Issue no: 868/39
• AUGUST 9 - 11, 2016
• PUBLISH PUBLISHED TWICE WEEKLY
PRICE: GEL 2.50
In this week’s issue... Georgia Remembers the August War
NEWS PAGE 3
FOCUS ON ECONOMIC REFORM Economy Minister reaffirms belief that Georgia is one of the most progressive and successful countries in the field of reforms
NBG: Georgians Have Intermediate Financial Literacy BY THEA MORRISON
he National Bank of Georgia (NBG), the country’s central bank, and the Development Facility of the European Fund for Southeast Europe (EFSE DF), carried out a study of the financial literacy of Georgians, implemented by research organization Sonar. According to the results, released on August 5, the Georgians have intermediate levels of financial knowledge and there is need for ongoing education in this direction. Continued on page 2
The study was initiated by the NBG with the support of the Development Facility of the European Fund for Southeast Europe. Source: NBG
Waste Separation Program Starts in Tbilisi PAGE 4
Arakishvili Residence Offers Special Deal for Premium Apartments in Tbilisi Center PAGE 5
GREEN BUDAPEST Offers Clients Free Outdoor Parking PAGE 7
Massaad’s Former Georgian Chief Aide Ordered to Pay Rakeen Uptown Development $1.7 Mln PAGE 8
Church Representatives Attend Trainings to Enhance Knowledge of EU SOCIETY PAGE 11 Prepared for Georgia Today Business by
STOCKS BankofGeorgia(BGEOLN) GHG(GHGLN) TBCBank(TBCBLI)
COMMODITIES CrudeOil,Brent(US$/bbl) GoldSpot(US$/OZ)
AUGUST 9 - 11, 2016
NBG: Georgians Have Foreign Economists Share Intermediate Financial Experience at Economic Development Forum of Georgia Literacy Continued from page 1
Famous economist Dani Rodrik from Harvard University
BY THEA MORRISON
amouseconomistsDaniRodrik from Harvard University and Charles Sabel from Columbia University were invited to Tbilisi to participate in the Economic Development Forum of Georgia held on August 4-5. The experts shared their visions and ideas regarding development of economic policies in Georgia. Discussions with the participation of representatives of business, banking and academic sectors also took place at the event. “Economic regulations need to be more active. The Government should communicate with the private sector
and listen to the opinions coming from them, taking them into account," Rodrik said. Throughout the two-day forum, the participants also discussed global economic challenges, as well as the challenges facing the Georgian economy, outlining ways to solve them. The Prime Minister of Georgia, Giorgi Kvirikashvili, delivered a speech at the opening ceremony, focusing on the four directions set by the government which would contribute to the country’s economic development: changes in the education system, reforms in the economic field, a service-oriented state model and rapid infrastructural modernization of the capital. “Each country is in need of the economic growth policy that meets its
demands,” Kvirikashvili said, noting that Georgia is a country with an open economic system that is navigating quite well across the regional economies. According to the PM, corporate tax income will be abolished in Georgia from next year, following the Estonian model, meaning the exemption of reinvested profit from taxation and the taxing of only distributed income. “Amending the capital market and reforming the pension system will be based on mandatory payments,” he added. Georgia’s Economy Minister, Dimitry Kumsishvili, also delivered a speech at the Forum, whereby he reaffirmed his belief that Georgia is one of the most progressive and successful countries in the field of reforms.
In total, 1100 Georgians were asked a range of questions designed to gauge their financial knowledge, behavior and attitudes. The results revealed that Georgians have a satisfactory grasp of many financial concepts such as simple interest, risk-return and inflation. Around half of those questioned said they save money and 87 percent noted that they take at least some responsibility for their financial decisions. Despite this, the results showed a relatively low awareness and usage of banking products and that the majority of respondents said they save only at home and have either only short-term financial goals or none at all. The sponsors of the study also intro-
The majority of respondents said they save only at home and have either only short-term financial goals or none at all
duced two new brochures that explain key aspects of personal money management to help citizens broaden their knowledge. The brochures also explain home ownership and foreign currency borrowing for small businesses. According to the Head of the NBG, Koba Gvenetadze, the study is very important for Georgia and the results will help to develop financial literacy programs and set benchmarks within the frames of the national financial education strategy. “Financial education constitutes one of the priority areas for the National Bank,” he said, going on to thank the EFSE DF for its continued support in Georgia’s financial education efforts. According to the NBG, the Bank supervises the financial sector in financial stability and transparency of the financial system, as well as in protecting the rights of the financial sector’s consumers and investors. It was noted that this was the first time Georgia had participated in such a study, conducted based on the OECD/International Network on Financial Education methodology. The results will be part of the OECD’s comparative report to be released by the end of the year. The European Fund for Southeast Europe (EFSE) was initiated by KfW Development Bank with the financial support of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) and the European Commission. It aims to promote economic development and success in 16 countries of Southeast Europe and the European Eastern Neighborhood.
GEORGIA TODAY AUGUST 9 - 11, 2016
Georgia Remembers the August War BY TAMAR SVANIDZE
eorgia yesterday marked the eighth anniversary of the August 2008 war with Russia over the breakaway region of South Ossetia. The brief but intense five-day war killed hundreds and left thousands driven from their homes, as Russia’s invasion force came within an hour’s drive of Georgia’s capital Tbilisi. According to official government records, 412 Georgian citizens, including 228 civilians, 170 military and 14 police personnel were killed in the war. The war also left one Dutch and two Georgian journalists dead. Since the war, August 8 - the day when Russia officially declared war on Georgia – has been marked by several sombre commemorative events, including a wreath-laying ceremony at a Mukhatgverdi military cemetery on the outskirts of Tbilisi, this year attended by families of the victims, the Prime Minster of Georgia, Giorgi Kvirikashvili, and members of the government. "Today marks eight years since the
most tragic event in the recent history of Georgia. Though the war lasted just several days, it was a serious shock for our country,” the Prime Minister said, addressing crowds and media representatives at the Memorial ceremony. “I bow my head to the memory of soldiers who fell in the violent, unequal fight for their homeland. After this war, and as a result of Russian occupation, our citizens became IDPs in their own country. Due to this war, we became even more distant from Abhkazians and South Ossetians." Relations between Russia and Georgia plummeted to an all-time low after Russian tanks rolled into the heart of Georgia. Former President Mikheil Saakashvili sparked the outbreak of hostilities after he ordered a disastrous attack on South Ossetia’s separatist capital Tskhinvali. After days of intense fighting, a ceasefire brokered by former French President Nicolas Sarkozy brought the war to a close. Russian President Vladimir Putin cemented his control over the breakaway region by later recognizing South Ossetia and Georgia’s other Russian-backed separatist region as independent states. Since that time formal relations between Georgia and Russia have been frozen,
with Tbilisi insisting that the status quo will remain until Russia ends its support for the separatist governments. Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov on July 22, during his speech at an annual youth forum on the Klyazma River in Russia’s central Vladimir Region, said Georgia should be the first to make a move towards re-establishing diplomatic ties between the two countries as Georgia was first responsible for cutting formal relations between Moscow and Tbilisi. "The Georgian leadership (unilaterally) severed diplomatic ties with Russia under Saakashvili’s presidency. This situation can only be improved by a restoration of relations initiated by the Georgian side,” Lavrov said. Georgia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs published a statement on August 7
emphasizing that Russia has continued its illegal occupation of whole regions of a sovereign state and continues to violate international law as well as the commitments of a Ceasefire Agreement signed on August 12, 2008. “Fortifying the occupation line with razor and barbed wire fences and the so-called ‘border’ signs became standard practice. These destructive actions are exacerbated by the abduction and illegal detentions of the Georgian citizens. Hundreds of thousands of IDPs and refugees have been still denied the right to a safe return to their original place of residence. The remaining population in the occupied regions suffers from permanent ethnic discrimination,” the statement reads. Georgia’s Foreign Ministry on Monday
called on the international community to maintain their effort in responding to finding a permanent, peaceful resolution to the separatist conflicts in Georgia. Supporting this, the Prime Minister spoke of there being no alternative to the peaceful unification of the country and emphasized that Georgia must continue a coherent policy in this direction. "The reconciliation process being gradually implemented by the State carries particular importance. We have to make our country more attractive and interesting for all. We have to unite our country with the involvement of the international community. Peace has no alternative and the State will spare no effort to ensure that future bloodshed is avoided,” the PM concluded, with a final note of condolence.
Waste Separation Program Starts in Tbilisi
AUGUST 9 - 11, 2016
The Energy Conference was held in Tbilisi on August 5. Source: OSGF
Future of the Georgian Energy Sector Discussed at WEG/ USAID Conference BY THEA MORRISON
BY BAIA DZAGNIDZE
ypermarket Goodwill, in the Didi Digomi district of Georgia’s capital Tbilisi, became the first point in the country to set up dumpsters for aluminium cans, plastic (PET) bottles, paper and polyethene bags when it began a waste separation management program on August 4. USAID’s Waste Management Technologies in Regions (WMTR) program, implemented by ICMA and CENN in cooperation with the waste collection
company "Clean the World," carried out the initiative. The WMTR noted that waste separation and recycling is essential to establish a proper and ecological waste management culture in Georgia. As part of the framework of the Georgia-EU Association Agreement, Georgia must implement and create relevant legislation and policy documents aimed at regulating EU standard waste management. Environment and Natural Resources Protection Minister, Gigla Agulashvili, said that though new laws on waste separation are not set until 2019, private companies have already begun planning for their introduction.
he analytical center World Experience for Georgia (WEG), with the support of the Open Society Georgia Foundation (OSGF) and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) G4G program, conducted a representative Energy Conference in Tbilisi on August 5. Governmental and non-governmental organizations, donor agencies and the diplomatic corps, representatives of political parties and experts from the energy sector assessed the current problems and future prospects in Georgia’s energy sector. According to Open Society Georgia Foundation's European Program Manager, Vano Chkhikvadze, it is time to
assess the situation in Georgia’s energy sector and outline the steps necessary in order to get closer to European standards. “The Association Agreement and the Energy Community membership requires these steps,” he said. According to the OSGF, full implementation of the EU energy legislation in Georgia will take years and it is necessary to start implementation of new reforms now. The organization also offered to assist in the creation of a joint monitoring group from the non-governmental, parliamentary and donor organization representatives. According to energy expert Davit Mirtskhulava, Georgia faces a lot of challenges in the energy sector. “There is need to develop the country’s energy sector through new construction and also through full usage of transit potential,” he said.
Energy security, international transit opportunities and the tariff policy were also discussed at the conference.
Full implementation of EU energy legislation will take years- we need to start on new reforms now
GEORGIA TODAY AUGUST 9 - 11, 2016
Arakishvili Residence Offers Special Deal for Premium Apartments in Tbilisi Center
f you are looking for a premium class residency in the heart of Georgia’s capital city Tbilisi, then look no further than Arakishvili Residence. Located in the prestigious Vake district, the fourteen-floor apartment building offers a full package of services. With local favorites Mziuri Park and Gegeshidze Garden nearby, the residence offers an accessible location through private and public transport from Chavchavadze Avenue, located just 10 meters from the complex. Educational institutions, shopping centers catering to children and adults, cafes, bars, and restaurants are also to be found near Arakishvili Residence. Currently, the company has a special offer for its customers - a seasonal sale. Until September 15th, customers can get apartments from USD 1000 / 1 sq.m in Arakishvili Residence. Teona Akhobadze, Marketing Manager at Colliers International Georgia, which is providing sales and marketing services for the Arakishvili Residence complex, emphasizes that the company offers flexible payment schedules to its customers. “Bank of Georgia is a partner of the project. This guarantees that construction processes will be completed. Furthermore, residents can use the risk-free opportunity to buy an apartment under construction. We have an interest free
internal loan before the project is finished and a mortgage offered by the Bank of Georgia at 6 percent interest also available,” Akhobadze said. Apart from its wonderful location, the project is interesting in terms of its architectural value. With its soaring, naturalstone adorned columns and metal décor, the four-block, fourteen-floor structure’s façade is designed to suit Arakishvili Street and enhance the entire area’s visual appeal. The Residence offers eighty-four apartments, a two-level car and bicycle parking area located on the building’s lower floor, and a sports area in the courtyard. Apartments have diverse planning, which allows clients to adjust each to their own taste. The complex also offers a 24/7 security service. The project is financed by the Bank of Georgia and construction is being carried out by construction company ANAGI, which has been operating on the Georgian market since 1989. Colliers International Georgia is a leading global real estate services company, operating in more than 60 countries. Construction of the Arakishvili Residence began in January 2016 and is expected to reach completion on November 30, 2017. Tel: 032 224 30 60 E-mail: email@example.com www.arakishvili.ge ADVERTISING
AUGUST 9 - 11, 2016
726 Applicants to Compete for State Funding
Georgia’s Prime Minister Attends Annual Mountainous Festival in Adjara, Confirms Support for Development BY TAMAR SVANIDZE
eorgian Prime Minister Giorgi Kvirikashvili, accompanied by members of the local government of Adjara on Saturday attended the growing annual festival Shuamtoba (Between the Mountains), which is connected with cattle breeding and is held in the first week of August. The PM congratulated those gathered in the village of Beshumi, one of the highland resorts of Adjara, and outlined the importance of preservation of traditions. "I would like to express my deep respect for the local community, here,” he said. “One of the biggest priorities and concerns of our government is the preservation of the local population in moun-
tainous regions. I’m excited to see many young people involved in this celebration, and I’m glad to see that the whole nation is engaged in this great holiday.” The PM went on to highlight the increasing development potential of Beshumi and the importance of supporting remote communities. "According to the Law on Mountains, pensioners, teachers, doctors and nurses will enjoy a special bonus system starting from the 1st of September. We want to support locals to ensure the development of tourism, including eco-tourism, and to guarantee that all local families and particularly hotels have income- thus the wealth is distributed amongst the families,” Kvirikashvili said. The celebration of Shuamtoba kicked off with a folk concert and continued with sporting competitions and the traditional horse race.
State project Start-up Georgia will fund creative ideas
BY THEA MORRISON
eorgia’s Ministry of Economy and Sustainable Development released the latest information about the State project ‘Start-up Georgia’ which promises to fund the most creative and innovative ideas in business. According to the Ministry, 726 applicants have filed their business ideas to compete for funding. Among these projects 580 are about innovations and 146 relate to high-technology. The project was launched two months ago offering financial and theoretical support for entrepreneurs to help them
bring their business ideas to life. According to Economy Minister and First Deputy Premier, Dimitry Kumsishvili, it was important that all regions of Georgia were actively involved in the program and that innovative-thinking people are given an opportunity to start a business. “We launched ‘Start-up Georgia’ to change the country for the better, initiate new opportunities and to develop an entrepreneurial spirit," Kumsishvili said. A nine-member committee will discuss every application and make the final decision on winners. The members of the Committee are from the Partnership Fund, Enterprise Development Agency, and Innovation and Technology Agency. Representatives of ‘Start-up’ and inde-
pendent experts are also to take part in the decision-making process. According to Kumsishvili, the government will allocate 11 million GEL at the first stage. However, if there is need, the budget can be raised up to 35 million GEL. The Partnership Fund created subsidiary ‘Start-up Georgia,’ which on its own will create a new company with each beneficiary and will allocate around 15,000 to 100,000 GEL capital for each company chosen. The beneficiaries will have to pay only 10% of the total value. If the idea is truly unique and innovative, then the beneficiary will have to pay only 5% of the total project cost. International experts are to visit Georgia on August 22 in order to help the Commission choose the best ideas.
GEORGIA TODAY AUGUST 9 - 11, 2016
GREEN BUDAPEST Offers Clients Free Outdoor Parking
ould you like to receive outdoor parking as a gift, together with your new fully renovated European standardized apartment? Then be quick, as 90% of the apartments in the Green Budapest residential complex has already been sold! Take advantage of this great opportunity at a time when there is a real shortage in parking spaces.*
OUTDOOR PARKING AS A GIFT MAQRO Construction has taken steps to solve the cityâ€™s parking problem for customers who plan to buy apartments in their complex by presenting them with outdoor parking lots free of charge.
COMMERCIAL SPACES MAQRO Construction has other interesting offers, too. The company has launched the sale of fully renovated commercial spaces which buyers can pay by internal installments. "We have not sold commercial spaces before. Now, we have decided to transfer spaces on a turnkey basis to customers in order to facilitate the process of renovation. This offer is very interesting and profitable for businesses and is a reasonable investment as the investor will be able to get a return on the commercial space in just 10 years," said Sopho Tsamalashvili, Green Budapest Sales Manager.
INTERNAL INTERESTFREE INSTALLMENT Many construction companies seek only to complete construction, and do not offer long-term internal installment repayment. Yet the Green Budapest residential complex offers customers the chance to enjoy five years interestfree installment repayment and the chance to move into their apartments from September 2016. "The company offers five years of interest-free internal installments. The first payment is only 30%, while the remaining 70% of the price is distributed over 5 years, a great help to our customers," said Tsamalashvili. The second phase of handover will begin in the Green Budapest complex from August 2016. According to company officials, during the second phase, inhabitants will be allowed to bring furniture and decorate the apartments as they wish. They will be able to settle in the complex from September. Green Budapest is a residential complex covering an area of 11,700 square meters. MAQRO Construction provides customers with apartments of European standard on a turnkey basis, including bath headset, kitchen furniture and built-in appliances. Modern and environmentally healthy materials were used in the construction. Aside from apartments of European standard in a green and healthy environment in the city center, Green Budapest offers
multi-profile infrastructure, a green zone, basketball court, indoor and outdoor fitness centers, child care center, and indoor and outdoor parking lots. The recreation zone of the complex
covers 3,500 square meters. MAQRO Construction continues implementation of distinguished projects. Customers can look forward to more interesting offers in the
future, too. *The promotion applies to some units. ADVERTISING
AUGUST 9 - 11, 2016
Chinese Jacket Factory to Open in Georgia BY EKA KARSAULIDZE
hinese manufacturers are to open a jacket factory in Georgia to produce products for leading global brands, according to Georgia’s State Partnership Fund and the production factory based in China’s Jiangxi Province. “This will be a branch of the jacket manufacturing factory in Jiangxi. Opening a Georgian facility will increase the country’s export potential,” said David Saganelidze, the Director of the Part-
nership Fund. Saganelidze expressed hope that Georgia will actively cooperate with more Chinese manufacturing companies in the future. After the agreement had been signed, a representative from the Silk Road Investment Group announced that it would begin a feasibility study and release more details of the findings in the coming weeks and months. China is one Georgia’s four major trading partners. The turnover for the first half of 2016 amounted to about USD 348.5 million, which is 6.1 percent of the total foreign trade turnover for the small South Caucasus country.
Massaad’s Former Georgian Chief Aide Ordered to Pay Rakeen Uptown Development $1.7 Mln
Khater Massaad, then CEO of RAKIA, at the October 2011 Horasis Global Arab Business Meeting. He is currently under investigation for allegedly embezzling and mismanaging funds valued at approximately USD 1.5 billion
ast week, Judge Chuniashvili gave her final judgment in the civil case of Rakeen Uptown Development LLC (a subsidiary of Rakeen Development PJSC) v Gela Mikadze (former CEO of Rakeen Uptown Development and Ras Al Khaimah Investment Authority Georgia) and Tecberg Projects LLP (an entity associated with Mikadze). In the judgment, Mikadze and Tecberg were ordered to jointly pay Rakeen Uptown Development USD 1,736,000 plus the GEL 5,000 court fee in respect of claims of breach of duties as director, embezzlement and fraud. Mikadze was appointed by and closely associated with Khater Massaad, who is himself currently under investigation in numerous jurisdictions for allegedly embezzling and mismanaging funds valued at approximately
USD 1.5 billion. Gela Mikadze, through a plea bargain agreement in December 2013, admitted to wide-scale fraud involving the misappropriation of shares in Rakeen Development, Ras Al Khaimah Investment Authority and Rakia Georgia Free Industrial Zone. The multi-million valued shares were transferred to Mikadze for a symbolic price with the approval of Khater Massaad, acting without any authority. This is the first in a series of Georgian cases brought by RAK entities against Mr Mikadze, Dr Massaad and their associates. A majority-owned subsidiary of Rakeen Development PJSC, Rakeen Construction has brought a case against Dr Massaad comprising of similar claims. Dr Massaad and Mr Mikadze are also co-defendants in another similar civil case brought by Rakeen Construction
GEORGIA TODAY AUGUST 9 - 11, 2016
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New Hotel to Be Built in Mountainous Racha Region, State Aims to Boost Local Economy BY THEA MORRISON
ithin State project ‘Produce in Georgia,’ and financed by a component of it, ‘Host in Georgia,’ a new hotel is being built near the Shaori Lake, in the mountainous Region of Racha. The Hotel is in compliance with modern standards and is expected to begin hosting visitors from summer 2017. According to businessman Mamuka Jmukhadze, representative of the construction company Geotechinvest, the three-storey hotel will have 20 rooms, built according to international standards, and will be able to host 70 people. Around one million GEL was invested in the project. The construction works were visited by the Prime Minister of Georgia, Giorgi Kvirikashvili, who noted that the project would help to increase the inflow of tourists which will eventually be reflected
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in the region's economic development. “Local entrepreneurs should aim to increase the income from their small family-run hotels. This is very important because the local population is leaving Racha. If we do not carry out such targeted programs, it will be very difficult to stop the residents from moving to the lowlands," said the Prime Minister.
Kvirikashvili said Shaori has great potential and the government is planning to pay maximum attention to the development of the mountainous tourist zone. ‘Host in Georgia’ gives regional entrepreneurs access to finance and advisory services. It also helps them to learn from and implement the experience of successful international brands.
BY EKA KARSAULIDZE
he construction of an evacuation corridor near the Kazbegi-Upper Lars checkpoint on the GeorgianRussian border has resumed after being suspended more than a month following a landslide that hit the Daryal Gorge, Georgia’s State Construction Company said on its website. Construction of the corridor began in December 2015, with a completion date
The new hotel will be built in the Racha region by May 2017
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Construction of Evacuation Corridor Resumes Near Russian Border
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10 Galaktion Street
scheduled for the end of the year. The extreme weather and altitude conditions at the construction site have slowed the road works in recent months. The corridor is being constructed in an area historically known as an epicenter for natural disasters, particularly landslides and avalanches. The 209-meter corridor currently consists of pavement, railings and safety nets for rockslides. Four staircases leading to the corridor will also be added by the end of the year. The estimated cost of the project is USD 510,600 (1.2 million GEL).
Tel: (995 32) 2 45 08 08 E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
AUGUST 9 - 11, 2016
PM Praises Anaklia ahead of GEM Fest
The PM oversees preparatory work for the GEM Fest 2016
BY VAZHA TAVBERIDZE
uring his visit to Anaklia ahead of electronic music festival ‘GEM Fest,’ the Prime Minister of Georgia, Giorgi Kvirikashvili, visited the newly opened family guesthouse ‘White House.’ As the owner, Merab Chkholaria, explained, the idea of starting a hotel business was directly related to how popular the GEM Fest proved to be last year. This year, the festival is expected to be attended by approximately 40,000 people. Chkholaria said he hoped that the festival will be extended even further in future, thus giving the local population a steadier income. The Prime Minister also visited the festival site, making sure all preparatory works were going smoothly and without delay. He expressed hope that the festival will contribute towards promoting the country’s image abroad and impact the flow of investments, development of infrastructure and economy, as well as increasing employment opportunities for the local population. “The infrastructure is almost fully ready. Keeping such momentum, this place is sure to develop further and will attract more and more guests. I think the GEM Fest has the potential to become a vital engine for regional development. An extension is planned with the aim of making it a magnet location for fun-loving youth,” the PM said.
“Top quality equipment has been installed and I’d like to take the opportunity to thank Giorgi Sigua and his team, who have been working 24/7 for months here, and would like to express my gratitude towards the volunteers, both Georgian and foreign. This festival is extremely important for the local population. The whole of Samegrelo is booked up, bringing locals much needed higher income.” Kvirikashvili further underlined the importance of the festival for local infrastructure, as quite a number of local guesthouses have been rehabilitated lately and constructions for several hotels are already scheduled. The Head of the Georgian government concluded by urging people to attend the festival. He complimented the line-up, and was particularly pleased to see a well-known Abkhazian DJ among the performers list, a fact he believed to be “symbolic”. The four-day GEM Fest kicks off on August 10. The festival prides itself on being one the biggest occasions for electronic music fans in the Caucasus region. The festival is a part of the ‘Check in Georgia’ project, which aims at popularizing Georgia and offering top level entertainment to audiences. The 20 million GEL project is almost fully funded by Cartu Fund. Since the summer of 2015, more than 30 family guesthouses have been rehabilitated in Anaklia and Ganmukhuri. One new hotel was built and the construction works for a number of 5 star hotel complexes has also begun.
Contact: www.edelbrand.ge Phone: 599 461908
The PM checks out one of the many new Anaklia guesthouses hoping for a steady income following on from GEM Fest
GEORGIA TODAY AUGUST 9 - 11, 2016
Church Representatives Attend Trainings to Enhance Knowledge of EU Photo: CDD
BY TAMAR SVANIDZE
he Center for Development and Democracy in Georgia held a series of trainings for representatives of the Georgian Orthodox Church last week to help promote knowledge about the European Union and its importance for the small South Caucasus nation of 3.7 million. For more than a decade the Georgian government has enthusiastically embraced and pursued staunchly proWestern foreign policies, with the main goal being to eventually join the bloc of European countries. The majority of Georgian society, however, remains deeply conservative, as xenophobic church leaders and those reared in Soviet ideology remain powerful voices in the country’s weak civil society. A poll by the International Republican Institute in 2014 found that the Church had the highest (94 percent) approval rating of all political and social institutions in Georgia. According to the organizers of the
training, the goal of three-day series of workshops is to provide information to Church representatives, and thoroughly explain the importance of the EU for Georgia, including how Georgians benefit from visa-free travel to other European countries. The organizers admitted that a campaign of anti-Western, anti-EU disinformation is spreading in local society – particularly amongst members of the Church circles. “The clergy of the Georgian Orthodox Church has a major influence over Georgian society, and many people follow exactly what the priests tell them during church services. Our goal is to discuss EU society with the clergy, and together we can have an effective dialogue with society,” Mikheil Mirziashvili, the Chairman of Board of the Center for Development and Democracy, said. “There was a lot of negative information about the EU in our community but after the meetings, this changed. Now we know more facts about other European countries and the importance of Georgia being a member of this family. This will positively influence the future of our country too,” Nino Vekua, a teacher at St. Ioane's Bolneli Orthodox School
in Bolnisi said. A young priest, Dimitri, who participated in the workshop, said the training would have a huge impact on the dialogue between the Church and the rest of society. “Ordinary citizens and Church representatives have regular relations with each other. We trust one another and
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what we are saying. After theses trainings, we will share our new knowledge about the EU with our parishioners,” Dimitri said. More than 3 million Georgian citizens were expecting to receive visa-free travel to Europe’s Schengen Zone beginning early this summer until Germany suddenly backtracked on its previous sup-
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port. The EU is now making it easier to suspend visa waivers for countries wishing to move closer towards European integration. A visa-free regime for Georgians would allow easier access - but not the legal right to work - for up to 90 days in Europe’s Schengen Zone of most EU states and several non-EU members.
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