Issue no: 935
• APRIL 7 - 10, 2017
• PUBLISHED TWICE WEEKLY
PRICE: GEL 2.50
In this week’s issue... Street Vendors Offered Spaces at Tbilisi Markets NEWS PAGE 2
Gazprom to Buy Uzbek Gas so It Doesn’t Get Sent to China?
POLITICS PAGE 4
Russian Opposition Leader Criticizes Kremlin’s Policy of Territorial Expansion
FOCUS ON MOUNTAIN TOURISM Boasting 6.3 million tourists last year, Georgia reaches for the stars by hosting the Mountain Tourism Development Conference PAGE
POLITICS PAGE 5
SES Celebrates 5th Spring in Georgia
Photo by: Tony Hanmer
IRI Polls Show Georgians See Political & Economic Threats in Russia
Georgian Doctors Only Need a Keyboard for Certification Exam SOCIETY PAGE 10
Creative Rainbow, Conveyed in Music
BY THEA MORRISON
he International Republican Institute (IRI) has published the results of its survey, which show respondents' distrust of Russian motives as well as a desire to maintain relations. 73 percent of respondents view Russia as a political threat, and 57 percent see it as an economic threat. A vast majority (76 percent) view the current state of Georgia’s relationship with Russia as “bad,” yet a combined 82 percent “fully support” (53 percent) or “somewhat support” (29 percent) continued dialogue—a figure consistent with previous IRI polls. Moreover, 60 percent of respondents believe that Russian aggression towards Georgia still continues. 23 percent said the Russian aggression was over, though it might resume again. 10 percent said the aggression was over, and it was not expected to resume. To the question ‘How safe they felt in Georgia due to the Georgian-Russian relationship,” 47 percent of respondents said they felt more protected than unprotected. 11 percent said they were protected, 28 percent said they were more unprotected than protected, while 9 percent said they were unprotected. Continued on page 2
BUSINESS PAGE 7
CULTURE PAGE 12
Georgian Railway & Locomotive Rugby Club Sign Agreement SPORTS PAGE 16
Photo source: blog.radissonblu.com
APRIL 7 - 10, 2017
10 Multi-Story Parking Street Vendors Offered Lots to Be Built in Tbilisi Spaces at Tbilisi Markets BY THEA MORRISON
fter banning street trading, the Mayor’s office of Tbilisi offered new areas to street vendors in which they can work for free for the next six months. The Association of Markets says they are able to allocate trading areas for over 3,000 vendors in the following markets: Railway Station, Dinamo Arena, Didube Metro Station New Market Territory, Isani and Samgori markets. All interested vendors can apply to the administration of the said markets for registration. The traders have said they refuse to move to the new markets, however, claiming they will not be able to pay the market taxes once the 6-month free offer runs out, as their income is too low.
BY THEA MORRISON
bilisi Mayor’s office reports that 10 locations have been chosen in the capital city in which multi-story parking lots will be constructed. Tbilisi Mayor Davit Narmania says City Hall will open a tender inviting all interested private companies to build multi-story parking lots with the aim of mitigating Tbilisi’s traffic jams. “We will sign contracts with those companies that offer the best conditions. We hope that the parking
Tbilisi Mayor’s Office prohibited street trading last month and began removing illegal stalls from the streets. City Hall says that street trading in the busiest and most crowded places of the city prevents movement on the sidewalks, creates sanitation problems, and disturbs the local population and tourists with noise. “All illegal activities will be addressed with the proper measures. Tbilisi City Hall will do its best to prevent street trading and speculation about the issue will not hinder this process,” Deputy Mayor, Irakli Lekvinadze stated last week. Today, the Mayor’s office released a statement claiming that while removing the illegal stands they found spoiled and expired food which the street vendors were trying to sell. “Meat, cheese and eggs were being kept without any sanitary norms,” the statement of the City Hall reads.
lots will be built within a year,” the Mayor said. The locations for the parking lots were selected by the PWC Company. It was reported that 9 lots are to be constructed underground. New parking lots will be built at the following locations: near the central railway station, near Philarmonia (Tbilisi Concert Hall), on Marjanishvili Avenue, Pushkin Square, Dinamo Arena, near Isani metro station, near the Mayor’s Office, near Gulua Square, at Varketili metro station and near the Gegeshidze Garden. The Mayor’s Office says that PWC Company chose such locations for construction where recreation and green spaces would not be affected.
IRI Polls Show Georgians See Political & Economic Threats in Russia Continued from page 1
The research showed that 64 percent of the interviewed fully supports the European Union (EU) membership, while 26 percent partly supports the country’s pro-western course. As for Georgia's accession to NATO, 56 percent fully supports it, 26 percent partly supports, and 7 percent strongly opposes Georgia’s joining the alliance. Moreover, 26 percent of respondents said they would vote for the ruling Georgian Dream (GD) if local elections were held next Sunday. 12 percent of those interviewed said they would vote for the opposition United National Movement (UNM) followed by the Movement for Liberty - European Georgia - with 7 percent. 50 percent did not name any party. As for the ratings of political leaders, the list is led by the President of Georgia, Giorgi Margvelashvili with 67 percent of votes, followed by the Health
Minister Davit Sergeenko – 65 percent, Prime Minister Giorgi Kvirikashvili is at third place with 55 percent, followed by the European Georgia leader Davit Bakradze – 50 percent. 92 percent of the respondents support the direct election of the president. Only 5 percent support election of the president by Parliament, while 3 percent did not have an answer to the question. Unemployment was named as the top problem of the country by 47 percent of the interviewed, which is consistent with IRI’s March 2016 poll (45 percent). Unemployment was also named the primary problem facing respondents’ towns or villages (35 percent) and households (42 percent). A combined 70 percent think that the economic situation has “worsened somewhat” (34 percent) or “worsened a lot” (36 percent) in the past two months. In the long term, 69 percent feel that the direction of the economy has “regressed” over the past four years.
Among institutions, the Georgian Church is leading with its activities with 88 percent, followed by the army – 86 percent, media -74 percent, 59 percent - police, 55 percent - Presidential Administration, 52 percent - Ministry of Education, 45 percent - PM's office, 40 percent - Central Election Commission, 39 percent - Public Defender's Office, 39 percent Parliament, 38 percent - Cabinet of Ministers. GD, the majority party in parliament, does not trust the IRI study and says the elections will show the real picture. “We should not rely on the polls,” GD member Gia Volsky stated. The opposition UNM trusts the polls, however, and say the rating of the GD has fallen and that UNM is the leading opposition force. “Unfulfilled promises and the feeling of instability have led to the fall of the ruling party’s rating,” UNM member Nugzar Tsiklauri said.
Movement for Freedom – European Georgia also believes the results of the IRI research should be trusted. “The polls reflect the reality in the country. It is obvious that the country is in deep crises, caused by the 5 year governance of GD,” Levan Tarkhnishvili, member of European Georgia said. The survey was conducted by Baltic Surveys/The Gallup Organization on behalf of IRI’s Center for Insights in Survey Research. The fieldwork was carried out by the Institute of Polling & Marketing. Data was collected throughout Georgia (excluding the occupied territories of Abkhazia and South Ossetia) between February 22 and March 8, 2017, through face-to-face interviews in respondents’ homes. The sample consisted of 1,501 permanent residents of Georgia, 18 years and older and eligible to vote, and is nationally-representative.
GEORGIA TODAY APRIL 7 - 10, 2017
Georgia Hosts Third Euro-Asian Mountain Resorts Conference BY MAKA LOMADZE & TEA MARIAMIDZE
n April 4-7, the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), the Government of Georgia and the Georgian Mountain Resorts Development Company organized the 3rd Euro-Asian Mountain Resorts Conference, in Tbilisi, Georgia. Under the title “Innovative Strategies for Sustainable Mountain Tourism Development,” international experts discussed current and future challenges, illustrated success stories and created once again a platform for exchange of innovative initiatives. Pursuant to the previous two editions of the Euro - Asian Mountain Resorts Conference held in Almaty (Kazakhstan) in 2013 and Ulsan (Republic of Korea) in 2015 respectively, and taking into consideration the context of the International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development, the 3rd Conference aimed at: • Identifying once again the current environmental, structural and market oriented challenges in mountain destinations and exploring opportunities to maximize the economic potential and social change for the local communities through sustainable mountain tourism development and management; • Understanding the need to develop a “mountain tourism culture” for stimulating activities in these areas as well as encouraging entrepreneurs to invest in mountain tourism; • Creating a platform among all the relevant partners for dialogue and to exchange
experience and expertise as regards the mature mountain destinations of Western Europe and the new developments in East Europe and Asia; • Exploring the current and future trends regarding the behavior patterns of mountain visitors and the possibilities for attracting the niche markets through innovative products and experiences. The conference was opened by the Prime Minister of Georgia, Giorgi Kvirikashvili on April 5, who emphasized the honor Georgia feels to be able to host such an important event. “In 2016, Georgia observed a record number of tourists at 6.3 million, while income from tourism exceeded $2 billion. The newly-established visa-free travel represents the most important achievement for Georgian citizens and will further deepen and encourage contacts, business relations and tourism,” Kvirikashvili said. He also underlined that the government has started to design the general devel-
opment plan for different resorts in Georgia in order to turn them into four-season destinations. “The four-season mountain resort concept will offer tourists different attractions at all times of the year,” said Kvirikashvili. “65 percent of our territory is occupied by mountains. Our government will do its best to create many more opportunities on such territories”. The conference participants were made up of National Tourism administrations/ organizations; UNWTO Affiliate Members; local authorities, municipalities and regional administrations in mountain areas; international and/ or regional associations/networks/NGOs with a focus on mountain development; cable car companies, ski resort developers and infrastructure providers; the hospitality industry; and others. “Georgia is not very well-known in the world for its mountain resorts,” said Taleb Rifai, Secretary General of the UNWTO. “And it deals with very serious issues of seasonality. Snow and Mountain tourism
is something that we have been focusing on for a long time as it is an important niche on the tourism market. At this conference, the international participants have witnessed two important things: one is the phenomenal growth in the number of tourists visiting Georgia within the past two years. The second important occasion is that the UN General Assembly has declared this year as the International Year of the Sustainable Development of Tourism. So, to have this event in Georgia, connected with sustainable development, protection of society as well as the environment, is very important. For these reasons, I’m delighted to be here in Georgia to show the whole world what we can offer”. “At the beginning of 2015, during our visit to the UNTWO, Georgia acquired the right to hold two important conferences,” said Giorgi Chogovadze, Head of the Georgian National Tourism Administration. “In 2016, we hosted the International Conference of Wine Tourism. Both occasions boost the popularization of Georgia and its position on the world map as the cradle of wine on the one hand, and as a state where tourism is flourishing, including mountain resorts, on the other”. “The conference discussed those problems and challenges in the field of mountain resorts that the modern world faces today. We are very happy that we are one of the most important figures in this large family,” said Alexander Onoprishvili, Head of the Mountain Resorts Development Agency. Around 250 people participated in the conference among them 35 delegates from different countries.
Georgian Ambassador to the US Meets Trump
BY THEA MORRISON
he Georgian Ambassador to the United States (US), Davit Bakradze, was hosted in the White House by the President of the US, Donald Trump, on April 6. President Trump congratulated the ambassador on starting his mission. During the meeting, Bakradze highlighted Georgia's NATO security contributions and the democratic development of the country. President Trump wished Bakradze success in his future activities. Bakradze was officially appointed as the Georgian Ambassador to the US in October 2016, replacing his predecessor, Archil Gegeshidze. Bakradze is a former State Minister for European and Euro-Atlantic Integration.
APRIL 7 - 10, 2017
Gazprom to Buy Uzbek Gas so It Doesn’t Get Sent to China? BY DIMITRI DOLABERIDZE
azprom has signed a contract to purchase Uzbek gas. The document provides for the acquisition of 4 billion cubic meters of gas per year for up to five years, starting in 2018, according to the press release of Gazprom. In 2016, the volume of purchase of natural gas by Gazprom in Uzbekistan amounted to about 6.2 billion cubic meters. According to Aleksey Grivach, Deputy Director of the National Energy Security Fund (NESF), one of the key reasons for the gas purchase from Uzbekistan is the need for gas supply to Kyrgyzstan, where Gazprom is the owner of the gas sector and the guarantor of supply stability. "Bishkek itself is Moscow's strategic partner and a member of the the Eurasian Economic Union (EEU)," said Grivach. “In addition, in Uzbekistan, Gazprom has a number of projects in extraction, that is, a deeper level of cooperation than with Turkmenistan, where purchase and sale relations were simple. And with the growth of gas production from Russian companies, these purchases proved to be both non-competitive and
strategically unsuccessful. " According to Igor Yushkov, the leading analyst of the NESF, Gazprom considers relations with Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan another important goal: "To contract their gas to the maximum so that they do not have the opportunity to supply their gas to China”. Gazprom needs no competitors in Russian-Chinese gas relations, explained the expert, and he says the company "is going to spend money and buy Kazakh and Uzbek gas in order to strengthen its position in the negotiations with China." As reported by Gazprom, the head of the company Alexey Miller and the chairman of the management of NHC Uzbekneftegaz, Alisher Sultanov signed an agreement on joint exploration and organization of engineering and innovation works. In accordance with the document, the parties will study new promising fields on the territory of Uzbekistan, as well as conduct an analysis of the possibilities for organizing cooperation in the field of engineering. The main partner of Gazprom in Uzbekistan is the National Holding Corporation (NHC) Uzbekneftegaz, which is engaged in the exploration, production, processing, transportation, storage and sale of oil and gas. In 2002, Gazprom and NHC Uzbekneft-
Georgia Becomes Partner of Europol
egaz signed an agreement on strategic cooperation, according to which Gazprom is expected to participate in natural gas production projects in Uzbekistan on Production Sharing Agreement (PSA) terms. Since 2004, Gazprom has been par-
eorgia’s Interior Minister Giorgi Mghebrishvili and Europol's Director Rob Wainwright signed an Agreement on Operational and Strategic Cooperation this week, meaning that Georgia has become an operative partner of Europol. Europol is the EU’s law enforcement agency, tasked with assisting the 28 EU Member States and EU partner nations in their fight against serious international crime and terrorism. “Georgia will cooperate with Europol to its full extent and also strengthen the already-existing effective law enforcement cooperation with EU Member States in tackling transnational crime,” Georgia’s Interior Minister stated, while Wainwright noted that “Europol is committed to strengthening cooperation with Georgia and recognizes that effective law enforcement cooperation is an important element of Georgia’s deepening relationship with the EU". Georgia’s Prime Minister, Giorgi Kvirikashvili, also attended the signing ceremony at which he said Georgia is gradually becoming an integral part of the European order. "We are very proud that we have very good dynamics and move forward in terms of integration with the European Union. This agreement is very important proof of this
direction,” the PM said. Under the agreement, Georgia will begin to exchange operative information and personal data with the European Police Service through secure channels and to receive analysis–based police information from Europol. Georgia will also be sending liaison officers to the Europol Headquarters to ensure closer and more effective communication. The official website of Europol says that the cooperation agreement between Georgia and Europol was approved by the Council of the European Union, backed by European Parliament and was signed on April 4 in Tbilisi. The agreement relates to all areas of crime within Europol’s mandate. Georgia will designate a national contact point to act as the central point of contact between Europol and the corresponding authorities in Georgia. The agreement will officially begin after ratification by Georgia. “The signing of the Agreement on Operational and Strategic Cooperation concludes the successful negotiations between Georgia and Europol on how to effectively join forces to fight serious and organized crime, and terrorism. After entry into force of the agreement, this new level of cooperation will be important for tackling priority crime areas affecting both the European Union and Georgia, such as drug trafficking, organized property crime, cybercrime and migrant smuggling,” the statement of Europol reads.
the subsoil of investment blocks in the Ustyurt region of the republic. The operator of the project is Gazprom International. In 2009, the Jahl gas condensate field was discovered at the Shakhpakhtinsky field.
The Not-So Plasticine President OP-ED BY ZAZA JGARKAVA
BY THEA MORRISON
ticipating in the restoration of gas production at the Shakhpakhty field on the terms of the PSA. In 2006, Gazprom and NHC Uzbekneftegaz signed an agreement on the main principles of geological exploration of
n April 7, President Giorgi Margvelashvili will give his annual speech in the Parliament of Georgia, a speech postponed from February 7. Whether the governmental officials will attend and listen to the President in Kutaisi is still unclear, but it seems that the exPrime Minister's tradition of ignoring the President is still relevant and Kvirikashvili's government is loath to neglect it. The only thing agreed so far and that won’t change is the format - the President will be invited to debate by the ruling party. Margvelashvili will be travelling to Kutaisi with even more restricted rights, but with higher ratings. The latest IRI study suggests the President’s current trust coefficient is only behind that of the Patriarch of all Georgia and, at 67%, is higher than any other politician in the country, including the Prime Minister and the Head of Parliament. Concerning his rights, some two weeks ago, Parliament voted for a legislation which deprives the President from the right to present the Supreme Court judges, and as of now this honorable mission will be taken over by the Supreme Council of Justice. Even before that, the President was stripped of the right to sign important international documents. Apparently, the ruling party believes that President Margvelashvili’s
authority should be limited to laying wreaths on graves and visiting various monuments. Therefore, it is not surprising that the government has no desire to listen to him. Last year, PM Kvirikashvili did attend the President’s annual speech in Parliament, though his arrival in Kutaisi was more an obligation than appreciation for the President’s institution. Further, his example did not drive other members of the cabinet to do likewise, which made Kvirikashvili’s fervor look even more pathetic. Now the situation has changed to such an extent, and the confrontation between President and the Georgian Dream is so intense, that it is quite unlikely that Mr. Kvirikashvili will be bold enough to repeat last year’s move. The Premier has his own problems and, as the rumors claim, his own days and those of his government are numbered. The formerly praised Giorgi Margvelashvili, who was described as “a very good President” by billionaire Bidzina Ivanishvili, unexpectedly became a persona non grata for his own team shortly after taking on the President’s post. This became apparent especially after Ivanishvili publicly stated that Mr. Margvelashvili had radically changed, and was showing certain stubbornness. This also shattered the myth about the President’s ‘plasticity.’ Before coming to the government, Mr. Margvelashvili compared his character to plasticine, illustrating that he was not as stubborn and unapproachable as Mikheil Saakashvili. As time passed
after his decision to move to the Presidential Palace in Avlabari, we witnessed Margvelashvili’s rigidness, and the fact that he was a man of principle came into question. Where before becoming the President he was completely against moving into the residence, and even talked about giving up the building to students, reality developed otherwise. Almost everyone is confident that the main candidate for the future presidential elections will be Margvelashvili again and that he is far from thinking about retirement. Political experts suggest he has a bouquet of facts that support him in this endeavor, starting from his age and education, and ending with political experience and insight. The oppositional parties are confident that Georgian Dream will turn April 7 into Judgment Day for the President, trying to hit him a deadly blow prior to the most crucial upcoming political events. In political circles, they say it is precisely President Margvelashvili around whom the third political power will gather and fight for the elections in autumn. The man once praised as ‘a very good President’ by Georgian Dream may now be found among those from the ex-UNM and ex-Republicans, and this could be a way for Mr. Margvelashvili to get revenge on his former team members and prove that he is anything but made of ‘plasticine.’
GEORGIA TODAY APRIL 7 - 10, 2017
Russian Opposition Leader Criticizes Kremlin’s Policy of Territorial Expansion INTERVIEW BY VAZHA TAVBERIDZE
oughly three weeks ago, the Russian opposition leader, Aleksey Navalny, released an investigative video into Prime Minister Medvedev’s alleged vast fortunes that the latter has allegedly amassed through (surprise!) corruption: palaces, yachts, vineyards, you name it. The eye-watering riches of Russia’s second most powerful man (officially, at least) irked the nation that has been struggling under massive economic recession and the burden of economic sanctions imposed by the West for three years and counting. “Don’t call him Dimon” has been watched more than 17 million times on Youtube, and after the Kremlin showed no signs of breaking silence over the matter anytime soon, thousands of protesters took to the streets. “Dimon must answer” was the main motto of nationwide protests that culminated in a record-breaking number of arrests never before seen in Putin’s leadership. Navalny himself was promptly dished out a 15 day sentence – a somewhat mild reaction by the Kremlin given the magnitude of the protests. What will be his and his supporters’ next step to make PM Medvedev answer? What can be achieved for the pro-Western, Anti-Putin Russian opposition? This was what Panorama Talk Show and GEORGIA TODAY discussed with Vladimir Milov, Russian opposition politician and the founder of the pro-
western “Democratic Choice” party. He kicked off by stating that the figure of Medvedev might just be a symbol that the media wrapped their spin around, stressing instead that there was an unprecedented scale of general discontent in Russia, with people growing increasingly restless with a regime which “cuts people out of the country’s wealth”. “This negativity has been brewing for some time now,” Milov told us. “Of course, people have been mentioning Medvedev a lot, but the main problem isn’t what he did. The main problem is absolutely no reaction from Russian authorities. They tried to ignore it, and this didn’t sit well with people. It’s a huge exposure of corruption at the very head of the government – and all we get is silence. This very silence, entwined with ignorance and unwillingness to stand accountable, is what drove people from their homes to the streets, rather than the figure of Medvedev himself, or any other official in the Kremlin”. Any other official is a rather broad term - with Medvedev just a figurehead, what about his patron, the all-powerful, larger than life Tsar of all Russia? Surely Putin would be next in line if Medvedev ever
We have enough land as it is
had to answer to the nation? (Assuming, of course, that it won’t be Putin judging him). Mr. Milov dully confirmed our assumptions: “Of course. Most of this is targeted at Putin and the reality he has brought about. Every child in Russia know who’s in charge of this corrupt system – that it stands on one man’s shoulders. And that man is Putin. So, absolutely, he’s next in line.” Navalny will have to go head to head with Putin in the upcoming presidential campaign, in what promises to be troublesome, if interesting, times for Russia. However, with all the struggle for power in our big, angry neighbor, one question looms large for Georgians – Even if the protesters achieve the presently highly
unlikely victory, if, say, Navalny becomes president, or, Milov himself does, what will Russia do with Abkhazia and South Ossetia? Will the new, democratic Russian government take recognition of their independence back? Pro-Westerness seems to have really “defiled” our respondent’s mind, as he doesn’t hesitate to give back a reply that would shock most of Russia’s political elite. Namely, he says he never recognized Abkhazia and South Ossetia as anything but Georgian territories and called for the leaders of the breakaway regions to sit together with the Georgian government to discuss plans of reintegration. But prominent as he might be, Milov is not yet Navalny. And it seems he has
no desire to be. So, is Milov’s take on the subject shared by the leader of Russia’s opposition? “You’ll have to ask him that specifically,” Milov says. But the dominant thinking among the Russian opposition is that we have enough legitimate land as it is- we are the biggest country in the world, after all! So, we’ve got to turn our attention inside and fix our own problems at home. “Territorial expansion, and this is essentially what happened with Abkhazia and South Ossetia, is the wrong policy, we’re completely against it and I’m pretty sure that Aleksey Navalny somehow shares this view as well,” he concluded, leaving us somewhat puzzled and at the same time, hopeful.
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APRIL 7 - 10, 2017
Swiss Ambassador Unites Georgian-Swiss Parliamentary Friendship Group & Businessmen BY KATIE RUTH DAVIES
n April 4, the Swiss Ambassador to Georgia, H.E. Lukas Beglinger, hosted the renewed GeorgianSwiss Parliamentary Friendship Group, representatives of the Swiss-Georgian Business Association, businessmen and media representatives, at his Tbilisi residence in order to further cement relations between the two sides, and to celebrate 25 years of diplomatic relations between the two countries. “This is the first such reception for the Georgian-Swiss Parliamentary Friendship Group, and its 36 parliamentarians show well how important relations are between our countries,” the Ambassador said. “It is also an occasion to reflect upon those 25 years of diplomatic relations, though, of course, those relations go beyond diplomatic contacts and also involve economic relations, something which we hope to enhance. We see a positive trend already in the inauguration this week of more train wagons from Switzerland brought to Georgia”. Since the signing of the free trade agreement with the EFTA in June 2016, hopes
regime offers a great opportunity for our citizens to expand on this”. “We also greatly value the Swiss peace mission mandate,” Beselia added, pointing to the fact that, since 2009, Switzerland has been working as a mediator between Georgia and Russia. The Friendship Group was established in 2013 with co-chairs from the Swiss side. “With already nine agreements between Georgia and Switzerland, close relations between our two parliaments are one of the most important features on our agenda. We want to share experiences. In 2016, Georgia welcomed 4,700 Swiss tourists, up 7% from the previous year,” Beselia told us. Tourism is another top priority for the government and bilateral cooperation with Switzerland is considered particularly important in particular for the future development of mountain tourism, involving Swiss professionals, especially in the regions. The first step in this direction was the meeting between the Georgian PM and the Swiss President at the 2016 Davos Economic Forum, and was continued last week with the Mountain Tourism Conference (see page 3). The reception was concluded by giving time for guests to meet over a delicious buffet of European and Asian food.
for increased trade between Georgia and Switzerland are high. Switzerland is one of the four EFTA member countries and now offers visa-free opportunities for businessmen hoping to take advantage of what the country has to teach them. “The EFTA agreement opens a lot of opportunities, especially in the field of agribusiness,” said Mikheil Mikeladze, President of the Georgian-Swiss Business Association, an organization which aims to promote economic relations between the two countries. “There’s a lot to do and Switzerland has a lot to offer,” the Ambassador extolled. “Vocational education is also a big issue in Georgia- and Switzerland has one of the best systems in the world, one which many countries, even strong industrialized countries, look to. We want to share this experience. You need a strong education system in order to develop successfully”. The Ambassador then thanked those, such as Mikeladze, who have contributed to developing Swiss-Georgian trade and economic agreements. “This reception provides a very interesting format for us to meet and discuss our partnership possibilities,” said Eka Beselia, MP and Chief of the Friendship Group. “Georgia and Switzerland have a successful 25 years of diplomatic relations to celebrate and the new visa-free
New Strategy for Jihadist War Game or New Terrorism in Eurasia? BY DR. VAKHTANG MAISAIA, FROM VARNA, EXCLUSIVELY FOR GEORGIA TODAY
errible terrorist acts in Russia, in Saint-Petersburg, in Astrakhan and in Rostov-na Donu, have reminded us of “Global Terrorism,” a menace close to our borders and for the entire geopolitical space that is Eurasia. Certainly the manner and type of brutal acts committed in the above-mentioned cities clearly underscored the “signature” of the aggressive non-state actor – ISIS involvement in these cases, and indicates how real the danger is in the near future, including in Georgia (on April 5 there was a false-alarm on an act of sabotage in Tbilisi that demonstrated a serious attempt of some underground cell representatives to possibly probe the reaction of the national law-enforcement agencies). Before the matter is cleared, it is more diligent of us to remain wary and once again go through what our region seems to be facing. Eurasia, or rather the Post-Soviet space, has long provided transit routes for foreign fighters and drugs destined for the Islamic Caliphate and its various proxies and interests. Now a new dimension to these operations has emerged – arms smuggling from the Post-Soviet space to the Middle East. Illegal Trade of Arms Smuggling is defined as: “sales, shipment and delivery of arms and weapons, conventional or even mass destructive, by parties beyond recognized international
law regulations and frames that contradicts to interests of international cooperation and undermines global stability”. This definition clearly covers any arms sales or deliveries to ISIS. There is high demand for Soviet/Russian weaponry systems, and the Islamic Caliphate (IC) combat units very often use these types of armaments. Therefore, it is not surprising that arms smuggling to the IC has steadily increased over the past few months, and that these arms are coming from the Post-Soviet space where these weapons are freely available, and even stockpiled in some places. There are many routes from which the smuggled arms reach the final destination, including the South Caucasus region and Georgia in particular. There are three main transit routes: the “Northern” route, “Northern-East” route and “Western” route. However, many others are also used, including some which pass through Central Asia and the North Caucasus. These routes will continue to supply the IC as long as Russian/Soviet weapons remain popular with its fighters. They are popular not just because they can be readily obtained but because they have distinct merits. These include: the fact that they are easy to use and perform combat operations very efficiently; they are appropriate for the location in which they are used; they can be obtained in large numbers due to a stream of highvolume weapons deliveries to Syria and Iraq since the Cold War period; and they are familiar to many IC combatants, since around 40% of IC fighters are citizens of Post-Soviet countries and have served in their armies.
The financial and economic resources of the Caucasus Emirate, Islamic Caliphate and other ISIS networks are obtained in some very interesting ways. They include: • ransom; • racketeering – the most common method used by Dagestan supporters of the CE (as stated in this Russian-language documentary movie – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f1f6E5L-5vQ); • Zakat – one of the obligations placed on Muslims is the giving of charity as alms from the surplus of their wealth at the rate of about two-and-a-half percent. The proceeds of these Zakat donations are to be used only for the welfare of the needy in an Islamic state. Under the cover of supporting the needy in ISIScontrolled territory, substantial financial inflows are being acquired from Muslim communities around the world, and will continue to be, as the donations are in accordance with classical faith principles; • purposeful donation - money freely donated to ISIS by Muslims abroad, mainly Chechen refugees and adopted citizens of Western European states; • smuggling of drugs and arms illegal trade – drugs are being smuggled from Afghanistan by the “Taliban” on the basis of a mutual support agreement between CE and Taliban leadership negotiated between 2008 and 2010. They are transited through Georgia, the three tones of liquid heroine seized by the Georgian MIA in July 2014 being one such consignment. The same transit routes for arms smuggling coincide with drug smuggling transit ones in ratio: one-to-
The St. Petersburg terrorist attack. Source: New York Times
one and do not differ from each other; • the “Khavala” system – a special informal agent collecting informal financing from passive supporters, used by all the main international Islamic radical groups, such as Al-Qaida, the “Taliban”, “Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan” and ISIS. The funds are traditionally used to wage jihad at global level. The Khavala system is also popular in Georgia and has been successfully used by the local Jihadist cell, not least in order to finance the socalled “Lapankuri special operation”; • “Caucasian” Cell Donation – these are made by North Caucasian warlords, mainly by Chechen and Dagestan ones who have taken an oath of allegiance to the IS leadership; • Robbery and Criminal Actions – these take place mostly in the North Caucasus republics through sometimes occur in the South Caucasus, driven by radical Islamic ideology; • Recruitment of Islamic Mercenaries – vast sums are being paid to Islamic
fighters by other parties to get involved in the various conflicts in the post-Soviet space; • Hybrid Sabotage Operations – namely this type of operation is considered to be occurring in Saint-Petersburg, in Astrakhan and in Rostov-na Donu, and it means that “semi-sleeping” cells in the North Caucasus are being activated, and even specially trained so-called military sabotage groups have appeared on the scene, probably having passed at least three months of special training on ISIS-controlled territories in Syria and Iraq. Combating terrorism is not easy, as it is a multi-faceted endeavor which is not pursued with weapons but by winning hearts and minds. ISIS is growing with each bomb dropped, and has become a functioning state providing the services any state would provide. The longer it does this, the more this will seem a reasonable state of affairs, and Georgia has a part to play in preventing this outcome.
GEORGIA TODAY APRIL 7 - 10, 2017
SES Celebrates 5th Spring in Georgia BY NINO GUGUNISHVILI
eading Satellite Operator, SES, celebrated its 5th year of successful operations on the Georgian market with a reception held at Hotel Museum in Tbilisi on March 28 with representatives from leading media, communication and business companies, the opening speeches were made by Håkan Sjödin, Vice President of Sales Nordic, Baltic and Eastern Europe at SES, and Nikoloz Davitashvili, Chief Commercial Officer at Magticom. SES is the world-leading satellite operator and the first to deliver a differentiated and scalable GEO-MEO offering worldwide, with more than 50 satellites in Geostationary Earth Orbit (GEO) and 12 in Medium Earth Orbit (MEO). SES focuses on value-added, end-to-end solutions in four key market verticals (Video, Enterprise, Mobility and Government). It provides satellite communications services to broadcasters, content and Internet service providers, mobile and fixed network operators, governments and institutions, and businesses worldwide. SES’s portfolio includes the ASTRA satellite system, which has the largest Directto-Home (DTH) television reach in Europe, and O3b Networks, a global managed data
communications service provider. In his opening speech Sjödin gave an overview of the company’s activities, its achievements and plans for the future. Sjödin noted that SES owns 65 satellites covering 99% of the globe and world population, while serving over 700 telecommunication companies, broadcasters, enterprises, governments and institutions in over 130 countries worldwide, having 7, 317 TV channels, 2,434 from which are HD and 34 are UHD. Accord-
Compared to 2015, when only 18% of the population was aware of UHD, in 2016 already 22% know about it and 15% have one
ing to Sjödin, SES is number 1 DTH platform provider with 156 million TV households reached globally and it continues to move forward the development of HDR (High Dynamic Range), as part of Ultra HD phase 2. The SES company representative then went on to discuss the global trends, noting that the UHD TV market is rapidly changing and according to the forecast, UHD will account for 42% of global TV sales in 2018. In his presentation he also noted that by the year 2025, the total number of UHD Channels carried via satellite will surpass 1,000.
He then pointed to that the global trend of UHD development is also seen in Georgia. “Compared to 2015, when 18% of the population was aware of UHD, but didn’t have a UHD screen, and 8% were both aware and in possession of a UHD screen, 2016 shows growth in both categories of the population, with already 22% aware of the UHD screen and 15% already owning these types of screens,” he said. Magticom’s CCO then congratulated SES on its 5th year of successful operations in Georgia and gave a detailed presentation about the services Magti-
com provides to its clients from internet and mobile to IPTV and Satellite television, the Satellite TV services being provided by SES. Davitashvili noted that through its renewed TV platform and content, together with a new simplified menu, Magticom offers 50 new popular TV channels as well its own branded TV channels to the viewers available through satellite even in remote areas of the country. Davitashvili then spoke about the company’s plans to expand to the main cities with optical-fibrous cables as well as provide customers all available products by satellite.
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APRIL 7 - 10, 2017
The Nart Saga Adapted for Children & Published in Georgian BY NINO GUGUNISHVILI
resentations of the “Nart Saga for Children” in Georgian and Ossetian, and the third edition of the Georgian-Ossetian and Ossetian-Georgian Dictionaries, were held at Tbilisi State University on April 3. Both projects were published by Caucasus Mosaic, a non-governmental organization, with the assistance of the European Union (EU) and the United Nations Development Program (UNDP). The Nart Saga for Children is published for the first time in Georgian, as an adapted version of the ancient Caucasus Epos. The book is illustrated by Georgian and Ossetian artists and will be distributed in schools and libraries throughout Tbilisi and Tskhinvali. The Georgian-Ossetian and OssetianGeorgian dictionaries were first published in 2012 with the help of the EU and UNDP. Following their success, the third amended edition of the dictionaries was published in 2016. The presentation event gathered representatives of civil society, Georgian government, scholars and international organizations. “I want to congratulate our Georgian and Ossetian Research Center at the Tbilisi State University,” said Mikheil Chkhenkeli, Vice Rector of Ivane Javakhishvili Tbilisi State University, going on to thank all those involved in supporting the project. “I also want to emphasize
the importance of the Nart Saga for Children being translated into Georgian and the publication of the dictionaries, and to recognize the enormous efforts made by Dr. Naira Bepieva [Caucasus Mosaic NGO] while preparing them for publication. Events like this, be they academic, research, or cultural, ensure the peaceful environment we are striving for,” he concluded. “As our two languages developed and changed, the need to publish a new Georgian-Ossetian dictionary became obvious,” said Dr. Bepieva. “There never was an Ossetian-Georgian dictionary [until ours]. Together, we, Georgians and Ossetians, accomplished that great mission”. She then talked about the Nart Saga for Children, adapted for younger audiences for the first time. “The Nart Saga Epos is a treasure of the Caucasus; where you can find all the highest ideals and values of humanism, hospitality, love, and friendship; things which should be taught to children from a very early age,” she said. Shombi Sharp, Head of the UNDP in Georgia, spoke about the joint EU - UNDP COBERM initiative that was launched in 2010, aiming to promote peace and confidence between peoples across division lines. He, too, stressed the importance of the publication of the dictionaries and Nart Saga. “I’m very happy that through this project we have been able to do something for children, something very particular,” said Caroline Stampfer, Project Manager at the Delegation of the EU to Georgia. “Books are a vital part of my life and are
also very important in relations with my own children,” she said.
The presentation was rounded up with a performance from popular Georgian
singer Irma Sokhadze and a concert of the folk music band Mtiebi.
Thomas Wier, Assistant Professor of Linguistics at the Free University of Tbilisi, answering a question regarding the difference between Georgian and Ossetian on Quora.com: “Linguistically, Georgian and Ossetian belong to two entirely unrelated language families: Kartvelian and IndoEuropean (on its Iranian branch), respectively. Although the Kartvelian languages have been situated in the Caucasus since time immemorial (at least since the early Bronze Age), the Ossetians arrived there in classical antiquity as an off-shoot of an eastern
subbranch of the Iranian family within Indo-European (IE). Ossetian is specifically most closely related to Yaghnobi, a language spoken in the Pamir Mountains of Tajikistan. They are in fact the last remnants of the ancient Scythian nomads who roamed the western and central steppe more than two thousand years ago. So, despite centuries of geographic proximity, they originally come from totally different parts of Eurasia.
from its IE origins. Unlike most other IE languages but like Georgian, Ossetic has lost all grammatical genders. Ossetic has also entirely lost its original IE case paradigm system, in which suffixes combined number and case in a single affix. Ossetic has instead innovated an almost entirely new system with a discrete number suffix followed by one of nine case suffixes (again, mostly unknown in IE). See his full answer here: https://www. quora.com/How-different-are-the-Ossetianand-Georgian-languages-and-what-are-theirorigins
GRAMMATICAL (IN) CONGRUITIES In many ways, Ossetic has drifted far
We Are How We Drive OP-ED BY NUGZAR B. RUHADZE
fficial statistics have it that around 600 people die every year in Georgia and more than 10,000 are injured as a consequence of road accidents. The way Georgians drive their cars has no connection to our concept of Western civilization. We want to travel to Europe visa free, and blindly believe that we deserve that much freedom of movement, yet most of our drivers are so wild and barbaric that they deserve to drive nothing more than a cart with a pair of yoked bulls; certainly not a modern car. We are like savages at the wheel, with the exclusion of a few scared novices who have just gotten out of one of those outrageous driving schools in town. The entire driving system in Georgia is a typical paradigm of chaos, within which neurotic wheel-holders speed along, blind to the potentially lifethreatening mannerisms of their driving. I can hardly find an epithet that could describe the driving pattern in Georgia, except one: Aggressive! Yes, we are a nation of aggressive drivers, both male and female, who hurry even when they are not late; who are nervous when they have no reason to be; who breach the rules without reason; who overtake when not allowed to; who use the horn unnecessarily; who flash your rear view mirror with high beam
to get you out of the way when there is really nowhere for you to go; who force you into an almost guaranteed accident while there is no exigency to change lane; who simply hate you…just because you are ahead of them on the road. The human irritation and aggression on the streets of Georgia has no limits, and there is no law or regulation which could check the hell. Judging by the traf-
fic picture, this country is a real cuckoo’s nest within which inmates have no recognition of each other as human beings, nor that there are rules that need to be observed. As anywhere else in the world, traffic in Georgia has three main dimensions – driver, car and road – and of those three, drivers are mad, cars are bad and roads need mending. Aggressive driving is a
custom here. Moreover, we are a nation of irrelevantly proud individuals who believe we have to be aggressive, especially when at the wheel, in order to feel ourselves internally content and at one with the world. And the worst part of this is that we have no chance to change because aggressiveness is our second nature. We usually turn a blind eye to this malicious feature of our character and
take it all in our stride, but we must not, because our unbridled aggressiveness and proclivity for undue speed on the road is directly connected with the loss of thousands of human lives – unexpected, unnecessary and unjustified!!! What can be done? It starts in the childhood of those whose character is molded in families and among peers in schools and on the streets, where aggressiveness is a norm, meaning the tendency to drive aggressively seeps into our veins in our very adolescence, if not before. So, nothing will change unless society, all society, changes at the roots and takes on the correct upbringing of future generations based on better values of civilization – both Western and Eastern. It goes without saying that an adult who learns to drive with a-priori accumulated aggressiveness in character will never be able to act as a calm, balanced, tolerant and defensive driver because aggressiveness was instilled in the character of that person over years, something needing more than a night to extract. I have no reason at this moment to squeeze even an iota of optimism out of my speaking apparatus to say that we will improve any time soon. It will perhaps take scores of years to change our modus operandi at the wheel. For the time being, we will have to handle the situation with the most stringent laws and their strictest possible enforcement if we want to save lives for this dwindling nation.
APRIL 7 - 10, 2017
OPEN LETTER: Hear the Voice of the Georgian Disabled BY TEDO IOBIDZE, WITH AN INTRODUCTION BY MLADEN PETROV
t the far end of Ureki there is an old building, conveniently located right on the beach. The building is hardly glamorous, but nevertheless it is of extreme importance: every summer, buses pick up children and teenagers with disabilities from all over Georgia and bring them here, Ureki being their much anticipated vacation spot. It was on this beach that I saw the same scene day after day: a loving tiny grandma pushing her grandson's wheelchair to the water’s edge. It was a gruesome task: the ramp ends halfway across the sand, leaving those wheelchair-bound somewhat stranded and wondering how to make it those few extra meters to the cool, pleasant water. So close and yet so far. My friend Tedo is a bright high school student from Kutaisi. For the two years I've known him, I never heard him complaining, though he is one of those who is wheelchair-bound. A fluent English speaker, he is graduating from Public School #6 in Kutaisi this May. He wants to travel- Iceland was his dream destination when we met, and to be a journalist. I'm sure he will soon achieve both. I wanted him to be able to report on the situation of people with disabilities in Georgia...and so here is his letter. Hello, I’m Tedo Iobidze from Kutaisi. In this short letter, I would like to acquaint you with a few successful projects recently implemented for the disabled through-
out Georgia, as well as to discuss some of the problems young persons with disabilities encounter in their daily lives here. In reality, quite a few encouraging projects have been carried out for the social integration of persons with disabilities over the last decade. Still, unfortunately, we witness numerous undesirable consequences either due to a lack of competence, to negligence, or for other reasons relating to the needs of this segment of the population. For instance, you can see sidewalks with ramps, which, instead of easing independent access, often present additional barriers for the target group. Of course, the provision of facilities for persons with disabilities in public and private spaces is an ongoing process all over the country. And while it is a very positive practice, as I mentioned above, these developments often fail to meet the usual standards, making the good intentions meant by implementing them ineffective. Access to public transport remains a major hurdle for persons with disabilities and, aside from the capital city, Tbilisi, where the introduction of adapted transportation means is a recent undertaking, the same prospect remains an anticipated luxury, beyond the horizon for the other towns and cities of Georgia. In my opinion, the development of Para Sports in Georgia could have a profound effect on the social integration of persons with disabilities, potentially doubling their willingness to accept challenges independently and achieve success. Impressive examples in this field have been provided by sportspersons Irma
Khetsuriani and Zviad Gogochuri. Important projects are being implemented in the direction of inclusive education, which should also to be assessed as an unquestioningly vital link for social integration of those with disabilities.
Above all, we have to change public opinion with regard to the exaggerated attentions and inaccurate terms currently employed by Georgian society when dealing with persons with disabilities. The problems that persons with disabilities have and wrestle with are serious
and should be seen and heard by society as a whole. I understand that they cannot be solved in one fail swoop; but be it in a day or a year, if the sustainable positive tendencies of society are continued, positive outcomes will soon stand prominent.
Georgian Doctors Only Need a Keyboard for Certification Exam BY NINO BAKRADZE, IFACT.GE
edical doctors in the Republic of Georgia need only pass a multiple choice test to be certified. A webpage gives them 150 of the 200 answers. Some of the answers are no longer correct because the questions are outdated, but smart students admit they memorize the webpage, including the wrong answers, to get a high enough score. Salome Kvekvetsia passed the exam in December 2016 and is certified as a cardiologist. She says the test is easy and measures your memory, not the medical skills and experience gained during four to six years of medical school in Georgia. Many of the questions were written five or more years ago and are based on old medical practices no longer in use. “These questions are about research methods and diagnoses not used anymore," Kvekvetsia said. "There is some terminology which we cannot find in modern medicine. These tests need to be revised". A Ministry of Health official admits that some test answers are incorrect. “We know about the wrong answers," says Natia Noghaideli, who heads the Regulations Committee in the ministry. "The test was created a long time ago. Some of the answers were correct 5 or 10 years ago, but not today".
Lists of questions and answers for 52 medical specialties feature on the Ministry webpage. Only five have been updated recently. An exam commission picks 150 questions from the webpage. Another 50 questions are chosen that can't be seen in advance. A candidate must answer 151 out of 200 questions to pass. The ministry in 2011-12 paid around $11,700 (at today's currency rate) to buy the "hidden" questions from professional
unions for cardiologists, surgeons and other medical specialties. Noghaideli was asked why candidates can see any of the questions and answers in advance. “You know what? As it is, where the majority of the answers can be seen, there are many applicants who still cannot pass the exam," she said, adding that any changes might face protests from applicants. "I think we should change it step-by-step, so that it won’t
be a shock for the applicants”. Since 2005, 21,551 applicants have passed and 5,549 have failed. According to Georgian regulations, an applicant who fails can retake the test every six months. There are no records to how how many failed applicants took the exam again. Sopho Trapaidze passed the certificate test in cardiology in 2016. “One cannot measure modern techniques using tests written in the 1990s," she said. "It would be good if the exam included an actual
medical exam of a patient, and his/her symptoms and medical history. Then the applicant could list future treatment”. "There could be another option where, based on the results of the patient exam, the applicant should choose a complete treatment strategy. Such an exam would be much more useful for a doctor than the test I passed,” Trapaidze told us. Noghaideli says Western certification tests are a combination of questions to answer and an assessment of clinical skills. She believes it would be a long, hard process for Georgia to transform to this model. “We think the exam design should change and focus on assessing clinical skills. None of the test answers should be available in advance. But I cannot say when we could prepare a proper assessment for clinical skills in every specialty," she said. Sopho Beruashvili took her exam to become a certified endocrinologist in 2016 in Paris. She failed and will try again this year. “The first part of the exam was made up of written questions on general medicine," she said. "After we had a break, the clinical part started. There is a description of a clinical case, and you are asked to describe the proper patient examination, the diagnosis, and then how you would treat the patient. All of this should be based on logic, not test questions”. "The competition for an EU-recognized diploma is tough. There were 95 people fighting for 7 places."
APRIL 7 - 10, 2017
Busy Season: Etseri, Svaneti BY TONY HANMER
e believe we’ve seen the last snowfall of spring; certainly we hope so, fervently. Already the cows’ grazing in nearby fields has been interrupted by a new dump of white, which in turn has dissolved back into the sky whence it came. Please, no more for now? The ground is softening up now as it thaws out. Although I checked my underground water pipe today, and its depth is still frozen along with its water, soon it will be time to repair or replace fence posts. One must get the timing right, because once the ground hardens, such work involving extensive digging will become much harder. The pipe will soon be running, at which time I’ll roll up the overland one and hope to solve my winter water problem once and for all, so as not to need it again. I wish. Those of us who were too busy, or too lazy, to distribute our barn manure over our potato fields last fall must now do so. First we shovel it into its transport vehicle: in my small-scale case a wheelbarrow, in all others a wooden sled-box drawn by a hefty oxen pair for the larger coverage needed. Then we rake it out to enrich the soil, before plowing and planting potatoes and other vegetables, especially corn, beans and pumpkins. My wife and I, however, might either switch the hay and veggie portions of our land or let it lie fallow this year. In any case, we really should do something to stop the virulent spread of the nasty hogweed invasion. If we plow once the plants have come up but long before they can flower, and then again soon after that to catch any late-rising seeds, we might just kill them dead for the year. At least, inexperienced farmer that I am, this is my fond hope. I hate the stuff; cows will graze on it alive or dried, but its sap is bad news for human skin and eyes, and we can’t eat it at all. It’s really
moving in aggressively, and needs to be prosecuted “with extreme prejudice”, as the saying goes. We need to pour the garage’s cement floor, seal around its windows, and I must tidy up all the tools and materials therein. At least I’ve been able to pay an all too obliging fellow villager to chainsaw all our current logs, ready for me to split and store to dry through summer for the winter, when we need the wood most. (We’re an exception here in that we use our massive Svan stove far less than most, with several electric heaters taking advantage of the 20 years’ free electricity of the region and cooking using electricity or bottled gas as much as possible, too. So we need a lot less wood than most households). Dry wood is a must, both to cut down in creosote buildup in the chimney pipes and to get a burn of maximum heat and efficiency. Rumors abound of the imminent arrival of some dumpsters, at a thousand Lari a pop, along with an emptying service
and dumping location for them. We need fifteen, apparently, for all hamlets of the village. Without the truck visits and dump site, this will fail; but one can hope. More rumors, too, that the half-finished new water pipe system for the village will be done this summer. Another thing we are desperate for is that the new setup will not be worse than the current one: not a given at all! Such are the new activities we find ourselves involved with, similarly to all over Georgia but a bit later at these altitudes, and spring digs in. Tony Hanmer has lived in Georgia since 1999, in Svaneti since 2007, and been a weekly writer for GT since early 2011. He runs the “Svaneti Renaissance” Facebook group, now with over 1350 members, at www.facebook.com/groups/SvanetiRenaissance/ He and his wife also run their own guest house in Etseri: www.facebook.com/hanmer.house.svaneti
APRIL 7 - 10, 2017
PASHA Bank Supports Eco Project in Kondoli Village
Do You Know When Your Child is Hiding Something from You? A Guide for Parents BY NINA KALANDADZE, STUDENT AT THE ECOLE FRANCAISE DU CAUCASE
BY TAMZIN WHITEWOOD
n April 1, the Ambassador of the Tbilisi Rotary Club, in partnership with PASHA Bank, carried out an ecoproject in the village of Kondoli (Telavi region, Kakheti). The project was also supported by World Vision and the Palitra Holding bookstore chain Biblus. The project involved planting trees in the local school yard, building a playground and the formation of an eco-club. Local school children and World Vision beneficiaries were directly involved in the process. The outdoor activities were followed by the screening of a film about environmental issues and a seminar concerning ecology. The newly established eco-club ensures the garden is taken care of, as well as managing and collecting paper waste that will in turn be delivered to the Palitra Holding bookstore Biblus and exchanged for books.
“Supporting this project was of double importance for PASHA Bank, as it combines both directions that we focus on as a part of our CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility). It was lovely to see the schoolchildren so eagerly involved in the working process together with World Vision beneficiaries. PASHA Bank plans to initiate and support more projects of an eco-friendly nature,” said Anano Korkia, Head of PR and Marketing Department at PASHA Bank. “It is unfortunate that the ecological situation in Georgia is getting worse day by day. This may cause certain natural disasters and other environmental issues in future. Therefore our organization has decided to direct its resources towards helping to improve the ecological situation, starting in Kondoli. This project is multifunctional and will remain sustainable, considering the fact that here children learn about the importance of ecology and also plant trees to fully experience the process,” said Bidzina Kumsiashvili, Charter President of Rotary Club Tbilisi Ambassador.
s time passes, children grow and start to distance themselves from their parents. Hiding, lies, deceit and tricks are all too often problems you might face as a parent of a teenager. Do you have a child who frequently comes home late, never answers their phone, is moody and seems to hate you? It’s hard. You feel let down. Your cute, perfect child has now morphed into something different, someone you no longer even recognize. But how do you know if your child is hiding anything from you? Forcing them into a corner about it might make them aggressive and defensive, so you have to play your cards right. You should be laid-back, unbothered, passive, even. Let them come to you. For a healthy conversation and exchange, they should make the first move and take the initiative, even if that seems like something that might never happen. These can be desperate times, but you should never lose your composure when it comes to that moment. You should be calm and not stress yourself or your child out by yelling or being in any way aggres-
sive or rough. Your child, no matter how many times they refuse to answer their phone, should be able to trust you and to trust that you are someone they can count on easily, without a thought. The reflex of hiding is very prominent in teenagers, who often have a sense of unrest and a desperate, sad feeling that if they talk to you about their issues, you are sure to get mad and yell at them, or force them to compromise to such a point that they feel they’ll never be able to see or hear from their friends again. It’s stressful, understandably, for teens who go through this. It breaks your heart to see your child sad, right? This can be a painful process for both you and your child, so you should try to
come together and discuss your problems calmly. Yelling, being overly preachy and having endless arguments will intimidate your child and will in all likelihood make them retreat back into their antisocial shells. Try to be as supportive as possible. Is your child hiding anything from you? Probably. They’re your child, but they’re also a whole different person trying to find their way in the world. But you were their age once, right? You’ve been through the same difficulties and come out the other side a normal, well-balanced adult. So worry less about finding out what your child is hiding and focus more on being there when they are ready to come to you. It’s as simple as that.
Creative Rainbow, Conveyed in Music BY MAKA LOMADZE
n April 1, at Backstage 76 club, representatives of almost all European nationalities could be seen enjoying the soiree, retold in different musical and national languages. Nino Basharuli, a lady with a distinguished voice and look, took no pains to at once captivate the audience, together with her band Paloma. This was a concert that united the multicolored repertoire, consisting of Georgian and Russian romances, as well as Spanish Flamenco, Portuguese Fado and French chansons. “You and You once Again,” which allegedly the Georgian nightingale used to sing, Edith Piaf and Jacques Brel’s “Ne me quite pas” left noone pressent indifferent. GEORGIA TODAY spoke to Nino Basharuli during the interval: “I sing Spanish Flamenco, Portuguese Fado, Russian romances, and gypsy songs.
TBILISI ISTANBUL ATATURK AIRPORT ISTANBUL ATATURK AIRPORT TBILISI TBILISI ISTANBUL SABIHA GOKCEN AIRPORT ISTANBUL SABIHA GOKCEN AIRPORT TBILISI BATUMI - ISTANBUL ISTANBUL - BATUMI
Since my childhood, Spain has been like my second homeland. I used to sing in Spanish and have always been fascinated by Spanish culture – Flamenco as a dance and as a singing genre, too. I graduated from the Institute of Foreign Languages fluent in Spanish”. Wanting to put her Spanish into prac-
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tice, and to work and get acquainted with the people and culture, Basharuli enlisted the help of a friend living in Spain to start master classes with a Flamenco singer. She spent some months there perfecting the art. “It was a very fruitful time for me,” she told us. “As a result, my band and I were
able to do the soundtracks from the films of Pedro Almodovar.” Even though she has yet to meet the living legend of Spanish and world cinema, she continues to sing his soundtracks. In Spain, Basharuli also fell in love with Fado, a traditional Portuguese musical genre. “You have to be spiritually very
much ascended to be able to sing Fado. I’m always Fado by nature,” she smiles. Flamenco offers such energy that it is often considered characteristic to Spaniards alone, so for some it seems unimaginable that a non-native speaker can perform it. However, to our pride, Nino is a success in this regard too. It was fascinating to watch the charming and tender lady turn into a volcano and burn with that fire so paramount in Flamenco. Of course, this diversity of genres, this creative rainbow, can be explained in one word – talent. Basharuli is multifaceted, full of interest and open to endless discoveries. That is why she maintains such an enigma and attractiveness. Her voice is both strong and lyrical, which apparently underlines her own temperament, too. Yet, romantic motifs are still dominant. Basharuli reminded the large audience of her appearance on the former popular TV show “Geostar”. Since then, her popularity has grown, as has that of her band Paloma (Dove, in Spanish). The public met their latest performance with great ovation.
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APRIL 7 - 10, 2017
An Ear for Talent: Shalva Matuashvili INTERVIEW BY NINO GUGUNISHVILI
halva Matuashvili, whose works are kept in the Georgian National Museum, Tretyakov Gallery, Moscow, as well as museums and private collections in Tokyo, Milan, Paris, Berlin, and New York, is one of the most luminous representatives of the contemporary Georgian art scene. GEORGIA TODAY continues to present famous Georgian Artists together with BI Auction. For this issue, we met with Shalva Matuashvili to talk about his artistic inspiration, the influences that defined him as a painter and his secrets of the craft.
HOW DID YOU CHOOSE TO BECOME AN ARTIST? I studied at the secondary school in Tsinandali, Kakheti, and had a wonderful teacher, Giorgi Elizbarashvili, who suggested my mother take me to the Art School in Telavi. I guess he saw some seeds of talent in me, although I can’t say there was anything special in my paintings when I was a child, maybe I drew just a little better than others. Before the fifth grade, I was studying to play violin but then moved to the Telavi Children’s Art School to focus on drawing. I can say that school was one of the best in the country, with a four-year study program. After graduation, I came to Tbilisi and entered the Iakob Nikoladze Art College with the highest marks among all students who entered. Then I returned to Tsinandali, finished school and studied at the Tbilisi Academy of Arts, where, to be honest, I didn’t get the best grades in the entrance exams.
It turned out to be quite difficult. While I was good with composition, I wasn’t particularly good at drawing portraits, nude figures or torsos. I never took private classes with teachers, and it was during the exams that for the first time I had to draw a nude. It was quite challenging. Even if you’re talented and you can feel a silhouette, there are of course other components you need to know, which I didn’t at that time. The first two years was the assimilation and “getting to know the city” period. I was living alone- in a way, it was a period of finding what to start and how to do it. By the fourth year at the Academy, I had become one of the best students.
inside me. I feel bad, physically, if I’m not working.
CAREER, YOUR ART, HOW MUCH HAS IT CHANGED?
WHICH ART MOVEMENTS INFLUENCED OR DEFINED YOU AS AN ARTIST?
There are painters who try to develop something they have already found, and I don’t see anything bad in that, and sometimes I even envy them, but for me, I’d say I’m always on the look-out for something new. I question which route is the right one. Because what is creativity? It’s the ability to listen to your inner voice. In different periods throughout my career, I admired the art of Rogier van der Weyden, while I’m more into the southern tradition of painting and art in general.
Time often changes our tastes. However, there is usually a certain axis, although first you have to discover what axis that is. I think, from today’s perspective, what brought me where I am now is the Venetian school of painting. It influenced me the most. I adore Paul Gauguin, too, and I think he can be considered a successor of the Venetian School. I consider Titian (Tiziano Vecellio) the greatest artist of all. All the Venetian school painters; Giorgione, Giovanni Bellini and all the others. The Venetian and Florentine schools always competed; Michelangelo famously said about Titian that he didn’t know how to draw... Four Schools were competing to be the best: Padua, Siena, Venetian and Florentine. For me, the Venetian painting tradition is an absolute culmination of the art of painting at its best, be it the understanding and creation of form, the feel for material, bringing it to the canvas… it’s magical. For me, the Renaissance painters, to say nothing of Greek sculptors before that, are gods that left an incredible, immeasurable artistic heritage for us.
IF YOU LOOK BACK AT YOUR
WHY IS GEORGIAN ART NOT AS VIBRANT AS IT WAS BEFORE? I think that everything is built on spirituality. Unfortunately, we greatly lack that today.
IN ONE OF YOUR INTERVIEWS YOU SAID THAT IT HURTS WHEN THE EXHIBITION IS OVER. WHY? Indeed, it’s very painful to me and I’m speaking honestly … I put all my heart and soul into my works, and if the opening of an exhibition is a celebration, the end of it hurts, metaphorically speaking it’s like life and death. As an artist, you draw because you have something to say, something that moves and affects you emotionally; something that inspires and thrills you.
WHERE DO YOU USUALLY FIND INSPIRATION? Love is always the major inspiration. It’s where the impulse comes from. It may be love of life, or love and admiration of the outside world, a certain landscape, love of a woman... It wouldn’t be correct to say that the process of creating the work of art is related to one particular thing. Rather, it’s a combination of an accumulated experience, skill, feel for color, which sometimes may be so overwhelmingly strong it can even make you tremble. I’m not saying I’m an exception- every true artist probably feels the same. Sometimes, a detail that I worked on seven or eight years ago may suddenly reappear in a completely different coloristic revelation. In general, I think the art of painting unites many things in itself. You have to have “a good ear;” you have to feel the silhouette very well, the mass, the body. Painting is a craft to a large extent; it’s crucial, and you have to learn to master it. I once said that I would still be a painter even if born on a deserted island, it’s something so deeply rooted
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APRIL 7 - 10, 2017
WHAT’S ON IN TBILISI THEATER
TBILISI ZAKARIA PALIASHVILI OPERA AND BALLET THEATER Address: 25 Rustaveli Ave. Telephone: 2 99 04 56 April 10 ANITA RACHVELISHVILI Georgian Philharmonic Orchestra Nikoloz Rachveli- conductor Program: Gounod, RimskyKorsakov, Saint-Saens, Mascani, Masnet, Verdi, Bizet Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 15-45 GEL April 12, 13 EVENING OF CONTEMPORARY CHOREOGRAPHY PETITE CÉRÉMONIE By Medhi Walerski One-act ballet Start time: 19:00 Ticket: 10-50 GEL GABRIADZE THEATER Address: 13 Shavtelis Str. Telephone: 2 98 65 93 April 7, 13 RAMONA Rezo Gabriadze Directed by Rezo Gabriadze English Subtitles Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 10, 15, 20 GEL April 8 STALINGRAD Rezo Gabriadze Directed by Rezo Gabriadze English Subtitles Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 10, 15, 20 GEL April 9, 12 THE AUTUMN OF MY SPRINGTIME Rezo Gabriadze Directed by Rezo Gabriadze English Subtitles Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 10, 15, 20 GEL GRIBOEDOVI THEATER Address: 2 Rustaveli Ave. Telephone: 2 93 43 36 April 8 ENGLISH DETECTIVE Agatha Christie Directed by Vakhtang Nikolava Language: Russian
Start time: 18:00 Ticket: 5 GEL April 9 KARLSON WHO LIVES ON THE ROOF Directed by Elene Matskhonashvili Language: Russian Start time: 12:00 Ticket: 5 Lari TBILISI VASO ABASHIDZE MUSIC AND DRAMA STATE THEATER Address: 182 D.Agmashenebeli Ave. Telephone: 2 34 80 90 www.musictheatre.ge April 7 CARMEN Directed by Kote Purtseladze Musical Start time: 19:00 Ticket: 8, 10 GEL April 9 MACBETH William Shakespeare Directed by Davit Doiashvili Choreographer: Konstantine Purtseladze Composer: Nikoloz Rachveli Start time: 19:00 Ticket: From 10 GEL MOVEMENT THEATER Address: 182, Aghmashenebeli Ave., Mushthaid park Telephone: 599 555 260 April 7, 8 INTRO Directed by Kakha Bakuradze Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 15 GEL April 7, 8 ECLIPSE Directed by Kakha Bakuradze Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 15 GEL CINEMA
AMIRANI CINEMA Address: 36 Kostava Str. Telephone: 2 99 99 55 www.kinoafisha.ge Every Wednesday ticket price: 5 Lari April 7-13 GHOST IN THE SHELL Directed by Rupert Sanders Cast: Scarlett Johansson, Juliette
Binoche, Rila Fukushima Genre: Action, Crime, Drama Language: Russian Start time: 22:15 Ticket: 13-14 GEL BEAUTY AND THE BEAST Directed by Bill Condon Cast: Dan Stevens, Luke Evans, Ewan McGregor Genre: Family, Fantasy, Musical Language: Russian Start time: 19:15 Ticket: 13-14 GEL THE BOSS BABY Directed by Tom McGrath Cast: Alec Baldwin, Steve Buscemi, Lisa Kudrow Genre: Animation, Comedy, Family Language: Russian Start time: 19:15 Ticket: 13-14 GEL GOING IN STYLE Directed by Zach Braff Cast: Morgan Freeman, Joey King, Ann-Margret Genre: Comedy, Crime Language: Russian Start time: 19:15 Ticket: 13-14 GEL RUSTAVELI CINEMA Address: 5 Rustaveli Ave. Telephone: 2 55 50 00 www.kinoafisha.ge Every Wednesday ticket: 5 GEL April 7-13 GOING IN STYLE (Info Above) Start time: 12:00, 19:30, 22:15 Ticket: 8-14 GEL LIFE Directed by Daniel Espinosa Cast: Rebecca Ferguson, Ryan Reynolds, Jake Gyllenhaal Genre: Horror, Sci-Fi, Thriller Language: Russian Start time: 18:35 Ticket: 13-14 GEL MUSEUM
GEORGIAN NATIONAL MUSEUM SIMON JANASHIA MUSEUM Address: 4 Rustaveli Ave. Telephone: 2 99 80 22, 2 93 48 21 www.museum.ge PERMANENT EXHIBITION:
GEORGIAN ARCHAEOLOGY FROM 8TH MILLENNIUM B.C. TO 4TH CENTURY A.D EXHIBITION OF GEORGIAN WEAPONRY NUMISMATIC TREASURY The exhibition showcases money circulation on the territory of Georgia from the 6th century BC. to 1834. THE TESTAMENT OF DAVID THE BUILDER AND THE NEW EXHIBITS OF MEDIEVAL TREASURY September 27 (2016) – September 22 (2017) EXHIBITION STONE AGE GEORGIA MUSEUM OF FINE ARTS Address: 1 Gudiashvili Str. EXHIBITION LADO GUDIASHVILI AND GEORGIAN MONUMENTAL PAINTING April 6-13 GEORGIAN PAINTING OF THE EARLY 20TH CENTURY IOSEB GRISHASHVILI TBILISI HISTORY MUSEUM - KARVASLA Address: 8 Sioni Str. Telephone: 2 98 22 81 March 15 – April 15 THE EXHIBITION "DIFFERENTLY THAN USUAL MODERN DESIGN AND THE POWER OF CUSTOMS /ANDERS ALS IMMER. ZEITGENÖSSISCHES DESIGN UND DIE MACHT DES GEWOHNTEN" MUSEUM OF SOVIET OCCUPATION Address: 3 Sh. Rustaveli Ave. PERMANENT EXHIBITION ART PALACE Address: 6 Kargareteli Str. Telephone: 2 95 35 63 March 31 – April 11 The exhibition MAELSTROM: FRANZ MARK, GERMAN EXPRESSIONISM AND
MODERNISM IN GEORGIA MOMA TBILISI Address: 27 Rustaveli Ave. Telephone: 2 98 60 30 April 1-30 SALOME RIGVAVA’S PERSONAL EXHIBITION LITERATURE MUSEUM Address: 8 Chanturia Str. Telephone: 2 99 86 67 April 4-22 VAKHO BUGADZE’S PERSONAL EXHIBITION Dedicated to Oto Bagrationi. GALLERY
THE NATIONAL GALLERY Address: 11 Rustaveli Ave. www.museum.ge GEORGIAN PAINTERS PERMANENT EXHIBITION NATIONAL LIBRARY OF GEORGIA Address: 7 Gudiashvili Str. Telephone: 593 10 23 07 April 11-13 PABLO FERRARI’S EXHIBITION LABERINTO TBC ART GALLERY Address: 7 Marjanishvili Str. Telephone: 227 27 27 April 4-10 UCHA JAPARIDZE’S EXHIBITION PERSONA GRATA MUSIC
DJANSUG KAKHIDZE TBILISI CENTER FOR MUSIC & CULTURE Address: 125/127 Agmashenebeli Ave. Telephone: 295 01 19 April 8 THE MUSIC OF CZECH COMPOSER ANTONIN DVORAK Start time: 19:30 Ticket: From 5 GEL April 10 CONCERT OF CHAMBER MUSIC THE RECITAL OF OUTSTANDING GEORGIAN VIOLIST ZAZA GOGUA TOMOKO INOUE, PIANO Start time: 19:30 Ticket: 10 GEL MOVEMENT THEATER Address: 182, Aghmashenebeli Ave., Mushthaid park Telephone: 599 07 50 61 April 11, 13 JAZZ AT MT RESO KIKNADZE QUINTET Free Admission Start time: 21:00 April 12 MILONGA, LA CUMPARSITA ARGENTINE TANGO DANCE NIGHT Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 5 GEL RUSTAVELI THEATRE Address: 17 Rustaveli Ave. Telephone: 2 72 68 68 www.rustavelitheatre.ge April 8 GEORGIAN PHILHARMONIC ORCHESTRA Nikoloz Rachveli- conductor, Katya Tsukanova- violin, Mikhail Shilyaev- piano, Program: Borodin- The Polovetsian Dances from Prince Igor MozartConcerto for violin and orchestra N3, 1st part Sarasate- Introduction and Tarantella for Violin and Strings Sibelius- Valse triste Mozart- Piano Concerto N23. Start time: 19:30 Ticket: From 5 GEL
GEORGIA TODAY APRIL 7 - 10, 2017
Moliere’s Dom Juan in 45 Minutes on Movement Theater Stage seducer of women, and an atheist. The unrepentant Dom Juan will not escape the vengeance of Heaven, and he is ultimately punished. In Bakuradze’s staging, it is really full of humor, featuring an abrupt tragic ending with the commander’s death. The performance is in three dimensions with a cast of youngsters boasting overwhelming energy. The scenery of the performance is minimalistic, whilst the music is essential, very cheerful and light. “I decided to choose such parts of the play where words are not important, and to retell the play by means of movement. We have a small band at the theater and we try to adorn all performances with live music,” Bakuradze told us. The decoration of the building and its location in one of the biggest parks of Tbilisi, where a lot of Georgians have spent their childhood, encourages people to go, have a walk before the show, and then penetrate the cozy atmosphere of the theater. On entering, one feels young and playful. Sandro Nikoladze, composer, says that they work
BY MAKA LOMADZE
ovement Theater offers performances based on the art of body and mimics to the audience, thus abolishing all kinds of language barrier. They act wordlessly. GEORGIA TODAY attended the premiere of Moliere’s ‘Don Juan’, staged by Kakha Bakuradze, the main director and artistic head of the Theater, which took place on April 1-2. Dom Juan or The Feast with the Statue (French: Dom Juan ou le Festin de pierre) is a French play, a comedy in five acts, written by Jean Baptiste Moliere, and based on the legend of Don Juan. The title of Molière’s play is also commonly expressed as Dom Juan, a spelling that began in the seventeenth century. Molière's characters Dom Juan and Sganarelle are the French counterparts to the Spanish Don Juan and Catalinón, characters who are also found in Mozart's Italian opera Don Giovanni as Don Giovanni and Leporello. Dom Juan is the last part in Molière's hypocritical trilogy, which also includes The School for Wives, and Tartuffe. The play, first performed on 15 February 1665 in the Theatre du Palais-Royal, with Molière playing
WHERE: Mushtaidi Park, near Tsereteli Avenue TICKET: Available on biletebi.ge
the role of Sganarelle, was originally written in prose, and was withdrawn after only one performance after attacks by Molière's critics, who thought he was offending religion and the king by eulogizing a libertine. The play was a costly failure. Sganarelle, Dom Juan's valet, is the only character who speaks up for religion, but his particular brand of superstitious Catholicism is used more as a comic device than as a foil to his master's free-thinking. As a result, Molière was ordered to delete a certain number of scenes and lines which, according to his censors, made a mockery of their faith. The play was published in a heavily censored version for the first time in 1682. It was part of an eight-volume edition, edited by La Grange and Vivot that contained almost all of Molière's plays. The parts of Dom Juan that offended the censors were pasted over with strips of paper glued into almost all of the copies. Nearly a century and a half later, in 1813, a full and restored text was published in France. And then in 1847, the play was added to the repertoire of the Comédie-Française. In the twentieth century, the play is performed often and has garnered great critical attention and admiration. An uncensored version appeared in Amsterdam in 1683. The play depicts the last two days in the life of a young courtier, Dom Juan Tenorio, a libertine, a
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in a group and the music is born together with the performance. “The idea is the turning point for us. The actors work and give birth to characters, as I compose the music. Everything is born synchronically in order to fit. We also dub live”. GEORGIA TODAY also talked to Misha Zakaidze, playing the part of a commander, an actor meriting positive appraisal and a storm of applause from the audience in the final scene, when he dies and still continues to struggle with a sword. This moment is imposing to watch; real tragic comedy, maintaining Moliere’s spirit. “I have many things in common with my character. He, like me, is calm, balanced and honorable. Though, in our particular version, he is a little bit modified.” In September, the Movement Theater plans to stage Shakespeare’s drama, though the director ha yet to reveal which.
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Georgian Railway & Locomotive Rugby Club Sign Agreement
APRIL 7 - 10, 2017
School Visit Cements Wales-Georgia Rugby Ties BY ALASTAIR WATT
BY THEA MORRISON
n April 4 JSC Georgian Railway and Locomotive rugby club signed an agreement of co-operation, making Georgian Railway an official sponsor of the club. The agreement was signed by the founder of Locomotive, Temuri Bendianishvili, and the General Director of JSC Georgian Railway, Mamuka Bakhtadze. The Minister of Sports and Youth Affairs, Tariel Khechikashvili, and the President of the Rugby Union, Gocha Svanidze, also attended the signing. The Minister underlined that rugby is an increasingly popular sport in Georgia and that Georgian Railway makes a significant contribution to the development of sport in Georgia.
“I think that support of the rubgy club will become an additional stimulus for our young sportsmen and women. I also welcome the fact that Georgian Railway has already carried out an investment of several million GEL in Georgian sport since 2013,” Khechikashvili said after the signing ceremony. The General Director of Georgian Railway expressed readiness to continue promoting Georgian sport in the future. “We want the national teams of Georgia to be strong, this is why we started financing Georgian clubs,” Bakhtadze said. JSC Georgian Railway has been carrying out financial support of club teams for many years. These i n c l u d e : L o ko m o tive-2008 Rugby club, National Federation of Basketball, Sokhumi basketball club and also the Locomotive water polo team. In whole, in 2013-2017, Georgian Railway allocated 4 million GEL from the budget of the company to finance various sports.
upils of St David’s College in North Wales rounded off a memorable trip to Georgia on April 5, the first visit of its kind by a British school. In a packed itinerary, the youngsters were treated to a veritable feast of rugby, with some local culture and cuisine typically thrown in along the way. Their opening rugby match proved to be something of an education for the Welsh visitors, who were well beaten by Georgia’s under-16s. Prior to the match, the away side gave a superb rendition of the Welsh anthem “Bread of Heaven” on the steps of the Shevardeni base, met by warm applause from some of their Georgian opponents. Head of Physical Education at St David’s, Dan Lycett, was making a fourth trip to Georgia having visited previously as captain of the Bulldogs team who participate at the annual beach rugby tournament in Batumi. Lycett, a former pupil at the same school, outlined the benefit and importance of the trip: “This is my second year in this role, and since I started I wanted to reinvigorate rugby in the school. Sport is important when it comes to boosting morale, and with regards to Georgia it is also vital that UK schools come to places like this, to raise awareness.” In the role of Tour Support was Anthony Lynn, a seasoned veteran of travelling to Georgia who has been coming here since 2006, initially for an IRB project and then joining forces with Lycett and
others on the Black Sea for the beach rugby competition. “The hospitality is second to none, and the passion for rugby is as strong as in Wales, if not stronger,” claimed Lynn, a native of Yorkshire but now based in the rugby hotbed of Gloucestershire in southwest England. The tour composed of visits to Rustavi and Gori where top-level rugby matches were enjoyed, while the party were also greeted by British Ambassador and rugby enthusiast Justin McKenzie-Smith. Team captain Harri Mostyn-Jones, 18, who was singled out for praise by one of the Georgian academy coaches, was thoroughly impressed with the Georgian experience: “The people have been really nice and they’ll do anything for you, and it’s also been good to see different parts of the country”. He also described the aforementioned clash with the physically overbearing
under-16s as “painful, very physical and ‘up in your face’”. The boys were also put through their paces by Georgian head coach Milton Haig and some of his staff, which MostynJones and his teammates considered a real privilege. The sun shone suitably on the last day of the St David’s tour on which the Welsh boys took on local side RC Khvamli while both sides were met and congratulated by the President of the Georgian Rugby Union, Gocha Svanidze. The touring party were overwhelmed by their time in Georgia and they will all hope to be in attendance in Cardiff in early November when Wales play Georgia in an autumn test, The tour was supported by the Georgian Rugby Union, Kemsley Tours, Education and Training International (ETI) and Rhino Rugby Georgia.
April 7 - 10, 2017