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Issue no: 1029

• MARCH 9 - 12, 2018



In this week’s issue...

FOCUS ON PUTTING MORE GEORGIA INTO EUROPE Georgian students hear from European officials on the positive future Georgia can look forward to


Gov’t Plans to Prevent Loss of Schengen Visa-Free Regime NEWS PAGE 3

After Syria, Russia Might Gain Momentum in Lebanon


Georgian Stock Exchange, IFC, CiDA & UN Women “Ring the Bell” for Gender Equality in Tbilisi

The Rationale behind ArmeniaGeorgia Strategic Partnership


Turkmenistan, Russia Start Business Negotiations

n March 7, and for the first time, Tbilisi hosted a “Ring the Bell for Gender Equality” event to celebrate International Women’s Day 2018, the aim of which is to emphasize the importance of gender equality for economic development and growth. Recent estimates show that if the gender gap in economic participation was closed by 25% by 2025, global GDP could increase by up to $5.3 trillion in the same time period. Georgia is ranked 75th out of 144 countries measured in 2017 for The World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap Report, compared to 41st out of 115 countries over a decade ago. The event highlighted how empowering women

can help achieve higher productivity in private companies, ultimately supporting the economy and job creation, raising income, and promoting development. It attracted around 70 private sector, government, and international institution representatives. Part of a global campaign taking place in around 60 other cities, the event in Tbilisi was a partnership between the IFC, a member of the World Bank Group, the Georgian Stock Exchange, UN Women, and the Civil Development Agency (CiDA), the Secretariat of Global Compact Network Georgia. The Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, supported the event, through the UN Women-led program. Photo source:

Continued on page 2

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MARCH 9 - 12, 2018

Georgian Stock Exchange, IFC, CiDA & UN Women “Ring the Bell” for Gender Equality in Tbilisi Continued from page 1

“The potential benefits from women’s economic empowerment are significant. Multiple studies show listed companies with women represented on boards outperform those without,” said George Paresishvili, CEO, Georgian Stock Exchange. “We are delighted to join stock exchanges around the world in advocating for equal gender representation on boards and in senior management as a smart business strategy.” “Narrowing the gender gap can help drive growth and improve the lives of many families, which is why IFC and its partners have joined forces to strengthen women’s participation in the private sector as employees, entrepreneurs, consumers, and leaders,” said Jan van Bilsen, IFC Regional Manager for the South Caucasus. “Georgia would benefit greatly from tapping this potential.” Erika Kvapilova, UN Women Country

Representative, said: “Women’s empowerment is not only an important human rights imperative, and a precondition of sustainable development, but it also contributes to higher productivity, better results and greater sustainability for private companies.” Salome Zurabishvili, CiDA representative, Managing Head of the Global Compact Network Georgia, said: “Women’s empowerment in the business sector in Georgia has been impressive in the last couple of years. We have been actively working with leading companies to support the incorporation of Women’s Empowerment Principles in business operations and interest among businesses is growing rapidly.” This is the fourth Ring the Bell event organized globally by IFC and the Sustainable Stock Exchanges Initiative, together with the United Nations Global Compact, UN Women, Women in ETFs and the World Federation of Exchanges.

Georgian Dream Pledges More Decentralization by 2025

Breakaway S.Ossetia Asks More Time for Transfer of Deceased Georgian BY THEA MORRISON


he self-proclaimed president of Georgia’s Russianbacked breakaway South Ossetia region, Anatoly Bibilov, says they need more time to transfer the body of deceased Georgian citizen Archil Tatunashvili to the Georgian side. The puppet regime has been refusing to hand Tatunashvili’s body over to Georgia since February 23, when the man died in custody in a Tskhinvali detention facility in unclear circumstances. Bibilov’s statement was released by de facto South Ossetian news agency PEC, which says that he believes Tatunashvili’s body should be returned to his family. "We need to conduct a forensic medical examination of the body, as is done in Europe and America, which can takes up to one month even in Georgia. Nobody says that Tatunashvili's body should not be handed over,” PEC quoted Bibilov. The de facto president also added that the examination of the body is necessary because Tatunashvili’s case is too “politicized” by the Georgian side. “We are afraid that on handing over the body without forensic expertise, we will get even more negative feedback than now. Give us the opportunity to do everything according to the law," Bibilov said. The statements of de facto leader were followed by negative reactions in Tbilisi. Giorgi Kandelaki, member of the parliamentary opposition European Georgia, believes that the statement of the de

Photo: De facto President of Georgia’s occupied region of South Ossetia, Anatoly Bibilovs. Source: Tass

facto president is cynicism, which should be confronted by a firm position from the government. Kandelaki believes Georgia should adopt a package of sanctions that will become one of the deterrent factors in future to prevent such incidents as this. “Bibilov’s statement is an insult to the family of Tatunashvili and our entire country. In order to prevent such crimes in the future, our main task is to take specific steps and impose a package of sanctions against the people who are indirectly or directly connected to this case,” he stated. Member of the ruling Georgian Dream party, Mamuka Mdinaradze, also says the de facto leader’s statement is unacceptable. “His comments contradict all international norms and standards. Despite the statements of the occupational regime, the Georgian side will do its best to get Tatunashvili’s body transferred as soon

as possible,” Mdinaradze said. The de facto Ministry of Foreign Affairs of breakaway South Ossetia published a statement about the death of Archil Tatunashvili on March 1, saying he had been intercepted “carrying out intelligencesabotage activities and was guilty for the murder of civilians in August 2008.” The so-called ministry went on to say that Tatunashvili had been detained in Leningori (Akhalgori) on February 22, by breakaway South Ossetian “law enforcers.” The statement reads that during his transfer to a detention cell, Tatunashvili fought back and sustained injuries, was knocked down and fell down stairs. Before that, the puppet regime spread information that the Georgian man had died of “heart failure.” The Office of Georgia’s Public Defender stated they have information that Tatunashvili died before he was taken to hospital, adding that he seemed to have been beaten, according to his injuries.

The Green Shoots of Growth in Georgia: Hydroponic Farming with EU Support BY MÁTÉ FÖLDI


n his presentation of the National Vision of Local Self-Governance and Decentralization in Georgia, Georgian Parliament Speaker Irakli Kobakhidze announced on Monday that the funding of the local selfgovernment will increase to 7% of GDP by 2025. The corresponding action plan and reform strategy will entail better local governance, fiscal decentralization and a gradual increase of the powers of selfgoverning bodies. It will be developed by Parliament in 2018, with UNDP, Swiss and Austrian financial technical support. “Our ultimate goal is to become a fullfledged member of the European family, and it won’t be possible unless we establish a European system of decentralized governance,” Kobakhidze said, also underlining the need for developing “a unified, complex decentralization strategy.” Kobakhidze stressed that the upcoming reform would be implemented with the close cooperation of civil society organizations, experts and the National Association of Self-Governments. He further emphasized the importance that “political will” plays in the reform process,

thanking the Prime Minister to that end. The Prime Minister, another presenter of the reform plans, said that “regions should be entitled to make their own decisions; they should possess sufficient resources to make the decisions and enforce them.” Kvirikashvili also noted the “serious challenge” posed by economic inequality across the country, an issue that would be addressed through the self-government reform. “Highly educated youth will be interested to get involved in local selfgovernance, thus promoting regional development,” he said. Georgian Dream launched the local self-government reform several years ago. Parliament adopted the Self-Government Code in 2014, paving the way for direct elections of municipal mayors and gamgebelis (govenors), leading to an increase in the number of self-governing cities from five to twelve. However, last year, Parliament approved amendments to the Local Self-Government Code, which reduced the number of self-governing cities back to five, triggering strong criticism from civil society organizations and the opposition. Last December, Kvirikashvili spoke of the government’s intentions to carry out a new wave of the self-government reform during his parliamentary confidence vote hearings.


rowingGeorgianvegetables by employing the latest European technologies – this is the motto of Imereti Greenery, a Dutch-Georgian enterprise located in western Georgia, which has benefited from EU support for its development under the EU4Business initiative, seeing production and profits soar as a result. Since its establishment, the enterprise has been gradually expanding its greenhouse coverage and now occupies two hectares of territory in the city of Samtredia. Lettuce and cucumber here is grown by following hydroponic farming – a modern method of agriculture where

crops are cultivated without soil by using mineral nutrients in a water solvent. Smart use of geothermal waters makes farming at Imereti Greenery way more efficient and responsible. The clients of the enterprise comprise the major supermarket chains and high-class hotels in Georgia. EU4Business and the EBRD are part of the company’s success story: with the EBRD’s Advice for Small Businesses program back in early 2016, the enterprise introduced modern accounting standards which made financial reporting much more effective, and relations with banks much more successful. Following implementation of the pro-

ject, production was up 75%, profits rose 380% and the number of staff grew by 129%. On the back of the accounting changes, the enterprise was also able to secure financing for LED lightning lighting for growing corps in winter and is now eyeing even further growth: additional space for a greenhouse in Imereti and expansion to Samegrelo region. “We are proud that we are generating job opportunities for locals of the region. Regional development is critical for our country. Each new job can bring real differences to lives of one, two and maybe even more families and communities,” says Natia Khelaia, Director of Imereti Greenery. The future plans of Imereti Greenery include substituting imports and exporting to the neighbouring countries. The EBRD Advice for Small Businesses program, funded in Eastern Partnership countries by the EU under its EU4Business initiative, aims to promote good management in the SME sector by providing assistance to individual enterprises, helping them to grow their businesses. It supports SMEs to make structural changes and develop new business skills, helping them to thrive and compete in market economies. The program also enables SMEs to access local consulting services on a cost-sharing basis by providing grants of up to €10,000.




Gov’t Plans to Prevent Loss of Schengen Visa-Free Regime BY TOM DAY


ince the decision was made to allow Georgian passport holders freedom of movement within the Schengen Zone, there has been a growing number of crimes committed without punishment and numerous people seeking asylum. In order to prevent the so-called ‘visa suspension mechanism’ from being triggered as a consequence, the Georgian government has made plans to tighten the procedure for changing last names. The bill, endorsed by the government on March 6, will mean citizens can only change their last name once, and it requires them to submit the request in person and to give sufficient reasons. Those who have changed their family name since March 28, 2017, and/or who were readmitted to Georgia, will be unable to change it again, according to the bill. The restriction will not apply to name requests as a result of birth, child adoption, marriage and divorce. The Ministry of Justice, which drafted the bill, said that the change would “prevent abuse of the visa-free regime by Georgian citizens,” and would “help identify individuals who committed crimes.” They added that “there have been

cases when Georgian citizens committed crimes in EU countries but came back to Georgia, changed their last names easily and traveled back to the Schengen Zone with new identities.” After a number of European countries, including Germany, Sweden and Iceland, expressed great concern over the increasing number of crimes committed by asylum seekers from Georgia, fears over the European Union suspending the visa-free regime were aroused. The Georgian government announced it would implement measures to combat this. Part of these measures is to strengthen police co-operation with Georgia’s European partners on fighting crime, and to run a nationwide campaign. Prime Minister Giorgi Kvirikashvili said during the Government meeting on March 6 that the new bill was part of a “complex plan” to tackle “the challenges and the problems” surrounding the visa free regime. “We are tightening the regulations on name change. We are doing our best to avoid triggering the visa suspension mechanism, and this change is not the only step that we will take,” he added. On the same day, Interior and Foreign Ministry met with Head of the Migrant Law Division at Germany’s Interior Ministry, Christian Klos, and Annett Gunther, the Commissioner for Refugees and Migration at the Federal Foreign Office. During the meetings, the

Photo source:

German Embassy to Georgia said the government was “greatly concerned” about the ever-increasing number of applications for asylum from Georgian

citizens. The Embassy added that Berlin seeks to further strengthen its “already close cooperation” with Tbilisi on matters surrounding readmission. It also

said that a citizen would be banned from entering the Schengen Zone for several years if their application for asylum was rejected.




MARCH 9 - 12, 2018

Buckle Up: “New Normals” Are Coming OP-ED BY VICTOR KIPIANI

Russia's President Vladimir Putin and Chinese President Xi Jinping during the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum. By Kim Kyung-Hoon/Reuters


he post-Cold War period is usually subject to an analysis which breaks it up into different periods or stages, with a variety of authoritative sources and scholars attempting to base these upon qualifying criteria, events or even personalities. Some of these attempts are fairly convincing, but others fail to live up to even the most superficial scrutiny. But is it not somewhat premature to attempt to define a period of nearly 30 years from the retrospective heights of historical analysis? To operate precise cuts according to geopolitical calculations? This could well be the case. The human temptation to jump to conclusions is a trait we hold from the majesty of nature, and our quest to untangle knots, however clumsy or inopportune it may seem, is always uppermost in our minds, and always pressing us to perceive and express near-absolute terms.

A NEW “BREAK-UP” MODE? What our world is currently facing is sometimes referred to as a New Cold War. But this is perhaps a futile attempt to bridge the blurring contours of our times based upon what we have known and experienced during the decades which followed the end of the Second World War. Besides, this attempt is either a gross mistake in recreating parallels, or a deliberate failure to admit that we are miles away from the “comfort zone” of rules we became used to during the era of containment, and are now forced to play a new game which we often find hard to control. Dividing up the decades which have followed the dissolution of the Soviet Union into several periods— pre-2007 or 2008, then until 2014; and from 2014 to now—seems a plausible method of grasping the geopolitically seismic events which have been shaping the world of late (and will continue to shape it into the next decade at least). We still believe that Putin's speech at the 2007 Munich Security Conference began a new era of transforming the remnants of the bipolar globe into a

world marked by a pre-nascent statist approach to nationalism. His speech was indeed prophetic: “no one feels safe! Because no one can feel that international law is like a stone wall that will protect them.” And while many saw the Russian invasion of Georgia in 2008 as an aberration from established patterns with admittedly no critical attention to its long-term fallout, the impact of Putin’s statement is plain to see these days. Numerous dissatisfied large and mediumsized powers seek to challenge the strategically meaningful post-Cold War international liberal order, whose equilibrium was strongly shaken as the 2008 financial crisis unfolded. The latter crisis did indeed herald a major disruption of the old modus operandi and massive discontinuity by smashing the rules of the game we were accustomed to following through the lens of containment and post-containment: the corrosive dysfunctionality of the (seemingly) welfare state, the erosion of the middle class, the massive accumulation of wealth within ruling elites, the dramatic effect of automation on labor markets and rising poverty… This chain of unhappy developments has led some to question

the coherence of representative democracy and, eventually, of the liberal order and its American and Western guardians. Next, the events of 2014 in Ukraine blocked the faint breeze of liberalism by overtly and assertively reintroducing “spheres of influences” in Europe and Asia. A new era of revisionism has been proclaimed, with easily recognizable setbacks to globalization in the face of state extremism, newly fueled populism, and further proof of a direct link between stagnant political systems and unequal distributions of wealth. Electoral processes in a number of democracies are supporting the premise that certain aspects of “normality” are coming to an end, and that elements of a “new normality” are now buckling up, but this time in the driving seats.

A “G-ZERO” WORLD A plethora of developments permit us to unreservedly state that each country will in the end be tending its own garden and that the whole world is entering an era of “G-Zero”—in other words, a world of every country for itself. This is another blow to multipolarity, not to mention the bipolar system, signifying the emergence

of highly fractured asymmetries with fluid economies (and in technological flux, to boot). Topped by the mounting resurgence of regional conflicts through proxy wars, we may all be coming round to the need to accept the presumed aberrations of the past decade as the new central objectives of a largely modified operational structure. Besides this, we are witnessing a clear renaissance of 19th century tools of statecraft such as corruption and political sabotage, mutating through new forms of information war, cyber espionage and the Trojan horse of geoconomics (to name but a few). Nevertheless, major fault lines continue to cut across nexuses of bilateral stand-off, which, alongside their key stakeholders, are worth mentioning again in order to identify the gravity of tensions and selfreliance in the new world to come.

AN EMERGENT CIVILIZATIONAL CLASH? Many of the changes which would presumably be beyond any control of the United States, are mainly to take place in the south-east and south-west Asia region and Indian Ocean basin. And this is about a “great game” between the US and China; and it is also about China, on one hand, and India and Japan, on another, to a varying degree. While it is quite premature to speak about the global hegemony of China, and that is not due to its shaky economic fundamentals only, the rivalry would mostly be accelerating in a near term on a regional scale. With the US trying to preserve both unrestricted passage on seas and its commitment to the allies in that region, the Chinese policy would predominantly be driven by replicating the Monroe Doctrine but with an Asian veil. And that confrontation may be unravelling not by virtue of the logics of the Thucydides trap alone, but due to fundamental distinctions resulting in civilizational incompatibility with American individualism opposed by the Chinese “know your place” in the communal hierarchy. This exceptionalism in the regional context may not last too long, however, with spiralling next into the global context. That said, the Chinese Belt and Road Initiative is rightly viewed these days as not about economy but about cultivating diplomatic (including military diplomacy) and political influence along the OBOR route. At this point in time, the megaproject is mainly focused on using I Track channels, public connections and economic inducements, but both the land and maritime components of the Silk Road are increasingly accompa-

nied by improving the ability of militaries in relation to rescue and disaster relief operations and opening navy overseas logistical bases in near and remote places from mainland China. All in all, the current policies of China in the context of the BRI is arguably reminiscent of Mackinder's Heartland Theory whereby the control of the heartland is vital to control of the world and the heartland itself comprises all of Europe and Asia, both making the World Island. This encroachment into Eurasia is commonly understood as part of China's grand strategy and may conflict with that of the United States, provided that that the latter does not abandon his role of the heavy-weighter on the World Island. In terms of these discussions, it is also a helpful reminder that the US still remains the sole power capable of projecting its power both on seas and land, thus addressing not only that of Mackinder's but other mainstream geopolitical theories too.

AGAIN ON RECONCILING IRRECONCILABLES The Eurasian area is witnessing yet another vivid example of balancing on the verge of a “situation of strength” and that balancing act is by Russia. Although many of us in Georgia would rightly contest this by stating that the verge has been crossed already as a result of the 2008 aggression (the same goes for Ukraine, when speaking about the grab of the Crimean peninsula). As Russia is adamantly pursuing a zero-sum worldview, the US will most likely attempt to pool all resources available to restore a balance when it comes to hybrid warfare. At the same time, either track I or track II channels should clearly be maintained as there is a range of sensitive interests which require unflinching cooperation by both parties. Besides, and in Eurasia in particular, the triangle of Russia-ChinaUS is something which the world has not witnessed before and it will be equally exciting and precarious to watch to what extent those divergent interests reconcile and confront. Most likely, whole reconciliation would be present on matters of tactical meaning, as strategies are hard to converge for the reasons mentioned already. Not surprising, since the US, Russia and China each belong to a category of their own. We are also waiting for the reaction from various powers with a key regional impact, such as Germany, Poland, UK, Turkey, or Saudi Arabia, which may lead to forging new (ad hoc) alliances and the prevalence of closed systems over open ones. But that is a subject of extensive deliberations in another article.

AND ABOUT US In these torrents, the same question repeats: where is Georgia's security anchor? We are surely present in various discussions, however, that bears a rather cyclical character when surfacing: dipping and then coming up again. The impression is that our presence on the radars is not sustainable. It is also true that there is no lack of novel toolkits by international scholars for addressing the problems we are externally facing (e.g., O'Hanlon at Brookings, Coffey at Heritage). However, there is still a nagging feeling that the gist of intellectual workouts on Georgia's possible access to NATO and EU is mainly hinged on “not now, but not never.” And that facilitates having a stable vicious (if not, perilous) circle insufficient for a decisive break. Stability is good, but not when it goes into flux. Besides, everything seems stable until it is not.




Georgia, Serbia Sign Visa-Free Agreement



visa-free regime between Georgia and Serbia will take effect in the near future, on completion of appropriate ratification procedures which are still underway. The statement was made by the Foreign Minister of Serbia, Ivica Dacic, after meeting his Georgian college Mikheil Janelidze in Belgrade on March 7. The Ministers signed the visa-free agreement which is expected to facilitate the activation of economic, cultural and people-to-people contacts between Geor-

gia and Serbia. “We signed an agreement on visa-free travel; the Serbian government will make an appropriate decision tomorrow and the citizens of Georgia will be able to travel visa-free to Serbia before completing the parliamentary procedures, as Georgia once did for Serbian citizens,” Dacic said. The ministers also voiced a decision on the appointment of diplomatic representatives in Tbilisi and Belgrade which will enhance bilateral relations before full diplomatic representations open in both countries. During the meeting, Dacic expressed Serbia’s support towards Georgia’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.

“I would also like to thank Georgia for supporting the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Serbia, including the formats of the international organizations,” the Serbian Foreign Minister said. Georgia’s Foreign Ministry reports that the sides welcomed the signing of the Framework Agreement on Trade between Serbia and Georgia, which will promote economic ties. The cooperation between the Ministries of Justice and Internal Affairs of Georgia and Serbia was also underlined in terms of sharing successful experiences. The Serbian side expressed interest in sharing Georgia's successful economic reforms. Janelidze congratulated Serbia on the success of its EU integration path and noted that the European way and EU membership is very important and both countries will continue active cooperation in this direction. “It is necessary to continue mutual cooperation by protecting the principles of both countries and the international positions. We are pleased with the success of Serbia on the path of European integration. We are ready to share this successful experience. A European future and EU membership is the firm will of our peoples, and we will continue to cooperate in this direction,” said the Georgian Minister. Within the framework of his visit, Janelidze also met Serbia’s Euro-integration Minister Jadranka Joksimovic, the President of the country, Aleksandar Vucic, and the Prime Minister, Ana Brabic.

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After Syria, Russia Might Gain Momentum in Lebanon OP-ED BY EMIL AVDALIANI


n previous editions of GT, I have written often on Russian geopolitical interests in Syria and how the country generally helped Bashar al-Assad to prop up his positions. Russia also increased its military presence in the country, recently receiving 49-year leases on an airbase and port facility in Syria. Russian resurgence in the Middle East has, however, not only been limited to the Syrian conundrum. To be better positioned in Syria, Russian geopolitical imperatives are driving the country towards active diplomatic and military moves in Syria’s neighboring countries.

One of the theaters of active Russian diplomacy has long been Lebanon. Russian media has at times given hints about Moscow’s rising interests in this Mediterranean state, reporting on the visits of Russian ships to Lebanese ports and spreading rumors that Russia would soon have a military presence there. Those leaks were partially corroborated when on February 3, the Kremlin directed the Ministry of Defense to sign an agreement with Lebanon on increased military cooperation. Moreover, the draft agreement also proposes the use of Lebanese facilities by the Russian military. Both sides also agreed on a broader exchange of military information and intensive bilateral cooperation against terrorism. Continued on page 8

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MARCH 9 - 12, 2018

Russia: Changing Suits for Uniforms? OP-ED BY NUGZAR B. RUHADZE


he impression is that the hot times of the Cold War have bounded back: Russia is flexing her nuke muscles, America has dug in, contemplating how to react, and the entire world is in suspense, waiting for something interesting but not very pleasant to happen. Actually, the picture has not changed since the Second World War, except that the universally hated monstrous geopolitical conglomerate, called the USSR, collapsed. Russia has not changed from times immemorial, with her plutocratic elite still at the helm and the underprivileged poor still in rags, a bitten-off loaf underarm. A couple of days ago, right before the Russian presidential elections, the current Russian President made his annual State of the Nation speech, having dedicated, at the very least, 30% of the address to boosting Russia’s military might in the eyes of the world. Russia might really have developed a scary new lethal weapon, but why did Putin try to give the bloodcurdling news to the planet in such a stentorian tone? The Russian President probably intended to be heard by his drowsy electorate at home and the eternally smiling cynical America abroad. The domestic audience fell under a crucial impression, reinventing motherRussia as a decision-making superpower, while Washington lackadaisically mumbled something totally incomprehensible under its unperturbed nose. US-Russian relations are overly tense even without additional exacerbation, and, therefore, what Putin said serves to give the nuke-loaded world a huge new headache. Both Russia and the States currently deploy thousands of nuclear warheads and both store thousands more. In a word,


Russia and America have the ability to mutually penetrate their missile defenses and destroy each other, and, consequently, the world, within 24 hours, and they do not necessarily need new weapons to do so. The only thing that matters here is the global recognition of nuclear weapons as a war deterrent, not an instrument. Putin’s recent speech before the Russian legislators will not lower tensions between the two nuclear superpowers; it will only abet the military hawks on both sides to go for more and better guns.

It is said that life is failing to improve in Russia. Russians have been living in perpetual expectation of a good life for centuries. Recollecting the recent times, an average soviet person was capable of tolerating any kind of hardship for the sake of the glory of the soviet motherland, and Russians made the best example of that heroism for other soviet nationalities and ethnicities. The soviets were permanently kept under the fright of the non-existent American threat, which was necessary for creating an

impression that all soviet efforts should be spent on defending the country from American imperialism and capitalistic offensive, including the military one. Putin, as the greatest protector of the Russian people, who has no way to make life better for his historically patient compatriots, has restored the old soviet way of keeping the American threat up and going, telling his people that he will “make the West listen to Russia” again. Yes, Putin needs attention, global attention, to make the former Russian great-

ness the case again today. But the question is whether this is good news for the average Russian voter. Delighting the Russian people with a happy economic prognosis is practically impossible, as they all know where they are and what they are doing – even in Russia, information is not restricted to the public. Incidentally, the reaction of the Russian media to Putin’s speech was mixed. Directing fellow citizens’ mentality towards the danger of war might be politically advantageous, thus distracting them from their everyday problems, but the perfidious guile kills the opportunity of ruling the country to the benefit of the people who truly need to behold at least a twinkle of light at the end of the tunnel. The invincibility of Russia is the main Russian ideal, served by the entire nation more faithfully than any other thought that might earn the attention of a regular global citizen, like giving bigger preference to jobs and security against weapons and a bad life. Putin’s frightening comments on the latest Russian military achievement seek to drag the world back into the arms race. Right at the moment when the world had almost forgotten the existence of intercontinental ballistic missiles, we are faced again, right out of the blue, with the same disturbing talk about nuclear threats and proliferation, and the possibility of a third world war, although Putin says he does not need weapons for war – he needs them to invite America to the negotiation table where the current Russian concerns would be heard. I hate to call Russia a rogue state, but I am compelled to, but I am still hopeful that a massive Russian nuclear attack is not possible, imagining that the nuclear deterrence potential is in no way in danger. The challenge is serious, and people need to cope with it!

The Rationale behind Armenia-Georgia Strategic Partnership OP-ED BY DR. BENYAMIN POGHOSYAN


ince gaining independence in 1991 Armenia – Georgia relations have been characterized as friendly and mutually beneficial. Georgia is one of only two routes connecting Armenia to the world and Armenia serves as a land bridge for Georgia to Iran. The mainly positive historical memories also play a role in fomenting friendly images within both societies. In recent years, hundreds of thousands Armenian tourists have visited the Georgian Black Sea coast, thus fostering people-to-people contacts. The Armenians living in Georgia are another tool to bolster bilateral connections. The political dialogue is marked by frequent visits of high level officialsthe last visit of the Armenian President to Georgia was in December 2017 and the Georgian Prime Minister visited Yerevan only last week. Yet, there is a lack of clear articulation of strategic rationale behind the bilateral relations. What can elevate the bilateral ties to the level of strategic partnership besides the common border, shared religion and Georgia’s capacity to serve as a main export/import route for Armenia? The key overlapping factor in both Georgia’s and Armenia’s strategic environment is the necessity of diversification. Armenia is firmly anchored in the Russian sphere of influence. Its membership of the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU) only strengthened Russia’s institutional influence, which was already firm given the deployment of a Russian military base and Yerevan’s membership in the Collective Security Treaty Organization. The ongoing Nagorno Karabakh conflict, showing no signs of any breakthrough, as well as the economic blockade imposed by Azerbaijan and Turkey, only foment Armenia’s

defense - security ties with Russia. However, Armenia is in urgent need of state modernization and systemic reforms, otherwise it risks losing its tough competition with Azerbaijan in the long-term perspective. Russia is neither able nor willing to contribute to the modernization of the Armenian State. Russia itself is suffering too much from a myriad of similar problems – rampant corruption, lack of good governance and independent judiciary, low level of transparency and accountability – to be able to support Armenia to overcome those symptoms. On the other hand, a stronger Armenia does not bode well for Russia’s objectives as in that case Yerevan may gain additional flexibility in its foreign policy. In such circumstances, the only viable source of assistance in modernization efforts for Armenia is the Euro-Atlantic community. US, EU and NATO support is critical in fostering difficult reforms in Armenia. Given the growing strategic disagreements between the West and Russia, which were once more emphasized by the Russian President’s latest State of the Union Address, Armenia faces difficulties in maintaining its strategic relations with Russia while fostering cooperation with the West. The Armenia-EU Comprehensive and Enhanced Partnership agreement was a step in the right direction, but its implementation will require enormous efforts both by government and society. In such circumstances, Georgia may well serve as a strategic channel towards the Euro-Atlantic community for Armenia. The implementation of the GeorgiaEU Association Agreement, as well as growing cooperation between Tbilisi and NATO, may well deepen Armenia’s understanding of opportunities and challenges on the road of Western-promoted reforms. Georgia may become a platform for indirect Armenia-West cooperation. Despite the tough problems between Russia and Georgia, Armenia-Georgia

cooperation will raise less doubt and anger in Russia than direct contact with Russia’s “archenemies” such as the US and NATO. This potential role of Georgia emphasizes the strategic significance of Armenia-Georgia cooperation, going well beyond the day-to-day economic activities and export/import operations. Georgia is actively positioning itself as a transit route connecting Asia and Europe. Tbilisi has successfully managed to gain a key position of bridge, connecting Azerbaijan with Turkey and enabling Azerbaijani energy resources to reach Europe and beyond. The Baku-Tbilisi Jeyhan oil and Baku-Tbilisi-Erzurum gas pipelines are key examples of Georgia’s success in its efforts. The Trans Anatolian pipeline under construction, as well as the launch of the Baku-Tbilisi-Kars railway, further fomented Georgia’s position as a reliable transit country not only for Azerbaijan, but potentially for Central Asia and China. If parts of Chinese cargo bound for Europe pass along the

China-Kazakhstan-Caspian Sea-Azerbaijan-Georgia route, it may have a significant positive impact on Georgia’s economy. However, the deepening relations with Azerbaijan and Turkey inevitably result in their growing influence in Georgia. Regardless of current strategic partnership with both Ankara and Baku, Tbilisi needs transit diversification. In this context, the “Persian Gulf-Black Sea” multimodal transport corridor project, which envisages connecting Iran with Europe via Armenia and Georgia, may play a vital role. Negotiations to start the project were launched in 2016, and most likely an intergovernmental agreement will be signed by end of 2018. This project will foster Georgia’s role as a key transit player not only in East-West but also in the North-South direction. The possibility to connect Iran with Europe will increase the geopolitical potential of Georgia and will provide it with necessary leverage in its regional policy. In

this context, the role of Armenia is key as a reliable partner and a land bridge for Georgia to Iran. The current projects in electricity transmission, which envisage the construction of new high voltage transmitting lines connecting Armenia with Georgia and Iran, may create a possibility for Georgia to enter not only Armenian but also the Iranian energy markets. Thus, both Armenia and Georgia need diversification in their foreign trade and transit policy. They are positioned well to support each other in furthering their strategic interests. The two governments, as well as the Armenian and Georgian expert community, should focus more attention on factors favoring the strategic partnership between two states as this will provide a sound base for mutual relations moving beyond the tourism and export/import spheres. Dr. Benyamin Poghosyan is the Executive Director, Political Science Association of Armenia.




MARCH 9 - 12, 2018

EU Officials Full of Praise of Georgian Youth Georgia is the most progressive of countries that aspire to join the European Union



t would be unfair to say that the EU rarely offers us, Georgians, words of encouragement. Georgia is doing its homework well, it’s a frontrunner, and so on – we’ve all heard and appreciated that; but when the encouragement and praise are directed towards youth, it carries additional significance. And that’s exactly what happened in Brussels at the end of February, when the European Alliance for Georgia, a Brussels based NGO championing for bringing “More Georgia into Europe”, organized a study trip to the highest echelons of the EU administration for Georgian youth; mostly students from the International Black Sea University. For Georgia’s European aspiration to come true, the nation must learn to “think European,” and when it comes to youngsters, what better way to study how the EU functions and what it stands for then seeing it close-up with your own eyes? Visits to European Commission, The External Action Service, The European Parliament, party Headquarters and to the famed Martens Center - There were basically no closed doors, with speakers discussing the fine aspects of what’s what and Georgia / EU relations. “Georgia, after Palestine, is the recipient of the largest financial EU assistance

worldwide,” Mathieu Bousquet, Head of Georgia unit at European Commission’s Directorate General on Neighborhood and Enlargement negotiations, told the students. “I think this shows how much we want you to succeed. I can say that Georgia, at the same time, has made the most progress and is the most progressive from the countries that aspire to join the European Union”. Marta Wytrykowska, Policy Advisor at the European External Actions Service, praised Georgia’s active participation in Erasmus+, stressing the importance of the young generation to learn “the European way of thinking,” for, as she put it, it is this generation “that is bound to change many things, including getting Georgia even closer to its coveted goal of EU membership.” The view was shared by Romain Strasser, Head of HR at the EPP group, the largest political group at the European Parliament, who underlined the fine aspects of Georgia & EU relations and noted a pleasant tradition of successive Georgian trainees at the European parliament. But what of those who made it all possible? The EAFG is a relatively new organization, with self-anointed crusade to, as their website says, “Bring more Georgia into Europe and vice versa”. Having among its founders both Belgians and Georgians, and boasting an impressive cohort of seasoned EU politicians as members of its honorary board, the

organization already has several important projects on its resume. The last one to date, the abovementioned study visit, concluded last week in European Parliament, where GEORGIA TODAY was on hand for an exclusive interview with its President, Mr. Louis Delcart, and Founder Teona Lavrelashvili, herself now a policy officer at the European Commission. “There is a huge amount of people who are into lobbying and advocacy, and who want to convince (European) politicians and the administration in certain subjects and want also for these subjects to be on the map, permanently. So that is the role that we want to play,” Delcart said when asked about the organization mission and values. “The role we want to play is not only to make Georgia apparent in the European Commission and European administration, but also to bring Georgia, on a permanent basis, into the world of the Europeans,” he added. “It’s very important that people start to know where Georgia is, even if it is a small republic. It’s a country that’s interested in Europe, that wants to expand its European values, and bring them to that side of the Black Sea and that is important.” The President couldn’t hide his excitement about his recent visit to Georgia, where he says he visited the Technopark and saw a generation that is “completely digital”. But lobbying for Georgia must have its

challenges, too, what with the recent wave of displeasure from a number of European states with increased numbers of Georgian asylum seekers. It is something Teona Lavrelashvili is all too aware of. “Our challenge is to somehow reach the ordinary citizens here, in the EU member states. Why is that needed? If you look, for example, at the Western Balkans, which are in the process of accession, candidates or potential candidates; one of the major troubles for those candidate countries is that people in the EU member states are not convinced. Why? Because first of all, they are afraid of any immediate, let’s say, new things, changes in their lives, in their countries. And therefore, if we look at the example of Georgia, apart from the wine tradition and cultural advantages that Georgia has, unfortunately it’s seen as if somehow Georgia is also bringing danger to their countries. We aim to use our strategic communication to

After Syria, Russia Might Gain Momentum in Lebanon Continued from page 5

The draft agreement is quite extensive as it also involves the joint training of troops, information and engineering support, military education and medicine, military topography and hydrography. The agreement (if signed) will be for a period of five years with an automatic extension for a subsequent five-year period. A Russo-Lebanese military agreement is notable and could actually signal a certain turn as Lebanon and its military have been traditionally oriented toward the West. Russo-Lebanese military contacts have been somewhat mixed in the past. For instance, although the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF) possess Russian weapons such as tanks and rifles, in 2008 the LAF rejected Moscow's offer of ten free MiG-29 fighters. Indeed, to date, LAF’s equipment has been mostly American and European, including M60 and M48 tanks, M113 armored personnel carriers and TOW antitank missiles. Under the last two US administrations, according to various estimates, $357 million in arms was sent to Lebanon. For Russia, Lebanon’s geographic position on the Mediterranean, along with those potential military facilities and the proximity to war-torn Syria, make it an attractive space in which to project its influence. For Lebanon, Russia has grad-

ually turned into a potential guarantor of peace in Syria. For instance, following the proposed bilateral agreement between Russia and Lebanon, Nabih Berri, Speaker of the Lebanese Parliament, called upon Russia to resolve the crisis in Syria: “I want to turn to Russia, which, along with the United States, is a great power; we cannot ask this from the United States, but we ask Russia to help achieve a political settlement in Syria, which will be a major step toward the return of the Syrians to their homeland.” Beyond a military significance, there is also an economic angle to increased Lebanese-Russian cooperation: Lebanon recently decided to begin exploiting its offshore Mediterranean natural gas reserves. The State also offered exploration tenders to its offshore seabed. Russian states companies (among them Novatek) have expressed interest in tapping into the Lebanese raw material resources, with the first exploratory to be drilled in 2019. This maritime resource exploration by Lebanon has reignited disputes with Israel over their maritime frontiers. The Lebanese-Russian cooperation is expected to have an effect on Israel too, coming as it does amid Russia-Israel complications following the February 11 conduct of Israeli multiple airstrikes on Syrian-Iranian targets in Syria.

The Russian moves in Lebanon could potentially disturb the current status quo where the Kremlin is allowing Israel to continue carrying out preventive strikes on Syrian soil. The Russians need this least for the time being as, on a broader level, Russian efforts to maintain a dominant posture on the Syrian battlefield have been shaken. The Turkish operation

10 Galaktion Street

in Afrin, in the north of the country, made clear that Moscow is unable to forestall the growth of Ankara’s influence. Iranian proxy forces are now close to the Israeli border, and Russia failed to accomplish anything significant in this regard at the Sochi Conference in late January. Moreover, Russian mercenaries were also killed by the hundreds, according to some

inform those people, to make sure they understand that Georgia is both able to and has the potential to bring benefits to the EU and its member states. So how do we do it: we organize events here in Brussels about the EU and Georgia, about different political issues. One of them was organized today and we just held the certificate awarding ceremony.” But are certificates and knowledge all that Georgian youth will be returning home with? On the contrary, Lavrelashvili claims. She says the most important thing that they’re bringing home from Brussels is hope – of the country’s European future. “What they could bring home to our country is hope. Hope that Georgia is really on a very good track. Because they have actually heard from high level officials from the Parliament, from the commission, from the EEAS, the external action service of the European Union, that Georgia has pre-accession status, without having this status formally. That Georgia might, and will, become a member of the European Union. It depends on internal and external factors; the EU has to deal with internal problems that they have in the member states, but Georgia is a frontrunner of the Eastern Partnership program. Membership of the European Union is not just the aim for the country, it’s a way forward. European integration is the first of all reforms in different sectors and Georgia should be ready for membership, because this time, this moment will come: this was the message which the officials actually gave to our students. “

reports, by US forces, diminishing Russian prestige in and around Syria. Thus, while Russia and Lebanon are experiencing a definite uptick in economic and military relations, Russia will remain conscious that its position in Syria remains vulnerable and the least desirable thing would be Israel’s more robust engagement in Syria.

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World Veterinary Association Launches Competition to Raise Awareness Vet Work in Georgia & Globally BY BENJAMIN MUSIC


pril 28 is a very important day for the appreciation of work done by countless veterinarians around the globe, as we celebrate the World Veterinary Day. Organized by the World Veterinary Association (WVA) and the Organization of Animal Health (OIE), the day focuses on honoring the contributions by veterinarians to their profession as well as to the general society in which they operate. On this occasion, WVA has launched the World Veterinary Day Award 2018, calling on veterinarians across the world to send in their best publications and contributions to the field. “The WVD 2018 Award will be given to the veterinary association who best promotes the theme of ‘The role of the Veterinary Profession in Sustainable Development to improve livelihoods, food security, and safety’ during the WVD.” Five criteria will be evaluated by the jury to select the winning submission: Contributions and achievements on the WVD 2018 theme; Involvement of relevant stakeholders and general public; Collaboration with the public health sector; Media coverage; and Follow-up initiatives. The deadline for submissions is May 31 2018, while they can take on different forms such as education sessions, statistical data or public performances. In Georgia, animals and animal husbandry symbolize a vital role for rural populations where they are indispensable for their livelihood and access to food. Rural households value the independent security of livestock, ensuring a supply of resources

to cope with agricultural crises, generate income through the sale of produce and fertilize the soil necessary for farming. Farms without the technological means to effectively work the land use animals for plowing and transport. The WVA continues to state the importance of husbandry for a growing global population, “it is estimated that the world population will reach 9.7 billion people by 2050 and the demand for animal protein and byproducts will grow respectively.” Veterinarians are essential to ensuring the health of animals by preventing and controlling diseases, thus securing the sufficient supply and the highquality production of produce. Veterinarians often are exposed to long trips across the countryside to reach remote areas where people depend on their skills to improve livestock health, thus improving the welfare of households in these areas. In addition, the WVA considers a veterinary’s work a sustainable necessity as “they contribute to ensuring the existence of sufficient resources for future generations by supporting the development of sustainable, responsible and efficient livestock production systems.” Rather unknown to the majority of people, veterinarians take up a crucial role in guaranteeing animal product quality and excellence at all stages of production to assure safe food for populations around the world. The advantages of a globalized world can rapidly become a problem if infected food products travel across markets, endangering numerous populations in different areas of the world at the same time. Veterinarians have developed elaborate and effective methods to control and inspect production processes for global safety and health standards. Over recent years, Georgian veterinarians have

founded numerous associations promoting their work and providing a platform for cooperation and development. In 2008, the start of a project between the Georgia Institute of Public Affair’s Georgia Rural Development Department, Colorado State University and the U.S. Department of Agriculture was initiated, called National Animal Health Program, increasing the endeavors of regional associations by building organizational capacity and raising veterinary skills. To date, the program has established seven Veterinarian Regional Associations, combining a total of 270 veterinarians across Georgia. World Veterinary Day also emphasizes the immense importance of job creation by the industry “deliv-

ering services for the benefit of society and all animals. These activities will contribute to the achievement of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals such as poverty, zero hunger, good health and economic growth.” The WVD is celebrated since 2000 to raise awareness and highlight the contributions by thousands of veterinarians in every corner around the world, from the outback of Australia to the steppe of Mongolia. Every year a new theme is chosen to raise awareness of the various aspects of animal care, such as pet vaccinations and surgery operations, done by veterinarians for all pet owners out there. More Information on

Parliament Adopts Law on Labor Safety BY THEA MORRISON


eorgian Parliament has adopted a law on Labor Safety, with the third and final reading on March 7. 88 Parliamentarians voted for the bill, with no-one against. The draft Law on Labor Safety was submitted to Parliament on June 1, 2017 and was approved by MPs at the first hearing. After that, final discussions were suspended for eight months and the hearing renewed in February 2018, following strong calls from the non-governmental sector and opposition parties. The second hearing of the draft was held on February 15, which discussed the price of fines and monitoring issues of workplaces. According to the new version of the labor safety law, sanctions for the breach of safety norms were tightened, and fines were increased from 100 to 50,000 GEL. However, the requirements of the law will only cover 11 areas of severe, harmful and dangerous jobs. Human rights defenders say the law is discriminatory as it does not cover all jobs. Koba Nanuashvili, Legal Analyst of Business Association, believes merely increased fines cannot stop violations at workplaces. “Sanctions are not the solution. We will not be able to achieve an effective system this way. The main attention should be paid to the elimination of violations, and not to fines. Instead of money sanctions, it is better to suspend the production process of the enterprises or companies that violate

labor norms,” he stated. According to the new law, the sanctions on breach of labor safety can be one of three types: Nonexistent, substantial and critical. The sanctions on all three types of violations will be based on how much annual turnover the enterprise has. The law also reads that the monitoring service representatives will not be able to enter the enterprise without the permission of a judge, unless there was an accident or a planned inspection. However, in case of repeated inspection, the supervision service will no longer need the Court’s permission. No public information will be released about said companies or enterprises, a part of the law that NGOs disagree with as, they say, the supervision service should have the right to check workplaces any time, without the permission of the court.

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MARCH 9 - 12, 2018

Turkmenistan, Russia Start Business Negotiations BY DIMITRI DOLABERIDZE


high-level group on trade and investment support, operating under the auspices of the intergovernmental Turkmen-Russian commission for economic cooperation, started its work in Ashgabat, the state agency Turkmen Dovlet Khabarlari (TDH) reports. The delegation from the Russian Federation included heads of state structures, major enterprises and companies. The cooperation of Turkmenistan with the regions of the Russian Federation, the Republic of Tatarstan, St. Petersburg, the Astrakhan and Sverdlovsk regions and other subjects, sees notable contribution from the leading companies of the Russian Federation - Vozrozhdenie,

between Turkmenistan and Russia was signed following the official visit to Ashkhabad of Russian President Vladimir Putin in early October 2017. The two countries also outlined an action plan for the development of economic partnership. The agreement is expected to make better use of the geographical and infrastructure advantages of countries: in industry, transport and communications, energy, agro-industrial, in new technologies and in such areas as automotive, aircraft building, and shipbuilding. Turkmenistan has confirmed its readiness to increase supplies of Turkmen agricultural products and textiles to Russia and to supply products of the oil and gas and chemical industries and consumer goods. The priority areas of cooperation are the banking-financial sector, support for export-import operations and joint foreign economic projects.

KAMAZ, Zarubezhneft, Siberia Airlines - to the implementation of Turkmenistan's national programs for the development of the industrial sector, in the field of construction and transport. With the participation of Russian capital, 190 economic entities and over 200 joint projects have been registered. Opportunities are said to have opened with the consideration of large-scale programs aimed at diversifying the industrial sector, radical modernization of the relevant infrastructure, the introduction of high technology and the creation of science-intensive industries, the information says. At this stage, priority is being given to the implementation of the TurkmenRussian economic cooperation program for 2017-2019, which includes 80 different events and projects in the fields of trade, industry, energy, engineering, construction, agriculture, transport. The strategic partnership agreement

Gazprom Completes Cement Association: 50% of Offshore Most Cement on Section of Turkish Georgian Market is Fake Stream Gas Pipeline BY DIMITRI DOLABERIDZE


azprom has completed the laying of 50% of the offshore section of the Turkish Stream gas pipeline, reports South Stream Transport B.V, the subsidiary of Gazprom which is implementing the project. On March 1, Gazprom Chairman Alexei Miller, in an interview with Anadolu, reported that Gazprom had laid more than 910 kilometers of the offshore section of the Turkish Stream gas pipeline, which is 49% of its total length. “Laying of 50% of the offshore section of the Turkish Stream gas pipeline ended on March 6. More than 930 kilometers of the Black Sea gas pipeline have been laid in two strings by ‘Pioneering Spirit’ [Editor’s Note: Pioneering Spirit is the world's largest construction vessel, designed for the single-lift installation and removal of large oil and gas platforms and the installation of record-weight

pipelines], which carried out the deepwater laying of the Turkish Stream, 706 km of the first line of the gas pipeline and 224 km of the gas pipeline on the second line in 2017,” Miller said. The laying of the marine section of Turkish Stream was begun on May 7, 2017, by the ship Audacia. On June 23, 2017, Pioneering Spirit look over laying in the deep-water area and then carried out a pipe-laying campaign along the approved route in a round-the-clock mode. On May 7, 2017, Gazprom started construction of the offshore section of the Turkish Stream gas pipeline. The project involves the construction of two threads with a capacity of 15.75 billion cubic meters each. The first line is intended for gas supplies to Turkish consumers; the second, for gas supply to the countries of South and South-Eastern Europe. The first gas supplies are planned for the end of 2019. Gazprom is considering options for the continuation of the Turkish Stream through Bulgaria and Serbia, or through Greece and Italy.

Photo source: financial tribune



he Cement Association of Georgia says 14 of the 25 tested samples of cement on the Georgian market failed to meet standards, while three showed minimum quality. The study was carried out in December 2017, though it is not mentioned in the report which cement brands failed the test. In a study held in April 2017, it showed that only eight of the examined 25 samples met the standards, while, according to an August 2017 study, only four brands meet the standards out of a total 27. In all three cases, it turned out that instead of the basic components required for cement quality, cheap and low-quality materials had been used. The 20% increase of fake cement on the Georgian market made it clear that

the producers are trying to maximize their income at the expense of cheap and non-quality materials. Last year, around 300,000 tons of cement was sold throughout the country, which is 13% of the total market. According to the association, since 2017, coordination of quality control in the Georgian cement market is being implemented by LEPL Georgian Cement Association. “The aim of the Association is to support Georgian producers in producing a product that responds to the standard of packaging. The agenda of the Cement Association of Georgia is also to work in close cooperation with government agencies and government sectors," the statement reads. Paul Radianko, Head of the Georgian Cement Association says the Government of Georgia should take proper measures to better regulate the cement quality in the country. “Of course, cement should be tested,

but the monitoring of cement producing factories should also take place,” he stated. The spread of fake cement on the Georgian market puts numerous new constructions at risk, and specialists say the blocks a buildings constructed using such low-quality cement will not be able to resist even the smallest of seismic activities. A number of large cement companies are calling on the government to start monitoring cement factories in order to avoid fake and low-quality production in the country. “The State should launch cement and concrete control and monitor construction carried out using these materials," the Director of the Georgian Building Group stated. In total, there are around 30 cement factories in Georgia, but as yet there is no agency to periodically check the quality of produced cement and other construction materials.







o, NOT a tribute to the new Mary Poppins soon to grace our movie screens. SUPRA-, not SUPER. Supra, as in the Georgian feast. About which one could write so much, it would fill books. Some have: I own a trilingual volume about the supra’s rules and traditions, which I consider vital knowledge in this country. I can’t speak

for the quality of the Russian part, though it seems pretty good; the English section is deplorably bad for such essential reading; and the native Georgian original is likely flawless. Someone needs to offer to edit and proofread that English, though, to make it more accessible! I was at yet another supra yesterday, about fifteen minutes’ walk above our house in Etseri, Svaneti. The massive dump of snow from two days ago was melting frantically and flooding down the road, all efforts to divert it with pick and shovel were swamped by 4x4 tires as a host of cars drove up to

Eric Lee Launches Book on the Georgian Revolution in London BY ROBERT EDGAR, LONDON


hat do a British conservative MP, an international trade unionist and an ambassador have in common? The answer, it may not surprise you to learn considering the title of the paper you are holding, is Georgia. The setting was the IPU Room, Westminster Hall, and we were there to listen to Eric Lee launch his book The Experiment: Georgia’s Forgotten Revolution 1918 – 1921 (Zed Books) with a talk hosted by the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Georgia and the Embassy of Georgia to the UK. The Georgian Embassy have barely paused for breath after their series of events last year celebrating 25 years of diplomatic ties between the ever-intriguing Caucasian republic and the UK, before embarking on a similarly ambitious undertaking celebrating the centenary of the first short-lived Georgian Republic. This, we were told, was the first event of many under that banner. We had quite a limp start. The chair of the APPG Jonathan Djanogly managed to confuse the relationship between Marjory and Oliver Wardrop referring to them as man and wife (they were siblings) in his introduction, before excusing himself to attend another meeting. Georgian ambassador Tamar Beruchashvili was thankfully on-hand to perform a proper introduction before the engaging and disarmingly self-deprecating Eric Lee took the podium to tell us about that obscure (in the UK at least) but highly significant period in Georgia’s history. His argument was a strong one. He started with comparisons between the rather muted reaction in Russia to the 100year anniversary of their revolution last year and the more ostentatiously proud remembrance in Georgia of their less immediately successful, but ultimately more enduring, version of democracy which became the prototype for the current Constitution of Georgia after the collapse of the Soviet Union. He was not obsequious in his praise and began with a slight criticism: “Let’s start by saying that the Georgian social democrats were not perfect. They

were human beings and did not create a perfect society, but they never intended to create a perfect society. Just a better one.” In other words, they were not utopians like their Bolshevik counterparts, and although power fell into the hands of the Georgian Social Democratic Party rather than being achieved through a popular vote, the reforms they undertook were remarkably enlightened considering the geopolitical climate of the time. It is always dangerous to rely too heavily on evidence from the International Socialists, but Karl Kautsky was no friend of Bolshevism and wrote admiringly of Georgia’s universal suffrage and its genuinely multiparty political system. Their agrarian reforms gave land to the peasants and allowed for grain to be sold via the market, resulting in a feeling of loyalty to the government in stark contrast to the disaster of Russia’s War Communism policy which merely resulted in starvation and death. The other crucial aspect cited by Lee was Georgia’s thriving and independent trade unions, with the right to strike enshrined in the constitution resulting in tripartite negotiations during labor disputes, which ultimately lead to the creation of a welfare state. It didn’t last of course. Part of the problem was a lack of an organized military force leading to an over-reliance on unreliable allies, and perhaps a slightly naïve agreement with the Bolsheviks who agreed to recognize an independent Georgia when they had no intention of doing so, although one could reasonably ask what choice the Georgians had at this point. The legacy of this brief flourishing of democracy is significant considering the effect it has on today’s Georgia. Despite a comment from an audience member that Georgia lost many of its democratic thinkers between 1921 and 1991 and has had to fight hard to reestablish its sense of identity, the ideas of the first Georgian Republic were kept constantly alive through little acts of subversion. Lee told us of a colleague who was born during the Soviet period on 1 May. His parents didn’t register the birth until 26 May: the anniversary of the declaration of independence. The Georgian translation of Eric Lee’s book will appear soon and is supported by the Georgian National Book Center.

the home of the bereaved family. At least, after consulting the weather reports, they’d got their day right: today was cloudless sun, thus the new rivers. Somehow the shoes I chose instead of black rubber boots stayed dry as I hopped from island to island. Now, a supra in a village such as this is very different from a private one in someone’s house or in a city banquet hall. Bench and table supports must be made from scratch, from local wood, to hold the ready rented planks which go from event to event. Boxes of crockery and, if you’re lucky, cutlery, also go the rounds where needed. If weather is SUSpicious as opposed to AUspicious, and the family can afford it, a marquee can go up. But all the construction work for a group of one to several hundreds of guests is done by the men, so there’s a much more even distribution of labor between the sexes here. The furniture legs are pointed and hammered into the ground, not just sitting on it; planks nailed to them, for firmness. The men may also (if you’re not in Lent’s Great Fast season, which we were yesterday) make one or more large fires and stew or roast meat dishes in massive cauldrons or on long stakes. They’re not just sitting around being served by the women! And the women, too, will have their own supra, usually separate from the men. Serving is done by both, with the men handling the distribution of wine and moonshine as the drinking gets serious. And, of course, the tamada, the toastmaster, will be a man, unless there’s some very unusual reason for a woman to take this role, rare enough that I’ve never seen it in a village setting. This feast had no marquee; the brilliant sunshine was actually quite warm and the risk paid off. (If you get this wrong it can simply be described as a disaster, one more piece of bitterness to add to the loss of a loved one.) No utensils either. This was more problematic, as it means putting food on your plate with one or two pieces of bread, and eating it with them too. No matter how dry or wet the dish, this is how it’s done in this case. I find I can’t eat nearly as much this way, though I am learning the etiquette of it so as not to miss out. And also reminding myself in the process that there are many

more ways to eat in a civilized manner than my stiff British upbringing would allow: When in Rome. The deceased was quite an old man; nonetheless, his death had likely been hastened by the shock and stress of losing his son to senseless drunk driving a few years earlier (mercifully, he had taken no one with him to the grave). The supra began at about three in the afternoon and people began leaving only an hour and a half later, with farm chores to attend to and a sunset not more than two hours off, bringing back the real chill of winter. So it was what I would call it mercifully short. The cleanup afterwards, too, would be a mixed affair, with the men taking down the furniture on the day or the next while the women handled the dishwashing and packing up of the obligatory vast amounts of leftovers. All in all, gender-wise a much more democratic event, which is really my point. 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 1800 members, at www.facebook. com/groups/SvanetiRenaissance/ He and his wife also run their own guest house in Etseri:




MARCH 9 - 12, 2018

Geo-Environmental, Social & Economic Implications Concerning the Planned Construction of Motorways in the Eastern Caucasus


onsidering the high public interest, the CENN team studied the geo-environmental, social, and economic implications concerning the planned Construction of Roadways in the Eastern Caucasus mountains and is presenting its analysis and observations regarding the topic. The eastern part of the Georgian Caucasus is crossed at three locations by an approximately 100 kilometer-long section along the main dividing range (from Jvari Pass to Abano Pass) by motorways connecting the rest of Georgia with the mountainous northern parts of the Caucasus Range (Khevi, Northern Khevsureti, and Tusheti). Located 2,400 meters above sea level, Jvari Pass operates almost yearround, with the exception of several closures during winter when avalanches are most common. Datvijvari (2,676 m above sea level) and Abano (2,950 m above sea level) are closed from the end of October until the end of May approximately. As a result, residents living permanently in Shatili and Tusheti are isolated from the outside world, with the exception of a monthly helicopter flight to Tusheti initiated by the Prime Minister last winter. The parts of Georgia mentioned above are situated on the northern slopes of the Caucasus and attract many local and international visitors on an annual basis due to their unrivalled beauty, unique environment, and cultural heritage. These reasons significantly influenced the establishment of several Protected Areas in the region. These parts of the country and their protected areas are primarily connected to each other by internal trails built in previous centuries, some of which are now labelled and used by tourists and local residents. The Government of Georgia has decided to restore the existing roads in the abovementioned areas and to build roads to replace some of the walking trails. Specifically, the construction of new roads in the direction of Sno-Juta-Roshka-Shatili-Omalo-Pshaveli and from Pankisi to Tusheti via the Batsara-Khadori Pass (15 km in length). Khadori Pass is located approximately 2,600 m above sea level and, since it is 350 m lower than Abano Pass, the Georgian government believes the road built on it will function during wintertime. As a result, residents spending the winter in Tusheti will no longer

be isolated from the outside world. Although the government deserves credit for maintaining the well-being of its population and further developing tourism, the question still stands as to whether or not such a massive construction project in a naturally beautiful environment is rational. Also, it is important to consider if the construction project will result in a significant anthropogenic change as well as restrict the habitats of natural ecosystems in the area. It should be noted that sections of the projected road will pass through vital ecological areas, especially in the Amugo and Tebulo mountains in Andaki, Tusheti, and Alazani along Borbalo-Atsunta, among the mountainous regions where rare, redlisted Capra Caucasica and Capra Aegagrus live. Capra Aegagrus, widely populated the East Caucasus in past centuries, has horns almost a meter in length. Such horns are still kept in family homes and on old shrines, but now the number of Capra Aegagrus is critically low. The government will struggle to build new roads according to modern standards in Georgia’s mountainous regions and will struggle to prevent erosion, landslides, and the degradation of slopes. The Datvijvari Pass, about 2,676 meters above sea level, is closed for almost seven months of the year. It seems improbable that the Georgian government will be able to build

fully-functioning roads passing through narrow valleys and some areas 3,000 meters above sea level (i.e., the JutaRoshka, Andaki, and Sakorne passes near Borbalo). Roads built on high gradient slopes will be in need of weekly or monthly clearance of rocks and other debris falling from the slopes, even during the summer. The Georgian government has failed to meet modern standards of road construction and restoration in the MtskhetaMtianeti region in recent years, particularly: 1. Reconstructing the Zhinvali-Tianeti road where a slope was cut and widened on the section of the road passing through the forest. Debris (i.e., boulders, stones, and rubble) primarily fell on the lower part of the road, where large boulders inflicted massive damage to the forest along the road, peeling bark off trees and partially crushing them. Interrupted migration of wild animals due to the vertically cut slopes is another aspect worth mentioning. 2. Constructing the Kvenamta road for the purpose of high-voltage tower construction in Gudamakari and Bursachiri. If there were proper communication between state agencies, the above road could be transformed into an extremely active tourist area. However, failure to meet road construction standards added

to the already degraded Bursachiri slope and created new sources of erosion. Crumbling slopes and mudslides during the rainy season poses a risk to residents living close to the lower part of the river and increases the number of eco-migrant families. There are many cases of imposing heavy fines due to environmental damage on road construction companies, but almost none of the fines are enforced. This fosters the impunity syndrome among construction companies and encourages them to reduce costs by causing environmental damage. Past experience demonstrates that the government and construction companies ignore consequential erosional and gravitational processes and do not implement any significant prevention or mitigation activities. Roads constructed in the above-mentioned areas using such standards will almost certainly result in erosion and the degradation of slopes which, in the long-run, will significantly change and disfigure the landscape. The above-mentioned road will not improve the social and economic conditions of the local population. Moreover, disasters occurring on the road will most likely result in negative publicity for these parts of Georgia. Taking into account all of the above, the government must effectively address the aforementioned issues. The solution to

these issues requires objective judgement and substantial research. The government must consider the experience of developed countries as well as the opinions of local residents, tourists, and visitors. The government must make an important decision: rather than paying for new roads, perhaps it would be best to restore the already existing roads (i.e., Sno – Juta, Barisakho – Shatili – Mutso – Ardoti, Pshaveli – Omalo, roads in the Ukana Pshavi – Shuapkho – Vakis villages, as well as internal roads in Tusheti like the road from Omalo to the village of Girevi in the Northern Alazani Valley as well as the road in the Gometsari Valley to Tsovati). These roads are desperately in need of repair and maintenance. For example, the existing trails going in the direction of Borbalo, which are also in need of repair, need signposting. It would also be beneficial for the government to utilize a rescue helicopter to help locals and tourists when necessary. As a result, this will encourage even more tourists and visitors to visit the newly established Pshav-Khevsureti National Park and the roads and trails leading to Pankisi. Rivers flowing in all directions originate from Borbalo Mountain (i.e., Aragvi of Pshavi, Alazani of Kakheti, Alazani of Tusheti, Andaki, and Lori). Trails once lead from the valleys of these rivers to Borbalo and, in essence, were considered a crossroads in mountainous East Georgia. These trails should be brought back to life and restored, with tourist shelters established close to the passes near the mountain (i.e., Sakorne and Andaki). If these actions are enforced, the trails will be brought back to working order and thus locals and tourists will positively benefit from these trails. If we analyse the above in an unbiased manner and weigh all of the pros and cons, less damage will be inflicted on the environment. As a result, more tourists and visitors will spend money on visiting this beautifully mountainous part of East Georgia, and it will serve to keep local residents satisfied.

Boy from Batumi Enters NY University in Abu Dhabi, where only 3% of Students Worldwide Can Study BY MARIKO NATSARISHVILI


avit Jintcharadze,18, is from the Black Sea city of Batumi, Georgia. In 2017, he won in Flex and went to America to study for a year, where he says he gained a lot of experience. “I tested my own abilities and adopted a western style,” he told GEORGIA TODAY. After coming back, Davit realized that he wanted to find a place in the international arena and so he contacted ‘Education USA,’ which sent him information about the New York University in Abu Dhabi (NYUAD). “I needed to pass the SATs American

test for selection,” he told us. “I prepared myself and bought books online. I knew I needed to spend months studying, because I really needed the top results. I was ready to make the necessary scarifices for my future education.” Davit sent all of the required documents, including a personal statement essay, TOEFL certificate and recommendation letter, which had been written by his American teacher. Then he went to Abu Dhabi for a selection interview. As he said, two days were enough to find new friends. “I met numerous people from different countries and regions, including the Balkans, East Europe, Greece, Morocco and Korea.” “On February 15, I received the acceptance letter with an offer of full funding. It took me a while to absorb the fact that they’d pay $80,000 for my studies!”

We asked Davit what his main reason was for choosing NYU Abu Dhabi. “They know what a real educational system is,” he said. “It’s not necessary to show the numbers- the facts are clear.” NYUAD is fully integrated with a liberal arts and science college. It has over 60 study clubs, providing a variety of opportunities for student involvement outside the classroom. The Abu Dhabi facility is one of the most selective schools in the world, admitting just 150 of 9,000 applicants per class. Davit is planning to get an education in Europe and then return to Georgia. “I want to tell as many people as possible about the Georgian culture, traditions and history,” he said. Davit Jintcharadze is the only Georgian to date to be admitted into NYU Abu Dhabi.



"A Woman and a Man"

Teona Paichadze. Recent Work. 2016-2017 BY DR LILY FĂœRSTENOW-KHOSITASHVILI


he females in Teona Paichadze's paintings, portraits and nudes, oscillate between aristocratic bohemians with a cigarette in the hand as in The Accountant, luscious, sensual creatures languidly sketched on the canvas as in Love Story, and femme fatale e.g. the Nude series, Shower. Sometimes one comes across emaciated bodies that are almost transparent. The loosely sketched bodily outlines dissolve against grey monotonous backgrounds as in City. Her females are very often self-portraits, reminding one at the same time of mythological creatures, covering their faces with their hands - a signature,

"No Name"

repetitive gesture with the artist – such as in her Hard Talk series. As if in despair, Teona Paichadze's females escape the viewers' gaze into dream worlds of their own. Stripped bare, their exposed bodies are as mysterious and unapproachable as ever. They have an enigmatic presence and impact. The colors are mostly subdued to grey-blue, black and somber green with slight touches of white. Her portraiture is an experimental revision of the genre influenced by surrealism, with people placed in unusual surroundings. Her sitters are alienated, submerged in their thoughts. The unusual transparency of her portraits and nudes is achieved by the experimental technique that Teona Paichadze developed: painting onto aluminium sheets originally used for printing machines manufactured in Heidelberg

and installed in a publishing house in Georgia. These recycled sheets for the printing press carry traces of images and texts that went into the catalogue of Paichadze's recent works later issued in Tbilisi. Thus, the images, bodies and faces are superimposed upon excerpts of texts in Georgian and English languages, along with fragments of images that went into the catalogue to create an intricate background augmenting the picture plane by giving it considerable depth and new meaning. See the Hard Talk series: Shot #1 , Shot #2. Pain, Four Shots, Blocks, Nude. The presence of the linguistic element, e.g. printed captions accompanying the catalogue images, is juxtaposed to the language of painting. The inner dramas of the sitters are expressed by the artist's signature thinly painted precise linear style with muted colors. The images beneath the drawings loom on the aluminium plates, acting self-referential; on the one hand referring to the artist's personal biography and on the other speaking volumes about the inner worlds of the portrayed, adding extra layers of meaning. The extensive use of recycled materials and discarded ready-mades in the recent works marks a new stage in Teona Paichadze's artistic career. In the series of newly created works on paper, she applies used polyetilene onto the picture surface, covered with layers of black paint. This unique technique allows the artist to create imagery that verges between transparency and opacity through the lightness of the polyetilene and the materiality of the media support. The figures and objects cut out of plastic are so skillfully arranged on the surface that one can never tell if they're arranged intentionally or the compositions occurred by chance. The images hover suspended in the dark. They remind antique sculptures e.g. A Woman and a Man, A Torso. The texture is extremely palpable and light; the creases, numerous wrinkles and folds carefully arranged on the surface render surprisingly vivid and true representations of people and their emotional states, e.g. Fisherman, Making up, No Name. Check out her artworks at the T.G. Nili Art Space 12 Grishashvili Str., Tbilisi (995) 595-301-757,





MARCH 9 - 12, 2018


SILK FACTORY STUDIO Address: 59 M. Kostava Str. (former Silk Factory) March 9 * Premiere METAMORPHOSES Contemporary ballet based on Ovid’s Metamorphoses A joint project of Giorgi Aleksidze Tbilisi Contemporary Ballet and Silk Factory Studio Music by Johann Sebastian Bach Original music by Nika Machaidze Original idea and choreography by Mariam Aleksidze Artistic Director– Mariam Aleksidze Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 15-25 GEL GABRIADZE THEATER Address: 13 Shavtelis St. Telephone: 2 98 65 93 March 9 AUTUMN OF MY SPRING Rezo Gabriadze Directed by Rezo Gabriadze English Subtitles Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 20, 30 GEL TBILISI VASO ABASHIDZE MUSIC AND DRAMA STATE THEATER Address: 182 D.Agmashenebeli Ave. Telephone: 2 34 80 90 March 13 WELCOME TO GEORGIA A musical, theatrical play and romantic comedy telling a story about Georgia and its people by combining song, dance, culture, traditions, history, national costumes and local cuisine. Musical Language: English, some Georgian (with English subtitles) Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 60-80 GEL SHALIKASHVILI THEATER Address: 37 Rustaveli Ave. Telephone: 595 50 02 03 March 9, 10 SHAKESPEARE SONNETS William Shakespeare Directed by Amiran Shalikashvili Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 15 GEL


AMIRANI CINEMA Address: 36 Kostava Str. Telephone: 2 99 99 55 Every Wednesday ticket price: 5 GEL March 9-15 A WRINKLE IN TIME Directed by Ava DuVernay Cast: Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Chris Pine, Reese Witherspoon Genre: Adventure, Family, Fantasy Language: Russian Start time: 12:15, 14:45, 17:15 Ticket: 8-12 GEL ALL THE MONEY IN THE WORLD Directed by Ridley Scott Cast: Michelle Williams, Christopher Plummer, Mark Wahlberg Genre: Biography, Crime, Drama Language: Russian Start time: 17:00 Ticket: 10-11 GEL EVA Directed by Benoît Jacquot Cast: Isabelle Huppert, Gaspard Ulliel, Julia Roy Genre: Drama, Romance Language: Russian Start time: 20:00, 22:15 Ticket: 10-11 GEL SUBMERGENCE Directed by Wim Wenders Cast: James McAvoy, Alicia Vikander, Alexander Siddig Genre: Drama, Romance, Thriller Language: Russian Start time: 22:15 Ticket: 10-11 GEL RED SPARROW Directed by Francis Lawrence Cast: Jennifer Lawrence, Joel Edgerton, Mary-Louise Parker Genre: Mystery, Thriller Language: English Start time: 14:00 Ticket: 12 GEL THE POST Directed by Steven Spielberg Cast: Meryl Streep, Tom Hanks, Sarah Paulson Genre: Biography, Drama, History Language: Russian Start time: 11:45 Ticket: 12 GEL

RUSTAVELI CINEMA Address: 5 Rustaveli Ave. Telephone: 2 55 50 00 Every Wednesday ticket: 5 GEL March 9-15 BLACK PANTHER Directed by Ryan Coogler Cast: Chadwick Boseman, Michael B. Jordan, Lupita Nyong'o Genre: Action, Adventure, Sci-Fi Language: Russian Start time: 22:30 Ticket: 13-14 GEL A WRINKLE IN TIME (Info Above) Language: Russian Start time: 12:00, 14:00, 17:00, 19:45, 22:30 Ticket: 8-14 GEL THE POST (Info Above) Language: Russian Start time: 11:45 Ticket: 8-9 GEL CAVEA GALLERY Address: 2/4 Rustaveli Ave. Telephone: 200 70 07 Every Wednesday ticket: 8 GEL March 9-15 12 STRONG Directed by Nicolai Fuglsi Cast: Chris Hemsworth, Michael Shannon, Michael Pena Genre: Action, Drama, History Language: English Start time: 22:30 Language: Russian Start time: 19:30, 16:45 Ticket: 16-19 GEL SUBMERGENCE (Info above) Start time: 19:45 Ticket: 16-19 GEL RED SPARROW (Info Above) Language: English Start time: 22:15 Ticket: 16-19 GEL A WRINKLE IN TIME (Info Above) Language: Russian Start time: 11:45, 13:45, 14:15, 16:45

Language: English Start time: 19:30 Ticket: 10-19 GEL BLACK PANTHER (Info Above) Language: English Start time: 14:45 Language: Russian Start time: 11:45, 22:15 Ticket: 10-19 GEL THE POST (Info Above) Language: Russian Start time: 12:00, 14:10 Ticket: 10-15 GEL FIFTY SHADES FREED (Info Above) Language: Russian Start time: 17:30 Ticket: 14-19 GEL MUSEUM


MUSEUM OF SOVIET OCCUPATION Address: 4 Rustaveli Ave. Telephone: 2 99 80 22, 2 93 48 21 PERMANENT EXHIBITION IOSEB GRISHASHVILI TBILISI HISTORY MUSEUM - KARVASLA Address: 8 Sioni St. Telephone: 2 98 22 81 March 6-27 Georgian National Museum and Goethe Institute present the exhibition BRILLIANT DILLETANTES: 80S GERMAN SUBCULTURE GALLERY

DIMITRI SHEVARDNADZE NATIONAL GALLERY Address: 11 Shota Rustaveli Ave. Telephone: 215 73 00 March 6-April 11 EXHIBITION OF GIA BUGADZE’S ARTWORKS OLIM – EVER March 4-18 EXHIBITION Andrey Ostashov: ELEMENTS SCULPTURE & GRAPHICS LADO GUDIASHVILI EXHIBITION HALL Address: 11 L. Gudiashvili Str. Telephone: 293 23 05 March 1-31 Exhibition KATIE MATABEL WHITE SQUARE Price: 3-5 GEL MUSIC

MUSEUM OF FINE ARTS Address: 1 Gudiashvili Str. Telephone: 2 99 99 09

SPACEHALL Address: 2 A. Tsereteli Ave.


March 14 MUZAME #15: BATHS Live Performance Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 25-40 GEL


DJANSUG KAKHIDZE TBILISI CENTER FOR MUSIC & CULTURE Address: 125 Aghmashenebeli ave. Telephone: 2 96 12 43 March 14 STUDENT CONCERT AT Z. PALIASHVILI TBILISI CENTRAL MUSIC SCHOOL Start time: 19:30 Ticket: 10 GEL GEORGIAN FILM STUDIO 5TH PAVILION Address: 10a Akhmeteli Str. Telephone: 252 09 13 March 10 LOUDSPEAKERS The solo concert Start time: 23:00 Ticket: 10-15 GEL EVENT HALL Address: 1 Melikishvili Ave. Telephone: 595 79 79 35 March 9 CAUCASIAN MUSIC AWARDS PHOENIX 201 Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 20 GEL March 10 PARGEOTY PARGEOTY - SF-X /Kay G/ Young Mic / L UKA / KUPRA /Sakana Start time: 22:00 Ticket: 15 GEL




Artworks of Young Georgian Artist from Abkhazia Showcased in Tbilisi art methods. Within the frames of this program, participants live together for a while, discover each other’s cultures and get involved in various kinds of activities. There, Nikol met Georgian youth who invited her to Tbilisi. The artist liked the environment and saw many opportunities to develop her career in the capital, so chose to move away from her home and family. “When we found out about her, she was already living in Tbilisi and trying to get used to the new environment on her own. Currently, she lives alone, while her family resides in Abkhazia,” the Georgian Foundation Head noted. The exhibition was opened with Prince Bagrationi’s speech which promised to assist more Georgian artists in the future. Kumsiashvili told us that the next charity event will feature Levan Tsutskhiridze, a painter and fresco artist who painted half of Sioni Cathedral and is the only living legendary representative of classical art in Georgia. “We want to make a short documentary film about his life and career in order to present the artist to wider society. The film will be screened in one month and his works will be displayed. The Georgian Foundation also plans to organize exhibitions of distinguished Georgian artists in Europe and in this way promote Georgian art,” he said.



n March 7, Tbilisi City Council building hosted an extraordinary exhibition of a 23-year-old artist from Abkhazia. The exhibition of the young Georgian artist was carried out by the Georgian Foundation, founded by Ioane Bagration-Mukhrani Prince of Georgia and his wife Kristine. The exposition displayed the artworks of a young artist as well as her handmade jewelry. Guests had an opportunity to purchase the items or donate money to the painter. The person behind the artworks is a girl named Nikol Bartsits, born and raised in Abkhazia, who one day decided to move to Tbilisi and advance herself professionally. Her artworks can be distinguished from the first glance due to an unusual vision and master use of bright colors. Nikol says she came to Tbilisi with the purpose to find inspiration and the capital of Georgia turned out to be the right place for her to develop professionally, since it “conveys a rich culture, old historic build-

ings and simultaneously is a very vibrant city.” GEORGIA TODAY visited the exhibition and talked to both the organizer of the event and to the hero of the day, Nikol. “Our foundation is aimed at supporting Georgian art and culture through promoting gifted artists,” Bidzina Kumsiashvili, Head of the Georgian Foundation told GEORGIA TODAY. “We assist them to introduce their art to the local as well as wider international society. This is the first event initiated by our foundation, yet we plan to carry out more projects in various directions. This particular event was organized within a short period of time. It is essential for Nikol Bartsits that we managed to satisfy her basic needs, provide her with necessary tools and materials for painting as well as to organize issues related to her future studies. We have been assisting her and covering her accommodation fee for 6 months already and we will try to support her until she firmly establishes herself,” Kumsiashvili added. Nikol took part in DVV International, which organizes programs that contribute to the confidence-building process between youth in Abkhazia and Georgia by involving creative techniques and



Commercial Director: Iva Merabishvili Marketing Manager: Salome Vashalomidze


Nikol told us she has always studied hard, and when she came to Tbilisi, she met many good people who inspired her and helped her to “find herself.” “It is quite hard to find the kind of people who will understand you and your inner state. In Tbilisi, I made friends and their support has served as a stimulus to me throughout this time,” she told us. “I’ve been painting since the age of three. As a student, I studied Graphic Design at the University in Abkhazia, but then I became interested in exploring Georgian art. I’m most impressed by Niko Pirosmani. Although in his artworks you can sense a childish and naïve nature, he masterfully managed to assemble composition. Even though he created paintings for pubs and cheap restaurants to earn a living, his art will endure centuries. In my art, I draw inspiration from my dreams and transfer to paper what I see. It seems to me that I’m a messenger who transmits certain information from space through my works. I think every person has a mission to fulfill in their life, including me. I think what I’m doing is important, even though some might not understand my art. I can’t say exactly in what style I paint, it is neither abstract nor psychedelic art; I would rather coin my works as of the mystical or fantasy genre.”


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Profile for Georgia Today

Issue #1029  

March 2 - 12, 2018

Issue #1029  

March 2 - 12, 2018