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Issue no: 943

• MAY 5 - 8, 2017

• PUBLISHED TWICE WEEKLY

PRICE: GEL 2.50

In this week’s issue...

Russia & Turkey: Removing Trade Barriers in Exchange for Tourist Safety NEWS PAGE 2

Left to the Bear? Georgia in the World of a Le Pen Victory POLITICS PAGE 4

FOCUS ON TBILISI KINDERGARTENS Growing the new generation- a look at the recent reforms

TBC BANK to Receive $100 million Credit Line from EBRD & EU

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CoE Know-How on Child (& Early) Marriages: Education, Education, Education!

Head of Tbilisi Kindergarten Management Agency on Kindergarten Reforms

INTERVIEW BY VAZHA TAVBERIDZE

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hen foreign media publishes something about Georgia, it’s either about the political situation – good forbid Georgia swaying from the precarious path of Europeanization! - or, if we’re lucky, about how great a tourist destination our country is. Social aspects of life rarely, if ever, get covered, so when the Washington Post published a sizable photo reportage about child brides (and early marriages in general), many an eyebrow was raised. Especially when, contrary to what one might have expected, it wasn’t just the Muslim ethnic minorities that were mentioned. Teenage girls from Imereti and Adjara in Western Georgia were presented as just as likely to create families at the tender ages of 16-18 as their Muslim counterparts in Gardabani or Lagodekhi. “The United Nations Population Fund has estimated that at least 17 percent of girls [in Georgia] get married before the age of 18. There are many reasons that these marriages still take place, including long-standing tradition, the will of the

BUSINESS PAGE 5

SOCIETY PAGE 8

Lost Legends CULTURE PAGE 11

girl’s parents and even kidnapping by a suitor,” the article reads. Among the other reasons it doesn’t mention is the actual willingness of some couples to create a family and society’s encouraging attitude towards it, or how early marriages are given another layer of legitimacy by the Church, with ordained priests in Georgia blessing such marriages on daily basis. So, what’s the country to do? Georgia has complied with European standards and recently voided a legal norm that allowed such marriages

under “special circumstances” with the consent of parents and a court. Additionally, it has signed and is to ratify the Istanbul Convention, a massive document penned by the Council of Europe that aims at preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence. It was these issues that Panorama TV Show and GEORGIA TODAY discussed with Ms. Bridget O’Loughlin, head of the Violence against Women Division at the Council of Europe. Continued on page 6


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NEWS

GEORGIA TODAY

MAY 5 - 8, 2017

2300 People Lose Jobs Following Ministry Reorganization Partnership Fund to Expand Lopota Complex BY THEA MORRISON

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he Partnership Fund of Georgia is to invest $4,500.000 in order to expand the hotel complex at Lopota Lake, Kakheti

region. The Partnership Fund and LLC Lopota Investment signed the relevant agreement on Wednesday. The expansion of the existing hotel at Lopota Lake envisages the creation of an additional 85 hotel rooms, an administrative building, a 300-seat conference hall, chateau, restaurant, cafe-bar, fitness club, and closed and outdoor swimming pools. The signing ceremony was attended by the Prime Minister of Georgia, Giorgi Kvirikashvili. The PM walked through the territory and expressed hope that following the enlargement, the place would attract even more tourists and visitors. "Soon, we will have a completely new, much bigger and more sophisticated tourist destination – Lopota. It is an investment by the State and I expect it to be a very successful project. The development of this complex is the merit of a private business, with the State

assisting in the part considered necessary for development,” the PM said after the signing ceremony. JSC Partnership Fund (PF) is a stateowned investment fund established in 2011. The fund is assigned Fitch rating "BB", which is equal to the sovereign ceiling of Georgia. PF was created on the basis of consolidating ownership of the largest Georgian state-owned enterprises operating in transportation, energy and infrastructure sectors. The main objective of the Partnership Fund is to promote investment in Georgia by providing co-financing in projects at their initial stage of development. Head of Partnership Fund, Davit Saganelidze, said the Lopota project was of utmost importance. “We are very proud to participate in a project which serves the development of Lopota Lake,” he said. The Partnership Fund has already established a joint venture with Lopota Investment LLC, named Lopota LLC. Construction works will be carried out by CIC, while the construction will be supervised by Colliers. Several dozen people are to be employed during construction works and the opening of the hotel is scheduled for the end of 2018.

BY THEA MORRISON

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total of 2300 civil servants have been fired from Georgian Ministries following the reorganization process initiated by the Prime Minister of Georgia, Giorgi Kvirikashvili, on December 9, 2016, which envisaged reduction of expenses by 10 percent and optimization in the ministries. The numbers were released by nongovernmental organization Georgian Young Lawyers’ Association (GYLA), which presented the results of their survey based on the information of 12 ministries. The survey shows that as a result of the reorganization process, the total amount of budgetary expenditure decreased by GEL 55,344.000.

Russia & Turkey: Removing Trade Barriers in Exchange for Tourist Safety BY DIMITRI DOLABERIDZE

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ussian President Vladimir Putin announced that he and his Turkish counterp a r t R e c e p Ta y y i p Erdogan, during the negotiations in Sochi, agreed to remove all trade restrictions except for the ban

on the import of tomatoes. “The trade barrier will be removed after Russian producers pay off all investments,” Putin promised. He stressed that it was possible to stop the fall of mutual trade, which, he said, had shown a slight increase in turnover (3%) in early 2017. Another important topic, according to the president, was the issue of ensuring the safety of domestic tourists at

Turkish resorts. He cited data according to which in the May holidays a third of Russians holidaying abroad were choosing Turkey. “The special services of Russia are ready to provide all assistance to their Turkish colleagues in these matters,” Putin said. “However, Russia will not yet remove restrictions on visa-free travel for the Turks, in connection with the growing terrorist threat”.

The GYLA also says that civil servants were dismissed from only five ministries. The numbers of dismissed people from the state agencies is as follows: Ministry of Defense - 2250 people Ministry of Internally Displaced Persons and Refugees – 20 people Infrastructure Ministry – 17 people Ministry of Culture - 11 people Ministry of Foreign Affairs – 2 people. The total compensation paid to the dismissed employees amounted to 5,322.300 GEL. However, this is not the full picture of dismissed staff members, as a number of ministries refused to send information about the reorganization to the GYLA. The GYLA added that five self-governing cities, Kutaisi, Batumi, Zugdidi, Ozurgeti and Poti, reduced budget expenditures by 3,630.000 GEL. The financing of IPs was reduced by 1,220.000 GEL and

in total 137 employees were dismissed after IP reorganization. The NGO says that there were several shortcomings during the reorganization process, though some positive trends were also noted. Head of the GYLA, Ana Natsvlishvili, stated that the government has yet to discuss the results of the reorganization in parliamentary sessions. She also believes that the government should deliver a report on the process to Parliament. “In most cases, the dismissal of the public servants was not grounded and the ministries and self-governing towns had different approaches to the reduction of budgetary funds and reorganization,” Natsvlishvili claimed. The opposition parties also believe that the government should submit a report to Parliament. “They have to deliver a report to the MPs according to the Constitution. The fact that this has not happened yet means that informal governing has been established,” member of the United National Movement, Nika Rurua, said. Another opposition party, Movement for Freedom-European Georgia, believes that the optimization process was not transparent. “People who had no patrons were fired from the ministries,” Irma Nadirashvili from European Georgia stressed. Prime Minister Kvirikashvili says the Government of Georgia carried out optimization only when and where it was necessary. He does not agree with the assessments of the GYLA. “What I can say is that I think this is a biased assessment," Kvirikashvili said.


NEWS

GEORGIA TODAY MAY 5 - 8, 2017

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Ambassadorial Forum Concludes American Days in Georgia BY MAKA LOMADZE

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n April 22-29, the American Days were held in Georgia. The rich program of events that took place in the capital, as well as in the towns of Kutaisi, Batumi, Telavi and Zugdidi, was capped with an ambassadorial forum on the final day in the former building of the US Embassy to Georgia on Atoneli Street, Tbilisi. The "In Pursuit of Happiness" forum was inaugurated by Ambassador Ian Kelly. “This month we are celebrating the 25th anniversary of US-Georgia diplomatic relations: enduring friendship based on the sharing of mutual values, including freedom of speech, justice and respect for universal human rights. We are thankful for Georgia’s generous contribution to advancing international peace and security, for Georgian soldiers’ selfless service and sacrifice. The United States government whole-heartedly supports Georgia’s aspiration to become a member of the Euro-Atlantic family. We are committed to the Charter of Strategic Partnership between our two countries to ensure that Georgia develops into a prosperous and democratic country for the benefit of its people”. The speech of the current first US diplomat to Georgia was followed by speeches delivered by Georgian President Giorgi Margvelashvili and Prime

Minister Giorgi Kvirikashvili. The opening ceremony was attended by former US Ambassadors to Georgia, Richard Miles, Kenneth Yalowitz, William Courtney, members of the Georgian government and parliament, representatives of international organizations, and the US Embassy staff. President Margvelashvili pointed to the fact that Georgians and Americans are united by common values, such as freedom, independence and the right to freedom of choice. He underscored the merit of those Georgian and American soldiers who fight together to ensure global security, and honored the memory of those who sacrificed themselves for this important goal. “We have taken further steps in integrating Georgia into the European and Euro-Atlantic family. Without doubt the help of our American friends and allies is very important on this path. We achieved a significant victory on the international arena when we, together with our American allies and friends, set our non-recognition policy against the aggression of Russia. There is no country that questions Georgia’s sovereignty and territorial integrity,” the President claimed. He went on to recognize that there is much more to do in this regard. “We have to be unified when it comes to the protection of our common goals and values. Clearly, Russia’s aggressive foreign policy toward its neighbors has shown that Georgia’s case was not unique and after Ukraine and Syria, we

clearly see that the idea that Russia could be somehow tolerated in this respect was mistaken,” he said. PM Kvirikashvili spoke of the strategic role of the US in Georgia's political and economic life, highlighting that the US has stood by Georgia's side since it regained independence. “Many friends and allies helped us get to where we are, but firstly the United States. We feel this debt keenly, and we are committed to repaying our part of this bargain to preserve the values we share," he said, going on to describe in detail the US assistance that has played such a vital role in Georgia's development,

and offering the audience a brief overview of the country's achievements over the past 25 years. “In terms of our worldview and overall foreign policy, we see ourselves as a modern, Western nation. We have deep and robust relations with the US, European Union and NATO and aim to join those two organizations," the Prime Minister said. “Georgia is not only willing to serve as a corridor and a transport and energy hub in our most complex region but we are also committed to being a stronghold of the US, its reliable partner, and a staunch defender of our shared political, trade, and security interests. In addition to

increased security cooperation, we must create closer economic ties between our two countries." Kvirikashvili then thanked the US Ambassadors to Georgia who had worked in Georgia at different times over the past 25 years, for their immense contribution to stronger Georgia-US relations. “It is a pleasure and an honor to be here today. I met with a lot of friends of mine whom I worked with in that historic period. Georgia has strengthened and developed. I am glad to see that democratic institutions have been strengthened. Georgia and the US have a strong partnership based on mutual values,” said Ambassador Kenneth Yalowitz who, like Richard Miles and William Courtney, came to Georgia specially for this day. Tedo Japaridze, current Advisor to the Georgian Prime Minister in Foreign Relations Issues, served as the first ambassador to the US and Canada in 1994-2002. “We, the representatives of the first generation of Georgian diplomats, have always said that if Georgia has survived, it is thanks to the aid of the US government. This is to the merit of the USA that Georgia today is an independent country,” he said. Over the past 25 years, the US has given financial assistance worth $4 billion to Georgia. The American Days 2017 was concluded with a concert featuring American movie soundtracks at the Jansugh Kakhidze Music Center.


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POLITICS

GEORGIA TODAY

MAY 5 - 8, 2017

To Be or Not to Be: Shakespearean Passions & the New Constitutional Project OP-ED BY ZAZA JGARKAVA

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o be or not to be is becoming the leitmotif of the constitutional changes in Georgian politics. According to the politicians, apart from Shakespearean passions, the new constitutional project triggers other earthly ones, too: plagiarism, for example, with members of the former governmental party, now in the European Democrats party, accusing the majority of having stolen the suggested electoral system of the new constitutional project from Italian fascists and their leader Benito Mussolini. Generally speaking, Georgian constitutionalism is in fact accompanied by both Shakespearian and fascist passions. For example, on August 29, 1995, when the country was about to adopt its first constitution following the collapse of the Soviet Union, its main creator and the head of the country, Eduard Shevardnadze, barely survived an assassination attempt. Some eight years later the United National Movement (UNM) turned Shevardnadze’s constitution completely upside down. In 2012, on May 25, the UNM constitutional majority further reformed the existing document and made changes of historical significance to it. For example, by naming Kutaisi as the parliamentary capital of the country,

restricting the rights of the President and increasing that of the Parliament and Prime Minister. This is the fourth time Georgian Dream (GD) has initiated constitutional changes, thus keeping perfectly in line with the tradition formed in independent Georgia. Every new government aims to adjust the main legislation to its own political ambitions and GD is no exception in this regard. “A new constitutional project has been presented to the parliament for evaluation whose creation will cost Georgia 40,000 GEL, while the expenditure of the former commission amounted to 360,000 GEL. Almost all articles of the constitution have been rethought, and 80-85 percent of the changes are based on recommendations from experts, NGOs and various constitutional organs. As for the procedures that the project should pass through – parliamentary discussions will begin in June. According to existing regulations, two hearings will be held in that month and during the next session, presumably in October, the final legislation of constitutional changes will be adopted with the third hearing,” he said. Member of the Movement for Freedom-European Georgia, Sergi Kapanadze, compares the new electoral system to that of the Italian fascist Benito Mussolini, the so-called Acerbo Law. “GD’s initiative suggests that the party in first place will take the votes of all those parties which were unable to overcome the 5 percent barrier. Notably, about 20 percent of votes were lost dur-

ing the last elections,” Kapanadze wrote. “The problem exists in regards to the election of the President as well. According to the new initiative, Parliament will choose the president instead of the people. Additionally, political parties will be banned from creating electoral blocks, not to mention a decrease in the number of self-governing cities in the country”. The opposition has already done its homework regarding how to burst Georgian Dream’s bubble. Leader of the Labor Party Shalva Natelashvili is calling on President Margvelashvili to resign, saying that if decisive steps are not taken now, the Georgian people will be deprived of their right to

elect the president themselves. “I call for the active President of Georgia to resign, as this will result in early presidential elections in two months’ time. The constitutional project says that right after the Oath of the President in 2018, the right to elect the president will be revoked from the people”. The President’s Administration and opposition have yet to respond to Natelashvili’s suggestion. However, rumor has spread that Margvelashvili’s circle is considering it, so that the elections of both the president and the self-government will be held together and, in this case, Margvelashvili will become the presidential candidate of the nonparliamentary oppositional spectrum.

Left to the Bear? Georgia in the World of a Le Pen Victory INTERVIEW BY VAZHA TAVBERIDZE

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ith the second tour of the French presidential elections keeping all of Europe on its collective toes, we in Georgia are wondering just one thing (well, two things, frankly: one involves Mr. Macron’s wife and isn’t discussed in this article): IF, however big that if might be, Madame Le Pen becomes the next president of France, what impact will it have on Georgia? And this is what we spoke about with Mr. Regist Gente, resident correspondent of Le Figaro in Georgia, in a joint interview for Panorama TV show and GEORGIA TODAY.

THE FRENCH ELECTIONS ARE WIDELY TOUTED AS A ZERO-SUM GAME FOR EUROPE. THAT IF, FOR EXAMPLE, LE PEN WINS, THAT WILL BE THE END OF EUROPE. IS IT REALLY THIS SERIOUS? Le Pen winning is still unlikely, as she is not the favorite. But if she does, it will result in a big crisis in France. The majority of French society remembers the history of her party, which is connected to our fascist history. It’s not enough to say you're a patriot to be a patriot. The history of the founders of this party, these patriots, were collaborating with the enemy, the Germans in the second world war. If Le Pen comes, she says she’ll announce a referendum to ask people if they want to be in or out of Europe. In that case, I think that French people will vote to leave the EU. But we're still very far from that - leaving Europe and the Euro would be very difficult and very costly and she 'll have forces against her, businesses who do not want to leave. She’ll have to compromise with them. For example, in the US we saw that Mr Trump came along with big ideas but after three months gave a lot of them up.

IF LE PEN WERE TO WIN, WHAT WOULD CHANGE FOR GEORGIA, CONSIDERING HER TIES WITH RUSSIA AND HER LAST CHUMMY MEETING WITH PUTIN? You’re right to mention her meeting with Mr Putin. It says a lot about our independence towards Rus-

sia in this case. Of course, for Georgia it'll be bad because obviously she will have an anti-NATO agenda and will want to reverse the relationship with the USA, at least to counterbalance it with Russia. So, Georgia will be left to Russia. If the Russian bear wants to eat Georgia, she wouldn’t move to stop it.

SHE MAY ALSO DECLARE THAT ABKHAZIA AND SOUTH OSSETIA ARE INDEPENDENT STATES OR BELONG TO RUSSIA, AS SHE SAID ABOUT CRIMEA… IS THERE A DANGER THAT FRANCE MIGHT RECOGNIZE OUR BREAKAWAY TERRITORIES IF LE PEN WINS? I don’t think anybody is raising this question at the moment because it is too far and too small, I'd say. What's more pressing is the issue of Crimea when she said, “Crimea always belonged to Russia”. It's simply not true!

IN JUNE, FRANCE WILL HAVE PARLIAMENTARY ELECTIONS Yes, and if Le Pen has a majority, things will get ugly. You may win the power but the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has its own rules, its own agenda. And can one person can change that? It happened with Mr Trump – he had some ideas but he had to change a lot. Behind you is a party, there is the opposition, the MFA, the MoD, secret services, business community and a lot of other people [to consider].

AND EMMANUEL MACRON? THE DARLING OF THE CENTRISTS AND A SEEMING FAVORITE- A GUY WITH NO REAL PARTY BACKGROUND AND WHO WAS NEVER PART OF A POLITICAL SYSTEM ALTHOUGH HE HELD A MINISTERIAL POST Macron is still the favorite candidate. His idea is that right and left does not mean anything anymore. And let’s go beyond the parties. He has huge support. Even from the President, as well as from the most important ministers which support not socialists but social-democrats. So, he’s well poised to win, but then again, I’d be loath to predict anything with the race being so close.


BUSINESS

GEORGIA TODAY MAY 5 - 8, 2017

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TBC BANK to Receive $100 million Credit Line from EBRD & EU BY NINO GUGUNISHVILI

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he European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) has extended a loan of $100 million (equivalent in Georgian Lari) to TBC Bank for the support of local SMEs, TBC announced on Tuesday at a press conference held at TBC Bank’s head office in Tbilisi. The signing was attended by TBC Bank’s CEO, Vakhtang Butskhrikidze; Badri Japaridze, Vice-Chairman of the Supervisory Board of TBC Bank; Bruno Balvanera, EBRD Director for the Caucasus, Moldova and Belarus; and Janos Herman, Ambassador of the European Union to Georgia. EBRD and the European Union are expanding their joint program with TBC Bank with the aim of supporting Georgian small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) to adopt EU standards, which will make them more competitive on international markets and allow them to take advantage of greater benefits from the Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area Agreement (DCFTA) between Georgia and the EU. The offered package will be divided. In the equivalent of local currency, up to $60 million will be allocated to assist businesses to comply with existing EU standards and take advantage of the DCFTA. An additional equivalent of up to $20 million will be used for SME

financing to help the development of the private sector. A further equivalent of up to $20 million will be allocated for the support of businesses owned or managed by female entrepreneurs. TBC says that these funds will be lent to private sector clients by the Bank. At the same time, a contribution of EUR 19 million (50 million GEL) from the EU is to serve for the provision of technical assistance, investment grants and training to partner financial institutions, enhancing the ability of local banks to accept the risks related to SME lending. “It’s an extremely important day for TBC Bank,” said Vakhtang Butskhrikidze. “For the last 25 years, support of small and medium size businesses has been our strategic direction. It’s also crucial because the assigned financial resources will be in Lari- as SMEs revenues are mainly in Lari, loans provided in Lari have fewer risks. Alongside financial assistance, TBC Bank has also done considerable work in supporting SMEs through more than 5000 seminars organized in Tbilisi, Kutaisi and Batumi during recent years on marketing, finances, new technologies and more. We hope that 2017 will be a very successful year for both TBC Bank and SMEs, as we have more novelties to offer to our clients in the second quarter of the year”. “Georgia is the first country to take advantage of this program,” said Janos Herman, noting that SME development is a vital factor for employment opportunities and economic growth. “We are very happy to see that the EBRD is open-

ing a credit line with TBC Bank. We’re confident that it will be a very efficient tool in the hands of Georgian companies to raise competitiveness. The EU has already made available EUR 19 million in grants. This will be used for technical assistance- investment incentives that we share”. The EU4Business credit line is part of the European Union EU4Business initiative aimed at supporting SMEs in countries like Georgia, helping them take full advantage of the open market opportunities the DCFTA offers. “We all know how important SMEs are for the economy of the country and, in particular, in the case of Georgia; how

important it is to support the modernization and competitiveness of SMEs,” said Bruno Balvanera. “Within the Association Agreement and the DCFTA Georgia signed with EU are a number of obligations for SMEs to improve quality in order not only to access the European market, but also for production for the local market. In order to be able to reach the European market, Georgian companies need to have good quality products at a competitive price. SMEs in Georgia will have significant pressure to modernize their own companies and this is why the EU has offered a grant to partially finance the modernization of said companies.”

He added that of $100 million, $60 million will go towards the modernization of the companies. Via TBC Bank, EBRD will be able to offer over five years of financing in Lari at a competitive rate, plus a grant of 10 to 15% of the investment cost, depending on the type of investment. “We’re signing an agreement with which we’re receiving GEL 240 million financial resources- the largest we’ve ever received. We’ve been closely cooperating with EBRD all through these years, and we’ll ensure that our clients will fully benefit from this collaboration,” said Badri Japaridze, prior to signing the agreement.


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SOCIETY

GEORGIA TODAY

MAY 5 - 8, 2017

CoE Know-How on Child (& Early) Marriages: Education, Education, Education! Continued from page 1

THE GENERAL AUDIENCE IN GEORGIA NEEDS SOME EUROPEAN KNOWHOW, AS THESE BELIEFS ARE DEEPLY ROOTED IN SOCIETY, ESPECIALLY IN MUSLIM ETHNIC MINORITIES I understand that. It’s a problem not only in Georgia, of course. But the Istanbul Convention prevents forced marriages, and, in particular, refers to child marriages. Because these are young people who often marry under pressure from families, parents or from their communities. They are not necessarily brought to the altar with a gun to their heads, but nevertheless they feel a certain amount of pressure. And these are children. And we must not forget that marriage is not just a contract, it’s actually a legal change of status. And it also means that the people involved, the girls and boys getting married, will likely drop out of school. This then becomes a problem because subsequently they are deprived of economic independence. Thus, the whole cycle of early marriage and then being stuck in that situation is perpetuated from one generation to another. This is one of the reasons why the drafters of the Istanbul Convention said that the issue of forced marriage was very important but also, as I said, child marriage. In the same way that a child cannot be considered able to give consent to sexual activity, one should question very much whether the child is able to freely give his/her consent to marriage.

WHAT CAN BE DONE TO DISCOURAGE PEOPLE FROM FOLLOWING WHAT THEY BELIEVE IS A RESPECTED TRADITION, WHILE AVOIDING CONFLICT? This is obviously a very difficult and sensitive issue. The Istanbul Convention works on the basis of what we call the “four pillars” – prevention, protection, prosecution and coordinated policies. And in this area the most important work really to be done is prevention and awareness-raising: raising awareness among these communities of the damage they could do to children who are involved and of the fact that it would be more worthwhile for the communities, and for the wellbeing of their children, that said children be well developed and fully educated. I think we have to educate the whole community. It comes down to education, education, education - the education of children and the education of parents and their families.

EDUCATING PARENTS MIGHT BE AN ISSUE. WHAT IF THEY DON’T WANT THAT EDUCATION, BEING SO STUCK IN THEIR DEEP TRADITIONS? That’s where awareness campaigning, publicity, media, can get message out there that European

standards are such that early and forced marriages are really not acceptable. And indeed, according to the Istanbul Convention, forced marriage is a crime. It’s clearly wrong to make somebody go through changes of civil status, become husband or wife, when they do not want to do so. Parents have to realize that.

Smart Kids - Winners of Millenium Innovations Award Visit NASA

IMAGINE TWO 17 YEAR OLDS. BOTH THEIR PARENTS AND SOCIETY WELCOME THEIR MARRIAGE. THEY ALSO WANT TO LIVE TOGETHER AND BE MARRIED. IS IT SOMETHING WE NEED TO OVERCOME? I don’t think it should necessarily be prohibited if the two people involved are truly willing and truly ready to be married. And the way to deal with that in a number of countries where children are underage and are willing to be married is to get the consent to that marriage of a judge who can take the facts into consideration. You know there are some 17 year olds that are very mature and there are some 17 year olds who are immature and cannot make such a decision.

WHAT ROLE CAN THE CHURCH PLAY? THE MAJORITY OF EARLY AND CHILD MARRIAGES ARE BLESSED BY CHURCH MEMBERS. TIME FOR A CHANGE? Well, I think so, yes. But let’s not forget that many churches are very patriarchal and mostly run by men in power who are happy to see these practices continue. There is a gender factor in all these questions.

WHAT DO YOU MEAN BY 'GENDER FACTOR'? What I'm saying is that the gender element in violence against women is not a question of violence against a certain group of people: it’s violence against women because they are women. It’s a form of discrimination against women; it’s a violation of their human rights and this is the founding principle of the entire Istanbul Convention. And, therefore, included in that is forced marriage. It is not necessarily saying that two people getting married at the age of 17 is forced marriage, and in most countries when such is requested it is not forbidden, but it is recognized that a third party is needed who can judge whether or not consent has been freely given. And as regards the Church, the only thing I can suggest is still more education and awareness raising. It's a question of talking to people, it’s a question of dialogue, of explaining why this might not be a good idea; it's a question of remembering that it effects the economic empowerment of both boys and girls. If a couple gets married at 17 and immediately starts having a family, it reduces their possibilities of earning a living. I think it’s very clear that early marriage can be a problem in a number of cases.

The winners this week at NASA (USA)

BY NINO GUGUNISHVILI

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he first prize winners of the Millenium Innovations Award, a team of 8th graders called Smart Kids from the Zugdidi Alexi Shushania public school- Natia Shamatava, Dea Chitaia, Aleksi Tkebuchava, Lika Kokaia and Gvantsa Chiqovani- have been sent on an educational program at the Space Center University: NASA, in Houston, US. They are the first Georgians to participate in the program. The goal of the Millenium Innovations Award is to inspire youth to be interested in new technologies. First held in 2015, the competition is supported by the US Embassy to Georgia, with Geocell joining its supporters from 2016. The Smart Kids’s Geological Threats project, which led to the team of five to win the Millenium Innovations Award early this year, is an earlywarning system for areas at risk from potential landslides. “Our project makes it possible to notify the

population in certain areas of any possible landslide threats, in advance. The data is sent to a central server and to registered people within the territory at risk, thus giving them enough time to evacuate,” Gvantsa Chikovani, one of the team members, explained at a gathering in Geocell Hub Vake last Saturday prior to their departure to US. “Georgia is considered a high-risk area for landslides,” said another team member, Lika Kokaia. “Samegrelo is regarded geologically as one of the most dangerous parts of the country. A flood severely damaged the road to our school in Senaki in 2016, and that was when we decided to make a device that could notify in advance about the potential threats.” “Devices preventing landslides are usually expensive and inflexible- often not adapted to a concrete landscape,” said Smart Kids member Natia Shamatava. “Specific areas of our country need specific configurations. Construction and production of a flexible notification system in Georgia would be much cheaper and at the same time would give us a chance to cover all the critical areas in the country.” In the Smart Kids invention, magnets are placed on the ground with censors placed several millimetres ahead and connected to a microprocessor which sends information to a central server on potential threats, through a GSM module. The information can be received via mobile application, which enables monitoring of the vibration in the ground. As soon as a set limit of vibration is noted, the mobile application sends SMS notifications to the registered population in the area. As the Smart Kids team members pointed out, their invention is cheap, adaptable to any geographical relief, is stable, provides accurate information and can be produced in Georgia. The second prize of the Millenium Innovation Award this year went to two teams: ‘Borjgaloroveri,’ presenting the project Engine for the Moon Rover and the team ‘17’ with the project Magnetic Elevator. Members of the Borjgaloroveri team are students Giorgi Margiani and Giorgi Nioradze from New Lyceum Aia GESS, while team 17 is made up of Giorgi Pkhakadze, Oleg Jachvliani and Nino Khetsuriani from Kutaisi N17 Public School. The third prize went to brothers Kosta and Giorgi Butbaias from Komarov Public School 199, and School-Lyceum Mtsignobartukhutsesi, for their Smart Parking project. “We would like to thank Geocell for their support, for making these children’s dreams come true and for keeping them motivated,” said the mother of one of the Smart Kids members. Anna Berdzenadze, a Ministry of Internal Affairs Program Coordinator who is accompanying the winners to the US, announced that the Georgian Innovation and Technology Agency is providing a 5000 GEL grant to the teams who won first, second and third places for development of their projects, while the Georgian Oil and Gas Corporation will work with the teams, assisting them in research in order to produce high quality prototypes.


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SOCIETY

Camp Day: Becho, Svaneti

GEORGIA TODAY

MAY 5 - 8, 2017

Head of Tbilisi Kindergarten Management Agency on Kindergarten Reforms INTERVIEW BY NINO GUGUNISHVILI

T BY TONY HANMER

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he dates all changed. A weekend training session for Georgian teachers wouldhappeninTskhaltubo, near Kutaisi: the weekend we had chosen for the Becho children’s camp in the schoolyard. And (as I wrote last week) I was to be away with my wife on the days chosen at the last minute to replace those unavailable ones: her aunt had died near Chiatura and we must go to the funeral. So regretfully I bowed out, promising that if someone would take photos, I could at least interview people about the event upon returning. We are encouraged to come up with special projects as part of our teaching; the camp was the brainchild of one of the more active teachers, and it began some time prior with the Shabatoba (or Subbotnik in Russian, i.e. not really voluntary work day) of which I have also already written. The paper pennants on their strings festooning Svaneti’s best schoolyard survived a bit of rain, and the newly arranged day turned out sunny and fine. Pupils, with some adults’ help, had erected three sets of benches and tables, one per team. Teams had names, changed several times before settling on suitably thematically competitive ones. I suggested several traditional English picnic events, such as a sack race and three-legged race, as well as a water balloon toss with gradually increasing distances to add to the tension; and a few language-based competitions, too. These included putting the jumbled up words of a sentence in the correct order, mak-

ing as many smaller words as possible from “Mediterranean”, and so on. My main co-teacher, Manana, also had a couple of her best pupils imitate a foreigner asking a local for tourism details of Becho, and being given a good rundown of the place, the main lodestone of which is undoubtedly that towering mountain presence, Ushba: that view pulls them in like a magnet! The best thing said about the whole day was by more than one parent, who claimed that in living memory no such amazing event had taken place in Becho. It had been hoped to stretch over two days, not just one, but the second day was one of torrential rain, followed, yes, by about eight inches of snow on the weekend, so that put a full stop to that. Quit while you’re ahead, and give everyone a fine memory of how it went, with possibilities for more in the future. And indeed, this is the intent: We’re considering a five-day camp in the summer holidays, with hopefully some fundraising via outside sources- a real extravaganza! With this as its successfully tested starting point, we can only expand. There is much more time to prepare, too, to evaluate and improve things. Make it an annual thing? Why not? Tony Hanmer has lived in Georgia since 1999, in Svaneti since 2007, and been a weekly writer for GT since early 2011. He runs the “Svaneti Renaissance” Facebook group, now with over 1350 members, at www.facebook.com/groups/SvanetiRenaissance/ He and his wife also run their own guest house in Etseri: www.facebook.com/hanmer.house.svaneti

he Tbilisi Kindergarten Management Agency aims to create a comfortable, healthy and friendly environment for the youngest citizens to live and be raised in. The agency works in multiple directions and has an essential responsibility, from maintaining existing infrastructure to establishing new infrastructure, from improving and renewing educational programs to ensuring the high standards of sanitary, hygiene and nutrition norms are met. The Agency unites 166 Tbilisi kindergartens. It monitors and controls the work of each kindergarten teacher and its technical staff and it works on methodology and various projects aimed at improving the legislative base. “We’re the closest to kindergartens and we know first-hand what the legislation system is facing today. The fact that kindergartens are free and accessible to everyone is crucial,” says Temur Tordinava, Head of Tbilisi Kindergarten Management Agency.

HOW WOULD YOU CHARACTERIZE THE SITUATION IN TBILISI KINDERGARTENS TODAY? TEMUR: We have made a lot of ambitious reforms- too many to mention here. In order to get an idea what the situation looks like in Tbilisi kindergartens today, we have to understand what it was like three years ago. The situation we inherited was difficult, with 50 kindergartens closed, others with outdated interior and outdoor infrastructure, many severely damaged and urgently in need of repair. The majority of kindergartens had no fences, so child safety was a serious issue. The heating systems didn’t work and the kindergarten yards needed repair works, too. Our first step was to find additional spaces in kindergartens; adding and opening new groups for children so that 5500 additional children could be registered over three years. Simultaneously, we started building new kindergartens, which hadn’t happened in Tbilisi since the 1980s. Seven kindergartens were built in different districts of Tbilisi, 10 more are currently underway, with five of those to be opened in September. These will take in 2000 children and provide employment for 350 individuals. In addition, we’re going to start building eight more kindergartens this year. The development of Tbilisi kindergartens was one of the key parts of Tbilisi Mayor Davit Narmania’s election program and it’s 100% fulfilled. It’s the political will and an important decision from the new government.

10 Galaktion Street

WHAT WOULD YOU HIGHLIGHT AS THE MOST IMPORTANT CHANGE? Infrastructure is our strongest achievement and I will not tire you with more details. Another important change is the nutrition reform we’ve initialized, following which the products and meals in kindergartens are maximally controlled, with a menu answering particular standards and calorie requirements. We’re also extremely proud that while building new kindergartens and re-opening the groups that were previously closed, in the last three years we created 1600 new workplaces. The hygiene and sanitation standards have been improved, toilets renovated, and new standards for cleaning have been set with the usage of high quality desinfection products now a must. The kitchen renovations are especially impressivethey’ve been equipped with new inventory in compliance with international standards. Thanks to these renovations, people working in the kitchen block have better working conditions. The rehabilitation of buildings, care of yards, and provision of sports equipment are also very important changes. Some 90% of kindergartens lacked these very things not so long ago.

TELL US MORE ABOUT THE NUTRITION REFORM In order to improve child nutrition in kindergartens, a single menu was created for all of them and the food ration became more diverse. An agreement was signed with an experienced and trustworthy company which has ISO and HACCP certificates, meaning that for the first time ever, Tbilisi Kindergartens have nutrition plans in accordance with international standards. The same company is in charge of the professional re-training of personnel working in the kitchen blocks. We also have product control on the highest level. The National Food Agency is also engaged in the process and our monitoring service controls food quality on a daily basis. I can say that today we have an ideal situation with regards to nutrition in our city’s kindergartens.

TELL US ABOUT THE PROJECT OF SPEECH THERAPISTS AND PSYCHOLOGISTS IN THE KINDERGARTENS This is yet another ambitious and important projectofours,whichhasbroughtenormous results to the children with special needs and their families. The services of such therapists and teachers are quite expensive not only in Georgia, but in other countries, too, yet we’re offering it free of charge. What is most important here is that in order to assist a child in its development, any problems are identified and handled from a very early age; accordingly, the therapy is much more effective. We have already signed an

agreement with Ilia State University which ensures the re-training of the teachers, psychologists and speech therapists already working in the system. Overall, 400 employees will have higher qualifications. As a part of this project, a special manual will be created for the psychologists, speech therapists and specialized teachers employed within the sphere. It is a very important novelty that has never been done before in Georgian kindergartens.

WHY DO YOU THINK THESE MEASURES WERE NECESSARY? Assisting a child’s intellectual and physical development is one of the primary functions of a kindergarten. Psychologists and speech therapists play a key role in that process, as we often encounter behavioral problems or problems related to speaking ability. The goal of the kindergarten is to solve these problems if possible at an early age and the role of psychologists and therapists is very important in this. It was our responsibility to create an environment in the kindergartens where children with special needs can be integrated into the educationalprocess.Iwouldsayweachieved that and, compared to last year’s results, the number of children with special needs in kindergartens has doubled. This means that families with children with special needs trust us, and this is an excellent result showing how well the inclusive education system is working.

HOW ADAPTED ARE KINDERGARTENS FOR CHILDREN WITH SPECIAL NEEDS? The adaptation of 35 kindergartens for children with special needs was carried out in 2016, 34 more will be adapted this year, 20 kindergartens had simple adaptation and seven of the new kindergartens are also adapted as written into the projects from the start. All future new kindergartens will be adapted as standard.

WHAT CHALLENGES HAVE YOU ENCOUNTERED AND HOW HAVE YOU OVERCOME THEM? Naturally, there still are challenges. Retraining teachers and ensuring they receive higher qualifications is one of the biggest. Works are ongoing for the infrastructure improvement of kindergartens. Although the infrastructure is better compared to previous years, many things have yet to be done. We’re trying to overcome those difficulties step by step. In some kindergartens the groups are rather big and we need to continue building new kindergartens in the coming years. Finally, according to the law on early and preschool education, before October 1, 2017, technical regulations will be set, and ensuring those regulation requirements are fully met will be our main challenge.

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


SOCIETY

GEORGIA TODAY MAY 5 - 8, 2017

Putting the Reforms into Practice: Meet a Kindergarten Director BY NINO GUGUNISHVILI

F

ollowing an informative interview with Temur Tordinava, Head of the Tbilisi Kindergarten Management Agency [see page 8] we decided to check out a case in point and, after a number of recommendations, chose kindergarten No.162 in Okrokhana, a village on the mount above Tbilisi, there meeting its director, Nino Tsiklauri. The kindergarten is set in the center of a typical Georgian village, with cows trundling past the gate twice a day, and is surrounded by pine trees and an expansive yard with flowers planted by the young attendees themselves. The children all wear smiles and appear alert and energetic. No shouting can be heard from the teachers or other staff, who know all the children by name, and the air is one of peace and warmth. Last year, a number of restoration works took place there within the reform program of the Tbilisi Kindergarten Management Agency (TKMA)- the entrance, administration office, one nursery classroom and dormitory, the bathrooms, kitchen and the second-floor assembly hall were totally renovated. This was, Nino told us, the first facelift they’d had since the kindergarten opened in 1986. The staff of 27 at the kindergarten in Okrokhana cares for 115 children in four classes of maximum 35 children, each group supported by two teachers. The kindergarten mainly serves local children, however, some parents even bring their offspring from Tbilisi and nearby villages. Prior to starting her job as a kindergarten director in 2015, Nino Tsiklauri was the director of public school number 214. As a pre-school education specialist, Nino says she was always worried about the fact that children entering school were often completely unprepared. She notes that one of the reforms that has proven most successful so far is the school readiness program, through which children aged five and six are given the skills and general knowledge necessary to enter the first grade of school at the age of six. Another major breakthrough Nino points out is the nutrition reform in kindergartens which sees the company ‘Elfi’ now responsible for providing the highest quality food to kindergarten children and who was also charged with re-training kindergarten kitchen personnel in terms of international best practice and hygiene [see page 8]. “Thanks to the enormous efforts of the TKMA and Tbilisi Municipality, public kindergartens in Tbilisi can now compete with private ones- not only with regards nutrition and the educational process, but in so many other positive ways,” Nino says. She tells us about the newly established exhibition-festival of children’s drawings ‘With little Hands’ organized by TKMA and held in all Tbilisi kindergartens. The teachers present the best artworks of their children for a final exhibition-auction to be held publicly on June 3 on the New Aghmashenebeli pedestrian street.

All funds raised will be donated to the Solidarity Fund and its beneficiaries. “Two weeks ago, well-known artist and children’s entertainer Zaal Sulakauri (Zaliko) came up to the Okrokhana kindergarten to help us choose the best works,” Nino says. “The children were very excited to see him on their ‘home territory’ and to take some small drawing lessons with him”. Kindergarten 162 makes it a mission to engage its children in various educational and social awareness-raising activities, from projects about caring for the planet, learning how books are made and attending theater performances at the Tbilisi Nodar Dumbadze Youth Theater, to litter-picking in a small area of the Mtastminda forest and planting flowers in the kindergarten yard. “We’re trying to teach them from a very early age that they should take care of and love their country,” Nino says. “When choosing a certain theme, we first talk with our methodist to work out the best way to explore it with the children. One of the projects within the school readiness projects considers exploring the topic of books, and so we took our children to Bakur Sulakauri publishing house to see the whole process from designing to printing. The children got to see behind the scenes and to take away some free books with an added level of inspiration to learn to read them”. “We think that love for books is extremely important and we’re always trying to interest them in reading,” Nino says, adding that they’re also encouraging children to be technologically savvy, too, recounting how a group of a children went to GAU university to see robot Piperoni, who speaks 19 languages: “The

children were very excited to meet him,” Nino says. “We want to get the children out of the routine. Kindergarten is not just about feeding and caring for children several hours a day, teaching them poems, songs and dances: we want to give them more and to help them be prepared for school. The school readiness program initiated under the aegis of UNICEF is a huge support for us in this,” Nino emphasizes. Inclusive education is another key point of the recent reform and, thanks to TKMA, psychologists, teachers for children with special needs and speech therapists are now available in all Tbilisi kindergartens. One of the major problems Nino highlighted during our interview is the lack of human resources and the need for retraining. “I’m extremely grateful to my staff: they work with so much dedication and energy… and yet innovation is still needed. Creating a comfortable environment and providing a good nutritional program for a child is very important, but it’s not enough if there’s no content and no-one is there to guide and develop the child in the right way. Re-training is crucial and more is needed,” she says. We asked her to visualize her ideal kindergarten. “My mission and goal is to have an educated, skilled and healthy young generation. The educational process has to be practical as well as theoretical, as it’s through practical lessons that children learn best. I have a healthy ambition to make this kindergarten successful and progressive. We still have many plans for the future and we always feel the support of TKMA and Tbilisi Municipality, and I would like to truly thank them for that.”

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GEORGIA TODAY

MAY 5 - 8, 2017

WHAT’S ON IN TBILISI THEATER

GABRIADZE THEATER Address: 13 Shavtelis Str. Telephone: 2 98 65 93

May 6 SCARLET SAIL Alexander Grin Directed by Avtandil Varsimashvili Language: Russian Start time: 12:00 Ticket: 10 GEL

May 5 MARSHAL DE FANTIE’S DIAMOND Rezo Gabriadze Directed by Rezo Gabriadze English Subtitles Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 10, 15, 20 GEL

TBILISI VASO ABASHIDZE MUSIC AND DRAMA STATE THEATER Address: 182 D.Agmashenebeli Ave. Telephone: 2 34 80 90 www.musictheatre.ge

May 6, 7, 9 STALINGRAD Rezo Gabriadze Directed by Rezo Gabriadze English Subtitles Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 10, 15, 20 GEL

May 5 THREE SISTERS A. Chekhov Choreography: Kote Purtseladze Choreographical drama Start time: 19:00 Ticket: From 8 GEL

May 11 AUTUMN OF MY SPRING Rezo Gabriadze Directed by Rezo Gabriadze English Subtitles Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 10, 15, 20 GEL

May 6 MIDSUMMER NIGHT DREAM William Shakespeare Directed by Davit Doiashvili Musical Start time: 19:00 Ticket: From 8 GEL

MOVEMENT THEATER Address: 182, Aghmashenebeli Ave., Mushthaid park Telephone: 599 555 260

May 7 DIVORCE Giorgi Eristavi Directed by Davit Doiashvili Musical Comedy Start time: 19:00 Ticket: From 8 GEL

May 5, 7 LABYRINTH Directed by Kakha Bakuradze Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 15 GEL May 6, 7 Cement Zone Directed by Kakha Bakuradze Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 15 GEL May 11 THE TEMPEST William Shakespeare Directed by Ioseb Bakuradze Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 15 GEL GRIBOEDOVI THEATER Address: 2 Rustaveli Ave. Telephone: 2 93 43 36 May 5, 6 ALGERIA Premiere Directed by Avtandil Varsimashvili Language: Russian Start time: 18:00 Ticket: 10 GEL

GEORGIAN STATE PANTOMIME THEATER Address: 37 Rustaveli Ave. Telephone: 2 99 63 14 May 5, 6 SAINT GEORGE Directed by Amiran Shalikashvili Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 12 GEL MUSEUM

MOMA TBILISI Address: 27 Rustaveli Ave. Telephone: 2 98 60 30 May 4-8 Chubika’s Exhibition I START SEEING AND HEARING… May 6-8 Simon Machabeli’s exhibition ILLUSION OF THE SACRAMENT (017TIFLIS) Simon Machabeli presents

his recent work in progressdirectional, thought-provoking video concept, a capsule collection that demonstrates his unorthodox, singular mastery of a modern, artisanal fashion production. GALLERY

THE NATIONAL GALLERY Address: 11 Rustaveli Ave. www.museum.ge GEORGIAN PAINTERS PERMANENT EXHIBITION May 4 – June 2 EXHIBITION DEDICATED TO 100th ANNIVERSARY OF ROBERT STURUA. The exhibition showcases paintings created by Robert Sturua- portraits, landscapes, religious paintings and more. May 5 – June 7 EXHIBITION BACH EXERCISES BY LEVAN LAGIDZE Artworks by Levan Lagidze created in 2016-2017: "At the crossroad of different epochs, the necessity to verify the universal measurement and intercultural vision of art has become evident.” May 5 –24 GROUP EXHIBITION THE LIBRARY OF COLORS The exhibition showcases paintings by Georgian and Armenian artists - Gia Gugushvili (Rector of Tbilisi State Academy of Arts) and Aram Isabekyan (Rector of Yerevan State Academy of Arts), as well as young artists - Mariam Gugushvili and Arthur Hovhannisyan KOLGA TBILISI PHOTO 2013 www.kolga.ge May 5 KOLGA AWARD 2017 EXHIBITION Opening: 20:00 COMPLETE THE PAINTING Team: Tezi Gabunia, Dato Tsanava, Otto Shengelia, Gvantsa Gabunia, Dato Koroshinadze Opening: 20:00 Address: Art-space at the hippodrome park, 13 Tamarashvili Str.

May 6 THE FUTURE IS OURS Curated by Teona Gogichaishvili & Inga Schneider; EXODUS – PEOPLE IN FLIGHT Nikos Pilos; UNDAUNTED Four Women in Kabul, Their Struggle & Their Dreams Lela Ahmadzai Opening: 18:00 Address: I. Grishashvili Tbilisi History Museum May 7 SECRET LIFE OF TREES Nata Sopromadze Opening: 15:00 Address: Home Gallery, 13 Betlemi Str. IRAN, AN OPEN PORTFOLIO Curated by Ali Akbar Shirjian; BURIED REFLECTIONS IN SILO Francesco Merlini, Samuele Pellecchia, Devin Yalkin and Igor Posner; Manaba Curated by Lika Mamatsashvili Opening: 18:00 Address: I. Grishashvili Tbilisi History Museum

Curated by Tina Schelhorn Opening: 20:00 Address: Z. Tsereteli Museum of Modern Art, 27 Rustaveli Ave. May 11 CELEBRATION Curated by Giorgi Kakabadze Opening: 18:00 Address: National Archives of Georgia, 1 Vazha-Pshavela Ave. DIVERSE LAND Media platform Chai Khana Opening: 20:00 Address: I. Grishashvili Tbilisi History Museum FABRIKA Address: 8 Ninoshvili Str. May 2-13 Project ArtBeat presents LADO POCHKHUA THE BOOK FOR THE NEW ARISTOCRACY MUSIC

TBILISI CONCERT HALL Address: 1 Melikishvili St. Telephone: 2 99 00 99

May 8 PURITY David Magnusson Opening: 18:00 Address: TBC Art Gallery, 7 Marjanishvili Str.

May 9 NIAZ DIASAMIDZE & 33A 20TH ANNIVERSARY Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 25-40 GEL

A POLAROID FOR A REFUGEE Giovanna Del Sarto Opening: 20:00 Address: Gallery Fotografia, 21 Revaz Tabukashvili Str.

May 11 ILIKO SUKHISHVILI 110TH ANNIVERSARY CONCERT Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 40-50 GEL

May 9 BREAKING THE ICE Professional Networking Platform MyAngle Opening: 20:00 Address: Art Area Gallery, 10 D. Abashidze Str. BROKEN FLOWERS FROM THE SERIES LES SENTIMENTS PERDUS Horst Kistner Opening: 18:00 Address: Art Palace, 6 Kargareteli Str. FAUNA- WILD BEASTS, SHEEP & CROCODILES

TBILISI EVENT HALL Address: 1 Melikishvili St. Telephone: 2 99 00 99 May 5 IRAKLI FIRTSKHALAVA Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 30 GEL May 6 DAVID SHANI SOLO CONCERT Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 10-30 GEL TBILISI STATE CONSERVATOIRE Address: 8 Griboedov St. Telephone: 2 93 46 24 May 6 SYMPHONY & CHOIR MUSIC CONCERT J.ROSSINI - STABAT MATER VANO SARAJISHVILI TBILISI STATE CONSERVATOIRE SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA AND CHORUS Start time: 19:00 Ticket: 5-15 GEL May 7 ELISABETH LEONSKAJA (PIANO) Start time: 19:00 Ticket: 5-15 GEL May 10 DAVID & NODAR ANDGHULADZE STUDIO CONCERT Start time: 19:00 Ticket: 5-15 GEL May 11 100 YEARS OF GEORGIAN MUSIC Concert – Marathon Choir & Chamber-Instrumental Music Start time: 19:00 Ticket: 5-15 GEL FABRIKA Address: 8 Ninoshvili Str. May 6 REGGAE NIGHT WITH G-RAS Start time: 21:00 Ticket: 15 GEL


CULTURE

GEORGIA TODAY MAY 5 - 8, 2017

11

Georgian Railway Professional Trade Union Holds Congress BY THEA MORRISON

Lost Legends T OP-ED BY NUGZAR B. RUHADZE

T

he night before last, I routinely opened my inbox and behold what I found there: the trailer of a 120-minute Georgian feature film in-the-making about the legendary Ekvtime Takaishvili – the nation’s pride and conscience, a man of God, as the title of the movie described him appreciatively. The delightful mail was from the young Georgian director, producer and script-writer, graduate of The Los Angeles Film School, Nikoloz Khomasuridze, who, in 2014, founded a company called LOST LEGENDS, aimed at bringing back to life the most outstanding Georgian historical stories and heroic characters. One of Georgia’s most reliable and honest pedagogues, historian, and archaeologist Ekvtime Takaishvili was among the founders of Tbilisi State University. Yet fate would have it that he found himself in France in 1921 following the elimination of Georgia’s fragile independence by the newly established soviet power. He took with him the Georgian national treasury – numerous valuable and highly-prized pieces of Georgian art and other samples of our national material heritage. Attempts to purchase parts of the treasury were made by certain renowned European museums, and not only: even crooks and thieves were interested in getting their paws on the Georgian artifacts. Some offered huge sums for the exhibits, some threatened to kill him, but Ekvtime would never succumb to temptation or fear, and it occurred to that great Georgian not once to sell even a single piece of the precious collection, notwithstanding his suffering extreme economic hardship throughout his 24-year exile. His wonderful wife and real comrade-in-arms, Nino Poltoratskaya, patiently and valiantly stood by her husband in the unendurable fight to preserving, intact, the most valuable national property. Thanks to this eminent Georgian gentleman, the national treasury was finally brought home, also in many ways thanks to Joseph Stalin's good rela-

tions with General Charles de Gaulle, in April 1945, landing safely back in Tbilisi airport. This is the story that triggered the idea of shooting the much-awaited feature film about Ekvtime Takaishvili, financially supported by director Khomasuridze himself, about 5,000 Georgian patriots and several patriotically-minded companies. With the help of their contributions, 105 minutes of the film have been shot, but 15 minutes of the film still remain to be done. The process has been ongoing since 19 May 2015, and, of course, it will not stop until the job is complete. I was fascinated by the excerpts I was sent and can’t wait to see the entire movie on the big screens of Georgia and the rest of the world. The creative team was recently in France to shoot scenes in Paris and Leuville. The final footage will be completed on May 26 in Tbilisi, reflecting the arrival of Ekvtime Takaishvili and the Georgian treasury with him. As a matter of fact, never in the history of independent movie-making has a historical feature film of this caliber been shot exclusively with the help of popular fund-raising and without the involvement of any state organization. In addition to its art value and tremendously enticing plot, the film about a dedicated and selfsacrificing patriot and his amazing love story will serve as an example for the generations to come in this country and beyond. We will see wonderful actor Rezo Chkhikvishvili in the role of the great Ekvtime, playing masterfully and with utmost sincerity in a high-class performance. Keep your eyes open for the finale on www.EKVTI.me and www. fb.com/ekvtimefilm. This country and its people are eager to see the shooting of this film finalized. It is our people’s product and property, as is the Georgian Treasure itself, saved and preserved by Georgia’s own Saint Ekvtime Takaishvili.

General Secretary of the European Transport Federation and Secretary General of the International Confederation of Railways and Railway Transport, which further increases the legitimacy of the congress. Benoit Vienne, General Secretary of the European Transport Federation, addressed the congress participants.

If you want to donate to the film-making cause, here are the details (for payments in USD): TBC Bank Head Office / SWIFTCODE - TBCBGE22 / # GE66 TB70 6673 6020 1000 04 / Receiver - LOST LEGENDS LLC / Address #35 Gazapkhuli str. Tbilisi 0177 Sakartvelo (Georgia)

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GEORGIA TODAY

he Georgian Railway Trade Union held the XIV reporting and election congress in Tbilisi. A total of 145 delegates participated in the congress. The delegates chose Zurab Nasaraia as the chairmen of the Georgian RailwayTrade Union, and board members were also elected. The participants also approved the 2017-2021 Action Plan and discussed the union's future plans. The report of activities carried out by the ControlRevision Commission and the Board of the Union was presented, and representatives of the French Railway Trade Union UNSA, the Chairs of the Railway Unions of Hungary, Lithuania, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Russia, Azerbaijan and Armenia attended the congress as special guests. Additionally, the meeting was attended by the

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Editor-In-Chief: Katie Ruth Davies

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CULTURE

GEORGIA TODAY

MAY 5 - 8, 2017

New Translations of Knight in the Panther’s Skin: English, German, Chechen & Arabic BY MAKA LOMADZE

O

n May 2, at the Exhibition Hall of the Central Library of Ivane Javakhishvili Tbilisi State University (TSU), the presentation of the translations into four languages of the most precious Georgian book of all times, Shota Rustaveli’s ‘Knight in the Panther’s Skin’ took place. 2016 was declared the year of Shota Rustaveli by UNESCO and has so far turned out to be very fruitful, with the list of numerous translations added to with new English, German, Arabic and Chechen versions. Copies of each were gifted to the library. “Since its establishment, the Tbilisi State University has been researching Knight in the Panther’s Skin and it was here that Rustvelology as a branch of philology was formed,” said Zurab Gaiparashvili, Director of the Library. Mikheil Chkhenkeli, pro-rector of TSU, congratulated the librarians on the International Day of Librarians celebrated on April 30. “It is a very important day for us. Other nations will be able to get acquainted or reacquainted with the

main monument of Georgian literature. I would like to thank the translators and publishers for this.” “Lin Coffin is the American poetess and translator who made this translation,” said Nato Alkhazishvili, Director

of the Publishing House ‘Poetry,’ which published the latest English translation of Knight in the Panther’s Skin in 2015. “It won the main literary award of Georgia [Saba] for best translation. This book is unique because it is the first time we

have a translation with quatrains of 16-syllable lines, just as it is in the original. To date, we have had four other translations. The first ever, and most famous English translation of the poem, belongs to Marjory Wardrop. Yet all were translations in prose. This is the first time we have it in poetry. As [one of the most distinguished] Kartvelologists noted, Lin Coffin has been able to achieve something that seemed impossible. From now on, English readers, who are numerous, will be able to see both the beauty as well as the wisdom of our greatest poem. This year, we also published the Georgian-English aphorisms from Knight in the Panther’s Skin, based on this translation, which can also be seen in the Library.” The German translation, managed by Rusudan Mosidze, is the second one in this language since 1955, when the first German translation was published. The former was published in Vienna. Chechen translations also existed before, but were destroyed. The latest translation was presented by Meka Khangoshvili, Representative of the Chechen Diaspora to Georgia, who is also the Counselor to the State Minister on Reintegration Issues. “I’m very proud that I was given a chance to feel the

whole beauty of ‘Knight in the Panther’s Skin’ in the original language. I can tell you that it also sounds very good in Chechen. I’m very glad that Chechen translations are always close to the original texts. Muzaev, the translator, used both the Russian and Georgian texts and, with the help of Georgians and Kists (Chechens living in Georgia), the 16-syllable line system has been preserved in translation. Knight in the Panther’s Skin was published for the first time in Chechen in 1969. I know for sure that several copies survived destruction in private collections, and I’m glad that now we have 5,000 new copies”. The history of translations of Knight in the Panther’s Skin began in 1802. After the Russian version, it was translated into many languages including those of the post-soviet countries, as well as French, German, English, Spanish, Italian, Chinese, Japanese, Arabian, Jewish, Hindi, and more. The most ancient printed version of Knight in the Panther’s Skin is in Georgian and dates back to 1712. A copy is preserved in the TSU library. The exhibition hall is currently showcasing copies of the foreign editions of the poem which are stored in this library, waiting for you to come and enjoy!

Issue #943  

May 5 - 8, 2017