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Issue no: 1191



In this week’s issue... How to Put the Fire Out? The EU’s Changing Approach to Eastern European Societies NEWS PAGE 2

Georgia's Military "Ready for NATO" - Former US General Praises Army’s Capacity & “Absolutely Superior” Soldiers


ON GIYA KANCHELI The passing of a maestro leaves Georgia in mourning


Image source: OK! Magazine Georgia

Tbilisi Taxi Reform: Will It Work?

Batumi Hosts 5th North Atlantic Council Meeting POLITICS PAGE 6

Kerten Hospitality’s CEO Marloes Knippenberg Shares Plans for Footprint Expansion in Georgia



n the summer of 2019, Tbilisi City Hall came up with a new initiative that was soon made into a reform, with deadlines in August and then October concerning taxi drivers and passengers. The new reform that was ruled in summer and put into full operation on October 1 aimed to raise the quality of taxi service to make it safer and more aesthetically pleasing. All 31,784 drivers who are licensed to drive taxis in Tbilisi had to have their cars pass technical checks. If they did, they were given free vouchers to paint their cabs white. Back in August, Giorgi Trapaidze, the director LTD “Almas,” the winner of the bidding for the respraying service, said that of the 31,784 (as suggested by the latest data) taxi license owners 7,994 had taken the vouchers and 2,610 had cashed them. The citizens of Tbilisi were told in August that October 1 would mark a new epoch seeing all taxi drivers with a taxi license driving left-hand, white, five-door cars that had successfully passed technical checks. The second phase of the taxi reform broke down the taxi cabs into two categories: A and B. Category A taxi cabs must be white. These



Varia(n)(t)ions on a Theme SOCIETY PAGE 7

Image source: southamptontaxis.org

taxis can take passengers from the street or work to order. Category A cabs are allowed to park free in different parts of the capital. Taxi drivers who fall under this category can put up promotional banners on their cars. Category B taxi cabs only work to order. Many details regarding this category are still unclear. Vice Mayor Irakli Khmaladze reported to the press on October 1 that only 24% of the cabs are in the A category. The categorization of the remaining cabs is ongoing, he told the media. “30% of the 26,000 licensed taxi cabs could not pass the minimal standard test. 30% is a big number,” said Khmaladze. “But over the next few days it will still be possible to get permits.” Meanwhile, the new taxi reform raised ever-

growing suspicion and anxiety in Georgian society and more so among the members of different political parties, the opposition agreeing that the reform was “unnecessary.” Giorgi Gabashvili (European Georgia) demanded the annulment of the taxi reform, calling it “snobbish.” “People have the right to choose the color, shape, and condition of the car that they ride in,” said Gabashvili, speaking for both the drivers and passengers. He claims the new reform will complicate the process of making the ends meet for Tbilisi habitants as many of them are no longer able to work as taxi drivers and if they risk it still, they may end up with a 200 GEL fine in their hands. Continued on page 2

Discover Gastronomic Treasures at Gorgasali Restaurant CULTURE PAGE 9

Tbilisi National Ballet to Revive the Danish Ballet “Natalie” CULTURE PAGE 11




OCTOBER 4 - 7, 2019

Russian Artillery Holds Exercises in Breakaway Abkhazian Mountains BY TEA MARIAMIDZE


ussian artillery from the military base located in Georgia’s breakaway Abkhazia held a live-fire exercise on mountainous and coastal terrain in the region on Wednesday. The information was released by both Russian and Abkhazian media outlets. "The artillery units performed a livefire exercise using self-propelled Akatsiya artillery guns, Sani mortars and D-30 howitzers against targets at distances of up to 15km that simulated an adversary’s armor, command posts and infantry amassments,” the statement of the Southern Military District reads. It added that the troops held more than ten live-fire exercises, of which half were

conducted at night. The statement underlined that all the exercises were held in tactical fields equipped with modern technical means that allow the simulation of a war environment. Military cooperation between Russia and occupied Abkhazia was fully launched after Russia recognized Abkhazia and the other breakaway region of Georgia, South Ossetia, as independent states in the wake of the August War 2008. After the war, which left 20% of the Georgian territory occupied by Russia, Russia set up military bases in these regions and deployed its troops there. In addition to this, Russian President Vladimir Putin promised de facto Abkhazian President Raul Khajimba he would protect the “republic’s” safety and security. In a letter sent to the self-declared president, where Putin congratulated

Khajimba on the anniversary of “the Independence Day of Abkhazia,” the Russian President noted that “relations between the two countries on the basis of the principles of alliance and strategic partnership are developing dynamically.” “I would like to assure you that Russia will continue to assist in ensuring Abkhazia's national security as well as in resolving socio-economic issues,” Putin said in a statement. A week before that, Putin ordered the signing of an agreement to allocate funds to modernize breakaway Abkhazia’s armed forces. An executive order was published on the legal information website last Monday. To note, the so called legal framework of bilateral cooperation between Russia and occupied Abkhazia includes more than 100 bilateraldocumentsatvariouslevels,including the fundamental “Treaty of Friendship,

CooperationandMutualAssistance”signed on September 17, 2008 and the “Treaty of Alliance and Strategic Partnership” on November 24, 2014, that envisages creation of a joint force of troops from both sides. In addition to this, Russia has traditionally been a key trading partner of breakaway Abkhazia and amounts to 74.5% of the total foreign trade turnover of the republic. In 2018, Russia's trade with occupied Abkhazia amounted to $258.6 million, including Russian exports, $192.4 million, and imports, $66.2 million. According to the results of January-March 2019, the volume of mutual trade turnover amounted to $49.9 million, including Russian exports at $38.9 million and imports at $10.9 million. The de facto Abkhazian regime claims that a draft federal budget for 2020–2022 has been submitted to the State Duma

of Russia, which takes into account funds for the provision of socio-economic assistance to occupied Abkhazia and South Ossetia. “For cooperation with Abkhazia, Russia will allocate 1.7 billion Russian Rubles ($26.001 mln) in 2020, 1.9 billion ($29.501 mln) in 2021, and 249 million Rubles ($3.808 mln) in 2022. It has also been proposed to allocate 1.5 billion Rubles ($22.935 mln) to assist South Ossetia in 2020, 1.7 billion ($26.001 mln) in 2021, and 163 million ($2.492 mln) in 2020,” Abkhazian media reports. Occupied Abkhazia and South Ossetia are only recognized by Russia, Venezuela, Nicaragua, Nauru and Syria. The rest of international society says Abkhazia and South Ossetia are parts of Georgia and call on Russia to fulfill the terms of the 2008 ceasefire agreement and withdraw its forces from the breakaway territories.

How to Put the Fire Out? The EU’s Changing Approach to Eastern European Societies BY LORRAINE VANEY


n October 1, the Tbilisi State University hosted the first EU-LISTCO event, organized by the Georgian Institute of Politics. Through exchanges with leading universities and think tanks, EU-LISTCO aims to develop policy recommendations for the EU’s external action toolbox, focusing on investigating the shortcomings of European foreign policy in the EU neighborhood, years after the development of the Eastern Partnership. The starting point of this new EU approach is the acknowledgment that the European Neighborhood Policy has failed in its mission to build a ring of stable and

prosperous friends around the EU. Eastern European countries remain tangled up in violent conflicts, political failure, and are still vulnerable to external threats. It is even more worrisome that these shortcomings in relations between the EU and its Eastern partners are happening in a global context of contestation of the international liberal order, weakening the landmarks and orientation originally set by the EU and US themselves. The October 1 public lecture opened with this concerning state of affairs and questioned how the EU can best support the three frontline EaP states in fostering societies resilient to domestic and external threats. The panel was composed of prominent European scholars, diplomats and local stakeholders from Georgia, Ukraine, and Poland. EU-LISTCO diagnoses that the key

risks in both the EU and in its neighborhood have to do with limited statehood and contested orders, or in other words, conflicts over how to organize domestic, regional and international politics. At the core of this issue is a defiance towards political liberalism and multilateralism by China, Russia, some countries in the EU and Trump’s USA, which all are important partners for Georgia’s political and economic development. In front of this concerning picture, the German Ambassador H.E Huber Knirsch reassured that US and EU diplomats are working closely to be coherent in their approach to Georgia, regardless of their political difference at the national level. Nevertheless, the issue of the European integration of Georgia is specific to the EU, especially now that the limit of the Eastern Partnership has been reached,

Image source: GIP

a fact being widely discussed among scholars and local stakeholders. “The risk is creating defiance and fatigue if the EU is not seen to be making gradual commitments to maintaining trust in Georgia,” said Prof. Dr. Tanja A. Börzel, Chairwomen for European Integration at the Freie Universität Berlin. “It requires thinking about a different institutional framework to foster resilience about principles and human rights, not solely about trade, economic develop-

ment, and security,” she added. The panel argued that EaP countries need to think about Europeanization beyond the EU itself, in terms of values and political orientation, since the EaP does not offer many options in this regard. In Georgia, it boils down to the growing political polarization which certainly plays against the social cohesion and capacity to resist Russian threats, which go beyond security and territorial integrity. Continued on page 3



End of an Era: Giya Kancheli, Legendary Composer, Passes Away



ged 84, the world-renowned legendary Georgian composer Giya Kancheli passed away on October 2, following an illness he had been suffering for the past few years. The Georgian maestro was distinguished for his deep and breathtaking musical compositions which were able to transport listeners to a completely different universe, as well as change their mood and enable them ‘travel’ to various dimensions. Giya Kancheli launched a totally new epoch in the field of music and presented Georgia to the rest of the world from a new perspective. A number of Kancheli’s creations have accompanied some of the most iconic Georgian films, leaving an unforgettable footprint in the native cinematography that maintains its popularity even decades later. His works also beautified various theater plays of equally great Georgian directors. Yet Georgia was not the limit of Kancheli’s success, as, through his

talent and mesmerizing compositions, he obtained recognition on the international stage worldwide. His naming as among the three greatest film composers, along with prominent Ennio Morricone and Nino Rota, is certainly the best proof of the fact. Alongside his talent, Kancheli was also outstanding for his interesting personality. In one interview, the maestro recalled memories of the past, noting that, taking into account his successful career and the opportunity to work with the most brilliant professionals in the field, his having witnessed his music played in the most famous venues worldwide, he had lived a happy life. But when asked about the sad flow of his music, Kancheli stated. “I write tragic music, regardless of my happy life, as everything that is happening in my homeland, as well as in the entire world, has never given me the right to write music of another kind.” Yet another distinctive feature of Kancheli’s music is that it is loved by all, regardless of age, nationality or profession. Through the death of the great Georgian maestro, Georgia is experiencing a huge loss and the true end of an era.

Tbilisi Taxi Reform: Will It Work? Continued from page 1 Zurab Japaridze, the leader of the Girchi party, well-known for his creative, often even rebellious ideas, on October 1, took to the streets to test the new taxi reform, driving around the city in a grey car with a taxi sign- his aim being to show that the reforms are not being reinforced and are as such, unnecessary. “I am interested in just how this reform works,” he said in a Facebook live video. “…just who administrates this new regulation? Is it the police? Is it Tbilisi City Hall’s special cars?” He went on to say that "these sorts of regulations violate the right to personal choice" and added that the new regula-

tion would raise the price of taxi services, which, according to him, are the cheapest not only in the region but in the world. The Vice Mayor answered this social protest, on October 2, telling press that the government did not plan on canceling the fines of citizens who got tickets for taxi driving in uncategorized cars. He said that as the taxi drivers had been warned numerous times that the new reform would be put into operation from October 1, the ruling party did not see reason for any exceptions. As time goes by, we will see how society takes to the reform, what it will improve and what, or who, it will harm. But the question remains: will it really work? And if so, will it be worth it?

How to Put the Fire Out? The EU’s Changing Approach to Eastern European Societies Continued from page 2 Indeed, Dr. Agnieszka Legucka from the Polish Institute of International Affairs notes that the securitization of the problems of the European eastern neighborhood makes Russia a geopolitical opponent to the US and the EU, limiting both the analysis and the solutions. The threats posed to Georgia by the Kremlin are also a matter of disinformation, propaganda and social division over values and principles. Ultimately, assessing the European identity of Georgia and drawing on what unites society and the political parties, rather than what separates them, is the formula proposed by

experts to build resilience. Although the diagnosis of the global and regional situation was very well drawn, the panel did not propose concrete solutions on how to build social cohesion in a country that is entering a crucial election year. Moreover, they noted that issues of social resilience, limited statehood, and contested orders are a global problem that eventually weakens the international order, rather than a Georgian problem solely, which makes it even more complicated to solve. If the EU-LISTCO aims at providing policy recommendations that will answer to the shortcomings of the EU foreign policy, it may have to be more specific.





OCTOBER 4 - 7, 2019

Georgia's Military "Ready for NATO" - Former US General Praises Army’s Capacity & “Absolutely Superior” Soldiers their minds is tied to what I said to you a few minutes ago; I think that what we see in Russia now is not permanent and change will come and hopefully it will all change in a way that allows us to get along better.



s Georgia debates expanding its military capacity, progress towards NATO membership appears as slow as ever. Former United States Air Force four-star general Philip Breedlove, who served as a commander of NATO Allied Command Operations, remains a staunch proponent of eastward enlargement. Currently a board member at the Atlantic Council, Breedlove spoke to GEORGIA TODAY and IWPR at the 5th Annual Tbilisi International Conference, organized The McCain Institute and the Economic Policy Research Center (EPRC), and explained why he believes Georgia is militarily ready to join the Alliance.

BUT WHAT IF WE DON'T LAST UNTIL THEN? WHAT IF SOMETHING HAPPENS? Well, let's all agree that we don't want to provoke that something. Let's all agree that that something already happened, they invaded, 20% of your land is occupied by Russia. So, what we don't want is that next bad step and I think that that is the art, not the science, of how we move forward. How do we allow your nation its right to make its only sovereign decision about whom to be affiliated with? How we move forward without provoking Russia?

OUR NEW DEFENSE MINISTER SAID WE SHOULD PRODUCE EVERY KIND OF WEAPONRY, EXCEPT NUCLEAR. WHAT'S GEORGIA’S CAPACITY TO ACHIEVE SOMETHING IN THIS FIELD? Many times when I was still in the service, I spoke with smaller nations and most small nations do not have the economy, the money, the budget to have all the weaponry that some larger nations have. That said, I would never tell a sovereign nation what to do and what not to do, but what I would suggest is that Georgia has already demonstrated that there are some things it does extremely well. It’s infantry soldiers in Afghanistan were absolutely superior, they came and worked alongside our US forces with no caveats; they would go anywhere and do anything that the Americans did and they were brave and capable soldiers. And so what I would choose is some of those niche capabilities that are things near to what you are already doing, increase capability in your infantry, maybe mechanized… as opposed to more grandiose.


WHO IN A SANE MIND WOULD TRY TO PROVOKE RUSSIA? Fair enough, this is a question I've always asked others too. We in the West tend to say we don’t want to provoke Russia - then I bring up Georgia, Crimea, Donbass, Syria; my question is when we are going to get provoked?


Philip Breedlove, former commander of NATO Allied Command Operations

but what I have always said about my United States Air Force: it's the airmen that make us better than anybody else. It's not our equipment but the training and the skill, independent decisionmaking that we build into our soldiers, sailors, airmen, marines, that's what makes the United States military different from others. You can have two airplanes of similar capability fighting each other, it will be the better pilot that wins the fight. In my mind it's truly the soldier, the sailor, the airman, the marine.

BUT WHEN IT’S RUSSIA VERSUS GEORGIA, IT’S NOT EVEN A 300 SPARTANS SCENARIO [AGAINST OVERWHELMING ODDS], IS IT? That’s correct. This is a big difference in capacity and that is worrisome. What I saw from the Georgian soldiers in Afghanistan they can hold their ground. But it is not only capability in Georgia versus Russia, it’s capacity… I believe the Alliance is the answer to that question. We have 29 nations in NATO. We

have some pretty small countries coming but they enjoy the benefit of being in a larger military force with a focus on collective defense and so for a small nation that has great pride and great capability but small capacity, that alliance framework is really important.

WE'VE BEEN SHUFFLING OUR FEET IN FRONT OF THAT OPEN DOOR OF THE ALLIANCE FOR QUITE A LONG TIME. WHAT DOES IT TAKE TO STEP IN? You won’t like my answer. From a military perspective, Georgia has met every criteria and has demonstrated its willingness and capability and it has supported NATO operations: there is nothing militarily holding Georgia short. More than that – if you do the math, on a per capita basis, based on your size Georgia gave more soldiers to the Afghan operation than anyone and Georgia lost more soldiers on a per capita basis. I think that your country has shown that it is a good and reliable partner to again take all concerns off the table about

Georgia's military readiness for the alliance. So, it's all about the politics, those who are worried that Russian soldiers occupied this territory.

IS IT SUCH A HUGE DETERRENT THAT UNLESS THE CONFLICTS ARE SOLVED, THERE’S NO TANGIBLE HOPE FOR GEORGIA TO ENTER THE ALLIANCE? I think the situation in Russia is going to change. We should remain optimistic. Georgia needs to remain ready in both a military and political sense. Militarily, Georgia has already met all my expectations; politically, there are some obstacles to overcome because of the occupied lands. What I would say to Georgians is keep working on your democracy: don’t give any nation in NATO concern about that.


Very seldom have I been given any sort of credible answer to that question, regrettably.

ONE CONCRETE EXAMPLE OF KREMLIN PROVOCATION IS THE ONGOING OCCUPATION IN GEORGIA. IF YOU WERE IN CHARGE OF DEFENSE, WOULD YOU SAY THERE WAS ANY ROOM TO MANEUVER FOR GEORGIA? Georgia's territory is incredibly important to Georgia, it's incredibly important to some of its allies like the United States and others. If Georgia chooses to militarily oppose borderization and Georgia is all in, and Russia has already demonstrated that it is all in, I think that while it sounds terribly defeatist, I don't think the answer right now is military confrontation. The answer is, I think, for all the countries of West to stand up and say this is unacceptable… I think that there's a big difference between a proclamation and really enforcing condemnation. We really need to put a shift in.

Yay or Nay to Russian-Georgian Dialogue? OP-ED BY NUGZAR B. RUHADZE


ey folks, is there anyone out there who can confidently agree that the Russian-Georgian dialogue, even though not a terribly constructive one, might do some good to the concerned parties, especially to Georgia? Is anybody smart and qualified enough to prove to the world that dialogue is better than obstinately sitting in the painfully uncomfortable saddle of nonspeaking terms? OK, granted, Russia is an insatiable occupant who either openly or stealthily encroaches on our Georgian lands, but she also is a neighbor, and a very strong one at that, and mean and spiteful too! Russia is arrogantly belligerent, but her territory is intact as it has always been historically: Georgia is beaten up and torn apart as our past has always had it. Russia has taken and keeps grabbing our lands and we can’t stop it. We are not strong enough to defy Russia’s imperial endeavor. Russia may someday roll its tanks and machine-guns into our territory and we will most probably sit and watch it happen. And if this happens, the western powers will probably keep

mum, or in the best case, will warn us against resorting to force, diligently recommending to use only a diplomatic tongue for saving our souls. And if this precious piece of the standard western advice is not followed by the Georgian side, war may follow. And the war theater is definitely going to be our territory. So who should be more interested in dialogue – Georgia or Russia? Pe r s o n a l ly, I strongly suspect that Georgia not only needs a dialogue with Russia but simply can’t continue living without it. I have also heard that membership in NATO might be the way out for Georgia in the dismal cul-de-sac which has slowed the country’s normal development for quite a while. Yes, I might nod willingly to that version of solving Georgia’s endless problems, but at what expense? The

price is going to be a final farewell to the lost lands that seemed to have been only temporarily lost up to now, but if Georgia finds itself under the bulletproof NATO umbrella, the idea of territorial integrity, equal to the most powerful national idea of freedom and independence, might evaporate forthwith and forever. So what to do? Talk, talk and talk again! Talk with Russia! Talk does not mean capitulation. Talks might contain the potential of a solution. It may not contain anything vital right now, but talking means movement, and movement is better than stagnation. Even the West and the entire international community are telling us to talk to Russia even though she is an invader of our lands, because not talking means keeping the murky status quo untouched for another hundred years, if not longer.

It is we who has a territorial problem, not Russia. Russia can sit back quiet and happy, and watch us with imperial calm and conceit, and nothing will happen to her. Conversely, Georgia may get totally depleted of the remaining national energy and economic power because living with that big pain in heart and sense of inferiority in mind, only the country’s impotence for survival will grow, not its strength for reaching the other side of the ominously muddy river. Where is the mischief in talks? In what way can it harm Georgia? Is it a case of national humiliation? Are we losing our ties with NATO and EU? Would that mean going back to the USSR? Could it see Russia imposing all over again its habitual imperial power on our motherland? Will it threaten our statehood and independence? This could all be true to a certain extent but trying to talk does not mean succumbing. Talking would only mean making an attempt to change something. I am not a naïve believer in Russian love and benevolence for Georgia, but I believe in movement, not in languish. This way or that way, saying Nay to Russian-Georgian dialogue will never be productive, although just as unproductive might be saying Yay, but this will at least give us a chance to declare loudly that we have tried!




OCTOBER 4 - 7, 2019



month will soon pass since the former Secretary General of NATO, Anders FoghRasmussen made THAT statement about a path Georgia might have to use to sneak into the doors of NATO, that is, agreeing to a condition that the Article 5, on collective security and defense, will not cover the occupied territories until they are back under the control of the Georgian government. The statement proved to be rather divisive: some claimed Rasmussen, alongside fellow conspirator Luke Coffey and the proverbial West in general, wanted Georgia to forsake Abkhazia and South Ossetia, while others claimed that this proposal would be the cure to the many ills the country is suffering and we should pursue it posthaste. What Rasmussen in fact did was offer-

ing us a chance to discuss this scenario, that Georgia would follow the example of the so-called German model. It doesn’t necessarily dictate that the Georgian and German cases are identical and would produce similar outcomes. What’s lamentable is that we did anything except discuss, instead partaking in that cherished Georgian pastime of throwing mud at whoever said things we might find disagreeable. Time is in short supply: The NATO Summit in London is fast approaching, while we are busy ignoring perhaps the most realistic formula for our eventual membership. After the initial outcry, the government decided that mum was the word too, promptly followed by the opposition and so-called experts. Peculiar, really, given that as late as on 10th September all three were eager to start discussions on the matter. The German model isn’t the only one Rasmussen put on table: Earlier, in April, he opined that Georgia might have opted for a Cyprus model as its strategy to achieve NATO membership, although the island state in question dealt with a EU membership dilemma. Obviously,

neither Cyprus nor Georgia’s cases are identical, although one could find a plethora of aspects and lessons that would prove beneficial for our cause. A hybrid between a German-Cyprus model might have cut it, if only we dealt with the stumbling block: started a dialogue about this issue with the Alliance. The London Summit is at the doorstep and

we have not the faintest idea what our mission is there and what we’d like to bring back. In recent days, the Georgian press has published interviews with high-ranked American militaries, Generals Philip Breedlove and Ben Hodges, both having served a distinguished career in NATO forces. Both underlined that, militarily,

Georgia is ready to enter NATO. Hodges, being the more outspoken of the two, stressed that neither Alliance nor Official Tbilisi should allow Russia to define Georgia’s future. He went further, saying the government should be more active in it’s quest for NATO membership, not giving anyone the impression this is not their chief priority. Now the sceptics might say that, not unlike Rasmussen, both of these generals have retired from service. What they need to be told is that the authority and contacts of former high-level officials do not evaporate overnight. Their influence very much remains, their word carries weight and it would be foolish not to use the help provided from any such friends, whether acting or former, to further Georgia’s NATO cause.

Batumi Hosts 5th North Atlantic Council Meeting BY ANA DUMBADZE


n October 3-4, Georgia’s coastal city of Batumi is hosting the 5th North Atlantic Council Meeting, which is unprecedented as the Council has never held meetings in a partner nation, the Georgian Foreign Ministry said. The North Atlantic Council (NAC), which is the principal political decision-

making body of NATO, is paying a visit to Georgia at the invitation of the local government. Deputy Secretary-General of NATO Rose Gottemoeller is heading the delegation comprised of Permanent Representatives of the 29 Member States of the Alliance. Within the framework of the visit, the NATO-Georgia Commission will hold a meeting chaired by the Prime Minister of Georgia and the Deputy SecretaryGeneral of NATO. The North Atlantic Committee and the

Deputy Secretary-General of NATO, for her part, will hold bilateral meetings with the President of Georgia, Prime Minister, Chairman and officials of the Georgian Government. Meetings will be conducted with representatives of the non-governmental sector. The North Atlantic Council will visit two Georgian coast guard vessels in the Batumi Port. On the sidelines of the visit, the Deputy Secretary-General of NATO will deliver a lecture at the Batumi State University that is highly important in terms of increasing awareness and involvement

of students, the young generation. The Chairman of the Ajara Government will also speak before the attending audience. Within the frames of the visit, discussions will focus on all issues relating to Georgia’s membership of the Alliance with a special accent on the political dialogue between NATO and Georgia and on the need to further deepen the practical cooperation, including in terms of strengthening Black Sea security. “The NAC is paying its fifth visit to Georgia, which is unprecedented in the history of Georgia’s cooperation with

the Council’s partner countries and is clear evidence of the successively increasing level of relations and intense cooperation between Georgia and the Alliance. “Georgia, as one of the most devoted and interoperable partners of NATO, attaches paramount importance to this visit of the North Atlantic Council and its unconditional political support for Georgia’s membership of the Alliance that provides yet further proof of the irreversibility of Georgia’s NATO integration process,” the MFA Georgia said.

munity to be able to launch something different and yet familiar to them. The next challenge is that even while being unique, you still need to stay a part of something bigger,” says Knippenberg.

destination management. Infrastructure is of crucial importance and there are still some challenges in this regards countrywide. But, if these are overcome, I think in terms of international interest, Georgia’s potential to become a regional leader is huge.” Georgia Today were interested to discover whether the Georgian branch of The House Hotel will have any countryspecific features, or if it will follow the strict frames of the brand. “There will be no strict frames. The project will definitely have local ‘injections’. We really want to collaborate with the local artists and suppliers to bring an authentic Georgian air.” Finally, we ased Knippenberg if she expects Kerten Hospitality’s brands to establish themselves on the Georgian market as a new and innovative statement. “Absolutely,” she tells us with a smile.


Kerten Hospitality’s CEO Marloes Knippenberg Shares Plans for Footprint Expansion in Georgia BY KETEVAN KVARATSKHELIYA


erten Hospitality, one of the most successful companies operating in the hospitality industry who have entered the Georgian market with 3 hospitality projects till date, hosted a gourmet lunch in Tbilisi on September 25th. Hosted by Marloes Knippenberg, CEO of Kerten Hospitality, the culinary feast was prepared by Michelin Star Chef Jaume Puigdengolas who is the Executive Chef of Kerten Hospitality. Antony Doucet, Brand, Marketing and Community Director of Kerten Hospitality was also on hand for the occasion. Guests were taken on a culinary journey with an incredible set of specialties cooked to perfection, completed by the mouthwatering San Sebastian Cheesecake. Prior to the start of the gastronomic adventure, GEORGIA TODAY sat down with Ms. Knippenberg and found out more about the company’s history and expansion plans for Georgia. “Kerten Hospitality started with just one brand in one country, The House Hotel. And then we had to decide what to do next,” she says. Knippenberg’s many years of experience living in different countries pointed out at the potential opportunities Eastwards – a perfect destination for expanding the global footprint of the company. “That is how we started exploring opportunities in this part of the world. In Georgia, at the starting point of negotiations nearly three years ago, the country’s market was mostly dominated by the big international hotel chains, but

there was some interesting movement going on. Since then, Georgia’s hospitality industry has undergone major shifts, with a number of remarkable hotel brands launched in the market making the country even more attractive. Knippenberg also highlighted the recent changes in visa and tax regulations, as contributors to promoting Georgia’s popularity in terms of it becoming a go-to destination.

market does not have yet and something that compliments what’s already going on here,” she says, adding that Kerten Hospitality does not aim to compete but to launch a different market segment. Even before the launch of the hotel and food outlets, Chef Jaume started mentoring a young talented student from a Georgian cooking school who, at the age of 18, is already gearing up to run the restaurant on site after the opening next year – an initiative Kerten Hospitality has embraced to give back to the community.



Knippenberg has introduced the three development projects, outlining their main distinctive features. One of the group’s projects is a luxury boutique hotel located in a historical building of Old Tbilisi, is to boast 17 rooms painted by a Georgian artist in a bid to preserve the historical style of the building and is to open its doors to visitors in March next year. The group’s second project, The House Hotel and The House Residence project in the Vake district of the Georgian capital is a mixed-use project. It will feature an innovative concept integrating 53 room keys and Ouspace, an upscale food hall, serviced offices and co-working areas, as well as food and beverage facilities, thus turning the area into a lifestyle destination. “By introducing a mixed-used project, we are creating a destination for a working as well as leisure-seeking audience. When you travel, you want to meet people from the local community, but not necessarily just to hang out: you may also establish business communication with them. Through this project, we wanted to create something that the

The third major project is situated in the picturesque region Kakheti. Introducing this project, Ms. Knippenberg sounds enthusiastic since it supports the cultural environment with its art gallery and a collection of modern art. Alongside its 76 rooms, The House Hotel Kakheti will appeal to art aficionados for its Contemporary Art Museum Status, offering a retreat space for entertainment in the adjacent Vineyard. “If you look at such projects, it is the right time in Georgia. It’s part luck, part opportunity, as well as a vision.” The boutique hotel is set to be very different from the big international chain hotels in both concept and style of management. We asked the CEO about the major challenges of establishing a boutique hotel and chartering a new path in this direction. “The challenges of doing something boutique is that you cannot take a brand and work on it. You need to work incredibly hard to bring something new to life. It is equally difficult to create a team of professionals, and you always need to create a connection with the local com-

WHAT MAKES KERTEN HOSPITALITY’S PORTFOLIO OF BRANDS STANDOUT? “What makes us really different is that we have mixed-use projects, which bring together diverse opportunities and meet owners and guests’ needs and no other operator has addressed this at the moment,” she says. Georgia is sparing no effort to become a regional hub in various fields, including economy and education. We asked Ms. Knippenberg to share her views regarding the country’s prospects in terms of becoming a regional leader in the hospitality industry. “Georgia has done a fantastic job in




Varia(n)(t)ions on a Theme BLOG BY TONY HANMER


erhaps not many countries in the world can name a specific figure, complete with all necessary biographic details from birth to death, as the founder of their entire educational system. Georgia, while certainly having had others in a chain of centuries leading up to this person, can supply all the information you need about him and thus give him his properly deserved place in its history. An old friend of mine lives in the village of Variani, near Gori, and is himself an English teacher. Meeting me for the first time in some years for a delightful reunion, he also took me to the house where Iakob Gogebashvili was born in 1840, now enlarged and turned into a busy museum dedicated to him. Outside, willows hang their branches over a natural trout pond, and the brick and stone Orthodox church where his father was a deacon is next door. Although I have lived in Georgia for 20 years now and have known who the man was for most of that time, I had never known where he actually came from. Gogebashvili was a giant in the educational development of his country and its language, in a time when it was still part of the Russian Empire which had absorbed it in the beginning of the 19th century, including making its schooling take place in Russian. He wrote the original version of “deda ena” (Mother Tongue), the first primer on the Georgian language for children, still used to this day all countrywide, and displayed there in its original edition along with many other treasures. The book opens with the nicely palindromic “ai ia” (Here is a violet) and goes on from there to include the whole unique precious Georgian alphabet as a starting point. Deda Ena Day is still celebrated annually in Georgia, especially in its schools, which owe their entire existence to this one man and his passion to see them begun. There are many beautiful paintings on the museum’s walls illustrating scenes from the stories he told and wrote as part of teaching, and also of him opening schools; a full-scale mockup of his first classroom; letters of correspondence between him and other famous personages of his day such as

Tsereteli, Chavchavadze, Paliashivili and others; and rooms with many of his own belongings in copies of their native settings. Gogebashvili died unmarried and childless, and not rich either. The land that he owned in Tbilisi is where Ilia State University, Georgia’s main postsecondary institute for many decades, had its starting point. I was inspired to remark to our guide that he was in any case a father to all the children of Georgia from his time forward and including all future generations, through his tireless work to see

them educated in all ways to help them enter adulthood and their world ready to face its challenges. We also heard that as many as 100 groups a day from across the country visit the museum during its high season, to learn who gave them the three Rs (reading, writing and ‘rithmetic); and even in its low season, at least a group a day comes in. My hope is that this will continue, and that all schoolchildren in the country will have the opportunity not only to hear or read of him but also to come here in person, soak up the atmosphere, and be

encouraged to persevere with their own studies, in whatever subjects are necessary, to become all that their gifts have for them. 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

Life Fest 2019 Closes Its 5th Edition

Tasting 6 different types of Georgian wine



n September 30, Monk Andrew’s Charity Foundation, which has been running a great number of initiatives to support children suffering from cancer, hosted yet another event on the closing of the 5th edition of the Life Fest at the Biltmore Tbilisi Hotel, bringing together the representatives of government and business sectors, as well as media. The initiative is the analogue of the American CureFest, also fighting childhood cancer and sparing no effort to increase public awareness of the case. Within the scope of the Life Fest, the foundation organizes a number of entertaining and interesting events, seeing the members of different companies and organizations engaging in various activities and offering their financial support to the founda-

tion through paid membership. All the collected money is being used for the completion of ongoing construction of a rehabilitation center. At the event, Tinatin Chkhvimiani, the founder of the Monk Andrew’s Charity Foundation, summarized the Life Fest and expressed her gratitude to all involved in the process of improving the life conditions of the children suffering from cancer and for their financial, as well as moral support. In addition, she introduced a new initiative, which envisages the refurbishment of the above said rehabilitation center. At the official closing of the Life Fest accompanied by the performances of young artists, the attendees were given an opportunity to discover plans for the interior of the center and to choose one room to renovate as they wish. Worth spotlighting is the impressive engagement of the private companies as well as a number of government departments, their representatives clearly very enthusiastic about supporting the initiative.

Divino – Wine bar & Shop Samghebro Street 9/11




OCTOBER 4 - 7, 2019

Georgian Museum of Fine Arts Celebrates the 1st Anniversary



n October 2, the Georgian Museum of Fine Arts, located in the very heart of the Georgian capital and bringing together nearly 3,500 outstanding works of Georgian painters, hosted a number of guests on the occasion of the 1st anniversary since the launch of the venue. At the celebration, the Georgian Museum of Fine Arts launched a genuinely unique and eclectic artistic universe and, most importantly, established a sort of a ‘bridge’ between the epochs, ensuring communication between the previous century and the contemporary world and providing a source for various movements of native art. The thoughts and visions of the modern generation were presented in an exhibition named ‘Counterpoint’, which displayed the paintings of Nina Akhobadze, Ninuka Sakandelidze, Nino Zirakashvili, Maia Baratashvili and Merab Gugunashvili, curated by Konstantin

Bolkvadze. The contribution of the said artists to the development and diversification of Georgian art, through launching such unorthodox, conceptual exhibitions, is certainly worth spotlighting. The name of the exposition is also very symbolic as the word ‘Counterpoint’ means the harmonic conjunction of different melodies. Thus, the aim of the organizers of the event, aspiring to launch a ‘dialogue’ between the generations, was stressed in the very title of the show. The outstanding exhibition will be open until October 10. The attendees were also welcomed with a concert from the chamber orchestra, boasting a Georgian repertoire and seeing the most distinguished young performers, including David Aladashvili, Natalia Kutateladze, the Kancheli String Quartet, as well as Irakli Evstapishvili taking to the stage. In addition, the guests had an opportunity to travel to Old Tbilisi and the picturesque 19th century hotel ‘Oriant’, whose building the current museum now occupies, through the photo collection of prominent photographer Yermakov. GEORGIA TODAY sat down with Ninia

Akhvlediani, Communications Executive of the Georgian Museum of Fine Arts to gauge the success of the event. “The 1st anniversary of the Museum was nothing short of spectacular,” Ninia told us, adding, “We hosted nearly 300 guests, including artists, musicians, actors, the representatives of media, as well as our ordinary visitors. I believe that the evening proved to be very interesting, integrating the exhibits of contemporary arts with the exposition of the photo collection of Yermakov, which revived Old Tbilisi, all of that completed with the mesmerizing performance of the chamber orchestra.” Ninia says the event was something of a new statement at 7 Rustaveli Avenue, representing a continuation of ancient tradition at the same time. “At the beginning of the 20th century, the building of the current museum housed the picturesque ‘Oriant’ hotel, famous for salon evenings and interesting guests. This wonderful tradition has been maintained and since October 2, 2018, the venue has been allocated to the contemporary arts. Giya Kancheli, a legendary Georgian composer, passed away exactly today, October 2. At the concert, the Kancheli String Quartet and David Aladashvili commemorated him by performing his most prominent compositions,” Akhvlediani told us.

ABOUT THE MUSEUM The Georgian Museum of Fine Arts, at 7 Rustaveli Avenue, opened its doors to visitors for the first time on October 2, 2018. The exhibition hall is private, yet, due to its scale it is of national importance. Housed there is the private collection of the founders of the venue, Gia Jokhtaberidze and Manana Shevardnadze, who aimed to bring together Georgian Soviet and post-Soviet art in the same space and introduce them to wider audiences. The museum features more than 3,500 wonderful works of nearly 100 artists, created over the past 70 years. Even though the Georgian Museum of Fine Arts is relatively new, it has already strongly established itself by launching a number of interesting projects along with its permanent exhibition, including important expositions, classical music concerts, as well as public lectures and masterclasses by famous artists within the framework of the initiative Public(A) Talks. #foryourfirsttimeingeorgia Address: L. Gudiashvili St. 18 Sh. Rustaveli St. 7 Tel: 544 44 45 44 Art House - The Place to Meet @arthouse_georgia



Discover Gastronomic Treasures at Gorgasali Restaurant



ven though Georgia is rich in eateries of different styles, from traditional dishes to foreign mouthwatering specialties, it is undoubtedly challenging to find a place able to offer both a diverse menu and an exceptional ambience. Well, the GEORGIA TODAY team has found one for you! Located in one of the former Sulphur baths, a symbol of the ancient capital of Georgia, Gorgasali integrates five different halls and guarantees a unique experience in each. The GEORGIA TODAY team met with Shalva Kajaia, the founder of the restaurant, to find out more about this exceptional venue. Wine House was our first stop on the short tour he offered us. From the blue

ceiling decorated with Georgian ornaments and colorful tableware to the floor-to-ceiling shelves displaying a selection of fine Georgian wines, dried fruit and spices, as well as signature clay crafts: everything is genuinely Georgian in this hall. Wine House provides an impressive menu of delicious traditional courses, exceptional wines, including Qvevri, bio, as well as exclusives and even fruit vodka. Wine House goes beyond the limits of excellent food and offers special evenings for guests, inviting Georgian writers, singers, ensembles and actors. We moved on to a two-room hall called ‘Tavaduri’ and found ourselves in a totally different ambience- a hall of oriental colors; smaller and more private, with soft furnishings. Here, you can smoke shisha and watch belly-dancing shows against a background of walls painted with the images of historic Georgian figures and scenes reflecting the coun-

try’s ancient history. The spacious main hall of the restaurant is the next stop on our tour, where the columns and domes of the former bath visually separate the tables and provide for a super comfy space for dining, accompanied by live music performances. Even though the restaurant looks Georgian, it also caters to international tastes with dishes like cream of pumpkin soup and sushi. The grand dining hall leads to the Masterclass Room, which is certainly an innovative statement on the Georgian restaurant market. Guests, even children, are welcome to give the cooking process a go, prepare Georgian dishes with their own hands and taste them later. Along with an antique fireplace and pieces of traditional Georgian furniture, here you will find a special ‘cooking stone’, where the chefs spare no effort to cook fish or any other course to perfection. Our final stop in Gorgasali is the spacious terrace, probably the most outstanding feature of the restaurant, its floor-to-ceiling windows, open during the summer, framing the marvelous views of the Old Town and eclectic old houses and historical sights, the modern cable car in the background. Here, guests can have the best dining experience and complete their meal with a divine dessert and exceptional cup of fruit tea, while watching mesmerizing dance shows, presented directly on the rooftop of the adjacent Sulphur bath. Restaurant Gorgasali is an outstanding venue, offering a marvelous tour of local and international gourmet pleasures, accompanied by an extraordinary ambience and immaculate service.





OCTOBER 4 - 7, 2019


TBILISI INTERNATIONAL FESTIVAL OF THEATER 2019 October 4, 5 DONKA: A LETTER TO CHEKHOV Switzerland Start time: 20:00 Language: English Georgian Subtitles Ticket: From 15 GEL Venue: Griboedovi Theater October 5 O2 (3 performances) Studio Wayne McGregor Language: English Georgian Subtitles Start time: 15:00, 16:00, 17:00 Venue: Orbeliani Sq. October 6 MAURE EXPERIENCE Aerial Theater Directed by Gaston Lungman, Roberto Strada Composer: Gaston Lungman Choreographer: Roberto Strada Language: English Georgian Subtitles Start time: 22:00 Venue: Europe Sq. October 7, 8 BIRDIE Directed by Alex Serrano, Pau Palacios and Ferran Dordal Composer: Roger Costa Vendrell Language: English Georgian Subtitles Start time: 20:00 Ticket: From 15 GEL Venue: K. Marjanishvili State Drama Theater, Big Stage TBILISI ZAKARIA PALIASHVILI OPERA AND BALLET THEATER 25 Rustaveli Ave. TEL (+995 32) 2 99 04 56 October 5, 6 LAURENCIA Alexander Krein Ballet in two acts Based on Lope de Vega's novel ‘Fuente Ovejuna’ Choreography by Vakhtang Chabukiani Libretto, new choreographic version, and staging by Nina Ananiashvili Tbilisi Z. Paliashvili Opera and Ballet State Theater Orchestra Conductor- David Mukeria Start time: October 5-19:00, October 6 – 14:00 Ticket: 10-120 GEL

SILK FACTORY STUDIO 59 Kostava Ave. October 4 METAMORPHOSES Contemporary ballet based on Ovid’s ‘Metamorphoses’ Music by Johann Sebastian Bach Original music by Nika Machaidze Original idea and choreography by Mariam Aleksidze Stage design by Ana Ninua Project idea, concept and supervision by David Maziashvili Cast: Giorgi Aleksidze Tbilisi Contemporary Ballet Company Artistic DirectorMariam Aleksidze Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 10-20 GEL GABRIADZE THEATER 14 Shavteli Str. October 8 Animated documentary film REZO Directed by Leo Gabriadze Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 15 GEL SHALIKASHVILI THEATER 37 Rustaveli Ave. Ocotber 4, 5 OLD MAN AND THE SEA After Ernest Hemingway Non Verbal Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 15 GEL MOVEMENT THEATER 182 Agmashenebli Ave. October 4 DIVINE COMEDY Dante Aligieri Three 20-minute choreographic statements, (Two 10-minute intervals) Language: Non verbal Directed by Ioseb Bakuradze Composer/Arranger: Sandro Nikoladze Designer: Ana Gorbas, Bidzina Sidiani Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 15 GEL October 6 PARADISO Directed by Irakli Khoshtaria Author: Ketevan Chachanidze Choreographer: Lasha Robaqidze Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 10 GEL October 10 IGGI Directed by Kakha Bakuradze Language: Non-verbal Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 10, 15 GEL


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 December 15 The first-ever exhibition of A REMARKABLE COIN FROM THE TIME OF KING DAVID THE BUILDER The inscription on the coin reflects the major line of Georgia's foreign policy at the time - obverse shows Kind David IV dressed in Byzantine imperial attire, wearing stemma, and holding a Globus cruciger. On reverse is an invocation in Georgian surrounding a cross lists the extent of David's kingdom: 'Lord, aid David, king of Abkhazians, Kartvelians, Rans, Kakhs, Armenians.' Until November 30 Exhibition ‘WISDOM TRANSFORMED INTO GOLD' Supported by the EU With ancient archaeological finds, the exhibition presents for the first time gold jewelry of Late Antiquity (2nd-4th century AD), goldsmiths' tools from the Museum's ethnographic collection, and items made from gold and precious metals. IOSEB GRISHASHVILI TBILISI HISTORY MUSEUM - KARVASLA 8 Sioni St. TEL (+995 32) 2 98 22 81 Until October 11 Georgian National Museum in the framework of the project "Contemporary Art Gallery" presents the exhibition „BEING ON THE MIND OF CAUCASUS MOUNTAINS" By Sophia Cherkezishvili 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. 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. GALLERY

THE NATIONAL GALLERY 11 Rustaveli Ave. TEL (+995 32) 215 73 00 GRAND MASTERS FROM THE GEORGIAN NATIONAL MUSEUM COLLECTION XIX – XX CENTURY Discover the cultural heritage of artists who founded 20th century fine art in Georgia: Gigo Gabashvili, Mose Toidze, Valerian SidamonEristavi, Alexander Tsimakuridze, Aleksandre Bazbeuk-Melikov, Dimitri Shevardnadze, Sergo Kobuladze, Irina Shtenberg, Mikheil Bilanishvili, Felix Varlamishvili and Tamar Abakelia. Until November 20 Georgian National Museum and the Embassy of Italy in Georgia present the exhibition "THE FORM OF COLOR FROM TINTORETTO TO CANALETTO" from Trieste's National Gallery of Ancient Art. The Gallery displays three centuries of Italian painting– from the late Renaissance to the Rococo. The National Gallery brings together 55 artworks of Tintoretto, Guerchino, Bernando Strozzi, Antonio Canaletto, Giovanni Lorenzo Bernini and other painters. Visitors will get acquainted with the major painting schools of Northern Italy from the 16th18th centuries - from Bologna (Giuseppe Maria Crespi) to Genoa (Givanni Batista Paggi, Gioacchino Assereto, Giovanni Francesco Castiglione) and from Lombardy (Pier Francesco Mazzucchelli, Pier Francesco Cittadini) to Veneto (Bonifacio de' Pitati, Carlo Caliari, Francesco Maffei, Nicola Grassi). MUSIC

DJANSUG KAKHIDZE TBILISI CENTER FOR MUSIC AND CULTURE 123a D. Agmashenebeli Ave. October 6 In the frames of 27th International Music Festival “Autumn Tbilisi” PIANO RECITAL HAIOU ZHANG Start time: 19:30 Ticket: 10 GEL October 9 In the frames of 27th International Music Festival “Autumn Tbilisi”- Concert Soloist: HAIOU ZHANG Conductor: VAKHTANG KAKHIDZE Start time: 19:30 Ticket: 10 GEL

SPORTS PALACE 1 26 May Sq. October 4 Lela Tsurtsumia’s Concert Strat time: 20:00 Ticket: 20-50 GEL TBILISI STATE CONSERVATOIRE 8 Griboedovi Str. October 6 CONCERT OF THE GERMANGEORGIAN YOUTH ORCHESTRA AND CHOIR Grand Hall Start time: 18:00 Ticket: 8 GEL ART HALL 26/2 A. Surguladze Str. October 5 Teimuraz Tsiklauri and Friends Start time: 18:00 Ticket: 10-15 GEL ELEKTROWERK 4 K. Cholokashvili III turn. October 5 VADER- LIVE IN TBILISI Start time: 19:00 Ticket: 40 GEL WAREHOUSE 7 / VII PAVILION 30/32 Akhalkalaki Str. October 5 Fall Set WORAKLS ORCHESTRA TOUR Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 60-90 GEL MOVEMENT THEATER 182 Agmashenebli Ave. October 8 JAM SESSIONImprov played by different Georgian and foreign musicians and instrumentalists. Musical art director- Sandro Nikoladze Start time: 21:00 Ticket: 5 GEL TBILISI CITY FESTTBILISOBA Time: 12:00-20:00 Program October 5 Gourmet festival Confectionery festival Concert for Childrem Instalation ‘Pirosmani’s characters’ Sports activities 13:00 - ‘Tbilisi Big Band’ Concert 14:00 - Wayne McGregor and Georgian choreographer’s coproduction (In the frames of Tbilisi international Theater festival) 20:00 - Gala Concert & Awards ceremony of honorable citizen Venue: Rike Park October 6 Time: 12:00-20:00 Flower festival Pavilions of Georgian film and music ORBELIANI OPEN MARKET Carnival of pantomimes 22:00 - MUARE EXPERIENCE (In the frames of Tbilisi international Theater festival) Venue: Orbeliani Sq. October 5-6 Open Air Museum Venue: Legvtakhevi October 5-6 Exhibition of rarest cars Time: 12:00-22:00 Venue: Metekhi Bridge




Oscar & the Wolf to Perform in Georgia BY NINI DAKHUNDARIDZE


t is a great year for popular music lovers; first Georgia had Jessie J and Thirty Seconds to Mars enjoying summer here when they performed at the Black Sea Arena in August; now in the great season of autumn, we will have Oscar & the Wolf on the Georgian stage. The Belgian artist will perform on October 12 in Tbilisi. Here’s everything you need to know about Max Colombie or, as he is better known, Oscar and the Wolf. Not a great many acts can boast the kind of success Oscar & the Wolf has seen in its three years since its musical debut. Oscar and the Wolf first gained international attention with the single "Orange Sky" in 2013, which got them support slots for the likes of Lou Reed. A year later, after releasing his first album Entity, Max Colombie achieved critical acclaim and success. Colombie attracts listeners with his special, unique, uncompromising sound. In the music industry, he is to be situated somewhere in the realm where Luscious R&B, Erik Sariestyle synths, and indie electronics meet. While Entity was easily going multiplatinum, the band’s live resume grew ever quicker into sold-out arena shows at Sportpaleis (20,000 capacity, Antwerp, Belgium) and AFAS Live (8,000 capac-

ity, previously Heineken Music Hall, Amsterdam, Netherlands). This after an impressive run of festivals including Rock Werchter, Pukkelpop (which they also headlined in 2016), Lowlands, Pinkpop, Arras Main Square, Montreux Jazz, Eurockéenes, Southside, Zürich Open Air, Sziget, Babylon Soundgarden, and Hurricane festival. In 2016, much expectedly, Oscar & the Wolf took home the European Border Breaker Award. A new track came out shortly after in 2016, ‘The Game,’ bringing a shift towards a grittier take on his signature sound, aptly described by Max as “tears on the dance floor in the dirty twerk remix.” His ability to be flexible, switch genres every-so-often with such ease and talent, along with the techno collaboration with Charlotte de Witte, brought a 2017 summer full of festivals. That year, the Belgian artist released a sophomore album on Play It Again Sam (UK/EU) and Neon Gold (US) in the fall, followed by an extensive tour in support of the new material. Meanwhile, Oscar & the Wolf was getting ever-growing popularity in Georgia. Much of the youth discussed the music of Max, giving critical acclamations of their own. That is most likely why MONUMENTS Events decided to bring the contemporary music star to the Georgian stage. MONUMENTS Events is a Tbilisibased electronic music events series. The signature of the Festival is the uniqueness of the events, determined

Image source: MONUMENTS Events

by their scale, high quality, and genre difference. MONUMENT Events is oriented on delivering live electronic music to wide Georgian audiences. The trend is getting more and more popular in

Georgia and hence, MONUMENTS Events is ‘blessing’ the musical society with more and more high-quality events. Through their events, the MONUMENTS’ team strives to develop the Georgian

music festival and concert culture. Oscar & the Wolf will perform on October 12 in Tbilisi. The tickets are available online on tkt.ge and at the gate. Prices range from 60 to 70 GEL.

Tbilisi National Ballet to Revive the Danish Ballet “Natalie” nately, Bournonville had his own notation system and kept detailed notes. Based on these written archives and our knowledge of the Bournonville style, we brought this ballet back to life, together with Nino Ananiashvili. To date, Georgia is the only place in the world staging this ballet.


Image Source: Orsolya Sarossy

dance. The two choreographers gave an exclusive interview to GEORGIA TODAY, ahead of the premiere on October 16.



he much-awaited Danish ballet “From Siberia to Moscow,” or “Natalie,” is coming back to Georgia after 10 years thanks to the artistic synergy and lasting friendship between Nino Ananiashvili, Artistic Director of the State Ballet of Georgia, and the Danish choreographers Frank Andersen and Dinna Bjorn. Andersen was twice Artistic Director of the Royal Danish Ballet, and Bjorn is a dancer specialized in directing Bournonville’s ballet. It is a world-premiere, since the ballet has been out of the Royal Danish Ballet’s repertoire since 1904. “Natalie” is the last ballet of the Danish choreographer August Bournonville, written in 1876, three years before he passed away. First staged in 2009 at the Tbilisi State Opera, the ballet was a triumph, acclaimed by critics for the careful reconstruction and the subtle inclusion of Georgian traditional

TELL US MORE ABOUT THE BALLET. [Dinna] Bournonville is the base of the Danish ballet’s style and repertoire and Natalie is the last he created. August Bournonville directed the Royal Danish Balletforalmost50yearsandchoreographed 60 ballets; about 10 are still alive and have never been out of our repertoire since 1800. It is the specificities of this style, conserved and represented by the Royal Danish Ballet without interruption till today. But of course, presenting Bournonville ballets exactly how they were back in the 19th century would surely look strange to a modern public. The girls did not go on point, for instance. The art of ballet is not a museum piece. We are reviving a living tradition, but we are not transforming its spirit and aims. The same is true for “Natalie”. This ballet has been out of the Danish Royal Ballet repertoire for over 100 years. It was last staged in 1904 in Copenhagen, but fortu-



Commercial Director: Iva Merabishvili Marketing Manager: Sesili Tikaradze



Editor-In-Chief: Katie Ruth Davies

tradition survives here in Georgia.

HOW DOES IT FEEL TO SEE TBILISI BURGEONING, AND TO BE PART OF ITS CULTURAL BLOSSOMING? [Frank] I first came 15 years ago and there were no street lights in Rustaveli. The city is exploding, which is wonderful. The development is happening really fast and I’m so happy that I have been able to see all these fantastic changes.

The country owes Nino Ananiashvili a lot, because she is bringing the company back to its former pride. She has done so much to attract foreign directors and composers, and to show them what they can do here in Georgia between the Black Sea and the Caspian Sea, and I am sure there is more to come. The ballet will be presented at the Tbilisi State Opera on October 16, 17 and 18.

The story is the same but the dancers are new: they were kids at the time and now they are part of the company and have principal roles and are giving their own personalities to the ballet. It is exciting both for those who did it before and for the new ones. We’re not changing the steps, we are keeping the tradition and giving them the opportunity to be part of it.

THE BOURNONVILLE STYLE OF DANCING IS CHARACTERIZED BY LIGHTNESS, AS IF THE DANCERS WERE FLOATING. THERE SEEMS TO BE AN ORGANIC RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN HIS STYLE AND THE GEORGIAN TRADITIONAL DANCE. HOW COME? Bournonville has always been inspired by national dance, and he travelled a lot. Every place he went, he took some details of the folklore dance and put it into his works. The production itself incorporates part of the Georgian traditional dance. Also, Bournonville ballet is about people, real people and their problems. This ballet is a true story, with problems that echo the audience’s own worries and dilemmas. In the same tradition, we, as choreographers, are also inspired by the countries we visit, by the dancers we meet, by the choreographers we exchange with, and it is amazing to see how the Bournonville

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

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Profile for Georgia Today

Issue #1191  

October 4 - 7, 2019

Issue #1191  

October 4 - 7, 2019