Issue no: 1089
• OCTOBER 5 - 8, 2018
• PUBLISHED TWICE WEEKLY
PRICE: GEL 2.50
In this week’s issue... ICRC Visits Detained Georgian Woman in Occupied S. Ossetia NEWS PAGE 3
Goodbye, Mr. President
FOCUS ON OPEN DOORS
Georgia once again receives a positive message about its NATO future
POLITICS PAGE 4
Marriott International’s Hot New Hotel Brand Officially Opens in Tbilisi
BUSINESS PAGE 9
‘Greenway Georgia’ European-Standard Technical Inspection Network Centers to Open across Georgia BY MARIAM MERABISHVILI
China’s 69th Anniversary Celebration in Tbilisi SOCIETY PAGE 10
Resolution of Silence: Abkhazia
wenty-six centers for the technical inspection of vehicles, equipped to the latest standards, mobile service centers for the mountainous regions, 350 new jobs, and a fast and comfortable tech-service are the main goals of Greenway Georgia, a European-standards Georgian company working to revolutionize and clean up Georgia’s transport. Within the Association Agreement, Georgia took on the obligation to carry out a Tech Inspection system reform for vehicles. From October 1, inspection became mandatory for cars with an engine displacement of 3.0 or more, and from January 2019, all car owners will need to get their vehicles inspected regularly. Greenway Georgia's main objective is to make the necessary processes of the Tech Inspection quick and safe. Therefore, international experience and strong partners were identified as vital. Seeking high standards, Greenway Georgia launched operations with the world's leading company Applus+, which is represented in 70 countries and has invaluable experience in Tech Inspection. “Applus+ is a very important factor for the upand-coming Georgian market of Tech Inspection and demonstrates that the Greenway Georgia service will be in line with international stand-
CULTURE PAGE 15
ards, the main advantage of which will be a quick, reliable, flexible and secure service," said Teona Chkadua, Commercial Director of Greenway. Greenway Georgia has also established a partnership with the leading inspecting technology company Actia, allowing for inspections that will meet the latest technological requirements.
Commercial Director of Greenway Georgia, Teona Chkadua; the company's Technical Director, Levan Abramishvili; and strategic partner, Vice-Owner of Applus+, Hans-Jürgen Schimpgen, discussed already implemented and planned works in detail on October 2 at the Rooms Hotel. Continued on page 2
OCTOBER 5 - 8, 2018
‘Greenway Georgia’ EuropeanStandard Technical Inspection Network Centers to Open across Georgia
Stoltenberg: Georgia among NATO's Closest Partners BY THEA MORRISON
Continued from page 1
“The new Georgian program for vehicle inspection according to European regulations will lead to better air quality due to the reduction of high polluting engines, reduction of fatalities due to better technical standards of vehicles, and better behaviour of drivers in traffic,” Schimpgen noted. “To achieve all these goals, the decision of Greenway Georgia to partner with the Applus Group, which has a presence in more than 70 countries, and its automotive division, one of the most experienced companies in the field of vehicle inspection worldwide, was a wise one. Greenway Georgia and the country itself now has access to our know-how in vehicle inspection programs, for example as we have in South America, where programs are organized according European standards and regulations, the Emission program in the US, where we operate on centralized and decentralized programs, and our vehicle inspection programs in Europe.” “A process is underway in Georgia aimed at bringing the quality of the Technical Inspection of vehicles to European standards. This implies minimizing the effects of vehicles on the environment and decreasing the number of road accidents,” Schimpgen said. “To achieve
this, we needed to introduce an international standards-based experienced service.” “Greenway Georgia will contribute to our operational experience, to our training concepts for vehicle inspection experts, to our internal quality standards and to a fair and solid inspection process which meets international standards ISO 9001:2015 and DIN ISO 17025 as an independent inspection body, and DIN ISO 14001 for environment management. I do believe that Georgian society will contribute to the cooperation of both companies,” Schimpgen concluded. Chkadua highlighted that one of the strategic goals of Greenway Georgia is to create a strong team of professional specialists, prepared to modern standards. The company’s technical team has already been trained at the Applus+ central office in Spain. This process will continue, and the professional development of people employed in the company is to be systematic. At this stage, the company's preparatory works are ongoing. By the end of the year, 26 Tech Inspection service centers will be ready to open in different regions throughout the country. At present, the company is seeking new employees to join the Greenway Georgia team countrywide.
ATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg says that Georgia is one of the closest partners of the alliance, adding the country is also one of the largest contributors to global security. Stoltengerg’s statement came after a meeting of the NATO-Georgia Commission, where defense ministers expressed concern about Russia’s military build-up in the Black Sea region and agreed to continue working together to address regional security challenges. “We finished a productive meeting of the NATO-Georgia Commission… Georgia is one of the largest contributors to our training mission in Afghanistan, helping to stabilize the country, and deny a safe haven to terrorists. Georgia also provides troops for the NATO Response Force,” Stoltenberg stated. The Secretary-General noted that "NATO's door remains open” and that one day Georgia will become a member of the Alliance. “We discussed how we can build on our cooperation. At our Summit in July, allied leaders reaffirmed that Georgia will join the Alliance. This is in line with our decision at the Bucharest Summit in 2008. NATO’s door remains open. Today, the allies also restated their full support for Georgia’s sovereignty, security and territorial integrity,” he stated. Stoltenberg called on Russia to end its recognition of Abkhazia and South Ossetia and to withdraw its forces from these Georgian regions. “We are also concerned by Russia’s military build-up in the Black Sea region.
Black Sea security is a priority for NATO and for Georgia. We are working together here more closely than ever before, with training for Georgian Coast Guard teams; more cooperation between Georgian and NATO naval forces, and with cooperation between Georgia’s Joint Maritime Operations Center and the NATO’s Maritime Command,” he added. The NATO Secretary-General also praised the reforms implemented by the Government of Georgia. “The allies welcomed the continued progress Georgia is making on reforms in particular on more effective security and defense institutions and modernizing their armed forces. The Substantial NATOGeorgia Package is already bolstering the country’s defense reforms, including with our Joint Training and Evaluation Center. We encourage Georgia to continue along the path of reform,” he said.
Stoltenberg had a meeting with the Defense Minister of Georgia, Levan Izoria, who also participated in the NATO-Georgia Commission meeting. The sides positively assessed the successful implementation of the initiatives undertaken by the essential package in the NATO-Georgia Practical Cooperation (SNGP). The parties focused on the planned NATO-Georgia exercise which will see approximately 28 countries participating. According to Izoria, the training is exemplary in terms of ensuring security in the Black Sea region. “The NATO Secretary General unequivocally pointed out the progress Georgia has made on the path of democratic development and especially for the purpose of bringing our capabilities to NATO standards," Izoria said after meeting with Stoltenberg.
GEORGIA TODAY OCTOBER 5 - 8, 2018
ICRC Visits Detained Georgian Woman in Occupied S. Ossetia BY THEA MORRISON
UK Good Governance Fund to Support Georgian Vocational Education BY KATIE RUTH DAVIES
he Good Governance Fund (GGF) is to support the Ministry of Education, Science, Culture and Sports of Georgia to implement reforms in the field of Vocational Education through three large projects to be implemented by the British Council and PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC). All three projects will aim to promote one of the main directions and priorities of the Ministry of Education, Science, Culture and Sports - strengthening the role of vocational education through its increased attractiveness and accessibil-
ity in the development of human capital. An official contract signing ceremony was held between the British Embassy in Georgia and the British Council on October 3 aimed at improving the English language skills of the VET students and the establishment of VET teachers and a continuous professional development system. Alexander Tevzadze, the Deputy Minister and Irina Tserodze, Head of the Vocational Education Department of the Ministry, attended the event. Justin Mackenzie Smith, British Ambassador to Georgia, said he was honored to host the signing ceremony and to see presented the upcoming projects to be implemented by the UK Good Governance Fund for Vocational Education in Georgia.
The projects to be implemented by the PwC aim to improve public-private partnership mechanisms in the vocational education system and initiate short-term vocational education programs in higher education institutions. The UK Good Governance Fund has been providing technical assistance in Georgia since 2015 on inclusive economic growth, improvement of public administration, institutional support of the Parliament, strengthening civil society, and other reforms. The event was held on the premises of the British Embassy on October 3 and saw representatives of the British Embassy Tbilisi, GGF, the Ministry of Education, Science, Culture and Sports, British Council and PwC in attendence.
he International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) visited Georgian Maya Otinashvili, a mother of three small children, who was detained by occupant forces of breakaway South Ossetia (Tskhinvali) on September 29 and sentenced to pre-trial detention two days ago for “illegally crossing the border.” According to its mandate, the ICRC visits detained individuals to monitor their treatment and conditions of detention and to ensure that the detainees are able to maintain contact with their families. “The outcomes and follow-up of the ICRC visits are being discussed with the detaining institutions concerned through a bilateral and confidential dialogue, pursuant to the best interests of the
Photo source: IPN
detainees and their families,” the statement of the ICRC reads. The Georgian PM also commented on the incident, saying the government is doing its best to get the mother of three home. According to the State security Service (SSS) of Georgia, Otinashvili has been sentenced to a 10-day imprisonment. De facto South Ossetia’s representative, Murat Jioyev, says Georgia “is using the case of Otinashvili for PR.” "Although investigation is underway into the case, Georgian authorities and human rights organizations in South Ossetia put the blame on the authorities and blame us for "abduction" and "violation"of Otinashvili's rights. There is an impression that certain forces in Georgia are interested in violating the border to use it for their own PR,” representative of the de facto president of South Ossetia for post-conflict settlement issues, Murat Jioyev, said.
OCTOBER 5 - 8, 2018
Goodbye, Mr. President OP-ED BY ARCHIL SIKHARULIDZE
resident of Georgia, Giorgi Margvelashvili, officially refused to participate in the upcoming presidential elections to be held on October 28. It will be the last time Georgian society gets to elect their president directly. The main political parties have already presented their candidates, while the ruling team Georgian Dream made the decision not to do so and is betting on independent candidate Salome Zurabishvili. The political campaign is ongoing and the presidential candidates have already promised the electorate they will integrate the country into NATO and the EU, contribute to the de-occupation of the separatist regions, build better state institutions and accomplish numerous other grand goals, while local and foreign experts/observers have been discussing possible significant changes that the state will experience thereafter. This fierce race of political promises in combination with continuing debates among experts once more proves that there is a strong misunderstanding of the changes that came to light due to the constitutional amendments of 2010 and 2017. The presidential institution has lost the lion's share of its power; the President is not an all-powerful political figure anymore. One can hope that the next President will avoid the predecessor's policy, which can be summed up by the term “The Margvelashvili Syndrome.”
NO LONGER KING On October 15, 2010, Georgian Parliament, where political party the Unified National Movement (UNM) had a constitutional majority, approved controversial constitutional amendments. According to state officials, the aim of the changes was to offer more checks and balances in the country's political system. The new constitution totally changed Georgia's political system, shifting it from presidential to parliamentary. After the so-called Rose Revolution (November 2003), the ruling party UNM introduced the first wave of constitutional amendments in 2004 that helped Mikhail Saakashvili, as acting President, to accumulate unprecedented political powers, and the state went to a superpresidential model. Constitutional amendments accepted in 2010 curbed the presidential powers by boosting the role of the Prime-Minister (PM) and Parliament. In 2012, Georgia held parliamentary elections that ended this transition: Georgia became a state with a parliamentary system where the President still holds some powers but where most duties are allocated to the Georgian Parliament and the head of the government, the PM. In April 2017, the ruling party Georgian Dream went further by accepting new constitutional amendments that, according to official statements, should have, once and for all, anchored the parliamentary nature of Georgia's political system. The President of Georgia ultimately became a public figure rather than political. Thus, promises that are kindly and actively given by presidential candidates are in fact political manipulations; Georgia's presidential institution simply does
The presidential institution has lost the lion's share of its power
not have the respective political clout to pursue or set any independent policy. On the other hand, statements made by various domestic and external observers regarding possible significant changes in the country's political life come from a lack of understanding of the internal processes and awareness of the constitutional amendments. Of course, the institution of the presidency may, in theory, play an important role during crises or other turbulences; moreover, the President can be an important public figure on the chessboard. But this is possible only in a country where the political system has evolved enough to produce politicians/public figures with strong and respective backgrounds; individuals capable of gaining massive support and acknowledgement from society. Undoubtedly, that’s not the Georgian case.
THE MARGVELASHVILI SYNDROME AND THE INSTITUTION OF THE PRESIDENCY Margvelashvili's term has yet to be carefully analyzed; but, at the same time, we can easily outline a few very important tendencies that may be defined as the Margvelashvili Syndrome, which includes: misunderstanding of the institution of the presidency, a fruitless fight for power/ influence, and a lack of nation-building. Probably the biggest failure of the acting President was his fundamental misunderstanding of duties and obligations that were and are delegated to the institution of the presidency. As mentioned above, the constitutional amendments of 2010 relocated most powers to the PM and Parliament. The President was no more the key player in Georgia's political system, and yet Margvelashvili lacked understanding of this new reality. His short-lived "honeymoon" with Georgian tycoon Bidzina Ivanishvili and coalition Georgian Dream (the coalition) drove him to pursue an independent policy that he was actually unable to carry out. Margvelashvili claimed that the ruling party was trying to undermine the presidential institution. Even though this statement may be somehow correct, the acting President knew perfectly well that this process of "undermining" had been
initiated by the previous government. It was and is logical that in a parliamentary system, the institution of the presidency is not considered a counter-balance to parliament and government but rather as an emergency "button". Margvelashvili's real purpose should have been to strengthen democratic institutions and processes through political dialogue rather than making open appraisals against the ruling party.
THE FIGHT FOR POWER AND INFLUENCE The second failure is directly attached to the first. Margvelashvili and his administration's inability (or unwillingness) to recognize the changed nature of the institution of the presidency led to a useless fight for power and political influence. The confrontation was pointless for two important variables: the constitutional majority that the Georgian Dream holds and the fact that Margvelashvili himself was elected thanks to support from Ivanishvili and the coalition. By continuously vetoing the government's legislative initiatives, the Georgian President only pushed the majority of voters to turn their backs on him, while Georgian Dream easily overturned his vetoes thanks to absolute dominance in Parliament. By and large, Margvelashvili did not have enough politically delegated powers (officially and unofficially) to oppose the ruling political establishment.
NO NATION-BUILDING And finally, the third variable can be described as a lack of important activities towards nation-building. As a president elected according to the new constitution, Margvelashvili’s main purpose was to pursue dialogue with the government and push for further nation-building processes. The President should have used various platforms not for political messages and struggles as he was so fiercely doing, but for advocating issues regarding democracy, democratic institutions and socio-economic challenges. As a former head of GIPA (Georgian Institute of Public Affairs), one of the leading non-public institutions, he had all the necessary skills, knowledge and
network to spread his word among Georgian students; through an existent platform, working hard to help the youth to understand and promote the principles of democratic governance; to be occupied doing something that Georgia’s political elites are too busy to do – nationbuilding. Of course, he had meetings with students, but Margvelashvili’s messages were often overshadowed by the “cockfight” between the himself and Parliament.
CRUCIAL MISTAKES Apart from the Margvelashvili Syndrome described above, we need to speak about two other equally important mistakes that the acting President made: an absolute reliance on the NGO platform and the abolishment of presidential funding. After the collapse of the MargvelashviliIvanishvili and Margvelashvili-Coalition Georgian Dream tandems, the acting President of Georgia was forced to look for new allies and he found them in the face of local non-governmental and civil society organizations (NGO/CSOs). Margvelashvili’s “honeymoon” with these NGO/CSOs was logical and pragmatic but he made a serious mistake by relying totally on this platform. Instead of working with students and the electorate in general, he was focused on gaining from non-governmental organizations, their representatives and supporters. The NGO/CSOs had total support from the President while dealing with the government’s legislative initiatives. This policy ensured the positive attitudes of civil society but significantly distanced Margvelashvili from mainstream voters, who sometimes thought that the President was overly keen on pleasing the NGO/CSOs. The former President of Georgia, Mikhail Saakashvili, made lots of mistakes. But, at the same time, he knew that youth and students were, are and always will be the best political investment; and he actively invested. Saakashvili established various scholarships, studentships and other awards to motivate schoolchildren and students to study, to develop and, of course, to be satisfied with the existing political regime. Most importantly, Saakashvili was active in
Saakashvili made lots of mistakes but he knew that youth were the best political investment; and he actively invested providing students with financial assistance to continue their education abroad with money taken from the Presidential Reserve Fund. The fund is controlled by the President and the goal is to support the establishment and development of democratic values and state institutes countrywide. But where Margvelashvili spent it on various projects, including opening Soviet occupation exhibitions and centers all over the country, Saakashvili gave Georgian students the chance to study in the best universities of the world. Saakashvili invested in the future electorate while Margvelashvili did not. By and large, Georgia’s presidential elections are not as crucial as some would like to argue. The institution of the presidency has no powers to set or modify the country’s political course. The President is not a key political figure anymore but rather a public figure who may be important once the state has the respective political culture. The future Georgian President must keep this in mind to avoid the Margvelashvili Syndrome and not spent his/her term in useless “cockfights” with the ruling force; contributing to nation-building is the number one priority. And finally, the coming President must work not only with the CSO/NGOs but with Georgian society in general; especially with youth and students.
How long until itâ€™s gone? WASTE DEGRADATION TIME
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Polyethylene container 50-80 years
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Shaping the Future by Changing Today
OCTOBER 5 - 8, 2018
Unique Vine Varieties Brought Back to Life on Meskhetian Terraces BY ANA DUMBADZE
n October 3, the winery Vardzia Terraces harvested restored historical varieties of rare grapes for the first time in 400 years. The event was held on the territory of the Khizabavra Meskhetian terraces, in the Samtskhe-Javakheti region. Government officials, journalists and the drivers of the rally "Peaks of the Caucasus" took part in the harvest. The visitors were hosted with famous Georgian wine and delicious dishes. They also had the opportunity to enjoy traditional folk songs. The project aims to promote wine and cultural tourism in Samtskhe-Javakheti. Mamuka Khazaradze, the Chairman of TBC Bank, hosted the guests in Khizabavra village, Aspindza Municipality. “Our company started the rehabilitation of 30 hectares of land. The first 12 hectares have already been restored and 27 historical varieties of grape have been planted in this area. These unique vine species have not been produced for the last four centuries. This is an important event, as Meskheti has always been the historical winemaking hub and I am delighted that today we are attending the first grape harvest together. Soon, we will have the first wines made from these ancient grape varieties,” Khazaradze told reporters. According to him, along with the founders of the project, the locals of Khizabavra village were also very helpful during the rehabilitation process. “The local residents put all their heart into this project. This place is known for its harsh climatic conditions; winter is very cold here and the entire harvest can be spoiled in a day, so, having such sweet grapes here is the result of a lot
of hard work,” Khazaradze said. Apart from the grape harvest itself, yet another exciting sight was the area surrounded by classic cars owned by international rally drivers participating in the "Peaks of the Caucasus" rally. Peaks of the Caucasus launched on Liberty (Freedom) Square, Tbilisi, on October 2 and will last until October 14. The majority of the participants are foreign businessmen who will visit almost every corner of Georgia in their classic cars. Mamuka Khazaradze is also taking part. “It was a coincidence that the rally and grape harvest took place simultaneously. We were not planning to start the grape harvest yet, but the grape was so sweet that we had to start earlier. The foreign visitors are captivated by Georgia and its history. Not only the foreign participants of the rally, but even I am once again reminded how exciting my country is,” he said. Georgian scientist Levan Ujmajuridze and collector of Meskhetian grape varieties, Giorgi Natenadze made great con-
France, Germany Express Interest in Aiding Georgia’s Energy Sector Development
tributions to the project, identifying more than 20 Meskhetian vines at the Saguramo Scientific Research Center. According to the Executive Director of Vardzia Terraces, Giorgi Natenadze, many unique species of Meskhetian vine have been destroyed and lost. “Two years ago, we started planting these ancient vine species on the Meskhetian terraces. At this stage, we have about 27 varieties of vine here. Today, we see the result of our hard work: the first grape harvest in such a short period of time. This event is important and a celebration worth having, not only for Meskheti, but for the whole of Georgia as well,” Natenadze said. As the Executive Director of Vardzia Terraces told reporters, the process of finding and collecting the unique vine species from nearby villages was quite laborious. “The varieties of grape were preserved in only a few villages. We discovered and identified these grape species and then multiplied them in Saguramo, Jighaura, with the help of the Saguramo
Scientific Research Center. Today, we can proudly say that these 27 endemic species have been restored and we already have a harvest. Now we will produce trial wine from these grapes and will discover their characteristics and work out the future perspectives of each kind,” he added. Wines made from the historic Meskhetian species will appear on the market next year. Locals and foreign visitors to the country will be able to buy them at Vardzia Terraces and in various wine shops throughout the country. The amount will be limited, however, as it is the first wine from the terraces. Meskheti is one of the most ancient sites of viticulture in Georgia and some scientists believe that ancient Georgian varieties could have origins there. Ancient Meskheti was formerly the home of stonewall terraces meant for vineyards and orchards. The area was famous for its unique grapes that made among the best wines in the country. Centuries ago, viticulture was well-
developed in Meskheti, evidenced by the centuries-old grape varieties and unique vine presses hollowed out of rock, called ‘Satsnakheli.’ At the end of the 16th century, the last grape harvest was arranged on the Meskhetian terraces. Afterwards, many ancient varieties of Meskhetian wine were destroyed due to historical events and known difficulties. In 2015, with the joint efforts of businessmen Mamuka Khazaradze, Badri Japaridze and Giorgi Natenadze, the terraces of the 12th century (the epoch of Queen Tamar) were restored in the village of Khizabavra, Aspindza Municipality. It was a joint project of the state and private sector and aimed to bring the ancient Meskhetian wine-making tradition back to life. Next year, the company Vardzia Terraces plans to restore a local traditional Meskhetian Oda (a common type of house, built from wood) and an integral part of Georgian winemaking, the Qvevri vessel.
Focusing on Renewable & Sustainable Energy Enhancements in Georgia BY ANNA ZHVANIA
D BY ANNA ZHVANIA
eorgia has been steadily intensifying its economic relations with the EU in recent years. With a growing confidence and vision to develop the energy sector, its intention to expand has attracted many aid programs. On Wednesday, the Georgia and German development bank, KfW, and Georgia and French development agency, AFD, signed a loan agreement for aid amounting to a total of EUR 74 mln that will go towards improving Georgia’s energy sector. According to the loan agreement, KfW and AFD are ready to fully support the Georgian energy sector reforms and plan to cooperate with Georgia over the next four years (2018-2021).
“These agreements are proof that the EU and countries such as France and Germany are committed to playing a role in our energy development and reforms. We are fully mobilized to develop and support the reform,” said Giorgi Kobulia, Minister of Economy and Sustainable Development of Georgia. “With the agreement, we will further enhance the fruitful cooperation in the energy sector which was established by the Georgian authorities. The energy sector is a crucial area, as it includes topics of high-importance such as energy security and effective use of a country’s resources,” said Carl Harcelli, the EU Ambassador to Georgia. The European Union will also approve disbursement of EUR 8.5 mln in grants to assist in funding the energy sector reform within the frames of the Neighborhood Investment Platform (NIP).
eputy Executive Director of the Partnership Fund, Giorgi Danelia, signed an MOU with Phi4 Technology SI and Silk Tech Group, within the official visit in the United States of the Prime Minister of Georgia. The framework of the agreement will cover the building of an alternative, hightech plant in accordance with the standards set out in the “Green Economy Concept”. The agreement will position Georgia as working towards having a system of renewable and sustainable energy and facilitate the implementation of such projects in the future. According to the official document, for the first time in Georgia, enterprises, facilities and operating centers of graft energy will be constructed. The Government of Georgia fully expresses
Photo: Georgian Press
its support for projects focused on renewable and clean energy sources. "Within the memorandum, the Partnership Fund is involved in accordance with our investment mandate: we express
our readiness to cooperate with foreign partners to finance the construction of high-tech enterprises of the first renewable and sustainable energy in Georgia," Danelia said.
KPMG Becomes Independent Auditor for National Bank of Georgia BY ANNA ZHVANIA
n 21 September, the ParliamentofGeorgiaannounced a competition among the biggest auditing firms, also known as the Big 4, Ernst & Young, PricewaterhouseCoopers,
Deloitte and KPMG. The winner was selected to be an independent auditor for implementation of the National Bank’s 2018-2019 report audit. The Competition Commission, headed by the Chairman of the Finance and Budget Committee Irakli Kovzanadze, examined the financial proposals of the contest participants and revealed KPMG to be the winner.
GEORGIA TODAY OCTOBER 5 - 8, 2018
Georgian Post Hosts 34th Plenary Session of PostEurop & Business Innovations Forum There are great expectations from postal operators as to what innovations will be presented, how they will improve the service standards to offer a more flexible and faster service to consumers. I have studied the working process and standards of Georgian Post in detail and the results are most impressive and were achieved in a very short period of time. Many countries saw it and that’s why they chose to gather today in Georgia.” In the framework of the Meeting, General Director of the Universal Postal Union (UPU), Bishar Hussein, Deputy Director of UPU, Pascal Clivaz, and the heads of 52 postal operators of 49 European countries visited Georgia. The session participants discussed the postal reforms, developments in the postal sphere and the possibilities of strengthening partnerships between members. On the second day of the plenary assembly, the Business Innovations Forum was held at The Biltmore hotel, for which over 100 companies registered. The focus was postal service innovations in e-commerce, artificial intelligence, automation and digital marketing. The forum made an ideal opportunity for Georgian businessmen and entrepreneurs to meet the top operators in the field, to establish
BY MARIAM MERABISHVILI
eorgian Post hosted the 34th Plenary Session of PostEurop, an event opened by George Kobulia, Minister of Economy and Sustainable Development of Georgia, and Levan Chikvaidze, General Director of Georgian Post. PostEurop is the European Community Post Union, founded in 1993 in Brussels. The aim of the organization is to support the development of postal businesses
new contacts, share experiences and expand their logistics schemes. After the plenary session, Chikvaidze summed up the results of the event and talked about its importance. “This event is of special significance as now it’s the 25th anniversary of the existence of PostEurop, and it being held in Georgia is a great honor for Georgian Post. Given how the postal business is developing, talking about e-commerce in particular, we can say that we are already very much invested in this field. We expect very interesting innovative projects from the Forum and it is great that many Georgian businesses will also be in attendance to take advantage of the opportunity to showcase their products as well as to listen to the ideas of others. A new project has been already implemented, ‘Georgian Product to the World,’ with which Georgian Post allows Georgian entrepreneurs to access the largest market, such as electronic and internet sales, with the post offering delivery of their products worldwide.” At the Session, three Georgian candidates were nominated for the 2020 election of the President of the Universal Postal Union and Deputy, Japan and Switzerland for the Chairperson and
Cameroon for the Deputy. The UPU General Director and Deputy declared that a lot of changes have been made in the Postal Operators’ field in the past six years in Georgia and that the Post is definitely an integral part of the global community, paying attention to inclusivity in society, digital work challenges and current security problems. “Right now, the biggest challenge for the Post is the decline in the volume of mail,” said Jean-Paul Forceville, the Chairmen of the PostEurop Management Board. “Yet, there are many opportunities open to us and the most obvious one is e-commerce, which is developing in many countries around the world- it’s a very competitive market, with many players. We already have a good level of service that fulfills the needs of the e-mailer and e-merchant, but, as you know, needs evolve quickly. Where, two years ago, people were happy if they had their post within a week, now they expect it in days or even hours, meaning we need to also change our organizations and the way our people work, introduce new services and digitalize, while maintaining the proximity that our customers value.”
and to strengthen partnerships between members, as well as the sustainable growth of international postal products and continuous innovation. Georgian Post has been a full member of PostEurop since 2012. “Today, PostEurops’ 34th Plenary Session was held in Tbilisi, which is very important and makes Georgia proud,” said Kobulia. “Nowadays, postal operators and the economy of this sector are of great importance. We know that e-commerce is very popular and has an important place in the economies of many countries. Without postal operators, e-commerce would be impossible.
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OCTOBER 5 - 8, 2018
Promoting Int’l Arbitration in Georgia to Ease Access to Justice & Boost Business Development BY KATIE RUTH DAVIES
hallenges and opportunities of the New Era in Dispute Resolution were discussed at the fifth annual international conference GIAC Arbitration Days opened in Tbilisi on October 4. The two-day event focused on new approaches in international arbitration, modern technologies and digital and online arbitration. The conference brought together the leading arbitrators and lawyers from different countries, including over 40 international arbitration specialists and judges. Speaking at the opening of the conference, Thea Tsulukiani, Minister of Justice of Georgia, stressed that Georgia’s progress in developing alternative methods of dispute resolution contributes to improving the investment environment and creates ground for promoting Georgia as a regional arbitration center. Carl Hartzell, Ambassador of the European Union to Georgia, noted the importance of international arbitration for Georgia’s success in business development. "The European Union is committed to protecting the interests of Georgian entrepreneurs by improving commercial
legislation and the functioning of courts. As part of this, we support independent arbitration as an alternative to often lengthy and costly court processes," Ambassador Hartzell said. The participants of the Arbitration Days were also addressed by Nino Chikovani, President of the Georgian Chamber of Commerce and Industry; Nino Bakakuri, Judge of the Supreme Court of Georgia; Irakli Lekvinadze, Business Ombudsman of Georgia; Sophie Tkhemaldze – Chairperson of Georgian Association of Arbitrators; and David Saganelidze – CEO JSC “Partnership Fund”. The Arbitration Days in Tbilisi is the region’s largest arbitration forum which aims to share knowledge and best practices among the participants countries. This year, the conference hosted a series of learning events, including a workshop for businesses on arbitration agreements, led by the International Center for Dispute Resolution (ICDR), and a workshop on ethics lead by the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators (CIArb). In the course of the conference, the Georgian International Arbitration Centre (GIAC) signed an agreement with the Vienna International Arbitration Center (VIAC) to organize joint events, share information and cooperate on arbitration litigation and effective implementation of alternative dispute resolution, including the allocation of working
spaces for arbitration hearings. The fifth Arbitration Days in Tbilisi was organized by the Georgian Interna-
tional Arbitration Center (GIAC) and supported by the European Union (EU) and the United Nations Development
Program (UNDP) in the framework of the EU’s wider program in Georgia, EU4Justice.
EU Supports Job Fair in Tetritskaro Municipality BY SAMANTHA GUTHRIE
n September 28, approximately 20 employers and nearly 200 jobseekers from Georgia’s Kvemo Kartli region gathered at the community center of the Koda IDP (internally displaced persons) settlement, in the Tetritskaro municipality, for a regional job fair. The job fair targeted local IDPs and other vulnerable populations. There are few employment opportunities available in the municipality, and a lack of information sharing often leads to poor matching between employers and job seekers – the job fair helped both sides share information build connections. The event was attended by job seekers from Tetritskaro, Marneuli, and other municipalities of
Photo: ENPARD Georgia
Kvemo Kartli, along with some of the largest employers in the region. The job fair was organized by national development NGO Association for Rural
Development Future Georgia (RDFG) under the European Union’s ENPARDsupported project “Rural Development for Sustainable Growth of Tetritskaro
Municipality” and in cooperation with the Social Service Agency of Georgia. A number of successful applications from the first grant call of the Tetritskaro
development project participated in the job fair as employers. The job fair opened with an introduction from RDFG Employment Program advisor, Lela Maisuradze, and the head of the employment department of the Social Service Agency, Mariam Bezarashvili, who spoke about the importance of the employment program and the job fair. “Unemployment is considered a big challenge in modern society. Obviously, this problem is persistent in our country as well, especially in rural areas. Our organization has a more complex approach to unemployment. On the one hand, RDFG is helping the most vulnerable people in our society to become competitive in the labor market, and on the other, it is working with employers. Today’s job fair is one of the interventions in this direction,” said Maisuradze.
Adjara to Receive GEL 28 mln of State Budget BY ANNA ZHVANIA
he 2019 state budget comprises GEL 12,729,700,000. The Adjara region has been given high importance in the hand-outs, set to receive GEL 28M from the state budget. According to “Adjara Television”, GEL 15 mln will be spent on completion of the 4th phase of rehabilitation of KFW water and sewage systems in Batumi. In addition, Batumi will receive GEL 8 mln for the bus (E5P) project. Tsetskhlauri will receive GEL 3 mln for the solid waste project, while GEL 70 mln
will be used in the rehabilitation of Khulo-Zarzmi roads. Amendments to the local self-governance law mean that amounts received from municipal income tax will be allocated to the central budget. 19% of VAT will be transferred to the municipalities as a source of finance. This year marks the highest amount dedicated from the central budget to the Adjara region. The largest amount will be transferred to Batumi (GEL 47 mln), Kobuleti will receive GEL 9 mln and Khelvachauri and Keda will each obtain GEL 6 mln. The least amount will be given to Khulo, amounting to GEL 2 mln and Shuakhevi, at GEL 250,000.
GEORGIA TODAY OCTOBER 5 - 8, 2018
Marriott International’s Hot New Hotel Brand Officially Opens in Tbilisi make their travel experience seamless. Marriott Rewards members will also earn points for their stay at Moxy Hotels and can redeem for hotel stays across the Marriott Rewards portfolio of brands. The Moxy brand is advancing its strong presence with plans to expand into more than 40 new destinations in both fastgrowing and established markets in Europe in the next three years. With more than 50 signed hotels in Moxy’s pipeline expected to open in Europe between now and year end 2020, the bold brand is sustaining sharp growth in countries such as Germany and the UK, as well as making its entry into key European destinations including France, Portugal and The Netherlands.
BY KATIE RUTH DAVIES
oxy Hotels, Marriott International’s experiential hotel brand, has made its debut in Georgia with the opening of Moxy Tbilisi, bringing its characteristic vibrant, playful design and approachable service to this dynamic destination. Boasting the style and spirit of a boutique hotel without breaking the bank, the 130-bedroom property is ideally located in Saarbruecken Square, offering easy access to Gallery Tbilisi Shopping Mall, MOMA Tbilisi, and the city’s business district, making it a perfect choice for business and leisure travelers alike. “We are excited to bring Moxy’s playful spirit to Georgia,” said John Licence, VP Premium and Select brands at Marriott International Europe. “Tbilisi has proven to be one of the hottest travel destinations thanks to its vibrant social scene, fast emerging fashion industry, making it the perfect fit for Moxy and its fun-hunter guests.” “Moxy guests continue to seek inspiration from their travel,” said Pankaj Birla, Area Vice President, Eastern Europe, Marriott International. “The new Moxy Tbilisi will offer a cocktail at check-in, spontaneous games in the lively communal spaces, and an energetic crew to bring out the most fun from this dynamic destination and give guests something to rave about when they return home.” Moxy’s fun, inclusive and youthful spirit is reflected in the combination of bold design and affordable style where com-
ABOUT MOXY HOTELS
munal engagement is at the center of the experience. The interiors fuse refined and raw materials, organic and linear lines, and shared spaces. The Moxy experience kicks-off with a bright, airy and buzzing lobby, featuring modern furniture that invites guests to relax, feast their eyes on the state-of-the-art video wall, or connect and catch up with friends in the ‘Plug and Meet’ gathering area. Moxy Tbilisi’s Living Room is the center of activity, giving guests fun ways to work and play hard. Sealed concrete floors, walls lined with intriguing art and fun references to local culture are complemented by ambient lighting and
accents of color. The Living Room also features abundant power and USB outlets, and furiously fast and free Wi-Fi for ultimate connectivity. A high-energy yet cozy space for gatherings, special events or cocktails, the lounge plays host to eclectic upbeat music. The hotel’s 130 contemporary bedrooms, ranging from Standard to Family size, are outfitted with sound-reducing walls, 42" LCD flat screen televisions, complimentary Wi-Fi, abundant USB ports, comfortable bedding and leather armchairs. Every bedroom makes a statement with a fun floor-to-ceiling art piece. The design is functional, flexible and unclut-
tered with simple, thoughtful touches including glass shelving and an open storage concept featuring a peg wall for ultimate flexibility when unpacking, in lieu of a traditional closet. Stylish bathrooms feature complimentary Muk toiletries, bright pink hair dryers, power showers and large mirrors alongside a spacious vanity area. Moxy guests who are members of the award-winning Marriott Rewards loyalty program will get exclusive access to even more digital features through the Marriott Mobile app when they book direct, including mobile check-in and check-out, keyless entry and Mobile Requests to
Moxy Hotels is Marriott International’s new millennial-focused brand that debuted in September 2014 with the opening of the Moxy Milan. A boutiquehotel concept for the next-Gen traveler, Moxy is a fresh and innovative brand combining stylish design and approachable service at an affordable price point. With tech-enabled bedrooms, vibrant lobby spaces and warm, modern service, Moxy aims to surprise travelers with a thoughtful, spirited and fun guest experience. Moxy Hotels is proud to participate in the industry’s award-winning loyalty program, Marriott Rewards® which includes The Ritz-Carlton Rewards®. Members can now link accounts with Starwood Preferred Guest® at members.marriott.com for instant elite status matching and unlimited points transfer. To learn more about Moxy Hotels, visit www.MoxyHotels.com.
OCTOBER 5 - 8, 2018
The Fossilized Strata of Our Society OP-ED BY NUGZAR B. RUHADZE
embers of this society may conditionally fall into five main categories: BE-ers, DO-ers, HAVE-ers, USE-ers and
GAZE-ers. The job of the BE-ers is just to be out there – that’s all they have to do; they make up a strong and stable part of the system, and they do their utmost to turn themselves into indispensable participants of social and political processes; they are confident that they are very important, and they walk with a pin in the lapel and a feather in the hat; their personalities figure in the press permanently and their faces shine on the television on a regular basis; they are the country’s ubiquitous talking heads, and they believe that their word must be heard because it is the final say in the nation’s public life. The BE-ers have power and they enjoy clout; they are self-assured but they are also smart enough to know that their being a BE-er may not last forever, hence they methodically prepare themselves for their future existential comfort when their presence on the arena may lose sense; to cut it short, they know very well where they are, what they are and why they are. The DO-ers are the people who actually do their job, having faith in their values and philosophy; they firmly stand by their morality and are always prepared
to fight for those ideas no matter what the existing circumstances; they usually do what they are supposed to do; they do it well and quality is their credo; their work ethic is totally compatible with their potential to meet the bottom-line; they are like bees – productive and organized, and like aunts – carrying heavier loads on their shoulders than they weigh themselves; the DO-ers are powerful locomotives that move the country forward for real. The HAVE-ers want to have it all; they have a finger in every pie and are ready to grab as big a chunk of those pies as possible; their main thought is concentrated on how to have it all without punishment; they have a lot and their material comfort is all they have ever dreamt of, and most importantly and luckily for them, they have found the ways of happily and imperturbably sitting on their cash bags, having an acute olfactory sense of where the danger might come from, if any at all. Now the USE-ers! They are the most fortunate and felicitous part of the current Georgian society; they are pure survivors, magically rescuing themselves from any threat and jeopardy that life might throw at them at any unpredictable time; they just have an inborn instinct for this; the USE-ers are not simply lucky; they are auto-trained loafers who have learnt how to enjoy life without bothering themselves to even lift a finger; they have learnt the skill of running the show by using other people’s money, knowledge and talent; they just freeload and
get away with it; the USE-ers are omnipresent, conquering every walk of life and every possible corner of the land; they are like cockroaches – living long, eating all and nesting everywhere. And finally, the GAZE-ers! This is a class which just gapes at what others are doing, their eyes avid and their mouths watering; they have practically nothing: no property, no job, no money, no chance and no prospect of a good life; the GAZEers typically fancy leaving Georgia and settling somewhere else where they think
they can be better off than here; they are waiting for some magic to happen in their life; this is a poverty-stricken category of people who are angry with the regime and with anybody around who feels and lives better; the GAZE-ers are losers and they have a habit of putting the blame for their failure on the government’s shoulders; they are also the people who are used to living in poverty, and, often, it might not be completely their fault that they are so destitute. Conclusively, my portrayal of the sys-
tem is the actual societal pattern of Georgia, within which every layer is firmly established, with strong rules that are habitual for those who have decided to stay and continue living there. It is doubtful this pattern is productive, but this society has accepted it and feels comfortable with it. If this is not true, why is nothing changing? How come the system feels so safe? How does it survive and continue working so persistently? And why is the rest of the world ready to put up with it?
China’s 69th Anniversary Celebration in Tbilisi BY SAMANTHA GUTHRIE
n Friday, September 28, the Chinese Embassy hosted a lavish reception to celebrate the 69th anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic of China. The event opened with remarks by Chinese Ambassador to Georgia Ji Yanchi. Vice Prime Minister Maya Tskitishvili also spoke to the crowd of Chinese and international diplomats, uniformed
military officials from Georgia and China, Georgian and Chinese media representatives, and various political and social elite. “We have a very significant friendship. China was one of the first countries to recognize Georgia's independence 27 years ago, and Georgia was one of the first countries to join, with great enthusiasm, the presidential Belt and Road Initiative,” said Tskitishvili. She also emphasized the importance of Chinese companies working in Georgia and possibilities for increasing exports of Georgian products to the Chinese market.
Image source: Ministry of Regional Development and Infrastructure
The introduction of the reception also included a short video showing examples of Chinese-Georgian cooperation, and a performance by a Georgian military brass band. The anniversary reception took place at the Hotels & Preference Hualing Tbilisi, near Tbilisi Sea. The reception was held in the first-floor ballroom, an opulent setting with bright reds and golds, tables overflowing with food, staff scurrying around clearing tables and refilling serving dishes, all offset by two enormous chandeliers. On opposite sides of the room were two large video screens which
broadcast tourist sites in China. Political celebrities such as Davit Usupashvili were in attendance alongside popular figures like Georgian-Ukrainian fashion model Margo Luchko. Approximately one third of the attendees were Chinese, and the others were a mix of Georgian, Russian, and other foreign guests. The north end of the room was a VIP area, sectioned off with a red velvet rope, where a cohort of Chinese officials chatted. Most guests wore a bright red pin gifted at the entrance. The food was a fusion of Georgian and Chinese cuisine: plates of Georgian
cheeses garnished with dried fruit, fried prawns, stir fried noodles, and Chinese dumplings. One Georgian guest leaned over to her 10-year old son, wearily eyeing a Chinese dumpling, and reassured him “Just try it – it’s like Chinese khinkali.” By 9pm, there were more staff than guests. As visitors trickled out, they were handed a gift bag of small souvenirs and were encouraged to take home a book from a selection on topics including Chinese history and the communist party, available in Chinese, English, and Russian. In November, several Georgian companies will present their products at the Shanghai Forum in China. Tskitishvili expressed her hope that, as a result of participation in the forum, companies will be able to increase cooperation with Chinese partners and achieve success in the Chinese market. An official visit of the Georgian Prime Minister to the People's Republic of China is planned within the scope of the forum. In a later interview, Tskitishvili expanded, “Our relationship has strong potential. I was in China recently and it was a great honor for me to meet with H.E. Hu Chunhua, Vice Premier of the People's Republic of China. We discussed many important issues during the visit, but the most essential and remarkable part was the hospitality I felt during there. We greatly appreciate our relationship and we would be glad if these relations developed further.” Similar anniversary celebrations were held by Chinese diplomatic missions around the world, including in London, Tokyo, Doha, Islamabad, Khartoum, Mexico City, Pyongyang, and others. In Tbilisi, the anniversary celebrations continued this week with an orchestral concert on October 2 titled “Silk Road Sound – Georgia,” organized by the Chinese Embassy.
GEORGIA TODAY OCTOBER 5 - 8, 2018
Revival of a Legend: Cafe Argo, Kutaisi
n the south-east coast of the Black Sea a strong and rich country, the “Golden Kolkheti," existed, ruled by King Ayet, who lived in a palace in Kutaisi surrounded by fresh water, milk and fragrant oil fountains. Think of this golden era and you will surely have the legend of Jason, Medea and the Argonauts come to mind. That is why Kutaisi, one of the world’s oldest towns, was chosen in which to build the Argo Cafe as a revival of the legend of the Argonauts. The restaurant, a gastronomic "Golden Fleece" is located on the Rioni River and in exterior and interior responds to the legendary themes. Residents of the city approved of the idea Levan Sharabidze, restaurant head and his friends came up with, and so
another fascinating, beautiful and architecturally well prepared restaurant was built on the River Rioni aiming to delight every guest with its unique characteristics. For both foreign and Georgian visitors, the place has been prepared as a memorial to the past, with scenes of the Argonauts on their journey painted directly onto room dividers, and great fountains adorning the yard which also boasts a fascinating view of the river bank. Argo’s guests are proud to come to the historic site where the "golden chord" was built in the late feudal period. In the early 17th century, it had a stone wall with palaces, halls, and religious buildings situated within. Today, Cafe Argo is located here. “The hall in the center was painted with frescoes and was a place for the
feasting of the kings of Imereti, the business of meeting, and majesty,” says the head of the restaurant. “Next to it is the historical treasure of the time: a stone throne in which the kings of Imereti once sat, today enjoyed by our guests.” In addition to the space, guests have a wide variety to choose from on the menu, which features not only traditional Georgian cuisine but also many famous and little-known foreign dishes. Many chefs are often invited to work with and train the Argo cooks, resulting in much-loved dishes enjoyed by guests against a background of live music performed by professional musicians. The newly built halls of Argo are always crowded. Foreign and Georgian writers, poets, actors and ordinary citizens leave the place with pleasurable impressions and expectations for the next visit.
OCTOBER 5 - 8, 2018
COO of the Millennium Challenge Corporation on its Investment in Georgia skilled workforce can be an engine for economic growth. With a strong workforce, and systems in place to continuing developing this workforce, Georgians are well positioned to build on MCC’s investment and change the future of the country.
INTERVIEW BY MAIKO CHITASHVILI
s the Chief Operating Officer of the U.S. Government’s Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC), Jonathan Nash was in Tbilisi to celebrate and welcome the more than 230 freshman students starting their STEM (Science, Engineering, Technology, and Math) degree programs at San Diego State University in Georgia. He also took the opportunity to visit other projects supported by MCC’s five-year, $140 million grant program while here. We caught up with him during his latest visit.
WHAT IS MCC AND WHY IS IT INVESTING IN GEORGIA? MCC is an independent US foreign aid agency that is helping lead the fight against global poverty, working to deliver smart US foreign assistance by focusing on good policies, country ownership, and results. MCC provides time-limited grants promoting economic growth, reducing poverty, and strengthening institutions. As part of MCC’s investment in Georgia, we are engaging with partners from the public and private sectors to increase the earning potential of Georgians. This investment is improving STEM education, with a focus on increasing women’s participation in STEM professions, while also expanding opportunities for vocational training and improving the quality of general education.
WHAT ARE THE MCC PROJECTS IN GEORGIA AND WHAT ARE THE RESULTS TO DATE? The five-year, $140 million MCC Georgia Compact consists of three projects focused on education and building skills to support employment. The Improving General Education Quality Project is working to rehabilitate deteriorating schools, train teachers and school directors, introduce school system-wide
WHAT ROLE DO PARTNERSHIPS PLAY IN THE COMPACT?
operations and maintenance planning, and provide support for education assessments. Rehabilitation is complete at nearly 60 schools, and construction is underway at more than 30 others and will be completed by the time the compact ends next summer. Teacher and school director training is also fully on track, with more than 17,000 educators and principals having participated in training to help strengthen their skills and introduce student-centered learning. The Industry-Led Skills and Workforce Development Project aims to increase the number of Georgians with in-demand technical skills that boost employability. Approximately 1,200 students are enrolled in new, industry-demanded professional training programs. By next year, these programs will yield over 1,300 highlyskilled graduates who will fill jobs in transport, oil and gas, agriculture, tourism and other growth sectors of the Georgian economy. This effort has received more than $5.7 million in coinvestment from the private sector. The STEM Higher Education Project is modernizing STEM education through a partnership with San Diego State University (SDSU) that offers high-quality, US-accredited STEM bachelor’s degrees through three Georgian public partner universities. SDSU in Georgia opened
its doors in 2014 and has seen enrollment grow each year, welcoming its biggest class of 230 students this academic year, bringing the total number of students pursuing STEM degrees to more than 550.
WHY IS MCC’S INVESTMENT IN GEORGIA IMPORTANT? MCC does not have a “one-size-fits all” approach to work with country partners: for example, our work in Georgia looks very different to our work in Zambia. This is because we use data and analyses to determine the constraints holding back economic growth in a particular country, and then design projects and focus investments to overcome these barriers. In Georgia, as we developed the compact, poverty rates were high, driven by high unemployment, which in part was due to a mismatch between what businesses needed and the skills workers had. This is where the focus on education and training came from. Improving the quality of education, especially in high-demand fields like STEM, puts young people on a path to prosperity, and having the skills or vocational training to meet the needs of local employers creates career opportunities. Research shows a positive relationship between educational attainment and individual income, and that a highly
Partnerships with the public and private sector have been instrumental in the success of the MCC Georgia Compact. The partnership between the Government of Georgia and San Diego State University is an excellent example of what can be accomplished when objectives are aligned between two entities. SDSU in Georgia is the only American university delivering STEM bachelor’s degrees in this country, and it is the only program offering young men and women the chance to earn internationally accredited degrees in STEM fields here in Georgia. This opens the door to higher quality and higher paying careers as they enter the workforce. Partnerships with the private sector have also been essential to the success of this program. The American Chamber of Commerce in Georgia, for example, has been an important partner and an active participant in our SDSU-Georgia Industry Advisory Board. Private sector partners representing some of the largest Georgian companies in energy, water, banking, IT, hospitality, and pharmaceuticals have also contributed more than $3.3 million in scholarships to SDSUGeorgia students. These companies recognize the need for a skilled workforce to grow their business, and many are already working with SDSU-Georgia students to put their STEM degrees to work. The engagement and leadership of all these public and private sector partners is critical to ensuring the success and sustainability of what has been achieved thus far.
WHY IS THERE A FOCUS
ON WOMEN IN STEM? For MCC, empowering women’s economic opportunity is fundamental to achieving our mission to reduce poverty through economic growth. It leads to healthier economies, increases in household incomes, and higher profits for businesses. Women have historically faced barriers to education and careers in STEM. A United Nations study of 14 different countries found that only 14% of female undergraduate students went on to graduate in a science-related field. Through MCC’s programs like this one in Georgia, we are working to break down these barriers. This is one reason I was happy to see that nearly 40% of the new student cohort studying STEM at SDSU in Georgia are young women. Many of these women are paying it forward as well. Recently, in partnership with the US Department of State, Girl Up, Intel, Google and Microsoft, MCC supported a Women in Science, or WiSci, camp here in Tbilisi that brought together 100 high school girls from Georgia, Azerbaijan, Armenia and the United States. Over the course of two weeks, the girls had the opportunity to take STEM-related classes to develop apps, build robots, and fly drones. It was inspiring to see how the girls left the camp energized and determined to pursue an education in STEM fields. A group of seven young women from the STEM SDSU-Georgia program worked as counselors for this camp and helped to mentor campers.
WHAT COMES NEXT? Our current focus is on successful completion of the compact, which will come to an end in July 2019. We are also committed to the sustainability of these projects and we will continue to work with our counterparts in the government and with our public and private sector partners to ensure this work is carried forward. We are proud of the work that we’ve accomplished alongside the Government of Georgia and are excited to see the future for many young Georgians flourish.
Jerrymandering 2: Etseri, Svaneti BLOG BY TONY HANMER
ay you’re putting nails in near the top end of a post which is sticking up high out of the ground, otherwise unsupported, and you want to minimize its sway from the hammer blows. How? Have someone hold an axe by the handle with its head on the opposite side of the post from where your blows will fall. The axe head takes most of the transferred force like a billiard ball, bounces with each hit, and keeps the post much steadier. Neat trick! Just one of many things that Jerry has taught me this week. We’ve finished the gazebo near the main gate to the yard and have also nearly completed a new staircase to the shop entrance; both are in the photos. This too is made of such heavy wood that nothing short of a tornado could budge it and it will be roofed. The beech planks I have, some 3-4 inches thick, are the stairs themselves, and lighter but still very solid wood makes up the posts and rafters. We actually needed to buy a new circular saw to finish cutting all this material, as hard as it is, and Jerry found a good one as close as Mestia. There is nothing else portable in the village for such a job. A couple of neighbors have big enough table-mounted circular saws, but even getting the amount of wood to them is beyond us. So, new saw it is.
A new hammer too, a heavier one with a grid pattern cut deep into its head so it won’t slip off the nail heads, called a roofing hammer. There’s a great deal of satisfaction to be had from using such good tools, and even acquiring them from this close to home, which is a new
thing for me. Mestia even has two hardware shops now! A major challenge has been two longlasting power cuts as we started each project. One a couple of nights ago was due to a lightning strike near the house, which managed also to take out our TV
and satellite receiver box, which we were using at the time; these may be irreparable, unfortunately. The electricity was off all night and halfway through the next day before the local man could restore it, so we used the small generator, both for the freezers in the house/shop and for
the power tools as we needed them. Now things are all back on, and we remember what it’s like to live without electricity when you do rely on it for quite a lot. We have gas or wood to cook with as necessary, and the big wood stove can give plenty of heat; the laptop I’m writing this on has a couple of hours’ battery and we have a small battery charger for the phones too if we need to charge them during an outage. Candles or solar-powered lamps, check. But the generator is key. I may well get a houserated one soon in Tbilisi, so we can run everything we need to, heaters and all, when these unpopular but occasional blackouts come. Our local energy system is free, but old, and replacing it would mean we would start having to pay for the power, so we grimace and bear it. So, in our case, Jerrymandering means taking up our guest’s offer of work for room and board, getting the place more ready for winter and the new tourist season next year, moving ahead but not by unfair or illicit means! Win-win, seems to be. We could do with more such guests, to be honest. 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 1900 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
GEORGIA TODAY OCTOBER 5 - 8, 2018
Accepting the LGBT BY SHAWN WAYNE
local LGBT rights organization, Equality Movement, said that its activists can no longer come to their office due to fear of their neighbors. Levan Berianidze, executive director of Equality Movement said that they moved in February 2018, and at that location some members of the neighboring family have often made homophobic and aggressive remarks, trying to provoke a conflict. On September 28, the activists were conversing in the backyard of their office when one of these neighbors came out and started insulting them. To avoid escalation, the employees left the backyard and decided to leave. But as they were locking the doors, several of their neighbors reportedly assaulted them, trying to beat them and grabbing one of them by the throat. Berianidze said one of the neighbors even pulled out a firearm, but was restrained by another. Berianidze said that police have launched investigation on charges of violence, and they are hoping for a thorough and unbiased investigation; however, so far the police have not detained any of the assailants, and despite assurances of security being given to the activists, 17 activists who work at this office say they no longer feel safe. “We have no guarantees that the neighbors won’t burst into the office again or ambush and beat our employees,”said Berianidze. The Interior Ministry released a statement on September 29, saying that an investigation has been launched under Article 126 of the Criminal Code of Georgia. The Police stated that a “verbal altercation” started between several activists of the Equality Movement and a woman living in the same neighborhood, who complained about them being loud. This resulted
in a confrontation between the activists and the woman’s relative who is said to have been hospitalized following that confrontation, however they have yet to provide any specific details regarding this claim. These statements resulted in 14 civil society organizations releasing a joint statement on October 2 slamming police for an “indifferent attitude”. They feel that the police see the incident as a mere scuffle between two sides and not an assault. “Such a statement from the Ministry during the opening days of the investigation, without proper examination, substantially reduces trust towards the ongoing investigation,” the statement reads. Although the LGBT members have publically been accepted in Georgia on a legislative level, many feel this is not the actual situation. One of the best-known and most recent examples for this is the situation of Guram Kashia, captain of the Georgian national football team. Despite being shown support from politicians of the ruling party Georgian Dream and opposition after he stated that homophobia is unacceptable, members of the general public insulted Kashia, resulting in him shutting down his public social media. UN Independent Expert on the Protection against Violence and Discrimination based on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity, Victor MadrigalBorloz, is in Georgia until October 5 to evaluate Georgia’s current human rights standards and laws in place that fight discrimination and violence against LGBT people. A protest rally against homophobia and in support of Guram Kashia should have taken place on September 9th but never did, due to ultra-nationalist group Georgian March wanting to use it as an opportunity to spread homophobic statements and cause chaos. Going on past events this year alone, counter rallies to LGBT events are usually organized by either the church or ultra-nationalists.
Future Laboratory Assists Uzbek Government to Innovatie
he Founder of the Future Laboratory, Irakli Kashibadze, shared his experience with the Uzbek side concerning how to develop e-commerce, internet business, open access-based internet and startups. During his visit, Kashibadze held a workshop and shared his advice with regional government representatives and the Uzbek Ministry of Information Technology Development, which seeks to positively
reflect on the country’s development of e-commerce and innovation. During the visit, Future Laboratory took part in the ICT week forum ‘Digital Uzbekistan,’ where participants discussed how to return investments through the digital transformation process and which steps should be taken by governmental institutions to improve innovation infrastructure, regulation and business parameters. Several examples of Georgian and other leading countries’ experiences were presented within the technological and innovation fields. Future Laboratory intends to continue partnership with the Uzbek side in various aspects, including modernization of the educational sector.
OCTOBER 5 - 8, 2018
WHAT’S ON IN TBILISI THEATER
TBILISI ZAKARIA PALIASHVILI OPERA AND BALLET THEATER Address: 25 Rustaveli Ave. Telephone: 2 99 04 56 October 5, 6, 7 SWAN LAKE State Ballet of Georgia presents Pyotr Tchaikovsky’s two-act ballet Choreographic version and staging by Alexei Fadeechev. Conductor- David Mukeria Start time: October 5, 6- 19:00, October 7- 14:00 Ticket: 10-50 GEL SHALIKASHVILI THEATER Address: 37 Shota Rustaveli Ave. Telephone: 595 50 02 03 October 12 SHAKESPEARE SONNETS Based on William Shakespeare Sonnets Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 15 GEL GABRIADZE THEATER Address: 14 Shavteli Str. Telephone: 2 98 65 93 October 6 STALINGRAD Revaz Gabriadze Directed by Revaz Gabriadze English Subtitles Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 20, 30 GEL October 7, 10 RAMONA Revaz Gabriadze Directed by Revaz Gabriadze English Subtitles Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 20, 30 GEL October 12 DIAMOND OF MARSHAL DE FANT’E Revaz Gabriadze Directed by Revaz Gabriadze English Subtitles Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 20, 30 GEL October 5, 9, 11 An animated documentary film REZO Directed by Leo Gabriadze Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 15 GEL CINEMA
AMIRANI CINEMA Address: 36 Kostava St. Telephone: 2 99 99 55 www.kinoafisha.ge Every Wednesday ticket: 5 GEL October 5-12
VENOM Directed by Ruben Fleischer Cast: Tom Hardy, Michelle Williams, Woody Harrelson Genre: Action, Horror, Sci-Fi Language: English Start time: 22:00 Language: Russian Start time: 14:30, 17:00, 19:30 Ticket: 9-14 GEL
September 22- October 6 Exhibition ‘EVERY RELATION HAS ITS OWN IDEOLOGY’ BY ILIKO ZAUTASHVILI
CAVEA GALLERY Address: 2/4 Rustaveli Ave. Telephone: 200 70 07
August 25 – October 14 Georgian National Museum and Project ArtBeat Present Maia Naveriani's exhibition "Gone Here Today Tomorrow.”
Every Wednesday ticket: 8 GEL October 5-12 A STAR IS BORN (Info Above) Directed by Bradley Cooper Cast: Lady Gaga, Bradley Cooper, Sam Elliott Genre: Drama, Music, Musical Language: English Start time: 22:00 Language: Russian Start time: 14:00, 17:00, 20:00 Ticket: 10-19 GEL VENOM (Info Above) Language: English Start time: 19:45 Language: Russian Start time: 11:45, 14:15, 17:00, 19:15, 22:30 Ticket: 10-19 GEL MUSEUM
SVANETI MUSEUM OF HISTORY AND ETHNOGRAPHY Address: 7 A. Ioseliani Str., Mestia
THE NATIONAL GALLERY Address: 11 Rustaveli Ave. Telephone: 215 73 00 September 11 – November 25 EXHIBITION BERNINI'S SCHOOL AND THE ROMAN BAROQUE After the works of Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo, Raphael, Botticelli, Titian and other great Italian artists, the Georgian National Museum and the Embassy of Italy in Georgia present the exhibition MUSIC
ELEKTROWREK Address: 2 Monk Gabriel Salosi I Turn October 5 DREAM MACHINE RECORDS L8, BERO, DJ OMWILDCULTURE, CILLIAN, PURITAN Start time: 22:00 Ticket: 10-20 GEL
Exhibitions: GEORGIAN COSTUME AND WEAPONRY OF THE 18TH-20TH CENTURIES
ELECTRO CARRIAGE BUILDING FACTORY Address: 30 Ts. Dadiani Str.
STONE AGE GEORGIA ARCHEOLOGICAL TREASURE NEW LIFE TO THE ORIENTAL COLLECTIONS UNKNOWN COLLECTIONS OF THE GEORGIAN NATIONAL MUSEUM– INDIA, CHINA, JAPAN September 27- October 7 THE EXHIBITION OF AURELIEN VILLETTE'S ‘RESOLUTION OF SILENCE – ABKHAZIA’ IOSEB GRISHASHVILI TBILISI HISTORY MUSEUM - KARVASLA Address: 8 Sioni St. Telephone: 2 98 22 81
October 9 FAMOUS POLISH CHOIR CAMERATA SILESIA KATOWICE CITY SINGERS' ENSEMBLE Founder and Artistic Director of the choir- Anna Szostak Start time: 19:30 Ticket: 10-30 GEL TBILISI CONCERT HALL Telephone: 2 99 05 99 www.tbilisijazz.com
GEORGIAN NATIONAL MUSEUM SIMON JANASHIA MUSEUM Address: 4 Rustaveli Ave. Telephone: 2 99 80 22, 2 93 48 21 www.museum.ge
Matsubara and Mishelina obaliani. Conductor- Tadahiro Yano Start time: 19:30 Ticket: 10-40 GEL
October 5 HM. PARTY, WORAKLS, N'TO, JOACHIM PASTOR, STEREOCLIP Line up: 21:30- Killages 23:00- Apolloe 23:30- Stereoclip 01:00- Joachim Pastor 02:30- N’to 04:00- Worakls 05:30- Endorphins Start time: 19:30 Ticket: 30-50 GEL INTERNATIONAL MUSIC FESTIVAL AUTUMN TBILISI Venue: 123/125 Agmashenebli Ave. October 5 CONCERT OF SYMPHONIC MUSIC Tbilisi Symphony Orchestra, Georgian State Choir, Kobe 21st Century Choir, Japan-based Georgian violist, Zaza Gogua, Georgian and Japanese vocalists– Tomo Matsubara, Minami
October 7 DATO KENCHIASHVILI AND FRIENDS Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 10-40 GEL IN THE DENSE FOREST Address: Tskneti, The last stop October 6 AKSED SKALITZER - BBQ PARTY Start time: 15:00 Ticket: 15 GEL HARD ROCK CAFE Address: 1 Petriashvili Str. October 6 CHRIS CAIN Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 35 GEL SPACEHALL Address: 2 A. Tsereteli Ave. October 6 TREEBAL: ZYCE at SPACEHALL Start time: 23:00 Ticket: 30 GEL BACKSTAGE76 Address: Vake Park October 11 First time ever in Georgia Pagan/Folk Metal from Latvia SKYFORGER! Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 25-30 GEL MTSKHETA CULTURAL CENTER Address: 9 Military Str., Mtskheta October 5 TEMUR KHVITELASHVILI CONCERT Start time: 29:00 Ticket: 30-15 GEL TELAVI INTERNATIONAL MUSIC FESTIVAL Address: Telavi Vazha-Pshavela State Drama Theater October 5 THE FESTIVAL ORCHESTRA Ariel Zuckermann- Conductor Alexander Korsantia- Piano Program: Rimsky-Korsakov- Orchestral Suite Scheherezade Prokofiev- Piano Concerto no. 2 in G Minor Start time: 19:00 Ticket: 20-35 October 7 Ariel Zuckermann- Conductor Matvey Blumin- Violin Bruno Philippe- Cello Program: Conus- Violin Concerto in E Minor Saint-Saëns– Cello Concerto No. 1 in A Minor op. 33 Start time: 19:00 Ticket: 20-35 GEL October 9 Piano Recital and Reception DANIEL PETRICA CIOBANU Program: Silvestri- Baccanale Mussorgsk- Pictures at an Exhibition Enescu- Carillon Nocturne Scriabin- 3 Preludes op. 11 Stravinsky/Agosti- The Firebird Start time: 19:00 Ticket: 50 GEL Venue: Alexander Chavchavadze Museum in Tsinandali
October 10 PIANO RECITAL 1 ELISO VIRSALADZE Start time: 19:00 Ticket: 20-35 GEL October 11 TBILISI STATE CHAMBER ORCHESTRA GEORGIAN SINFONIETTA ORCHESTRA’S 10TH ANNIVERSARY CONCERT Program: Documentary Sinfonietta Vivaldi- Ouverture Olimpiada RV 725 Piazzola- The Four Seasons Start time: 19:00 Ticket: 20-35 GEL TBILISI CITY FESTTBILISOBA Program October 6 Venue: Rike Park Gourmet festival- 12:00- 20:00, Flower festival ‘Autumn Festival’13:00- 20:00, Children’s entertainment program11:00- 19:00, Live music- 14:00- 18:00, Exhibition of rare cars- 12:00- 18:00. Venue: Legvtakhevi Exhibition of painters, photographers- 13:00- 17:00, Exhibition of handmade works13:00-17:00, Costumed performance of Georgian movie characters- 14:0017:00, Show ‘Life Statues’ by the Pantomime Theater- 14:00- 17:00, Project ‘Gvidirijore’- 15:00- 17:00 live music- band Killages- 18:0019:00, Giorgi Aleksidze Tbilisi Modern Ballet performance- ‘Metronome’20:00- 21:00. Venue: Dedaena Park- 12:00- 18:00 Sports and Amusement Events Venue: Europe Square Musical- ‘Tbilisiuri Vodevili’- 20:00 October 7 Venue: Rike Park Gourmet festival- 12:00- 20:00. Flower festival ‘Autumn Festival’13:00- 20:00, Children’s entertainment program11:00- 19:00, Circus performance ‘Jambaze Sazgvrebs Gareshe’- 14:00- 15:00, Live music- 14:00- 18:00, Exhibition of rarest cars- 12:0018:00, Venue: Baratashvili Street Composer Revaz Lagidze sculpture opening ceremony and ensemble Kartuli Khmebi/Georgian Voices’ Concert- 14:00 Venue: Legvtakhevi Exhibition of painters, photographers- 13:00- 17:00, Exhibition of handmade works13:00-17:00, Costumed performance of Georgian movie characters- 14:0017:00, Show ‘Life Statues’ by Pantomime Theatre- 14:00- 17:00, Live music- unforgettable concertLevan Tskhadadze and German guests with the project- ‘Meqi Dana and friends’- 16:00- 18:00, The most popular project ‘Gvidirijore’- 19:00- 21:00, Giorgi Aleksidze Tbilisi Modern Ballet performance- ‘Metronome’21:00- 22:00 Venue: Dedaena Park- 12:00- 18:00 Sports and Amusement Events Venue: The First Democratic Republic Square Honorable citizen of Tbilisi awarding ceremony and galaconcert “Chemo Tbilisi Qalaqo/ My Tbilisi City’- 19:30
GEORGIA TODAY OCTOBER 5 - 8, 2018
Resolution of Silence: Abkhazia
BY MARIAM MERABISHVILI
eorgian EuroArt and Dutch ArtEcho Foundations, directed by Dali de GraafUbilava, together with Georgian and foreign partners, have organized an exhibition of the French artist Aurélien Villette, ‘Resolution of Silence – Abkhazia’ at the Georgian National Museum which is set to run September 27 to October 7. The opening ceremony was attended by special guests from different countries as well as locals who witnessed a play performed by the Professional State Youth Theater of Sokhumi ‘White Wave’ and theAbkhazian State Choir Chapel led by Zviad Bolqvadze. “25 years ago, an unintended and devastating conflict began, and we wanted
to show respect to everyone who is connected with it through this exhibition. This is a common problem and involves everyone. We couldn’t prevent the separation process and the humanitarian situation is worsening. It’s high time to realize that this story does not have a winning state,” said the State Minister of Georgia for Reconstruction and Civil Equality, Ketevan Tskikhelashvili. Architectural photographer Aurélien Villette started traveling and taking photos in 2008. Since then, he has traveled to over 30 countries to discover different peoples, their cultures and stories. During his research, in 2016 he stopped on the eastern shore of the Black Sea, in occupied Abkhazia. The lens of his camera caught several frozen decades of the 20th century at once. The armed conflict of the 1990s had turned this once beautiful and vivid place into a sort of ghost shelter and
yet also a source of inspiration for Villette’s photo series. The artist expresses the full nostalgia and silent loneliness which has settled in the territory in his own unique way. Looking at his pictures, every single moment, place or aspect of Georgia appears in front of you with emotion, as if the French artist is from Abkhazia and is telling you the whole history from personal experience. Every single photo expresses strong silence and tells you how beautiful and free the region was. A quarter of a century has passed and nothing has changed. The region is becoming a ghost town. Abkhazia remains a closed zone for Georgian people and relations are almost fruitless. The photos confirm that the art and visual sides are increasing in popularity as a way to describe and deal with the conflict, precisely with the resolution of silence as shown by the European artist. “Resolution of silence- the silence you grasp, which makes expectations, faith and hope special. I am convinced that if those Abkhazians who helped this amazing artist there, were here, they would have a different perception about what they see. They will have the exact emotions that we have now: forgiveness, love and hope to return to each other. Today, numerous events are held on this topic, meaning we are making progress and will tell our friends, relatives, acquaintances and fellow Abkhazians –let’s love and return to each other. Thank you Aurélien Villette and organizers for such an amazing project,” said Vakhtang Kolbaia, Chairman of the Autonomous Republic of Abkhazia The exhibition opened on the 25th anniversary of the war when around
250 000 refugees were forced to abandon their homes in Abkhazia. Situated in the north-western corner of Georgia with the Black Sea to the south-west and surrounded by the Caucasus Mountains and Russia to the north-east, Abkhazia, named the “Pearl of the Soviet Union” was once known as a prime holiday destination for the Soviet elite. The Georgian public remembers Abkhazia as one of the most beautiful places in the country, where families spent time resting and recharging whatever the season. Now there are only abandoned buildings, poor people, feelings, emotion, sadness and pain, yet still with evidence of hope for a better future. Through the exhibition, the architectural photographer gives people a chance to see that native environment. The French artist and his lens act in this case as mediators between vivid memories of the past, destroyed by the war in the 1990s,
and the sad, silent present: a guide connecting past with present. He also creates a space to think, forgive each other, live together peacefully, and contemplate missed relationships and rebuilding. These types of exhibitions and events are extremely important for Georgia. Here is a generation which knows almost nothing about Abkhazia. Only some nice pictures, videos on social networks: memories little by little disappearing. These events will show them the need to think more, analyze, suffer, become motivated and to take on a role in their own society. The opening ceremony concluded by showing video footage of old Abkhazia in the yard of the National Museum. Guests got to see not only new pictures by Aurélien Villette, but to remember the life the region once had: the people, everyday lives and freedom surrounded by spectacular landscape and the sea.
Close Encounters Innovative Music Festival Held for the 6th Time in Georgia BY LIKA CHIGLADZE
he Close Encounters festival took place for the sixth time this year in Tbilisi. Established in 2005 by cerebrated Georgian pianist Tamriko Kordzaia, the festival has annually offered the audience various types of old, contemporary and experimental music as well as brought together professional and fledgling musicians both from Georgia and Switzerland. The festival consists of two parts: the first takes place in Georgia and then it continues in Switzerland in February – March. From the very beginning, the festival’s primary focus was the representation of contemporary and old music in an interesting format. The festival aims to merge tradition and avant-garde and showcase these as one entity. In comparison with previous years, this year, apart from Georgian and Swiss musicians, Austrian and German musicians were also presented in the program. Close Encounters opened on September 29 in Tbilisi with its first free concert in Ilia’s Garden, where everyone was welcome to attend. Some of the most iconic names of the Georgian musical scene: Zagareli & Strings (GEO), Alex
Kordzaia aka Kordz(CH/GEO),Giorgi Zagareli (GEO), Natalia Beridze GEO), Nika Machaidze aka Nikakoi (GEO) and foreign artist Frederic Robinson (CH/D), took to the stage. The concerts took place in different venues throughout the park, as well as in Mtkvarze club, Tbilisi Conservatoire, and elsewhere. In total, seven musical events were held, five in Tbilisi and two in the regions: one in Telavi and the second in Kavtiskhevi village. The festival encompassed an array of concerts, educational activities and workshops. In 2018, the honorary guest of the festival was Peter Zumthor, a world-renowned Swiss architect notable for his minimalist and uncompromising works. The acclaimed architect held interesting meetings that were also free to attend. On October 2, Tbilisi Conservatoire hosted the fifth concert of the festival, named ‘Leap in Time.’ The grandiose concert featured local talent as well as celebrated invited musicians, who gifted the audience an unforgettable evening and an amazing experience. GEORGIA TODAY talked with the founder of the festival, Tamriko Kordzaia. “The idea of establishing such a festival in Georgia came to me many years ago. When I moved to Switzerland in 1997 to continue my studies and got involved in the contemporary music
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scene, I wanted to share the novelties and my experience with the Georgian audience and my colleagues. In the 1990s there were hard times in Georgia and there was no place for experiments and avant-garde here; musicians even had to warm up their hands before starting to play. So I started by organizing piano concerts and little by little introducing electronic music elements. Nikakoi, a celebrated Georgian musician, and I teamed up and delivered a few concerts. Later, we decided to establish a bigger music festival that would involve both Georgian and foreign musicians. As part of the festival, Georgian musicians would be able to perform in Switzerland and
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vice versa. This was kind of a cultural exchange that triggered some good metastases and enabled musicians to discover novelties in the field. In the beginning, it was very difficult to organize the festival and there were many obstacles. Two years ago, the festival achieved its final form, since interaction between the audience and musicians finally happened, and we understood how to approach the listeners. Today’s concert demonstrated how old and contemporary music are linked to each other and that there is no need to put any margins between them. The audience listened to old classical pieces as well as novel compositions by talented young com-
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posers and established musicians,” she told us. Alexandre Kordzaia, a young contemporary musician, together with Peter Zumthor, who is also a celebrated drummer, gave a thrilling show and left the Conservatoire audience speechless, while conservatoire student Mako Gviniashvili, who is currently pursuing a Master’s degree in Norway, premiered her new electronic piece made with ambient sounds. The concert was concluded with a beautiful show from Zagareli & Strings. The first part of the festival ended in the village of Kavtiskhevi, dedicated to the local population. “The main thing about the festival is that it brings together performers from various genres who have different approaches to music and possess distinct performing techniques. The festival closed in my village Kavtiskhevi on October 4,” Alexandre Kordzaia told GEORGIA TODAY. “This place means a lot to me, I spent my childhood years there. No such event has ever been held there so it also meant a lot to the locals. When I was a little boy, I always wanted to organize theater plays and concerts to entertain the local inhabitants, and now I’m happy to have made my dream a reality. The concert took place in my neighbor’s yard and saw local musicians joining in a jam session with folk music.”
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October 5 - 8, 2018