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Issue no: 1047

• MAY 11 - 14, 2018

• PUBLISHED TWICE WEEKLY

PRICE: GEL 2.50

In this week’s issue... US Denounces Breakaway S.Ossetia's Closure of "Border" with Georgia NEWS PAGE 2

The Georgians in Afghanistan POLITICS PAGE 6

What Next in Iran? POLITICS PAGE 7

Azerbaijan to Export Electricity to Bulgaria via Turkey BUSINESS PAGE 8

Economy Minister of Israel Visiting Georgia to ‘Strengthen Existing Economic Bridges’

FOCUS ON ROMANIA

CineDoc's Guest Country this year was Romania. We take a look at one of the films it featured

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SOCIETY PAGE 9

Smoking Ban - 25 Fines Imposed in One Week

SOCIETY PAGE 11

Sounds of Georgia Offers Mini-Concerts for Tourists in Tbilisi

BY THEA MORRISON

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welve individuals and 13 legal entities were fined in a week by the Ministry of Internal Affairs (MIA) for violation of the new tobacco regulations which entered into force

on May 1. On May 5, two persons were arrested in a bar in Georgia’s western town of Kutaisi for refusing to obey the law. A total of 46 calls were made to the MIA regarding violations of the smoking ban from May 1 to May 8. Up to 2000 police officers have been assigned to monitor the execution of the law. Smoking of tobacco, including electronic cigarettes and hookah, is prohibited in all enclosed areas, with the exception of houses, psychiatric clinics, penitentiary facilities and casinos. Smoking of cigars is only allowed in cigar-bars,

Tree Planting Counters Landslides and Erosion in Kazbegi

CULTURE PAGE 12

Night Life in Tbilisi: City Hall’s New Concept where food products are not sold. A special license is necessary to open such a bar. In the first instance of violation, institutions are being fined GEL 500. In case of repeated violation, the fine goes up to GEL 1000. Individuals who break the law can expect a GEL 50 fine and, in case of repeated violation, the fine will be doubled.

Smoking in air, sea or land public transport also carries a penalty. The driver of the transport is to be fined 500 GEL, and if repeated, this will be doubled. However, if an individual person smokes on land public transport, the violator is to be fined 100 GEL. For violation of rules in air or rail transport, the violator is to be fined 50 GEL, which will be doubled in case of repeat violation.

CULTURE PAGE 15


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NEWS

GEORGIA TODAY

MAY 11 - 14, 2018

US Denounces Breakaway S.Ossetia's Closure of "Border" with Georgia

BY THEA MORRISON

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eather Nauert, the Spokesperson of the US Department of State, has released a statement denouncing the decision of de facto authorities of Georgia’s Russian-backed breakaway region of South Ossetia, regarding the closure of the so called border with Georgia for four days. “The United States is concerned by the decision of the de facto South Ossetian authorities to temporarily close controlled crossing points in Georgia along

the administrative boundary line in the Russian-occupied territory of South Ossetia,” the statement reads. The US Department of State added that these closures coincide with Georgia’s celebration of Victory Day and restrict freedom of movement for residents living on both sides of the administrative boundary line. “In addition, the United States calls for an immediate halt to the ongoing illegal detentions of Georgian citizens by de facto and Russian authorities along the administrative boundary lines with the Russian-occupied territories of Abkhazia and South Ossetia,” the statement reads.

Georgian National Communications Commission Launches Media Literacy Project BY THEA MORRISON

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he Georgian National Communications Commission (GNCC) has started implementation of a Media Literacy Project which envisages raising the quality of media and

helping people to develop critical thinking skills so that they can better analyze information provided by the media. The commission plans to develop the project in four directions: 1. A 3-6-month course for media managers, producers and journalists. The goal of the course is to assist media representatives to increase the knowledge and qualification of multimedia content.

2. The development of media criticism that will help journalists and producers in their work and to function as a guide for consumers to choose which media products to use. 3. Raising awareness of consumers in order to help them distinguish real and fake news and good and poor quality products. Continued on page 4


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NEWS

GEORGIA TODAY

MAY 11 - 14, 2018

The Banning of Soviet Symbols in Georgia BY THEA MORRISON

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otalitarian communist and fascist symbols are banned at the legislative level in Georgia. The Liberty Charter, adopted in 2011, bans public display of Soviet and Nazi symbols, including statues or photos of the former Soviet leader and native Georgian, Joseph Stalin. The Charter, among other issues, also envisages the creation of a state commission at the Interior Ministry in charge of gathering information about the existence of symbols, monuments, statues, inscriptions, and the names of streets or squares that reflect or contain “elements of communist or fascist ideology and propaganda.” The law does not apply to private individuals, but it establishes that the use of Soviet totalitarian symbols cannot be used on state and local selfgovernment buildings, squares and streets. Also, the use of these symbols is prohibited at public gatherings and public places. Georgia was the first post-Soviet country outside of the Baltics to ban former KGB operatives and senior Communist Party officials from holding public office. They are also prohibited from serving as university deans or judges. “A Commission shall be established within the State Security Service of Georgia for the purpose of preventing the crimes referred to in Chapter XXXVIII of the Criminal Code of Georgia and for ensuring state security and the development of democracy and for registering and accepting acknowledgements and providing a database of former secret agents of the intelligence services of the former USSR and other state officials referred to in this Law, as well as for the purpose of prohibiting totalitarian Communist and national socialist

(Nazi) regimes and their propaganda and for other purposes referred to in this Law,” says Article 7 of the Freedom Charter. “The factions represented in the Parliament of Georgia shall be granted the right to propose one candidate to the Commission. The composition of the Commission (except for members proposed by the factions represented in the Parliament of Georgia) and its Code of Conduct shall be set out in regulations developed and approved by the head of the State Security Service of Georgia.” In late 2013, the Charter was amended, according to which if, after a warning from the state commission, this provision, banning the public display of such symbols, is still violated, the action will carry a financial penalty of GEL 1000. Despite officially banning totalitarian symbols, the law is said not to be properly executed. For example, the State Security Service (SSS) warned Socialist Georgia party representatives not to use Soviet symbols while celebrating the Day of Victory over fascism on May 9, 2018. However, the party representatives arrived in central Tbilisi's Vake Park with Soviet flags, various symbols and Stalin’s photos. “Communist and Socialist movements are not banned anywhere; no international law or tribunal has prohibited Communist ideals and symbols. The Parliament of Georgia has no right to ban these symbols,” Valery Kvaratskhelia, the party leader stated. Moreover, in Stalin’s hometown Gori, located in central Georgia, locals brought Stalin’s bust into the central square, where a 9-meter statue of him once stood, until 2010, when, on the government’s orders, the statue was dismantled in secret, late at night, in order to avoid the protests. Neither Socialist party nor the Gori locals were fined by the SSS on May 9. Nino Burjanadze, the leader of Democratic Geor-

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Photo: Socialist Georgia holding rally in Vake Park, May 9, 2018 Source: Netgazeti

gia non-parliamentary opposition party, often affiliated with Russia, believes Soviet symbols should not be banned. According to her, in World War II, Georgian soldiers fought with Soviet symbols and the state

should not eradicate them. “Half the world fought against the Nazis with Soviet symbols. Instead of banning them, the state should concentrate on today’s problems and stop acting like fools,” Burjanadze stated.

Poland Opens Case against Nord Stream 2 Funders BY DIMITRI DOLABERIDZE

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he Polish Office for the Protection of Competition (UOKiK) has launched an antitrust investigation against Gazprom and five companies that fund Nord Stream 2. “Two years ago, the company that was supposed to construct the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline was not cleared for this transaction by UOKiK,” explains Marek Niechciał, the President of UOKiK. “Unfortunately, as the preliminary proceedings proved, the entities decided to finance this project despite UOKIK’s objection. This may constitute a violation of anti-monopoly law and that is why we put the allegations to Gazprom and five other entities.” In 2016, Poland denied the project participants permission to create a joint venture for the construction of a gas pipeline on the territory of the country. After that, Gazprom, Shell, Uniper, Wintershall and other participants of the consortium withdrew the relevant application.

According to UOKiK, despite this, the companies nevertheless continued to finance the construction of Nord Stream 2, an act considered a violation of anti-monopoly legislation. If this fact is confirmed, the consortium faces a fine of up to 10 percent of the annual turnover. In addition, the anti-monopoly authority may order the sale of part of the assets of the partnership and dissolve it. The second Nord Stream is to pass along the basin of the Baltic Sea from Russia to Germany. The first Nord Stream transports 55 billion cubic meters of gas per year on two strings; the second gas pipeline is designed for the same capacity.

Georgian National Communications Commission Launches Media Literacy Project Continued from page 2

4. Creation of Media Lab, which will support and fund start-ups in digital media. Start-uppers who develop interesting projects in the direction of digital media will be given a chance to receive funding from Media lab. The Chair of the GNCC, Kakha Bekauri, says that in the modern era, the only instrument for creating a good quality media product is to develop media literacy. In his interview with Imedi TV, Bekauri explained that for start-uppers as well as acting journalists and media managers, the Georgian National Communications Commission will establish an academy within the framework of the Media Literacy Project, where they will be able to improve their skills. “The main emphasis will be placed on technological development and its effect on media. From classical media, we are moving to multimedia. In this regard, we do not have a good situation in Georgia. Even big companies have not developed multimedia products yet,” Bekauri stated. The Chair of the GNCC added that there is no longer a demand for large format media products, but on short and compact ones that are compatible with smartphones and computers.

“The model of media business has changed, because the platform is changing and moving to an internet format,” he explained. Bekauri underlined that although the GNCC is a state body, it is absolutely independent from the state institutions, adding it will not affect media pluralism in training the journalists. “We do not force anyone to study and raise their qualifications in our academy. It is voluntary to participate in our trainings. The whole process is based on the desire of both sides,” he said. As for media pluralism in particular, Bekauri says the situation is ideal in Georgia. “Until 2012, the number of national broadcasters numbered four. Since 2012, the number has increased five times and today there are 21. The number of general TV broadcasters has also doubled, and today there are 98 broadcasters in Georgia,” he added. In December 2017, the Parliament of Georgia adopted amendments to the Georgian Law on Broadcasting and commissioned a new function to the GNCC that includes promoting and developing media literacy in the country. Within the framework of the project, the American media expert at Long Island University, Mitch Semel, has already trained the staff of the GNCC and journalists.


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POLITICS

GEORGIA TODAY

MAY 11 - 14, 2018

The Georgians in Afghanistan EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW BY VAZHA TAVBERIDZE

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eorgia is the number one non-member contributor when it comes to the NATO Mission in Afghanistan: this is one of the more oft mentioned statements when it comes to Georgia’s EuroAtlantic aspirations. And while some might think that the ongoing wait for MAP suggests a lack of appreciation for Georgia’s efforts, the military leadership of the Alliance are anything but. While reporting on the NATO Ministerial last month in the scope of our ‘Messages from Brussels’ series, we spoke to US Colonel Thomas Gukeisen, one of the youngest outgoing commanders of the US forces in Afghanistan, about the quality and experience of Georgian troops.

WHAT CAN YOU SAY ABOUT THE GEORGIANS WHO ARE FIGHTING THERE? I’m very thankful to the country of Georgia. I sleep better at night because they guard me on the base I’m on in Kabul, at the Resolute Support headquarters. I know they get a lot of training before they come. I’ve seen five or six Georgian rotations and I’m very impressed by their professionalism, their attention to detail, their desire for the success of the mission. Any incident or any potential incident occurs, they automatically take the initiative and increase wherever force protection is necessary. It allows me to work and do my job knowing that Georgia is supplying the force protection on the Kabul base. Georgia contributes quite a bit to the mission, more than many other countries in the NATO alliance. I’m thankful for that. It’s a lot for the country of Georgia to commit so many troops in support of the missions.

HOW WELL PREPARED ARE GEORGIAN TROOPS? Very well prepared. They get trained in Georgia with US Marine Corps before they come, so they are always highly trained and ready to execute the mission. And again, I’ve seen six rotations of them and I am very proud to say that Georgians were there protecting many of our NATO alliance members and 38 other

nations, they were guarding all of us. They are trained, well prepared and they execute the mission flawlessly.

WE HEAR THE GEORGIANS HAVE A CHAPEL ON THE BASE One day at nine o’clock, I kept hearing this bell from my room. When I talked to Georgians, they say, you know, we’ve got a little chapel there for services; they ring the bell to let people know that the church is in session.

HAVE YOU EVER BEEN TO GEORGIA? Not yet. I’ve been in Afghanistan for almost two years. So, having a little vacation to Georgia when I finish my mission

here sounds wonderful.

WHAT’S THE ATTITUDE OF THE LOCAL POPULATION TOWARDS US AND GEORGIAN FORCES? I think they’re very grateful. You know that NATO and many others contribute both militarily and financially. And I think we’ve seen a change in the attitude of people; people are standing up now, both women and kids; they say we’re done with war; we want the war to be over.

HOW CLOSE DO YOU THINK WE ARE NOW TO PEACE IN AFGHANISTAN? Closer than we’ve ever been. We had President Ghani’s offer of peace on 20

February and the Kabul Process. On 14 February, the Taliban wrote a letter to America seeking peace. If you look at those two documents, they are closely aligned, more than anything. You have messages from some Talibans seeking peace, you have the Tashkent conference that the international community reaffirmed, the foreign ministerial just now. So you have the international community ready and now it’s up to the Taliban and Afghan government to work out the peculiarities of the peace deal.

THEY COME BACK HOME? Any military force that actually goes on a mission abroad learns quite a bit; they learn about themselves, they learn how to work in operability with other ally countries; so I think the Georgians will be much more prepared by supporting this mission, again it’s about working with other countries, with other nations and the training they get, it’s always good. You can train at home but when you’re abroad, that makes the training that much more real.

HOW USEFUL WILL THE KNOWLEDGE AND EXPERIENCE THE GEORGIAN FORCES GOT IN AFGHANISTAN BE WHEN

His article was prepared in the scope of “Messages from Brussels” series, a project by European Alliance for Georgia, a Brusselsbased advocacy organization dedicated to “Bringing more Georgia into Europe.”

that in the geographical center of Georgia, just 35 km from Tbilisi and a few hundred meters from the vital TbilisiPoti highway and the railway, in very close proximity to the high voltage power lines, stands the occupational army. If needed, the latter could in a matter of minutes block the main highway and railways using tanks decorated with Ossetian flags, which would put into question not only the movement of cargo

to Afghanistan, but the whole statehood of Georgia. Encouraging discussions about changing the Geneva format and starting direct negotiations with occupational regimes should be considered as an answer to the decision taken in Astana, as should the case of Archil Tatunashvili, which nearly served as the detonator that could have blown up new political order that is trying to establish itself at the southern borders of Russia.

Ticking Bombs OP-ED BY ZAZA JGARKAVA

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hile part of the Georgian political elite is busy discussing the return of ex-Premier Bidzina Ivanishvili to big politics, the other is trying to gather something like an oppositional coalition. At the same time, epochal changes are taking place in our geographical neighborhood: Armenians said goodbye to the Soviet ghost and brought a new political figure to lead the government. Although the remix of the ongoing colorful revolution in the streets of Yerevan has somehow overshadowed the transformation of another neighboring country – Kazakhstan, there’s no question that what President Nursultan Nazarbayev just did is perhaps equal to many revolutions, colorful and non, taken together. President Nazarbayev finally agreed to the new route designed to carry special American cargo from the ports of Aktau and Kuryk to Afghanistan. America asked for the said route to start in

Georgia, travel to Azerbaijan, then via the Caspian Sea to Kazakhstan, and on through Uzbekistan to arrive in Afghanistan. After signing this document of historical importance, international media started a discussion about Aktau, saying that it will automatically become a base for the Pentagon and its allies. Apparently, British destroyers and NATO Navy ships have become more active in the Black Sea in response to this event, and, most importantly, they will patrol the Black Sea waters on an ongoing basis. Kazakhstan’s decision once again proved to the Kremlin that in big politics, only interests matter and the friendship of Nazarbayev and Putin was only temporary. In light of these events, the forgotten persona of Eduard Kokoity, the former leader of the occupational regime of Tskhinvali, came to the fore. Although his current debut was a mess of absurd accusations, aired on Tskhinvali and Vladikavkaz television, it is still important to pay attention to the demands he and other “collective Kokoitys” made. The topic concerns the Truso Valley, which is in the area of Borjomi-Bakuriani and Akhalgori, Kokoity proclaim is

their territory by historical right. While Official Tbilisi and the public have a much sharper reaction to the themes of Abkhazia than what’s going on in Tskhinvali and the South Ossetia region, in reality, the geopolitical, military, political, communicational and other aspects of the latter are much more significant and crucial for our country at the moment. The agreement signed by President Nazarbayev once again demonstrated


POLITICS

GEORGIA TODAY MAY 11 - 14, 2018

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What Next in Iran? OP-ED BY BENYAMIN POGHOSYAN

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n May 8, US President Donald Trump made the decision to pull the US out of the Iran nuclear deal (JCPOA). This was done despite all efforts of European leaders to convince Trump to stay in. The President of France and German Chancellor Merkel visited Washington late April and UK Foreign Secretary Johnson was in DC on May 6-7. However, all failed to reach an agreement with the US President. President Trump’s decision means the restoration of the US nuclear related Iran sanctions, including the ones on the Central Bank of Iran that are part of Section 1245 of the FY2012 National Defense Authorization Act. This renewal of US sanctions will potentially have an immediate impact on all countries purchasing oil from Iran, and particularly on countries with financial institutions that have transactions with Iranian banks, since they will be cut off from doing business with the American economy. Immediately after President Trump’s decision, UK Prime Minister Teresa May, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and France President Emmanuel Macron made a joint statement in which they emphasized that the nuclear agreement remained important for their shared security and urged all sides to remain committed to its full implementation. The three leaders said they would remain parties to the JCPOA. They then called on the US to ensure that the structures of the JCPOA could remain intact, and to avoid taking action which may obstruct

British Prime Minister Theresa May, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron | Ludovic Marin/ AFP via Getty Images

its full implementation by all other parties to the deal. In a televized address, Iranian President Rouhani called President Trump’s decision to pull the US out of the Iranian nuclear deal illegal and illegitimate and a “violation of international agreements.” He went on to emphasize that Iran had always complied with the nuclear deal and was going to stay in the accord despite the US pullout. The Iranian Foreign Ministry was instructed to hold talks on the nuclear deal with the EU, Russia and China within the next few weeks. Leader of the Islamic Revolution, Ayatollah Khamenei, during his visit to the Farhangian University on May 9, stated that Iran did not trust the three European countries which are part of the deal and without receiving a strong

guarantee from them, Iran was not going to stick to the nuclear agreement. President Trump’s decision will further complicate the geopolitical situation around Iran. In recent months, the region has been facing the growing Iran-Israel rivalry in Syria. Just hours after President Trump’s May 8 decision, Israeli military jets attacked an Iranian base near Damascus. According to Israeli sources, Iran was going to launch missiles targeting Israel from that base in retaliation to the Israeli attack against the T4 Iranian base near Syrian Homs carried out on April 9. Meanwhile, the May 6 Parliamentary elections in Lebanon, the first since 2009, strengthened the Hezbollah positions in the country, potentially making a new Israel-Hezbollah war more likely. Israeli authorities have made multiple state-

ments that they will not tolerate a permanent Iranian military presence in Syria and will not allow use of Syrian territory as a launch pad for producing and delivering modern weaponry, and especially precision missiles, to Lebanon. Israel is actively engaged with Russia in trying to thwart the delivery of modern air defense systems to Syria and use the Russia-Iran partnership in Syria to curb Iranian influence through Russian support. The Israeli Prime Minister recent statement revealing tons of Iranian secret documents, allegedly proving Iran’s breach of the nuclear deal, definitely played a role in tilting President Trump towards pulling the US out of the deal. The US decision will put additional pressure on the Iranian economy, which

is already in a turbulent phase with continuing depreciation of the Iranian currency and growing unemployment. The December 2017-January 2018 mass demonstrations in different Iranian cities proved the growing discontent among the Iranian population. However, it may take years if not decades to see the worsening economy create the necessary conditions for fundamental changes to be made in the Iranian foreign policy. Meanwhile, the President Trump’s decision makes any further US-Iran negotiations on issues relating to the future of Iran’s ballistic missile program or Iran’s regional activities less likely to happen. It will also strengthen the positions of foreign policy hardliners in Iran who argue that any negotiations with the US are senseless, as Washington can’t be trusted. In the short-term perspective, both Iran and other members of the nuclear deal will continue to adhere to the 2015 agreement, but the unilateral US decision paves way for Iran to more actively pursue its ballistic missile program as well as strengthen its involvement in Syria, Iraq, Yemen and Lebanon. Tehran will likely seek to deepen its cooperation with Turkey and Russia, creating necessary leverage in its relations with the US and Israel. Thus, President Trump’s decision will not prevent Iran form continuing on its current foreign policy course and will bring the Iran-Israel military conflict, with the potential involvement of Saudi Arabia, closer. In such a scenario, Syria and Lebanon may well be transformed into an Israel-Iran-Saudi Arabia conflict hotspot, which will only prolong the sufferings of the Syrian people with no clear path to victory for either side.


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BUSINESS

GEORGIA TODAY

MAY 11 - 14, 2018

Siberia: Russia’s Alternative Vector Azerbaijan to Export Electricity to Bulgaria via Turkey BY DIMITRI DOLABERIDZE

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zerbaijan plans to start exporting electricity to Bulgaria through the territory of Turkey, the head of Azerenergy JSC, Etibar Pirverdiyev, announced. “Some years ago, the leadership of Azerbaijan set the task of exporting electric power to Turkey and gradually increasing in volume,” Pirverdiyev noted. “Work in this direction is ongoing. Exports of electricity through Turkey to Greece are ensured, starting this year. Now, negotiations have begun on the supply of electricity from Azerbaijan to Bulgaria through Turkey.” The Head of Azerenerji did not specify what volumes of electricity exports to Bulgaria are being discussed, but he did point out that at present Azerbaijan occupies an important position in the balance of the electric energy of Turkey. He added that work is underway to create a North-South energy corridor between Iran, Azerbaijan and Russia, as well as an East-West energy corridor, which provides for the unification of the energy systems of Azerbaijan, Rus-

sia and Georgia, as well as Azerbaijan, Georgia and Iran. “I hope that urgent measures to increase the generation capacity of the energy system and upgrade the transmission infrastructure, taking into account the favorable geographical position of Azerbaijan, will allow the country to become the leader in the region for the export and transit of electricity,” he stressed. As reported, Azerbaijan in 2017 exported 1 billion 160 million 196,03 thousand kW / hour for $50 million 968.96 thousand. Total exports to Russia were 124 million 413.86 thousand kW / h of electricity for $7 million 107.08 thousand, to Georgia - 891 million 22.52 thousand kW / hour for $37 million 573.68 thousand, to Turkey - 101 million 469.64 thousand kW / hour for $5 million 73.48 thousand and to Iran - 43 million 290 thousand kW / hour for the amount of $1 million 214.71 thousand. Power generation helps Azerbaijan to create an annual export potential of several billion kWh. To export surplus electricity, Azerbaijan has its eyes on several major projects, including the Energy Bridge Azerbaijan-GeorgiaTurkey, which will allow Azerbaijan to export to Europe about 700 MW of electricity a year.

CEO of Adjara Group Named 2018 Young World Leader by World Economic Forum

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he Executive Director of Adjara Group, Valeri Chekheria, has been named the 2018 Young World Leader by the World Economic

Forum. The 100 most prominent leaders in the age group of 40 years were selected to “create an inclusive and sustainable future.” Valeri Chekheria, Chief Executive Officer at Adjara Group Hospitality, Georgia, has been dubbed “one of the visionaries leading the creative transformation of Georgia's capital, Tbilisi.” His company is said to be on the cusp of “revolutionizing the hospitality industry as the country raises the tourism bar and positions itself as an emerging European destination.” [source: widgets. weforum.org] The world's most promising and hopeful artists, business persons, public servants, technicians and social workers are invited to join the World Economic Forum's Young Global Leaders (YGL).

They join the union and the five-year program, within which they have to think beyond their competence and thus become more influential and more effective leaders. Each is named for their innovative activities, unconventional approach to problems and the bridges they have built between cultures, businesses, government and civil society.

Siberia. Image source: opendemocracy.net

OP-ED BY EMIL AVDALIANI

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he current crisis between Russia and the West is formed from so many fundamental (geopolitical) differences, both in the former Soviet space and elsewhere, that there are indications the relations will remain stalled for long into the future unless one of the sides makes large concessions. This quite naturally leads many to think how this state of affairs will impact the Russian foreign policy. One thing is clear: the direct Russian geopolitical influence around its borders has diminished over the past 25 years or so. Although the break-up of the Soviet Union was indeed catastrophic to what the Russian rulers had been building for centuries, a more fundamental diminishing of the Russian influence has been taking place since 1991. Successful western expansion into what was always considered as the “Russian backyard,” in some sense isolated Russia’s projection of power and diminished the country into the north of Eurasia – between the fast-developing China, Japan and other Asian countries and the technologically modern European landmass. Many foreigners believe that the European advances in the former Soviet space go against Russian state interests, so do the Russians in the Kremlin. True, Ukraine is important, and losing its market to the EU hurt the Russian Eurasian Economic Union. But it often happens in the formation of foreign policy that popular notions take hold over pure state interests. Russia before the World War 1 believed that its state interests lay in its control of the Bosporus and Dardanelles straits. They also believed that the Slavs in the Balkans were Russia’s primary allies in the name of Slavic unity. The Russians also believed that the German and Austro-Hungarian empires were a threat to Russia and entangled themselves in the alliance with France and Great Britain. The truth is that Russia fought the war for France’s revanchist goals of reuniting Alsace and Lorraine, and for Great Britain’s interests of securing domination over the seas. The Russians were always afraid of

invasions from the European continent, but the truth is that most wars fought by them did not directly correspond to Russian state interests. Even today, Russia claims that the country’s western borders are vulnerable because NATO and the EU are marching East. In fact, Russia has far more vulnerable territories, such as the North Caucasus and the porous Central Asia. In some respect, the Russians are simply spending too much of their national energies on problems with the West. Costly military modernization and the support for various separatist regimes in Moldova, Ukraine and Georgia weighs much on the Russian budget. Some Russians could rightly question as to why their country is spending so much on the former Soviet space when Russia’s current borders are more in Asia. Why is their country spending so much on unsuccessfully derailing the Western influences on small lands of Georgia and other parts of the former Soviet space? It is doubly true when one looks at the map of Russia with its large Siberian lands uncultivated and free of population masses.

Tomsk, Russia / erasmusu.com

Siberia is an untapped territory of resources and the Russians have always been curious why their governments have not worked to develop those lands. Today, when Europe is a source of technological progress as Japan and China are, never in Russian history has there been such opportunity to develop Siberia and transform itself into a powerbase of the world economy. Russia’s geographic position is indeed unique and will remain so for another several decades, as the ice cap in the Arctic Ocean is set to diminish significantly. The Arctic Ocean will be transformed into an ocean of commercial highways, giving Russia historical possibilities to become a potential sea power. Chinese and Japanese human and technological resources in the Far East of Russia, and European resources in the West of Russia, will transform the country into a land of opportunity. The battle with Europe might not be the best foreign policy option for Russia, as was the case in the pre-WWI period. Internal economic development is by far the biggest opportunity to exert influence abroad and the Russians still have this chance.


SOCIETY

GEORGIA TODAY MAY 11 - 14, 2018

9

Economy Minister of Israel Visiting Georgia to ‘Strengthen Existing Economic Bridges’ BY ITSIK MOSHE*

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s the balance of power changes throughout the world, new formations are made and strategic partnerships inside the region as well as between neighboring regions gain huge importance. In such times, it is crucial for two countries which have friendly connections with each other to deepen relations and widen cooperative spheres.

WHAT INITIATIVES SHOULD BE MADE? I am very proud that during the last 30 years, around 70% of initiatives have come from our side. At first, the process of connecting Georgia with Israel and with Jews in general was in the format of Jewish agency ‘Sochnut,’ then the process evolved through the framework of Israel-Georgia Chamber of Business and the Israeli House. Over the past two years, we have introduced important initiatives, which have resulted in changing the format for relations between Georgia and Israel. We have more ambitious plans in 2018, including direct official visits, an economic agreement to sign, and the successful implementation of Israeli models, including within the high-tech industry. The Minister of Economy and Industry of Israel, Mr. Eli Cohen, is now on an official visit to Georgia. Bilateral nego-

tiations and achievements within the framework of his visit will strengthen the existing economic bridge which occupies a central position in GeorgiaIsrael relations. Such initiatives, advice, recommendations and linkages are the daily activities of the Israel-Georgia Chamber of Business.

WHAT SHOULD THE ROLE OF THE GOVERNMENT BE? The intensity of the initiative depends on the knowledge of bilateral reality and we therefore consider it our job. Business depends on the private sector, not government and diplomats, but the role of the government is in commiting to promoting and protecting all of this. The initiatives at times receive comments from skeptics. In 2002, we made a statement about daily flights and the irony was felt in the large-scale direct investments which followed right up until the global crisis. It was during that period that Israel's business left Georgia. Some may also look ironically to our recent prediction that Georgia will become a startup country and that there is a huge potential for cooperation with Israel. We already have feedback on the latter. For continuing the activities begun, the government should create a legislative base and intensively protect foreign investments. I strongly believe that the most effective and qualitative measure is not to attract foreign investments, but to solve all the problems they may have.

TOURISM We expressed an optimistic view about the potential of Georgian tourism in 2000, and opened the Georgian Tourism Representative building in Israel. We have been making very noticeable progress since then. Last year, the number of tourists in Georgia rose to 60% and we think that it would be a great accomplishment if such growth was preserved and each day saw a minimum of two direct flights, not only in summer, but year-round. From Israeli tourists alone, Georgia receives more than $100 million dollars and, until 2020, the amount of money coming from Israeli tourists combined with previous years will exceed $1 billion. This number is not enough, which is why conservative and traditional diplomacy, when not combined with public and business diplomacy and with lobbyist activities, will bring no positive impact. Now is the time for lobbyist activities and both sides should activate the working process. This needs a deep knowledge about the other side, its potentials and abilities, if a positive outcome is desired. We are working on new initiatives which will be a great encouragement for the state sector. We think that economic relations between Georgia and Israel cannot be measured only in numbers. In fact, it is a well constructed economic bridge between the two countries. * President of Israel-Georgia Chamber of Business and Founder of Israeli House FSU

Casino Jewel: The Only Choice

C

asino Jewel positions itself as a top gambling establishment, offering a diverse food and beverage experience. The dedicated kitchen is open 24/7 and offers 3-4 different course buffets each day. The internationally well-known chef prepares meals for all preferences, which are then paired with the most delicious cocktails. Food and beverage service is available free for every visitor to the Casino. Experience the luxury for yourself. You will be greeted with a complimentary valet service at the entrance. You’ll then have the chance to enjoy dedicated VIP rooms with personalized and exclu-

sive food and beverage offerings, weekly promotions, slot and poker tournaments, monthly regular and VIP lotteries with substantial cash prizes, free stays in Biltmore Hotel and many other sig-

nificant discounts in well-known places in Tbilisi through the Loyalty program. At The Biltmore Hotel 29 Rustaveli Ave, 0108 Tbilisi, Georgia.


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SOCIETY

GEORGIA TODAY

MAY 11 - 14, 2018

CineDoc Guest Country Presents ‘Where Are You Bucharest?’

Image source: iffr.com

REVIEW BY KATIE RUTH DAVIES

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omania was Guest Country at the 2018 CineDoc festival, which saw Cinema House and Amirani Cinema together hosting over 60 screenings tackling contemporary themes in Georgia and numerous other countries. In “Where are You Bucharest?” (Romania/Germany, 2014) Director Vlad Petri follows the Romanian protesters who occupied the streets of Bucharest in 2012. It is a poignant 80-minute documentary about people who are both desperate and impulsive, lost and encouraged. It is a revolution that quickly becomes a tragic absurdity. The 2012 Romanian protests were a series of civil demonstrations triggered by the introduction of a new health reform. President Traian Basescu criticized the Deputy Minister of Health, Raed Arafat, on Romanian television. The protests against him became violent, with both protesters and members of the Gendarmerie (special police) sustaining injuries during their clashes. On the morning of 5 February 2012, Prime Minister Emil Boc announced his resignation because of the protests. He said that his decision would “release the tension in the country's political and social situation,” but the protests continued. The documentary ‘Where are You Bucharest?’ begins with shots of the riledup crowd during an unauthorized protest: nearly 20,000 people gathered in University Square, central Bucharest, to demand the President's resignation and early

general elections. It is a mixed group: revolutionaries, office workers, football fans, politicians, employed and unemployed, youth and elderly. The police hail them on loud speakers, trying to diffuse the situation and send them home. Arguments and scuffles break out in small pockets, usually between different generations or social classes. The older generation are often heard to be labeled ‘communists’ or ‘fascist’. Barriers are put up to push people off the street, and bottles and stones are thrown, resulting in arrests and the firing of tear gas. Medical care is given to 20 people, including gendarmes. The protests continue for two weeks, building every day from afternoon until evening. By late January 2012, it was snowing heavily, but people still gathered to give voice to their desires. And those desires were mixed. Petri captures one girl in the crowd fighting for freedom of speech and LGBT rights; a man in his early 30s wants to find employment; an elderly gentleman complains of below-standard living conditions. “There’s a big discrepancy between the young generation who are online and see the world all the time and the older generation which is nostalgic for Communism, when they had jobs, salaries and knew how to prepare for the future. In contrast, we have the younger generations who want money, opportunities and freedom,” the director, Vlad Petri, tells GEORGIA TODAY from the CineDoc stage, on his second visit to Georgia. On 23 January 2012, over 3,000 people were demonstrating in various cities countrywide. Teodor Baconschi, the Foreign Minister, handed in his resignation after calling the protesters "clueless

and inept slum dwellers". “This film was an experiment,” Petri tells us. “I started documenting this process on the streets and uploading short videos on the internet, and after

a year I started editing the material with a colleague. The 2012 protest was the first after the Romanian Revolution of 1989 and was something new, something

which followers of social media took greater part in, being inspired by protests they had seen in other countries. It was like a party- on both the protesters’ side and the political side. No real changes came from it. The first few days, people thought the process really counted. At the beginning, I myself was very active. Later, people lost energy, the message lost its power and the whole thing became almost a street circus.” And a street circus is what Petri portrays in the documentary. From powerful voices and determination, persistent characters start to appear and reappear: a man in nothing but his underwear claims his right to work, as snow and minus 4-degree winds batter him and whip his flag into the faces of those gathered around him. In warmer weather, a Jesus figure in a robe, with sandals around his neck, walks among the protestors; nearby stands a man dressed as Jack Sparrow. People light candles on brightly iced cakes, which they sing are ‘Funeral cakes for Basescu.” On 25 January 2012, Basescu addressed the nation to give reassurance, telling them he would not resign unless it became the only obvious solution to

a scrabble for wealth. For me, the message in this documentary is that people wanted a change; to once again be on the streets, to have their voices heard. In the end it failed. But it’s always difficult to make a real change,” he laments, adding that, “This is what happens in many countries- people don’t have many opportunities to fight and political parties are very alike for the most part. They may have different names, but they have the same concepts and actions within the capitalist system. People in 2012 wanted to get rid of this president, who was democratic, but then the socialists came in and there was no big difference. The situation now in Romania is seen by many as worse than in 2012.” This film documents not only a political struggle but one concerning national identity. “After joining the EU, most people wanted to be a part of it,” Petri says. “Many things changed- freedom of movement, etc., but it was a struggle. People asked themselves: what is really left of Romania in terms of cultural identity? In terms of industry? In terms of agriculture? Because many foreign companies came in and bought land as

the political crisis. He promised to act on the reform referendum of 2009. Two months later, Romania's government was unseated by a no-confidence vote. The center-right coalition had cut salaries and raised sales tax to try to put the economy on a sounder footing. President Basescu designated left-wing opposition leader Victor Ponta as new Prime Minister. By May, people are once again out in the streets in their thousands around the country, shouting: "Give my Romania back!" The participants demand, among many other things, the resignation of President Basescu and the Ungureanu Cabinet. The documentary shows central Budapest in the heat of July, divided: those for and against Prime Minister Ponta. Basescu is still being asked to step down. Again, we see people pushing and squabbling over differences in opinion and protest method. All claim their right to speak. Some unite in ideals, others need compatriots to separate them before violence can ensue. “People had a good life in soviet times, many wanted something new,” Petri says. “The 90s came with this transition to post-communism and it was hard for people: divisions appeared, there was

part of the free market, resulting in mass deforestation and damage to the environment. Romania sits on the margins of the EU and people there are questioning the pros and cons of it.” We asked him how Romania is now, six years later. “In 2012, when this protest happened, it was about the old and young uniting. Now it’s about the younger- the social media generation. In terms of politics, it’s a little worse: there are a lot of corruption issues and protests are quite commonplace, though the dance has changed. In 89, demonstrators were killed by the military. 2012 was the first mass protest since that and it became a game between the people and the police. The people wanted to express themselves, the police weren’t quite sure how to react. Actually, the Romanian police have since been on training courses in Istanbul. They know that violence is wrong, attracts media interest and exacerbates the situation, so they now behave differently towards protestors than you see in this documentary: they have a set of rules to follow. But the circus goes on,” he says. “It’s like a calculated dance, people, police and politicians. It’s like we’re all frozen, waiting for change.”


SOCIETY

GEORGIA TODAY MAY 11 - 14, 2018

11

Season of our Discontent: Etseri, Svaneti BLOG BY TONY HANMER

F

ly back with us, from Cancun to Toronto to Istanbul to Tbilisi (wishing there were direct Tbilisi-North America flights like there are from Baku, but not through the USA, please!). Rest up there a couple of days, then make the next trek, back up to Svaneti, equivalent to yet another transatlantic flight in time if not in distance or altitude. Home sweet home. How pleasant to return to the end of snow, all melted in the two weeks of our absence! A new season was firmly upon us, and soon even night frosts were over and the clamor for ice cream began in the shop. But the end of winter did not signify the simultaneous end of electrical or water problems. Bigger issues loom: wind causing the former, silt or leaves the latter. Both need the attention of volunteers, although both should have people actually responsible for them, who are sometimes indeed available but not always. Did I mention that our village has been without a mayor since January? Or that our three fridge/freezers and two extra cabinet freezers will put us in dire straits if power is off longer than a day? Yesterday, our water began to slow to a trickle, so I went outside to see how local or widespread the problem was. If

it’s only my issue, I’m expected to deal with it alone, though I’m free to ask for any help I need. If it’s a hamlet-wide or bigger thing, I can volunteer to join a brigade to investigate and solve it. This one was more than just our house, though, so I asked a neighbor to inform me if a brigade would form, so I could take part (and take photos). Our house’s water soon began to flow better, though, while elsewhere the slowdown continued. Another neighbor, who had been village mayor when we were house hunting and even showed us what we would end up buying, came around too. “Water struggle?” I asked. “Indeed,” he replied. “But who’s in charge?” Then he got all excited and said, “Tony, I want to nominate you for village mayor! You can do this! Your foreign experience, you know the local situation well, you won’t be taken in by any corruption, you can kick things into line—what do you say?” I was taken aback, but fully expected that not having Georgian citizenship would automatically rule me out. He came in and we looked for the qualifications for mayoralty in Georgia online, but drew blanks. I told him that he was welcome to have someone else suggest my name, but that I wouldn’t do it myself. He went away buzzing. But later that evening, he phoned to say that, indeed, I couldn’t run without having the citizenship. I said, “Which of my two would you have me abandon for this: Canadian or British?” He knew a rhetorical question when he heard one,

and we left it at that. This morning… water fine (for us, at least), but no electricity! Again, I stepped out to investigate, after a few phone calls had revealed that this was for four households sharing some part of the system. One of them called our local engineer. He and several of us from the affected zone converged on the location of the problem. It seemed that two overhead cables touching when the wind blew were causing some kind of short. The engineer attached a stick with a nail in

it to one of them, then wired this to another stick fixed into the ground. This would be temporary, he said, and several of us would need to band together and buy some more cable. What kind? I asked. Four strands of aluminum, insulated. Okay. A call home confirmed that we had power again and would not need to start the generator for now to save our cold and frozen produce. But we are still without a mayor… with a new water system half installed and then forgotten, and ongoing electrical

challenges to boot. Welcome to our world. 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 1800 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

Paris Introduces Tree Planting Counters Ici Versace ‘Dylan Blue’ Landslides & Erosion to the Georgian Public in Kazbegi I

Photo source: UNDP

O

ver 1000 trees were planted on mountain slopes near Karkucha village in Kazbegi Municipality to restore degraded land and reduce the risks associated with recurrent landslides. The tree planting and reinforcement works were implemented by the ecological farming association Sema with assistance from the Global Environment Facility’s (GEF) Small Grants Program, United Nations Development Program

(UNDP) and Kazbegi Municipality City Hall. On 8 May, representatives of Kazbegi Municipality, Kazbegi National Park Administration, the UNDP and the Public School of Sno village visited Karkucha to take part in the ongoing tree planting. Kazbegi is one of Georgia’s most unique natural reserves, famous for its stunning mountain views, rich pastures and biodiversity. At the same time, the region is prone to natural disasters, including mudflows and landslides. Excessive use

of pastures, illegal tree logging and degradation of coniferous trees over the years have lead to environmental decline and brought local pastures to the verge of depletion. In 2017, the ecological farming association Sema came up with a plan to address the challenge and bring the Karkucha pastures back to life. The initiative was supported by the GEF Small Grants Program with $28,000. Since then, Sema has carried out geoecological and hydro-meteorological assessments of the affected territories and has reinforced most vulnerable slopes against erosion and landslides with rock-filled gabions and trees. In addition to its immediate benefits, this initiative will contribute to restoring natural forest in the selected areas and raising environmental awareness among municipality residents. Restoration of the Karkucha pastures is one of over 50 local projects funded under the GEF Small Grants Program since 2012. The GEF Small Grants Program is a global environmental action which provides financial and technical support to local community projects that conserve and restore the environment while enhancing people's well-being and livelihoods. In Georgia, the GEF Small Grants Program is being implemented by the UNDP in cooperation with the Ministry of Environment Protection and Agriculture.

ci Paris Georgia introduced clients to the new fragrance from Versace this month: Dylan Blue. An alchemy of irresistible notes that dance, arouse, come together, and embrace, this fragrance is a refreshing blackcurrant sorbet with Granny Smith apple and a contemporary floral bouquet. Woody base notes playfully mix together to create a unique, captivating, sensuous, and vibrant movement. Fragrance Family is Floral and Key Notes are Blackcurrant, Rosyfolia, Patchouli. “Dylan Blue pour Femme is a tribute to femininity. It is a strong, sensuous, refined fragrance created for a woman who knows the power of her sensuality and mind.” - Donatella Versace. The fragrance is available in Ici Paris stores countrywide.


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CULTURE

GEORGIA TODAY

MAY 11 - 14, 2018

Sounds of Georgia Offers Mini-Concerts for Tourists in Tbilisi

S

ounds of Georgia is a unique musical product for tourists, which offers regular miniconcerts of traditional Georgian live music in the cozy atmosphere of the Old Town to help visitors get to know and fall in love with the Georgian character and culture. The cozy atmosphere of the Tbilisi "Italian" yard, with the aroma of homemade food, awaits visitors at 2 Turgenev Street, where people can also taste Georgian wine. Concerts are held in wine bar Papa Hemingway, located in New Tiflis at 21 Aghmashenebeli Avenue and in Hotel Nina, at Europe Square, 2 Dutu Megreli Str. Each concert lasts for 35 minutes. Check out the schedule here. Tickets are available at biletebi. ge or 7 Chavchavadze Str. (Biblus Gallery).

New Tourist Card Offers Dozens of Discounts

BY BENJAMIN MUSIC

L

ike many other cities which already have it, Georgia has finally caught up with the trend of issuing tourist cards to travelers and locals. Bank of Georgia announced the introduction of new Tourists Cards, which will enable visitors from abroad and Georgians to enjoy discounts and reduced fair prices.

The card will offer dozens of opportunities to save a Lari or two when eating at restaurants or visiting museums. Special discounts are available to cardholders at cafes, bars, restaurants, national parks, and museums. the aim is for the cards to be both an incentive for tourists to enjoy "one more glass of wine" and to increase the number of visitors at cultural facilities. The card can also be used to pay the fare on any kind of public transport in Tbilisibuses, the metro, minibuses and cable cars.

Topping up the card will be easy and allows tourists to travel more safely without need to carry cash. Participating hotels and tourism facilities offer additional benefits, such as discounts at souvenir and duty-free shops. All offers and the necessary information to acquire the card are available online. The card is priced at 10 GEL. Tourists have the advantage of receiving a free package of 1000MB for Internet access on purchase of the card.


CULTURE

GEORGIA TODAY MAY 11 - 14, 2018

13

An Unsophisticated Translation REVIEW BY NUGZAR B. RUHADZE

T

his nation has an amazing poetic pedigree and an outstanding tradition of literary translation. Its singular downside, though, is its paucity in the outside world. The cause of this regrettable shortage is the abundance of Georgian poesy versus the scarcity of its translators, as well the height of the Georgian poetic thought versus the overall translating inaptitude. To put it in a more mundane frame of thinking, if elevated poetry were a salable commodity, Georgia would definitely be the richest nation on the planet. The potent poetic interpretation of philosophic reasoning in Georgia is connected with the creative genius of Shota Rustaveli: the preeminent poet of the Georgian Golden Age who bestowed on civilization the unparalleled epic poem ‘Knight in the Panther Skin’ which goes beyond epochal limits or national boundaries. Hence, the worldwide interest in its translation is commonplace. In the last hundred years, there have been numerous attempts to translate the Rustaveli poetic opus into various languages. English is certainly one of the most appreciated recipients of this particular Georgian mythical colossus. The efforts of translation continue to occur, and the proudly grateful Georgians watch the process assiduously. A few years ago, I came across, and I am still reading into it laboriously, a new translation of the poem by Lyn Coffin, accompanied by a brief Foreword by professor of Russian and Eurasian Studies Stephen Jones, who

says that the translator is faithful to both meter and size, yet does not lose the beauty of Rustaveli’s poetry. I am not sure how well versed the author of this presumably fortuitous praise is in the Georgian language, but the translator has certainly gone astray from the exceptional beauty and powerful eloquence of Shota Rustaveli. Jones continues that Coffin has preserved the splendor of Rustaveli’s great adventure story. We all know that the story is great, but preservation of the Rustavelian splendor is a sheer exaggeration, although the translation is ‘readable’ enough. The problem is that readability is not enough a credit for qualifying a translator as ‘a meticulous wordsmith,’ as Mr. Jones has put it. A translator of a poet as gigantic as Rustaveli cannot be considered ‘a passionate artist’ only because he or she made another modest attempt to handle the great Rustaveli. A job of this significance is undoable unless the translator of the piece of this magnitude is fluent in the Georgian language and has a feeling for the intricacies of this tongue right to the bones. Consequently, Coffin’s translation of ‘The Knight in the Panther Skin’ felt to me like a simplistic attempt to render it in English, a far cry from the way the original sounds and feels. To cut a long story short, the present new translation is not a good enough recipient of the source text for the simple reason that it sounds less sophisticated and euphonic than the original. And it is very important to note that this straightforward opinion could be translated into a critical word only by a reader whose knowledge of the two languages is adequately matched and whose expertise of translation is suf-

The Knight in the Panther Skin, translated by Lyn Coffin, winner of the 2016 Saba Award for Translation.

ficient for the judgment of this level. As a result, the Georgian culture and intellectual veneer is being deprived of its luster and value in the eyes of the global reader, which may perceive us through the primitive prism forged by the Coffin translation. The pearl of the acknowledgment at the end of the book is an excerpt from the Afterword: “As is commonly said, in the translation of prose, the translator is the servant and slave of the original author, whereas in the translation of poetry s/he is a rival. The pleasure of reading this new English text testifies to how worthily and courageously the translator rivaled her great 12th century forebear.” In the first place, the issue of servitude and slavery to the original is a matter of sharp controversy, and secondly, the rivalry of Coffin with Rustaveli sounds a little ludicrous, to say the least. Why do we have to downgrade the famous Georgian literary might that much?! The last nail is driven by the concluding paragraph of the publisher’s note, where Umberto Eco himself is quoted: “When I visited Georgia, they told me that their national poem ‘The Knight in the Panther Skin’ was a great masterpiece. I agree, but he’s hardly caused the same stir as Shakespeare.” Understandable! Eco probably read Shakespeare in the original. He could only have made a guess about the stirring power of Rustaveli’s poem. The publisher’s optimistic conclusive note is scarcely any encouragement for us Georgians. Just listen to this: “Now Mr. Eco and the rest of the world have a once-in-a-generation opportunity to appreciate the true magnificence of Rustaveli’s work, and hopefully, some stir will be caused.” Hardly!


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CULTURE

GEORGIA TODAY

MAY 11 - 14, 2018

WHAT’S ON IN TBILISI THEATER

TBILISI OPERA AND BALLET THEATER Address: 25 Rustaveli Ave. Telephone: 2 00 44 66 May 12, 13 TSUNA & TRUTSUNA Children's ballet Staged on musical pieces by Meri Davitashvili Start time: May 12 - 20:00, May 13 - 14:00, Ticket: 10-50 GEL TBILISI VASO ABASHIDZE MUSIC AND DRAMA STATE THEATER Address: 182 D.Agmashenebeli Ave. Telephone: 2 34 80 90 www.musictheatre.ge May 15 WELCOME TO GEORGIA A musical, theatrical play and romantic comedy telling a story about Georgia and its people by combining song, dance, culture, traditions, history, national costumes and local cuisine. Musical Language: English, some Georgian (with English subtitles) Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 60-80 GEL MOVEMENT THEATER Address: 182, Aghmashenebeli Ave. Telephone: 598 19 29 36 May 11 RECITATIVE IN THE CITY El banda del "მუდო", Kakha Bakuradze, Sandro Nikoladze, Simon Bitadze, DaTo Kakulia, Irakli Menagarishvili Start time: 21:00 Ticket price: 10 GEL May 13 LABYRINTH Directed by Kakha Bakuradze Start time: 20:00 Ticket price: 10 GEL GABRIADZE THEATER Address: 13 Shavtelis St. Telephone: 2 98 65 93 May 13, 14 An animated documentary film REZO Directed by Leo Gabriadze Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 15 GEL

May 11, 12, 15, 16 RAMONA Rezo Gabriadze Directed by Rezo Gabriadze English Subtitles Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 20, 30 GEL SHALIKASHVILI PANTOMIME THEATER Address: 37 Sh. Rustaveli Ave. Telephone: 595 50 02 03 May 11 SHAKESPEARE SONNETS Based on William Shakespeare’s Sonnets Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 15 GEL May 12 HOST AND GUEST Based on Vazha Pshavela’s poem Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 20 GEL TBILISI CIRCUS Address: 1 Freedom Sq. Telephone: 298 30 35 May 12, 13 SPRING CIRCUS SHOWS Start time: 13:00, 17:00 Ticket: 10-25 GEL CINEMA

AMIRANI CINEMA Address: 36 Kostava St. Telephone: 2 99 99 55 www.kinoafisha.ge Every Wednesday ticket: 5 GEL May 11-17 AVENGERS: INFINITY WAR Directed by Anthony Russo, Joe Russo Cast: Karen Gillan, Josh Brolin, Letitia Wright, Chris Evans Genre: Action, Adventure, Fantasy Language: English Start time: 16:15 Language: Russian Start time: 19:15, 19:30, 22:00 Ticket: 13-17 GEL TAXI 5 Directed by Franck Gastambide Cast: Salvatore Esposito, Sand Van Roy, Franck Gastambide Genre: Action, Adventure, Comedy Language: Russian Start time: 22:15 Ticket: 17 GEL ANON Directed by Andrew Niccol Cast: Clive Owen, Amanda

Seyfried, Colm Feore Genre: Sci-Fi, Thriller Language: Russian Start time: 17:15, 19:30, 22:00 Ticket: 17 GEL RUSTAVELI CINEMA Address: 5 Rustaveli Ave. Telephone: 2 55 50 00 www.kinoafisha.ge Every Wednesday ticket: 5 GEL May 11-17 ANON (Info Above) Language: Russian Start time: 16:45, 21:45 Ticket: 10-14 GEL AVENGERS: INFINITY WAR (Info Above) Language: Russian Start time: 21:45 Ticket: 13-14 GEL TRUTH OR DARE Directed by Jeff Wadlow Cast: Lucy Hale, Tyler Posey, Violett Beane Genre: Horror, Thriller Language: Russian Start time: 11:45 Ticket: 7-18 GEL CAVEA GALLERY Address: 2/4 Rustaveli Ave. Telephone: 200 70 07 Every Wednesday ticket: 8 GEL May 11-17 ANON (Info Above) Language: Russian Start time: 14:30, 19:30 Ticket: 10-17 GEL AVENGERS: INFINITY WAR (Info Above) Language: English Start time: 12:30, 15:45, 19:00, 21:55 Language: Russian Start time: 13:00, 16:15, 19:30, 22:30 Ticket: 10-19 GEL TRUTH OR DARE Directed by Jeff Wadlow Cast: Lucy Hale, Tyler Posey, Violett Beane Genre: Horror, Thriller Language: Russian Start time: 12:00 Ticket: 10-11 GEL

MUSEUM

GEORGIAN NATIONAL MUSEUM SIMON JANASHIA MUSEUM Address: 4 Rustaveli Ave. Telephone: 2 99 80 22, 2 93 48 21 www.museum.ge GEORGIAN COSTUME AND WEAPONRY OF 18TH-20TH CENTURIES NUMISMATIC TREASURY EXHIBITION STONE AGE GEORGIA

KOLGA TBILISI PHOTO 2018 Program: May 5 - June 3 Address: Tbilisi History Museum (Karvasla), 8 Sioni Str. THOMAS DAHMEN I Have Seen the Light MEINRAD SCHADE Unresolved JAN GRARUP And Then There Was Silence VANESSA WINSHIP She Dances on Jackson MUSIC

ARCHEOLOGICAL TREASURE NEW LIFE TO THE ORIENTAL COLLECTIONS April 26 – September 1 UNKNOWN COLLECTIONS OF GEORGIAN NATIONAL MUSEUM– INDIA, CHINA, JAPAN MUSEUM OF SOVIET OCCUPATION Address: 4 Rustaveli Ave. Telephone: 2 99 80 22, 2 93 48 21 www.museum.ge PERMANENT EXHIBITION SIGHNAGHI MUSEUM Address: 8 Rustaveli Alley, Sighnaghi Telephone: 223 24 48 April 21 – May 31 EXHIBITION DOLLS OF JAPAN GALLERY

THE NATIONAL GALLERY Address: 11 Rustaveli Ave. www.museum.ge May 1- 20 ZURAB NIZHARADZE'S RETROSPECTIVE EXHIBITION ‘ZURAB NIZHARADZE 90’ ERTI GALLERY Address: 19 P. Ingorokva Str. BLACK I SEA LEVAN SONGULASHVILI & CHRISTIAN AWE New York-based visual artist Levan Songulashvili's recent works in conversation with Berlin-based artist Christian Awe in Berlin, Germany.

TBILISI STATE CONSERVATOIRE Address: 8 Griboedov St. Telephone: 2 93 46 24 May 14 CONCERTINO TBILISSI 30 ANNIVERSARY CONCERT Program: Bartok- Divertimento for strings Nasidze- Chamber symphony Poulenc- Concerto for organ and orchestra Chamber orchestraCONCERTINO TBILISSI Soloist- Elene Chelidze conductor - George Shilakadze Start time: 19:00 Ticket: 5-20 GEL LISI WONDERLAND Address: Near Lisi lake May 12 AMONG THE MOSS AND ZION AUDIO Presents: MOSS SPREE LINE UP: CTO gram LIVE (Forest Freaks, Tantra Music)– UK Ney (Tranceformers)– LT Oogway (Zion Audio)– GE Katana (Zion Audio)– GE Ellarge– GE Eldario Bhanishta Ganesh Puri– RU Acidwave (Treebal)– GE Kaya Matu (Agaraki)– GE Tabu (Agaraki)– GE Start time: 12:00 Ticket: 15 GEL TRIPS Address: 4 K. Cholokashvili IIIrd Turn May 12 URANUS: ANUSHKA/DIGITAL GROOVE AFFAIR/COSMIC LOVE ROTATION Line up: Digital Groove Affair, Cosmic Love Rotation, Anushka Chkheidze Start time: 22:00 Ticket: 10-20 GEL TETRISI Address: Amagleba Str. Telephone: 557 66 94 00 May 12 PUNK FOR CONQUERING THE HEIGHTS Bands: Dagdagani, Vodka Vtraiom, Panika, Outfront Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 10 GEL BLACK SWAN Address: 164 Agmashenebeli Ave. May 12 W:O:A METAL BATTLE CAUCASUS 2018 - FINAL The Winner plays Wacken Open Air 2018! BANDS: Infadus- GE Euthanation- AZ Every Dog Has Its Day- GE Special Guests: Angel Of Disease- GE Pyraweed- AZ Start time: 19:00 Ticket: 15-25 GEL


CULTURE

GEORGIA TODAY MAY 11 - 14, 2018

15

Night Life in Tbilisi: City Hall’s New Concept

Image source: memontrip.com

BY BENJAMIN MUSIC

T

bilisi nightlife needs to undergo an innovation process. It was one of the many promises made by Mayor Kaladze on his ascension to the position. On April 20, City Hall presented a concept plan for developing a night economy in Tbilisi. During the presentation, Sergi Gvarjaladze, head of the project, announced some of the first steps that should be taken in the first 6 months. We picked his brain to find out more about City Hall’s plan.

WHEN WAS NIGHT ECONOMY FIRST DISCUSSED? Internationally, the phrase Night Economy has been used for maybe 5 to 8 years. In Georgia, the Mayor of the capital, Kakha Kaladze, first mentioned it in his pre-election campaign.

We consider noise reduction as one of the biggest challenges. We understand that we will need to find technological solutions to reduce the disturbance for residents to an absolute minimum. In addition, there are legal issues, on which we need to work to ensure everything follows the rules. Our task will be to mediate between both citizens and those businesses responsible for the realization of the plans.

WHAT ARE THE PRIORITIES OF THE PROJECT? BARS? RESTAURANTS? CLUBS? We prioritize all fields of the tourism industry; there is no set priority on one type over another. We also want to create a program with cultural and sports projects for the night time: Night museums, open-air film screenings, night football tournaments... We’re working intensively with representatives of the creative industries to develop unique and innovative events.

WHAT ARE THE MAIN GOALS OF THE PROJECT?

WHAT ARE THE BIGGEST OBSTACLES THE PROJECT FACES AT THE MOMENT? BUILDING PERMITS, ETC.?

The main goal of our project is to create new jobs and support the development of small and medium businesses, especially in the tourism and restaurant sectors. We want to position Tbilisi as a 24/7 city and organize cultural and sports events for a wider group of people.

The biggest obstacle is the range of regulations that the city needs at this point, but also the negative perception of nightlife in general. To change this, we will need to involve the citizens more in the project and correctly communicate its goals.

WHICH AREAS WILL BE MOST AFFECTED BY THE NEW DEVELOPMENT?

DOES THE PROJECT INCORPORATE INTERNATIONAL RESTAURANTS AND BARS AS WELL OR WILL IT BE FOCUSED ON GEORGIAN CULTURE ONLY?

One of the main goals of our project is to regenerate suburban areas of Tbilisi. Gldani, Varketili, and some other big "sleeping" areas of the city lack cultural life. We aim to change that and to bring new life into these districts. People should have the chance to participate in an active life throughout the city. Another priority is to reuse old, abandoned Soviet-style buildings. Often, they were used for industrial purposes in the past and have since lost their purpose. Sometimes they are referred to as “brown-field,” and upscaling these areas will result in very interesting projects for our Night Economy plans.

WILL THERE BE ANY INCONVENIENCE FOR RESIDENTS LIVING AROUND THE NEW NIGHTLIFE HOTSPOTS, SUCH AS NOISE OR EXCESSIVE ALCOHOL CONSUMPTION?

Businesses can decide themselves what their focus will be. There won’t be a guideline from our side. If they want to offer international cuisine, they can. But, of course, we also welcome restaurants which promulgate the Georgian cuisine and culture. *** Gvarjaladze seems determined to get things started and we are happy that Tbilisi is set to develop its nightlife by changing its culture. We asked how citizens can apply to open up a restaurant or how the selection process for new businesses will be, but unfortunately, we weren’t given an answer. Sergi Gvarjaladze was also unable to set a date for when the first businesses will open, yet we hope it will be sooner rather than later.

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Issue #1047  

May 11 - 14, 2018

Issue #1047  

May 11 - 14, 2018

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