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Issue no: 1175

• AUGUST 9 - 12, 2019 • PUBLISHED TWICE WEEKLY

PRICE: GEL 2.50

In this week’s issue... Politicians Worldwide Respond to 11th Anniversary of the August War NEWS PAGE 2

Official Tbilisi Condemns Putin's Meeting with De Facto Abkhazia Leader

FOCUS

ON THE AUGUST WAR

Ex-President Saakashvili tells the tale as he remembers it

POLITICS PAGE 4

The Trump Shtick Ricochets in Georgia

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Saakashvili and French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner in Gori. August 2008. REUTERS

Gault&Millau’s Georgian-Basque Dinner BY MARIAM MERABISHVILI

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he DREAMLAND OASIS HOTEL Ajara will host a Georgian-Basque dinner prepared by Georgian and foreign chefs and organized by Gault&Millau Georgia on August 14. Gault&Millau is a French restaurant guide founded by Henry Gault and Christian Millou in 1965 that covers 30 countries around the world today, including Georgia, since 2017. The specifics of Gault&Millau work include the positive promotion of restaurants and chefs. The company's international tasters review restaurants with strictly defined guidelines which are harmonized and identical throughout the world. Restaurant reviews are based on an evaluation of food, service, decor and concept. The best dishes of Georgian and Basque cuisine will be introduced to guests by renowned chefs from numerous countries:

Best Chef of 2019 G&M was awarded to Guram Baghdoshvili, who owns and is a chef in restaurants "Chveni" Tbilisi and "Chveni" Bakuriani. He worked in Portugal for 17 years and was the executive chef of 25 restaurants of the famous Nosolo restaurant group. He taught at the Institute of Nutrition in Northern Portugal, and was a brand chef of Nicci Beach's three restaurants in Portugal. Guram Baghdoshvili is a member of a number of culinary competitions in Georgia, including the jury of the ‘Kitchen Wars.’ "Gault & Millau's recognition, for me, shows Georgia's gastronomic progress and development," Baghdoshvili notes. Misha Avsajanishvili is a Georgian chef working in Ukraine and the brand chef in 12 restaurants, member of the Ukrainian Chefs Association, Associate Referee of the Culinary Championships, and jury member of the culinary competition Kitchen Wars.’ "Cooking for me is self-expression, self-actualization and a constant pursuit of novelty," Avsajanishvili says of his profession. Continued on page 2

POLITICS PAGE 7

Why Do Georgian Customers Choose HUAWEI? SOCIETY PAGE 10

National Geographic Team Visits Georgia to Prepare Publications SOCIETY PAGE 12

Batumi-Tbilisi International Fest "Night Serenades" to Celebrate 11th Anniversary CULTURE PAGE 15


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NEWS

GEORGIA TODAY

AUGUST 9 - 12, 2019

Politicians Worldwide Respond to 11th Anniversary of the August War anniversary of the August war. She once again pointed out that the US will proudly continue to support Georgia in the future. "The United States proudly continues to stand with Georgia in caring for those communities displaced by the war and helping to ensure they have a dignified life here until they can safely return to their homes," she stated. The Minister of Foreign Affairs of Lithuania, Linas Linkevicius, tweeted: ”Eleven years since the premeditated aggression against Georgia, Russia continues creeping annexation and occupies 20% of Georgia's territory. Unfortunately, lessons were not learned, Crimea and Donbas followed. Appeasement is never an option.” Latvia’s Foreign Minister Edgars Rinkevics also expressed support to Georgia. “As we mark the 11th Anniversary since the beginning of Russia’s agression against

BY ANA DUMBADZE

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his year marks the 11th anniversary of the Russia-Georgia war when the Russian Federation invaded the country and occupied two Georgian regions, Abkhazia and Tskhinvali, so-called South Ossetia. The war lasted for five days (7–12 August). These are the most tragic days in the modern history of Georgia. Politicians from all over the world have once again responded to the August 2008 Russia-Georgia war, all expressing support to Georgia and emphasizing that Russia occupied the country in August 2008. Elizabeth Rood, acting US Ambassador to Georgia, went to Tserovani, a settlement of IDPs from the breakaway region Tskhinvali (South Ossetia), on the 11th

Georgia, I reiterate Latvia’s unwavering support for the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Georgia, Russia must end the occupation of parts of the Georgian territory and withdraw its troops,” he tweeted. A statement was also released by the Latvian Foreign Ministry: “We remind you of the Russian aggression carried out in Georgia in 2008. Latvia strongly supports Georgia's sovereignty and territorial integrity within its internationally recognized borders,” reads the statement. The August 2008 war was assessed as "occupation of Georgia by Russia" by British parliamentarian Jonathan Djanogly. “11yrs passed since Russian illegal occupation of Abkhazia and Tskhinvali region/ South Ossetia. Let us show continued support to Georgia's sovereignty, territorial integrity, European &euro-Atlantic aspirations,” he tweeted.

The Tskhinvali Truth OP-ED BY ZAZA JGARKAVA

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he occupied Tskhinvali has resumed discussions on uniting with the Russian Federation. The so-called president of the occupied regime, Anatoly Bibilov, says that he can’t imagine Ossetian people living in two separate states: “In such circumstances, Ossetian people won’t see any development,” he said at a press conference held on the 11th anniversary of the August 2008 war. Instead of the war, a large part of the conference was dedicated to the discussion of a period in recent history, the one that Russian President Putin addressed a few weeks ago when he offered the world his version of Georgian history. Everything started on July 9, when, though the country was waiting for a new economic embargo from Putin, surprisingly he started talking about the 1920s, for some reason, discussing the developments that took place in Tskhinvali during a military operation and recalling the death of Ossetians at the time: “Such actions are called genocide these days,” explained Putin. It seems this talk served as an inspiration not only for Bibilov, but for the MPs of the Russian Duma and, in one of the upcoming

sessions, Russians are set to discuss a statement sent them from the occupied Tskhinvali. The statement apparently repeats word by word what President Putin described in his public statement broadcasted on TV on July 9. Chairman of the Federal Assembly of Russia, Vyacheslav Volodin, declared that the letter received from Tskhinvali has been accepted and that it will soon be discussed in the Committee. “We have carefully considered the issue of recognizing the genocide that the Georgian government organized against the Ossetians in the 1920s. And during the next committee session comprised of Duma officials, the chairmen of all fractions and committees, we will discuss this statement,” Volodin told the media. Yes, it is truly hard to believe that the Russian Duma is attempting to falsify Georgian history on the legislative level, even more so as it was a participant in that event. In the 1920s, an agreement has been signed between Russia and Georgia. On May 7th, Soviet Russia, the predecessor of today’s Duma, signed a document which recognized the independence of Georgia and its territorial sovereignty. The document does not contain a word about the Ossetian people, nor South Ossetia as such. So, what actually happened in the 1920s that so caught the attention of President Putin, then the occupied government of Tskh-

invali and finally the Russian Duma? On March 23, 1920 a regional assembly of the Bolsheviks of Caucasus took place, headed by Sergo Orjonikidze. The assembly discussed a single issue: the plan to overthrow the Independent Republic of Georgia through a Bolshevik rebellion that was to start in Tskhinvali. In line with this, the 11th Army of Bolsheviks had to cross the Georgian-Azerbaijani border and head towards Tbilisi. As planned, the Bolshevik’s did cross the border, and so the rebellion of Tskhinvali began. The Ossetian Bolshevik’s expelled the government representatives of the first republic and declared Bokshevik rule covering the territory from Oni to Dusheti. The rebels held their positions in Tskhinvali, awaiting the attack of the 11th Army against Tbilisi. The government at the time evaluated the attempt as an anti-governmental action, rather than a rebellion organized by an ethnic minority group and initiated appropriate measures. At the time, a few smaller scale Bolshevik demonstrations took place in other regions of Georgia, but the fate of the Tskhinvali rebels was decided in Poland. The Bolsheviks were brutally defeated at the Polish front and lost half of the Ukrainian territory. Both the 11th Army attack and the rebellion of the Ossetian Bolsheviks failed. As the Russian government is wont to do, here too it left the rebels that had

Image source: futbolgrad.com

been incited in the first place by the Kremlin, to the hands of fate. Moreover, it signed an agreement with the opponent party, in this case the Government of Georgia, and recognized its sovereignty. Afterwards, the government of the first republic, headed by Valiko Jugheli, suppressed the Bolshevik rebellion across the whole of Georgia, including Tkhinvali region. And it was those very Ossetian Bolshevik rebels who died during this incident, that President Putin mentioned in his speech. And it is in fact the political stance of the group that Putin wants to falsely show as an ethnic problem in his attempt to blame Georgia for the “ethnic cleansing” and “crime against humanity.”

That same “genocide” card was what Putin wanted but failed to “play” during the 2008 August war. 3000 peaceful Ossetian civilians that he declares died during the war have yet to be identified by any international organization, not to mention that “large scale violent murder on the grounds of ethnic cleansing.” As opposed to that number, the statistics voiced by Bibilov during his last pressconference mention 500 people, adding that this loss is fairly high for a small nation of Ossetians. Clearly, what Kremlin failed to declare as genocide in 2008, it is now trying to do using the events of 1920, all in its attempt to offer the international community a legislative argument for the current occupation.

Gault&Millau’s Recent Discoveries in Tsutskhvati Cave Georgian-Basque Dinner Continued from page 1 David Narimanishvili is a famous Georgian chef in Spain and Chef of MasterChef Spain. He learnt his profession from world-renowned chefs in Spain and practiced in various awardwinning restaurants. Jorge Breton is a brand chef of La Sucursal and Vertical, and a multiple award-holder in the culinary sphere.

Breton has experience as a speaker in gastronomy and is Professor and Director of the Culinary Department of the Basque Culinary Center, and Strategic Director of ‘Cooking Clubater.’ Gastronomic Guide presentations and dinners will be attended by Gault&Millau hat chefs, Georgian chefs, restaurateurs, and representatives of the diplomatic corps, government and business.

BY NINI DAKHUNDARIDZE

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ocated in the municipality of Tkibuli, Tsutskhvati Cave is a place of ongoing expeditions organized and carried out by International Archeological Expedition of the Georgian National Museum, which reports that new dis-

coveries there show Paleolithic Era layers characteristic to Homo Sapiens. The practical study of Tsutskhvati Cave began in the 20th century with an initiative put forward by the Geographical Institute of Georgian Science Academy. In the years of 1970-71 and 1974-75, stone weapons and animal bones dating back 400 – 40 thousand years were found in the cave, giving stimuli to further investigations.

Near to Tsutskhvati Cave, in the socalled ‘Bronze Cave’, a molar of a Neanderthal child was discovered – recent findings claim that the tooth dates back to 50,000 BC. Small scale expeditions took place in 1998-1999 and 2003-2004 and still, Tsutskhvati Cave, for the most part, was not studied fundamentally. Multidisciplinary studies have been enforced since 2017 by the International Archeological Expedition of the Georgian National Museum, with the support of the Shota Rustaveli Georgian National Scientific Fund, under the scope of project “Neanderthals in the South Caucasus.” Among the new discoveries, a site of a former settlement from the Chalcolithic Era was excavated in the “Bronze Cave”. The scientific head of the expedition is Nikoloz Tsakaridze. Tsutskhvati Cave is a protected territory; under the Rule on Protected Territories of the Ministry of Environmental Protection and Agriculture.


NEWS

GEORGIA TODAY AUGUST 9 - 12, 2019

#madlobasakartvelostvis (thank you for the Country they saved for us) AiGROUP’s Message to Families of Heroes Killed in August 2008 War

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eorgian industrial company AiGROUP has responded to the 11th anniversary of the 2008 Russia-Georgia War and expressed condolences to the families of soldiers killed in the war. At the initiative of AiGroup, the spouse and minors of military officers and representatives of other law enforcement agencies killed in the August War and other peacekeeping missions will be given a oneweek holiday in the mountainous resort of Bakuriani as a gift. “It’s been 11 years since the August 2008 war. We want to show respect for the fallen heroes and support their families and children, the people they used to care about and protect the most. The heroism of the Georgian soldiers is just as precious for us as it is for their families, and we are proud of it just as they are. We will gift a one-week holiday to Bakuriani to the families of the heroes who died in the August War and in military missions and who had minor children at the time.” Through this project, we would like to thank our heroes and their families for their dedication,” said Kakha Guledani, Chairman of the Board of Directors of AiGROUP. The project includes 85 families of military and

law enforcement personnel who were killed during the August 2008 War and in peacekeeping missions. The implementation period of the program is the second half of August and September. The company AiGROUP will cover the fee of staying in a hotel, as well as expenses of meals and transportation. Through this project, AiGROUP also responds to the campaign “Spend Your Summer in Georgia”, which itself envisages support of the resorts where a lack of tourists is especially notable. Bakuriani is one of the most famous summer and winter resorts in Georgia, where local and foreign tourists spend time with their children. AiGROUP is the first industrial group in Georgia to face the challenges of the 21st century globally. The establishment of a healthy, environmentally clean business is the main direction of all the companies united under the name AiGROUP. The subsidiary companies of AiGROUP: AiCAR, AiPOWER, AiENERGY and AiPRODUCTION offer customers an electric car sharing service, creating a network of smart urban charging stations for electric transport, generating and realizing electricity through solar panels, and production of electric cars in Kutaisi.

EU Releases Statement on August 2008 War

BY ANA DUMBADZE

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he Delegation of the European Union to Georgia released a statement in connection with the 11th anniversary of the August 2008 Russia-Georgia war. “Eleven years have passed since the August 2008 conflict between the Russian Federation and Georgia. During this time, the Russian Federation has not only maintained but increased its military presence in both Abkhazia and South Ossetia, in violation of international law and its commitments under the 12 August 2008 agreement. "Fundamental human rights of the conflict-affected population continue to be violated, including through restrictions on freedom of movement by so-called ’borderization’, temporary closures of crossing points and illegal detentions and through the violation of the right to safe and dignified return

of internally displaced persons and refugees. "The conflicts in Georgia have caused displacement and trauma to the lives of thousands of people and that legacy now affects generations. The EU welcomes and supports sincere and apolitical efforts on all sides to address humanitarian and security issues. "Since the 1990s, the European Union has striven to help find a peaceful resolution to the conflicts in Georgia. These efforts were substantially stepped up 11 years ago and continue to this day. The European Union will continue these efforts, including through the activities of the EU Special Representative for the South Caucasus and the crisis in Georgia, its engagement as co-chair in the Geneva International Discussions, and the continued presence of the EU Monitoring Mission, the only international monitoring mission on the ground. "The European Union will continue to support the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Georgia within its internationally recognized borders,” reads the statement.

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POLITICS

GEORGIA TODAY

AUGUST 9 - 12, 2019

Official Tbilisi Condemns Putin's Meeting with De Facto Abkhazia Leader BY THEA MORRISON

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fficial Tbilisi has condemned the meeting of Russian President Vladimir Putin with Raul Khajimba, de facto President of Georgia’s breakaway region of Abkhazia, held in Sochi three days ago. Georgia’s State Minister for Reconciliation and Civic Equality Ketevan Tsikhelashvili said this is not the first meeting between Putin and Khajimba and emphasized that Georgia's territorial integrity and sovereignty has the absolute support of the international community. “This was not a big surprise, as since 2008, Russian influence has been steadily increasing in both occupied territories of Georgia. In Abkhazia and the Tskhinvali region, in fact, all areas are under the exclusive control of Russia, and such meetings only help to increase this influence,” she said. The Minister noted this is not a positive development for the local population and society in Abkhazia. “From year to year, we more often hear of the very critical attitude of locals towards the Russian policy, which is actually against the identity of the local population,” she said. Georgia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) also condemned Putin and Khajimba’s recent meeting. Spokesperson for the MFA of Georgia Vladimir Constantinidi said Russia's move is directed against Georgia's statehood, sovereignty and territorial integrity and

Image source: Apsnypress

grossly ignores the fundamental norms of international law. Constantinidi stressed the meeting represents another attempt to legitimize the occupation regime and also emphasized that the international community fully supports Georgia's sovereignty. The MFA spokesperson said that the meeting was held on the eve of the 11th anniversary of the Russian-Georgian war

that took place in 2008 and brought serious consequences for Georgia. “Despite similar efforts from Russia, the international community will never tolerate the illegal occupation of Georgia's inseparable regions. The international community strongly supports the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Georgia and the non-recognition policy of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, which

we can clearly see in public statements and documents of individual countries and international organizations, as well as in their active steps to promote peaceful resolution of the conflict," he said. Abkhazian media reports that at the meeting with Khajimba, the President of Russia discussed the implementation of previously outlined plans, as well as social development projects and mutual

cooperation issues. The sides also discussed the issue of so called “presidential elections” in occupied Abkhazia, which are scheduled for August 26. “I do hope that the elections will be organized strictly in line with democratic principles and will contribute to further stabilization in the republic, both in the economic and political sense," Putin told the de facto leader of Abkhazia. On his side, Khajimba thanked Putin for the assistance received from Russia which, he said, gives Abkhazia the opportunity to develop economically. The previous meeting of Putin and Khajimba took place in late August 2018 together with the leader of another occupied region of Georgia, South Ossetia Anatoly Bibilov, to celebrate the “recognition of independence” of the two regions, which were occupied by Russia during the August 2008 war. That day, the leaders of Russia and breakaway South Ossetia and Abkhazia held trilateral “talks” in Moscow. In the aftermath of the August 2008 War, the Russian Federation occupies 20% of Georgian territory and is slowly moving the administrative boundary line, pushing further into Georgia. Russia recognizes the "independence” of breakaway Abkhazia and South Ossetia along with only four other countries - Syria, Nicaragua, Venezuela, and Nauru. The remaining international community affirms that the two regions are integral parts of Georgia and call on Russia to revoke its recognition of the breakaway regions and withdraw its forces from the Georgian territory.

Did Russia Really Win in the 2008 August War? OP-ED BY EMIL AVDALIANI

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leven years have passed since the short Georgian-Russian war started on August 7-8 in 2008. As every discussion on who started the war generally is, the Georgian-Russian one too is about finding moral grounds for military actions which both sides took at the time. Morality in geopolitics, and the Georgian-Russian conflict is indeed caused by pure geopolitical calculations, is at most times a superfluous thing. All these years the Russians have been trying to convince the world and the public inside the country that the Russian military moves actions and subsequent recognition of the independence of the Abkhazia and Tskhinvali regions were the only possible and correct actions to be taken. The Georgians also have their dilemmas: some marginal political figures still believe that it was the Georgian government that was most to blame for the catastrophe of 2008. Though close geographically, these diverging narratives and the constant need to prove one’s own truth says a lot about how far apart Georgia and Russia have grown in the past decade. 11 years since the war and it is still unclear what Russia has gained from its military and diplomatic actions since 2008. True, military build-up in Abkhazia and Tskhinvali Region limited Tbilisi's ability to become an EU/NATO member state. Moreover, Russian inter-

vention into Georgia in 2008 also showed the West how far Moscow can go if a strategic decision is made to draw Georgia into the alliances. At the time (AugustSeptember 2008) those seemed to be long-term (strategic) victories for Moscow. In international relations and geopolitical calculations, you can stop a country from attaining the aims harmful to you, but in the long run you will be unable to reverse the process by forceful actions alone: you have to provide a counter-policy to turn an unfriendly state into an amenable neighbor. Put all of this into the Russian case. More than a decade has passed since 2008, only a few not-so-important states recognized Georgia's territories as independent entities. The Georgian public is overwhelmingly anti-Russian, the last hopes of a grand geopolitical bargain - the return of the territories in exchange for reversing EU/NATO aspirations have disappeared among the Georgian public, and support for western institutions so far has only increased. In the end, though Moscow waged a reasonably costly war in 2008, took and still experiences a diplomatic burden for its moves against the West, and has yet to attain its grand geopolitical goal of reversing Georgia's pro-western course. Politicians in Moscow, at least strategists behind the scenes, all understand that Georgia's persistence, which seems naive today, might turn into serious business if Russia's geopolitical positions worsen elsewhere in Eurasia. Indeed, there are signs that Russian influence is set to diminish further in

Image source: wikipedia

the former Soviet space as the country's economy is unlikely to be attractive to the neighboring states. Imagine a scenario where Russian internal problems (Putin's upcoming succession, economic downturns, China's rise, stronger Ukraine, etc.) weigh ever stronger upon the Russian decision-makers in the 2020s, then Georgia's western aspirations might become more concrete - it will be easier for the West to make a strategic decision to draw Tbilisi into

EU/NATO. Overall, Russia definitely gained significant results in 2008, but in the long run it did not change the strategic picture in the South Caucasus, though it did produce a grand design for geopolitical domination in north Eurasia: years after the war, Moscow initiated its Eurasian Economic Union (EEU) to draw its neighbors into one economic space - a prerequisite for building a world power. Ideally, it should have

attracted Russia’s major neighbors and it would have served the people of the former Soviet space economically. But Moscow failed to get Ukraine and other states involved: without Kiev, the EEU, if not dead, is at least a marginal project. This means that Russian policies towards Georgia and the wider South Caucasus remain the same as before 2008 - keeping foreign powers out of the region, while failing to provide an alternative vision for Tbilisi.


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POLITICS

GEORGIA TODAY

AUGUST 9 - 12, 2019

"I Should Have Shouted Louder" - Saakashvili on the August 2008 War, Part 1 INTERVIEW BY VAZHA TAVBERIDZE

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hy has he become disillusioned with the West? Was he provoked into starting a war with Russia? Why did Georgia not have any defensive strategy whatsoever with an invasion from Russia impending? Where did he miscalculate Putin and how costly did that mistake prove to be? Why does he attribute part of the blame for not preventing (and then not stopping) the August War to the "German & French Game"? Did he really offer to abandon NATO aspirations to have a better relationship with Russia? The former President of Georgia, Mikheil Saakashvili, laid all bare about the 2008 August War in a wide-ranging interview with the Institute for War and Peace Reporting (IWPR). “The thing is, the West is motivated by several instincts and one of the main instincts is appeasement. They always want to delay the problem, they always want to refer to the past, to the future, anything but the present. Nobody wants trouble and the [Western] politicians’ basic instinct is to keep trouble away, to ignore it or to pretend they don't see it and that it’s not real.”

IS THERE A SENSE OF PERSONAL DISILLUSIONMENT? HAVE YOU BECOME DISAPPOINTED WITH THE WEST OVER THE YEARS? Yes and no. At the beginning I was very idealistic about the West and I thought that it was motivated by exactly the same values as I am, something special based on the rule of law, democracy of society. That’s not to say it’s completely gone these are still the main principles. In the West, you can always appeal to consciousness, but they might not always hear you. Are they susceptible to manipulation or self-manipulation? Sure. But are they still the best ones available? Yes. That's how I look at it now, I look much more soberly. I think that they can be very hypocritical, they have double standards, they also have this attitude which I think might be a remnant of colonialism, but they genuinely think that the smaller newcomers at the table are not supposed to succeed. Henry Kissinger told Sarah Palin once in a private conversation that made its way to me, that ‘Saakashvili is like a small-time player that comes to a poker table of big players with no cards in his pocket to play.’

WOULD YOU SAY IT’S QUITE AN ACCURATE TAKE ON WHAT YOU WERE ACTUALLY DOING? In a way, yes, but look, we had cards; the thing is they didn’t want to acknowledge the cards we had; we were the biggest soft power in this huge area of world: Eurasia. That's the point; that's what they never realized. Their take is that nobody's supposed to create standards in our part of the world, standards are only created in the West and if you create your own standards in this part of the world which are at all similar to Western standards, it won’t work. You can just take their franchise, you cannot create your own political McDonald's, McDonald's can only come from the West; that's the point. That's what I only realized through practice: that they want you to be successful, but they don't want you to be too successful. We, on the other hand, we’d go in and say, ‘Oh, by the way, we have the best business registration, fastest customs in the world, we are the safest country in Europe.’

WOULD YOU SAY YOU WERE CONSIDERED COCKY AND IMPETUOUS BECAUSE OF THAT APPROACH? Yes. One Western ambassador when I was in Georgia said, ‘Saakashvili has the pharaonic projects of Batumi and the houses of justice: he wants to be a pharaoh, he just doesn't want to be a normal leader.’

DO YOU THINK THAT

PERCEPTION HARMED JUST YOU? OR DID IT HARM THE COUNTRY AS WELL? The country, for sure, but what can we do? We cannot just claim to be lucky dummies, being successful.

DOES THIS ALSO EXPLAIN WHY YOUR RECENT FOREIGN POLICY ARTICLE, WHERE YOU ARGUED THAT THE NEXT THREAT FROM RUSSIA WOULD TARGET NONNATO MEMBER COUNTRIES, WAS DISMISSED BY MANY WESTERN POLICY-MAKERS? WHY DO YOU THINK YOU WERE LABELLED A DOOMSAYER? It’s because they never want to hear the uncomfortable truth. They did not want to hear uncomfortable truths about the possible invasion of Georgia and they did not want to hear about Crimea, Donbas; they don't want to hear the truth because if you hear the truth and then you seriously start to discuss it, then you have to act and they don’t want to act. The reason I said it about Scandinavia is that I know Putin; he is desperate now, he's looking for some kind of way out, to prolong his reign. He already tried everything else, and Putin is always increasing his red lines - he thinks, first we went to Georgia, an easy target, a small target, then we went to Ukraine, in parallel going into Syria. Russia goes to the places where the West wants to engage but not fully, and then they engage fully and that's how they outsmart the West every time. If Russia attacks non-NATO member Scandinavian countries, what will the West do? Not much. Not even attack back. They don’t want to attack because it’s risky. We are not talking about a full-blown invasion here. Will the population of Sweden really fight for some small island and risk thousands of lives for that small island? I don't think so. and will the West engage, will NATO come to their help if Russians just take like a small, mini-Faulklands somewhere in that area?

DO YOU REALLY THINK SEIZING SOMETHING IN SCANDINAVIA WOULD BE A BITE PUTIN WOULD BE ALLOWED TO CHEW? Well, it doesn’t fall under Article 5 and the population of a small Scandinavian country will not risk their livelihoods and future and everything for a small piece of land, and even if they do, they will be defeated. I remember the head of Sweden’s general staff saying they would be defeated by Russia within ten days. Having this in mind, to the pragmatic Swedes that’s really not much of a choice: are we willing to be defeated [with] 20,000 people killed or are we just going to go for diplomatic, legal means to solve this issue? I think it’s obvious what path they would choose.

LET’S GO BACK TO THE CHIEF TOPIC OF OUR CONVERSATION, THE 2008 AUGUST WAR. AN OVERWHELMING CONSENSUS AMONG WESTERN SCHOLARS AND POLITICIANS, NOT TO MENTION THE CURRENT GEORGIAN GOVERNMENT, IS THAT YOU WERE PROVOKED BY RUSSIA AND FELL FOR IT, GOADED INTO STARTING A WAR. DO YOU AGREE? No, it’s not true. Crimea clearly proved there are two scenarios: either surrender fully or fight. There is no third scenario; when they're already in, who started the war? The [post 2008 war] Tagliavini report played on this in a very nasty way. They said Russian troops were already in but the conflict was started by Georgia; excuse me, what do you mean by troops were in? What the hell is that? Is that an acceptable thing? Well, troops were already in Crimea and conflict never started because the Ukrainians didn't fight, so does that make it an invasion or not? Shouldn’t you resist invasion? It's quite simple.

WHAT I THINK THEY ARE REFERRING TO IS THAT AS BAD AS THE SITUATION MIGHT HAVE BEEN BEFORE, YOUR

DECISION TO TAKE CONTROL OF TSKHINVALI WAS WHAT LED TO A FULL-SCALE WAR AND INVASION. AND THAT WAS EXACTLY WHAT RUSSIA WANTED YOU TO DO. Russia’s scenario was very clear. It was articulated, not speculated. [Eduard] ‘Kokoity [the then de facto president of South Ossetia] said, ‘We will clean our valleys of bandits’ - their scenario was a full-scale invasion but under the disguise of Ossetian forces fighting some locals, and if we at a certain moment started to resist, and it would be hard for us not to resist because there were pictures of people being killed and slaughtered and cleansed, that would trigger some kind of reaction and they would follow the victorious Kokoity all the way to Tbilisi to secure South Ossetia’s independence. Had we not done anything, ok, they could have stopped there, but it would damage us anyway, because a full-scale invasion was on the cards. There was no good scenario for us in this.

WAS THAT A SCENARIO WHEN THERE WAS NO OTHER OPTION BUT TO FIGHT? COULD NOT RESPONDING PERHAPS HAVE BEEN THE LESSER OF TWO EVILS? From my perspective, if you don't fight, at least you try. And we made other mistakes. Another mistake was that we were not ready: our fear had become chronic and we were not ready for what happened.

WAS THAT PARANOIA? No… it was very tense; later, at a certain moment we started to tell ourselves it might be okay now, because in spring we were very close to war, then there was lots of mediation and then at a certain moment, we let ourselves think it was ok… you know, it's a small country, people have to take holidays, officers have to go on holiday, government has to rest. I myself was very close to taking over Tbilisi Airport that night, August 7. I went to the airport twice and I came back twice; I was supposed to be leaving for China. We were going to Beijing for the Olympics; the tension had become so chronic that there was shooting, subsiding, shooting, again subsiding and then we said ok, that's normal, nothing new there, I’d better go to Beijing and see the leaders. I’d better go and complain.

IF THE TENSION HAD BECOME CHRONIC, IF YOU AND THE ESTABLISHMENT BEGAN TO COPE WITH IT, THEN WHAT PROMPTED THE DECISION REGARDING TSKHINVALI? Because in the evening they started shooting en masse, that’s why I stayed. The plan before that was to put them on standby before trying to take anything back and for me to go to Beijing and say, look we have the situation - to Bush or somebody - we have this situation, please interfere. I tried to call everyone and nobody would pick up; only Jaap De Hoopscheffer, then-NATO Secretary General, who spoke to me on an open line and I couldn't say much on an open line. I just described the general situation. I tried to call Frank-Walter Steinmeier, then-German Minister of Foreign Affairs; he was on holiday. I tried to call someone in Washington and nobody was there. [Senior Official] Michael Carpenter was the only one who was on duty in the state department; then I managed to speak with Carl Bildt, the Swedish Minister of Foreign Affairs and that was it. We weren’t really sure of anything.

ONE OF THE MORE SEVERE ACCUSATIONS OFTEN AIMED AT YOU IS THAT YOU BOMBED A SLEEPING TSKHINVALI. LOOKING BACK, IS THERE ANY OTHER WAY YOU WISH YOU HAD GONE ABOUT THAT? When you launch a military operation, it’s military protocol: you don’t make decisions on the political field. When you’re fighting an uphill battle, it’s the military that calls the shots. Certainly, they had been instructed to uphold

humanitarian values. The Human Rights Watch report clearly says that when Georgians entered some Ossetian villages, they said, ‘Don’t worry, Misha [Saakashvili] told us not touch you.’ But that was the attitude, they knew that they had to uphold norms but otherwise it was up to them what firepower to use against targets, you cannot control it politically. The problem was we couldn't get to those valleys which were under attack any more – the road was blocked, so the solution was to clear a way to that road and if you go through mountains to do it, you are a clear target: GRU troops [Russian special forces] were on the main hill and could target that road easily.

WHATEVER THE GOAL MIGHT HAVE BEEN, WHAT HAPPENED IN TSKHINVALI WAS SEEN AS A MAJOR GEORGIAN OFFENSIVE. WOULD YOU NOT THINK THAT LAUNCHING A MAJOR OFFENSIVE WOULD BE A TIPPING POINT? No, because it had a clear target and furthermore it was in clear response to all their major offences because what they did was also major offensive; they attacked our troops, they attacked our villages with all the firepower that they could use against a peaceful population. What we did was an adequate response to their major offensive. Russian troops were attacking from several directions with massed firepower, GRU troops were coordinating with the so-called South Ossetia troops - it was already an offensive. The only way we could stop it, considering we didn't have much presence on the ground, was artillery. At least that's what the military decided.

AND WHAT WAS THE EXPECTED RESULT? To move fast through the city and valleys and get to the area where we could lock the road and block their further advancement. The Roki tunnel was already teeming with Russian tanks, so we had to pass through Tskhinvali, but we were late: the Russians had already started what turned out to be an invasion. They were already in the tunnel and they were in village of Java waiting. So, if you want to talk about our mistakes, our mistake was to act too late and do too little. In the end, we did whatever we could, but we were stalled and we had just some pieces of the bigger picture, at that time all we had to act upon was merely pieces of information.

THE LATE ROBERT ASMUS’ EXCELLENT BOOK ABOUT THE 2008 WAR MAKES THE STRIKING POINT THAT GEORGIA AND YOUR GOVERNMENT HAD NO DEFENSE STRATEGY IN THE CASE OF WAR. IF YOU HAD SO LITTLE INFORMATION, HOW HARD MIGHT IT HAVE BEEN TO ENVISAGE THAT SOME SORT OF DEFENSE STRATEGY WAS NEEDED? Because, politically, our approach towards South Ossetia was very clear: soft power, we don't fight there, and we never thought the Russians would start fighting there. South Ossetia is like a chessboard: you have Georgian villages, Ossetian villages, and they are so intertwined that we though they wouldn’t really think about starting a big scale operation there, it made no sense. Abkhazia, on the other hand, was a clear-cut case, because it's an empty territory, they can go through. And that’s where I miscalculated over Putin because our thinking was that they would never go for Tbilisi, and we were also convinced by our Western friends about that.

WHO WERE THOSE WESTERN FRIENDS? Everyone. Everyone said the Russians

would never invade us; Condi Rice always said that; she said I know the Russians, I skated in Russia as a young girl, I went to Moscow, MGIMO [the Moscow State Institute of International Relations]; I know them: they will provoke you but they will never do anything. The only guy who said otherwise was Steinmeier; Steinmeier put this to us very bluntly, now that I think of it. It was an assessment of German intelligence based on their internal sources in Moscow because Steinmeier came to Georgia in a very hasty way and he was nervous, you could see that, he just came because he thought an invasion would happen and he wanted to show that beforehand. At least they tried to do something and he told us, in the German way, that there would be an invasion.

WHEN WAS THAT? When he came for his shuttle mission; then he went to see [Russian Foreign Minister Sergei] Lavrov and then he came to see the Abkhazian town of Gali; he came again back to Batumi and told us that. We were sitting in a restaurant with several members of our government and one of them asked him a question, ‘Mr Minister, will you help us bring international peacekeepers into both our conflict zones?’ Steinmeier puts his fork down and says, ‘Guys, what peacekeepers are you talking about? You’ll soon have a large-scale war here.’ And we were, like, what? [Steinmeier said] ‘I'll tell you how it will happen there will be shooting between you and them all the time, in the past they've stopped but this time they will not: they will shoot back and they will shoot back more. And at a certain point you will have to go in and retaliate and then Russians will hit you with their full force and then there'll be full-scale war; the only thing we can do is to separate it.’ He described it in very precise terms. Then there was the Russian Ambassador in the EU, who was good friends with the member of the European Parliament Elmar Brok, and Brok told me at the Yalta Conference in July 2008 that he had mentioned to this Ambassador that he was planning to visit Georgia in September to try and solve the situation somehow. And the Ambassador up and tells him ‘Elmar, September is too late, if you want to go, go now.’ Elmar, being a smart guy, understood the clear hint given to him and asked me, ‘Are the Russians planning something or what?’

YET YOU STILL THOUGHT THAT RUSSIA WOULD NOT GO SO FAR. No, because many others told us no, no, no, don’t worry. But let us look at their timeline, what they did. They blocked us in NATO but then they said let it be decided in the December ministerial [meeting]; so they gave Russia this time framework, the Germans and French, to do something. And Russia had the motivation to act because there was a chance we could have gotten the MAP in December and basically the Germans gave them the greenlight by saying ‘okay, we are postponing till December.’

SO, RUSSIA GOT A WINDOW OF OPPORTUNITY? Yeah, it was a kind of German-Russian game; I don't think Germans wanted war, of course, but they at least gave the Russians some leeway to do what they did. See Part 2 in Monday’s GT Business newspaper.


POLITICS

GEORGIA TODAY AUGUST 9 - 12, 2019

7

The Trump Shtick Ricochets in Georgia OP-ED BY NUGZAR B. RUHADZE

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hat on earth could an American president have to do with the situation in Georgia? A lot! And here is the catch: in the first place, American pop culture has been amazingly influential worldwide over time, and Georgia is no exclusion from the rule. Suffice to say that America has uniformed billions of men and women in blue jeans and T-shirts around the globe; American talent has made the whole world play and listen to jazz. On top of that, the American dollar has been the dominant currency in the world’s fiscal organism since America was introduced as a nation; the tentacles of American capitalism widely and effectively spreading all over the place; the American military power has become an omnipresent and omnipotent presence on earth; America has turned into an informational force, dictating to humans what, where, when and how to do the things they do, and lastly, America has acquired a final say in all pivotal international decisions, the world desiring to stand up against it but not being able to do so. This is the overall background that any US president would enjoy when compelled and willing to demonstrate the American clout over other nations, Georgia included, although very flimsily. President Trump is a vivid case of that

power show. The electoral battle cry differs from president to president in the States. For instance, the insipid and watery Obama campaign wanted to attract the constituency with the promise of redistributing the American wealth so that everybody would get a piece of the cherished pie, but the post-Obama conservative wannabe Donald Trump made a well-targeted shot at a fiery moralistic idea that America is first . . . and he won the case. Notwithstanding all kinds of controversial judgments against the American multifaceted presence in Georgia, the Trump political catchword was but guaranteed to have a sharp effect on the average Georgian heart and mind. Just imagine translating the American slogan ‘America First’ into Georgian, and then adapting it to Georgia’s spiritual reality: ‘Georgia First’. This could trigger a billow of the Georgian dormant but still impulsively vibrant patriotism, which, if accordingly nursed and channeled, could turn the country upside down. I call this a reflection of Trumpism in our little land of social and political drama. Trump’s image and action, his style and approach encourage the idea of maintaining traditionalism in the land where family values are untouchable and sacred, but currently at risk. Trump’s treatment of the American mainstream media and his attitude towards the way the nongovernmental organizations work and behave has ruined in Georgia the myth about the unquestionable righteousness of media and

Image source: nbcnews.com

unconditional political honesty of the nonprofits. The Trump manner of doing politics has ricocheted in Georgia’s direction to somehow modify the public approach to the unreserved style of action of minorities like the gay community, unbridled freedom of human behavior and totally uncontrolled limits of the freedom of speech. Understandably, after two hundred years of the Russian imperial dominance and seventy years of soviet depression, the people of Georgia have delighted in the open air of freedom and independence, not even giving a

second thought to the idea that freedom never comes by itself – it is always accompanied by the strings of citizen responsibilities before the nation and its individual members. The golden rule of a civilized society is not only the unbridled flaunting of the banners of freedom of speech, freedom of behavior and freedom of conscience; civility dictates persistently that one’s own freedom in anything should not limit the freedom of others. The standing conservatism of America is currently holding up this particular principle of

interaction in a normal society, representing a good sample of behavioral model for our Georgia too. This is the good influence of the West, although the western neoliberal waves of lifestyle often get stuck right in the middle of those good old conservative ways. In a word, Trump’s traditionalism, mixed with his conservatism, has turned into a great reminder for Georgia that it is not just the unreasonably boundless freedom in a neoliberal style that rules the world but certain other well-weathered philosophies of life too.


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BUSINESS

GEORGIA TODAY

AUGUST 9 - 12, 2019

Georgia Signs Convention on Trade Dispute Mediation BY SAMANTHA GUTHRIE

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he Singapore Convention on Mediation was signed on Wednesday, August 7, by 46 UN Member States, Georgia among them. Major players in international trade also signed on to the agreement, including the United States, China, India, Turkey, and South Korea. Georgia was represented at the signing by Minister of Justice Thea Tsulukiani. Officially called the UN Convention on International Settlement Agreements Resulting from Mediation, the convention is designed to ease the settlement process for cross-border commercial and trade-related disputes. Such conventions regulate international trade structures and help maintain the relationships that keep modern globalized economies moving. After the signing, the Ministry of Justice of Georgia released a statement say-

Image source: Ministry of Justice

ing “Georgia is one of the first countries that joined the convention. By joining the convention, Georgia took one step closer to the goal of becoming the regional hub for mediation.” Vying for that honor is Singapore itself, and, with its name attached to the convention as the place of its signing, the tiny city-state has a leg up. During the signing ceremony, Singa-

pore’s Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong announced, “This will help advance international trade, commerce and investment...today, a group of states have come together to recommit ourselves to multilateralism and to declare that we remain open for business.” UN Legal Affairs Assistant SecretaryGeneral Stephen Mathias commented, “Uncertainty surrounding the enforce-

ment of settlement agreements had been the main obstacle of the greater use of mediation...The convention sets the standards for enforcing and invoking settlement agreements, the requirements for reliance on settlement agreements and the grounds for refusing to grant relief.” Mediation is a common method for settling commercial disputes in the United States and the United Kingdom, but in other parts of the world it faces questions of legal grey areas, credibility, and public skepticism. Georgia has recently increased its focus on mediation at the national level, with the support of UNDP and European Union programs. In March of this year, the Georgian government submitted a draft law on mediation to Parliament, which calls for the creation of an alternative agency of dispute settlement – a Mediation Institute. As the Ministry of Justice, who wrote the draft law, explained at the time of its submission, the current judicial system is overloaded with civil disputes, leading

to delays and backups in the system which hinder the swift administration of justice. “A thoroughly prepared, impartial third party in the mediation process helps citizens and business representatives to resolve civil disputes without long-term and expensive judicial processes, in a mutually agreed manner,” the explanatory note of the draft law reads. If adopted, as it is expected to be, the law will apply to disputes in various sectors, including businesses, banking, labor, and loans. Although in March, Tsulukiani did note that there is a lack of trained, qualified mediators in the country, and expressed hope that the new law on mediation would support the growth of the profession. The aim of the Singapore Convention on Mediation is the same as Georgia’s domestic draft law – to create an international framework to empower and support businesses to settle international disputes outside of a courtroom, through mediation, which will save significant time and money.

Luca Polare Opens 15th Branch, Continues Rapid Development the future.” Georgian ice cream parlor network Luca Polare offers it customers up to 60 varieties of ice cream and exclusive coffee. The ice cream is produced in Georgia, with natural products, using fresh fruit

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he Georgian ice cream parlor network Luca Polare is expanding by opening its 15th branch in Tbilisi. Another spot of delicious coffee and the best ice cream has just appeared at 9 Kazbegi Avenue. In 2008, a small ice cream parlor was opened on Leselidze Street, in the area of 20 square meters. It was the first branch of Luca Polare. The Georgian brand is now represented in three cities across Georgia, with 10 branches in Tbilisi, four in Batumi and

and milk. None of the products contain artificial additives in order to prolong color, flavor or shelf life. A mix of 100% premium quality Arabica grains, collected in South America and roasted in Germany with traditional methods, is exclusively sent to Luca

Polare customers in Georgia. In its 11 years, Luca Polare has become a favorite for both the young and not so young thanks to its high-quality products, friendly service and focus on customer demands- all keys to the company’s success.

one in Kobuleti. Besides the highest quality and especially delicious ice cream, the Luca Polare menu includes muffins, biscuits, cakes, caramelized roasted almonds, fresh juices, and various fruit and salads. “We are happy that Luca continues its rapid development and we are proud that it maintains international standards both in product and service directions,” noted Tea Tabagari, the Director-General of the brand. “We have big and ambitious plans ahead and we will make our fans happy by offering exciting novelties in

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SOCIETY

GEORGIA TODAY AUGUST 9 - 12, 2019

Alpen KnowHow for Georgia FISH & MEAT RESTAURANT II FLOOR

Two Different Restaurants in one Space

BY VAZHA TAVBERIDZE

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witzerland and Georgia are brothers in more than mountains. Yet Switzerland is the paragon of stability, a state that seemingly works like a well-oiled mechanism of the watch they so rave about: everything is in place, tick-tock, no rushing, no surprises, while Georgia is every bit a mixture of that bombastic chaos that is so quintessential to the Caucasus that even the volatile Southern Europeans would be impressed. Mind you, it is still the most democratic country in the region. All that, though, is first impression, barely scratching a surface. As was well demonstrated in the speech of the Swiss Ambassador to Georgia, His Excellence Patric Franzen, that he gave to commemorate The Swiss National day – an annual event where politicians, journalists and civil sector representatives all gather to pay their due respects to that small nation in the Alps that has become synonymous with success over the latest couple of centuries. It was perhaps an answer to a quintessential question for our country: how long will it take for Georgia to become a country where land is taken care of in this manner, where infrastructure and planning are not just fancy words you ask government and international funding for? As long as it may take, baby steps, but we've got to move forward and there can hardly be a better model to follow than the Swiss one. One particular message rang especially important in the Ambassador’s speech: the importance of political dialogue, and one probably needn't have to be a political expert to figure out that it was echoing the recent events that unfolded in our fair capital city. "Over decades we had to learn that a constructive compromise is not a weakness but a strength," Ambassador Franzen said. "We had to learn that power-sharing with the weaker is more sustainable than dominance of the stronger, and we had to learn that a respectful dialogue with the political opponent is more effective than its personal discreditation. The culture of political dialogue has become part of our DNA. Today, we can say that we are united in our diversity through dialogue and compromise and have a high level of political stability." This, however, was not the only insight the Ambassador was trying to get across. Particular emphasis was given to how much the bilateral relations between the two countries have evolved since Georgia gaining independence, when Switzerland

was not only one of the first countries to recognize the fledgling state, but also one of the first to provide significant humanitarian aid as Georgia went through a dark period of secessionist conflicts and civil war. And the support since has only seen growth, with Switzerland never backpedaling on deepening the partnership, both on the political and economic level. "We committed a total of $45 million in the period 2017-2020 and have all elements in place to start to develop our next cooperation program for the years 2021/24,” Ambassador Franzen reported. “We are among the biggest donors in Georgia per capita of our population and we look forward to further developing our cooperation with our partners and to be focused, capacity building and business oriented, and effective." And lest it is forgotten, Switzerland still acts as a mediator between Russia and Georgia due to the absence of diplomatic relations, while the Geneva Talks remain one of the main platforms for dialogue between Georgia and its volatile breakaway regions. Dialogue, as mentioned above, is one thing Georgia can learn from Switzerland – the mentor's skill is perhaps the best in the world, and with an apt pupil the only way is up. “We try to facilitate interaction between them on concrete, operational issues that are important for their citizens. We act as mediator and facilitator, for example, in the implementation of the Customs Monitoring Agreement. And in the framework of our Human Security Program we contribute to confidence building and dialogue in the region,” Franzen added, underlining his country's support for Georgia's European integration. Switzerland itself might have chosen to opt out both of EU and the NATO, but it’s a luxury they can afford. And it's all about choice too: Switzerland chose that path, while the sovereign nation of Georgia chose a different one, and the Swiss respect the choices of their partners. So, to go back to the very first argument – instead of comparisons, mayhap we must look for lessons when it comes to the Swiss-Georgian relationship. And one simple, yet crucial lesson might end up being the most rewarding one: realizing that despite all differences in mentality, Switzerland is the example Georgia has to strive for and look up to. And although the situation for our country may often look perilous, let us not forget that life was not a piece of cake for the Swiss either, for centuries. They too had mighty empires looking down at them and fought more than once for the independence and sovereignty of their country. They endured and we must too: endure, and in enduring grow strong, as the saying goes.

GEORGIAN RESTAURANT I FLOOR T: (+995) 591 914 416 / Ardagani Lake 6000, Batumi F: Grand Grill Restaurant / F: Ardagani Terrasa

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SOCIETY

GEORGIA TODAY

AUGUST 9 - 12, 2019

Why Do Georgian Customers Choose HUAWEI? The Brand that Can Fully Meet the Needs of a Doctor, Photographer and PR Specialist

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hy do Georgians Choose HUAWEI smartphones? Perhaps because company offers the best devices on the market. Moreover, this is a company which always cares for its customers and focuses on protecting their interests above all. In recent times, there was a lot of news and unconfirmed information spread about HUAWEI, however, it seems the Georgian customers were unafraid and went on expecting technological innovations from HUAWEI. Kakha Bitsadze, a doctor, has been a loyal customer of HUAWEI for five years. „Initially, I did not choose the HUAWEI smartphone myself, it was a gift from my friend. Before that, I was the victim of a bad stereotype that „Chinese products have no good quality“ „Prior to buying the equipment, I always get acquainted with the product features in detail, making comparisons with similar models. The ratio of price and quality is also important. Besides bloggers’ reviews, I also get acquainted with the thousands of comments left from

users and then make a decision on purchasing a certain product. I was interested in HUAWEI due to its fast development and progress. I got acquainted with its history, founders, production, capital turnover, etc. The numbers were impressive. As a result, there was a feeling that it would become the leader in the market. Meanwhile, the gifted smartphone became old and when the time came to purchase a new phone, I bought the HUAWEI P30 Pro without any hesitation. I was happy with the signal quality, interface and of course, camera … HUAWEI is definitely the leader for its main cameras in its price category. The fast charging system, best photo shoot and zoom - these are the main features which made the HUAWEI P30 Pro the model, I wanted most.” Kakha Magradze, a PR Specialist, also became a HUAWEI user five years ago. Currently, he owns his 5th model produced by HUAWEI and as he claims, it is both comfortable and affordable. „At first, I bought HUAWEI for its quality and price. Even today this is the main defining argument for me. Additionally, the camera of the latest models is truly

distinguished, which is the main reason I became a loyal user of HUAWEI. I’m not a technology expert, but I can use the features of the camera which are suitable for social networks. As for the rest, the main thing for me is not to have to charge the battery during the day and for the phone to last the use of several applications and games at the same time, which is just what my HUAWEI P20 Pro does!“ As it turns out, while choosing a smartphone, the main, most important factors for the customer are: camera, battery, design and power. „During my 24-hour shift, which can even last up to 30 hours, I get a lot of incoming calls, messages, SMS, video calls. I love traveling and shooting wherever something unusual and interesting happens. Wearing a camera is very awkward. The advantage of a mobile phone camera is its speed of action, allowing you to capture that unique and special shot. Due to my active lifestyle, fast charging is very important. For some time, I even thought that HUAWEI was producing smartphones for me personally, as it was so suitable for me,” said Kakha Bitsadze. „The four components I love HUAWEI for will always be its integral parts: the best camera, strong connection, fast charging and immortalized battery. The other companies are far behind in this regard,“ says another HUAWEI customer, Giorgi Chokheli. „Exactly those components caused my interest and I bought HUAWEI, because it is more refined and accessible compared to its competitors,“ he adds. In addition to a competitive price and design of smartphone, the main element while choosing the phone for Chokheli was the power of the battery and photo shoot features, considering his profession: „I like the battery power. I also use the fast charging feature, which is very comfortable. However, the main reason behind my choice was the camera's stunning features. Macro shooting mode, wide view lens and night shooting mode are

no less important. I use the smartphone mainly for shooting, but I think that high quality graphics will be very attractive for lovers of mobile games,“ Giorgi Chokheli. The fascination in HUAWEI smartphones lies in one other detail: „If you decide to buy HUAWEI at least once, the power of attraction is so great that you will never give it up,“ Chokheli says. HUAWEI products and services are available in more than 170 countries and are used by a third of the world's popu-

lation. There are 16 research and development centers operating worldwide in the USA, Germany, Sweden, Russia, India and China. HUAWEI Consumer BG is one of three business units of HUAWEI, mainly focusing on the production of smartphones, personal computers, tablets and cloud services. The HUAWEI Global Network is based on 20 years of experience in the telecommunications business and serves to the production of innovative technologies to customers around the world.

Green Diamond Begins Handing over Flats to Owners as Second Stage of Construction Finishes

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he second Stage of construction of Green Diamond residential complex by MAQRO Construction has finished and the process of handing over the flats to owners has begun. Many new owners have already received keys to their flats and will soon able to move in. Residential apartments “Green Diamond” include three Stages of construction and covers 70,000 square meters of territory. The project is located in an ecologically clean environment in Tbilisi, in Dighomi district, near the Olympic facilities. MAQRO Construction says that with all three stages of construction, the complex will include 23 living blocks and 1686 flats. Apart from flats made with high quality building materials, owners have access to open swimming pools, a basketball court and open training spaces, playgrounds for children, running and walking tracks, commercial stores, a kindergarten and a school. Recreational zones were a matter of high attention for Green Diamond, so 1/3 of the complex is occupied by green area. The residents of the complex say it is

important for them that their children grow up in a healthy environment. Future residents Ia Tsikhelashvili and Zaza Soselia have already visited their flats with their children, Ana and Nikoloz. Both of them confirm Green Diamond has satisfied all the criteria for a quality and healthy environment. “For my family, it has always been very important to live in a cozy, safe and of course healthy environment. We also wanted a safe and fun environment for

our children. We are very lucky that Green Diamond is a place that includes just that,” says Ia. MAQRO Construction has worked out a concept for Smart Living which envisions comfortable living in one, ecologically clean and green space. The hand-over process of flats is ongoing at Green Diamond, and the Company says that the number of flats left unsold is already limited, but there are some still waiting for you to catch.


SOCIETY

GEORGIA TODAY AUGUST 9 - 12, 2019

Discount Program for Chronic Disease Medications Expands

Image source: PSP Pharmacy

BY SAMANTHA GUTHRIE

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anymedicationsneeded to treat six chronic diseases are available in Georgia for one GEL or less. 35 different medications are included in the government Program for Providing Medicine for Chronic Diseases, which treat cardiovascular disease, thyroid gland conditions, chronic lung disease, type 2 diabetes, epilepsy and Parkinson's disease. The program is being implemented at 118 participating PSP-brand pharmacies throughout Georgia. On July 16, Prime Minister Mamuka Bakhtadze announced plans to expand the Program for Providing Medicine for Chronic Diseases in a press conference at his office. He told reporters, “One of the most painful challenges manifests itself in the fact that out-of-pocket payments of our citizens on medication are very high in Georgia,” noting that the government has been actively working to mitigate the

issue. “We will be considering this very important initiative at the Executive Government Meeting today and adjustments will thus be made to the program of medication for chronic diseases,” said Bakhtadze. The Prime Minister concluded his speech with a pledge that the Georgian Government will continue working in this direction to minimize out-of-pocket medication costs for Georgians. Only certain groups deemed socially vulnerable are eligible for the program, including pensioners, people with disabilities, and those living under the poverty line. The new eligibility criteria came into force on August 6 – initially, it included only people registered as ‘socially vulnerable’ according to the Social Security Agency, which provides social support to people living in poverty. Additional targeted groups are expected to be added into the program in the coming weeks. Bakhtadze continuously emphasized the need for affordable medication, and highlighted the difficulty of many Georgians to afford necessary, even life-saving medication. The Prime Minister also

expressed his belief that the program is a poverty-fighting tool, as a large portion of the incomes of many in Georgia is spent at the pharmacy. Since the program’s initiation in July 2017, it has helped more than 60,000 people. Earlier this year, the program was expanded to include medications for epilepsy and Parkinson’s disease. Minister of Internally Displaced Persons from the Occupied Territories, Labor, Health and Social Affairs of Georgia, David Sergeenko, said previously that he aims to expand the program to include as many as 60 medications. While the program is mainly met with support, it is not without controversy. In July 2018, GEORGIA TODAY reported that, although a total of 5 million GEL ($1.71 mln) had been allocated to the medication price-control program at that time, and more than 70% of the program’s total budget had been spent, the participation rates were well below targets. Healthcare specialist Sergo Chikhladze explained that the program was initially designed to provide nearly free medicine to 150,000 – 200,000 beneficiaries, but was only reaching about 18,000 people.

Adapted Beach for PWDs Opens on Batumi Boulevard BY ANA DUMBADZE

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n adapted beach for persons with disabilities will be opened on August 9, on Batumi Boulevard, opposite the Old Ship restaurant. As reported by the administration of Batumi Boulevard, for the ongoing tourist season, the infrastructure at this location has been adapted to meet the full needs of persons with disabilities. As part of the Adapted Infrastructure Project for 2019, an adapted beach featuring a path, showers and fitting rooms have been arranged. A complex with wheelchairs will be set up beside the Old Ship restaurant. Floating beach wheelchairs have also

Photo: Batumi Boulevard/Facebook

been purchased, and customers can use them for free. The Batumi boulevard administration

purchased five floating beach wheelchairs for those with disabilities for 39,880 GEL.

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SOCIETY

GEORGIA TODAY

AUGUST 9 - 12, 2019

National Geographic Team Visits Georgia to Prepare Publications BY AMY JONES

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ational Geographic will publish extensive materials on Georgia to promote tourism in the region, the Ministry of Economy announced Monday. The Deputy Minister of Economy and Sustainable Development, Nikoloz Alavidze, and the Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, Alexander Khvtisiashvili, met with the Editor in Chief of National Geographic’s Traveler magazine, Justin Kavanagh to discuss the future content. On his visit to Georgia, Kavanagh will visit Tusheti and its national park, Kakhekti, Kazbegi, and Vashlovani national park to ‘get acquainted with the growing tourism potential of the country,’ stated the Ministery of Economy. Kavanagh has been interested in featuring Georgia and the country’s growing tourism potential since April, when he received information on Georgia’s wine culture, cuisine, traditions, and nature. National Geographic will feature Georgia in magazines, catalogues and on social media, using visual material taken during the visit. “We are very pleased to be in Georgia and impressed with the county’s hospitality,” said Kavanagh. The National Tourism Administration of the Ministry of Economy and Sustainable Development of Georgian and the Embassy of Georgia to Ireland helped to co-ordinate the visit. “I hope that the National Geographic group, led by Justin Kavanagh, will be able to spread the relevant information via his publications and it will help us to increase the interest of tourists who plan their tours through publications such as National Geographic,” noted Nikoloz Alavidze. “It is important for us to cooperate with this publishing group.” Since the Russian-Georgia flight embargo imposed by Russian President Vladimir Putin from July 8, the Georgian government has been working to promote tourism to Georgia. In July, the Minister of Economy and Sustainable Development Natia Turnava announced

that the government has various projects to encourage tourists to visit the country. “We have ongoing contracts with CNN, Bloomberg and National Georgraphic where Georgia is advertised and popularized as being a safe and attractive country for tourists,” she said. “Marketing plans and campaigns have also been implemented in the Baltic States, Saudi Arabia, and Ukraine.” National Geographic has already featured Georgia in their publications numerous times. They also run regular tours through Georgia and Armenia.

WHERE IS NATIONAL GEORGRAPHIC GOING? Tusheti Known as one of the last truly wild places in Europe, Tusheti is often considered to be Georgia’s most beautiful region. Bordering Chechnya and Dagestan on the northern slopes of the Greater Caucasus Mountains, the mountainous area witnessed centuries of fascinating history and culture which still lives on today. As there is no public transport to Tusheti, you will need to drive with a 4X4 vehicle or pay for a driver to Omalo village.

Vashlovani Rolling emerald hills give way to unique wavering rock formations and shallow forests as you descend southerly into Vashlovani National Park. Located close to Georgia’s border with Azerbaijan, you can find rare species of birds, an abundance of snakes and animals here that you would maybe expect to see on African safari rather than in Georgia, such as jackals, gazelles, and hyenas. To enjoy the wilderness of Vashlovani park, you will need a 4X4 vehicle that is capable of off-road driving. You should also try and visit in

dry weather as the roads can become very muddy. Kazbegi Perhaps Georgia’s most well-known national park, Kazbegi is known for its stunning mountains and diverse nature. Brown bears, Lynx, birds of prey, Caucacasian snowcok, Caucasian black grouse, and over 1,347 species of plants call the wild mountain slopes home. To visit Kazbegi, you can easily take a marshrukta from Didube bus station in Tbilisi to Stepantsminda village.

TransCaucasus Trailblazers BLOG BY TONY HANMER

T

hese people are high on my list of heroes. I just love what they’re doing. Check it out at: https://transcaucasiantrail.org/en/home/ They’ve been at it for several years now, renovating or making new trails throughout the Transcaucasus (south of Russia). Connecting with local communities in advance, starting dialogs, asking advice, asking for approval and blessing. This is important, because they don’t want to just come in and try to do something on this scale without local involvement and understanding! The trails will bring new tourists, new economic opportunities too, and also be good for local people to use, of course, on a daily basis in their pastoral lives. This is already happening, including right here from where I write, in Etseri. There can, of course, be slip-ups, misunderstandings, even when 100% local people are working side by side with them. One of the things to deal with, we notice in Svaneti, is potential jeal-

ousy when the perception is that a trail on route X will be of benefit to those nearest it, as hosts in guest houses or shop patrons, but not to those further away. Such a situation seems to have happened with the building of a bridge to replace an old existing one in the village of K’ala, between Ipari and Ushguli, Upper Svaneti. The team, including a Svan from Mestia, went in carefully, meeting with locals formally, seeking their reaction to the project. It all seemed positive. They bought wood and other materials, and spent several days making this amazing bridge. In the middle of the night, as soon as it was finished, chainsaws could be heard. The next morning the bridge was visible, cut off and cast into the river. The team, of course, were devastated. All that work, finished, never used, destroyed! It was very discouraging, of course. They desperately sought to learn in the community what had gone wrong; opinions and blame differed. But it does seem clear that not everyone was happy with the project, although this did not come out at all in the extensive conversations before building started. For some reason, it was allowed to be finished

before being ruined, a blow to the team. They came to us to stay for a night before moving on to trails between us and the village of Becho. I had heard the shocking news a bit earlier, and this was my chance to hear it firsthand from the very people involved, an international team of 11 including a Georgian from Tbilisi and a Svan. It really seems that they did all they could to minimize problems and maximize mutual understanding. And still. They press on, hoping to learn what can be done differently to prevent such happenings in the future. They are very rare in the organization’s experience anyway, as generally things go only positively. And they’re not going to let this setback slow them down. My feeling is that the Svans’ tendency to be against one another, historically demonstrated, is at play. I’ve seen it in my own village and elsewhere too. It’s not news to people here. I hope they can grow in their understanding; united, they can do so much in and for their communities; divided, they can lose out on a lot of opportunities to improve things in an area very far away from Tbilisi, with long winters and a comparatively hard life. They need each other.

Tony Hanmer has lived in Georgia since 1999, in Svaneti since 2007, and been a weekly writer for GT since early 2011. He runs the “Svaneti Renaissance” Facebook group, now with nearly 2000 members, at

www.facebook.com/groups/SvanetiRenaissance/ He and his wife also run their own guest house in Etseri: www.facebook.com/hanmer.house.svaneti


CULTURE

GEORGIA TODAY AUGUST 9 - 12, 2019

13

National Foundation for Culture to Be Established in Georgia BY THEA MORRISON

A

few days ago, Georgia’s Minister of Education, Science, Culture and Sports Mikheil Batiashvili announced that soon the country will have a National Foundation for Culture, which will be set up on the initiative of the ministry. “The culture management system and funding model need real reform and not one-time fragmented changes. We are starting a complex reform in this direction. The reform is based on EU recommendations and suits our country's needs. Our goal is to make the system more flexible, making processes more open and transparent,” he said. He explained that the Ministry of Education, Science, Culture and Sports will define the policy and strategy for the culture field, while the foundation will be responsible for the implementation of this policy. “The Ministry performs the joint functions of managing the institutions in the field of culture, and in the process of managing and funding the competitions, events and project planning. This model is changing, and as a result of the reform, the ministry will define the policy, pri-

Image source: mes.gov.ge

orities and strategy of the cultural direction, while the new foundation will implement the policy and priorities set by the Ministry,” Batiashvili said. He also noted the foundation aims to support the development of Georgian culture and cultural economy, popularization and internationalization of culture.

“The Foundation will implement targeted programs and projects in the field of culture, will administer state grant competitions and other competitions planned for cultural priorities, and organize and monitor issuing grants for people working in the field of culture,” he added. The Minister said the National Foundation for Culture will start working in

January 2020, while preparatory works will be carried out until the end of the year. He added that the budget of the fund will amount to GEL 50 ($17.05) million and Irma Ratiani is to be appointed as the head of the foundation. Ratiani is a literary theoretician and translator, Doctor of Philological Sci-

ences (2003), Full Professor, at Tbilisi State University. She also is a Head of the Department of General and Comparative Literary Studies; Director of the Shota Rustaveli Institute of Georgian Literature; Editor in Chief of annual scientific journals Sjani (Thoughts) and LitInfo; and member of a number of international scientific organizations and associations. Nikoloz Vacheishvili, a former director of the National Agency for Cultural Heritage Preservation, and a member of the Tbilisi City Council, believes the creation of a National Cultural Fund may be a good idea, but it is not excluded that it will increase bureaucracy and nepotism. He noted the Ministry of Education, Science, Culture and Sport itself is one of the most bureaucratic agencies. “It is possible that funding will become more centralized, and more nepotism and more subjective decisions will be seen. If it does not happen so, it will be good, but there is a high probability that it will happen,” he said. Vacheishvili explains Irma Ratiani might be a good professional but in the fund her work can turn out to be ineffective. “There is a high probability that with such planning, the results will not be very good in the end,” he said.

Georgia’s Acclaimed Composer Giya Kancheli’s Pieces Performed at Summit Music Festival in NY

BY LIKO CHIGLADZE

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special evening celebrating Georgia’s most distinguished living composer Giya Kancheli’s masterpieces was held at the renowned Summit Music Festival in New York on August 4. The evening consisted of two parts: a documentary film about Giya Kancheli was screened, followed by a concert ‘Miniatures for Violin and Piano,’ unveiling pieces of the great maestro. Particularly for this important occasion, Director of the film Olga Gregory and Producer Antimony Gregory came from Canada to screen their mutual documentary film ‘Giya Kancheli: I used to hate the Clarinet.’ In order to perform the music of the great Georgian composer, celebrated Clarinetist Julian Milkis,

also coined the only student of the clarinet legend Benny Goodman, paid a special visit from Switzerland, while well-known pianist Vadim Monastirsky came from Jerusalem. Founded in 1991, the Summit Music Festival assembles a faculty of the highest caliber, representing the finest traditions of Europe, Asia and the American continents, to offer a concentrated study in ensemble and orchestral programs to talented students from all over the world. Efrem Briskin, Artistic Director, and David Krieger, Executive Director, began with a small summer music camp program which transformed into a summer music festival of the highest quality with an international character. By 1993, they had established the basic structure of its present program to serve serious preprofessional international musicians and offer its host community an exciting array of chamber music and orchestral concerts. This year, for the first time, the

festival hosted the Kancheli Program with the participation of distinguished musicians. The acclaimed Georgian maestro composed music for Georgian theater and cinema for years and his works have accompanied some of Georgia’s most iconic cinematography. Throughout his life, Kancheli has composed more than 37 orchestral pieces, 10 chamber music pieces and 10 choral operas. Kancheli has lived in Western Europe since the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991. First, he lived in Berlin and later moved to Antwerp where he became composerin-residence for the Royal Flemish Philharmonic. Kancheli has seen world premieres of his works in Seattle, as well as with the New York Philharmonic under Kurt Masur. He continues to receive regular commissions. New CDs of his recent works are regularly released, notably on the ECM label. The spectacular musician has earned international

recognition and has been named among the world’s greatest movie composers alongside Ennio Morricone and Nino Rota. The hall was full of Georgian immigrants and locals eager to see the film and enjoy heavenly beautiful melodies. The film starts with Julian Milkis talking about Kancheli: “I heard his music for the first time in 1987. I was driving the car, the radio was on and I suddenly stopped and sat without moving for around 15 minutes. It was a real shock, since I’d never heard such music before. The melody captivated me to such an extent I got lost in it and arrived late to my own concert,” Milkis recalled. “The film Giya Kancheli: I used to hate the Clarinet was born by chance,” says husband of the Director and famous TVhost Antimony Gregory. The couple paid a visit to Antwerp to record an interview with the notable composer. The conversation with Kancheli lasted for over three hours. As a result, the recording was so interesting that they decided to continue recording the interview and make a documentary film. Although at first the maestro was hesitant, mutual friend Julian Milkis managed to persuade him. Milkis is sure that Kancheli’s music will not be forgotten after 50 years, or even after 100. The second part of the Kancheli evening was opened with a grandiose concert Miniatures for Violin and Piano. Vadim Monastirsky, famous pianist and Professor at the Jerusalem Academy of Music and Dance in Israel played the Royal Piano accompanied by Julian Milkis’ clarinet. They have already performed the Miniatures both in Jerusalem and America a couple of times. “I play each note with pain,” Professor Monastirsky said during the rehearsal, a few hours before the concert. “This is amazing, I have played so many pieces in my life, but I think that a musician must feel Kancheli in order to understand and experience the pain in his

music. It doesn’t matter in which place among 22 countries I have played Kancheli’s music, be it Germany, Italy, Ireland or Mexico, everywhere the audience listened to his pieces, they literally cried. It is really unbelievable,” he said. The concert, presenting 18 miniatures full of deafening sadness and quiet joy, bitter glee and merciless self-irony, left the guests speechless. The audience listened with bated breath. People who heard the music felt happiness and at the same time sobbed. Half of the hall was emigrants from Georgia, and to them the music of Giya Kancheli performed by Vadim Monastirsky and Julian Milkis was familiar from the old movies, evoking nostalgia and arousing mixed emotions and memories from the past. The other half of the audience was American. They did not suffer from childhood memories when listening to this music, but cried from happiness and sadness on hearing the amazing melodies. They reacted to Kanchelis’ music in the same way as the people in 22 other countries, ultimate proof that Giya Kancheli’s music will endure centuries and continue to impact people and their feelings.


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CULTURE

GEORGIA TODAY

AUGUST 9 - 12, 2019

WHAT’S ON IN TBILISI MUSEUM

GEORGIAN NATIONAL MUSEUM SIMON JANASHIA MUSEUM 3 Rustaveli Ave. TEL (+995 32) 299 80 22, 293 48 21 www.museum.ge Exhibitions: GEORGIAN COSTUME AND WEAPONRY OF THE 18TH-20TH CENTURIES NUMISMATIC TREASURY EXHIBITION STONE AGE GEORGIA ARCHEOLOGICAL TREASURE NEW LIFE TO THE ORIENTAL COLLECTIONS Until September 10 Under the joint initiative of Georgian National Museum and Georgian Post, Exhibition: STORY TOLD BY POSTAGE STAMPS Dedicated to the 100th anniversary of the first Georgian stamp. Until August 31 Multimedia technology exhibitionIMMAGICA. A JOURNEY INTO BEAUTY An impressive journey within time, introducing us to Italian paintings of the XIV-XIX centuries; a combination of voice, lighting, immersive visual and multimedia. Giotto– ‘Ognissanti Madonna’ and the ‘Scrovegni Chapel,’ Leonardo da Vinci– ‘Annunciation,’ Botticelli– ‘The Birth of Venus’ and ‘Spring,’ Raffaello– ‘The Madonna of the Goldfinch, Bellotto– ‘Piazza San Marco,’ ‘Castello Sforzesco,’ Canaletto– “The Chapel of Eton College”, Canova– ‘Amor e Psyche’ and ‘The Graces’. Until September 8 The Georgian National Museum and the Embassy of Japan in Georgia present Japanese CALLIGRAPHY MASTER KOSHU'S (AKEMI LUCAS) EXHIBITION "ECHO" Koshu took part in "Tokugawa and the Masters," part of which was hosted by the Georgian National Museum in October 2018. Koshu says her first visit to Signagi filled her heart with love and this is reflected in her subsequent works. "I hope my love for Georgia, poured into my artwork, is reflected and resonates in people's hearts, rippling out and leaving an echo for the future," she says.

IOSEB GRISHASHVILI TBILISI HISTORY MUSEUM - KARVASLA 8 Sioni St. TEL (+995 32) 2 98 22 81 Until September 10 The Georgian National Museum within the project "Contemporary Art Gallery" presents VAKHO BUGADZE'S EXHIBITION: ‘THREE, FOUR" Together with Vakho Bughadze are artists Gogi Okropiridze and Katrin Bolt. MUSEUM OF SOVIET OCCUPATION 4 Rustaveli Ave. TEL (+995 32) 2 99 80 22, 2 93 48 21 www.museum.ge The exhibition hall is equipped with monitors, where visitors can see documentaries of various historical events. The exhibition also includes one of the train carriages in which the participants of the national uprising of 1924 were executed. It is also dedicated to the history of the antioccupational, national-liberation movement of Georgia and to the victims of the Soviet political repression throughout this period. MUSEUM OF ILLUSIONS 10 Betlemi Str. Discover the Museum of Illusions Be brave enough to jump into an illusion created by the Vortex, deform the image of yourself in a Mirror Room, be free in the Infinity room, resist the laws of gravity and size ratio, and take selfies in every possible pose. Enjoy the collection of holograms, and discover optical illusions. MUSEUM OF BROKEN RELATIONSHIPS 10 Betlemi Str. THE MUSEUM OF BROKEN RELATIONSHIPS The unique collection of the museum aims to provoke feelings of understanding among individuals and serve as some kind of therapy for those who have experience break-ups. GALLERY

THE NATIONAL GALLERY 11 Rustaveli Ave. TEL (+995 32) 215 73 00 Until February 26 (2020)

GRAND MASTERS FROM THE GEORGIAN NATIONAL MUSEUM COLLECTION XIX – XX CENTURY

MUSIC

GEORGIAN FOLK SHOW 10 Rustaveli Ave. Every Tuesday, Friday, Sunday

CINEMA

AMIRANI CINEMA 36 Kostava St. TEL (+995 32) 2 99 99 55 www.kinoafisha.ge Every Wednesday ticket: 5 GEL FAST & FURIOUS PRESENTS: HOBBS & SHAW Directed by David Leitch Cast: Vanessa Kirby, Dwayne Johnson, Eiza González Genre: Action, Adventure Language: English Georgian Subtitles Start time: 22:15 Ticket: 15 GEL ONCE UPON A TIME ... IN HOLLYWOOD Directed by Quentin Tarantino Cast: Leonardo DiCaprio, Brad Pitt, Margot Robbie Genre: Drama Language: English Georgian Subtitles Start time: 15:00, 18:30 Ticket: 10-14 GEL SCARY STORIES TO TELL IN THE DARK Directed by André Øvredal Cast: Zoe Margaret Colletti, Michael Garza, Gabriel Rush Genre: Horror, Mystery, Thriller Language: English Georgian Subtitles Start time: 16:00, 19:15 Ticket: 14-15 GEL CAVEA GALLERY 2/4 Rustaveli Ave. ONCE UPON A TIME ... IN HOLLYWOOD (Info Above) Language: English Georgian Subtitles Start time: 12:15, 15:45, 18:45 Ticket: 11-19 GEL THE LION KING Directed by Jon Favreau Cast: John Kani, Seth Rogen, Donald Glover Genre: Animation, Adventure, Drama Language: English Start time: 11:50, 14:00, 16:45, 19:45, 22:15 Ticket: 10-19 GEL FAST & FURIOUS PRESENTS: HOBBS & SHAW (Info Above) Language: English Start time: 12:45, 15:45, 19:15 Ticket: 11-19 GEL

The first full and systematic folk show enabling tourists to visit the Georgian regions in just one hour and exploring the world-renowned folklore. Start time: 20:00 Tickets: 40 GEL FOLKLORE CONCERTS FOR TOURISTS Sanapiro Str. Bldg 2. Every Sunday August 11 Folklore Evenings of ensemble EGARI Offering folklore events to popularize Georgian folk music among tourists, the concerts present songs, trisagions, instrumental music, dance, and urban folklore from different parts of Georgia, as well as ethnojazz music. Guest can hear live polyphony and a diversity of instruments (Salamuri, Panduri, Chonguri, Chiboni, Doli). Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 50 GEL LAGODEKHI BLUES FESTIVAL Lagodekhi August 10 BLUES FESTIVAL Sharon Lewis & LUCA GIORDANO Lagodekhi Blues Festival attendees will for the first time be able to listen to classical blues in the Italian style. Start time: 21:00 Ticket: 15-40 GEL AJARA BLACK SEA ARENA Shekvetili 13 August THIRTY SECONDS TO MARS Jared and Shannon Leto have sold over five million albums worldwide and the band’s videos have more than 300 million views on YouTube. They have received numerous awards, including a dozen MTV awards worldwide, a Billboard Music award and honors from NME, Kerrang! and Fuse. Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 50-200 GEL

BATUMI TENNIS CLUB Batumi Boulevard August 13 GORAN BREGOVI A composer of many famous songs and soundtracks, Bregovic worked with director of many well-known movies of Emir Kusturica and made songs which featured singers like Iggy Pop and Cesária Évora. His music mixes Balkan folk, rock and symphony. Start time: 21:00 Ticket: 30-50 GEL SECTOR 26 Batumi Boulevard August 14 ANJA SCHNEIDER Start time: 22:00 Ticket: 40 GEL SOHO BATUMI Seafront Promenade, Batumi August 9 LELA TSURTSUMIA Start time: 23:00 Ticket: 30 GEL August 10 SUKHISHVILEBI Start time: 23:00 Ticket: 35 GEL August 12 KORDZ & GIORGI ZAGARELI Start time: 23:00 Ticket: 30 GEL August 13 IVAN DORN Start time: 23:00 Ticket: 30 GEL August 15 MGZAVREBI Start time: 23:00 Ticket: 30 GEL BATUMI DRAMA THEATER 1 Rustaveli Str. Conceptart and fund Iavnana present: GALA CONCERT OF YOUNG VIRTUOSO MUSICIANS Start time: 23:00 Ticket: 30 GEL SHERATON POOL Sheraton Batumi Hotel, Pool August 10 MERCEDES-BENZ EVENT Special evening, tasteful music and the main surprise, Milk & Sugar, the legend of House music Start time: 23:00 Ticket: 50-70 GEL UP2YOU Seafront Promenade August 9 GIGA MIKABERIDZE Start time: 21:00 Ticket: 30 GEL August 11 MAX THE SAX Start time: 22:00 Ticket: 20 GEL BATUMGORA Cable car Argo FOLKLORE SHOWS EVERY DAY All summer long, enjoy traditional folk shows every day from 8 pm. Enjoy UNESCO recognized traditional folk dances and songs, Georgian drum shows and master classes in dancing 250 meters above sea level. Start time: 20:00 KOBULETI PINEWOOD Kobuleti August 10 GR-FEST Line up: Main stage: Kavel ZAPA Orim Giorgi Devadze Yanamaste NEWA Boyd Shidt Fabrizio Lapiana Art stage: Sally Gulordava Levan Samnashvili Gvantsa Aphkaidze Start time: 17:00 Ticket: 30-50 GEL


CULTURE

GEORGIA TODAY AUGUST 9 - 12, 2019

15

Batumi-Tbilisi International Fest "Night Serenades" to Celebrate 11th Anniversary

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n August 6, Georgia’s Ministry of Education, Science, Culture and Sport held a press conference on this year’s Batumi-Tbilisi International Festival “Night Serenades.” The press conference was led by the Deputy Minister of Education, Science, Culture and Sport of Georgia, Levan Kharatishvili, Director General of the Festival, Nina Tsagareli, renowned Georgian mezzo-soprano Nino Surguladze, and Deputy Head of Department of Culture of Tbilisi City Hall Maka Nasrashvili. With the support of the Ministry, from August 25 to September 4, the BatumiTbilisi International Festival "Night Serenades" will be held for the 11th year. A series of musical concerts will offer a variety of musical pieces to the enthusiasts of classical music. Concerts will be held on August 25, 27, 28 in the Batumi Ilia Chavchavadze Drama Theater and on September 2 and 4 in the Tbilisi State Conservatoire Grand Hall. The Principal Conductor of the Festival is Maestro Vakhtang Machavariani. The world-class concerts will be performed by famous soloists and conductors such as the Orchestra "Virtuoses from Georgia,” created by the Artistic Director of the Festival, renowned vio-

linist and conductor Liana Isakadze; Nana Iashvili (violin); Nino Surguladze (mezzo-soprano); Anna-Liisa Bezrodny (violin, Finland/England); Jan-Eric Gustavsson (cello, Finland); Pantelis Kogiamis (specially invited conductor, GreeceAustria); Kazakh State Trio - Erlan Serikbaev (piano), Bagdat Abilhanov (violin) and Kurvanzhan Akhatov (Cello); Georgian musician Sandro Nebieridze (piano), and more. During the press conference, the Director General of the Festival, Nina Tsagareli, pointed out the diversity of this year’s Festival program. “This year’s program is very diverse and interesting for audiences of any age and taste. Renowned Georgian composer Vazha Azarashvili's cello concert will be performed by a famous cellist from Finland, Jan-Eric Gustavsson, for the first time, and that’s not the only brilliant performance and pleasant surprise awaiting guests!” she said. Along with other Georgian and foreign stars, this year’s festival will see the participation of world-famous mezzosoprano Nino Surguladze, who says she is very happy and honored to participate in the festival. “I’m joining the Festival for the first time. This unique and prestigious festival is associated with the name of legendary Liana Isakadze and is always

packed with extraordinary musicians from around the globe. This time a vocal performance has been added to the festival program for the first time, which makes it even more interesting. This time, I will be honored to perform together with Maestro Vakhtang Machavariani, who is my inspiration. I cannot wait to sing for the Georgian audience again,” she noted. As the Deputy Minister of Education, Science, Culture and Sport of Georgia, Levan Kharatishvili, stated, Night Serenade” is one of the most important festivals for the Ministry of Culture, as well as for the whole country. “The Festival maintains a quality and diverse program every year. This year’s program is especially impressive, as it involves world-famous stars, such as mezzo-soprano Nino Surguladze and

others. The audience will attend these unique events in Batumi and Tbilisi in August-September and traditionally, our Ministry will support it. I would like to thank the organizers and participants of the Festival. I am sure that very exciting adventures await for us within the frames of Night Serenades,” he elaborated. The Deputy Head of Department of Culture of Tbilisi City Hall, Maka Nasrashvili, once again expressed Tbilisi City Hall’s support towards the Festival and pointed out its importance for the development of the country’s cultural life. “The festival has been held for 11 years already, and it plays a significant role in the country’s cultural life, as well as tourism development. Tbilisi City Hall is a constant supporter and partner of this festival. Such events are especially important for our country and Tbilisi City Hall

will continue to actively support it in the future,” she said. The Night Serenades Festival was founded in 1982 in Abkhazia, at the initiative of famous Georgian violinist and conductor Liana Isakadze. It ceased due to the war in Abkhazia. The restoration of the festival became possible only after 18 years, in 2009, in Georgia’s magnificent seaside city of Batumi. Isakadze is still the Artistic Director of the festival. Since 2018, her nephew, artist Giorgi Isakadze, is also the Artistic Director of the Night Serenades. Over the years, great interest in the festival led to its expansion and was renamed the Batumi-Tbilisi International Festival in 2015. Tickets for the 2019 Night Serenades Festival are available online at ticket.ge.

Jessie J Takes Over Black Sea Arena Photo Copyright: Alex Ruadze

BY NINI DAKHUNDARIDZE

F

rom Elton John to Christina Aguillera, Check in Georgia has brought a lot of stars to the stage of the Black Sea Arena in the past three years since it opened. The venue opened the 2019 season with a successful Black Eyed Peas’ concert on June 16 this year, meaning on August 6, Jessie J had a lot of pressure to keep up the audience’s expectations. However, with her astounding voice,

fantastic band, and high level of organizational management from the staff of the Black Sea Arena, Jessie J’s show gave a new meaning to the combination of words ‘tremendous success’. The gates opened at around 18:00, but devoted fans of the British Pop star had been gathering around the Black Sea Arena hours prior, some had even spent the night there to grab the chance to see their favorite performer up close from the Golden Ring. When the doors opened, they poured into the Ring, many of them humming Jessie J’s hits, from ‘Queen’ to ‘Domino.’ Jessie J appeared on the main stage a little later than scheduled, opening the show with a 2015 single ‘Masterpiece’, meriting endless rounds of applause from the cheering audience. After a couple of songs, the performer saluted the audience and explained her choice of outfit and hairstyle – so different to her look at her Amsterdam show just a few days before the one in Shekvetili.

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“I decided to dress up as myself from 2010, because that’s where it all started, and I’ve never been to Georgia. So to make up for it, I decided to take you all nine years back and sing the songs that I think you might want to hear,” said the British singer-songwriter over loud screams from the audience. Jessie J did not forget to mention her gratitude for the sold-out show, admitting that the love she gets from people never ceases to amaze her and that fame has never becomes normal for her. The pop star united the audience, engaging them all with her hilarious self-depreciating humor. The latter combined with her own words: “You came to see me, I came to see you.” She asked the audience not to record her performance of ‘Domino,’ just so she could see everyone’s faces and the blissful moment could be caught and enjoyed by all – making the public feel that Jessie J, the incredibly talented famous pop star, was just a

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

regular person, equal to them. This integrity shone from the star’s personality throughout the two-hour show in many ways – adding a song to her playlist at the fans’ request, conversing with the audience and taking videos with their phones, reading a fan’s letter on stage, warming up the listeners by having them sing along to an improvised ‘Jessie J and Georgia’ bit – all these and much more made the Shekvetili show unique for Georgian and foreign music lovers. The winner of the 2011 BRIT Awards expressed her desire to come back to Georgia and as her Instagram post postconcert reads: “…THE ENERGY WAS MAD!!! My 1st show in Georgia and it was SOLD OUT! YOU WERE SO LOUD AND FULL OF LOVE. Thank you, thank you…”. The singer also posted a photo on her page that shows her having a blast on Shekvetili beach. When asked about Jessie J’s thoughts and satisfaction with the concert, Exec-

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utive Director of Black Sea Arena, Tato Kharchilava, told the press: “I haven’t talked to her yet, but I don’t think we need any further confirmation – seeing her face and emotions on the stage spoke well of her satisfaction and happiness about today’s show.” An excited fan, 20-year-old Katerina, shared her impressions with GEORGIA TODAY: “I’ve been to quite a few shows, but this one is particularly memorable for me. Because I’m such a huge fan. She’s such a modest person and an amazing performer – delivering 100% in every show. I can’t describe the feeling with words: it was a once-in-a-lifetime experience.” While the Black Sea Arena cleaned up after the show and started preparation for Thirty Seconds to Mars’ arrival on August 13, the music lovers left slowly, some of them admitting that they hadn’t known much about Jessie J before this concert but were completely in love with her from there on in.

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Profile for Georgia Today

Issue #1175  

August 9 - 12, 2019

Issue #1175  

August 9 - 12, 2019

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