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Issue no: 951

• JUNE 2 - 5, 2017



In this week’s issue...

Putin Announces an End to Cooperation with Paris NEWS PAGE 2

The Angels & Demons within the Georgian Orthodox Church POLITICS PAGE 4

NATO Toasting Georgia



ON EUMM IN GEORGIA Exclusive reality check with EUMM Head




ith World Children’s Day celebrated all over the world on June 1, GEORGIA TODAY met with Laila Omar Gad, UNICEF Representative to Georgia, to talk about UNICEF programs and initiatives in Georgia.


TOP 20 Survey by Metronome: Citizens Reveal Best Tbilisi Restaurants 2017 SOCIETY PAGE 12

Botero Masterpiece in 120 Paints & 200 Pencils at Tbilisi Opera Theater

JUNE 1 WAS INTERNATIONAL CHILDREN’S DAY. HOW DID UNICEF GEORGIA CELEBRATE THE DAY? June 1 is celebrated in many countries around the world as the International Day of the Child and UNICEF Georgia took the opportunity to highlight a few of our key messages on the day, though we consider every day is a day for the child. However, on June 1, we met with our key partners to raise awareness on the situation of children in Georgia. We joined with the Public Defender’s Office in the presentation of the PDO report on the situation of Georgian children where UNICEF shared its perspective on key priorities. We are also working on further amplifying awareness of the situation of children with disabilities through a number of events related to the See Every Color campaign that aims to, again, raise awareness of stigma and discrimination against persons with disabilities, with a particular focus on children. If I were to identify

TBC Launches Innovative Services & Products for Business

three priorities for Georgia in the coming two years, I would say education, education, education! So, with June 1, we’re celebrating our partnerships for children’s rights and continue to advocate and bring results for children in Georgia. In celebration of the See Every Color Campaign, Georgian pianist Datuna Aladashvili performed a charity concert at Tbilisi State Conservatoire.

TELL US ABOUT THE SEE EVERY COLOR CAMPAIGN See Every Color was launched in February and immediately captured the imagination of a lot of people- it shows that sometimes people can

jump to conclusions about children with disabilities and they can miss how talented and skilled they are. The campaign aims at raising public awareness on the positive stories children with disabilities have; to hear their voices and rise above the misconceptions. The name of the campaign is important as it’s really about seeing every color and recognizing the mosaic which enriches our lives, it’s about recognizing the differences and respecting them. This campaign is contributing to the sustainable development goals and it’s good to know that Georgia is achieving results for persons with disabilities through this campaign. Continued on page 9





JUNE 2 - 5, 2017

New Scandal at Patriarchate of Georgian Orthodox Church BY THEA MORRISON


Russian President Vladimir Putin, right, is welcomed by French President Emmanuel Macron at the Palace of Versailles, near Paris, France, Monday, May 29, 2017. (AP)

Putin Announces an End to Cooperation with Paris BY DIMITRI DOLABERIDZE


ussia is ready for international cooperation on counter-terrorism, however, “real cooperation with France ended before it even started,” said the President of Russia, Vladimir Putin, referring to the visit of the previous French president Francois Hollande and his visit to Russia following

the terrorist attacks in Paris. He spoke during his recent visit to France where he held his first meeting with his French counterpart, Emmanuel Macron. "We agreed on specific actions. The aircraft carrier ‘Charles de Gaulle’ was approaching the shores of Syria, then Hollande went to Washington and said that ‘Charles de Gaulle’ had turned around and headed off somewhere in the direction of the Suez Canal. From then, the real cooperation we had with France stopped before it began," said Putin in an interview with Figaro.

Food Regulations Strengthened at Tourist Spots BY THEA MORRISON


he National Food Agency and Georgia’s National Tourism Administration (GNTA) have signed a Memorandum of Cooperation to tighten food regulations at tourist spots in Georgia. The memorandum was signed by Zurab Chekurashvili, head of the National Food Agency, and head of the GNTA, Giorgi Chogovadze. Informational materials including contact information for the National Food Agency will be prepared and distributed to tourist centers throughout the country. The signing ceremony was attended by representatives of tourist companies and the Association of Restaurants.

Zurab Chekurashvili said that the goal of the memorandum is to ensure the interests of local consumers as well as visitors to Georgia with the joint work of the National Food Agency and Tourism Administration. “With the tourist season, the number of visitors is increasing, especially in public eateries. The National Food Agency will actively control the safety standards of food in public food places,” he said. Chogovadze added that the GNTA would provide the National Food Agency with a list of the most crowded restaurants and eateries, which will be checked first. “The number of tourists in Georgia increases every year. We are pleased that this positive trend is maintained in 2017. It is important that we offer high quality services to tourists. To this end, the protection of food safety standards at restaurants is especially important".

fter the high-profile “Cyanide Case,” which resulted in the arrest of Archpriest Giorgi Mamaladze for the alleged attempt to kill the Patriarch’s Secretary Shorena Tetruashvili, a new scandal has emerged at the Patriarchate of Georgia’s Orthodox Church. Edisher Karchava, lawyer of the Patriarchate, claims that Metropolitan Petre Tsaava is trying to overthrow the Catholicos-Patriarch, Ilia II, from his post. Tsaava’s rank of Metropolitan is the second highest in the Church after the Patriarch. He is a member of the Holy Synod and leads the strategically important Chkondidi diocese. Karchava made several critical statements against the Metropolitan, accusing him of acting against the Church. The lawyer says he will also present his evidence to the Holy Synod members at the next meeting and will request punishment for Tsaava. Later, he was questioned by the Prosecutor’s Office of Georgia over the issue. The lawyer says that he handed over evidence to the prosecutors proving that Petre Tsaava is acting against the Patriarch. "The Patriarch knew nothing of this proof,” he added. “What I am doing was not agreed with anyone beforehand”. Father Tsaava says that the allegations towards him are “dirty slur” and claims that he is the target of slander staged by a group of people inside the Patriarchate who want to rule the system. He says that the lawyer is acting on behalf of

Lawyer Edisher Karchava and Metropolitan Petre Tsaava. Source:

Shorena Tetruashvili, who the Metropolitan has accused many times of staging the Cyanide Case. “I have never had any thoughts against the Patriarch…Most of all, I fear that an insidious plan is being prepared against his holiness… The government should understand that this woman [Tetruashvili] is capable of anything,” Metropolitan stressed. He also added that the lawyer cannot have any evidence that he is acting against the Church or the Patriarch, as no such has ever taken place. The cleric doubts that the charges against him were raised to cover the Cyanide Case, the hearings of which have been closed to media and society recently. The Patriarch has yet to comment on the latest scandal. Deacon Kakhaber Gogotishvili says he was with his Holiness when he [Ilia II] learnt about Karchava’s statements. He claims the Patriarch was not aware of the new developments within the Church. More on page 4

SME Banking Conference in Tbilisi BY NINO GUGUNISHVILI


he SME Banking Club hosted a twoday Caucasus SME Banking Club Conference on May 24-25 in Tbilisi, aiming to promote innovative non-financial services provided by banks, including providing businesses with practical guidance on how to grow sustainably and expand access to finance. Through its program on Non-Financial Services for SMEs (small and medium-sized enterprises) in Eastern Europe and Central Asia, IFC, a member of the World Bank Group, supported the conference, while the Bank of Georgia was an exclusive financial sponsor of the event, bringing together more than 60 executives and officials from Eastern Europe, the South Caucasus, Central Asia, and the Middle East; among which were managers, SME business lead-

ers, and banking executives from Georgia, Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Ukraine, and Russia. Boris Dyakonov, CEO, Tochka Bank (Russia), Olena Prokopovych, from Non-financial Services lead in Europe, Middle East and North Africa, IFC, Manar Korayem, Women Banking Champions Program Lead, IFC, Zurab Masurashvili, Head of MSME Banking Department, Bank of Georgia, Eugen Metzger, Ukrgasbank Board member and Tamar Zhizhilashvili, Deputy Director of Marketing Communications & Business Banking, TBC Bank. Considering the diverse needs of SMEs prompting many banks to shift from simple lending to more comprehensive banking strategies, the conference focused on digital banking and innovations. It brought together key regional players to discuss innovations in digital, new lending and payment technologies for SMEs, as well as mobile solutions, e-banking, multi-channel strategies, and cooperation with fintechs and startups. “New technologies and digital devices, together with the rapid pace of innovative solutions have had a big impact on the operating models of banks and banking infrastructure,” said Andrey Gidulyan, SME Banking Club founder. “In order to remain relevant, banks need to implement the newest financial services, including cooperation with fintechs or using new opportunities provided by international IT services and corporations”, he said. SMEs are considered as the largest employers in many low-income countries, yet their viability can be put in jeopardy by a lack of access to finance. Creating opportunities for SMEs in emerging markets is crucial to encouraging growth and reducing poverty. “Our experience in emerging markets shows that non-financial services are a win-win for everyone. They help SMEs address some of their key challenges, while also bringing tangible benefits to banks as they help grow their SME portfolios,” said Olena Prokopovych, IFC Non-financial Services Lead in Eastern Europe, the Middle East and North Africa. “We are helping banks in the region tap into this vast potential while also helping SMEs grow sustainably.” She added. A non-profit association, the SME Banking Club provides information about the services European banks offer to micro, small and medium enterprises. It also promotes SME banking as a career option for workers in the financial industry. The association provides analytical services and conducts research on the banking sector across Europe. IFC’s Program on Non-Financial Services for SMEs in Europe and Central Asia is funded by Switzerland’s State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO). For more information about the SME Banking Club, please visit For more information about IFC, please visit http://www. For more information about Switzerland’s State Secretariat for Economic Affairs, please visit:




Elton John Set to Perform in Georgia BY MAKA LOMADZE


n September 16, the Black Sea Arena will host British pop and rock musician, singer and composer, Sir Elton John and his band. Journalists were invited to a press conference at SOLO Lounge in Vake, on May 31. The organizers of the press conference were SOLO and Eastern Promotions. The British musician and winner of 6 Grammy awards will visit Georgia for the first time as part of his “Wonderful Crazy Night Tour”. Elton John will perform world known

hits as well as songs from his last studio album, which is namesake to the tour. It was released in 2016, and is Sir Elton’s 33rd album. During his 50-year career, he has performed over 4000 concerts in over 80 countries, as well as selling over 250 million records. Elton John has won an Oscar, Golden Globe, 6 Grammys and 4 British Music Awards to name but a few. The legendary singer has composed music for theater productions, as well as for the famous films: The Lion King and Tim Rice’s Aida. In 1996, Elton John was Knighted by the British Royal Family for his special contribution to the music industry and charity activities. Since the 1980s, he has been actively participating in a campaign to combat

HIV/AIDS. In 1992, he founded the “Elton John HIV/AIDS Foundation.” Eka Duchidze, leader of SOLO Lifestyle, said ‘’tickets will be available from June 25. Each and every SOLO customer will be entitled to buy 6 tickets at once. Ticket prices start at GEL 90.” Reportedly, those who are not SOLO customers will be able to purchase seats from GEL 150. Tickets will be available online at and in SOLO lounges. From June 29, tickets will then go to sale to the general public. Giorgi Kereselidze, Director of Eastern Promotions, told media representatives: “It is no surprise to see mega stars coming to Georgia. This time, the Black Sea Arena will host one of the greatest musicians, Elton John, who will visit Georgia as part of his world tour. We hope that the concert will be unforgettable for the Georgian audience. The visit of high class stars such as Sir Elton John drastically raises the image of Georgia in all aspects. This will be the last concert at the Black Sea Arena for

the season. We were working on this project for two years and got confirmation at the end of 2016. Georgia is the first stop in the legendary star’s Asian tour. From the Black Sea

Arena, near Shekvetili, Ozurgeti Municipality, Elton John will then visit Vietnam, Cambodia, Philippines and Oceania. For more info please, visit:;

Healthcare Development in Georgia GT Education & PASHA Bank Donate Trees to Tbilisi – Conference by PASHA Bank


n June 9 at the Radisson Blu Iveria Hotel, PASHA Bank is set to host its third business conference entitled 'MEETING ROOM' with the topic of “Healthcare Sector Development in Georgia.” MEETING ROOM will bring together a diverse group of people from public and private sectors to discuss major issues concerning the healthcare sector. The MEETING ROOM will cover, among other things: an overview of the healthcare sector, capital as a crucial pillar for healthcare sector development, current state and future vision of the healthcare sector, implementation of effective hospital processes in a developing and dynamic healthcare system, integration of Georgia’s private insurance system and the universal healthcare program, successful healthcare projects in the regions, and specific ideas for financing healthcare projects. Presentations will be given by the following confirmed speakers: • Marina Darakhvelidze - Head of Healthcare Department, Ministry of Labor, Health and Social Affairs of Georgia

• Davit Vakhtangishvili- Deputy CEO (Finance), EVEX Medical Corporation • George Kipiani - CEO of Vivo Medical Group • Besik Pestvenidze - Health Insurance Director, GPI Holding • Nodar Chikovani - Regional Coordinator, Medical Corporation Primed • Goga Japaridze - CCO, Member of the Board of Directors of PASHA Bank Additional speakers to be announced. The meeting will be moderated by George Sharashidze, General Manager of the Georgia Today Group. “We are happy to announce our third business conference in the scope of the MEETING ROOM - a series of conferences focused on various economic sectors. The previous two meetings in June and December of last year were ‘Hotel Development in Georgia’ and ‘Sustainable Energy Development in Georgia Case for Hydro Power Plants’, respectively. On June 9, we will gather once more at the Radisson Blu Iveria Hotel to discuss prominent issues concerning the Healthcare Sector. We would like to invite all interested parties to the conference and hope that it will provide a venue for an engaging and insightful

debate for prospective investors in the healthcare sector and already established players alike,” said Goga Japaridze, CCO, Member of the Board of Directors at PASHA Bank. Those who would like to attend the conference can contact PASHA Bank: E-mail:; Tel: + 995 322 265 000

ABOUT MEETING ROOM: MEETING ROOM is a project initiated by PASHA Bank - a series of business conferences that aims to bring together participants from various sectors in order to provide a platform for idea sharing and best practice as it relates to raising capital for a wide range of industries.

Independence Day Celebration in London


he Georgian Embassy in London hosted a concert and reception to celebrate Georgian Independence Day, as well as 25 years of restoration of Diplomatic Relations between Georgia and the UK. The event was held at the prestigious Lansdowne Club on May 30. The ceremony was attended by high level guests including Marshal of the Diplomatic Corps, Alistair Harrison, the Secretary General of IMO Kitack Lim, Ambassadors accredited in London, FCO Director of the Human Rights Department Robert Jones and the Director of the Eastern Europe and Central Asia Department Michael Tatham, as well as representatives of the NATO Association of Junior and Assistant Naval Attaches (AJANA). Georgian Diaspora, NGOs and the business heads were also present. Young representatives of the local folk group “Pesvebi” in traditional Georgian costumes greeted the audience and presented

them with pins of both Georgian and UK flags. Ambassador of Georgia to the UK, Tamar Beruchashvili, and the Marshal of the Diplomatic Corps, Alistair Harrison addressed the audience. In her speech, the Ambassador underlined the successful steps taken by Georgia to achieve democratic development, the progress achieved on the path to European and Euro-Atlantic integration, as well as the country’s traditional transit role in the Silk Road project. She stated: “Georgia is no longer a Post-Soviet state. It is a democratic Eastern European state.” The history of diplomatic relations between Georgia and the UK dates back to 1919, when the British diplomat Oliver Wardrop was assigned as the first British Chief Commissioner of the Transcaucasus in Tbilisi, which was later restored on April 27 1992. The two countries have developed a strong strategic partnership within the framework of the “Wardrop Dialogue” which is based on common values. Strong

ties have developed in a number of areas throughout the years, including defense, political, trade, economic and cultural cooperation. The UK strongly supports sovereignty and the territorial integrity of Georgia, as well as our European and EuroAtlantic integration aspirations. Marshal of the Diplomatic Corps congratulated Georgia on its successful democratic development. He underlined Georgia’s extensive history, as a homeland of wine and golden fleece. The Georgian and British national anthems were followed by a performance of Georgian piano players Ilia Lomtatidze and Barbare Tataradze. The young musicians performed compositions of European and Georgian composers, which was met with applause. Both successful piano players have already won several local and international awards and participated in concerts both in Georgia and internationally, with the support of the SOS Talents Foundation. The guests were then had the chance to savor Georgian food and wine.

Schools for Children’s Day BY DIMITRI DOLABERIDZE


eorgia Today (GT) Education is a monthly newspaper sent out to subscribing schools and organizations, including Peace Corps, which aims to promote active engagement in the English language and society by offering articles of a social and cultural nature for teachers to use in the classrooms to support and build on their regular language programs. As part of its CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) mission, GT Education decided to celebrate International Children’s Day by giving 10 Tbilisi schools 10 Caucasian Fir Tree saplings to plant in their school yards to raise pupils’ awareness of the need to care for the natural world around them. The project was supported by PASHA Bank. “As announced earlier this year, PASHA Bank continues supporting green projects and initiatives,” said Anano Korkia, Head of PR and Marketing Department of PASHA Bank. “This time we eagerly joined a project organized by newspaper GT Education and on International Children’s Day gave ten tree saplings to each school to be planted in their yards. We firmly believe that providing green edu-

cation to youth and their direct involvement in green projects will lead to them being more aware of and responsible towards environmental issues”. Schools which received trees are: Newton, Hamilton, European School, Antoine de Saint-Exupery French-Georgian College, Georgian-American School, No.64, 6th Autonomous School, Opiza School and No.21. “We would like to express our deepest thanks to Georgia Today and Pasha Bank for the donation of trees to our school,” said Tamar Mamsikashvili, Director of School 64 in Saburtalo. “We are always happy to be involved in such projects and try to keep our environment clean”. The GT Education team, led by Editorin-Chief Katie Davies, who is also the author of several popular books for teenagers, visited School 64 to present the trees to the pupils personally and held an after-planting competition based on an article in the latest GT Education newspaper about disabled children. Three prizes were given to pupils who correctly answered the given questions- copies of Katie’s Blood Omen books in Georgian, signed by the author. GT Education will continue to publish its innovative and inspiring material with hopes of furthering youth participation in growing and bettering society around them and actively engaging in doing so.

Children of the Antoine de Saint-Exupery French-Georgian College planting their trees and holding the latest issue of GT Education




JUNE 2 - 5, 2017

The Angels & Demons within the Georgian Orthodox Church OP-ED BY ZAZA JGARKAVA


he more time goes by, the more the Georgian Church comes to resemble the holy Roman Bishopric. Cyanide, conspiracy, poisoning, murder – surprisingly, we hear these terms not in Constantine’s 15th century basilica in Rome, but in 21st century Tbilisi at the headquarters of the Georgian Apostolic Church. Apart from these connections with the medieval Roman Church, there are others, for example, the battle for the throne of the future Patriarch is quite similar to those of popes Alexander VI, Pius III and Urban VII. What is so rotten in the Georgian Church, then? The cyanide case, which started in February when a high church official was arrested on charges of planning a murder, is about to grow into a religious investigation and the plot has been thickening in such a way that we might soon find other church officials seated beside Archpriest Giorgi Mamaladze in court. These expectations are further enhanced by the new charges that the Patriarchate’s legal service has laid against the Metropolitan of Martvili Diocese, Bishop Petre, who is accused of being the leader in an unaccomplished conspiracy to dethrone Patriarch Ilia II. Lawyer of the Patriarchate, Edisher Karchava, openly declares having evidentiary documents against Bishop Petre, saying he will show them only to the Holy

Synod. “I have evidence and if members of the Holy Synod are interested, I can show them and prove that bishop Petre is leading a fight against Catholicos-Patriarch of All Georgia and wants to dethrone and murder him. This, as well as the information that I possess, are written proof,” he said. The Prosecutor’s Office has already showed interest in the claims made by Karchava, but Bishop Petre has not been called in for questioning yet. Whether Bishop Petre really wants to be rid of Ilia II and become the next Patriarch is unknown, but as they say here, there is no soldier that does not dream of becoming the General. Thus, though it would be no surprise if Bishop Petre wanted to become the next Patriarch, the question is just how do his dreams align with reality? Because, according to the Canonic rule of the Georgian Church, only Ilia II has the right to declare his successor. Prior to the cyanide case, it was suggested that Bishop Dimitri (Ilia II’s nephew) was being prepared to take on the role as the next Patriarch. However, following the scandal, he declared he had no desire to do so, since his name was connected with the cyanide case. Apparently, the bargain is too heavy for him and the stakes are high. In a talk show on TV Pirveli, Bishop Petre declared that Ilia II could well be the last Patriarch of All Georgia. Nobody paid attention to this statement at first, but it gained a more interesting connotation after the charges from the Patriarchate’s legal service went public.

From Angels & Demons (film)- the latest Georgian scandal is worthy of 15th century Vatican conspiracies...

Logically, we can think that since the active Patriarch does not have any other favorites apart from his nephew, the Synodian powers might decide that open war and confrontation, voting in synod, inevitable scandals and further discredit of the Church is much worse than leading a collective management, in which the bishops will chop and change to steer the Church’s wheel. What Bishop Petre said suggests that he agrees with this. The battle for the throne, the cyanide

case and the failed murder are so intertwined that you often hear: “I do not know what is happening now or what happened in reality; I no longer care whose cassock is in whose pulpit”. The government has so far refrained from reacting to the internal scandals of the Georgian Church. In fact, it is trying to disclose as publicly as possible even the darkest corners of this most closed up institution. Obviously, the government doesn’t have its own favorite candidates

among the Church officials yet and this publicity and the cyanide case are all needed for choosing one. Ilia II’s policy is the other way around, though – when Church problems become public through the media, he always tries to get the genie back into the bottle. Whether the Patriarch will be able to do it this time, too, undoubtedly depends on the length of the cyanide case investigation. But before that we should expect new Balthasars, Borgias and Savonarolas.




JUNE 2 - 5, 2017



hen I have a happy moment, and get some leisure time to think three-dimensionally i.e. high, deep and wide, I usually arrive at a quick conclusion that it is not only Georgia who learns from the West, but the West who is learning from Georgia- in a very fair and mutually beneficial way. We, Georgians, are learning from our Western friends how to cultivate human rights, democracy and modern economy on our ancient soil of continual strife and plight, and they are learning from us how to make toasts to any occasion that comes up. Examples are aplenty, but the last instance of toasting was one of the most illustrious: at the final meeting of the historic spring session of the NATO Parliamentary Assembly in Tbilisi on Monday, its President mentioned Georgia as the host country no less than thirty times in his closing three-page speech. This is an outstanding political achievement on our part, unless the internationally accepted diplomatic protocol only courteously predefined the number of mentionings of our lovely little Georgia in that most respectful and politically sensitive text! The entire speech, which carried a toastish veneer for Georgia, read like an open recognition of Georgia’s capacity to be a member of the most powerful military alliance in the world. Yes, I am indeed talking about our precious darling NATO. We all heard from the elevated rostrum that Georgia belongs in the

Euro-Atlantic community of nations and that the Georgian people feel that their fate and their future lies with NATO and the European Union; we enjoyed x-number of complimentary comments that Georgia’s Armed Forces have demonstrated their outstanding professionalism and ability to integrate with NATO forces, and Georgia’s contribution to successive

NATO missions in Afghanistan in particular has been truly remarkable, confirming once again that, today, Georgia remains by far the largest non-member force contributor to the Resolute Support mission. It was awfully nice to receive a promise that continuing effort to support Georgia’s sovereignty and territorial integrity will also remain one

of the key priorities of cooperation between Georgia and the Western world, and it was also heard that, every day, Russia seeks to grab a little more of Georgia’s land, and the powers that be are fully united in our support. The session underlined a number of times Georgia’s exceptional contribution to NATO and the NATO Parliamen-

tary Assembly, and pledged support for a democratic and sovereign Georgia whose future belongs in NATO. What else is a toast if not these words assembled together? I wish I’d had a chance to catch the facial expression of the Russian leader; to witness the astonished and irritated visage of Georgia’s occupier, registered at the moment of hearing that toast so built on lavishly optimistic laudations of Georgia. I would rather not see in that expression the ominous sparkle that usually ignites fire, though. The greatest irritant for our adversaries in this case could be the fact that Georgia has never been so close to the gates of the Alliance. Talks and even attempts to let Georgia into the European family of nations have always been in place, but not this hot and this sincere. There must really be brewing something special and curious out there, but it scares me to death. Meanwhile, the much-talked-about Tbilisi session of the NATO Parliamentary Assembly has pushed many of us, even the wisest of the politicians and the most educated of political commentators, into counting our chickens way in advance. Let us first say thanks for having Georgia back on the map of serious international discussions – this already means something big – and then proceed with not terribly overstated and embellished consideration of our chances to be where, as it was corroborated with confidence, we belong. Georgians say that the toast is a prayer, and some prayers sometimes come true, with God’s help. But let us not forget that God will only help those who are ready to help themselves.




Shrinking Ukraine: Does Anybody Care? OP-ED BY DIMITRI DOLABERIDZE


kraine, over the past three years, has been losing its population faster than Syria, Iraq, and some war-torn African countries. The theme of refugees and migrants does not lose relevance and, according to some experts, the modern extent of resettlement is characteristic to the period of the world wars. Studies by European institutions show that the highest number of refugees from military and political conflicts in the world come from the African country Democratic Republic of the Congo. From a country which for many years saw a bloody war, 922 thousand people went in search of a better life. 824 thousand left Syria, and from Iraq 659 thousand people. The studies also note that what causes the largest refugee flows are still natural disasters, particularly in South-East Asia. Mass migration can bring with it disease, famine, and destruction, a report of the Norwegian Refugee Council states. However, there are topics about which European researchers are silent. Totally outside the writings of the venerable scientists are refugees from Ukraine. Apparently, because of a reluctance to recognize the existence of civil war in the country, the European organizations don't want to see the refugee problem there, turning a blind eye to the tragedy of hundreds of thousands of Ukrainian families.

The hostilities between Ukraine and Russia left more than 1.2 million citizens refugees. And that is just the number of those who, according to the Interior Ministry of Russia, have applied to the Russian migration service and wish to obtain citizenship. In Belarus over the past two years 170 thousand Ukrainians were granted the status of refugee. The number of people leaving Ukraine is approximately 5% of the population. If you take into

Suicide Game ‘Blue Whale’ in Georgia? BY THEA MORRISON


eorgia’s Ministry of Internal Affairs (MIA) has released a statement regarding the widespread so-called suicide game ‘Blue Whale’, in which participants are allegedly assigned to a curator who provides various acts of self-harm to be committed over the course of 50 days. The ministry reports that the mentioned game is widely spread in Russia, Great Britain and in a number of European states. “According to the game rules, the player receives several dozen instructions which may contain appeals to commit self-injury. At the end of the game, the player is given the final instruction from the “master” who demands the player to commit suicide which often results in heavy body injuries or death,” the ministry reports. MIA reports that the Central Criminal Police Department of the Ministry of Internal Affairs has launched investigation into the fact of Bringing to the Point of Suicide (Article 115) and Creation, Use or Circulation of Computer Damaging Program (Article 285). The main interest of the investigation is to determine if the mentioned game is anyhow related to the Georgian internet space. “The Ministry of Internal Affairs calls on internet users to refrain from widely disseminating information on the mentioned topic, which may in turn promote the popularization of the game in adolescents,” the ministry stated. The Ministry of Education of Georgia has also tightened monitoring at schools in order to prevent any cases of the game spreading among teenagers. The Georgian Public Broadcaster (GPB) reports that at one Tbilisi public school, seven students have been interrogated in connection to the mentioned game. GPB says that four girls and three boys inflicted injuries on themselves and had multiple cuts on their arms.

The fact raised suspicion that the incident might be linked to the suicide game, however, an official statement has yet to be released by law enforcers. Deputy Education Minister, Lia Gigauri, told GPB that the pupils do not confirm that they participated in the Blue Whale Challenge. “The fact that the students do not confirm their participation in the game might be caused by the fear that they will be punished,” she said, adding that they have checked all the pupils of the school but no other injuries have been revealed so far. “Teachers at all schools have an asked to monitor the students and if they find any signs of injuries they will report to the police,” she added. Gigauri says that monitoring at schools alone will not help to prevent this problem and called on the parents to watch their children at home and control their use of internet websites. Several days ago, Rustavi 2 TV reported that a 12-year old girl tried to commit suicide allegedly following the game rules. The girl jumped from the fifth floor but survived and is undergoing medical treatment at hospital with multiple injuries and traumas. Police have launched an investigation into the case but no official statements have been made. Since 2013, the game Blue Whale, which spread from Russia to other countries, has targeted juveniles. The term ‘Blue Whale’ comes from the phenomenon of beached whales, which is likened to suicide. While the phenomenon has received significant media attention, very little reliable evidence is available for either the game's existence or its role in any of several well published child and teenage suicides or acts of self-harm. The BBC says that there is actually no official data that specifically links any one death to the Blue Whale challenge, however, according to unofficial information, the game has allegedly resulted in the deaths of 300 teenagers in the world since it was launched. Novaya Gazeta, a Russian media outlet, has linked 130 suicides to the phenomenon, based on the fact many of the young people who died were in the same online community.

account the number of labor migrants, which according to official data of Kiev employs from five to seven million people, it would appear that the country in the center of Europe is rapidly losing its citizens. Even faster than Congo and Syria. The last population census of Ukraine was carried out 15 years ago, and it appears the current authorities are not interested to know the present truth. Official records have long been turned into a "Potemkin village". In fact, the current leaders

of Ukraine are doing everything to trend towards population decline and are doing nothing to slow it down. They made a killer pension reform at the behest of the IMF, restricted social assistance to different categories of people in need, and significantly increase utility rates each quarter- forcing entrepreneurs, who did not see any of the promised tax breaks or reduced corruption, to think about leaving. The official position of Europe is striking. To the West, the ruling Ukrainian oligarchs continue to "sing", pretending that in Ukraine everything is fine and democratic, the reforms are great, and the welfare of the citizens increases, while more than 20% of Ukrainian citizens flee from war, unemployment, corruption and banditry, forever leaving their homeland. This "blindness" denies these people the status of refugees, and with it, among other things, the possibility of legalization on the territory of Europe, humanitarian assistance missions and charities. No man – no problem. The opening of visa-free travel for Ukrainians in Europe is not quite what they expected. Innovation does not give the right to work in the EU, and the maximum stay is only three months, with stricter controls and sanctions for violation of the migration regime. Where is the course for Europe, for which people continue to die, where the bright future, which leads to the Poroshenko regime? Most likely, the Ukrainian citizens are thought of as competitors to the Syrians and the Afghans in the struggle for European jobs and social assistance.




JUNE 2 - 5, 2017

De-facto Abkhazia Suspends Persecution of Georgian Citizen’s Killer BY THEA MORRISON


eorgia’s State Security Service (SSS) has denounced the decision of the de-facto Abkhazian authorities to stop persecution of Rashid Kanji-Oghli, an Abkhaz citizen and former so-called border guard who gunned down Georgian citizen, Giga Otkhozoria, 31, on May 19, 2016. The representatives of the Abkhazian de-facto government informed the representatives of the State Security Service of Georgia about the decision at the 46th meeting of the Incident Prevention and Response Mechanism (IPRM), chaired by the United Nations (UN) with participation of the European Union Mon-

itoring Mission (EUMM) that took place in Gali on May 31. “This decision is extremely negative and cynical and the Georgian side will raise this issue not only at Gali IPRM meetings but at higher international meetings as well,” the SSS stated. Kanji-Oghli, 30, killed Otkhozoria on Georgian-controlled territory near the Administrative Boundary Line with Abkhazia. The peaceful Georgian man was shot six times, including once in the head. He was rushed to hospital but died soon after. He left behind a wife and two children. The EUMM reports that besides the issue of Otkhozoria, the sides discussed recent cases of detentions at the Administrative Boundary Line and ongoing borderization which, in some cases, pre-


vents access to agricultural land for the locals. The closure of two controlled crossing points in March this year, and its impact for local residents, was also discussed. The Incident Prevention and Response Mechanism was created in February 2009 as a result of the Geneva discussions that followed the 2008 conflict in Georgia. The meetings are an opportunity to discuss the identification of potential risks and problems facing the local community, follow up on incidents, and exchange information. The Georgian representatives at the IPRM meetings are from the State Security Service and the Reconciliation and Civil Equality Ministry of Georgia. The next meeting of the Gali IPRM is scheduled for 28 June, 2017.

People Just Trying to Survive: The Everyday Reality Brief from EUMM Head



hey have been deployed here for almost ten years now and perhaps know far better than their Brusselsbased, suited up colleagues of the needs and hardships of the people that live on either side of the so-called administrative boundary line, or, as we call them, the barbed wires of creeping occupation. GEORGIA TODAY and Panorama TV Show spoke to the head of European Union Monitoring Mission (EUMM) in Georgia, Mr. Kestutis Jankauskas.

WHAT’S THE REALITY SEEN FROM EUMM’S PERSPECTIVE GIVEN WHAT THEY DO AND OBSERVE ON A DAILY BASIS? WHAT’S THE REAL, NO POLITICAL MAKEUP SITUATION WHEN IT COMES TO THE BREAKAWAY REGIONS OF ABKHAZIA AND SOUTH OSSETIA? It is difficult to fully assess the picture because as you know, the mission does not have access to South Ossetia and Abkhazia. People live there, people survive. Generally, the situation is peaceful and quiet, they say. It’s been eight years since the active conflict, rather long time, but not long enough to fully heal the wounds. Last year, we had a very tragic

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killing in Khurcha. I hope it was an isolated case. I think that our [EUMM] presence here helps keep the situation more manageable and quiet. People are trying to survive; survive the ongoing efforts of borderization which prevent connections and interactions between families and communities. Two checkpoints were closed recently, in Khurcha and Orsantia. There is not full freedom of movement, there is restricted access for people to farm their lands. It’s a tragedy. At Easter there is good tradition here to go to the region and visit the graves of your relatives. Sometimes it works, sometimes not. People get detained. There are children still crossing the ABL to get to school or kindergarten. People don’t know what to expect and are afraid of the unknown. As for the political aspect, the six-point peace plan is not fully implemented. We keep saying it every time we go to Geneva. Russian troops have not gone back to the positions held prior to the conflict.

EMPHASIS IS ALWAYS MADE ON DIALOGUE BETWEEN THE CONFLICTING SIDES AND THE BENEFITS OF IT. WHAT GOOD IS DIALOGUE WHEN NO INVOLVED SIDE IS WILLING TO COMPROMISE? Dialogue and talking is better than war and fighting. I think we all agree on that. Actually, you’ll never be able to achieve compromise without dialogue. You are right, politically the positions are still

quite far apart. However, what are we to do about daily issues affecting the life of people on the ground? We believe there are plenty of possibilities to achieve compromise, meaning that it is necessary to talk to each other. How do you address detentions if you do not talk? How do you address criminality? People need medicine, people need irrigation for their land. Shouldn’t we talk about that? That’s why we’ve developed quite a structure here, starting with the Geneva Talks at the political level and ending with the Incident Prevention and Response Mechanism [IPRM]. Every month, people sit down around a table in Ergneti and discuss issues that are essential for the local population on both sides. We also have a hotline.

EXPLAIN IPRM. AS OF LATE, IT SEEMS WE ARE REACTING RATHER THAN PREVENTING. Prevention is prioritized. Ideally, we would like to prevent incidents. I know its unfair, as you can’t measure how much has been prevented. When things happen, everyone notices. Unfortunately, some things could not be prevented. But we do not see what we’ve managed to prevent. I’d say that colossal work is being done to prevent anything else from happening in the future. Our presence here means international representation and it helps in keeping the conflict from escalating. There are other conflicts in the region, if you compare that with very limited international presence, actually, the situation is much worse there. I would argue that presence of the mission contributes to defusing the situation somewhat.

LET’S TAKE THE OTKHOZORIA MURDER CASE. DO YOU THINK THAT COULD HAVE BEEN PREVENTED? HOW? The murder of Giga Otkhozoria was a tragic and unfortunate event. I strongly believe that this is an isolated event that happened as a result of a heated discus-

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sion. And these things, criminal things, happen in our countries as well. The police try to be everywhere but can’t control everything. Could it have been prevented? The way it happened, I don’t think this particular case could have, no.

WHY? PART OF GEORGIAN SOCIETY BLAMES LAW ENFORCEMENT FOR NOT BEING ABLE TO STOP AN ARMED MAN FROM CROSSING THE BORDER, BE IT DE FACTO OR DE JURE. I fully understand their sentiments. Actually, a small security camera which was installed there helped us all to see what really happened. The suspect had only managed to make it a few meters across the border. Could that have been prevented? These few meters covered in a few seconds? I don’t think so. I would like to emphasize that after the unfortunate and tragic killing, the EUMM was present there round the clock. This is one thing. Secondly, imagine if an armed Georgian law enforcement officer was there. I think we might have had even more victims. The last thing is to mention - tech. The small security camera has made a big difference.

DO YOU SEE GEORGIA FULFILLING ITS EURO-ATLANTIC ASPIRATIONS WITHOUT SOLVING ITS TERRITORIAL CONFLICTS FIRST? I wish I knew the exact answer to that question. To me, this is a little bit like the chicken and egg situation. Conflictsolving would definitely help the fulfillment of Georgia’s Euro-Atlantic aspirations. Frankly, this is what’s happening right now; that’s what the Georgian government is trying to accomplish. Georgia is not alone. This mission and its presence on the ground here are not merely a symbolic gesture, but also a sign that the EU is interested in the sta-

bility and security of Georgia.

DO YOU SEE ABKHAZIANS AND OSSETIANS EVER COMING BACK TO GEORGIA PEACEFULLY? I think it’s Abkhazians and Ossetians who should answer that question. From my experience here, I believe that these people are first and foremost interested in living in peace and stability. They want their children to have good education, they want to have prosperity, jobs, income. I think eventually people will choose the side which serves their interests best. So, nothing is impossible, never say never but keep working on small practical issues and helping people. Everything starts with that.

TO WHAT DEGREE DO SOKHUMI AND TSKHINVALI SHARE THIS NOTION? ESPECIALLY CONSIDERING THAT IN SOUTH OSSETIA THEY ARE PLANNING TO HOLD A REFERENDUM ON INTEGRATION WITH RUSSIA? Well, none have magic wands, and we’ve tried everything else. The EU sticks to the political position of nonrecognition, but the mission here does not deal with politics. I would say there are two ways of moving forward with this issue. There are things which are out of reach and out of control for the Georgian government at the moment. Unfortunately, that is the situation today. But there is still a lot that can be done, and it must be done for the people’s sake. Eventually, it is the people who make the choice where and how they want to live. You should work on issues on which you can have an impact. Secondly, start with small issues that affect people’s daily lives: runaway cattle, medical services, visiting relatives; that’s their daily life, that’s what really matters for them. Once these problems are fixed, they will be able to focus on other priorities. This is very important.




Hospitality Management School Vatel to Open in Georgia

World Children’s Day & UNICEF Continued from page 1




amed as the Best Hospitality Management School in 2016 among 42 prestigious schools worldwide, Vatel, a world-renowned Business School in Hospitality and Tourism Management is to open an international Hospitality Management University in Tbilisi in September. The cooperation agreement to this effect was signed last week between the Georgian National University, Block Invest and the Vatel Group. First opened in Paris in 1981, Vatel’s education method had an emphasis on international education from the very beginning, oriented solely on teaching hotel and tourism management. Alain Sebban, the President and Founder of Vatel Group, decided not only to open a university but to establish Vatel Group as well, founding the Vatel model in France, with universities opened in Lyon, (1984) Nimes (1989) and Bordeaux (1994), expanding significantly from the year 2000 onwards. Vatel now has thirtyfive universities on four continents worldwide, with 7000 students and 30,000 graduates across the globe. Vatel collaborates with every major hotel company worldwide, with their representatives regularly delivering trainings for Vatel Business School students and inviting the students to participate in international meetings and forums. For the full 35 years of its existence, Vatel is said to have be able to guarantee 100% recruitment for those who study there. GEORGIA TODAY met with Mr. Julien Liscouët, Director for International Affairs at Vatel International Business School, to talk about the ambitious mission to prepare a new generation of top professionals in hospitality and tourism management, now in Georgia.

WHAT MADE VATEL GROUP DECIDE TO COME TO GEORGIA, AND WHY NOW? Why now? Because, the market needs to be mature, or to be in a phase of maturity. Then, you need to find the right partners and you need to have the right political conditions for it. The Georgian government has set up a strategy, ‘Study in Georgia,’ in order to build an educational hub here in Tbilisi, and we started working with Block Invest Group and the Georgian National University, starting with a joint meeting in Paris. We need to be on the same page because when you’re collaborating and you try to build a partnership, you also

need to build trust. We had to meet and tell people what our expectations and visions were, and in this case, with our partners in Georgia, it was inline with ours.

WHY DO YOU THINK OPENING A VATEL BUSINESS SCHOOL IN GEORGIA IS IMPORTANT? In terms of tourism activity, sightseeing, culture- Georgia is a goldmine. Tourists come with very few preconceptions about the country and are often pleasantly surprised, but in order to have an unforgettable experience, the service needs to be improved. The School will train managers and senior managers in hospitality and the tourism industry. Being in the hospitality industry is like being in an army. You need to be on time, well dressed, always ready, and set a good example for others to follow. So, the idea is to train the managers and senior managers to set that example alongside training their staff. The hotel philosophy is based on a balance between theory and practice. The students will have internships in different hotels and will pass through all different departments, which is very, very important, and when the service rises, tourists coming to Georgia will feel more at home.

which are the corner stones of the hospitality industry. We’re also building an international teaching team, and for the second year of study students will be able to travel overseas and study in other Vatel schools. This is what we call a Marco Polo exchange program. If a student lives in Georgia and wants to go to France or Singapore, he or she can do it, of course with the right language background. We might offer scholarships for both the Bachelor and Masters Programs, but it’s not been decided yet. Each Vatel School has its own scholarship program and there’s also a Group scholarship. For the people already working in the sphere, we will offer short term courses- they won’t get a degree, but it will be more of an attestation that they did a short course. The tuition fees for Bachelor degree programs will be around $5000 a year. Alternatively, the university in Tbilisi will offer partial financing- and guaranteed jobs after graduation.

WHAT WOULD YOU SAY TO A STUDENT DECIDING WHETHER OR NOT TO APPLY? WHY SHOULD THEY CHOOSE VATEL? I would say take the challenge. Vatel is not easy training, but you are guaranteed to discover yourself!



Our study programs are in accordance with the Bologna process, with three years for Bachelor programs and two years for an MBA. Study will be in English, but there will be also classes in French to get a feeling where Vatel comes from. We’re planning to assimilate higher education and vocational training. Vocational trainings will be dedicated to operational positions- we’re planning an application kitchen and outside training. The higher education will be divided into semesters, with semester one offering both theory and practice; two weeks in class and two weeks in hotels, and then a six-month internship. In the second year, it is compulsory to have an overseas internship, because hospitality is all about how to welcome a guest and you need to face various cultures to better understand the cross-cultural differences, especially managers. So, there will be six months of theory and practice and six months of internships, with a year and a half of intense internships and practice: it really will be a plug and play for the hospitality industry. I’m not saying that students will know everything perfectly, but they will be able to adapt and be pragmatic,

Globally speaking, the hospitality industry is working more or less in the same way. Customer satisfaction is essential. But it has to be adapted to the country itself in the approach; to the culture, as the style of each country is totally different.

FROM YOUR OWN EXPERIENCE IN GEORGIA, WHAT IS LACKING? Efficiency. I see waiters walking too much and so being inefficient. And there is another thing, one which is very common in many countries: people need to learn how to smile more. When you see a customer, the first thing you do is say hello, and not everyone here does so. When you see a customer, you smile, you say hello – these are the basics and we need to train everyone to know the basics.

WHAT IS THE ADVANTAGE OF THE VATEL INTERNATIONAL BUSINESS SCHOOL? I would say the guarantee of getting a job, both domestically and internationally. You cannot imagine what the industry can provide in terms of jobs!

The first one is in relation to childcare reforms. The Government of Georgia held discussions with the Committee of Children’s Rights in January, and the concluding observations highlighted much of the progress that has been achieved in Georgia in childcare reform. Reformed legislation now meets international standards with regards to juvenile justice and we have also seen very concrete results in finding alternative measures for children in contact with the law so that now the majority of children that come into conflict with the law are diverted to alternative measures, not detained. We have also seen progress in the promotion of foster care, alternative care, and, this year, the revision and passing of the Law on Adoption and Foster Care. The Ministry of Health, Labor and Social Affairs of Georgia is working on a number of bylaws to strengthen the quality of services and support that is needed for foster and alternative care for children without parental care. Also, under the umbrella of the childcare reform, we have achieved success in providing quality, integrated services to children with severe and complex disabilities through the promotion of a social model for identification and addressing the developmental needs of children. The second area of greatest achievement is that of child poverty, where Georgia has achieved tremendous success in child poverty reduction since 2009 through the implementation of social protection measures and the reforms that have taken place, particularly in the targeted social assistance scheme. According to the Welfare Monitoring Study, Child poverty rates are higher in rural areas than in urban areas. Extreme poverty ($1.25 per day, less than 3 GEL) reduced from 3.9 (2013) to 2.1 percent (2015) among the general population, and from 6 to 2.5 percent in children. General poverty indicators ($2.5 per day, around 5 GEL) reduced from 24.6 percent (2013) to 18.4 percent with a reduction in the rate for children from 28.4 to 21.7 percent. We continue to work in this direction. The Georgian government is now working on a comprehensive vision for social protection, and UNICEF and other partners are actively involved to make sure that social protection systems and the reforms that are taking place are really working for transformation in Georgia. Third, is education, which is the foundation for the realization of the rights for children in Georgia. We know that education from pre-school to higher education is really the single, most important factor that lifts people out of poverty and contributes to human capital development, economic growth and prosperity. The tremendous achievement that Georgia has made with the issuing of the early and pre-school edu-

cation law is a very important step and we’re working with the coordination council led by the Legal Issues Committee in Parliament to develop a road map, for the short-term, until October 2017, and a long-term road map for four years for the implementation of the law.

WHAT CHALLENGES HAVE YOU FACED? Despite our successes, it is still seen that one in two children between the ages of two to six in rural areas do not get pre-school education and this is unacceptable. We are working with our partners to support deepening the reforms in education at all levels. The result of the exams in general education demonstrated that there are big challenges in the quality of education, which is still lagging behind and which is a priority for our collaboration with the Government of Georgia- where we are working with partners to provide the technical assistance in teacher training, curricula development, and in-service and pre-service training for teachers at pre-school and general education level, so that we contribute to establishing an education system that is a fit for Georgia. Children simply can’t be allowed to drop out of school, but it happens due to poor learning outcomes, early marriage for girls and lack of motivation for boys in the secondary level. We’re addressing, with the government, access to education for every child, whether they live in rural areas, or are affected by poverty, and those with different abilities. It’s very important to recognize the role of education in the mother tongue. The Ministry of Education has introduced mother tongue education for students of Armenian and Azeri origin, and we’re also looking at the situation with the children in Abkhazia to improve the learning outcomes of children. We need to strengthen municipal systems and to realize that education methodologies need to reflect a student-centered approach. This is a shift in culture and it is not an easy one, because it’s shifting an approach that has been in place for many years that was largely teacher-centered. We have to make sure that the skills of the 21st century are part of the curriculum for Georgian children, so that they can be a part of a dynamic labor market. 2017 is the Year of Education in Georgia. Education is the pathway to an equitable society, to a competitive economy, and it’s the foundation of human capital development. It also helps Georgia to fulfil and realize its aspirations as part of the SDG’s (Sustainable Development Goals). With good education, you also address other rights, lifting the population out of poverty, closing the gender gap and making sure that all children with all abilities have the same right to fulfil themselves through education. We need to invest in education more, and make sure that parents are aware of the importance of accessible quality education for all; we need to make sure that there are enough resources and that early education is affordable to all.



The Delegation of the European Union to Georgia is searching for a property to be leased or purchased, to be used for office purposes


JUNE 2 - 5, 2017

TBC Launches Innovative Services & Products for Business BY NINO GUGUNISHVILI


This property should meet the European Union's requirements, concerning quality of construction, space, security and location. It should comprise a lot with a stand-alone building located at a minimum distance of 15m. (ideally 20m.) from the perimeter of the lot, in particular from neighboring streets and surrounded by a boundary wall. The building's surface area should be between 1 700 and 1 900 m² and should consist of a maximum of 4 floors. The property should be situated within the city limits of Tbilisi. Its location should be easily accessible and consistent with the needs of representation and visibility of an important diplomatic mission. The required office space should be suitable for hosting around 60 members of staff either in individual offices or in shared offices and in open space in different combinations. It should also provide an adequate number of meeting rooms, one multi-purpose conference room of approximately 140 square meters, as well as archive spaces, storage rooms, server room, kitchenette and lavatories. Sufficient natural light is a pre-requisite for the offices; rooms without windows can only be foreseen for archiving, photocopying, etc. Energy-efficient, "green buildings" will be considered with preference. The total 1 700 – 1 900 square meters as indicated above should include corridors, entrance hall, reception area, and internal staircases but not parking spaces and areas entirely dedicated to technical equipment. A minimum 30 parking slots should be available within the perimeter boundary of the compound. The office space must be compliant with all local building standards and regulations, in particular in terms of occupational health & safety, fire prevention and anti-seismic construction codes. Compliance with EU standards or other international standards is a valuable asset. The overall quality of finishing as well as the technical and mechanical equipment facilities should be in line with EU or international standards. The office space should be available for occupation, after construction or fitting-out works completion, on 1 August 2019. Offers may include either: - Proposals from private constructors to develop, sell or lease a bespoke office facility to shelter the European Delegation - Proposals to rent or sell existing suitable buildings, including if in need of refurbishment. In case of rental, the building will stay the property of the owner, while the European Union will enter into a long-term agreement assumed to be for 10 to 20 years minimum, with an option to extend and/or even purchase at a further stage. Submitted proposals should provide:

BC Bank announced the launch of brand new innovative services and products for business at a presentation held at their head office on Monday. Corporate clients will now have a chance to register and open their accounts distantly, without actually having to go into a TBC Bank office branch. Opening a bank account online and registering as a TBC Bank client is an innovative service that can be done in just a few minutes and has no analogue in the region, according to Nika Kurdiani, TBC Bank’s Deputy CEO. Corporate clients merely have to make an application on and through an online dialogue, the process ends in five minutes after several questions are answered. Further to opening an account, the clients are then automatically registered to the Internet Banking service with an SMS service also enabled. Business cards can also be ordered, if the client wishes. The project is implemented in collaboration with the National Bank of Georgia and the National Agency of Public Registry. In yet another novelty, TBC Bank is offering corporate clientele the chance to be able to open accounts remotely. In this case, an application can be made with a phone call to the TBC Bank call center and the documents will be delivered to the clients by TBC Bank couriers driving electro cars. “The TBC Business service (micro, medium, standard and start-ups) directions will offer innovative solutions and products to the market every six months. Today, we’re doing it for the first time by introducing our new formats, and we hope to do so again in the autumn,” Kurdiani stated at the event, which was attended by the business sector, government officials and media representatives. “Our main goal is to be the best digital finance company not only in Georgia but in the whole region. It’s a global objective and, together with our partners, we will offer many interesting new services and products to the Georgian business sector,” said Vakhtang Butskhrikidze, CEO, TBC Bank. “More than 24% of TBC Bank’s clients use our mobile banking services, making up more than 37% of internet and mobile

users and will now have a whole new direction, packed with relevant articles, blogs and video content on the news and tendencies in business and economy both in Georgia and abroad. One of the new innovations added to is an interactive map, a project implemented by TBC in partnership with the State Revenue Service of Georgia, introducing a program that enables interested clients to research existing business spheres through a specially created informative program, enabling both established and start-up businesses to see what’s going on in different industries according to selected geographical locations. In addition, it is now possible for a company to compare its own revenues, expenditures, budget, income and number of employees, to other existing ones in the sphere, both locally and on the territory of Georgia. The resources available can be used by all interested parties, including students, researchers and business analysts. The updated will continue to offer practical and educational resources for emerging businesses - from making business plans, budgeting, financial management, human resource management, drafting agreements, marketing, sales and more. “We want our updated web portal to become a hub with constantly renewed and updated information; a hub for better analyses and business research,” Kurdiani said. “TBC Bank has presented yet another innovative solution. This is information being given in a clear and concise manner, helping businesses to make the right decisions, and the right decisions are a ground to further success,” said Dimitry Kumsishvili, Vice Premier, Minister of Finance of Georgia. “For us, innovation means saving time for our clients. We’re aiming at creating maximum comfort for them. The goal of TBC Bank is to be the best partner for businesses,” Kurdiani concluded.

Call For Land Transport Management Service Provider Companies

• A full description of the lot and/or the existing building • Spreadsheets of surfaces in square meters • Detailed information on the construction proposal • In case of a construction proposal, information on building company • Information on rental and sale conditions, including rental price per square meter. Proposals must be submitted: a. either by post or by courier not later than 16:00 on 20 June 2017 to the address indicated hereunder. b. or delivered by hand not later than 16.00 on 20 June 2017 to the address indicated hereunder For further information please liaise with the Delegation of the European Union to Georgia at DELEGATION-GEORGIA-HOA@ Address of the Delegation of the European Union to Georgia: 38 Nino Chkheidze Street 0102 Tbilisi - Georgia Tel.: 995 294 37 63

banking users overall. In the first quarter of 2017, transactions in our branches, of which we have more than 160, were made through mobile banking, while even more were made through our internet banking services. This means that in the 21st century, we’re moving fast towards offering a maximum number of innovative products within the capability of the latest technologies,” he added. “We will have the best, top quality technological products to offer Georgian businesses, something which will prove extremely helpful for both established and beginning businesses. It will be open and transparent, which I think is crucial for their success, as well as being a significant example of publicprivate partnership,” Butskhrikidze noted as he thanked the Revenue Service of Georgia, Agency of Public Registry and the National Bank of Georgia. The innovative services presented are made in collaboration with Leavingstone, a digital creative agency which began as a Georgian start-up that transformed into one of the leading companies on the market. “When we first started to work on this project, I remembered myself, 10 years ago with no success story behind, starting a new business with several of my friends, and how we came to TBC and they believed in us and helped us to be where we are now, employing 115 with eight different departments, from digital marketing to program solutions,” Vakho Vakhtangishvili, Leavingstone CEO said, emphasizing that the new solution will be extremely helpful for start-ups, giving them access to valuable information and resources, important tools for market research- and something he didn’t have when he started. Nika Kurdiani went on to present the new-format webpage www.tbcbusiness. ge. Functioning since 2013 and offering practical instruments and information for those operating in the business sphere, it has more than a million unique


P Exploration (Caspian Sea) LTD Georgia invites eligible companies to express their interest in providing Land Transport Management services for BP Georgia operations: • Provision of professional drivers, trainings and competency assurance

• Provision rent services of vehicles for in city, long distance, off road transportation • Provision of planning, scheduling, coordination and execution of maintenance and repair of vehicles in accordance with manufacturers’ recommendations with up-to-date records held. • Provision and Management of professional Transport Call Centre/ Journey Management for fleet coordination and on time vehicles dispatch • Provide and administer vehicle assets: e g. comprehensive insurance coverage; registration, state technical inspection, fuel provision and card management,

inventory, car wash, parking, traffic fines etc • All vehicles which are owned, leased or contracted by BP shall be installed with an In Vehicle Monitoring System (IVMS) Interested companies should provide their Contact Details; company name, address, telephone, e-mail and contact name to the following e-mail address: or to the company office in Tbilisi at 24 Sulkhan Tsintsadze street for the attention of Maka Arveladze, PSCM Country Lead Georgia. Submission deadline 5th of June 2017.



Youth With… Etseri, Svaneti BY TONY HANMER


his is the third time, if memory serves, that I or my wife and I have hosted a Christian youth service team from “akhalgazrda miznit” (Youth with a Purpose) in Svaneti in the last ten years. These are multinational groups of up to about ten people who have met and worked and studied together elsewhere and are then sent to another country for a final, cross-cultural project lasting from several weeks to several months. Once such a team stayed with me in Ushguli, and now a team is with us in our village for the second visit here. This group of eleven comes from Australia, India, the Netherlands, the USA, Chile and Canada, with their

Georgia IS the country God was keeping for Himself, so the legend goes, and a most useful piece of antilittering propaganda it is!

interpreter from Tbilisi. They’ll be with us for three weeks. Although it’s been a very rainy and cold spring so far, with everyone complaining about late potato planting for the short season, the group arrived driven straight to my door this morning as I write this in high spirits, and tomorrow, once they’ve got over the train-lag of their Tbilisi-Zugdidi leg, they’ll be ready for action. We are focusing on single, ill or physically needy people, who could use help around the house, field or barn: chopping firewood, cleaning, hoeing, planting, weeding, fence repair, and so on. And now there are three new garbage dumpsters in the village (hopefully to be followed by twelve more, though they cost a GEL 1000 each). We have already started a big trash cleanup operation with my team, too, and plan to continue this, getting local youth involved. After all, Georgia IS the country God was keeping for Himself, so the legend goes, and a most useful piece of anti-littering propaganda it is! The mayor informs me that these dumpsters’ contents will be trucked weekly to an official dump zone in Zugdidi, not thrown off the nearest Enguri riverbank cliff, so that’s all good. One can only take so much of a beautiful little stream which should be and used to be a trout paradise instead being choked up with… used Pampers, would you believe! Several visits to people’s homes with the above tasks in mind already have results; but they’re also helping my wife and me with our somewhat heavy load of work in and around the home. Sometimes it’s simply odd jobs which need more than one or two able bodies; sometimes, a thing which is vastly sped up with many hands at it. Attacking the horrible old buried chickenwire fence near our new wood fenceline, and digging it out: it prevents scything in that area, and the weeds are having a field-day. Building a second set of shelves for the rapidly, con-

I don’t want to work them to exhaustion, but I do want them to fall in love with this place and never forget it tinuously expanding shop in our house. Moving and chopping firewood already chain-sawed for the coming winter, stacking it to dry. And the odd outdoor barbecue, too, when weather allows and the sunsets oblige. I don’t want to work them to exhaustion, but I do want them to fall in love with this place and never forget it in their thoughts and prayers! THEN we really will have accomplished something. Without this part, it’s just a job or two; with it, their lives may be changed forever, and we may even see some of them back here for a return or two, even for a longer stretch… That’s a Purpose. 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 1350 members, at SvanetiRenaissance/ He and his wife also run their own guest house in Etseri:




TOP 20 Survey by Metronome: Citizens Reveal Best Tbilisi Restaurants 2017


JUNE 2 - 5, 2017

Reading the Ezo: A Report Back from the Stadslab Tbilisi Urban Design Masterclass, Part I Source Marc Glaudemans


ocial and political newspaper “Metronome” continues surveying the population, the most recent of which was a poll concerning restaurant chains, according to which the TOP 20 best restaurants operating in Georgia were revealed. The study was implemented over one month with English language newspaper FINANCIAL providing informational support to Metronome throughout. Metronome hired a special department to poll over 5,000 customers in Tbilisi city and its outskirts. Citizens had to answer the following question: “Which restaurant do you prefer and why?” The list of TOP 20 restaurants was then compiled. Metronome has a special group on Facebook consisting of a million members who receive regular updates about surveys and results, meaning a guarantee that a million Georgian citizens will be informed about the TOP 20 restaurants. Within the project, the first 10 restaurants revealed by the Metronome survey on the basis of the evaluation of customers, were awarded with special certificates.

TOP 20 RESTAURANTS IN AND AROUND TBILISI: 1 – Funicular: This three-storey building was constructed in 1936-38. It is a historical and architectural monument in Tbilisi which for decades has been the favorite place of local citizens and foreign guests. Unique and distinguished by delicious cuisine, exquisite interior and environment. 2 - At Barbare’s- An unusual restaurant of Georgian cuisine for Tbilisi. The menu was elaborated by famous Georgian chef Levan Kobiashvili in accordance with modern standards. All dishes are prepared as they used to be in the kitchen of great Georgian families and in the way they were made by the writer Barbare herself. 3 - Tsiskvili – The business, which started with one restaurant, 14 years later became the Tsiskvili Group and today consists of several restaurants. These restaurants are: Ethno-Tsiskvili, Tsiskvili in Vake, Ludis Moedani (Beer Square) and Tsiskvili in Tskneti. 4 - Monopole – This place is one of the main arteries in the city. The territory was undeveloped years ago but now, owing to an exquisite environment and delicious dishes, Monopole became one of the favorite meeting spots for locals. 5 - Phaeton – This high-class Georgian restaurant in Tbilisi is located in a row of restaurants in Dighomi Massive, on Beliashvili Street. It is a Georgian restaurant, offering service to its customers based on fast service and healthy and natural products. One of the main factors of the restaurant is its appearance. The tables, arranged in a green open space, bring comfort and tranquility to guests. The main hall of the restaurant (Georgian hall) is arranged in the traditional Georgian style. 6 – Cruise – This multifunctional complex was established in October 2008. As a result of hard work and special

attitude towards each person, the complex successfully found its place on the Georgian market and today represents one of the most important restaurants in the country. The building has an original form of a ship overlooking the River Mtkvari. 7 - Kolkheti – This chain of restaurants was established in 2000 and has been sucessfully operating on the Georgian market since. The chain comprises three branches: Kolkheti, Kolkheti Okrokana, and Pub Kolkheti. 8 - Astoria – The restaurant opened in 2012 and since then has aimed to maintain high class service and cuisine. A fairy-tale world where you will feel maximum comfort, and be able to enjoy delicious dishes and drinks. 9 - Tiger and a Young Man – This restaurant opened on May 12, 2016, and its name is connected to the poem “Knight in the Panther’s Skin” by Shota Rustaveli. The logo of the restaurant contains an illustration depicting the battle between Tariel and the tiger. 10 - Krtsanisi – This restaurant partially intrudes into the River Mtkvari, and is located in Ortachala. The restaurant consists of one large hall with tiers and balconies, and a VIP compartment for 30 people. From the balconies guests overlook the River Mtkvari, Old Tbilisi and Sameba Holy Trinity Cathedral. 11 - Three centuries – For over 10 years the restaurant has been successfully operating on the Georgian market. Located in the beautiful district of Tbilisi city, Ortachala, it always attracts the attention of tourists. 12 - Tavaduri – Located on the territory of Mushtaid Park, the restaurant deviates from the classical, European style with details from various epochs and a Georgian soul. 13 - Tetri Sakhli (White House) – Located in Tbilisi on the left bank of the River Mtkvari, on Mirtskhulava Street, the impression comes most from the incredible interior. 14 - Keria – This Tbilisi restaurant is famous for its delicious Georgian-European cuisine. It offers a unique design, created on the basis of hard work over years. 15 - Ortachala – Located on Kheivani Str. II, 2a, for the past nine years the restaurant has been offering guests a fresh interior and famous Georgian cuisine, pleasant environment and live music every evening. 16 - Babilo – This restaurant complies with the highest standards and is adapted to customers of different tastes. Even the most demanding guests leave the restaurant feeling satisfied. 17 - Old City – Opened in 2010, it quickly established its place in Georgian restaurant sphere. 18 - Keto da Kote - Located in Tbilisi, on Zandukeli Street, Toradze Turn #3. 19 - Kopala – This restaurant is located in the center of the city, on Chekhov Street #8/10 and has the best view over old historical Tbilisi, which preconditions its uniqueness in the capital. 20 - Royal District – Find it on Erekle II Square #3.



he funny, happenstance symbolism of everyday life offers neat parallels between the courtyards of Tbilisi and Georgia itself, behind whose mountains hide whole worlds in miniature - the ineluctable uniquenesses of Khevsureti, Guria, Racha, Pankisi. Georgia as a place must be stepped into, its apparent thresholds passed over, to be found. So, too, its capital. No walk along Rustaveli or Leselidze will reveal sufficient truths about this city. Tbilisi, and central Tbilisi especially, is built behind its facades.

UNDERSTANDING THE COURTYARD Over the course of five days in one of Tbilisi’s most quickly-changing neighborhoods, the Stadslab Masterclass worked to understand the traditional Tbilisi courtyard, or ezo, one of the city’s most important physical and social structures. From a design perspective, the Tbilisi courtyard is a unique and instantly identifiable archetype, its aesthetics only made more distinctive and attractive by the complex history of its ownership structures. Specifically, the fragmentation of private spaces during Soviet communalization, and partial re-amalgamation of those fragments during the transition away from the Soviet state, has resulted in what many visitors and residents alike view as a picturesque chaos of stairways, balconies, and often-unpermitted structural additions in a typical ezo. From a social perspective, the courtyard plays an important role in the everyday life of citizens throughout the city center, a role that not only shapes the contours of everyday life in its mundanities but is even defined by its own legal mechanism of representation to the city, called an Amkhanagoba, or Friendship. The courtyards act as fundamental building blocks of community in the low-rise streets between Saarbrucken Square and Marjanishvili Square, an area with dense historic relevance and great future potential. Tbilisi’s first trams ran here in 1883, and a factory that produced tram carriages is now an important but still underutilized arts center. German immigrants, thickening the capital’s cosmopolitan nature, introduced the grid, too, to these streets as they ran north. Masterpieces of Art Nouveau facades from a late 19th-century imperial-era heyday clutter even the smallest side streets. And, lying on the ‘other’ side of the river, the area retained a strong sense of community across a broad demographic swath. Only recently has this begun to change, as successive municipal governments have turned their attention to the Left Bank. The workshop participants invited with visitors’ eyes to come and observe a city rediscovering itself - have to be honest about our limited understanding of the complexities of this

urban space, but also frank in our assessments and conclusions.

SHARED HERITAGE UNDER THREAT Although the area retains a vast amount of potential, it is endangered, and endangered primarily by misdirected publicsector interventions. Such interventions have already caused a great deal of irreparable physical harm, and if their failings aren’t countered intelligently and in good faith they could cause an even greater deal of further harm to the city’s social fabric. The essential ‘stitch’ in this fabric is the courtyard we’ve made the core of our study. In more historic parts of the city, courtyards are highly intentional in construction, immediately aesthetically appealing to any onlooker for their carved and painted balconies, their mania of stairs and passageways and bridges. With development comes a feeling of responsibility to preserve these architectural cues, perhaps above all else, raising the same economic difficulties faced in highly historic and protected neighborhoods anywhere. In the neighborhood we’ve worked with, though, as indeed in many neighborhoods outside the deepest center, courtyards tend towards a more organic final design. There is not an instant attraction in unfinished, unpermitted second-story additions, jutting out over the common space with seemingly insufficient support, or in the poorly poured concrete of the yard, or in the jumble

of outhouses and rusted overhangs or balconies. Often the original buildings are completely lost behind additions; often it had no proper courtyard to begin with, one only being formed over time and by those additions. Of course, plenty of courtyards of the ‘traditional’ design exist, and the aesthetic value of ‘organic’ courtyards, though perhaps not immediately obvious, is genuine and must not be overlooked. But what seems obvious to us is that the courtyards we’ve observed are in urgent need of preservation less out of physical than social necessity. Of course, the two are bound up together – failing to preserve the lowrise courtyard archetypes of the old city’s Left Bank will in turn result in the disintegration of the social structures and communities that were formed within and defined by those courtyards. This is instinctive. What might be less instinctive is that preserving the physical structures alone does nothing to ensure the social structures’ survival. The Stadslab European Urban Design Laboratory is a Dutch think tank and design lab for cities, connected to Fontys University ( The workshop was co-organized by Tbilisibased NGO Urban Experiments Group. This two-part article serves both as a basic introduction to the topic for new Tbiliselebi and interested outsiders, and as a very brief report back to our host city. Part II will be published next Friday.




Sandro Tsomaia - Georgian pianist living in US INTERVIEW BY NINO GUGUNISHVILI


eet Alexandre, (Sandro) Tsomaia, a 32-year-old young, but already acclaimed Georgian classical pianist who lives and works in Chicago, US, sharing his time between being an Assistant Music Director at the St. Barnabas Church in Chicago, a piano Instructor at DePaul University’s Community Division, teaching group piano classes at Ravinia Lawndale School, and performing concerts both in and outside the US. “I was 14 years old when I first came to America, studying in a summer schoolbefore that I lived in Tbilisi and went to the Zakaria Paliashvili Central Music School,” Tsomaia tells GEORGIA TODAY. “I was accepted to the Interlochen Arts Academy in Michigan, where I studied with Steven Perry. Then, in 2003, I entered Indiana Univeristy and was a student of Evelyn Brancart, and Professor Edward Auer afterwards”. From there, his musical career really began to take off, seeing him win the Indianapolis Matinee Musical Competition in 2006 and performing at the venues like the Chicago Cultural Center within the ‘Myra Hess’ series of concerts, and at Columbia University's Miller Theater, joining another famous Georgian pianist, Lekso Toradze, and his studio. He has upcoming solo concerts

already planned in Colorado, Oregon and even Macedonia this July. “Living just a concert life alone is hard, and only few, already very well known, musicians can afford to do it, so I’m happy that there’s this diversification in my life, and I can combine it with teaching. In July, I’ll be teaching at the Chicago Chamber Music Festival,” Tsomaia says, seemingly happy with his life in the US, adding: “I have a chance to see all the greatest performers in the world here in Chicago- Riccardo Muti, who’s the head of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, regularly holds master classes, and it’s the greatest pleasure for me to attend them- I can talk about music and discuss all the different things all day long there!” he says, naming Claudio Arrau, Sviatoslav Richter, Daniil Trifonov among his favorite pianists. “The Georgian teaching school is very strong; you’ll never find the same approach to students here, but still one has to have a chance to get outside Georgia,” he says, and recalls those who taught and influenced him: Eter Andjaparidze, Lekso Toradze and Eliso Virsaladze, with whom he attended Scuola di Musica di Fiesole in Italy. He seems proud when he says that one of his former students won a competition and is now continuing his studies at the same school he attended in the US. “It was quite challenging for me to be in Italy, mainly because of financial difficulties. The Ministry of Culture of

Georgia promised to help, but they were late with payment and so it was really hard. Nevertheless, I do remember it as a wonderful time. It was then that I decided to return to the US and try establishing myself here, and so for the last five years I’ve been living in Chicago,” Tsomaia tells us, and when I ask what music means to him, answers: “All my life is music, it’s filled with music

and I can be happy with just listening to it. One of the best experiences was with an amazing project, together with Toradze studio, when we performed 9 sonatas by Prokofiev, which was very well received by the New York Times”. We ask him about a new project he’s planning with his friend, Jaime Gorgojo: recording a disc of Georgian music, and when asked why Georgian, he replies

that “ all of the genius artists have recorded Mozart already and you have to offer something new”. He says he would love to come with concerts to Georgia, but so far he only manages to come home on holiday- his last visit involving a trip to the Upper Samegrelo region, accompanied by his foreign friends, who, as he says, are already planning to come to Georgia again.




JUNE 2 - 5, 2017


TBILISI ZAKARIA PALIASHVILI OPERA AND BALLET THEATER Address: 25 Rustaveli Ave. Telephone: 2 99 04 56 June 4 L'ELISIR D'AMORE Gaetano Donizetti Starring: Nino Chachua (Adina), Marco Ciaponi (Nemorino), Otar Shishinashvili (Belcore), Zaal Khelaia (Dulcamara), Irina Sherazadishvili (Giannetta) Tbilisi State Opera and Ballet Theater Choir, Orchestra Conductor- Alberto Veronesi; Director, Set and Costume Designer- Fernando Botero Assistant Director- Victor Garcia Sierra Start time: 19:00 Ticket: 10-80 GEL June 5 GEORGIAN PHILARMONIC ORCHESTRA KATIA SKANAVI- PIANO Conductor- Vakhtang Matchavariani Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 15-45 GEL June 6 L'ELISIR D'AMORE Gaetano Donizetti Starring: Mariam Roinishvili (Adina), Irakli Murjikneli (Nemorino), Giorgi Tsamalashvili (Belcore), Givi Gigineishvili (Dulcamara), Tamta Kordzaia (Giannetta) Tbilisi State Opera and Ballet Theater Choir, Orchestra. Conductor- Alberto Veronesi Director, Set and Costume Designer- Fernando Botero Assistant Director- Victor Garcia Sierra Start time: 19:00 Ticket: 10-80 GEL TBILISI NODAR DUMBADZE STATE CENTRAL CHILDREN'S THEATER Address: 99/1 Agmashenebeli Ave. Telephone: 2 95 39 27 June 3, 4 EVANGELION Choregraphical drama from the Bible

Choregraphy- Gia Margania Language: Georgian English subtitles Start time: 19:00 Ticket: 8-14 GEL MOVEMENT THEATER Address: 182, Aghmashenebeli Ave., Mushthaid park Telephone: 599 555 260 June 2 RECITATIVE IN THE CITY Kakha Bakuradze, Sandro Nikoladze, Irakli Menagarishvili Special guest- Goga Pipinashvili Start time: 21:00 Ticket: 10 GEL GEORGIAN STATE PANTOMIME THEATER Address: 37 Rustaveli Ave. Telephone: 2 99 63 14 June 2, 3 LUARSAB Ilia Chavchavadze Directed by Amiran Shalikashvili Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 10 GEL ROYAL DISTRICT THEATER Address: 10 Abesadze Str. Telephone: 299 61 71 June 3 WOMEN OF TROY Directed by Data Tavadze Documentary Language: Georgian English Subtitles Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 10 Lari CINEMA

AMIRANI CINEMA Address: 36 Kostava Str. Telephone: 2 99 99 55 Every Wednesday ticket price: 5 Lari June 2-8 WONDER WOMAN Directed by Patty Jenkins Cast: Gal Gadot, David Thewlis, Robin Wright Genre: Action, Adventure, Fantasy Language: English Start time: 19:05 Language: Russian Start time: 16:05, 22:15 Ticket: 13-14 GEL

PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: DEAD MEN TELL NO TALES Directed by Joachim Rønning, Espen Sandberg Cast: Johnny Depp, Geoffrey Rush, Javier Bardem Genre: Action, Adventure, Comedy Language: Russian Start time: 15:30, 19:15, 22:15 Ticket: 9-14 GEL BAYWATCH Directed by Seth Gordon Cast: Dwayne Johnson, Zac Efron, Alexandra Daddario, Kelly Rohrbach, Priyanka Chopra Genre: Action, Comedy, Drama Language: Russian Start time: 22:05 Ticket: 13-14 GEL RUSTAVELI CINEMA Address: 5 Rustaveli Ave. Telephone: 2 55 50 00 Every Wednesday ticket: 5 GEL June 2-8 WONDER WOMAN (Info Above) Start time: 11:40, 14:15, 19:30 Ticket: 13-14 GEL BAYWATCH (Info Above) Start time: 14:45, 17:00, 19:30, 22:10 Ticket: 13-14 GEL ALIEN COVENANT Directed by Ridley Scott Cast: Michael Fassbender, Katherine Waterston, Billy Crudup Genre: Sci-Fi, Thriller Language: Russian Start time: 12:15 Ticket: 8-9 GEL PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: DEAD MEN TELL NO TALES (Info Above) Start time: 11:45, 13:30, 16:35, 22:35 Ticket: 9-14 GEL MUSEUM

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

PERMANENT EXHIBITION: GEORGIAN ARCHAEOLOGY FROM 8TH MILLENNIUM B.C. TO THE 4TH CENTURY A.D EXHIBITION OF GEORGIAN WEAPONRY NUMISMATIC TREASURY THE TESTAMENT OF DAVID THE BUILDER AND NEW EXHIBITS OF THE MEDIEVAL TREASURY September 27 (2016) – September 22 (2017) EXHIBITION STONE AGE GEORGIA May 18- November 18 EXHIBITION GEORGIAN COSTUME AND WEAPONRY OF 18TH-20TH CENTURIES May 17-June 15 EXHIBITION SPACE OF DIFFUSION May 17-June 12 EXHIBITION OF ZIGA WALISZEWSKI'S ARTWORKS Dedicated to the 120th anniversary of the artist, it showcases up to 100 paintings from the collections of the Fine Arts Museum. MUSEUM OF FINE ARTS Address: 1 Gudiashvili Str. March 6 – August 30 EXHIBITION MASTERPIECES FROM THE MUSEUM OF FINE ARTS COLLECTION The exhibition includes works by Bernardo Daddi, Lucas Cranach (Elder), Guido Reni, Jan Steen, Jacob Van Ruisdael, Auguste Rodin, Pablo Picasso, Vassily Kandinski; Masterpieces by Niko Pirosmanashvili, Lado Gudiashvili and David Kakabadze. GALLERY



CLUB 33A Address: Vake Park June 3 SATURDAY FOR NIKO Charity concert Start time: 00:00 Ticket: 15 GEL MTATSMINDA PARK June 3 MUSIC FESTIV AL TUBORG OPEN Line up: Thomas Felhmann, Matt Karmil, Lasha Guruli, Kukulski, Trotsky, Rotkraft, Vako K, Levan Shanidze, Toka Kakabadze, Machaidze, VAKO T Start time: 15:00 Ticket: 20 GEL June 3 EZO LIVE Ezo is a music and arts festival Organized by ‘Mzesumzira’ community LineUp: Ful Space, The Black Marrows Afternoon Version Start time: 18:00 Ticket: 10-20 GEL SOU FESTIVAL 2017 June 2 RONDANE KWARTET ‘CANTO-OSTINATO’ SIMEON TEN HOLT Simeon Ten Holt (1923-2012) was one of the most important 20th century Dutch classical minimalists ‘Canto-Ostinato’ will be performed by ‘Rondane Kwartet’ Start time: 22:00 Ticket: 20 GEL Venue: Kakhidze Music Center June 3 ENSEMBLE MODERN STEVE REICH MUSIC FOR 18 MUSICIANS Steve Reich is a key figure of Minimalism of 20th century classical music A world-renowned German ‘Ensemble Modern’ will perform ‘Music for 18 Musicians’, a masterpiece of modern classical music Start time: 22:00 Ticket: 10-45 GEL Venue: Kakhidze Music Center June 7 SACRED HORROR IN DESIGN Tehran-based electronic music composer Sote, merges electronics with traditional Persian acoustic instruments The visuals are created by Tarik Barri: a Thom Yorke and Monolake collaborator Start time: 22:00 Ticket: 30-35 GEL Venue: Royal District Theater TBILISI CONCERT HALL Address: 1 Melikishvili St. Telephone: 2 99 00 99 June 4 THE ROYAL NATIONAL BALLET Premiere of a new concert Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 10-40 GEL DJANSUG KAKHIDZE TBILISI CENTER FOR MUSIC AND CULTURE Address: 125 Aghmashenebeli ave. Telephone: 2 96 12 43 June 4 Concert of singer’s choir of world famous Georgian State Academic Ensemble for Georgian Folk Singing and Dancing ERISIONI Start time: 19:30 Ticket: 10-30 GEL



German Authors in the Spotlight at Tbilisi’s 3rd Literary Festival BY MAKA LOMADZE


rom May 29 to June 2, Goethe Institute, the third Tbilisi International Literary Festival and Georgian National Book Center are jointly implementing the project “Prospects – Talks about Literature,” carried out with the support of the German Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The opening of the festival, as well as the majority of the events, took place at Writers’ House and Goethe Institute. Other venues were: the Royal District Theater and Literary Museum. As this year marks the 200th anniversary since the first German immigrants came to Georgia, as well as the 25th year of restoring diplomatic relations and the fact that, in 2018, it will be the 100th anniversary since Germany acknowledged the first independence of Georgia, the number of authors from Germany was the highest at the festival. The festival is supported by the Georgian Ministry of Culture and Monument Protection, together with Tbilisi City Hall and almost all major educational institutions of the city. Mikheil Giorgadze, Minister of Culture and Monument Protection, addressed the audience: “Within the past years, the number of literary projects and events has increased. Three years ago, our ministry backed the initiative of the Writers’ House [to found a literary festival]. This is already a tradition for which ceaselessness is paramount, as year after year, the authority, scale and consequently, the interest towards it is rising”. The project “Prospects – Talks about Literature” was opened by a meeting with famous German female writer Katja Lange-Muller. She was born in 1951, in East Germany. In her childhood, she was dismissed from school for “antisocial behavior”. After school-leaving qualifications she first learned to be a typesetter and worked for four years at the East Berlin newspaper Berliner Zeitung, followed by six years of care-work in women’s psychiatric wards in Berlin. She then was accepted to the Johannes R. Becher Literature Institute in Leipzig and continued her studies in the Mongolian People’s Republic. Katja Lange-Müller published her first book in 1986. Since then numerous novels, short stories and radio plays have been published. She won major German literary awards including the Ingeborg Bachmann Prize, the Alfred Döblin Prize, and the Kasseler Literature Prize (for grotesque humour). In 2016 she was a visiting lecturer for poetics at Goethe University Frankfurt. This important project serves to develop active collaboration among Georgian and German writers. In 2018, Georgia will be presented at the Frankfurt Book Fair with the status of Honorary Guest. Serving as a preparation of sorts, the third Tbilisi International Literary project schedules meetings with several writers: Katja Lange-Muller, Clemens Meyer, Ulla Lenze, Volker Schmidt, Olga Gryaznova and Katja Petrowskaya. Besides literary soirees, Goethe Institute will also host two panel-discussions titled “Europe, as an idea” and “Angry White Man”. We talked to Nino Kharatishvili, Georgian-German writer and director, who is the author and curator of the project Prospects – Talks about Literature, at the start of the festival, which coincided with

the start of the German program: “The German program I am in charge of, comprises a lot of events, soirees and panel discussions. The discussion “Europe as an idea” focuses on the pros and cons of the present Europe, whilst the second discussion “Angry White Man” focuses on the role of men in the Georgian and German societies”. The project does not restrict itself to the comprehensive program of the festival alone as six German and six Georgian authors will work in pairs and visit different corners of Georgia with the purpose of learning about the country. As a result of these joint residencies, as well as new acquaintances and exchange of impulses, the participant authors of the project will work on texts. The materials will be published by a German publishing house in the form of a book, which will be presented at the Frankfurt Book Fair. The joint presentations of these authors are also on the agenda at German literary festivals and other programs. Nata Lomouri, Director of the Writers’ House, told GEORGIA TODAY: “Participants are very interesting, as they differ in temperaments and information about Georgia. Our courtyard is a nice place for them to talk to each other. Some of them had already met at other literary festivals, however, many have just got acquainted. I see that the Georgian reader is very active, full of expectations, as they are not very indulged with frequent visits of foreign writers. Therefore, here they meet in person, among whom there are Georgian translators as well as active readers. I hope that the writers will leave Georgia with most positive impressions, as they are the best ‘ambassadors’ of Georgia.” As for the festival itself, this year, the third literary festival hosts 23 authors from 18 countries. For the first time, writers from Bangladesh and Libya arrived, which denotes that the area of the participant countries is unlimited. However, German authors are in the spotlight. One more day is ahead: Program: June 2 – two events • Venue: Goethe Institute, Zandukeli 16 (Up from Rustaveli Subway) • Time: 6 pm • Topic: panel-discussion “Angry White Man” • Participants: Katja Petrowskaya, Tamar Tandashvili, Lasha Bughadze, Nino Kharatishvili, Clemens Meyer, Katja Lange-Muller, Olga Gryaznova • Moderator: Zaal Andronikashvili • Language: German/Georgian • Venue: Goethe Institute, Zandukeli 16 (Up from Rustaveli Subway) • Time: 7.30 pm. • Moderator: Irina Beridze • Language: German/Georgian Attendance is free.



Commercial Director: Iva Merabishvili Marketing Manager: Mariam Giorgadze



Editor-In-Chief: Katie Ruth Davies

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


Botero Masterpiece in 120 Paints & 200 Pencils at Tbilisi Opera Theater BY MAKA LOMADZE


ince its re-opening, the Tbilisi State Opera and Ballet Theater has been indulging opera lovers with world masterpieces and high class Georgian and foreign singers. On May 28, the premiere of immortal L’Elisir D’Amore by Gaetano Donizzetti took place, based on the paintings and sets of great modern painter Fernando Botero. The spectators had a wonderful opportunity to see the distinguished stage version of Fernando Botero, one of the most renowned artists of modernity, Columbian painter and sculptor who lives in France. Even in the impressive staging and colorfulness, one can easily decipher the style called Boterism – exaggerated scales of human beings and figures. The production was presented by Tbilisi State Opera and Ballet Theater with the support of the Ministry of Culture and Monument Protection of Georgia. Botero’s works are placed at such significant public places as: Park Avenue, NY, Champs d’Elise, Paris, Sothebys Museum, MOMA, etc. This version of L’Elisir D’Amore totally conforms to the tradition of comic opera. It brings us to the magic and parallel world of Botero, where the funny story of naïve young peasant Nemorino, his sweetheart Adina and charlatan Dulcamara are played in a colorful circus. “There is nothing that would make a Latin American man paint camels and lions unless he paints a circus,” writes Botero, “I knew that the circus was an attractive topic for a lot of outstanding as well as for lesser known painters. In their times, this theme drawn the attention of Renoir, Seurat, Toulouse-Lautrec, Picasso, Chagall, Leguet, etc. However, I had never touched it before. I started thinking about those numerous potential paintings and made up my mind to do something around the theme. This ’something’ is a painting, fulfilled in 120 oil paints and 200 pencils.” On the first day, the cast was international: tenor Pablo Karaman (Nemorino), soprano Mariola Cantarero (Adina), baritone Mario Cassi (Belcore) and bass Michele Pertusi (Dulcamara). Tbilisi was honored to host the world premiere of the production of Fernando Botero, based on the opera of Donizzetti, with the abovementioned distinguished singers. Michele Pertusi (Dulcamara), worldwide famous Bass, said: “For me, this part is very important. Surprisingly enough, I have not sung it since my youth. I have sung in this role several times in Bologna and La Scala. It is distinguished because Dulcamara is a typically Italian personage. I believe that the Georgian audience will like it. Even though it is very cheerful and playful, it is quite a complicated part from the vocal point of view.” Pablo Karaman, Tenor, Argentinian-Italian singer, told GEORGIA TODAY: “This is my first time here, in Georgia. I have a lot of Georgian friends in Italy, Florence, who I met at the college. They are won-

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derful people. From Georgian singers, I know Tamta Tarieli who is one of the prominent singers. It is very exciting to be here because I know that Georgians are famous for their gentleness.” Karaman confessed that although he had heard about the long tradition in opera, he did not expect such beauty. “The Theater itself is wonderful. The production made by maestro Botero, full of colors and passion, makes a contrast to this building. I have sung many times as Nemorino in other productions. So, participating in this production is an honor because there is something Latin American there. I come from Argentina, but I live in Italy.” Mario Cassi, Baritone, had heard a lot about Georgia from his renowned Georgian colleagues and could not help being happy at coming here: “I already had a chance to meet and sing with a lot of great Georgian voices. The first one was Paata Burchuladze. It was a pleasure to sing with him. Later, I met Badri Maisuradze, Tamar Iveri, Nino Machaidze and Salome Jikia, who is an amazing soprano. I have sung everywhere, but I can tell you that this hall inside is really amazing. The orchestra is very good, too. Georgian voices are well-known. I am always happier when non-Italians sing my Italian music in a better style than Italian singers. I’m so proud that opera connects so many different cultures.” The conductor Walter Attanasi expressed his positive surprise at the Georgian orchestra. To the question of GEORGIA TODAY whether he had met any Georgian musicians, he replied: “I met Ketevan Kemoklidze and George Andghuladze. I have also worked with a great singer Badri Maisuradze.” The assistant director of marvelous performance, directed and designed by Fernando Botero, is Victor Garcia Sierra. At the opening night Tbilisi State Opera Orchestra and Chorus was conducted by Walter Attanasi. The next performances will take place on the 4th, 10th, 11th, 14th and 15th of June with diverse casts. On the 10th and 11ththe performances will start at 14 o’clock in the afternoon. Tickets are on sale at the box office of Tbilisi State Opera and Ballet Theatre and at


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Profile for Georgia Today

Issue #951  

June 2 - 5, 2017

Issue #951  

June 2 - 5, 2017