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• MARCH 10 - 13, 2017


Issue no: 927

International Women's Day sparks demands for change and better education

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In this week’s issue... OSCE Concerned over Closure of Crossing Points with Breakaway Abkhazia NEWS PAGE 3

David Kramer: Georgia Has a Strong Ally in the Pentagon POLITICS PAGE 7

TBC Bank Launches Ti-Bot to Make Distance Services More Accessible BUSINESS PAGE 8

Austrian Ambassador on that Refugee Camp Idea

SecretaryGeneral António Guterres on International Women’s Day SOCIETY PAGE 9

Live Books: A Poet Meets the Public on Marjanishvili Stage CULTURE PAGE 13


Ambassador of Austria to Georgia, Arad Benko


t didn’t really become a point of discussion in European media. Sure, it was the famous Bild, they interviewed two of the most popular young politicians in Europe – foreign ministers (FM) of Austria and Germany – high profile, but nothing out of the ordinary. The Western press is already familiar with FM Sebastian Kurz’s hardline stance on migration issues and his policy to stem the tide of immigration into Europe. But, while voicing the idea of creating refugee camps outside the EU, Kurz dropped a name (alongside Egypt and an unspecified country in the Balkans) as one of the possible locations: Georgia. And the name was heard! Kurz’s words were hotly debated in Georgian society, with the government having to rush in with explanatory statements that nothing of this kind was even discussed, let alone planned. Continued on page 5

BP & Georgian National Paralympic Committee Extend Partnership to 2020 SPORTS PAGE 16




MARCH 10 - 13, 2017

Prosecutor’s Office Releases Interim Results of the “Cyanide Case” BY THEA MORRISON


he Prosecutor’s Office of Georgia (POG) has released information about its investigation into the Patriarchate “Cyanide Case,” which caused turmoil in the country when it was first reported. The POG stated they have interviewed over 30 witnesses and carried out up to 90 investigative and procedural actions, including the examination and seizure of cell phones, personal computers and other electronic data carriers. The POG also released some evidence of the case, including video footage and phone conversation recordings. “The investigation started on February 2, based on the statement of citizen Irakli Mamaladze, who addressed the POG and stated that his acquaintance Father Giorgi Mamaladze had asked for his assistance in obtaining toxic substance potassium cyanide. Herewith, Irakli Mamaladze also provided the POG with

a covert audio-video recording of his meeting with Giorgi Mamaladze and a piece of paper handed to him by the latter, which had the handwritten inscription – “potassium cyanide”. According to Irakli Mamaladze, at the meeting with Giorgi Mamaladze he learned that the latter was planning to kill a high-ranking clergyman,” the statement of the POG reads. The investigation established that Giorgi Mamaladze was asking Irakli Mamaladze to obtain the toxic substance cyanide as quickly as possible and was willing to pay for it. In addition, Giorgi Mamaladze promised him illegal profit and benefits for his help in this matter. The defendant was planning to travel to Germany, where the Patriarch of Georgia was at the time with his companion Shorena Tetruashvili. Giorgi Mamaladze wanted to obtain the toxic substance as soon as possible prior to leaving for Germany. “From the conversation, it is apparent that Giorgi Mamaladze linked the [planned] results of his activities with certain advancement in the hierarchy of the clergy, which would subsequently

increase his power in the Patriarchate. Hence, Giorgi Mamaladze promised Irakli Mamaladze a “good position” as well,” POG stated. On February 10, officers of the POG arrested Giorgi Mamaladze at Tbilisi International Airport prior to his departure for Germany. As a result of a search, investigators seized the toxic substance sodium cyanide which had been hidden in his baggage. “During the search of Giorgi Mamaladze’s apartment, investigators seized a handmade firearm without a serial number and six bullets, which he illegally purchased and retained at his apartment. Based on the collected evidence, Giorgi Mamaladze was charged with the preparation of Shorena Tetruashvili’s murder and illegal purchase and retention of a firearm,” the statement reads. The POG said that Giorgi Mamaladze was also possibly preparing the murder of other persons and that he was presumably acting together with accomplices, as a result of which, security was tightened around the Patriarch of Geor-

gia throughout his stay in Germany. “Based on this suspicion, the Office of the Chief Prosecutor continues to work and investigative actions are being intensively carried out in all directions…The POG will periodically inform the public about the results of the investigation,” the statement reads. The defendant’s lawyers say the video and phone evidence are fabricated. They

are going to apply to the European Court of Human Rights in Strasburg claiming the POG “violated the law.” “The Prosecution has no evidence that Archpriest George Mamaladze bought cyanide or from whom he bought it. The published evidence is the maximum the POG can offer. They fabricated the recordings,” Mamaladze’s lawyer, Giorgi Pantsulaia stressed.

EU Official Journal Publishes Regulation on Georgia’s Visa-free Travel BY THEA MORRISON


eorgia’s visa-liberalization with the European Union (EU) will finally go into force on March 28, after the legislation lifting visa-requirements for Georgia was published in the Official Journal of the EU on March 8. This means that all Georgians holding biometric passports will be able to enter the Schengen Area, which includes 22 EU member states (excluding Ireland, the United Kingdom, Croatia, Cyprus,

Romania and Bulgaria) in addition to Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, and Switzerland, for 90 days within any 180day period for a holiday, business, or any other purpose except work. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) of Georgia confirmed the publishing of the regulation on the Georgia-EU visafree travel by the European Council, saying that, according to the 539/2001 regulation amendment, Georgia has been put on the list of countries able to enjoy visa-free travel within the EU. “The regulation will come into force 20 days after publication,” they added. “We congratulate each citizen of Geor-

gia on this significant decision. We are glad to see that the Georgian government’s efforts in terms of reforms have resulted in a tangible benefit for Georgia’s population,” the statement of the MFA reads. The ministry goes on to explain that visa-free travel will provide Georgia’s citizens with new opportunities such as travelling in EU countries without obstacle, getting acquainted with these countries and establishing new contacts. “Visa free travel will promote tourism development, deepen business ties, and intensify student exchange programs and partnership contacts. All benefits of

visa-free travel will also be available for our citizens living on the occupied territories,” the ministry stated. Moreover, the MFA said that the result confirms that the EU is devoted to its principles and vows and responds to its partners’ efforts with relevant steps, giving additional stimulus to the Georgian government to continue legislative and institutional reforms. “Every single Georgian citizen should take responsibility for their own commitments and follow the terms and conditions of the visa-free travel thoroughly,” the ministry said. The EU-Georgia Visa Liberalization

Dialogue was launched on June 4, 2012 and the Visa Liberalization Action Plan (VLAP) was presented to the Georgian authorities on February 25, 2013. After years of effort and hard work from the Georgian government, the European Parliament voted in favor of visa-free travel for Georgian citizens to the Schengen Area at a plenary session on February 2nd. The regulation was signed on March 1st in Brussels by the President of the European Parliament, Antonio Tajani, and the Parliamentary Secretary of Malta, EU Council Presidency holder country, Chris Agius.




Vaziani Saperavi 2015 Wins Diamond in Japan

OSCE Concerned over Closure of Crossing Points with Breakaway Abkhazia BY THEA MORRISON


he Organization for Security and Co-Operation in Europe (OSCE) Chairmanship issued a statement over the closure of two crossing points along the Administrative Boundary Line (ABL) of Georgia’s occupied

region, Abkhazia. “We have closely followed the latest developments on the ground. We believe this decision has a number of negative consequences, in particular concerning the freedom of movement of the population on both sides of the ABL. We therefore call for meaningful dialogue as well as swift and pragmatic solutions in order to avoid further repercussions for the day-to-day life of the local popu-

lation,” the official statement reads. Moreover, the spokesperson emphasized the importance of the Geneva International Discussions and the Incident Prevention and Response Mechanism meetings as platforms for constructive engagement. These are respectively co-chaired and co-facilitated by the Special Representative of the OSCE Chairperson-in-Office for the South Caucasus, Ambassador Günther Bächler.

Vaziani Company Representative at Foodex 2017. Source: National Wine Agency



aperavi 2015, produced by Vaziani Company, won the Diamond Trophy at Sakura Japan’s Women’s Wine Awards in Japan. Saperavi 2015 won double gold at Sakura Women’s Wine early in February. The winners of the double gold awards were then entered to win the prestigious Diamond Trophy, the

results of which were announced at the Foodex Japan 2017 on March 7. The Sakura Japan’s Women’s Wine Award was given for the fourth time this year by a jury consisting Japanese women sommeliers, wine writers and journalists. Twelve Georgian wines were awarded at the contest in February with one double gold, six gold and five silver medals. In 2015, the Georgian Company Lucasi Wineries won Diamond Trophy for its wine Chkhaveri.

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MARCH 10 - 13, 2017

Speak No Evil: Society & Media OP-ED BY NUGZAR B. RUHADZE It is widely understood that democracy needs powerful journalism, but a part of society detests any journalism which shows the power to administer huge clout on society. Source:


Co-operation between Georgia & Greece of Strategic Importance, says Greek FM


o-operation between Georgia and Greece is of strategic importance, said Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Kotzias at a joint press conference after his meeting with Georgian Foreign Minister Mikheil Janelidze, on his first official visit to Georgia. “Greece welcomes Georgia’s integration with the EU,” Kotzias said, going on to congratulate Georgia on the EU visa waiver for Georgian citizens. “I strongly believe that Georgia is a country that belongs to Europe. We even joked during the meeting that back in the centuries when we were trying to steal fire from the Caucasus, there was no need either for visas or visa

control. I am in favour of open relations between the two countries. The history of our relations go back thousands of years,” the Greek Foreign Minister said. During the meeting, the sides spoke about ways to further deepen co-operation between Georgia and the Hellenic Republic. “We will do our utmost to deepen relations in all areas, including in economy, education and science. We welcome Georgia’s integration with the EU family. Of course, we want to share our knowledge and experience with Georgia,” Kotzias said. The Greek Foreign Minister reaffirmed his government’s firm support for Georgia’s independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity.

onventionally speaking, if our conceptual point of departure is thought to be the fact that our societal forces, taken together as one massive ideological conglomerate including the currently functioning political powers, constitute a public forum for discussion, within which sizzling controversy is a constant value, then we can openly make the following statement: the fight within said forum is harsh, ruthless and coldblooded. It is heard throughout the world that our means of mass communication is in crisis. They say it needs innovation, undelayed pecuniary propping, rejuvenation, a wider public eye and governmental leniency to a certain extent, to put it as fairly as possible. Press analysts, journalists, scientists, artists, and the rank-and-file suggest that the media is under unprecedented pressure and its workers make less money than before, notwithstanding the famous anchors, announcers, commentators and megashow hosts. Everyone is aware of and is furious about the World Leader’s attitude towards the media. The United States president demonstrates regular physical aversion to both press and television, hurling vituperative invectives on journalists who watch him with goggle-eyes or sour expressions. And the bitterest part of the act is that the man is being joined by other political glitterati of the world, as if they have sighed with relief at hearing that the biggest boss of the strongest democracy on the planet has exposed himself as the greatest and the most outspoken disparager of the media. Georgia has not stood apart from the newly born and lavishly flowing process, though it is known in the western realm as the first and utmost fighter for freedom and democracy among the former

soviet republics, trying more ferociously in the last quarter century to squeeze itself into the group of more contentedly living nations than it has ever done before. Now, the question of the day is how to check the assault of political figures and figurines on media in general and in this country in particular. The Georgian press is brimming with comments on the issue but there is a definite paucity of suggested solutions, and there is a reason for the lack of practicable analysis in this direction: the absence of complete certainty as to where we actually stand. I voraciously read into those comments and try to make cogent interpretations, which does not by any means mean that I have achieved the level of thinking which might easily save the day. Based on what I hear, it is widely understood that democracy needs powerful journalism, but a part of society detests any journalism which shows power and functions wisely, professionally and resourcefully enough to administer huge clout on society. Some of us are clearly allergic to democracy, law, objectivity, fairness, truthfulness, morality and the logic of the contemporary world. Why should it be so excruciating to tolerate the forcefulness, directness, impudence,

effrontery and resilience of journalists who are trying to do what they think their job is and what they are paid for, although nominally in most cases? It is agonizing only because a journalist is often an obstacle for a certain class to live comfortably and unaccountably; a comfortable lifestyle which often includes political coziness and longevity in office. World media informs us that one of the examples of freedom from free press is Russia – the angry, vicious, brutal and aggressive occupier of our historical lands. I know that many in Georgia envy the bear its political comfort and serenity, although stifling for millions there. There are other countries of that ilk too, but should I waste my valuable time and ink on this egregious triviality? Triviality, because suppression of dissenting thought is still one of the most vivid features of the world we are living in with shaken pleasure. Geniuses of our civilization have used numerous smart and sharp words to describe the media, but their wisdom no longer works as a precept for those who hate the media and its freedom. From another standpoint, it is almost unbearable to put up with somebody else’s freedom and comfort when yours is vague and insecure.

Georgian, Italian Prime Ministers Meet in Rome BY THEA MORRISON


eorgian Prime Minister, Giorgi Kvirikashvili was welcomed to Rome on Wednesday by his Italian counterpart, Paolo Genti-

loni. The officials discussed trade-economic and investment potential between the countries and cooperation in the fields of agriculture, energy and tourism. The Italian Prime Minister welcomed Georgia’s success in achieving visa-free travel to Europe for its citizens, which will come into effect at the end of the month. Regional developments and the situation in Georgia’s occupied territories were also discussed at the meeting, with PM Gentiloni confirming the support of the Italian government for Georgia’s territorial integrity and sovereignty. Prior to meeting his counterpart, Kvirikashvili met Italian Foreign Minister, Angelino Alfano with whom he spoke about the importance of the diplomatic relations between Georgia and Italy, celebrating the 25th anniversary of said relations, and prospects of further cooperation. The Prime Minister of Georgia and the Italian Foreign Minister also discussed Georgia's European and Euro-Atlantic

integration and its progress on this path. According to both parties, the EU visa waiver for Georgian citizens will further deepen cultural ties, tourism and business relations. “Italy considers Georgia a member of the European family,” President of the Senate, Pietro Grasso stated during his meeting with Kvirikashvili at which the countries' bilateral relations and prospects of deeper economic cooperation were raised. Kvirikashvili also met with NATO Parliamentary Assembly President, Paolo Alli, to talk about Georgia's North-Atlantic integration and the implementation of the Substantial NATO-Georgia Pack-

age. Georgia's significant progress in this direction was commended. It was announced that Tbilisi will host the 2017 NATO Parliamentary Assembly Spring Session on May 26-29. During his official visit to Italy, Kvirikashvili participated in the Italy-Georgia Business Forum held on March 8 in Rome, where more than 250 leading Italian and Georgian companies were represented. Kvirikashvili introduced Italian businesspersons to some of the features of Georgia's attractive business environment, including low rates, light market regulations, easy physical and normative market access, the Deep and Compre-

hensive Free Trade Agreement (DCFTA) with the EU, the country's geostrategic location, high-speed train system and highways, and ongoing reforms seeking to promote economic growth and businesses. The Prime Minister also provided leading Italian business representatives with detailed information on Georgia's investment opportunities and the government's Four-Point Reform agenda. “Georgia is open for business,” the PM said. "Investing in Georgia requires little legal hassle or normative adjustment. Georgia's DCFTA with the EU, established in 2014, is of particular importance for us, as it envisions the gradual eco-

nomic integration of Georgia with the EU's internal market,” he added, highlighting that Georgia is a window to a number of markets, including Central Asia and the Far East. “We provide physical access through modern transport infrastructure and normative access in terms of free trade agreements. We have finalized negotiations and Georgia is to be the first country in the region to have a Free Trade Agreement with China. We also have in place FTA agreements with the CIS, Turkey, and GSP regimes with the US, Canada and Japan and plan to launch FTA negotiations with India later this year. Thanks to a liberal trade regime, low taxes, and our strategic location, Georgia has become a new regional frontier for investment opportunities,” the PM said. He also spoke about some of the largest projects in Georgia and named the future Anaklia Port as an example – the only deep-sea port on the Eastern side of the Black Sea and part of the shortest route from China to Europe. During the Italy-Georgia Business Forum, a memorandum of cooperation was signed between the Italian SACE export credit agency and Georgia's Partnership Fund. A similar memorandum was also signed between the Georgian Chamber of Commerce and Industry and the Italian Chamber of Commerce.




Austrian Ambassador on that Refugee Camp Idea Continued from page 1

Worse, however, was the spin that Russian media and the Kremlin MEP’s gave the story – that the creation of refugee camps was the payoff Georgia had to take to be granted visa-liberalization. The government rushed in once again, explaining there was no connection whatsoever, with important European authorities following suit. But the damage had been done, with Euroskeptics and Kremlin sympathizers gleefully preaching about the “corruption that Brussels brings.” Believable or not, one doesn’t need to look far to see the effects of this kind of propaganda. One of the major factors that precipitated the win of a pro-Russian presidential candidate in Moldova, another Eastern Partnership country, was the Kremlin propaganda wheel spreading outright lies about how the country would have been obliged by Brussels to host “thousands of migrants from the Middle East” had the pro-Western candidate won. So, to take part in steering the course in the right direction and asking all the right questions, Panorama Talk Show and GEORGIA TODAY paid a visit to the Ambassador of Austria to Georgia, His Excellency Arad Benko, who graciously accepted our request on very short notice. “First of all, let me say that regrettably, the words of our Minister were misunderstood,” Mr. Benko said when asked whether there was any real thought or planning behind the idea of a refugee camp in Georgia. “It’s important to see the bigger picture here: Europe, including Austria, is in the middle of a refugee crisis. Even after closing the borders in 2016, we had 42,000 asylum applications. The idea of refugee centers outside Europe isn’t new; it’s been discussed on the European level throughout the last couple of months. Georgia was voiced as an idea, not a concrete proposal of any sorts, just

an idea, and it has nothing to do with FM Kurz’s earlier visit to Georgia. It wasn’t an issue that was discussed during his visit in February.” So why would Georgia, which can barely afford to provide for the basic necessities of its own (more than 230,000) refugees and internally displaced persons, want to open such a center? Or, more importantly, why would the EU think we would want to do that? The ambassador insisted that Georgia “is not an option that was ever discussed” and FM Kurz mentioning Georgia “should be understood as a partnership towards Georgia”. “I understand that the message came out in a totally negative way,” the Austrian envoy said. “My understanding is that due to the excellent level of cooperation we have in many areas, he [Kurz] saw Georgia as a partner in the fight against migration. I know it’s easy to misinterpret, which many did, on purpose or not”. And now for the ethereal, mythical elephant in the room. Is the refugee camp idea in any way connected to Georgia getting the visa liberalization nod from Brussels? The ambassador doesn’t hesitate to answer, eager to leave no grounds for misinterpretation this time. “No, no and no. No connection, absolutely no relation whatsoever,” he stresses. “Austria was one of those countries which was very much for granting Georgia visa-free access. There were a couple of skeptical countries, but Austria wasn’t one of them. We are firm supporters of Georgia’s way to Europe and this is why we opened an embassy here. Visa liberalization for us is recognition of Georgia’s European location, of Georgia’s European way. It worked very hard for this and in the end, won. Well-deserved, I might say! The refugee camp in Georgia, I repeat, is an idea, just an idea, with no concrete proposal, never ever discussed with the Georgian government. It’s just a part of European

Migrants at a temporary camp in Schaerding Am Inn, Austria, January 2016. EPA. Source:

discussion on migration. The possible implications, or we might say, repercussions, of having a refugee camp in Georgia is something we never thought about. And we’re very sorry for this twist coming from Russian media, but it’s clear to see – it has nothing to do with visa liberalization!” With Russia mentioned, we ask whether this would give Russia increased leverage over Georgia. FM Lavrov complains week in, week out that Georgia is “a corridor for extremists,” and the part of the world that has even a vague idea where Georgia is, listens. Surely statements like Kurz’s must be playing into Russia’s hands? We ask the ambassador. “Geopolitically, we have to admit that Georgia is located in a region which is not very peaceful. As a neutral country, and an OSCE chairman one to boot, we’re trying to keep good relations with both parties. And I’m not talking about Georgia and Russia in this case – I mean the undesirable developments between Russia and the West. As a neutral

country, we don’t want the Cold War coming back. So in this regard, we are also trying to do what we can for better relations between Georgia and Russia. That said, Austria definitely doesn’t see Georgia as a corridor for terrorists. We know that the security services of Georgia are doing a very good job and that the Georgian government is making all necessary efforts to control any situation that might arise. We know that because of our close cooperation; our trust in their excellent work is full. We know that Georgia is a safe country, as do all of Georgia’s partners; including Western Europe countries and the US. And again, do not forget that fake news is not just a media term, but a very valid propaganda tool for some governments. And that’s something we’re very concerned about. Word spreads very quickly and people tend to believe what they want to believe. That’s why the role of independent media is so important today.” An argument we are in full agreement with.

Georgian FM Visits Strasburg

Mixture of Cafe and Theatre under a single space in the very heart of the old city. Warm environment, Georgian & European Food, Art and Music BY THEA MORRISON


eorgia’s Foreign Minister Mikheil Janelidze went on a diplomatic visit to Strasburg, where he met Deputy Secretary General of the Council of Europe, Gabriella Battaini-Dragoni. “We have had a specific plan of co-operation with Georgia for a number of years whereby we help Georgia to reinforce its democratic institutions and work together in the field of judiciary and other areas of importance for the democratic life of the country,” Battaini-Dragoni said. Georgia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) reports that Battaini-Dragoni said the Council of Europe (CoE) highly appreciates the strong respect the Georgian authorities show to the Council of Europe and the European Court of Human Rights, as well as the efforts the Georgian government is making to democratize the country.

On Monday, Janelidze met the President of the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR), Guido Raimondi. Key issues of the meeting were human rights protection, rule of law improvement, and the judicial system reforms recently implemented in Georgia. Raimondi thanked Janelidze for Georgia’s active cooperation with the ECHR. Janelidze also met Isil Gachet, Director of the Office of Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights, to discuss the future of the relationship between Georgia and the CoE. The talks highlighted the successful co-operation in the area of human rights protection and the difficult human rights situation in Georgia’s occupied regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia. “The Minister briefed the CoE representatives on the closure of the checkpoints along the ABL in Abkhazia and on the ‘referendum’ to be held in the Tskhinvali region on April 9. It was emphasized during the meeting that such steps grossly violate the fundamental rights of the local population and are intended to create the complete isolation of the occupied territories,” Georgia’s MFA reports.

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MARCH 10 - 13, 2017

Georgian Ambassador Bakradze Appears before US Senators spoke extensively about the government’s efforts to ensure that the Georgian people continue to strongly support further integration with the EU and NATO. “While advancing its Euro-Atlantic integration, Georgia remains firmly committed to the peaceful resolution of the conflict and to constructive negotiations in the international format,” Bakradze said, going on to thank America for its support and the American congressmen and senators for their frequent visits to the occupation line. “Despite Russia’s vicious efforts, Georgia has persisted on its path toward democratic progress and economic growth. Georgia, as the most reliable, democratic ally of the US in a tough neighborhood, has been a great example of American tax-payers’ money wisely spent. “We believe the new administration will soon


n March 7, Georgian Ambassador to the United States, David Bakradze, spoke at the United States Senate Committee of Appropriations. The hearing aimed to broaden the understanding of Russia’s policies and intentions toward specific countries in Europe. He spoke about the Russian invasion of Georgia in 2008 and its consequences: “I am here today to remind you that before Ukraine, Georgia was invaded in 2008 and 20 percent of our country remains under Russian occupation. Despite ongoing Russian aggression, with the support of the United States, Georgia has made tremendous strides in strengthening democratic institutions, fostering economic development and solidifying an irreversible path towards European and Euro-Atlantic integration”.

develop a comprehensive long-term engagement strategy for the region and Georgia, which will include the strengthening of Georgia’s territorial integrity and sovereignty, improving bilateral trade and the investment relationship, and supporting the democratic choice of the Georgian people to integrate with Euro-Atlantic institutions,” Bakradze said. The hearing at the Foreign Operations and Related Programs Appropriations Subcommittee of the Committee on Appropriations was held at the initiative of Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) who paid a visit to Georgia on 1 and 2 January. Along with the Georgian Ambassador, Ukrainian Foreign Minister Pavlo Klimkin, Polish Ambassador Piotr Wilczek, Latvian Ambassador Andris Teikmanis, Lithuanian Ambassador Rolandas Krisciunas and Estonian Ambassador Eerik Marmei also appeared as co-speakers at the hearing.

Bakradze told his audience that the conflict which started in the early 90s reached its peak in 2008 with the Russian invasion of Georgia and occupation of its territories due to the fact that the international community failed to effectively respond to early warning signs. The Ambassador reminded US officials that Russia began installing razor wire fences and other artificial obstacles along the occupation line in 2009 and that the total length across both occupation lines is approximately 100 km. The Georgian Ambassador focused on Russia’s persistent efforts to undermine Georgia’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. According to him, since regaining its independence, Georgia has been subject to various forms of unconventional, hybrid warfare aimed at derailing Georgia’s European and Euro-Atlantic integration aspirations. Bakradze,

The President has been warned to watch his mouth or loss his position.

Presidential “Faux-Pas” OP-ED BY ZAZA JGARKAVA


resident Margvelashvili is being threatened again. This time with losing his post, with the Chairman of Parliament saying that if Mr. Margvelashvili “continues making politically incorrect speeches,” he might be “left jobless” by the ruling party. By which he means changing the constitution- the law on direct election of the president in the country. Discussions about the rule on presidential elections were announced during the previous parliament, when MP from the majority, Vakhtang Khmaladze, of the Republican Party, started talking about changing it in 2013. This political impromptu went nowhere, mostly because Georgian Dream (GD) did not have the constitutional majority at the time, not to mention that MPs from the majority believed that parliament electing the President only served to strengthen the Republican Party, especially when the billionaire leader of the coalition, Bidzina Ivanishvili, had made clear that he believed Republican Vakhtang Khmaladze to be the best successor of Mikheil Saakashvili. When Ivanishvili changed his mind and named Giorgi Margvelashvili, then Minister of Education, as his presidential candidate, the constitutional change was forgotten. However, GD returned to the issue once Margvelashvili disappointed the billionaire’s hopes. And so GD began to hatch a revenge plan. It began with a dispute between President Margvelashvili and former Prime Minister Garibashvili over who would make a speech in the UN in New York and who would sign the Association Agree-

ment in Brussels. This slowly grew into an attempt to evict the President from his presidential palace. Things got so bad that the now Head of Parliament Irakli Kobakhidze accused the President of loving comfort and craving luxury. Why loving comfort was regarded as a crime is hard to explain, especially considering that the President doesn’t even own a home in the capital- he has a small house in the region of Dusheti. Apart from loving comfort, he was also accused of loving alcohol. The main accuser in this regard was not Irakli Kobakhidze but MP Manana Kobakhidze. “Generally, he loves hard alcoholic drinks, he adores whiskey, martini and I believe he’d had a bit too much,” she declared when discussing the smile on the President’s face during a briefing in the Avlabari Residence about the informal governance in the country. “If there is pressure, informal powers, and the county is falling apart – what are you laughing about when you are president? When the President is holding a briefing, he should say something valuable, but today the President confused me,” Manana Kobakhidze said. Apparently, leaving the President without a job is the second round of the fight which the Chairman of the Parliament initiated recently. Last week Kobakhidze, who is also the Head of the Constitutional Commission, declared that “If the President continues to make politically incorrect statements, we might even start thinking about switching to the indirect presidential election model from next year.” Mr. Kobakhidze’s statement that day followed the comment that the President made to Rustavi 2: “We are facing not a deep rethinking of the Constitution or its contents by the Constitutional Commission, but a decision made explicitly about a specific politician,” Margvelashvili said, by which he was referring to himself.



David Kramer: Georgia Has a Strong Ally in the Pentagon INTERVIEW BY VAZHA TAVBERIDZE


ast week, Tbilisi hosted some of the most high-ranking opinion-makers and experts in the Western world. Francis Fukuyama, Edward Lucas and David Kramer were some of the more illustrious names to give public lectures and seminars over a five-day visit, courtesy of the Economic Policy Research Center and Stanford University, implementing their joint program – the prestigious Leadership Academy for Development in Georgia. Panorama TV show and GEORGIA TODAY spoke with both Mr. Fukuyama and Mr. Kramer- on the subject of populism with the former and on international security with the latter. This week we offer you the interview with David Kramer, former President of Freedom House and currently a Senior Director for Human Rights and Human Freedoms at the McCain Institute.

AFTER THE 2012 ELECTIONS, WHICH BROUGHT GEORGIAN DREAM TO POWER, MOST WESTERN OUTLETS CRITICIZED A BILLIONAIRE AT THE REINS OF THE COUNTRY, AND MEDIA HERE CAME UNDER PRESSURE. DO YOU SEE THE IRONY NOW WITH TRUMP COMING INTO POWER? For many years, US foreign assistance emphasized the importance of the rule of law, human rights and transparency. It’s more complicated now, especially that last part. We’ve not had a president like Donald Trump before and [his profile] has created some complications. I cannot sit here and pretend there are no concerns over that. Similarly, his characterization of the media as “the enemy of the American people” is damaging. It’s not helpful for the American president to describe media he doesn’t like as an enemy of the people. Other leaders around the world will hear that and think, hey, if the American President can say that, I certainly can. So, I hope over time President Trump will understand that

what he says as president has a huge impact all over the world – that its different being a candidate and actually sitting in the Oval Office itself.

WITH INFORMATION COMING TO LIGHT REGARDING TRUMP’S TIES WITH RUSSIA, HOW DO YOU THINK ALL THIS WILL AFFECT CAUCASUS AND GEORGIA IN PARTICULAR? SHOULD WE EXPECT THE US FOCUS TO SHIFT ELSEWHERE? This is something that most certainly demands a thorough investigation to make sure it never happens again. The feeling is that if it happened in the US, it can happen anywhere. The positive out of all this is that there is more scrutiny of any efforts from President Trump to reach out to Putin; there is more attention focused on any possible Yalta-2 kind of deal. And you also see how the media coverage in Russia changed – in the early days it was very positive, hopeful narrative, while now there seems to be a lot more skepticism and concern that either he won’t deliver what they hoped for, or that he can may be limited in what he can do.

BEFORE TRUMP’S PRESIDENCY, THERE WERE TALKS OF A STRATEGIC PARTNERSHIP AGREEMENT (INCLUDING MILITARY COOPERATION) AS A VIABLE ALTERNATIVE TO NATO MEMBERSHIP. WITH TRUMP IN THE PICTURE, IS THIS STILL A POSSIBILITY? There is a strong relationship between the Pentagon and Georgia and between NATO and Georgia. It’s certainly far short of membership, but I think this cooperation will continue to help Georgia in maintaining a professional military. Georgia, of course, has already contributed and in a very decisive way – the second largest contingent in Afghanistan is a very significant step. And I’m sure both in the US and in NATO there is appreciation of that. The leadership in the Pentagon is very interested in maintaining this cooperation, these strong ties with Georgia, and I expect it will continue to be so under Secretary Mat-

tis. It would be extremely unusual for the White House to issue an order to stop its relationship with Georgia. That would be big news. And I don’t expect that to happen, I think Secretary Mattis appreciates Georgia’s contributions very much, so you have a strong ally in the Pentagon and the leadership there.

A BROOKINGS INSTITUTION ARTICLE MADE WAVES IN GEORGIAN MEDIA- ABOUT GEORGIA’S PERMANENT NEUTRALITY STATUS, TO BE GUARANTEED BY RUSSIA AND THE US. THE PRICE IS THAT GEORGIA WOULD NOT BE ABLE TO JOIN ANY WESTERN BLOCK, INCLUDING NATO AND THE EU. IS IT REALISTIC? Michael O’Hanlon’s article? Quite frankly, I think it’s a terrible idea. He’s been arguing over this for a while – he is a very smart scholar and I don’t doubt his integrity, but once again, I think the idea is just terrible. For the most part in Washington there is strong support for maintaining the decades-old policy of Open Doors at NATO. Countries that aspire to join and meet the criteria should be allowed to join. Otherwise, we are granting Russia a de-facto veto power on which country can join NATO and which not. Most people in Washington, at least in Congress, would reject that idea. Pentagon wouldn’t support that either. And moreover, any deal like that with Russia would be determining the future of Georgia and Ukraine without asking them and I think those days should be over. It also means that Russia would respect agreements that it signs and that’s obviously not the case. Go back to 2008, the Sarkozy peace plan – Russia has not abided by that, or the two Minsk deals, and that is just to name a few. Russia, under Putin, has demonstrated it is untrustworthy and doesn’t live up to its commitments, so to tell Ukrainians and Georgians that Russia and the US would guarantee their sovereignty and territorial integrity would only result in them pointing at the 1994 Budapest memorandum which Russia and the US both signed. And we see how well that worked out [for Ukraine].





MARCH 10 - 13, 2017

TBC Bank Launches Ti-Bot to Make Distance Services More Accessible BY NINO GUGUNISHVILI


t a presentation held at Techno Park Tbilisi, TBC Bank introduced a new and innovative product Ti-Bot, which, for the first time in Georgia, will enable TBC Bank clients to receive information on available banking services through the Facebook Messenger program. Ti-Bot, the first ever Chat Bot to speak Georgian, was created by Georgian developers. No other company has yet to make use of such technology in the country. Available 24/7, and easily found on Messenger, it is to provide clients with full information on where the closest TBC Bank branches and ATMs are according to the client’s location. Additionally, it offers information on exchange rates and the different types of loans available at TBC Bank. Ti-Bot only uses Georgian font, as TBC Bank considers it important for its clients to have access to modern technologies in their native language. “For us, digitalization has always been crucial. TBC Bank’s Internet and Mobile Banking Services have been acknowledged as the best not only in Georgia but in the region,” said Vakhtang Butskhrikidze, TBC Bank CEO. “We’re always trying to be closer to our clients with new and innovative technologies. Our

Ti-Bot is the first of its kind both in Georgia and the region, and gives our clients the chance to have direct communication with it. As it’s still very young, it is expected to be improved on a daily basis, with more qualified answers provided following interactions with the clients. I think it’s an extremely interesting initiative that will encourage other Georgian companies to think likewise. Perhaps, soon, we will have a different reality, where new services launched by Georgian companies enable us to branch out not only within Georgia but into other countries, too.” Butskhrikidze added that new functions will soon be added to Ti-Bot. As a virtual assistant to the client, it will offer transaction services, give information on the customer’s accounts, and other services or products from TBC Bank. Creators of Ti-Bot, Zviad Tsotskolauri, Zaal Gachechiladze and Dachi Choladze say Ti- Bot will become a platform where all the financial services will be made available to clients. The creators wanted to have the product in the Georgian language, something they found challenging to implement. They confirm, however, that the Ti-Bot will also be able to speak in other languages in the future. “This is the first time that artificial intelligence has been used in the financial sector in Georgia. You can speak with Ti-Bot the same way you talk to a friend. We aimed to make it user-friendly,

and there will be many more functions added, since it’s only the first stage now,” said Tsotskolauri, going on to demonstrate the workings of the Ti-Bot, in this example by offering a bank loan for a

client, calculating possible monthly fees and setting up a consultation with a bank employee for additional information. Chat Bots are innovative, experimental products used worldwide. The largest

European and US banks already implement such services. Chat Bots are also used by the well-known companies and brands such as Amazon, KLM, CNN and others.

Georgia Exports 8 mln Bottles of Wine in January-February BY THEA MORRISON

G RehabGlove & Treepex Rank Top 10 at Mobile World Congress BY NINO GUGUNISHVILI


ehabGlove, announced by Georgia’s Innovation and Technology Agency (GITA) as the winner of GITA’s preaccelerator program, was placed in the Top 10 at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona. RehabGlove is an electronic glove that

works with a special program to support rehabilitation after strokes or other traumas. The company received a 5000 GEL grant to make prototypes. Treepex, also a beneficiary of GITA, having received a 5000 GEL grant to participate at an accelerator in the United States, won fourth place at the Mobile World Congress. With its slogan, “Let’s make the world a bit greener,” Treepex makes it possible for any individual or company to plant a tree.

eorgia’s National Wine Agency (NWA) reports that in January-February 8,777,275 bottles of wine were exported to 32 countries worldwide, 94 percent more than during the same time frame in 2016. The income from the exported wine amounted to $20.5 million. “Export has increased to the markets of the European Union, China, and the USA, as well as within the traditional markets, where the situation has become stable. This year started really actively and we hope that the progressive ten-

dency of export will be maintained until the end of the year and beyond,” said Giorgi Samanishvili, Head of National Wine Agency. The top countries where Georgian wine was imported in January-February are: Russia (5,717,289 bottles), Ukraine (859,756), China (832,552), Kazakhstan (389,040) and Poland (312,650). The exports of Georgian wine increased in 2017 to: • United States – 3206 percent (31,740 bottles) • China – 280 percent (832,552 bottles) • Canada – 238 percent (24,360 bottles) • Germany – 151 percent (86,374 bottles) • Russia – 123 percent (5,717,289 bottles) • Latvia – 85 percent (183,720 bottles)

• Kazakhstan – 15 percent (389,040 bottles) • Ukraine – 32 percent (859,756 bottles) Moreover, according to the NWA, in January-February around 2,162,305 bottles of brandy were exported to nine countries, 51 percent more than in 2016. Brandy exports this year amounted to $5.2 million, which is 53 percent higher y/y. Export of Chacha has also increased by 138 percent. Chacha was sent to 13 counties worldwide, providing income of $99 thousand, 119 percent more y/y. On the whole, export income for alcoholic drinks this January amounted to $40.1 million, which is almost double that of the same period in 2016 when income was $20 million.



MARCH 10 - 13, 2017


omen’s rights are human rights. But in these troubled times, as our world becomes more unpredictable and chaotic, the rights of women and girls are being reduced, restricted and reversed. Empowering women and girls is the only way to protect their rights and make sure they can realize their full potential. Historic imbalances in power relations between men and women, exacerbated by growing inequalities within and between societies and countries, are leading to greater discrimination against women and girls. Around the world, tradition, cultural values and religion are being misused to curtail women’s rights, to entrench sexism and defend misogynistic practices. Women’s legal rights, which have never been equal to men’s on any continent, are being eroded

SecretaryGeneral António Guterres on International Women’s Day further. Women’s rights over their own bodies are questioned and undermined. Women are routinely targeted for intimidation and harassment in cyberspace and in real life. In the worst cases, extremists and terrorists build their ideologies around the subjugation of women and girls and single them out for sexual and gender-based violence, forced marriage and virtual enslavement. Despite some improvements, leadership positions across the board are still held by men, and the economic gender gap is widening, thanks to outdated attitudes and entrenched male chauvinism. We must change this, by empowering women at all levels, enabling their voices to be heard and giving them control over their own lives and over the future of our world. Denying the rights of women and girls is not only wrong in itself; it has a serious social and economic impact that holds us all back. Gender equality has

Anaklia Development Consortium Presents General Plan



he Anaklia Development Consortium has finished working on its general plan for the Anaklia Deep Sea Port which it has presented to the Anaklia Governmental Commission for con-

sideration. The general plan reviews all nine stages of the port construction and includes the following projects: • Economic Impact Assessment • Turnover calculation • Investment phases • Investment volume The Anaklia Port general plan focuses on innovative engineering technologies, expenses-saving and the efficiency of the port. It is said to be an example for regional and international port sectors. Anaklia Development Consortium worked on the general plan with the Dutch company Maritime & Transport Business Solutions (MTBS). The consortium also presented a $20 million bank guarantee to the government, with which the Consortium carried out the pre-engineering and hydroengineering works and completed the Environmental and Social Environmental Impact report


preparing and researching the Anaklia economic and social environment. With its international contractors and partners (Van Oord, Moffatt & Nichol, Royal Haskoning HDV, Ecoline International), Anaklia Development Consortium has carried out the following projects: • A full study of the waters of the sea bed and of port area navigation • Geotechnical works for researching underwater soil • Studies of the power, speed and altitude of waves and wind • Topographical works - a study of the entire territory of the port • Sedimentation – a study of the volume of the sand in water • Soil and water environmental research • A study of marine mammals • Sea bed chemical and biological analysis (flora and fauna research) • Ornithology research • A study of nearby land flora and fauna • A study of underground water • Socio-economic research about Anaklia and nearby settlements. The Anaklia Development Consortium plans to launch construction works in the second half of 2017. The opening of the Anaklia Deep Sea Port is scheduled for 2020.

a transformative effect that is essential to fully functioning communities, societies and economies. Women’s access to education and health services has benefits for their families and communities that extend to future generations. An extra year in school can add up to 25 percent to a girl’s future income. When women participate fully in the labour force, it creates opportunities and generates growth. Closing the gender gap in employment could add $12 trillion to global GDP by 2025. Increasing the proportion of women in public institutions makes them more representative, increases innovation, improves decision-making and benefits whole societies. Gender equality is central to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, the global plan agreed by leaders of all countries to meet the challenges we face. Sustainable Development Goal 5 calls spe-

cifically for gender equality and the empowerment of all women and girls, and this is central to the achievement of all the 17 SDGs. I am committed to increasing women’s participation in our peace and security work. Women negotiators increase the chances of sustainable peace, and women peacekeepers decrease the chances of sexual exploitation and abuse. Within the UN, I am establishing a clear road map with benchmarks to achieve gender parity across the system, so that our Organization truly represents the people we serve. Previous targets have not been met. Now we must move from ambition to action. On International Women’s Day, let us all pledge to do everything we can to overcome entrenched prejudice, support engagement and activism, and promote gender equality and women’s empowerment.

Bollywood Masala Indian Restaurant

Find your next great lunch or dinner dining experience featuring time-honored recipes at New Bollywood Masala Indian Restaurant

Tel: +995 551 526 000; +995 592 900 002 Add: Str. Kostava 44, Tbilisi, Georgia Email:




MARCH 10 - 13, 2017

Universal Access to Sexual & Reproductive Health Key to Gender Equality BY UNFPA EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR DR. BABATUNDE OSOTIMEHIN


ender equality is a human right. Women are entitled to live in dignity and in freedom from want and fear, without discrimination. Gender equality is also vital to sustainable development, peace and security. It’s not just a women’s issue. It’s an issue for all of humanity. Sadly, despite some progress, the world still has a long way to go to achieve full gender equality. Take, for instance, the fact that every year tens of thousands of girls are forced into child marriage —nearly one third of these before the age of 15. Or that one woman in three experiences gender-based violence in her lifetime. Some 200 million women and girls have endured female genital mutilation. And there are 225 million women who want modern family planning but are not getting it, and therefore are unable to choose whether or when to have children. The global community has an obligation to advance the new agenda for sustainable development, which enshrines gender equality as one of its goals. The ability of women and girls to exercise their basic human rights, including their right to sexual and reproductive health, is a prerequisite for achieving the Sustainable Development Goals. Studies have demonstrated clearly that family planning is the best investment countries can make for human development. Ensuring universal access to voluntary family planning means putting the poorest, most margin-

alized and excluded women and girls at the forefront of our efforts—particularly those in conflict and fragile settings. Women and girls who can make choices and control their reproductive lives are better able to get quality education, find decent work, and make free and informed decisions in all spheres of life.

Their families and societies are better off financially. Their children, if they choose to have them, are healthier and better educated, helping break the spiral of poverty that traps billions and triggering a cycle of prosperity that carries over into future generations. UNFPA, the United Nations Population Fund, is fully committed to ensuring the rights of women

and girls to sexual and reproductive health services, including family planning. On this International Women’s Day, we urge the global community to join us. Together, we can make a giant leap forward that saves lives, empowers women and girls, advances gender equality and ensures a more prosperous and sustainable future for all of us.

200 Internally Displaced Persons Get Flats in Tbilisi



eorgia’s Minister of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) from the Occupied Territories, Accommodation and Refugees, Sozar Subari, welcomed over 200 internally displaced families into their new flats in the Tbilisi New Sea City district. The families that received new flats from the government are IDPs from Georgia’s two breakaway regions, Abkhazia and South Ossetia. Subari said that since 2013, more than 1,800 IDPs have been gifted apartments in Tbilisi. “This process is ongoing and very soon all IDP families will be given apartments,” he added. “The apartments are renovated with gas, electric-

ity and metering,” Subari said, adding that the families will be able to move into their new homes immediately. Last month the minister announced that some internally displaced persons would no longer receive the state monthly support worth 45 GEL, and clarified that this concerned those families whose members were employed and who had already received accommodation from the government. In addition, Subari said that the poorest refugees would receive doubled monthly support from the state. On February 9, 2017, the government approved the 2017-2018 National Strategy Implementation Action Plan for refugees. The minister said that the plan had many directions, and its priorities were providing refugees with accommodation. It will also help them gain their own sources of income. According to this national strategy, 4000 refugees are to receive accommodation in 2017-2018.



MARCH 10 - 13, 2017


Barbare Jorjadze Cabinet Opens at National Library of Parliament of Georgia to Support Feminism Studies Development Program (UNDP) in Georgia said, going on to emphasize the importance of the role of women in social development and the need to address gender equality and balance issues in today’s globalized world. “We have great pleasure in recognizing Barbare Jorjardze, who can be considered as the first Georgian feminist, and in being able to appreciate the strength of her vision and ability to set forward the issues and challenges of women and gender equality,” Sharp said. “The 8th of March is International Women’s Day. It is a historic sign that feminism as a solidarity movement suceeded. The ideas of feminism are not unknown in Georgia; on the contrary, it was with Barbare Jorjadze’s enormous efforts that women in Georgia got their right to vote,” said Dimitri Tskitishvili, Foreign Affairs Department Deputy and Member of the Gender Equality Council at the Parliament of Georgia.



ymbolically, on 8th of March, as the world celebrated International Women’s Day, a study room named after renowned 19th century Georgian public

figure, Barbare Jorjadze, was opened at the National Library of Georgia. Barbare Jorjadze is considered to be one of the first Georgian feminists and women’s rights activists. Sadly, the Georgian publicist and writer is better known as the author of a famous cookbook, rather than the first woman to voice issues of inequality between men and

women in Georgian society. The idea of creating a room named after her came as a recognition of all the 19th century women in Georgia who expressed and shared their feminist ideas and visions in a public discourse. “Gender equality is the key to achieving social and economic progress,” Shombi Sharp, Deputy Head of the United Nations

Women's Rights. Source:

The Barbare Jorjadze Cabinet is now open to those interested in exploring and researching gender equality and feminism issues. A digitalized library of the Georgian female writer’s and scholar’s works, and publications from the 19th and 20th century, will be available there. “We hope that many feminism activists, students and researchers working on women’s issues will make use of the Barbare Jorjadze Cabinet,” said Nana Pantsulaia, Director of the Women’s Fund. The project was carried out at the initiative of the Feminist Group and members Lela Gaprindashvili, Ida Bakhturidze and Tamta Melashvili, in collaboration with the Georgian National Library and with the support of the Women’s Fund of Georgia, UNDP, and the Government of Sweden under the UN Joint Program for Gender Equality. The design of the room was made by a feminist Georgian artist, Anuk Beluga.




MARCH 10 - 13, 2017

What's in Store: Etseri, Svaneti BY TONY HANMER


fter much debate, looking at many issues and sides with some trepidation... my wife and I have decided to re-open The Shop in

our home. The main change is that we won't extend credit to anyone anymore, having learned the hard way that this can lead to a huge buildup of unpaid bills and plenty of bad feeling between us and the debtors. Too much stress! We also took advantage of my brother in law's recent visit, with his surprise wife, to use an extra pair of hands around the house. Not only did we perform some boyhood-recollecting water works in the ground ice to channel melt runoff from flowing into the garage; not only did we dig out a lot of planks wintering under about four feet of snow;

we also built a huge new set of shelves to expand the space of The Shop. My wife is now happily stocking them and fulfilling one of her dreams for this enterprise. The added space is about, let's see, 15" wide by 115" long times 5 shelves, equaling 8625 square inches, or nearly 60 square feet, or 9.3 square meters! We used a circular saw a few times, handsaw, axe, nails and hammer, tape measure, set square, level and not much else, with a lot of careful planning to get it right. Measure once (or, the Georgians say, a hundred times), cut once. In the end, we decided not to use any of the "unearthed" planks, as they're pretty rough and uneven, and my wife reminded me that there was a much better source up in the attic, sitting unused. My precious, golden, solid, nicely stacked and air-dried elm planks, two whole cubic meters of them, waiting several years now to be turned who knows when into the interior of my long

dreamt of sauna. I bit the bullet and allowed about twelve of them to go into the new shelving system. The sauna? Still to come, but not next on the renovation and building list anyway. We still need to add two floors of south-facing balconies; finish the entire exterior of the house and garage; consider a gazebo; do landscaping and ground works to channel water better; and more. The Shop has proven itself to be of huge benefit to Etseri, and my wife likewise has shown herself to be a more than capable manager of its growth and flourishing. So many of the villagers begged us to reopen it, even with no credit extended, that we can now remind them of their own condition. Who gets

credit when they go from here to shop in Mestia, say, or Zugdidi? No one! Learn to save in your own neighborhood, too! I'll play the bad guy and remind people of the no credit thing when necessary; I'll drive down to the main road and pick up stock from distributors passing through if they can't come up to the house, though the road up will soon be ice-free. I'll haul boxes as required, too; and she'll manage the day to day running of the whole thing, and the accounts, at which I'm basically hopeless. The huge freezer we bought secondhand upon moving here is plenty large enough for frozen goods, so there's little we can't stock, space and budget being the only constraints.

We've also learned well what items are our bestsellers and which might take longer to move, how long towards the sell-by date we dare to go with which perishables, and so on. And now, let the word go out, we're open once again for business! 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 1350 members, at He and his wife also run their own guest house in Etseri:


Museum of Tbilisi History to Host Exhibition of Iranian and Georgian Photographers BY NINO GUGUNISHVILI


he National Museum of Georgia and the Department of Culture of the Embassy of the Islamic Republic of Iran to Georgia has organized an exhibition of Georgian and Iranian photographers for an Iranian photography and film retrospective week. The exhibition, entitled “Sea: A Symbol




TK 387 TK 385 TK 383 TK 386 TK 384 TK 382





05.50 11.45 18.10 01.40 07.30 13.55

07.25 13.25 20.00 04.55 10.50 17.15





17.50 13.55

19.10 16.55

TK 381

of Friendship” unites sixty works by Georgian and Iranian artists and introduces the theme of the sea as a symbol of unity and friendship- “a mood and a space that could mean anything related to humanity and society”. Cinema lovers will also have the chance to attend an Iranian film retrospective at the Tbilisi State Institute of Theater and Film on March 10. WHERE: Museum of Tbilisi History (Karvasla), 8 Sioni Str., Tbilisi WHEN: March 9-11

EVERYDAY TK 380 TK 393 TK 392


10 Galaktion Street

Tel: (995 32) 2 45 08 08 E-mail:



MARCH 10 - 13, 2017


Live Books: A Poet Meets the Public on Marjanishvili Stage BY MAKA LOMADZE


n March 6, Live Books, a project of the Ministry of Culture and Monument Protection, hosted a meeting with Givi Alkhazishvili, an experienced poet, on the stage of the Marjanishvili State Theater. “This is my selected poetry from over 30 different collections. The official presentation will take place on April 11, at the National Library. In recent years, writers visited schools in the regions to popularize reading and literature. It’s been quite a while since the program stopped, but then author Keti Dumbadze thought of a way [to return this nice tradition],” Alkhazishvili told GEORGIA TODAY. This is part of an unprecedentedly large-scale literary-educational project from the Ministry which was begun in 2015 on April 14, the day of Georgian language. Initially, it was carried out in available educational centers and institutions all around Georgia. 75 writers were initially involved. The project comprised visits to public schools, libraries, museums and houses of culture, as well as poetry soirees and discussions with local populations. Later, the project grew and penetrated into penitentiary and

military departments. Nowadays, the project is systematically carried out in public schools and at the Marjanishvili Theater. “I have an idea to involve our writertranslators in the project in order to make it [bilingual],” Dumbadze, author of the project and the Minister’s counselor in the field of literature, told us. “Then we will invite the representatives of embassies [accredited in Georgia], as I think that they should be aware of not only Georgian friendship but first and foremost, of Georgian poetry. I want them to be able to listen to poetic translations. Therefore, I think it would be good to give translations to poets. I hope that this project will be long-running and that our participants are very fruitful. Today, we have a representative of the older generation. Such tete-a-tete meetings with writers have been really missed”. Since February 2016, on every third Monday, the ‘Basement’ of Marjanishvili Theater has hosted writers and poets who share their creative works with readers via mono-performances. Normally, the format is free, with participants choosing their form of selfexpression, be it a modern performance, or a mere appearance and reading. This time, a more classical form was chosen with the poet presenting his selected works in the light of a lamp, a symbol

Source: Gela Bedianashvili

of his age and calm character; a romantic and also amusing environment. The poetic interludes were filled with memories from the author’s private life, saturated with a sense of humor. Alkhazishvili presented himself as an ordinary person without any masks, a person with weaknesses who does not

talk to the public from a pedestal. In 2015, the literary project Live Books was awarded a prize by the Georgian TV Broadcaster in the category of “Best Literary Event of the Year”. On March 27, the Georgian-speaking community interested in discovering Georgian poetic pearls will have a pos-

sibility to listen to Tariel Chanturia, one of the Last Mohicans of Georgian poetry, distinguished with poetic neologisms, sense of humor and individual style. WHERE: 8 Marjanishvili Str. WHEN: Every third Monday TICKET: 7 GEL. Entrance is free for students




MARCH 10 - 13, 2017


TBILISI ZAKARIA PALIASHVILI OPERA AND BALLET THEATER Address: 25 Rustaveli Ave. Telephone: 2 99 04 56 March 12, 15 AIDA Starring: Irine Ratiani, Giorgi Oniani, Tea Demurishvili, Nikoloz Lagvilava, Kakhaber Tetvadze, Gia Asatiani, Nutsa Zakaidze, Tamaz Saginadze, Tbilisi State Opera and Ballet Theater choir, Ballet dancers, orchestra Stage Director and Set Designer: Franco Zeffirelli Assistant Director and Light Designer: Stefano Trespidi Conductor: Zaza Azmaiparashvili Start time: 19:00 Ticket: 10-80 GEL March 10 BALLET GALA CONCERT Program: The Third Act of SLEEPING BEAUTY By Piotr Tchaikovsky, GRAND PAS FROM DON QUIXOTE By Ludwig Minkus One-act ballet SERENADE By George Balanchine With the participation of Prima Ballerina Nina Ananiashvili Start time: 19:00 Ticket: 10 - 50 GEL March 13 NINO MACHAIDZE & NIKOLOZ RACHVELI Georgian Philharmonic Orchestra Conductor: Nikoloz Rachveli Start time: 19:00 Ticket: 20 - 75 GEL GEORGIAN STATE PANTOMIME THEATER Address: 37 Rustaveli Ave. Telephone: 2 99 63 14 March 10, 11 SONNETS William Shakespeare Directed by Amiran Shalikashvili Start time: 19:00 Ticket: 10-15 GEL

GRIBOEDOVI THEATER Address: 2 Rustaveli Ave. Telephone: 2 93 43 36 March 11 THE GOVERNMENT INSPECTOR Nikolay Gogol Directed by Avtandil Varsimashvili Language: Russian Start time: 18:00 Ticket: 10 GEL March 12 SCARLET SAIL Alexander Grin Directed by Avtandil Varsimashvili Language: Russian Start time: 12:00 Ticket: 10 GEL March 17 ENGLISH DETECTIVE Agatha Christie Directed by Vakhtang Nikolava Language: Russian Start time: 18:00 Ticket: 10 GEL MOVEMENT THEATER Address: 182, Aghmashenebeli Ave., Mushthaid park Telephone: 599 555 260 March 10 THE TEMPEST Directed by Ioseb Bakuradze Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 15 GEL March 11, 12 INTRO Directed by Kakha Bakuradze Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 15 GEL March 17 IGI Jemal Karchkhadze Directed by Kakha Bakuradze Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 15 GEL TBILISI VASO ABASHIDZE MUSIC AND DRAMA STATE THEATER Address: 182 D.Agmashenebeli Ave. Telephone: 2 34 80 90 March 10, 11, 12 CHRISTMAS TALE

Directed by Davit Doiashvili Musical Start time: 19:00 Ticket: 8, 10 GEL March 13, 14 MARY POPPINS Directed by Davit Doiashvili Musical Start time: March 10 - 17:00, March 11, 12 –19:00 Ticket: 8, 10 GEL MARJANISHVILI THEATER Address: 5 Marjanishvli St. Telephone: 2 95 59 66 March 11, 12 CANDOCO PERFORMANCES Start time: March 11 - 19:00, March 12 - 21:00 Ticket: 10-20 GEL THE BILTMORE HOTEL TBILISI Address: 29 Rustaveli Ave. Telephone: 2 72 72 72 March 11 SUKHISHVILEBI EXCLUSIVE EVENT Start time: 19:30 Ticket: 250 GEL CINEMA

AMIRANI CINEMA Address: 36 Kostava St. Telephone: 2 99 99 55 Every Wednesday ticket price: 5 Lari March 10-16 MOONLIGHT Directed by Barry Jenkins Cast: Mahershala Ali, Shariff Earp, Duan Sanderson Genre: Drama Language: Russian Start time: 19:45 Ticket: 13-14 GEL LOGAN Directed by James Mangold Cast: Doris Morgado, Hugh Jackman, Dafne Keen Genre: Action, Drama, Sci-Fi Language: Russian Start time: 16:45, 22:15 Ticket: 10-14 GEL

KONG: SKULL ISLAND Directed by Jordan Vogt-Roberts Cast: Brie Larson, Tom Hiddleston, Samuel L. Jackson Genre: Action, Adventure, Fantasy Language: Russian Start time: 14:15, 17:00, 19:15, 22:00 Ticket: 9-14 GEL TRAINSPOTTING Directed by Danny Boyle Cast: Ewan McGregor, Ewen Bremner, Jonny Lee Miller Genre: Drama Language: Russian Start time: 14:15, 19:45, 22:15 Ticket: 9-14 GEL RUSTAVELI CINEMA Address: 5 Rustaveli Ave. Telephone: 2 55 50 00 Every Wednesday ticket: 5 GEL March 10-16 FIFTY SHADES DARKER Directed by James Foley Cast: Bella Heathcote, Dakota Johnson, Jamie Dornan Genre: Drama, Romance Language: Russian Start time: 22:00 Ticket: 13-14 GEL MUSEUM

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

MUSEUM OF FINE ARTS Address: 1 Gudiashvili Str. March 6 – April 6 THE EXHIBITION MASTERPIECES FROM MUSEUM OF FINE ARTS COLLECTION The exhibition showcases unique masterpieces of Georgian and world art preserved in the Museum of Fine Arts: Bernardo Daddi, Lucas Cranach (Elder), Guido Reni, Jan Steen, Jacob Van Ruisdael, Auguste Rodin, Pablo Picasso, Vassily Kandinski, Robert Falk, Masterpieces by Niko Pirosmanashvili, Lado Gudiashvili and David Kakabadze. IOSEB GRISHASHVILI TBILISI HISTORY MUSEUM - KARVASLA Address: 8 Sioni St. Telephone: 2 98 22 81 March 9-11 Photo Exhibition SEA – SYMBOL OF FRIENDSHIP MUSEUM OF SOVIET OCCUPATION Address: 3 Sh. Rustaveli Ave. PERMANENT EXHIBITION Visitors can discover the State's personal files of "subversive" Georgian public figures, orders to shoot or exile, and other artifacts representing Soviet-era cultural and political repression in Georgia. GALLERY


THE NATIONAL GALLERY Address: 11 Rustaveli Ave.




March 10 - 28 RETROSPECTIVE EXHIBITION OF AMIR KAKABADZE Dedicated to the 75-year anniversary of the artist. The exhibition showcases artworks created in different media: painting, graphic, sculpture, pop art, film and theater painting. MUSIC

TBILISI CONCERT HALL Address:1 Melikishvili St. Telephone: 2 99 00 99 March 10 CONTEMPORARY MUSIC EVENING SANDRO CHIJAVADZE 100 Start time: 19:00 Tbilisi Concert Hall March 10, 11 NINO KATAMADZE & INSIGHT Georgian Philharmonic Orchestra, Giorgi Zagareli (viola), Trinity Cathedral Choir, Svimon Jangulashvili. Music director: Nikoloz Rachveli Start time: 19:00 Ticket: 25-50 GEL MOVEMENT THEATER Address: 182, Aghmashenebeli Ave., Mushthaid park Telephone: 599 07 50 61 March 14 JAZZ AT MT RESO KIKNADZE QUINTET Free Admission Start time: 21:00 March 15 Milonga, La Cumparsita Argentine Tango Dance Night Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 5 GEL




Kaleidoscope of Harmony, Voices & Colors in Verdi’s Aida Source: The Georgian National Museum

Masterpieces of Georgian & World Art: The Past, Present & Future of the Georgian Museum BY MAKA LOMADZE



n March 4, the long-awaited Aida triumphantly conquered the stage of the Tbilisi Opera and Ballet Theater. It was a real festival of Verdi’s music, as well as a nice occasion that presented to the Georgian audience a bouquet of the most renowned Georgian opera singers, usually scattered all over the world. Aida happened to be an opening soiree for the 165th anniversary season of Tbilisi Opera and Ballet Theater and tickets were sold long before the premiere. The director, Stefano Trespidi, Zeffirelli’s entrusted representative. The special guest of the day was outstanding conductor Daniel Oren, who came just for the concert. “Where, in the past, the best world voices were from Italy, nowadays, they belong to Georgia,” Oren said. Iano Tamar, renowned Georgian soprano, sang the part of Aida. We asked for comments before the performance: “I met this offer to participate in this staging with childish enthusiasm. This is really a festive event. Here, our opera elite are represented. However, we have many more famous stars. We are like one family, with a director who is distinguished for his high professionalism and sense of humor. We are very happy and will be even happier if such projects multiply in Georgia”. “It has been a great luxury that even some developed countries cannot afford. I have sung in Aida for twelve years now, but this performance is really distinguished,” George Oniani, famous tenor, playing the part of Radames, said. Anita Rachvelishvili, mezzo soprano, playing , gave her best on stage. “Georgians are very critical about Georgian singers. It’s a well-known fact that before Georgians acknowledge you, the world should acknowledge you,” Rachvelishvili said. “So, I feel a great responsibility. I’m very lucky that I will be performing with such a great troupe. Zeffirelli is a never changing Libretto and his performances are always simple and beautiful. He has become renowned for his visual splendor”. Rachvelishvili is said to be a unique female singer and with limitless vocal and artistic capacities, she mesmerized the whole audience. She has been nominated for the Opera Awards 2017 as the Best

Female Singer. This is already a victory, as not a single mezzo soprano has ever been nominated for this prestigious ceremony. Winners of the 2017 International Opera Awards will be announced on May 7 at the London Coliseum. We wish her a success! Ramaz Chikviladze, bass, playing the King of Egypt told GEORGIA TODAY, “No one should complain that a lot of money has been spent on this. If we want a renaissance, we should spare nothing. I think that the Ministry of Culture should do much more for the Theater. These are voices that can adorn any stage of the world”. George Andghuladze, a 32-year-old bass, is an Italian citizen who always appears as a Georgian singer. As a child, he met with legendary Robertino Loreti in Almaty, who told him that he reminded him of his childhood. Andghuladze has worked with Trespidi and Marco Boemi [conductor of March 5 and 7] before. “This project would not have happened but for the initiative and dedication of Badri Maisuradze [Artistic head of the Opera]. We need co-productions to fully overcome the crisis and be equal to world standards, even more so that the potential is there”. George Gagnidze, baritone, played the part of the Ethiopian King, Aida’s father: “This is a great event for Georgia, as Zeffirelli has never been staged here. Symbolically, this is Aida’s year for me. After Tbilisi, I’m going to the Metropolitan where Aida awaits me again. Later, in autumn, I will participate in Placido Domingo's Aida World Tour and sing Amonasro's part in Stockholm and Frankfurt. I sang in 11 performances of Franco Zeffirelli in the US. In 2016, I performed six times in Zeffirelli’s Pagliacci which was staged by his assistant Stefano Trespidi, the same director who staged Aida in Tbilisi.” There are several versions of Aida. This is the second edition, staged in Busseto, Parma, in Verdi’s homeland. The Georgian premiere came to an end with streams of applauses and a sea of flowers. As the singers mentioned in talks with GEORGIA TODAY, this is an experiment and if people like it, Tbilisi Opera Theater will carry on hiring performances from abroad. Judging by the delight, we should anticipate many more indelible soirees. On March 5, a mixed troupe performed, and on March 7, foreign singers presented Aida. The local soloists and troupe will present Aida with the same decorations on March 12, 15 and 18. All the performances are held together with the local choir, ballet and orchestra.



Commercial Director: Iva Merabishvili Marketing Manager: Mariam Giorgadze



Editor-In-Chief: Katie Ruth Davies

Journalists: Tony Hanmer, Zaza Jgarkava, Maka Bibilashvili, Dimitri Dolaberidze, Maka Lomadze, Tim Ogden, Joseph Larsen, Vazha Tavberidze, Nugzar B. Ruhadze, Nino Gugunishvili, Thea Morrison

n March 6, the Georgian National Museum Shalva Amiranashvili Museum of Fine Arts opened the exhibition ‘The Museum of Fine Arts - Yesterday, Today, Tomorrow’ and presented the museum rehabilitation master plan. The exhibition showcases unique masterpieces of Georgian and world art preserved in the Museum of Fine Arts, which include works by: Bernardo Daddi, Lucas Cranach (Elder), Guido Reni, Jan Steen, Jacob Van Ruisdael, Auguste Rodin, Pablo Picasso, Vassily Kandinski, Robert Falk, Niko Pirosmanashvili, Lado Gudiashvili and David Kakabadze. Visitors have the possibility to view outstanding pieces of Georgian art, including a small triptych of the Virgin Mary from Ubisa (XIVc.); The Apocalypse - Revelation of John the Divine (I-II cc.); various artifacts made of stone, bone, metal and clay from the Uplistsikhe archaeological excavations; the cover-page of the Quran; unique Qajar paintings; and an altar screen panel from Svetitskhoveli (V-VI cc.). Along with the exhibition, visitors will get a chance to see the museum development plan. In his opening speech, Davit Lortkipanidze, Director General of the Georgian National Museum stressed that the restoring of the Museum of Fine Arts and establishment of a Museum District, symbolizes the present and future of the Georgian museums: “This is a very important day. I am sure that this is only the start of the process of restoring the Museum of Fine Arts and the development of the street (former Ketskhoveli, current Gudiashvili). This was the dream of many generations of the museum’s leadership. In 1973, Shalva Amiranashvili suggested Eduard Shevardnadze build a new building that would increase the number of tourists by creating an analogue of the Museum Island in Berlin. Since then, a lot of years have passed; things have changed; we have a totally new country. But we face the same problems regarding the museum again, whilst in Germany, islands of museums have widely developed. I want to thank all the employees of Georgian National Museum who have been

Photographer: Irakli Dolidze Layout: Misha Mchedlishvili Webmaster: Sergey Gevenov Circulation Managers: David Kerdikashvili, David Djandjgava

involved in the preparatory works for their unity.” Purportedly, this is the third attempt of the rehabilitation of the Museum of Fine Arts. Lortkipanidze notes that this time they are ready to go all the way, adding that this institution will belong to each and every Georgian citizen. “Since my appointment, I have been astonished by the scale of infrastructural problems in our sphere,” said Mikheil Giorgadze, Minister of Culture and Monument Protection. “I’m very happy and proud that we have started to restore a lot of buildings by taking concrete steps”. In the process of planning the new building, the issues of improved conditions for employees and transport of the museum collections were taken into account. After the rehabilitation, the museum will be equipped according to world museum standards. Tamaz Sanikidze, the author of the first project for the museum’s restoration in the 1980s, will act as consultant to the current project: “When we organized the exhibition of the Janashia and History museums and National Center of Manuscripts at Grand Palais, Paris, preceded by Geneva and Vienna, the French press mentioned Georgia as a new hearth of civilization. I want to be optimistic that, soon, our museums will reach such a high level that they will bring more glory to the Georgian nation.” The building of the Museum of Fine Arts, built in 1830, is in a deplorable state and its infrastructure needs complete renovation, with funds and exhibition halls having inappropriate climatic conditions. The main component for museum reforms in Georgia is the formation of the Georgian National Museum National Center of Antiquities (a conservation-restoration center). The detailed renovation plan was prepared in 2009, in the frames of an EUfunded project, with cooperation between the Georgian National Museum, Prussian Cultural Heritage Foundation and Berlin State Museums. The new standards will provide proper preservation, protection and exposure for the museum collections, as well as increasing the options for scientific and educational activities. The exposition ‘The Museum of Fine Arts - Yesterday, Today, Tomorrow’ will last for around a month.


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MARCH 10 - 13, 2017

BP & Georgian National Paralympic Committee Extend Partnership to 2020


P in Georgia announced Tuesday that it has extended its partnership with the Georgian National Paralympic Committee (GNPC) and the Georgian Paralympic athlete ambassadors through to the end of 2020. The extension of the partnership was made official during the signing ceremony with BP General Manager in Georgia, Chris Schlueter, and President of the Georgian National Paralympic Committee, Shalva Maisuradze, at the Parasports Development Center. BP has extended its official partnership with the GNPC beyond the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games until the completion of the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games. Within the renewed partnership agreement BP will continue to support the Georgian National Paralympic committee and BP’s three athlete ambassadors - Zviad Gogochuri, winner of the gold medal in Blind Judo at the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games; Nika Tvauri, swimmer and Irma Khetsuriani, wheelchair fencer – to help promote the Paralympic movement in Georgia and prepare for the major Paralympic event to be hosted by Tokyo in 2020. “The great energy and success of our world-class Paralympic athletes is an inspiration for me, my colleagues at BP and Georgian society,” said Schlueter. “BP is privileged to be the first official partner of the GNPC since the 2011. We are happy our partnership has contributed to the development of the Paralympic movement in the country. We continue our partnership with the Georgian National Paralympic Committee and our athlete ambassadors to build

on the success Georgia’s Paralympic team achieved in the international arena at the Paralympic games in Rio”. “For the Georgian Paralympic Committee, it is very important to be supported by a strong company like BP in Georgia,” said Maisuradze. “BP was the first official partner of GNPC and we are delighted to be able to continue this partnership until 2020. This will help

the Paralympic movement develop in Georgia. BP’s athlete ambassador program is equally important and unprecedented in its support of Para athletes. We believe this partnership will serve as a role model and other companies will also express a desire to become a partner of the Georgian Paralympic Committee. We are already working with the VTB bank in this direction.

They were the first to support winter Para sport development in Georgia. Under this sponsorship, two Para athletes and two coaches attended theoretical and practical courses in alpine skiing and cross country skiing at the ski resort in Poland. VTB has already supported the purchase of two wheelchairs for wheelchair skiing”. BP in Georgia, in partnership with the

GNPC, has supported the Georgian Paralympic team with the development and preparation for the Paralympic games in London and Rio. BP is also an international partner of the International Paralympic Committee, the governing body of the Paralympic movement. BP first came to Georgia in 1996. Together with its business partners, BP has been operating major oil and gas pipelines in Georgia for more than 20 years. BP’s activities in Georgia feature three major energy projects, in which we are the lead investor and operator: The Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan (BTC) pipeline, Western Route Export Pipeline (WREP) and The South Caucasus gas Pipeline (SCP) and ongoing expansion activities. BP invested more than $3 billion into energy business and social projects in Georgia and beyond including the jobs we create and the taxes we pay. Major part of its contribution to Georgia is in providing gas from SCP for domestic use, which provides great value to the country and additional gas volumes when the new SCP Expansion (SCPX) project facilities come on stream. Today, more than 3800 Georgian citizens are employed on SCPX project in Georgia. BP employs 500 people within its operations in Georgia and generates business for local suppliers and contractors. Over the past years, BP has contributed to a wide range of projects in Georgia which have sought to help local communities, promote business development, support education and protect Georgia’s cultural and natural environment.

Profile for Georgia Today

Issue #927  

March 10 - 13, 2017

Issue #927  

March 10 - 13, 2017