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Issue no: 1019

• FEBRUARY 2 - 5, 2018



In this week’s issue... Construction of 5-Star Hilton Hotel Starts in Tbilisi NEWS PAGE 2

Georgian, Russian Envoys Negotiate in Prague


Maladies Aplenty, Remedies Too Scarce


Bulgarian Ambassador to Georgia on the EU Presidency



Mastercard Introduces Digitalization of Life Research Findings in Georgia BUSINESS PAGE 11

Lion Quest School Violence & Bullying Prevention Programs

Prospect of NATO, EU Membership Decades of Positively Received by Most Georgians Success & Public SOCIETY PAGE 15



ccording to a new survey conducted by the Caucasus Research Resource Center (CRRC) Georgia, both NATO and EU membership are looked at favorably. Of the people interviewed, 41% support Georgia’s NATO integration, with 26% partially supporting it and 20% against. Meanwhile, 45% of respondents were in favor of joining the EU, 28% partial in their support, with only 14% against. However, when it comes to joining the Eurasian Union, the numbers aren’t so high. Only 19% supported the idea, 24% partially supported it, and 38% were against it. The survey was conducted between September 23 and October 10, 2017, with a total of 2,379 respondents interviewed. The average margin of error is put at 2%. The Caucasus Barometer survey is conducted by CRRC Georgia as part of the grant of New York Carnegie Corporation.

Adoration: Cinema Legend’s Anniversary





FEBRUARY 2 - 5, 2018

Georgia's Foreign Construction of 5-Star Hilton Hotel Starts in Tbilisi Minister Meets NATO Secretary General BY THEA MORRISON




eorgia’s positive implementation of its Annual National Program 2017, together with Georgia-NATO cooperation and regional developments were the main topics of a meeting between Georgia’s Foreign Minister, Mikheil Janelidze and NATO Secretary General, Jens Stoltenberg. The meeting took place at the NATO headquarters in Brussels on January 31, before the NATO-Georgia Commission (NGC) session, which provides the framework for close political dialogue and cooperation in support of the country’s reform efforts and its Euro-Atlantic aspirations. The process of Georgia's Euro-Atlantic integration, including Georgia's implementation of the 2017 National Program and reforms in the fields of democracy and defense, were positively assessed at the meeting. The Georgian Minister thanked the NATO Secretary General for his support towards Georgia, and expressed hope that the current positive dynamics of NATO-Georgia cooperation will continue

to be active in the future as well. At the meeting, the NATO Secretary General was informed about the situation in the occupied regions of Georgia. Stoltenberg reaffirmed his firm support to Georgia's sovereignty and territorial integrity. Also, it was underlined that Georgia plays an important role in the region, adding the country contributes to overall Euro-Atlantic security. The conversation touched upon the security of the Black Sea region and Georgia's participation in the Alliance's practical efforts to strengthen the Black Sea. It was noted that NATO will continue practical and political support of Georgia, in the process of strengthening the country's defense capabilities and security. Furthermore, Janelidze attended the NGC meeting, adding “at the session of the Commission, the Alliance's assessment of Georgia's Annual National Program was positively evaluated by the reforms in the democratic, economic and defense spheres implemented in the country.” “Georgia is moving forward and using all the practical instruments at its disposal in order to achieve its ultimate goal - membership in NATO,” the Minister added.

he new 5-star Hilton Hotel Tbilisi construction has been launched in the center of the capital. The hotel will be located on Kostava Street, in the old building of the Ministry of Agriculture. Granat Investment, investing around €45 million in the hotel, is to renovate and restore the old Soviet-era building. The hotel, scheduled to open in 2020, will have 200 rooms. The investor invited Italian architect and designer Piero Lissoni, also known for his contemporary furniture design, to work on the hotel project. Hilton Tbilisi’s main contractor is BBC, and the construction process will be handled by British company BHP. At this stage, 150 people are employed within the frames of the project and a total of 500 will be employed for the hotel construction. Georgian Prime Minister Giorgi Kvirikashvili, Tbilisi Mayor Kakha Kaladze and the investors put a symbolic capsule into the foundation of the upcoming hotel. The Prime Minister underlined the dynamics of the tourism sector and noted that the new hotel will not only host visitors to the capital but will also benefit the entire country. “I want to tell our citizens that the growing economy, the dynamics that we have in the country, will certainly give them the opportunity to improve their economic life,” he added. Kvirikashvili highlighted that, above all, new hotels create new jobs and bring profit to the country. He thanked Granat Investment for

investing in the project, noting that, for several years, the building had been unoccupied. “I am happy that this investor will give a beautiful building to our capital,” the PM said. Mayor Kaladze also delivered a speech at the ceremony, noting that the project

is especially interesting because it sees the merging of old and new architecture. “For me, as City Mayor, it is important that new jobs are created. Nearly 500 people will be employed in the construction process, and, once opened, there will be 300 permanent jobs,” the Mayor stated.

Georgia Crime Statistics 2017: 37,944 Crimes Registered BY THEA MORRISON


eorgia’s Ministry of Internal Affairs (MIA) has released the crime statistics from last year, which shows that 37,944 crimes were registered throughout the country, 5.4% more than in 2016. In comparison to 2016, the crime-report rate decreased in 2017, namely, 53.2% of the 37,944 crimes registered in 2017 were initiated by the police, while the rate was 57.4% in 2016. According to the MIA, 64.5% of regis-

tered crime in the country is related to health, as well as property and also drug offenses. The following crimes increased last year in the country: • Crime involving death (11.9 % increase compared to 2016) • Crime against health (14.8% increase) • Crime against human rights (23.3% increase) • Crime against property (8.1% increase) • Environmental crime (127.8% increase) • Crime against the rule of governance (17.5% increase) • Crime hindering the enforcement of court verdicts (20.5%) A reduction of crime was observed in

the following directions: • Crime against public security and order (19.5% decrease compared to 2016) • Drug crime (8.3% decrease) • Traffic crime (16.4% decrease) The Ministry published last year’s statistics after a two-year hiatus. The MIA says they will also publish monthly statistics, including March 2018, after which quarterly statistics will be published. “The MIA is open and transparent in its activities. This is the reality according to the statistical data. We believe that it is possible to overcome the existing challenges only if we face the real picture,” the statement of the ministry reads.




Gov’t to Set Up State Inspector’s Service to Investigate Crimes Committed by Law Enforcers




State Inspector’s Service will be established in Georgia to investigate alleged violations and offences committed by law enforc-

ers. The service will be controlled by Parliament, with a Head appointed by it to serve for a duration of five years. According to the project initiated by

the Justice Ministry, the State Inspector will also have the right to initiate an investigation into high-ranking officials, the only exceptions being the Chief Prosecutor, Minister of Internal Affairs and Head of State Security Service. The State Inspector's Service will work in three main directions: investigating alleged ill-treatment, including torture, beating and other forms of treatment by law enforcers, protection of personal data and control of the principle of lawfulness in the process of secret investigations.

Once the new body is set up, it will be headed by Personal Data Protection Inspector Tamar Kaldani, who will deal with both personal data issues and alleged violations by law enforcers. “This is a step forward, and civil society representatives have confirmed it. There will be no conflicts of interest, as the Personal Data Protraction Service in not affiliated with the law enforcement agencies,” Kaldani said. Justice Minister Thea Tsulukiani noted that the project includes international obligations undertaken under the Association Agreement with the European Union. “If Parliament approves the bill, we will have an independent investigative structure,” she added. Giorgi Gakharia, the Minister of Internal Affairs, said the new body will help the Ministry raise its competitiveness. “This body will answer the challenges our country is facing now,” he noted. However, Georgia’s Public Defender, Nino Lomjaria, has many questions about the new draft of the Justice Ministry, particularly “how the new service will

avoid conflict of interest in the inspector's apparatus.” “The Inspector will supervise covert investigative actions and personal data protection on the one hand, but will also be granted the right to conduct investigative actions. I wonder how the Inspector’s Office will monitor the personal data protection process itself,” Lomjaria said. The opposition and the Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) had been calling on government to create such an independent investigative body; however, they say the announcement on setting up State Inspector’s Service was unexpected. Last year, NGOs prepared a draft, according to which the new body would be impartial from any state agencies and headed by a commissioner elected for a seven-year term and who would be required to present a report to Parliament twice a year. The draft also read that the investigative body should have three main functions: investigation, persecution and support of the prosecution in court.

However, the bill presented by the government does not include the persecution and support of prosecution in court. The NGOs and opposition believe the State Inspector will have limited authority, as persecution will still be the function of the law enforcement agencies. Giorgi Tugushi from the parliamentary minority European Georgia, says the bill is faulty. He explained that the issue of creating an independent investigative body was raised because the Prosecutor’s Office could not comply with the demands of society to carry out transparent investigation. “However, the new bill says the Inspector will have no right of persecution and the Prosecutor’s Office will be responsible for it, which is unacceptable,” he said. Another opposition party, the United National Movement, says it is impossible that the new body be free from influence of the ruling party Georgian Dream’s (GD) and claim the ruling team made the decision unanimously, without consulting the opposition parties or the civil sector.

as well as upcoming ones,” Mayor Kaladze said. The investigation into the cause of the

Vaketili Metro incident is ongoing under Article 240, which entails Breaching of Safety Norms in construction works.

Varketili Metro Station Resumes Normal Service BY NINO GUGUNISHVILI


arketili Metro Station resumed normal service on Wednesday following a ceiling collapse on Tuesday which injured 14 people. The remaining part of the ceiling has been dismantled in order to avoid risk to passenger safety. Medical expenses for those injured during the incident at Varketili Metro station are being covered by Tbilisi

Municipality and the Ministry of Health, Tbilisi Mayor Kakha Kaladze announced during a briefing. “The Vaketili metro station was refurbished recently, and what we’re seeing now is the result of the irresponsibility of the company in charge of the restoration works,” Kaladze said. The restoration works were done by a company named ‘Kvareli Remmsheni’ to a cost of GEL 347,852. The restoration works were begun in 2016 and finalized in August 2017, the renovated metro station opening that September.

The Tbilisi Mayor stated that there are questions to be answered in a timely manner as to why the incident happened. He added that everyone involved “will take full responsibility for their actions.” “We are examining all the buildings in Tbilisi, the kindergartens, sports complexes and metro stations in great detail. Unfortunately, we have seen some unsatisfactory work done, and we are monitoring the situation. We’ll be paying particular attention to the quality of refurbishment and construction work, both with regards to ongoing projects




FEBRUARY 2 - 5, 2018

Georgian, Russian Envoys Negotiate in Prague BY THEA MORRISON


eorgian Prime Minister's Special Representative for Relations with Russia, Zurab Abashidze, and Russia’s Deputy Foreign Minister, Grigory Karasin, held an informal meeting in Prague on January 31. The details of the meeting were revealed by the Georgian Government’s Press Service, which says that in parallel with the issues on the agenda, Abashidze also raised the issue of recent developments in Georgia’s Russian-occupied Abkhazia and South Ossetia regions. The Georgian envoy also condemned the ratification of the so called military deal between Russia and breakaway South Ossetia, which envisages the incorporation of the unlawful military units of the occupied Tskhinvali region into the military forces of Russia. The opening of so called customs checkpoints in occupied Akhalgori, South Ossetia in late January was also denounced by Abashidze. The sides discussed mutual cooperation issues in the fields of tourism, economics and trade. Abashidze also spoke about the implementation of the 2011 agreement on the Cargo Monitoring Movement, which was signed with a neutral Swiss company by Georgia two months ago, but the Russian side has not finalized the contract yet. The Georgian envoy stated that the Russian side says they will sign the agreement, but do not indicate when. Abashidze also says the Russian side has given an incorrect interpretation to the deal, when it mentions so called customs borders between Georgia and its two occupied regions.

He noted that the 2011 agreement can be realized only with the full respect for its principles and provisions, without any different interpretations or politicization. “The agreement does not include any borders. It

only envisages the carrying out of monitoring of cargo movement through the three trade corridors,” Abashidze explained. The first Abashidze-Karasin meeting took place in Geneva on December 14, 2012.

Since 2013, the meetings have been held in Prague. The meetings constitute a direct dialogue between the two countries’ officials following the 2008 Russian-Georgian war, after which Georgia cut diplomatic ties with Russia.




FEBRUARY 2 - 5, 2018

Big Changes in Uzbekistan OP-ED BY EMIL AVDALIANI


he post-Soviet space is an interesting territory for the scholars of state-building processes. Indeed, slightly more than a quarter of a century has passed since the break-up of the Soviet Union, and the majority of related countries are still experimenting with internal development. In that sense, a very interesting process is taking place in Central Asia’s, arguably, most important country: Uzbekistan, seeing changes in the country that will have a bearing on foreign relations and the overall situation in the region. The country is in the midst of an internal struggle over who will control most resources. On January 31, it was announced that the Uzbek President Shavkat Mirzyoyev had dismissed powerful longtime National Security Service (MXX) chief Rustam Inoyatov. Inoyatov, 73, has for 23 years been in charge of the MXX and was replaced by Ihtiyor Abdullaev, a relatively inconspicuous figure. The replacement is important as, since the death of veteran president Islam Karimov in 2016, a power struggle has been playing out between Mirzyoyev’s and Inoyatov’s supporters, and there were recent hints that the confrontation was coming to a head. For instance, Mirzyoyev's December 22 speech to Parliament was characterized by harsh criticism of the MXX and its leadership (i.e. Inoyatov) and called for immediate reforms in the agency. Moreover, in January this year, the rumors of Inoyatov's imminent replacement gained more traction when Mirzyoyev demanded that MXX personnel be

removed from Uzbek embassies abroad. The departure of Inoyatov ushers in a new period in the history of modern Uzbekistan. The MXX, the main successor of the Soviet-era KGB in Uzbekistan, has been regarded as perhaps the most closed and powerful security agency in the Central Asian region. Mirzyoyev now being able to replace his long-time rival means the President is now in almost full control of the country. It also means that Mirzyoyev will now be able to be more active in his reform agenda, which includes scrapping internal visas for Uzbeks willing to go abroad, liberalizing

the media sector, etc. It is also true that we do not know much of internal processes in Uzbekistan, and the changes filtered in the media allow us to make only an initial assessment of the situation. Indeed, removing a longtime rival does not guarantee that Mirzyoyev will remain liberal and more open to foreign countries. The Georgian government should pay particular attention to Uzbekistan, as the country arguably has the most strategic location in the region. For example, Uzbekistan shares borders with all Central Asian states (Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan,

Tajikistan and Turkmenistan) and Afghanistan, and also sits on a big part of the agriculturally rich Fergana Valley, with a sizable population as well as oil and natural gas deposits. This has meant Tashkent have at times difficult relations with Moscow since the break-up of the Soviet Union. At the same time this strategic location, as well as large resources, have enabled Uzbekistan to successfully resist Russian or other foreign pressure to enlist the country into CSTO, EEU or other regional organizations. Uzbekistan is also important because, through its location, it is much more con-

venient for Russia, China and others to tame radical Islamism and its followers, which are often recruited from Central Asian workers visiting Russia. Moreover, prevention of narco- and human-trafficking from Afghanistan could also be made through Uzbekistan. Much remains to be seen in the development of Uzbekistan, but the country will undoubtedly remain a powerful actor in the Central Asian region. As the tendency of foreign relations shows over the past several months, Tashkent’s relations with neighboring countries will further improve.

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arasin and Abashidze have met for the first time since the Year of the Dog began. Before flying to Prague, both diplomats airing their respective accusations to the media. These mainly concerned the issue of monitoring cargo turnover on the Russian-Georgian border, and made it clear what the parties would be discussing in the Hotel Diplomat of Prague. According to the agreement signed in 2011, Russia and Georgia took responsibility for seeking out a neutral party which would control cargo turnover at the borders. Official Tbilisi has already signed the agreement with a Swiss company, and now it’s Russia’s turn. But, as usual, one and the same documents are interpreted differently in Georgia and Russia, and often become the reason for reciprocal accusations and delays. Moscow argues that the agreement about customs monitoring concerns the borders between Abkhazia and Tskhinvali regions, while Official Tbilisi states that there is no mention of the borders at all, especially those of Abkhazia and Tskhinvali. The agreement speaks only of trading corridors and the neutral party, in this case the Swiss observers who will control the start and end points of the borders. “This agreement is between Georgia and Russia; and the regions of

Abkhazia and Tskhinvali, no other regions of Georgia are mentioned,” Abashidze said. Different interpretations of a single document seem quite unbelievable, but explaining why Official Moscow is so stubborn about signing the document is not difficult, especially for such an experienced diplomat as Abashidze. The agreement signed in 2011 wasn’t exactly to the taste of the Abkhazian and Ossetian separatists, since there was no mention of them in the document at all; plus, they weren’t involved at all in the preparatory works or the actual signing.

Notably, specific locations were defined solely using geographical coordinates, latitude and longitude, which made Moscow face a really tough dilemma: Russia recognized the so-called independence of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, but by signing an agreement of such importance, where the interests and even the existence of these two socalled independent republics was completely neglected, it would be interpreted as a public undermining of this very recognition. On the other hand, if Russia had insisted on specifically mentioning these “independent states” in the agreement, Georgia would naturally refuse to sign it. Thus, the agreement of 2011 was the

result of difficult diplomatic compromises. The following algorithm was written down on paper, but not executed in reality: Three trade corridors would be created between Russia and Georgia: Sochi-Zugdidi, Vladikavkaz-Gori and Vladikavkaz-Kazbegi. This last was just a formality, designed mainly to “keep the right image” for Russia. Neutral observers or inventories would be allocated at the start and end of each of the separatist regions, among them in Gori and Zugdidi, there to physically control the passing cargo on the territory of the

separatist regions using GPS technologies. And it is this last clause that drives the separatists especially crazy. Russia is now actively creating ambiguous customs alliances with the occupied Sokhumi and Tskhinvali, thus trying to somehow turn the active regimes of occupied territories into existing “subjects” within the agreement of 2011. An example of this is how a customs office recently opened in Akhalgori: Ossetian from the outside, but Russian on the inside, as well as those control checkpoints at Enguri. We can already predict that the same fate awaits the 2011 agreement as all those numerous documents that have been signed between Tbilisi and Russia so far. Or as they like to say here, “this deal has no future.”


Life Finds a Way: Kremlin Trains AntiDrone Falcons BY MÁTÉ FÖLDI


n an age where technology has become both wonderfully and horrifyingly advanced, it is refreshing to see human ingenuity going back to the basics. Not content with its already formidable military arsenal, the Kremlin has decided to go ecofriendly with anti-drone falcons. Yes, that’s not a typo: the Kremlin does indeed possess falcons (and hawks) capable of intercepting and hunting down drones that threaten its airspace in central Moscow. The information was confirmed to the state-run RIA Novosti news agency by a source in the security forces on Mon-

day 29th of January. RIA Novosti was briefed of the birds of prey’s capacity to take take down unmanned aerial vehicles in the vicinity of the Kremlin. Though, the source did add that the use of falcons instead of hawks is preferable due to the former’s greater weight. The falcons will provide an additional source of protection for the Kremlin. Last year, the principal robotics research center of the Defense Ministry presented anti-drone defenses system: an anti-drone gun capable of neutralising threats at a maximum distance of 2km. Falcon Trivia: the Peregrine falcon is fastest bird in the world, with an average horizontal flight of 65-95k/h and an average diving speed of 320km/h. Good luck drones.




FEBRUARY 2 - 5, 2018

Bulgarian Ambassador to Georgia on Bulgaria’s Ascension to the EU Presidency BY KATIE RUTH DAVIES


his January saw the commencement of the first Bulgarian Presidency of the European Union, the official opening ceremony for which took place on January 11 in the Bulgarian capital of Sofia. “On January 1, we took over the Presidency of the Council of the European Union,” said President Rumen Radev at the official opening ceremony in Sofia. “For 11 years, we have been a member of the Union, but for 13 centuries, Bulgaria has been the South-Eastern gate of the continent. This is an historical experience we have paid a high price for. We in the Balkans know very well that division breeds tragedy. Europe is too big to be monolithic and too small to be divided, and this is why the slogan of our Presidency is ‘United, We Stand Strong.’ Clear in his message was the belief that realism and solidarity are key to solving universal problems. “Europe is not just an economic space, but a space of freedom, deeply rooted in history, culture and humanism, and we should not turn our backs on this,” the Bulgarian President concluded. “We have to be an impartial moderator in negotiations, but, at the same time, do our best so that each Bulgarian feels the EU is there for him,” said the Prime Minister of the Republic of Bulgaria, Boyko Borissov. The President of the Council of the European Union, Donald Tusk, expressed his high appreciation for Bulgaria’s focus on the future of the Western Balkans, and added that stability, security and prosperity are what the people of the region deserve. According to him, the EU's purpose is to help make this dream a reality. Bulgaria, according to its President, is a country in which cohesion funds are bringing about visible change and contributing to a year-on-year economic growth of 3.8%. It is a country which is protecting the EU's external border as responsibly as any Schengen Area member, without, in fact, being part of Schengen. It is a country whose currency, the Lev, has been governed by the same rules as the Euro for decades, and whose macroeconomic indicators are impeccable, even though it is not part of the Eurozone. Finally, it is a country where different religions and ethnicities live together in peace. “The Bulgarian voice will be heard loudly and prominently in Europe,” said President of the European Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker, going on to highlight that the Bulgarian Presidency is taking place at a crucial moment when the European Union must deliver on a number of initiatives for its citizens and shape the Union's future. GEORGIA TODAY met with Ambas-

We can be a bridge between the Western Balkans, the Black Sea region and the EU

Our aim is to improve the security of EU citizens

sador of Bulgaria to Georgia, Dessislava Ivanova, to find out more about Bulgaria’s aspirations and expectations in the months ahead. “The Presidency is a chance for us to show a different side of Bulgaria,” she said, after affirming that the top job on the agenda is just what Juncker highlighted (above). “We hope that over the next six months, all our European and non-European partners and friends will get to know more of the multiple faces of Bulgaria: the ‘good student,’ the ‘strong economic performer,’ the ‘model for ethnic tolerance,’ and will have the chance to develop a fuller understanding of Bulgaria, and even come to love it.” The three pillars of the Bulgarian Presidency Program are stability, security and solidarity. The Ambassador told us that they plan to achieve these goals by implementing three key principles: consensus, competitiveness, and cohesion, working on four main strands: o The European perspective of the Western Balkans, o Security and stability for a stronger

and united Europe, o The digital economy and skills of the future, o Economic growth, social cohesion and youth. “For Bulgaria, as a Balkan country, the future of the Western Balkans is naturally very important, but this should be important not only for us. Over the past decade, Europe has been hit by consecutive crises. This has meant that we have been focused on solving our own problems rather than reaching out to those around us. As a result, many of our partners, and especially those in the Western Balkans, have lost hope that their European perspective is realistic. Some have even started looking for growth and development opportunities elsewhere,” the Ambassador told us. “Now the European economy is back on track, this is a chance for us to look to our partners in the Western Balkans and to reassure them that their European perspective is realistic.” She then emphasized the need for Europe to be united. “With one of our

Member States about to leave the EU, and global challenges of increasing frequency and scope, our only chance of moving forward depends on our playing together as a team. We know this team also has a few ‘reserve members.’ Why not start training with them now, so that they can be an effective part of the A-team once they join the game? To that end, we are organizing a summit between the EU leaders and the leaders of the Western Balkan countries in Sofia on 17 May 2018. “Bulgaria joined the EU only a decade ago and we have very recent memories of what being a candidate country feels like. We therefore believe that we can be a bridge between the Western Balkans, and of course, the Black Sea region and the EU; a bridge that goes both ways: bringing the EU’s messages to the Western Balkans and the Black Sea region and vice-versa.” She went on to discuss Bulgaria’s other priorities: security and stability, digital economy and skills of the future, and economic growth, social cohesion and youth.

“The focus of our work in the area of security will be reform of the Common European Asylum System based on the principals of responsibility and true solidarity.” Within this, she said, comes strengthening border control “for more efficient management of the migration processes, for interoperability of the information systems, and for practical application of the Permanent Structured Cooperation ‘PESCO’.” “Our aim is to improve the security of EU citizens,” she told us. Of the digital economy, she noted the need to adapt to the new realities. “Research data show that in certain aspects, Europe is still lagging behind its competitors. This is why we must, without further delay, complete the work on the Digital Single Market as a source for growth and competitiveness in Europe,” the Ambassador said. “We also want to make sure that our educational systems are good enough to provide young people with the skills that the labor market of tomorrow demands. For this, we will look into the future of the Erasmus+ program, discuss how to modernize European education, and make sure that we are providing an environment conducive to lifelong learning.” To boost economic growth, the Bulgarian Presidency plans to work towards strengthening the Economic and Monetary Union. “We will prepare the debate on the next multi-annual Financial Framework, gather ideas about the future Cohesion Policy post-2020, and steer the debate on how to modernize and simplify the Common Agricultural Policy / CAP/ after 2020,” she said. “Globally, even the biggest EU Member States are too small to stand up to the competition of major economies. However, when taken together, the EU's 28 Member States form the biggest economy in the world. This is clear proof that only united can we do more and do it better.” We asked her of the burdens of the Presidency and how Bulgaria sees itself in this role. “As rotating President of the Council of the European Union, we are aware of the big responsibility and expectations towards us. We will be a fair moderator and work on finding common solutions in response to the expectations of Europe and its citizens for more security, stability and solidarity. Our aim will be to create a strong, digital and united Europe through consensus, competitiveness and cohesion. We will seek to strike a balance between the specific priorities of the member states and the strategic priorities of the EU with the aim to achieve real, visible results in active dialogue with the citizens and in response to their expectations. The slogan of the Bulgarian Presidency, ‘United, We Stand Strong,’ is not only connected with our country’s history and statehood, but also, as a follow-up to the Rome Declaration, it highlights the idea of a Europe based on unity and solidarity. Because only united can we stand strong.”




Maladies Aplenty, Remedies Too Scarce OP-ED BY NUGZAR B. RUHADZE


ho am I to judge the business of the Republic? Yet, I still have enough temerity to remind the public of the wrongs that persist in the way this nation is being ruled, and of the bottlenecks in which our development is stuck. The first and utmost question mark falls on where we see ourselves fifty years from now. In other words, do we have a general plan of development for the next half century? If somebody wants to respond positively, then I’m definitely from Missouri. Can we at least imagine what we might be like when our kids become middle-aged? Of course not! The nation is sprawling in the illusion that things will be OK, even if our efforts for survival are petty and misdirected. What is the main subject of care in Georgia? I doubt the answer could be solid and consensual to this query, for the simple reason that we are not deliberating this paramount issue efficiently

enough. What are the second- or thirdrate subjects of care in Georgia? I don’t think we have the habit or ability to categorize the subjects of care by priority, and render them with due heed and skill. Let us for now forget about the blueprint for the country’s long-term future and concentrate on what we are up to right now. Dwindling demographic potential, pointless education, rampant unemployment, a massive propensity to leave the country, increasing foreign investment in real estate, scary drug usage(and its feeble prevention), faltering family values, ineffectual econ-

omy, growing prices, unaffordable healthcare, crime up, lands occupied, geopolitical orientation unclear, national currency bouncing back and forth (augmenting extremes between rich and poor), irrelevant fuel prices, dictatorship of banks, deplorable architecture and construction, perilously

polluted air, cars and vehicles ubiquitously sitting on our heads, deafening inner-city noise, streets full of animal droppings, unbridled infatuation with the catering and entertainment sectors, dilapidated urban infrastructure, moribund business environment, depressing adversarial propaganda, deconstructive relations between the current government and its political

opposition, liberal attacks on national values, constitutional imperfection, violence flourishing, legislative flaws, executive weakness, judicial faults, youth at a loss and the senescent in deprivation – these are some of the drawbacks and vices that any nation in the world would own up to, but this is no excuse for us: Georgia is sailing in the exact same boat! Some of those problems can wait, but some need to be addressed immediately,

at least those that could be handled with more or less ease if we could mobilize our human efforts without much expenditure of financial resources. For instance, why can’t we stop the crimi-

nal constructions and ugly architectural attempts in urban spots like our capital city? This would take no financial sweat. Just stop it and be done with it! Why can’t we desist from singing, dancing and partying away the time and start working for real? This will not cost us anything either. Why can’t we get equipped with regular plastic bags and hygienic gloves to cope with our excremental deluge? This is cheap, too. Why can’t the Georgian males and females of the world unite in matrimonial bliss and take up demographic correctness as a model of behavior for a change? This can’t be so expensive, following the example of their Azeri fel-

low citizens. Why can’t we follow in the footstep of our ancestors and bring back our family values, thus avoiding the costly and tiring divorces that intensively work to the detriment of the nation. This might be done without spending even a dime. Why can’t the government and the opposition find ways to cooperate so that the final winner is the motherland? No cost there! How about the city noise? Let us just keep quiet: that’s all it takes, and it could be done without a nickel in the pocket. The fairness of judiciary, the handiness of the executive branch and the wisdom of legislators could also come without much to spend. The only currency we’ll need to spend here human will. Do we lack that, too? We may be a little sick as a society and our maladies might be numerous, but remedies will have to be invented and produced as you can’t find them in nature.

The Ongoing David-Gareji Conflict we should seek compromises. Both sides should concede something.




he Azerbaijani edition ‘Echo’ published an article entitled “State Border: Azerbaijan came to an agreement with Russia, but as for Georgia...” The article was read with great interest both in Azerbaijan and Georgia, especially when one journalist, Azerbaijani political scientist and analyst Fikret Sadikov, stated: “If the Georgian side wants to continue close relations with Azerbaijan (in terms of ensuring the energy security of the Georgian people), Georgia should think about compromising on the David-Gareji issue.” To find out just how much the Azerbaijani side will try to use the energy issue when negotiating the delimitation of the border, we spoke to Fikret Sadikov himself.

To find out what people think about, perhaps we should conduct a social survey. However, I understand that people tend to support those who make a decision acceptable to them. I don’t think this is a question to be resolved through a universal referendum. This is an issue needing resolution by experts- scholars, historians, and so on. They should sit and discuss the problem.


WHAT ARE YOUR ARGUMENTS? WHAT KIND OF COMPROMISE DOES AZERBAIJAN DEMAND? I don’t represent the official side of Azerbaijan, I’m an independent political scientist, and what I said is my personal opinion. Moreover, I’m not an expert on the delimitation of borders, but for years I’ve been following the negotiations between Azerbaijan and Georgia as an analyst. It's no secret that there are bilateral relations between Azerbaijan and Georgia which are beneficial for both sides; we are strategic partners and we have the same position on many issues. I’ll say more: stability and security in the South Caucasus largely depend on the close relationship between Azerbaijan and Georgia. Therefore, when such a difficult, arguable issue as the delimitation of the border between Azerbaijan and Georgia is put on the agenda, it seems to me that some experts exaggerate the problem and attribute great importance to it. I do not exclude that there are some forces who gain from tense relations between the two countries. I think this is not such an urgent, immediate issue that should worry Georgians and Azeris at this moment.

WHO DO YOU MEAN WHEN YOU TALK ABOUT EXTERNAL FORCES? I mean those present neither in Georgia nor in Azerbaijan. I can tell you it frankly - perhaps in Armenia they would be interested in a similar scenario, namely, the worsening of relations between Azerbaijan and Georgia. They’re not happy about the development of our bilateral cooperation, that we are strategic partners.

DAVIT GAREJI'S ISSUE IS A VERY IMPORTANT ONE FOR GEORGIA, EVEN WITHOUT EXTERNAL INTERVENTION. I have no doubt this is the case. I know this issue is of great importance for Georgian society. I am only saying that those who know all this can use it for their own purposes and further aggravate this issue.

DOESN’T WHAT YOU WROTE “AGGRAVATE” RELATIONS? YOUR COMMENTS IN GEORGIA WERE VIEWED AS POLITICAL BLACKMAIL COMPROMISE CONCERNING DAVID-GAREJI ISSUE OR YOU’LL LOSE YOUR GAS... I meant a bilateral compromise. I did not say the Georgian side should make concessions. I said in a clear and open context that we could have a bilateral compromise, taking into account our good neighborly relations, because we are connected by these large energy projects. As for what this compromise should be, I will once again state that I’m not a border demarcation expert, so I cannot say ‘give us this and we will give you that.’ The experts should decide on this. And I'm just saying that taking into account close and friendly relations between our two states; we could make a bilateral compromise.




I prefer to rely on the opinion of scientists when it comes to such issues. I may think to regard this monument to be Albanian, Georgian, and even French, but I cannot say to be an expert in this field. I trust the historians and researchers from both the Georgian and Azerbaijani sides.

I will repeat what I said in the interview: “The good neighborly relations between our states give us the luxury not to have to worry about such issues. Let the historians continue arguing and maybe they will manage to reach a final conclusion. Let them share their thoughts; let it happen over long periods of time. And when both sides bring their last argument, then let’s think about who might make a compromise.”

THE AZERI-GEORGIAN COMMISSION HAS BEEN DOING THIS FOR MORE THAN 20 YEARS, BUT NO PROGRESS IS VISIBLE So, they should take a closer approach. There is no other way. Georgia says one thing, we say another, but the fact is that

We should not succumb to emotions. People, if they believe and trust their own scientists, must also accept their views. If the scientists come to a specific compromise following negotiations, I think people should trust them. Is it not better than having fruitless negotiations for 20, 30, 40 years, and accusing each other? We must trust our scientists and do all that is necessary for our specialists to come to a reasonable compromise and agree on something. They should not argue in vain. Both sides should cite facts, historical data and arguments to prove their opinions. We can also involve international specialists who are trusted by both parties. Both sides should remember that we cannot let ourselves deteriorate in relations for just a few kilometers of land on which there are important historical monuments. If these scholars fail to come to an agreement, then other scholars should take their place.

AND IF THIS DECISION, ON THE CONTRARY, ONLY EXACERBATES THE SITUATION? That’s today’s reality. The fact is, we’ve been trying for a few years now and we cannot progress or solve this problem. All other issues are practically resolved, but we fail to negotiate on this 30% of the border. But that does not mean we should leave this issue or not talk about it. On the contrary, we must bring historical facts, documents, etc. We can talk about it all in a civilized manner; good neighborly relations of our countries and people prove it. This issue should be resolved through negotiations - there is no other way. Whether it takes 25 years or 30, the negotiations are the only way.




FEBRUARY 2 - 5, 2018

Brussels to Discuss Benefits for Azerbaijan for Export of Goods to EU



he issue of Azerbaijan receiving benefits when delivering products to the countries of the European Union is to be discussed within the framework of meetings planned for March in Brussels with representatives of the European Commission. According to the Ministry of Economy of Azerbaijan, this issue was already discussed during the meeting of the Minister of Economy Shahin Mustafayev with Henrik Hololei, Director General of the European Commission for Transport and Mobility in Baku.

During the March meetings, it is also planned to discuss the attraction of European investments to the economy of Azerbaijan, expansion of cooperation in the field of transport and cargo transportation, the promotion of international transport projects, and other issues. Director General Henrik Hololei noted the rapid development of Azerbaijan, and the successful cooperation of the country with the EU in the energy and transport sectors. According to Hololei, reforms carried out in the country fully meet the global challenges. According to the State Customs Committee of Azerbaijan, the trade turnover with the countries of the European Union in 2017 amounted to 9.4 billion dollars, which is 52.35% more than in 2016. Last year, Azerbaijan exported goods worth $7.45 billion to the EU countries.

Change in the Management Board of PASHA Bank Georgia ADVERTORIAL


ASHA Bank Georgia is pleased to announce the appointment of Mr. Arda Yusuf Arkun as CEO and Chairman of the Board of Directors, as of February 1, 2018. Mr. Arkun graduated from Hamilton College, New York, in 1998, with a double major in Economics and Mathematics. Upon graduating, he joined JP Morgan, NY, and then continued his career in the UK and Romania, as Business Development and Strategy Advisor. Mr. Arkun moved to Baku, Azerbaijan in 2010, as the Director of Strategy and Business Development at Capital Resources Advisors. He also served on the Board of Directors of Nar Mobile, B&B TV and Aimroc. Mr. Arkun became the CEO of Aimroc, the largest mining company in Azerbaijan, in 2014. He led the transaction of selling Aimroc to

Regus Business World Membership Cards Offers Access to 3,000 Branches

Azergold in 2017. Mr. Arkun joined PASHA Holding as an advisor in August 2017. “PASHA Bank Georgia established itself as a profitable corporate banking business under Shahin Mammadov’s leadership,” Mr. Arkun said upon his appointment. “We will continue to bring high quality products and services to our clients, by hiring the top people in the Georgian market and investing in the latest technologies. We would like to help grow the Georgian economy by bringing a cheaper source of funding from Azerbaijan and other international markets.” Shahin Mammadov, former CEO of PASHA Bank Georgia, was promoted and will continue his career at PASHA Holding as Director of Business Support and Deputy Director. E-mail: Tel: ( +995 ) 591 930 303

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nternational Office Provider REGUS has already been established in Georgia, serving customers in Tbilisi's most prestigious, active and dynamic part of town (2 Leonidze Street, business center ‘Tabidze 1’, 4th floor,) and offers the ideal working environment. "Our global network is expanding annually. All business people need an ideal environment and a favorable location to work, as well as flexible and simple payment terms. Regus takes care of all of the above, to ensure their work space is of the upmost comfort, without the loss of time, offering all necessary services without additional expense," said Rusudan Chakvetadze, representative of Regus in Georgia. The main customers of Regus are business people who travel around the world. That's why the company is expanding in the business world, making it simpler, and offering 3,000 branches worldwide. Regus Business World card holders can access all these branches. Cardholders can concentrate on the business side of things, and do not have think about which hotels or cafes offer the fastest internet and quiet work environment, because they can easily find all affiliate branches with the mobile App. Regus offers more than 3,000 comfortable lounges in 120 countries around the world," said Chakvetadze. As the company explains, there are three types of card: blue card, gold card and platinum card. To open a blue card account, all you have to do is create an account on the Regus website www., or download the Regus application on your smartphone, it’s free and easy to use. This allows you to become a member of the Regus community and obtain a 10% discount on services, be first to get informa-

tion on news, and to have a chance to book meeting rooms or offices in the desired city. For Gold Card holders, you will have access to business lounges around the world in 3,000 locations. The service includes internet, coffee, tea, printer and copying, among many other services. Platinum Card holders can use all communal and individual offices in all countries. They can invite guests and have free access to the meeting rooms. Platinum card differs from the others, the company representative explains: "The Platinum Card offers unlimited access to personal offices in all countries. They can invite guests and have free access to the Regus meeting rooms at 3000 business centers. The Platinum Card allows you to have your own office in the world's most prestigious business centers – Wall Street, Madison Avenue, Broadway and Park Avenue in New York, Monument in London, Downtown Dubai, Sun-tech Tower in Singapore, and Tabidze 1 In Tbilisi (a full list is available on the website.) Regus Platinum Card holders of any country will have access to an individual office, meeting room, and staff to resolve administrative issues quickly and efficiently." Regus was founded in 1989 in Brussels, Belgium. Its head office is located in Luxembourg. The company network comprises of more than 3,000 business centers, located in over 120 cities in 120 countries. Regus is represented at the London Stock Exchange. Regus is used for all types and sizes of business. Flexible and easy-to-use A-class offices, flexible and easy-to-use facilities, modern and protected IT infrastructure, meeting rooms, common work spaces, administration services, access to 3,000 branches around the world; these are important services that ensure small, medium and large businesses success.




Mastercard Introduces Digitalization of Life Research Findings in Georgia 83% of survey respondents are supportive of banking service digitalization



astercard introduced its Digitalization of Life Research outcomes in Georgia, at a presentation held at their new office in Regus Georgia on February 1. The findings presented by Igor Stepanov, Regional Director of Mastercard in Georgia and Cental Asia, indicate that 83% of Georgia’s residents support the digitalization of banking services, and three out of four consider smartphones the most preffered gadget for payments. The ‘Digitalization of Life Research’ study was carried out by IPM Research for Mastercard in autumn 2017, surveying 1000 card holders and users of banking services, both men and women aged between 20 -75, in the cities of Tbilisi, Kutaisi, Batumi, Rustavi, Zugdidi, Poti and Gori. CATI, computerassisted telephone interviewing, was used as a survey methodology.

Georgia’s residents support global digital trends and outstrip European preferences for innovations

Results of the study also show that Georgia’s residents “support global digital trends and outstrip European preferences for innovations in some areas,” with 74% of survey participants indicating that mobile phones tend to be the preffered devices for payments, and 44% of the respondents considering fingerprint recognition the most favored method for identification, as opposed to 38% of Europeans who consider it as the most preferred method. It was noted that 83% of the survey respondents are supportive of banking service digitalization, while 76% noted they already have positive experience using digital services. However, according to the research results, time-saving and speed remains the key challenge with regards to usage of such innovative technologies for the residents of Georgia, a fact highlighted by 69% of the survey participants. Bill payments, online shopping and money transfers are said to be the most frequently used digital financial services in Georgia. The study also highlighted that 48% of the survey participants use contactless cards for payments, most frequently in grocery retail. The study findings suggest there is a growing demand for card payment possibilities in taxis, on public transport and in online trading. Special offers from banks were noted among the key benefits Georgian card holders would like to have from the banks (64%). 48% of the research participants stressed they would like the possibility of using another bank’s ATMs and 48% said they would like discounted banking products. The research also indicated that residents of Georgia would like to see more digital innovations in the healthcare, education and public transport spheres. “All the solutions we provide are based on contactless payments, which

is a global trend. Georgia has the highest rate in contactless payment in the region,” Stepanov noted during the presentation. “The fact that smartphones are used as the most preferred devices for payments is quite logical, as mobile phones are increasingly becoming an integral part of our everyday lives,” he said, also underlining the growing trend of so-called chat bots used in banking services and the significance of e- and

mobile commerce. “By the end of 2018, the majority of e-commerce agents will likely have mobile interfaces,” he said, going on to emphasize that Mastercard is continuosly investing in providing maximum security in payments to its customers. “The research findings in Georgia indicated that a growing number of cardholders would like to see cashless payment possibilities in taxis, on public transport and in stores,” Stepanov noted.

“There’s also a clear demand for bank discounts and use of other bank’s ATMs” he said, noting that 32% of cardholders in Georgia, according to the research, use cards for payments only once a week, cash withdrawal from ATMs being one of the most frequent operations. “The Mastercard study confirms once again how much Georgia is open to innovation,” Stepanov said. “The contactless card has already become a symbol of speed and comfort of payments in the country. Today, we are seeing the emergence of a new trend: smartphone payments. We at Mastercard do a lot, together with our partner banks, to develop the ‘digital’ lifestyle. For example, Georgian cardholders got new opportunities for digital payments with the launch of the first NFC-wallets for smartphone payments in the country.” “Today, we are actively working to introduce biometric payment solutions to allow safe payments with fingerprint or face recognition during online shopping, and payments using a phone or a tablet,” he underlined. “In terms of a cashless economy, Georgia has made considerable steps; its market is very progressive, and with regards to Mastercard’s plans for 2018 in Georgia, we’re looking towards implementing more innovative solutions together with the Georgian banks, improving the services we already have, and increasing customer involvement in innovative banking services.”




FEBRUARY 2 - 5, 2018

Climbing Mentality Mountains: The Social Divide OP-ED BY TIM OGDEN


omething I hear quite a lot these days is that the young generation of Georgia is changing, evolving and moving with the times, away from the Soviet nostalgia or slavish adherence to Orthodox ‘traditions’ of previous generations. And it’s true, partially. It’s been eight years since I took up residence in Tbilisi on a full-time basis. I initially installed myself in Saburtalo, but due to personal circumstances at the time, would take a monthly trip to Temqa, an outlying district more, to put it charitably, behind the times. The differences between these two places, while clear, were far less striking than they are now: the city center’s chic European-style restaurants, wannabe German brauhauses, hipster bars and American fast-food joints were all in the future back then. The people, too, also seemed far more similar than they do today; in Saburtalo, I saw the slouched, plodding walk of Georgian men dressed in black, the words falling out of their mouths as though they were too lazy to formulate them properly, and witnessed the exact same thing in Temqa. They squatted on the roadside less in Saburtalo, but still, the overall sight (chain-smoking, drinking, and staring pop-eyed at any female between fifteen and fifty who happened past) was the same. Today, though, many teenagers in the city center dress in the same rubbish

style that I did at their age (T-shirts depicting awful bands, ridiculous hairstyles, and unnecessary accessories about the hand and wrist- when I think of the money that went to wristbands and the like I could weep; they were no fools, the retail sector of the mid-2000s). This is also true for many university-educated Georgians under 35: the skin tone, eyes and hair might be darker, but in their dress there is often little to distinguish them from people of similar ages elsewhere. I am no great appreciator of fashion beyond the importance of good suits, but I mention it here because in Georgia it has increasingly become an indicator of one’s mentality and beliefs; before anyone accuses me of over-simplifying or generalizing, consider two Georgian men: one with an earring, tight jeans and blue hair, the other with a fake leather jacket, black trousers and national beer gut, and ask which is more likely to be pro-LGBT rights. It is deeply frustrating when foreigners and liberal Georgians voice the belief that groups such as the March of Georgians or parties like the Alliance of Patriots are supported only by khinkali-gobbling men who flock together at restaurants and bark down the phone to their wives that they’ll be home when they’re home. My own wife flatly refused to believe that an exgirlfriend of mine had been hit by her former husband: it was inconceivable, she said, that people in their early-tomid twenties could behave that way, or (in the former husband’s case) believe that Georgia’s future lay with Russia,

not the European Union or America. Not two weeks ago did I find myself talking to another young woman barely out of her teens who told me “The Russians are not our enemies;” I’d be willing to bet that the friends and family of those who died in 2008 (and during the Soviet era) might disagree. This all my sound rather obvious, but it does stagger me when people assume that the traditional and/or Russophile mentality will die when the hordes of boulder-belly Georgian men have kicked the bucket. From what I’ve seen of Temqa and other comparable parts of the city

(inhabited by what my liberal Georgian friends derogatorily refer to as ‘village people,’ even if they were born and raised in Tbilisi), Western values have clearly not made much of a dent yet. I predict that the following years will see this gap between liberal and conservative widen; it is happening already, of course, but I believe it will become more pronounced as time goes by. Perhaps the conservative majority will eventually become the minority. Perhaps not. My point is that not all young people are onboard with the EU, NATO and Western values, and may constitute more of an

overwhelming majority than many realize. Having a divided society doesn’t make Georgia much different from most of the West, of course: I highly doubt I’d have much in common with the people of Muslim-majority areas of Bradford or Birmingham, and I don’t think my American friends would enjoy living in the Amish societies in their own country. The real difference is that the political ramifications for Georgia would be far greater; despite the progress that has been made in the modernization of the Georgian mentality, there is still quite a mountain to climb.




ADA University Offers International Scholarships for Students around the Globe study, nevertheless, answering the evergrowing demand, the university has an impressive portfolio. ADA is always looking for new talent,” she said, adding; however, that the study process is quite demanding and student counseling is available. Our discussion then moves to the subject of the Alimardan Topchubashov International Scholarship offered by ADA University, one of its objectives being the preparation of innovative leaders in both vision and global perspective, encouraging commitment to public service and contributing to its development. The Fellowship covers tuition fees and rent during the period of study. The Scholarship does not cover expenses related to student fees, books and utilities. It is open to all undegraduate or graduate students who are accepted to one of the degree programs at ADA schools. “ADA always attempts to promote an international environment; living and studying in an international setting opens doors to lots of new experiences. They’re coming to a different country, and will experience a mixture of cultures and learn a lot,” Aghayeva told us, sharing why she thinks the Scholarship is worth applying for. “Our students do many international projects while studying at the university and they travel a lot. Within one of our programs, the requirements are that they visit the NATO Head Office in Brussels, Belgium; so there are countless opportunities provided by ADA University, and as the competitivness is growing, it makes other universities in the country shake up a little. ADA has a different approach towards learning, towards experience and practice,” she points out.



DA University, located in Baku, Azerbaijan, is currently offering International Scholarships named after Alimardan Topchubashov, to bring first-class international education and leadership training to students around the globe. With the application deadline being April 5, 2018, the Topchubashov Scholarship is looking for candidates who have a strong commitment to public causes. The Scholarship is open to all international undergraduate and graduate applicants who have been admitted to one of the ADA University’s degree-granting schools. ADA University positions itself as a “world-class institution dedicated to preparing innovative global leaders.” Its offers executive education, undergraduate and graduate degree programs in various fields, a School of Public and International Affairs, School of Business, School of Information Technologies and Engineering and School of Education, where you can earn Bachelor and Master degrees in International Studies, Public Affairs, Business and Economics, Education or Information Technologies and Engineering. The ADA University vision and strategy is built on four pillars of global leadership, innovate learning, social responsibility and a “thriving location.” Based on the initiative of the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan, ADA University was established in 2006 under the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the country. Initially founded as the Diplomatic Academy, it was launched as a pilot project with a mission to prepare highly qualified diplomats around the world; and as its graduates quickly gained success, the educational institution started to grow too, steadily becoming one of the top universities in Azerbaijan. “Initially, it started out by offering short-term training for diplomats, and as the program gained became more successful, ADA started receiving requests from other governmental institutions in Azerbaijan, who wanted training for their staff, and that’s how, in 2009, it was decided to offer long-term Master’s Degree programs. The first to launch was called MADIA (Masters of Arts in Diplomacy and International Affairs). In 2009, we admitted about 20 young, talented students to our very first Master’s Degree program at ADA,” Samira

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Aghayeva, now the Third Secretary of the Embassy of the Republic of Azerbaijan to Georgia, who was involved with ADA from the beginning, told GEORGIA TODAY. “We added degree programs in Public Diplomacy, Business and Economy, and ADA also has dual-degree programs, together with the Maastricht University in The Netherlands, which offers one of the top business management programs, so the program graduates receive both ADA and Maastricht University diplomas. ADA has numerous international exchange programs, and is partner to over 50 universities globally,” she told us. To date, ADA University has faculty alumni covering 46 nations. All university programs are taught in the English language, and the university also offers

the preparatory year in English. “ADA is different from other universities, as it has the first, eco-smart green campus in Azerbaijan, and I would say in the Caucasus as a whole,” Aghayeva said. “The university admission system is based on the Amercian model, with prospective students having to submit their applications as a part of the admission process, and have interviews followed by a final evaluation process,” she said. “Due to the increasing demand in the country, apart from programs and degrees offered in the international diplomacy and public policy fields, ADA has been constantly adding new ones to its curricula; for example, an IT program was launched in partnership with the Korean University, and, although it may take several years to add a new program of

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Among the requirements, in order to be eligible to receive the Scholarship, applicants will preferably have previous work experience in the public sphere, and their language proficiency should be in accordance with the international language scores required for university education. “By applying for the Alimardan Topchubashov International Scholarship program, students get the chance to receive an education corresponding to the highest international standards. Secondly, they will be meeting fellow students from all over the world, and they will be exposed to a new, different environment and experiences”, Aghayeva told us. “Education at ADA is not just theorybased: it also has a strong emphasis on practice, and it ensures that ADA graduates are totally career ready when they finish their studies. Within the University, there is a Career Management Center, and throughout the year, they advise and help students. ADA regularly organizes career weeks and career fairs, where students meet their potential future employers,” she said, going on to stress that apart from high level education, ADA provides a vibrant and intersting student life filled with extra-curricular activities. “It’s all very dynamic, something’s always happening. There are cultural festivals, food festivals, chess clubs, language clubs, singing classes, literature nights, and many, many more. There also are ADA talks, and Global Perspective Series, when high profile guests visit the university and give lectures. Whatever’s happening in the world around us is there at ADA,” Samira Aghayeva concluded.




FEBRUARY 2 - 5, 2018

Parliament Unveils Review of Gender Equality Legislation BY MÁTÉ FÖLDI


he key findings of a comprehensive study, ‘Gender Equality in Georgia: Barriers and Recommen dations,’ carried out by the Gender Equality Council (GEC) of the Parliament of Georgia, were released on January 30 at a conference attended by representatives of the Georgian government, Parliament, civil society and international organizations. The research analyzed nine fields of Georgia’s legislation for their compliance with principles of gender equality. “This is the first attempt in Georgia to draw a comprehensive picture of gender equality challenges and offer specific recommendations to policymakers,” said Tamar Chugoshvili, First Vice Speaker and Chairperson of the Gender Equality Council of the Parliament of Georgia. “The study provides a roadmap for decision-makers and human rights defenders to identify further specific steps needed to close gender inequalities in Georgia.” The study is based on interviews and data provided by the authorities, along with previous studies and reports undertaken in Georgia by national and international organizations. A team of researchers examined the nation’s international human rights obligations and top international practices to identify the gaps in legislation and policy, and to be able to offer concrete advice for the advancement of the gender equality agenda in a number of areas, including political participation, economic empowerment, violence against women, labor relation, health, education, sports, cultures, and peace and security. Among the recommendations of the study are amendments to the Gender Equality Law, AntiDiscrimination Law, Criminal Code, Election Code,

Labor Code and Law on the Public Defender. Policy recommendations are of particular importance to the closing of the gender gap in education, women’s economic advancement, protection of sexual and reproductive rights of women and girls, and advancing gender equality in sports and culture. Key national agencies bearing responsibility for gender equality in Georgia are the targets of these recommendations and include the Gender Equality Council of the Parliament and the Inter-Agency Commission on Gender Equality, Violence against Women and Domestic Violence, which operates under the government. “Legislation and policies alone are not enough to close gender gaps. However, their revision is a constructive step forward to achieving meaningful equality between women and men in all spheres

of life as well as to prevent systemic discrimination against women,” said Niels Scott, Head of the United Nations in Georgia. “We hope that the findings and recommendations of this research will lay the ground for effective measures against sexual harassment, domestic violence and violence against women, as well as for increasing the political participation of women through temporary mandatory gender quotas.” Following the presentation of the study, there was a discussion on the new Gender Equality Concept of Georgia. Based on the findings of the research, the new Concept (a revised version of the one adopted in 2006), was reviewed by experts from USAID/PROLoG. The Georgian Parliament is expected to adopt a new Concept for Gender Equality during the Spring 2018 session. “The United States government is committed to

supporting gender equality. Ending gender-based violence and sexual harassment, effectively fighting discrimination, and economically empowering women are priorities of the US government, and we are proud to support the Government of Georgia's efforts to reduce gender inequalities in Georgia through legislative reform and a modified State Concept,” said Elizabeth Rood, Deputy Chief of Mission at the US Embassy in Georgia. The Gender Equality Council also presented its 2018-2020 Action Plan, revealing the key priorities of the gender equality agenda of the Parliament of Georgia. Their main objectives are the effective formation and management of the gender policy agenda; ensuring the merging of the efforts of various interested parties or engaged parties; implementing women’s role-support initiatives. Their tasks include defining the main directions of state policy; improving the state mechanisms of gender equality; the creation and development of a legislative base in the field of gender equality; monitoring of activities implemented for ensuring gender equality and developing recommendations; institutional strengthening of the Gender Equality Council; and raising awareness. In the legislative sphere, there is a need for reflection on the identified shortcomings and review of the gender equality law; advocacy for the introduction of special measures for women's political participation; preparation of a legislative package on women's economic strengthening; and work on legislative amendments to parental maternity leave. The GEC’s efforts were supported by United Nations Development Program (UNDP), the Govern-ment of Sweden, under the UN Joint Program for Gender Equality, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and East-West Management Institute, under the USAID-funded initiative Promoting Rule of Law in Georgia (PROLoG). The detailed study in its entirety is available on the UNDP Georgia Website.



n February 1, Coalition "Europe Donna Georgia" held a press conference on International Cancer Day at Radisson Blu Iveria Hotel. The meeting was organized within the framework of the informational campaign "Target Life" where the goal is to support patients with metastatic breast cancer. According to the statistics, breast cancer is the most common disease in Georgia. Both patients and supporters turned out to recognize the international day. Invited patients, doctors and supporters once again summarized the existing problems and effective steps taken in its treatment. The Ministry of Health was reminded about the need to treat metastatic cancer patients with drugs and implement the program timely throughout Georgia.

“In July, we conducted a working meeting with stakeholders where we discussed nine problems,” said Ana Mazanashvili, President of the Coalition ‘Europe Donna Georgia.’ Some important steps were taken during this period, but one of the major problems is that the drugs are not financed for the treatment of metastatic breast cancer in the regions. Timely treatment for these patients is very important, as are the drugs, affecting the lifespan of patients and improving their quality of life. Give them a chance to live, this is "we can" and the state should take care of them.” Maia Turashvili, a patient from Gori, said, “I went to a screening and was told that I have fourth stage breast cancer. And I am not the only person facing this problem. It is very important for people living with malignant cancer to get help fast. Every door was closed for me when I asked for help; funding is allocated for patients living in Tbilisi at this stage. There are preparations that are not available for me. Once again, I call on the government to support us. I want to be alive for my children.” Well-known Georgian singer Nato Metonidze, who is also fighting breast cancer and actively supporting other patients, also attended the conference. She spoke about her experience and major problems that people with this problem go through. “10% of citizens in Georgia use free screening services. We need to actively conduct campaigns associated with breast cancer and increase awareness. The government must be more supportive towards its citizens.” The International Union against Cancer (UICC) founded a world community to focus on this global problem. Every year the International Day of Fight against Cancer has a theme. The World Day of Fight against Cancer in 2018 carried the motto ‘We Can - I Can,’ which is designed to help others understand what one can do to combat this disease and what contribution can contribute to the cancer campaign.”

Hepatitis C Elimination Program Cures 98% of Patients in Georgia BY THEA MORRISON


inety-eight percent of the total 45,000 Hepatitis C cases in Georgia have been cured, following the State-initiated Hepatitis C Elimination Program launched in 2015 with the help of the United States. The statement was made by the Head of Georgia’s National Center for Disease Control and Public Health (NCDC), Amiran Gamkrelidze, who called on people to undergo Hepatitis C free testing and, if positive, receive complimentary treatment from the State. According to Gamkrelidze, 1,400,000 people underwent screening, some of them twice. “Around 10-11% of people tested for Hepatitis C were positive. We send these patients for more

serious tests, because not all cases of the disease are active or need treatment,” he explained. Gamkrelidze added the government wants to check the rest of the population of Georgia throughout the next years. “This is a unique chance, because Hepatitis C treatment is one of the biggest breakthroughs in recent years. It has become a curable disease. The population of Georgia should benefit from this breakthrough,” he added. The health initiative ‘Georgia without Hepatitis C’ was launched nationwide in April 2015, when the Government of Georgia and American biotechnology company, Gilead, signed a Memorandum of Understanding. The project helps to reduce and prevent cases of Hepatitis C in Georgia. The main goal of the project is to stop the disease from spreading. Treatment is free of charge for all citizens of Georgia.




Lion Quest School Violence & Bullying Prevention Programs pation has become an essential part of the program. The program conforms with the standards of Ministry of Education of Georgia for preschool and high school curricula. The Lion Quest program includes six major themes: positive learning environment, personal development, health and prevention, leadership and social-service studies, evaluation and conclusion. Quest activities and lesson scenarios improve children and teenagers in 5 directions: self-reflection, self-control, social awareness, communications skills, responsibility of self-behavior and development connected knowledge, skills, attitude and values. Lion Quest programs create a positive school atmosphere, uniting students, school personnel, and families in order to educate children in 21st century skills. The program aims to help students to be self-confident, aware of their rights and to respect others’ rights, too. They also learn to be responsible for their actions in order to make the right choices and decisions, preventing them from becoming a victim of violence or being a violator. On 11, 12, 13 January 2018, Tbilisi Courtyard Marriott hotel hosted the European Lion Quest annual conference, seeing participants from 22 countries as well as 50 education experts. The Lion Quest program believes that empowering youth can make the world a better place.



iolence and Bullying is a major high school issue in Georgia, as well as worldwide. Violence is everywhere: in families and on the streets, in districts and establishments. Violence in the news comes as no surprise, as, on a daily basis, local and international TV channels report savage acts of violence. In this article, we would like to share a special program by Lion Quest, which includes social and emotional learning issues. The aim is to prevent violence in schools. A Red Cross Child Violence Neglect study, led by UNICEF, revealed that 60.8% of interviewed children have experienced some kind of verbal abuse, and 39.2% are victims of physical and verbal violence. (4385) A UNICEF survey in Georgia 2013 showed that child violence is widespread. The major circumstance for violence is family, with 45% of families think that being strict is an essential part of raising a child. Every second Georgian thinks that strict methods are more effective than non-violent. Experts, law enforcers, different GOs and society often question the reasons for violence and wonder how to prevent it and solve the issues surrounding the topic. According to psychologists, violence is a method of control and suppression, which includes emotional, social, economic, physical, and sexual enforcement, alongside suppression and damage. It can be direct (eg. physical), and indirect (threat, persecution, lie). Violence is considered an act or word which can insult, damage or mistreat the rights of a human. There are many forms of violence, and it is spread across every level of society, specifically in families and schools. Violators can be parents, close relatives, teachers or peers. Adults sometimes do not realize their abusive actions towards their children or students. This is why children who have experience of abuse become violators themselves. Raising a human is a delicate balancing act, and most parents concentrate more on the process than the results. They do not consider the expected risks. Childhood experience determines human development. Previous experience show that victims of violence become violators. What is the reason for child violence? It is hard to give a specific answer to that question. Child violence can be caused by personal, cultural or social factors. Children with an abusive experience have difficulties adapting to the environment and end up with physical and psychic problems. During puberty, these issues are even more vivid and, as result, society, parents and teachers get back the results of their actions. Children start drinking alcohol, get addicted to drugs and some become part of criminal circles. In short, they express their protest by making the wrong choices. International studies clarify that fighting violence

with violent ways is not efficient. The best way to prevent it is to educate and bring up children correctly. In an educational system, there are methods of teaching against bullying and violence through the subject Social and Emotional Sciences. These are the principles the Lion Quest programs are based on. Lion Quest is about the fundamental skills for life. The International Lion Club Fund, a large charitable and humanitarian organization, implements prevention of an unhealthy lifestyle. LIONS stands for LibertyIntelligence, for Our Nation’s Security, while ‘Quest’ is short for ‘question.’ Lion Quest programs have branches in over 50 countries. The program has three categories: preschool for kids, secondary for high school, and university students. The key focus is on social and emotional development of youth; fundamental skills such as responsibility, effective communication, setting aims, making the right choices, taking control in a situation of conflict, and prevention of alcohol and drug usage. A separate direction of the program is violence and bullying. The Lion Quest program created manuals based on the specifics of age-group and the implementation of the program includes family and society participation. The program starts by preparing teachers. Around 420,000 teachers have been trained worldwide and the manuals were translated into more than 30 languages, including Georgian. The program start functioning in Kutaisi, Georgia, in 2011, with the program ‘Skills for Teenagers’. Since 2013, the program has also been running in Tbilisi. The Lions Quest Country Director in Georgia is Tamara Gegenava, and the Lions Quest regional trainers are Nino Beselia and Tamta

Gabisonia. In 2014, Lion Quest Georgia was founded to actively promote the implementation in other regions of Georgia such as Gori, Akhaltsikhe, Rustavi, Tskaltubo, Batumi and Zugdidi. Through the program, over 1,900 Georgian teachers and tutors were prepared. Many teachers adapted the Lion Quest program for their classes, also using the material for extracurricular activities. Most importantly, there has also been interest from parents, and their partici-




FEBRUARY 2 - 5, 2018

Musings Following a Feast: Etseri, Svaneti BLOG BY TONY HANMER


his could have been any supra, but as it turned out, it was the one in late January where, you know, they sacrifice a calf to… prevent the deaths of calves. Paradox much, Svans? Although my Georgian is far from perfect, and my Svan still in its very infancy, I have realized for a while now that the perception of a combination of verbal and body language can lead one to judge the mood of a Georgian feast. This, plus relaxing into each event more as time goes on, has led me to a conclusion which I voiced at this particular feast: “You know, if our village meetings had this same spirit, we’d get a lot more accomplished!” Hearty agreement. The infamous town halls usually break up into useless, shouting acrimony as old grievances are dug up and loudly paraded instead of being allowed to stay buried and perhaps even die. We actually have money to spend; can’t we just agree on a direction for it, please? Apparently not. The supra, on the other hand, rarely (in my experience) disintegrates into

such. Perhaps I simply don’t stay long enough: I generally leave before it’s actually over, because I’ve had enough binging, chores beckon, and comprehension is diminishing as wine (if you’re lucky) is consumed anyway. Not my comprehension, because I stay away from inebriation and its effects. But why waste one’s efforts on hours of flowery speeches and profound philosophical thoughts as these become less and less understood or appreciated by others? Anyway, I also came to the conclusion that I was helpless with love for these people, my local friends and neighbors. I declared to them that, in the absence of my own blood family in Georgia, they have taken its place. And also that, near or far, in the next house or village or half a world away, family ties remain, stretched thin but not broken. Together, we marvel that I have found this home here, so far from my own homelands where, in any case, I own no property and don’t have the strong attachment that Georgians have to their ancestral places. Just… people, those I do have, with the missing and longing that distance brings, and the joyful reunions when my wife and I return to the UK or Canada. My early feasts many years ago were so stressful, feeling too much pressure

to drink to the bottom, not understanding enough of what was going on, standing at one side of the cultural gap and not being able to bridge it. Then I learned how to stand up for my own limits with humor instead of anger, to pace myself for the long haul instead of for a sprint, to expect the appearance of new dishes well into proceedings, and to accept it all. I’m unlikely to be able to bring about much if any change, anyway. And maybe, if poetic profundities will be forgotten in the fog of others’ slide down the alcoholic scale, the memory of one’s having been there and that it went well remains, bolstering the community’s good spirits in general. They certainly notice when you fail to turn up, and will remark on it next time, for sure! Can’t beat ’em? Join ’em, if you can find a comfortable point at which to do so, is my advice. 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 over 1800 members, at SvanetiRenaissance/ He and his wife also run their own guest house in Etseri:

Heavy Snowfall Hits Mountainous Adjara BY NINO GUGUNISHVILI


ue to the heavy snowfall that hit mountainous villages in the Adjara region, vehicle transportation is currently limited, and three kindergartens and 17 public schools have been closed in the Shuakhevi Muncipality, with road clearing works continuing in the villages of Shuakhevi and Khulo.

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33 out of the 50 schools in Khulo were closed due to worsening weather conditions and all of the kindergartens. The snowfall also caused power cuts in the mountainous region of Adjara, although, according to the information from Energo Pro Georgia, electricity was restored by the end of the day. Landslides are being reported at several locations in the Keda Municipality, with roads inaccessible across numerous areas in Zvare, although the roads are being cleared and are expected to

open soon. Namonastrevi, Silibauri and Shevaburi villages were also without electricity. The transportation on international road routes has not been affected however, as the information on the Adjara government’s website says. Smaller landslides occurred in different areas of the Batumi-Akhaltsikhe central road, and special technical equipment is being mobilized in order to clear the road, alongside five municipalities of the Adjara region.



A Trip Down Memory Lane: Georgia’s Latest Addition to the Culture Scene BLOG BY TAMZIN WHITEWOOD


ome weeks ago, we at GT were alerted to a new production in the works within Tbilisi’s famous cultural scene. Whilst one who knows Tbilisi well may know the numerous ballets, operas, plays and traditional dance concerts that correctly depict Georgia and its rich culture; we were somewhat pleasantly surprised when we learned of a new musical ‘Welcome to Georgia!’ planned for release later this month. The idea behind this great production was to portray ‘Georgia in a nutshell,’ perhaps for those who are visiting Tbilisi but who might not get the chance to see the many different and varied regions of Georgia, or the differing traditions that come with them. Whilst my fellow Editor and I were open-minded and looking forward to watching a closedpremiere of the show, we did not have any real expectations of it, let alone that it would have such an emotional impact. When I first arrived in this beautiful country five years ago, I found it truly hard, near-on impossible, to explain to

my loved ones back in the UK the experiences that I had, well... experienced. Georgia is one of those places where words are not enough to describe cultural experiences here. Whilst one can do one’s best to create a mental image for others of a supra, the Sukhishvilebi dancing, kansi’s and the like, you always feel as if you’ve never quite depicted it the way you wanted to. Of course, I would record small videos and take a lot of photos, but that provided mere snippets; the heart and soul of each occasion was only apparent if you were actually there, experiencing it. This, I think, contributed greatly to why I felt I had alienated those around me in the UK (see my previous blog), because I would describe these experiences the best I could, but of course, never quite capture the true essence of what I was talking about. ‘Welcome to Georgia!- The Musical’ was almost autobiographical for me. The story is about a French-girl who comes to Georgia for the first time, having met her Kakhetian boyfriend in France. He invites her back to his homeland, and introduces her to his family in Kakheti, where they sing, dance, and serenade the foreign visitor in typical and unique Georgian style. The little things that

added to the whole experience were magnificently portrayed. The male characters explaining how women should be seated during the toasts, the etiquette to drinking (gulping, right until the end) wine, and the general overwhelming nature of one’s first, real Supra in Georgia. The 90-minute performance seemed to perfectly capture my own experiences upon arriving here, a time that now seems like a lifetime ago. Life for me here now is, unfortunately, no longer like this. You can only maintain the ‘tourist in Georgia’ status for so-long before you’re accepted, at least almost, as a local. The magic I experienced back then had almost been forgotten in my mind, and watching this show brought it all back to life. The nostalgia I experienced from recalling those memories was, actually, extremely emotional. My parents are arriving in Tbilisi soon, and I cannot wait for them to see ‘Welcome to Georgia!- The Musical’ because it offers me the opportunity to show them what it was like for me all those years ago, without the need of any words at all. Welcome to Georgia! is expected to open later this month. Further details to follow.





FEBRUARY 2 - 5, 2018


TBILISI ZAKARIA PALIASHVILI OPERA AND BALLET THEATER Address: 25 Rustaveli Ave. Telephone: 2 99 04 56 February 4 OPENING OF THE STAR OF TEIMURAZ GUGUSHVILI Program: Giacomo Puccini TOSCA, Act 1, Ruggero Leoncavallo PAGLIACCI, Act 2 Starring: Tamar Iveri, Sulkhan Gvelesiani, Tamaz Saginadze, Vano Galuashvili, Vakhtang Jashiashvili, George Chelidze Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 10-70 GEL GABRIADZE THEATER Address: 13 Shavtelis St. Telephone: 2 98 65 93 February 2, 3 DIAMOND OF MARSHAL DE FANT’E Rezo Gabriadze Directed by Rezo Gabriadze English Subtitles Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 20, 30 GEL February 8 THE AUTUMN OF MY SPRINGTIME Rezo Gabriadze Directed by Rezo Gabriadze English Subtitles Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 20, 30 GEL SHALIKASHVILI THEATER Address: 37 Rustaveli Ave. Telephone: 595 50 02 03 February 2 KRIMANCHULI Directed by Amiran Shalikashvili Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 15 GEL February 3 HOST AND GUEST Vazha Pshavela Directed by Amiran Shalikashvili Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 20 GEL MOVEMENT THEATER Address: 182, Aghmashenebeli Ave. Telephone: 598 19 29 36 February 3 SIMBIOSIS One-act choreographic sketch

Director and Choreographer: George Ghongadze Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 10, 15 GEL February 4 The Story of a Murderer Directed by Ioseb Bakuradze Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 15 GEL February 8 INTRO Directed by Kakha Bakuradze 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 February 2-8 THE DEATH OF STALIN Directed by Armando Iannucci Cast: Andrea Riseborough, Jason Isaacs, Olga Kurylenko Genre: Biography, Comedy, Drama Language: English Start time: 21:55 Language: Russian Start time: 13:45, 19:45 Ticket: 11-17 GEL THREE BILLBOARDS OUTSIDE EBBING MISSOURI Directed by Martin McDonagh Cast: Frances McDormand, Woody Harrelson, Sam Rockwell Genre: Crime, Drama Language: Russian Start time: 21:45, 22:05 Ticket: 13, 14 GEL

THE SHAPE OF WATER Directed by Guillermo del Toro Cast: Sally Hawkins, Octavia Spencer, Michael Shannon Genre: Adventure, Drama, Fantasy Language: Russian Start time: 19:15 Ticket: 17 GEL RUSTAVELI CINEMA Address: 5 Rustaveli Ave. Telephone: 2 55 50 00 Every Wednesday ticket: 5 GEL February 2-8 MAZE RUNNER: THE DEATH CURE (Info Above) Start time: 22:20 Ticket: 13-14 GEL THE GREATEST SHOWMAN Directed by Michael Gracey Cast: Zendaya, Rebecca Ferguson, Hugh Jackman, Zac Efron, Michelle Williams Genre: Biography, Drama, Musical Language: Russian Start time: 17:15 Ticket: 11-12 GEL DEN OF THIEVES Directed by Christian Gudegast Cast: Zendaya, Rebecca Ferguson, Hugh Jackman, Zac Efron, Michelle Williams Genre: Bio Action, Crime, Drama Language: Russian Start time: 19:15, 22:20 Ticket: 13-14 GEL CAVEA GALLERY Address: 2/4 Rustaveli Ave. Telephone: 200 70 07 January 26-February 1

MAZE RUNNER: THE DEATH CURE Directed by Wes Ball Cast: Rosa Salazar, Thomas BrodieSangster, Dylan O'Brien Genre: Action, Sci-Fi, Thriller Language: Russian Start time: 16:30 Ticket: 10-11 GEL

THREE BILLBOARDS OUTSIDE EBBING MISSOURI (Info Above) Language: English Start time: 19:15 Language: Russian Start time: 22:30 Ticket: 16-19 GEL

DARKEST HOUR Directed by Joe Wright Cast: Gary Oldman, Lily James, Kristin Scott Thomas Genre: Biography, Drama, History Language: Russian Start time: 16:15 Ticket: 12 GEL

DEN OF THIEVES (Info Above) Start time: 13:00, 19:30, 22:00 Ticket: 13-14 GEL MAZE RUNNER: THE DEATH CURE (Info Above)

Language: English Start time: 19:15 Language: Russian Start time: 16:00, 22:30 Ticket: 13-19 GEL DARKEST HOUR (Info Above) Language: Russian Start time: 17:00 Ticket: 13-16 GEL THE SHAPE OF WATER (Info Above) Language: English Start time: 16:30 Language: Russian Start time: 22:15 Ticket: 16-19 GEL THE GREATEST SHOWMAN (Info Above) Language: Russian Start time: 19:50 Ticket: 16-19 GEL JUMANJI: WELCOME TO THE JUNGLE Directed by Jake Kasdan Cast: Dwayne Johnson, Karen Gillan, Kevin Hart Genre: Action, Adventure, Comedy Language: Russian Start time: 14:30 Ticket: 11-15 GEL MUSEUM



DIMITRI SHEVARDNADZE NATIONAL GALLERY Address: 11 Shota Rustaveli Ave. Telephone: 215 73 00 26 January – February 25 Georgian National Museum and Stedley Art Foundation present Solo exhibition CARDBOARD. WOOD. STONE BY CONTEMPORARY UKRAINIAN ARTIST ALEXANDER ZHYVOTKOV February 2 – March 3 "Michelangelo and the Sistine Chapel"- Georgian National Museum and the Embassy of Italy to Georgia present THE EXHIBITION OF PREPARATORY DRAWINGS BY MICHELANGELO BUONARROTI. MUSIC

SPACEHALL Address: 2 Tsereteli Ave. February 3 TREEBAL: E-CLIP@SPACEHALL E-Clip- Marko Radovanovic, from Belgrade, Serbia Acidwave - Psychedelic Trance Project of Georgian artists MARCUSS & ADDITIVV Ellarge - Collaboration of Georgian producers Irakli Menagarishvili & Nika Tsereteli Oogway – by Gigi Gabadze Start time: 23:00 Ticket: 40 GEL TBILISI STATE CONSERVATOIRE Address: 8 Griboedov St. Telephone: 2 93 46 24 February 8 TRISTAN SIKHARULIDZE 80 Grand Master of Gurulian Singing Participants: Shvidkatsa (Ozurgeti), Rustavi, Erisioni, Basiani, The Sikharulidzes, Shilda Start time: 19:00 Ticket: 5-20 GEL Book presentation "Guri and Tristan Sikharulidze" (2nd edition) in the foyer DJANSUG KAKHIDZE TBILISI CENTER FOR MUSIC AND CULTURE Address: 125 Aghmashenebeli ave. Telephone: 2 96 12 43 February 3 185TH ANNIVERSARY CONCERT OF COMPOSER JOHANNES BRAHMS Tbilisi Symphony Orchestra and Georgian State Choir will perform “A German Requiem” Conductor- Shavleg Shilakadze Solo vocal parts will be sung by Soprano Nino Chachua and Baritone Zaal (Zaza) Khelaia Start time: 19:30 Ticket: 1o-28 GEL MZIURI Address: Mziuri Cafe February 4 SAKVIRAO Entertainment program for children Start time: 12:00 FABRIKA Addresss: 8 Ninoshvili Str. January 28 CHARITY CONCERT FOR TUTA Start time: 20:00 Tickets: 20 GEL




Decades of Success & Ana Urushadze’s Scary Public Adoration: Cinema Mother Named among Legend’s Anniversary Films of 2018 to Watch BY NINO GUGUNISHVILI




n January 26, the legendary Georgian film Director Eldar Shengelaia turned 85. To mark the occasion, the Georgian Ministry of Culture and Monument Protection, Georgian National Film Center and Georgian Film Academy organized a reception on the premises of the Ministry of Culture and Monument Protection. “I won’t name the numerous awards that Mr. Eldar Shengelaia has won. I am sure that if one asks anybody in the street, of any age, they will be able to quote a phrase from an Eldar Shengelaia film. I want to thank him for his movies and for his love of Georgia,” Mikheil Giorgadze, Minister of Culture and Monument Protection, said in his opening speech. Eldar Shengelaia has always focused on the topic of freedom. His protagonists were dissidents who were either imprisoned or put into an asylum under Soviet rule. However, they eventually gained freedom. This striving for freedom is a leitmotif of the great maestro’s creativity. In spite of the huge popularity of his films – mainly ‘Extraordinary Exhibition’ (1968), ‘The Eccentrics’ (1973), ‘Samanishvili’s Stepmother’ (1977) and ‘Blue Mountains or Unbelievable Story’ (1983), none of these masterpieces were screened internationally during the Soviet Regime. Shengelaia, who studied in Moscow, had the opportunity to stay there with great prospects waiting for him. However, the Director was madly in love with Georgia and therefore, came back to his motherland. ‘Mr. Eldar, I congratulate you on this day. I am sure that there is a lot creativity left in store for you. I want to thank you for what you have done for young Georgian cinematographers. Over the past 30-40 years, you have given a lot of joy and optimism to each of our families. Hopefully, Georgian cinema will again regain its past glory,” Zurab Maghalashvili, Director of the National Movie Center commented, as he presented a Kabalakhi – national hood- to the Director. “I am happy to see you looking so well. I would like to wish you even more fantastic movies in the future,” Zaza Urushadze, President of the Georgian Movie Academy, noted. He presented a tapestry work by Anka Kalatozishvili to the legendary movie Director. “Life is really full of perils and difficulties. Eldar as a person and by means of his movies leaves us with an impression that his life was been nothing but smooth, or as the Georgian saying goes, full of violets and roses. He looks so free! But his life has not really been that smooth and sweet! Eldar has

lived through all the blows of the past. Besides being a professional, I see great personal power and humanity in him that can really make our lives endurable. As Brodsky wrote, ‘we have passed the main path of life together’. We sincerely wanted to do something for our country. In that totalitarian system, we had to endure a lot of cursing and swearing, but we were true to our conscience. In spite of all these difficulties that life served up, Eldar has managed to subdue destiny,” Lana Ghoghoberidze, Georgian Director, his colleague and the representative of the same generation, noted. “I want to congratulate him on this anniversary. We talk a lot about the creative works of Eldar Shengelaia. However, now, I would like to focus on his personal traits. We have known each other since childhood. During our student’s years, an international commune led by Georgians was formed. We elected Eldar as the President of this commune. Years passed. We arrived in Georgia and everyone suddenly wanted to be a Director. Soon, the Georgian Cinematographers’ Union was established. We expressed our trust once more in Eldar, and elected him as Chairman again. From 1976-1977, the Soviet Union Cinematograph Committee decided to suppress Georgian cinema, claiming that it was not responding to the demands of the Soviet Union. There was and still is the magazine ‘Art and Cinema’, where articles were published against Georgian cinema. Then, our central authorities, and Eduard Shevardnadze in person, did their best to save Georgian cinema. Thanks to the aid of the Cinema Union and central authorities, our cinema survived. Our old cinematographic traditions continued. In the 1980s, Georgian Directors shot such films that the whole world acknowledged. Eldar Shengelaia was a member of the commission that ratified the five-cross flag that Georgia has and takes pride in, among other achievements,” Merab Kokochashvili, his friend and colleague, stated. “I want to thank everybody for this day. I would like to say that during the Soviet Union, a very interesting Georgian cinema phenomenon was created. Not a single other Soviet country had such a situation – 100 Georgian films were screened in Pompidou, Paris. It was a great achievement. I can tell you that there are a lot of talented young Georgian film Directors. And I believe they will achieve a lot internationally. We are continuing the old tradition of our cinema, and we will the predecessors for the young generation who will create new splendid Georgian cinema,” Eldar Shengelaia noted at the end. All the film Directors attending the event then took a group photo. Eldar Shengelaia still continues his work. In 2017, he shot one more full-length film called ‘Armchair,’ that premiered at the Moscow International Movie Festival.



Commercial Director: Iva Merabishvili Marketing Manager: Salome Vashalomidze



Editor-In-Chief: Katie Ruth Davies

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

oung Georgian filmmaker Ana Urushadze’s film ‘Scary Mother’ has been included on the list of recommended films to watch in 2018 by Calvert journal. In the article by Carmen Gray, ‘Films of 2018: The ‘New East’ Cinema You Need to See this Year’ featured Urushadze’s Scary Mother, alongside other films such as Malgorzata Szumovska (Mug); Estonian film director Lauri Lagle’s ‘Portugal,’ Russian Alexey German Jr’s film ‘Dovlatov,’ and Jan Svankmajer’s ‘Insect’ (Czech Republic). “The current buzz surrounding Georgia’s national cinema is set to continue in 2018, with Director Ana Urushadze’s widely imaginative and surrealistic debut feature Scary Mother among the delights to watch for,” the article reads, noting the many awards the film has received, from Locarno’s Golden Leopard in the category of the Best First Feature, to winning the Sarajevo Film Festival Award for Best Feature film, and Best Director award at Gijon, Spain. Georgian actress Nata Murvanidze, who

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plays the leading role in the film, won an Asia Pacific Screen Award for best performance. “It challenges traditional gender roles with dark, playful humor; focusing on writer Manana (Nato Murvanidze), who has penned an erotic vampire novel, and is determined to get it published-despite opposition from her husband, who regards her imaginings as a personal affront,” the article reads. “Just being in the moment and giving 100% attention to each scene is the only rule for me when filming. The best days of my life are when I'm shooting,” - Ana Urushadze is quoted in the article.


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Profile for Georgia Today

Issue #1019  

February 2 - 5, 2018

Issue #1019  

February 2 - 5, 2018