Issue no: 791
• NOVEMBER NOVEM MBE B R 6 - 9, 2015
• PUBLISHED PUBLISH TWICE WEEKLY
PRICE: GEL 2.50
In this week’s issue... Georgia Today ReBranded: Quality Designed with our Readers in Mind! NEWS PAGE 2
IN FOCUS Georgian officials give lukewarm reception at the hand-over of the Armenian church, but donor to the restoration, Bidzina Ivanishvili, is all smiles
POLITICS PAGE 5 Main donors to the church restoration: Bidzina Ivanishvili (left) with President of Armenia Serzh Sargsyan (center) and businessman Ruben Vardanyan (right)
Aliyev: Georgia Remains a Strategic Partner for Azerbaijan BY TAMAR SVANIDZE
resident Margvelashvili addressed his Azerbaijani counterpart Ilham Aliyev at the Avlabari Presidential Palace before the commencement of an expanded meeting: “Our cooperation, neighborhood and strategic relationships are an example to others.” Aliyev is paying a two-day official visit to the Georgian capital, Tbilisi, to meet with Georgian officials and discuss the bilateral relations between the two countries. Prior to the meeting with his Georgian counterpart, Aliyev laid a wreath on the memorial of the heroes who have fallen for Georgia’s
territorial integrity. According to the Presidential Administration of Georgia, the two parties had a face-to-face and an expanded format meeting at the Presidential Palace. The President of Georgia is convinced that the Azerbaijani President’s visit to Tbilisi will give new impetus to the relations between the two countries. “Let me warmly welcome you in the framework of the visit that I have been waiting for for so long. I am sure that your visit…will deepen our mutual very significant, far-reaching projects,” President Margvelashvili said. In his turn, President Aliyev thanked his Georgian counterpart for his hospitality and expressed hope that his visit to Georgia would “greatly benefit” relations between the two countries. “I am glad to have the opportunity to visit
Georgia once again. Georgia is a close country for Azerbaijan, a strategic partner. We continue to effectively cooperate in various fields. We hope and we wish that the bilateral cooperation will be intensified to cover all areas. There are a lot of issues on our agenda to be solved,” Aliyev said. After a joint press conference the two parties signed a declaration on deepening the bilateral cooperation between their countries. Tomorrow Aliyev will visit Marneuli district with Margvelashvili an area where a large number of Azerbaijani ethnic minorities live. The President of Azerbaijan also plans to meet with Georgian Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili, the Chairman of the Parliament of Georgia Davit Usupashvili, and with the Catholicos Patriarch of All Georgia, Ilia II.
Audiotapes Against Saakashvili: Does Georgia Benefit? POLITICS PAGE 4
The Brighter Faces of the New Georgian Banknotes BUSINESS PAGE 7
Brit Punk Tiger Lillies to Perform in Tbilisi BY NINA IOSELIANI
ltervision is to host the British musical trio The Tiger Lillies in Tbilisi at the Tbilisi Concert Hall. The Tiger Lillies are well known for their unique sound and style which merges the macabre magic of pre-war Berlin with a savage punk edge. This is the second time the Tiger Lillies have visited Georgia, the first time being when they were invited to participate in Tbilisi Open Air 2015, the biggest open air music festival in the Caucasus. The group regularly performs at musical festivals, concerts and within social projects. The Grammy-nominated nated Godfathers of alternative cabaret will perform ‘The Very Worst of The Tiger Lillies’ - featuring the greatest and ‘worst’ songs from their 30-year career. The concert will be held on November 8, at 9:00p.m. Tickets are available at the Concert Hall box-office from 11:00-19:00. Prices: 30, 35, 55, 70 GEL.
NOVEMBER 6 - 9, 2015
Georgia Today ReBranded: Quality Designed with our Readers in Mind!
ou may have noticed that your Georgia Today is a little thinner this week. Fear not! It is as packed with politics, society and culture as ever…but will now feature a little less business… and that’s where GT Business on Tuesdays will come in! Georgia Today, in its 15th year of operation, is proud to present to you its newly designed newspaper- fit to compete with the best in Europe- and to announce that Georgia Today will now be brought to you TWICE weekly. On Fridays you’ll get your usual Politics, Society, Culture and latest Business updates and on Tuesdays you’ll get a huge extra dose of Business, Economics and Law, including EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEWS with Georgia’s TOP BUSINESSMEN and WOMEN, economic analyses from ISET and Galt&Taggart, and bi-monthly updates on legal changes from Dechert. All in FULL COLOUR! We sat down for a quick chat with George Sharashidze, Publisher & General Manager of Georgia Today newspaper.
WHY, AFTER 15 YEARS, DID YOU DECIDE TO REBRAND? I think rebranding and change in general is a logical step in the lifecycle of every business. After 15 years of continuous market presence, Georgia Today has accumulated significant experience and knowledge of how to create a quality newspaper. However, media is becoming even more dynamic nowadays and global changes on the media landscape, especially in the field of new media, were what
led me to the decision to make a change. After 15 years we want to spread the message to our readers and partners that we are not only a good newspaper with a good history but we are also able to meet new challenges and the standards of the modern, European newspaper industry.
The time between Georgia Today issues will now be shorter, meaning that it will stand out as unique, compared to its competitors, by filling the gap in demand for English language information twice a week
George Sharashidze, Publisher & General Manager of Georgia Today newspaper.
We specifically chose to work with the top European newspaper design professional- Kevin Loftus, Chief Designer and Head of IT of Mayo News, Ireland, who this May won the prize for the best local newspaper in Europe at the European Newspaper Congress in Vienna. I had the pleasure of making Kevin’s acquaintance at this congress and he eagerly agreed to help Georgia Today in its rebranding process.
WHAT DIFFERENCES WILL WE SEE? We have two major changes. Firstly, Georgia Today has a totally new design and
layout. Our new logo is strong, neat and clear. We have kept our brand color – red, which is also the color of the Georgian national flag. I am sure the new logo will attract even more readers who will enjoy reading a high quality newspaper designed with our readers in mind. Good content requires the right delivery in terms of visual aspect: all headline, caption and text fonts are new and all pages are in full color. With these design changes we would like to underline that our main advantage over our competitors is our content, thanks to our editorial team! From now on Georgia Today’s readers will feel more comfortable while reading
the newspaper as our new design is sure to create a better reading experience. The second change relates to increasing Georgia Today’s audience, now aiming to attract even more readers from the business community. Georgia Today will be available twice a week- in addition to our regular Friday paper, we will have another issue available every Tuesday. This will be a special Business edition of Georgia Today covering the most important news and developments in Georgian business and economy. However, as our readership platform and volume increases, we will be delivering information in a more operative way and should a hot news topic pop up on a Monday that just cannot wait until Friday to be printed, you’ll be reading about it in GT Business. The same goes for hot mid-week business news which will be printed in the Friday edition. The time between Georgia Today issues will now be shorter, meaning that Georgia Today will stand out as unique compared to its competitors by filling the gap in demand for English language information twice a week, from Fridays to Tuesdays, and from Tuesdays to Fridays. We would like to take this opportunity to thank our loyal readers and to direct you to our website and facebook page where we welcome your feedback and comments. www.georgiatoday.ge www.fb.com/georgiatoday Turn to page 6 to meet the designer who made the new look Georgia Today!
GEORGIA TODAY NOVEMBER 6 - 9, 2015
Investigation of Airbus A321 Crash On-Going
n October 31st a Russian Airbus A321 crashed in the Sinai Peninsula, Egypt, killing all 224 people on board, including 25 children. The Metrojet Airbus crashed 23 minutes into its flight from Sharm elSheikh to St Petersburg. Despite the fact that the black boxes have been found and the investigation is already underway, there is as yet no accurate information about what caused the crash. The International Commission, consisting of Egypt, Russia, Ireland, Germany and France, are investigating the crash of the Airbus A321. At time of going to press, they have finished decoding the first black box and, according to it, the alleged cause of the crash was an explosion in the engine. However, experts still cannot say exactly what the reason for that explosion was, reports Tass Agency, referring to the Egyptian newspaper AlMasry Al-Youm. According to data obtained while decoding the black box, the pilots did not discuss any mechanical problems within the plane, says The Wall Street Journal, citing a source familiar with the situation. Representatives of the MetroJet Company also completely exclude the possibility of either technical problem or pilot error. It is also reported that the second black box has been partially damaged and will require substantial work to
PASHA Bank Hosts Representatives of Diplomatic Corps BY KATIE RUTH DAVIES
BY EKA KARSAULIDZE
The crash site of the Metrojet Airbus A321 in Sinai Peninsula. 224 people on board lost their lives, including 25 children. Source: aviaforum.ru
extract information from it. Almost immediately after the disaster, the Islamic State (IS) claimed responsibility for the Russian plane crash, yet both the Russian and Egyptian authorities unanimously rejected the suggestion of a terrorist attack. However, on November 4, IS repeated their statement about the A321, although in neither case did they explain exactly how it happened. Rumors that a bomb may have brought down the Russian passenger jet appeared in several European and US media outlets on Wednesday. British aircrafts temporarily stopped flying to Sharm elSheikh, the BBC reported. The Office of UK Prime Minister David Cameron said a team of British aviation experts would travel to the Egyptian airport, where
they would “make an assessment of the security arrangements in place” and “identify whether any further action is required.” The International Commission continues field research work at the crashsite. The investigation is not totally ruling out a terrorist act, according to Tass Agency. Russian sources and officials warned against premature conclusions about the causes of the crash, noting that often speculation that appears in the media before the conclusion of the formal investigation, impedes the work of the official technical commission. The Metrojet Airbus A321 crash of October 31 is considered the largest catastrophe in the history of Russian and Soviet aviation.
ASHA Bank Georgia hosted representatives of the Diplomatic Corps in Georgia on November 4th. PASHA Bank is a regional corporate and investment bank serving large and medium enterprises in Azerbaijan, Georgia and now already in Turkey. PASHA Bank, being an active member of the EU-Georgia Business Council, gladly agreed to host a site visit organized by the EUGBC. The representatives of embassies from Italy, Greece, Turkey, Latvia, Poland, Iran, Bulgaria and Netherlands were hosted at PASHA Bank’s Rustaveli 15 headquarters. Among the discussed topics were the Bank’s activities regarding the involvement in the recent international Telecommunication Meeting in Georgia, business
conference in Brussels, Caspian Energy Forum and other business related gatherings that were sponsored by PASHA Bank. “We, as the EU-Georgian Business Council, pay paramount attention to promoting regional economic cooperation between Azerbaijan, Georgia and Turkey. In this respect, we very much welcome the strategic decision of PASHA Bank to enter the Georgian market,” said Zviad Chumburidze, Secretary General of EU-Georgia Business Council. “We welcome the interest of the Diplomatic Corps in such regional financial institutions as PASHA Bank. More than that, we were very happy to have the privilege of hosting the representatives from different countries and introducing them to our company,” said Shahin Mammadov, CEO and Chairman of the Board of Directors at PASHA Bank Georgia.
NOVEMBER 6 - 9, 2015
Audiotapes Against Saakashvili: Does Georgia Benefit? BY STEVEN JONES
krainian website “WikiLeaks Center” late October this year published transcripts of an alleged conversation held between Georgian ex-President Mikheil Saakashvili and former Security Secretary Giga Bokeria at the Istanbul Ataturk Airport on October 22. The author of the transcript, Kirnik Sergei Mikolaiovich (Кірник Сергій Миколайович), presenting no evidence, claimed Saakashvili was preparing a coup against the Georgian government. Later it appeared complicated to warrant authenticity of the records considering the transcripts as fabrication. Moreover, the so-called Ukrainian WikiLeaks later was found to have no connection to the central WikiLeaks office, but registered in Moscow and affiliated with the Russian government. October 30, audio-records of two conversations by former president Mikheil Saakashvili were published on the Ukrainian website http://uareview.in.ua. The first involved a conversation with Nika Gvaramia, General Director of Rustavi 2, and the second with Giga Bokeria of the United National Movement (UNM), Saakashvili’s key ally in Georgia. According to the first audio recording, Saakashvili asks Gvaramia about the Rustavi 2 court hearings and offers a scenario of revolution in case the court decision will be executed. The former president suggests Gvaramia erect bar-
ricades and metal barriers at the Rustavi 2 office and to find “gunmen” and says that ultimately everything will end in shooting. In the second audiotape, Saakashvili discusses the same topic with Giga Bokeria, ex- secretary of the National Security Council of Georgia. He expresses his dissatisfaction with the poor reaction of ‘idiot foreigners’. Both Gvaramia and Bokeria confirmed the authenticity of the published audiotapes. As Bokeria told Imedi TV, he didn’t view it as being something extraordinary, adding, the tape proves two things: “One thing is that illegal wiretapping continues in the country and the second thing is that Gvaramia’s earlier statement that a messenger sent by the government threatened him that his conversation with Saakashvili would be published, proved to be true. Nika Gvaramia, on confirming the authenticity of the recording, wrote on his Facebook page that the conversation was illegally recorded and “Big brother” is still watching and listening to people. “First of all, Mikheil Saakashvili is my close friend. I am always interested in his opinion concerning various issues, but it doesn’t mean we share positions on everything,” he said, stating he does not share Saakashvili’s views about erecting barricades. “Ten days passed and you can come and witness whether there is a single barricade there [outside the Rustavi 2 studio],” he said. The following day, the Georgian State Security Service (GSSS) said that, within the framework of the ongoing investiga-
Mikheil Saakashvili Odessa Governor on the photo. Source: Facebook Page of Mikheil Saakashvili
tion around the case, [they] “have asked the relevant structure from Ukraine for cooperation.” According to the Deputy Head of the GSSS, Levan Izoria, confirmation of both the origin and authenticity of the audio tapes is required. Izoria stated all necessary investigative activities will be carried out.
ANALYSIS Concerns have been raised in Georgian civil society. Some point out that such accusations and attacks on the main opposition, even if true, do no benefit to economically poor citizens and the devalued Lari. The ruling coalition of Georgian Dream, including PM Garibashvili, believe that
Saakashvili with his attempts harm Georgia while the UNM claims the government is involved in plans to destroy the main opposition prior to the 2016 elections. The Georgian vendetta seems to be continuing. Who is to blame for the illegal recordings? Does Georgia benefit from them?
What Nourishes a Thriving Democracy in Georgia? BY ZVIAD ADZINBAIA
n October 26, the Washington Post published an article concerning current events in Georgia. The publication from the editorial board said since the 2012 election led to a peaceful transfer of power rarely seen in former Soviet Eurasia, the Caucasian nation of Georgia has skirted the edges of democratic norms. “A new government led by a populist billionaire tried to prosecute the election losers, including former president Mikheil Saakashvili, and suppress critics in the media and civil society, but it was often restrained by pressure from Western governments, including the European Union, with which Georgia completed an association agreement last year,” the article stated.
Archil Gegeshidze, Georgian Ambassador to the US responded to an article in the Washington Post
The publication, reviewing the ongoing situation in Georgia put emphasis on Georgian Dream’s “sinking popularity” and the new election due in a year, saying “the ruling Georgian Dream party and its leader, Bidzina Ivanishvili, appear
inclined to take more drastic steps.” “A businessman aligned with the party is seeking to seize the country’s most popular television station, which often airs opposition views, and has succeeded in winning a court order to freeze its
10 Galaktion Street
assets. A decision on the takeover bid is expected this week.” The article reviews the process around Rustavi 2 TV station and Georgian Dream’s ‘plummeting popularity in the country.’ In response to the article, Georgia’s ambassador to the United States, Archil Gegeshidze, sent a letter to The Washington Post’s editorial board entitled “Democracy and media pluralism thrive in Georgia.” In the letter, Gegeshidze says the article mischaracterized the state of democracy in Georgia. “Since the current government came to power in 2012, Georgia has been making significant progress in improving the independence of the judiciary, media pluralism and basic human rights. On all accounts, Georgia is freer and more democratic than ever. The 2015 World Press Freedom Index of Reporters Without Borders ranks Georgia 69th among
180 countries, up 35 places since 2012,” Gegeshidze writes. According to Gegeshidze, the recently released World Bank Worldwide Governance Indicators report underscores our progress. “Since 2012, Georgia jumped 16 places in accountability, 19 places in rule of law, 22 places in political stability and government effectiveness and 23 places in control of corruption.” “The dispute over the ownership of news station Rustavi 2 takes place against a backdrop of an unfortunate legacy. The case is rooted in the past, when arbitrary seizure of property and intimidation were part of everyday life in Georgia. The only way to settle this is through an honest and transparent legal process, with maximum attention from willing international arbiters,” Gegeshidze writes. The letter concluded by saying, “No matter how the courts decide, democracy and a competitive media environment will continue to thrive in Georgia.”
Tel: (995 32) 2 45 08 08 E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
GEORGIA TODAY NOVEMBER 6 - 9, 2015
The Gas about the Armenian Visit to Georgia BY ZAZA JGHARKAVA
hile Prime Minister Garibashvili was busy with legal proceedings related to the TV Company Rustavi 2, Armenia’s President Serzh Sargsyan and the Catholicos of All Armenians Karekin II paid a short but very important visit to Tbilisi. Government and church authorities of the neighboring country were in Tbilisi for an honorary reason. President Sargsyan and Catholicos Karekin II took part in the opening of the restored church in the historic building of Tbilisi. However, it proved that the visit of such a representative delegation in Tbilisi was not only related to the opening of the church. Strange things started to happen around the Armenian delegation when Minister of Energy Kakhi Kaladze turned up at Tbilisi airport. His appearance in the airport confirmed the idea that President Sargsyan was in Tbilisi for more than just the opening of a ritual monument. It should also be noted that not only was Kaladze’s appearance strange, but the Georgian Apostolic Church boycotted the spiritual leader from Armenia, creating additional intrigue. It could be that the position of the Georgian Catholicos Patriarch Ilia II proved decisive for the Georgian President,
Prime Minister and Parliament Speaker not to attend the ceremony of transferal of the restored church to the Armenian side. At the church opening ceremony in attendance were only ministers of culture, reconciliation and IDPs from the Georgian government. A certain compensation gesture from the hosts was the fact that the factual ruler of the country, Bidzina Ivanishvili, attended the ceremony. It is worth noting that Bidzina Ivanishvili was the one to end the several year-long debate between Tbilisi and Yerevan during his term as Prime Minister to which side the church in the historical part of Tbilisi belonged – the Georgian Patriarchy or the Armenian Church. Three years ago, Prime Minister Ivanishvili promised President Sargsyan that he would return the church to Armenians and not only return it but participate in its restoration. It seems that Ivanishvili has now fulfilled his promise. As for how he managed to convince the Patriarchy remains unknown. It is easy to guess what would happen during the previous government if President Saakashvili had given any ritual building, even if in a province, to another confession. It seems that money can truly light hell. For this “deed,” billionaire Ivanishvili received the order of Giorgi the Enlightener from the Catholicos of All Armenians. As for the history, it was built in 1251 by an Armenian tradesman Umek and
Prime Minister Garibashvili with Armenian President Serzh Sargsyan
was ruined and restored several times since. Saatnova, a Tbilisian poet of Armenian origin, was buried in the churchyard in 1795, in 1879 nobleman Hovanes Lazarev was buried there, and in 1888 Count Loris-Melikov joined them, which underlines the Armenian connection to the church. Despite this, the Georgian Patriarchy claims that the
Armenian church “Sub Gevork” was built in 1251 on the place of a Georgian church, which does not provide grounds for attributing this church to the Armenian side. To cut a long story short, it seems that Ivanishvili’s money truly put a full stop to this church dispute and from now on it will not be an issue of debate as to which side the church in the center of Tbilisi belonged to seven centuries ago – Armenians or Georgians. As Ivanishvili says, this dispute is “desirable and even symbolic” and it points to the long historical friendly past of our states. “I am glad that restoration of the church is complete and that I personally participated in this historical event.” Restoration of the church cost 3.5 million USD. Part of the money was provided by Ivanishvili but it has not been made public what his exact share was. The second part of the visit of the Armenian delegation was entirely political. President Sargsyan met with the people who did not attend the blessing of the “Sub Gevork” church – President Margvelashvili, Prime Minister Garibashvili and Parliament Speaker Usupashvili. It is noteworthy that Energy Minister Kaladze did not attend any of the meetings. It was Parliament Speaker Davit Usupashvili who touched upon the energy issue. “At the meeting with Serzh Sargsyan there was no talk about transporting gas from Russia via Georgia. Gas has been running via Georgia
for the last three years. Before that, throughout nine years, gas was also running via Georgia and in the year prior to that as well. The fact that Armenia receives gas from Russia via Georgia is an event of decades and is nothing new,” Usupashvili said after the meeting with President Sargsyan. This statement by the Parliament Speaker raised even more questions than before. Before the visit, Minister Kaladze and the Georgian government claimed that the main reason for negotiations with Gazprom was the volume of transit to Armenia, and rumors around the Azerbaijani Socar and the so-called diversification had nothing to do with it. At a time when the main addressee sits at the negotiating table, it is strange that the issue is not mentioned. Oh, and had you heard that Russia decreased the gas tariff to Armenia? The sides reached the agreement in Moscow when Armenia’s President Serzh Sargsyan was on an official visit. According to the agreement, Armenia will have to pay 25 USD less for one thousand cubic meters of gas; therefore, Yerevan will pay 165 USD for one thousand cubic meters of natural gas. Moreover, in order to “update the arsenal of the armed forces,” Russia will give Yerevan a 200 million USD loan. Right on the heels of Sargsyan, Azerbaijan’s President Ilham Aliyev has arrived in Tbilisi and plans to talk about energy issues and Gazprom with the Georgian government.
NOVEMBER 6 - 9, 2015
Introducing the Man behind the New Georgia Today BY KATIE RUTH DAVIES
eorgia Today sat down with Kevin Loftus, Head of Design and IT at The Mayo News, Ireland, to discuss his contribution to the fabulous new Georgia Today design. WE AT GEORGIA TODAY NEWSPAPER ARE VERY EXCITED THAT OUR REBRANDING WAS CARRIED OUT BY THE WINNER OF SUCH AN EXTREMELY HONORABLE NOMINATION – THE BEST LOCAL NEWSPAPER IN EUROPE! PLEASE TELL US A LITTLE ABOUT YOUR BACKGROUND AND HOW YOU MANAGED TO WIN THIS AWARD?
Thank you very much, it has been an honor and privilege to work alongside such a talented team. I guess I always had a keen interest in
design from a very young age. Growing up I would always be sketching and destroying my school books with designs and doodles. I studied Graphic Design and Web Development and then proceeded to work in newspaper design. I began my design journey with The Mayo News back in 2007. I started off on work experience in February and joined the team as a part time worker that summer. It wasn’t long until I was made a full time member of staff and I got to work on what I really love each and every day. It was from this moment on that I knew newspaper design was for me. TELL US ABOUT THE REDESIGN OF THE MAYO NEWS AND THE EUROPEAN NEWSPAPER OF THE YEAR AWARD?
The entire redesign process began in January 2014. Myself and Neill (the Managing Editor
Kevin Loftus, Head of Design and IT at The Mayo News, Ireland, and the Neill O’Neill, the Managing Editor, are handed the European Newspaper of the Year 2015 award
at The Mayo News) sat down and discussed what direction we wanted to take the paper in. We wanted to create something that would continue to stand out from the competition on a weekly basis. I began to compare our own paper to others, researching fonts, colors and other papers throughout the continent. I found newspapers in Ireland all followed the same format, trying to fit as much text on a page and taking the advertisers preference over the readers and this needed to change. I wanted our artistic statement and signature on each and every page and to bring life not only back to the paper but to the entire company and I believe we have achieved this with the redesign. We reworked the entire paper: a new color palette, new elements, introducing half column gaps of white space to separate articles and at the same time we removed a lot of the clutter that had become distracting to readers. We also added our social media and online information to the front of each section, and information boxes throughout the paper linking articles and directing our readers online, thus expanding their experience, not just in the paper but online too. We treat the whole newspaper as one complete product. With each issue we bring the reader on a journey. Starting with News, Notes, Sports and then on to Living. This is where the real storytelling in the mind begins. We have such an array of talented writers and it is my job as a designer to visually portray the story to our readers. The design of the paper is responsible for this entire journey. Browsing through pages is the readers experience and we want them to enjoy
The paper is now a clearer and cleaner publication, while maintaining its high standards. I believe the future is bright for Georgia Today it each step of the way. We treated most pages as a spread, because this is how readers perceive and view it. We have a niche market with the local element and this information can only be got in your local newspaper each and every week. We were honored to be given the title of European Newspaper of the Year. Since winning the award our paper has grown from strength to strength. We even have a 6 part TV series being aired in Ireland next week following our daily lives and how we produce the paper which is very exciting for everyone involved.
YOU MET GEORGE SHARASHIDZE, THE PUBLISHER OF GEORGIA TODAY, IN VIENNA AT THE EUROPEAN NEWSPAPER CONGRESS. WHAT WAS YOUR MOTIVATION TO AGREE TO WORK WITH HIM ON THE NEW GEORGIA TODAY?
From the moment I met George I knew we would end up working together. He has such a passion and pride in the newspaper, which is very evident. I really like to meet people with the same passion for design and positivity as myself. We both knew from the start that we were reading from the same page (no pun intended). The size and shape of the Georgia Today newspaper was one which I had never worked on before so I was keen to get on board with this project. HOW DO YOU FEEL IT HAS TURNED OUT?
I’m very happy with the new layout. I think the readers will really enjoy it. The paper is now a clearer and cleaner publication, while maintaining its high standards. My aim was to create a brighter and more colorful paper and I believe we achieved this. I believe the future is bright for Georgia Today.
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GEORGIA TODAY NOVEMBER 6 - 9, 2015
First Regional Employment Forum Held in Tbilisi BY MERI TALIASHVILI
iels Scott, Head of the United Nations in Georgia opened the first two-day forum of regional employment in Tbilisi last week. “Georgia is hosting the first regional forum on jobs for prosperity, a very appropriate convening role for Georgia as a leader in reforms, and given its central location linking regional trade and knowledge sharing. Sustainable Devel-
opment Goals (SDGs) adopted by the United Nations member countries this September in New York clearly identified productive employment as one of the main driving forces behind development. The opportunity for employment is indeed at the heart of the STGs. Employment not only contributes to the prosperity of families and communities, and indeed nations, but also provides the opportunity to build societies on the principles of social justice- inclusion and equity.” The conference organized by the United Nations Development Programme
Niels Scott at the Employment Forum. Boosting employment ensures the inclusive and sustainable growth of the national labor markets in the region
(UNDP), World Bank Group, International Labor Organization and the Swiss Cooperation Office brought more than 130 delegates from Azerbaijan, Moldova, Ukraine, Armenia, Belarus and Georgia together in order to look into ways to boost employment that ensure the inclusive and sustainable growth of the national labor markets in the region. At the conference, Georgian Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili noted that employment is the one of the challenges the country is now facing and emphasized the importance of the conference. “Issues like job creation, fighting pov-
erty and strengthening the economy are our main priority. We understand how important it is for each citizen to be able to realize their full potential and to direct their knowledge in the right way: that’s why we support such a conference as this. In order to increase employment opportunities it is vital that the business sector be supported by the government because they are the ones who can create new jobs. That’s why our government is promoting a healthy, free and competitive business environment in Georgia,” Garibashvili added.
The first day of the forum was dedicated to an in-depth discussion on how to create more jobs in the region in collaboration with the private sector, and on the role of state services in developing a qualified workforce. Manager of UNDP Regional Hub for Europe and the CIS, Rastislav Vrbensky, said: “Getting people back to work is a complex issue that requires a strong commitment from governments, civil society and communities. The UNDP welcomes their commitment to looking for an innovative solution. This dialogue must continue if we are to meet employment challenges, as none of us can meet it alone.” On the second day of forum, the participants discussed skills development strategies, vocational education and trainings. Special attention was paid to the complex multisector approaches to employment in view of the transition to low-carbon sustainable development patterns. “Current demographic trends bring 40 million people to the labor market each year,” claimed Heinz Koller, Assistant Director-General and Regional Director for Europe and Central Asia of the International Labor Organization (ILO). “That means the world economy will be creating about 600 million new jobs between now and 2030. The current and forecasted growth results don’t leave us to expect much improvement on that.” Koller added.
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The Brighter Faces of the New Georgian Banknotes BY ANA AKHALAIA
he National Bank of Georgia plans to release new Lari banknotes in 2016. The new 20, 50 and 100 Lari notes will be introduced gradually and will be circulated with the older banknotes. “This is the first major update of the Lari banknote designs in 20 years,” National Bank Preisdent Giorgi Kadagidze stated. “The National Bank is replacing faded and damaged banknotes with newer ones in order to refill reserves. It came at a good time because the process would require additional financial resources.”
SIGHTS AND STORIES The original themes of the old Lari banknotes are being maintained. At the same time the updated banknotes have various new elements added to their stories. Let’s take a closer look at some of those stories:
The 20 Lari banknote shows the portrait of Ilia Chavchavadze, a Georgian politician, lawyer, journalist, writer and poet and named saint of the 20th century. Behind him you can see the newspaper he founded, Iveria, the Iveria publishing house, the magazine ‘Georgia’s Messenger’ and various personal items belonging to Chavchavadze.
The back of the 20 Lari banknote features a panorama of Old Tbilisi, the statue of King Vakhtang Gorgasali- the founder of the city who famously shot a pheasant down into a boiling sulfur bath-, an 18th century Tbilisi map and the national emblem of Georgia.
the Tbilisi Opera and Ballet Theatre (expected to reopen this December), an excerpt from the score of the national anthem and the national emblem of Georgia. The National Bank of Georgia developed the sketches for the renewed banknotes with the involvement of the world’s leading companies: Giesecke & Devrient (Germany), Oberthur Fiduciaire (France), and De La Rue (England).
BIGGER AND BRIGHTER The 50 Lari banknote features the portrait of Tamar the Great, the first woman to rule Georgia during its Golden Age in the 12th century. You will also now see the famous caves of the Vardzia Monastery Complex and a bas-relief of the Pitareti Monastery. Also featured on this note is the zodiac sign of Sagittarius Miniature, a manuscript from the 12th century and the national emblem of Georgia.
The front of the 100 Lari banknote features the portrait of Shota Rustaveli, 12th century Georgian poet and creator of the Georgian national epic poem ‘The Knight in the Panther’s Skin.’ Behind him is an illustration of that poem; the page of the poem from its first ever print; an ornament from the 17th century manuscript of the poem and a 7th century bas-relief from the Martvili Monastery. The back of the 100 Lari banknote shows
The 20 Lari note will be a brighter red colour, the 50 Lari note will be green and the 100 Lari note will have a deeper purple colour. The sizes of the new banknote have also been changed and all will now include a nominal recognition mark for people with poor eyesight. The new banknotes were designed by Bacha Malazonia. The 5 and 10 Lari notes will also be updated but at a later date.
This is the first major update of the Lari banknote designs in 20 years
NOVEMBER 6 - 9, 2015
Manana Bolkvadze, 28, mother of two and owner of a small farming cooperative in Tsalka
4, V. Daraselia Str. Tbilisi, Georgia
Reducing Rural Poverty: Georgia to Benefit from EU Pilot Projects BY TAMAR SVANIDZE
The European Union (EU) has launched a € 3 million rural project to support and maintain a strong rural community in Georgia. The project aims to reduce rural poverty in the country and to give opportunities to locals occupied in private agricultural businesses. The EU supports empowering owners of local development processes in rural areas of Georgia, improving capacities, and providing resources and incentives for better rural services and jobs in a variety of activities related to agriculture, eco-tourism and other rural businesses. Georgia’s mountain region Kazbegi was the starting point for the EU-funded €3 million support to rural development component under the European Neighborhood Program for Agriculture a n d Ru r a l D e ve l o p m e n t (ENPARD). The pilot project, presented to media in Borjomi last week, is
part of a program that would cover three municipalities in Georgia - Lagodekhi, Kazbegi and Borjomi -and which would aim to increase public participation in civil matters, develop a varied harvest, and provide resources to assist overall regional development. The project was initiated in July 2015 and is set to finish in September 2017. The total budget of the pilot project is 1 250 000 Euros, which includes a minimum of 20 small entrepreneurships to be funded. “The objective of the project is to promote and develop a bottomup, community driven rural development approach that supports socio-economic development within Borjomi and facilitates future replication throughout Georgia,” Mercy Corps project director Mikheil Lomidze said. According to Lomidze, the new rural development projects will create Local Action Groups (LAGs), consisting of representatives from local authorities, private sector and civil society, for the elaboration and implementation of local development
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strategies.“We expect to have approximately 20 members in LAGs of which 49 percent will be from the Government sector and 51 percent will be from the private sector,” Lomidze said. Minimum funding for project participants is 1000 Euros and for small businesses- 25 000 Euros, while the maximum amount of money given by this project will be 60 000 Euros. Deputy Minister of Money made available (min. Agriculture David Galegashvili said this to max. in Euros) to small and is a powerful incentive medium businesses for rural and community development. While in Borjomi, the media representatives had the began,” Nino said. “In the beginning we were opportunity to look into the strategies, methods and innovative very skeptical how we would approaches in rural development cope with the business, but now tested by the United Nations we see that it is profitable and D eve l o p m e n t P ro g ra m m e makes our families economi(UNDP) and Government of Fin- cally stronger,” Irma said. “Now I earn around 1500 Lari land under their joint initiative with the Government of Georgia per month, which was unimaginable before for me. Now in the Borjomi Gorge. Journalists also met with local we have income and hope for female farmers who had success- the future,” she said. The Borjomi pilot project is fully benefited from the EU rural implemented by NGO Mercy supporting projects. Borough Tsagveri’s Berries is a Corps-Scotland along with the small cooperative which was Borjomi Municipality and Angus established three years ago and Council of Scotland, with supemploys 11 workers. The coop- port from the Austrian Federal erative produces not only fresh Institute for Mountainous and berries, but juice, compotes and Less Favoured Areas. Furthermore, implementation jam and also offers seedlings for of the new projects will be sale. This cooperative is the only facilitated by three international source of income for Nino NGOs with recognised experiMelikadze and Irma Magradze, ence in rural areas of Georgia: who have been working here since CARE-Austria (Lagodekhi), People in Need-Czech Republic its foundation. As Nino said, Tsagveri is a tour- (Kazbegi) and Mercy Corpsistic spot of Georgia, but when Scotland (Borjomi). Georgia is at present benefitthe Russian-Georgian war occurred in Georgia in August ting from €52 million support 2008, a large area of forest was to agriculture and rural develburnt and tourism reduced. Locals opment through the EU-funded suffered huge economic problems ENPARD programme. On this basis, EU support to and faced poverty. “One day, we sat down and rural development over the next thought about ways to get out years will be expanded to other of the situation. Then interna- regions, helping Georgia to tional organizations decided to establish a successful rural strengthen agriculture in the development policy following local area and this project the best practices across Europe.
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GEORGIA TODAY NOVEMBER 6 - 9, 2015
International Advisory Group Assesses Hepatitis C Elimination Program
US Ambassador, Ian C. Kelly and Minister of Health, David Sergeenko at the conference of international advisers
A conference of international advisers has been held in the frames of the Hepatitis C Elimination Program of Georgia. The international partners will support and carry out consultations for implementing long-term strategies in monitoring, prevention and controlling systems. The International Advisory Group, whose members are the heads of the US Center for Disease Control and Prevention, Emory and Hopkins Universities, World Health Organization and other international partners, attended the conference. They aim to encourage development of Hepatitis C elimination and also to increase public awareness. The results of the Hepatitis C Elimination Program and its current conditions were discussed. According to the Ministry of Healthcare, 130-150 million people suffer from Hepatitis C and, in
At the conference the second stage of the program was announced, to begin from December 2015 and including the treatment of 20,000 patients
the WHO’s criteria, Georgia is considered as a high-prevalence country. The Elimination Program has been on-going for six months and more than 5000 patients have undergone treatment. At the conference the second stage of the program was announced, to begin from December 2015 and including the treatment of 20,000 patients. “From April 2015, the Ministry of Health of Georgia began a Hepatitis C Elimination Program which attracted worldwide attention. The first phase of this program foresaw free access to diagnosis and treatment,” Minister of Health, David Sergeenko, said. Treatment courses are undergone using the latest direct-acting generation drug- Sofosbuvir. “Georgia has achieved much progress in six months; it is a historical event. We are trying to implement elimination of this dangerous disease. The team of experts [here, today], will help Georgia to implement the program,” John Ward, head of The US Center for Disease Control and Prevention said. On the first day of the conference the group discussed the condition of the Hepatitis C program in Georgia, as well as the results of a population survey and the challenges of Hepatitis C prevention and control. The group will assess conducted works and will work out recommendations regarding priority interventions, program indicators and the follow-up phases of the Elimination Program. The involvement of the international team of experts will give Georgia’s Hepatitis C Elimination Program qualified experience and will assist in the planning of new perspectives for the healthcare system overall.
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NOVEMBER 6 - 9, 2015
Surb Gevorg Church Reopens Parliament Healthcare Committee Member after Three Year Renovation BY EKA KARSAULIDZE
he first phase of the program ‘Church Complex’, created by Initiatives for Development of Armenia (IDeA) has been completed. In the framework of this program, the Surb Gevorg Armenian Church (St. George) which is considered as one of the oldest churches in Tbilisi reopened its doors after three years of reconstruction on October 31. The opening was preceded by several important cultural and diplomatic meetings. A number of top-ranking people, such as Armenian President Serzh Sargsyan and former Prime Minister of Georgia Bidzina Ivanishvili attended the opening ceremony. The Surb Gevorg Cathedral Church is one of Tbilisi’s oldest churches, built in 1251. Over the course of its history, the church has repeatedly experienced deprivation, destruction and fire, while always being restored and reborn. For centuries, it was the main temple of the Armenian community of the city and now it is the Cathedral Diocese of the Armenian Apostolic Church in Georgia. “The Surb Gevorg Church has preserved and protected the written word and spiritual music emanating from the depths of centuries and entire art forms since the day of its foundation,” said the leader of the Georgian Diocese of the Armenian Apostolic Church, Bishop Vazgen Mirzakhanyan. “It has supplied spiritual nourishment to its sons, and with motherly care has united around itself Armenians. And today the Church, restored with its priceless frescoes and
The Surb Gevorg Church. Photos provided by IDeA Foundation
spiritual significance, becomes a reborn pearl both in the heart of the Armenian community and in Tbilisi, an enrichment to the multinational and multi-confessional city.” Discussions about the church’s reconstruction took place over a long period, but the project finally started in 2012. The reconstruction involved specialists from both Armenia and Georgia. During the entire period of the reconstruction, the project was supported by both ministries of culture. Minister of Culture and Monument Protection of Georgia, Mikheil Giorgadze, and his Armenian colleague Hasmik Poghosyan highlighted the importance of the Surb Gevorg Church in the cultural and historical relations between the two countries. Moreover, last week the ministers signed a memorandum of cooperation in the field of culture in 2016-2018.
“This memorandum will include close cooperation is theatrical, film, fine arts, literary, and cultural heritage areas. Experts and especially young professionals from Georgia and Armenia will be actively involved in the work,” said Minister Giorgadze. Along with the official meetings between ministers and the presidents of the two countries, Armenian composer Marine Ales with Armenian musicians held a concert ‘One of you’ in the Marjanishvili State Drama Theatre in Tbilisi. The Surb Gevorg Cathedral Church was restored solely through charitable donations. The overall cost of the church restoration project totals 3.5 million USD. The main donors of the project are the Vardanyan family, Sergei Sarkisov and Rusudan Makhashvili, and Bidzina Ivanishvili. “The Armenian Church has always been not only a spiritual, but also an educational, cultural and enlightening center, especially for Armenians living far from their historical homeland,” said Ruben Vardanyan, Co-Founder of IDeA Foundation. “With the restoration of the Surb Gevorg Church, we have completed the first phase of the program ‘Church Complex’. Our plans call for continuing work and the creation at the church of a cultural-educational center,” he added. According to the Sergey Tantushyan, Deputy CEO of IDeA Foundation, the cultural-educational center will be opened next to the church and will be free of charge to all, and not only for Armenian citizens. It is already known that the complex will include a concert hall, workshops for fresco restoration, a Sunday school, a museum of archaeological finds and more.
Extols Virtues of Generic Drugs BY KETI DIDEBULIDZE
ue to the increasing prices of drugs, the Ministry of Healthcare has announced the introduction of Generic drugs on Georgia’s pharmaceutical market. Member of the Healthcare Committee of Georgian Parliament, Gigi Tsereteli, made comments in this regard: “When a new drug is created, it has a specific patent expiration date, in which additional production and licensing is not permitted. When that expires, other companies have the right to produce the same medicine under a different name. Creating a new brand drug costs millions of dollars, as it needs multi-stage experiments and high class scientists”. “Generic drugs do not differ from expensive brand medicines. Generics are popular because of their low prices and identical quality- they are made using the same substances,” Tsereteli added. The current guidelines are already available, according to which insurance companies and family doctors show a preference for Generics. Considering the origin country of Generics is the one major problem that patients and doctors face, however, experts believe that the origin of the drug does not measure the quality. Production is diversified due to a mod-
ern global economy. The US and many other countries produce drugs in Asia and China, where the workforce is cheap to employ but equipment is the same quality as it is in developed countries. India also has a rapidly growing economy and produces high quality goods. Saying that drugs produced in China or in India are of low quality is false. Large companies have high and reliable systems. On Georgia’s Pharmaceutical Market, 70% of Drugs are Generic Pharmaceutical companies have brought Generic drugs to the market before and will continue to do so. If only original and brand medicines existed on our market, prices would be much higher. For this reason some countries have banned original drugs and are oriented to Generic drugs- by doing so they have decreased expenses. Generics have their positive sides in terms of cost. That’s why bringing new ones is not an issue. We need to expand the spectrum. Today, on Georgia’s pharmaceutical market 70% of drugs are Generic and only 30% are brand drugs. Generics cost 20-30 percent less than the original drugs. The State should not interfere in the business and adhere to this principle; many of the more of developed countries made such a decision before us that if a state buys drugs, they must be Generic. Yet, the quality control of drugs should be of a high level. Therefore, in the near future, a laboratory of drug quality control is expected to be opened in Georgia.”
NOVEMBER 6 - 9, 2015
Vampires in Town: Ex-Pat Launches Second Book Translated into Georgian BY MERI TALIASHVILI
O Meeting of the Chairman of the Presidium of the Supreme Council of Georgia Giorgi Dzotsenidze (left) and Prince of Belgium Albert II (right) in Tbilisi, 1973. Photo by Malkhaz Datikashvili
‘Enduring Bonds’ between Georgia and Europe: Photography Exhibition Opens in Sighnaghi BY NINA IOSELIANI
s part of the celebrations of EU Week of Culture 2015 in Georgia, the EU Delegation to Georgia, the Let’s Meet Europe project, the National Archives of Georgia and Georgian National Museum on November 4th introduced the photo exhibition “Enduring Bonds,” dedicated to GeorgianEuropean cultural relations.
145 photos are displayed in the Sighnaghi Museum telling the individual stories of people who supported the development of the country in the context of European values. The exhibition also hosts the family photos of Niko Nikoladze, Giorgi (Giglo) Yaralashvili and Vakhtang Ghambashidze. The chronology of mid- and late 20th century cultural-political exchange is present throughout the collection, which will be on display until December 4. Address: Sighnaghi. Shota Rustaveli Str 8.
n the eve of Halloween, Vake Park Mediathek hosted British writer Katie Ruth Davies as she launched the second in her young adult book series to be translated into Georgian. The book presentation was attended by fans, notable public figures and journalists. Katie has been working on the five book vampire saga for ten years and has already uploaded the first four of the series onto amazon.com. The Blood Omen saga (in Georgian ‘vampiruli omebi’, or ‘Vampire Wars’) follows seventeen-year-old Dea on a journey of discovery, love and horror as she delves into the secret world of the vampiresmeeting both friend and foe along the way. “There’s nothing scary about these books,” the writer told Georgia Today. “It’s about an everyday teenage girl living in an everyday world (England) where vampires exist. While there are a few bloody scenes, the story contains a lot of love and teenage angst mixed in with the action scenes and mystery. The story leaps from cliffhanger to cliffhanger and my growing fan base loves this pageturning aspect. The record reading I heard last weekend- one 16-year-old girl finished Book two in six non-stop hours!” As the writer noted, many surprises await readers from the second book and she has been very secretive about the character development. “My fans are crazy about the love story in the book. They also keep asking me who will live or die or become a vampire. I can’t tell them, of course, but it always warms me
to see how enthusiastic they are and how well they know and love the characters that came from my imagination!” While having been a writer of vampire fiction for most her life, she is currently she is working on another young adult fiction book about angels, set in Georgia and built around a half-Georgian, halfEnglish teenage girl dealing with a new aspect of the supernatural. “If I get it done, it would be nice to have it published ready for the Frankfurt Book Fair in 2018. As Georgia is the Guest of Honor, there will be special interest on any book related to the country.” The first of Katie’s vampire books was translated into Georgian last year and released on Halloween 2014. It sold out within 9 months and the second was translated with funding from the Translation Program of the Georgian National
A Halloween treat: Famous Georgian writer Dato Turashvili buys his daughter the second of the Blood Omen Saga at the official launch
Book Center (GNBC), under the Ministry of Culture and Monument Protection. “I’m very grateful to both Sulakauri and the GNBC for believing in me and to The Vampire Translator(!) Ana Chichinadze who brought the vampires so well to life for my Georgian fans.” While only a small number of fans was able to attend the book launch last Friday, over 2160 are currently following her on facebook (www.fb.com/bloodomensaga). Katie Davies was born in the UK and has lived in Spain, New Zealand and now Georgia. She is a dedicated wife and a mother of three and when she’s not writing, she works as an English Language Specialist and as Copy-Editor for several cultural and business journals in Tbilisi. During the presentation, which was attended by famous Georgian writer Dato Turashvili (who told Georgia Today: “Katie’s book changed my daughter’s life!”), the guests found Halloween decorations, cake, and had the chance to take part in a competition to win prizes. “I like to make it fun for my guests,” Katie said. “I like to get their imaginations going. I’ve done a couple of school presentations and hope to do more in future- I have problems getting through to the Georgian school directors that I do not spend an hour talking about vampires (which probably takes up no more than ten minutes!) but instead try to inspire the students to read, write and question. For me there’s nothing better than picking up a book you can disappear into- be it Rustaveli or J.K.Rowling. Unfortunately, it’s proving difficult to persuade those conservative directors. But I’ll keep trying. Georgia is moving to a Western mentality in baby steps and I’ll be here when it gets there, along with my vampires.”
GEORGIA TODAY NOVEMBER 6 - 9, 2015
Ce N’est Pas Ushba
BY TONY HANMER
his is not Ushba. Inspired by Rene Magritte’s painting of a pipe, called Ce N’est Pas Une Pipe. Oh, Mountain, the things you put me through... I was back in Becho again yesterday for my twice weekly school work, teaching English. I have already decided to take my camera with me every time I go there, because you just never know if The Mountain will deign to reveal itself. Or not. That day was Not. But it was also a beautiful fall day, so after my lessons and lunch I walked up a track I’ve found near the village’s first mineral water spring, to get a bit of altitude and see if The Mountain might cooperate after all, because you never know. On the way, sun-backlit yellow leaves glowed on their trees, and I crunched through those which had already fallen while photographing the former. I found a piece of rotten wood so lovely I wanted to take it home and varnish it, as frequently I want to do, but it was a bit large (nearly as big as I am) and might not go well into the minivan which is usually my ride. So I marked its location in my memory and resolved to save it as a possibility for later. The fallen leaves reminded me that if I had some porcelain slip on hand (clay’s thin liquid form) I could dip them in it, carefully dry them, then fire them in a kiln at over 1000 degrees C. The leaf inside would burn to noth-
ing, leaving its precise impression in the translucent white porcelain for posterity. But I don’t have any such slip on hand, or the kiln, so that’s just a thought to muse on in a melancholy way. But The Mountain... refused to cooperate. Which got me thinking of a story idea. You see, this is a special Mountain. If at any time it is not being observed, or thought about, two things will happen. One, Ushba will contort itself (out of view) into literally any shape or series of shapes instantaneously, returning to its true form only when someone is looking at it; this process itself is never observed. A cube, a huge funny face, a real or imagined animal, anything whatsoever. Sort of a Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principle with a twist. Two, something will befall the last person who thought about or looked at Ushba and then stopped, causing the hiatus. They will suffer a bout of insanity for the amount of time that Ushba is unobserved or not thought about. Recovering from this, they will remember nothing of it, although they may have done anything at all while crazy. They are not to be held accountable for their actions, although the fault for the hiatus was theirs. People know this, and so there is always someone watching or thinking about The Mountain (or, in my case, writing about it). It has obsessed people here, quietly but forcefully, with terrible consequences if ignored. Even if it can’t be seen because, like today, it has hidden behind clouds of its own making, it’s the thought that counts. (If a tree falls in the forest with no one to hear it, does it actually make a sound? My take is yes, because sound is sound,
heard or not; it still travels through a medium if there is one, vibrating that medium and affecting the surroundings in however small a way. An exception would be in a place where there is no medium to carry the sound, such as the vacuum of space in which No One Can Hear You Scream, as a now-classic space horror film had it some decades ago.) This needs to be fleshed out into a proper story, which I may do sometime as a way of explaining the hold that Ushba has had on locals’ and visitors’ imaginations for millennia, even perhaps inspiring the Svans’ original religion, animism, before it was partly displaced but never erased or replaced by Orthodox Christianity many centuries ago. Really, The Mountain has a presence all of its own, along with its reputation as a killer of mountaineers. One must cooperate or suffer the results. This is not to say that I believe that the universe is infinitely absurd or lawless. But even so, I might just write this thing, because Ushba does tend to get under one’s skin after a while living here. Try it, you’ll see what I mean. Tony Hanmer runs the “Svaneti Renaissance” Facebook group, now with over 1250 members, at www.facebook.com/groups/SvanetiRenaissance/ He and his wife also run their own guest house in Etseri: www.facebook.com/hanmer.house. svaneti
Georgia Investigates Early Warning Systems in Disaster Prevention BY MERI TALIASHVILI
uring the last ten years, as a result of natural disasters 23 million people worldwide have been left homeless, over 1.4 million have been injured and 700 thousand people have lost their lives. In Georgia, in 2012, approximately 75 000 people were affected and 202 mln Gel of economic impact was registered as a result of natural disasters in Kakheti. Added to that the more than 700 people affected by the recent tragic flood in June. To prevent such cases, the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), together with the National Environment Agency of the Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources Protection of Georgia, launched the international conference on early warning systems in Georgia. Georgian government officials, inter-
Niels Scott, UNDP Head in Georgia at the international conference on early warning systems
national organization representatives and invited experts from Switzerland and France, the World Meteorological Organization, consultants from UNDP Georgia and Macedonia gathered together and spoke about modern technologies in early warning of natural hazards. “It is necessary to be able to ensure that we know about disasters, recurring or even before they occur, so that we can prevent the impact of the potential disaster. Today’s discussion is essential because we have invited a vast number of experts here to discuss their experiences, good practices, what worked elsewhere in terms of early warning. I am sure it will have a very good impact for the future,” said Niels Scott, UNDP Head in Georgia. The Early Warning Systems, in order to be effective, need to actively involve communities, facilitate awareness of risks, ensure the constant state of preparedness, and effectively disseminate messages and warnings.
NOVEMBER 6 - 9, 2015
Audience Seeing Double: Onegin at the GIFT BY EKA KARSAULIDZE
n the framework of the Georgian International Festival of Arts (GIFT), the Vakhtangov State Academic Theatre of Russia presented Eugene Onegin’s play, directed by Rimas Tuminas. Winner of several theater awards, the play, which was highly praised by critics at a recent theatrical festival in London, showed a new, ironic, emotional and rigid vision of the well-known poem by Russian writer Alexander Pushkin. It is always a challenge to perform Eugene Onegin on stage. The poetic work is more intended for theatrical readings than for full-fledged productions. Moreover, Alexander Pushkin’s Eugene Onegin is one of the most significant works of Russian literature, and at the same time is quite complex. According to Aleksei Kuznetsov, who plays Dmitri Larin in the play, Lithuanian director Rimas Tuminas had one important advantage that made his creation so special. “He assesses the play from a completely different point of view, not like Russian people do. We learn Eugene Onegin at school and for us he is normal. But Tuminas showed his Lithuania opinion, and I think he did it very accurately,” said Kuznetsov. The play was very easy and clear; long poetic monologues and dialogues gradually replaced by plastic theater to the accompaniment of Faustas Latenas music. The performances of the actors were
Photo provided by GIFT Festival’s official Facebook page
very moving and insightful, leaving some audience members in tears or speechless. However, sometimes those tears were replaced by laughter. Alexander Pushkin is considered a “hooligan” of Russian literature; he was an experimenter and tried to introduce a new look to literature. Rimas Tuminas tried to follow in his footsteps and endowed his heroes with emotional colors, and by dividing the characters, giving the audience an opportunity to see on the stage young and adult Onegin at the same time- two actors creating a complete image of the main protagonist. The Vakhtangov theatre brought the entire troupe of Eugene Onegin to Tbilisi and from November 3 to November 5, showing the local audience three similarbut at the same time different- versions of the play. “In fact, it is one play, but emotions and the interactions between the actors are very different,” said Aleksei Guskov, who
plays the adult Onegin. “Our duet with Victor Dobronravov (young Onegin) is fundamentally different from the way he plays with Sergei Makovetsky (second performer of adult Onegin). We communicate with each other, constantly perform closely, and have a strong relationship. Even during our performances we decided to change a little bit the end of the play – we have not just a dialogue between adult Onegin and Tatiana, but young Onegin also communicates with us,” he explained. Eugene Onegin was one of the most anticipated performances at the 2015 GIFT festival and earned much praise. Tickets were sold out even prior to the premier in Georgia. Each of the three days, the audience greeted the performance with a standing ovation and this witness acan boldly say, without exaggeration, that the Griboedov Russian State Drama Theatre, which hosted the play, has never seen such ovations.
WHAT’S ON IN TBILISI THEATRE GABRIADZE THEATRE
Address: 13 Shavtelis St. Telephone: 2 98 65 93 November 6 AUTUMN OF MY SPRING Rezo Gabriadze Directed by Rezo Gabriadze English Subtitles Start time: 20:00 Ticket price: 10, 15, 20 Lari November 7 RAMONA Rezo Gabriadze Directed by Rezo Gabriadze English Subtitles Start time: 20:00 Ticket price: 10, 15, 20 Lari November 8 MARSHAL DE FANTIE’S DIAMOND Rezo Gabriadze Directed by Rezo Gabriadze English Subtitles Start time: 20:00 Ticket price: 10, 15, 20 Lari GRIBOEDOV THEATRE
Address: 2 Rustaveli Ave. Telephone: 2 93 11 06 www.griboedovtheatre.ge November 7 THE GOVERNMENT INSPECTOR * Premiere Nikolay Gogol Directed by Avtandil Varsimashvili Language: Russian Start time: 18:00 Ticket price: 5 Lari November 8 MOWGLI Rudyard Kipling Directed by Vakhtang Nikolava Language: Russian Start time: 18:00 Ticket price: 5 Lari
November 8 ELDER SON Aleksandre Vampilov Directed by Gogi Margvelashvili Language: Russian Start time: 18:00 Ticket price: 5 Lari TBILISI VASO ABASHIDZE MUSIC AND DRAMA STATE THEATRE
Address:182 D.Agmashenebeli Ave. Telephone: 2 34 80 90 www.musictheatre.ge November 7, 8, 9, 10 Introspection – Story About Us Directed by Davit Doiashvili Musical English Subtitles Start time: 19:00 Ticket price: From 20 Lari CIRCUS
Address: 1 The Heroes Sq. Telephone: 2 98 58 61 www.krakatuk.eu November 7, 8 CLOWN ASSEMBLY Start time: November 7 – 17:00, November 8 – 13:00, 17:00 Ticket price: From 10 Lari
THE LAST WITCH HUNTER Directed by Breck Eisner Cast: Vin Diesel, Rose Leslie, Elijah Wood Genre: Action, Adventure, Fantasy Language: Russian Start time: 22:20 Ticket price: 11.50 – 12.50 Lari SPECTRE Directed by Sam Mendes Cast: Daniel Craig, Christoph Waltz, Léa Seydoux Genre: Action, Adventure, Thriller Language: Russian Start time: 12:15, 16:00, 19:15, 22:30 Ticket price: 7.50 – 12.50 Lari RUSTAVELI CINEMA
Address: 5 Rustaveli Ave. Telephone: 255 50 00 www.kinoafisha.ge November 6-10 SPECTRE (Info Above) Start time: 12:00, 14:30, 16:15, 19:30, 22:45 Ticket price: 9.50 – 12.50 Lari BLACK MASS (Info Above) Start time: 18:05, 19:40, 22:45 Ticket price: 9.50 – 12.50 Lari
CINEMA AMIRANI CINEMA
Address: 36 Kostava St. Telephone: 299 99 55 www.kinoafisha.ge November 6-10 BLACK MASS Directed by Scott Cooper Cast: Johnny Depp, Benedict Cumberbatch, Dakota Johnson Genre: Biography, Crime, Drama Language: English Start time: 19:30 Language: Russian Start time: 22:15 Ticket price: 11.50 – 12.50 Lari
THE LAST WITCH HUNTER (Info Above) Start time: 17:15, 20:15, 22:45 Ticket price: 9.50 – 12.50 Lari MUSEUM SHALVA AMIRANASHVILI MUSEUM OF ART
Address: 1 Lado Gudiashvili St. Telephone: 2 99 99 09 www.museum.ge November 4-11 THE JAPANESE CONTEMPORARY ARTIST SHU KUBO’S EXHIBITION
November 5-23 MALKHAZ KUKHASHVILI’S PERSONAL EXHIBITION GALLERY TUMANISHVILI THEATRE
Address: 164 D. Agmashenebeli Ave. Telephone: 2 34 28 99; 2 35 70 13 www.tumanishvilitheatre.ge November 10-17 SIMON MACHABELI’S EXHIBITION THE NATIONAL GALLERY
Address: 11 Rustaveli Ave. www.museum.ge November 7 – December 6 THE EXHIBITION OF SCENOGRAPHY by three Georgian artists – Oleg Kochakidze, Alexander Slovinsky, Yuri Chikvaidze. ARTISTERIUM 2015
November 6 18:00 – GEORGIAN BEAUTIES, Alexander Florensky, Russia. Baia Gallery, 10 Shardeni Str. 19:00 – WHAT’S ON YOUR MIND? Official opening of the Artisterium 8 / 2015. Tbilisi History Museum “Karvasla” 8 Sioni Str. November 7 1:30 – Presentation, Vandana Jain and Mike Estabrook, Brooklyn, NY Artists discuss their art practice. Tbilisi History Museum Karvasla, 8 Sioni Str. 17:00 - HOMAGE TO AUGUST SANDER, Goethe Institute and Gallery Container, joint project within the European Week Goethe Institute, 16 Zandukeli Str. 19:00 – MYTH, international
exhibition project from UK. Europe House, 1 Freedom Sq. November 8 17:00 – A HISTORY OF THE RECEDING HORIZON, Kathleen Herbert, UK. State Museum of Georgian Literature, 8 G. Chanturia Str. 19:00 – CATALOGUES, Aron Rossman-Kiss, Switzerland. Tapestry Museum, 19 Shardeni Str. November 9 19:00 – ON POINT, Lia Bagrationi, Georgia. Artarea Gallery, 10 D.Abashidze Str. November 10 18:00 – I REMEMBER, group exhibition project, Georgia. Container Gallery, 10 Radiani Str. MUSIC TBILISI CONCERT HALL
Address: 1 Melikishvili St. Telephone: 2 99 00 99 November 10 GIYA KANCHELI 80 Conductor: Nikoloz Rachveli Start time: 20:00 Ticket price: From 15 Lari MOVEMENT THEATRE
Address: 182, Aghmashenebeli Ave., Mushthaid park Telephone: 599 555 260 November 7 TETE NOISE (Album Preview & Live Set) ZEBRA BLOSSOM A limited number of handmade CDs will be sold at the venue. The Event will be hosted by Badagoni wine Free entrance Start time: 22:00
GEORGIA TODAY NOVEMBER 6 - 9, 2015
Get Your Boots On: The Spectacular Transcaucasian Trail is Open! The trail will help build connections between communities, ecosystems, and people in a region where there is too much focus on the things that divide
BY KATIE RUTH DAVIES
he incomparable Transcaucasian Trail, a hiking route across the Caucasus Mountains from the Black Sea to the Caspian, was launched on Responsible Travel Day of the World Travel Market. “To date, we have had initial meetings with partners in Armenia and Georgia inviting stakeholders to be involved in contributing towards and defining the project’s development, including NGOs, government institutions, universities, tourism companies, plus community and hiking groups,” James Scipioni, travel entrepreneur, environmentalist and founding visionary of the trail initiative, told Georgia Today. “We started some initial mapping and exploratory activities in the regions of Racha and Svaneti earlier this summer and we are currently in the process of outreaching for further funding and delivery partners and engaging with local community groups.” The ambitious trail will connect national parks and culturally significant sites of Georgia, Armenia and Azerbaijan, where over a dozen different languages are spoken and located in one of the most biologically diverse regions of the world. Many sections of the trail have been used for centuries by shepherds and explorers travelling from village to village across the great valleys and passes of the Greater and Lower Caucasus Mountains. The Transcaucasian Trail aims to restore, maintain and connect the deteriorated historic routes to allow hikers to journey
safely along one uninterrupted path. The trail is being developed by a growing community of outdoor enthusiasts, mappers and conservationists, including James Scipioni, who want to improve hiking opportunities in the Caucasus for both locals and international tourists. The trail will support sustainable tourism and rural development whilst preserving the rich cultural heritage of the Caucasus. “The trail will help build connections between communities, ecosystems, and people in a region where there is too much focus on the things that divide”, says Jeff Haack, another visionary of the Transcaucasian Trail. “The Transcaucasian Trail will not only raise the profile of the region and some of the world’s most spectacular landscapes but will undoubtedly become as iconic as the Great Himalayan, Appalachian or Inca Trails and a must-do for any hiking and nature lover!” Paul Stephens, a project leader, said. “We have had a hugely positive response from the travelling community, hiking enthusiasts, and local communities along the proposed trail, as well as project partners,” said Scipioni. Guided hiking experiences across several sections of the Transcaucasian Trail can be arranged with Scipioni’s Go Barefoot Travel www.gobarefoot.travel For additional background and maps: www.transcaucasiantrail.org (new site launched 2 November) Video: https://vimeo.com/143487400 Photos:https://www.dropbox.com/sh/ j9736owp6y251n4/AAAmEm2eDAdSlOyhK2yObFCa?dl=0
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A section of the Transcaucasian Trail that will connect national parks and culturally significant sites of Georgia, Armenia and Azerbaijan.
Editor-In-Chief: Katie Ruth Davies
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Nov. 06 - 09, 2015