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Issue no: 1027

• MARCH 2 - 5, 2018



In this week’s issue...

Georgian President Refuses to Sign Amendments to Broadcasting law NEWS PAGE 3

Time to Decide: Russia or the West POLITICS PAGE 5

FOCUS ON SUSPENSION FEARS MEP warns Georgia to tread carefully in the EU


Four New Regulations Take Effect in Georgia from March 1 BY THEA MORRISON


n March 1, 2018, four new laws took effect in Georgia and its capital Tbilisi. Two of the four regulations apply only to Tbilisi and its residents. From March 1, on 14 central streets of the capital, minibuses will stop only at bus stops, in order to defuse traffic jams in the city. “At present, passengers are able to stop minibuses where they want and then cross the streets where it is not permitted. This is a very serious problem endangering both passengers and drivers. It must be changed,” Tbilisi Mayor Kakha Kaladze stated. Tbilisi City Hall listed the 14 streets where, from March 1, minibuses will stop only at bus stops: 1. Vazha Pshavela Ave. 2. Shota Rustaveli Ave. 3. Alexander Kazbegi Ave. 4. David Aghmashenebeli Ave. 5. Ilia Chavchavadze Ave.

Photo source:

6. Marshal Gelovani Ave. 7. Pekini Street 8. Merab Kostava Street 9. Petre Melikishvili Street 10. Vakhtang Gorgasali Street 11. Zhiuli Shartava Street 12. George Bush Ave. 13. David Aghmashenebeli Alley 14. Kakheti Highway The changes were adopted by the Mayor on December 20, 2017 and aim at reducing the traffic jams in the capital. The second regulation which entered into force on March 1, refers to the pilot project of the Cleaning Service of Tbilisi, beginning in the central Vake district. On 32 streets of Vake, the

Cleaning Service will empty bins on a night-time timetable in order to defuse the heavy traffic in the district and reduce the discomfort of residents. Another law which entered into force this spring is insurance of vehicles registered abroad. The law reads that the owner of a registered vehicle in a foreign country will be required to purchase third person insurance upon entry into Georgia. The fourth law now in force obliges all shopping centers, markets, malls, hotels and gas/ petrol stations to be insured. The regulation was adopted on December 27, 2017 and also sets the insurance limits. For markets and shopping centers, 30 thousand GEL is the maximum limit per affected person’s life and, in case of damage to one’s health, 15 thousand GEL has been set as the amount of compensation. If a shopkeeper or vendor’s goods are destroyed in a fire, the insurance limit is 15 thousand GEL. If more than one property is destroyed, that amount will be multiplied to the number of destroyed shops or properties. In such case, the total sum of the limit is 15 million GEL.

Luke Coffey on Georgia’s NATO Aspirations POLITICS PAGE 6

The UK Bridge Education Fair & The Future Journalist Competition SOCIETY PAGE 10

Georgian Asks HBO to Make TV Series Based on Poem Knight in Panther's Skin CULTURE PAGE 13

The Guardian Writes about Georgian Wine CULTURE PAGE 15




MARCH 2 - 5, 2018

French School of Caucasus Georgia’s Foreign Starts Waste Separation Minister Holds High-Rank Meetings in Geneva


n February 23, a waste separation corner was opened at the French School of Caucasus. From this point forward, schoolchildren, parents, and school staff will have the opportunity to bring and separate their waste (paper, glass, PET plastic, and aluminium). Waste collection and transportation will be provided by Clean World Ltd., who will deliver the waste to recycling companies. Veronica Lee, USAID’s Economic Growth Office Director; Mathieu Gorau, the Director of the primary school at the French School of Caucasus; Nana Janashia, CENN’s Executive Director; and Rute Vicente, Head of the Association of Students' Parents, attended and gave speeches at the opening of the separation corner. Jean-Yves Lavoir,

Counsellor for Cooperation and Cultural Affairs of the Embassy of France, also participated in the event. Both the hosts and the guests at the event stressed the importance of waste separation and involving youth in the process. Areas in Vake Park were cleaned up by the school’s students and staff, followed by a waste separation tutorial where students had the opportunity to separate waste on their own. The event concluded with fun educational games focused on waste separation. The waste separation corner was opened under the auspices of the ongoing USAID-funded project, Waste Management Technology in Regions, Phase II (WMTR II), implemented by CENN. The program assists the Government of Georgia in modernizing the waste management sector in the country and by supporting sustainable and inclusive economic development. This initiative has made it possible to separate and dispose of waste at eight locations in Tbilisi to date. To view the recycling corner locations, please open the following map: Waste separation corners ( com/maps/d/viewer?mid=1uwGAAP7G8AC0hri4 fyp5fGeC8Q8&ll=41.68188881708563%2C44.87489 638554689&z=11). The responsibility to separate waste is determined by the EU Association Agreement and, based on the Waste Management Code of Georgia, is to be implemented in all municipalities from 2019.

Fallen Glass from Building Kills One, Leaves 5 Schoolchildren Injured



tragic incident happened Wednesday on Baratashvili Street in Tbilisi, when a large sheet of glass fell off a building and injured six teenagers on their way home from an excursion. One schoolboy, Aslan Mammedov, 14, died in hospital soon after being transported there by ambulance, while the other five children are undergoing medical treatment at time of going to press and are said to be in a stable condition. Doctors say that Mammedov had severe head wounds and surgery would not have saved his life. An investigation is underway under Article 124 of the Criminal Code of Georgia, which envisages causing moderate to severe damage to one’s health by negligence. Yesterday evening, Tbilisi Mayor Kakha Kaladze arrived at the hospital where the children are undergoing treatment. The Mayor said the building which the glass fell from was last rehabilitated in 2008. “It is a very sad incident. I want to offer my condolences to the family of the deceased,” he stated. Georgian President Giorgi Margvelashvili commented on the incident on Facebook. “I am very saddened by the incident. My condolences to Aslan Mammedov’s family,” the post reads. Georgian Prime Minister, Giorgi Kvirikashvili, announced the mobilization of all relevant agencies in order to ensure transportation of the children to medical facilities abroad if needed. “In these grievous moments, I express my condolences and support to the parents, family, friends and teachers of the deceased. I am unable to express the pain I feel now,” he said.

Photo: Georgian Foreign Minister meets Michael Møller, Director-General of the United Nations Office at Geneva.



ithin the framework of the HighSegment Session of the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva, the Vice-Premier of Georgia and Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mikheil Janelidze, held meetings with the colleagues and the heads of delegations of various states. Janelidze met with Abdullah Abdullah, Chief Executive of Afghanistan. At the meeting, the sides welcomed the partnership relations between Georgia and Afghanistan and good practices of cooperation in various fields. The Head of the Afghan government once again expressed his gratitude for Georgia's significant involvement in the NATO-led peacekeeping missions and emphasized the special bravery of the Georgian soldiers. Minister Janelidze, for his part, once again reaffirmed the willingness of the Georgian side to continue contributing to peace and stability in the region and to the institutional development of Afghanistan through sharing Georgian reforms and experiences. The sides also discussed the possibilities of cooperation in the economic sphere, and emphasized the active cooperation of the two countries in the transit process of Caspian energy resources. Within the visit to Geneva, the Georgian Minister also met with his Hungarian counterpart Péter Szijjártó. The Ministers discussed issues of bilateral cooperation and once again expressed their support towards mutually important issues discussed within the international formats.

Janelidze also met with Foreign Minister of Senegal, Sidiki Kaba, Moroccan State Minister for Human Rights, Mustapha Ramid, and Minata Samate Cessouma, Commissioner for Political Affairs in Africa. During the meetings, the Georgian side expressed interest in developing cooperation with African countries. Discussions also focused on the possibilities of bilateral relations in different areas, including education and healthcare. The Georgian Foreign Minister also had a meeting with Michael Møller, the Director-General of the United Nations Office at Geneva, seeing a discussion of the situation in the occupied regions of Georgia- Abkhazia and South Ossetia. The Minister informed the Director of the UN Office about the tragic death of Georgian citizen Archil Tutunashvili, who was kidnapped by the occupant forces on February 23 and the next day died in unclear circumstances. Janelidze emphasized the importance of the relevant response of the international community on similar facts. The sides focused on the implementation of the UN Sustainable Development Goals in Georgia. Møller noted that it will be interesting and useful for member states to share the experience of Georgia in this regard. Attention was also paid to the priorities of the Georgian Chairmanship in the Open Government Partnership (OGP) and preparations for the OGP Global Summit, which will be held in July in Georgia. Janelidze additionally met with UN High Commissioner on Human Rights Zaid Raad al-Hussein and UN High Commissioner for Refugees Philippe Grant, during the Georgian delegation’s participation in the High-Segment Session of the United Nations Human Rights Council on February 25-27.




Georgian President Refuses to Sign Amendments to Broadcasting law caster (GPB) the right to release commercials on working days in order to generate more money for development. After vetoing the bill, Margvelashvili attached motivated remarks and returned it to Parliament for re-consideration. He had two main complaints, which referred to the GPB right of commercial advertising and the issue of state procurements. However, on February 21, the majority of MPs failed to take into account the requests of both the media and nongovernmental sector, nor the remarks of Margvelashvili, and thus with 83 votes overturned the veto. The draft was sent back to the President for his signature. The President of Georgia has thus far vetoed 11 bills. However, the Law on Broadcasting is the only law that the President will not sign, despite the fact that the veto was overridden. According to the procedures, Speaker of the Parliament, Irakli Kobakhidze, will have to sign the bill instead of the President.



he President of Georgia, Giorgi Margvelashvili, has said he will not sign the amendments to the Broadcasting Law, which gives the state-financed Georgian Public Broadcaster (GPB) more independency and power as well as the right of commercial advertising. The information was released by the President’s Parliamentary Secretary, Ana Natsvlishvili. “The President has now made the decision not to sign the draft law, which was vetoed by the President but overruled by Parliament,” Natsvlishvili stated. The Law on Broadcasting was adopted by Parliament in late December 2017, but vetoedbythePresidentthefollowingmonth. The proposed changes would enable state-financed Georgian Public Broad-

Gov't to Impose Restrictions on Purchase & Sale of Cold Weapons

Georgian Airways to Introduce Direct Flights to 11 New Destinations BY NIA PATARIA



old weapons are soon to be available only in allocated locales, with only a specific category of citizens able to buy them. The relevant legislative amendments have already been prepared by the Ministry of Internal Affairs (MIA), which will likely be presented next week at the government session. Deputy Interior Minister, Natia Mez-

vrishvili, says that the MIA will determine possible risk-groups which will not be allowed to buy or sell cold weapons. “This is aimed at resolving the problem of circulation of cold weapons in order to prevent juveniles or other risk groups obtaining or buying them, which can lead to serious crimes,” Mezvishvili explained. The Deputy Minister added that specific places will be allocated for the selling of cold weapons, and will not be available in such places where they are easily accessible for children and teenagers.


t a press conference held in Biltmore hotel on the March 1, Executive Director of Georgian Airways, Givi Davitashvili, discussed the news that the airline will start direct flights from Tbilisi International Airport to 11 new directions, including flights to Brussels, Bologna, Barcelona, Berlin, Koln, Bratislava, Athens, Thessaloniki, Kharkov and Kazan. Direct flights will start on March 25. The innovations were executed in an effort to provide flexibility and comfort for customers and is also expected to generate new job positions. In 2017, Georgian Airways introduced

three new destinations: London, Prague and Kiev. Since then, the number of direct flights has increased to 21. “Georgian Airways is concentrated on development and growth as a company. We are generally oriented on day-time

flights to make our customers feel safer during the flight. Additional comfort and flight safety are two major priorities that we want to fully accomplish to create satisfaction among our passengers,” Davitashvili said.

Memorial for the Heroes of 1921 Opens on Old Parliament Façade

Russian soldiers in Tbilisi on February 25, 1921. Source:



nFebruary25,ninety-seven years ago, the Bolsheviks took Tbilisi, annexing Georgia into the Soviet Union. Seventy years of

Bolshevism left the country, along with many if not all of the other former Soviet Republics, with and identity crisis and soul-searching that continues to this day, as this part of the world struggles to reconcile with its recent history. To honor the sacrifice and bravery of the heroes of 1921, who gave their lives to defend Tbilisi against the onslaught

of the Red Army, a memorial to the heroes was opened on the façade of the old parliament building last Friday. Mtatsminda Single Mandate MP Salome Zurabishvili initiated the project to open the memorial at the request of the descendant of Maro Makashvili, a 20-year-old heroine of the war, daughter of poet Konstantine Makashvili, who fought near Tbilisi as a volunteer nurse, dying on the battlefield as a result of a bomb explosion. At the opening, she recalled the windy day on February 12, 1921 when the cadets of the General Kvinitadze Academy confronted the Russian 11th Army at Kojori-Tabakhmela. "They deprived us of our history and our independence. These cadets in their early twenties sacrificed their lives near Kojori and Tabakhmela to defend our freedom. We owe them for our freedom and we shall be more responsible and continue to fight. We shall remember our history and the facts.” The memorial was placed on the external façade of the internal yard.

Zurabishvili’s Office, in cooperation with the Defense Ministry, compiled a list of deceased cadets to commemorate them on the memorial on April 9 Street. She said the process of identifying cadets was a complicated one, hence the blank spaces on the memorial in case further

heroes are identified. “These blank spaces are for those people who fought for independence of Georgia over the centuries,” she said. The event was attended by MPs, Minister of Culture Mikheil Giorgadze and descendants of the cadets.

Georgian cadets marching. Source:




MARCH 2 - 5, 2018

Suspension & Fear: MEP Austrevicius on Georgia in the EU of view prevails. I don’t want to present it as a great problem for the time of being, but if it becomes a systematic approach, Georgia might start making steps backwards.




he anniversary of Georgians receiving the visa free regime from the EU is fast approaching, making it as good a time as any to look back and ponder how it turned out. This, especially considering the growing concerns from some countries that they seem to be getting increased asylum seekers from Georgia, with organized crime activities committed by individuals with Georgian citizenship also remaining a nagging problem. And while in its report, the European Commission was largely satisfied regarding its assessment of visa liberalization with Georgia, assuring us that there is no need to worry about the suspension mechanism being triggered, there are also forces in Europe that are showing far less enthusiasm for it. Just recently, one of Germany’s Land Minister’s campaigned for cancelling the visa free regime, citing the above-

mentioned sharp increase in asylum seekers. And there’s propaganda too. No doubt these issues, while problematic, will be used in favor of the Kremlin narrative for some time yet. It’s a convoluted business, as Petras Austrevicius, Lithuanian member of the European Parliament, tells GEORGIA TODAY in an exclusive interview, explaining the current EU stance towards Georgia’s handing of visa free.

MANY CONSIDER THAT THE EU, IN FOOTBALL TERMS, SHOWED US A YELLOW CARD AND TOLD US TO BE CAREFUL. WHAT DO YOU THINK? HOW GRIEVOUS IS THE SITUATION? Part of the puzzle is that Georgia has been asked to comply with much higher standards in different fields: human rights, economic reforms, and legislation, than before. The Association Agreement (AA) that we have between us and Georgia is a very serious and comprehensive document. Implementing the AA means Georgia making many steps towards European standards, the

European system, which, I am sure, Georgia would benefit a lot from. But again, it’s not a simultaneous process. It’s doesn’t happen overnight.

WHY HIGHER STANDARDS THAN OTHERS? IS GEORGIA A SPECIAL CASE? Well, Georgia is not really a very special case, but we sometimes see in Brussels what I’d describe as an attempt by Georgia to be more selective regarding reforms: ‘one thing I do, another I postpone, then something else I don’t implement at all.’ This selective approach is really bad for Georgia. Georgia politically and economically by many assessments has a chance to be a frontrunner because Ukraine is taken by military aggression and the anti-corruption fight remains unsettled. Moldova is torn by internal disputes between the president and the government; society is divided. Georgia has a good chance to go forward. But it’s not just about paperwork: it should be a real transition and harmonization process. That’s why I call on Georgian politicians not to be selec-

tive in implementation of all those things that need to be done.

WHAT ARE WE TALKING ABOUT EXACTLY WHEN WE SAY SELECTIVE? WHAT WOULD YOU UNDERLINE? We saw on the example of visa liberalization, the visa waiver process. Georgia’s been asked to do and accomplish many things. And we stuck to our word and promise, too, and gave Georgia visa free access. Ultimately, it was a great achievement and recognition for Georgia. People are free to travel to the EU. Had Georgia not done its homework, nothing would have happened. Now we see that economically, economic reforms are advancing, we see step by step positive approach but in political dealings, especially around the rule of law, justice, even the treatment of some opposition figures, there’s an attempt to present it as something local, like telling us - this is our local issue, this is not the business of the EU, we can deal with it according to local rules and traditions. I think it can be dangerous if that point

This automatic suspension mechanism was first introduced towards Ukraine and Georgia. I see it as a potential risk. It might be applied if the figures of those who want to stay in the EU beyond the visa allowance increases. So far, what we have is a preliminary assessment on the ground from the first half of 2017. The numbers are not so dramatic: they don’t exceed even 5%. Some people stay in the EU, I guess mainly younger ones, trying to get jobs, looking for new opportunities. I think social-economic reasoning is a major one; jobs are better in the EU. But there’s a certain tolerance level to consider, here: if those figures start to rise, or we hear more statements and information about the criminal activities of Georgian citizens, then of course, some precautionary measures might be taken. And the worst part of it all is that good people will suffer, because some countries might try to refuse Georgians travelling with no visa. I see it as a risk, but I don’t want to highlight it as risk of the present and I hope we’ll not see a need to apply the suspension mechanism. Ultimately, the Georgian authorities need to be very cooperative.

THE MOST SKEPTIC OF OUR SOCIETY POINT OUT THAT WHILE THERE ARE COMPLAINTS ABOUT GEORGIANS, MILLIONS OF SYRIANS ARE BEING ALLOWED INTO THE EU. HOW WOULD YOU ANSWER THESE SKEPTICS? First, you can’t compare Syria and Georgia. Georgians are not refugees; there’s no ongoing war or conflict in Georgia. We consider Georgia a stable country. Georgians are entitled to travel with no visa and it’s a high recognition of the state of our relationship. They are not refugees. They are people of a third country with whom we want to establish a strategic and longstanding partnership.

Justice Ministry Creates Application to Monitor Georgians' Stay in EU



he Public Services Development Agency, under Georgia’s Ministry of Justice, has created a Schengen/EU App for Georgian citizens to monitor their stay in Schengen states. Georgia’s Foreign Ministry will manage the application, which will help Georgian citizens who enjoy the benefits of visa-free travel within the EU, to cal-

culate their period of stay in the Schengen / EU zone, and not exceed the permitted 90-day stay in any 180-day period. The Public Services Development Agency says the application is easy to download and enables the users to: • Keep their history of traveling in the Schengen Zone. • Count the number of remaining days • Share information depicting specific travel or travel history on social networks. The app was created with the help of the Georgian Foreign Ministry, the EU and the International Centre for Migration Policy Development.




Time to Decide: Russia or the West OP-ED BY NUGZAR B. RUHADZE


hat are the current Russian-Georgian relations all about? I am posing this not so rhetorical question because it is high time for this nation to know exactly where it is and what it does to this extent. We need this knowledge for our future inter and intra national orientation, and for eschewing further geopolitical conflicts and errors. Georgia must already know, with absolute political precision, the presumable consequences of this disastrously undone friendly and cooperative connection between the two nations. It is almost 100% certain that Russia is seriously angry with Georgia because of its current western orientation, and unless Georgia is ready to reverse its present position, Russia will always be as angry as she is right now. So, what to do? Give up on Europe? Betray America? Drain down the tubes the quarter-of-a-century effort of building rapprochement with the West? Kick the North American and the Schengen Area embassies out of the country and start crawling on bended knee towards Russia with a package of ardent entreaties, begging the cruel stepmother to give us back our shelter and the crumbs of bread for survival? Give up the idea of membership in the most powerful alliances of the world, NATO and the EU? Go back to the Sickle-andHammer model of lifestyle? Some would say yes to all those questions, but nobody would take pains to explain at what expense. Russia wants to have Georgia tied to her apron strings as it was before the clamorous soviet

breakup. Russia will never put up with Georgia’s actual independence and its attachment to the western block of nations because Russia feels insecure with Georgia being in somebody else’s hand as a fancy toy. Discussion of Georgia’s occupied lands, grabbed by Russia, and any talk of getting them back is ridiculously irrelevant. The geopolitical cul-de-sac that was created as a direct consequence of unfortunate historical circumstances against the will of the Georgian people seems to be an insurmountable obstacle in Russian-Georgian embittered relations. I suspect that this generation of politicians and, presumably, several others in the future, will find themselves unable to rectify the situation to the benefit of all the parties to the conflict. The Russian-monitored movement of borders, flagrantly truncating the Georgian territory, or kidnappings of Georgian citizens on the so called border with lethal endings, and Russia’s attempts to bully its former baby brother will not end any time soon. Yet, pro-Russian sentiments are not mitigating in Georgia. As a matter of fact, there are still people who want to have the Russian paw back in the Georgian pie. Who knows? This direction of thought might be a win-win prospect for Georgia, but none of those two orientations – Western or Russian – has a 100% chance to justify itself without failure. The bottom-line is that Georgia can no longer afford to vacillate between the anvil and the hammer, which means that there is no way to nurse both ideas at the same time. Being in futile expectation forever is not simply an arduous and exasperating stance, it is also a precursor of future painful political frustrations. This is why some of us are starting

to get the feeling that a choice has to be made, and it has to be made now. Procrastination might be equal to fiasco. Georgia will never see a wolf and a sheep eating from the same bowl. We have no power to reconcile with the controlling ferocious beasts who are gobbling each other up. We will someday be torn apart

between the two, and there will be nobody to give us a helping hand. And I think the only way out is to stop trying to have a foot in both doors and give preference to one of them. Once upon a time, I thought more romantically about the Russian-GeorgianAmerican happily coexisting triangle,

but real-life hints to the unlikelihood of this dream. We will probably sigh with relief if we finally find ourselves strong enough to make a firm decision on what is better for Georgia – the new Western shoulder, the old Russian bosom, or the prospect of the third untapped way of development.

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MARCH 2 - 5, 2018



If you look at polling asking the citizens of different countries if they would be willing to fight for their own countries, the polling numbers are astonishingly low. Ask Germans if they would die for Germany, ask the Frenchmen the same: the numbers are low. Article 5 is actually not a trigger, it’s a political decision. There’s nothing in the NATO Treaty that says if exactly this and this happens, then Article 5 will be invoked. It’s decided on a unanimous level by all members of NATO.


ATO, and Georgia’s (eventual) membership of it, has been a traditionally compelling topic in Georgia for the last two decades. So, when the Heritage Foundation’s Luke Coffey wrote that Georgia might enter NATO with Article 5 on Collective Defense covering the occupied territories, pretty much the whole country took notice. The government tried to reassure people that such a scenario was never on cards, while the omniscient Georgian experts wasted little time and wrote a multitude of articles about their vision of Coffey’s suggestion, one going as far as to call it a storm in a teacup. To clarify the issue, GEORGIA TODAY sat down with Coffey, who was at the Economic Policy Research Center’s event in Tbilisi.

WHEN THE HERITAGE FOUNDATION REPORT CAME OUT, THE BIGGEST TALKING POINT WAS THE IDEA SUGGESTED BY YOU THAT GEORGIA MIGHT ENTER NATO WITH AMENDMENTS TO ART. 6, AS HAPPENED IN THE CASES OF TURKEY AND GREECE I want to make very clear that in my proposal, all of Georgia, as seen by the international community, the whole territory of Georgia, including the occupied Abkhazia and Tskhinvali region, would join NATO. But Tskhinvali region and Abkhazia would not get the Article 5 security guarantee until the conflict is resolved peacefully. This is actually in accordance with the government’s non-use of force pledge. If you have the non-use of force pledge about using military force to take back the territories, then why do you need a military commitment from NATO for the two occupied territories? This would be a very temporary measure. Until the two occupied regions are rightfully returned to Georgia. It’s not an unheard-of scenario: officials, spanning different governments, have discussed it.


ideas and to get debates going. It being 10 years since the Bucharest Summit, we need to find creative ways to help get Georgia across the finish line into NATO. This is not about questioning Georgia’s territorial integrity. In what I wrote, my proposal makes very clear that this measure of amending Article 6 does not in any way question NATO’s commitment to Georgia’s territorial integrity. We have to face the reality that 20% of Georgia is under illegal occupation by Russia. Many officials in Western Europe and Washington are concerned that Georgia joining NATO will mean automatic war with Russia, because Russia is already occupying part of the country. And what I propose is only possible in Georgia because the non-use of force pledge. This proposal would not work for Ukraine, for example, because they are fighting. They don’t have the non-use of force pledge. Georgia does. So, in no way does this question Georgia’s territorial integrity. All I’m suggesting is that Georgia joins the alliance, but only part of Georgia, the 80% that is not occupied, gets the Article 5 guarantees. In the USA for example, Guam, does not get Article 5. The Falkland Islands don’t get Article 5. Article 6, which defines what region gets Article 5 protection, has been amended in the past.

My job, coming from the think-tank, is to propose

Georgia existed before NATO and will be around long after NATO disappears

WHAT DO YOU THINK THE COST IN PUBLIC SENTIMENT WOULD BE? SOME THINK IT MIGHT BE A STEP IN THE WRONG DIRECTION AS THEY VIEW NATO AS A MEANS TO ACHIEVE REAL TERRITORIAL INTEGRITY, FOR THE WHOLE OF GEORGIA, NOT JUST 80% The government did the right thing announcing the non-use of force pledge. You cannot have the pledge to not use the military and expect NATO to give a military guarantee. So, people who are concerned about Georgia’s territorial integrity, perhaps don’t understand my proposal. I also think certain groups are using my proposal for propa- E-mail: Tel: ( +995 ) 591 930 303

ganda. The thing that attracted me in Georgia was the optimism, the energy, the drive in this country, the pride, the culture, the history, the language. These things were here way before NATO was created and Georgia will be around way after NATO disappears. If the cost of Georgia joining NATO is giving up on Abkhazia, giving up on Tskhinvali region, then it is not worth the cost. That’s not what I’m proposing. That’s not what NATO should be asking. What we need is to find creative, new thinking as to how to get Georgia in the Alliance.

HOW WOULD RUSSIA REACT TO THAT? Russia believes it has a veto on countries joining NATO and the EU. In a way, they have a de facto veto right now because what they do is invade and partially occupy a country, whether it’s Georgia, Ukraine, Moldova, and they say, OK, this will prevent them from ever joining NATO/the EU. My proposal is what removes them from the equation. The Alliance reaffirmed its commitment to recognizing Georgia’s full territorial integrity and it can do it within my proposal.

BUT WHAT GOOD IS THE ALLIANCE’S COMMITMENT TO GEORGIA’S TERRITORIAL INTEGRITY IF RUSSIA, FOR EXAMPLE, CLAIMS TSKHINVALI AS A PART OF THE OSSETIA REGION? Look at the situation in Tskhinvali. It’s a puppet government fully controlled by Moscow. There will be no difference whether the Duma signs a decree annexing Tskhinvali region formally or informally as it is now: there will be no practical difference. The fact is, Abkhazia and Tskhinvali are occupied. In a practical sense, there’s not much more they can do. They can sign papers, annexing it to the Russian Federation, but there will be consequences in terms of the economic sanctions in the West. The whole thing is tragic, really, because Georgia and Russia, as neighbors with a historical connection, should be partners. Russia should respect Georgia’s territorial integrity.

NOT MUCH OF THAT HISTORICAL CONNECTION CONSISTS OF HAPPY MEMORIES Of course, but I’m talking about local trade, intermarried families. Georgia and Russia will always be neighbors. It’s a shame that Russia cannot be a good neighbor to Georgia. It’s unfortunate. But this is a reality, and as long as the current government is in place in Moscow, we’ll not see a change. But someday we will. You know, in the 90s, we had similar discussions about the Baltic States joining NATO. The idea of Estonia joining NATO was unheard of, but look at Estonia today. So, I think we need to take a very long-term view.


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Economic sanctions do have the limitations. Russia is paying for its economic sanctions over Crimea and Ukraine. Sanctions can be one part of the tool box. In Georgia’s case, I proposed the US Congress draft sanctions that can be triggered by Russia formally annexing Tskhinvali region for example, or formally annexing Abkhazia. So, the sanctions are there, and they will be triggered if Russia tries to annex these territories. The important thing for the US government is to work with our allies in Europe to coordinate this.

SOME EURO-ATLANTIC SKEPTICS ACCUSE THE WEST OF DOUBLE STANDARDS AND POINTING TO THE BALKAN COUNTRIES. A COMMON QUESTION IS ‘HOW IS MONTENEGRO CONTRIBUTING MORE TO THE ALLIANCE THAN GEORGIA AND IN WHICH RATINGS IS DEMOCRACY, RULE OF LAW, CORRUPTION AND SO ON IS MONTENEGRO OR ALBANIA HIGHER THAN IN GEORGIA?’ I’m sympathetic to that view and I’m an advocate for Georgia some day joining NATO and I understand this frustration, especially considering the sacrifice the Georgian people made. I’m an Afghan vet myself. I know how important the contribution is of the Georgian military in Afghanistan; I’ve seen Georgian soldiers there. We have to look at the membership in the open- door policy as the bigger picture. Montenegro joining NATO brought another piece of south-east Europe Westwards and another piece of stability.

THERE ARE SKEPTICS AMONG US POLICY-MAKERS. SENATOR RAND PAUL CRITICIZED THE SALE OF JAVELIN MISSILES TO GEORGIA. YOUR COLLEAGUE, MICAEL O’HANLON, FROM THE BROOKINGS INSTITUTE, PROPOSED A NEUTRALITY STATUS FOR GEORGIA GUARANTEED BY BOTH THE WEST AND RUSSIA If the Georgian people choose this route, that’s fine. If they choose to be a part of the Euro-Atlantic community, that’s fine. If they choose a route to be a part of the Euro-Asian economic union, that’s fine too. It’s up to the Georgian people to decide. I would say the different points of view of US policymakers are a sign of a healthy environment and democracy. You have a wide range of opinions and views and everyone has the right to be heard. I’m a huge supporter of Rand Paul on a lot of issues. I share his libertarian approach on domestic issues, not so much on foreign policy. He offers a different point of view, but let’s not focus much on his views on NATO enlargement because, at the end of the day, Montenegro was voted to join NATO; two senators voted against it. I will reiterate that the views of people like Rand Paul are an important part of a vibrant society and vibrant democracy. They should not be silenced. They should be heard.

ANOTHER SUBJECT DISCUSSED IN THE PAPER IS THAT THE US AND EUROATLANTIC COMMUNITY SHOULD PUSH RUSSIA TO IMPLEMENT THE REMAINING POINTS OF THE 6-POINT AGREEMENT. HOW DO YOU PROPOSE THAT SHOULD BE DONE? Ten years after the fact, we’re still seeing violations of at least two of the six points. And we should remind them of this. We should ask how come they implemented a ceasefire in Syria, when they are not living up to their obligations from 10 years ago?

YOU ALSO MAINTAIN THAT GEORGIA CAN ENTER NATO WITHOUT MAP. HOW DO YOU ENVISAGE THIS BEING ACCOMPLISHED WITHOUT FURTHER RUSSIAN INTERFERENCE? Arguably, Russia is interfering now. I don’t speak on behalf of NATO. I don’t speak on behalf of the US government. I’m an independent analyst. It’s my view from reading the NATO Treaty. It’s a fact. Countries have joined NATO without MAP. The problem with MAP in Georgia is that it was used as a propaganda tool. Georgia goes to a summit, doesn’t get MAP, and Russia says look, your expectations are void. I’d say let’s manage the expectations, let’s continue down the path, get Georgia into the Alliance. Let’s find new practical ways that the relationship between Georgia and NATO get closer. That’s what I’m hoping we see in July at the 2018 Brussels Summit.




MARCH 2 - 5, 2018

New Enterprise Opens in Tbilisi’s Ponichala District

Photo source: Ministry of Economy



ith the support of the state-led program Produce in Georgia, a new enterprise called 'Polymer 1' was opened in Tbilisi’s Ponichala district on Wednesday. The company produces high quality polyethylene pipes. As Georgia’s Ministry of Economy reports, more than 6.5 million GEL was invested in the enterprise. Dimitry Kumsishvili, Georgia’s VicePremier and Minister of Economy, took part in the opening ceremony of the new enterprise. “It is important that the company took advantage of both financial and infrastructural support. We handed over 3000 m2 of state property to the company to build a modern technological factory,” the Minister stated. Kumsishvili underlined that the enter-

prise is a good example of how successfully the program Produce in Georgia works in the country. The enterprise has its own laboratory where products are tested, aiming to guarantee consumers get only highquality products from 'Polymer 1.' Kumsishvili noted that, at present, there are 90 people employed in the enterprise, a number which is to be increased. “Our high-quality pipes will replace imported production,” he said. “The company is also selling its products in Azerbaijan and I hope that soon the company will be able to start exporting to other states as well.” With the support of the program Produce in Georgia, the company was able to purchase the new laboratory and equipment for the production of coarse pipes, and to build a new factory and increase the variety of its production. In addition to giving state territory to the company, Produce in Georgia will be co-financing of the interest on the loan for the first two years.

Special Economic Zone & City Management Experts Consult on ‘Anaklia City’ Project BY NIA PATARAIA


pecial Economic Zone (SEZ) and city management experts Tom Bell and Michael Castle Miller paid a visit to Georgia to share their experiences in terms of modern and successful states, and to consult on SEZs. “Anaklia City and the Anaklia SEZ development will definitely be based on foreign countries’ experiences to build the best,” said Keti Bochorishvili,

Executive Director of ‘Anaklia City’. On February 28, Professor Tom Bell, American professor, internet and communication law expert and adjunct scholar of Cato Institute, gave a public lecture at TBC Gallery whereby he discussed world trends and why SEZs are so popular nowadays. “There are a lot of prospects in this project, if they go big and bold! In the US, people like SEZs, areas where you don’t have to pay customs. And why have so many countries done it? Because it works!” He gave the example of Hong-Kong,

where the Chinese started implementing SEZs. “Now the majority of China is made up of SEZs!” he said. During the lecture, Bell also spoke about ‘Anaklia City’ project’s territorial advantages and the fact that “it is a very important zone for Georgia, because there can easily be a lot of trade.” That, although the World Trade Organization (WTO) is, as he said, frowning upon the SEZ concept as it brings benefits for just select industries, seen by the WTO as an “unfair trade trick.”

ProCredit Bank Focused on its CoGazprom Announces Finance & Direct Banking Projects

Termination of Supplies to Ukrainian Naftogaz



ussiangascompanyGazprom has ceased operations with Ukraine’s Naftogaz. The decision was made public by the Deputy Chairman of the Board of the Russian company, Alexander Medvedev. According to Medvedev, Gazprom returned funds to pay for gas supplies to Naftogaz in March 2018 due to a pre-

viously unannounced contractual agreement. He also stressed that since March 1, gas supplies have not restarted. Medvedev added that Gazprom received funds from the Ukrainian Naftogaz, but no additional agreement was made to the current contract. The Russian side has returned the funds to Naftogaz in full. It was reported that it could resume buying gas from the Russian transnational corporation Gazprom in the first quarter of 2018, but this has not yet happened.



n February 28, ProCredit Bank Head Office held a press conference led by the management of the bank: Alex Matua, Qetevan Khuskivadze, David Gelashvili and Natia Tkhilaishvili. Directors of ProCredit bank discussed the growth of their credit portfolio in 2017, which increased to 15% and exceeded all managerial expectations of the financial year. Addressing the press, Director of ProCredit bank Alex Matua reviewed several

10 Galaktion Street

projects such as the ‘Co-Finance’ initiative. In his speech, he stated that 2017 was a very productive and financially affluent year. After changing its business strategy, ProCredit Bank stopped all microfinance projects and put all their resources into the development of small and medium sized businesses. “We do not cooperate with or finance anyone other than our own segment,” he said. In collaboration with ProCredit Bank Germany, the “Co-Finance” project helped many small and medium sized enterprises. Furthermore, Matua mentioned that one of the main strategies of the bank is to finance hydroelectric constructions, electric cars and other energy efficient projects in general.

Natia Tkhilaishvili, also Director of ProCredit Bank, stated that nowadays, people have less time to visit bank branches, and ProCredit has found a solution for this issue. The Direct Banking model offers its consumersaccesstotheirpersonalaccounts and the ability to manage any kind of bank transaction for free and get exclusive terms on mortgage, investment loans, etc. The ProCreditBankmanagementgroupbelieves that these changes will bring a positive growth to the bank and highly benefit the bank’s customers.

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




I Have Lived Without a Phone for the Last Month: Here’s What I Learned OP-ED BY TOM DAY


was walking down a narrow sidewalk in Tbilisi on a brisk winter’s evening when I noticed that many of the people walking past me were not actually there; they were on their phones, communicating with people who were also elsewhere, and some were so engulfed by their screen that they almost bumped into me. That small, metal box (which is probably on the table in front of you as you read this, or, much more likely, in your hands now) is something we seem to be dependent on, almost as a tool for our basic survival. I don't think anyone who reads this will be able to truthfully say they are not addicted to their smartphone. The irony is that when the idea struck me to write an article about our excessive use of these devices, I had to get mine out to make a note of it. What did we do before we had mobile phones? Can we, in 2018, live without one? Blessings sometimes happen in disguise, and my smartphone breaking just over a month ago was just that. As I began the day with a phone, which had a newly-cracked screen, I was actually scared; it was almost as if I had lost the use of my hands. I made the no-brainer decision to buy a new one, but before I could do that, I had already arranged to meet a friend. I still had my laptop, so I confirmed the meeting and told him I would be offgrid until we met. As I left my apartment, a number of worries flooded my mind; what if he cancelled last minute? What if he needed to meet at another time? What if he wanted to meet somewhere else? What if I got lost? Could I really do it? I chose to walk to my friend’s apartment that afternoon, as I often do around Tbilisi, as an excuse

to get some exercise. The 30-minute stroll was unlike any other I’d had in recent years. Without that itching urge to take my phone out of my pocket every few minutes, my mind was able to truly take in what was around me. I noticed smells, sounds and sights that would usually have gone over my head. I smiled to myself at the overwhelming feeling of freedom, and realized I was happy. Really happy. Completely present, with nothing

but the world around me. I met my friend with no issues, and we found a table at our favorite restaurant, which would become the venue of a troubling realization. The next words in this sentence are no exaggeration, but for more than half of the time in the restaurant, we were sitting in silence. It was not just because he was on his phone, talking to those not with us, but also because our conversations

kept stopping and starting, with large gaps of time as we were trying to remember what it was we were talking about. I watched him and asked, “is this what life is like now?� As he opened his mouth to reply, his phone went off and he was taken away again. I slowly surveyed the restaurant, and it seemed to be the same story with everyone else; they were having the same shallow, start-and-stop conversations, too. I don’t claim to be better than anyone with this paragraph, because I used to be just as absorbed with technology. I felt like I was in a science-fiction film, and was able to see what the world was really like. The idea of getting a new phone and plugging back in now terrified me. Alas, I made the decision to try and live without it for one week. The first two days involved a few problems, including getting lost and annoying a few friends. I met a few people at places I had never been before and, of course, couldn’t use Google Maps. But to overcome this, I did one of the scariest things one can do in 2018: I asked a passer-by for help. One evening, I was offline for 5 hours, which seemed to annoy one of my friends. Why do we have to be reachable every hour of the day? We don't! and the feeling I have when I leave cyberspace behind, knowing that I am experiencing the world for what it is, is something that no convenience of a smartphone can ever give me. Had my phone not broken, I doubt I would have been brave enough to try to live without it. I accept that some of us have jobs which require us to have a phone, but why not try to leave it at home one evening? Next time you find yourself scrolling through Facebook for two hours without having made the conscious decision to do so, or you realize you are sitting in silence with a group of friends, just ask yourself: am I controlling my phone, or is it controlling me?

Audit Office: 28 Million Worth ‘Check in Georgia’ Project Saw 3m Income



eorgia’s State Audit Office (SAO) says that within the frames of the Project ‘Check in Georgia,’ 28 million GEL was spent from the state budget, while the income from sold tickets amounted to over 3 million GEL. According to the SAO report, the government allocated 28 million GEL for financing the ‘Check in Georgia’ cultural project in 2016. This project envisaged the implementation of various activities: • World Class Arena Show – 4 activities • Regional concerts in 17 towns - 46 activities • Batumi street performances - 40 activities • Concerts held in Batumi Of all held concerts, only three were chargeable: Eros Ramazzotti, Robbie Williams and MAROON 5. All of the other concerts were free to guests.

According to the Audit Service, the total income received from the sale of tickets of these three concerts totaled 3,044,030 GEL. The conclusion also notes that the selling of tickets of the concerts was carried out by LEPL "Cultural Investment Fund" and LLC "Online Tickets". As a result of the study, the Audit Service stated that 3,719 tickets remained unsold, the cost of which amounted to 141,840 GEL. The Ministry of Culture noted that the project helped to increase the inflow of tourists to the country. However, the Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) Georgian Young Lawyers' Association (GYLA) conducted a survey which showed the contrary. According to the GYLA survey, visitors from 49 countries arrived to attend the abovementioned three major events in Georgia within the frames of the project "Check in Georgia" in 2016, but this amounted to about 5% of the sold tickets, and in total, the visitors who attended the events amounted to only 0.05% of the total number of tourists in 2016.

FIRST BRAND HOTEL IN KUTAISI UNDER BEST WESTERN INTERNATIONAL Within the framework of the Georgian Hotels’ Regional Network Development Project “12 hotels in 12 regionsâ€? by GHYHORSPHQWFRPSDQ\Âł6LPHWULD´WKHÂżUVWEUDQGKRWHOKDV been opened in Kutaisi under the Best Western International brand. The hotel accommodates 45 guest rooms, including 40 standard rooms and 5 suites. The hotel was designed taking into consideration special conditions and safety for guests with disabilities.

Address: 11 Grishashvili Str., 4600, Kutaisi, Georgia TEL 219 71 00

Three mobile conference halls are available with a total capacity of about 100 persons. (XURSHDQFXLVLQHFDQEHHQMR\HGLQWKHJURXQGĂ€RRUFDIp and a grill-bar menu in the roof top restaurant with panoramic views over the city. The International Hotels Management Company “T3 Hospitality Management,â€? providing the hotel management, has 20 years’ experience in hotel management in different countries globally.




MARCH 2 - 5, 2018

The UK Bridge Education Fair & The Future Journalist Competition first partners and they have been sending students to us ever since.

TELL US MORE ABOUT THE JOURNALISM COURSE THAT THE WINNER OF THE FUTURE JOURNALIST COMPETITION WILL ATTEND Primarily, students come improve their English. We teach right up to C2 level. So even if students are from a bilingual or international school, the morning general English class can still challenge them. In the afternoon, they can take the Junior Journalism course. The idea is that students interested in journalism as a career or who want to develop their language in that field, will be taught specific terminology and the different skills they might need, such as how to handle face-to-face interviews, note taking, writing articles, etc. They also create their own podcasts, and at the beginning of the week they are given a project with a theme of their choice: it all builds up to the final day of the week when they present the podcast to the entire school.




n February 24, the 2018 International Education Fair was held at Rooms Hotel in Tbilisi. The fair brought together schools and universities from 12 different countries and gave attendees the opportunity to meet with education institution representatives and find out more about the various courses and programs available for those wishing to learn abroad. This year sees the 10th anniversary of UK Bridge, the fair organizer and a company which has facilitated the travel-tolearn experiences of many of Georgia’s youth to numerous world-leading schools in Europe and the USA. GEORGIA TODAY spoke to the founders of UK bridge, Anka Vetsko and Nutsa Kuridze, about the fair and the Future Journalist competition it launched with Georgia Today Education in February.

TELL US ABOUT THE BEGINNINGS OF UK BRIDGE Anka: We’d been working in the British

Council for around six years. Nutsa was the Head of the International Department and we needed to travel abroad as part of our job. We then decided to establish a company that offered overseas study opportunities. Nutsa had a lot of experience by that time, so we made the decision to leave behind a stable, highly paid job in the British Council and found UK Bridge in 2008.

TELL US ABOUT THE PROGRAMS YOU OFFER We can boldly say that any person who decides to take advantage of the services we offer, who is interested in learning abroad, will certainly find the course they want. The list of courses and programs in schools and universities is infinite. Most popular with Georgian students are the summer schools designed for children aged 9 to 16 years. But there are also winter and Easter courses for children, and language and professional courses for adults. If one has no time to do a Master’s program, which is usually long, you can take a short course - from two weeks to six months - in an intensive program and get the certificate. We also offer undergraduate and Master’s pro-

grams, as well as offering children the chance to attend boarding school and preparatory courses. One of the most popular trends right now is for teachers to create small groups of students based on their interests. We also advise and send students to the United States, but it is harder than getting into European countries and the UK.

TELL US ABOUT THE FUTURE JOURNALISTS COMPETITION YOU’RE RUNNING IN COLLABORATION WITH GEORGIA TODAY Our cooperation with GEORGIA TODAY started a long time ago with a magazine for children called ‘Kids Today’ where we jointly held a competition for children and sent the winning child to summer school in the UK. We do the same every year- sending one child, chosen through a competition, to summer school. Right now, we’re working with GEORGIA TODAY Education on a young journalists’ competition. The winner will have the chance to attend a summer school specialized in journalism. Most summer courses cost a lot of money, and this contest gives the unique chance for

a student to attend a free two-week course at Wimbledon Summer School in the UK. Summer schools are an important experience for each participant, since they are more motivated after their return and want to continue broadening their experiences. I wish success to everyone who enters the competition and look forward to handing the Future Journalist's prize to the winner.

There are many options and most days at the school are full of activities and workshops. Whether you’re interested in sports, art or crafts, there is always something to interest you aside from general courses during your stay. In the evenings, students are free to spend time with their friends or chill out. Three times a week, students leave the campus on excursions into Oxford or London, for example, which is just an hour away. It can be a walking tour or a museum visit, and they always have lunch and time to shop. Excursions are a fun way for them to learn more about the culture. Find out more about the competition on

During last weekend’s UK Bridge Education Fair, we also spoke to Kieran Hayde, the Marketing Manager of the Wimbledon School of English.

WHAT MAKES WIMBLEDON STAND OUT FROM OTHER SCHOOLS OF ITS KIND? Wimbledon School of English is one of the oldest English schools in the UK. It was founded in 1964 and is one of the top performing English language schools according to British Council inspection results. So, the reason UK Bridge decided to partner with us comes partly because we have a journalism course but also because of the fact we are one of the highest ranking in the UK. When UK Bridge was founded, we were among the

World Spay Day – What it Means for Georgia & its Street Animals


orld Spay Day is an annual incentive which draws attention to neutering stray animals in an effort to prevent them being put down. Held on the last Tuesday of every February, it has had proven results since it was set up in 1995 in the USA. Dog Organization Georgia (DOG), The Mayhew, New Vet and Tbilisi’s Agricultural University Veterinary Clinic were all on the front line this week. GEORGIA TODAY met with Veterinary Surgeon from the Mayhew charity and New Clinic, Ana Metskhvarishvili, on the day, to discuss her thoughts about

the stray dog situation in Georgia, the work she and the organization have done and what they hope to achieve in the future.

PLEASE START BY TELLING ASE ME ABOUT THE WORK YOU’VE BEEN DOING AND HOW DOG HAS BEEN ASSISTING? Just a little background on DOG - It's a registered Georgian charity with a small shelter located in the Lisi Lake area. It gives people great opportunities to volunteer. There are many lovely dogs waiting to be taken for a walk in a very beautiful and peaceful setting. It is run by two volunteers who are doing an amaz-

ing job and are dedicating a lot of time and energy to the welfare of dogs all over Georgia. They also educate the local community on the importance of dog neutering and vaccinations. We are working on the TVNR program (Trap, Vaccinate, Neuter, Release), run by the DOG organization and funded by The Mayhew (a UK registered animal welfare charity). They not only co-sponsor the incentive, but also train vets in Georgia for free, and advises Tbilisi City Council on dog population management. Georgian vets also have the opportunity to be trained at their London based Community Veterinary Clinic. Continued on page 11




That Sinking Feeling: Svaneti BLOG BY TONY HANMER


he road, the road… lifeline from Zugdidi up to Ushguli, from sea level to Europe’s highest village. Another road takes you down from there via Lentekhi to Kutaisi, but it was only ever clear enough from snow to be open from mid-May through mid-October, global warming aside. President Saakashvili’s renovation of the Zugdidi-Mestia stretch was a game-changer, once he sent in the helicopters to deal with the Bad Guys who were Upper Svaneti’s main bandits and godfathers. Travel time plunged from over six hours to about three. The new safety, and new speed, made for a huge difference. The president also ordered huge changes in the look of Mestia itself; tax breaks for new investors in the area; renovation of one, and building from scratch of another ski resort; replacement for the town’s main museum; and more. Shops and guest accommodation bloomed; winter tourism has rebounded as well. Which is all why it is too frustrating to see the current condition of the road. I always knew, we all did, that laying that thin concrete or asphalt strip was the easy part, that dealing with the forces of fast-motion geology and weather acting against it from above and below, a different story. High maintenance, indeed. My last drive down from my village near Mestia to Zugdidi for shop restocking showed me what the current policy regarding the road must be. Yes, the frequent rock-falls are being cleaned up on virtually a daily basis. Yes, snow clearing has been good this very snowy though mild winter. Tunnels are getting some good attention and upgrades too, especially one of the longest, the surface of which seemed chaotically to reach into four physical dimensions, let alone three. But… the places where heaving or sinking have happened, leading your vehicle to buck up or down, must be considered too mild to repair. We have more important bits to work on, right? Well, in a few km stretch between Etseri and Lakha-

mula, there are three NEW stretches where half the road has fallen away completely, leaving a single lane. This after three more such pieces between Etseri and Pari were somewhat repaired after months’ work last year, though they are still quite messy. In each case, a massive reinforced cement wall must be built to support the new road replacement. Add needs to house the workers on-site in trailers; electricity, water, sewage, and you’ve really got a job on your hands. So, triage: dealing with the most urgent cases only, and ignoring the rest. Not to mention that much of the as-yet non-tarmacked cement surface which runs from Jorkvali up is losing its smooth texture under the constant

World Spay Day – What it Means for Georgia & its Street Animals Continued from page 10

We all work on stray dog population management and vaccination. Our main goal through this program is to do as much neutering as possible to reduce the number of stray dogs, and to do it in a humane and sustainable way. We make sure each animal is healthy enough to undergo surgery and, if so, that surgery is carried out using internationally recognized guidelines, covering anesthesia, pain management, and proper conditions of sterility.

WHY IS IT IMPORTANT TO NEUTER DOGS IN GEORGIA? Population control is great way to prevent such high numbers of animals on the street, living in poor conditions, falling victim to different diseases, or suffering from human violence. The actual population of stray or free-roaming dogs in Georgia is unknown, but there are many dogs visible on the streets. Stray population control is also very important from a disease control point of view. A lower population means fewer animals can transmit diseases such as rabies. All of the animals that have been part of our program are all vaccinated against this and other standard canine infectious diseases. With dedicated work from all sides (wild life, agricultural animals etc.), we are working towards eradicating it.

WHAT SURROUNDING INCENTIVES, LAWS, ETC. ARE WORKING WELL IN GEORGIA? There are a few organizations that are working for

animal welfare which are mostly active through social media. Facebook has a few groups for animal lovers where people promote different events, share their love and interest in animals and even try to help each other with different situations. Local legislation on dog ownership and identification also that states that all animals must be identified.

…AND WHAT NEEDS TO BE IMPROVED DO YOU THINK? The laws regarding animal protection, as we still have a lot of cases of cruelty that we hear on a daily basis. There are some laws for the protection of animal rights which are not taken seriously enough, as we keep hearing about this kind of problem. I also think there should be more campaigns educating people on the importance of neutering, vaccination and general animal wellbeing.

HOW SUCCESSFUL HAS THE NEUTERING PROMOTION BEEN THIS WEEK? It has been great, especially with the assistance of DOG. We neutered 14 dogs in total, together with the University clinic today. I am hoping that it will become more and more successful each year. Last year, The Mayhew funded a program with DOG, which involved neutering and vaccinating 374 dogs, with the additional help of New Vet Clinic, which doubled the numbers from the previous year. I myself have a bigger picture in mind for next year already.

WHAT, IN 5 YEARS’ TIME, WOULD YOU LIKE TO HELP TO ACHIEVE? I really hope that in 5 years' time, neutering will have become the norm; not just in Tbilisi, but across the whole country. The standard of neutering, I hope, will be as per international guidelines. I also hope that we will manage to spread knowledge and experience of international guidelines all over Georgia. Unfortunately, I don't think 5 years is enough to manage this problem fully, but each day counts. I am hoping that more and more people will start to see the importance of this, and that we will have an increasing number of young people wanting to study it. The attitude of Georgian people to veterinary medicine is not exactly at its best today, and we hope to change that in the future.

bombardments of rock-falls, rapid temperature changes/freeze of water, and simple wear from vehicles. So what if it’s getting slightly rougher? This can only lead to more surface water settling in, more freezing which can even crack solid rock, and you’re back up to a six-hour trip in a couple more years’ time. Stop whining, right? Well, I’ve been on the dark side of all this. The Bad Guys were also my protectors when I hardly knew I needed them, thanks to my friendship with one of their cousins (I live in his, and their, village now). We never took just one day to reach his home from Tbilisi then; two were always necessary. First and second gear were all

our vehicles ever saw once we left Jvari and began the climb into Svaneti itself. Progress? Regress more, now. A policy of ignoring anything touched by Saakashvili, letting it slide back into ruin? That’s what it looks like more and more. 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 www.facebook. com/groups/SvanetiRenaissance/ He and his wife also run their own guest house in Etseri:




MARCH 2 - 5, 2018

A Story of Slovenia: Green, Active & Healthy destination for high-end visitors seeking diverse and active experiences, peace, and personal benefits. We are promoting Slovenia as a green, active and healthy destination for 5-star boutique experiences for demanding visitors seeking high-quality diverse and active experiences and innovative products of higher added value, based on sustainable development. Apart from that, in 2018 and 2019, the central


and Healthy’ Slovenia. We have a clear vision of developing Slovenia as a destination for 5-star experiences.



t last month’s B2B Luxury & Mice Workshops, GEORGIA TODAY met representative of the Slovenian Tourist Board (STB), Anja Bezgovšek, on hand to share the experience of her country and all the essentials necessary for successful tourism promotion.

WHAT WAS THE IMPORTANCE OF PARTICIPATION IN THE WORKSHOPS? The B2B Luxury & Mice Workshops offered representatives of Slovenian tourism providers and resorts the chance to get acquainted with local tourism companies interested in cooperation with Slovenia, and to establish partnership with them. This is the first time Slovenia has participated in the B2B Luxury & MICE Workshops in Tbilisi. We see Georgia as a perspective market for Slovenian tourism, as Slovenia is distinguished for its diversity and landscapes. We offer tourists a variety of tourist products and each guest is sure to find something interesting there. This is the story of ‘Green, Active

networks and in important media. We decided to be a sponsor of the B2B Luxury & MICE Workshops to present and promote Slovenia more intensively, directly to the professionals of the tourist industry.

The most popular are Lake Bled, Postojna Cave and the capital Ljubljana. Lake

European Green Capital, so it is a very sustainable city and we are proud of the title. It’s a very nice medieval city on the riverbank of Ljubljanica. The Postojna Cave System is about 24 km long and is quite close to the capital. You can take a small train on a journey into the cave. Inside, you might see the “human fish,” a big pull for visitors. We don’t have masses of tourists coming to Slovenia, but we do see a lot of

Bled is situated in the Alps and has a small island in the middle with a church wishing bell. There is a traditional boat called ‘pletna’ which takes passengers to the tiny island so they can ring the bell and make their wishes come true. There is also an old 11th century castle at the lake with a nice museum and restaurant overlooking the lake and mountains. In 2016, Ljubljana was named the

people looking for diversity and individual experiences. This is one of our strengths. Recent statistics show that in 2017, we had almost 12 million overnight visitors and the numbers are going up all the time. Slovenia is one of the most interesting destinations, and tourists from long-distance markets often combine Slovenia with Croatia and the neighboring countries.


Our tasty wine and food and our diverse nature, which is quite similar to that of Georgia. I think they feel comfortable with us.

HOW DO SLOVENIANS FEEL IN GEORGIA? People are very open, smiley and friendly here. We feel very welcome in Georgia.

WHAT ARE THE MAIN REASONS FOR SLOVENIANS TO VISIT GEORGIA? Georgia is one of the emerging destinations for Slovenians. Slovenians often travel individually or in small groups and are interested in getting acquainted with new countries, as they look for experiences with a difference. My friends and acquaintances who have travelled to Georgia come back with numerous positive impressions, emotions and great satisfaction from their trips.

HOW DO YOU PROMOTE YOUR COUNTRY? Slovenia is a green boutique global Jošt Gantar, Copyright

promotional topic is culture (cultural tourism), which means positioning Slovenia as a recognizable cultural destination. The STB aims to implement a clear, target-oriented, intensive modern promotion with the main focus on digital content marketing, for which almost 40% of its budget is earmarked in 2018. This will upgrade Slovenia’s visibility on social Jacob Riglin, Beautiful Destinations Copyright Iztok Medja, Postojnska jama d.d. Postojna, Copyright



British Council in Georgia & Educational Agency ELL Announce English Language Competition for Students


he competition is a unique opportunity for students to obtain the British Council Aptis certificate and win one of our amazing prizes: • First place – two-week study course at the M.L.S International College in the UK, sponsored by the Educational Agency ELL • Second place – iPhone 7 • Third place – Laptop

All participants will receive an Aptis Test Report Form (i.e. certificate) that will help them identify their: • English language level in reading, writing, listening and speaking skills in accordance to the Common European Framework of Languages (CEFR) level • readiness to study abroad and participate in exchange programmes In order to take part in the competition applicants must be:

- over 18 years old - citizens of Georgia - BA, MA or VET college student Competition participation fee - 60 GEL. Registration takes place from 12 February to 12 March 2018, inclusive. To sign up for the competition and for additional information please follow the link: exam/aptis/student-competition

Georgian Asks HBO to Make TV Series Based on Poem Knight in Panther's Skin BY THEA MORRISON


Georgian citizen has started a petition on the ‘Care 2 Petitions’ web page, asking American premium cable and satellite television network HBO to make a TV series about the legendary medieval Georgian poem Knight in the Panther’s Skin. The petition reads that Knight in the Panther's Skin was written in the 12th century by Georgian Poet Shota Rustaveli. “Besides the fact that it is considered the biggest work of Georgian literature, it is also a work which could be seen as one of the most important examples of the history of poetry,” the author of the petition says. She also says that the text is important for its techniques as well as the morals developed in it. “The 12th-13th centuries were considered as the Georgian Golden Age, before the renaissance era had started in Europe. During this time, Georgia had a woman ruler - King Tamar (not queen), on whom it's believed the poem is based,” the petition reads. According to the author of the petition, the poem introduces different beliefs

which were difficult to adopt to during that period of time, such as, for example - equality between men and women. “The plot itself is very interesting, which takes place in imaginary countries. The idea of screening the poem was very scary, because there was a great risk of losing all of its importance,” she added. However, the author says that after

watching one of the most popular TV series, ‘Game of Thrones’, a medieval fantasy epic of the seven kingdoms; it became more than just imagination to shoot TV series according to the Georgian poem. “It would be much appreciated if HBO would at least consider the idea,” she wrote in her petition.





MARCH 2 - 5, 2018


TBILISI ZAKARIA PALIASHVILI OPERA AND BALLET THEATER Address: 25 Rustaveli Ave. Telephone: 2 99 04 56 March 3, 4 SWAN LAKE State Ballet of Georgia presents Pyotr Tchaikovsky’s two-act ballet Choreographic version and staging by Alexei Fadeechev. Start time: 19:00 Ticket: 10-50 GEL GABRIADZE THEATER Address: 13 Shavtelis St. Telephone: 2 98 65 93 March 3, 4, 8 AUTUMN OF MY SPRING Rezo Gabriadze Directed by Rezo Gabriadze English Subtitles Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 20, 30 GEL MOVEMENT THEATER Address: 182, Aghmashenebeli Ave. Telephone: 598 19 29 36 March 3 THE STORY OF A MURDERER Directed by Ioseb Bakuradze Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 10-15 GEL March 4 LABYRINTH Directed by Ioseb Bakuradze Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 10-15 GEL CINEMA

AMIRANI CINEMA Address: 36 Kostava Str. Telephone: 2 99 99 55 Every Wednesday ticket price: 5 GEL March 2-8 SUBMERGENCE Directed by Wim Wenders Cast: James McAvoy, Alicia Vikander, Alexander Siddig Genre: Drama, Romance, Thriller Language: Russian Start time: 17:00, 22:15 Ticket: 13-17 GEL

RED SPARROW Directed by Francis Lawrence Cast: Jennifer Lawrence, Joel Edgerton, Mary-Louise Parker Genre: Mystery, Thriller Language: English Start time: 13:30 Ticket: 10-14 GEL BLACK PANTHER Directed by Ryan Coogler Cast: Chadwick Boseman, Michael B. Jordan, Lupita Nyong'o Genre: Action, Adventure, Sci-Fi Language: Russian Start time: 11:45 Ticket: 12 GEL THE POST Directed by Steven Spielberg Cast: Meryl Streep, Tom Hanks, Sarah Paulson Genre: Biography, Drama, History Language: Russian Start time: 14:45 Ticket: 12 GEL

(Info Above) Language: English Start time: 19:00 Language: Russian Start time: 13:00, 16:00, 22:15 Ticket: 11-19 GEL


THE POST (Info Above) Language: English Start time: 14:00 Language: Russian Start time: 11:45, 17:30 Ticket: 10-17 GEL

February 9 - March 9 ZURAB KALANDADZE'S 65th ANNIVERSARY EXHIBITION The exhibition showcases 27 of Zurab Kalandadze's artworks, created in 2002-2012, the main stylistic characteristic of which is the organic connection between myth and poetry. The exposition also showcases a sculpture "Tree of Love" designed with the glass laser carving technique.

PHANTOM THREAD Directed by James Foley Cast: Vicky Krieps, Daniel DayLewis, Lesley Manville Genre: Drama, Romance Language: Russian Start time: 11:45 Ticket: 12 GEL

Every Wednesday ticket: 5 GEL March 2-8

ALL THE MONEY IN THE WORLD Directed by Ridley Scott Cast: Michelle Williams, Christopher Plummer, Mark Wahlberg Genre: Biography, Crime, Drama Language: Russian Start time: 22:30 Ticket: 16-19 GEL

BLACK PANTHER (Info Above) Language: Russian Start time: 22:30 Ticket: 13-14 GEL

FIFTY SHADES FREED (Info Above) Language: Russian Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 16-19 GEL

RUSTAVELI CINEMA Address: 5 Rustaveli Ave. Telephone: 2 55 50 00

THE POST (Info Above) Language: Russian Start time: 11:45, 22:15 Ticket: 8-14 GEL RED SPARROW (Info Above) Language: English Start time: 14:30, 19:15 Ticket: 10-14 GEL CAVEA GALLERY Address: 2/4 Rustaveli Ave. Telephone: 200 70 07 Every Wednesday ticket: 8 GEL February 22-28 BLACK PANTHER


GEORGIAN NATIONAL MUSEUM SIMON JANASHIA MUSEUM Address: 4 Rustaveli Ave. Telephone: 2 99 80 22, 2 93 48 21 Exhibition GEORGIAN COSTUME AND WEAPONRY OF 18TH-20TH CENTURIES Exhibition NUMISMATIC TREASURY Exhibition showcasing a long history of money circulation on the territory of modern Georgia from the 6th century BC. to 1834.


MUSEUM OF FINE ARTS Address: 1 Gudiashvili Str. Telephone: 2 99 99 09 December 14 – March 14 ANNIVERSARY-RETROSPECTIVE EXHIBITION GIGO GABASHVILI 155 March 5-23 EXHIBITION SHALVA DZNELADZE 125 The exhibition features 125 works by Shalva Dzneladze from museum and private collections, including illustrations of different literary works. MUSEUM OF SOVIET OCCUPATION Address: 4 Rustaveli Ave. Telephone: 2 99 80 22, 2 93 48 21 PERMANENT EXHIBITION Discover the State's personal files of "subversive" Georgian public figures, orders to shoot or exile, and other artifacts representing Sovietera cultural and political repression in Georgia. GALLERY

DIMITRI SHEVARDNADZE NATIONAL GALLERY Address: 11 Shota Rustaveli Ave. Telephone: 215 73 00 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. An exhibition of six graphic works by Italian artist, sculptor, architect and poet of the Renaissance epoch Michelangelo Buonarroti (1475-1564). March 6-April 11 EXHIBITION OF GIA BUGADZE’S ARTWORKS OLIM – EVER The exposition of Gia Bugadze’s artworks “Olim - Ever” represents a megalography consisting of 33 independent pieces. March 4-18 EXHIBITION Andrey Ostashov: ELEMENTS SCULPTURE & GRAPHICS The exposition showcases up to 50 bronze and stone sculptures and up to 25 graphic works. Visitors will be able to discover his best works, as well as new works from the series "Elements". LADO GUDIASHVILI EXHIBITION HALL Address: 11 L. Gudiashvili Str. Telephone: 293 23 05 March 1-31 Exhibition KATIE MATABEL WHITE SQUARE Price: 3-5 GEL MUSIC

SPACEHALL Address: 2 A. Tsereteli Ave. March 7 DECODER : AME / RECONDITE LIVE / ELLEN ALLIEN / TADE Start time: 23:00 Ticket: 40 GEL TBILISI CONCERT HALL Address: 1 Melikishvili St. Telephone: 2 99 00 99 March 7 SOLO and Gaerte Events present Concert of R&B, Funk, Soul and gospel singer JOCELYN BROW Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 56-200 GEL REPUBLIC Address: Rose Revolution Sq. Telephone: 2 40 22 00 March 8 NIAZ DIASAMIDZE & 33A Start time: 21:30 Ticket: 60-80 GEL DJANSUG KAKHIDZE TBILISI CENTER FOR MUSIC & CULTURE Address: 125 Aghmashenebeli ave. Telephone: 2 96 12 43 March 7 CONCERT DEDICATED TO THE DEATH OF DJANSUG KAKHIDZE Tbilisi Symphony Orchestra with Georgian State Choir Under the baton of Vakhtang Kakhidze will perform D-major mass for soloists, choir and orchestra of Famous Czech composer Antonin Dvorak. The program includes: A. Dvorak’s concerto for cello and symphony orchestra Start time: 19:30 Ticket: 10-30 GEL MZIURI Address: Mziuri Café March 4 SAKVI-RAO Entertainment program for children Start time: 12:00




Georgian Film Director The Mariam Khachvani on Guardian her Latest Success: Dede Writes about Georgian Wine EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW BY LIKA CHIGLADZE


vaneti, Georgia’s historic and remote region, also coined as “paradise on earth”, is again in the spotlight of global attention. This time the reason for the increasing popularity of Svaneti, its nature and culture, is young Georgian director Mariam Khachvani. Her award-winning film Dede, having been screened at various international film festivals already, is based on real stories, showcasing Georgia’s mountainous region which is governed by harsh traditions, where customs and fundamental human rights collide. Dede (mother in Svan language) tells the story of a local girl, Dina, who is forced to marry a man she does not love and who has to overcome many obstacles for her happiness. Mariam’s first feature film evolves not only around a tragic love story but also highlights the unique and thrilling landscape of Svaneti, as well as giving a glimpse into ancient customs and rules locals still follow. The author of the film was brought up in Svaneti’s Ushguli village, which is the highest inhabited place in Europe, so she made the film as authentic as possible. GEORGIA TODAY talked to Mariam Khachvani, the director and the scriptwriter of Dede, to discover more about the film.

TELL US WHICH AWARDS DEDE HAS RECEIVED The film has claimed a number of international awards. The film earned its very first award Special Jury Prize for the East of the West competition section at the Karlovy Vary International Film Festival, then received the Grand Prix at the AFF Avvantura Film Festival in Croartia, that was a really big achievement since the main member of the jury was the chief selector at the Cannes Festival. Later, at the Batumi Film Festival, I was given the Jury Prize followed by a Silver Angel for Best Director at TOFIFEST. Dede also won the Cinemed in Montpellier which is the second largest French film festival after Cannes, where I received the People's Award. Then I was granted the President’s Prize and Production Prize at the Fort Lauderdale International Film Festival in the US. Most importantly, Dede won the Grand Prix of Jury at the 30th meeting of the Cannes International Film Festival, where best European films of the year were selected. The films in the section were the winners of different international festivals such as Berlinale, Locarno and, to my surprise, Dede was selected by the jury and won the main prize. Then came the Asian Oscars in Australia where my film was given the Cultural Diversity Award under the patronage of UNESCO.

YOU WERE NAMED AMONG THE SIX BEST DIRECTORS AT CANNES AND IN MARCH YOU ARE INVITED TO WORK ON YOUR NEW SCRIPT IN PARIS. COULD YOU ELABORATE ON THAT? The Cannes Film Festival offers a special program within the frames of which six directors are selected. These directors are invited to Paris, where they are

provided with residency and are able to work on their new scripts. I am fortunate enough to be one of them and to work on my new feature Nene in the Cinefondation Residence program of the festival starting in March. I will get to learn French and meet famous figures from the movie industry together with other selected filmmakers. Although my film attracted massive interest from the international audience, especially French people, I was still surprised that I was named among six best directors. The script for my new film was not fully developed back then, it was only in the first stage of its development, and the fact that it impressed the jury excited me a lot. Additionally, at the Asian Oscars in Australia my new project Nene claimed another award, in particular a special grant for developing the script, which also came as a surprise. As the jury told me, they received around 200 projects, yet they were attracted by my script, style and vision.

WHAT IS THE MAIN MESSAGE OF THE FILM DEDE? I've always been against restricting someone’s freedom. It does not matter in what form a person’s rights are violated, be it through traditions, culture, etc. So I tried to stay objective towards all cases. My aim was to show the people their reflections through this movie and not through invented characters. The film reveals both bad sides and good sides of society as well as depicts the customs they follow. For instance, my favorite tradition is the ritual of inviting the souls of the deceased, which is shown in my film. I don’t want this unique tradition to fade away, so through my work I expressed my respect toward such beautiful customs. Since many old traditions are disappearing over time, I hope my film will serve as a heritage or archive for future generations who will be interested in Svaneti and its culture.



hy is Georgia a hotspot for natural wines? The Guardian explains the reasons in its article, dedicated to Georgian wine. “They’ve been making wine for thousands of years in this Black Sea country – and now it’s at the forefront of a renaissance in traditional methods,” the article reads. The author of the article explains what Qvevri is and why it makes Georgian wines special. “Depictions of this traditional, earthenware winemaking vessel, on T-shirts, tea towels and fridge magnets, fill the tourist shops in the spruced-up

Photo source: The Guardian

center of the capital, Tbilisi,” the publication says. The article says Qvevri is a symbol of just how proud the Georgians are of being the oldest winemaking country in the world; adding in November last year, archaeologists on a dig south of Tbilisi uncovered fragments of Qvevri with residual wine compounds dating back 8,000 years. “The Qvevri renaissance has put Georgia at the forefront of winemaking fashion,” the author says, and lists the best wines of Georgia.

WHERE DID YOU DRAW INSPIRATION? I drew inspiration from my previous short film Dinola, shot based on real stories my grandmother used to tell me. These stories depict the way people used to live in Svaneti. I was affected by the fact that so many families were created without love. I was really hurt by these sad stories and felt sorry for women in such wedlock. Maybe someone might think there is too much drama in the film, but in fact, I did not invent this drama by myself: I only gave insight into the reality and, to be honest, there are many such tragic cases in the region and many Svan people can confirm it. Yet, nowadays the situation has slightly changed, and some traditions have transformed. The reason for this transformation is that tourism has developed in the region and people are starting to think in different way. I think the customs that violate human rights, such as kidnapping and marrying by force, should be abolished, while those rituals that express love and friendship should be maintained. As for the shooting process, working on the film was quite difficult due to the severe climatic conditions. There were days when we had to work in freezing weather and sometimes at minus 40 degrees, yet it was worth it. The shootings started in 2016 and finished in 2017. Svaneti is characterized by harsh weather conditions yet it is as beautiful as paradise.

THE FILM HAS ALREADY BEEN PREMIERED IN GEORGIA’S CINEMAS. HOW HAS THE GEORGIAN AUDIENCE REACTED? I did not expect Georgian spectators to like this film to such an extent, since, as a rule, Georgians are too demanding and like criticizing. The film received a lot of positive feedback from Svans and others. Most who had already seen the movie expressed willingness to watch it again. I also plan to organize a screening of Dede for locals in summer in Ushguli and Mestia where the shootings took place.



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Profile for Georgia Today

Issue #1027  

March 2 - 5, 2018

Issue #1027  

March 2 - 5, 2018