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Issue no: 1173




The ministers speak out about the recent depreciation



In this week’s issue... Devaluation of the GEL: Evaluations and Predictions NEWS PAGE 2

Police Seize 20 kg Marijuana from Foreigner at Tbilisi Airport NEWS PAGE 3

James Appathurai Calls on Russia to Remove Georgian Flight Ban


On Okro’s Testimony POLITICS PAGE 6

Black Sea Nearly Twice as Polluted as Mediterranean, Highly Vulnerable BY SAMANTHA GUTHRIE


esults of a new study released this week show that the Black Sea is nearly twice as polluted as the Mediterranean Sea. It also warns that the levels of some pollutants exceed the threshold for public safety determined by the European Union. The study, titled the Joint Black Sea Surveys, was conducted within the project Improving Environmental Monitoring in the Black Sea: Selected Measures (EMBLAS-Plus) by the EMBLAS-Phase 2 project team, in cooperation with the Ukrainian Scientific Center of Ecology of the Sea, the Institute of Marine Biology of the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine, Mechnikov National University, the Cousteau Society, and other partners. Data was collected from water off the coasts of Georgia, Ukraine, and Russia, and in international waters at the center of the Black Sea, from 2017 to 2019. All surveys were conducted in line with the requirements of the EU Marine Strategy Framework Directive, which aims to protect the marine environment across the EU. Scientists used the most advanced

GALT & TAGGART Presents Study on the Wine & Alcoholic Drinks Industry BUSINESS PAGE 10

EU Supports Local Entrepreneurs in Keda Municipality SOCIETY PAGE 12

Cincadze’s ‘Shindisi’ to Be Georgia’s Candidate Film at the Oscar’s

Image source: EMBLAS-Plus

monitoring techniques, including non-target chemical screening and e-DNA analysis. The joint European Union and UNDP-funded EMBLAS-Plus project builds on the results of the previous EMBLAS and EMBLAS-II projects “to improve protection of the Black Sea envi-

ronment through further technical assistance focused on marine data collection and local small-scale actions targeted at reducing pollution by marine litter, raising awareness and educating the public,” explains the European Union. Continued on page 2





AUGUST 2 - 5, 2019

Georgian Ministers Sure GEL Will Regain Value BY THEA MORRISON


ollowing the sharp depreciation of the Georgian national currency GEL, the exchange rate of which has reached almost GEL 3 per $1, the ministers have stated their assurance that the situation will stabilize soon, adding there is no ground for panic. Natia Turnava, Minister of Economy and Sustainable Development, says there is no organic, in-depth reason for economic development that would have a negative impact on the GEL rate in the first six months of the year. She states that today everything indicates that the problems with regard to the GEL are mainly caused by negative news and certain speculative expectations and statements. “On the one hand, we have positive economic growth, improved trade balance, inflation within the plan. On the other hand, we have problems with the GEL course - we clearly see factors such as negative news and speculative statements. Some people do it intentionally, with the aim of causing panic, some unintentionally. These factors mainly

Image source: Imedi News

affect the rate of the GEL,” Turnava said. The Minister added that negative expectations regarding the GEL rate are artificial, lacking in depth and organic reasons. Therefore, she said she expects the exchange rate to stabilize soon. “The sooner the information background is normalized, the faster we will normalize this process. I repeat again the economic parameters give us good

reason to assume that in the near future the GEL rate will stabilize. We should all contribute to this,” she added. The Minister of Finance, Ivane Machavariani, also confirmed the national currency will soon regain value, noting the GEL is unnaturally, excessively depreciated and this is linked to recent developments in the country. “At the moment, we have 10% depre-

ciation with our trading partners and we can say with certainty that this trend will change and the GEL will go down. I say so with full responsibility,” he said. Machavariani claims the main reason for the GEL losing its value is the flight ban imposed by Russia, which resulted in a reduced number of tourists, and negative expectations. The Minister added that Georgia has quite a healthy economy in the region and if citizens seek to be more pragmatic, political instability will affect the economy less. Vice Prime Minister and Minister of Regional Development and Infrastructure Maia Tskitishvili says political stability is necessary for economic stability. Tskitishvili noted that the June 20-21 events, and calls for the opposition to storm parliament, when the Russian MPs were there, worsened the situation and resulted in Russian sanctions on Georgian tourism, which had a negative impact on the economy as it lost around 1.5 million tourists. “The state works on a daily basis to grow and strengthen our economy…But for that we also need political stability,” she said. Meanwhile, the Minister of Agriculture of Georgia, Levan Davitashvili, says the

National Bank of Georgia has the right monetary policy and is making the right decisions. Davitashvili noted that the GEL rate was largely related to the feeling of instability caused by the recent events, claiming that in reality, the Georgian economy is healthy. “The National Statistics Office released real economic data, according to which in the first six months of the year, we had a 4.9% real economic growth and 5% economic growth in June, which confirms that the economy is healthy,” he said. The Minister blames the opposition parties for the instability of the national currency, adding with their actions and statements they caused the fluctuation of the GEL. The data released by the National Bank of Georgia reads $1 costs GEL 2.9718 while €1 is GEL 3.3127 and £1 equals GEL 3.6170. On Thursday, the NBG decided to interfere in order to stop the GEL devaluation by selling $40 million on auction from its reserves. The NBG said if necessary, they will continue intervention in the following days and if there are risks of inflation, they will tighten the monetary policy too.

Devaluation of the GEL: Evaluations & Predictions BY NINI DAKHUNDARIDZE


ver the last few days, the devaluation of the Georgian national currency, Lari, has become a topic of ever-growing interest and anxiety. On Tuesday evening, Prime Minister Mamuka Bakhtadze commented on the subject, telling the press that “any analysis shows that the fundamental economical factors are strong today, meaning the GEL depreciation is too high”. He named the recent events in Georgia, the unexpected rise and then fall of tourism in the country, as reasons for the inability to mobilize predicted revenue from the sector, resulting in the GEL depreciation. On Tuesday, the President of the National Bank of Georgia, Koba Gvenetadze, noted the Lari’s falling value and the fact it was raising concern in society. He stated the devaluation of the national currency is caused by external shocks

and the reduction in tourist flow into the country. It might be interesting to look at what other officials or members of oppositional parties have to say about the devaluation of the national currency. With experts’ dramatic predictions to hand claiming the price of one dollar could hit three and a half GEL, some businessmen are suggesting that Gvenetadze should resign and the government’s economic team be questioned. These businessmen say that the ruling government is guilty of prolonging a harmful economic policy and is intentionally damaging the investment environment by attacking the founders of TBC Bank. The Chairman of the Georgian Distributors Business Association, Iva Chkonia, said, “They should come out and explain in detail what is happening in the country. If the country’s economic team is the one to blame here, the Head of the National Bank should publicly admit that they are not fulfilling their responsibility and are working inade-

quately. Blaming political events for the economic detour of our country, is absurd. The current situation is very bad for business and the businessmen who create the economic atmosphere for our state. They will have an extraordinarily hard time continuing to operate with the value of today’s currency. If there is no existing action plan, the President of the National Bank must resign,” he said. Doctor in the Economic Sciences and Vice President of the Center of International Research and Forecasting, Nika Shengelia, says the government’s economic team should be renewed and the National Bank should be reformed. Zurab Japaridze from the Girchi Political Party has published a statement on his Facebook page evaluating the reasons behind the GEL devaluation. In a long post published on Wednesday, Japaridze names the government’s chosen political course, their way of dealing with social problems and the mentality they have been giving stimulus to as the long term reasons for the depreciation of the national currency.

Zurab Chiaberashvili, one of the leaders of the European Georgia party, commented on the subject on Wednesday, saying that “The devaluation of the GEL shows the difficult economic situation, which has worsened due to the unadvised economic policy of the Georgian Dream party.” According to Chiaberash-

vili, even if the ruling party takes the right economic steps, reaching the shortterm stability of the GEL is impossible as people have little to no confidence left in Georgian Dream. “The medium term stability of the GEL will only be possible after the current government is replaced through election,” he stated.

Black Sea Nearly Twice as Polluted as Mediterranean, Highly Vulnerable Continued from page 1 Key project partners include research, scientific and educational institutions, and civil society organizations in Georgia and Ukraine. The EMBLAS-Plus project team and the Ministry of Ecology and Natural Resources of Ukraine presented their findings at a joint press conference in Odessa, Ukraine, on Monday, July 29. The researchers found that 83% of marine

litter found in the Black Sea is plastic. “The Black Sea has higher litter densities due to limited exchange of water with the open oceans and the intensive loads of pollutants carried by large European rivers’ runoff, such as the Danube, Dniester, Don, Bug, and Kubani. Measuring litter items on the sea surface per square kilometer, the Black Sea has approximately 90.5, compared with the Mediterranean’s 50, and the North Sea’s 38. On the lower end of the spectrum,

places like British Columbia, Canada (2) and the Southern Ocean (6) have hardly any litter, while on the higher end, the North Pacific and the Strait of Malacca, between Malaysia and Indonesia, are choked with trash, with 459 and 579 litter items per square kilometer, respectively. On Black Sea beaches, the most common types of litter are cigarette butts, bottle caps, and packaging from chips or other snack foods. Flowing from riv-

ers into the Black Sea, the most common pollutants are bottles, packaging, and plastic bags, among other pieces of unidentifiable plastics. Microplastics, at less than 5 mm, are also a significant problem and have dramatic consequences, particularly when ingested by marine life such as dolphins, fish, shellfish, and plankton. Marine litter is “a threat to biodiversity,” says EMBLAS-Plus, who also warns that by 2050, there will be more plastic in the world’s seas than fish.

The project released several other alarming infographics this week, including on dolphins, “the flagship species of the Black Sea,” the biodiversity of the Black Sea, the dangers of the rise of portions of the Black Sea without dissolved oxygen (the anoxic layer), chemical pollution and its sources, and, generally, the Black Sea at a glance – which EMBLASPlus calls “highly vulnerable.” For those infographics and more, visit emblasproject.org.



Police Seize 20 kg Marijuana from Foreigner at Tbilisi Airport



s reported by the Revenue Service of Georgia, Customs Officers of the Finance Ministry, together with the employees of the Ministry of Internal Affairs, seized 20 kg of marijuana at Tbilisi Airport during a search of the baggage of a citizen traveling from South Africa.

An investigation has been launched under paragraph VI, Article 273 and sub-paragraph “A”, paragraph IV, Article 262 of the Criminal Code of Georgia, involving the illegal import of especially large quantities of narcotic drugs to Georgia. The crime is punishable by 15-20 years in prison, or life imprisonment. According to the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Georgia, in total of six individuals have been detained for drug trafficking over the past several days. Police seized up to four kilograms of heroin and 20 kg of marijuana from two of them.

WIZZ AIR Encourages Travelers to Visit Batumi



our next holiday – throughout next month, – throughout next month, this encouraging statement will be seen by over 2.5 million WIZZ AIR travelers. The branded passenger cards commercializing Batumi as a touristic destination will be up for grabs for voyagers travelling from or to Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Germany, Poland, Ukraine and Great Britain. All Wizz Air users who buy their arriving or departing tickets within the abovementioned seven countries will get the Batumi commercial popping up on their email. The Ajara Tourism Department will continue to advertise Batumi via Europe’s biggest low-budget airline company until August 23. The Chairperson of the Ajara Tourism Depart-

ment, Tinatin Zoidze, commented on the subject. “It is important for us to get the word out to each passenger of the biggest airline, to deliver them a message about holidaying in the fastest growing touristic destination of Europe - Batumi. An ad for the region is sent to passengers whose arrival or departure is Ukraine as well as our target European countries. In sum, up to 2.5 million passengers. We have also extended our popularization campaign with National Geographic. For the first time, National Geographic features a video clip of our region, for millions of viewers to enjoy. Simultaneously, we are hosting the leading press journalists and bloggers who are preparing and publishing articles, blogs and reportages about our region and country. Of course we carry on advertising the region of Ajara in the countries that are traditionally our targets, as Georgia is a famous destination for them and we can give further stimulus to boost the number of potential tourists in our country,” she said.





AUGUST 2 - 5, 2019

James Appathurai Calls on Russia to Remove Georgian Flight Ban BY THEA MORRISON


he NATO Secretary General’s Special Representative for the Caucasus and Central Asia, James Appathurai, has said he believes that the ban imposed by Russia on flights with Georgia is unacceptable and should be removed as soon as possible. Appathurai made the statement in his interview with Georgia’s Imedi TV, saying any restrictions on travel or trade imposed by Russia are completely unacceptable. “This is crucial for the Georgian economy and this restriction should be lifted as soon as possible,” he added. NATO Secretary General’s Special Representative stated the position of the Alliance member states is that no matter what happens, there should be no violence and no processes beyond the law. “NATO member states want to see reduced tensions in Georgia and open, calm political debate on issues that are important for Georgia, the future of the country and its population,” he said. Appathurai noted that during the visit of the North Atlantic Council to Georgia on October 3-4, these issues will be also discussed. “At the meetings with Russia, we always talk about relations with our neighbor-

Image source: NATO

ing countries and their attitude towards them, especially Ukraine and Georgia. We also talk about Russian and NATO military exercises. At all meetings with Russia, we say that NATO supports Georgia and Ukraine's independence and political sovereignty,” he added. Appathurai underlined that Russia must respect the principles of international law, commitments, and the territorial integrity of its neighbors. "One thing is what Russia is saying and

the other is NATO's firm position. Russia creates difficulties, but we must deal with these difficulties, which we do by consensus,” he said, adding the Alliance cannot receive new members if it increases tension. He also emphasized that NATO member states have already made a decision on Georgia and have said that it will become an Alliance member, but when is still unknown. “The partner country must be ready

to join the Alliance. First, it must want and then meet the required standards. We also need to look at Euro-Atlantic security in a broader context. We cannot take on a new member if it will increase tension and risk damage to that new member, NATO or its neighborhood,” he explained. He added that the Alliance will never let a third party to interfere in this process. According to him, NATO is not approaching Russia's borders, but coun-

tries close to the Russian borders want to get closer to NATO and join the Alliance. “Russia did not want Montenegro to join NATO. It did not want northern Macedonia or the Baltic States to join NATO either. With regard to Georgia, they have proved their negative attitude not only in words. It is clear what is happening in occupied Abkhazia and South Ossetia, which is part of their desire to control Georgia's direction. We know this very well,” he said. Appathurai noted that if we look at history, Russia never demonstrated positive relations with Georgia. He went on to confirm once again that Georgia’s NATO membership is on the agenda, despite the existing difficulties. “These threats have not prevented Georgia or NATO from continuing to deepen relations, cooperation, pursuing a goal, moving towards future integration, supporting Georgia's reform path, Georgia's territorial integrity and sovereignty,” he said. On June 21, 2019, Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a decree banning Russian airlines from flying to Georgia from July 8 in response to anti-Moscow rallies in Tbilisi. The Kremlin says the ban will be removed when the two countries normalize relations. To note, the Russian Federation has occupied 20% of the Georgian territory since the August 2008 war.

A Country Divided

Image source: longbeachpride.com



eorgia is a democracy, and this is perfect! Democracy purports the reign of the people, and this is encouraging too! Georgia is a sovereign state where society has started to speedily and intensively appreciate the meaning of national freedom, and this is delightful! The independence of Georgia, although still fragile, is strengthening, and this is truly nice to know! What kills the joy, though, is that Georgia is at risk of losing all those recently-(re)acquired good things unless it succumbs to the dictate of the West that we look and feel exactly the same way as the globalized family of other nations does. Don’t get me wrong, please: Georgia

wants to be an organic part of the worldwide family of nations for its guaranteed survival and further development, but it also craves to remain nationally individual and ethnically unique as it has always been. Whether this is possible or not is a tricky question. The contemporary globalized and economically integrated world is suggesting the unlimited behavioral freedom of an individual, expressed in hundreds of different ways, being it art and fashion, toilet and table manners, gender and sex, knowledge and information, politics and diplomacy, tourism and travel, etc. Yet, the “political spectrum” of this nation is so motley that one would not even remember the names of the numerous parties except those recognized as main players in the game. The most noticeable among the architects of political climate in the country tend to appertain themselves to

two different ideological stands – either Western or Russian. If there is any other power that could be qualified as a third force, its voice has been so flimsy so far that it is not even audible to the regular electoral ear. Each of the followers of the first two dominant ideologies has their spiritual idols, financiers and mentors. In this particular case, one is the West with its own agenda, ranging from Georgia’s NATO and EU membership to support of Georgia’s gay pride; and the other is Russia with her own intentions of keeping Georgia out of the reach and clout of the West and beyond the influence of novel sexual theories. The masses are divided in compliance with those ideological standards, which have already acquired a doctrinal power – the respective germane theories and practices all in place and active.

Meanwhile, because the overall political fight is on, the people of Georgia, being under the influence of one of the two mentalities, are overwhelmingly involved in this complicated process of active belligerency. The nation is literally split into two, discounting that negligible part of the population which lives in a perpetual daydream of the arrival of a better and more reasonable political force. One of the latest examples of said fight might be the gay pride discussion. Georgia certainly has a gay community, as does any other nation of the world, but it is not well-known how numerous or solid it is. On the other side of the sexual orientation aisle, there are people who do not even want to admit the possibility of a Georgian man or a woman being sexually different because homosexuality is reckoned as a biblical sin and social crime. The confrontation is as loaded as

a keg of gunpowder. Some of our journalistic parvenus cynically declare that Georgia, as a nation, is not yet developed and sophisticated enough to embrace homosexuality, while the antigay radicals claim that homosexuals contradict Georgian traditionalism and therefore curb the multiplication of the Georgian people. The argument is overly hot and full of hostility on both sides, seeing each maintaining their egocentric interests and keeping up their political agenda; each fighting shoulder to shoulder with their foreign patrons. This is just one of the paradigms demonstrating the ideological chasm in the country. There are many others. And there is no trustworthy enough judge around to come up with the final word. The government itself is trying to be neutral in the multifaceted national controversy, and I cannot blame it.




AUGUST 2 - 5, 2019

Reality Check: Georgia Was Never on the Silk Road until Now OP-ED BY EMIL AVDALIANI


closer look at historical sources from the ancient, medieval or even 15th-19th cc. history of Georgia shows an unchanged pattern of major trade routes running to the south, west, east and north of Georgia. Those routes were usually connected to outer Middle East, Central Asia, and the Russian hinterland. Only rarely did the routes include parts of the Georgian land and, when it happened, it lasted for merely a short period of time as geography precluded transit through Georgia: the Caucasus Mountains and seas constrained movement, while general geographic knowledge for centuries remained limited. It was this problem that drove many Georgian monarchs to seek to break out of this geographic blockade. One of the solutions was to expand southwards, towards the Caspian Sea, as well as towards eastern Anatolia. No surprise that those policies coincided with the famous Golden Age of the Georgian monarchy in the 11th-12th cc.: King David, Giorgi III and Queen Tamar spent decades of their rule trying to gain control over North Armenia and modern-day Azerbaijan with the goal to control international caravan routes, nowadays commonly known as the Silk Road.

The Silk Road and Arab Sea Routes (11th and 12th Centuries). Source: transportgeography.org

But then the Mongols came, and all hit a downwards turn when the Georgian monarchy officially disintegrated in 1490. Thus, despite the commonly held belief, Georgia was never part of the Silk Road, but always strove to be. Almost five centuries had passed since

the end of the Georgian monarchy when the country re-appeared as a unified state after the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991. With the five centuries, technologies changed, reducing the geographic factor, and even greater change was seen in the

political situation in the region and wider Eurasia overall. Routes through Armenia and Turkey should have taken precedence, but the war over Nagorno-Karabakh negated Armenia's transit capabilities. Then came Azerbaijan's increased cooperation (almost full-blown alliance) with

a regional power - Turkey. Numerous roads, pipelines, and railways followed these routes from the Caspian to the Black Sea. This conditioned Georgia's status as a transit state, but at first only on a regional level. Advantageous development on a much larger level was seen when China reintroduced the Silk Road concept, trying to reconnect to the Mediterranean and Europe through numerous routes. As in ancient medieval times, modern trade routes from China go through Russia and Central Asia, and Georgia has a real chance to play a crucial role at least on second-tier level routes, if not among the first level ones. Since the end of the Soviet Union, we have seen a definite break with Georgia's perpetual dilemma, the geographic blockade. No longer is Georgia closed off and at the periphery of regional or even global trade and transit routes. One could even say that from an economic point of view, modern opportunities far outweigh the ancient or medieval potential of Georgia. The 11th and 13th cc. were the only times before the modern era when Georgia had Silk Road routes on its land, though incorporated from Armenians, Seljuks and various other Turkic groupings. From the millennia-wide perspective, modern Georgia, despite its underdeveloped infrastructure, has always had the historic momentum to become a hub for trade and transit.

On Okro’s Testimony

Image source: vestnikkavkaza.net



eorgian Dream has seized the golden witness! The main witness in the case against ex-P resident Saakashvili has been

arrested on the grounds of organizing the infamous “Gavrilov Night” on June 20. Irakli Okruashvili is serving a twomonth pre-trial detention, awaiting the final court decision. The black cat crossed the path of the government and Okruashvili after the latter issued a statement demanding 100% shares in the broadcasting company Rustavi 2. Some two

weeks ago, he published a document that was notarized in Berlin which suggests the current owner of Rustavi 2, Kibar Khalvashi, is transferring his 100% shares to him. Nevertheless, many think that the true reason for the arrest of the leader of the ‘Victorious Georgia’ party is in fact one of his TV interviews. In an interview with Rustavi 2, Okru-

ashvili recalled a story of five years past about giving a testimony for the investigation, under direction of the General Prosecutor. Although it concerned the case of Rustavi 2, apparently this ignited fear that the latter may start talking about the testimonies given against President Saakashvili, ex-Interior Minister Vano Merabishvili and other high-ranking officials, rulings which have been repeatedly highlighted by Ivanishvili and GD one of their primary achievements. “If the former President of the country is judged on the basis of false testimony made by his former Defense Minister, and if in this case Okruashvili had mediators, Ivanishvili would have become worried and this could have resulted in his sharp attitude towards Okruashvili,” stated Republican leader Davit Berdzenishvili. On July 22, Okruashvili stated that in 2014 he tried sorting relations with Bidzina Ivanishvili and that then Head of Parliament Davit Usupashvili served as the mediator. Ivanishvili responded quickly, asking him to visit Chief Prosecutor Irakli Shotadze and give testimony. As the former minister declared at the briefing, he did actually go to the Prosecutor’s Office and give testimony on a number of high-profile cases. It is this statement that Berdzenishvili was referring to. This political deja-vu that encompassed Okruashvili gives rise to numerous questions. The same happened in 2007, when on November 2, ex-Defense Minister Okruashvili, who had fled the country, went live and accused President Saakashvili of being directly involved in PM Zurab Zhvania’s death. It isn’t ruled out that Okruashvili could raise this issue again. Interest towards his “reminiscences” is high both in the Georgian Dream as well as the United National Movement, who could also

address, for instance, Badri Patarkatsishvili’s death. Perhaps everyone remembers how unexpectedly this 11-year-old story became one of the main theme’s during the 2018 Presidential elections. Hence, we can only guess how many interesting political cataclysms could happen in the near future. That the fate of Okruashvili does matter to the UNM can be clearly seen from the comments that the third President of Georgia made after his imprisonment: “I have always had difficult relations with Irakli Okruashvili. He was used to give false testimony, because of his personal sentiments against me. But now, he really is an innocent victim and over this period, Okruashvili has acted bravely, which should be appreciated,” said Saakashvili. The fact that Okruashvili’s arrest is not connected with the “Gavrilov Night” and that the true reason is different can be seen from the testimonies given by those police officers whose testimony was used as the grounds of his custody. These were gathered on July 22-24, one month after the actual fact. If Okruashvili’s actions on June 20 were so destructive, why did it take so long to act? A common question that anyone with common sense would ask. Whether the 2007 scenario will be replayed, that is, if the people will head to the streets to protect Okruashvili, or if we will hear any new testimonies from “Okro”, will be seen soon. However, as mentioned, we already see the political deja-vu implications. But before that, Okruashvili, as well as the other 19 people in custody, among them Nika Melia, could face a nine-year prison sentence. Each is being accused of organizing and participating in group violence which took place between people and the police on the steps of Parliament on the night of June 20.

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AUGUST 2 - 5, 2019

The Way JTI Sees Sustainability Bringing real value to business and society EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW BY GEORGE SHARASHIDZE, PUBLISHER, GEORGIA TODAY NEWSPAPER


eorgia Today interviewed Suzanne Wise, JTI Senior Vice President Corporate Development in Vienna this May at the European Newspaper Publishing Congress to find out more about JTI best practices in supporting the United Nations’ sustainable development agenda – 17 global goals each with its own set of targets and indicators, monitored and reviewed against 169 targets and 230 further indicators. According to Ms. Wise, managing the business sustainably, in many ways, is not only in JTI’s own interest but is “the right thing to do.” Discover more about JTI approach to sustainability, particularly to the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the implications for business and wider society in our exclusive interview with the JTI SVP.

TELL US ABOUT JTI’S STRATEGY OF SUPPORTING THE SDGS. WHAT DOES IT MEAN FOR JTI? Being a sustainable company, being a responsible company, is pretty much at the heart of everything we do and has been for a long time. Part of that goes back to us being owned by a Japanese company. Even today they have a slightly longer-term view than perhaps other countries do. This has always been important to Japan Tobacco in Japan and is really important to the whole group internationally. We are ultimately a business and we want to be a profitable business, we want to be successful, but that success cannot come at any cost. One of our core values is doing the right thing: we want to do the right thing for our consumers, our shareholders, but also for wider society. It’s a fundamental part of our business strategy.

THE SDGS WERE DECLARED BY THE UN IN 2015 WHEN JTI WAS ALREADY ACTIVE IN TERMS OF SUPPORTING CSR ACTIVITIES. ARE THE SDGS A WIDER AND BROADER CONCEPT THAN CSR? In some ways it’s a bit like a brand change. Old-style Corporate Social Responsibility in companies was a lot more reactive, a lot more about reporting what companies were doing, gathering lots of statistics, analyzing them, feeding them to the external world, often to the shareholders, rather than taking a really long-term view of the company’s sustainability or its impact on society. The UN and SDG broaden the focus. They have a very clear date, 2030, in mind. As soon as you have a specific date, people can start to see what they need to do in specific areas.

The SDGs broaden the debate immeasurably, they talk about sustainability in its widest possible sense and meaning. 10-15 years ago, people would not have thought Diversity & Inclusion was part of sustainability. But, actually, you can’t have a sustainable business unless you have strong diversity and inclusion in the employee workforce and that’s just one example.

OF THE 17 GOALS WHICH ARE MORE IMPORTANT FOR YOU? As an international business operating in over 130 countries, we can touch and contribute to most if not all of them to a greater or lesser extent. We focus on 9 of the SDGs, including for example ones that related to the environment, water, climate action; reducing inequalities, for example in the area of diversity & inclusion, and provision of decent work and economic growth. Our recently launched sustainability report has a clear report on the impact we have and where we make a difference.

DO YOU HAVE ANNUAL REPORTS IN TERMS OF TRANSPARENCY OR WHAT THE COMPANY DOES TO SUPPORT THESE GOALS? We do. Historically, companies have reported on sustainability only if there’s a good story, because that is seen as part of the company’s PR, and so people like to show pictures of starving children in Africa that they have supported, because that helps them with their brand. But, increasingly, you need to be honest about the challenges in the area of sustainability, whether it’s human rights in your supply chain or whatever the issues are… You need to be honest about them and you need to explain what you are doing about them. I think the JTI and JT group is on the right side of that transparency debate; we’ve come a long way and we’ll probably go even further. Many sustainability issues are big systemic issues that no company can solve by themselves. And owning up to that fact and working with others is critically important.

DO YOU THINK WITHOUT BUSINESS INVOLVEMENT AND PARTICIPATION THESE GOALS COULD BE ACHIEVED? No, I don’t. Governments, society, people and industry have to work together. No one alone can solve the problems. These are really difficult problems. The thing about industry is that, yes, it is driven by profit and success, market share, volume and all those things… but businesses that are responsible, like us, have that long-term vision. They need water in their factories, they need water to grow their raw materials... whatever the issue is, they have an incentive from the longterm sustainability point of view to find solutions. Industry has the funds and

the energy behind it to drive innovation, to find answers to some of these global problems.

TELL US ABOUT JTI’S COOPERATION WITH THE EUROPEAN PUBLISHING CONGRESS. WHAT DOES THE NEWSPAPER AND MEDIA INDUSTRY MEAN FOR YOU? It is linked to transparency. If we’re going to solve these problems, we have to be transparent about them. To know what the solutions are. You need a strong press, strong media to help report on these issues. The two are linked: it is important for us as a tobacco company to get our point of view across on the topics we are talking about.


I’ll answer the question with two different points. Many tobacco control activists use the SDGs, and particularly the one related to health, as a reason to exclude us from debates about this topic and from having a voice in helping find the solutions to some of the problems, some of which are endemic, like child labor in the tobacco industry. Child labor is endemic in farming throughout most of Africa and Latin America where we buy our supply of tobacco. We have a program to try and resolve and improve it. But there are those who say because of the impact that we have on public health, because of SDG 3, we can’t have a voice and can’t help find a solution to child labor. I find that morally wrong. In terms of what we do, in terms of SDG 3, we obviously admit our products can cause health concerns, but we are completely open and transparent about the risks of smoking and that’s an important part of who we are. We are transparent, we are open, but we also treat our consumers as adult consumers, who, if informed, should be able to make their own decisions. So, we are transparent on one hand, but my second point is that

we are also increasingly operating in the world of Reduced Risk Products, new vaping products, T-vapor and E-vapor, which we believe have real potential to reduce the [health] risks. We see ourselves as part of the solution to the SDG 3 through that avenue. We have a reason to have a seat at that table, to be able to have a conversation with governments about our contribution to the SDG goals, whether it’s about for example the regulation of Reduced Risk Products or taking children out of tobacco farms – we should have a voice and be able to put our point of view across. A final note from the author: GEORGIA TODAY would like to thank JTI for giving the Group such a good opportunity to participate in the European Newspaper Congress. It brought not just positive emotions, but also positive results. It was a good chance for us to meet the best designer in Europe, Kevin Loftus, and to ask his help in rebranding our newspaper. It was a success for GEORGIA TODAY as now we have a European standard newspaper. Every year we gain new knowledge and best practices in media vital to helping us develop our business further.


10 Galaktion Street

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

 any@where.ge

 +995 32 229 59 19



MRDI Doubts Anaklia Port Will Stick to Construction Timeline FISH & MEAT RESTAURANT II FLOOR

Two Different Restaurants in one Space

Image source: ADC



onstruction on the scandal-bound Anakla Port project is scheduled to begin in January. The Ministry of Regional Development and Infrastructure (MRDI) has said it doubts that timeline, however. On Wednesday, July 31, the Anaklia Development Consortium (ADC) released a statement implying that although it missed deadlines for funding, the terms of construction and opening of the port will not be adversely affected. MRDI called their bluff, releasing a statement of their own saying, “The last schedule presented to the ministry by the Consortium, saying that the construction of the port will be completed in June of 2022 instead of the announced 2020, confirms [that they are behind schedule]. Unfortunately, despite unprecedented support from the government, the investor has so far failed to obtain approval from international financial institutions to lend $400 million to the Anaklia Development Consortium and to raise an additional $120 million in capital. The deadline for obtaining the funding has been postponed several times and the Consortium has to meet this obligation by the end of 2019. Taking the current situation into account, it seems it will be difficult for the consortium to obtain the funding and to start the construction in January 2020.” Also on Wednesday, Minister of Regional Development and Infrastructure and Vice Prime Minister Maia Tskitishvili told reporters that, in her opinion, the Anaklia Port project should be run by TBC-Anaklia Holding, and should not be conflated with TBC Bank. The issue was raised in light of last week’s charges of money laundering brought against the owner of TBC Holding, highprofile businessman Mamuka Khazaradze and his TBC co-founder Badri Japaridze. They are accused by the Georgian Prosecutor’s Office of laundering $16.7 mln in 2007-2008 – a charge both men ada-

mantly deny. “It has been repeatedly asked and I will reiterate: the [Anaklia Port] project will definitely be implemented regardless of whether or not the Anaklia Development Consortium meets its obligations. We do not want the time and effort that the government, donors, and the consortium have put into this project to be lost...the consortium needs to fulfill its obligations [to secure funding] instead of [engaging in] political speculation,” Tskitishvili added. Earlier in the week, Khazaradze and Japaridze announced that they would leave their posts on the Anaklia Board of Governors. Khazaradze told reporters that they made the decision to protect the activities of the Anaklia Development Consortium, as he believes that the government is directly working against the Anaklia Port project. “Badri and I decided to hold a press conference in the next week and announce changes in the Anaklia Board of Governors. I will leave the chairman’s position and Badri will resign as deputy chairman to end speculations once and for all,” explained Khazaradze. The plan for a deep-sea port in Anaklia, located about 140 kilometers north of Batumi by car, just south of the border with occupied Abkhazia, has been discussed since Soviet times. The Georgian government awarded the Anaklia Development Consortium, a joint venture of TBC Holding and Conti International, the contract to develop the Anaklia deep-sea port in 2016. It is estimated that the project will cost $2.5 billion. Commenting on the complex situation last week, Minister of Economy and Sustainable Development Natia Turnava said that the Anaklia Deep Sea Port will not be hindered by the charges against Khazaradze, and that the public should wait for the courts’ decision on the matter. “As we have repeatedly stated, the Anaklia project is a very high-level priority for our country. We definitely need a deep-water port in Anaklia, which has unprecedented support from the state. Therefore, nothing threatens this project,” said Turnava.

Tbilisi Energy Now Owns KaztransGas-Tbilisi BY NINI DAKHUNDARIDZE


bilisi Energy bought KaztransGasTbilisi, purchasing 100% of its shares and changing the company’s name. Since the abolishment of a special management regime on May 3, the Georgian business group has begun to take over management of the company. “A special management regime in KazTransGasTbilisi was abolished on May 3, and the Georgian business group has begun to take over management of the company and has already purchased 100% of the shares of the Tbilisi gas distribution company. The company is starting the process of rebranding from today and it will be implemented stage by stage. The process involves the change of the company name, logo, color and other elements of identity,” reads the statement of Tbilisi Energy.

The new name of KaztransGas-Tbilisi will be Tbilisi Energy. The re-specialization of the company’s staff and rehabilitation of the capital’s gas supply network, which has gone untouched for decades, are Tbilisi Energy's main priorities, they report. Tbilisi Energy plans to start a large-scale campaign from September, aiming to make the consumption of gas safer for the producers and consumers. The company plans an annual average investment of $30 million to transform said priorities into a reality.

GEORGIAN RESTAURANT I FLOOR T: (+995) 591 914 416 / Ardagani Lake 6000, Batumi F: Grand Grill Restaurant / F: Ardagani Terrasa





AUGUST 2 - 5, 2019

GALT & TAGGART Presents Study on the Wine & Alcoholic Drinks Industry BY NINI DAKHUNDARIDZE


n Wednesday, GALT & TAGGART hosted a presentation of a study on the Wine and Alcoholic Drinks Industry. The event was attended by specialists in the field, Georgian and foreign experts, the corporate clients of Georgian Bank, representatives of small and medium scale businesses and other invited guests. The research done by GALT & TAGGART covers the current situation in the sector of wine and alcoholic drinks and the emerging potential of local and export markets. The research mainly focuses on the fundamental financial indicators, different export markets and their connections, the sector’s main challenges and potential for development. The presented research also analyzes the positions of Georgian wine and alcoholic beverages on top export markets. According to the study, in 2019 a 10% rise is expected in the sector. These expectations are the result of a bumper vineyard crop in 2018 and the tendencies of growth in export. It was noted that between the years of 2013-2018, wine export to nontraditional markets tripled, an astounding accomplishment, especially while considering the lack of prior awareness of Georgian wine on these markets. Taking into account that wine consumption is fast emerging in Asia, these

markets might raise the Georgian wine export by $120 million in the next five years. This, of course, will exceed the revenue coming in from Russia. To accomplish the abovementioned, GALT & TAGGART mentioned the need to popularize the brands and to broaden the distribution network. After interviewing the representatives of the sector, a number of challenges were identified: the lack of collaboration platform/clusters, the lack of a united strategy in terms of export markets, and weak corporate leading. The factors hindering the sector’s consolidation were identified as old fashioned technologies used when producing, high price of grape production, low yield, inadequate relationship between price and quality, and fragmented production processes. “The business of wine and alcoholic beverages is one of the biggest sectors in the field in our country,” said the head of GALT & TAGGART, Otar Sharikadze. “In 2013-2018, the revenue of the sector nearly doubled and hit $870 million. Wine is the 4th and brandy the 8th biggest exporting product in the country. In 2018, Georgia got a total revenue of $305 million from selling wine and brandy. By our calculations, 2019 will be even more successful for the sector – raising the revenue by 10%.” The presentation of GALT & TAGGART’s study saw Giorgi Popiashvili, a representative of commercial business, as a guest there to discuss wine branding. The participants of the International Wine Festival that took place in Bordeaux,

Vinexpo Bordeaux 2019, were also there to share their experiences with guests. JSC Galt & Taggart is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Bank of Georgia Holdings

PLC. The company has grown into a Georgian corporate sector leader. The brokerage and investment house was established in 1996 and has played a

major role in Georgia’s capital markets over the past two decades – being both a beneficiary and contributor to the country’s dynamic economy.



Red Cross Society Georgia Offers First Aid Training for Media Reps BY KETEVAN KVARATSKHELIYA


n July 25, the Tbilisi Marriott Hotel hosted the representatives of different media platforms for a First Aid Training hosted by the Red Cross Society Georgia. At the fourhour training session, members of the Georgian branch of the Red Cross Society offered an interesting synthesis of theoretical lecture and practical tasks. The first part of the training was devoted to a brief overview of the meaning of first aid and its crucial importance in

saving lives, all presented in a way easily comprehensible to the inexperienced but eager audience. The instructor provided the attendees will significant information, much contributing to their preparation for the unexpected in their busy everyday lives. The training covered tips for first aid for both adults and babies, thus preventing mistakes being made related to age and body strength. A lot of focus was put on the importance of appropriate application of Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR). In order to fully understand the sense of the training, all the media reps were given an opportunity to participate in case studies and, with the help of the

trainer, to try out CPR on manikins of an adult and child. The training also covered first aid in the case of burns, convulsion, spasms and more, also explained through practical tasks, with the media guests as participants. Along with the thorough theoretical information, the training enabled the attendees to share their personal experience in various cases and obtain relevant responses from an expert in the field to questions of their interest. At the end of the incredibly interesting and useful First Aid Training, all the guests were given symbolic gifts from the Red Cross Society Georgia.

Zonal Hourly Parking Launched in Tbilisi BY ANA DUMBADZE


rom August 1, car drivers in Tbilisi will have to pay an hourly fee for parking, a pilot project that has first been launched on Kote Abkhazi (former Leselidze Street in Old Tbilisi) and nearby streets. The parking fee is 1 GEL (Lari) per hour. As Tbilisi Mayor Kakhal Kaladze said at the sitting of the municipal government Wednesday, the employees of Tbilisi Transport Company will provide citizens with consultation about payment for parking. Kaladze also added that the zonal hourly parking will be introduced in various districts of Tbilisi stage by stage. “From August 1, we are starting the implementation of an important pilot project – zonal hourly parking. It will first be piloted on Kote Abkhazi and nearby streets. Additionally, I would like to remind citizens that a special applica-

tion is already available on all smartphones, which you can download and use to make payment,” the Mayor said.

The ‘zonal parking’ mode is new for Tbilisi and will allow the Tbilisi municipality to regulate traffic flow in the city.





AUGUST 2 - 5, 2019

EU Supports Local Entrepreneurs in Keda Municipality

27 business ideas funded under the Keda LEADER project Davit Ardzenadze and his neighbor Shakro Ardzenadze on Davit's family land in the village of Dandalo. This day David learned that his "glamping" business project was selected to be funded under the EU's ENPARD project


n January 2017, the EU supported the establishment of the Keda Local Action Group, also known as Keda LAG, in Keda municipality through the Keda LEADER project. The project is currently one of the EU’s 12 pilot projects implemented within the ENPARD program in several Georgian municipalities. Implementing the ENPARD activities in Keda is made possible by the EU’s partner organizations: CENN, the Insti-

tute of Democracy, CSRDG and an Austrian partner, ÖIR. As a result of intensive community mobilization, the EU’s partner organizations supported the establishment of the Keda Local Action Group (LAG), a local organization that unifies active and highly motivated locals from the municipality to ensure bottom-up development of the municipality. The Keda LAG developed the Local Development Strategy (LDS) for the municipality, seeing locals iden-

tifying strategic areas for development, with a focus on: - Development of agricultural value chains; - Diversification of rural economic activities; - Support for education, culture, and sport; - Protection of the environment, including disaster risk reduction and management of natural resources. Shortly after developing the strategy,

The Keda Municipality is notable for its unique vine varieties. Local vines, Kedis Tsolikauri and Chkhaveri, are in high demand

the Keda LAG, together with CENN and the Institute of Democracy, announced the first grants competition calling for rural development initiatives that would support the implementation of the strategic objectives included in the LDS. In total, 306 business ideas were submitted by Keda locals, and of these 109 proceeded to the next stage, in which the project team assisted prospective entrepreneurs to develop detailed business plans. During the last stage, Keda LAG

announced 27 winning ideas that will be funded through the financial support provided by ENPARD. Some of the funded projects include a project for lessons to craft a Chiboni (a traditional Ajaran instrument) and establishing guest houses and organic gardens that will provide a farm-to-table experience. The agricultural projects include winemaking with a special emphasis on the traditional Chkhaveri vine, strawberry greenhouses and fish farms. One of the EU beneficiaries, Davit Ardzenadze, has an idea to provide a so-called “glamping”, or “glamorous camping” experience, in Keda. His hotel will provide a service that combines the comfort of a hotel with the excitement of camping. “Since I started working on the project, my daily routine has changed and life became more exciting. I’m following my dream and doing what makes me happy,” Ardzenadze says. “People in Keda now see the possibilities of rural development of the region and opportunities for selfemployment.” The EU continues to support rural development through the ENPARD project in Keda. The second grants competition has already been announced and more local business ideas are expected by the end of August. In the meantime, Keda LAG and CENN have also launched a summer campaign, “Visit Keda,” which encourages tourists and guests to visit the municipality.




Musings from 10 Km Up BLOG BY TONY HANMER


riting this from about 30000 feet in the air, in a plane of course. My 7 am to Denver, USA was cancelled; instead I was rebooked from Edmonton to Calgary at 6am, wait three hours or so, then to Houston, from where I’ll have just enough time to make my originally scheduled Munich flight. The 7 hours’ layover in Colorado has shrunk down to about 1.5 in Texas: SHOULD be OK, if we’re not late! Joys of international travel! This is the first time I’m moving between Tbilisi and Edmonton in either direction not in three flights. Two have proved vanishingly few and expensive to choose from, with the intervening airport list reduced to only Amsterdam or London (summer only to Edmonton). Four flights never were necessary, until this debacle. It only adds the ½ hour Edmonton-Calgary hop, but makes up for this blip with plenty more stress and hassle. I decided I’d better write the weekly article while

flying, as it’s otherwise down time, and email it to GT from Houston rather than writing it enroute to Munich and not being able to email it on that long, latefor-deadline flight. So here we are. At least my laptop still has enough battery power to let me do the job. The first short flight was my first in a prop plane in many years. I found myself sitting at a convenient spot to see the wheels retract after takeoff, then return for landing, which I videoed on my cell phone, smoke of touchdown and all, first time ever. The cool morning mist snaking along the North Saskatchewan River, nicely sidelit in yellow by the rising sun, also made for impressive shots. Scratched plastic window? Never mind! I moved back a bit, even, to include its edges in the frame, so there would be no doubt where I had been. Note to self, remembered this time: That little plastic container of cream for my coffee? Shaking it while it’s sealed is fine, but always open it slowly and in in its upright position! Otherwise the air pressure discrepancy will make it spurt out uncontrollably onto my tray-table! I refuse, outright, to pay Air Canada’s

extortionate demands for either food or headsets. So I’m reduced to foregoing movies this flight, not having the required third-party earbud-only earphones, only ones which cover the ears. Must ask the reason for this rule, AND check whether the long flight to Germany has either free headsets or an allowance for the kind which I have! And in the case of neither of these possibilities, somehow find the time to buy the right kind in Houston. Occasionally I glance at my near and further neighbors’ screens, furtively, to see what I’m missing. But I’ve also learned ALWAYS to have something to read, now almost exclusively on my phone, with the odd issue of WIRED or SciAm snuck into my “carrion” as a guilty pleasure. No more lugging around the world enough physical books to have a choice to read from, though; that just got ridiculously heavy and also simply too cumbersome. When we touch down, assuming there’s enough time, I’ll log on to the airport’s Wi-Fi to email this story to Tbilisi, adding a few phone shots from the window series as illustrations. Until then, here

comes the drinks trolley again, so I must wrap this up, as sugared coffee and keyboards mix rather poorly… Tony Hanmer has lived in Georgia since 1999, in Svaneti since 2007, and been a weekly writer for GT since early 2011. He

runs the “Svaneti Renaissance” Facebook group, now with nearly 2000 members, at www.facebook.com/groups/SvanetiRenaissance/ He and his wife also run their own guest house in Etseri: www.facebook.com/hanmer.house.svaneti


Cincadze’s ‘Shindisi’ to Be Georgia’s Candidate Film at the Oscar’s BY MARIAM MERABISHVILI


eorgia's candidate film for the international fulllength film nomination of the American Film Academy was revealed on July

31. Dito Tsintsadze's movie ‘Shindisi’ will be nominated for the Oscar’s Foreign Language Film category from Georgia. The 12-member Georgian jury, composed of directors, production artists, actors, producers and film critics, made this decision in a secret ballot. The winning film, with the support of the Georgian Ministry of Education, Science,

Culture and Sport and the National Film Center, will be included in the Oscar campaign and will compete for the nomination at the American Film Academy. Five Georgian films competed for the Oscar nomination this year: Nino Zhvania's ‘Parade;’ Mari Gulbiani’s documentary ‘Until Dad Returns;’ ‘Inhale and Exhale’ by Dimitri Tsintsadze; Gigisha

Abashidze's ‘Neighbors’ and Shindisi by Dimitri Tsintsadze. Shinisi tells of the 2008 Russia-Georgia war and the heroes of Shindisi (a village located in the vicinity of the Russia-occupied Tskhinvali region, Georgia). The script, which is based on real facts, was written by Irakli Solomanashvili. The project author and film producer is

Edmond Abashidze-Minashvili, composer Gia Kancheli, Operator KonstantineMindia Esadze. The main characters of the film are Georgian soldiers who sacrificed their lives for the defense of their homeland, 17 Georgian soldiers who died during the Shindisi battle. The cast includes Georgian actors as well as real Georgian soldiers with combat equipment.




AUGUST 2 - 5, 2019


GEORGIAN NATIONAL MUSEUM SIMON JANASHIA MUSEUM 3 Rustaveli Ave. TEL (+995 32) 299 80 22, 293 48 21 www.museum.ge Exhibitions: GEORGIAN COSTUME AND WEAPONRY OF THE 18TH-20TH CENTURIES NUMISMATIC TREASURY EXHIBITION STONE AGE GEORGIA ARCHEOLOGICAL TREASURE NEW LIFE TO THE ORIENTAL COLLECTIONS Until September 10 Under the joint initiative of Georgian National Museum and Georgian Post, Exhibition: STORY TOLD BY POSTAGE STAMPS Dedicated to the 100th anniversary of the first Georgian stamp. Until August 31 Multimedia technology exhibitionIMMAGICA. A JOURNEY INTO BEAUTY An impressive journey within time, introducing us to Italian paintings of the XIV-XIX centuries; a combination of voice, lighting, immersive visual and multimedia. Giotto– ‘Ognissanti Madonna’ and the ‘Scrovegni Chapel,’ Leonardo da Vinci– ‘Annunciation,’ Botticelli– ‘The Birth of Venus’ and ‘Spring,’ Raffaello– ‘The Madonna of the Goldfinch, Bellotto– ‘Piazza San Marco,’ ‘Castello Sforzesco,’ Canaletto– “The Chapel of Eton College”, Canova– ‘Amor e Psyche’ and ‘The Graces’. Until September 2 Exhibition of Japanese Calligraphy KOSHU IOSEB GRISHASHVILI TBILISI HISTORY MUSEUM - KARVASLA 8 Sioni St. TEL (+995 32) 2 98 22 81 Until September 10 The Georgian National Museum within the project "Contemporary Art Gallery" presents

Vakho Bugadze's exhibition: ‘Three, Four" Together with Vakho Bughadze are artists Gogi Okropiridze and Katrin Bolt. Within the framework of the exhibition, documentary film about Vakho Bugadze will be presented. MUSEUM OF SOVIET OCCUPATION 4 Rustaveli Ave. TEL (+995 32) 2 99 80 22, 2 93 48 21 www.museum.ge The exhibition hall is equipped with monitors, where visitors can see documentaries of various historical events. The exhibition also includes one of the train carriages in which the participants of the national uprising of 1924 were executed. It is also dedicated to the history of the antioccupational, national-liberation movement of Georgia and to the victims of the Soviet political repression throughout this period. MUSEUM OF ILLUSIONS 10 Betlemi Str. Discover the Museum of Illusions Be brave enough to jump into an illusion created by the Vortex, deform the image of yourself in a Mirror Room, be free in the Infinity room, resist the laws of gravity and size ratio, and take selfies in every possible pose. Enjoy the collection of holograms, and discover optical illusions. MUSEUM OF BROKEN RELATIONSHIPS 10 Betlemi Str. THE MUSEUM OF BROKEN RELATIONSHIPS The unique collection of the museum aims to provoke feelings of understanding among individuals and serve as some kind of therapy for those who have experience break-ups. GALLERY

THE NATIONAL GALLERY 11 Rustaveli Ave. TEL (+995 32) 215 73 00 Until February 26 (2020) GRAND MASTERS FROM THE GEORGIAN


TBILISI HILLS GOLF & RESIDENCES Isani-Samgori Distr. August 5 'THE LEGEND OF 1900'' Watching The Legend of 1900, taste hot, cold and alcoholic drinks made by professional bartenders and enjoy the fresh air in the middle of nature. Language: English Start time: 21:00 Ticket: 20 GEL AMIRANI CINEMA 36 Kostava St. TEL (+995 32) 2 99 99 55 www.kinoafisha.ge Every Wednesday ticket: 5 GEL FAST & FURIOUS PRESENTS: HOBBS & SHAW Directed by David Leitch Cast: Vanessa Kirby, Dwayne Johnson, Eiza González Genre: Action, Adventure Language: English Start time: 14:00, 16:30, 19:00, 22:00, 22:15 Ticket: 12-15 GEL THE LION KING Directed by Jon Favreau Cast: John Kani, Seth Rogen, Donald Glover Genre: Animation, Adventure, Drama Language: English Start time: 13:45 Ticket: 9 GEL CAVEA EAST POINT 2 Tvalchrelidze Str. FAST & FURIOUS PRESENTS: HOBBS & SHAW (Info Above) Language: English Start time: 13:15, 14:15, 16:00, 19:00, 19:45, 22:00, 22:15 Ticket: 11-14 GEL THE LION KING (Info Above) Language: English Start time: 13:30, 22:15 Ticket: 9 GEL

MIDSOMMAR Directed by Ari Aster Cast: Florence Pugh, Jack Reynor, Vilhelm Blomgren Genre: Drama, Horror, Mystery Language: English Start time: 22:15 Ticket: 13-14 GEL CAVEA GALLERY 2/4 Rustaveli Ave. FAST & FURIOUS PRESENTS: HOBBS & SHAW (Info Above) Language: English Start time: 13:45, 16:45, 19:10, 19:45, 22:00, 22:15 Ticket: 10-17 GEL THE LION KING (Info Above) Language: English Start time: 11:50, 13:00, 16:45, 19:30, 22:15 Ticket: 9 GEL MIDSOMMAR (Info Above) Language: English Start time: 22:15 Ticket: 16-17 GEL MUSIC

SOUNDS OF GEORGIA August 2, 3, 7, 8 SING AND DRINK Mini concerts in the cozy atmosphere of Old Tbilisi, a mix of traditional Georgian music of different genres: folklore, a capella, guitar, and Georgian pop and city songs. Start time: 17:00 Ticket: 24 GEL Venue: August 2- 10 Erekle II Sq., Tekla Palace Hotel, August 3New Tiflis, 9 Agmashenebeli Ave., Wine bar ‘Wine Station’, August 7- Corner of 2 Turgenev Str., and 37 Javakhishvili Str. August 8 Europe Sq., 2 Dutu Megreli Str., Hotel “Nata” FOLKLORE CONCERTS FOR TOURISTS Sanapiro Str. Bldg 2. Every Sunday August 4 Folklore Evenings of ensemble EGARI

Offering folklore events to popularize Georgian folk music among tourists, the concerts present songs, trisagions, instrumental music, dance, and urban folklore from different parts of Georgia, as well as ethnojazz music. Guest can hear live polyphony and a diversity of instruments (Salamuri, Panduri, Chonguri, Chiboni, Doli). Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 50 GEL TURTLE LAKE August 2 DECODER: KOLLEKTIV TURMSTRASSE / COSMIC LOVE ROTATION / TADE Start time: 23:30 Ticket: 40 GEL AJARA Black Sea Arena Shekvetili August 6 JESSIE J Six years after releasing her platinum-selling debut ‘Who You Are’ and winning the prestigious Critics’ Choice prize at the BRIT Awards, London-born Jessie J is readying her confessional new album R.O.S.E., released in early 2018. With DJ Camper (Nicki Minaj, Mary J. Blige and Mariah Carey) producing, Jessie J wrote the entire album herself, making this her most personal statement ever. Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 70-250 GEL SOHO BATUMI Seafront Promenade, Batumi August 3 SAKHE Start time: 23:00 Ticket: 30 GEL IVERIA BEACH Batumi Boulevard August 2-4 PHANGAN HEART’S 36-HOUR NONSTOP MUSIC EVENT with incredible and beautiful artists from the amazing island of Koh Phangan. Artists from France, Germany, England and elsewhere. Lineup: David Chong/France Peter G/Germany Just Julien/France Jadele/England -London Phang n Alex Bubnov /Russia, Goa Start time: 23:00 Ticket: 70 GEL UP2YOU Seafront Promenade August 2 SUPERMEN LOVERS Start time: 21:00 Ticket: 20 GEL August 4 COMPACT GREY Start time: 21:00 Ticket: 20 GEL August 5 COCO FLETCHER As WHITNEY HOUSTON Start time: 23:30 Ticket: 20 GEL BATUMGORA Venue: Cable car Argo FOLKLORE SHOWS EVERY DAY All summer long, enjoy traditional folk shows every day from 8 pm. Enjoy UNESCO recognized traditional folk dances and songs, Georgian drum shows and master classes in dancing, 250 meters above sea level. Start time: 20:00




Georgian Rave Fest – First Ever Techno Festival to Take Place in a 6th Century Fortress BY LIKA CHIGLADZE


ave you ever imagined what it would be like to dance to techno music in a centuries-old castle on a cliff? Now you can experience this thrilling feeling in a reality on Georgia’s coast. The Georgian Rave (GR) Fest is an electronic music festival taking place in the open air at the ancient Petra Fortress on August 10. At the one-day festival, people will be able to listen and dance to quality underground music with an amazing view of the Black Sea. The contrast between the festival and its location has triggered heightened emotion among artists and public alike. The festival presents renowned artists of techno music and such big names as : NEWA, BOYD SCHIDT, FABRIZIO LAPIANA, GIORGI DEVADZE, KAVEL, ORIM, YANAMASTE, and ZAPA. Petra Fortress is located in Tsikhisdziri, a town 20 kilometers from Batumi the coastal capital of Ajara region. The bastion, also coined as “Qajetis Tsikhe” in Georgian, meaning Devils’ Fortress, covers 7 hectares of land and contains the ruins of a citadel. The fortress was built in the 6th century by Justinian I, Byzantine Emperor in the western region of the present country. Petra became an important strategic and trade center on the eastern Black Sea coast. The naval and land routes that passed through Petra once connected west Georgia to Byzantium’s provinces, Armenia and Persia. “Georgia is a country graced with ancient civilization and rich culture. Its

uniqueness is most vividly expressed through centuries-old dances and polyphony songs, ” Tamaz Orashvili, organizer of the festival, told GEORGIA TODAY. “Along with traditional culture, the contemporary dance floor has started flourishing and reaching new heights, thanks to the Tbilisi clubs and the youth who took techno music as a tool of protest. This energy spread across Georgia’s urban environment and eventually resulted in the emergence of authentic clubbing locales. The idea behind GR Fest is reviving a historic place of Georgia and telling stories through music and dance. We selected Petra Fortress for this event since our festival, besides an entertaining function, also carries cultural and educational missions,” he said. People behind the project are ravers and electronic music enthusiasts who are eager to create contemporary music spots in the regions of Georgia. “The festival is being held for the first time and its primary mission is to develop cultural life in the regions and fully present the history of Georgia,” GR Fest reps told us. “We have a desire to establish this festival as an annual tradition. We are actively working to meet the expectations of our guests. The territory is being decorated and arranged at its best. Apart from good music and an exciting environment, the festival enables people to visit a historic place as well as see a 3D exhibition by young artists. Our team takes this project and its role in carrying out this festival with great responsibility. We, together with the Cultural Heritage Preservation Agency of Ajara, have put significant effort towards safety on the territory. The area is able to host

3000 people, so we are looking forward to welcoming music enthusiasts and ravers.”

GR FEST LINEUP NEWA- an outstanding representative of electronic music and an important figure of local clubbing scene, she is the first female to release her music on Ben Klock’s label Klockworks. NEWA has performed in the top clubs and festivals around the globe. ZAPA’s music incorporates many genres, from house to techno. His tracks are characterized with deep house harmony and energetic techno-house sounds. Kavel is a solo project by Nika Kavelashvili created in 2017. The artist started DJing five years ago and at present is

already considered a respectable representative of Georgia’s dance scene. Yanamste is a DJ who earned fame in a very short period. His set ‘Odium’ for the Hayes label brought him immense recognition. Matrixxman opened Dekmantel Festival with his set. He has performed side by side with DVS1, Psyk, Lucy and many others. Boyd Schidt has been a local electronic music representative since 2000. He is most noted for his projects Greenbeam and Leon. GIORGI DEVADZE is an independent artist and author of underground movement ‘Clime’. His DJ set mainly includes ambient and techno elements. His music was influenced by American musician Mike Parker.

FABRIZIO LAPIANA is a well-known fixture on the contemporary Italian techno scene. His musical career started in his hometown Rome where he began collecting vinyl and DJing in the early 90s. Lapiana’s latest achievement as a composer is his debut album ‘Intraverso’ released in February 2018. With this collection of nine songs, the artist departs from his previously dancefloor-focused work into something new and far more personal, unraveling light, darkness, happiness and sadness. Online tickets are available at https://tkt. g e / E v e n t / 1 9 8 8 2 9 / g r fest?fbclid=IwAR2UW9qH2UE8YHyu8-Y7IyezFi3lhd5knZ2uFm1seneMSSv3PM5NxCu3E4.

The International Folk Festival BY NINI DAKHUNDARIDZE


he International Folk Festival is set to kick off for the third time in Georgia. Under the scope of the government’s Check in Georgia program, the Black Sea Arena is to host the annual cultural event on September 7-9. The music celebration will be opened on the 7th with united concerts of Georgian and European ensembles. Folk singers and dance ensembles from Georgia and abroad will be presented to listeners in Shekvetili. The festival follows perfectly Georgia’s reputation for preserving cultural heritage. This time round, the International Folk Festival features representatives of even more countries: France (Corsica) will be presented by Spartimu and Italy (Sardinia) by the Castelsardo ensemble. Georgia will be introduced to the Black Sea audience by the following performers: Bermukha (Ajara); Shilda (Kakheti); Trio ‘Shalva Chemo’ (Guria); Riho (Svaneti); Basiani and Kartuli Khmebi (Tbilisi); The State Song and Dance Ensemble of Kutaisi; Enver Khabadze

State Choreographic Ensemble ‘Batumi.’ On July 30, a press conference was held in the garden of the Folklore Center, attended by the Executive Director of the Folklore Center, Giorgi Donadze, Head of Black Sea Arena, Tato Kharchilava



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Editor-In-Chief: Katie Ruth Davies

and Director Nikoloz Heine-Shvelidze. The festival aims to support the popularization and preservation of Georgian folklore. Georgia, the homeland of polyphony and ever better-known for its extraordinary traditions and its peo-

Journalists: Tony Hanmer, Zaza Jgarkava, Maka Bibilashvili, Dimitri Dolaberidze, Vazha Tavberidze, Nugzar B. Ruhadze, Samantha Guthrie, Amy Jones, Thea Morrison, Ana Dumbadze, Ketevan Kvaratskheliya Photographer: Irakli Dolidze

ple’s outstanding ability to sing and dance, in September is grabbing the opportunity to host other nations with equally important traditions of different styles of folk music. With numerous emerging musical genres, it is important

Website Manager/Editor: Katie Ruth Davies Layout: Misha Mchedlishvili Webmaster: Sergey Gevenov Circulation Managers: David Kerdikashvili, David Djandjgava

to remember where it all started. That is why Georgia is ambitious to make its own land the location of an annual meet up for Georgian and worldwide folk music. When done at the Black Sea Arena, the festival will carry on, traveling to the mountainous region of Racha, where united concerts of Georgian and European ensembles will be performed in Oni and Ambrolauri. This time, Georgia will be presented by ensembles Pesvebi from Adjara, Shilda from Kakheti, Shalva Chemo from Guria, Iavnana, Sagalobeli, Racha, Salaghobo from Lechkhumi, Lile, Lagusheda from Kvemo Svaneti, Dziriani, and Basiani from Tbilisi. The closing performance of the festival will be given by Georgian Ethno Jazz group ‘Egari’. The continuation of the International Folk Festival scheduled in Racha will also feature four foreign ensembles. “Spartimu” from France, “Castelsardo” from Italy, “Koniakow” from Poland, and “Ackups” from Latvia. Seminars will be led by famous ethnomusicologists Polo Vallejo and Renato Morelli. For foreign and local guests, masterclasses will be given by Giorgi Donadze, Levan Berelidze and Professor Natalia Zumbadze. Tickets will be available on tkt.ge.


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Profile for Georgia Today

Issue #1173  

August 2 - 5, 2019

Issue #1173  

August 2 - 5, 2019