Page 1

Issue no: 1003

• DECEMBER 1 - 4, 2017


ON THE MOSAIC Exclusive interview with the man who found (the alleged) St Peter's Georgian Monastery in Israel



In this week’s issue... Mastermind of Turkey Airport Attack Said to Be Among 3 Suspects Killed in Tbilisi Siege NEWS PAGE 3


On the Saudi Arabia Reforms


Israel & the South Caucasus POLITICS PAGE 6

TBC Signs EUR 94 Mln Agreement with EIB Group

Exclusive Interview with BP Regional President BY MATE FOLDI


t is just over two decades now that oil giant BP began its operations in Georgia. In that time, a mutually beneficial relationship has blossomed, which has seen the company invest more than 3bn USD in Georgia’s energy infrastructure, introducing international standards of safe and reliable operations, and helping support local communities in business start-ups, agriculture, education and Paralympic sport. Moreover, BP’s three major energy projects that operate in Georgia have significantly changed the energy map of both Georgia and the Caspian region, with the new Southern Gas Corridor expected to bring profound changes to the energy map of Europe. Both in the operation since 2006, the Baku-TbilisiCeyhan oil pipeline (BTC) and South Caucasus gas pipeline (SCP), run by BP on the behalf of two international consortia of energy companies and investors, run side by side for 248 kilometers within Georgia. A gas off take pressure reduction and metering facilities on the SCP, along with two BTC pump stations can also be found within Georgian territory.

Continued on page 11


Brazil’s Ambassador to Georgia on Developing Brazil-Georgian Relations SOCIETY PAGE 12

Vesela Koleda! Bulgarians Start Christmas Preparations CULTURE PAGE 15




DECEMBER 1 - 4, 2017

American Friends of Georgia’s Christmas Charity Gala: Saturday, December 9

Kutaisi Airport to be Extended to Accommodate Growing Tourism Numbers BY TOM DAY


ear Friends and Colleagues, American Friends of Georgia is celebrating Christmas with its Annual Charity Gala! Date: Saturday, December 9, 2017, 6:00 PM at Hotel Biltmore The goal of this Charity Gala is to help us to shelter and protect more vulnerable children and abandoned elderly. The events committee is putting together an extraordinary program for the evening with a cocktail reception, live auction led by Honorable Counsel of Canada in Georgia and Auctioneer Extraordinaire Cliff Isaak, raffle prizes, dance party and New Year surprises. Nika Nikashvili, a young emerging Georgian musician performing in France, will pay a special visit to Tbilisi to play especially for the guests of this charity Gala. The auction of contemporary art by prominent Georgian artists is the peak of the evening. This year we are glad to receive the donation of art from the following prominent artists: Gogi AlexiMeskhishvili, Gia Gugushvili, Giorgi Mirzashvili, Eteri Chkadua, Keti Matabeli, Mamuka Tsetskhladze, Lia Shvelidze,

Mamuka Mikeladze, Giorgi Kvavilashvili, Maka Gotsiridze, Ala Turmanidze, Manana Abzianidze and more. Our generous friends also donated works by Elene Akhvlediani, Tengiz Mirzashvili, Dimitri Eristavi and Tonino Guerra from their private collections. Seats are limited! Individual Tickets (Price $100) and Corporate Tables are available! For more information please contact: TEL 599901234 (Lena Kiladze); 599262005 (Kate Kalandarishvili) The AFG team would like to thank the Gala 2017 Sponsors so far: Patron of Gala: Petrocas Energy Group, Gold Sponsor: Biltmore, Silver Sponsor: Adjara Group Hospitality, Bronze Sponsors: BDO, PMCG, Silknet Benefits, BLC, Cliff Isaak, Dechert, Deloitte, Dentons, Dio, EY, Frontera, Geomill, Gvinadze & Partners, IRC, Jibe, Lisi Development, Sheraton Metechi Palace Hotel, Sid White, Terra Bank, Willis Towers Watson. Looking forward to seeing you! Best Regards, AFG Team ONLY TOGETHER CAN WE MAKE A DIFFERENCE!


utaisi International Airport is set to be extended in order to accommodate the growing number of tourists. Passengers using the low-cost-airline airport increased from 12,915 per year in 2012 to more than 300,000 in 2016.

It is expected to reach a capacity of close to 1,000,000 passengers by 2020. "Georgia is rapidly becoming one of the new tourist hotspots in the region and Kutaisi has become the access gate to the country," said Dutch firm UNStudio, who completed the terminal building of Kutaisi Airport back in 2013. They will also be undertaking the new planned extension. The goal of UNStudio is to maintain a user-orientated experience. “The

health and comfort of every single passenger is serviced through the correct application of architecture and spatial design," said the firm. The current airport terminal will become the departure hall. Like the existing terminal, the extension will boast an illuminated interior with enviable views of the adjacent mountains. This space will lead up to the building's roof area, creating a huge elevated plaza.

Spanish Police Detain 19 Georgian Mafia Members

Georgia’s Oldest Wine Becomes Guinness World Record Holder BY TOM DAY Photo source: Front News


ollowing the discovery earlier this month of the oldest wine in history, Georgia’s fame has made it into the Guinness Book of World Records. The evidence of ancient winemaking was found to date back as far as 8,000 years ago during the Neolithic period. This made news all around the world. The discovery was made in Gadachrili Gora and Shulaveris Gora, settlements both about 50 km south of Tbilisi. Prof. Patrick McGovern, a molecular archaeologist from the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology, and lead author of the study "Early Neolithic Wine of Georgia in the South Caucasus," led the archaeological expedition. The previous World Record was from Hajji Firuz Tepe in Northwestern Iran which dated back to between 5400–5000 BC. Find this World Record printed in the next edition of the Guinness World Records book, which will be published late August next year.



atalan regional police and Spanish National Police arrested 23 people on Wednesday morning in a joint operation against the Georgian mafia in Barcelona and Madrid. As reported, 19 out of the detained are Georgian gangsters. The Spanish media reports that the operation, named Naples, saw raids carried out at 12 different addresses against an organization robbing flats and houses and laundering stolen money and goods through a series of companies or sending it directly abroad. Operation Naples has been ongoing for almost two years and as reported by media, among the detainees there was a woman, who is thought to be the wife of leading “thief-in-law” Kakhaber

Shushanashvili (Kakha Rustavsky). The detainees, according to local law enforcement, are members of the group helmed by Rustavsky, who was engaged in money laundering in Eastern Europe and now is in prison for various charges, including money laundering, murder, fraud and illegal possession of arms. Georgia’s Ministry of Internal Affairs (MIA) stated they were involved in a large-scale anti-mafia operation in Madrid, Catalonia and several other locations in Spain. “As a result of active cooperation between the Central Criminal Police Department of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Georgia and the Police Attaché of the MIA to the Kingdom of Spain, an organized group of criminals was detained in Spain. 19 of 23 arrested are citizens of Georgia,” the ministry confirmed. Around two weeks ago, the Georgian MIA also confirmed the information released by the French media about

the detention of a 35-member criminal group, among them 26 Georgians. The MIA stated that among the detained Georgians, five were so “thieves-in-law”. The main allegations towards the detained group members are robbery, extortion and smuggling. Foreign media reported that the police revealed one particular scheme of money laundering used by the criminals: the registering of construction companies. French media reported that the detainees allegedly robbed houses and shops, also stealing cars and jewelry. Police found EUR 70 thousand while searching the houses of the detained. EUR 200 thousand was seized from their bank accounts. Searches in the framework of the Naples operation also took place in the Italian region of Calabria, where some of the detainees owned real estate.




Mastermind of Turkey Airport Attack Said to Be Among 3 Suspects Killed in Tbilisi Siege BY TOM DAY


ne of the men killed by special forces in the shootout on November 22 in the Isani district of Tbilisi is thought to have orchestrated the Ataturk Airport bombings last year in Istanbul, which claimed 45 lives. The Head of the State Security Agency (SUS), Vakhtang Gomelauri, told reporters on Sunday that they are considering the possibility that the ISIS member Akhmed Chatayev is among the dead. “There is suspicion that Akhmed Chatayev is among the deceased,” Gomelauri said. He added however, that this needs to be confirmed by forensics and that “our strategic partner, the American side” is a part of the inquest. This SUS statement has caused some confusion, because Akhmed Chatayev was a double amputee, having lost his right arm and left foot on separate occasions. Reports tried asking if a man of such a description was among the dead, but so far SUS has refused to answer any questions from journalists. Akhmed Chatayev, born 1980 in Chechnya, Russian federation, lost his arm in the second Chechen war. After this, he fled to Austria, who granted him asylum in 2003. He was later detained in Ukraine, facing deportation back to Russia, but the European Court of Human Rights managed to convince Kyiv not to hand him over to the Russian authorities. Instead, he was then sent to Georgia. He is said to have stayed for a while in Pankisi Gorge, 160 km northeast of Tbilisi. In 2012, during the Lopota conflict, on the border

Photo source: ARGIA Twitter account

between Georgia and Dagestan, one of the constituent republics of the Russian Federation, he injured his foot and consequently had to have it amputated. He was put on trial for his involvement, but was released in 2013 due to lack of evidence. After this, he left Georgia to join ISIS. In 2015, Akhmed Chatayev was marked as a foreign terrorist by the UN Security Council and the US. “Chatayev is designated for acting for or on behalf of ISIL. As of mid-2015, Chatayev was a member of ISIL and was part of a group of militants that were planning attacks against the U.S. and Turkish facilities. Text accompanying a video posted online in February 2015 […] indicates that Chatayev is the commander of the Yarmouk Battalion, a Chechen faction of ISIL,” reads the US Department of Treasury’s statement. On 28 June 2016, forty-five people were killed, in addition to the three attackers, and more than 230 people were injured by gunmen with automatic weapons and explosive belts in the attack at Ataturk Airport in Istanbul.

PM of Georgia Talks about Georgia’s Investment Opportunities & Reforms BY NINO GUGUNISHVILI


he Prime Minister of Georgia opened the panel discussion entitled: ‘Capture the Investment Opportunities,’ at the Tbilisi Belt and Road forum hosted by The Biltmore Hotel Tbilisi. “I’m honored and pleased to welcome you all to Georgia, to the Tbilisi Belt and Road Forum. This is a great opportunity for all of us to discuss the future of this unique initiative, bringing peace and prosperity to cooperation in many countries along the Silk Road,” PM Kvirikashvili said in his speech, highlighting that the discussion centered around Georgia, and how to use the potential of the country as a trade, transit and logistics hub. “Our approach should be based on win-win principles, when the advantages of the neighboring countries will complement each other in order to achieve advanced global development. For a balanced development, it is necessary to mitigate trade barriers and facilitate less developed countries’ export to reduce trade imbalance,” the PM said, expressing his hope that “despite political challenges the region is facing, we are able to work together in a pragmatic manner, without harming the fundamental rights of our partners”. The PM stressed that European and Euro-Atlantic integration has been identified as a major priority for the Government of Georgia, and noted that Georgia remains the strongest ally of the EU in the region, and a key security partner. “The aim of the government is to have a development strategy that serves not only our own, but also regional and global goals”. He went on to underline that since the beginning of this year, spatial development of the country, which is intensively ongoing, is expected to increase the country’s transit capabilities for the coming years. He went on to talk about the custom, legislative and institutional reforms. “We created one of the best investment climates with attractive public services, a corruption free government and transparent business environment,” Giorgi Kvirikashvili said in his speech. “The extent of our progress is recognized in a number of international indexes; the World Bank’s ease of doing business report recently placed Georgia in 9th position out of 190 countries; the latest study of Frazer’s institute on Economic Freedom of the World also ranked Georgia as the 8th most free economy, and in recent years Georgia has been also recognized by Transparency International as a leader in the region in fighting corruption” He also highlighted Georgia’s participation in major

and strategic international projects such as Baku– Tbilisi-Ceyhan, Baku-Supsa oil pipeline projects, Baku-Tbilisi–Kars railway project, Lapis Lazuli transit corridor, and the Anaklia Deep Sea Port construction project, which will be the largest maritime infrastructure project in the region. “The Government of Georgia puts a lot of effort into the position our country has as a regional hub for trade and investments,” the Prime Minister said, also mentioning the significance of the free trade agreements Georgia has agreed on with CIS countries, EFTA and China, which, according to the PM, makes Georgia a unique country in the region. “Our government stands ready to support your efforts to identify business opportunities in Georgia,” he concluded.

De facto Abkhazia Claims to Have Opened Representation in Italy



e-facto Deputy Foreign Minister of Georgia’s breakaway region of Abkhazia, Kan Tania, stated that a diplomatic representation of Abkhazia has been opened in Italy. Tania made the statement in Italy, while paying an “official” working visit there. “At a press conference with local media, we announced the completion of all procedures for the official registration of the diplomatic representation of the Republic of Abkhazia in Italy and concurrently in the European Union. We are an official legal entity," Tania told Sputnik Abkhazia. The representative of the puppet regime said he arrived in Italy to complete the registration of the “diplomatic representation” of Abkhazia in Italy. He added that the “representation” office will not have a classic diplomatic function as it is not yet accredited, since Italy has not yet recognized the independence of Abkhazia. “Nevertheless, we will continue to work. Our goal is to introduce the position of Abkhazia to the international community," he said, adding the socalled representation will be a bridge that will bring Abkhazians and Italians closer. De-facto Deputy Foreign Minister said the “representation” office will promote breakaway Abkhazia at all levels: socio-cultural, sports and educational, and will take part in presentations, exhibitions, international championships and festivals. He said it will also provide exchange programs for Abkhazian and foreign students. Tania also noted that after recognition of Abkhazia's independence by a number of countries, the republic began to develop relations with many,

including Italy. “After we appointed Vito Grittanni Ambassador of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Abkhazia in Italy in 2015, relations between our countries have improved and opportunities expanded," he said. Tania claimed that in 2016-2017 the Association ‘Europe-Abkhazia’ was registered in Italy, aimed at promoting Abkhazia on all socio-cultural levels, registration of the representation of the Chamber of Commerce of Abkhazia in Italy was carried out and an Abkhaz Cultural Institute was opened in Rome. The Deputy Foreign Minister of Abkhazia told Sputnik Abkhazia that during his visit to Italy he was awarded a diploma of Goodwill Ambassador of the International Diplomatic Observatory. “I was presented with a diploma for my services in diplomatic activities in the field of establishing relations between the Italian and Abkhaz peoples… I am very pleased that they appreciated my work," Tania said. Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Georgia to Italy, Karlo Sikharulidze, denied that a diplomatic representation of Abkhazia had opened in Italy, calling it “nonsense and misinformation”. The Ambassador explained that the so-called Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of Abkhazia held a press conference in the Italian city of Bar, which had nothing to do with the municipal authorities. Russia and Nicaragua recognized Abkhazia’s independence in 2008 in the wake of the RussiaGeorgia August war. In 2009 Venezuela, Vanuatu, Nauru and Tuvalu took the same step. After several years, Vanuatu and Tuvalu revoked their recognition and now declare Abkhazia and Tskhinvali as integral parts of Georgia. The rest of the international community recognizes Abkhazia and Tskhinvali (South Ossetia) as integral parts of Georgia.




DECEMBER 1 - 4, 2017

Georgian, Turkmen Foreign Ministers Meet in Ashgabat Photo source: The Huffington Post




eorgian Vice-Premier and Foreign Minister Mikheil Janelidze held a meeting with his Turkmen counterpart Rashid Meredov in Ashgabat, Turkmenistan, on November 29. The Ministers expressed their satisfaction over the dynamic nature of the developing interaction between Turkmenistan and Georgia, and pledged their full commitment to further development. Noting the prospects for expanding international transport cooperation, the parties outlined plans for the future to develop modern mechanisms that meet the real goals and requirements of the

partnership. Speaking about the energy policy of Turkmenistan, both sides expressed interest in consolidating efforts in the development of international energy cooperation. Both countries also highlighted the paramount importance of the five-party Lapis Lazuli Corridor Agreement. They expressed hope that, through respective political support and the private sector’s due participation, the Lapis Lazuli Corridor will contribute to the development of the countries involved in the project and their connection to Europe. Rashid Meredov thanked the Georgian Vice-Prime Minister for his participation in the 28th Conference on the International Energy Charter, which was held in Ashgabat on November 28-29.


ver the last month, Saudi Arabia has experienced more changes than in the last fifty years. Is young prince Bin Salman really turning one of the world’s most conservative countries into‌ well, into something that allows women to drive, gives out visas to tourists and preaches moderate Islam? And if so, what impact would all of this have on the Islamic world? That world includes two of Georgia’s immediate neighbors: Turkey and Azerbaijan, and let’s not forget the muslim North Caucasus, too. GEORGIA TODAY and Panorama Talk Show approached Melik Alkan, researcher and lecturer at the University of Georgia and International Black Sea University, to give us some firsthand expertise on the Saudi Arabia case.

IS WHAT WE ARE WITNESSING A SAUDI ARAB ‘SPRING’ OR IS IT YET ANOTHER BRUTAL TAKEOVER DISGUISED AS A LIBERAL AGENDA? Critics have two camps. One says it’s an Arab spring another that there’s a strategic failure taking place in Saudi Arabia (SA) now. What we’re seeing now in SA is completely multi-dimensional. We have 32-year-old Mohammed Bin Salman, son of King Salman, who wants to dramatically change the country; trying to diversify the economy, open SA to the world, and to contain Iran. In order to contain Iran, Bin Salman needs an internal shift in SA. He came up with the anti-corruption committee overnight and detained several senior princes who have been quite powerful and dominant in politics and business. For example, Waleed bin Waleed is a billionaire tycoon not only in SA but beyond: he holds 25% of Murdoch’s media. Bin Salman also detained 11 ministers, including a princess. So, while we can say that there is a power struggle going on, according to Crown Prince Bin Salman, it is a cleaned house. He told Saudi’s tycoons and billionaires, “You’ve been feeding on corruption, getting money using your personal leverage. Now it’s time to give back.� It seems that his father’s tenure will be a transition period for the prince’s eventual ascendancy.


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What happened on Nov 4 really sounds like something from a movie. Bin Salman called for a meeting of several members of SA royals about “development and investment of SA economy�. The invited royals came to that meeting after which Bin Salman invited them to the Ritz Carlton hotel. Then the hotel asked its guests to leave. Then Bin Salman was able to detain the royals that hotel. The public of SA, about 65%, under the age of 30 mostly, cheered him on, saying it’s a “real reform� that will “take SA to the world stage�. Trump tweeted Bin Salman that he is a “very good guy,� that what he is doing is right. In the royal family, a lot of princes supported him. He detained about 200 people who are both senior and wealthy. Most of them said that we will help you and we are ready to leave 75% of wealth to you in exchange for freedom. So, deals were made. If he wants to make thorough reforms, he needs support from the royal family, otherwise he knows very well that next step will be a family feud. And that will be disastrous for SA. Instead, he aims to get back $100 billion with which he plans to diversify the economy.


At that meeting in Ritz Carlton hotel in November, he gave citizenship to robot Sofia; it was a very symbolic gesture and a first worldwide. His idea was to attract technology. Japanese companies are coming to Riyadh to invest, as are US companies. Before, SA had only oil production: the largest since 1933. Bin Salman says that this monopoly gained [those imprisoned] a lot of money and now they must give that money back because he told the world he’s changing the country, in terms of oil, economy, tourism, and even religion.

BIN SALMAN’S LIBERAL REFORMS INCLUDE ALLOWING WOMEN TO DRIVE, TOURISTIC VISAS TO SAUDI ARABIA, AND MOST IMPORTANTLY, HIS PLEDGE THAT HIS COUNTRY WILL ADHERE TO MODERATE ISLAM. HOW DOES THIS AFFECT THE ISLAMIC WORLD? It’s a question that has defined SA as a country for decades. Saudis have been ultra conservative in their idea of Islam since 1933 (Sunni Islam). And then we have Iran which fulfills the same role but for Shia Muslims. Why is Bin Salman talking about moderate Islam? Because he knows that the ideals of Islam they adhered to created fundamental radicalization and isolation for his country. Adhering to an interpretation of the Quran in Sunna cannot tie in to the world that we are living in today. Also, he emphasizes “moderate Islam and not modernization of Islam�. He says we need to go back to basic Islam. And he’s right. He says we’re going to allow women drive, because that’s how it used to be: in 1945, SA was very modern. We’re even going to open our doors to non-Muslim communities. We want to do a bit of interfaith dialogue, he says, and that was unheard of before from a Saudi royal. We need to leave those ultra conservative ideas and lifestyles to make other people here comfortable. This is all about investment: to show the world that SA is open to reforms, that it’s safe to come and invest. It also means reforming the education system. For example, SA sending 1700 teachers to Finland to get more education then come back to SA to do an education reform. He’s playing his cards quite masterfully. As regards Iran. There are two ideas. SA has been promoting wahhabism. We all know that. Bin Salman is leaving that behind. But Iran is promoting Shia and this is a huge problem. Prince Bin Sakman says that we need to counter Iran, but first we need to clean our house. Iran has been influential in the region since 2003 when the US left Iraq and created a vacuum power that Iran filled with Shia ideas. In the Middle-East, Iran controls four capitals. SA wants to counter that strategy.

WHAT LESSONS AND CONCLUSIONS ARE THERE TO MAKE FOR GEORGIA AND THE CAUCASUS IN GENERAL? If SA makes those upheavals in a constructive way, leaving ultra-conservatism behind, Georgia and the South Caucasus would definitely benefit, mainly in terms of economic benefits. If SA opens up to business opportunities, the South Caucasus may contribute to the economy. But there will also be counter fights between SA and Iran: they’ll likely be trying to “steal� customers from different sides. Right now, the South Caucasus and Georgia are doing great in terms of international aspiration with NATO and the EU. SA ideology is very different. Georgia has a more European mindset. But don’t think that’s negative: it might be positive for relations, and Saudi Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, who is an honorary citizen of Georgia, may even come back here and do business.




DECEMBER 1 - 4, 2017

Israel & the South Caucasus anti-tank missiles helped Azerbaijani forces thwart that counterattack. This brings us to Israel-Azerbaijani relations. In late 2016, reports were circulated that Baku was planning to buy Israeli “Iron Dom” capabilities to better counter potential Armenian attacks. Beyond those military ties, Azerbaijan has also been important to Israel for its large natural resources and how the country could potentially, in case of need, become Israel’s major oil-supplier. Thus, Israel’s relations with each of the three South Caucasian states depends on specific economic and military interests. Each of the states has different relations with larger neighbors such as Russia or Turkey, and the Israeli diplomacy has to navigate in this difficult political arena, where a misstep could deteriorate Israel’s ties

Photo source: The Huffington Post



o ordinary observers, the South Caucasus region might not appear high in Israel’s foreign policy agenda. First, the geographic distance matters as none of the three states, Azerbaijan, Armenia, and Georgia, border on Israel itself. Moreover, the region is also a hotbed of ethnic fighting with three ongoing separatist conflicts in South Ossetia, Abkhazia and Nagorno-Karabakh further complicating political stability. However, the South Caucasus’ strategic location, which lies between Central Asia and eastern Europe, and connects Russia with the Middle East, has drawn a number of regional players to seek larger influence on the territory. Those regional players are usually Turkey, Russia and the European Union and this, by virtue of logic, would negate any potential influence Israel could have in the region. Over the past year, Israel has intensified its foreign policy moves towards each of the South Caucasian states. Each country is interesting to Israel for specific reasons. For example, with Georgia, Israel had had extensive military contacts when the Georgian army was largely supplied with specific Israeli military technologies before 2008. However, the Russo-Georgian war in August 2008 stopped Israeli exports as Russia was particularly angry at having a small neighbor with muchadvanced military capabilities.

Beyond military ties, Georgia is also interesting for Israel from the economic point of view: Israeli investments play an important role in Georgia’s economy. Moreover, due to its geopolitically important location, Georgia has several large ports on its Black Sea shore which could easily be used for commercial and military purposes. With Armenia, Israeli’s relations have been somewhat distant over the past decade or so. This largely conditioned Israel’s rather intensive ties with Yerevan's two biggest geopolitical rivals, Azerbaijan and Turkey. However, recently, there was a certain shift in the bilateral relations when a senior Israeli official visited Yerevan. Tsachi Hanegbi, Israel's Minister for Regional Cooperation, visited Armenia on July 25-26 for talks with senior Armenian officials. Hanegbi has been a key figure in Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s ruling Likud party and has held various ministerial positions for the past two decades. Hanegbi said that his visit was intended as a step forward in relations to make Armenia-Israeli “friendship mutually beneficial in many fields.” What is more important it was the first visit by a senior Israeli official to Armenia since 2012. One of the major bones of contention between Armenia and Israel has been Israeli-supplied arms to Azerbaijan. The supplies played an important role in last year's “April war” between Armenia and Azerbaijan. After Azerbaijan took several frontline posts in a surprise attack on April 2, 2016, Armenian forces undertook a counteroffensive. But Israeli-supplied Harop suicide drones and Spike

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Support Devi’s Right to Stay in Georgia INTERVIEW BY TOM DAY


evi Asmadiredja was born in Germany, but chose to come to Georgia in May 2011. She has very rarely left since then, and now calls Georgia home. She originally came to experience the Caucasus mountains and “almost instantly felt in love with the places, the people and the nature.” Since 2013, Devi has been working as a tour guide, taking groups into the mountain villages to truly discover the Georgian region of the Caucasus, to meet Georgian people, learn about Georgian culture and spread the word about this small but rich and diverse hidden gem. In 2015, Devi even introduced Georgia to Indonesia. In cooperation with the Georgian Ministry for Foreign Affairs, and with her own photos about Georgia in Jakarta, she introduced what had become "her country" to the place where her Father’s side of the family came from. As well as all of this, she has a Georgian partner and lives with his family. Devi's recent request for residency was rejected without the responsible administration and court giving a clear reason. A petition to the President has been started and needs as many signatures as she can get. “[For the] first time in my life, I have the feeling I belong somewhere. Everybody should have a place to feel home, and for me its Georgia. People here accept me as I am. I never really felt at home in Germany. For me, it’s like taking my life away from me, if I cannot stay officially on a residence permit here. Who knows when the law will be changed again. I worry about it.” Georgia Today arranged to meet Devi to find out more.

WHY DO YOU WANT PERMANENT RESIDENCY? I am so much in love with Georgia, its nature, its people, I can’t even imagine going anywhere else. I built my life here from scratch. For me, it’s not even about permanent residency, it’s not about residency at all, more so how they have handled the situation. The majority of my friends live here, I know the land, the people and how life works here.


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with Turkey or Russia. However, beyond that there could also be another incentive as to why Israel’s diplomacy has become more active over the past year or so in regards to the South Caucasus. And the reason for this is Iran. Historically, from Achaemenids to the Sasanians and the 17th-18th centuries, Iran, under various dynasties, aspired to achieve a major role in the South Caucasus. When, after the Cold War, sanctions were placed against Tehran’s nuclear program, Iran was constrained in expanding its role in the above-mentioned region. One might think that Iran’s recent economic and diplomatic successes with regards to Georgia, Azerbaijan and Armenia could have driven Israel’s quite diversified foreign policy towards each of the South Caucasus states.

I love Georgia, I consider it to be my home. I know its mountain regions well and have always been interested in the culture of mountain peoples – Kist, Tush, Khevsur. Over the years, I have gained lots of friends here and have many valuable contacts. But at the same time, I still come from Europe, have a European education, I know how European people think and what they are interested in. I have brought many tourists to Tusheti, Khevsureti, Pshavi, Vashlovani and Pankisi valley, and my knowledge and contacts allow me to show them [the] kind of Georgia that bigger operators cannot show or do not want to show, because it involves too much work or too little money for them. But for me, meeting normal people in the countryside and mountains, seeing their life, experiencing their openness is the only way to truly learn about Georgian culture, to truly feel the Georgian spirit. Because my tours go out of the beaten track, many travel writers come to me for information – this year for example, National Geographic and Tim Burford, Bradt Travel Guide Georgia, Constanze John Ger-

many and Eva Dietrich, Travel writer from Switzerland have all contacted me regarding my knowledge in these areas. This in turn brings in more tourists. Everyone wins from this, local people, small businesses, other tour operators. There are many wonderful fruits, berries and herbs that Georgians used in old times, but these traditions have now completely or mostly disappeared. I am trying to bring to life the local production and distribution of such produce, as well as other natural products. It would complement the local tourist and catering business and offer additional income to people who live in more remote villages. Together with my friends, I also started an initiative we named Care2Clean-Up, to deal with the issue of trash that for me and for many of my clients and visitors is one of the biggest problems in Georgia.

TELL ME ABOUT THE EXHIBITION IN JAKARTA, INDONESIA The exhibition was organized and sponsored by the Georgian Ministry for Foreign Affairs. I went to Jakarta for 10 days in May 2015, which was like a dream. I hadn’t expected to ever go there from Georgia, and I was happy to present my photos in a solo exhibition.

WHAT WILL YOU DO IF YOU CANNOT GET RESIDENCY? I will keep fighting for it, but it takes a lot of energy out of me, which I could better use to promote Georgia. There is always the option to stay on a visa in Georgia, but I want some stability in my life. There was the change in visa rules in 2014, where people who had no residency could only stay three months in a half year period. In autumn 2014, I got my first temporary residence permit, and the second in 2015, which expired in February of this year.

IN YOUR ATTEMPTS SO FAR, WHAT RESPONSES HAVE YOU RECEIVED FROM THE PRESIDENT? I applied last year for Georgian citizenship, I had many good recommendations and documents, and got denied. For a German citizen, gaining Georgian citizenship means losing the German one, because Germany doesn’t accept dual citizenship. I was prepared for this, even if all my friends said I was crazy. I applied directly to the President, but I think the application never reached his office. I feel sad and lost. My life is here, [for the] first time in my life I have the feeling I belong somewhere, everybody should have a place to call home, and for me its Georgia. For me, it’s like taking my life away if I cannot stay officially on a residence permit here. Who knows when the law will be changed again.

ANYTHING EXTRA TO SAY? After getting that many signatures in so short a time, I am overwhelmed. I want to say thank you to everybody who cares about me. Getting so much support from all over the world, and in Georgia as well, bring tears to my eyes. I felt so alone, now I know I am not.




DECEMBER 1 - 4, 2017



n today's globalized world, individual states and groups of states that have formed alliances, are struggling to compete with each other, primarily for access to markets and resources. For millennia, war was one of the ways to achieve dominance and advantages. After two devastating world wars, humanity established global peace and security systems to prevent states from resorting to war as a means for achieving their goals. Despite the fact that global peace and security systems created after the two world wars are in crisis, it is exactly for the reason of their existence that countries refrain from waging full-scale wars.

THE THIRD OPTION In order to achieve the desired result, countries often choose the so-called "third option," that is, the kind of influence which happens by conducting a wide range of covert operations on the territory of the target country in nonmilitary spheres: political, economic, informational, etc. The covert aspect of operations is important, in case of international complications, for "plausible denial" of the fact of interference in matters of another country, thus avoiding responsibility. Carrying out covert operations in nonmilitary operations may result in: • having authorities of the target country adopt decisions needed for the purpose of influencing that country; • coming to power in the target country of political forces or individuals loyal to the influencing country, enabling partial loss of state sovereignty; • total loss of state sovereignty as a result of being absorbed into the state that exerted influence. Among better known examples of the above, when ruling regimes changed as a result of a wide range of covert operations in target countries, are Iran (1953) and Guatemala (1954). In both countries, the CIA, which is not a military authority and is not under military command, was responsible for carrying out such operations.

And in some cases, their military personnel are secretly engaged in hostilities on the territory of the target country. It is this mix of various components, open and covert non-military with covert military ones, regardless of their specific proportion, that serves as the main feature of the hybrid conflict. At the very least, this raises two important questions. First of all, the carrying out military action by military personnel of one country against another, according to the UN Charter is possible only for the purpose of self-defense and in other cases relates to a threat to peace. However, lack of substantiated legitimate grounds for use of military power is precisely the reason for conducting covert military operations. Secondly, a country that secretly uses its own military personnel as combatants, in case of their capture by an opposing side, can easily deny they are part of its active military personnel. In this case, the captured individuals may find themselves ineligible to be entitled to guarantees rendered under rules of international humanitarian law.

PARAMILITARY OPERATIONS VS. COVERT MILITARY OPERATIONS Despite possessing external similarity and the common denominator of secrecy, paramilitary operations differ from purely covert military operations that are mainly carried out directly by special operations forces (SOFs). The main difference is that the latter are conducted on the territory of the target country directly by foreign military personnel who carry out various combat tasks that cannot be carried out by traditional military means. Instead, paramilitary operations are carried out without recruiting foreign military personnel as combatants. In such cases, the role of foreign personnel responsible for paramilitary operations is to train, provide material and infor-

mational support to local forces, and provide them with guidance and organizational assistance. Military actions, however, are carried out only by local forces. Direct use of SOFs, the already mentioned risks notwithstanding, has its advantages. SOF ground troops are professional military personnel, unlike local forces, who are mainly staffed with people from other professions that have undergone appropriate retraining. The command and control system in regular military formations is far superior to that of local forces. The training of local forces for paramilitary operations (military exercises, supplies, etc.) takes a certain amount of time, whereas SOFs can be deployed within hours of the decision.

STATE OF “FRAGILITY” No covert operation, be it military or non-military, is initiated without preparation. For these purposes, the target country is carefully studied with a focus on internal problems. Identification of disputes (so-called "root causes") in political, economic, cultural, social and other areas of the target country's society is an important element in strategic planning of a comprehensive set of necessary measures and their intensity. If these measures succeed, the country's society becomes fragile, making it an easy target and jeopardizing its very existence. To exert influence on the target country, having a common border, common history, similar culture, religion, language, national origins, etc. is an obvious advantage.

“SOFT POWER” Countries usually rely on three main types of power. Military power, a variation of "hard power", is channelled through intimida-


FEATURES THAT DEFINE THE HYBRID NATURE OF A CONFLICT Certain countries exercise open diplomatic, legal, economic and other influence, combining it with covert operations in non-military and military spheres.

tion, direct use, or threat of use of force to achieve the desired goals. Economic power, also a "hard" power, straightforward in its essence, may consist of freezing assets, sanctioning, providing economic incentives, preferences and bribery. "Soft" power is the ability to influence actions, behaviour or value paradigms of others, indirectly, without using coercion or material incentives, due to other types of motivation. For example, creating an atmosphere of acceptance/non-acceptance of the appearance of a person can influence his/her decision regarding the purchase of everyday clothes. At the level of states, as collective subjects, it can be manifested in the fact that the similarity of musical, cinema, literary, sports, and other preferences of the population may influence even political decision-making by the authorities of such states. A country's "soft" power has several sources, including the cultural sphere (attractive to others), values (which are shared by others), and behaviour in the international arena (legitimacy and moral authority). Sometimes, a change in value paradigms and benchmarks of a society leads to a change of political regimes. A number of governments spend billions of dollars promoting national sports around the world, arranging various cultural events, advancing national cuisine, etc. A number of countries also widely use entire "constellation" of non-governmental organizations to change value systems in other countries, initiate transformation processes in them, and, as a consequence, changes in relations between them. The best way to counter external influence is skilful and timely amalgamation of all three types of power. Such a combination is sometimes called "smart power".

other spheres that may be used by an opponent to destabilize the situation, making it "fragile," as well as actions already taken against a country for the same purpose, it is expedient and logical to create an early warning and early response system. Such systems not only help to identify threats but also to swiftly react to them. They are based on the collection of information from open and closed sources, analysis, and use of existing databases. These systems need to be properly constructed for timely detection of threats and, most importantly, for rapid response. Of particular importance is the ability of the relevant authorities to conduct counter-intelligence activities with a combination of traditional and relatively new methods. Prevention of and protection against hybrid threats can only be successful if the central government, regional and local authorities, as well as bodies of local self-government, private sector and civil society participate in such activities.

SYSTEMS OF EARLY WARNING AND EARLY RESPONSE Mark M. Lowenthal, Adjunct Professor at Johns Hopkins University, former Assistant Director of Central Intelligence for Analysis and Production


10 Galaktion Street

In order to identify potential threats in political, economic, cultural, social and

Tel: (995 32) 2 45 08 08 E-mail:




Colliers International Georgia Wins Best Consultant Company of the Year at Real Estate Forum

baijan, Belarus, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Moldova & Ukraine with discussion panels, presentations, and annual awards ceremony. This year several Georgian companies took a challenge in the award competition. Some of them including Colliers International Georgia returned with prizes. Colliers International Georgia has a three year experience of partnership



olliers International Georgia named as Best Consulting Company of the Year at Eastern Europe Real Estate Awards 2017 Eastern Europe Real Estate Forum and Awards 2017 was held on November 23rd in Kiev, Ukraine. EEA forum hosted 250 guests from the region, including developers, real estate experts, investors and representatives of financial institutions. The Forum is a commercial real estate event that includes member from Azer-

with EEA Forum as an expert jury representative. This year company took part in nominations as well and won the title of Best Consulting Company of the year. Development Consulting is one of the main business lines for CIG. In previous years company managed 30 Local and International consulting projects, with a volume of 1.3 billion USD investment.



Tel Aviv Stock ExchangeListed Brimag Group & Elit Electronics Annual Meeting Held in Georgia


DECEMBER 1 - 4, 2017

TBC Signs EUR 94 Mln Agreement with EIB Group BY NINO GUGUNISHVILI



n November 29, Elit Electronics’ owner business group from Israel, Brimag, held an annual working meeting in Georgia. At the meeting, Brimag Group’s prior year’s achievements were examined, as was the business development angle and upcoming projects in Georgia, including a very important investment in the building of a logistics center. Elit Electronics also presented its

annual report. Brimag Group makes investments in several directions, one of which is Elit Electronics. This year, the memorandum of employees was signed with kitchen furniture entrepreneurs, world number one brand from German company Nobilla, due to join the Georgian market next year. In 2011, Brimag Group made a several million-dollar investment in Elit Electronics. Brimag owns one of the best electronic consuming and selling networks in Europe and Israel. Brimag Group stocks are registered on the Tel Aviv stock exchange.


BC signed two guarantee agreements for Euro 94 million with European Investment Bank Group (EIB), in a signing ceremony held at Biltmore Tbilisi Hotel on Wednesday. The guarantee agreement for EUR 80 million will be used to develop SME (small and medium size innovative enterprises) in Georgia within InnovFin, while a grant agreement of EUR 14 million (EU4Business) will be used to support micro enterprises in Georgia. The InnovFin agreement will secure 50% of the each loan issued by TBC Bank, while the other agreement within EU4Business will secure 70% of the loans issued by TBC Bank. “The signing of theses guarantee agreements with EIB Group marks an impotant stage of the cooperation between our companies,” Vakhtang Butskhrikidze, TBC Bank CEO said. “The amount and structure of guarantee products enables TBC Bank to support financing and development of SMEs in Georgia. Bringing the factor of guarantee possibilities to the Georgian financial sector is criti-

cal for economic growth. We are delighted that our cooperation with the EIB and EIF continues and we hope to have more agreements to be signed in the future”. “The support of small and medium business in Georgia will ensure the growth of the sector, increasing competitivness and creating more employment opportunities,” Vazil Hudak, Vice -President of European Investment Bank (EIB) noted. “TBC Bank is the leading Georgian bank which actively finances small and medium size enterprises and companies. The agreements signed today will give

TBC Bank the chance to expand its area of financing, from which Georgian companies will benefit,” said Pier Luigi Gilibert, Chief Executive of European Investment Fund. European Investment Fund has a mission to support SMEs as part of the European Investment Bank Group. European Investment Bank is the European Union’s Bank, owned by and European Union member states. EIB is the world’s largest multilateral borrower and lander providing finance and expertise for sustainable investment projects that contribute to EU policy objectives.

ever, only on September 12, 2000, did Russia, Iran and India sign a corresponding agreement, then ratified in 2002. In 2005, Azerbaijan joined the project followed by more than a dozen states joined, many of which claim a transit role. The implementation of the idea stalled in connection with Western sanctions against Iran. With the lifting of sanctions from Tehran in January 2016, the project again acquired relevance. A significant part of the North-South corridor runs along the railways of Russia, which, depending on the route, account for 33-53% of the total length of the overland part of the corridor. The main direction for the Russian side within the framework of the ITC is Buslovskaya - St. Petersburg - Moscow Ryazan - Kochetovka - Rtishchevo - Saratov - Volgograd - Astrakhan, with a length of 2,513 km. ITC "North-South" in its southern part presents several routes for cargo transportation using railway transport: The

Trans-Caspian route, using the Russian seaports of Astrakhan, Olya, and Makhachkala and the ports of Iran: Bender-Enzeli, Nouchekhr and BenderAmirabad. The western branch of the corridor is a direct rail link through the Samur (Russia) -Yalama (Azerbaijan) border crossings, with further access to Iran's railway network through the Astara (Azerbaijan) - Astara (Iran) border crossing. The eastern branch of the corridor is a direct rail service through Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan, with access to the Iranian railway network through the border crossings Serakhs (Turkmenia) - Serakhs (Iran) and Akheyla (Turkmenistan) - Ince Burun (Iran). The main advantage of ITC "NorthSouth" over other routes (in particular, before the sea route through the Suez Canal) is a reduction by two or more times the distance of transportation, as well as a reduction in the cost of transporting containers compared to the cost of transportation by sea route. Of great importance for the development of the ITC North-South in the medium term will be the terms of commissioning of the new railway line ReshtAstara (Iran) -Astara (Azerbaijan), which is the last missing link in the direct rail route along the western branch of the ITC North-South. Currently, within the framework of the interaction of Russia, Azerbaijan and Iran, work is underway to create a multi-modal route India-Iran-Azerbaijan-Russia, through which it is planned to organize the carriage of goods in containers on a regular basis. The route involves sea transportation of goods between the ports of India and Iran, the use of rail and road transport on the territory of Iran (due to the lack of a direct railway connection with Azerbaijan) and the subsequent delivery by the Azerbaijani and Russian railways to the final consumer.

Volkswagen International Transport Corridor (ITC) to Go Electric "North-South" BY DIMITRI DOLABERIDZE


he German auto giant Volkswagen intends to invest EUR 34 billion in new technologies over the next five years, outrunning Tesla, which is experiencing serious financial problems today, with the aim of becoming the new world leader in the field of electric vehicles. “We are reinventing the car,” said VW CEO, Matthias Müller. “Most of the company's expenses from 2018 to 2022 will be for electric, hybrid models, as well as so-called robobooms”. This almost doubles the previously planned funds. In September, the auto concern said that investment in electric vehicles would amount to EUR 20 billion until 2030. Today, this amount has risen to EUR 35 billion. As reported by Reuters, referring to the data received,

VW is to extract additional funds, carrying out a developed program of economy of means, from an increase in sales of cars with petrol engines. But like other automakers involved in the production of classic cars, VW is intensifying its focus on cleaner, greener and smarter vehicles of the future. The task is to overtake Tesla in this direction. And the reputation of the manufacturer of machines with practically zero emissions is especially important for a German enterprise, which is still experiencing the consequences of "dieselgate," a scandal associated with fake sensors mis-measuring the release of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere on diesel vehicles. Today, VW Group owns 12 brands, including Audi, Porsche and Skoda and a number of other cars that are very popular worldwide. This autumn, the company announced its intention to electrify its entire lineup by 2030, a total of 300 models.



he International Transport Corridor (ITC) "NorthSouth" is a multimodal transportation route for passengers and cargoes, running the total length from St. Petersburg to the Port of Mumbai (India). Formation of the international transport corridor "North-South" was initiated by the Ministry of Transport of Russia in order to implement Russia's strategic partnership with the countries of the Caspian region. The corridor is also expected to improve Russia's relations with the countries of the Persian Gulf and South Asia, as well as to ensure the development of transit Euro-Asian transportation by domestic transport communications. The idea of the 7,000 km North-South transport corridor arose in 1993. How-



Exclusive Interview with BP Regional President Continued from page 1

Finally, there is also the Western Route Export Pipeline (WREP) and Supsa terminal, which BP operate on the behalf of an international consortium of energy companies, that transports oil from the Caspian Sea oil fields via Azerbaijan’s Sangachal terminal to Georgia’s Supsa terminal on the Black Sea. Gary Jones is BP’s Regional President for Azerbaijan, Georgia and Turkey, accountable for all of BP’s upstream activities in the region. Starting his career with BP in 1981, Gary has held many leadership positions in drilling, operations and projects. Key leadership positions have included, heading BP’s operations in Iraq as General Manager Rumaila / Vice President Operations, serving as a key leader in Russia as the Project Director/Performance Unit Leader, Verkhnechonskoye, and holding multiple senior leadership positions across BP’s North Sea asset base. Ahead of the Tbilisi Belt & Road Forum, GEORGIA TODAY sat down with Gary for an exclusive interview on the significance of BP’s presence in Georgia, and what plans are in place to continue their over two decadelong partnership.

IN YOUR PROGRAM NOTES YOU MENTION THAT “GEORGIA PLAYS A SIGNIFICANT ROLE IN THE ENERGY SECURITY AND SUPPLY DIVERSITY OF THE REGION.” COULD YOU PLEASE ELABORATE? With the contract of the century in 1994, we started the development of Azeri-Chirag-Gunashli (ACG) field, the big oil development in the Caspian, a massive field on a global scale. Essentially, that was the start of the Western Route Export Pipeline better known as Baku-Supsa pipeline. After the completion of this early oil project, we have constructed two major pipelines Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan oil (BTC) and South Caucasus gas pipelines from the Caspian through Azerbaijan, Georgia and to Turkey and operated them successfully since 2005. The gas story in the region started with Shah Deniz Stage 1 production in 2006 and since then has been reliably supplying gas to the regional markets including Georgia. That was also the start of Georgia becoming such an important transit route for the Caspian into the international markets. That now expands with the development of the Southern Gas Corridor. The Southern Gas Corridor including Shah Deniz Stage 2, South Caucasus Pipeline Expansion, Trans Anatolian Natural Gas Pipeline (TANAP) and Trans Adriatic Pipeline (TAP) forms one of the largest energy projects anywhere in the world. This pipeline system enables us to take gas from the Caspian all the way to Southern Italy. So, from a gas perspective, the Caspian now has an export route not only to Turkey but to Southern Italy as well — Georgia is right at the heart of it all. Without Georgia, the resources of the Caspian would not be as available as they are today. Currently, in Azerbaijan and Georgia, the project is over 97% complete and on target to deliver first gas to Turkey next year. At the peak of the construction activities this project employed 24,000 people in Azerbaijan, 6000 in Georgia and perhaps twice as many in other countries along the Southern Corridor. We are making good progress in Georgia. Compressor Station 1 (in Gardabani) was mechanically completed in August and we are preparing for the introduction of hydrocarbons as we speak, while the Georgia pipeline loop and the pressure reduction and metering station at the Georgia-Turkey border (Area 81) will be handed over to Operations before the end of the year. The Georgia pipeline (66km in Georgia) construction is completed. Compressor Station Georgia 2 (CSG2) construction is close to completion. We are firmly on track to deliver our commitments for 1st gas in 2018.

COULD YOU PLEASE EXPLAIN HOW THE NEW SOUTHERN GAS CORRIDOR WILL CHANGE THE ENERGY MAP OF EUROPE? The Southern Gas Corridor provides an export route for Caspian gas into Italy and therefore into Southern Europe, a possibility that was previously unavailable. Before, all the gas from the Caspian went to either Georgia, Azerbaijan, or Turkey, with about 10 billion cubic meters (bcm) per year being supplied to these countries via the existing infrastructure. The new Southern Gas Corridor will see another 16bcm produced, of which about 10bcm will go into Southern Europe for the first time. Furthermore, any new discoveries that may happen in the Caspian will now automatically have a transit route and, if needed, we can expand existing capacity further by adding more compressor stations. What this means now is that gas discoveries in the Caspian will be advantaged as a result of the investment into the infrastructure.


EXPANSION OF THIS SOUTHERN GAS CORRIDOR TO PROVIDING THE CONTINENT WITH AN ALTERNATIVE TO RUSSIAN GAS? It is all relative. Right now, these changes will see 10bcm headed into Europe, but the pipeline has the capacity to double that to 20bcm. While it is relatively small compared to the big picture, the point is that it creates that opportunity for diversity which is so important.


Discussion: When Journalists Face Moral & Professional Choices

ON THE SUBJECT OF “COMPETITION,” WITH THE BLACK SEA REGION BEING A HOTSPOT OF GEOPOLITICAL CONFLICTS AND RIVALRY IN MANY FIELDS INCLUDING ENERGY SECURITY, TO EUROPE ESPECIALLY, HOW VULNERABLE ARE BP’S PLANS AND INFRASTRUCTURE TO ANY NEW GEOPOLITICAL CONFLICTS? BP has been around for over a hundred years; geopolitics is not new. We’ve been in Russia for a long time, as well as in Iraq for quite a long while, too. Indeed, part of my career I spent in Iraq, on the Rumaila field which BP first discovered back in 1950. So, in our industry, the time of discovery to production can be five to ten years, so we always play the long game. Politics tends to vary but the bottom line is that the world needs energy, it needs heat and light. Many parts of the world still do not have reliable heat and light so there’s definitely a demand for it. Our job, with our co-venturers, is to always look for opportunities to expand and create more diversity of source to keep that supply sustained.


Photo: Davit Paichadze. Photo source: Friedrich Naumann Fund

We recently extended the production share agreement on the ACG oil field until 2050, signed on September 14. In addition, we have already extended the Shah Deniz gas field, to a similar 2050 timeframe. Essentially, the Caspian is a potentially huge source of hydrocarbons, and what we are developing now at ACG and Shah Deniz Phase 1 & 2 represents about 10 billion barrels of oil and gas equivalent. There is another 10 billion barrels of oil and gas equivalent in the Caspian that has already been discovered, though it has yet to be developed. Then there is another 10-12 billion barrels there to be explored. We have some exploration programs, as do other companies, for looking at developing those reserves and to see if they are commercially attractive. So, there’s huge potential. If you look at other big basins around the world, the North Sea, the Gulf of Mexico, Alaska, etc., and where the Caspian is now, then the future of the Caspian could be very exciting because of all the big reserves, and the satellite projects that build on the existing infrastructure. As long as we can get the cost structure right, and the governments of Azerbaijan, Georgia, Turkey, and Italy, are willing to cooperate in the process of developing their resources, there’s a lot more success to be had on top of what we have already achieved.

n November 29, within the framework of the project ‘Journalist’s Breakfast at Freedom Office,’ well-known journalist Davit Paichadze met with media and civil society representatives to discuss the issue of journalism ethics, its limits, and possible solutions to said limitations. The discussion focused on hate speech and kindling xenophobia. Lasha Giorgadze, Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Center for Civil Involvement, opened the event before giving the stage to TV and radio journalist Davit Paichadze. “We’re here to think about ways to diminish the risks as of sharing language of hatred and xenophobia via media or by media,” Paichadze told GEORGIA TODAY. “It is not difficult to see. Freedom of speech is guaranteed to such an extent by Georgian legislation that it is impossible to confine hate speech and similar opinion-making. There are several ways to confront this: one is that the journalists who do not share such pathos of hate speech and xenophobia should be much more actively offering to publicize their TV programs, discussions, reportages and in some cases, their personal opinions, too. Journalists should think twice about whom they invite as respondents and what these guests will bring them. If you are sure that your respondent will talk in such a way as to

IN TERMS OF CONTINUING AND BUILDING ON YOUR PROJECTS IN GEORGIA, WHAT KIND OF FUTURE INVOLVEMENT IN THE COUNTRY CAN WE EXPECT FROM BP, NOT ONLY IN THE ENERGY SECTOR BUT IN YOUR WORK AT THE COMMUNITY LEVEL? Just through BTC and the South Caucasus Pipeline, we’ve invested about $2 billion, and the extension of the South Caucasus Pipeline takes the spending to about $4 billion in business expenditure, and of course on top of that investment there is the proceeds the government gets for the opportunity to transport the oil and gas. With our co-venturers and our partners, we’ve also spent about a $100 million on social investment programs, which you would expect as you get involved in these sorts of strategic developments over many, many years. Social investment is a part of that, and in Georgia, together with our oil and gas partners and local donors and business partners, we support local communities and wider society with access to energy and energy efficiency, business start-ups and agriculture, education and Paralympic sports. Our community development program is focused on the communities living along the pipeline route, where we look at all the villages and say, “how can we make sure that the local people benefit?”, and that could anything from education, business start-ups to farming. All the work, in whichever sphere it is, is always done in the spirit of ‘how can we really educate people to become independent and self-sufficient?’ So it’s not just about giving them things but making sure they are sustainable, and actually that is some of the most fulfilling work we do.



harm others’ dignity or insult others, thus intensifying the aspiration of hostility, then it is a matter of your moral and professional choice. As journalists, we should be responsible, which means that we should trust and respect our society by offering it a higher level of discussions that we are having currently. We should aspire to constant professional growth”. “We should let go such people who kindle hatred, and we should not give our channels and newspapers a chance to propagate their opinions. Such an attitude is pragmatically unprofitable. If we give our air, pages or internet space to those individuals who assault others’ freedoms, discuss details from others' lives, discriminate against others’ faith, sexual orientation, ethnicity, and so on, sooner or later, these opinions will come back to us. When journalists give space to aggressive respondents, they unwillingly or deliberately create a fertile ground for restricting others’ freedom. If Georgia is ever able to really evolve, such people should be marginalized. The role of media in this regard is vital,” he concluded. “Once annually, we invite people in an informal environment to share their opinions about relevant recent issues,” Giorgadze told us. “The main goal of our soon-to-end project, was to give journalists an environment where they would feel free to express their opinions and ask open questions to respondents”. The meeting took place at Friedrich Naumann Fund and was organized by the Center for Civil Involvement. E-mail: Tel: ( +995 ) 591 930 303

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DECEMBER 1 - 4, 2017

Brazil’s Ambassador to Georgia on Developing Brazil-Georgian Relations China or neigboring countries, the potential is there. Since the independence of Georgia, our political dialogue has been very good. Both Brazil and Georgia believe a lot in multilateralism and our positions are convergent, like respecting the territorial integrities of the countries; like giving good value to the decisions of the General Assembly of the UN and to all the international bodies. In terms of economy, Brazil has to discover Georgian wine! The Brazilian market, which has over 200 million inhabitants, is a very big market for Georgia to explore. This year we had a team of Brazilian journalists from Globo TV visiting Georgia: for 20 days they shot their trip around Georgia; everywhere from Mestia to Kakheti to Kazbegi. The resulting documentary was seen by 45 million viewers in Brazil, so now Brazilians know more about Georgians and that’s very important.




.E. Cicero Martins Garcia, Brazil’s Ambassador to Georgia, is a career diplomat with over 30 years’ experience. We met him to find out the latest on country relations and potential development in areas of mutual interest.

TELL US YOUR IMPRESSIONS OF GEORGIA. My time in Georgia has been very positive, both professionally and personally. When I come to a [new] country, I read a lot of material for tourists. They all

spoke highly about the landscape of Georgia, the food, wine and supra; about the nice people here, so I was prepared; and what surprised me is that this information was not at all exaggerated, it was reality.

HOW WOULD YOU CHARACTERIZE THE GEORGIAN-BRAZILIAN DIPLOMATIC RELATIONS? I think the relations between Brazil and Georgia have to go much further than they are now. They are kicking off only now, partly because of the economic hardships our countries experienced in the past. 10 years ago we were ready to start, but because of the war of 2008 the economic situation in Georgia was dif-

ficult, nor was it so good in Brazil, because of the economic crisis of 2008. Now we’re back to a very good economic position, and so is Georgia; it looks like the recession is over, and for both countries it’s a very good moment to start. The visit to Georgia of the Foreign Minister of Brazil, H.E. Aloysio Nunes Ferreira, on November 16, the first of such a high level authority, was a mark in the bilateral relations.

WHICH SPHERES AND DIRECTIONS COULD THE TWO DEVELOP MORE IN FUTURE? Last year, Georgia exported $1.3 million to Brazil, while Brazil exported $250 million to Georgia, and although Brazil’s export to Georgia is lower than from

We just organized a week-long festival of Brazilian cinema in Tbilisi at Amirani cinema. It went very well, and we plan to repeat it in future. Next year, a Brazilian trade mission is planning a visit to Georgia, giving a chance for businessmen to get to know Georgia and the possibilities here for them. Although Georgia is a small country, it is strategically located and has a very good ambiance, and from Georgia you can explore all the neighboring markets. There are many fields, such as infrastructure or energy, to be developed, and Brazilians could help.

WHAT CAN GEORGIANS LEARN FROM BRAZILIANS AND VICE VERSA? Music is something I like very much. My wife is a pianist, and I think Brazilians could learn polyphonic singing from Georgians. Georgia has such a high level in music! Georgia is harmony of poly-

phonic songs and Brazilian music is about rhythm. Something that surprised me positively when I arrived here was the very high level of Georgian classical music as well, with superb musicians and composers.

WHAT DO YOU LIKE TO DO WHEN NOT WORKING? DO YOU HAVE ANY FAVOURITE PLACES IN TBILISI OR OUTSIDE THE CITY? As a diplomat, you have to attend various receptions, and I attend as many events as I can. There are 35 embassies in Tbilisi and I always try to go to their events, to communicate, to exchange information, and I always go to government events as it’s very important to maintain links and exchange ideas. Out of the ‘office,’ I often go to Vake Park or the Opera and Ballet and often enjoy concerts at the Tbilisi Concert Hall, Jansug Kakhidze Music Center and Georgian National Opera Theater. I’ve visited lots of places outside Tbilisi; I’ve been to Vardzia, Borjomi, Sighnaghi, Batumi, Akhaltsikhe and Gori. Mestia and Ushguli really impressed me; I spent two nights in Mestia and two nights in Ushguli. It was interesting to see how the place had kept its medieval character, a different level of living and civilization in a blend of old and new. That tandem of Mestia and Ushguli touched me the most and I plan to visit Tusheti in future.

WHAT WOULD YOU RECOMMEND FOREIGNERS PLANNING TO COME IN GEORGIA, BASED ON YOUR OWN EXPERIENCE? Sometimes you have to give recommendations like not to go to a particular area or not to eat certain foods, or beware of a certain insect, but with Georgia that’s not the case; it’s so hospitable, and a must-explore location! And also- be sure to try the Khachapuri!

Last Cow Standing: Etseri, Svaneti BLOG BY TONY HANMER


arning: This gets a bit graphic about butchery, so beware, ye faint of heart! The time had come, if we really meant what we said. Intending to be freer to travel together, having one cow left was as bad as having the up to five which we have had alive together at one point. The only one remaining was the “Matriarch”, mother or grandmother of all the others, our only bovine buy and oldest animal at about ten years old. (Not that we name any of our potential meat animals: this was more her title than her name per se.) The time stretched out as we tried to ask various local men-friends to lend a hand. Some were unreachable by phone, others unavailable for various reasons. In the end, it came down to me recruiting two neighbors loitering near the house on the spur of the moment to do the job right away. Hardly ideal, as it meant we couldn’t make the cow fast for a day or so, and her stomachs were full. But we had helpers, now, so the time rushed upon us. I led her by rope to the spot, still grazing, trusting animal, and one of the guys banged her on the head with my sledgehammer, humanely to put her out before he would step in with the knife to her throat. Once the blood stopped, it was just meat to be skinned and cut up. Dogs

circled, waiting for the things they smelled, wolves at heart. The head went whole into the freezer, to wait for some time when I would be away, so my wife could do the things she wants to do with it far from my nose. We sent each of the helpers away with a small package from the work as a thank-you token. And toasted our new-made freedom. Only a few chickens remain, and those can be given their daily food by any neighbor, little trouble. The barn is now theirs until their turns come, and it will for the first time get too cold to winter potatoes in, minus its bigger tenants and their body heat. (The last cow had to go before winter set in for the same reason: one animal would freeze to death here without the warmth of at least one other.) We already have offers to buy or rent the building, and while we might consider the latter for a neighbor’s cows, we would never sell it. Believe me, I long for the day when meat grown in the lab (from actual meat cells, so it’s real) will become cheaper than and just as good as that from an animal which consumes so much grass and produces so much methane per kg! I’m not ready to give up eating the stuff, but would welcome this version of it, being worked on constantly now. I do hate the industry which western-world meat has become, inhumane and factorybased as it is, with animals getting further and further from nature, stuffed full of chemicals and hormones, and equally far from sun, sky and ground which should be their habitat, like they are for

our free-range animals. Or should I even trust the same industry which has foisted tobacco, salt, sugar, fat and many other abominations on us for the sake of its own profit? Altered the dietary habits of hundreds of millions of people from early childhood to early grave, protected by its powerful

lobbyists? Trust it to make an actually healthy substitute for meat on the hoof, claw or fin? Maybe not. I might be forced to a dietary change in the end, after all. 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 1800 members, at He and his wife also run their own guest house in Etseri:



Israeli-Georgian Mosaic Archaeologist Reveals All EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW BY VAZHA TAVBERIDZE


s we reported earlier this week, a 1500-year-old Georgian church mosaic was discovered in Israeli Port City, unearthed during an excavation in the coastal city of Ashdod. The mosaic was discovered in August, under the direction of Dr. Alexander Fantalkin of Tel Aviv University’s Archeology and Ancient Near Eastern Civilizations Department, whom GEORGIA TODAY contacted to give our readers more details on this a truly amazing discovery.

WHAT DO WE KNOW SO FAR? We’ve been excavating this site since 2013. We made quite few sensational discovers from different historical periods, but this summer we decided to explore the “lower city” for the first time. The Roman-Byzantine city which was discovered by the dunes was basically unknown until today. We believe that we’ve unearthed the longlost ruins of Ashdod-Yam, a Byzantine port city known in the classical sources as Azotos Paralios. In the early Byzantine period, it was a large and important port town. So not long after the first spot was carefully chosen, we discovered during a very short season of excavation a beautiful preserved mosaic floor with inscriptions of a religious complex of sorts. We had barely touched it, but already the discoveries we made during the trial excavation were impressive because of their inscriptions. The inscriptions are in Greek, the longest one mentioning a certain bishop by the name of Procopius. It also mentions the year that the building, a monastery in fact, was built. And what made this especially unique is that the year is calculated according to what seems to be the Georgian calendar of creation. If this is indeed so, then it would be the first example of a Georgian monastery from the 6th century AD, located on the Israeli coast and also the very first known use of the Georgian calendar, way before it was used even in Georgia. We know quite a few Georgian churches and monasteries in the area of Jerusalem from this period because the Georgian presence in the Holy Land is well-known from the 5th century. But on the Israeli coast, it’s a first to have something related to Georgia from such an early date.

YOU HAVE YET TO UNEARTH THE WHOLE COMPLEX AND THERE COULD BE MORE DISCOVERIES TO FOLLOW… There will definitely be more discoveries related to this monastery because what we excavated is just scratching the surface. Archeologically speaking, this is just the beginning. We conducted some geoarcheological investigations during the excavation and with the use of radarpenetrating technique we’ve seen that there are many walls and floors still unexcavated. We’re going to go back to try and excavate the whole structure. It’s obvious that there are a lot of ancient remains around the area we discovered the mosaic.




In this period there were different calendars in use. Evidense suggests that Azotos-Paralios didn’t have their own, so they used those of different eras. In this case, if it fits the Georgian calendar, then there’s no other reasonable explanation that any other community than Georgians would use it. The second inscription is in Greek. It’s of no concern as we know that Georgian monks, unlike Armenian monks in this period, used Greek in their inscriptions. The fact that it uses the Georgian era of creation is a very strong argument in favor of it being a Georgian monastery. In addition to this evidence is that one of the most famous figures of early Christianity, Peter the Iberian, who was a Georgian prince by birth, was extremely active in this area during the late 5th century AD. We know from historical sources that he actually lived and preached in Azotos-Paralios. The date of the monastery on the inscriptions is 6th century AD. So, it’s after his death. But it would be reasonable to assume that the Georgian Church would be established in this place in commemoration of Peter the Iberian. During his stay in Ashdod-yam, he was offered a luxurious villa inside the city. He refused, instead building himself a spot on the seashore; he himself writes that, “I’ve built myself a despicable depot at the seaside” and from there he preached, and people came from all around the area.

Usually, in archeology, it takes time to announce finds, and in this case, we wanted to be sure before we released a major statement about the Georgian calendar. We checked all other possible dates of calculation, thanks to which we are now certain that only the Georgian calendar would fit the date. There’s no conspiracy in the delay in announcing.

COULD THEY HAVE BUILT THE MONASTERY TO COMMEMORATE THE PLACE WHERE PETER THE IBERIAN USED TO PREACH? Perhaps. The monastery we discovered is located quite close to the beach, actually.

WHAT ARE YOUR HOPES ABOUT THE SITE? WHAT WOULD YOU LIKE TO DISCOVER HERE? My hope is to continue to excavate there in the coming years and to transform it into a touristic attraction for tourists and pilgrims who enjoy exploring holy sites in different religions. That would be very nice. In archeology, you never know what you’re going to discover.

BUT WHAT PILGRIMS WOULD GO THERE? PETER THE IBERIAN WAS A MONOPHYSITE AND ISN’T CONSIDERED A SAINT BY THE GEORGIAN ORTHODOX CHURCH A most interesting point, but his role was an extremely important one in early Christianity. There were different ways of thinking, different opportunities, people were struggling with faith, and pondering questions of the nature of Christ, humanity, the divine. They were in the middle of a huge religious dispute that would define Christianity for centuries to come; I think people who are interested in such historical and religious questions would love to come to this site. As for Peter the Iberian, saint or no saint, there is no doubt that he was a huge historical figure. He rejected the council of Calcedon. He was monophysite, but in the eyes of historians, it doesn’t diminish his importance at all.





DECEMBER 1 - 4, 2017


TBILISI ZAKARIA PALIASHVILI OPERA AND BALLET THEATER Address: 25 Rustaveli Ave. Telephone: 2 99 04 56 December 2, 3 AN EVENING OF GEORGE BALANCHINE’S CHOREOGRAPHY One act ballets by George Balanchine: ‘Serenade’, Symphony in C and ‘Mozartiana’. Start time: 19:00 Ticket: 10-50 GEL SHALIKASHVILI THEATER Address: 37 Rustaveli Ave. Telephone: 595 50 02 03 December 1, 2 KRIMANCHULI Directed by Amiran Shalikashvili Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 15 GEL CINEMA

AMIRANI CINEMA Address: 36 Kostava Str. Telephone: 2 99 99 55 Every Wednesday ticket price: 5 GEL November 17-23 JUSTICE LEAGUE Directed by Zack Snyder Cast: Ben Affleck, Gal Gadot, Jason Momoa, Robin Wright, Connie Nielsen, Amy Adams Genre: Action, Adventure, Fantasy Language: Russian Start time: 16:45, 19:30 Ticket: 10-14 GEL BREATHE Directed by Andy Serkis Cast: Andrew Garfield, Claire Foy, Hugh Bonneville Genre: Biography, Drama, Romance Language: Russian Start time: 16:45, 19:30 Ticket: 10-14 GEL MURDER ON THE ORIENT EXPRESS Directed by Kenneth Branagh Cast: Daisy Ridley, Johnny Depp, Michelle Pfeiffer, Penélope Cruz,

Judi Dench Genre: Crime, Drama, Mystery Language: Russian Start time: 13:30 Ticket: 12 GEL WONDER Directed by Stephen Chbosky Cast: Julia Roberts, Jacob Tremblay, Owen Wilson Genre: Drama Language: Russian Start time: 19:00 Ticket: 17 GEL RUSTAVELI CINEMA Address: 5 Rustaveli Ave. Telephone: 2 55 50 00 Every Wednesday ticket: 5 GEL December 1-7 FLATLINERS Directed by Niels Arden Oplev Cast: Ellen Page, Diego Luna, Nina Dobrev Genre: Drama, Horror, Sci-Fi Language: Russian Start time: 19:00 Ticket: 17 GEL BREATHE (Info Above) Start time: 17:15, 22:30 Ticket: 11-14 GEL JUSTICE LEAGUE (Info Above) Language: Russian Start time: 19:15 Ticket: 13-14 GEL MUSEUM

GEORGIAN NATIONAL MUSEUM SIMON JANASHIA MUSEUM Address: 4 Rustaveli Ave. Telephone: 2 99 80 22, 2 93 48 21 Exhibition GEORGIAN COSTUME AND WEAPONRY OF 18TH-20TH CENTURIES Georgian National Museum and Korneli Kekelidze National Centrer of Manuscripts present the exhibition MEDIEVAL TREASURY Permanent Exhibition


ART PALACE Address: 6 Kargareteli Str.

November 25 – December 14 Exhibition FROM TRAVELLINGS


MUSEUM OF FINE ARTS Address: 1 Gudiashvili Str. Telephone: 2 99 99 09 March 6 – December 31 EXHIBITION MASTERPIECES FROM THE MUSEUM OF FINE ARTS COLLECTION November 14 – December 9 Exhibition CROSSROAD RELIGIOUS & ETHNIC DIVERSITY OF GEORGIA IOSEB GRISHASHVILI TBILISI HISTORY MUSEUM - KARVASLA Address: 8 Sioni St. Telephone: 2 98 22 81 November 24 – December 12 CHINESE CONTEMPORARY ART EXHIBITION ART AND PEACE November 28 – January 10, 2018 GNM Tbilisi History Museum Contemporary Art Gallery will host the exhibition STATE OF PLAY: ART IN GEORGIA IN 1985-1999 The exhibition will present works by 24 Georgian artists from the 1980-90s, among them:: Gia Edzgveradze, Guram Tsibakhashvili, Iliko Zautashvili, Karlo Kacharava, Koka Ramishvili, Kote Sulaberidze, Keti Kapanadze, Kote Jincharadze, Levan Chogoshvili, Lia Shvelidze, Luka Lasareishvili, Maia Naveriani, Maia Tsetskhladze, Malkhaz Datukishvili, Mamuka Japaridze, Mamuka Tsetskhladze, Misha Gogrichiani, Murtaz Shvelidze, Niko Tsetskhladze, Oleg Timchenko, Tea Gvetadze, Temo Javakhishvili, Vakho Bugadze and Ushangi Khumarashvili. The exhibition will also showcase photo documents depicting 8090s Georgia created by Guram Tsibakhashvili.


ERTI GALLERY Address: 19 Ingorokva Str./5 9 April Str. Building B. Space 1 December 2 – January 15 Tato Akhalkatsishvili's solo show NEVER SLEEP UPSIDE DOWN A multimedia installation related to the galaxy. PROJECT ARTBEAT Address: 14 Ingorokva Str. November 24 – December 30 Project ArtBeat presents MAKA BATIASHVILI’S SOLO EXHIBITION Of artworks made in different techniques in 2015-17. Black and white sketches and canvases TBC GALLERY Address: 5 Marjanishvili Str. Telephone: 227 27 27 November 30 - December 17 PETRE OTSKHELI'S 110TH ANNIVERSARY EXHIBITION MUSIC

TBILISI STATE CONSERVATOIRE Address: 8 Griboedov St. Telephone: 2 93 46 24 December 1 WORLD OPERA STAR LADO ATANELI The Concert is dedicated to the 90th birth anniversary of Nodar Andghuladze Piano- Marina Metreveli In program: Mascagni, Handel, Gluck, Brahms, Schumann, Rachmaninov, Tchaikovksy, Arakishvili Romances Start time: 19:00 Ticket: 10-50 GEL

December 5 BRAVO MAESTRO! Dedicated to the 85th birthday anniversary of Marine Iashvili Start time: 19:30 Ticket: 5-20 GEL December 7 ANTONIO FARRAO’S QUARTET JAZZ Evening Antonio Farrao’s Quartet Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 10-70 GEL TBILISI ZAKARIA PALIASHVILI OPERA AND BALLET THEATRE Address: 25 Rustaveli Ave. Telephone: 2 99 04 56 December 5 OPERA SINGERS FOR BANA CHARITY CONCERT Participants: Iano Alibegashvili, Giorgi Gagnidze, Lado Ataneli, Tamar Iveri, Ketevan Kemoklidze and others. Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 20-150 GEL MZIURI Address: Mziuri Cafe December 3 SAKVIRAO Entertainment program for children Start time: 12:00 SPACEHALL Address: 1 Tsereteli Ave. December 1 DECODER: LEN FAKI / I HATE MODELS / SNTS / HENNING BAER Decoder Festival Start time: 23:30 Ticket: 60 GEL TBILISI CONCERT HALL Address: 1 Melikishvili Ave. December 6 MY GEORGIA IS HERE ‘Orera’ 55th Anniversary Concert Participants: Nani Bregvadze, Buba Kikabidze Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 20, 25, 30 GEL TBILISI EVENT HALL Address: 1 Melikishvili Ave. December 7 NIAZ DIASAMIDZE AND 33a Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 35 GEL TBILISI BAROQUE FESTIVAL December 1 Davide Amadio (cello, Italy), ‘Georgian Sinfonietta’ Start time: 19:30 Ticket: 5-30 GEL Venue: Rustaveli Theater December 7 Sergio Azzolini (bassoon, Italy), Giovanni De Angeli (oboe, Italy), Priska Comploi (oboe, Italy), Ai Ikeda (bassoon, Japan), ‘Georgian Sinfonietta’ Start time: 19:30 Ticket: 5-30 GEL Venue: Rustaveli Theater DJANSUG KAKHIDZE TBILISI CENTER FOR MUSIC AND CULTURE Address: 125 Aghmashenebeli ave. Telephone: 2 96 12 43 December 2 THE CONCERT OF SYMPHONIC MUSIC Conducted by Vakhatng Kakhidze Soloist Paata Tcheishvili will perform the concert of outstanding Armenian composer Alexander Arutjunjan, The program includes ‘Polovtsian dances’ from the opera ‘Prince Igor’ by Alexander Borodin and Symphony No.4 by Peter Tchaikovsky Start time: 19:30 Ticket: 5-30 GEL




Italian Vesela Koleda! Bulgarians Baroque Start Christmas Preparations Evening BY MAKA LOMADZE



bilisi’s Baroque Festival is in full swing. On December 1 at 7PM, an ‘Italian Baroque Evening’ will be held at Rustaveli Theater. The concert, entitled ‘The Red Cloak’, is to be held within the Baroque epoch of Italian composers including Antonio Vivaldi. Vivaldi's music will be performed at the concert, as well as Venetian musician Célétie Diede Dádio, performing with Georgia Sinfonietta. David Amadio participated in the festival last year, and we invited him to the event again this year. Davide Amadio lived and studied in Venice. He was a student of A.Vendramelli, and later continued his studies in Germany with M.Flaxmann, and subsequently with Micha Maisky, which sparked his interest in Baroque in the early 90’s. In 1988, together with P. Cognolato, he founded the chamber orchestra ‘Interpreti Veneziani’. In thirty years of playing solo in more than 50 countries around the world, he has recorded more than 30 albums’ with Ricordi, MusicStrasse, Rivo Alto, Electa and Sonar. Together with his ensemble, Davide Amadio performs all year in Venice, in the picturesque Church of San

Vidal. He founded and supports three musical establishments, all of high prestige, in three different venues across the city of Venice “The Museum of Music”, “Vivaldi and his Time”, and “The Masterpieces of modern Violin”. Participating in numerous Baroque festivals in Italy and abroad, he holds master classes in Baroque music in Venice, Buenos Aires and Tokyo; particularly on Vivaldi and cello concerts. He has collaborated with the Biennale of Modern Art and artist Yoko Ono. Through the years, Davide has become a source of inspiration for many artists. In 2016, at the 30th Conference for Artificial Intelligence in Tokyo, a study was presented for the construction of a cello playing android, into which the database of 42 cellists from throughout history were compiled, from Casals to Rostropovich, Maisky Yo-Yo Ma to Davide Amadio himself. He plays with a Cello Andrea Postacchini made in Italy on 1827. Before the concert at 19:00, a lecture by David Gigineishvili about upcoming music/piece will be held. Tbilisi Baroque Festival will end on December 7. In an epic closing, the Georgian Sinfonietta will take part with world famous Baroque artists: Sergio Azzollini (bassoon, Italy), Giovani de Angeli (oboe Italy), Priska Comploi (oboe, Italy), Ai Ikeda (bassoo, Japan) and Davide Amadio (cello, Italy).


n Bulgaria, unlike other Orthodox Churches which use the Julian calendar and celebrate Christmas on January 7, this great holiday is celebrated on December 25, in accordance with the Gregorian calendar. Nevertheless, for many Bulgarians, preparations start much earlier with advent, which lasts for 40 days in the Orthodox Church and starts on the 15th of November. This was why the Bulgarian embassy in Georgia started the Christmas celebrations and marked it by holding a Christmas workshop on its premises on November 25. Imagine the scene: children and adults, busy making decorations for the Christmas tree, even inexperienced ones learning what to do; a mix of Bulgarians either born in Georgia, or temporarily residing here as part of their mission or work. “Survachka is a small tree which is usually decorated with popcorn, dried fruit, and with woolen and cotton decorations,” Excellency, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary, Dessislava Ivanova, told us. “Traditionally, young boys take them from house to house. When the owner of the house opens the door, they, dressed in traditional clothing, sing some traditional songs and offer their

good wishes for the homeowner’s health, prosperity, and a good harvest. We used to make the survachkas, though these days we buy them”. “My mother used to prepare Tolma which was different from the Georgian one,” said Irina Janjghava-Yanak, a Georgian woman whose mother is a Bulgarian born-and-bred in Georgia. “We also make Banitsa [a layered pastry filled with cheese, which tastes very similar to Khachapuri]. My mother learnt it from her grandmother. I’m happy that there’s a Bulgarian society in Georgia and that we can meet at such events”. To find out about Christmas traditions in Bulgaria, check out our special Christmas issue of GEORGIA TODAY at the end of December.

Georgian Soprano: Goodwill Ambassador in Italy OP-ED BY NUGZAR B. RUHADZE


er story is a breathtaking saga of a wonderful Georgian lady who extensively traveled Europe to enhance her qualification and who finally landed in Pesaro, Italy, the great Rossini’s birthplace, where she encountered the famous nonagenarian Maestro Mario Melani to eventually determine the talented operatic singer’s fate and career. Maestro accepted Nino Lezhava as his own daughter, his pupil and the future heiress to the position of the Maestra of his Academy of Song. This may sound like another Cinderella story of a lucky girl, but nothing would have happened without Nino’s angelic voice, her outstanding professionalism, creative power, scenic charisma, and her unique ability to present her attractive personality to public both on stage and in life, easily winning the hearts and minds of those who come in touch with her accidentally or for a purpose. This is the way Nino became the Artistic Director of the Superintendent and Artistic Director of the Renata Tebaldi & Mario Del Monaco International Academy of Song in the beautiful city of Pesaro on the Adriatic coast, where she continues working even now. The interesting part of the saga is that she did not stop there. She has managed to personify a successful young Georgian woman whose deeds burgeoned on foreign soil. Together with her elder sister Leeka Lezhava, a lawyer and economist who has been entrusted as a managing partner in the Academy’s daily business, she laid the foundation of future cultural and economic relations between the cities of Batumi and Pesaro. The plan of the cooperative sisters soon came to fruition. With the active and very helpful participation of Pesaro’s Vice-Mayor Daniele Vimini, the Days of the Georgian Culture in Pesaro a couple of years ago was a great success, and now the Italian delegation is in Georgia for the Days of Italian Culture in Batumi, an event evaluated as just as successful. The delegation, headed by Ilaro Barbanti, the

President of the Council of Cultural Advisers of Pesaro, was received by Lasha Komakhidze, the Mayor of Batumi. The two sides expressed readiness for developing future cooperation by turning Batumi and Pesaro into sister cities. Present at the meeting were the representatives of the business circles of Pesaro. To make all this happen, Nino Lezhava needed the assistance and benevolence of the Georgian Embassy in Rome, and Ambassador Kakha Sikarulidze did all his possible best to have the project be brought to a happy end, but as the Lezhava sisters put it, this is not the end. Just the opposite: this is only the beginning of social, cultural and economic ties between Pesaro and Batumi, thus making the already existent thriving relations between Italy and Georgia boom even more. As part of the Italian Culture Days in Batumi, Nino gave a master class in the Batumi Conservatoire. The students who received valuable pieces of advice from the recognized Georgian Maestra of the famous Italian vocal school were absolutely delighted and asked her to come back. Nino’s performance took place in the concert hall of the Conservatoire. Her enchanting singing was accompanied by the masterful Victoria Chaplinskaia in a full house which applauded with sincere enthusiasm. Co-participants in the concert were the former and current students of the Pesaro Academy. The concert was dedicated to the 150th anniversary of Rossini’s death and to the significant event of Pesaro’s recognition by the United Nations Organization as a City of Music. A wonderful fashion show was also organized by the Italian guests. The continuation of the Days of Culture is envisaged in April 2018 on a larger scale and with a greater number of participants from both countries. The proud parents of Nino and Leeka are living in Tbilisi, visiting their children with an affordable frequency. I covered the event in Batumi and was emotionally moved to see the excited expression on the face and the tears of happiness in the eyes of Guliko, the girls’ mother. I can very well understand her emotion and feel her tears. Children grow and then fly from their parents’ nest to conquer the world. This is what our young are doing right now in many different countries. The arena is theirs . . . and thank God for it!



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Profile for Georgia Today

Issue #1003  

December 1 - 4, 2017

Issue #1003  

December 1 - 4, 2017