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Issue no: 945

• MAY 12 - 15, 2017



In this week’s issue...

Bicycle Lanes to Be Laid in Tbilisi NEWS PAGE 3

Pick a Date: The Battle against Fascism POLITICS PAGE 5

French President Macron & What’s in Store for the EU & Ukraine

FOCUS ON THE QUESTION OF NEUTRALITY A look at the implications of Georgian "Finlandization" from a legal and political PAGE perspective


European Council Approves Visa-Free Travel for Ukraine


Italian Brand Missoni Enters Ici Paris Stores SOCIETY PAGE 12

Georgian-US Cook-Off Highlights Georgian Products on 25th Anniversary of Diplomatic Relations



rom June 2017, Ukrainians will be able to enjoy visa-free travel with the European Union. The EU Council of Ministers adopted a regulation on visa liberalization for Ukraine on May 11. After a signing ceremony in the European Parliament and publication of the regulation in an EU journal, Ukrainians who hold biometric passports will be able to travel to the EU for up to 90 days for business, tourist or family reasons, except work. The European Parliament press service said that the signing ceremony is planned to be held in Strasbourg, France, on May 17. Ukraine’s President Petro Poroshenko is expected to take part in the ceremony along with many other EU officials. However, the revised suspension mechanism recently adopted by the EU makes it possible for the EU to suspend Ukraine’s visa liberalization if there are serious migration or security issues with Ukraine. The European Parliament voted for visa-free

The Big Spender: What City Hall Pays out for Disabled ‘Summer Camps’


travel for Ukraine during a session in Strasbourg on April 6. A total of 521 of its 751 members supported the decision. The President of Ukraine, Petro Poroshenko stated that the decision of the European Coun-

cil is Ukraine's step towards Europe and towards independence. "We are cutting our ties with the post-Soviet past and becoming part of the European space," he said.




MAY 12 - 15, 2017

President, Opposition against Abolishing National Security Council BY THEA MORRISON


Georgia’s Minister of Finance Meets with EBRD First Vice President BY NINO GUGUNISHVILI


imitry Kumsishvili, First Vice Premier, Minister of Finance of Georgia, met with Philip Bennet, European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) First Vice President, while attending the annual EBRD meeting and a business forum in Nicosia, Cyprus. During the meeting, Georgia’s Finance Minister noted the significance of the activities of the EBRD in Georgia and their importance to the country’s economic development. The EBRD being actively present in energy, municipal infrastructure development, and the banking and agriculture sector, with

overall 200 projects being realized which amount to EUR 3 billion, an investment of EUR 250 million in 17 projects over the last year alone. The EBRD is considered one of the major financing bodies of the private sector in Georgia. “The issuing of denominated Eurobond in Lari by EBRD is crucial for Georgia’s economy,” Kumsishvili said. The impact of EBRD in the directions of developing capital market, the deposit insurance system and public-private partnership were also highlighted during the meeting, as the parties discussed the ongoing and upcoming EBRD projects in Georgia, the Four Point Reform plan initiated by the Government of Georgia, and its goals and objectives, which, according to Finance Minister, fully comply with the EBRD four year strategy for Georgia.

he President of Georgia, Giorgi Margvelashvili, and the opposition parties have criticized the ruling party Georgian Dream (GD) for their decision to abolish the National Security Council (NSC), an institution under the Presidential Administration, in order to establish a new organ – the National Defense Council. Debates over the issue were held on May 10 at the Presidential Administration, during Tbilisi Strategic Discussions, which gathered representatives of diplomatic corps, non-governmental organizations, and legislative and executive bodies. The President spoke about the deficiencies and challenges of the new security system in relation to the draft constitutional amendments, elaborated by the State Constitution Commission, which was set up to make amendments to the previous version of the main legislative document of the State and which was chaired by the Parliament Speaker, Irakli Kobakhidze. Margvelashvili said that the negative attitude towards the NSC started long time ago, when the State Security and Crisis Management Council was established under the Prime Minister. The President believes that these two institutions have parallel functions and that it was unnecessary to set up the State Security and Crisis Management Council. The National Security Council is an advisory body to the President of Georgia empowered to consider issues determined by the Organic Law on the National Security Council of Georgia and to draft the

highest political decisions. It was set up to organize the military development and defense of the country. The President of Georgia is the head of the National Security Council, approving the structure of the National Security Council Office, its personnel, and regulations concerning the Office and its subdivision. The State Security and Crisis Management Council was established to discuss strategic issues of domestic and foreign policy. The Council also makes political decisions regarding numerous crisis management issues of national interest or the country’s security. “According to the amendments to the Constitution, the Defense Council will be set up and will function only during war times,” Margvelashvili said. “When the main challenge of Georgian statehood is Russian occupation, the role of the NSC is decisive…Yet the body that provides strength to the Armed Forces and deals with a variety of serious challenges is to completely disappear from the Constitution,” he lamented. The opposition shares the President’s position on the issue and sees dangerous tendencies in these changes to the Georgian Constitution.

“The majority is trying to fit the constitution to themselves,” Levan Bezhashvili, member of the opposition United National Movement, claimed. Giorgi Akhvlediani, a member of the non-parliamentary opposition Democratic Movement, said that the government is moving in the circle, as they “do not give the opposition an alternative to the developing political processes.” The Free Democrats believe that the majority is reducing the functions of the President, who will be the leader of the country only formally. The ruling GD says the amendments to the Constitution aim at improving the main legislative document. “The development of defense capabilities and strengthening of the Amed Forces during peace times is the function of the central government,” GD member Archil Talakvadze said during the discussions. The majority says the President’s functions in terms of the defense field are not reduced under the new amendments and that he will be the chair of the National Defense Council and will have his permanent representatives there. The final version of the constitutional amendments will be presented to the Venice Commission on May 22 in Berlin.


GEORGIA TODAY MAY 12 - 15, 2017

Bicycle Lanes to Be Laid in Tbilisi

Freedom House: Georgia Leads the Fight against Corruption among Post-Soviet Countries BY THEA MORRISON




bilisi is soon to boast its own cycle paths and infrastructure, enabling riders to safely navigate the city in specifically modified areas. By the end of the year, the Mayor’s Office of Tbilisi plans to launch trial routes for cyclists and construction works for the cycle lanes are already in progress. An eight-kilometer lane will be arranged on the right and left banks of the River Mtkvari. Cyclists will be able to travel from the Mother Tongue Garden along the right bank of Mtkvari and up to Vakhushti Bridge, then down the left bank of the river and back to the Garden. A second lane will be arranged from Saarbrücken Square to Freedom Square and a three-kilometer lane will also be finished this year in Digomi settlement on Mirian Mepe Street. “The sidewalks and highways are being rehabilitated on both sides of Mtkvari River at present,” representatives of the Urban Management Agency say. “In order to promote cycling, around 20 bicycle parking lots will be set up throughout the city and several more traffic lights will be installed on streets to ensure cyclist safety,” City Hall claims. Founder of the Bicycle Amateurs’ Club in Georgia, Tamaz Tikanadze, has already been moving around the capital by bicy-

Batumi cycling lane. Source: UNDP

cle for four years. He says that at present it is not safe to ride in the streets due to the absence of special lanes and infrastructure. “There are many streets in the capital where lanes could be immediately arranged. The streets and public transport are very busy nowadays and the best solution to this issue is developing bicycle infrastructure,” Tikanadze said. City Hall’s Transport Service Department says that after laying the first bicycle lanes, they will have a better picture where other such infrastructure can be arranged, but that the decision to lay

bicycle infrastructure should be based on demand. “Such projects need finances and the Mayor’s Office will make decisions regarding further infrastructure only based on demand from the population,” Mamuka Mumladze from the transport Service Department said. Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) are calling on the government to promote bicycles and a healthy lifestyle in the country. They also say that the use of bicycles will both help people’s budgets and go towards protecting the environment.

he Freedom House organization has released a detailed report about Georgia, after publishing its annual report called ‘Nations in Transit 2017- The False Promise of Populism’ in early April. The report said that Georgia’s rating has not changed. The author of the report on Georgia is Michael Hikari Cecire, a Fellow at New America, a Fellow at the Foreign Policy Research Institute, and the cofounder of the Tbilisi-based Georgian Institute of Politics. Cecire underlined that Georgia has become known as a leader in the nonBaltic former Soviet Union in combatting corruption. “Intensive reforms and anti-graft efforts during the UNM’s time in power from 2004 to 2012 resulted in major gains against petty corruption and organized crime,” the report reads. The author noted that Transparency International’s 2016 Global Corruption Barometer showed that petty corruption in Georgia remained extremely low, with corruption named as one of the top three problems facing the country by only 12 percent of the population, the fourthlowest number of the 42 countries of Europe and Central Asia assessed. Nepotism remains an area of potential concern in Georgia, according to the report. “Legislation to criminalize nepotism


in the civil service proposed in 2015 has not moved forward,” the author stressed. In the civil society sector in Georgia, the author sees strength and activity, “Georgian non-governmental organizations (NGOs) play a major role in policy research, advocacy, and opinion leadership.” Cecire says that the Georgian media is generally vibrant, pluralistic, and free. “International organizations describe media freedom in Georgia as mostly strong, and the media sector benefits from a reasonably robust legal framework and significant pluralism,” he said, however added that the ongoing legal battle over the fate of Rustavi2, a popular, opposition-aligned television channel, “has cast a pall over improvements in the overall environment.” The report says that the functioning of the judiciary has improved since the transfer of power following the 2012 parliamentary elections. However, the author says that there remain widespread concerns over judicial independence and the operation of the judiciary, adding that “high-profile court cases continue to raise serious questions about the independence and politicization of the judiciary.” The 2017 ratings of Freedom House reflect the period from January 1 through December 31, 2016, and the democracy scores and regime ratings are based on a scale of 1 to 7, with 1 representing the highest level of democratic progress and 7 the lowest. Georgia has received an overall score of 4.61 and has been put in the category of transitional governments.




MAY 12 - 15, 2017

Georgia's Foreign-Policy "Great Game": a Multifaceted Coin BY VICTOR KIPIANI, PARTNER, MKD


iscussions delineating the most suitable foreign policy route for Georgia appear to be never-ending. Further, the threat of major conflicts flaring up across the region, pending instability and threats along our borders which are "moving through creeping annexation", the Trump world order and weakening pan-European cohesion add serious and sometimes insurmountable obstacles to efforts to predict Georgia’s foreign and security policy. That said, however, we see a greater need than ever to take a fresher look at gauging and giving contours to our own "Grand Strategy".

NEUTRALITY: CLICHÉ VS. REALITY The neutrality paradigm has been discussed before, but the issue deserves deeper and indeed more sober and unbiased deliberation—especially in light of a new wave of interest in the Georgian neutrality option. While discussions over the pros and cons of being a neutral nation were previously confined to the domestic policy-making arena and "talk show bragging" on local TV channels (regretfully, the depth of "savvy geopoliticking" is still measured by glimmering televisions screens), waves of overt Russian aggression into neighboring states and direct interventions far beyond its borders have pushed international experts to resuscitate a seemingly defunct concept of neutrality in an attempt to work out a formula to rein in this very new author of a global disorder. A recent article by Michael O'Hanlon at Brookings specifically considered a neutral status for Georgia (along with Ukraine) and suggested a certain recipe for a would-be-neutral nation. To avoid Moscow opposing the Western order, the author speaks of the situation being counterproductive in Georgia as a result of continuing NATO expansion, which makes the country even more exposed to its mighty neighbor and gives Putin "an incentive to stoke trouble with Ukraine and Georgia because any ongoing disputes invalidate their near-term eligibility for NATO membership." He recommends a "broad agreement" between NATO, Russia and "the neutral countries of Europe" whereby NATO commits itself not to expand any further and Russia commits to "leave the neutral countries, withdraw military forces from their territories, allow them to join whatever diplomatic and economic groups they want (including the European Union), and stop arming and abetting separatists in places such as the Donbass region of Ukraine and northern Georgia." This is the way in which the author considers the “doability” of a multi-purpose agenda, starting with de-escalating existing tensions and promoting "the security and prosperity of the neutral countries in Eastern Europe". All in all, O'Hanlan’s view is to "seek to negotiate a new security architecture" whose "core concept would be permanent neutrality, at least in terms of formal membership in treatybased mutual defense organizations." This doesn’t seem like such a bad deal at all, but although there are some historical parallels there are very few successful examples. Among them is Austria’s 1955 State Treaty, which re-established the country as an independent nation, resulted in the withdrawal of Soviet occupation, and declared Austria as a country free from Western and Soviet interference. There are, however, a number of historical and practical restrictions to the likelihood of being able to successfully follow a policy of genuine neutrality these days. Adopting a historical perspective, let

us begin by observing that the concept of neutrality has become blurred over time and that it has lost some of the distinguishing features it used to enjoy. First and foremost, the legal framework of neutrality is obsolete, and related norms are primarily enshrined in the 1856 Declaration of Paris, the 1907 Hague Convention V (neutrality in land war) and the 1907 Hague Convention XIII (neutrality in maritime war). The dates of these international legal instruments speak for themselves. Secondly, our daily reality is of course radically different from the period which preceded the First World War, when neutrality was shattered by the invasions of neutral Belgium and Greece. The consequences of the Second World War rendered neutrality even more impractical: the nature of warfare had by then changed to such an extent that it made maintaining an absolute neutrality practically impossible, primarily due to the use of economic means of warfare, and the possibility of calling for coercive measures by virtue of the UN Charter and the requirement of taking military measures against aggressors lessened the substance of neutrality even further. Even if one sets the question of the legal framework of neutrality aside, many stumbling blocks remain on the road to reaching a politically-based consensus in a world characterized by bitter division, conflicting agendas, and constantly shifting marriages of political or economic convenience—all of which have the power to eventually water down the very fundamental prerequisites of a stable world order. Last but not least, O'Hanlon himself, when discussing neutrality, admits that "at one level, there is no guarantee" if and when something goes wrong and Russia violates its commitments. The notion of "bufferization" as a form of neutrality can be replaced with a nicer, fancier synonym—which brings us to the next topic.

FINLANDIZATION: ANY DIFFERENT FROM NEUTRALITY? Finlandization is "the challenge of surviving as a small nation in the shadow of a larger one". It basically means allowing a smaller nation to maintain its internal independence, political system and democratic freedoms, but imposing a series of rules upon its foreign policy. The idea, which is also known as the Paasikivi-Kekkonen doctrine, primarily involved Finland rejecting NATO membership and the Soviet Union abandoning its efforts to include Finland in the Warsaw Pact. Essentially speaking, Finlandization is a different term (if not a disguise) for a neutral buffer nation placed between two rivals—more specifically two contiguous rivals with territorial claims. This may not exactly be the case with Georgia (Turkey formally acknowledges our territorial sovereignty whereas Russia is completely opposed to it), but when it comes to rivalry, one may still assert that such rivalry does in fact exist if one views Georgia as a buffer between Russia and NATO. Allegedly, buffer status may help cement national cohesion, but it also poses a meaningful threat as Finlandization—as a form of "bufferization" between two rivals—is likely to commit the neutral state to "being the battleground over territorial disputes for generations". Given these different understandings of the overall meaning of Finlandization, in Georgia's case it is of course necessary to point out that the doctrine bears

some clear-cut innate and perhaps unresolved controversies. One of the key elements of Finlandization is giving up the possibility of NATO membership. This is the minimum comfort threshold for Moscow, and is well understood. Equally, by accepting EU membership (as is the case with Austria), a member country also agrees to join the EU’s defense system. In other words, although denied the possibility of becoming a member of one military alliance, a "Finlandized" nation, in addition to

of the Black Sea and Caspian regions is leading the country towards greater integration with NATO and, arguably, more than ever towards formal membership. In our view, Finlandization is a substitute meaning for the notion of neutrality; there is a lot of overlap between the two and, conceivably, thinly visible discrepancies which become even more blurred when put into practice. Even though the doctrine of Finlandization is inextricably related to a legacy of bad feelings following the surrender of certain elements of national sovereignty, it may still be discussed as a pragmatic and temporary form of status quo to check the desires of revisionist powers. For those more inclined to sing the doctrine’s praises, it could reasonably be described as a means of dealing with mighty and eccentric states and encouraging them to rein-in their hegemonic urges and adopt more peaceful forms of co-existence with their smaller neighbors.


Source: Hesse Galleries

collective economic, trade and investment arrangements, also gains access to another, similar alliance. Co-operating on defense with the EU, most of whose members are simultaneously members of NATO, clearly entails a rapprochement with NATO standards and subcomponents. Russian occupation leaves Georgia no other choice than to search for defense guarantees—the most reliable of which can most likely only be provided by NATO. Any outright formal rejection of NATO membership should be substituted by security guarantees of no lesser quality, a question which is also related to levels of trust between the parties involved. With Russian troops stationed in Abkhazia and South Ossetia, speaking of sufficient levels of trust between Georgia and its mighty neighbour to the north seems irrelevant. With that in mind, any alternatives to NATO are inseparable from the restoration of Georgia’s territorial integrity, the latter constituting Georgia’s minimum comfort threshold for any semblance of trust in Moscow. When speaking about the doctrine of Finlandization, its most prominent supporters do not deny the need to supply military matériel to Finlandized nations in order to prevent them being easy prey for external aggressions. But then again, any appeal for such a military build-up may run against a key party’s expectations of a "broad agreement". A separate point to consider when speaking of the possibility of Finlandizing Georgia is the historical context, which is of course very different from that of Finland in 1948. At that time, Finland was of secondary importance within the fabric of wider confrontation between the West and the USSR, and Helsinki’s merely formal guarantee not to join NATO was acceptable to the Kremlin. Nowadays, with the growing geopolitical importance of the Black Sea and Caspian regions, the need to bind a "safety belt" around an unpredictable and aggressive Russia, and the emergence of existential threats in the Middle East, Georgia is irrevocably becoming a central security element, both in the region and beyond. The surge in importance

At first glance, geopolitical hedging is different from the practice’s financial or economic forms, and rests upon an unarticulated and ambiguous foreign policy. Yet this ambiguity is intentional and serves a clear purpose: by leveraging increases or decreases of ambiguity, a state can send a clear message that it is diversifying its foreign vectors by considering various, if not divergent, geopolitical interests crisscrossing its territory. When hedging its foreign policy, a state attempts to make secondary bets on two or more conflicting geopolitical interests while maintaining good relations with both by talking to all major stakeholders individually (or in groups) about possibly aligning its interests with those of others. In other words, achieving a balance through hedging requires formally adhering to any major player "in the hope of avoiding both domination and abandonment". In practical terms, geopolitical hedging is reflected through an increase in self-defense capabilities and stronger regional co-operation and alliances. And besides, as we mentioned, it must accommodate (within certain limits) the interests of external rivals—especially when respective intentions are unclear. The term "hedging" is a relatively new concept, but the practice has pedigree. The history of the emergence and formation of new states in the Arab world following the disintegration of the Ottoman Empire provides some good examples of how hedging was an integral part of the state and institution-building efforts of Syria, Lebanon, Iraq or Transjordan as a direct consequence of the Sykes-Picot Agreement. More recent examples of hedging can be seen in Japan, South Korea and Singapore, who are betting equally on maintaining their good relationships with the United States while avoiding any risk of damaging their business ties with China. Interestingly enough, some hedging tactics are also clearly noticeable in Europe, where various political leaders, in light of allegedly weakening US interest in NATO, are attempting to portray the European continent as a balance between US and Russia. Hedging tactics may be especially appealing to Georgia, considering its location in a volatile region and the unpredictability of the times, subject to Tbilisi having a few key prerequisites for their effective use. To begin with, there needs to be a solid understanding of "centers of strength" and "centers of influence" as a result of

deliberate expertise and contact monitoring. And yet such an exercise, in our view, faces two critical obstacles: the obscure "moving pieces" of the emerging new world order, and Georgia’s insufficient professional knowledge and expertise. Next, and this is unquestionably a must, is a strong interpersonal diplomacy, as successful foreign deal-making and achieving one’s ends relies upon charisma, leadership and team skills. Again, this largely remains an open question. All in all, any reliable, security-driven foreign policy requires a set of capabilities, but hedging is truly an art of its own.

NATO: A HAPPY ENDING? Apparently, Georgians deem membership of a military block (and particularly NATO membership) to be the most promising of the country’s current options. This should come as no surprise, as this membership—instead of being equated to increased protection and defense—is strongly associated with a set of values which Georgians believe they share. Regardless of the recent change of ruling party, the country shows remarkable perseverance as it vies for closer and more substantial co-operation with NATO on the path to its goal of fully-fledged membership. On top of the very practical measures which the country has taken and continues to pursue come a series of definite and undisputable decisions such as the referendum on joining NATO held on 5 January 2008 or the Parliamentary Resolution on the Main Directions of Georgia's Foreign Policy adopted on 7 March 2013. Georgia’s persistence and almost selfsacrificing commitment is "echoed" by ongoing disarray both within the Alliance itself and among its member states, largely as a result of the recent US presidential elections. Although the new administration has now to some extent restated its loyalty towards the North Atlantic Treaty and has recanted its accusations of “obsolescence”, it still remains to be seen how far the process of US retrenchment from its hitherto pivotal role will go. We obviously need assurances that the Trump administration will never actually implement a policy of US offshore balancing and that a liberal hegemony, based on shared security, will ultimately prevail. Equally important is the need for some European nations to stop their attempts to reform Europe’s security architecture—attempts which are often reminiscent of the infamous policy of "appeasement” which led to disaster in the 1930s. Georgia's NATO aspirations and her desire to become a full member of the North Atlantic structure is all about making two ends meet, since the Georgian end alone cannot provide sufficient reward for all the difficulties of this painful process. We certainly expect the other end to take more robust and unequivocal steps, and any "murky waters" to be cleared.

PARTING NOTE This article is a testament to the fact that there can be no easy solution to the sensitivity of foreign policy matters, and that there are no ready responses to the newly resurfaced problem of how to deal with the domination of revisionist powers or with externally goaded domestic instability. What is obvious is the need for a deeper, more sophisticated and more multi-dimensional analysis in which immaturity or amateurism is simply not tolerated. When the results of such an analysis will be crystal-clear—having been properly “SWOTed” and duly deliberated at an institutional level—it will then be a case of following up in practice with all the dedication and professionalism that addressing national security challenges requires.


GEORGIA TODAY MAY 12 - 15, 2017


Pick a Date: The Battle against Fascism OP-ED BY ZAZA JGARKAVA


he day celebrating victory over fascism once again divided Georgian society. Overwhelmed with all the constitutional hassle, the local political circles confronted each other over the date of the global holiday. Politicians can’t agree whether it should be celebrated on May 8 as it is in Europe or on May 9 as in Russia. This debate between the government and opposition has been going on for a while now, however, due to the peculiarities of Georgian politics, the undertones vary from year to year. And in this sense May 9 2017 proved special. The series of misunderstandings began a few days before the actual date, when the Putin-affiliated bikers’ club, the Night Wolves, decided to congratulate Georgia on the holiday. Adorned with Russian symbolism and so-called Georgievsky Ribbons, they planned to arrive and celebrate at the Memorial of the Unknown Soldier in the heart of Tbilisi - Vake Park. This resulted in the first wave of protests from the political opposition and society. Celebrities vowed to seize the Russian symbols from Putin’s friends: "If the Russian bikers show up, they shouldn’t count on Georgian hospitality," said various Georgian singers and artists. “If the Night Wolves aren’t violating any laws in the Baltics, they are allowed to enter those countries. However, they are met with a series of peaceful protests. We shouldn’t fall to their provocations or confront them physically; we should meet them with a silent protest,” the government said in response to the complaints.

After lengthy hesitation, the Georgian Dream government decided to close the border to the Russian moto-club anyway and dozens of Night Wolves were turned back to Vladikavkaz from the checkpoint in Larsi. Nevertheless, later, a few were still able to make it to Tbilisi, only to have their Georgievsky Ribbons confiscated by a police officer in Vake Park. Existing conflict caused by the Russian Bikers was further stirred by the fact that on May 9 the former mayor of Moscow, Yury Luzhkov, and his wife Irina Baturina, paid an incognito visit to Georgia. Although claiming it was just a coincidence, the scandal has been enhanced for a different reason. By entering the territories of the occupied region in 2006 - 09, the ex-mayor of Moscow violated the Law of Georgia on Occupation, which is a criminal offense charged with up to six years in prison. And this fact resulted in the main “holiday” confrontation between the government and opposition: while the opposition demanded Luzhkov’s arrest, the government tried to avoid confronting the Kremlin. The debates went so far that May 9 and the Victory over Fascism got lost somewhere beneath the daily disputes. So, when should Georgia celebrate the victory over fascism? May 8, when representatives of the USA, Great Britain and France signed the unquestionable capitulation of Germany in a in the French city of Reims, or on May 9, when at 12:03 a.m. Moscow time, in the presence of the Allies, the Soviet Union received Field Marshal Keitel’s signed Act of Military Surrender in one of the few surviving buildings in Berlin. Interestingly, from 1948-64, May 9 was not an official holiday, only being celebrated through governmental greetings published in newspapers.

Political analyst Soso Tsintsadze believes that the emerging discussions about the date might mean that Georgia prefers to celebrate it with civilized Europe and all this even though Georgia made a great contribution to the battle against fascism together with the other USSR countries. “Whatever the outcome of this debate might be, the date of Victory over Fascism will always be May 9 for those 9,000 WWII veterans residing in Georgia” Tsintsadze says.

Regardless, the political leaders of the Georgian government and opposition graced the Memorial of the Unknown Soldier with flowers on May 9 this year. As per tradition, the President and Prime Minister of Georgia gave their speeches addressing the veterans who had gathered in Vake Park. “May 9 is the greatest triumph of humankind over evil and we, the Georgians, with our small population, can proudly say that precisely Georgians and Georgia have a great part in this vic-

tory," said President Margvelashvili. Premier Kvirikashvili linked the celebration with the veterans, saying: “It is our duty to pay honor to all those people who sacrificed their life and health for their descendants to live in a peaceful world. It was this great sacrifice that made it possible to stop fascism. I bow my head before these people who are among us today. It is the duty of the government to constantly express how thankful we all are.”




MAY 12 - 15, 2017

Can the Association Agreement be Georgia’s Pathway into Europe? BY GVANTSA ICHKITI


he Georgia-European Union (EU) Association Agreement has been a major subject of discussion since being signed in 2014. The Association Agreement is a complex document that went into force in July 2016. At 752 pages long, full implementation of the agreement will take years. Most interested observers are excited by the prospect of association with the EU, but few know what it really means for Georgia’s future. Some (mistakenly) believe that the Association Agreement guarantees future membership in the EU, while others have no expectations at all. According to a 2014 poll by the National Democratic Institute, 79 percent of Georgians were aware that Georgia had signed the Association Agreement, and 69 percent supported the signing. The Agreement’s economic implications are especially important. Of those supporting it, 58 percent expected the Association Agreement to improve the country’s economic capabilities. In order to fully understand the impact an Association Agreement can have on a particular country, it’s crucial to review the background—when and why the EU started concluding these types of agreements—and analyze how countries such as Georgia can use them to get closer to the EU. In its relations with third states, the EU offers various benefits—reflected in different agreements—in exchange for socio-political, economic, and human rights reforms. Currently, the EU signs agreements with third countries under two main policies: The Stabilization and Association Process (SAP); and the European Neighborhood Policy (ENP). The Western Balkan countries are

covered by the SAP and are subject to “Stabilization and Association Agreements” (SAAs), while the Mediterranean states and the countries of the Eastern European neighborhood are covered by the ENP and subject to Association Agreements. As for Russia, it has a special status within the EU-Russia Common Spaces in lieu of participation in the ENP. The ENP itself is part of the European Union’s foreign policy, under which the Union strives to establish closer links with countries in its Eastern Neighborhood. Currently, Georgia is one of 16 countries covered by the ENP. The mechanism behind the ENP is simple—countries express their readiness and will to adhere to principles of human rights, rule of law, democracy, good governance, sustainable development, and market economics, and under the principle of “more for more” the EU supports them financially and technically with economic integration and eased travel regimes. Georgia has firsthand experience with this: the visa-free regime that was granted to Georgia on March 1, 2017 is an example of the EU’s support for and recognition of the country. On March 28, 2017, Georgian citizens holding biometric passports gained the opportunity to travel within the Schengen Zone without a visa. Association Agreements are a key component of the ENP. According to the glossary of the European Commission, an “Association Agreement” is a bilateral agreement signed between the EU and a third party country. In addition to promoting cooperation on day-to-day issues, the Association Agreement serves as the basis for the approximation process. The EU currently has Association Agreements in force with several countries in addition to Georgia: the Western Balkan countries, Moldova, and Turkey. Continued on page 8

French President Macron & What’s in Store for the EU & Ukraine

Source: BloombergQuint



mmanuel Macron, at just 39 years old, became the youngest President of France this week. He promises to "defend Europe," and in debate said that he would not "draw closer to Moscow." Macron won in the second round of the presidential elections in France on May 7, receiving 65% of the votes. His pro-Russian rival, Marine Le Pen, immediately recognized her defeat. Let’s analyze what France's new policy towards the EU and Ukraine will be.

WHAT SHOULD THE EU EXPECT? Macron advocates rapprochement with Europe and proposes the creation of a parliament and budget for the Eurozone. While his electoral contestants raised the issue of revising relations with the EU, following the election, Emmanuel Macron stated that he sees his task as protecting the interests of France and the European Union. "I will defend France, its vital interests, its image, its message. I pledge before you: I will defend Europe, the community of destiny chosen by the peoples of our continent. At stake is our civilization, our way of life, our freedom, our values, our common plans and hopes,” he said in his speech on Sunday evening after the announcement of his win. According to the director of the Institute for SocioPolitical Design 'Dialogue,' Andrei Miselyuk, Macron is better known as an investment banker. In the EU, he will pursue a pragmatic policy and try to change the bureaucratic structure of the Union," the expert says. "Macron is set to raise EU growth and to overcome the difficulties which led to Brexit. [Macron] said that no reform can end in Frexit, so it will also require effective efforts from the EU," Miselyuk adds. During the election race, Macron rarely touched on the topic of Ukraine. However, he openly declared that he did not support Putin and spoke in favor of extending the sanctions against Russia until the Minsk agreements were implemented. During the debate with a rival for the presidency, he said that France will not move closer to Moscow. "Russia must fulfill its obligations in the matter of the conflict in Ukraine and the war in Syria," he said. Ukrainian experts believe that the relationship between Ukraine and France will not change fundamentally. However, Macron winning the election is good news, because his main rival Le Pen is configured to cooperate with Russia. Political scientist

Vladimir Voloshin believes that Macron will continue to follow the German policy towards Ukraine and Russia. "If Le Pen had won it would have been an unpredictable issue for Ukraine and Europe. Now, no fundamental changes are expected and it is in everyone’s interest that it be so. Largely, public opinion demonstrates a desire for a reduction of sanctions against Russia, so Macron will have to listen to this opinion,” Voloshin said. However, the influence Macron has will depend on the composition of the new parliament. The French will elect deputies of the National Assembly on June 11 and 18. Voloshin predicts that neither the right, the left, nor the centrists will be able to gain an absolute majority. Because of this, Macron will have to seek political allies. "After Brexit and Trump's victory, there was serious concern that populists and extreme rightists would dominate Europe, and although France managed to hold it back, the threat remains," the political scientist adds. Miselyuk believes that while there is no clear position on Ukraine from Macron, it will have to be built. And what line France will take with Ukraine will be clearer by autumn. "Macron will act specifically and pragmatically in comparison with Hollande,” Miselyuk said. “Hollande did not have his own line for Ukraine; he was following the Merkel course, and now Macron will have to build his line on this issue. He has already said that he has his own demands for the EU. He’ll retain the country's participation in the Norman format and perhaps France will not be as passive as it was under Hollande. But he will have to reckon with strong pro-Russian positions in France. It would be wrong to say now that Macron has a clear plan for Ukraine. We’ll know more come autumn," the expert says. Poroshenko congratulated Macron on winning the presidential election and thanked the leader of "Forward!" for their support of Ukraine: "Your position during the election campaign gives confidence that with your victory, Ukraine has received a reliable ally both in the Norman format and in its efforts to restore Ukraine's sovereignty and territorial integrity," the Ukranian president said in his message. Prime Minister of Ukraine Vladimir Groysman also had a congratulatory message for Macron: "I congratulate Emmanuel Macron on his election to the presidency of France. The people of France once again confirmed their devotion to the present values of democracy, I wish the newly elected president success and I hope that Ukraine will continue to have reliable support on the part of France," he wrote on Facebook.




MAY 12 - 15, 2017

Can the Association Agreement be Georgia’s Pathway into Europe? Continued from page 6

Turkey’s association experience has been unique. Its involvement in European integration processes dates back to 1959 and includes the Ankara Association Agreement signed in 1963. Despite accession negotiations launching back in 2005, the EU and Turkey are unable to agree on a number of issues. Turkey thus perpetually holds the status of a candidate country. If one takes into consideration the results of Turkey’s recent constitutional referendum on April 16, 2017—the outcome of which will grant President Recep Tayyip Erdogan vastly augmented powers—it appears even less likely that the country will follow the path toward EU integration. This demonstrates that signing an Association Agreement is not a guarantee of eventual EU membership, especially if the candidate country doesn’t show an internal commitment to reform. The process of accession for the Western Balkan states started in 1999 when the EU launched the SAP and the Stability Pact, which was replaced by the Regional Cooperation Council in 2008. In 2003, all SAP countries were declared potential candidates for EU membership. The EU also granted visa-free travel in the Schengen area to Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia, Albania, and BosniaHerzegovina. Currently, Albania (2014), the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (2005), Montenegro (2010), and Serbia (2012) hold the status of candidate countries, while Bosnia and Herzegovina and Kosovo remain potential candidate

countries. Since becoming candidates, the respective situation in each country has improved in nearly every sector. However, big challenges remain and full membership looks distant. In fact, the outcome is unlikely in the near future, even if reforms are successfully implemented. When it comes to the Association Agreement, one country whose experience has much in common with Georgia is Moldova. Moldova also signed its Association Agreement in 2014 and it entered into force on July 1, 2016. Moldova believes that its place is among the EU member countries. Accordingly, it’s actively fighting corruption, pursu-

ing economic development, and strengthening the rule of law. Just like in Georgia, Moldova’s government is working to peacefully solve a conflict with a Russian-supported separatist region (Transnistria) and believes that it can become a member of the European family of nations without being expressly anti-Russian. Moldova, like Georgia, is currently dependent on Russia as a trading partner. Thus, joining the Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area (DCFTA) is of great importance for the county. Both Moldova and Georgia are working to establish democratic and marketoriented political and economic systems,

a process aided by pursuing closer relations with the EU maintaining peaceful relations with neighboring states. That brings us back to Georgia. The country signed its Association Agreement in June 2014, which entered into force on July 1, 2016. Currently, the country has a defined association agenda that covers all the reforms that must be implemented by the country. It starts with emphasizing the need for better political dialogue and reforms, moves on to foreign and security policy, and ends with economic cooperation. According to the agenda, Georgia needs to ensure adequate balance in the political system, especially now, when the country is undergoing the process of transition from semi-presidential to parliamentary system. It’s also vital to ensuring further democratic consolidation. In addition, addressing any flaws in the legislative framework and election administration is an issue of great importance. In the framework of the requirement of peaceful conflict resolution, Georgia needs to continue its efforts toward full implementation of the August 12, 2008 Six-Point Agreement and support peaceful conflict resolution with Abkhazia and South Ossetia through strengthening communication with local population. As for economic reforms, the country is expected to improve and simplify its tax legislation, harmonize its policies against fraud and smuggling, and strengthen the independence of the National Bank of Georgia (NBG). The Association Agreement itself does not guarantee that Georgia will become a full member of the EU; it is another

means for getting closer to the union. As we have seen above, most of the Western Balkan states have been candidate countries for more than 10 years, demonstrating that the accession process can be a long, drawn-out process. Although Georgia has signed and is currently implementing the Association Agreement, much work remains to be done. Any diversion from the EU integration path carries the risk of stagnation. To conclude, a key point is that context and local dynamics matter. What happens in one part of the world (the Western Balkans) should not be expected to occur the same way in another (the South Caucasus). Even within a single region, the situations in respective countries can vary tremendously. The experiences of other states can provide useful reference points, but they are not defining. Georgia’s future depends entirely on Georgia itself.

Gvantsa Ichkiti is an independent researcher based in Tbilisi. The views expressed her are her own and don’t necessary reflect the views of the Georgian Institute of Politics. The Georgian Institute of Politics was founded in 2011 to strengthen institutions and promote good governance and development through policy research and advocacy in Georgia. It publishes its blog with Georgia Today twice per month. Check out our website in English and Georgian at for more blogs, data, and analyses.

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GEORGIA TODAY MAY 12 - 15, 2017


The Benchmarks for Leadership Gather in Batumi BY OTAR KIRIA


n May 22-23, Batumi is to host the first regional International Business Forum (IBF) in the Caucasus. The event will be held in hotel Euphoria, with six world renowned speakers and 800 delegates from 14 counties participating. IBF Batumi is the first and the largest scale event of the industry not only in Georgia, but in the region. This unique business forum unites world class speakers, representatives of large businesses and the government, as well as start-up companies and leaders of small and medium business and the media.


Dananjaya Hettiarachchi - the 2014 world champion of public speaking Human Resource Development specialist has extensive experience in working with the top managers and business owners across the globe, guiding them through personal development and helping them improve their public speaking techniques. He will be sharing his unique experience with the IBF attendees, talking about effective communication and its role in sales.

Pierluigi Collina - The most famous football referee in the world, FIFA's "Best Referee of the Year" for six consecutive times, and the “world’s best referee” according to David Beckham. According to the footballers respect is the secret to his success. Collina is renowned for attaining the highest level of professionalism, for his pinpoint decision making, fairness and calming influence. He was awarded by Hull University "for his contribution to the world of sport” as a Doctor of Science in 2004. Nowadays a coach specializing in decision-making, Collina will be sharing his experience with IBF attendees.

Marshall Goldsmith - one of the most in-demand coaches across the USA, world’s most influential leadership thinker of 2015 and 2011, one of five most respected executive coaches according to Forbes and among the top ten executive educators by Wall Street Journal. His ability to get results for top leaders has drawn over 150 CEOs and their management teams to address change in their workplace, all wanting to bring Dr. Goldsmith's practical and proven methods into their own practice.

Sean Fitzpatrick - the Rugby legend and former Captain of the New Zealand’s National Team All Blacks is widely regarded as one of the finest players of the country. In the 1997 New Year Honors, Fitzpatrick was made an Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit. He is the founder and director of the Front Row Group of Companies and the author of best-selling book ‘Winning Matter’. Fitzpatrick will share his unique life experiences and talk about winning strategies.

Kevin Gaskell - former CEO of Porsche and Lamborghini, the CEO of four successful world class brands and a serial entrepreneur who has built international companies, he has a surprising track record, having created over £1 billion in shareholder value for various brands and yet still found time to conquer the world’s highest mountains, walk to the North and South Poles and play in a rock band. He will be talking about the role of creativity in the digital era.

John King - Founding Partner and President of CultureSync, founder of John King Partners and a New York Times Bestselling Author, internationally recognized as a senior teacher, coach and program leader. His book Tribal Leadership is regarded as the best guide through the concepts of team management of all time. IBF attendees will have an opportunity to learn the main principles of teamwork and steps for the successful development of leaders.




MAY 12 - 15, 2017

The Big Spender: What City Hall Pays out for Disabled ‘Summer Camps’ BY NINO ABDALADZE, IFACT.GE


he Resort Service Program for Persons with Disabilities is one of several programs for persons with disabilities administered by Tbilisi City Hall. While conditions at the resorts are improving, parents of children with disabilities still complain about gaps in the program. The city spends more on these camps than they do on other programs for the disabled. In 2016, the budget for the resort program was GEL 715,845.00 (about $294,000). By comparison, the entire budget for all who are eligible for the program “Assistance for Socially Unprotected Persons with Disabilities Under the Age 18” was GEL 369,000 (about $153,000). Tbilisi's Department of Health and Social Services has administered the program since 2008, allowing children with disabilities and their parents to spend a holiday at either mountain or sea resorts within Georgia. In recent years, Ureki and Anaklia have been most often chosen as Black Sea resorts and Bakuriani and Borjomi as mountain resorts. Children with disabilities ages 3-21 and a parent or legal guardian can participate. According to the Ministry of Labor, Health and Social Services, 31,066 people in Tbilisi with disabilities receive aid packages or support from the government. Slightly more than 10 percent (3,285) are aged 3-21. Tengiz Tevzadze, coordinator of social programs for the Department of Health and Social Services, said that in 2016 there were 1,023 applicants and 900 were accepted. In 2015, 816 were accepted. Tevzadze says participants must have documents proving they are registered in Tbilisi or receive services from a daycare center located in Tbilisi. His department decides who is chosen. “There are no special criteria,” he says, adding that the most important factor is the condition of the child. Doctors exam candidates to assess if a child is at risk from complications during travel or at any other stage of the program. Natia Sharvadze and her son have been participating in the program since 2008 and she prefers to go to the sea resorts. “For several years I went with another adult to help with my son and the hotel administrations often made an exception for the second adult,” she told us. Because of her son’s condition, they cannot travel by bus and so have to travel there by car. “There are people with the same problem who cannot do that, and so they are prevented from participating in the program," she said. Sharvadze’s son uses a wheelchair, so staying in a hotel located close to the beach is extremely important for her. Children who are blind or suffer from restricted hearing also have special hotel needs. Tevzadze says hotels are chosen accord-

ing to simplified electronic tenders. “Two years ago, a Tbilisi City Hall survey found that there is not a single hotel in Georgia completely adapted for persons with disabilities. So we try to choose from the ones which are most suitable,” he says. Tender documents for 2016 state that potential hotels in Bakuriani should have at least three rooms adapted for people who use a wheelchair. The environment should be "comfortable and adapted to the needs of persons with disabilities" and it is "necessary to maintain sanitary norms". The program includes therapeutic massages for children who need them. But according to Mari Korkotadze, who heads the organization 'Families against Discrimination' (FAD) and whose son participated in the program in 2016, “it would be better if the program provided art therapy or sensory therapy with specialists. “It’s not important to only swim in the sea and lay on the sand," she said. “There should be activities so that children do not sit in front of computers

after swimming. Then it would be like a summer camp." Apart from rest, many would also benefit from playing with other children their own age. Korkotadze says children with disabilities are often sent to remote resorts isolated from everyone, which is very similar to what happens to disabled children who are treated in big medical institutions the rest of the year. The program budget for 2017 has been increased by another GEL 100,000 (about $41,000). Tevzadze said that because some resorts that are chosen may not be suitable for people with certain disabilities, a voucher system has been established through which the disabled person and parent or guardian can pick their own resort. In 2017, those vouchers worth GEL 400 (about $164) will be given to 250 people. Sharvadze supports the voucher system, but says the money is still not enough. Korkotadze agrees. “For an adult and child, the vouchers should be GEL 800 (about $328),” she says.




MAY 12 - 15, 2017

Stay for a Spell: Etseri, Svaneti

Italian Brand Missoni Enters Ici Paris Stores


talian perfume maker Missoni has released Missoni Eau De Toilette exclusively to ICI Paris. The fragrance is described as appealing for “the sensual and exuberant woman”. Quentin Bisch, creator of this fragrance, included notes of blood orange, berries, Nashi pear, freesia, peony, and rose. The geometric bottle, available at Ici Paris, displays the rich gold color of the fragrance. The golden band around bottle represents the woven threads of Missoni fabric. The logo reappears on the elegant pink carton, introducing the new color scheme.



e recently hosted the winners of local English spelling bees from eight village schools in Upper Svaneti for the regional finals. This whole thing had been organized by my dear wife a couple of months in advance, to allow time for those locals and this wrap-up. She stipulated two groups, grades five through eight, and nine through twelve, but all were to study the words from the English World level two book. She put them into alphabetically ordered sets by last name, so that my word list would be completely fair as I had no knowledge of their order until they had all gathered. It was pretty fiercely competitive! Of 37 entrants in the two groups, watched by their own English teachers and some directors and Darejan, the regional boss for education, the field quickly narrowed. We had strict rules for silence or you’d face ejection from the room, including radio silence in the form of requiring all mobile phones to be turned off. Two exceptions: the teacher we asked to be official photographer (using her mobile) and Darejan, who apparently is required by her job not to turn the thing off ever. But we also gave contestants the right to request a complete re-start on any word if a phone call interrupted it and their concentration. Honestly, how did we live without these devices a couple or three decades ago? Many pupils were eliminated on their first word. English offers myriad pitfalls in the chasm between its written and pronounced forms, both of which have variants anyway (spelling and accent or dialect). Georgian, by contrast, is such a phonetic language that a spelling bee simply wouldn’t work in it; the average grade one child knows how to spell any word you care to offer them in this language, even if they have no clue what it means, assuming it’s not too long for them to remember. As for completely non-alphabetic languages… well,

they don’t use letters, so, good luck with that. The body of “things we humans speak in” offers vast and fascinating diversity in every way, from sounds to writing systems to grammar, for the linguist, casual or serious. I, as the only native speaker present, was asked to be the pronouncer of all words. A jury was chosen in case any disputes came up, which they did not. And Darejan was final adjudicator, again unnecessary in hindsight but at least available. In both age groups, it soon became an elimination contest for third place, then between first and second. Back and forth, back and forth went the words; I had over 260 on my list, and we didn’t come close to finishing that off, but the “tennis match” craning of our necks back and forth in silence except for words being spoken and spelt was full of drama. I would say each word, the contestant would repeat it, ask for an English definition if wanting one (none did), then begin spelling, and signal a finish by saying the word again. They could start again, if recognizing a mistake, only before this final say of the whole word. Otherwise they were committed. There was a reasonable spread of schools among the three and three winners, but all were girls. The older group’s first place victor was so confident of herself that I could tell, in every case, that she knew she had got it right before I confirmed this. It was a quiet but powerful success, and the general consensus was that we should do more of this, because of the competition and thus the study towards excellence it promotes. And some surprising gifts among those who had not evinced them heretofore were most gratifying to discover. There will be more bees, it seems. Tony Hanmer has lived in Georgia since 1999, in Svaneti since 2007, and been a weekly writer for GT since early 2011. He runs the “Svaneti Renaissance” Facebook group, now with nearly 1500 members, at He and his wife also run their own guest house in Etseri:

Address: Sioni Str. 8, Tbilisi, Georgia Tel.: 593330990 / 558511811


GEORGIA TODAY MAY 12 - 15, 2017


Nino Surguladze: CinĂŠDOC-Tbilisi International Festival We Have Kicks Off Reunited with Love for Love



inĂŠDOC-Tbilisi International Festival of Documentary Films, officially opened on May 11, the ceremony followed by a screening of the acclaimed ‘Happy,’ a documentary by Carolin Genreith, a well known German documentalist who attended the screening herself together with her father, the main protagonist of the film, sitting alongside other guests. ‘Happy’ is a participant of the International Competition section of the festival, telling the story of a 60-year-old man who afraid to stay alone and goes in search of love.



t has been seven years since the charity foundation ‘Dream Tree’, founded by the famous Georgian mezzo soprano Nino Surguladze, first began to unite numerous individuals, including world stars, to help children with serious illnesses needing treatment by way of an annual concert-marathon. On May 1, at the State Opera House of Georgia, the charity foundation Dream Tree and the company Socar, together with the Georgian TV Broadcaster, held the 7th such concert. Distinguished guests of the foundation were: conductor, composer and pianist Ezio Bosso, soprano Carmen Giannattasio and pianist Oliver Poole. The orchestra of the Opera House participated in the concert, conducted by maestro Bosso. In 2016, Bosso, one of the biggest musicians in the contemporary world, was recognized in Italy as the most active and successful musician at whose concert over 100 thousand tickets were sold. In London, the press and critics were unanimous in acknowledging one of his concerts as the greatest event of the year. Six years ago, Maestro Bosso discovered he was suffering from an incurable and fatal disease- lateral Amyotrophic Sclerosis. In spite of this, Bosso did not stop and continued composing with even greater enthusiasm, creating and giving out a lot of positive energy and love. The Georgian audience also received this love from at the latest charity soiree. The musical pieces performed with untypical extraordinariness, sensation and emotion deserved great approval and ovation from the public. The maestro represented the world premier “Rain in her Black Eyes�, which he remade for the Tbilisi concert specially and rewrote for the whole orchestra. Maestro Bosso represented the highest class of musical performance, breaking all stereotypes and declaring that there are no disabilities. Carmen Giannattasio, named one of the most talented sopranos of her generation, stepped forward to serenade the Georgian audience in solo parts as well as in duo with Nino Surguladze. “I believe that the audience was very happy to meet Maestro Bosso, as well as to listen the music and enjoy the environment.� Nino Surguladze said. “More importantly, we will again help those who need our support. Our beneficiaries are in

All of the partner organizations of CinĂŠDOCTbilisi attended the opening ceremony of the festival, as well as foreign ambassadors, Georgian and foreign film directors, producers. Finnish director, cinematographer and screenwriter Pirjo Honkasalo was among them. The CinĂŠDOC-Tbilisi 2017 guest country is Lithuania. Rolandas Kvietkauskas, Director of the Lithuanian Film Center arrived with a delegation from Lithuania. CinĂŠDOC-Tbilisi 2017 will run From May 11 to May 16, ending with an award ceremony. During the festival the public will have a unique chance to see 68 films from 30 countries, with screenings to be held at the Amirani and Rustaveli theaters, Cinema House, open air in Mziuri Park and at Backstage 78.

need of extra medical operations. We wish to bring our charity to the very end. Music is the universal language that unites everyone around love.� “I’m the happiest man in the world, as I’m in a country which I have learned about only from books,� Bosso said. “I’m in an extremely wonderful theater, enjoying the opportunity to perform musical pieces with marvelous artists such as Nino Surguladze. I never thought that music could be helpful from this angle, but it has a power indeed, power to unite people around a kind activity.� Carmen Giannattasio: “We, singers, enjoy a gift – our voices, which we should share with others. First, we should please the audience and secondly, use it as a remedy for souls and hearts. We should take part in such charity events in order to help those who badly need it. Let’s share our love, heart and soul with these children.� Oliver Poole: “I’ve been Nino’s friend for quite a while. I’ve also made friends with Georgia. It’s a great honor for me to be participating in the charity marathon.� As a result of the past events, and thanks to the engagement and help of Georgian society as well as renowned stars, Dream Tree was able to save the lives of 50 children, most of whom had treatment financed overseas and had much-needed major operations. To date, over 200 thousand calls have been taken on the charity phone number. It is constantly ongoing and everyone from any cell operator can call and donate at: 09 01 900 999.

Nino Surguladze: I believe that the audience was very happy to meet Maestro Bosso, as well as to listen the music and enjoy the environment

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Three mobile conference halls are available with a total capacity of about 100 persons. (XURSHDQFXLVLQHFDQEHHQMR\HGLQWKHJURXQGĂ€RRUFDIp and a grill-bar menu in the roof top restaurant with panoramic views over the city. The International Hotels Management Company “T3 Hospitality Management,â€? providing the hotel management, has 20 years’ experience in hotel management in different countries globally.




MAY 12 - 15, 2017


TBILISI ZAKARIA PALIASHVILI OPERA AND BALLET THEATER Address: 25 Rustaveli Ave. Telephone: 2 99 04 56 May 13, 14 GORDA D. Toradze's ballet Choreography by Vakhtang Chabukiani Choreographic version and staging by Nina Ananiashvili Conductor: Revaz Takidze Start time:19:00 Ticket: 10-50 GEL GABRIADZE THEATER Address: 13 Shavtelis Str. Telephone: 2 98 65 93 May 13, 14, 18 MARSHAL DE FANTIE’S DIAMOND Rezo Gabriadze Directed by Rezo Gabriadze English Subtitles Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 10, 15, 20 GEL May 12 AUTUMN OF MY SPRING Rezo Gabriadze Directed by Rezo Gabriadze English Subtitles Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 10, 15, 20 GEL MOVEMENT THEATER Address: 182, Aghmashenebeli Ave., Mushthaid park Telephone: 599 555 260 May 12 RECITATIVE IN THE CITY Directed by Kakha Bakuradze Start time: 21:00 Ticket: 10 GEL May 13, 14 INTRO Directed by Kakha Bakuradze Composer: Sandro Nikolava Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 15 GEL

Directed by Vakhtang Nikolava Language: Russian Start time: 18:00 Ticket: 10 GEL May 13 CHERRY ORCHARD A. Chekhov Directed by Andro Enukidze Language: Russian Start time: 18:00 Ticket: 10 GEL May 14 TRAVEL IN A WONDERLAND After L. Frank Baum’sThe Wonderful Wizard of Oz Directed by Vakhtang Nikolava Language: Russian Start time: 12:00 Ticket: 10 GEL GEORGIAN STATE PANTOMIME THEATER Address: 37 Rustaveli Ave. Telephone: 2 99 63 14 May 12 KRIMANCHULI Directed by Amiran Shalikashvili Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 8 GEL May 13 SONNETS After William Shakespeare Directed by Amiran Shalikashvili Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 11 GEL MUSEUM


GRIBOEDOVI THEATER Address: 2 Rustaveli Ave. Telephone: 2 93 43 36


May 12 ENGLISH DETECTIVE Agatha Christie

September 27 (2016) – September 22 (2017) EXHIBITION STONE AGE GEORGIA


THE NATIONAL GALLERY Address: 11 Rustaveli Ave. GEORGIAN PAINTERS PERMANENT EXHIBITION May 4 – June 2 EXHIBITION DEDICATED TO 100th ANNIVERSARY OF ROBERT STURUA. May 5 – June 7 EXHIBITION BACH EXERCISES BY LEVAN LAGIDZE May 5 –24 GROUP EXHIBITION THE LIBRARY OF COLORS KOLGA TBILISI PHOTO 2013 May 6-14 THE FUTURE IS OURS Curated by Teona Gogichaishvili & Inga Schneider; EXODUS – PEOPLE IN FLIGHT Nikos Pilos; UNDAUNTED Four Women in Kabul, Their Struggle & Their Dreams Lela Ahmadzai Address: I. Grishashvili Tbilisi History Museum May 7-14 IRAN, AN OPEN PORTFOLIO Curated by Ali Akbar Shirjian; BURIED REFLECTIONS IN SILO Francesco Merlini, Samuele Pellecchia, Devin Yalkin and Igor Posner; Manaba Curated by Lika Mamatsashvili Address: I. Grishashvili Tbilisi History Museum May 8-19 PURITY David Magnusson Address: TBC Art Gallery, 7 Marjanishvili Str.

May 8-15 A POLAROID FOR A REFUGEE Giovanna Del Sarto Opening: 20:00 Address: Gallery Fotografia, 21 Revaz Tabukashvili Str.

May 14 SAKHE 20 YEAR ANNIVERSARY CELEBRATION Start time: 19:30 Ticket: 20-60 GEL

May 9-15 BREAKING THE ICE Professional Networking Platform MyAngle Opening: 20:00 Address: Art Area Gallery, 10 D. Abashidze Str.

TBILISI STATE CONSERVATOIRE Address: 8 Griboedov St. Telephone: 2 93 46 24

May 10-17 BROKEN FLOWERS FROM THE SERIES LES SENTIMENTS PERDUS Horst Kistner Opening: 18:00 Address: Art Palace, 6 Kargareteli Str. FAUNA- WILD BEASTS, SHEEP & CROCODILES Curated by Tina Schelhorn Opening: 20:00 Address: Z. Tsereteli Museum of Modern Art, 27 Rustaveli Ave. May 11-18 CELEBRATION Curated by Giorgi Kakabadze Opening: 18:00 Address: National Archives of Georgia, 1 Vazha-Pshavela Ave. May 11-13 DIVERSE LAND Media platform Chai Khana Opening: 20:00 Address: I. Grishashvili Tbilisi History Museum FABRIKA Address: 8 Ninoshvili Str. May 2-13 Project ArtBeat presents LADO POCHKHUA THE BOOK FOR THE NEW ARISTOCRACY MUSIC

TBILISI CONCERT HALL Address: 1 Melikishvili St. Telephone: 2 99 00 99 May 12 ILIKO SUKHISHVILI 110TH ANNIVERSARY CONCERT Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 40 GEL

May 13 CONCERT- MARATHON Tamar Kordzadze (Piano), Mariam Roinishvili (Soprano), Tina Mamulashvili (Soprano), Mariam Maghradze (Violin), Tamar Kordzadze (Piano), Ani and Nia Sulkhanishvili (Piano duo), Concertmaster- Irina Aivazova Start time: 16:00 Ticket: 5-15 GEL May 13 CONCERT - MARATHON Giorgi Tsagareli (Viola), Edisher Savitaski (Piano), Sophio Djanelidze (Mezzosoprano), Sophio Gordeladze (Soprano), Giorgi Latso (Piano), Wind Ensemble ‘Georgian Brass’ Concertmaster- Nino Tsulukidze, Start time: 19:00 Ticket: 5-15 GEL May 14 CONCERT - MARATHON Nino Gurevich (Piano), Teona Dvali (Soprano), Natalia Kutateladze (Mezzo soprano), Ani Takidze (Piano), Concertmaster- Temur Eliava Start time: 16:00 Ticket: 5-15 GEL May 14 CONCERT - MARATHON Edisher Savitski (Piano), Irina Sherazadishvili (Soprano), Irakli Murjikneli (Tenor), Tamar Beraia (Piano), Concertmaster- Teona Buadze Start time: 19:00 Ticket: 5-15 GEL May 16 JAZZ EVENING Start time: 19:00 Ticket: 5-15 GEL DJANSUG KAKHIDZE TBILISI CENTER FOR MUSIC AND CULTURE Address: 125 Aghmashenebeli ave. Telephone: 2 96 12 43 May 13 DJANSUG KAKHIDZE 3RD INTERNATIONAL MUSIC FESTIVAL Legendary jazz pianist and composer BOB JAMES & HIS TRIO In collaboration with Tbilisi Symphony Orchestra Conductor- Maestro Vakhtang Kakhidze Start time: 19:00 Ticket: 5-15 GEL MUSIC FESTIVAL KONTRAPUNKT May 12 GIYA KANCHELI Georgian Strings Conductor: Nikoloz Rachveli, Nino Tsiklauri, Andrea Cortesi (violin), Gori Sulkhan Tsintsadze College children’s choir, Georgian Philharmonic Orchestra percussion Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 15-100 GEL Venue: Rustaveli Theater May 14 DMITRI SHOSTAKOVICH, GIYA KANCHELI Conductor: Nikoloz Rachveli Georgian Philharmonic Orchestra Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 15-100 GEL Venue: Tbilisi Opera Theater


GEORGIA TODAY MAY 12 - 15, 2017


British Artist at Kolga Tbilisi Photo 2017

Georgian-US Cook-Off Highlights Georgian Products on 25th Anniversary of Diplomatic Relations BY MAKA LOMADZE


n May 5, the Culinary Academy of the Agrarian University hosted a culinary contest together with USAID-based program REAP (Restoring Efficiency to Agriculture Production) and the Ministry of Agriculture of Georgia. The event was dedicated to the 25th anniversary of US-Georgian diplomatic relations and aimed at supporting Georgian agricultural produce and demonstrating the assistance provided to the sector by the two governments. The participants of the cheerful competition were: Nicholas Berliner, Deputy Chief of Mission of the US Embassy to Georgia; Douglas H. Ball, USAID Mission Director; and Giorgi Chkheidze, Deputy Minister of Agriculture. The show had a jury, too, formed by: Levan Davitashvili, Minister of Agriculture; Meriko Gubeladze, well-known Georgian Chef; Anastasia Bendukidze, Director of the Knowledge Fund; and Bakhva Bregvadze, actor. “It has been several years since the United States of America started very intensely supporting the development of the agriculture sector of Georgia,” said Minister Davitashvili. “REAP is an important project that has assisted a lot of private enterprises in the framework of the grants. Our ministry tightly cooperates with this program, in the framework of which a lot of new brands and enterprises have been born. Today’s symbolic contest also demonstrates our good cooperation”. “The US is investing a lot in agriculture here in Georgia,” said Berliner. “It’s a major source of income for many people in this country. This particular project of USAID is REAP. [Today]’s cooking competition uses the successful products that you can find in many supermarkets throughout the country. This is exactly what we want to see: we want to see things being marketed, produced to European and international standards; things that create export opportunities, create jobs and start

to place Georgia as a player on the global market”. Douglas H. Ball, USAID Mission Director noted: “Today’s event is a wonderful opportunity to highlight 25 years of very close partnership with Georgia. The USAID has been a key partner to help Georgians develop the agricultural sector in Georgia. Today, we are highlighting some of the products that have been the result of this wonderful partnership”. Anastasia Bendukidze, Director of the Knowledge Fund and organizer of the event, spoke to GEORGIA TODAY before the event: “My father, Kakha Bendukidze founded the Culinary Academy in 2013. Four years later, our graduates are working in some of the best restaurants in Georgia and also abroad. I’m really proud to continue my father’s hard work. Today, we have a very interesting competition that uses Georgian produce. We’ll see how new modern Georgian produce can be used in new Georgian cuisine. I have asked that the competition be anonymous so it is fair”. The contesters used products produced by the beneficiaries of the Ministry of Agriculture, USAID REAP and Agriculture Projects Management Agency (APMA). They were assisted by the students and graduates of the Academy. All the products hold quality-proving certificates, which aim to boost their export potential to the EU. The contenders fought in three groups, headed by Berliner, Ball and Chkheidze who 40 minutes. The given ingredients included: spinach, spices, cheese, hazel nuts, broccoli, mushrooms, honey, and matsoni (natural yogurt). When the time was up, the long-awaited moment came: the jury named the winner: the trout in orange and lemon sauce and the corresponding dessert cooked by Chkheidze’s group. “We had a lot of fun and were indulged with a rich palette of ingredients,” Chkheidze told us. “I’m very happy that our team’s work merited the admiration of the jury. Through this contest, we’ve marked the friendship between the American and Georgian peoples and the support that the United States gives to the development of Georgia”.



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

Karen Knorr, India Song collection, now in Tbilisi



photo exhibition of renowned British artist Karen Knorr opened at MOMA Tbilisi on May 10. The exhibition is organized with the support of British Council Georgia, collaborating with Kolga Tbilisi photo festival for six years already, which gives Georgian and foreign photographers and curators a possibility to participate in exhibitions, workshops and meetings during the photo festival. This year, British Council Georgia invited Karen Knorr to attend the Kolga Tbilisi 2017 with an exhibition of her works entitled ‘India Song’ and

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a lecture seminar on narrative strategy in contemporary photography also a part of her program while in Tbilisi. Knorr was born in Frankfurt, Germany, and spent her childhood in San Juan, Puerto Rico in the 1960s. Since finishing her studies in Paris and London, she has taught around the world in Tate Britain, Tate Modern, Harvard, Goldsmiths, Westminster University and the Art Institute of Chicago. While studying at the University of Westminster she organized exhibitions and introduced works which dealt with the “politics of the representation” a debate that started in film theory and cultural studies in late 70s and 80s Today, Knorr is a professor of photography at the University for the Creative Arts, in Farnham, Surrey.


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MAY 12 - 15, 2017

Shakespeare Lives - English Language Competition for Teens in Gori BY MAKA LOMADZE


n May 9, in the central Georgian town of Gori, the final stage of the contest Shakespeare Lives took place at the local Center of Youth, Culture and Education. The event was organized on the basis of a memorandum signed between the British Council Georgia and the mentioned center that aims at popularizing the English language as the most important language for the country which is firmly striving for European integration. The representatives of the leading international organization of the British Embassy, British Council, which works in 110 countries, said they are glad to be able to contribute to spreading the English language in the Shida Kartli region, aiming to teach English not only in the capital but also in the regions. The collaboration between the British Council and the Gori Center of Youth, Culture and Education entered a new stage, with children aged 8-18 now able to attend English lessons free of charge. They will also be able to take advantage of using books, online and audio-visual materials at the resource center. The project also seeks to raise the qualification of local English language pedagogues on the basis of the new pattern of Ceaseless Professional Development (CPD) via trainings and seminars. “The theme of the contest was Shakespeare. We found the works of pupils represented to us very interesting,” said

Zaza Purtseladze, British Council Director in Georgia, adding that he particularly admired the high level English of the competing pupils as well as their presentation skills. “I’m very happy that my work was shortlisted for the final,” said Khatia Amiridze, pupil of Gori Public School 8. “My topic was ‘As you like it’. I’m also happy that society has a chance to get better aqcuainted with this play of Shakespeare, too.” Within the frame of the project, the

pupils of Gori public schools prepared posters and TV news reports. The five best TV news reports were screened at the competition final. The panel of judges identified two winning groups of pupils according to the selection criteria. All the members of the winning groups were awarded with Lenovo Tablets while the teachers of the winning pupils were awarded with Ici Paris Gift cards. All participants were given certificates recognizing their participation. A second contest final revealed the best

theater posters. 15-17 year old pupils were asked to design a theater poster based on one of the Shakespeare plays and make an oral presentation in English about one of the main themes of the play. All the winners were handed prizes personally by the Ambassador of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland to Georgia, H.E. Justin McKenzie Smith. The project lasted three months and was part of a global program dedicated to the 400th year since Shakespeare’s death. Over 140 countries took part in

innovative theatrical and choreographic performances, movie screenings, exhibitions and school activities. The project aimed at increasing awareness of Shakespeare plays among pupils; improving pupils’ knowledge of English; improving pupils’ reading, speaking and listening skills in English; improving pupils’ teamworking skills and developing their critical thinking skills. The online resources created within the project are still available. You can learn more at:

Profile for Georgia Today

Issue #945  

May 12 - 15, 2017

Issue #945  

May 12 - 15, 2017