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Issue no: 961

• JULY 7 - 10, 2017



In this week’s issue... Ombudsman Calls for Recognition of Azeri Journalist as Victim NEWS PAGE 2

Preparations for the Eastern Partnership Summit: The Prospect of Political Differentiation POLITICS PAGE 4

Palagashvili’s American Dream Come True

FOCUS ON GOING GREEN Public-Private Partnerships set to boost Georgia's green thinking



MFA Janelidze Celebrates the Potential of Georgian Diaspora


eorgian Foreign Minister Mikheil Janelidze hosted an official Diaspora Awards Ceremony which saw 13 Diaspora representatives awarded, having been identified in six nominations through a contest organized by the International Center for Migration Policy Development (ICMPD) and the EU-funded project 'Enhancing Georgia's Migration Management' (ENIGMMA). “Many representatives of our Diaspora have achieved great professional and career successes in their host countries,” Janelidze said. “They made their names with their talent and intellect in art, science, sport, culture and other areas. Our Diaspora has a huge potential that could be used to the benefit of our country. The effective use of intellectual capacities of outmigrating Georgians is an important underlying factor for the development of our country and the government needs do its utmost to put this potential to its fullest possible use”. Once it assumed responsibility for Diaspora issues, the Georgian Foreign Ministry, according to Janelidze, “took a great number of steps” to further deepen relations with Georgian communities abroad. The ‘United and Strong Diaspora’ Program was elaborated, which aims to ensure that Georgian Diaspora is invigorated, its ties with Georgia are strengthened and its contribution to the development of their homeland is duly appreciated.

OK! Magazine Georgia Holds Green Party at Tbilisi Gardens


Sulakauri Exhibition: Taught to Paint as Soldiers while Dreaming of Freedom CULTURE PAGE 15 The award ceremony is the final step of the project “The involvement of high-profile Diaspora members in development processes in Georgia,” implemented in coordination with the ICMPD. The Diaspora Awards went to 13 candidates selected by the special inter-agency commission for six nominations: Singer Keti Melua (Great Britan), painter Lika Shkhvatsabaia (Spain) and folk dancer Maka Lomadze for promotion of Georgian culture abroad; Historian Davit Kolbaia (Poland), physicianscientist Sopo Adamia (US), Scientist Merab Kokaia (Sweden) and Surgeon Ioseb Nanobashvili (Austria)- for their contribution to science; PH Degree student Mikheil Sarjveladze (Germany) - for public diplomacy; captain of Georgia's national basketball team and NBI Championship winner Zaza Pachulia - for his contribution to sport; Austrian entrepreneur

Leonid Bausbeck, Greek journalist Teodora Avgeri and Swiss musician Thomas Hisermann - for devoted friendship to Georgia. The program and its awards ceremony were held as pilot projects and will become regular in future. Awards were presented by Minister of Culture and Monument Protection, Mikheil Giorgadze; Minister of Labor, Health and Social Affairs, David Sergeenko; Minister of Sport and Youth Affairs, Tariel Khechikashvili; State Minister of Georgia on European and Euro-Atlantic Integration, Victor Dolidze; and Chair of the Diaspora and Caucasus Issues Committee, Zviad Kvachantiradze. The event was attended by members of the executive and legislative branches of the government and invited guests. Head of the European Union Delegation to Georgia, Janos Herman, and Manager of the ICMPD, Violeta Wagner, spoke at the event.

Black Sea Jazz Fest FAQs CULTURE PAGE 15




Service Air to Launch Flights from Tbilisi to Batumi BGCC, British Embassy Celebrate Georgian Airways Direct Flight BY KATIE RUTH DAVIES



ervice Air is set to start flights from Tbilisi International Airport to Batumi from July 7. The flights will be operated by a 32 seat Saab airplane, with a one-way ticket cost-

ing 90 GEL, daily except Wednesday, with three flights per day on Fridays and Sundays. Service Air, the company which won the tender of the Ministry of Economy and Sustainable Development of Georgia, is currently operating flights from Natakhtari to Kutaisi, Mestia and Ambrolauri. The new route is set to make air travel from Tbilisi to the Adjara coastal city even more accessible to travelers.

n July 4, the Embassy of Georgia, Georgian Airways and British Georgian Chamber of Commerce celebrated the new direct flights from Tbilisi to London. Ambassador of Georgia, Tamar Beruchashvili, and the representatives of Georgian Airways addressed the audience gathered at the reception. “The launching of direct flights between Georgia and the UK is among the most important achievements in Georgian-British relations during the last several years,” said H.E. Ambassador Tamar Beruchashvili. “Georgia’s aspiration to become an economic and cultural hub, as well as a major touristic destination in the region, opens up excellent opportunities to the British people. It’s also a wonderful chance for more Georgians to visit the world’s greatest and most visited tourist destination,” she said, adding her hope that the direct flights will attract more Britons to explore Georgia and will serve as an important incentive for further promotion of people-to-people contacts and British-Georgian

trade and business links. “Georgian Airways decided to start direct flights from Tbilisi to London Gatwick on May 20,” said Eteri Gaiashvili, Head of Business Development at Georgian Airways. “It is the first historical connection between those two countries by a Georgian Air carrier, marking another big step towards more engagement in tourism, economy and diplomacy. Our passengers will have the possibility to travel three times a week and also to connect further to other destinations such as Armenia, Ireland, and more. We hope to grow with Great Britain and foster the relations between us!” The first Ambassador of the UK to Georgia, Stephen Nash, and the first Ambassador of Georgia to the UK, Temur Mamatsashvili, also attended the celebration. The reception was held in the Embassy with representatives from the UK media (BBC, Independent, The Guardian) and Tourist Agencies and Business representatives. The significance of the launch year was highlighted- it being 25 years of restoration of diplomatic relations with Great Britain and the 10-year anniversary of the British Georgian Chamber of Commerce. A cake with a small replica Georgian Airways plane was one of the highlights of the evening.

Ombudsman Calls for Recognition of Azeri Journalist as Victim BY THEA MORRISON


ublic Defender of Georgia (Ombudsman) Ucha Nanuashvili has called on the Chief Prosecutor of Georgia, Irakli Shotadze, to recognize Azerbaijani journalist Afghan Mukhtarli, who was allegedly abducted in Tbilisi on May 29 and put in pretrial detention in Baku, as a victim and to ensure the effective investigation into the alleged offense committed by the officers of the Ministry of Internal Affairs (MIA) of Georgia. On Wednesday, Nanuashvili publicized a number of recommendations concerning the issue. He stressed that the investigation, launched by the MIA under Part 1 of Article 143 of the Criminal Code of Georgia, pertaining to illegal deprivation of liberty, cannot provide the degree of independence required for effective investigation, because the officers of the same ministry are alleged to have committed offences against Mukhtarli. “Afghan Mukhtarli should be granted the status of a victim in order to ensure that he can enjoy all the necessary procedural rights and that he and his lawyer have more opportunities to observe the investigation into the offense committed allegedly by the officers of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Georgia, which raises legitimate questions,” the

Ombudsman stated. Moreover, he addressed the Chief Prosecutor of Georgia proposing that the case be transfered to the investigators of the Prosecutor’s Office. Nanuashvili also spoke about the video recording taken by a street surveillance camera which was spread in media and features Afghan Mukhtarli in the vicinity of the Grigol Orbeliani Square, Tbilisi, the last place where he was seen before he disappeared. He alleges that some scenes from the recording have been cut out, because different time, weather and cars are shown in the video within a very short period. Mukhtarli is a political migrant who left Azerbaijan three years ago. In Tbilisi, he held protests in front of Azerbaijan’s embassy and recently wrote about the persecution of Azerbaijani activists in Georgia. He disappeared on May 29, and the following day was found in the Baku police department. Mukhtarli told his lawyer that he was detained and forced into a car near his house in Tbilisi by Georgian Special Service officers. He said that he was beaten and EUR 10,000 euros were planted on him. The Azerbaijani authorities accused him of illegal border crossing and smuggling. The journalist’s wife and lawyer assure that Mukhtarli’s case is politically motivated and claim that he was transferred by Georgian law enforcers to the Azerbaijani side.




Russians & the East-West Highway




everal days ago, it was announced by InterpressNews that Russian troops had resumed fortification efforts along the demarcation line of the breakaway region of South Ossetia. According to the InterpressNews correspondent’s report, the armed troops installed another so-called demarcation line green banner alongside the villages of Bershueti and Sobisi. This move saw several families losing several hectares of their land used for cultivation. According to a number of estimates, and as the statement by the Gori Governor Davit Tsertsvadze testified, the new demarcation sign was installed some 500 meters further into Georgian-controlled territory. If this information is true, in one section the Russian troops are now just 400 meters away from the major east-west highway which cuts across Georgia and is of major importance to the region as it connects Azerbaijan and the Black Sea littoral. I wrote on Russian military moves in the breakaway territories a few weeks ago. But let’s revisit the issue as we now have a clearer picture on what the Russians are up to. As you drive along the major east-west highway about 80 kilometers (50 miles) north of Tbilisi, which connects Azerbaijan with the Black Sea ports of Batumi and Poti, at some points there is a demarcation line less than one kilometer to the north. The Georgians call it the “borderization” and it is man-

aged jointly by Russian troops and separatists from South Ossetia. The latest demarcation line movement attests to the fact that for the Russians, the demarcation line in South Ossetia poses a significant challenge as there are few geographic barriers the Russians could rely on to build a veritable defensive line. The fences zigzag across low mountainous area and small rivers, making it uncomfortable to defend from a purely military posture. From time to time, it is reported that the Russian troops have moved the demarcation line southward. Moreover, much of the boundary is actually without a fence. Although the border’s movement might seem uncontrollable, one explanation behind it could be the geography of the territory: small hills, open valleys, etc. No veritable military infrastructure can be found along the demarcation lines. Thus, the Russians are moving southward to find a defensible territory. Another side to the recent move by the Russians could be a much more important factor: bringing the demarcation line closer to the major east-west highway (Baku–Tbilisi–Kutaisi–Poti). As said above, if true, this will be the closest the Russians have come to the highway since 2008. The Russians see that by cutting the highway, they will be able to paralyze the entire South Caucasus. Furthermore, another threat which the Russians are posing is their artillery’s proximity to strategic pipelines and railways that carry oil, natural gas and goods from Azerbaijan and the Caspian Sea to Europe. Cutting this communication line would leave the region defenseless. The Russians did this in 2008, during the Russo-Georgian

war, when they occupied Gori, a city in central Georgia on the east-west highway. The country was paralyzed, as was the entire region. Indeed, now considering the latest Russian move, Moscow’s longer-term perspective could be explained in much simpler terms: control or imposition of threat to strategically important infrastructure in Georgia which connects the entire South Caucasus region. Another interesting aspect to this demarcation line movement is what can actually be done in order to forestall further Russian moves. It is very unlikely that the Georgian government will take any military measures to stop the process as it will further endanger the situation on the line. The east-west highway is as important to Georgia as it is to other countries such as Azerbaijan and Turkey. Moreover, as I wrote recently that even China, through its One Belt One Road (OBOR) initiative, is interested in keeping the route safe for its assets and plans for the future. But are these imperatives of the neighboring countries enough to constrain Russian moves? It is unlikely as neither Azerbaijan nor Turkey will want to field its military presence in order to keep the road open and safe. The Trilateral Format which exists among Turkey, Georgia and Azerbaijan has a strong military aspect to it. However, this cooperation has not yet reached a level where the three countries will take on the obligation to defend vital energy and road infrastructure in the South Caucasus. This, in turn, limits effective countermeasures to Russians being at a close range to the east-west highway.

New Candidates to Join Tbilisi Mayoral Election Race BY THEA MORRISON


fter the ruling Georgian Dream (GD) and two main opposition parties – European Georgia and the United National Movement (UNM) officially presented their candidates for the Tbilisi Mayoral elections, new players have appeared intending to join the race. One of them is an independent MP of the City Council (Sakrebulo), Alexander Elisashvili, who has been very actively involved in the life of Tbilisi, especially when it comes to environmental issues and fighting corruption. Elisashvili stated that he decided to participate in the elections at the request of Tbilisi residents. “I have not come to politics to earn money. I know it is hard to believe but I only want to help people and serve this country…When I get old I want to look back and be proud of my past,” Elisashvili wrote on The Sakrebulo MP says that he will make an official statement about his decision in the coming days. He believes that his main competitor will be Kakha Kaladze, former Energy Minister, the candidate of the ruling party. “Kaladze is a very serious opponent. The most serious of all the others,” he admitted. Some time ago, Elisashvili confirmed

that he had consulted with the Republicans and Free Democrats non-parliamentary opposition parties about the coming mayoral elections, however, ultimately decided to run as an independent Mayoral candidate and to not represent any political party. Non-parliamentary opposition party New Georgia is also going to present its candidate for the mayoral race, which is predicted to likely be the party leader Giorgi Vashadze, who says that the party will make an official statement in the near future. Vashadze has voiced his belief that the other candidates are “weak” and will “fail as mayors”. He criticized Kaladze, a former footballer who left his successful career and moved to politics in 2012 when former Prime Minister, Bidzina Ivanishvili, set up the GD coalition, and said that the UNM candidate, Zaal Udumashvili, who left Rustavi 2 TV to participate in the election, will never succeed. Of European Georgia candidate Elene Khoshtaria, Vashadze says that she is a specialist of international relations and lacks the know-how to govern the capital. “The main need in this country is for people to stick to the job they know,” the leader of New Georgia said. “I hope people will make a rational choice during the elections. Otherwise, the situation will no doubt worsen in Tbilisi,” he added. The local elections are scheduled for October 2017.

EUMM in Georgia Comments on Borderization Activities BY THEA MORRISON


ollowing media reports and statements made recently over the information that a new ‘Green Sign’ has been installed in the vicinity of Bershueti (Gduleti) of Gori District at the occupation line with the breakaway South Ossetia region, the European Union Monitoring Mission in Georgia (EUMM) dispatched a patrol to the area to monitor the situation. “The EUMM can confirm that borderization activities took place in the Gduleti area in June, but is not able to confirm the installation of new ‘Green Signs’ during the past week,” the statement of the EUMM reads. The statement added that several ‘Green Signs’ were installed in the vicinity of Bershueti (Gduleti) on June 19, very close to the Administrative Boundary Line (ABL) on a position which is not under control of the Georgian government (Tbilisi Administered Territory).

“Nonetheless, the EUMM considers the placement of ‘Green Signs’ unwarranted. Borderization activities in any form, including placing of such signs, create obstacles to the freedom of movement and deprive farmers, who have been farming there for years, from cultivating their land,” the statement reads. The EUMM says they will continue to monitor borderization activities closely. Earlier, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) of Georgia has made a comment regarding the issue and expressed its ‘deep’ concern over the ‘illegal installation’ of a so-called border sign across the occupation line in the Tskhinvali region, in the village of Bershueti, as a result of which several local farmers’ agricultural lands have now partially fallen beyond the occupation line. “This is a continuation of the illegal process of the so-called borderization, which not only restricts the fundamental rights of local residents but considerably damages the security situation on the ground and obstructs Georgia’s efforts to achieve peaceful resolution

Source: EUMM Georgia

of the conflict,” the statement reads. The ministry went on to say that despite repeated calls from the international community, the Russian Federation “continues to grossly violate the principles of international law and its

commitments undertaken under the Ceasefire Agreement of 12 August 2008”. It also added that the general situation in Georgia’s occupied regions and adjacent territories once again points to the necessity of establishing international

security arrangements and creating human rights monitoring mechanisms on the ground. “The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Georgia calls upon the international community to duly assess the situation in Georgia’s occupied territory and take respective measures to stop Russia’s illegal actions," the statement reads, adding that the ministry will use everything at its disposal not to let the aforementioned action of Russia continue without due international assessment and reaction. The information about borderization was released on July 4 by Gori Governor Davit Tsertsvadze, who stated that Russian soldiers resumed fortification efforts along the so-called border of de facto South Ossetia and moved the border sign 500 meters into Georgiancontrolled territory. The governor added that due to the erection of the sign, residents of the village of Bershueti - the Chilindrishvili and the Khodeli families- have been deprived of access to 20 hectares of agricultural land owned by them.




Preparations for the Eastern Partnership Summit: The Prospect of Political Differentiation BY ELENE PANCHULIDZE, DOCTORAL CANDIDATE AT CAUCASUS UNIVERSITY



On June 28, 2017, the German Bundestag adopted a resolution on the Eastern Partnership (EaP) countries. The document emphasizes the EaP’s role as an important instrument for modernizing its participating states—Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova, and Ukraine. The resolution also discusses prospects for the upcoming EaP Brussels Summit and expresses aspirations for strengthened cooperation and differentiated relations. Due to the intense EU-Russia rivalry in the EU’s Eastern Neighborhood, the resolution makes reference to threats coming from the Russian Federation, noting that Russia’s actions are aimed at hampering the EaP countries’ rapprochement with the EU by pulling them into its sphere of influence. In reference to the tensions between EaP partner countries and Russia, the resolution reconfirms the inadmissibility of Russian interference in the sovereign decisions of partner countries, and reaffirms the necessity of guaranteeing the territorial integrity of former Soviet states by the norms of international law.

GERMAN MPS ON GEORGIA After identifying Georgia as a regional leader within the 16 countries making up the European Neighborhood Policy (ENP) in the recent Global Strategy for the European Union’s Foreign and Security Policy, German MPs highlighted "important progress” achieved by the country within Eastern Partnership Program in terms of implementing democratic reforms. In the regular dialogue with the EU Georgia has repeatedly demonstrated that it is a reform-oriented country deserving special recognition. Reads the Bundestag resolution: “In terms of implementing reforms envisaged by the Eastern Partnership Program,

Georgia is a distinctive leader and deserves special recognition." The resolution was initiated by Germany’s ruling coalition—the ChristianDemocratic Union, the Christian-Social Union, and the Social-Democratic Party— is the first adopted in support of the Eastern Partnership, emphasizing the EaP’s importance for both Germany’s and the EU’s foreign policy, raising expectations ahead of the Eastern Partnership Summit in Brussels. Taking into consideration Berlin’s influence on EU-level policies, the Brussels Summit should result in a strengthening of EU-wide foreign policy. In particular, that would mean deepening relations with EaP countries and increasing prospects for deeper and more differentiated relations with dedicated partners, including Georgia.

THE EASTERN PARTNERSHIP MINISTERIAL IN LUXEMBOURG Before the German Bundestag adopted its resolution on the EaP countries, EU foreign ministers met with their counterparts from the Eastern Partnership countries in Luxembourg for the eighth Eastern Partnership Ministerial. The ministerial was chaired by the High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Federica Mogherini and attended by Johannes Hahn, Commissioner for European Neighborhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations. The ministerial was in the limelight in Georgia and in the international media, with coverage focusing on the preparations and potential deliverables of the Brussels Summit. At the ministerial, the foreign ministers discussed the partnership’s achievements since the last summit in Riga in 2015. They focused on means and prospects for deepening cooperation within the EaP framework with the goal of achieving practical results and tangible benefits for the citizens of the six partner countries, including Georgia.

FROM RIGA TO BRUSSELS: FOUR PRIORITY AREAS FOR THE EASTERN PARTNERSHIP At the ministerial, special attention was paid to a working document jointly prepared by the EEAS and the European

Commission: “Eastern Partnership Focusing on key priorities and deliverables.” The document is a kind of action plan guiding actions in the next phase of the EaP, providing specific initiatives and outlining milestones and targets for the 2017 EaP Summit and to be achieved by 2020. At the Luxembourg ministerial, the participating countries confirmed that the upcoming Brussels Summit should provide further guidance for strengthening cooperation in the four priority areas of engagement agreed in Riga in 2015: * Stronger governance: to strengthen institutions and good governance; * Stronger society: to increase mobility and people-to-people contacts; * Stronger economy: to boost economic development and take advantage of market opportunities to enhance prosperity; and * Stronger connectivity: enhancing interconnections, notably in the areas of transport and energy.


In the framework of the Luxembourg ministerial, the dimensions of further cooperation were discussed at an informal meeting of the Group of Friends of Georgia organized by Latvia and Slovakia. The Group of Friends of Georgia plays an important role in support of the country’s Euro-Atlantic integration, supporting Georgia’s aspirations and even being a voice for its interests in formats where it is not officially represented. The ministerial provided another important occasion for Georgia to present the progress it has achieved to its partners both assessing the existing situation and outlining further steps for domestic reforms. As Georgian Foreign Minister Mikheil Janelidze noted in his speech, European integration plays a special role in Georgia’s democratic development. He stressed the importance of the Eastern Partnership Summit in terms of determining new perspectives for deepening Georgia’s relations with the EU and achieving the desired level of integration. Janelidze also emphasized the Georgian government’s commitment and readi-

ness to realize the full potential of cooperation with the EU to provide tangible benefits to Georgia’s citizens within the association process.

WHAT SHOULD GEORGIA EXPECT FROM THE BRUSSELS SUMMIT? In a joint statement issued on April 12, the foreign ministers of the Visegrad Group (V4) countries expressed their support for a European perspective for the Eastern Partnership countries. According to the document, the Brussels’ 2017 summit declaration should reflect the different aspirations of the partner countries and offer a European perspective for interested partners. Following the Visegrad Group statement, in May 2017, Johannes Hahn Commissioner for European Neighbourhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations visited Georgia to discuss prospects for the EaP Brussels Summit. After the meeting with Hahn, Janelidze noted the following: “Priorities of the Eastern Partnership are fully in line with the Georgian Government’s goals and priorities in the development area. The EU has a very clear vision of the steps that need to be taken to bring not only Georgia but also all the six countries of the Eastern Partnership closer to the EU.” The Minister also highlighted Hahn’s statements about Georgia’s European perspective:“The EU highly appreciates Georgia’s ambitions within the framework of the Eastern Partnership, describes our reforms as impressive and sees Georgia as a role model of success and a bearer of European perspective.”

CONCLUSIONS According to recent events and the statements of EU high officials, political differentiation is an important concept to be discussed at the upcoming EaP Summit in Brussels. If implemented, differentiation would mean tailoring different integration paths for different EaP member countries. As a leading reformer within the group, Georgia stands to benefit from such an approach. If the Summit results in Georgia being offered a European perspective, that would give the country the status of a potential EU candidate.

The Georgian Institute of Politics was founded in 2011 to strengthen institutions and promote good governance and development through policy research and advocacy in Georgia. It publishes its blog with Georgia Today twice per month. Check out our website in English and Georgian at for more blogs, data, and analyses.




JULY 7 - 10, 2017

Cargo Wheels Stuck in the Mud OP-ED BY ZAZA JGARKAVA


epresentatives of Russia and Georgia will meet again, yes, again, in Prague and – you guessed it right - again in Hotel Diplomat. On July 7, Gregory Karasin, Deputy Foreign Minister of Russia, and Zurab Abashidze, Special Representative of the Prime Minister of Georgia, will meet again and, as the website of the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs suggests, they will be discussing the issues of economy and transport – again. Last time Karasin and Abashidze met in Prague was autumn 2016, where they announced that the following meeting would be held early in 2017. Although, the parties have said nothing about the reasons for the postponement, media and experts agree that it was due to the Russian position: the latter wanted Tskhinvali to be a full-fledged party in the negotiations about the Russian-Georgian Agreement of 2011, which manages the issues of customs of cargo at the borders and regulates the monitoring of trade. The Kremlin already welcomed the statement by the so-called President of defacto South Ossetia Anatoly Bibilov, who announced that South Ossetia is ready to participate as an equal-rights party in

organizing the transportation of cargo through the territories that are not controlled by Georgia at the moment. This fact makes the July 7 meeting even more obscure, because Official Tbilisi has categorically refused not only to hold negotiations with the defacto government, but even to discuss the matter in their presence. Thus, the parties should be taking completely different issues to Prague than their homework about customs issues. “The Georgian side once again demonstrates its readiness to sign the contract with a neutral unbiased company and start executing the agreement. We once again call on the Russian Federation to finish finalizing the contract with that company and also to start execution of the agreement in full accordance with the terms,” Abashidze announced. The reactions to the position of Official Tbilisi from the heads of occupied Tskhinvali followed quickly. In occupied Akhalgori, where the ethnic Georgian population prevails, the de-facto government demands them to decide between

Tskhinvali or Tbilisi as their place of permanent living. Apart from the factual ethnic cleansing, the puppet heads of Tskhinvali have threatened those of the Ossetian population who use medical services in Georgia. The issue of customs first became essential to Tskhinvali last year when the Armenian government categorically demanded the passing of their cargo

through the Roki Tunnel. Especially when the Dariali Gorge closed due to mudflows or other natural disasters. The Tskhinvali regimen put a so-called veto on the demands of Official Yerevan, nor could the Kremlin persuade the de-facto leaders and the initiative was pronounced closed... however, now it seems that nothing has been decided finally. As for the issue of transportation of

cargo through the other occupied territory, here the situation is even more obscure. The political classes of the occupied Abkhazia don’t have time for the economy, as they are still busy distributing governmental powers. In 10 days, the de-facto opposition has announced a public rally against de-facto President Khajimba. The reason for the protests is the positions which the defacto government were to have handed to the so-called opposition. They say in occupied Sokhumi that murder, robbery and rape and even lynching have been added. Another subject for protests is that Georgians living in Gali and Ochamchire are given Abkhazian “passports”. In short, there is a protest season in occupied Abkhazia, instead of a holiday one and they have no time for economy, nor for Karasin-Abashidze.

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Ruling Class Stonewallers OP-ED BY NUGZAR B. RUHADZE


hose who govern want to govern forever, in other words, once a ruler – always a ruler. This political attitude has nothing to do with democracy, national freedom or an individual’s right to life and pursuit of happiness. And the strongest stock in trade for a ruler of this type seems to be stonewalling as such. I am certainly alluding to Georgia as a country with this kind of a juridical and political landscape. For instance, you ask a ruling class member a question about a murder, robbery, abduction, bribery or any other criminal activity of the sort, and you will hear a predictable rubberstamped answer – ‘let us wait for the investigation’. And the investigation might last forever! The ‘let-us-wait-for-the-investigation’ has become a sacramental phrase, for the speaker providing a magic charge of momentary relaxation from ceaseless media pestering, while to a listener, it represents merely the flimsy hope of at some point understanding what’s going on. Everything is under investigation here. Investigations have overwhelmed us. We are living from investigation to investigation. We hear the word everywhere, at all times. This country has become a land of perpetual investigating, and all those investigations are widely ramified and shrouded in secrecy. At the beginning of the investigation of a case, public involvement and excitement is usually high, and then, interest fades and the facts and curiosity begin to slip our minds until we forget completely, perhaps tired of the procrastination. Meanwhile, new cases to investigate come up for us to digest and build our hopes on. No doubt, we are a nation of rule of law, or we at least try to be one. But this democratic image has two sides – both light and dark. The light side is that we are enjoy-

ing a life that is safeguarded by law and its enforcement, and the dark side is that, formally based on legal fairness and celebration of law, most politicians feed people with prefabricated phrases like ‘we must abide by the law’, ‘nobody is above the law’, ‘investigations will reveal the truth’, ‘let us wait until the case is looked into’, ‘we must not obstruct justice’, ‘investigation needs time’, ‘we need to be patient’, etc. The answers of ruling politicians to questions concerning the legal cases that attract our attention are typical stonewalling. Most of the time, their answers are unclear and obfuscated, or in the best-case scenario, only approximate something that sounds like truth. The impression is that nobody knows anything about the criminal goings-on and the way those cases are being handled. As a result, media starts looking into those cases by themselves, trying to find something that could cater to the curiosity of the public. In the end. a question arises: who is a better investigator- the State or the press? I’m tempted to give preference to my colleagues in terms of investigative resource and talent, but I will refrain from incisive comments this time as this is just my personal impression, not a livedthrough experience. When it comes to investigating this or that case, media has no reason to stonewall. Stonewalling is the forte of our politicians who need to be careful so that they do not endanger themselves to the point of losing their cushy jobs. They need stonewalling to save time and politically survive. They have to stonewall every so often because they might not look too perfect if they don’t. But what about a politician’s image – does this count or not? Stonewalling corrupts a politician’s image so badly that reelection might very well fall under doubt. Stonewalling works to the detriment of any person who wants to build a long-term political career. So why not drop it and work in public with an open heart and mind? Politics is also in need of open hearts and minds. At least sometimes!

Georgia’s Rapporteur on Visa-Liberalization Becomes EU Commissioner BY THEA MORRISON


uropean Parliamentarian Mariya Gabriel, who was Georgia’s Rapporteur on VisaLiberalization, has become the youngest European Union (EU) Commissioner on Digital Economy and Society. Gabriel has been a great supporter for granting Georgia a visa-free regime to the EU and will now support the implementation of the Digital Single Market Strategy. Moreover, according to the European Parliament, Gabriel will contribute to deliver a Digital Single Market, helping to lay the groundwork for Europe's digital future with EU-wide telecommunications networks, digital services that cross borders and a

wave of innovative European start-ups. She should also ensure that the right conditions are set, including through copyright law, to support cultural and creative industries and maximize their potential for the economy. Georgian Prime Minister, Giorgi Kvirikashvili, has congratulated Gabriel on her success and named her “Georgia’s dearest friend.”




Palagashvili’s American Visitors Up by 15% in Adjara TourismDream Come True INTERVIEW BY NANA SAJAIA, VOICE OF AMERICA GEORGIAN SERVICE


it’s a new way of thinking about different things that you care about. For me, I really care about why some countries are rich and others are poor. To me, economics is a way to understand these questions.

wenty-eightyear-old Liya Palagashvili, an assistant professor at New York University, was named among Forbes Magazine’s 30 Under 30 last year, a list of youngsters that the magazine describes as “the brightest young entrepreneurs, breakout talents and change agents”. Palagashvili was nominated by the George Mason University, where she did her doctoral studies and conducted a number of studies in the fields of economy, law and policy. We sat down with Palagashvili to discuss her American dream-cometrue career.

WHAT DOES IT MEAN FOR YOU TO BE ON THE LIST? Forbes has different categories of 30 Under 30. The one I got nominated for was “Law and Policy”. There are other categories – like sports, fashion, and music. To be a Forbes 30 Under 30 means being one of the rising stars and leaders in this particular area.

UNLIKE US ACADEMIC CIRCLES, LITTLE IS KNOWN ABOUT YOU IN GEORGIA. HOW DID YOU GET HERE? My family moved to the United States when I was seven and I’m just very thankful to be here because it provided me lots of different opportunities. When I was in high school, I took a class on economics. I didn’t know what I wanted to study at college, I wasn’t sure until I took that class and boom! my world just opened. Economics is a beautiful topic, letting you see the world in a completely different way;

TELL US ABOUT YOUR AMERICAN DREAM Many people think of economics as just accounting and financing, but there’s a lot more to it- my love in that regard is policy.

YOUR FIELD HAS TRADITIONALLY BEEN DOMINATED BY MALES. IS IT IMPORTANT TO HAVE MORE WOMEN IN THIS FIELD, AND, GENERALLY, IN POWER? I think I can be a role model to other women who want to enter this field. I also think it’s really important in economics to be able to communicate the different ideas of economics and laws. I think that women are sometimes better able to articulate and explain in a way that makes it easier for others to understand

ONE OF THE MAIN FOCUSES OF YOUR RESEARCH IS ECONOMIC FREEDOM. HOW DO YOU DEFINE ECONOMIC FREEDOM IN SUCH A DYNAMICALLY CHANGING WORLD? I think one of the biggest things is strong protection of property rights. Economic freedom is the ability to own property, be able to easily start a business- in the US you take for granted that you are free

Information Centers

YOU ARE INTERESTED IN TRANSITIONAL ECONOMIES AND YOU SAY IT’S SOMETHING YOU’D LIKE TO RESEARCH IN FUTURE. ANY SPECIFIC TOPICS THAT ATTRACT YOU IN TRANSITIONAL COUNTRIES LIKE GEORGIA? There is this concept in economics that we call ‘informal institution’. There is formal institution which are the legal rules, what the constitution is like, and there is something called informal institution and that captures more of a norm and the customs and culture of the country. I am particularly interested in that interaction between formal and informal institutions, especially for transition economies. So my particular interest in Georgia is to understand what is going on with informal institutionsare they compatible with western institutions and, if not, how do we get there.

HOW DID YOU GET THE FORBES’ 30 UNDER 30 NOMINATION. I was doing my PHD in economics at the George Mason University and after I graduated, I got an email asking if they could recommend and nominate me to Forbes. A couple of months later, they asked me some follow up questions from Forbes and then I heard nothing until they published the list on the website, I had no idea until everyone else did. It came as a total surprise.

to start your own business, but that’s not the case for a lot of different countries around the world.

My family was living in Armenia, and after the collapse of the Soviet Union, my mom’s friend moved to the US. One day she randomly put my mom’s name in the Green Card Lottery and my mom won. So, we moved to the US and family friends helped sponsor us here. I came from a low-income background. One of the cool things about America is that there are many different groups here and some that are church organizations that will help immigrants. For my parents, the American dream was moving here and being able to start something. I am a walking representation of the American Dream and I’m very thankful and grateful for that.

WHAT’S NEXT FOR YOU, SHOULD WE EXPECT TO SEE YOU AMONG FORBES’ MOST INFLUENTIAL OR RICHEST WOMEN? I don’t know about richest woman. I really enjoy writing, and I've written many academic papers, but I particularly enjoy writing in newspapers. My dream is to have a column in the Wall Street Journal, and use it as a way to talk about all these different regulations and policies to help people understand more of their impact.

10 Galaktion Street

Source: Visit Batumi facebook



his June, 15 percent more visitors visited Adjara tourism-information centers compared to the same period last year. Adjara Tourism and Resorts Department reports that in June, 10,808 people benefited from the service centers in the region. In total, 25,517 visitors visited the centers in January-June 2017, which is an 11 percent increase compared to last year. The majority of visitors to touristinformation centers are Polish, Ukrain-

ian, Russian, Turkish and Israeli citizens. They are usually interested in tourist attractions of Adjara and especially in mountainous Adjara tourism routes. The number of visitors has also increased in tourist-information centers of mountainous Adjara. In comparison with the First Half statistics of last year, tourists have increased by 86 percent in 2017. This summer, nine tourism centers are serving Adjara, located in Batumi and its municipalities, where people can get detailed information about Adjara tourism products, mountainous tours, entertainment tourist attractions or events. The Adjara Tourism Products Development Agency opened its 9th center this year in Batumi.

Georgian Wine Export Increases by 59% in 6 Months BY THEA MORRISON


eorgia’s National Wine Agency (NWA) reports that in January-July 2017, around 31.5 million bottles of wine were exported from Georgia to 44 countries worldwide. Based on these numbers, exports were 59 percent higher in the last six months than the same period in 2016. January-July wine exports this year amounted to $70.5 million, which is 51 percent more than 2016. “According to the export data of the first half of 2017, wine export has grown by 60% compared to the same period of the previous year. In January-July, exports increased to the European Union, China, USA and other traditional markets, which is a result of collaborated work and marketing activity of the National Wine Agency and wine sector,” Head of the NWA Giorgi Samanishvili, said. The top importers of Georgian wine

during this period were Russia (19,313,343 bottles), China (3,842,412), Ukraine (2,983,000), Poland (1,212,704) and Kazakhstan (1,163,827). In addition, during the six-month period, 6,858,734 bottles of brandy were exported to 17 countries, 66 percent more than in 2016. January-July brandy exports this year amounted to $16 million, which is 88 percent higher than the earnings for 2016. On the whole, export income for alcoholic drinks this January-July amounted to $122.14 million, or a growth of 56 percent, compared to the same period in 2016.

Tel: (995 32) 2 45 08 08 E-mail:




Bringing Georgian Cuisine to the Streets: the Street Food Festival at Mtatsminda Park INTERVIEW BY NINO GUGUNISHVILI


oung Georgian Entrepreneur Tamta Ricci, recently organized the first Tbilisi Street Food Festival. Held at Mtatsminda Park last Saturday, it brought together Georgian and foreign restaurants and wineries in an attempt to create a festive food and wine tasting experience, something she says she always wanted to do in Georgia, “to make the street food festival concept, which is popular worldwide, more familiar to the locals”. Melt Grill and BBQ , Paul, Schuchmann Wine Bar, Radio Café, Corner House, Tsiskvili restaurant, Grono, Petit Appetite, Sakhatchapure N1 were among the

many restaurants represented at the weekend’s festival. “I’ve attended almost all the street food festivals in Europe and in the US as I lived outside Georgia for quite a while, and I wanted to make it happen here in Tbilisi. The culinary theme was always very interesting and important for me and I wanted to do something for my city and country,” Ricci tells GEORGIA TODAY. “Street food festivals are the perfect opportunity for restaurants to introduce their products and menus to the wider public, and that’s a very important part of it,” she tells us. “It’s always hard when you start a project like this one; it was rather difficult to convince many of the restaurants in Tbilisi to participate. Some of them now regret not participating, some of them refused at the very last

moment, some of them agreed instantly, as soon as they got our offer to be featured at the event. It was easier with the wine companies, as they are more used to being regularly showcased at wine fairs, contrary to the culinary sphere, which as I see is underdeveloped at present”. “Following the idea of the Street Food Festival concept, all the restaurants tailored their products very successfully for the day. We had Georgian, Ukrainian, German, Japanese, and American cuisine represented. All the products were fresh and the National Food Agency, one of our partners together with the Tbilisi Municipality Administration Office and the Ministry of Agriculture, pointed out that none of the restaurants participating have been sanctioned for food quality or sanitary conditions,” Ricci notes, underlining the careful selection made while choosing who would participate in her event. Despite the Street Food Festival notion being relatively new, Ricci says the event received a lot of very positive feedback. People were genuinely interested in the food-making process which they could see on site, such as the making of churchkhelas, and in tasting wine and a variety of dishes. “Our aim was to promote Georgian national cuisine. It is well-known in our neighboring countries but it has to be promoted and popularized more outside the country and region. We are now working on a new project which will focus on introducing the Georgian restaurants and Georgian culinary traditions

abroad, and we hope this will be interesting for the state sector as an initiative. I’ve been in contact with Street Food Festival organizers in France and Germany, and I think with support from state organizations, we can take Georgian cuisine outside Georgia. We wanted to break the stereotype of street food being unhealthy and not tasty, something that is still deeply rooted in our society. We wanted to show that Georgian food can be showcased and packed in such a way that anyone could eat it in the street,”

Ricci says, adding that she is sure the 2018 Street Food Festival event will gain even more popularity. Ricci is an avid traveler, having spent almost nine years traveling and getting acquainted with different cuisines and traditions in Europe, US and Asia. “Thanks to its geographical location, Georgia can take something from Europe or Asia and create true culinary masterpieces,” she says. “When introducing Georgian traditional cuisine to the outside world, we have to consider their tastes and preferences, offer less spicy and lighter versions. Of course, our dishes are authentic and tasty, but I’m not against adjusting them to European flavor just a tiny bit,” she says of Georgian fusion. She says she enjoys the challenge of organizing and managing of the Tbilisi Street Food Festival, “You have enormous responsibility before the companies that participate, that trust you and that join you in the adventure”. Following the success of the Street Food Festival at Mtatsminda Park, Ricci now plans to organize another in October, bringing together food from different regions of Georgia, and, as “October is best in Kakheti,” so the wine region is the destination for her next Street Food Festival.



To Nino’s House, Part 2 BY TONY HANMER


f anyone thinks that the best way to see the convoluted, fabulously eroded landscapes of Cappadocia is from the air, you’d be spot on. If you also realize that the best times to photograph it are either early morning or late afternoon, when the sun is low and its shadows add a lot of depth to the land, right again. Midday is much less spectacular as it tends to flatten everything out with vertical shadows. Fortunately, there’s a whole industry built around these assumptions and around meeting the needs of landscape photographers. Aside from drones, there are literally scores of hot air balloons waiting to serve. Now I, too, can say that this works beautifully, and is also a thrill worth every cent. I was picked up from my hotel at 03:50 in the morning (or should I say in the night), along with a few other enthusiasts. The minivan drove us to the office of “our” balloon company nearby, where we paid our US$100 or 90 Euros and had a light breakfast of fruit, cake and coffee or tea. Then off outside the town, where all the local balloons were filling up with blasts of gas jet-flamed hot air, rising off the ground. We were sixteen to a basket plus the pilot, who has been doing this for six years. Another important statistic: over the last ten years, seeing about

850,000 people take such trips, there have been only five fatalities. Sounds good. The pilot demonstrated the landing position, a squat while gripping the handholds in front of one, in case we would need it. Then we were gently off into the sky, slowly lightening but still yet to see the sunrise. The only noise was the occasional further gas flame keeping the air in the massive balloon hot and thus still rising. This ballooning can be done all year round, even in snow-swept, -20 C winters, if the wind isn’t too strong; you just dress accordingly. You have virtually no control over where the light normal winds will take you. You do have much more control over vertical position, though, thanks to the addition or withholding of hot air. Pre-sunrise, the landscape underneath us remained a bit undefined, but as soon as the sun rose, it came alive with those magnificent long shadows. Here, Cappadocia’s rich mix of ancient caves, stone “fairy towers”, fields of grapes, apricots and wheat, and modern communities appeared, spread out below us. All around were many, many other balloons, but the space was huge enough that there was no crowding or risk of collisions; the pilots are much too clever for such things. They did occasionally rotate us on our vertical axis, allowing everyone to see from all sides. We were, of course, stunned by the beauty as we

rose, sank and drifted through it. How could I ever have done such a thing shooting with film? Maybe some purists do, but I came away with nearly 200 digital photos in the 70 minutes we were airborne, glad to be free just to take one shot after another. The gas bottles allow for a flight of more than two hours, but running out would have serious consequences (a plunge and crash), so no one takes chances with timing. Our pilot was skilled enough to land our basket right on the Land Roverpulled trailer for it, aided by two men hauling with ropes from the ground, and we were back on land. Then they unfolded a table, poured champagne or orange juice, and we all toasted our experience. Driven back to the hotel for 7 am, there was nothing left to do but gush over it all to anyone who would listen. My wife, now that I had returned safely, also gave it a go two mornings later, with a similar reaction. Cappadocia and ballooning were really made for each other. 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 nearly 1500 members, at He and his wife also run their own guest house in Etseri:





JULY 7 - 10, 2017

OK! Magazine Georgia Holds Green Party at Tbilisi Gardens


K! Magazine Georgia held a Green Party in the wooded grounds of the Tbilisi Gardens construction. The event was organized with the support of the Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources Protection of Georgia, and PASHA Bank. The event was attended by Georgian government officials and representatives of the business, show-business and media sectors, many of whom dressed in green to show support for the initiative. As the Ministry of Environment and Natural

approach. I would like to thank the Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources Protection of Georgia and PASHA Bank for their support; motivating us to continue our work on green, eco-friendly projects, informing more members of the public and raising their interest in eco projects�. Guests of the green party were gifted saplings by Tbilisi Gardens and got to enjoy a delicious buffet while they enjoyed live music and a short film screening on Georgia’s Protected Areas. The new OK! Magazine App was then introduced, shortly followed by a free raffle for participants seeing a variety of prizes gifted by Black Sea Arena, GEM Fest, Volato, Lopota Resort, Green World, Georgian Palace Hotel, Zaraphkana, Bioli Medical Wellness Resort, Jungle Fever, GAU wine, and others.

Resources Protection states, it fully supports the partnership of state and private sectors together with the media in advocating and promoting green, eco-friendly projects and will be actively supporting such activities in the future, in order to raise public and business awareness towards the importance of eco-friendly initiatives in creating a healthier living environment. “We dedicated the evening to the green theme entirely,� said Maia Tsereteli, Executive Director of OK! Magazine Georgia said at the event. “Even the decorations were made with an ecological

Supporting Responsible Production & Consumption in Georgia


ustainable waste management is the focus of a new initiative kicked off by the Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources Protection of Georgia and the non-governmental organization Georgia’s Environmental Outlook (GEO), with the support from the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) and the Government of Sweden. The presentation of the project on July 5, brought together representatives of the Georgian government, civil society, businesses and chambers of commerce. Niels Scott, Head of UNDP in Georgia; Ekaterine Grigalava, Deputy Minister of Environment and Natural Resources Protection of Georgia; and Khatuna Gogaladze, Founder of GEO, addressed the participants of the meeting with welcome remarks. With up to $140 thousand in Swed-

ish government finding, the new initiative aims to assist Georgia to introduce the concept of Extended Producers Responsibility (EPR), which obliges producers and sellers of a product to make sure that no negative environmental impacts take place once the product is consumed or disposed of. In addition, the project will help develop a bylaw for managing the ‘e-waste’: Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) in Georgia. The Extended Producers Responsibility (EPR) is part of the Waste Management Code of Georgia adopted in 2014, which is set to be implemented in Georgia in December 2019. Until then, the country has to prepare the legal environment for implementing the code and carry out an information campaign to raise awareness in the public and private sectors.

Georgia Continues Efforts to Go Green


FIRST BRAND HOTEL IN KUTAISI UNDER BEST WESTERN INTERNATIONAL Within the framework of the Georgian Hotels’ Regional Network Development Project “12 hotels in 12 regionsâ€? by GHYHORSPHQWFRPSDQ\Âł6LPHWULD´WKHÂżUVWEUDQGKRWHOKDV been opened in Kutaisi under the Best Western International brand. The hotel accommodates 45 guest rooms, including 40 standard rooms and 5 suites. The hotel was designed taking into consideration special conditions and safety for guests with disabilities.

Address: 11 Grishashvili Str., 4600, Kutaisi, Georgia TEL 219 71 00

Three mobile conference halls are available with a total capacity of about 100 persons. (XURSHDQFXLVLQHFDQEHHQMR\HGLQWKHJURXQGĂ€RRUFDIp and a grill-bar menu in the roof top restaurant with panoramic views over the city. The International Hotels Management Company “T3 Hospitality Management,â€? providing the hotel management, has 20 years’ experience in hotel management in different countries globally.

limate Action is the focus of a new initiative kicked off by the Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources Protection of Georgia, United Nations Development Program (UNDP) and the Global Environment Facility (GEF). Minister Gigla Agulashvili and Head of UNDP in Georgia, Niels Scott, signed an agreement about the new four-year program (2017-2021) on July 4. With over USD 850 thousand in GEF funding, UNDP and GEF will help the Government of Georgia to collect accurate data about the status and impact of climate change and prepare an audit of Greenhouse Gas emissions. This information will lay the groundwork of Georgia’s regular reports to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCC), the largest international treaty to address the world’s concerns about the negative effects of Climate Change. Georgia joined the UN Convention on Climate Change in 1994 and in 2015 signed the Paris Agreement. By joining these international treaties, the country took an obligation to engage in climate

action in different areas, for example, to reduce Greenhouse Gas emissions by 15 percent. UNDP and GEF have been assisting Georgia over the years in monitoring the Climate Change effects, integrating Climate Change considerations into the national development strategies and in moving forward to the low-carbon green development.




Georgia Anticipates New Hungarian Ambassador BY MAKA LOMADZE


fter six years’ service in Georgia, Mr. Sandor Szabo, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Hungary to Georgia, bid farewell to the rank of first diplomat. “It is my pleasure to welcome you here and now, but I cannot deny that to some extent I am sad, too, as soon I will have to leave the country I like, the people I fell in love with, as well as my Georgian and non-Georgian friends,” the Ambassador said, going on to point to the fact that he is “leaving a country which is radically different from the one he came to in the autumn of 2011”. “This Georgia is no longer the same. Today, we see a multi-party parliamentary democracy in action, the market economy in the process of flourishing, grand infrastructural development at full speed; the rule of law is on its way to perfection, tourism is developing dynamically and culture diversity is distinctly manifested. In a word, the country is consistently modernized.” He did note, however, that this does not mean that the country is not facing more challenges ahead, though it has made great progress on the way of European and Euro-Atlantic integration in recent years. “When I started working here, Georgia was not an Associate Member of the European Union, Georgian citizens could not travel to the countries of the Schen-

gen zone without a visa; Georgia did not have enhanced cooperation with NATO in the previous years...and the list of achievements is still longer! I am extremely proud of and pleased with the fact that Hungary has been an active facilitator of these positive international processes. We have never failed to emphasize our support towards the sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity of Georgia at various international forums as well as during negotiations with our Georgian friends. Hungary and the Hungarian people, due to historical experiences, refer to these values with special empathy,” ambassador Szabo underlined. He overviewed the six years spent in Georgia. “This was the period when high-level meetings systematically took place, among which was the official visit of the Hungarian Prime Minister three months ago. I have a feeling of lack in one aspect only and I am afraid, not only me: the quality of our economic relations is far below the standard required by our good political relationships. This is why – hopefully in cooperation with our Georgian partners – a great number of

tasks in this area have to be resolved, as the practice with other countries proves that geographical distance cannot be a barrier to trade and mutual investment”. “You are leaving as an ambassador, but you are staying with us as our friend with your heart and with your devotion to the Georgian people,” Mikheil Janelidze, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Georgia, told the Ambassador. “Relations between Hungary and Georgia are not the same. They are much broader and deeper [after 6 years]. I would like to outline the people-to-people and cultural relations, and our deeper ties in the educational sector. During my career, I have worked very actively together with you [the Ambassador of Hungary] personally. I want to thank you for your support to Georgia’s interests not only in bilateral but also multilateral formats.” The minister also highlighted the increasing official visits between the two countries within the six years, also mentioning the ambassador’s support for the establishment of an intergovernmental commission of economic cooperation, which envisages new opportunities in the fields of economy and trade. He also stressed Hungary’s active support for Georgia’s integration into the European and Euro-Atlantic family, thanking the Hungarian Government for the steady support for Georgia’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. From the end of August, the new ambassador, Dr. Viktoria Horvath, will substitute Sandor Szabo who leaves Georgia for Moldova to continue his diplomatic duties.

British Corner Celebrates Queen’s Birthday BY KATIE RUTH DAVIES


ast week, the English language school, British Corner, invited guests and pupils to celebrate the British Queen’s birthday in its garden in Vake Park. “The Queen, as a Princess before her coronation, was President of the English Speaking Union (ESU). And her husband, Prince Phillip, the Duke of Edinburgh, was President for 60 years thereafter, a position now held by their daughter Princess Anne. This is why we celebrate the birthday of Queen Elizabeth II of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, each year,” said Marina Tsitsishvili, MBE, President of ESU Georgia and owner of The British Corner language center. Special guests, Ambassador of the UK to Georgia, Justin McKenzie Smith, Peter Nasmyth, author of a number of well-

known books on the Caucasus and a member of the British Georgian Society, and Lieutenant Colonel David Ethell, regional UK Defense Attaché of the Royal Marines and his wife, were invited to enjoy the special presentations put on by the children of the British Corner. A beautiful rendition of the British National Anthem, sung by a group of Georgian middle-schoolers, was followed by a song dedicated to the AmbassadorMy Bonnie Lies Over the Ocean. Then came a generous barbecue and buffet with a delightful birthday cake, enjoyed by all. The ESU works principally with young people, providing opportunities for them to build skills and gain experiences in order to realize their full potential. The ESU runs a wide range of educational and cultural programs, from scholarships for school leavers to speech training and competitions involving hundreds of schools in the UK and internationally.





TBILISI ZAKARIA PALIASHVILI OPERA AND BALLET THEATER Address: 25 Rustaveli Ave. Telephone: 2 99 04 56 July 7 LADO ATANELI Starring: Lado Ataneli, Iano Alibegashvili, Badri Maisuradze, Armaz Darashvili, George Chelidze, Iuri Aslanishvili, Tbilisi State Opera and Ballet Theater Chorus and Orchestra Conductor- Zaza Azmaiparashvili Program: Scenes from Giuseppe Verdi's ‘La forza del destino and Giacomo Puccini's Tosca’ Start time: 19:00 Ticket: 15-120 GEL July 11 PAGLIACCI Starring: Teimuraz Gugushvili, Makvala Aspanidze, Sulkhan Gvelesiani, Vakhtang Jashiashvili, Irakli Murjikneli, Tbilisi State Opera and Ballet Theater Chorus and Orchestra Conductor- Zaza Azmaiparashvili Start time: 19:00 Ticket: 7-50 GEL SHALIKASHVILI THEATER Address: 37 Rustaveli Ave. Telephone: 595 50 02 03 July 7, 8 LULLABY Directed by Amiran Shalikashvili Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 10 GEL MOVEMENT THEATER Address: 182, Aghmashenebeli Ave., Mushthaid park Telephone: 599 555 260 July 8 RECITATIVE IN THE CITY Kakha Bakuradze, Sandro Nikoladze, Simon Bitadze, Irakli Menagarishvili, Dato Kakulia Special Guests: Matilda Tatalia and Girls Dance Studio Start time: 21:30 Ticket: 10 GEL

GABRIADZE THEATER Address: 13 Shavtelis St. Telephone: 2 98 65 93 July 6 MARSHAL DE FANTIE’S DIAMOND Rezo Gabriadze Directed by Rezo Gabriadze English Subtitles Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 10, 15, 20 GEL CINEMA

AMIRANI CINEMA Address: 36 Kostava Str. Telephone: 2 99 99 55 Every Wednesday ticket price: 5 GEL July 6-12 SPIDER-MAN: HOMECOMING Directed by Jon Watts Cast: Tom Holland, Chris Evans, Robert Downey Jr. Genre: Action, Adventure, Sci-Fi Language: Russian Start time: 16:00, 19:00, 22:00 Ticket: 10-14 GEL DESPICABLE ME 3 Directed by Kyle Balda, Pierre Coffin Cast: Jenny Slate, Kristen Wiig, Steve Carell Genre: Animation, Action, Adventure Language: Russian Start time: 22:15 Ticket: 8-14 GEL TRANSFORMERS: THE LAST KNIGHT Directed by Michael Bay Cast: Laura Haddock, Mark Wahlberg, Gemma Chan Genre: Action, Adventure, Sci-Fi Language: Russian Start time: 19:00, 22:15 Ticket: 13-14 GEL THE MUMMY Directed by Alex Kurtzman Cast: Tom Cruise, Sofia Boutella, Annabelle Wallis Genre: Action, Adventure, Fantasy Language: Russian Start time: 16:30 Ticket: 10-11 GEL

RUSTAVELI CINEMA Address: 5 Rustaveli Ave. Telephone: 2 55 50 00 Every Wednesday ticket: 5 GEL July 6-12 THE HOUSE Directed by Andrew Jay Cohen Cast: Will Ferrell, Jeremy Renner, Nick Kroll Genre: Comedy Language: English Start time: 17:15, 19:15, 19:30, 22:30 Ticket: 11-14 GEL SPIDER-MAN: HOMECOMING (Info Above) Start time: 11:45, 14:45, 16:30, 19:30, 22:30 Ticket: 8-14 GEL TRANSFORMERS: THE LAST KNIGHT (Info Above) Start time: 19:15 Ticket: 13-14 GEL MUSEUM


May 18- November 18 EXHIBITION GEORGIAN COSTUME AND WEAPONRY OF 18TH-20TH CENTURIES MUSEUM OF FINE ARTS Address: 1 Gudiashvili Str. Telephone: 299 99 09 March 6 – August 30 EXHIBITION MASTERPIECES FROM THE MUSEUM OF FINE ARTS COLLECTION The exhibition includes works by Bernardo Daddi, Lucas Cranach (Elder), Guido Reni, Jan Steen, Jacob Van Ruisdael, Auguste Rodin, Pablo Picasso, Vassily Kandinski; Masterpieces by Niko Pirosmanashvili, Lado Gudiashvili and David Kakabadze. June 29- July 29 EXHIBITION DEDICATED TO THE 115TH ANNIVERSARY OF FIRST GEORGIAN FEMALE SCULPTOR NINO TSERETELI The exhibition showcases up to 60 works of Nino Tsereteli- sculptures, graphic works, and theatrical costumes. The exposition also includes personal items belonging to the sculptor. IOSEB GRISHASHVILI TBILISI HISTORY MUSEUM - KARVASLA Address: 8 Sioni St. Telephone: 2 98 22 81 July 5 - September 11 EXHIBITION OF DAVID SULAKAURI'S ARTWORKS The exhibition features up to 100 works by David Sulakauri and a catalog of his artworks. This is the first wide-scale exhibition of the author, dedicated to his 65th anniversary. MUSEUM OF SOVIET OCCUPATION Address: 4 Rustaveli Ave. Telephone: 2 99 80 22, 2 93 48 21 PERMANENT EXHIBITION Discover the State's personal files of "subversive" Georgian public figures, orders to shoot or exile, and other artifacts representing Soviet-era cultural and political repression in Georgia.


THE NATIONAL GALLERY Address: 11 Rustaveli Ave. Telephone: 215 73 00 June 8 – September 11 EXHIBITION CONSTELLATION Artworks by Chinese contemporary artists- Ai Weiwei, Hu Xiaoyuan, Li Shurui, Liu Wei, Lu Pingyuan, Lu Shanchuan, Ma Qiusha, Wang Guangle, Wang Sishun, Wang Yuyang, Xie Molin, Xu Qu, Xu Zhen, Yan Xing, Zhang Ding, Zhang Zhenyu, Zhao Yao and Zhao Zhao. MUSIC

EVENT HALL Address: 1 Melikishvili Ave. Telephone: 595 79 79 35 July 7 STEPHANE Start time: 22:00 Ticket: 40 GEL GLDANI LAKE Address: Gldani District July 9 POOL PARTY AT WHITE LAKE Line Up: A2K, BATA, ANÁRA, FAMOUS, TOKO SOULL, CEZ K. Start time: 11:00 Ticket: 20 GEL BLUES FESTIVAL IN LAGODEKHI Address: Lagodekhi, Kakheti July 7 SHANNA WATERSTOWN Start time: 17:00 Ticket: 20-80 GEL YOUTH FOR CLASSICS IN THE CAUCASUS Start time: 19:00 Ticket: 10-25 GEL Venue: Royal District Theater 10 Abesadze Str July 9 OPENING CONCERT Municipal Youth Symphony Orchestra ‘Ibbenbüren’, Caucasian Chamber Orchestra, Young soloists from Georgia and Germany: Marie Obolashvili (violin), Rezi Khaindrava (cello), Marie Strootmann (flute), Tim Kiewitt (trumpet), Felix Meier (cello) Conductor- Uwe Berkemer In program: works by Charpentier, Marcello, Vivaldi, Haydn, Mozart, Saint-Saens, Fauré and Berkemer July 10 CAUCASIAN EVENING Municipal Youth Symphony Orchestra ‘Ibbenbüren’, Caucasian Chamber Orchestra, Young soloists from Georgia and Germany: Mikael Karakhanyan (cello), Nina Berkemer (violin), Giorgi Ushikishvili and ensemble ‘Lasharela’ In program: works of Caucasian Composers Conductor- Uwe Berkemer July 11 CINEMA AND MORE.... Caucasian Chamber Orchestra, Young soloists from Georgia and Germany: Marie Strootmann (flute), Galina Bandura (violin), Paula Elling (violin), Bela Berkemer-Makharadze (vocal, violin), Uwe Berkemer- vocal, piano and conductor Start time: 19:00 Ticket: 10-25 GEL




Black Sea Jazz Fest FAQs



o, first things first. If you are worried that Jay Kay (of Jamiroquai fame, not that it would ever be possible to imagine the band without him) won’t make it to this year’s Black Sea Jazz Festival in Batumi, you needn’t be. Yes, he had very serious spinal problems and had to cancel a tour or two in May, but has kept his promise and managed to “rebuild himself like an automaton”, an apt reference to his last album. So, if you read in social media that Jay might perform in a wheelchair (a rumor borne out of a joke from the organizers that they’d welcome him with open arms even if he chose to perform while languishing on a sofa) or that he won’t come to Georgia at all, there is simply no truth to it. Jamiroquai will be here and more than that –viewers will have the pleasure to listen to his latest album “Automaton” which came out in March and reached number one in Italy and number four in the UK. How can we be so sure? Why, we spoke with Giorgi Kereselidze, Director of Eastern Promotions group (a company behind the annual Jazz Festivals both in Batumi and Tbilisi), who was eager to answer each and every question pertaining to the festival and its audience. Jamiroquai question dealt with, lets continue with a basic trivia of the festival that has become the business card of Batumi in recent years. 11th of its name, this year’s Black Sea Festival will kick off earlier than its predecessors – as Mr. Kereselidze explained, in order to boost the early tourist flow to Batumi and Adjara in general (more on this later). It starts on July 27 and ends on the 30th. Besides Jamiroquai, you’ll have the pleasure of listening to Cory Henry, a gospel-weaving, funk-playing musician who is enjoying a steady rise among today’s top performers. There is also Grammy-winning British beauty Joss Stone, who has garnered numerous accolades since her first platinum debut album - The Soul Sessions. (You might also remember her from the TV show Tudors). Then there are the De

La Soul, who don’t need much of an introduction – if you still haven’t listened to their sinble with Gorrilaz- Feel Good Inc , I suggest you do so before continuing to read this. These guys are directly “responsible” for the emergence of Jazz-rap, after all. And last but by no means least, there is a lovable duo MF ROBOTS, which is… well, it’s a music for robots, as they themselves call it, but by no means wait till the eventual Robotic takeover of Mankind - listen to it at your earliest convenience: it’s a truly interesting and unique sound. One thing you might notice that while there are elements of Jazz in each of these performers music, there is not much of what you’d call “classical jazz”. No Keith Jarrett, no Chick Korea or Bobby McFerrin. And then if you go back to the star performers of the last couple of festivals, we had Snoop Dogg in 2015 and well, Prodigy in 2016. Yeap, that Prodigy. So, one of the main questions that Jazz aficionados have concerning the festival is – What happened to Jazz as we knowit?Well,timehappened.AsKereselidzeexplained, as the audience is getting younger, the choices become more mainstream, too – and that’s the trend of some of the most renowned festivals worldwide – you get one Big Tasty Star musician and construct the program around him / her. But the lovers of traditional jazz shouldn’t despair just yet – There is also Tbilisi Jazz Festival, also organized by Eastern Promotion, where a more academic approach is preferred. “In Batumi, our audience has become considerably younger, so it makes sense commercially, too, to invite world famous musicians that perform in various genres,” Kereselidze concluded. So, would that mean that we could theoretically get, say, Rammstein at the Black Sea Festival? Unlikely, but more hip-hop is expected after the tremendous success that followed Snoop Dogg and Busta Rhymes’ performances. And finally, the question to silence all doubters – what good is the Black Sea Jazz Festival to the country? We’ll let Mr. Kereselidze explain this one himself: “First of all, it's put Batumi on a touristic world map as a viable destination for music fans. This was our first and most important goal and I think we’ve largely succeeded in this. The effect the festival has on the tourist flow to Adjara is really noticeable: about 20 percent of our audience are foreigners. That’s a very impressive variable. We did some research last year – During Snoop Dogg's visit. Prior to the festival in mid July, everyday income to Adjara’s budget amounted to 1 million 2 hundred thousand GEL. During the four days of the festival, this number skyrocketed to 78 million, and you know what? Right after the festival, the next Monday, the numbers went down to exactly what they were prior to the festival. I think you can say that these stats speak for themselves.”

Exhibition of First Georgian Female Sculptor BY MAKA LOMADZE


n June 29, GNM Shalva Amiranashvili Museum of Fine Arts presented the opening of an exhibition dedicated to the 115th anniversary of first Georgian female sculptor, Nino Tsereteli, which showcases 60 of her works. “It is a real discovery how much this young artist managed to create,” said Davit Lortkipanidze, Director General of the Georgian National Museum. “Georgia is not indulged with a high level of sculpture, but Tsereteli left an indelible trace of artistic heritage for us despite her early death [at the age of 37]”. “In those days, a Georgian female sculptor was a kind of revolution,” said Mikheil Giorgadze, Minister of Culture and Monument Protection. “She was multicolored and, besides sculptures, there are graphic works and theatrical costumes presented at the exhibition. I would like to extend my gratitude to all the involved parties who have worked on this exhibition”. “We also had other female sculptor too, for instance, Tamar Abakelia and Elene Machabeli,” Gogi Khoshtaria, well-known art-historian, told GEORGIA TODAY. “Marina Ivanishvili is now a very promis-

ing artist. I would not divide sculptors according to gender. A sculptor is either good, mediocre or bad. Even though she was a pupil of sculptor Iakob Nikoladze [NOTE: founder of the Georgian school of sculpture, pupil of Rodin], she was absolutely individual and independent. Nino has her own peculiar feeling of plasticity. She should be included in the collection of Georgian sculptural portraits. I would point out the portraits of Khorava, Tsereteli, and Marjanishvili, in particular,” Khoshtaria said. “The first exhibition of Nino Tsereteli in 1964 was dedicated to the 25th year since her death, whilst the second exhibition of 2002 was dedicated to the 100th from her birth,” said Lela Tsitsuashvili, curator of the current exhibition. “Yet, her works are little-known to the public. She was the last Mohican in Georgia of the avant-garde, after which totally different propagandistic art was born within decades of Soviet social realism. These were idols that were short of all sort of individualism or human values. Tsereteli managed to create a distinguished image of the epoch. Being one of the first students of Georgian Academy of Fine Arts, she avoided propagandistic art and created very lyrical and poetic icons in the genre of portrait.”

Sulakauri Exhibition: Taught to Paint as Soldiers while Dreaming of Freedom BY MAKA LOMADZE


n July 5, with the support of the Georgian Ministry of Culture and Monument Protection, Joseph Grishashvili History Museum hosted the opening of the exposition of artworks by Davit Archil Sulakauri. This is the first large-scale exhibition for the 65-year-old artist, displaying 100 of his artworks, and came about thanks to his winning a contest declared by the Ministry of Culture and Monument Protection in 2017, in which the painters from Tbilisi and regions took part as curators of their own project and catalogues. Sulakauri creates landscapes, portraits, multifigural compositions, paintings on religious topics and graphic works on handmade paper. His paintings are impressive, and the monumental canvases equally so, in which tradition and innovation reside on friendly terms. The artist maximally applies to the possibilities of a color, and uses a deliberate deformation of shapes, loading his works with strong emotional drive and feeling. He was born into a family of artists. “My grandfather, who was a film dramatist, was exiled but returned. He made us fall in love with literature and art. My father was a film director and wanted me to follow his path but I did not. My uncle was

a famous writer. I owe him a lot,” the artist told us, adding that it took him 25 years to get to know what art is. “The main thing is to own the necessary impulse to convey reality. “If there is no relevant impulse, there is no art,” he confides. Sulakauri works in iconography, encaustic art, graphic art, painting, employing a variety of materials. "I chose the encaustic direction when living, working and teaching in the US, as this is a material that is steady and does not require special care and conditions.” He notes that the US gave him extra freedom, as there, personality is what matters. “I was born in times when artists were protesting. When studying at the Academy of Fine Arts, we were taught to paint with too many rules: we were trained as soldiers. We dreamed of freedom, which came at last. However, some misunderstood it. Freedom also has its regularity. One must not surpass moral values.” To the question, what matters more – shape or content, he replies that these are two inseparable parts of art. He chooses material in harmony with an idea. IDPs, death of a warrior and torture prevail in his works, which makes it easy to guess that he comes from a country that suffered a lot. However, he is in search of light and kindness and believes that there is no wickedness in the world, but rather a lack of kindness. WHERE: Sioni Str. 8 WHEN: Until September 10

WHERE: Shalva Amiranashvili Museum of Fine Arts, Gudiashvili Str. 1, Tbilisi WHEN: June 29-July 29



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Profile for Georgia Today

Issue #961  

July 7 - 10, 2017

Issue #961  

July 7 - 10, 2017