have yet to be openly discussed.

THE DEMANDS Beyond populist moves and statements, we can easily outline the three main demands the participants of the Georgian March made: 1) tighten migration laws; 2) deal with harmful practices in clubs/bars managed by migrants; and 3) restrict the activities of foreign-funded NGOs. Migration is probably one of the most challenging issues that both developed and developing states face. Regardless of whether the targeted migrants represent a small group consisting the local population, or foreigners, what matters is that their number is obviously increasing. Foreign migrants mainly come from Asia or developing countries and work to occupy appreciable and “sensitive” areas – small and medium-sized businesses and the agricultural sector. In the wake of poor social and economic conditions, some citizens are feeling increasingly abandoned and “unprotected” by the government in the face of comparatively financially well-backed migrants. There is nothing more dangerous than this process, as it will undoubtedly lead to a xenophobic backlash, and it is unlikely

that focusing on the significant number of Georgians illegally living abroad will somehow solve the problem. The second Georgian March demand deals with increased facts of prostitution and other dubious activities in various places of entertainment. It is a paradox that while so-called liberal elites advocate rule of law, they rarely recognize that illegal prostitution exists in Georgia and is a common practice in many Turkish and Iranian clubs. Furthermore, there have been cases of child prostitution. This is not the first time the topic has been raised. A few years ago, there were calls to check a number of buildings in the settlement of Gonio, near the border with Turkey, where allegedly illegal prostitution was taking place. The government hushed up the affair. Another challenge is the harmful practice of price exploitation used at the same entertainment venues with the aim of gaining maximum profit from tourists visiting Tbilisi. Such cases often end in threats and fights that can cause significant harm to Georgia’s tourism sector reputation. And while we do not need to focus on the ethnic or national belonging of the owners of said venues, we should recognize the problem and take respective steps before it is too late. Finally, the march organizers demanded the restriction of activities of foreign-funded NGOs. Georgia’s non-governmental sector has played a crucial role in building democratic institutions and practices. We need to keep this in mind. But, at the same time, we should realize that the third sector has transformed over the years. Nowadays, some current non-governmental movements are so actively involved in the country’s everyday life and, in particular, political processes, that it is sometimes too complicated to draw a clear line between political party, private sector and civil society. The best example is the ongoing constitutional reform where it seems that every single actor, including NGOs and INGOs, is lobbying specific political and business agendas. The issue is even more addled if we recognize the well-established so-called ‘revolving door’ principle in the country (the movement of individuals between positions in the private and the public sectors). So far,

Photo Source: The Georgian March (Luka Pertaia/OC Media)

it is logical that more and more questions are being raised about the total and absolute dependence of these movements on foreign aid. This issue is nothing new in academic debates abroad, but in Georgia it is still a taboo. So far, the issues raised by participants of the march are pretty relevant and we need to start debates and discussions even if we do not share the general pathos of the movement. Further, it is crucial to avoid stepping on the same rake twice by avoiding clichés.

WHAT WE SHOULDN’T DO There are two important things that we should stop doing if we aspire to building a unified democratic society. First of all, we need to finally abandon the socalled ‘Russian framework’. Secondly, we must stop fragmenting Georgian society into ‘desirable’ and ‘non-desirable’ elements.

THE ‘RUSSIAN FRAMEWORK’ The Russian way has been a popular political method in Georgia for years. Mikhail Saakashvili and his United National Movement started using it to consolidate society around a ruling government, slandering different “unnecessary” groups and blaming hidden forces for various conspiracy theories. Russia may or may not be involved, but it is evident that blaming the so-called fifth column, Moscow’s intelligence services



he fire is still burning in Georgia. The Borjomi gorge fire was not yet dampened before another erupted in the unique coniferous forest of Abastumani. The government moved the emergency headquarters tent from Tsagveri to Abastumani and continued “fighting” the fires from there. Turkish and Azerbaijani helicopters had left for their homeland just a few days prior, but were quickly sent back to Georgia, and the emergency headquarters announced that aviation from Ukraine and Iran was on its way. The world’s media didn’t fail to notice the issue of Iranian aviation, thus giving a geopolitical importance to the ongoing disaster in Georgia. Apparently, everything, from sports to disasters, is connected with politics and especially so in Georgia, where everything has political and party affiliations, even fighting fires. As well as fighting forest fires, PM Kvirikashvili’s government is also fight-

ing the opposition, accusing it of lying to society when it declared that Georgia had asked Russia for help in extinguishing the fires. A few days ago, Mr. Kvirikashvili publicly thanked Russia for showing its readiness to help extinguish the Borjomi fires. “Russia expressed readiness to help despite the very difficult relations between our countries and this offer was welcome,” he told journalists. This announcement left the impression that it was Russia that had

expressed goodwill and offered its helping hand to its neighbor out of humane moral principles, to which it got a polite refusal in reply. The seemingly harmless comment was followed by a TV interview with Deputy Foreign Minister of Russia, Maria Zakharova, aired on channel Dozhd, where she declared that the Georgian Prime Minister’s statement was an unhealthy illusion: “We immediately responded to the request from Tbilisi

and other covert organizations, for every unpleasant meeting or riot is guaranteed by default. Unfortunately, the Georgian March was automatically analyzed in the given theoretical framework. By doing so, the government and opponents easily managed to turn a blind eye to the topics raised and, generally, flaws within the existing political order. We may boldly assume that the counter march led by the Movement for Liberty - European Georgia on July 23 with the slogan “No to Russian Fascism” is a continuation of this process. Additionally, it is the reflection of the total inability of Georgian actors to think beyond the ‘Russian framework’ and analyze events based on the current local political, social and economic conditions rather than external factors. Briefly, there is nothing that Georgia’s so called liberal elites can offer except the old “corny” story about Moscow’s menace. We should learn from Russia rather than further contributing to our fears.

cantly differ from the mainstream and has a tendency of continuous internal destructive confrontation. Furthermore, Georgian society fragments itself into ‘desirable’ and ‘non-desirable’ elements. Local liberal elites are no exception as they automatically create humiliating labels for those people or groups of people who do not share their main postulates regarding NATO and EU integration, Russian politics, immigration laws, land regulations, etc. This is a self-protection mechanism which stimulates a counter-response. As a result, terms such as ‘fascist,’ ‘Nazi,’ ‘traitor’ and other highflying words are used on a regular basis by all involved parties. Something similar happened with the Georgian March. Opposed to some arguments, the first unfriendly catchword was thrown by the members of so-called liberal elites and marchers were given a highly hostile reception before, during and after the event. Moreover, whether participants belonged to any particular group or were just citizens dissatisfied with the current state policy, was neither here nor there as they were all by default proclaimed enemies of the State. This was a huge mistake. We need to keep in mind that all that glitters is not gold- not everyone participating in the event belonged to ultra-radical groups with financial assistance from the Kremlin; and, consequently, do not represent ‘nondesirable’ state elements.


There is widely-shared assumption among Georgian liberals that they are more tolerant than those who belong to conservatist or other movements. But, in fact, this is a more-or-less false statement. Georgian society in general is highly aggressive, non-tolerant toward approaches that to some extent signifi-

Georgia’s political and other elites must stop using the ‘Russian framework’ to turn a blind eye to the challenges that such marches raise; they should work hard to start open debates to show their readiness for dialogue and awareness of the existing political, social and economic challenges. Moreover, there should be no further attempts to split society into ‘desirable’ and ‘non-desirable’ groups and elements. The fact that some issues may be or are brought up by questionable groups in a questionable manner does not undermine their importance. Issues expressed by the Georgian March have some logic as well as empirics behind them and we need to talk about them. If not, the existing dissatisfaction will undoubtedly increase and such marches will be seen on a growing basis.

to help extinguish the fire in the BorjomiKharagauli National Park. We allocated an IL-76 for this purpose, but later the Georgian side thanked us and informed that the fire hubs were already localized and that they no longer needed our help”. Zakharova’s inteview was soon followed by a statement from the Special Representative of the Prime Minister of Georgia for relations with Russia, Zurab Abashidze, who confirmed the Russian diplomat’s words... and that’s when the scandal began. Now, as the Prime Minister and the ruling party try to repel the blows from the opposition, it feels as if the forest fires have moved to the backstage. In reality, though, there seems no end to them: Ateni Valley, Tianeti, Kakheti... the fires are all across the country, which surely doesn’t look like a normal disaster resembling more that of sabotage. The government and its supporting media began to accuse the opposition of starting the fires, pointing its finger at “Misha and the United National Movement.” “Only a very well-organized group could plan this, one that cares much more about its own fate than that of the country, one that has zero chance of returning to the government via elections, one which had and still has a schizophrenic, maniac bunch of harmful people,” wrote MP of the Georgian Dream and former Foreign Minister, Salome Zurabishvili on her Facebook wall. The statement was widely shared by the media. As I said, even fires are very

political in Georgia, and the smoke from the recent fires had a stronger stink than most. As early as the beginning of the summer, there was mention of fires when the South Ossetian Representative at the IPRM meetings, Murat Jioev, made an announcement about the continuance of borderization works. Afterwards, the Russian border guards started digging ground close to the so-called “borderline,” later explained as being the “anti-fire trenches”. Jioev’s prophecy came true and this summer really saw numerous fire hubs bloom across Georgia. Fire struck the forest on the occupied territory, too, following military trainings by the occupants, but was extinguished before it spread anywhere near the abovementioned trenches. Nevertheless, Jioev’s prophecy is still worth analyzing, as doubts are further enhanced by the fact that the Borjomi fire was very close to the Baku– Tbilisi–Ceyhan pipeline and the new fire hubs in the forests emerged right along that pipeline. The recent events not only in Borjomi Gorge and Tbilisi do bring up serious questions: the Special Services are responsible for looking into sabotage or terrorist attack, since petrol canisters were allegedly found in the woods, etc. But the versions “Misha started the fires against Georgian Dream” or “Georgian Dream started the fires to building Carrefour” – just don’t sound convincing. It is more likely that one very specific “factor” is at work in all cases, and it should be revealed as soon as possible.




Georgia’s Kvirikashvili Holds Meetings in Turkmenistan BY THEA MORRISON


iorgi Kvirikashvili, the Prime Minister of Georgia, arrived in Turkmenistan on August 30 for a meeting with President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedow to discuss the development of trade and economic relations, regional transport projects, and other bilateral issues. “We take immense interest in stepping up regional transport projects which, I believe, serve the interests of both sides,” the Georgian PM told the Turkmen President. Kvirikashvili said that there is an enormous untapped potential between two countries in terms of trade and economy. “There is a potential for developing trade and economic cooperation as well as the transit corridor, which should be used for the benefit of our nations,” he said. He thanked President Berdimuhamedow for Turkmenistan’s support of Georgia's territorial integrity and sovereignty. “Reciprocally, we, of course, support Turkmenistan's stance on international platforms,” he added. The Georgian PM’s Press Office reports that he will attend the 5th Asian Games ‘Asiada 2017’. Kvirikashvili also met with Chair of the Mejilis Assembly, Akja Nuberdiyeva to speak about bilat-

eral relations in various spheres and cooperation between the two countries' legislative bodies. The Georgian PM expressed hope that the highlevel visits carried out in the recent period will help to develop bilateral links between Georgia and Turkmenistan. "I am sure today's meetings will give a new impetus to further development of our relationship. We are grateful for Turkmenistan's position,” the PM said. Members of the Cabinet of Ministers of the two countries also attended the extended meeting.

There is a potential for developing trade and economic cooperation, as well as the transit corridor, for the benefit of both nations

Trump Hopes for Better Relations between US & Russia



resident of the United States Donald Trump has expressed confidence in the normalization of relations between Moscow and Washington during a press conference with the President of Finland, Sauli Niinisto. "I hope that we will have good relations with

Russia, I say it loudly and clearly, I’ve said it for years, I said that it would be good if we had a wonderful relationship with Russia, at least a good relationship. This is very important, and I believe that this will happen someday," President Trump’s press agency quoted. "It's a big country, it's a nuclear country, it's a country we need to get along with, and we'll eventually get along ... It would be good for everyone, for the world and for other things," Trump added.





SEPTEMBER 1 - 4, 2017

Those Involved in Fire Fighting to Receive Bonuses BY NINO GUGUNISHVILI


he Prime Minister of Georgia, Giorgi Kvirikashvili, has asked the Minister of Finance, Dimitry Kumsishvili, to arrange financial bonuses for the employees of the various structures involved in the recent firefighting operations. “All those who were involved in extinguishing the fires need to be encouraged for their work,” he said. The PM also said that systematic changes are needed and infrastructure equipment needs to be renovated, alongside a systematization of the Crisis Council. “As soon as the Abastumani fire is fully

extinguished, work will begin to allocate resources from the state budget both for this year and the next,” the PM said, going on to underline that systematic changes are needed in order for the country to have a higher level of readiness for challenges such as those encountered this month. The Prime Minister said that approximately 200 hectares of forest have been burned in the recent fires, but emphasized that the precise area of damaged forest is still being checked. “We will definitely restore the forestit’s our responsibility,” Kvirikashvili said, pointing to the necessity of a joint effort with Georgian citizens. The Prime Minister went on to once again express his gratitude to all the countries that helped Georgia in the firefighting operations.

Georgia Selects New Candidates for Strasburg Court BY THEA MORRISON


he Georgian government has selected two new candidates from the four shortlisted for the position of the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) candidate judges from Georgia. Georgia’s Ministry of Justice reports that Deputy Head of the Court, Lali Papiashvili, and a judge of the Court of Appeals and former judge of the Constitutional Court, Otar Sichinava, were picked from the candidates. Together with the previously selected Lado Chanturia, all three candidates will be presented to the Council of the ECHR, and, if approved, the European Court

will choose one to become the Strasburg Court Judge from Georgia. Lali Papiashvili and Otar Sichinava, along with the other two candidates, were selected by a special commission from a list of 28 applicants. The decision came after the ECHR; for various reasons, twice rejected Georgian candidates, forcing the special governmental commission to announce an opening for the third time. NGOs refused to participate in the selection process of judges, saying the process was neither transparent nor impartial enough. The NGOs released a statement saying they would not take part in the work of the special commission headed by the Justice Ministry, and calling on the Georgian government to change the rules and procedures for forming the commission.

3rd Chaglar School Shut Down, Parents & Pupils React Continued from page 1

Demirel denies any connection to Gülen or his alleged organization. “It is vital to speak the language of the country you live in,” Çabuk told GEORGIA TODAY in an exclusive interview last year, “and the schools are making every effort to make sure the Turkish families coming to Georgia have that opportunity". Of the 320 students studying at Skhivi Lyceum in 2016, a partner school of Pri-

The closure is seen by some as a continuation of Turkey’s efforts to shut down schools associated with Gülen

vate Demirel College, 250 were Georgian and 70 Turkish. The number of nonGeorgians has since decreased. Strictly following the rules of the Georgian National Curriculum, Skhivi is said to pay close attention to teaching the Georgian language, increasing it from a regular five hours to nine in the first and second grades and to eight hours in the third and fourth grades. It has been reported that Demirel College had its authorization revoked due to necessary standards not being met. “The State Commission, which either grants or refuses authorization, acts according to Georgian legislation,” Gia Murgulia, Authorization Council Deputy at the National Center for Education Equality Enhancement, told Imedi TV on Wednesday. He went on to claim that Authorization Council members are not motivated for any school to be closed down, but that violations had been found in the study process at Demirel, and that "not every pupil was registered in the school". Bm.ge (buisnesscontact.ge) reports that, according to information they received from the National Center for Education Equality Enhancement, Demirel had "problems with infrastructure, resources and staff, with Turkish teachers employed on programs that needed to be taught in the Georgian language".

"I feel really sad now because of what happened to our school," Gvantsa, an 8th grader at Demirel, told GEORGIA TODAY. "To me, that school was everything. Everything was great until the day they closed it and I don't think they'll do anything to change their stance or that they'll listen to people's opinions on why they shouldn't close it. Every student in Demirel was my close friend. They're all really bright. I still can't believe they had to do this to us". Gvantsa moved to the Skhivi school, Tbilisi, from the Shahin Lyceum in Batumi, also part of the Chaglar group of schools and which had its license revoked by Georgia’s Ministry of Education early this year after the Turkish Consul in Batumi claimed that the school was “raising terrorists”. She then moved to Demirel. Other schools under the umbrella of the firm Chaglar Educational Institutions, aside from Demirel, are: Lyceum Skhivi, Marneuli David Agmashenebeli School (at which all 146 pupils are Azerbaijani), Kutaisi Niko Nikoladze School, and the Rustavi Rustaveli School. All are partners of Demirel, owned by it. Chaglar Nikoloz Tsereteli International School of Tbilisi (CIS), also part of the original seven Chaglar Educational Institutions, was closed last year. The Demirel pupil's parents point out

that the closure of Private Demirel College comes late for the 500 pupils who will have to register at new schools before the start of term. Some of the pupils plan to transfer to the partner school Skhivi, however, many of them fear that Skhivi will be next on the "political list" for shut down. The Georgian Public Broadcaster (GPB) reports that the head of the Public Relations Department at the Ministry of Education of Georgia, Nata Asatiani, announced that the former Demirel College students and teachers will be transferred to different educational institutions. According to GPB, the College administration admits that there were certain flaws, but they were not given enough time to deal with them and the school authorization was cancelled without warning. “Demirel College had violations, but at the same time it had very good pupils and very competent teachers," Asatiani told GPB. "We will do our best to make the process of their transferal to other schools as painless as possible. We’re negotiating with several schools which have expressed their readiness to receive pupils and teachers from Demirel College. The results will be made public shortly”. Parents of Private Demirel College pupils met with Tamar Sanikidze, Head of the National Center for Education Equality

Violations were found in the study process at Demirel Enhancement. "They have questions and I’ll try to answer them,” Sanikidze told Rustavi 2 prior to the meeting. "The authorization council members have high competence and everything was done according to the educational standards. There was no political influence or intervention regarding the issue," she added. Gvantsa Lomaia, Lawyer from the Tolerance and Diversity and Institute, says that the scenarios in Shahin School and Demirel College appear similar: both being now closed with their authorization cancelled without notice. Parents are planning a protest on September 5. Keep up-to-date with this story on georgiatoday.ge.




SEPTEMBER 1 - 4, 2017

Nord Stream-2 Will Be Built Regardless of US Sanctions BY DAVID DRUMMERS


he new anti-Russian sanctions of the United States, as it turns out, can in no way can prevent Gazprom from completing the Nord Stream-2 gas pipeline, Alexander Ivannikov the Head of the Department of Financial and Economic Policy of Gazprom explained during a conference call with media on Thursday. Gazprom is waiting for clarification on the terms of the sanction regime from OFAC (Department of the US Treasury Office for Control over Foreign Assets). However, it is already clear that the new law does not close the ability of the Holding to borrow in foreign markets to finance the project. "Like our partners in the project, we are also engaged in trying to achieve certainty. The law is so vague that right now not even Western law firms can give a clear answer to the question of what can and cannot be done," Ivannikov said. At the same time, the top manager of Gazprom stressed that even if risks exceeded the economic benefits for Gazprom's partners, "the Nord Stream-2 project will be implemented with the

clarification of lawyers, OFAC and other structures". The main obstacle is the provision of the law, according to which President Donald Trump can impose sanctions on persons investing more than $5 million per year, or $1 million at a time, in the construction of Russian export pipelines. However, Gazprom does not seem at all bothered by this. "I don’t see any problem: external borrowing can be directed at internal goals and the revenues from commercial activities directed to project activities. Meanwhile, everything remains on schedule, both for Gazprom, and for partners," Ivannikov explained. True, this option increases the debt burden on Gazprom, which can affect the level of dividend payments. And the pressure from the government of the Russian Federation, which currenly insists on payment to the amount of 50% of profits, will increase, the top manager noted. "The search for this compromise between the need to finance internal projects, between the availability of borrowed external resources and the need to pay dividends at a level not lower than that of the previous year, is a decision that can hardly be subjected to detailed analysis at the moment," Ivannikov concluded.

Photo source: GNTA

Georgia to Host World Tourist Guide Associations Convention BY THEA MORRISON


he 18th International Convention of the World Federation of Tourist Guide Associations (WFTGA) is to be held in Tbilisi on 21 - 27 January 2019, the Georgian National Tourism Administration (GNTA) announced. The agency reports that during the voting process, Georgia’s competitors were the Thailand and New York Guides' Associations but the Georgian candidacy got the highest approval and gained a significant victory in the final vote.

The GNTA also says that the President of the World Guides Association Federation and other members of the board are on an official visit now to Tbilisi to agree on the details and prepare for the large-scale congress. “The guests have visited Tbilisi and other regions of Georgia, including Kakheti and Mtskheta, and, together with GNTA head, Giorgi Chogovadze, they toured Old Tbilisi,” the GNTA statement reads. “This is an opportunity for the 20172019 Executive Board, as appointed in Iran, to meet in person to discuss exciting new projects, the way forward and to finalize an action plan for the rest of 2017. It is an exciting time, as we experience the hospitality of our 2019 Conven-

tion hosts,” a post on the WFTGA facebook page reads. Georgia was elected as a host country of the 2019 Convention at the 17th Convention of the World Federation of Tourism Guides Association in Iran. Ketevan Meladze, Head of the Georgian Guides Association, stated that winning the vote is a precedent in the tourism sector of Georgia. “Having the convention in Georgia is a very important event for promoting the Georgian tourism sector and developing tourism guides in the country,” Chogovadze said. “The convention participants will share their knowledge in tourism and the event will bring global awareness of the country”.

Wine Experts from US Visit Georgia BY THEA MORRISON


even wine experts from the United States (US) are paying a five-day visit to Georgia in order to taste Georgian wines and cuisine and explore the history of winemaking. The tour for the US experts is organized by the National Wine Agency of Georgia (NWA), which says that the

10 Galaktion Street

sommeliers will visit representatives of the following 18 Georgian wine companies and taste their wines: Alapiani, Batono, Giuaani, Orgo/Teleda, Mosmieri, Satsnakheli, Shalauri, Maranuli, Papris Valley, Our Wine, Meghvineoba Nika, Kakha Berishvili’s Wine, Winery Daniel, Naotrebi, Iago’s Wine, Chateau Mukhrani, Lagvinari and Gotsa’s Wines. The group of sommeliers is led by famous Master of Wine and head of the National Wine Agency contractor American company, Tasting Works, Lisa Granik.

Granik has made it her mission to organize visits of wine professionals to Georgia as well as numerous Georgian wine tastings and presentations throughout the US. Granik believes that the quality of Georgian wine is increasingly better and aims to raise awareness of such in her homeland. “The introduction of the Georgian traditional method of winemaking and unique grape varieties to professionals will result in export growth and the

Tel: (995 32) 2 45 08 08 E-mail: info@peoplescafe.ge

development of wine tourism in Georgia,” she stated. The NWA says that the US is one of the most important current and potential export markets for Georgian wine. “According to the numbers for January-July 2017, 236 thousand bottles of wine have been exported to the US. The growth compared to the previous year amounted to 89 percent,” the NWA stated. Photo Source: Wines of Georgia




The Abastumani Fire BY THE GT TEAM


ires hit the steep mountainous Abastumani area, SamtskheJavakheti region, near the villages Sviri and Korkhi, on Monday, initially destroying three hectares of forest. The Sviri blaze was only put out after a helicopter got involved in extinguishing works on Tuesday morning. Around 100 firefighters and 170 servicemen of the Interior Ministry were involved in the firefighting in Sviri and remained on site once the fire was brought under control. Late Tuesday night, a new pocket of fire erupted and additional manpower and equipment was sent to Abastumani. Georgia's Interior Minister, Giorgi Mghebrishvili, said Tuesday that Georgia would address friendly states for assistance if necessary. Russia "would not be among those countries". On Wednesday, with the blaze still being fought, Georgian Prime Minister Giorgi Kvirikashvili announced that Azerbaijan had expressed readiness to assist Georgia with a helicopter. "The fire in Abastumani is not as largescale as it was in Borjomi...and fire extinguishing works are actively underway. A plane from Ukraine will join us and we will also receive a helicopter from Azerbaijan," the PM said.

Ukraine sent a firefighting aircraft, АН-32П, belonging to the Ukrainian State Emergency Service, following a personal request from the Georgian PM to Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko on Tuesday night. The same day, the Ambassador of Turkey, Zeki Levent Gumrukcu, stated that Turkey was also ready to assist Georgia with two helicopters and one firefighting aircraft. “Around 1,000 firefighters, rescuers and rangers are mobilized on the ground,” Mghebrishvili said late Wednesday.

The fire in Abastumani is not as large-scale as it was in Borjomi and fire extinguishing works are actively underway

Photo source: cbc.az

“Around 4 to 5 km of new road was cut last night in the woods for special equipment to reach the point of fire. Artificial reservoirs were also arranged for aviation,” he added. Abastumani is a mountainous resort world-renowned for its mineral springs and thermal baths. It also houses Georgia’s Space Observatory.

At time of going to press, we understand that all major areas of fire in Abastumani have been extinguished. “We can now say that all the open burning areas have been extinguished,” Minister Mghebrishvili told Imedi reporters. “Aviation and fire crews are working very effectively, with helicopters being given the exact coordinates to drop the water.

If weather conditions are good, we could localize the fire by the end of the day.” Work continued in Abastumani Thursday morning, with aviation equipment from Azerbaijan, Turkey, and Ukraine still involved in the firefighting operation. The exact number of hectares damaged in Georgia’s latest summer blaze has yet to be announced.

Fiery Days for Georgia OP-ED BY NUGZAR B. RUHADZE


hat’s amiss in Georgia? Who wants to set us alight? Are we being incinerated? And if so, who’s responsible: Man or nature? Or both in their own turn and way? Acres of wood gone, air polluted, businesses burned to the ground, damage calculated in millions, and all this in just six months. Believers ascribe the “disaster” to God’s Will, nonbelievers nurse the desire to hang it on a mismanaged country, while conspiracy theory addicts will throw in sabotage for good measure. With our proclivity for investigating every little incident in our everyday lives and waiting for the results of that investigation

Believers ascribe the “disaster” to God’s Will, nonbelievers hang it on a mismanaged country, conspiracy theory addicts throw in sabotage for good measure

to be able to make a conclusion, we might have to sit on it for a while until the presumed “sabotage” is exposed and given over to judgment. The role of mismanagement in things like fire outbreaks is very difficult to prove; so for the time being, God’s Will seems to be the easiest explanation for the continuing ubiquitous fires around the country and the most affordable way to write the consequences off.

I’ve been around for more than seventy-five years and I’ve never in my lifetime seen anything like this in Georgia. We have gone through many scorching droughts and red-hot days, but never so many consequential fires. Yet, based on the presumption of the divine disposal of our lives, anything can happen to us if nature wants it to happen. On the other hand, fires occur everywhere around the globe in summer; annually

consuming thousands of acres of California’s wonderful forests; claiming human lives and property in abundance in every corner of the planet except the icy North, though even that part of the world is not safe from the wrath of the fulminating creator of the universe. I certainly hate to sound overly mystical at this realistic moment of national hardship, especially being well-aware that damage is damage whether thrown

down on us by Mother Nature or just a regular mortal. The most to-the-point question now is whether the fires could have been prevented and the damage minimized if we had taken the relevant measures in expectation of one of the hottest summers Georgia has ever seen. Specialists have counted hundreds of fire hotbeds in the last fortnight and tens of fires in the latest half a year. This is a very strange summer, but it cannot be helped except in the way it is handled using available local and foreign capacities. I’m talking about future over-heated summers in our forests and possible fires in urban residential and industrial areas. We will probably have to coach more people in the manner of firefighting and have in reserve squads of qualified volunteers who will have gone through such training courses; our soldiers will have to add to their programs a course on fire-fighting; ample paths and roads will have to be cut through our woods and forests in advance; money will have to be spent on the purchase of more and better equipment and transportation; more water reservoirs will have to be built in the most fire-vulnerable spots; the areas of interest will have to be manned in relevant numbers; not even a single fire breeding ground should escape our attention or ability to quench it on the spot as soon as the flames begin to lick. This is by no means a complete list of fire do’s and don’ts. Investigation of the entire fire saga is, of course, an animal of a totally different color. This is a field of a very special consideration, although the strange behavior of nature is still on our minds as the central point of our focus. No matter how powerful and insistent the suspicions of subterfuge ploys and tricks are, no solid deductions can be made at this point in time. And so we wait again for the outcomes of the investigations…




SEPTEMBER 1 - 4, 2017

World’s Population Dynamics & Georgia OP-ED BY EMIL AVDALIANI


he world’s population dynamics is an important trend to watch as we assess Georgia’s economic and military potential in the coming decades. The overall trend, according to the United Nations estimates, is on the up. For instance, the current world population of 7.6 billion is expected to reach 8.6 billion in 2030, 9.8 billion in 2050 and 11.2 billion in 2100. The estimates count that 83 million people are being added to the world’s population every year, with that trend expected to continue, even assuming that fertility levels continue to decline. Most growth will likely be happening throughout the rest of the century in underdeveloped countries in Asia and Africa. Alongside this is the fact of the world's population getting older. The trend is already observable across many parts of the globe, as medical aid becomes ever more effective, raising life expectancy levels. In the past, large families were an economic asset, since economies were agrarian and hard work was essential. However, now, women are less inclined to bear children as it is extremely hard to keep up with demanding costs. The availability of education for everyone has pushed women to postpone having children in favor of building a career. The number of children born per woman in the developed world is about 1-2. In the developing world, average birth rates stand at around

Source: ThoughtCo

3-6 children per woman. Nevertheless, the developing world, too, will at some point reach the red line after which fertility growth will stall. It could even happen that by 2050, the older population will outnumber children aged 0-14. This will mean that the labor force will decline significantly, leading governments, in order to maintain economic growth, to invest further in

technological advances.

TRENDS IN GEORGIA AND ITS SURROUNDINGS Like the rest of the world, Georgia’s population growth is dubious at best. Projections and various calculations show that the population will have diminished from 3.7 million to slightly more than 3 million by 2050, primarily

caused by low fertility rates and emigration. HIV, so prominent in Russia, and its own case of population decrease, which I discussed on Tuesday, also plays a minor role. Consider the following data. Since the first case of HIV was detected in Georgia, the number of annually detected cases has risen steadily. There was an almost fivefold increase in the rates of

newly diagnosed HIV infections from 2.3 per 100,000 in 2002 to 10.9 per 100,000 in 2013 (2,3). By June 2014, a total of 4,360 HIV cases had been registered at the Infectious Diseases, AIDS and Clinical Immunology Research Center (IDACIRC), with the estimated total number of people infected with HIV at around 6,400 (Spectrum EPP). The latest figures have yet to be released. The population dynamics of countries neighboring Georgia vary. In Armenia, the population is set to decrease, while in Azerbaijan it will grow above the current almost 10 million. Growth is also projected in Turkey. Thus, for Georgia’s future development, one of the major challenges (along with a direct military threat from Russia) will be the decline of its population. This will impact the economy of the country and the potential to thwart militarily any external threat. One way around this is for Georgia to allow a cheaper workforce into the country, but nationalistic sentiments may create difficulties in this regard. Another solution for Georgia, and which is perhaps more adjusted to the tune of the times, could be to increase investment in the technological sector. Those European countries which face similar problems are investing heavily in telerobotics. The decreased scope of the human workforce will thus be substituted by modern scientific solutions in order to keep to a pattern of economic growth. In other words, with the coming of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, staying competitive and attractive to investments and global supply chains through scientific progress is now as vital as ever.

Zoe Whittaker, Formula 1 Test Pilot to Promote Georgia’s Tourism Potential BY NINO GUGUNISHVILI


oe Whittaker, one of the few women Formula 1 racers in the world, is on a visit to Georgia to launch her new project ‘Race with Zoe,’ the focus of which is the promotion of Georgia’s tourism potential. The idea to do so came up on a visit to Le Monde’s famous 24-hour race in France, where Zoe, together with her Georgian friend, Berdia Kamarauli, founder of the UK-based Cenimex, a British import-export venture specializing in Georgian wine export to the UK under the Georgian Wine Club brand, suggested that Zoe taste Georgian wine, “because, of course, French wine is good, but Georgian is better”. It was an ambitious statement which rightfully took Whittaker by surprise and so was borne the idea of promoting the Georgian wine route by organizing a rally, which later expanded into a project for promoting Georgian tourism. “The idea was then introduced to the Co-Founder and director of the BritishGeorgian Chamber of Commerce, Mako Abashidze, and Georgian Ambassador to the UK, Tamar Beruchashvili, who were both instantly hooked,” Kamarauli tells GEORGIA TODAY. “Zoe’s introductory trip to Georgia was then organized,

involving important meetings with Shalva Obgaidze, Head of the Georgian Automobile Federation (GAF), where she was appointed the Non-Executive Director of GAF to promote Classic cars and Classic car international races in Georgia”. During her trip to Georgia, Zoe visited the International Motor Park in Rustavi, where she was hosted by Archil Talakvadze, member of Georgian parliament. A joint test racing with the MIA Force Racing Club was organized, with Georgian champion, pilot driver David Kajaia. Whittaker also met Giorgi Alibegashvili, Chairman of Tbilisi City Council, where future partnership possibilities were discussed. At a meeting with Sofio Katsarava, member of Georgian Parliament, women drivers and child road safety issues were discussed. “The concept of the project is to promote Georgian tourism in the West,”

Georgia has the potential to be able to host classic car races

Kamarauli adds. “We’re aiming to attract a slightly different category of people with it, as Georgia has the potential to be able to host classic car races, bringing yet another dimension for promoting Georgian tourism abroad”. The current visit is just the beginning and is said to have received high interest from potential Georgian and foreign partners, including a number of major media outlets in the UK. “With Moto sports, Georgia can easily become a center for organizing international sports events,” Kamarauli says. “Georgia has many possibilities, and we shouldn’t focus on promoting just food and wine”. Zoe Whittaker’s decision to become a racer was influenced by her father’s racing career and she followed in her father’s footsteps, starting out by driving the same routes at some of the rallies he used to in her “beaten up Ford Fiesta”. Wanting to go deeper, she got into the motor school industry, and now boasts a career in Formula 1 British-American racing, in between which she attends classic car rallies, like Paris-America, with around 20 years spent racing all over Europe. “I want to get more women into racing to break away from the stigma [of it being a man’s sport],” she tells GEORGIA TODAY, recalling the reactions she gets when people see her racing and find out about the classic cars she owns. She tells

us that one of her most challenging races was Paris-Monaco, some twenty years ago. “I was very young, and there were no women driving; women were all navigating, but now it’s slowly getting better”. She claims woman are better drivers, “women are very calm and we have a better patience ratio. We’re getting to the stage where women are actually earning enough of their own money that they can afford such cars,” she says. We asked her about her latest project in Georgia. “I had no idea that Georgia produced wine. I wanted to see the country for myself and, despite warnings that the country wasn’t safe, I decided to get in my car and give it a go,” Whittaker says. “Now I’m here, I’m absolutely blown away. The people are so friendly. Every single person I’ve met has welcomed me like I’m family, the countryside is abso-

lutely stunning and the agriculture here, with all those walnuts and tasty pomegranates, is just outstanding,” she says. “Everything is getting so commercialized nowadays, and Georgia still has that authenticity. In Tbilisi itself, I’m surprised at the mix of old and new, it’s all so real,” Whittaker adds. “I really want to promote Georgian tourism to the outside world with my new project, ‘Driving with Zoe Whittaker,’ as Georgia has so much to offer people”. “Since I started posting images from the trip, I’ve had a huge response. I’ve been showing the roads, the countryside, the beautiful castles, monasteries and churches, and many people are already saying they’d like to come”. The project will start in June next year, and before that, Whittaker says she’ll be back in Georgia for more exploring prior to setting her race itinerary.



Rough (In)justice: Becho, Svaneti



his is a note of regret that I let such an opportunity slip through my fingers; and also a warning: The rule of law has a long road ahead of it in Svaneti! I was returning from dropping some guests off at the top of Becho village on August 26, driving alone. Around a shallow curve, where neither of us could see ahead, an oncoming car came speeding towards me. It skidded on the gravel and its rear driver’s side hit mine. I jumped out, as did the two men who were in another car just in front of me. I asked them in Georgian, before the guilty party could approach, “Please tell me you saw how fast they were driving.” They indicated yes, and it was just as well that they were there, because my two assailants were very drunk, and furious, putting all the blame on me. I got out my cell phone to call the police. “Who’re you calling?” they asked. “112,” I answered. “Oh no you’re not!” they said, and out came a long torrent of the foulest language. The men from the front car stopped them from physically attacking me. But both the drunk men were horribly aggressive towards me. They demanded that I pay for the damage to their car, which was a bit worse off than mine; both had scrapes and dents from the collision in the driver’s back corner. This was sheer intimidation, but I knew I needed to stand my ground. The horrid verbal abuse continued, and eventually the men from the front car left. One of the two drunks then actually held back the other, the younger, who claimed to be the driver, from laying into me with his fists. He got in a vicious kick to my leg

which I still feel now, and a push or two, but I wasn’t about to be goaded into two versus one. I seized a moment, got back into my 4x4, and headed down towards the start of Becho and the police station. About halfway there, I saw a friend of mine from Etseri driving towards me, and motioned for him to stop. He was really a Godsend, because soon after this up pulled the drunken pair; now he, big and very hard to intimidate, was able to deal with them. More demands to pay for their damage, which I ignored. More men came, including some from Latali village, home of the two. Everyone was urging me not to call the police; this could be dealt with unofficially, they said. In the end, two policemen came anyway, summoned by the Mayor of Becho, a friend of mine, who had got wind of it. My attackers came and went; one of them was as verbally abusive to the police as to me. The police drove me back to the scene of the crash, agreed from the bits of my car’s rear light lying around that I had been on my side and that the other party were wholly at fault, and then took me to the police station for a report. At the beginning of this, I was asked whether I wanted to press charges for assault. If so, arrests would follow. I said no, let them formally apologize and pay for all repairs to my car, and be fined; that would suffice. One of the guilty men’s friends came into the office and asked me why I was making up stories about being hit, so I stood up and prepared to pull down my trousers to show the bruise. He and the police wouldn’t let me do this; I suppose it proved, and least, that I was not bluffing, and he retreated. We wrote the report together in Georgian, and at this point I let go mention of the men’s drunkenness, having been

assured, I thought, that they would be fined for this. I learned much later that their only fine was to be 250 GEL for having caused the accident. No 1000 GEL fine for drunk driving or revocation of license, oh, no! Seemingly nothing against the owner of the car either, as it wasn’t theirs but borrowed. MY breath was tested for alcohol (clean), which I said was a bit of a joke, as by this time 3.5 hours had passed. I assumed from this event that the other two had already had their breath tested; this, too, was wrong, as this test happened later, and was inconclusive, as it would be after so much time. (Online digging indicates that, in the USA, breath testing must be done within three hours of the suspected drunk driving time in order to be legally acceptable.) I left for home, bolstered by a few phone calls from local friends who had heard the news, including the priest of Etseri. And only then did the fog of shock clear as I realized that there would be no punishment at all for the drunk driving, which has cost the lives of several of my friends and acquaintances in my years in Svaneti. After a word with a good friend of mine in Etseri, trained as a lawyer, my bitter conclusion is that a cover-up to do with my case was called for and arranged from higher up. So: if you’re visiting Svaneti and need to call the police, be aware that hidden machinery may be working against you. Get your embassy involved, too, if you can, and demand justice! 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 1700 members, at www.facebook.com/groups/SvanetiRenaissance/





SEPTEMBER 1 - 4, 2017

Renovated Akhmeteli Metro Station Opens



n August 29, Tbilisi Mayor Davit Narmania, together with his Deputy Irakli Lekvinadze and General Director of Tbilisi Transport Company, Nugzar Cheishvili, opened the renovated metro station Akhmeteli Theater. City Hall reports that the rehabilitation of the station was launched in 2016. “The interior of the station's lower and upper vestibules was renewed, the angled tunnel was repaired, and the floor granite and the marble were cleaned. New operational booths were also installed at the station,” the Mayor’s Office says. The construction works were carried out by the tender-winner company Damba.

At the opening ceremony, Tbilisi Mayor David Narmania stated that a lot has been done and changed for the safe and comfortable travel of citizens. “Huge works have been carried out at Metro station Akhmeteli Theater in order to make the station more secure, modern and comfortable. The station is more beautiful, safer and now comes equipped with modern technologies that are attached to the unified surveillance system,” the Mayor stated. He also added that an anti-fire system has been set up within the station. Tbilisi Transport Company, with the support of the City Hall, launched a renovation project of metro stations in 2016, within which the Akhmeteli Theater station was renewed. Rehabilitation of Varketili station will be completed shortly and Avlabari station is being reinforced.

CNN: Georgia Gateway to the Caucasus BY THEA MORRISON


NN has published an article about Georgia, saying it offers “spectacular mountainscapes and unforgettable views”. The author of the article, Alireza Hajihosseini, tells readers about the unforgettable climb on Mount Kazbegi in Stepantsminda, the capital of Georgia's Kazbegi region. “Mount Kazbek, the third-highest peak in Georgia, reigns supreme with a snowcapped summit that pierces the clouds. Under its watchful eye, the Gergeti Trin-

ity Church stands at an elevation of 2,170 meters (7,120 feet), a popular destination for pilgrims and mountain trekkers alike,” the article reads. The author also mentions a glacier pond that sits at the bottom of Mount Chiukhi nearly five kilometers away through a gloriously green river valley flanked by towering mountains. “The views are mesmerizing - pristine nature unspoiled by human development,” the article reads. The author says that Georgia is fast becoming a must-visit destination thanks to its sweeping natural scenery. “Georgia is unique. It has great nature and good food coupled with generous hospitality,” he says.




Young Georgian Soprano’s Triumph at Covent Garden & Deutsche Oper Berlin After London, I went to the Rossini Festival in Pesaro, where I sang the leading role. This festival occupies a particular place for me, as this gave a boost to a number of changes in my artistic life.



alome Jicia, soprano, soloist of the Tbilisi State Opera and Ballet Theater, was born in Zugdidi. After training as a pianist, she went on to study vocal in Georgia with Professor Davit Bejuashvili and at the Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia, Rome, with Renata Scotto and at the Rossini Opera Academy with Alberto Zedda. Opera engagements include Elena (La donna del lago), Contessa di Foleville (Il viaggio a Reims) and Dorliska (Torvaldo e Dorliska) in Pesaro, Aspasia (Mitridate, re di Ponto) for the Tbilisi State Opera and Ballet Theater. Her concert appearances include performing with José Carreras in Kutaisi, Georgia, and participating in the Final World Tour Concert of José Carreras in Seoul, South Korea. In 2010, she took her Master’s Degree in Piano at the Tbilisi State Conservatoire and two years later won the Grand-Prix at the International Music Festival in Turkey; Grand-Prix at the International Singing Competition in Armenia and First Prize at the Lado Ataneli International Singing Competition in Georgia. In 2014, she was awarded the special prize of Max Klein and Madronita Andreu, for the best performance of Mozart at the Francisco Viñas International Singing Contest, Barcelona, Spain. Last year, she won First Prize and the Maria Fołtyn Prize for the best per-

YOU’VE ALSO HAD THE HONOR OF PERFORMING WITH THE GREAT JOSE CARRERAS It was a special day…to have had a chance to emerge beside him on stage- it was a dream come true as he was a childhood idol of mine. Having sung with him means a lot to me. We sang together in several different countries.

WHO IS YOUR FAVORITE COMPOSER? For me, opera is unimaginable without Verdi. The two words ‘opera’ and ‘Verdi’ stand side by side as one whole phenomenon.

WHICH IS YOUR DREAM ROLE? Madame Butterfly in Puccini’s “Madame Butterfly”.

YOU HAVE AN UPCOMING ROLE IN ‘TRAVIATA’ AT THE DEUTSCHE OPER BERLIN formance of a work by Stanisław Moniuszko at the 9th International Stanisław Moniuszko Vocal Competition, Poland. Since 2009, Jicia has taken part in numerous concerts and performances, including in Georgia’s own International Festival ‘Night Serenades’.

GEORGIA TODAY met Jicia prior to her Berlin debut to find out more.

YOU RECENTLY CONQUERED THE STAGE OF COVENT GARDEN Graham Week’s production was quite an important debut for me in London-

he’s a great director and I learned a lot from him. I played the part of Sifare in Mozart’s ‘Mitridate’. It was the most beautiful staging.


It will be my debut in Berlin and, generally speaking, in Germany. I will perform Violetta’s part. I have the first performance on August 30. I am looking forward to meeting the German public. Summer has turned out to be quite busy – working with three different composers, having two debuts… An interesting autumn is still ahead.




SEPTEMBER 1 - 4, 2017


GABRIADZE THEATER Address: 13 Shavtelis St. Telephone: 2 98 65 93 September 7 THE AUTUMN OF MY SPRINGTIME Rezo Gabriadze Directed by Rezo Gabriadze Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 10, 20, 30 GEL GEORGIAN STATE PANTOMIME THEATER Address: 37 Rustaveli Ave. Telephone: 2 99 63 14 September 1, 2 KRIMANCHULI Directed by Amiran Shalikashvili Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 8 GEL CINEMA

AMIRANI CINEMA Address: 36 Kostava Str. Telephone: 2 99 99 55 www.kinoafisha.ge Every Wednesday ticket price: 5 GEL September 1-7 JOUR J Directed by Reem Kherici Cast: Reem Kherici, Nicolas Duvauchelle, Julia Piaton Genre: Comedy, Adventure, Fa Language: Russian Start time: 19:05, 21:15 Ticket: 13-14 GEL BABY DRIVER Directed by Edgar Wright Cast: Ansel Elgort, Jon Bernthal, Jon Hamm Genre: Action, Crime, Musical, Fa Language: Russian Start time: 19:00 Ticket: 13-14 GEL TULIP FEVER Directed by Justin Chadwick Cast: Alicia Vikander, Dane DeHaan, Cara Delevingne Genre: Drama, Romance Language: Russian Start time: 21:30 Ticket: 13-14 GEL

RUSTAVELI CINEMA Address: 5 Rustaveli Ave. Telephone: 2 55 50 00 www.kinoafisha.ge Every Wednesday ticket: 5 GEL September 1-7 JOUR J (Info Above) Start time: 22:30 Ticket: 13-14 GEL BABY DRIVER (Info Above) Start time: 19:15, 21:15 Ticket: 13-14 GEL 7 SISTERS Directed by Tommy Wirkola Cast: Noomi Rapace, Marwan Kenzari, Willem Dafoe Genre: Sci-Fi, Thriller Language: Russian Start time: 14:15, 19:45, 22:30 Ticket: 9-14 GEL ANNABELLE: CREATION Directed by David F. Sandberg Cast: Alicia Vela-Bailey, Miranda Otto, Stephanie Sigman Genre: Horror, Mystery, Thriller, Fa Language: Russian Start time: 22:00 Ticket: 13-14 GEL MUSEUM

GEORGIAN NATIONAL MUSEUM SIMON JANASHIA MUSEUM Address: 4 Rustaveli Ave. Telephone: 2 99 80 22, 2 93 48 21 www.museum.ge

EXHIBITS OF THE MEDIEVAL TREASURY September 27 (2016) – September 22 (2017) EXHIBITION STONE AGE GEORGIA May 18- November 18 EXHIBITION GEORGIAN COSTUME AND WEAPONRY OF 18TH-20TH CENTURIES MUSEUM OF FINE ARTS Address: 1 Gudiashvili Str. Telephone: 299 99 09 August 10 – September 20 EXHIBITION EDEN BY ROGER VON GUNTEN ‘Edén’ is a visual journey through the works of the artist. Roger Von Gunten is a member of ‘La Ruptura’ (‘The rupture’) - a group of artists reflecting the transition from modernism to postmodernism in Mexico. IOSEB GRISHASHVILI TBILISI HISTORY MUSEUM - KARVASLA Address: 8 Sioni St. Telephone: 2 98 22 81 July 5 - September 11 EXHIBITION OF DAVID SULAKAURI'S ARTWORKS The exhibition features up to 100 works by David Sulakauri and a catalog of his artworks. This is the first wide-scale exhibition of the author dedicated to his 65th anniversary.


August 30 – September 20 Exhibition THE BORDER Curated by Inke Arns and Thibaut de Ruyter (Dortmund and Berlin), Production: Liaison des Arts, Karola Matschke (Berlin), Project co-ordination in Tbilisi: Lasha Khvedelidze (Goethe institute Georgia)

NUMISMATIC TREASURY The exhibition showcases money circulation on the territory of Georgia from the 6th century BC. to 1834.

MUSEUM OF SOVIET OCCUPATION Address: 4 Rustaveli Ave. Telephone: 2 99 80 22, 2 93 48 21 www.museum.ge


PERMANENT EXHIBITION Discover the State's personal files


of "subversive" Georgian public figures, orders to shoot or exile, and other artifacts representing Sovietera cultural and political repression in Georgia. SVANETI MUSEUM OF HISTORY AND ETHNOGRAPHY Address: 7 A. Ioseliani Str., Mestia July 30 – September 10 Georgian National Museum and Project ArtBeat present HERE A solo exhibition of New York based Georgian artist LEVAN MINDIASHVILI

September 5 FOLK MUSIC CONCERT Ensembles: Adilei, Ertoba, Dziriani, Sathanao, Shilda, The Veshapidzes, The Urushadzes, The Meladzes Singers from Premana (Italy) Grand Hall Start time: 19:30 Ticket: 10 GEL BATUMI MUSIC FEST 2017 Venue: Batumi Music Center

THE NATIONAL GALLERY Address: 11 Rustaveli Ave. www.museum.ge Telephone: 215 73 00

September 2 BATUMI SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA ELISSO BOLKVADZE- Piano David Mukeria- Conductor Alexander Chaushian- Violin Program: WAGNERRienzi Overture, SAINT-SAINSCello Concerto N1 op. 33 a-moll, BEETHOVENPiano Concerto N1 op. 14 c-dur Start time: 19:00 Ticket: 15 GEL

June 8 – September 11 EXHIBITION CONSTELLATION Artworks by Chinese contemporary artists- Ai Weiwei, Hu Xiaoyuan, Li Shurui, Liu Wei, Lu Pingyuan, Lu Shanchuan, Ma Qiusha, Wang Guangle, Wang Sishun, Wang Yuyang, Xie Molin, Xu Qu, Xu Zhen, Yan Xing, Zhang Ding, Zhang Zhenyu, Zhao Yao and Zhao Zhao.

September 3 FRANZ LISZT CHAMBER ORCHESTRA Program: GRIEGHolberg Suite, DVORAKSerenade for Strings, LISZTHungarian Rhapsody No.2 Start time: 19:00 Ticket: 15 GEL



BLACK SEA ARENA Address: Tsikhisdziri, Adjara September 2 Black Sea Arena & Georgian State Folklore Center with Check in Georgia present: BLACK SEA INTERNATIONAL FOLK FESTIVAL Special guest- La Moneta & Flamenco Ensemble Rustavi, Ensemble Basiani (Georgia) Start time: 19:00 Ticket: 5-40 GEL TBILISI STATE CONSERVATOIRE Address: 8 Griboedov St. Telephone: 2 93 46 24

September 4 BATUMI SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA David Mukeria- Conductor Nathanael Gouin- Piano Program: BERLIOZHungarian March, SAINT-SAENSPiano Concerto No.2 op. 22, SMETANA- Vltava, SUPPE- Overture from Operette ‘Poete and Peasant’ Start time: 19:00 Ticket: 15 GEL September 5 GEORGIAN VOICES Folk Songs Start time: 19:00 Ticket: 15 GEL September 6 Pietro de Maria- Piano Program: CHOPIN, LIGETI, LISZT Start time: 18:00 Ticket: 15 GEL September 7 MURMAN JINORIA Poetry Evening Start time: 20:30 September 7 BATUMI SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA David Mukeria- Conductor Alexandra Massaleva- Piano Ana Kipiani- Piano Program: MASCAGNICavalleria Rusticana (Intermezzo), BACH- Piano Concerti N1 in D minor, MOZART- Piano Concerto N22 in E-flat major Start time: 19:00 Ticket: 15 GEL September 8 GALA OF FOUNDATION SOS TALENTS Special guest: MICHEL SOGNY Start time: 19:00 Ticket: 15 GEL MUSIC FESTIVAL SAIRME 2017 Address: Resort Sairme September 2 ENSEMBLE TBILISI Start time: 17:00 Ticket: From 20 GEL




Exhibition ‘The Border’ without Borders REVIEW BY MAKA LOMADZE


here does Europe end and Asia begin? What influence do the borders have and who draws them? These are the key questions posed by art project ‘The Border,’ which spans many years and is being staged by the GoetheInstitut in conjunction with numerous partner institutions in 2017/2018. Having toured the cities of Moscow, St. Petersburg, Krasnoyarsk and Kiev, the exhibition is now being shown at the Georgian National Museum (GNM) Tbilisi History Museum (Karvasla). The opening took place on August 30. ‘The Border’ explores and reflects upon all manner of borders and their demarcation: as a mark of territorial inclusion or exclusion, as cultural, personal or social dividing lines, as an instrument we use to differentiate and distinguish between ‘us’ and ‘them’ or, indeed, to generate this dichotomy through borders in the first place.’ “Border” should be understood as a metaphor, as a figure which is not static, but rather the subject of agreements and change - an extremely relevant topic for Russia and the former Soviet republics, as well as for Germany and Europe in equal measure. Thus, the geographical and cultural border between Europe and Asia is the topical thread running through the exhibition. The project approaches this subject matter from an artistic angle and channels our view beyond purely political or economic concerns to take in a cultural dimension. The aim is to promote a differentiated engagement with the processes involved

in, the motivations behind and the causes leading to the drawing of borders. “The exhibition is being held within the framework of the Georgia-Germany year [to mark the 25th anniversary since the establishment of diplomatic relations], said Mikheil Tsereteli, Deputy Director General of GNM. “It is one of the most important events of the second part of the year”. “There will be around 50 events in total within the scope of Georgian-German year,” said H.E. Ms. Heike Peitsch, Ambassador of Germany to Georgia. “We want to show the diversity; to look at the relevant topics from a new perspective. There are often talks as to whether Georgia belongs to Europe or not. When the German Minister of Foreign Affairs opened the Georgian-German year in April in Berlin, he noted that Europe is anywhere where the government and people recognize western values such

as democracy, human rights, and the rule of law. Georgia belongs to Europe, because the Georgian people do share these values. The polls showed that 80% of the Georgian population acknowledges western values. Since Georgia regained its independence, Germany has supported Georgia in all spheres and this year, we celebrate the 200th year since the arrival of the first German colonists to Georgia”. The exhibition focuses upon a younger generation of artists who will be showing their insight into and reflections on the topic for the first time together in a travelling exhibition. Around 24 works (photos, videos, installations, objects) of over 30 artists from Georgia, Germany, Ukraine, Belarus, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Kirgizstan, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Russia and Tajikistan are exhibited. “This is my first official occasion in Georgia,” Barbara Von Munchausen, the

new director of the Goethe Institute, stated. “We plan to arrange a dialogue between Georgian and German artists with the aim of deepening Georgians’ knowledge of German art”. ‘Mugham Karaoke’ is one of the projects, which connects the ancient musical Azeri style Mugham and contemporary technology, Karaoke. From 1930 to 1970, Mugham style, as with all other traditional music styles of Post-Soviet countries, was disqualified as ‘primitive culture’. Today, traditional folk music Mugham is supported by the State of Azerbaijan. Farhad Farzaliev, from Baku, is one of the participants. “Post-Soviet countries are disoriented,” he told GEORGIA TODAY. “Some people call them Asian and

others European. But for me, a border is more a mental thing”. GEORGIA TODAY also talked to Guram Tsibakhashvili, famous Georgia photoartist. “The topic of border has always been interesting and is paramount today. The world is getting smaller and it’s good to see that the artists were offered such a topical theme”. The exhibition is curated by: Inke Arns and Thibaut de Ruyter, Dortmund and Berlin Exhibition design: Thibaut de Ruyter, assisted by Camille Rouaud, Berlin Production: Liaison des Arts, Karola Matschke, Berlin Project supervisor: Astrid Wege, Goethe-Institut Moskau, Barbara von Münchhausen, Director of the Goethe-Institut Georgia Project co-ordination: Natalja Sabrodskaja, Lisa Welitschko, Goethe-Institut Moskau Project co-ordination in Tbilisi: Lasha Khvedelidze, Goethe institute Georgia Montage: Alexey Kubasov, Saint Petersburg Graphic design: Dmitry Galsan Designer: Gocha Nemsadze WHERE: Ioseb Grishashvili Tbilisi History Museum (Karvasla) 8, Sioni Street, Tbilisi WHEN: August 30 - September 20, 2017

Memorandum between GNM & Sokhumi State University Updated BY MAKA LOMADZE


n August 29, in the auditorium of Georgian National Museum (GNM), a Memorandum of Collaboration was signed between GNM and Sokhumi State University, aimed at mutual cooperation in the fields of historical-cultural and natural heritage as well as in the spheres of education, science and museum works. The document was signed by Davit Lortkipanidze, Director General of GNM, and Zurab Khonelidze, the new rector of Sokhumi State University. “This is an extension of a memorandum first signed approximately five years ago,” Mikheil Tsereteli, Vice Director General of GNM, told GEORGIA TODAY. “It implies tight collaboration in science and education. [Over the years], the students of Sokhumi State University have been actively involved in our archaeo-

logical expeditions. They also work as interns at GNM”. “The word ‘memorandum’ stands for ‘something to remember’ in Latin,” Zurab Khonelidze, Rector of Sokhumi State University, told us. “We know the role and importance of the Georgian National Museum in the united Georgian space. We are also well-aware of the significance of Sokhumi State University. It is not only a higher educational institute, but also an analytical and scientific-research center of strategic importance. In respect of our functions and missions, we two institutions share a lot of crossroads. We walk in the same direction in terms of our education, mentality and thinking. Our common aim is to serve the unity of our statehood and to ensure its secure future,” he said. “I believe the integration of Sokhumi State University into the united Georgian and European educational space will not be possible if we ignore the theme of Abkhazia. We, Sokhumi University, will do our best to make this process healthy”.



Commercial Director: Iva Merabishvili Marketing Manager: Mariam Giorgadze



Editor-In-Chief: Katie Ruth Davies

Journalists: Tony Hanmer, Zaza Jgarkava, Maka Bibilashvili, Dimitri Dolaberidze, Maka Lomadze, Joseph Larsen, Vazha Tavberidze, Nugzar B. Ruhadze, Nino Gugunishvili, Thea Morrison Photographer: Irakli Dolidze

Website Manager/Editor: Tamzin Whitewood Layout: Misha Mchedlishvili Webmaster: Sergey Gevenov Circulation Managers: David Kerdikashvili, David Djandjgava


1 Melikishvili Str. Tbilisi, 0179, Georgia Tel.: +995 32 229 59 19 E: info@georgiatoday.ge F: GeorgiaToday ADVERTISING & SUBSCRIPTION

+995 579 25 22 25 E-mail: marketing@ georgiatoday.ge

Reproducing material, photos and advertisements without prior editorial permission is strictly forbidden. The author is responsible for all material. Rights of authors are preserved. The newspaper is registered in Mtatsminda district court. Reg. # 06/4-309

Profile for Georgia Today

Issue #977  

September 1 - 4, 2017

Issue #977  

September 1 - 4, 2017