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Issue no: 1123



In this week’s issue... Kaladze’s Weekly Priorities: Public Transport, Support for Children with Autism


Georgian FM Holds High-Rank Meetings in Washington POLITICS PAGE 4


Freedom House 2019: Georgia is “Partly Free”


Don Carlo returns to Georgia with a star cast


Complex Education Reform to Be Launched in Georgia BY THEA MORRISON


Expansion of Georgia’s Black Sea Ports: Modus Vivendi for Georgia BUSINESS PAGE 7

Anastasia Pirveli: Georgia’s Transgender Star


ikheil Batiashvili, Minister of Education, Science, Culture and Sport of Georgia, held a summarizing presentation of the Education System Complex Reform. The reform implies a number of changes to the education system and includes changes in the preschool, secondary, vocational, higher education and science areas, with Georgian experts and education subject-matter specialists actively engaged in the reform design and development process. International organizations the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), World Bank, International Monetary Fund (IMF), Asian Development Bank (ADB) and almost all donor agencies and international partners of Georgia also participated in forming the upcoming strategy. Continued on page 2


“Matters of the Dark & Irresistible,” a Disturbing Exhibition at the MOMA Image source: mes.gov.ge





FEBRUARY 8 - 11, 2019

PM Bakhtadze Meets with EBRD Managing Director BY KETEVAN KVARATSKHELIYA


he Prime Minister of Georgia Mamuka Bakhtadze held a meeting with Managing Director of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), Matteo Patrone, on February, 6, where the latter stated that the EBRD increasingly trusts the Government of Georgia and its economic policy. At the meeting, the parties discussed the joint projects implemented with EBRD and the role of the Bank as one of the strongest supporters of Georgia in the country’s development and eco-

Image source: Government of Georgia

nomic growth. The conversation also touched upon upcoming projects targeted by the EBRD for investment and the interest of the Bank in implementing a number of initiatives in the public sector. PM Bakhtadze focused on the importance of projects launched by the EBRD for Georgia’s development and transformation of the country into a regional hub and economic center. The Georgian official also expressed his gratitude to Bruno Balvanera, the predecessor of Matteo Patrone, who contributed to putting together an important investment portfolio for Georgia over the years. Patrone was appointed EBRD Managing Director in Eastern Europe and Caucasus in October 2018.

Boeing Purchases Aircraft Parts Made in Georgia BY AMY JONES


Georgian factory producing aircraft parts has manufactured its first items to be purchased by Boeing. The state-owned shareholding company Partnership Fund announced the news: “The first document on the procurement of high-tech products manufactured to international standards was signed at the aircraft-parts factory. The Director of Elbit Cyclone and Aerostructure Technologies Cyclone (ATC) director signed the agreement.”

Elbit Cyclone is an Israeli company that partnered with the Partnership Fund to open the factory in Tbilisi in 2018. It is the first high-tech factory of its kind in the South Caucasus region. Together with the Partnership Fund, Elbit Cyclone formed a joint venture company - Aerostructure Technologies Cyclone in Georgia. Together they invested $93 million in the project. Currently, the company employs 120 people and plans to expand its staff to 300. Aircraft parts manufactured in the factory will be sold to Airbus, Bombardier, and various other passenger plane companies.

Photo source: Partnership Fund

Complex Education Reform to Be Launched in Georgia Continued from page 1 Within the framework of the education reform, the School Readiness Program will be provided for all children of Georgia for 2021-2023. In addition, new educational programs and resources will be introduced based on the principles of inclusive and civil education. A new model of teacher cer-

tification and salary policy is to be developed and approved. In the field of general education, a New School Model has been created based on literacy, which is focused on critical thinking and fast adaptation to the environment, based on the general skills of the students. The model also envisages providing schools with autonomy and decentraliza-

tion: moving from a uniform approach to differentiated approaches and the development of the principals as strong leaders. The New School Model was successfully implemented in Public School 150 of Tbilisi and by 2024, the model will be introduced in all schools throughout the country. It was announced by the Education Ministry that School Graduation Exams will be abolished from 2020. Other major changes will be enacted in the education system from the same year. Prior to that, in 2019, 11th graders will be exempted from graduation exams, but these exams will be retained for 12th grade students. It was stated that National Examinations will be conducted in three compulsory subjects instead of four from 2020. Georgian Language and Literature and foreign language exams will remain mandatory for all university entrants. Entrants will still be able to choose from technical and humanitarian programs, but the third compulsory subject will be determined according to the demands of the higher educational institutions the entrants wish to join. Passing a General Skills exam will no longer be compulsory, but universities will have the right to add a selective examination relevant to their own program, including a General Skills exam. Batiashvili stated that in 2019, the construction of nine new public schools in

Tbilisi and in the regions, and the renovation of 265 public schools, will be completed. “Eight special schools will be renewed and the construction of 35 new schools will be launched. We want to build a city of education and science which will unite different educational spaces,” he noted. In the field of higher education, the goal is to integrate into the international education space and instigate quality improvement. Moreover, the Development Strategy implies the transformation of Georgia into a regional hub for international business, tourism, transport and education. Vocational Education and Life-Long Learning is one of the priority areas of the presented reform. The Minister said the government is introducing a system which will help individuals of any age to adapt to the fast changing world, acquire new professional skills, and enjoy self-realization and development. In terms of science, the reform implies integration into the international scientific space and increased funding for science. The overall aim is to develop Georgia’s human capital, generating competitive professionals equipped with advanced knowledge and skills, oriented towards long-term development. “The modern world, new technologies and fast pace of changes requires humans to have new, diverse skills, the ability to

We want to build a city of education and science process information and quickly respond to problems, and apply logical thinking. The methodology of the education sector reform and new approaches envisage a system that zooms in to an individual child, adolescent, youth and teacher,” he stated. PM Bakhtadze thanked all sides involved in the reform development process and expressed confidence that the reform will be successful. “We will have competitive generations equipped with advanced knowledge who will make their due contribution to the democratic and economic transformation of Georgia. That is how we will overcome poverty, reach welfare and join a group of advanced, developed countries by succeeding in the creation of a unified, strong and European state,” he added.




Kaladze’s Weekly Priorities: Public Transport, Support for Children with Autism BY SAMANTHA GUTHRIE


ach week, the municipal government of Tbilisi holds a meeting at City Hall. Preceding this week’s meetings, Mayor Kakha Kaladze remarked on several topics of interest. Kaladze opened the meeting by discussing public infrastructure. Two new subway cars were added to the Tbilisi Metro, one on each line, with plans to add two more in the near future. City Hall plans to renovate all the old cars that are still operational. Metro ridership has increased by 25% year-on-year. Kaladze attributed this uptick to the improved quality of cars and shorter wait times between trains. Previous wait time was an average of four minutes. It has now been reduced to three minutes, and the goal is to shorten it to just two and a half minutes during peak hours. Kaladze also announced the opening of the call for bids on the construction of the new metro lines between Samgori and Lilo and between Samgori and Tbilisi International Airport. Plans were expressed to commission a survey to explore the potential of connecting Tbilisi to Rustavi via a metro line. Another topic of discussion was the winner of the tender to manage advertising on taxis and public transportation – private marketing firm Alma. For the first two years, Alma will not pay drivers directly for carrying advertisements, but instead issue them vouchers to repaint

Image source: Tbilisi City Hall

their cars the newly-required white, and for car washes. The city also plans to rehabilitate the Youth Palace on Rustaveli Avenue, a 200-year-old cultural heritage monument that is one of the landmarks of Tbilisi. The building’s function has changed many times in the past century. The first national flag of the Democratic Republic of Georgia was raised there. Today, it holds the American Embassy’s American Corner location for Tbilisi. The palace’s façade and interior are in need of a complete renovation. The work will cost approx-

imately 599,000 GEL ($225,000). “The palace building will be completely restored and future generations will be able to use the space for many decades,” promised Kaladze. The Mayor also discussed a new initiative to expand programs for children on the autism spectrum. Current programs reach just 850 children, but the plan is to reach 1,000 children with renewed funding support. “The capital city has been working in this direction for years,” said Kaladze, “There are seven institutions that serve these children. When I was in the City

Assembly, a member of an opposition party asked if it was possible to increase the number of children that the City Hall will serve and finance. As far as I know, there were more than 130 waiting at that time. We – my staff, my deputy, Sopio Khuntsaria, was personally involved in the process. We met with representatives of this opposition party and decided to increase the number of beneficiaries up to 1000, i.e., to satisfy the children who were in the waiting line. For this, we spent 3.7 million GEL ($1.4 mln). With this decision, about 445,000 GEL ($167,000) will be allocated to support

these families and children as much as possible.” The Mayor then touched on the environment. “We are doing a lot of work to improve the ecological situation in the capital; we are carrying out various projects. I would like to inform residents about infected pine trees. Last year, we brought in international experts who conducted research and studied the current situation. The results showed that we have a very difficult situation in the city and if we do not take concrete steps today, we may face an ecological catastrophe. Accordingly, the EcoService Group has already made sanitary cuts. In total, thousands of diseased pine trees will be cut down and replaced with new trees,” said Kaladze. The majority of the trees infected with the contagious disease, he said, are on private land. Finally, Kaladze discussed the importance of tourism development for Tbilisi. “I had a talk with the Prime Minister about how we should position Tbilisi on various platforms to explain to tourists how attractive and interesting our city is.” He called on Andria Basilaia, the head of the City Hall Economic Development Department, to “Show the world how beautiful our city is and how rich its culture is for which each of us is proud. We have a lot of sights and hospitality, which it is very important to popularize. We have to maximize our city to be the best capital, to draw as many tourists as possible to spend more time here. With the money from tourism, we will be able to finance other important directions.”

Georgia’s National Tourism Agency Welcomes New Head Ministry of Economy, Ministry of Health and those private companies who are able to offer medical tourism products to visitors,” she said. Kvrivishvili added that the main aim is to create a more diverse tourism market in order to attract more tourists to Georgia. “We need to have more direct flights to some countries whose citizens actively visit Georgia for tourism purposes. Also, we need to have flights to countries

Image source: Reginfo



he Georgian National Tourism Administration (GNTA) has a new head: Mariam Kvrivishvili, appointed as a result of a

competition. Kvrivishvili, 29, was presented by the Minister of Economy and Sustainable Development of Georgia, Giorgi Koulia, on February 5. “Mariam Kvrivishvili has great work experience in the private and public sectors. She has a Bachelor's and Master's Degree in Marketing, Business Administration and Management, which is very important for us,” the Minister said. I think her work experience, education, and vision will provide more energy for tourism administration and will help us to advance this very important segment of our economy”. He added that Kvrivishvili also has a lot of experience in the tourism sector. Since 2013, she was working as the Director General of LLC Voyager. She was also airline Fly Dubai Regional Manager in Georgia. In 2012-2013, she worked as Deputy Head of the National Tourism

Administration. Kvrivishvili said it is a great honor for her to head one of the most strategically important agencies of the country. “There are many challenges ahead because the goals that are based on national principles are quite ambitious. It is important that with the short, medium and long term strategies, we develop new tourism products, create new infrastructure and launch more new flights to bring in more high-profile tourists. It is also important that Georgia have more diversified and strategic markets," she added. She told media that there is a lot of potential in Georgia and she plans to launch new touristic products like medical- and eco-tourism. “These products will be a base for the existing product supply platform in the country. The involvement of the private sector in the development of medical tourism is of utmost importance. We have one mission: we want more quality tourists to come to Georgia,” she added. The GNTA Head noted that in order to develop tourism in the country, the involvement of both the state and private sectors is necessary. “For example, in medical tourism the GNTA will be involved alongside the

which are not so active but have the potential to be attracted to come,” she said. The GNTA is a Legal entity of public law, a part of the system of the Ministry of Economy and Sustainable Development of Georgia, independently conducting activity under state control. The goals and objectives of the GNTA are: • Formation and implementation of the Georgian tourism development state

policy; • Promotion of sustainable tourism development; • Promotion of high export income growth and job creation in the country on the basis of tourism development; • Attraction of foreign tourists to Georgia and development of domestic tourism; • Promotion of human resources development in the field of tourism destinations, infrastructure and tourism.




FEBRUARY 8 - 11, 2019

Georgian FM Holds High-Rank Meetings in Washington BY THEA MORRISON


ithin the framework of an official visit to the United States of America, Georgia’s Foreign Minister David Zalkaliani held high-rank meetings in Washington DC. Zalkaliani held a meeting with the US Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs, Wess Mitchell. The sides spoke about Georgia-US co-operation in various fields. It was underlined that Georgia is the key ally and partner of the US in the region. The sides highlighted prospects for further enhancing mutual ties for defense and security, as well as in the fields of economy and trade. Zalkaliani thanked the US for its firm support of Georgia’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, including through the US Appropriations Act. The Georgian Foreign Minister updated the Assistant Secretary of State on the ongoing reforms in Georgia and the process of European and Euro-Atlantic integration. The sides noted with satisfaction the high-level communication between the two countries. During the visit, Zalkaliani also met Senator Bill Flores and thanked him for an increasing number of its acts and resolutions in support of Georgia. The sides welcomed the increased

Image source: MFA

amount of US financial assistance to Georgia as evidenced by the US Appropriations Act 2019. Flores expressed his wish to become a member of the House Georgia Caucus and further assist Georgia in dealing with the challenges facing it. He also reaffirmed his strong support for Georgia’s sovereignty and territorial integrity,

as well as for its path of European and Euro-Atlantic integration. At the meeting with the Co-chairman of the Sub-committee on Europe of the Committee on Foreign Relations, Senator Ron Johnson, Zalkaliani discussed prospects for further enhancement of Georgia-US co-operation and strategic partnership.

Ron Johnson praised Georgia for its progress in democratic reforms, economic development and Euro-Atlantic integration. He also expressed gratitude for Georgia’s important contribution to the international peacekeeping operations, including the Resolute Support Mission. The Georgian Minister also met the

Chairman of the Committee on Foreign Relations, Senator James Risch. Highlighting the Georgia-US strategic partnership and increasing level of Georgia’s co-operation with the US Congress over the past few years, the sides made a special mention of the firm support of the US Congress for Georgia’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, as well as for its Euro-Atlantic integration as evidenced by the Georgia Support Act approved by the House of Representatives in 2018. The Minister provided the Senator with updated information regarding Russia’s destructive policy in Georgia’s occupied regions, and about the difficult security and human rights situation in the region. Talking points also included Georgia’s important role in ensuring Black Sea security, the reforms carried out by the Georgian government, the country’s investment and economic potential and its transit function. Georgia’s leading position in international ratings was also highlighted. On February 6, Zalkaliani took part in the Meeting of Ministers of the ‘Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS’. The Global Coalition against ISIS was formed in September 2014 and is unique in its membership, scope and commitment. Together, the Global Coalition is committed to degrading and ultimately defeating ISIS, with its 74 members committed to tackling ISIS on all fronts, to dismantle its networks and counter its global ambitions.

Russia Lost the Case to Georgia, but... OP-ED BY NUGZAR B. RUHADZE


eorgia is rejoicing at the recent big news, but the celebration might be a little premature. The grand chamber of the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) ruled on January 31 in favor of Georgia against Russia. Good news, right? But Russia has no intention whatsoever of footing the bill: bad news! Based on the precepts of international law, Russia is legally obligated to transfer the court-imposed payment of $11.5 million to the Georgian government’s coffers for further compensation of damages suffered by the Georgian citizens who were massively, forcefully and unlawfully deported from Russia in 2006. The expulsion of more than 1500 Georgians has served as one of the many reasons for the exacerbation of relations between the two countries right before the Russian-style blitzkrieg against her

territorially beleaguered smaller neighbor. Notably, Europe’s universally respected top rights court made the final judgment based on the voting ratio of sixteen to one, that one being, unsurprisingly, the Russian judge. Georgia filed the case against the Russian habitual belligerency and won the case, which is wonderful for us, and materially and morally devastating for the giant (which now finds itself totally flabbergasted and frustrated in the face of its international condemnation – how dare those conceited European phony justice-doers defy the authority of Russia and take the side of a nonentity like Georgia!) Sorry, our dear former bros, but we have won the case and you have to deliver the dough before the deadline catches you napping. We also understand that it’s hard to face this obnoxious music, plus fairness of thought and logic of action go totally against your grain, but alas, sometimes you have to take reality as it is: unaltered, unaffected, untouched! This is not in your nature, we know this,

but could you once, in your lifetime, take it easy and pay? The answer is no, we are aware of this too! Do you guys think the ECHR will ever make a wrong judgment and damage its good name by losing trust and face for this minor juridical effort? What is EUR 10 million for Russia after all? But Russia would not be Russia if she made the due payment in good time. Russia is now digging into every possible constitutional passage or other legal byway to either eschew the recently imposed unexpected fiscal burden or to at least delay the final triumph of the winning side. But they do not know that procrastination is only a thief of time. Gosh, Russia can’t take it easy and she feels like killing the joy. The presumption is that Russia will not pay a dime even if she knows that she cannot escape the nasty conviction. She would rather bend over backwards to make the payment of the terribly unsavory monetary penalty null and void. Noblesse Oblige, after all – who is Georgia, this tiny piece of nothing, to make Russia legally com-

The ECHR. Source: 02varvara.wordpress.com

pelled to prop up its budget? Never! On the other hand, one might well imagine that it is not only a question of prestige for Russia. Russia might well be so broke that the payment of a misery EUR 10 million has become too heavy for her. Poor old Russia! Hey Georgians, shall we forgive? This would only boost the famous Georgian generosity. Russia needs help. The Russian pockets are no longer as deep as they once were. The well-known natural resources seller is no longer making

that much money, and on top of that, the recently reinstated arms race in the expectation of the newly invented cold war era might cripple Russia financially so much that not only will she not pay us the due recompense, but she might actually ask for help. Oh no, God, don’t do this to Russia, please because, based on our nature, we might not be able to refuse. There might be another trick up the Georgian sleeve though – how about trading our occupied territories to waive the debt?


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Freedom House 2019: Georgia is “Partly Free” BY SAMANTHA GUTHRIE


n February 4, the United States-based NGO Freedom House released its ‘Freedom in the World 2019’ report. The annual report, published since 1973, is Freedom House’s flagship work. It evaluates the condition of political rights and civil liberties around the world. Countries are given a numerical score and ranked; currently, the report evaluates 195 countries and 14 territories. Countries are split into three groups: free, partly free, and not free. For the 2019 report, Georgia remained in the partly free category, with a score of 63 points out of a possible 100. Three categories are evaluated: freedom rating, political rights, and civil liberties. In each category, a country is ranked out of seven, with lower scores being better, in this case. Georgia scores three out of seven in all the categories. Compared to other countries in the region, Georgia ranks higher than its neighbors. Ukraine has 60 points, Moldova has 58, and Armenia just 51. Countries in the spotlight for 2019, receiving special analytical attention in the report, include Armenia. The report explains, “In a region dominated by entrenched elites, Armenia made a breakthrough with the victory of reform-minded leader Nikol Pashinyan in snap elections that were called after unpopular incumbent Serzh Sargsyan attempted to evade term limits and extend his rule.” The report put a spotlight on elections overall. The 2019 report notes “the weakening of democratic norms around the world, especially regarding elections and the human rights of migrants.” Georgia’s scores near Montenegro, with 65, and

Serbia, with 67. Georgia is surrounded by unfree countries – Russia scores 20, Turkey scores 31 and Azerbaijan scores a dismal 11. Interestingly, Freedom House also ranks what is calls “territories,” a list on which the Georgian regions of Abkhazia and “South Ossetia” are included. Abkhazia is relatively close to the rest of the Georgia in the partly free category with a score of 41 out of 100, while “South Ossetia” is ranked not free with a score of 10, scoring particularly low in political rights (seven out of seven) and civil liberties (six and a half out of seven). In November, Freedom House released its annual Freedom on the Net report, where Georgia was ranked “free” with a score of 25 points out of 100: scores below 30 are “free.” Although Georgia has the highest freedom rating in the region, its score was one point lower than in the 2017 report. “Georgians freely use social media tools to organize themselves and be engaged in political and social events. However, unreliable and politically biased content, including anti-Western propaganda, also proliferated online,” the report reads, noting also that internet access and usage continues to grow. The report further notes that, out of the 65 countries evaluated, 26 have experienced a deterioration in internet freedom in the last year. In a pattern predictive of the Freedom in the World report, almost half the world’s internet freedom declines were somehow related to elections. The report wans that the threat of ‘fake news’ is being used by some governments as an excuse to censor opposition or unfavorable material. To read the full Freedom in the World report, visit https:// freedomhouse.org/report/freedom-world/freedomworld-2019

Occupants Allegedly Install Surveillance Tower at ABL

Photo source: 1TV



ccupants are allegedly installing a surveillance tower near Khurvaleti village at the Administrative Boundary Line (ABL) with Georgia’s breakaway region of Tskhinvali (South

Ossetia). The information was released by Georgia’s Public Broadcaster. A journalist of TV1 reported that Russian soldiers are putting up what is presumed

to be a surveillance tower between the occupied Dzukaantkari and Khurvaleti villages. The State Security Service of Georgia also confirmed the information. According to the agency, the European Union Monitoring Mission (EUMM) to Georgia is informed about the issue and a hotline has been activated. “The Georgian side will raise the issue of the surveillance tower at Khurvaleti village by the occupational regime during the next round of the meeting of the Group of Incidents Prevention and Response Mechanisms in Ergneti village on February 8,” the SSS said.





FEBRUARY 8 - 11, 2019

The Swiss Ambassador on SwissGeorgian Relations BY AMY JONES


n February 5, the new Swiss Ambassador to Georgia, Patric Franzen, held a reception at the Swiss residency in Tbilisi. Franzen, having taken up his post in December. The new ambassador spoke enthusiastically of the strength of SwissGeorgian bilateral relations over the past 25 years. Indeed, Switzerland is, per capita, one of the countries that donates the most money to Georgia, behind only Sweden. Keen to further develop the strong relations between the countries, Franzen outlined past achievements and challenges, as well as initiatives planned for the coming year. We have made note of these below.

ON EDUCATION Switzerland is committed to educating young Georgians, especially through vocational training. Two-thirds of Swiss youth participate in vocational courses which have been very successful in reducing unemployment. By improving vocational training in Georgia, especially in rural areas, Switzerland hopes to create a better-equipped workforce and lower unemployment in Georgia. For example, in December 2018, the second phase of “Modernization of Vocational Education and Training (VET) System related to agriculture in Georgia” was launched to improve the agricultural industry.

ON BILATERAL TRADE Since the signing of the Free Trade Agree-

ment in May 2018, bilateral trade between Switzerland and Georgia has grown. Switzerland is looking to further deepen its economic ties with Georgia. At the end of January, Swiss chocolate company Camille Bloch announced its intention to invest in Georgia, whilst the Mediterranean Shipping Company is investing in ports in Batumi and Poti to improve the efficiency of shipping in the region. Ambassador Franzen travelled to Batumi on February 7 to visit the project. Currently, the largest Georgian exports to Switzerland are precious metals followed by textiles, while it imports Swiss pharmaceuticals (53%), watches (15%), medical equipment (5%), and paper (4%), among other products. Georgia exports a larger amount of goods to Switzerland than vice-versa. In order to attract further investment from Swiss companies, Georgia must, according to Franzen, ensure that they have a strong legal framework, offer a reliable and predictable environment, and regional stability. In May, a delegation from Georgia will visit the Swiss Chamber of Commerce to discuss trade between the two countries.

ON ASYLUM SEEKERS The number of Georgians seeking asylum has almost doubled since the introduction of the visa-free regime in March 2017. In 2018, 873 Georgians sought asylum in Switzerland compared to 405 in 2015. “The acceptance rate is 0%,” the Ambassador said. “There is a new trend of asylum seekers - we have more and more medical cases. Interestingly, there are no direct flights between Georgia and Switzerland yet (we are working on it), but in spite of this, the number of

Image source: President of Georgia's Press Office

asylum seekers in Switzerland has increased... We are in discussions with the Ministry of Health of Georgia. I have to say that we have great cooperation with the Georgian authorities to deal with this challenge,” he concluded.

ON RUSSIA The Ambassador also discussed Switzerland’s role as a mediator between Russia and Georgia. Having previously represented Georgia’s interests in Moscow, Franzen will now represent Russia

in Tbilisi. He announced that the Georgian-Switzerland diplomatic and customs negotiations by Swiss mediators have already been completed. Although some technical issues are still to be decided, all relevant agreements have been signed. Switzerland will now help to facilitate technical implementation. “It’s a long road and there are many obstacles,” the Ambassador noted, “but we are quite satisfied with the progress so far.” Switzerland and Georgia share many

similarities; beautiful landscape, a strong wine-making tradition and mountains, amongst others. Ambassador Franzen is enthusiastic to draw on these similarities and build a bridge between Switzerland and Georgia. Swiss help should democratically develop both the public and private sectors and civil society, and support Georgia with its ambitious future plans. In 2019, Switzerland plans to open a new embassy in Vake in Tbilisi, signifying their commitment to continue to cooperate and invest in Georgia.

The Focus of Our Interest OP-ED BY ZAZA JGARKAVA


hile Georgian politics is busy discussing the complications within Georgian Dream and whether the governmental party will break down or not, an array of much more important events is developing before our eyes. For instance, the unexpected visit of the Prime Minister of Armenia Nikol Pashinyan to Bolnisi, just a few days after being appointed to the post, and his meeting there with his Georgian counterpart Mamuka Bakhtadze. What the two PMs discussed in the office of the Head of Bolnisi Council is unknown to this day, as are the details of Pashinyan’s meeting with President Ilham Aliyev in Davos. Yet all this was surely topped by the statement of the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Russia, Karasin, about the movement of Armenian cargo through the occupied territories of Tskhinvali and Sokhumi. Interesting is also the document recently signed with American private companies which will work on the construction of the port and terminals in Poti. It is becoming obvious that some radical changes are underway in our neighborhood. Yet the Georgian public is being kept “entertained” by the controversies going on in the governmental party. It is safe to say that the developments surrounding the former Chair of the Parliament’s Legal Committee are the main “news” of local politics, as, for the last two months, our country has been

busy with the political future of Eka Beselia. The MP refuses to submit her first placement in news to diplomats Karasin or PM Pashinyan, nor to President Aliyev. People know much more about Beselia’s private and political life than how, and using which legislation, Armenian cargo can get through Tskhinvali or Sokhumi, or what was theme of the prolonged meeting between

Pashinyan and Aliyev. As the development of events shows, Georgians are more interested in the details of Beselia leaving the governmental party than how the power balance will change in the Caucasus if Armenia decides to return part of occupied Karabakh to Azerbaijan. However, the events concerning Ms. Beselia are developing ala Shakespearean dramaturgy, and the intrigues trigger

more interest in Georgians than the forecasted geopolitical “earthquakes” in the neighborhood. The reaction of the electorate is predictable. Beselia has said several times that she was responsible for the establishment of Georgian Dream alongside Bidzina Ivanishvili, and that she now has to leave it in the hands of others, implying that a mother needs to leave her child, like Medea did for her

passions. But unlike Medea, Beselia “needed” to make this move because of the judges, which in reality is just an excuse rather than the true reason. Remember the parliamentary elections of 2016? Those who gathered around the founder of the Georgian Dream were unconnected: by neither ideology nor value system, nor even by a plan. The only connection between them was Bidzina Ivanishvili and his resources. It is completely unsurprising that Beselia was unable to comply with the taste of the “newcomers”, which as a result gave way to conflict. The main intrigue of the controversy between the former and current “guards” is that Bidzina Ivanishvili returned, and thus the political odyssey of Beselia ended. The billionaire backed the “newcomers”, while for Beselia the issue of the judges served as a life-ring to bring her safely back to shore. The Rubicon has been crossed and now it is on Ms. Beselia as to how she will wrap up the judge scandal to save her career, because moderation is important and if you can’t keep the balance, everything might turn against you. With the new constitution enforced, it is too late to think about institutional changes, ones that would disseminate this closed, clan grouping of judges and make them more reliant on governmental organs elected through votes. Therefore, even if Ms. Beselia is driven by goodwill and the interests of our state, she won’t be able to surprise Europe and will soon need to think about her “cohabitation” with Chinchaladze, Murusidze, and others. They won’t do anything particularly bad to her, quite the opposite; in fact, they will serve her quite well.




Expansion of Georgia’s Black Sea Ports: Modus Vivendi for Georgia BY EMIL AVDALIANI


ver the past several months, a whole range of actions has taken place to expand all of Georgia’s existing and future Black Sea ports. These moves, in their entirety, could have geopolitical significance on at least the regional level as it will help further connect the country to the world maritime routes, increase the country’s transit potential and also enhance its position when it comes to China’s multi-billion Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). Several weeks ago, the European Union decided to financially support the Anaklia Deep Sea Port. In a document published by the European Commission regarding the development of the ‘TransEuropean Transport Network’, it is stated that 233 mln Euros have been allocated for financing the 2nd phase of the Anaklia Deep Sea Port. It is also noted in the project that hundreds of millions of Euros have been assigned for the construction of the rail lines and highways throughout Georgia which will lead to the Anaklia Deep Sea Port. Moreover, the German Development Bank (DEG) together with the Dutch development bank have also decided to invest in Anaklia. Further south, in Poti, a decision was made to construct a multimodal transit terminal. The facility will have modern equipment able to store up to 60,000 tons of fertilizer. Wondernet Express, the international logistics company behind the project, will invest $20 million in the project.

Poti Port. Image source: bizbilla.com

International port operator APM Terminals, along with Poti New Terminals Consortium, have submitted a conceptual design for the expansion of the APM Terminals’ Poti Sea Port. The project entails a 14.5-meter water depth at the 700-meter quay wall and 25 hectares of land for the bulk operation yard and covered storage facilities for various cargo types, including grain, ore, and minerals. The US Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC) has issued a loan

of $50 million to Pace Group to develop a multi-functional marine terminal in Georgia’s Black Sea port of Poti, aimed at expanding its operational capacities. In Batumi, it was agreed that the expansion of the port will take place with the construction of an additional terminal. It was even announced by the Minister of Economy and Sustainable Development Giorgi Kobulia that the discussion of a ferry line between Georgia and the EU has been renewed.

Overall, these decisions show that there is a certain progress being made on Georgia’s Black Sea ports development and their inclusion in the world maritime network. This global financing from Europe to the US also shows how these geopolitical players regard the South Caucasus and Georgia in particular. One could surmise that the geopolitical projection of those global companies is based upon the idea that the situation in Georgia will remain stable and that

Georgian-Russian relations are unlikely to take a confrontational course (at least from the mid-term perspective). But this expansion of Georgia’s sea port infrastructure could also lead to increased interest from China in the Georgian transit corridor. I argued in a previous article for GEORGIA TODAY that, although Georgia does not figure in China’s BRI, the Chinese project is an evolving one. I suggested in the same article that over time, new corridors would appear; that the BRI, rather than being a static initiative, is in fact a model which will constantly adjust to rising opportunities. It might be suggested that a more developed infrastructure will eventually draw the Chinese to Georgia’s Black Sea ports. The above-mentioned developments at Anaklia, Poti and Batumi can be considered the first stage in this process. Taking a global perspective of these economic developments, I will argue that one of the scenarios in which Georgia and all the neighboring countries will reap benefits, is when as many world actors as possible have stakes in the Georgian economic corridor. It would be a certain modus vivendi for Georgia’s future development. Analysts often argue that there is a solely military solution to Georgia’s problem with Russia. However, it is suggested here that yet another, and probably more accurate, solution to the Georgian dilemma for everyone (including the Russians) would be a Georgia where every great player has economic interests and is forced to upkeep the geopolitical security in the country for those very interests.




FEBRUARY 8 - 11, 2019

Dream Meet: Etseri, Svaneti Not Their Territory, i.e. all public roads and paths. They would also be culpable in any biting events and required to pay all victims’ medical bills and costs arising, such as transport to Mestia or anywhere else necessary. Biting dogs would be dealt with by generally agreed means (not necessarily putting them down, but whatever would work). Dog fighting would also be properly outlawed, the young men finding far more productive and less bloody (for dogs) ways of entertaining themselves. Finally, the common practice of “public money going private” would be knocked on the head once and for all, public servants realizing that their time of getting away with it is over and it’s time for a) full transparency, or b) a hefty jail term plus repayment with interest, plus a ruined reputation not an enhanced one, whichever they in their general wisdom and cunning would actually prefer for themselves. We would depart the meeting buoyed up with optimism that things were moving forward, that our village too could become A Town Like Alice, and that a turnaround was being enacted before our very eyes. Finally, a movie would be made of how it all happened, and we would be on the map.



o, they told me the next village meeting would start at 1 pm, and I figured I’d be safe about half an hour late: these things never start on time! And I missed the whole thing. What follows, based on what I heard and other musings, is a reconstruction, partly interspersed with how I would see the Best Possible Village Meeting going. No one, least of all myself, would be late. We would all automatically turn our cell phones off or, at worst, to silent mode. There would be a mike and speakers in case we felt inclined to chatter a bit, so as to drown out our dull roar. Past grievances would NOT be addressed (unless they had actual bearing on current matters); we would move forward! Although there might not be complete unanimity, we would finally come to an agreement about what is important to see accomplished in the ongoing redevelopment of Etseri and its infrastructure and quality of living, viz: Cows would henceforth be banned from the main roads through the village when these were iced over, because cars going up, once stopped for the calmly obstructing beasts, might not be able to restart their upward journey. Any damage to said bovines or vehicles would fall solely on the owner of the cattle to repay in full and promptly! Drunk driving would actually be reported to the local police, instead of us all loudly wailing at the funerals of the “such good people” who killed them-

selves inebriated behind the wheel. The culprits would be forced to publicly thank the police for saving their lives while only charging the usual fine. In general, jobless young men drinking themselves into middle-aged alcoholism would become a thing of the past. Unfinished projects would be moved to the front of the To Do list, including

water systems renewal, the outdoor school sports arena and the new kindergarten. Next would be things the majority agreed on, including road repairs and improvements, a new tractor/bulldozer, general job creation in the village, morethan-weekend local medical care, local electricity system renovation, and so on. You know, things to entice the Diaspora

to return, and the ones who Stuck It Out to dare to hope that we could Make Svaneti Great Again. Said bulldozer’s driver would be required to move enough snow off the roads in winter for cars to actually pass each other, i.e. 2 lanes wide, not just 1. Dog owners would be required to prevent their animals from terrorizing Places

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 2000 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

Tbilisi to Host the 22nd Jazz Festival BY KETEVAN KVARATSKHELIYA


bilisi is preparing to host the 22nd Jazz Festival. The information about the forthcoming event was announced at a press conference on February 5, at TBC Gallery. Tbilisi Jazz Festival will take place from February 28 to March 2. The main guest of the 22nd Jazz Festival will be the legendary American jazz guitarist and composer Pat Metheny, owner of 20 Grammy Awards and the only performer to have won in the Grammy’s 10 different categories. He is said to be one of those outstanding musicians who can freely improvise on stage and offer absolutely incredible compositions to audiences worldwide. Alongside Metheny, the Tbilisi Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Vakhtang Kakhidze, Tbilisi Big-Band and the students of the jazz faculty of Tbilisi State Conservatoire will participate in the Festival. Tbilisi Jazz Festival will open in the Grand Hall of the Tbilisi Conservatoire with a new project – Tbilisi Big-Band & New Jazz Generation. At the concert, the representatives of different generations will perform together and offer the audience various jazz compositions. On March 1, the Pat Metheny Trio

will take to the stage of Tbilisi Event Hall. The Jazz Festival will close with the joint concert of Metheny and the Tbilisi Symphony Orchestra, seeing the legendary guitarist perform within the scope of the project Missouri Skies and More. Tbilisi Jazz Festival is organized by Eastern Promotions and TBC Status and supported by the Ministry of Tbilisi City Hall and the Ministry of Education, Science, Culture and Sport of Georgia. At the press conference, the Director of Eastern Promotions, Giorgi Kereselidze, focused on the importance of inviting such prominent guests to Georgia for promoting the country and contributing to the popularization of high-quality jazz music for the Georgian audience. He also noted that in order for everyone to be able to attend the event, the ticket prices will be "moderate". The significance of participation of different generations was also accentuated at the conference.

Image source: NATO & EU Info Center

Teachers from Pankisi Visit Brussels BY MARIAM MERABISHVILI

A Image source: JazzBluesNews

20-member group of teachers and principals from the public schools of Pankisi Gorge went to Brussels, Belgium, on a study visit. On the first day, they were hosted by the Kingdom of Belgium and the Ambassador of Georgia to Luxembourg, Natalia Sabanadze. The main theme of the meeting was European values, Georgia's aspiration to Euro-Atlantic structures and EU-Georgia cooperation. Later, the Pankisi teachers visited the European External Action Service (EEAS), where they met with the Group Leader and received information about EU projects, relations with Georgia and future prospects. The first day was com-

pleted at the private school of Belgium "Ecole International Mongomery", where teachers were acquainted with the characteristics of the Belgian education system and school teaching methods. According to Deputy State Minister for Reconciliation and Civic Equality of Georgia Lia Gigauri, each teacher had the chance to ask important questions in the course of their work and received information that will be forwarded to students, parents and other representatives of the community after returning home. “Program participants visited Belgium’s private school with great interest,” Gigauri said. “It was interesting for them to learn how to organize the learning process, communicate with pupils and what values feature in the education system there. This day from them was evaluated as very informative, important and even a

turning point,” she added. The Pankisi teachers started their second day with a visit to NATO. They met with the relevant persons at the Alliance, including the representative of Georgia in NATO, and received information about NATO-Georgia relations, planned events, the way forward for Georgia to join the Alliance. “NATO is the guarantor of our peace, the salvation of our people,” said Lamara Margoshvili, a teacher at the Duisi public school. The project was implemented by the Office of the State Minister of Georgia on Reconciliation and Civic Equality and the NATO & EU Info Center, in collaboration with the Ministry of Education, Science, Culture and Sport and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The financial supporter of the project is the EU Delegation to Georgia.



Anastasia Pirveli: Georgia’s Transgender Star

Photo by Jeremy John



very day, I’m in touch with people who could be homophobic. It’s because of my strong way that people are very kind and polite, there are no problems in the street, - says Anastasia Pirveli, a Georgian and openly LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender) singer. With fiery red hair and impeccable style, her strength commands presence as she strides into the Fabrika lobby. We have met to discuss her musical career, LGBT activism and plans for the future. Born in Batumi as the son of the head of the police department, Anastasia was musical from a young age. She started playing the piano aged six and won singing competitions before coming out openly as transgender. Perhaps surprisingly, being transgender has never been an issue for her. “I was raised in the right way,” she tells me, “of course my family had their ideas and preconceptions, but they supported me.” Anastasia’s belief in acceptance is deeprooted. In January, she became the first ever LGBT performer to appear on a Eurovision qualifying show in Georgia by participating in Sakartvelos Varsk’vlavi (GeoStar), the Georgian version of the Idol franchise. Although her performance

of ‘I wish you love’ was met with positive critique, it highlighted the difficulties of balancing a singing career whilst being transgender; focus can easily shift from her singing talent to her gender. “I think they used me for ratings,” says Anastasia. Despite not progressing to the next stage, Anastasia’s performance was a big statement and a historic first in Georgia, an otherwise socially conservative country. Only in 2013, a small gay rights protest was met violently by thousands of anti-demonstrators. The LGBT community is still stigmatized, and transgender persons face difficulties in Georgia: although support networks exist, many in the LGBT community are forced to hide their sexuality and attacks are not uncommon. “There are many incidents. Some people are beaten and killed,” Anastasia says. “But I’ve never had a problem.” Anastasia wants to make a positive difference not just with her image, but also her actions: I’m really involved in the LGBT community here, doing training for people who maybe don’t have so much access to information or support and helping people who can no longer live at home because of a lack of education.” She works together with LGBT groups to provide identity training and help people to overcome the difficulties of being LGBT in Georgia. “This is our mission: to make Georgia better and to be activ-

ists,” Anastasia says. “I can call myself an activist against hate. It doesn’t matter what gender someone is.” Georgia is witnessing many changes as an energetic young generation fights to have their voice heard. The Bassiani protests in May 2018 showed the strength of their voice and how acceptance is becoming more mainstream. Anastasia shows me a video on her phone from a recent shooting for a music video with rapper Bera Ivanishvili, the son of prominent Georgian billionaire Bidzina Ivanishvili. “The whole video is about acceptance and people who are a bit different,” she says. Anastasia has many projects planned for the coming months, both in her work as an activist and her singing career. She is looking to record new songs and continue to promote her music. “I focus on the future,” she says. As much as she is using her visibility through music to promote LGBT issues, being transgender doesn’t define her and her career is still at the forefront of her mind. Before meeting Anastasia, it could be easy to presume that she is a marginalized victim in society because of her gender. However, her self-belief and support have helped her to rise above potential problems. Her attitude is a strong act of defiance towards difficulties and rejection in Georgia. “I’m the same everywhere,” she says, “I’m confident.” And no one could ever believe otherwise.





FEBRUARY 8 - 11, 2019


GABRIADZE THEATER 14 Shavteli Str. February 8, 9 REZO Animated documentary film Directed by Leo Gabriadze Script: Revaz Gabriadze Genre: Animation, Biography Language: Georgian English Subtitles Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 15 GEL MOVEMENT THEATER 182 Aghmashenebeli Ave. TEL (+995 32) 598 19 29 36 February 8 THE STORY OF A MURDERER Directed by Kakha Bakuradze Music: Sandro Nikoladze, Davit Kakulia Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 10-15 GEL February 9 THE TEMPEST Based on the work of William Shakespeare Directed by Ioseb Bakuradze Composer: Sandro Nikoladze Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 10-15 GEL February 10 DON JUAN One Act Comedy Directed by Kakha Bakuradze Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 15 GEL SHALIKASHVILI THEATER 37 Rustaveli Ave. February 8, 9 THE OLD MAN AND THE SEA Based on the work of Ernest Hemingway Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 10 GEL CINEMA

AMIRANI CINEMA 36 Kostava Str. TEL (+995 32) 299 99 55 www.kinoafisha.ge Every Wednesday ticket: 5 GEL February 8-14 VAN GOGH Directed by Julian Schnabel

Cast: Willem Dafoe, Rupert Friend, Oscar Isaac Genre: Biography, Dramaiography, Drama Language: Russian Start time: 19:45 Ticket: 13-14 GEL MIRAI Directed by Mamoru Hosoda Cast: Rebecca Hall, John Cho, Daniel Dae Kim Genre: Animation, Adventure, Drama Language: Russian Start time: 22:15 Ticket: 15 GEL SERENITY Directed by Steven Knight Cast: Matthew McConaughey, Anne Hathaway, Diane Lane Genre: Drama, Thriller Language: Russian Start time: 17:30 Ticket: 14 GEL THE FAVORITE Directed by Yorgos Lanthimos Cast: Olivia Colman, Emma Stone, Rachel Weisz Genre: Biography, Comedy, Drama Language: English Start time: 19:30 Language: Russian Start time: 22:15 Ticket: 14-15 GEL CAVEA GALLERY 2/4 Rustaveli Ave. TEL (+995 32) 200 70 07 Every Wednesday ticket: 8 GEL February 8-14 GLASS Directed by M. Night Shyamalan Cast: Sarah Paulson, Bruce Willis, Samuel L. Jackson Genre: Drama, Mystery, Sci-Fi Language: English Start time: 19:15 Language: Russian Start time: 16:30, 22:30 Ticket: 13-19 GEL THE LEGO MOVIE 2: THE SECOND PART Directed by Mike Mitchell, Trisha Gum Cast: Jason Momoa, Alison Brie, Chris Pratt Genre: Animation, Action, Adventure Language: English Start time: 19:15

Language: Russian Start time: 16:30, 22:30 Ticket: 11-15 GEL ESCAPE ROOM Directed by Adam Robitel Cast: Taylor Russell, Logan Miller, Jay Ellis Genre: Drama, Mystery, Sci-Fi Language: Russian Start time: 19:45, 22:00 Ticket: 16-19 GEL BOHEMIAN RHAPSODY Directed by Bryan Singer Cast: Rami Malek, Joseph Mazzello, Mike Myers Genre: Biography, Drama, Music Language: English Start time: 16:45 Ticket: 13-16 GEL MUSEUM

GEORGIAN NATIONAL MUSEUM SIMON JANASHIA MUSEUM 3 Rustaveli Ave. TEL (+995 32) 299 80 22, 293 48 21 www.museum.ge Exhibitions: GEORGIAN COSTUME AND WEAPONRY OF THE 18TH-20TH CENTURIES NUMISMATIC TREASURY EXHIBITION STONE AGE GEORGIA ARCHEOLOGICAL TREASURE NEW LIFE TO THE ORIENTAL COLLECTIONS Until February 28 In the framework of the celebrations of the European Year of Cultural Heritage in Georgia the Georgian National Museum presents the exhibition WISDOM TRANSFORMED INTO GOLD MUSEUM OF SOVIET OCCUPATION 3 Rustaveli Ave. TEL (+995 32) 2 99 80 22, 2 93 48 21 www.museum.ge December 11 – March 1 Exhibition RED TERROR AND GEORGIAN ARTISTS A showcase of artworks by Dimitri Shevardnadze, Petre Otskheli, Henryk Hryniewski, Richard Sommer, Kiril Zdanevich, Vasily

Shukhaev, Elene Akhvlediani, Lado Gudiashvili, David Kakabadze, Ucha Japharidze, Aleksandre BajbeukMelikov, Korneli Sanadze and more. The exposition also showcases documentary footage depicting the 1920-30s repressions. TBILISI HISTORY MUSEUM KARVASLA 8 Sioni Str February 8-15 A RETROSPECTIVE SOLO EXHIBITION OF GEORGIAN PHOTOGRAPHER VAKHO KHETAGURI The exhibition displays 12 series created in eight different countries and covering various genres of photography - conceptual, documentary and photojournalism. Exhibition curator: Myriam Grigalashvili. GALLERY

THE NATIONAL GALLERY 11 Rustaveli Ave. TEL (+995 32) 215 73 00 Until February 24 FELIX VARLAMISHVILI (VARLA) SOLO EXHIBITION For the first time, enjoy more than 60 artworks by the author from the Georgian National Museum and private collections. KHIDI V. Bagrationi Bridge, Right Emb. Every Tuesday, from 15:00-20:00 Until February 20 Multidisciplinary exhibition project IN-BETWEEN CONDITIONS ‘In-between conditions’ displays 18 work contributions expressing cultural impulses affected by political or social forces. DÉDICACE GALLERY 27 Atoneli Str. January 29 – February 11 KOTE JINCHARADZE’S EXHIBITION SAND GLASS MUSIC


February 9 CONCERT OF CHAMBER MUSIC By Georgian Composer Irakli Tsintsadze Musicians of different generations: George Khaindrava, Alexander Beliy, Mamuka Sikharulidze, Tamta Useinashvili, K.Vardeli String Quartet and instrumental ensemble Conducted by George Shilakadze Start time: 19:30 Tickets: 10 GEL CAFE MZIURI Mziuri Park February 10 SAKVIARO FOR CHILDREN Great fun with invited guests Start time: 12:00-14:00 MOVEMENT THEATER 182 Aghmashenebeli Ave. TEL (+995 32) 598 19 29 36 February 9 JAM SESSION Every Tuesday Musical art director- Sandro Nikoladze Entry: Free BASSIANI 2 A. Tsereteli Ave. February 8 HOROOM: LIVITY SOUND NIGHT Start time: 23:55 Ticket: 20-30 GEL February 9 HOROOM: OBJECTOR TRAX, LILITH Start time: 23:55 Ticket: 10-20 GEL KHIDI V. Bagrationi Bridge, Right Emb. February 8 PARALLX BOYD SCHIDT FREQUENCY SHIFTER TERRENCE PARKER & MERACHKA DIGITAL GROOVE AFFAIR Start time: 23:55 Ticket: 20-40 GEL TBILISI STATE CONSERVATOIRE 8 Griboedov St. TEL (+995 32) 2 93 46 24 February 8 TEONA MOSIA (Vocal), Nikola Stanosevic (Piano), Navid Djawadi (Double Bass), Andjelko Stupar (Drums) Start time: 20:30 Tickets: 10-40 GEL February 14 MINUS ONE FESTIVAL ZADENO TRIO Special guest: Liliko Korkotashvili Stefano Minder LOVE THROUGH MY EYES Special guest: Lasha Deisadze Stefano Minder (Vocals), Antoni Zygmunt Kuzak (Alto Sax), Lorenzo Nanni (Piano), Alessio Renda (Bass), Emanuele Della Cuna (Drums) Start time: 20:00 Tickets: 5-15 GEL ART HOUSE 8 Gudiashvili Str. February 14 SALIO Start time: 21:00 Tickets: 30-50 GEL NIGHT OFFICE Under Baratashvili Bridge February 14 Azebaijan singer: AYNUR ASGERLI Start time: 22:00 Tickets: 20-40 GEL DOORS 26 S. Tsintsadze February 14 STEPHANE Start time: 22:00 Tickets: 50-500 GEL




“Matters of the Dark & Irresistible,” a Disturbing Exhibition at the MOMA REVIEW BY GABRIELLE COLCHEN


eorgian multimedia artist Konstantin Mindadze is currently exhibiting his work at the Museum of Modern Art (MOMA) in Tbilisi, plunging visitors into his dark and inquiring universe. Mindadze studied at the Dutch Graphic Lyceum and Rietveld Academy and makes paintings, drawings, sculpture, video and multimedia installations. The themes recurrent in his work are many, and include the “synthetic structure of the world […], the biological reactions, […] lifecycle and death, love and loss, destruction and transformation”, even religion and technologies (ProjectArtBeat). The

works on display at MOMA refer to each of these topics and generate heavy matter to question. The exhibition is an audio-visual installation in three environments. As soon as the audience enters the first room, they can feel the oppression. Heavy music plays, capturing the visitors and absorbing them in the new and disturbing reality. A sense of confusion is indeed at the heart of the artist’s project, born from a period of personal emotional devastation that eventually led the artist to question scientific theories and create this cosmic exhibition. Mindadze shows circular celestial paintings and plays with the gradation of colors to create a feeling of depth and relief in his artworks. He suggests the presence of the sun, of the earth, or of other cosmic objects. In the second and

Photo by Doru Avram

third room, he uses the colors black and white to create shades of grey. A quite surprising production is the one in which he used his blood, seeking to insert his DNA into his own artwork. His piece “black sphere” is made with real meteorites and salt brought from the Dead

Sea. He even uses original records from NASA to plunge people into a sort of apocalyptic atmosphere. This exhibition is somehow a way to make people question the world in which they live and the reality they take for granted. It is also a direct critique of

religion and pre-established truths. People need to penetrate the space with an open mind to let themselves slowly enter the artist’s universe and installations. It is definitely not something people can see everyday. The exhibition is on until February 28.

Grand Opera Don Carlo Returns to Tbilisi Opera Stage after 15 Years


he world-famous opera ‘Don Carlo’ by Giuseppe Verdi will see a new grand premiere in the Tbilisi Opera and Ballet State Theater on

February 15. Don Carlo is a five-act grand opera composed based on the dramatic play Don Carlos (Don Carlos, Infante of Spain) by Friedrich Schiller. Georgia first saw Don Carlos premiere in 1869, two years after its international debut at Salle Le Peletier in Paris in March 1867. The very first production of Don Carlo was introduced to the Georgian audience at the Karvasla Theater, the first theater for opera in Tbilisi, constructed in 1851. The last time the famous opera was staged at the Tbilisi Opera and Ballet State Theater was in 2004, by Guram Meliva. Now, after a 15-year break, the iconic opera will be brought back to life through the 2018 production by the Teatro Regio di Parma, Italy. The Director of the Don Carlo is Cesare Lievi; Music Director, Zaza Azmaiparashvili; and Set and Costume Designer, Maurizio Balo. Renowned Georgian opera singers and interns, as well as invited artists and directors, will take part in the concert. The opera will be presented in Tbilisi in a brand-new staging of the Teatro Regio di Parma, Italy. The 2017 review

by Giorgio De Martino for Sipario magazine praised the project as an ultimate success. “The visual and aesthetic side of the show goes in line with the musical sheet. The performance fully unveils the drama conveyed in music and text. The directors enliven this brilliant piece and uncover the dark period and inquisition of the 16th century Royal Court of Spain,” the review reads. GEORGIA TODAY spoke with some of the main heroes of the upcoming project. Zaza Azmaiparashvili, Chief Conductor of the Theater/Music Director of the Production: “This production was last staged in Georgia by Guram Meliva in the 1990s. Then, in 2004, we reproduced it. Paata Burchuladze was performing and invited brilliant bass Ferruccio Furlanetto. The concert was a real celebration. He transmitted such energy and spread such emotion among the team: he took straight to the stage and performed the entire opera without a rehearsal, having arrived a day prior. The music is remarkable and the opera itself is magnificent. Even though Don Carlo is one of the longer operas, it is not boring at all; on the contrary, the more you listen, the deeper you go into the music.” Renowned Georgian opera singer George Andguladze will be playing Philippe II, King of Spain, in the production for the first time in Tbilisi. He has



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been recognized as one of the best young operatic basses of the present day by Maestro Daniel Oren. “I performed this opera several times in Romania and Tel Aviv with Maestro Daniel Oren, but this is my first time doing so in Tbilisi. I’ll be flying from Verona to Tbilisi a week before the premier and the day after the concert flying to Buenos Aires where I’ll be performing Rigoletto by Giuseppe Verdi in the Colón Theater, one of the best and most important opera houses in the world,” Andguladze told GEORGIA TODAY. Vittorio Vitelli, renowned Italian baritone: “This will be my debut as Rodrigo, Marquis of Posa. Throughout my career, I have met a lot of Georgian singers all

Journalists: Tony Hanmer, Zaza Jgarkava, Maka Bibilashvili, Dimitri Dolaberidze, Vazha Tavberidze, Nugzar B. Ruhadze, Samantha Guthrie, Amy Jones, Thea Morrison, Ana Dumbadze, Ketevan Kvaratskheliya Photographer: Irakli Dolidze

over the world and have extremely close and friendly relations with them. For me, singing here is quite similar to singing in my homeland. My wife is great Georgian soprano Iano Tamar and it is a huge responsibility for me to sing before a Georgian audience. I know Georgians expect to hear me sing the same level as her, but that is impossible as Iano is unique,” Vitelli noted. Tamar Iveri, celebrated Georgian soprano: “It is symbolic that the international audience discovered me in this very opera. Even though I had won several competitions prior to that moment, for a fledgling singer it can be hard to enter the operatic world and establish oneself without considerable experience

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under your belt. My agent encouraged me to go to the Don Carlo audition at the Theater Bonn. Despite some tough competition, I managed to impress the jury and even had them asking me to sing again! I was chosen for the role of Elisabeth de Valois, a French princess initially betrothed to Don Carlo but then married to King Philip. This was the very first role I played in Europe, in 2000. This was followed by performances in the leading theaters of Austria, Berlin, Hamburg, Paris, Munich, London, and others. As such, I would say this role was a turning point in my career.” “Don Carlo is an opera where none of the characters are happy, none of them are satisfied with their lives and all have a tragic end. This is truly one of the best pieces by Giuseppe Verdi, implying a deep meaning and drama. Having such an important figure as Ioan Holender, the legendary Director of the Vienna State Opera whom Placido Domingo praised as the ‘Director of Directors,’ attend the concert and record it is an honor. He is going to prepare coverage about Tbilisi Opera as well as other cultural sites of the country and run it on his special TV channel in Austria. We are extremely excited and honored to host him at the premiere in Tbilisi Opera,” Iveri said. The performances are scheduled to take place on February 15,16,17,23,24.


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Profile for Georgia Today

Issue #1123  

February 8 - 11, 2019

Issue #1123  

February 8 - 11, 2019