Issue no: 1055
• JUNE 8 - 11, 2018
• PUBLISHED TWICE WEEKLY
PRICE: GEL 2.50
In this week’s issue... Fundraising Training for Festival Organizers in Adjara NEWS PAGE 2
FOCUS ON DEMANDS FOR CHANGE Will Justice Minister Thea Tsulukiani be next to leave the gov't team?
Tbilisi Metro Resumes Work BY THEA MORRISON
bilisi metro employees have agreed to return to work after a three-day strike which created serious problems throughout the capital. On June 6, the workers had another meeting with Tbilisi Mayor Kakha Kaladze and an agreement was reached that the salaries of the workers will increase from 2019. The employees demanded a 45% increase in their salaries, yet, later, they agreed to resume work if an agreement was made that their salaries would definitely be increased from January 2019.
On May 21, Tbilisi City Court made a decision which stated that metro workers could go on strike only during out-of-office hours. The union of metro workers ‘Unity 2013’ claimed the decision of the court was the equivalent of a restriction of their right to express protest, as
the strike itself means workers refusing to perform their duties as a form of protest. It was the third time Tbilisi City Court ruled against the metro workers, highlighting that a strike during working hours would paralyze traffic in the capital. Indeed, although the buses were announced as free of charge to ride on from June 3, the move did little to alleviate congestion and overcrowding as city-dwellers waited at bus-stops during rush hour to squeeze on already-full buses to get to and from work. Tbilisi Metro serves around 400,000 people every day. Opposition United National Movement (UNM) member Zaal Udumashvili says the budget of the capital saw around a 600,000 GEL loss in the days of the metro strike.
Possible EU-Russia Rapprochement POLITICS PAGE 4
What Does the EU Preach? – The MEP Bishop Explains All POLITICS PAGE 6
Estonian MEP on the Way forward for Georgia’s European Aspirations
POLITICS PAGE 8
The Kavkaz Jazz Festival SOCIETY PAGE 11
New Musical Project Sounds of Georgia Offers Tourists Mini Concerts
Chat with us CULTURE PAGE 15
JUNE 8 - 11, 2018
Fundraising Training for Festival Organizers in Adjara
he British Council-Georgia’s successful partnership with the Ministry of Education, Culture and Sport of the Adjara Autonomous Republic is ongoing within their Memorandum of Cooperation. On 5, 6, 7 and 8 June, they are organizing a Fundraising Training conducted by Owen McNeir, the representative of FEI - Festivals and Events International. The training will enable participants to get familiar with fundraising tools, trends and methods which are often built on collaboration and shared interests. Owen McNeir is a Marketing and Development professional with a successful track record delivering short-term results and long-term sustainability in the Arts & Culture through strategic planning,
training and mentoring. This is the third such training for festival professionals in Adjara. The previous training conducted in July 2017 was dedicated to the development of a marketing plan and in June 2017, participants of the training session acquired the knowledge, understanding and a practical framework enabling them to write a festival and event management plan. One of the highlights of the program, the ‘Festivals for Development Conference’ for governmental institutions and festival organizers, was held in Batumi on 14 March. It was organized to raise awareness about the importance and contribution of festivals to cultural and economic development, and their role in the development of creative and cultural industries. Key personalities of UK festivals presented the best
cases and innovative models of collaboration between the British Festivals such as the Edinburgh , Fringe, Brighton , Unlimited, and Gloucester festivals. It is hoped that projects implemented by the British Council will significantly contribute to turning Adjara into a Hub of international festivals, enabling millions of people all over the world to discover this beautiful part of Georgia. The British Council is the UK’s international organization for cultural relations and educational opportunities. It creates friendly knowledge and understanding between the people of the UK and other countries. Using the UK’s cultural resources, it makes a positive contribution to the countries it works with – changing lives by creating opportunities, building connections and engendering trust.
EuroDIG 2018 in Georgia Examination Report Confirms Tatunashvili Was Tortured
BY THEA MORRISON
BY SHAWN WAYNE
eorgia’s capital of Tbilisi is hosting the European Dialogue on Internet Governance (EuroDIG) 2018 on June 4-6. Over 500 guests representing European countries and European structures are now in Tbilisi to discuss all the issues related to internet management and the development of the digital economy, including human rights protection on the internet, freedom of expression, copyright protection, data protection regulations (GDPR), cyber security, access to the internet and content, development of the telecommunication infrastructure, accessibility of the internet in the communities, domains, protection of children’s rights, digital economy, e-commerce, block chain, digital literacy, innovations.
Following several successfully conducted forums on internet governance (GeoIGF) in Georgia that received positive international feedback, the organizational committee of the EuroDIG decided to hold the 11th EuroDIG 2018 in Georgia. Georgia’s Economy Minister Dimitry Kumsishvili officially opened the forum. In his speech, he talked about the prospects for development of the telecommunication sphere in Georgia and the steps being taken in this direction. “The Government of Georgia strongly cares about the development of the telecommunication sphere by using innovative techniques and technologies. In recent years we have made important steps to speed up the development of information and communication technologies (ICT)”, Kumsishvili said. This is the first time that the forum is held in the Eastern Partnership country and the second occasion when it is taking place in a non-EU country.
he forensic examination report released on June 5 reads that deceased Georgian citizen and former soldier, Archil Tatunashvili, detained in late February by de facto South Ossetian forces, was likely tortured as more than 100 injuries were inflicted on his body before death. However, the report does not mention what caused his death. Tamar Avaliani, the representatives of Non-Governmental Organization Human Rights and Monitoring Center (EMC) and lawyer of Tatunashvili’s family, says that the report does not mention some important injuries, including a gunshot to his head. “The nose was sewn back onto the body, which was not mentioned in the report, also, the left temple of the forehead was deformed, which was not mentioned either,” the lawyer says. She added that the family is expecting the final report of the complex examination by August, which in September will be submitted to the Strasbourg Human Rights Court, along with the lawsuit against the Russian Federation regarding the case.
Tatunashvili’s father says he has questions for the forensic examination bureau, claiming the report is faulty. “Several injuries which I saw and many other people too, are not mentioned in the document. I will go there and ask for answers,” Giorgi Tatunashvili, father of the murdered 35-year-old soldier stated. Tatunashvili says he is sure his son was brutally tortured and then killed by a shot to the head. “I saw the photos of the examination. He had severe injuries and bruises all over his body. His limbs and fingers were also broken,” he added. Archil Tatunashvili and two other
Georgian men were detained by occupant forces on February 22 and taken to a breakaway Tskhinvali detention facility. The next day, the de facto law enforcers released information about Tatunashvili’s death. The puppet regime stated he died of heart failure but later said he had resisted the guards and fallen down the stairs and was taken to hospital, where he died. De facto authorities of South Ossetia handed the body to the Georgian side only on March 20. After the autopsy, Tatunashvili was buried with military honor at Mukhatgverdi Brothers Cemetery near Tbilisi.
Tbilisi Celebrates National Day of Italy with outstanding Creativity, Fashion Shows & Exhibitions
he Embassy of Italy in Georgia celebrated the National Day of the Republic of Italy on June 4 by hosting an event for various guests, featuring exhibitions, fashion shows and numerous surprises. The Silk Factory Studio was the host venue, a backdrop to a real kaleidoscope of Italian creativity: Italian fashion trends presented in a fashion show organized through a partnership with CNAFadermoda and Italian design concept displayed in an exhibition of “Italianism;”
Italian photographer and mountaineer Vittorio Sella’s photos of 19th Century Georgia and the famous Italian photographer and portraitist Max Cardelli’s recent landscapes and portraits showcased in a photo exhibition; a photo gallery of true Italian art masterpieces related to gastronomy and a photo exhibition of the “Young Talents of Italian Architecture” project competition winner. The celebration of the Italian National Day is related to the concept “Vivere all’italiana” (“Italian Lifestyle”), which
in its turn is much more than just a lifestyle: it is a harmonious blend of traditions, innovation, technology, elegance and functions. The popularization of the Italian lifestyle rule and concept “Made in Italy” serves the promotion of a new initiative “Italian June,” with the participation of local companies that import and sell Italian products on the Georgian market and, throughout the month of June, offer various promotions and discounts to customers. The Italian and Georgian national anthem, as well as various songs, were performed by the Rustavi Ensemble. At the end of the event, Georgian Airways and Wizz Air held a raffle competition offering winners tickets to Bologna, Rome and Milan. The event was organized by the Italian Embassy in cooperation with ICE-ITA, a promotional agency for Italian companies, and with the help of numerous sponsors and partners.
GEORGIA TODAY JUNE 8 - 11, 2018
NGOs Demand Resignation of Justice Minister BY THEA MORRISON
number of Georgia-based Non-Governmental Organizations are refusing to participate in the selection process of a new Chief Prosecutor unless Justice Minister Thea Tsulukiani resigns. The NGOs claim Tsulukiani cannot ensure the selection of an unbiased candidate. The selection of a new Chief Prosecutor became necessary after the former Chief Prosecutor, Irakli Shotadze, resigned amid last week’s large-scale protest rallies in Tbilisi held in solidarity with two teenagers Davit Saralidze and Levan Dadunashvili who were stabbed to death in Tbilisi in December. Shotadze decided to resign after Tbilisi City Court made the decision on May 31 that Saralidze’s murderer was not among the detained two minors, though the court did place the guilt of Dadunashvili’s murder on one of those detained, the second said to have been guilty of the attempted murder of Saralidze.. 14 NGOs decided to request Tsulukiani’s resignation after failing to receive notice from the minister asking them to get involved in the process of selecting the next Chief Prosecutor. The organizations say if the government is trying to find a way out of this crisis and make real changes, it is necessary to dismiss the Minister of Justice and conduct an inclusive and transparent process of the selection of a Chief Prosecutor. The non-governmental sector claims
Photo source: NGO Sapari
Tsulukiani’s work is ineffective, as this makes the fifth Chief Prosecutor to be replaced during her term. “This is why participation in the selection of the Chief Prosecutor and involvement in consultation with the Minister of Justice is principally unacceptable for us NGOs," said Sulkhan Saladze, Head of the NGO Georgian Young Lawyers’ Association. He added that the NGOs will be involved in the process of selecting the Chief Prosecutor only if the Minister of Justice is replaced.
Eka Gigauri, Head of Transparency International Georgia, said at a joint news conference of NGOs that Tsulukiani had failed to carry out an effective justice reform and must be dismissed. “We urge the government to dismiss the Minister of Justice, as for years, she has been unable to deal with the important mission of implementing reforms in the justice sector,” she added. Public Defender Nino Lomjaria stated that if the NGOs do not participate in the process of selection of the Chief Prosecutor, this process will not be
trusted by society. “The government should take all steps to gain the confidence of the NGOs,” she said. "The recent developments have been caused by serious problems in the system, gaps in investigative agencies and serious mistrust from society,” Lomjaria noted. “The government should choose a Chief Prosecutor who will not raise any questions and will be acceptable to the public,” the Ombudsman stated. Georgian Prime Minister Giorgi Kvirikashvili responded to the request of the NGOs, saying it is “unacceptable when
a number of NGOs use the language of ultimatum.” “Their statement reveals an attempt to transfer this issue into the political dimension, which is equally unacceptable. I urge them not to step over the mandate of their purview and, if the transparency of the process is truly their goal, to exercise more responsibility in making decisions,” the statement of the PM reads. Kvirikashvili added that the request about the Justice Minister’s resignation is “absolutely absurd” and an “irrational demand.”
based on traditional dishes from different countries, be it Greek, Italian, Spanish or Portuguese cuisine. These wonderful nights are for those who love diversity and enjoy tasting food from different parts of the world.
Brasserie Bouvette gives it customers the incredible chance to discover new tastes and fully satisfy their curiousity. Make Brasserie Buvette your regular go-to for gastronomic innovations and creativity.
rasserie Buverette is an eclectic European restaurant with an atmosphere influenced by the distinguished styles of different countries. Enjoy a mouth-watering lunch or a memorable supper: Brasserie Buvette’s diverse menu is flexible, guaranteeing customers will find something to their taste. Every dish served in the restaurant has its own individuality, with a
unique aroma, taste and ingredients. Buvette’s American chef Francesco Manalo, former head chef of New-York’s most prestigious Michelin Star restaurants, is now here in Tbilisi, creating amazing dishes for Brasserie Buvette customers. Brasserie Bouvette’s interior and environment is exeptional, decorated as it is with high quality furniture and accessories. Its standards meet those of high
level fine dining restaurants in Europe and America. Alongside the great environment, Brasserie Buvette is outstanding in its service. It owns a unique wine cellar, where it keeps special wine vintages from Georgia, Italy, France and Spain. Another notable thing about Brasserie Bouvette is the regular gastronomic evenings, held several times in a month. Head along to enjoy a special supper
JUNE 8 - 11, 2018
Possible EU-Russia Rapprochement OP-ED BY EMIL AVDALIANI
onfrontation between Russia and the European Union (EU) caused by the Ukrainian crisis is long-lasting, but there seem to be avenues of opportunities from time to time for Moscow to weaken the EU/US resolve. In the last couple of years, internal economic difficulties along with the rise of anti-EU parties within the continent’s important countries, including France, Germany and Italy, have made it possible for Russia drive a wedge among the European powers to have the anti-Russian sanctions lifted. Russia has also tried to leverage the Europeans with its influence in Syria to gain advantages in Ukraine. Those schemes largely failed when in 2016-2017 the Dutch, French and German elections mainstream parties and pro-Europeans won. However, it was clear at the time that the internal crisis in the EU was not over, but only postponed. Indeed, there are signs nowadays that the disagreements are back in the Eurozone and Russia will have good opportunities to use them. First is the increasing willingness on behalf of major European politicians to increase cooperation with Moscow. For example, the French President Emmanuel Macron recently visited Russia where he signed large investment projects with the Russian President. Macron’s visit comes after another European leader, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, visited the President Vladimir Putin in the Black Sea resort Sochi on May 18. Calls across the EU to lift the anti-Russian sanctions are being heard again and the Europeans are experiencing deep problems with their transAtlantic partners. US President Donald Trump signed steep aluminium and steel tariffs on its closest trade partners, among them the EU. This comes atop disagreements between Washington and the EU over the US withdrawal from the landmark Iran Nuclear Agreement reached in 2015 and the White House’s opposition to the Rus-
German Chancellor Angela Merkel with French President Emmanuel Macron (L) and Russia’s President Vladimir Putin (C). Image source: AFP /arabnews.com
sia-EU gas project ‘North Stream 2.’ In 2016-2017, Moscow did not enjoy such an opportunity to divide the western allies, as the Europeans and the Americans shared pretty much untarnished relations on grand strategic issues. Dangers to the western unity are there, but it is still unclear what will come out of these US-EU economic and diplomatic confrontations. True that for Moscow it will be a big opportunity to use, but the maximum the Russian leadership can hope for is the (partial) lifting of EU sanctions as well as minor concessions regarding militarization of eastern Europe. Yet, even if this happens, from a broader perspective, the EU will still remain a winner in a
competition with Russia, as Ukraine remains firmly under the European economic influence. The EU-US disagreements are important, but not so much as to cause real fractures in the transAtlantic partnership (at least for the moment). Both allies understand they need each other to keep on top of the Russian pressure. Europe understands that without the US’ military resolve in eastern Europe, Ukraine’s military capabilities are unlikely to improve, making Moscow less hesitant in its actions on its borderlands. This is not to deny that Macron and Merkel’s relations with Putin are not important, but they should rather be seen in the context of the imme-
diate tactical needs. It is also correct not to isolate Russia entirely, as the country is an important player in European security. On a grand scale though, Germany and France are unlikely to abandon Ukraine or Georgia. The return of these countries into the Russian orbit would amount to a real resurgence of the Russian power across the Eurasian landmass. As such, although there are real possibilities for Moscow to encourage differences between Europe and the US, it is too early to claim that fundamental changes in the geopolitical landscape are coming. Tactical rapprochements should not be misinterpreted as strategic changes.
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BY SHAWN WAYNE
he Omega Group was founded in 1992 by Zaza Okuashvili, who in 2016, was recognized as “Best Investor” in the business ratings by the Georgian Times and the Georgian Opinion Research Business International (“GORBI”). It has over the last quarter of a century established itself as one of Georgia’s most successful business groups. As the Group has expanded, so has its vision. Today it not only plays a major role in the development of the economy, and is Georgia’s largest corporate taxpayer, but it is also a significant contributor to the country’s charitable causes. “To do something, you believe, you make a plan and trust in it.” - Zaza Okuashvili To date, the group has generated revenues for the Georgian budget in excess of GEL 1.5 billion. After some complications, Okuashvili took up residence In the UK, he formed a British partnership and also set up a new company, AGT, with overall control of his holdings in Georgia, ownership of which he still retained. Combined pressure, including the political intervention of the British Embassy in Tbilisi, led to the physical return of the Omega assets later in 2004. David Heath, a British friend and business partner to Okuashvili said that without Okuashvili’s resolve and tenacity, the Omega Group would have buckled under the pressure that many people would
not be able to handle. “We are moving forward against an uphill struggle, mainly due to the tenacity of Zaza, in some ways many people would have thrown in the towel, but he has not. He never gives up,” Heath said. On 5 June, a ribbon-cutting ceremony was held at The Omega Motor City in Tbilisi to open the road which connects multiple retailers such as Bentley, BMW, and Maserati. Cutting this ribbon was none other than Zaza Okuashvili himself and British politician Mark Pritchard. Even with the rainy weather, the ceremony and festivities went on- as Zaza Okuashvili does not give up! After the ribbon was cut, British and Georgian Business persons walked down the road, joined by a marching band, stilt walkers, jugglers and unicycle riders as they moved to the stage and tents. “We know how to build and how to finance; we are not starting from zero. I believe the hardest part of all this is done, it is now passed, we did it successfully and will continue to do it successfully. When we receive a challenge, we work through it: that is our style, our way of life,” Zaza Okuashvili told GEORGIA TODAY. This was not simply a ceremony to open a road that connects retailers, but a ceremony that symbolizes the strength and the willpower of people who have the constitution to keep building bridges, believing in everyone around them and supporting everyone around them, cementing a road we can all walk on.
JUNE 8 - 11, 2018
What Does the EU Preach? – The MEP Bishop Explains All EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW BY VAZHA TAVBERIDZE
eing both a bishop and a Member of the European Parliament (MEP) is not a combination you see every day. Add “revolutionary” to that mix and it becomes even more bewildering – yet this is exactly what Hungarian MEP Laszlo Tokes is. Since the place of religion in the EU is one of the more intriguing ones for Georgian people, themselves (in majority) being a devout and church-going people, we asked MEP Tokes to share with us his insights on the matter in an exclusive interview for our “Messages from Brussels” series.
HOW DOES A MAN GO FROM BEING A BISHOP TO BECOMING MEMBER OF THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT? In my reformed Hungarian church in Romania, it is very natural that churches have an impact on the social lives of their believers, in fact, it is a long-standing tradition with us. The Church is always involved in the everyday and political lives of its people because this is the role it has had to fill for centuries. My Protestant church, for example, was a champion of religious freedom and we had to speak out, to give voice to the interests of our people in the times of the Habsburg Empire and later in the time of atheist communism: we were the only advocates of our people and we were the hidden opposition of the Communist atheist regime; we were the shepherds of our parishes and communities.
BRUSSELS PREACHES SECULARISM. IN SUCH A WORLD, WHAT ROLE DOES THE CHURCH HAVE IN POLITICS? In this regard, the Eastern Central European region is totally different from the secularized western parts of Europe because we have this tradition. Another example is the Polish Roman Catholic Church which has always had an important role in the life of Poland, including during the resistance in the time of John Paul II and throughout the regime change. This tradition is very much alive in Eastern Europe still.
GEORGIA IS ALSO AN EASTERN EUROPEAN COUNTRY AND IS A COUNTRY WHERE THE CHURCH ENJOYS TREMENDOUS SUPPORT AND TRUST. SHOULD GEORGIA BECOME MORE SECULAR TO FIT IN WITH THE EUROPEAN WAY? I sympathize with Georgia because the Georgian Orthodox Church has not lost
If the Church is fulfilling a social, spiritual, educational or charitable function, it should get state financial support from taxpayers’ money
In a democratic society, the activities and expenditures of the Church should be monitored its role in the life of society, and our model of the role of the Church is very close to that of Georgia. I know and am delighted that the Georgian Orthodox Church is the most trusted institution in the country, so it is in the case of the Orthodox Church in Romania. Churches that come from Eastern and Central Europe can have an added value in the European Union and European integration process; we are all full supporters of the accession into the EU and share the values of original European standards, for example the culture of love and the culture of tolerance. More secular values like the culture of tolerance or human rights are very important in our churches and we were the pioneers of representing these values even before freeing ourselves from communism; well before joining the EU, as a matter of fact.
and it is obvious we think and believe in a Christian way. One of the oldest Churches in the world is that of Georgia. How could Georgia join as an ally if Europe was not a Christian cultural and religious entity? It is clear that Georgia is communicating in these frameworks and that it has the feeling of being European through its Christian identity, just as [Romania] did when we joined [the EU] 10 years ago.
IT HAS BEEN SEEN THAT THE CHURCH CAN ALSO PLAY A NEGATIVE ROLE IN POLITICS, SUCH AS IN THE CASE OF THE RUSSIAN CHURCH. WHAT’S YOUR TAKE ON THAT? We have been very critical towards the Romanian and the Russian Orthodox churches in the past due to their obligated support of the communist regime. We Protestants were in opposition of the regime, yet the Romanian Orthodox Church was the ally of Nicolae Ceausescu, the Romanian dictator. I’m not fully clear on the situation in the Soviet republics, but as I know the Georgian Church had to suffer oppression and restrictions. Out of resistance to this situation, they had the merit to embrace their people, to keep the faith alive in the people and that led, in my opinion, to the fall of communism after a long fight against dictatorship.
THERE’S AN ONGOING DEBATE AS TO WHETHER THE GEORGIAN
WHAT IS THE MAIN DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THE WESTERN AND EASTERN TRADITION IN HOW THE CHURCH WORKS? I believe it was divine providence that in our oppressed situation, the resistance of churches and the faith of the Christian people had the result of opposing the oppression and Soviet occupation, and the nationalist communist oppression of Romanian majority rule in our case, and it brought up in our conscience and spirits the need to become conscious supporters of those values we enjoy in the European Union. The Western countries were lucky as they did not have to face such challenges and such brutal pressure, and they became more distanced and secular with time. We had to face the atheism, but they had to get used to secularism, which is in our vision as bad as atheism; they benevolently left God and left the values of Christianity; we were forced to do so but we resisted these pressures and the dictate of the regime.
SOME EUROSCEPTICS IN GEORGIA SAY THAT MOVING TOWARDS THE EU MEANS THAT THE CHURCH’S INFLUENCE WILL BE WEAKENED AND UNDERMINED. WHAT WOULD YOU SAY TO SUCH THINKERS?
Sameba Cathedral, Tbilisi. Image source: Sven&Vanilka
ORTHODOX CHURCH SHOULD RECEIVE STATE FUNDING AND IF IT DOES, THAT A MONITORING MECHANISM SHOULD BE REQUIRED. WHAT DO YOU THINK?
EARNINGS GOES IN PART TO THE STATE CONTRIBUTION TO THE CHURCH. NONBELIEVERS ASK WHY, AND DEMAND CHURCH SPENDING BE MONITORED
Yes, if the Church is fulfilling various functions, be they social, spiritual, educational or in charity work; functions worthy of praise and state financial support from taxpayers’ money.
It’s not only the Georgian Church; the Armenian Apostolic Church also has the benefit of a slice of the Georgian budget. I think in proportion, to a correct degree, all churches can be supported according to their contribution to society and to the common good of a society.
BUT EVERY TAXPAYER’S
AND THE MONITORING ISSUE? It is absolutely vital. In a democratic society, you cannot imagine that the activities or expenditures of the Church are not monitored; everybody has to be transparent in their work and there is nothing to be hidden and no shame in expanding, in spending the funds and money coming from the state budget. The material was prepared in the scope of the “Messages from Brussels” series, a project of the European Alliance for Georgia, a Brussels-based NGO aiming to bring more Georgia into Europe.
I already mentioned the added value by which we are enriching the EU. In my view, to be one in Christ is very similar and parallel to being one in the EU in terms of the spiritual dimension of it. I am convinced that the Christian faith is vitally important for the European Union. Sometimes the policies in economics, trade or in military issues divide us, but common values like our faith unite us.
BUT SHOULD IT BE RELIGION OR THE VALUES IN AND OF THEMSELVES THAT UNITE PEOPLE? In my opinion, it must be so, as far as we are Christians and the values of Europe are rooted in Christianity: even if there is precedent in Jewish and other traditions, we are rooted in Christianity
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JUNE 8 - 11, 2018
Estonian MEP on the Way forward for Georgia’s European Aspirations THERE ARE MANY WHO THINK THAT HAD THE WEST RESPONDED MORE STRONGLY IN 2008, THERE WOULD NOT HAVE BEEN THE EVENTS OF 2014 IN UKRAINE
EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW BY VAZHA TAVBERIDZE
stonia is one of the more resilient strategic partners that Georgia can turn to nowadays, with the country an outspoken supporter of Georgia’s coveted aim, EU and NATO membership, plus the fact their know-how in cyber security is second to none. For yet another episode of the “Messages from Brussels” series, we sat down with the former Minister of Foreign Affairs and now an Estonian MEP, Urmas Paet, to talk more about the Baltic experience and what Georgia can learn from it.
If we look at Crimea, and the case of Georgia, including South Ossetia and Abkhazia, they are still different stories; the end is clear that Russia broke international law, but if you look deeper into the subject, different stories appear. Even if there had been a much stronger reaction to 2008, I don’t think it necessarily would have prevented what we saw in 2014 in Crimea.
THIS YEAR, ASIDE FROM THE 10TH ANNIVERSARY SINCE THE WAR, IT IS ALSO THE ANNIVERSARY OF THAT FAMED BUCHAREST SUMMIT AT WHICH GEORGIA WAS PROMISED MAP. IS GEORGIA ANY CLOSER TO MAP NOW?
HOW DID THE BALTIC COUNTRIES MANAGE TO ACHIEVE WHAT IS STILL UNMANAGEABLE FOR GEORGIA? Internally, in Estonia, one of the most important elements was that there was quite a large consensus in society from the very beginning, even from the late 80s, that we’d like to be free again, because Estonia was independent between 19181940. The sense and also the memory of being free, of having an independent country, was still there. When at the end of 80s we saw that something was changing in the Soviet Union and especially in the early 90s when it was clear that it was going down-hill, there was high-level unity in society as to where we wanted to go. It was clear that we wanted to rejoin Europe; as soon as possible become a part of that Western Society. Also relevant was the fact that during the Soviet occupation, we were able to see Finnish television programmes and have contacts with Estonians who had left the country to live in Sweden, the US or Canada. This personal touch made a difference.
ONE THING IS FIGHTING FOR FREEDOM AND ANOTHER THING IS ACQUIRING AND MANAGING IT. ESTONIA IS CONSIDERED PART OF THE EUROPEAN NARRATIVE, SOMETHING NOT SEEN IN GEORGIA’S CASE I think it’s there. But it doesn’t explain 100% why things went differently for
our two countries in the past 20-25 years. A very important part of this was that the new Estonian political elite worked hard to totally transform society with regards rule of law and various liberties. Even without being a member of the EU, if you look at international data, Estonia was quite high in freedom of press, rule of law, etc. Plus the neighborhood helps: Finland, Sweden, Denmark. We always compared ourselves with Scandinavia; but Scandinavian societies are undoubtedly on top.
RUSSIA OPPOSES THE EXPANSION PROCESS, AS SEEN IN 2008, FOLLOWING ON FROM THE BIG ENLARGEMENT IN 2004 WHEN WE SAW ROMANIA AND BULGARIA JOIN THE EU Yes. Russia realizes that it’s not only NATO but also the EU that somehow challenges its view of how the former Soviet Union area should be, especially in the case of Ukraine. But the enlargement in 2004 and 2008 also created enlargement “fatigue” within the EU itself due to the jump to 28 member states.
IN 2013 IT WAS SAID THAT THE EASTERN PARTNERSHIP
IS NOT AN ANTI-RUSSIAN PROJECT PER SE, BUT WE SEE THAT RUSSIANS DON’T SHARE YOUR VIEW REGARDING THIS. WHAT DO YOU THINK IS THE WAY FORWARD WHEN IT COMES TO GEORGIA’S EUROPEAN ASPIRATIONS? We see it as very difficult, perhaps even impossible to change their attitudes; we saw it during the last two years. The biggest part of what we can do is first focus on what Georgia can do at home: the level of the rule of law, freedom of press, the liberties, economic freedoms and so on and also the life standard plays an important role. Of course the neighborhood of Georgia is difficult. No one argues it. Especially the case of Russia and what happened to South Ossetia in 2008; but still it’s crucial that Georgia keeps on developing the above aspects.
GEORGIA HEARS IT NEEDS TO CONTINUE ITS REFORMS, BUT WE DON’T HEAR THE UNCERTAINTIES REGARDING THE TRUE STATE OF AFFAIRS IN STANDARDS IN GEORGIA COMPARED TO THOSE OF THE EU I guess this element exists in discussion. And look at the international rankings,
records and tables on which Georgia is playing, showing where Georgia is with freedom of press, freedom of doing business etc. This is at least a part answer for those with questions and uncertainties about Georgia.
GEORGIA RANKS HIGHER THAN BULGARIA AND GREECE AND IT HAS BETTER PRESS FREEDOM THAN SOME OF THE LATER EU MEMBER COUNTRIES. SOME GEORGIAN CITIZENS ASK IF DOUBLE STANDARDS ARE AT PLAY Double standards may not be the right phrase; there are different standards. There is a reality which applies to geographical or geopolitical location which has an influence. If Georgia were where Iceland is, for example, with no aggressive neighbors, of course, this aspect would be again emotionally or politically different. I also recall 2008-2009 and the Georgia - Russia war; there was discussion about the future of NATO membership for Georgia, it’s no big secret that there are people in European politics who ask if we’re really ready to go to war with Russia because of Georgia. Of course, if Georgia had been a NATO member then, the response would have been different.
I would say so. In 10 years Georgia has made lots of practical efforts domestically and internationally, so it has its value and meaning. Many NATO countries today are less naïve concerning Russia, as after the 2008 events and ongoing events in Ukraine, they woke up.
THERE’S STILL THAT SKEPTICISM ABOUT GEORGIA, THOUGH, COMING FROM FRANCE AND GERMANY There’s no easy solution. Georgia is still at risk of confrontation with Russia, though the situation is more favorable than it was 10 years ago, and this is stuck in the minds of many politicians in Europe and NATO. It’s not easy but there really is no other choice but for Georgia to keep on track, to develop practical cooperation in the military field with NATO countries and the EU; to keep up with the EU standards of rule of law, press freedom, and so on: moving step-by-step to get better positions on those international rankings. This material was prepared in the scope of the “Messages from Brussels” series, a project of the European Alliance for Georgia, a Brussels-based NGO aiming to bring more Georgia into Europe.
A Just Society is a Product of Just Citizens OP-ED BY NUGZAR B. RUHADZE
n the last 30 years since the collapse of the communism-oriented and socialism-based Soviet Union, part of which Georgia was, we have been doing most of our politics in the street. We have turned this country into a land where outdoor politics has become the norm. The Georgian political spirit is so boisterous and unruly that it cannot stay within the confines of its duly allocated premises: to breathe more efficiently, it needs to be in the open air. When a political crisis comes to a head, our public and its political manipulators start suffering from a deficiency of political oxygen and often take to streets. Traditionally, the most convenient spot for release of said accumulated political exhaust happens to be the area in front of the old Parliament building on Rustaveli Avenue, Tbilisi. Everything happens there – New Year trees, rallies, parades, manifestations and all-out communal promenades. It’s a fun place, but what seems ‘no-fun’ is the fact that the political think-tank of this nation has yet to provide for political decision- making
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within the framework of the set activity of the elected government. Following the breakdown of soviet power, the Government of Georgia has changed numerous hands, most often as a consequence of revolutionary upheavals. And the main reason for such cataclysmic disorder was once the misgivings of our people about justice and law
enforcement. When our good people feel that justice is wronged, they want to snatch the governing power out of the hands of their elected rulers and place it at the discretion of an emotionally charged crowd which at that moment assumes the responsibility to dictate their own rules to the nation. Let us assume for a second that a thing
like this is acceptable in democracy. But who can guarantee that the exulted crowd is capable of making optimal decisions to the benefit of the entire nation? Looking deeper into the problem, crowds take to the streets when the State seems to be losing its reasonable-ruling capacity. Any massive outdoor rally is an indicator of the weakening of the ability of the State to carry on with business as usual. Normally, management of a country is a process of interaction between the elected government and the electing governed. In this non-sacramental but presumably transparent process, the government is expected to keep to the rules of the sworn-in covenant, and the governed are expected to enjoy the result of governmental efforts. When the contrary happens and the governed lose confidence in the government, they find taking-to-the-streets the only way to stop the eventuating injustice. This usually happens when the State is not mature enough to cope with its regular duties. But democracy needs time to make progress and Georgia is still on its way, hence the crowds in the street. Let us now reverse the arrow of our denigration and direct it on ourselves: we the people are not angels either; we
are haters of law. Our psyche abhors the constraints of law; we as the electorate, as the governed, as law abiding animals, as subjects of a certain elected government, are maturing just as slowly as our State. The sense of justice that has to be existential in any regular judge, elected or assigned, and which is the bedrock on which a mature State stands, needs to be instilled in our civil consciousness. A just society is a product of just citizens. The cooperation of citizenry and the government will never yield any good if they are distracted and divided. The process of maturation of a state is a monolith of those two components, and unless we see this process organically inscribed in the hearts and minds of all our citizens and in the style of governing this country, justice will be impossible. A mature and law-abiding state, the protector of its citizens, a conscientious citizenry, defender of its rights, and political will, uniting the two, are needed to save our kids from murder, to enable us to feel secure from injustice, to expect due enforcement of the law, for giving future generations a fair example of righteous living, and finally, for putting our outdoor politics back where the political logic should work way more effectively.
GEORGIA TODAY JUNE 8 - 11, 2018
Radisson Collection to Welcome Georgia’s Historic Tsinandali Estate
adisson Hotel Group is excited to announce the signing of the first Radisson Collection hotel in Eastern Europe and Russia. The Tsinandali Estate, a Radisson Collection Hotel will have a soft opening period in September and then open its doors in October 2018 in the iconic wine region of Kakheti, Georgia. True to Radisson Collection’s pioneering ethos, the Tsinandali Estate will establish a new benchmark of quality in the country. A model of locally-inspired, contemporary design, the property will set out to shine a light on Tsinandali’s rich history and build the region’s profile as an emerging travel hotspot. A truly unique property, the hotel is
set amidst he Tsinandali Estate’s own remarkable vineyards, amongst the finest in a region renowned for its diverse selection of wines. The hotel grounds also neighbor an historic 18-hectare park, only a short distance from the Tsinandali Palace Museum of Prince Alexander Chavchavadze – a memorial to the founder of Georgian Romanticism and an important cultural attraction in its own right. “The Tsinandali Estate Radisson Collection hotel is a welcome addition to our expanding portfolio in Georgia,” said David Jenkins, Vice President Business Development of Radisson Hotel Group. “It offers guests a unique, authentic experience and our owners the opportunity to develop an individualized property that benefits from a global network.”
At The Biltmore Hotel 29 Rustaveli Ave, 0108 Tbilisi, Georgia
“We are pleased to further strengthen our business relationship with Radisson Hotel Group by launching the first Radisson Collection in Georgia with this incredible property,” noted John Losasso, Chief Executive Officer of Silkroad Hospitality Group. “The Tsinandali Estate is a destination in its own right and we can clearly see an alignment between the estate and the Radisson Collection brand. We are positive that our guests will naturally enjoy an exceptional experience, enjoying the delightful Georgian countryside and the rich heritage of the estate itself – not to mention the famous Georgian winemaking culture.” The hotel will offer 141 stylish guest rooms and suites and a range of exceptional hotel facilities. These include an infinity rooftop pool, with stunning vistas of the Caucasus Mountains; an energizing hotel spa; an exciting variety of restaurants; an open-air amphitheater for 1,200 guests; sophisticated meeting facilities; a helicopter landing spot and,
of course, exclusive access to the Tsinandali Estate park. The on-site Tsinandali Vineyards offer an authentic Georgian experience for guests, with a unique vinotheque, winetasting bar and Prince Alexander Chavchavadze’s personal wine cellar collection. It will offer a truly inspiring experience for wine lovers and an insider journey into the heritage of Georgian wine production.
The Tsinandali Estate, a Radisson Collection Hotel, will be located 104km from Tbilisi, the Georgian capital. It will feature stunning MICE facilities, designed in a Georgian architectural style by worldrenowned industrial designer Ingo Maurer in collaboration with celebrated Georgian artist and sculptor Tamara Kvesitadze. The project is accomplished through the financial support of TBC Bank and the Partnership Fund.
JUNE 8 - 11, 2018
The Known & Hidden Costs of Climate Change that Georgia is Paying BY SAMANTHA GUTHRIE
he 45th World Environment Day was celebrated on June 5, giving major corporations, non-governmental organizations, and governments the opportunity to demonstrate their commitment to beating pollution, countering climate change, and moving towards greener and cleaner economies. Environmental risks, primarily climate change, have already proven to be one of the most important issues of the 21st century and will likely turn out to be one of the most impactful on the way humans live worldwide. Development level is one of the biggest divides in how climate change affects and will affect people in different areas of the globe. Less economically developed areas are more sensitive to and less resilient after climate effects, such as natural disasters. Areas with higher incomes and more disposable income are less sensitive to the higher costs incurred in switching to renewable energy sources, and more economically developed countries are less sensitive to the costs imposed by environmentallyfriendly regulation on production and manufacturing. As a result, higher income countries are more likely to adopt environment-friendly regulations on production and manufacturing while develop-
ing economies find it difficult to invest in costly climate-smart trends like renewable energy. The common refrain is – is it fair to equally restrain the manufacturingrelated outputs of countries that built their wealth on unrestrained manufacturing and have largely moved past heavy industry as a major economic driver, and of developing countries that are in the process of growth and wealth building through heavy industry? Is it fair to impose equal climate responsibilities on more and less developed economies? And how do climate-related policies affect economic and social development in countries like Georgia? In search of the answers, GEORGIA TODAY contacted the UN Development Program (UNDP), one of the largest international development agencies in the world with a 20-year-plus record of assisting Georgia and the wider region in coping with climate threats. According to Niels Scott, UNDP Head in Georgia, climate change, though the greatest development challenge, also includes development opportunities. “Our region is starting to see the adverse impacts of climate change – more frequent and intense natural disasters, effects on agriculture, local industries, people and livelihoods. Due to climate change, we recognise the urgent need to reform the energy and transport sectors and make the economy more sustainable and climate-savvy. Georgia, for
example, is revising its national climate change policies and making very real steps toward low-carbon and climatesmart development. This complex and challenging process is determined by the country’s international commitments under the UN Conventions, Sustainable Development agenda, Paris Agreement, Energy Community membership, and the Association Agreement with the European Union. On the other hand, it responds to the needs and aspirations of the Georgian people who are more vocal than ever in requesting a greener future for themselves and the generations to come,” says Scott. While Georgia contributes a very small share of the world’s emissions, it is doing its part to combat climate change. The Georgian government has committed to reducing greenhouse gas emissions unconditionally by 15% and conditionally by up to 25% by the year 2030. Since 2015, when Georgia signed the Paris Agreement, Georgia has been focused on two big goals – reducing greenhouse gas emissions and identifying and creating carbon neutral sectors. The priority areas for carbon reduction are forestry, transport, agriculture, and energy. Additionally, Georgia plans to completely revise its vision of disaster risk management and shift from reactive response to proactive preparedness and prevention. Nino Antadze, UNDP’s Environment and Energy Team Leader in Georgia, says that, without the proper adaptation meas-
ures, climate hazards could cost Georgia between USD $10 and $12 billion between 2021 and 2030. The estimated cost of adapting to climate change over the same time-period is significantly less – between USD $1.5 billion and $2 billion. “Climate-smart policies do not only benefit the environment. They are good for the economy and people,” Antadze says. For a small country, Georgia indeed pays a great deal to respond to the catastrophic results of climate change. Just three years ago, the major flood in Tbilisi took 19 lives, swept away the Tbilisi Zoo, and caused financial losses estimated at USD $24.3 million (Tbilisi Disaster Needs Assessment, 2015. World Bank/ UNDP). One group facing a particularly painful climate-induced reality are the so-called eco migrants from the Adjara region (eco- from ecological, not economic). From 2004–2010, 763 families from mountainous Adjara were resettled by the government after losing their homes in floods and landslides, and countless more have been affected. Residents of the Rioni River basin in the Imereti region are also at risk, where 200 thousand people live under the threat of losing their homes and property in recurrent floods. Increasingly frequent hail and rising temperatures damage
crops in the rural regions of the country, including Georgia’s bread basket, Kakheti. According to Antadze, Georgia urgently needs to revise its climate hazard monitoring, assessment, information and early warning systems, and the UNDP stands ready to support the country in improving the collection of climate information, as well as in promoting climatesmart planning and decision-making across all sectors. Last year, the Government of Georgia adopted the country’s first ever National Disaster Risk Reduction Strategy and action plan. This year, Georgia received a pledge for launching a multi-million dollar UNDP-supported project, financed through the grants from the Green Climate Fund ($27 mln), Swiss Government ($5 mln) and the Government of Georgia ($38 mln), that will help the country improve its climate information and early warning systems and is expected to protect 1.7 million Georgians from climateinduced hazards. Tangible results from these promising initiatives have yet to be realized. Until then, and with this year’s flash flood season fast approaching, people in the flood-risk regions will hold out hope that recently implemented resilience measures will be enough to save them from the coming storms.
No One Likes a Tattle Tale OP-ED BY CATHRINE SALBY
t saddens me to say that I was raised in an environment which demeans and patronizes me every single day for being a woman. Writing about this is difficult because I was raised to believe that I must not speak up about sexual, verbal or emotional abuse. I have looked past an enormous amount of harassment throughout my life, most of the time not realizing how horribly I was being treated. And this is due to a single fact: my culture. In the Bible, there is a saying that God first created Adam, and when Adam felt alone in the Garden of Eden, God took a rib from Adam and created Eve. For most people in my country, this is interpreted as meaning that women are created as helpers for men. Another interpretation of this is that since women are created from a rib, they must be “brainless.” I cannot tell you how many times I have heard this from a man in Georgia, as most women do. The word “woman,” may sound innocent, but for me the word woman means that you have to compromise on everything you do in life. Every single day you must compromise on the clothes you really want to wear, the words you truly want to speak, and even who you chose to have intimate relationships with. If a skirt is too short, she’s inappropriate. If she decides to swear, she is vulgar. And if she decides to maintain a sexual relationship while unmarried, then she is a “tramp.” However, there is no equivalent language that can describe similar men’s behavior. It is a double standard. “No one likes a tattle tale,” is what I heard while growing up. When a boy bit me, when he took my doll, when he laughed at my body, I was forced into silence by the adults around me. “If he’s
mean to you, he likes you”. That is simply not true and encourages young women to be with men who mistreat them and abuse them. On the surface, Georgian men seem like gentlemen who respect women; however, the falseness of this stereotype shows through and is evident in the actions they perform. One night I was gathered with a few
Image source: Thought Catalog
friends and one girl said that she would have loved to have been taller. Two men turned around and said that men don’t like tall girls, a comment spoken in a snarky, confident voice. I was shocked because the girl did not say anything, as if she hadn’t realized the comment was actually insulting. So I spoke up and they immediately realized that what
they had said was wrong. I encourage all women to notice these flawed perceptions that men have towards women and say whatever you feel in the moment. And no, it won’t make you a crazy feminist as everyone in Georgia might assume: it makes you a stronger human being. The saying goes: “No one likes a tattle
tale;” however, if you are being abused, sexually, verbally or emotionally, there is no reason why you should not speak up. It is truly terrifying when most people don’t believe you, tell you to get over it or that it can’t be so bad. Yet, there are a lot of women who go through similar experiences and I believe it’s time to get together and get vocal about it!
GEORGIA TODAY JUNE 8 - 11, 2018
A School at 60: Ushguli, Svaneti
BLOG BY TONY HANMER
yopportunitiestoreturn to Ushguli, where I spent the winters of 2007-9 living and teaching English, are rare these days. It’s far and expensive, not to mention a bumpy ride; though the road is steadily improving over time, the concrete extending slowly farther and farther from Mestia through Ipari and towards K’ala. We have a group of young Christian volunteers who have been living with us in Etseri for a few weeks now, and on their day off they planned to make the trek to Europe’s highest village, so I was able to accompany them as guide. It was gratifying to see some of the changes in the road on the way: although between us and Mestia there are enough bad spots to call shame on the current government (oh, wait, their ouster is being demanded for other reasons at the moment anyway), the road is new enough that frost heave/sink and road drop-off haven’t yet had time to disfigure it. The zig-zag down from the Mulakhi-Ipari pass is nearly complete in concrete now, and even some sections past this are likewise resurfaced. Dumpsters also dot the landscape: surely a far less eye-injuring sight than the garbage strewn about the landscape which
was formerly our despair? Progress is in sight! Near and past K’ala, the road is still its familiar muddy, rough, scary, un-railed self, but this distance is lessening with every hard-won meter of new surface. The cement version will cause some to shudder, as it’s a first there; it WILL bring more, and faster, traffic to delicate Ushguli, this is sure. Whether the village can stand the modernization is another question. Weather wasn’t marvelous on the day of our trip, cloudy when not actually squally. So we forewent the planned short but steep hike up to Queen Tamar’s Summer Fortress with its glorious views of the village spread out below Mt. Shkhara, Georgia’s highest, which was also playing hide-and-seek anyway. I found myself free to visit my dear and wonderful former hosts, the family of Dato Ratiani and Nanuli Chelidze in their spectacular new Villa Lileo, and also the school where I taught, where Dato’s sister Nona is still director. Here, I was welcomed back with open arms by my colleagues of a decade ago and discovered that my information about an important date had been wrong. The school’s diamond jubilee, celebrating 60 years of existence, had been last year! The same with the equal commemoration of its oldest serving couple, both teaching there for 60 years too! And… nothing had been recognized, or done, by the local or national govern-
ments to recognize and reward this great date. Shame, again! Really, I believe that Odisher and Teona deserve medals from Georgia’s President for their decades of service in one place, and such a difficult one at that! (In the photo, they are 3rd and 4th from right-most.) The school deserves a medal too, similarly. It was my privilege to work alongside such long-term dedicated teachers, and soon after I left Ushguli, the Teach and Learn with Georgia program began. I agitated non-stop for more teachers of English to take up where I had left off, and for most of this last decade this has been done; I met the current English teacher, a young man from Zugdidi, on this trip and commended him for his work. Such a tourist-frequented location needs its young people, its future generations, to grow up fluent in English, the teaching of which was the village’s idea for me to do when I asked them for permission to live there and for their wish for my use of time. The rest is history. 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 1900 members, at www.facebook.com/groups/SvanetiRenaissance/ He and his wife also run their own guest house in Etseri: w.facebook.com/hanmer.house.svaneti
Georgian 3D Animation Distinguished With International Awards BY SHAWN WAYNE
inema theaters in Asia, Europe and North America will screen Geno; the firstever Georgian 3D animation film to be distinguished with numeorus international awards at festivals. A range of cinemas in Japan, South Korea, France, Spain and the United States obtained screening rights for director Dato Kiknavelidze’s short recently. The Georgian-German co-production, which premiered at the Annecy International Animated Film Festival in France last year, sends a message about environmental issues. Kiknavelidze said he decided to address the subject with the film after witnessing the disappearance of green areas as a result of residential construction near his house beside Tbilisi's Lisi Lake. Inspired to address the global problem, the filmmaker set the animation around a lake and its animal inhabitants, who
were faced with the threat of losing their natural habitat. The short has been screened at festivals around the world since its premiere in France, and won Best Short Animation Award at the International Children's Film Festival last month.
Kiknavelidze's previous animation works includes the 2010 short Vacuum, which screened at the Tbilisi International Film Festival. The Georgian director holds degrees in art and animation and is art director at Tbilisi-based Lira Production studio.
JUNE 8 - 11, 2018
The Kavkaz Jazz Festival T
he Kavkaz Jazz Festival, celebrated for the 9th year in a row, is held on 7-8th June in Tbilisi. The purpose of the Festival is to aid Jazz development, enhance the cultural dialogue of performers and friendly collaboration in South Caucasus, towards further cooperation. This year, Jazz Café Singer will host the gathering of Caucasian Jazz lovers. The final event will be held in Abanotubani, where artists from Azerbaijan, Turkey, Georgia and Armenia will gather together on stage and perform in front of an audience. The festival is hosting the unique project Kavkaz Jazz Quartet, created over the last year with the participation of well-known musicians of the region, including: Salman Gambarov (Azerbaijan) – pianist, composer and arranger. Participated in well-known festivals such as Montreux Jazz Festival, Oriental Jazz Fest, ZeltMusik-Festival and Beethoven Festival. Armen Hyusnunts (Armenia) – saxophonist, composer, conductor and a deserved artist of Armenia. He founded the Group Time Report. For years, he has been Arto Tunjboiajan's legendary Armenian Navy Band soloist. In 20042006, he was invited as a professor at the Yerevan State Conservatoire. George Mel (Giorgi Meliqishvili, Georgia, USA) – drummer, percussionist, composer, arranger. New York City Jazz Record referred to him as a “Veteran of New York Jazz and the World Music Scene”. George successfully graduated from the prestigious Berklee College of Music in the US. He has been a part of many outstanding artists’ projects, a
leader/composer for various author’s projects and authored an arrangement himself. Senturk Oztas (Turkey) – a young and talented bass player, who is best known for his bass-vocal duo project Songs From A Breeze. He is also a member of the ISTBILISI project (Turkey), which
is a brand new musical get-together, especially created for the Kavkaz Jazz Festival. With Bilal Karaman on guitar, and Mustafa Olgan on electric they play compositions and traditional Turkish songs and even well-known jazz tunes with a traditional approach. This unique regional quartet will per-
form with Georgian Ethno-jazz band IRIAO, Nargile Mehtiyeva and Ivane Mkrtchyan on duduk from Tbilisi. Since 2010, The Kavkaz Jazz Festival has hosted more than 100 musicians from 11 different countries. The event is organized by Art Bridge, presented by the Ministry of Culture
and Monument Protection of Georgia, and supported by the Tbilisi City Hall. Partners include: Georgian National Tourism Administration and Yunus Emre Institute, Embassy of Turkey, Embassy of Armenia, Media Holding GBTIMES Georgia, Radio IMEDI and OK Magazine.
GEORGIA TODAY JUNE 8 - 11, 2018
The Wonders of Georgian Wine Discovered
BY BILLY MARTINSKY
elgium and Germany may be known for their beer, Scotland for its whiskey, and Mexico for tequila. In Georgia, however, this is the country for wine (and in my opinion, ahead of Spain, Italy, and France!). During my previous visits, I've had a fair amount of Georgian wine from a variety of different locations, both homemade and from shops, and it was pretty consistently enjoyable to drink. But just one month ago, I was introduced to a place that would change my life forever and take my experience of Georgian wine to another level I did not yet know existed. It all happened when a newly made Russian friend at my hostel said he'd heard of this wine shop called Wine Gallery that was supposed to be the best in Tbilisi and was going to go check it out. Intrigued, I opted to join. After exiting the hostel, we walked about 30 minutes, crossing the river to the other side of the city in the process, and eventually reached a quiet, secluded side street. And there it was. Decorated in an ornate fashion with red awnings, the store stood with its name embroiled in Georgian, English and Russian. The exterior was welcoming, not too flashy, and had a staircase leading down to the entrance. I then descended, pushed open the door... and what I saw absolutely blew my mind. Decorated in medieval suits of armor, traditional Georgian drinking horns, wine distilleries, and
baroque furniture, it looked as if it were some sort of royal chamber. The lady at the front greeted us, holding back a laugh upon seeing the look of extreme awe on our faces. She asked if we would like to taste some, to which I said yes (with far too much volume and urgency than perhaps necessary). She handed me a glass of dry red (unfortunately due to my lack of wine knowledge, I cannot give further information). Eagerly I took a sip... and by that I mean I drank the whole thing, and was instantly swept away by the rich, savory, soothing taste. It was as if a new door in the house of wine had just opened for me for the very first time. Noticing my enjoyment, the woman handed me another, saying that this one was semi-sweet. Again, I drank it, and again, I was transported to a magical world of taste-bud sensation, but this time, it was like a delicious dessert. I felt like a kid in a candy store, only now as an adult, the candy was alcohol. My decision was made. I was getting a liter of both and there was nothing my microscopic bank account sum could do to stop me. I placed my order, waiting to hear the damage... but it turns out there was none. The price for each was just 9 GEL (3 Euro/$3.50). The cashier said they had more expensive wines that weren't for sampling, but I was quite content with my commoner's purchase. She then filled up two plastic water bottles with my wines and then handed them to me. I accepted my coveted relics, said my thanks and exited. Upon leaving, I vowed to eventually return... which I did a couple days later... and several more times since. And I will several times more!
JUNE 8 - 11, 2018
WHAT’S ON IN TBILISI THEATER
TBILISI ZAKARIA PALIASHVILI OPERA AND BALLET THEATER Address: 25 Rustaveli Ave. Telephone: 2 99 04 56 June 10, 13 * Premiere SIMON BOCCANEGRA Giuseppe Verdi Starring: Vittorio Vitelli, Kakhaber Tetvadze, Irina Taboridze, Giorgi Meladze, Giorgi Mchedlishvili, Giorgi Chelidze, Tamaz Saginadze, Manana Iordanishvil Director- Alfonso Signorini (Italy), Conductor- Zaza Azmaiparashvili, Costume Designer- Ester Martin (Spain) Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 10-100 GEL MOVEMENT THEATER Address: 182, Aghmashenebeli Ave. Telephone: 598 19 29 36 June 8 SILENCE, REHEARSAL! Directed by Kakha Bakuradze Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 15 GEL June 15 DON JUAN Directed by Kakha Bakuradze Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 15 GEL SHALIKASHVILI THEATER Address: 37 Rustaveli Ave. Telephone: 595 50 02 03 June 15 Roma Rtskhiladze and Pantomime Theater Along with electronic music presents THE WISH TREE Start time: 20:00 Ticket price: 20 GEL GABRIADZE THEATER Address: 13 Shavtelis St. Telephone: 2 98 65 93 June 14, 15 STALINGRAD Rezo Gabriadze Directed by Rezo Gabriadze English Subtitles Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 20, 30 GEL June 8, 10, 13 An animated documentary film REZO Directed by Leo Gabriadze Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 15 GEL
June 9, 12 RAMONA Rezo Gabriadze Directed by Rezo Gabriadze English Subtitles Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 20, 30 GEL TBILISI VASO ABASHIDZE MUSIC AND DRAMA STATE THEATER Address: 182 D.Agmashenebeli Ave. Telephone: 2 34 80 90 www.musictheatre.ge June 8, 15 WELCOME TO GEORGIA A musical, theatrical play and romantic comedy telling a story about Georgia and its people by combining song, dance, culture, traditions, history, national costumes and local cuisine. Musical Language: English, some Georgian (with English subtitles) Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 50-80 GEL TBILISI CIRCUS Address: Hero Sq. June 9, 10 SUMMER CIRCUS SHOW Start time: 17:00 Ticket: 10-25 GEL CINEMA
AMIRANI CINEMA Address: 36 Kostava St. Telephone: 2 99 99 55 www.kinoafisha.ge Every Wednesday ticket: 5 GEL June 8-14 JURASSIC WORLD: FALLEN KINGDOM Directed by J.A. Bayona Cast: Bryce Dallas Howard, Chris Pratt, Jeff Goldblum Genre: Action, Adventure, Sci-Fi Language: Russian Start time: 16:30, 19:30, 22:00 Ticket: 10-14 GEL SOLO: A STAR WARS STORY Directed by Ron Howard Cast: Emilia Clarke, Paul Bettany, Alden Ehrenreich Genre: Action, Adventure, Fantasy Language: Russian Start time: 16:15, 19:15 Ticket: 10-14 GEL TERMINAL Directed by Vaughn Stein Cast: Margot Robbie, Simon Pegg, Dexter Fletcher Genre: Crime, Drama, Thriller Language: Russian Start time: 22:10 Ticket: 15 GEL
DEADPOOL 2 Directed by David Leitch Cast: Morena Baccarin, Josh Brolin, Bill Skarsgård, Ryan Reynolds Genre: Action, Adventure, Comedy Language: Russian Start time: 19:45 Ticket: 15 GEL
NUMISMATIC TREASURY Exhibition showcasing a long history of money circulation on the territory of modern Georgia from the 6th century BC. to 1834.
RUSTAVELI CINEMA Address: 5 Rustaveli Ave. Telephone: 2 55 50 00 www.kinoafisha.ge
Every Wednesday ticket: 5 GEL June 8-14 JURASSIC WORLD: FALLEN KINGDOM (Info Above) Language: Russian Start time: 14:00, 17:00, 20:00, 22:30 Ticket: 10-14 GEL DEADPOOL 2 (Info Above) Language: Russian Start time: 22:30 Ticket: 13-14 GEL CAVEA GALLERY Address: 2/4 Rustaveli Ave. Telephone: 200 70 07 Every Wednesday ticket: 8 GEL June 8-14 JURASSIC WORLD: FALLEN KINGDOM (Info Above) Language: English Start time: 19:45 Language: Russian Start time: 11:45, 13:30, 14:00, 16:45, 19:30, 22:15 Ticket: 10-19 GEL DEADPOOL 2 (Info Above) Language: English Start time: 22:00 Language: Russian Start time: 16:45, 19:30 Ticket: 13-19 GEL SOLO: A STAR WARS STORY (Info Above) Language: Russian Start time: 13:30, 20:20 Ticket: 11-19 GEL MUSEUM
GEORGIAN NATIONAL MUSEUM SIMON JANASHIA MUSEUM Address: 4 Rustaveli Ave. Telephone: 2 99 80 22, 2 93 48 21 www.museum.ge GEORGIAN COSTUME AND WEAPONRY OF 18TH-20TH CENTURIES
EXHIBITION STONE AGE GEORGIA
NEW LIFE TO THE ORIENTAL COLLECTIONS April 26 – September 1 UNKNOWN COLLECTIONS OF GEORGIAN NATIONAL MUSEUM– INDIA, CHINA, JAPAN The exhibition showcases up to 500 artworks - paintings, sculptures and samples of applied art, chronological range of which is certainly wide and many more. May 26 – September 30 The Georgian National Museum and Ivane Javakhishvili Tbilisi State University, National Parliamentary Library of Georgia, Korneli Kekelidze Georgian National Center of Manuscripts and National Archives of Georgia, presents the exhibition THE DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF GEORGIA - 100 YEARS IOSEB GRISHASHVILI TBILISI HISTORY MUSEUM - KARVASLA Address: 8 Sioni St. Telephone: 2 98 22 81 May 19-June 20 THE EXHIBITION OF KETI KAPANADZE'S ARTWORKS 8 MINUTES MUSEUM OF SOVIET OCCUPATION Address: 4 Rustaveli Ave. Telephone: 2 99 80 22, 2 93 48 21 www.museum.ge PERMANENT EXHIBITION Discover the State's personal files of "subversive" Georgian public figures, orders to shoot or exile, and other artifacts representing Sovietera cultural and political repression in Georgia. SVANETI MUSEUM Address: Mestia, Svaneti May 19 – August 19 The Svaneti Museum of History and Ethnography hosts an exhibition "MAGNUM PHOTO 70 - GEORGIAN JOURNAL: ROBERT CAPA 1947, THOMAS DWORZAK 2017". GALLERY
THE NATIONAL GALLERY Address: 11 Rustaveli Ave. www.museum.ge May 15 – August 5 For International Museum Day, GNM presents the Georgian National Museum festival, dedicated to the 100th anniversary of the Democratic Republic of Georgia. Exhibition TITIAN - MASTER OF COLOR: THE VIRGIN AND CHILD May 25-August 26 The Georgian National Museum and the Embassy of Italy to Georgia, within the Museum Fest, present the exhibition EVIDENCE. A NEW STATE OF ART The National Gallery is hosting the exhibition of Garuzzo Institute for Visual Arts- presenting contemporary Italian artists' artworks created since the 1950s. May 25-August 26 The Georgian National Museum and the Embassy of Italy to Georgia, within the Museum Fest, present the exhibition GENIUSES OF RENAISSANCE
NATIONAL PARLIAMENTARY LIBRARY OF GEORGIA Address: 7 Gudiashvili Str. June 9 THE FIRST TBILISI COMICS AND GAMES FESTIVAL Start time: 11:00 Ticket: 5 GEL MUSIC
TBILISI CONCERT HALL Address: 1 Melikishvili St. Telephone: 2 99 00 99 June 9 TENGIZ UTMELIDZE STAR OPENING Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 10-20 GEL June 12 REGGAEON Special Guests: Niaz Diasamidze, ‘Frani’, ‘Chveneburebi’ Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 10-40 GEL REPUBLIC Address: The 1st Republic Sq. Telephone: 2 40 22 00 June 10 NIK WEST AND BAND Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 60-200 GEL TBILISI STATE CONSERVATOIRE Address: 8 Griboedov Str. Telephone: 298 71 86 June 14 TENGIZ AMIREJIBI VI INTERNATIONAL MUSIC FESTIVAL Starring: Tamar Licheli, Alexander Korsantia, Megi Chikhradze, Gigi Pianoman Program: F. Chopin, G. Pianoman Start time: 19:00 Ticket: 5-30 GEL DJANSUG KAKHIDZE TBILISI CENTER FOR MUSIC & CULTURE Address: 125 Aghmashenebeli ave. Telephone: 2 96 12 43 June 13 Estonian National Symphony Orchestra Conductor– Neeme Jarvi Soloists: Mihkel Poll (piano), Arvo Leibur (violin), Elina Nechayeva (soprano) Program: S. Rachmaninoff, A. Lemba, G. Kancheli, E. Tubin Start time: 18:00 Ticket: 10-28 GEL June 15 The Festival of Children’s Folk Ensembles MRAVALJMIER The participants of the festival will be 13 ensembles. Start time: 19:30 Ticket: From 10 GEL RUSTAVELI THEATER Address: 17 Rustaveli Ave. Telephone: 2 72 68 68 www.rustavelitheatre.ge June 12 INTERNATIONAL FESTIVAL TBILISI RHYTHM The winner of this year’s LetterOne ‘RISING STARS’ Jazz Award The French jazz guitar prodigy TOM IBARRA Start time: 19:30 Ticket: 20-60 GEL EZO FESTIVAL 2018 Venue: Mtatsminda Park June 15 Lineup: EZO STAGE: June 15 Zurkin, Gabunia, Phil Weeks, Steve Bug Start time: 14:00 Ticket: 30-150 GEL
GEORGIA TODAY JUNE 8 - 11, 2018
New Musical Project Sounds of Georgia Offers Tourists Mini Concerts BY THEA MORRISON
ounds of Georgia is a new musical project designed specifically for tourists, launched in April 2018 in Tbilisi. The project offers regular mini-concerts of traditional Georgian live music in a cozy atmosphere to help visitors learn more about the Georgian character and culture. The concerts last for 30 to 40 minutes and are held three times a week in three locations of Tbilisi: • City of Tunes – a mini-concert with panoramic view of the city from a hotel terrace. Europe Square, Dutu Megreli Str. 2, Hotel Nata. • Sing and Drink – a mini-concert in a wine bar, which offers its visitors Georgian music with a glass of rare Georgian wine. New Tiflis, Aghmashenebeli Ave. 21, wine salon Papa Hemingway. • Homemade Music – concerts held in a Tbilisi “Italian” yard, where tourists can learn more about the Georgian traditions of hospitality. Ivan Turgenev Str. 2, Tbilisi Yard. The project is of a social character, as not only professional performers but ordinary Tbilisi residents can participate in it. Sounds of Georgia aims to popularize traditional Georgian music and develop the tourism and music industry in the country. Since the start of the project, it has already hosted more than 200 tourists and plans to serve visitors until the end
of August. The head of the project is the founder of the tourist company ‘Linata,’ Nana Tabidze. GEORGIA TODAY spoke to her to find out more.
WHAT IS THE MAIN AIM OF YOUR PROJECT? Our goal is to show guests visiting Georgia how interesting and rich the Georgian musical heritage is.
WHY DID YOU CHOOSE SUCH A FORMAT FOR THE CONCERTS? We wanted the project to be maximally close to reality. These are not ordinary concerts which you have to dress up for in concert halls or restaurants, with famous people singing. The people who participate in our project are mostly ordinary Tbilisi residents who sing specifically for tourists in a cozy and familystyle atmosphere.
WHAT IS THE MAXIMUM NUMBER OF VISITORS THAT CAN BE HOSTED EACH CONCERT? We invite around 20-25 people to each concert in order to make them feel more comfortable and cozy. We do not intend to increase the number of listeners because we have no special speaker systems, acoustics or stages. This is a live performance for a small audience.
talented students to join us, as we can help them become popular and earn some money.
WHO FUNDED THIS PROJECT?
HOW MANY PERFORMERS DO YOU HAVE AT PRESENT?
Unfortunately, no one provides any financial help for this project. But I would like to address City Hall and ask them for help, because if this project succeeds, it will be good for the Georgian tourism industry and culture too.
We have around 10 musicians. Some of them work for popular folk groups but some are amateurs. We also encourage
ARE THESE CONCERTS ONLY HELD IN TBILISI OR
IN OTHER CITIES TOO?
At present, we only run concerts in the capital, but in July we will visit the Black Sea coastal town of Poti as well. We want to popularize that beautiful townpeople spending a summer in Kobuleti, Shekvetili and Ureki will be able to come to Poti Park to attend our concerts.
WILL THE CONCERTS BE HELD THROUGHOUT THE AUTUMN AND WINTER MONTHS? I think so. We intend to develop a plan
to adjust the project to the colder season. We will find a way to keep the project going and further develop it.
ADDITIONAL INFORMATION: https://www.facebook.com/soundsofgeorgia/ Instagram: @soundsofgeorgia E-mail: email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org Tickets: https://biletebi.ge/soundsofgeorgia/saqartvelos-hangebi-sounds-ofgeorgia TEL +995 599 88 33 99
Tbilisi Museum of Photography & Multimedia Opens
ay 31 saw the opening of the first Photography and Multimedia Museum in Tbilisi in the Stamba hotel, a project of the Adjara Group company. The event was attended by the Regional Director of the Swiss Cooperation in the South Caucasus, Olivier Bürki; Executive Director of the Adjara Group company, Valer Chekheria and the Director General, Levan Berulava, alongside Nestan Nizharadze and Tusi Kapanadze, who are both co-founders of the Tbilisi Photography and Multimedia Museum. "The cultural life of the capital of Georgia has been captured through this exciting new project,” Nizharadze said. “Photography on an international and regional level, as well as local, demonstrates that contemporary art is booming. Accordingly, the creation of a high standard photo museum will promote the strengthening of the status of Tbilisi as the capital of culture, as well as the development of cultural tourism.” The Tbilisi Museum of Photography and Multimedia is the first such museum in the Caucasus region, and is the work of a team of female professionals. The museum will be developed in several directions: protection, promotion, highstandards and the study of Georgian
heritage culture; promotion of photography development; strengthening female photographers in the region; and developing intensive educational programs. Yet, the founders note, this is not an exhaustive list of programs the museum is set to implement. The unity of these activities is aimed at creating a new type of European standard of quality. "With the support of Switzerland, the Museum of Tbilisi Photography and Multimedia will contribute to the protection
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and promotion of cultural heritage, related to photo-art in the South Caucasus. It will also facilitate the exchange of experiences between photographers in the region, further enhance female photographers' ability and increase access to civil society in art and accompanying educational activities,” Olivier Bürki said. The museum and multimedia archive will be opened as the main draw of the museum. MediaTech will supply a unique archive of Photo-books and Multimedia,
Journalists: Tony Hanmer, Zaza Jgarkava, Maka Bibilashvili, Dimitri Dolaberidze, Maka Lomadze, Joseph Larsen, Vazha Tavberidze, Nugzar B. Ruhadze, Nino Gugunishvili, Thea Morrison Photographer: Irakli Dolidze
which will be handed over to the Museum from the French photographer of the Paris History Museum, François Reno. The multimedia archive, which will be available online for anyone to enjoy, will have access to a wide collection of multimedia projects accumulated over 10 years of the Tbilisi Photo Festival. Tbilisi's first Photography and Multimedia Museum was opened within the framework of the component ‘Photography Hub for Innovation and Education’
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of a wider Regional Arts and Culture Program funded by the Swiss Development and Cooperation Agency (SDC). The project, which started in December 2017, aims at promoting documentary films and photography in the South Caucasus, as well as supporting various small initiatives in the field of culture. “Although not a primary pillar of the Swiss Cooperation Strategy for the South Caucasus for 2017-2020, promotion of arts and culture has been an important element of Switzerland’s engagement in the three states since 2012 and we at the SDC believe that the cultural sector can make a unique and significant contribution to the various goals of sustainable development, democratic transition and peacebuilding, particularly in transitional countries,” Bürki added. “We see its important role in establishing pluralistic and strong civil societies, in stimulating intercultural dialogue and social inclusion, in protecting freedom of expression, and in creating a favorable environment for a democratic discourse. SDC believes that when the private sector joins our efforts, their impact and outreach is augmented and maximized. That is why we are particularly glad to see the Adjara Group partnering with the Tbilisi Photography and Multimedia Museum in this important endeavor.”
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June 8 - 11, 2018