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facebook.com/ georgiatoday

Issue no: 877

• SEPTEMBER 9 - 12, 12 2016



In this week’s issue... Armenian PM Set to Resign After Months of Civil Unrest, Economic Downturn NEWS PAGE 2

FOCUS ON NATO Sending a message to the world: Sec-Gen Stoltenberg pledges continued assistance to Georgian govt. for NATO membership PAGE 2,

The Carrot & The Stick: Ogden on NATO POLITICS PAGE 5

TBC Offers Farmers New Agro Investment Loan BUSINESS PAGE 8


Education Key to Raising ASD Awareness in Georgia, US Experts Say

The Amazing Contradictions of Georgian Society SOCIETY PAGE 9

Unite for a Sustainable Future Conference to be Held at Goethe Institute CULTURE PAGE 11

Georgia Takes 2 Gold, 1 Silver in the World Nomad Games



very year, we are witnessing a rise in the number of people diagnosed with autism or autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Out of every 68 children, one is diagnosed with autism spectrum (CDC, 2014). And Georgia is by no means an exception, where the numbers are also on the rise. The Saint George Autism center, under the aegis of the Child Development Institute at the Ilia State University in Tbilisi, is the very first such institution in Georgia and uses the world-acclaimed Applied Behavioral Analysis methodology. For four years now, a Czech NGO, Caritas Czech Republic, has been cooperating with the Institute, with funding provided through The Czech Development Agency. Continued on page 10


Source: blogs.jpmsonline.com




SEPTEMBER 9 - 12, 2016

Armenian PM Set to Resign After Months of Civil Unrest, Economic Downturn NATO Secretary General Meets with Georgian MPs in Tbilisi BY TAMAR SVANIDZE


ollowing a meeting with Georgia’s Prime Minister, Giorgi Kvirikashvili, on Wednesday, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg and ambassadors from the western Alliance’s member states met with Georgian Parliament members and speaker David Usupashvili on Thursday. In his opening remarks, Stoltenberg said the presence of the North Atlantic Council in Georgia is an expression of the strong importance NATO attaches to Georgia and its future membership. “The North Atlantic Council’s visit to Georgia sends a very important message to the world,” he said while meeting Georgian parliamentarians. The upcoming October parliamentary elections will be an important benchmark for Georgia’s democratic standards, NATO officials said on the sidelines of the meeting. The NATO Chief called

on members of Parliament for active engagement in strengthening Georgia’s democratic institutions. “Your reform efforts are important for the people of Georgia and as a means to help Georgia meet the standards required for becoming a member of NATO. We pledge that we will continue to work closely with the Georgian government to help prepare your country for future NATO membership,” Stoltenberg said. Usupashvili reiterated that full membership is the only thing absent from the current relations. Otherwise, Georgia and NATO are “effectively working together and discussing global security issues by allowing Georgia to be a fully-fledged participant in all NATO activities.” “The question is not about ‘yes or no’ on NATO membership, but which way is the quickest and most effective,” Usupashvili said. On Thursday afternoon, Stoltenberg met with Georgian President Giorgi Margvelashvili before ending his two-day official visit to the small South Caucasus nation.



rmenian Prime Minister Hovik Abrahamyan’s government is expected to resign following months of violent civil unrest and an increasingly faltering economy, Russian news agency Interfax and international outlet Reuters reported early Thursday. Abrahamyan was set to meet with top officials from the ruling Republican Party on Thursday to discuss his resignation. Armenia’s economy has faltered badly in the last year following the collapse of the Dram, the national currency, and widespread unemployment. The ruling party’s expectations of an economic windfall following their ascension to the Russian-led Eurasian Customs Union has had little knock-on effect. The tiny, landlocked South Caucasus nation’s deep reliance on aid and direct investment from

Russia has stunted its economic growth and forced it to become a clingy dependent of Moscow. Armenia relies heavily on remittances from its citizens working in Russia, which are a badly needed source of income and is a key contributor to the country’s Gross Domestic Product. Russia’s economic slide following a sharp decrease in the price of oil and stiff international sanctions for its invasion of Ukraine cause the Ruble to lose half its value from late 2014. Abrahamyan’s embattled government - which has been in office since 2014 - has been sharply criticized for the handling of a short four-day conflict with Azerbaijan over the breakaway NagornoKarabakh region and the seizure in July of a Yerevan police station by armed men demanding the release of a jailed opposition politician. Local media has named Karen Karapetyan as a likely successor. Karapetyan is a technocrat and former mayor of Yerevan. Before entering government, he served as the head of a national gas distributing company.

Georgia’s Viticulture Heartland Hosts UN Wine Tourism Conference



eorgia’s Kakheti region, known as the cradle of the country’s winemaking, is hosting a UN-organized conference on wine tourism September 7-9. The UN’s World Tourism Organization is playing host to the first annual Global Conference on Wine Tourism, a forum where experts and industry leaders are to focus on the wineries’

impact on the local cultural, economy and environment. Various workshops are being held at different wineries in Kakheti, home to 65 percent of Georgia’s wine producing vineyards and 80 percent of the country’s grape harvest. Winemaking in the Kakheti region has been dated back 8,000 years. Organizers hope the conference will help promote Georgia’s unique winemaking traditions, including the UNESCO-listed method of fermentation in large tear-shaped terracotta amphorae known as Qvevri.




EU’s Civil Liberties Committee Backs Visa Waiver for Georgia and Kosovo

Photo: Georgia’s Foreign Minister and President of the National Council of the Swiss Confederation

Georgia, Switzerland Increase Co-Operation BY THEA MORRISON


he increasing potential of co-operation between Georgia and Switzerland in different spheres and the importance of concluding the Agreement between Georgia and the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) were the main topics of the meeting between the Georgian Foreign Minister, Mikheil Janelidze, and President of the National Council of the Swiss Confederation, Christa Markwalder, on Tuesday. According to Markwalder, the agreement concluded with the EFTA by Georgia would significantly promote the strengthening of trade and economic relations both with Switzerland and with other parties to the Agreement. The possibility of enhancing tourism ties and increasing Swiss investments into Georgia were also discussed by the two officials. Moreover, the sides discussed mutual cooperation in trade, economic, cultural and educational spheres and decided to establish closer ties between the regions of Georgia and the Swiss cantons. Janelidze and Markwalder spoke about the cur-

rent situation in the region, relations between Georgia and Russia and the ongoing developments in Georgia’s occupied territories. The Georgian Foreign Minister thanked the Swiss side for the support of Georgia’s territorial integrity and sovereignty and for playing the delicate role of mediator in Georgia-Russia relations. Later on Tuesday, Christa Markwalder also met with the Georgian Prime Minister, Giorgi Kvirikashvili. The PM underlined the significance of the Swiss aid in the area of developing highland regions in Georgia and highlighted the support provided by the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation in the process of implementation of the projects. Kvirikashvili informed Markwalder about the Government's four-point plan that encompasses rapid development of the country, reforming of education and governance systems as well as modernization of infrastructure. The Free Trade Agreement was signed between Georgia and the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) this June during the Prime Minister's official visit to Switzerland. Through the deal with the EFTA, Georgia is now able to sell its goods in Switzerland, Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein.



he European Parliament’s Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs Committee on Monday voted to grant citizens of Georgia and Kosovo the right to travel to the Schengen zone without a visa. With 44 votes in favor and 5 against for Georgia; 25 votes for and 24 against, as well as 2 abstentions, for Kosovo; the committee approved visa-free travel for citizens of both nations who possess a biometric passport. Negotiations for visa liberalization began in 2012. By the end of 2015, the EU Commission had concluded that the country had fulfilled all of Brussels’ benchmarks. The visa waiver issue is not included on the agenda of the European Parliament’s next plenary session on September 12-15. Without a last-minute amendment to the parliament’s debate schedule, the issue of a new visa regime for both Georgia and Kosovo would take place at the next plenary session on October 3-6 or October 24-27. EU Parliament member Maria Gabriel said visa-

free travel to the Schengen Zone is a vitally important step for both Georgia and Kosovo towards strengthening their economic and cultural relations with EU members and will add a further impetuous for the governments in Tbilisi and Pristina to pursue widespread political and human rights reforms. “More efforts are necessary when it comes to media freedom, women’s and minority rights and judicial reform,” Gabriel said. Citizens of Georgia, Ukraine and Kosovo, had originally expected to receive visa-free travel to the EU’s Schengen Zone this past summer, but Germany suddenly backtracked on its previous support over concerns about organized crime links and unfettered immigration. The abolition of the Schengen Zone’s visa regime for Georgian citizens requires approval from the council of EU home affairs and justice ministers, which failed to agree on the issue in June after Germany’s last-minute about-face. The EU is now making it easier to suspend visa waivers for countries wishing to move closer towards full integration with Brussels. The visa waiver regime allows easier access - but not working rights - for up to 90 days in the Schengen Zone and several non-EU members.

Feast in Karabakh Causes International Scandal

Georgia’s Air Taxi Service Set to Launch in Autumn BY TAMAR SVANIDZE


eginning this autumn, small commercial aircraft will soon carry passengers between Georgia’s smaller cities and mountainous areas, according to Adjara Group director Valery Chek-

heria. The company has already purchased a number of eight-seat Beechcraft aeroplanes from the

United States that will carry passengers to the Black Sea city Batumi and the highland regions of Kazbegi and Svaneti once the company is cleared for an operational license. Details about pricing have yet to be released by the company. Adjara Group also said their air taxi services would later incorporate the use of helicopters and planes that can take off from and land on short runways and landing strips, which will enable passengers to get to smaller airports and isolated regions.



he representatives of the de facto republic of Abkhazia today published a photo of the Abkhaz de facto vicepresident Vitaly Gabniya standing with the President of Armenia, Serzh Sargsyan, at a banquet in honor of the Day of Stepanakert in the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic. This photo has outraged the Georgian public. However, the Georgian Foreign Ministry in the evening after talks with Armenian diplomats made a statement that there was never any such meeting. The photo, which shows a banquet table with the men standing with glasses in their hands, appeared early in the morning on the page of the Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of the de facto Republic of Abkhazia, Kan Tania, with the caption: “The delegation of the Republic of Abkhazia welcomes Armenian President Serzh Sargsyan and President Bako Sahakyan.” On the same day on the website of de facto President Raul Khajimba, appeared a greeting to Bako Sahakyan, "on the 25th anniversary of the forma-

tion of the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic", which stated: "The Republic of Abkhazia - a friend and ally of the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic. We are interested in the further intensive development of mutually beneficial relations with Nagorno Karabakh in various fields, ready to take concrete steps in this direction". Deputy Foreign Minister of Georgia, Gigi Gigiadze, spoke to the Georgian Ambassador to Armenia and Deputy Foreign Minister of Armenia to clarify the situation. "The Armenian side claims that no meetings with representatives from the separatist regime were held,” Gigiadze told reporters. “This is another political speculation, such as those often used by representatives of the occupation regime. Armenia is a friend to Georgia who has openly expressed support for Georgia's sovereignty and territorial integrity. And we keep a very close cooperation," he emphasized. However, the photograph taken "at the meeting, which was not" had by that point already gone viral on all social networks. Further, correspondents of the Armenian Service of Radio Liberty was able to confirm that it was not created on Photoshop.




SEPTEMBER 9 - 12, 2016

Stoltenberg Says NATO Will Continue to Enlarge Despite Russia's Objections





ATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, on his two-day visit to Georgia’s capital Tbilisi, said Georgia’s progress in developing its democracy and defensive capacities guarantees an opportunity to become an Alliance member in the future. Stoltenberg pointed to NATO’s 2008 declaration the Georgia should become a member, adding Montenegro’s recent ascension is an example of the Alliance’s open door policy. “To become a member of NATO, Georgia has to meet the standards and requirements for membership, and that’s exactly why we are working together with the Georgian government to make this happen,” Stoltenberg said at a joint press conference with Georgia’s Prime Minister, Giorgi Kvirikashvili. “You are continuing to strengthen your democracy and civic institutions. This has helped Georgia move closer to NATO and the West. You are not walking alone on your reform path,” Stoltenberg added. Despite Georgia’s progress toward full Euro-Atlantic aspiration, an exact date when the Alliance will open the door to membership for the small former Soviet republic remains up in the air. Stoltenberg, however, emphasized that at the July NATO Summit in Warsaw, Alliance leaders had welcomed the impressive progress Georgia has made

Tbilisi Hosts International Conference on Geo-strategic Landscape

and said they look forward to Georgia maintaining the same course to one day become a full member. “I think that the presence of the North Atlantic Council that represents all 28 Allies and also Montenegro, which is now in the process of officially joining NATO, shows the strong commitment and partnership between NATO and Georgia. We are here in Tbilisi to confirm our commitment to your nation once again,” Stoltenberg said. Asked if Russia will play any role when it comes to NATO’s decision regarding Georgia’s integration to the Alliance, Stoltenberg was quick to emphasize that despite Moscow’s hostile posture towards NATO and the Kremlin’s repeated tantrums over its plans to enlarge, these play no role in the decision-making process of the Alliance. “No one else has the right to interfere or veto NATO’s decision,” Stoltenberg said.

Speaking about the meeting with Stoltenberg, Kvirikashvili said, “Georgia will continue its consistent reform efforts and wait patiently for the right window of opportunity to join NATO.” “The overwhelming majority of the Georgian population supports NATO membership. I want to reassure our partners that this progress will be maintained, and Georgia will achieve its eventual goal of becoming a member,” Kvirikashvili said. The upcoming October parliamentary elections will be an important benchmark for Georgia’s democratic standards, NATO officials said on the sidelines of the meeting. They added that the elections are vital to shaping the Alliance’s overall picture of Georgia, as NATO is a community of democratic values, rule of law and human rights. The North Atlantic Council, chaired by Stoltenberg, is visiting Georgia for the fourth time.

eorgia’s President Giorgi Margvelashvili and McCain Institute president, former US Permanent Representative to NATO Kurt Volker, opened an international conference in Tbilisi on Tuesday dedicated to Europe's Changing Geostrategic Landscape following July’s Warsaw Summit. The two-day conference include political and security leaders from the United States, European Union, Georgia and the Euro-Atlantic community and focused on challenges facing the nations of Eastern Europe. Margvelashvili addressed the issue of Georgia’s Euro-Atlantic integration process and highlighted the importance of the US’ and Europe’s policy amid growing threats from Russia. “Georgia has achieved a lot. Our country is today an important part of the discussions on regional stability,” said

Margvelashvili. He expressed hope that Georgian citizens would soon enjoy visa-free travel to Europe’s Schengen zone. When discussing the upcoming October 8 parliamentary elections, Margvelashvili said the polls would be an important test for Georgia’s democratic institutions. “Georgia has achieved significant progress, increased its self-defense capacity and is considered as an important partner when referring to the Black Sea basin,” Margvelashvili said. Georgian Prime Minister Giorgi Kvirikashvili also spoke about the challenges that face Georgia and the whole Caucasus region, saying that Russia exudes ever-increasing influence over Georgia and the region through its policies of occupation and support for separatist proxies. Kvirikashvili also said regional energy projects and cooperation with Azerbaijan in the energy sector remain vital components of Georgia’s relations with its neighbors.

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ATO officials arrived in Georgia this week, and why the government hails this as a sure sign of eventual membership in the Alliance, many Georgian people remain unconvinced and skeptical. As I do myself. Although I served in the army in my own country, I have a rather low opinion of NATO as an organization and can’t help but think its sellby date expired fifty years ago. Perhaps when NATO was founded there was some degree of sincerity behind the idea of collective defense, but those days are long over, and aspiring towards NATO membership has ironically helped towards causing conflicts rather than preventing them. To say that anyone who believes that NATO’s Article 5 collective defense protocol would be invoked for the Baltic States is deluded is perhaps fair enough, since NATO has shown itself to be increasingly reluctant to lock horns with Russia. Even if Georgia is eventually granted membership, lingering doubt over whether Article 5 will be invoked for Tbilisi’s sake will remain; Georgians witnessed the reluctance of the West to lend any meaningful aid to Ukraine when the country was under direct attack two years ago. There is also a precedent for not lending military aid to fellow NATO members in the event of an attack. Despite popular belief, Article 5 only refers to North America and Europe. During the Falk-

lands War, British territory was invaded and occupied by Argentina but Article 5 could not have been invoked even had Margaret Thatcher tried to do so (although the Iron Lady was, by all accounts, determined that Britain reclaim the islands alone). Aside from muted logistical support from the United States, no NATO allies assisted the British war effort voluntarily, nor did they ever come close from being obligated to do so. My fear is that in the event of another military emergency in Georgia, this precedent might be called upon to prevent NATO from fulfilling its self-inflicted obligations. It is not hard to imagine a spineless bureaucrat finding some technicality over the fact that Article 5 only referred to ‘Europe’ when it was conceived; this might be taken to mean only Western Europe, which could then be followed by a debate over whether Georgia is in Europe at all: I have heard plenty of people (Americans, mostly; there’s some enjoyment in being a contrarian amongst them, I find) insist that Georgia is actually a part of south-west Asia rather than Europe. Georgia is not a priority either for NATO or the European Union, but both risk losing Georgia if the country is not shown some tangible results for its years of reforms (and for having sent Georgian soldiers on NATO missions who never came home). Georgian people are tired of empty promises and setbacks; the promised visa liberalization with the EU’s Schengen zone has been delayed multiple times, and NATO’s rhetoric of ‘next year, next year…keep trying…’ has gone some way to damaging the issue

Cartoon: Brian Patrick Grady

The Carrot & The Stick: Ogden on NATO

of Georgia’s Western aspirations. The EU has been wracked with problems since the influx of migrants fleeting the Syrian war, with some nations expressing doubts over their membership and Britain taking the (misguided) plunge by voting to leave the Union. However, it is my humble opinion that both NATO and the EU could save themselves by becoming more aggressive.

NATO taking a firmer stance against Russia naturally risks escalation, but at present the Kremlin seems to think it can snub its nose at the Alliance with airspace violations, naked threats and even the kidnap of an Estonian security agent (to say nothing of its blatant military operations in Ukraine). Military exercises in Eastern Europe have gone no length to curtailing Russian aggres-

sion, and the playing field of the Cold War no longer seems equal. The EU could also solidify its position by sudden rapid expansion; it would prove to the Georgian people and other aspirant members that Brussels will put its money where its mouth is, and perhaps even go some length to healing the rift of Britain’s exit (or make it worse; politics is nothing if not unpredictable).




SEPTEMBER 9 - 12, 2016

Abkhaz Opposition Refuses to Work with Newly Formed Government BY NICHOLAS WALLER

Georgia’s Prime Minister Giorgi Kvirikashvili paid a one-day official visit to Armenia to meet his counterpart, Armenian President Serzh Sargsyan


pposition parties in Georgia’s Russianoccupied breakaway region Abkhazia have refused to participate in a newly formed rebel government headed by the separatist Prime Minister Beslan Bartsits, news agency Kavkaz-uzel reported Wednesday. Bartsits, who was appointed as prime minister on August 5, said his government is willing to negotiate with the leading opposition parties to reduce escalating political tensions in the Black Sea region. “I held consultations with all the political factions regarding their direct participation in the new government. Despite having come to a mutual understanding on a whole host of issues, these (opposition) parties have refused to cooperate with my government,” said Bartsits. The opposition is led by the Amtsakhara political party, an influential nationalist union whose nucleus is made up of veterans of the bloody 1992-93 war against Georgia. The Abkhaz opposition has been at odds with the breakaway region’s staunchly pro-Russian President Raul Khajimba for the better part of a year. Deeply dissatisfied with the activities of Khajimba’s government, Amtsakhara and other opposition leaders triggered a referendum on early presidential elections on July 10. Turn out for the referendum was surprisingly low, with only 1.23 per cent of the region’s voters cast a ballot. The lack of public participation prompted Khajimba’s government to declare the referendum as invalid. Responding to the government’s handling of the referendum, Abkhazia’s opposition parties organized protest rallies outside the breakaway region’s interior ministry building in the capital Sukhumi,

Kvirikashvili in Yerevan, Abkhazian’s in Karabakh (!) OP-ED BY ZAZA JGARKAVA

Amtsakhara supporters in Sukhumi. Source: Sputnik

demanding the resignation of then-minister Leonid Dzapshba. The protests later turned violent as the opposition stormed the interior ministry’s offices. Khajimba has yet to name a replacement for Dzapshba, who resigned in August to take up a position in the presidential administration. Amtsakhara has thus far refused to accept a cabinet post in the new government, saying their participation is impossible as “the authorities have failed to fulfil any of their electoral promises and have actively attempted to crack down on the opposition.” “Our participation in the work of the current government would be a betrayal of the interests of all Abkhaz citizens,” Amtsakhara said in an official statement published on its Web site. Amtsakhara accuses Khajimba of illegally detaining its supporters and forcing state-run business to sack hundreds of employees who show open support for opposition parties. They also claim the current government has failed to improve living standards in the occupied region by increasing pensions and investing in wage and social benefit hikes.


he Georgian Prime Minister, Giorgi Kvirikashvili, was in Yerevan, Armenia this week to meet the high ranking officials of the neighboring country, accompanied by Minister of Energy Kakhi Kaladze. Kaladze’s presence, following on from a joint visit to Azerbaijan last week, once again implied the direction of the themes that were to be discussed over the meeting table between the leaders of the two countries. Despite the previously scheduled protocol, however, the parties were forced to discuss something completely different. Two days before the visit to Yerevan, photos uploaded from the city Stepanakert by the so-called deputy Minister of Foreign affairs of the occupied Abkhazia, Kan Tania, went viral on social networks. The photo depicted the President of Armenia, Serzh Sargsyan, and the so-called governmental delegation of Abkhazia celebrating the 25th anniversary of the “Independence Day” of Karabakh. The scandalous photo instantly caused a fuss in Tbilisi as well as Yerevan. Soon after the photo was uploaded, the Ambassador of Armenia to Georgia, Hovanes Manukyan, had to make an official statement and President Sargsyan’s Administration had to prove that the meeting with Abkhaz guests in

Stepanakert was a mere coincidence. Despite such official statements, the political opposition in Tbilisi accused Official Yerevan of cooperation with Abkhaz separatists, and Kvirikashvili’s government of inaction. The main accusation of the political opposition towards the government of Armenia was not the meeting with the separatists over the feast table in Stepanakert, but the fact that permission had been given to the Abkhazian delegation to cross the border into Armenia. Further surprises from Kvirikashvili’s visit saw the Georgian PM bring flowers to the Memorial of the so-called Turkish Genocide, though Georgia does not officially recognize the massive killing of Armenians in Turkey in 1914-15 as genocide. In its turn, Yerevan had done its “homework” for Official Tbilisi- with the Armenian delegation to the UN consistently refusing to vote in support of the return of Georgian IDPs to Abkhazia. Add to this the Roki tunnel closure in spring and the claims of violations of ceremonial monuments and rights of ethnic Armenians with Georgian citizenship. Unsurprisingly, the official press release for the meeting of Kvirikashvili and Sargsyan concerned more the diplomatic etiquette than the true relations between the neighboring countries: “During the face-to-face meeting, the parties highlighted the centuries-old friendship and the cultural ties between the two historical nations,” it read.




Black Sea Security Dimension: Russia’s Military Hegemonization in Action? BY DR. VAKHTANG MAISAIA


ue to the strained relations between the West and Russia, including an ongoing economic war between the EU and the USA and Russia via a sanction policy and ever worsening confrontation between NATO and Russia via the constant flexing of “military muscles” between competing forces, there is many a thing a little country like Georgia has to think of. In that scope, one of the dangerous “combat zones” is thought to be the Black Sea Basin and its littoral territories aptly labeled as the “Black Sea Security Dimension.” The unpredictable geostrategic environment in the area is susceptible to deteriorating further and the indication that this might happen in the immediate future derive from actions taken by the Kremlin’s incumbent authority. On July 27th 2015 a new naval doctrine was announced and later approved by the President of the Russian Federation. This document has identified a new interpretation of the military doctrine that was approved by the National Security Council in December 2015, underlining the importance of maintaining control over strategic areas and basins, such as the Artic and the so-called “Atlantic” direction, which includes the Black Sea basin. The doctrine also underlines the role of the fleet (both military and civilian), the shipbuilding industry, harbors and port infrastructure as priorities for the further development of Russia’s naval economy.

It appears Russia is trying to position itself as a great power with the ability to increase its military capability on the axis of the Caspian-Black-Mediterranean seas. The focal point of said axis is the Black Sea, a basin in which NATO influence is under threat of waning. The Russian policy-makers seek to regain the status-quo through domination in the basin by controlling three key points: Crimea, the mouths of the Danube and the Bosphorus. Considering the latest events, Russia has partially achieved its strategic goals – first occupying and then annexing Crimea and reinforcing military positions in the peninsula, with the creation of the so-called “Mediterranean Task Force” within the Black Sea Fleet, and

detachment of combat ships and boats for the Mediterranean Sea and the Gulf region to pursue its second objective of obtaining control over the Bosphorus (the Task Force was reinforced by the massive submarine “Rostov-on-Don,” which sailed from Novorosiisk to join the Force, equipped with the latest strategic weaponry system – the infamous “Kolibr” missiles). With this reinforcement of its naval forces, Russia is not so far away from securing the third pillar of its strategy – the mouth of the Danube. Before that, however, in order to better reinforce its presence in the Black Sea basin, the Russian authority announced that 30 new ships are to be added to the Black Sea Fleet, including six new frigates,

six new submarines and other smaller vessels for naval landing. In addition to that the Black Sea Fleet will reinforce its anti-access strategy (A2/AD) against NATO forces. Moreover, according to the “Jamestown Foundation,” official Moscow is adamant on setting up in Crimea an “unapproachable fortress” and military key-spot. With the subsequent creation of two batteries of strategic strike rocket complex “ISKANDER-M,” targeting Georgia and Ukraine, it becomes clear that Russia has sufficient military prowess to “operate” at its whim in the Black Sea security dimension. Whether this military “muscle-show” will be enough to impress its neighbors remains to be seen. But the Kremlin’s decision to

launch unprecedented massive military drills “KAVKAZ-2016” (now in its second phase) with the involvement of 11 thousand servicemen and usage of S-300M air-defense complexes, SU-34 jets, tactical-operational rocket systems “ISKANDER-M”, etc. means that Russia seriously considers beginning a new war campaign in the region in any direction should the chance to do so present itself. According to Warsaw-based magazine: “New Eastern Europe,” the Russian government is set to spend USD 2.4 billion by 2020 to provide its Black Sea Fleet with “state-of-the-art” ships, submarines, air defense systems and naval infantry. Similarly, the Caspian Fleet is being reinforced with new military ships and vessels equipped with sea-to-sea and sea-to-land cruise missiles “Kolibr” and “Bulava,” even covering the operational tactical zone in Syria and Iraq. Taking together all these factors, and paying attention to the regional security environment, the Black Sea Fleet is going to have full control over the Black Sea by 2020. In that retrospective provision, the military balance, that at present between the NATO and Russian forces is somewhere in proportion of 2:1 in favor of NATO, will see to it that in 2020 the balance will be absolutely opposite - same proportion, but in Russia’s favor. In that configuration, Georgia is in a dangerous position due to its littoral space and its sea ports that Russia will needs badly to establish its hegemony in. Hence, the Georgian Government and society will have to be very attentive toward any provocations stemming from the Russian side.




SEPTEMBER 9 - 12, 2016

BGCC Presents New Eco-Friendly TBC Offers Farmers New Georgian Start-Up Photo: TBC BANK CEO Vakhtang Butskhrikidze and Otar Danelia, Minister of Agriculture of Georgia discuss their joint initiative



n September 5, Otar Danelia, Minister of Agriculture of Georgia, and TBC Bank CEO, Vakhtang Butskhrikidze, held a press conference in TBC Bank’s head office in Tbilisi to introduce the new Agro Investment Loan to farmers, a new product initiative from TBC Bank. Aiming to support agricultural development, and realized within the framework of the project ‘Preferential Agro Credit,’ this marks a first for Georgia, with TBC Bank and the Ministry of Agriculture offering an unprecedented agro investment loan for those involved in the agricultural sector. With an investment loan from GEL 20,000 up to USD 600,000, farmers will have the chance to utilize the money to build perennial gardens with a 5-year grace period for repayment. The interest rate will be partially or fully covered by the State, which in turn will enable farmers to repay the loan only when the gardens enter the fruiting phase. At present the Agro Investment Loan is for physical or legal entities owning at least 1 hectare of land and interested in the cultivation of perennial plants. It will fully finance the gardening and consequent process of planting and care up until fruiting. At the same time, farmers will be able to benefit from the ‘Plant the Future’ project initiated by the Ministry of Agriculture, receiving 70 percent

towards the cost of planting and 50 percent of irrigation system costs in the form of grants. As TBC CEO Vakhtang Butskhrikidze stated, the significance and uniqueness of this project lay in the fact that individuals either employed or generally interested in working in the agricultural field will be given a long term (at least five year) time frame to start repaying the initial loan. “It’s a very important and interesting initiative which we will hopefully develop further in the coming years,” he said. “This is a project that fully reflects and answers the market needs of today,” added Minister Danelia, highlighting that it will be a great assistance to farmers, representing almost 53% of the country’s population, having no financial means to properly care for plants from the initial period of planting until the harvest, considering the longevity of the process. “This Agro Investment Loan is a powerful tool to strengthen further partnerships between state and private sectors, making all the available resources more accessible, which will potentially boost the development of the agriculture industry in the country,” Danelia added. The Agro Investment Loan is not the only product with which TBC Bank is supporting the agricultural business. Since 2013, TBC Bank has been involved in the state programs Preferential Agro Credit and Produce in Georgia, giving 320 million GEL to 8000 of its clients. Those interested in applying for the Agro Investment Loan are invited to contact TBC Bank.

Mako Abashidze, Director of the British Georgian Chamber of Commerce presenting GeoRubber



eoRubber, a new eco-friendly Georgian company, was introduced to the public last Monday by Mako Abashidze, Founding Director of the British Georgian Chamber of Commerce (BGCC) and Sandro Kamarauli, representative of GeoRubber. GeoRubber is a start-up wishing to address environmental problems in Georgia through its actionsa mission which fully corresponds to the EU’s requirements for waste management. In short, the company uses non-polluting rubber recycling methods to produce high-quality building material from recycled goods. Claiming the new start-up to be the first of its kind in Georgia, and in the wider region, Kamarauli pointed out the potential of GeoRubber’s competitive advantage and the possibility of its expansion onto the markets of Turkey, Armenia, Azerbaijan and Ukraine. GeoRubber’s main activity will be two-fold production, first and most important recycling using the “Cold Grinding” method with ingredients extracted from used tires: steel wire scrap, which can be used as scrap-metal; nylon fiber, widely used in oil drilling operations; and most importantly, granulated rubber dust. By utilizing granulated rubber dust, different shapes and colors of tiles, mats, carpets and blocks can be produced to be used in the construction of playgrounds, parking garages, sidewalks, stairs, roads, housing, bicycle tracks, running tracks and sports arenas, Kamarauli stated.

Georgia produces 22,000 tons of used tire waste annually Georgia produces about 22,000 tons of used tire waste annually, most of which is disposed of by burning and burial, resulting in pollution. An increase in GeoRubber production will gradually replace demand for pebble and gravel, which are harvested from river banks and used for building roads and highways, a method which, on its own, is damaging to the environment and causes artificial change of river bank structure, often resulting in flooding. GeoRubber claims it can recycle between 857 to 2571 tons of rubber per year without causing any type of environmental damage. During the BGCC presentation, it was emphasized that as a new start-up, GeoRubber is actively seeking potential investors and partners. Collaboration with GeoRubber will give access to the supply of high-quality building materials, while at the same time will undoubtedly help play a key role in addressing environmental problems in Georgia.



SEPTEMBER 9 - 12, 2016


The Amazing Contradictions of Georgian Society OP-ED BY NUGZAR B. RUHADZE


eorgia is a paradox of its kind, containing numerous curious contradictory elements within herself. For example, this is a country of both ancient civilization and amazing current unruly wildness. Our history and cultural heritage amazes an interested foreign eye to the utmost, but we also surprise it with our habit of turning the country into a literal garbage bin: partying in the lap of the nation and proudly making ardent wordy toasts to the millennia-old Georgian history yet leaving the refuse on the spot where we just pigged on our wonderful Georgian cuisine. Let me put down some of the most conspicuous and stunning elements of our national character that are coming into a flagrant contradiction with each other: great ancient culture vs. propensity to live in physical garbage; good-Samaritan care for others vs. unbridled aggressiveness; language sugariness in personal communication vs. malicious vituperations behind the back; benign human nature vs. political cunning and cruelty; perfect ear for music and inborn lilt vs. rowdy yelling in public; democratically working mind vs. monarchic attitudes; modern way of life vs. medieval brutality; panegyrics vs. backbiting; desire and readiness for good life vs. maliciousness of rules of the game; wisdom in words vs. stupidity in action; desire to be a strong and numerous nation vs. no preparedness for cultivating ample progeny; ardent patriotism vs. craving to live somewhere else; adherence to Christianity vs. offhand deceitfulness; elevated spirituality vs. voracious appetite for mundane triviality; love for animals vs. indifference to the

Georgia as a paradox: ardent patriotism vs. craving to live somewhere else; adherence to Christianity vs. offhand deceitfulness; love for animals vs. indifference to the mess our pets make in the streets; admiration of Tbilisi in toasts vs. crippling it architecturally…

mess our pets make in the streets; admiration of Tbilisi in toasts vs. crippling it architecturally; adulation of Georgian females by Georgian men vs. their avoidance to marry them; love for sports vs. addictiveness to tobacco, alcohol and drugs; carrying crosses on the neck vs. not reading the Bible or living by its precepts; going to school vs. not getting an education; heart full of love vs. heart full of hatred; respect for the time which is passing

New Initiative Supports Small Organizations Helping the Disabled & Socially Vulnerable in Poti


elieve Foundation is launching a new funding strategy to support small organizations operating in Poti, Georgia. This new initiative will help us to best achieve our vision of ‘Every vulnerable, unprotected and disabled individual deserves care, support and improved conditions for a better life.’ We are starting a Grant Competition – a pilot funding project for small organizations whose mission is to improve the lives of disabled and socially vulnerable children and adults and who are working across our program areas for socially vulnerable groups and individuals with disabilities: • Improving housing and living conditions at residential places and educational centers; • Providing health and recreational therapies as well as medical examinations and preventive health care; • Providing food, clothes, textbooks and other necessary items for disadvantaged children and adults; • Supporting the building of a stronger

community in areas of poverty. Before launching the Grant Competition we delivered a Project Design and Management (PDM) training together with Peace Corps volunteer Randi Deighton for non-profit organizations where the attendees received information about filling out grant application forms, project writing and implementation. “This training will make it easier for applicants to write a grant project. We are open to talk with them and support in any way possible as we believe that small organizations serve an important role in supporting communities where we deliver our work,” says Marika Nadaraia, Board Chairwoman of Believe Foundation. “Grants will be from GEL 1000 up to GEL 3000 for each project. We plan to award 15 grants initially,” she adds. Currently, Believe Foundation is looking for organizations working in Poti who can demonstrate how Believe’s support and funding can help them to strengthen their organization. Grant Applications opened on September 1, 2016 and will close on September 30, 2016.

vs. indifference towards the passing time; ideology of a virgin vs. proclivity to dress and behave like whores; being ambitious vs. having no courage in life; living an overly urbane life vs. being excessively gauche and vulgar. This is only part of all the contradictions we as a people bear inside us, and this is only the ones that have occurred to me momentarily. In fact, we are terribly bothered by them psychologically. These

contradictions are tearing us apart and we have no idea what kind of a role they are playing in our everyday life. This is a condition which needs therapy but we hate seeing a shrink because we think we can easily survive without any therapy. Wrong! As a matter of fact, I needed to make this spacious introduction only because I wanted to clarify the notion of democracy as it is working on our national soil and the way it relates to the dictatorial Georgian character. My impression is that we are not even near to what genuine liberalism means and what real democracy represents. In the electoral campaign, they are working though. Formally! All of the candidates for parliament membership are overly liberal and democratic before they are elected, using all kinds of words and phrases and promises thereof that purport their liberal and democratic character, but as soon as they find themselves at the helm, they change overnight like they were touched by a magic wand. They just want to rule! And rule dictatorially. And if they are not allowed to, they go berserk. Where is this discrepancy in our political behavior coming from? Could this be based on our overly contradictory nature I have just tried to describe? I might have an explanation, although it might hardly sound serious. Here it goes anyway: we are nearly all brought up in a family situation where Tamada – a toast master – persists as a clearly dictatorial figure. This fact sits deep in our tradition. Any Georgian can be a Tamada and wants to be a Tamada. And if you like to be a Tamada, then a dictator is in your blood. I know you will laugh at this kind of interpretation of our dictatorial character but if we give a second thought to this extraordinary analytical escapade, we might come to believe that there could be something rational in the suggested judgment.




SEPTEMBER 9 - 12, 2016

Photo: Georgia’s Minister of Health David Sergeenko said that domestic violence victims could apply to the center at any time and receive psychological or medical assistance

First Crisis Center for Domestic Violence Victims Opens in Tbilisi BY THEA MORRISON


eorgia’s Ministry of Labor, Health and Social Affairs, UN Women and Swedish Development Agency opened the first crisis center for domestic violence victims in Tbilisi on Tuesday. The new support center will provide a range of services to women in need of immediate help, including shelter and medical support. It can receive 14 victims, including people with disabilities. The center was renovated by the State Fund for the Protection and Assistance of Victims of Human Trafficking and was fitted with furniture and other equipment by UN Women, an organization dedicated to gender equality and the empowerment of women. Georgia’s Minister of Health David Sergeenko

Education Key to Raising ASD Awareness in Georgia, US Experts Say

said that domestic violence victims could apply to the center at any time and receive psychological or medical assistance. “Moreover, if needed, these people can provide the women with a lawyer and shelter,” the Minister added. Sergeenko said the government developed a strategy and action plan two years ago that involved a variety of agencies, including the Ministry of Health. “Within the framework of this strategy and action plan, many activities have been carried out, and this center is part of that plan,” said Sergeenko. According to UN Women head Erica Kvapilova, the opening of the center is a very important step towards protecting women’s rights in Georgia. “It is a very positive tendency, and we hope it will continue,” Kvapilova said. The State Fund for Protection and Assistance is also helping support the reintegration of domestic violence victims back into society.

Professor Marianne Jackson, of the California State University, stresses that the awareness of parents should be raised, as should that of medical staff Continued from page 1

The Caritas project is all about aiding the development of services available to people with ASD. In five regions of Georgia, family doctors took part in training sessions dedicated to the issue of early stage identification of ASD. The role of primary health care cannot be underestimated here – the earlier the pediatrician becomes aware about possible autism spectrum disorder, the sooner early intervention can take place, which will offer much better chances of a positive outcome for each and every child. The scope of the project also involves the qualification enhancing and retraining of the professionals working in this field, thus ensuring that people with ASD have access to quality services. This was exactly why two seasoned experts from the United States visited Georgia in July and August. For two weeks, the personnel at the Child Development Institute were under the tuition and guidance of the US professionals, with the session culminating in a three-day intensive training dedicated to age-based behavior among children with autism spectrum disorder. The training was available for specialists from the regions, too, which is a much needed reprieve as most regions lack both infrastructure and technological knowledge for dealing with such a complex issue. Professor Marianne Jackson and JP Moschella are the employees of California State University in Fresno State, US. Both experts boast years of experience in applied behavioral analysis and ASD. And they aren’t first timers when it comes to Georgia, either. Since 2010, when the institute at the Ilia University opened, both experts paid multiple visits to Tbilisi to take part in various trainings and seminars. And as with every good tradition, it has

borne quite a fruit - in those 6 years, around 300 students from psychological faculties of various Georgian universities were able to get their hands on beyond-basics know-how on what ASD is and how to effectively handle it. But despite such endeavors and notable progress in enhancing the accessibility of services available to people with ASD, Georgia is still some distance from what is considered desirable worldwide. Prof. Jackson, while talking with GEORGIA TODAY, even went as far as comparing the situation in Georgia with what of the US some 20 years ago. However, she added, just like in America, the way is upwards from there, with society becoming more and more aware of the needs and specifics of people with ASD. “First thing to do is to make these services accessible everywhere, not just in Tbilisi, where people encounter financial difficulties. Second, the awareness of parents should be raised – right now, many of them do not know where to get adequate services, or which government structure they have to address to get financial aid. Likewise, the medical staff doesn’t have enough knowledge when it comes to delegating children with ASD to proper structures, or how to administer some primary health aid, for that matter,” the professor stressed, with her colleague adding that Georgian society still harbors some stigma over the issue. “Once again, it begs a comparison with the US twenty years ago, when the situation was very similar,” Mr. Moschella mused. “But as increasing numbers of children with ASD were accommodated in schools, their schoolmates, their parents and society as a whole got more aware just how important these issues are.” A simple truth it may be, but both experts insist that education is key. More education is required at every step of ASD management – parents, pediatricians, teachers, psychologists – all could do with more knowledge. More so the state structures, which have to design appropriate strategies for this issue. Additional emphasis needs to be made on lifelong care for people with ASD, an aspect left entirely without attention today in Georgia. “In developed countries, many activities are carried out to help these people integrate more easily into society – Georgia shouldn’t be an exception,” said Rusiko Chkhubianishvili, the lead manager of Caritas Czech Republic’s autism oriented project. Let’s hope that, together with friends from abroad and the good will of the powers that be, projects like these will be expanded, as they rightfully deserve to be.

In developed countries, many activities are carried out to help these people integrate more easily into society – Georgia shouldn’t be an exception



SEPTEMBER 9 - 12, 2016

Name that Town!



ast week's trek across Georgia from one end to the other produced a most interesting list of place names, probably similar in character but unique in detail to those you might find in any country of the world if you knew its language enough. I remember, during my brief stay in the UK as an adult from 1990 to 1991, delighting over a map of the country and its places: Ratby, St Bees, Godmanstone, Street, Stair, Stone, Piddletrenthide and so many more. I love digging these things up, and even more so in another language. The Russian one I remember best, from a little place in the Urals, means Lying on the Left Side. Georgia's list (translated here, mostly from Georgian into English), especially now that hundreds of new place signs have been made and set up for the first time in my 16 years here, is equally fascinating. Let's start off in the east, where I discovered that Education is not just a process or a state, but a village. Not far away is Work, unfortunately, but the best part is that these two are linked by Link! Literally, there's a Link between Work and Education (or vice versa, if you prefer). And if you need more Work, there's another one near the Black Sea, too.

Unite for a Sustainable Future Conference to be Held at Goethe Institute Photo: Eike Pokrandt, Head of the project ‘Unite for a Sustainable Future’ and Gvantsa Khintibidze, project manager making a presentation.



oethe Institute is holding a conference ‘Unite for a Sustainable Future’ (Vernetzt für Nachhaltigkeit) on September 10, addressing the issue of methodologies for sustainable education in schools, in the process of German language learning. The conference will be attended by Director of Goethe Institute in Georgia, Stephan Wackwitz; Minister of Education and Science of Georgia, Alexander Jejelava; Deputy to the Ambassador of the German Federal Republic in Georgia, Monika Lenhard, and other distinguished guests. The conference and the project’s concept aims for the implementation of new learning methods in German language schools- the incorporation of themes like environment protection, green pedagogics and sustainable development. The CLIL (Content and Language Integrated Learning) method goes beyond the traditional language learning experience. With the help of

German specialists, Georgian teachers will learn how to realize new projects and how to incorporate environment protection themes into the German language curriculum. 100 teachers from 32 schools of Georgia will be attending and participating in the conference at which they will receive a free copy of a manual published by Goethe Institute and Vienna Agrarian and Environment Protection University. The methodological manual was made according to the concepts of CLIL and offers both theoretical and practical information and, more importantly, shares the experience of other schools involved in ‘Unite for a Sustainable Future’ project. The project was awarded a Sustainability Award this summer. ‘Unite for a Sustainable Future’ is regarded as one of the most successful projects both in the educational and environment protection spheres, strengthening partnerships between schools and universities while making the public debate on the theme more active and dynamic. Aside from a conference in Tbilisi, seminars and workshops for teachers will be held in Borjomi and Kutaisi.

You can take your choice of swimming in the rivers Horsewater, Prone [to what?] or Cold; the first sounds... much warmer than the last, which might be just the thing in the boiling lowland summer heat of this country. That there are any number of Newtowns, and Newvilles, should come as no surprise to someone familiar with Newcastle. Wine Cellar isn't just a room or place with huge stone-stoppered clay vessels set all the way into the ground, maturing your wine to perfection over years or decades, common to so many houses: it's a whole community. Farm—surely that's more than half the country, blessed as it is with such arable land in a variety of climatic zones? And a village. Code Source (as opposed to Source Code): a real place, from which who knows what secret things originate in this modern computing age? Java for more programming... Also, Spring Head (spring as in water source, head as in river's start), and Queen's Spring. Walnut, not the Grove, just the nut and its trees. Elm too, and Beech Spring. Bridal. Monastery. Sun's Heart. Valley Fort. Bathroom. Alert. Dizzy. To the Point. Square (as in town square). Sunny. Baghdad, Japana and Bethlehem. Red Mountain and Redhill. Mount's Mouth and Mount's Base. Mountain of [the hunting goddess] Dali. October (obviously a communist-era name;


ditto for First of May). Old. I Am [Here], Uncle; I Am Kind. Little Hall. Victory, near Vine. Behind is near the west end of the country; Before, where famed Chavchavadze had his estate and now a great winery works, is near the east end. Why, my wife and I live in Help (this one originating in Hebrew, not Georgian). Just down the road is Shield. Highest village around? A shortened form of Braveheart. The original name of the local capital was Seti, long before SETI was thought of as the acronym of the decades-old program for the Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence, scanning the skies for all manner of possible alien communication signals. The provincial capital is called Big Zug... And so it goes on, all these names adding their local flavor to the special sauce that is Georgia once you know how to winkle them out. Apologies to native speakers if I got any of them wrong; a few are purely phonetic equivalents, not translations! 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 over 1300 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




SEPTEMBER 9 - 12, 2016

Georgia’s Night Serenades Festival Concludes BY MAKA LOMADZE

G 3rd Life of Wine BarrelsItalian Expo in Tsinandali BY MAKA LOMADZE


n exposition has opened dedicated to the 230th anniversary of Alexander Chavchavadze, a famous Georgian romantic poet who, besides his poetry, was famous for




literary reunions, as well as his noble vineyards. The Third Life of Wine Barrels exposition, held at Chavchavadze’s HouseMuseum in Tsinandali, Kakheti region, and due to last until the end of September, displays items made from recycled wine barrels. They are crafted by drugaddicts from the San-Patriniano Rehabilitation Center, created according to


TK 379 TK 387 TK 383 TK 386 TK 382 TK 378 TK 381 TK 381 TK 380 TK 391 TK 393 TK 390 TK 392



EVERYDAY 1/2/4/5/6/7 3 EVERYDAY 1/2/4/6/7 1/3/4/5/7 1/2/4/6/7 1/3/4/5/7



02:35 06:35 22:55 01:40 18:10 21:15 04:25 05:05 19:40 10:35 20:15 06:25 16:20

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the sketches of outstanding architects and designers. The Center has existed since 1978 and over the years, self-supporting, has given shelter to around 25,000 youth, providing them with medical and legal help, and, more importantly, given them a chance to study new skills. The exposition was a big success at the Milan Furniture Exhibition as well as in the USA. Wood turned into wine barrel, wine barrel into a designer item: this project means more than the recycling of wine barrels as crafts are turned into design in a unity of creativity and ecology. “The project ‘Third Life of Wine Barrels’ is a example of creating beautiful pieces of art, even more important because it bears social significance, too, being made by drug-addicts,” said Stefano Crescenzi, Deputy Ambassador of Italy to Georgia, at the opening ceremony. “This project has changed their lives. There could be found no better place for showing this transformation but here, in Tsinandali, where for so many years, grapes have been turned into wine.” The exposition is supported by the Embassy of Italy to Georgia, with the partnership of the Silk Road Group in the framework of the Wine and Arts Festival. From Kakheti, the exhibition will move to the Tbilisi Radisson Blu Iveria exhibition space until October 31.

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eorgia’s Night Serenades festival concluded September 4 with a gala-concert honoring violinist Liana Isakadze at Tbilisi’s National Opera and Ballet Theater. The final night’s concert featured Isakadze performing with prominent musicians from around the world to celebrate her 70th birthday. The concert was part of the 8th annual Batumi-Tbilisi International Festival. The Tbilisi leg of the festival kicked off with a charity event on September 2 at the new Biltmore Hotel. The following evening the historic Rustaveli Theater screened a documentary by Sandro Vakhtangov about Isakadze, which was followed by the gala on September 4. Georgia’s Minister of Culture, Mikheil Giorgadze, attended the final evening of the festival and awarded Isakadze with

a special prize for her contribution to the country’s arts. “I congratulate Liana on this beautiful night of music. She is the pride of our country, a unique musician and person, as well as my friend. I am very honored today to wish her happiness, success and good health for many years to come!” conductor and composer Vakhtang Machavariani told GEORGIA TODAY. Georgian pianist Tamar Licheli joined renowned artists from Russia, Kazakhstan and Spain at the event, which included performances of Bach, Rakhmaninov, Tchaikovsky, Tsintsadze, Gershwin, Shostakovich and Youmans. The Night Serenades gala was organized as part of the state-sponsored Check in Georgia project, in Batumi, Anaklia and Tbilisi from August 27 to September 4. The main organizers of the event were the Georgian Ministry of Culture and Monuments’ Protection, as well as the city governments of Batumi and Tbilisi.


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SEPTEMBER 9 - 12, 2016



TBILISI OPERA AND BALLET THEATER Address: 25 Rustaveli Ave. Telephone: 200 44 66 September 15 165th Season Opening ABESALOM AND ETERI Zakaria Paliashvili Start time: 19:00 Ticket: 10 - 70 GEL MOVEMENT THEATER Address: 182, Aghmashenebeli Ave., Mushthaid park Telephone: 599 555 260 September 9 RECITATIVE IN THE CITY Directed by Kakha Bakuradze Start time: 21:00 Free Entry CINEMA

AMIRANI CINEMA Address: 36 Kostava St. Telephone: 2 99 99 55 www.kinoafisha.ge Every Wednesday ticket price: 5 Lari September 9-15 JASON BOURNE Directed by Paul Greengrass Cast: Matt Damon, Tommy Lee Jones, Alicia Vikander Genre: Action, Thriller Language: English Start time: 19:30 Language: Russian Start time: 14:30, 22:00 Ticket: 9-14 GEL THE LIGHT BETWEEN OCEANS Directed by Derek Cianfrance Cast: Michael Fassbender, Alicia Vikander, Rachel Weisz Genre: Drama, Romance Language: Russian Start time: 19:30, 22:15 Ticket: 13-14 GEL SAUSAGE PARTY Directed by Greg Tiernan, Conrad Vernon Cast: Kristen Wiig, James Franco, Paul Rudd

Genre: Animation, Adventure, Comedy Language: Russian Start time: 17:30, 22:15 Ticket: 11-14 GEL


May 18 – September 11 AVANT-GARDE 1900-1937 The exposition showcases the collections of the Museum, including around 100 paintings and graphic works, archival material, avant-garde posters and books by Vasily Kandinsky, Niko Pirosmani, Mikhail Gelonov, Natalya Goncharova, Olga Rozanova, Kiril Zdanevich, David Kakabadze, Lado Gudiashvili, Ziga Valishevsky, Kazimir Malevich, Alexei Kruchenykh, Robert Falk, Osvaldo Lichin, Alexander Shevchenko, Shalva Kikodze, Mikhail Bilanishvili, Voldemar Boberman, Lev Brun and Kliment Redko.



SAUSAGE PARTY (Info Above) Start time: 22:15 Ticket: 13-14 GEL MUSEUM

THE 9TH LIFE OF LOUIS DRAX Directed by Alexandre Aja Cast: Jamie Dornan, Aiden Longworth, Sarah Gadon Genre: Mystery, Thriller Language: Russian Start time: 16:45, 22:00 Ticket: 10-14 GEL MECHANIC: RESURRECTION Directed by Dennis Gansel Cast: Jason Statham, Jessica Alba, Tommy Lee Jones Genre: Action, Crime, Thriller Language: Russian Start time: 12:00 Ticket: 8-9 GEL RUSTAVELI CINEMA Address: 5 Rustaveli Ave. Telephone: 2 55 50 00 www.kinoafisha.ge Every Wednesday ticket: 5 GEL September 9-15 SUICIDE SQUAD Directed by David Ayer Cast: Margot Robbie, Will Smith, Cara Delevingne Genre: Action, Crime, Fantasy Language: Russian Start time: 14:25 Ticket: 9-10 GEL BEN-HUR Directed by Timur Bekmambetov Cast: Jack Huston, Nazanin Boniadi, Ayelet Zurer Genre: Adventure, Drama, History Language: Russian Start time: 17:30, 20:00, 22:40 Ticket: 11-14 GEL MECHANIC: RESURRECTION (Info Above) Start time: 19:45 Ticket: 13-14 GEL JASON BOURNE (Info Above) Start time: 11:50, 14:45, 17:10, 20:05, 22:30 Ticket: 8-14 GEL

GEORGIAN NATIONAL MUSEUM SIMON JANASHIA MUSEUM Address: 4 Rustaveli Ave. Telephone: 2 99 80 22, 2 93 48 21 www.museum.ge

EXHIBITION OF GEORGIAN WEAPONRY NUMISMATIC TREASURY The exhibition showcases a long history of money circulation on the territory of modern Georgia from the 6th century BC. to 1834. June 11 – March 11 (2017) EXHIBITION "MEDIEVAL TREASURY" June 16 – December 16 THE EXHIBITION “NEW DISCOVERIES - GEORGIAN ARCHAEOLOGY” The exhibition will be held in the frame of the international conference On Salt, Copper, and Gold: The Origins of Early Mining and Metallurgy in the Caucasus" MUSEUM OF SOVIET OCCUPATION Address: 3 Sh. Rustaveli Ave. PERMANENT EXHIBITION September 3-11 EXHIBITION "VENETIAN GIFTS TO SERGEI PARAJANOV" SHALVA AMIRANASHVILI MUSEUM OF ART Address: 1 Lado Gudiashvili St. Telephone: 2 99 99 09 www.museum.ge


THE NATIONAL GALLERY Address: 11 Rustaveli Ave. www.museum.ge PERMANENT EXHIBITION Niko Pirosmanashvili, David Kakabadze, Lado Gudiashvili and sculptor Iakob Nikoladze. June 24, 2016 – June 24, 2017 NIKO PIROSMANASHVILI’S WORKS “YARD CLEANER” AND “EAGLE SEIZING A HARE” Both paintings were the ownership of Ilya and Kirill Zdanevich until 1930 when Dimitri Shevardnadze bought part of their collection (39 paintings) including the "Yard Cleaner" and "Eagle Seizing a Hare". Today, both paintings are among the collection of Shalva Amiranashvili Museum of Fine Arts. September 6-28 THE SOLO EXHIBITION "DEEP CALLETH UNTO DEEP" BY GIA BUGADZE. The project "Deep Calleth unto Deep" is based on the 7th article of the 41st psalm and outlines the drama which lies in the confrontation between the internal and external worlds. The exhibition will showcase four different cycles:

"Bibliogram," "Counting," "Prints," and "Deep Calleth unto Deep" itself. The exhibition also includes an installation representing contradictions - sympathy and antipathy, attraction and repulsion, question and answer. TBC GALLERY BATUMI Address: 37 Zubalashvili Str., Batumi September 10 TERRITORY/SPACE MAIN EXHIBITION Odesa// Batumi Photo Days Festival Participating artists include: Sinai Park - Andrea & Magda; Calm Waters - Andrey Lomakin; Charged Soil - Andy Spyra; Somba And Streets Of Blood - Antonio Aragón Renuncio; The Clamour Of The Idomeni - Antonis Pasvantis; Recreation Zone. MUSIC

TBILISI CONCERT HALL Address: 1 Melikishvili Ave. Telephone: 299 00 99 September 12 Shining star of hip-hop, soul and reggae, the best African artist of 2009 - NNEKA SPECIAL LIVE ''WALKING TO TBILISI'' Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 35 - 110 GEL

September 16 ELENA VAENGA SOLO CONCERT Start time: 19:00 Ticket: 30-150 GEL MOVEMENT THEATER Address: 182, Aghmashenebeli Ave., Mushthaid park Telephone: 599 555 260 September 10, 13, 15 JAM SESSION AT MT LEADERS: RESO KIKNAZE QUINTET AND PAPUNA SHARIKADZE Start time: 21:00 Free Entry September 15 TANGO EVENING “MILONGA, LA CUMPARSITA” ARGENTINE TANGO DANCE NIGHT Start time: 21:00 Ticket: 5 GEL FABRIKA Address: E. Ninoshvili Str. September 11 Electronic music & contemporary art festival at Fabrika HIMMLISCH OPEN AIR An exhibition of artworks, paintings and installations of young Georgian artists: Erekle Kiparoidze, Irakli Nakudaidze & Nikusha Amirkhanashvili DJ's & Producers MONKEY SAFARI, ADELINA & GIO SHENGELIA Start time: 14:00 Ticket: Just a smile BASSIANI CLUB Address: 2 A. Tsereteli Ave. September 9 BASSlANI OPENlNG NlGHT KONSTANTlN HVL Start time: 23:00 Ticket: 20-40 GEL




SEPTEMBER 9 - 12, 2016

Georgia’s World Cup Dream Already Fading after Spirited Loss to Austria



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wo first-half headers were sufficient for Austria to emerge with a 2-1 victory in the opening World Cup 2018 qualifier in Group D over Georgia at Dinamo Arena in Tbilisi, rendering Georgia’s hopes of an historic first qualification for a major tournament already bruised. For Georgia’s head coach, the Slovakian Vladimir Weiss, this was a competitive debut following an assortment of friendlies which peaked with a 1-0 win over Spain in early June. That historic victory meant that the pre-match mood in an over half-full Dinamo Arena was more positive than had been the case for some time. That enthusiasm didn’t appear to be diminished by the apparently defensive lineup named by Weiss, with three central defenders, Guram Kashia, Alexandre Amisulashvili and Saba Kverkvelia, and no place for fan favorite, Tornike Okriashvili. And the home side responded to a buoyant home support with a quick start, exposing Austria’s vulnerability at central defence with a succession of crossed balls not convincingly cleared. Soon though, the Austrians, who endured a dire Euro 2016 where they exited at the group stage, established a measure of control on the game with Bayern Munich’s David Alaba and Stoke City’s Marko Arnautovic central to their slick attacking moves. The first scare for Georgia came in the

11th minute as Alaba’s free-kick was headed over by Marc Janko from closerange. The home defence were found wanting on that occasion, and there was to be no such lucky escape five minutes later. From a similar position, 30 metres out and to the left, Alaba curled a tempting cross in between Georgian goalkeeper Giorgi Loria and his defenders, with Martin Hinteregger rising to head home the opener and flatten the atmosphere but for a few hundred ecstatic Austrian supporters behind the goal. The Georgian riposte was reasonable as Amisulashvili and surprise starter Jaba Jigauri were both denied with quasiacrobatic efforts, the former going over the bar and the latter firing straight at Austrian goalkeeper Robert Almer. A better chance followed when Jano Ananidze volleyed feebly wide from six meters in the 35th minute. Exasperation filled the stadium, an emotion that was replaced by near devastation seven minutes later as Austria doubled their tally. Arnautovic tricked his way to the Georgian by-line in the right-back area sluggishly manned by ageing Ucha Lobjanidze, before dinking the ball over for Janko to head into an empty net. “Game over” was the cry from much of the terraces. Upon the half-time whistle, a forlorn home support vented their discontent somewhat harshly, roundly booing a Georgian side that had competed well, created good chances but trailed by two goals. Janko nearly added a third which would have emptied the ground, but was denied by a fabulous Loria save when one-on-

one in the 56th minute. The home support was spurred into life by the outstanding Vako Kazaishvili, who headed against the Austrian post in the 65th minute, before Ananidze spurned one of several shooting opportunities from long-range. Once the golden boy of Georgian football, it looked like being another fruitless night for Ananidze until, out of nothing, he slammed a shot past Almer from 25 meters to half the deficit and enliven a home crowd that now, with 12 minutes remaining, sensed blood. The Austrians, having been relatively comfortable until this point, endured a nervy finale and had to clear a Georgian corner off the line but clung on for a vital opening day win, as Georgia’s players sank to their knees on the turf at the final whistle. It proved an exciting night, but with a familiar conclusion – no points. The inclusion of Lobjanidze and solitary striker Vladimir Dvalishvili leaves Weiss open to criticism, with both producing ineffective displays that most Georgian football observers could have foreseen. However, Georgia created more chances than they have done in any qualification game for many years (Gibraltar apart) and, even if a place at Russia 2018 might be beyond them, there was enough to suggest that Georgia will draw and win games they are not expected to in this group. Next month’s trip to play Ireland and then Wales might not present obvious point-earning potential, but with the same attitude and a couple of personnel changes, Weiss’s Georgia won’t be beaten easily.

Paralympics Open in Rio Amid Low Ticket Sales, Muted Expectations BY NICHOLAS WALLER


isabled athletes from 174 nations converged on Rio de Janeiro’s iconic Maracana Stadium for the 2016 Paralympic games on Wednesday amid serious concerns that poor ticket sales and a lack of support from the Brazilian population. Vano Tsiklauri (archery), Zviad Gogochuri (judo), Lia Chachibaia (swimming), Irma Khetsuriani (fencing) and Akaki

Jincharadze (powerlifting) will represent Georgia at the games – the 15th Paralympic event held since their debut following the 1960 Rome Olympics.

This year’s games have been marred by a series of factors that have left organizers scrambling. Poor planning, a failing local economy that now finds itself in a deep recession, growing concerns about the Zika virus and a general lack of interest from Cariocas derailed the International Paralympic Committee’s hopes for future games. Riding high from the record-setting London games in 2012, the organizers of this year’s event were hoping to capitalize on the newfound global interest in the Paralympics.




Georgia Takes 2 Gold, 1 Silver in the World Nomad Games BY BILLIE JEAN STIREWALT


hree Georgian athletes have earned medals in the World Nomad Games in Kyrgyzstan. As of September 7, that placed Georgia as the 6th highest medal earner in the games. Billed as an alternative to the Olympics, the 2nd Biannual World Nomad Games hosted over 60 countries as athletes competed in traditional “ethnosports” that were taken from numerous nomadic cultures. The most popular of these games has been kok boru, an aggressive sport in which two teams on horseback attempt to throw a goat carcass into a concrete pit. The Games have also showcased intellectual sports such as Mangala, horseback wrestling, falconry, and archery. Georgia’s delegation of athletes included falconers, dog trainers, archers, and mass-wrestlers. All three of the Georgian medalists were masswrestlers. Valita Gorelchniki, the gold medalist in the Women’s 55kg masswrestling competition, only started training for the sport six months ago. Mass-wrestling, she explained, looks easy but requires an athlete’s entire body to be in peak physical condition. In the sport, two competitors sit facing each other with their feet against a ply-wood board. They reach forward and grip a short rod – one athlete’s hands on the inside of the rod, and the other’s hands on the ends of the rod. On the referee’s signal, both competitors begin to pull and twist on the rod in an attempt to score a point. A point can be scored when they pull the rod out of their opponent’s hands, pull their opponent over the board, or knock their opponent sideways on to the mat. The winner is chosen after scoring in 2 out of 3 consecutive rounds.

Luka Sartania after Golden Eagle competition. Photo: Billie Jean Stirewalt

32 countries competed in the masswrestling competition that also doubled as the Mass-Wrestling World Championship. Besides Valita, Georgia’s Zviad Kajaia earned a gold medal in the Men’s 125kg category, and Valeri Adamadze earned a silver in the Men’s 60kg category. While Georgia did not place in any other sport, falconer Luka Sartania explained that athletes who were competing with animals were at a disadvantage. Sartania, for example, competed in Berkut, a hunting competition with golden eagles. Due to the difficulty, cost, and customs issues involved with transporting a bird across borders, Sartania had to rent an eagle once he arrived in Kyrgyzstan and train it in only 3 days. Despite the obvious drawbacks with this system, Sartania still placed 6th in the competition. The 2016 World Nomad Games are already being lauded as a success. The



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first games were held in 2014 and billed as a “Pan-Turkic” competition. The games were notoriously unorganized, attendance was rather low, the vast majority of competitors were from Kyrgyzstan, and they received very little press coverage. This year proved to be a more international experience with a wide array of countries competing, including the USA, Benin, Guatemala, Iceland, Sri Lanka, and 12 different Russian territories. Besides the sports competitions, attendees were also treated to nomadic cultural showcases, a yurt building competition, and horseback stunt shows. The Opening Ceremony itself lasted 3 hours, featured flaming horse riders, and was attended by special guest Stephen Seagal. The organizers of the games hope to foster an international interest in nomadic sports, and announced at a press conference on Tuesday that another country will be hosting the 2018 games.

Journalists: Tony Hanmer, Tamar Svanidze, Zviad Adzinbaia, Beqa Kirtava, Meri Taliashvili, Eka Karsaulidze, Zaza Jgarkava, Maka Bibilashvili, Karen Tovmasyan, Dimitri Dolaberidze, Maka Lomadze, Tim Ogden, Ana Akhalaia, Robert Isaf, Joseph Larsen, Will Cathcart, Vazha Tavberidze, Nugzar B. Ruhadze

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Profile for Georgia Today

Issue #877  

September 9 - 12, 2016

Issue #877  

September 9 - 12, 2016