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Issue no: 1167

• JULY 12 - 15, 2019 • PUBLISHED TWICE WEEKLY

PRICE: GEL 2.50

In this week’s issue... Proud but Poor: Russian View of the Georgian Problem NEWS PAGE 2

What Are the Expectations of Khazaradze's Political Movement? NEWS PAGE 3

Russian MP Gavrilov: Georgia Can Learn Protection of Human Rights from Moscow

FOCUS ON PUTIN'S VERSION OF HISTORY Georgian historian dissects Putin's alternative version of occupation Photo Source - Getty Images

First Ever Pride March Held in Tbilisi Despite UltraConservative Opponents

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POLITICS PAGE 5

Family Day Picnic of the AmCham and US Embassy POLITICS PAGE 6

Tomos Wars: Rogue One – Interview with Honorary Patriarch Filaret POLITICS PAGE 7

EU Invests in Akhalkalaki to Preserve Heritage, Raise Employment SOCIETY PAGE 8

Caucasus University Breaks Ground on New Batumi Campus

BY AMY JONES

SOCIETY PAGE 9

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International Seminar with the Support of the EU on Tourism Development in the Black Sea Basin

n 8 July, LGBTQI activists held a pride march for the first time in Tbilisi despite threats from ultra-conservative and homophobic groups. On the same day, Tbilisi Pride opponents gathered in front of the Georgian parliament after failing to stop the Pride march from going ahead, disrupting anti-Russian occupation protestors. Ultra-conservative opponents of Tbilisi Pride and the Georgian Patriarch strongly opposed Tbilisi Pride. On the morning of the planned Pride march, clergymen marched from Republic Square to the Georgian Parliament demanding that the government prevent Tbilisi Pride from happening. Continued on page 5

SOCIETY PAGE 13

Artists Recreate Georgian Medival Poem Knight in the Panther’s Skin as a Comic Book CULTURE PAGE 15


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NEWS

GEORGIA TODAY

JULY 12 - 15, 2019

Proud but Poor: Russian View of the Georgian Problem OP-ED BY EMIL AVDALIANI

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ooking at the troubled Georgian-Russian relations particularly of the past 30 years (since 9 April, 1989) one could easily see that a certain deadlock has been reached. Both sides blame each other for various actions in the past. Both might be right as, at times, aggressive statements, incorrect political moves, etc. truly damaged and caused a rift in bilateral relations since the break up of the Soviet Union. However, blaming all the damage in relations on separate statements and actions of various Georgian and Russian politicians would be incorrect. We deal here with a pure geopolitical process which lies behind the Georgian-Russian dilemma: WestRussia competition and Georgia's place as one of the layers in this struggle. Russian politicians as well as analysts in the past couple of weeks have paid large attention to what is going on in Georgia and what is generally wrong between Russia and its southern neighbour. The conflict is overwhelmingly cast as a result of western manipulation and Georgia's political class' ineptitude to act independently and without emotionally-driven masquerades. Again, Georgian politics are often emotionally driven, but it is also clear that an overwhelming majority of the Georgian population is unwilling to tolerate a pro-Russian Georgian government based on past previous experiences with Russia (primarily, Russian recognition of Abkhazia and Tskhinvali region). What the Russian view lacked these days and, one could even say, for the last couple of decades, is what can be done to improve the situation. And, this is where the trouble starts as Moscow has not

really shown any signs of a long-term foreign policy towards the South Caucasus. Russian efforts in the region have so far been limited only to countering Western economic and military intrusion mainly through a military build-up in Abkhazia and Tskhinvali region. At times its seems that Moscow is content as it has essentially reached its major strategic imperatives such as preventing Georgia's NATO and EU membership plans. Even while controlling major passes into the South Caucasus, Moscow still needs at least Georgia to be neutral or Russia-friendly. It is important for Moscow because of Russia's historically low ability to integrate and properly control the North Caucasus. Moreover, without Georgia, Russia's ability to control the South Caucasus itself is at best untenable. Thus, military build up might serve only as a tool to defend your positions for a certain period of time. After that, robust diplomatic, economic and cultural initiatives are needed to prop up geopolitical interests. This is what Russia has not been doing with Georgia for the past several decades, since the break-up of the Soviet Union. In other words, Georgians do not see why Russia can be attractive enough to be their long term ally. Those who depend on Russian money (through Russian tourists or exports to Russia) do so out of necessity which one day can easily change and those same people might make good business from European tourists and via exports to the European market. In fact, one might say that the entire Russia foreign policy for more than 20 years has been based more on prevention of western influence in the post-Soviet space than on an actual long-term perspective of how to improve Russian positions in the region. There are plenty of reasons why Russians did not

Photo Source - Vestnikkavkaza

do this. Economic troubles of the country prevent it from being attractive in foreign policy. But there is also an understanding that Georgia should not really expect any Russian benevolence if pro-western aspirations are not abandoned and more importantly independence of Abkhazia and Tskhinvali region is not recognized by Tbilisi. A certain "imperial aloofness" is also present in various Russian discussions on Georgia. The country might always be proud, but it will always remain poor unless it enjoys the benefits of Russia's economic space. Another view is that considering the size of Georgia, the unstable region and troubles in Europe, as well as the refocusing of US geopolitical attention to Asia-Pacific to counter China, Georgia's western aspirations will be doomed eventually forcing Georgia into Russian hands. This scenario is not entirely groundless, but it still is

based on Russia's future as a global power which will withstand all the vagaries of the geopolitical competition between with the west, and between America and China. This "imperial aloofness" nevertheless distances the Georgian people from the Russian world and prevents Moscow from having a long term foreign policy aimed at improving relations with Georgia without the demands to recognize Abkhazia and Tskhinvali region. One could even suggest that Moscow, by recognizing Georgia's breakaway territories, has in fact limited its options in diplomatic games with Tbilisi. No one in Georgia now believes that Moscow would consider the handing over of Abkhazia and Tskhinvali region in exchange for Tbilisi's refusal to join NATO and the EU: a striking contrast to pre-2008 when many believed this could happen.

The Protests and the Zero Barrier OP-ED BY ZAZA JGARKAVA

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olitical crisis continues. Despite winning some concessions, the demands of protesting students for the resignation of the Interior Minister remains unchanged. The compromises offered by the government are truly epic, only the fact that the parliamentary elections will be held with a proportional system for instance is worth so much. However, this didn’t prove enough for the youth and the Georgian Dream found itself in an even worse crisis. The reason for it is the so-called zero-barrier, which in the end didn’t turn out to be zero afterall. And so the issue of zero-barrier became the reason of contradictory assesments from politicians and experts. Some believe it to be a step forward, while others argue that it is a trap, aimed at getting various extremist, pro-Russian and GD’s satellite people into the Parliament. After the informal governor of the country announced the zero-barrier for the parliamentary elections of 2020, everyone, whether politician or not, remembered the story of 30 years ago, when the barrier of 2 % resulted in a total of 24 political parties entering the parliament. In the distant era two decades ago, in 1992, 2,592,117 voters elected 75 MPs through the majoritarian system and 150 proportionally. It shouldn’t be hard to imagine what will happen in the conditions of a 0 % barrier, especially when we need to elect 150 MPs. Where from or why did the zero barrier emerge, when nobody asked for it? What is the trap that Bidzina Ivanishvili is tring to form against his political oponents? Some experts believe that this way, Georgian Dream will try to create a new majority. While this could be true to some extent, there are experts who don’t find this perspective alarming and on the contrary, argue that it will aid “natural selection” of the current political spectrum. As a result, we could see parties in parliament that do have some trust and rating from the population. In itself switching to the proportional system is good, but for now it seems that the consultations and debates around it won’t pass withut noise and hassle. The situation could become even more complicated when Georgian Dream decides to ban the creation of political blocks prior to the elections and therefore create a dilemma for numerous relatively small parties that used to create an alliance and enter the legislative system this way. If they will be deprived of this, they will need either to self-liquidate or unite under a single new party, or at least continue playing on the political arena under the status of non-parliamentary parties. It is hard to fortell, which way they will choose to go, but there is a fair chance that the united opposition will transform into a party. However, let’s wait and

see what strategy will the united opposition choose for their battle against the Georgian Dream. With the new rules assigned, in order to get into the parliament, a party will need to obtain 0.7 % which is about 14,000 votes. If we consider the results of presidential elections of 2016, the ruling party got 38%, United National movement 37% and European Georgia 10%. This means that there are only 12 mandates left to distribute, for which the minor parties will need to fight. So where is the trap? Political expert Vakhtang Dzaboradze believes that the trick is not in “buying” the parties, but in distributing these 12 places which will be crucial during the formation of the government: “If the Dream has to buy votes for other parties, why would they do it? They would buy votes for themselves. The trap is different. The Dream needs this not because it buys votes for other parties, but because it will get the highest percent and the right to comprise a coalitional government.” Although this argument could have some logic in it, if we calculate that 14,000 votes is 4 to 5 bulletins on each polling station, and if we add Ivanishvili’s financial resources to it, we will see that the Dream shouldn’t have a problem to create a few “fake” parties and win the electoral marathon of 2020. If he pays 100 GEL for each vote, winning the elections will cost the billionaire just 6 million USD. It shouldn’t be hard to understand why Ivanishvili decided to lower the barrier to 0%. It is also easy to understand why the students continue protesting in front of the parliament. The leaders of the protests are honest when they say that each day of protests costs the Georgian Dream its rating. It has been two weeks already that the Dream is in the mode of self-explanation and it doesn’t seem to be changing soon. If all continues as it is, it is unlikely that the party will get the 38% that it got in the last elections. Hence, either the Minister of Interior Affairs or the Party’s ratings – it is after the Dream to decide which one to choose. By the way, better later than never, Salome Zurabishvili responded stated being ready to get engaged in the consulations around the ongoing issues. In any case, the future elections will take place by the proportional system, the 0% barrier will be in force only in 2020 and most probably be forgotten afterwards.


NEWS

GEORGIA TODAY JULY 12 - 15, 2019

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Passenger Traffic Increases by 18% in Georgia in First Half of 2019 BY KETEVAN KVARATSKHELIYA

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uring the first half of 2019, the three airports of Georgia have catered for 2,489,823 travelers, reports the Civil Aviation Agency of the Ministry of Economy and Sustainable Development of Georgia, noting that the passenger traffic has increased by 18.24% compared to the same time period of the last year. The number of passengers increased in all three international airports of the

country: Tbilisi Shota Rustaveli International Airport, Batumi Aleksandre Kartveli International Airport and Kutaisi David Aghmashenebeli International Airport, the latter being on the leading position of the list with respect to the number of served travelers. The airport of the Georgian capital Tbilisi Airport catered for 1,870,082 passengers and showed 11.64% increase, whereas in case of Batumi International Airport the number of travelers amounted to 247,391 with 30.01% growth. Kutaisi International Airport served 364,834 passengers, 55.4% more in comparison with the first six months of 2018.

Photo source - Tbilisi Airport

What Are the Expectations of Khazaradze's Political Movement? BY THEA MORRISON

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amuka Khazaradze, one of the founders and former Chairman of the Supervisory Board of Georgia’s largest bank TBC, announced that he will unite a “healthy, progressive and pro-western society” and create a political force named Civil Movement in September. Khazaradze said he made such a decision because of the recent developments in the country, which “are getting alarming,” adding there is a “deliberate process of confrontation and splitting the society.” He claimed June 20 events were a “watershed” that moved him to act, referring to the large-scale protest which left 300 arrested and around 240 injured. He pledged to establish a movement together with his “friends and like-minded people, professionals from different fields,” but does not specify to whom he refers. It is only known that his business partner and friend Badri Japaridze will be in the movement. Khazaradze, who says that he and his TBC Bank have been under attack by the government during the last few months, wrote in a Facebook post that his movement will unite the representatives of various spheres, “those people, who will be united by the idea of building a Western-style state in Georgia with the most competitive and strong economy, where the rule of law will triumph.” Khazaradze’s announcement caused

Photo source: RFE/RL

different reactions among politicians and experts. Former Defense Minister Tina Khidasheli says Khazaradze became a politician on the day when he went to the parliament to announce that he received a letter of threat from the Interior Minister Giorgi Gakharia. Khazaradze made this statement in parliament in March, 2019. The ex-minister believes that not a single businessman in the country has ever made such statements during a parliament tribune. Opposition party European Georgia positively assessed Khazaradze’s statement, saying the formation of a prowestern movement is welcome. One of

the leaders of the party, Giga Bokeria, said that they consider whoever shares their opinions on some fundamental issues to be a potential ally. Former ruling party United National Movement has the same position. UNM’s Roman Gotsiridze underlined that the appearance of a new force on the political arena means that everyone is uniting against the ruling party Georgian Dream (GD) and its funder, “informal ruler of the country,” Bidzina Ivanishvili. “We welcome all public and political forces, which will support us in ending Bidzina Ivanishvili's oligarchy,” he stressed. The ruling GD MP and Deputy Parliament Speaker, Gia Volsky, claims it is

natural that new political movements or forces appear before 2020 parliamentary elections. According to the MP, it is important to know what Khazaradze’s position is in order to assess his decision. An independent MP, Davit Chichinadze, who quit GD recently, says Khazaradze wants to come into politics to “save himself.” He says this time betting is placed on Mamuka Khazaradze and his “so called new pro-western model, with relatively less bad history.” Political expert Gia Khukhashvili explains that, after the government’s decision to hold 2020 elections with the proportional system and zero barriers, Georgia is showing signs of forming a

multi-party democratic system. The expert believes Khazaradze’s plans are “strategically well-calculated.” According to him, neither Georgian Dream, nor the UNM can overcome the 50% barrier to gain complete control. He says there is a likelihood that Georgia will have a multi-party parliament with the necessity of forming a post-election coalition. “In such conditions, the emergence of a force with15-20%, even in the 3rd place, means that it will have a "golden key". Everything will depend on which side this third component will take,” he explained. To note, on February 14, the National Bank of Georgia (NBG) stated that after examining transactions conducted by TBC Bank 2007-2008, it was revealed that the Chairman of the Supervisory Board of TBC Bank Mamuka Khazaradze and his Deputy Japaridze had violated the requirements of the legislation regulating conflict of interests. Therefore, it suspended the authority of the two men. Meanwhile, the Prosecutor’s Office launched an investigation or alleged money laundering. Khazaradze resigned as the Chair of TBC Supervisory Board and in April, he and Badri Japaridze quit the board. TBC Bank is leading the consortium that is constructing Anaklia Deep Sea Port, a very strategic port for the country on the Black Sea coast in the west. The deadline for attracting investments by Anaklia Development Consortium expired on June 15 but the government decided to extend the deadline for six more months.

European Commission Head: Russian Flight Ban is Unjustified BY ANA DUMBADZE

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uropean Commission Head Donald Tusk assessed Russia’s decision to ban direct flights to Georgia from July 8. According to him, this decision was “disproportionate, unfair and unjustified.” Tusk made the relevant statement at the joint briefing with the Georgian President Salome Zurabishvili on the sidelines of the 16th Batumi International Conference. "Russia's recent decision to ban flights to Georgia is unjustified and disproportionate. But your country

has weathered external pressure before and will do so again this time. The EU stands with Georgia in solidarity and with full commitment to your sovereignty and territorial integrity," he noted. At the same time, according to him, the judicial system is gaining more public confidence in Georgia and the economy is becoming much more attractive for foreign investments. "EU-Georgia relations are built on our common values,” said Tusk. “Georgia’s greatest asset lies in its demonstrated commitment to democratic reform and the rule of law. This is a process that needs to be taken forward with continued determination. As you know, a credible, independent and

transparent judiciary is essential for public trust, for economic and social development and also for attracting foreign investments”, he continued. He welcomed the decision of the Georgian Dream ruling party to conduct the 2020 parliamentary elections within a fully proportional system. "I see this initiative as a real chance to enhance the plurality of Georgia’s democratic landscape. I encourage all stakeholders to use this opportunity to work in good faith", he noted. Donald Tusk also touched upon ongoing, anti-occupation rallies in Tbilisi, and said that “democracy is for development and not to trigger civil rivalry and wars.” According to him, Georgia should

Photo source - Sky News

wait for solidarity from Brussels. "My Brussels experience tells me that you can count on European solidarity as long as your Georgian solidarity lasts, and as long as you respect your common strategic political goals. Democracy is a constant debate and not a civil war. Therefore, everything is in your hands", he said. The International Conference “Georgia's European Way”, dedicated to the 10th anniversary of the Eastern Partnership, has been opened in Georgia’s seaside city of Batumi. High-ranking officials from several countries are attending the conference. The conference aims to assess the EaP, its main deliverables, as well as present geopolitical context.


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POLITICS

GEORGIA TODAY

JULY 12 - 15, 2019

Georgian Historian on Putin: Russian Leader Could Not Pass History Exam Abkhazian Bolsheviks tried to obtain the status of Republic to Abkhazia. However, they were refused and Abkhazia joined the Federation of Transcaucasus as well as later the Soviet Union as an integral part of Georgia. These events took place in 1921-1922, so I’d like to remind the society and Putin himself, who is a big “expert” of history that Stalin became the leader in 1924, after the death of Lenin. He was in government before, but served as a Secretary-General and had no real power. So, Putin just used his name, as an evil Georgian politician. As for terror and genocide of nations, the Russian politician is talking to us about it. He, together with his state, destroys the ethnic environment everywhere they can. They tried everything to divide the Georgian nation according to their origins from various regions of the country, by mentioning them such as Megrelians, Ajarians, etc. These people now say that Georgians arranged genocide. During the Soviet time, in 1937, all nations - Georgians, Armenians, Russians, etc. were destroyed. Generally, the year 1937 was the time of the Bolshevik Terror. It was a disaster brought by the Soviet Regime. By the way, it was created by the structure which raised up Putin – KGB. Today, their attempt to blame the year 1937 events on Georgians is nonsense. The ethnic component has nothing to do here because the Empire does not have origins. The Soviet Union equally destroyed all nations around it.

BY ANA DUMBADZE

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he Russian President Vladimir Putin has recently offered his “alternative version” of how Georgia “occupied” the currently Russianoccupied Abkhazia and Tskhinvali (South Ossetia) regions. "Georgia, with help from German troops, occupied Abkhazia in 1918, and Georgian troops were even crueler in South Ossetia during 1919 and 1920. This was essentially what is called genocide today," Russian President Vladimir Putin stated at a meeting with journalists on July 9. GEORGIA TODAY spoke to the historian, Professor Jaba Samushia, the Deputy Director-General of the Rustaveli National Science Foundation of Georgia, to follow Putin’s alternative “historical facts” step by step and find historically justified answers to them. As the Georgian historian noted, Putin’s knowledge of history “equals to the knowledge of the pupil of primary class”. “It is too bad because when one makes a political statement, it should be based on specific facts and knowledge. The Russian leader could not pass a history exam and put himself in a very funny situation”, Jaba Samushia said. Samushia believes that Putin’s statement is a classic example of how the empire tries to use history to justify its violent actions. Here, we offer to our readers Vladimir Putin’s alternative versions on how Georgia “occupied’ Abkhazia and Tskhinvali regions, followed by the historically justified arguments of Professor Jaba Samushia.

FAKE # 7: THIS IS A GRIM LEGACY THAT ONE OF THE FIRST GEORGIAN PRESIDENTS SIMPLY IGNORED WHEN HE TOOK AJARA AND ABKHAZIA’S AUTONOMY, RESTULTING IN AN EXPLOSIVE AND FRATRICIDAL WAR.

FAKE #1: OSSETIA JOINED THE RUSSIAN EMPIRE IN 1774. BOTH NORTHERN AND SOUTHERN OSSETIA CAME TOGETHER, AS AN INDEPENDENT STATE. Answer: Ossetia definitely joined the Russian Empire in 1774. However, it was not based on its free will, but Russia occupied it. I talk about the occupation of historic Ossetia, namely, principalities existing in North Ossetia. As for so-called South Ossetia, there has never been any Ossetian administrative unit on Southern slope of the Caucasus, until Russia and later, Soviet Russia contributed to establishing an administrative unit there. Historically, so-called South Ossetia has always been included in Shida Kartli Region of Georgia and was a part of it.

FAKE # 2: ABKHAZIA JOINED THE RUSSIAN EMPIRE IN 1810 AS AN INDEPENDENT STATE, A PRINCIPALITY, AS WELL. LATER, EVENTS BEGAN TO TAKE PLACE WITHIN A SINGLE STATE. THE SOUTHERN PART OF OSSETIA BECAME PART OF TIFLIS GOVERNORATE. NO GEORGIA EXISTED, THERE WAS THE TIFLIS GOVERNORATE. Answer: The principality of Abkhazia really existed, but it was similar to other Georgian principalities existing at a time and was one of them. It was inhabited by Georgians. So talking about the existence of the independent principality of Abkhazia is absolutely unacceptable and foolish. Putin wants to create new history to cover his imperialistic plans, but at least he can ask how many Georgian cultural monuments are present in Abkhazia's territory – churches, monasteries, episcopal centers, manuscripts, etc. For example, Bedia Monastery, where Georgian King Bagrat the Third is buried, Likhni Monastery in the middle of Abkhazia where Georgian manuscripts even from the 11th century are still preserved, Besleti Bridge, etc. There are numerous examples. So, it is just another attempt

of our Northern neighbor to occupy not only the territory but history as well, which is the worst. They can occupy the territory by force, but occupying the history is impossible, as Georgian-Abkhazian unity is too big. The Georgian mark in Abkhazia and signs of existence of ethnic Georgians are too big there. This rich cultural heritage is Georgian and I’m afraid that they will try to destroy the monuments for hiding the Georgian mark there. However, this cultural heritage is so big that I think it will be impossible for them.

FAKE # 3: ABKHAZIA WAS DEVELOPED IN THE FOLLOWING WAY: WHEN THE RUSSIAN EMPIRE COLLAPSED AFTER WWI GEORGIA MADE ATTEMPTS TO TAKE OVER ABKHAZIA. THE INDEPENDENT GEORGIAN STATE APPEARED AND WITH THE HELP OF GERMAN TROOPS GEORGIA OCCUPIED ABKHAZIA IN 1918. Answer: It is total nonsense. There was no case of occupation of Abkhazia in 1918. Troops of the Democratic Republic of Georgia serving in Abkhazia fought against Denikin (Russian Lieutenant General in the Imperial Russian Army) and the warriors of so-called White Army at a time. Additionally, there were no German troops in the territory at a time. They were placed on Georgian-Turkish territory and they were just Germans living in Shida Kartli Region of Georgia, who were dressed in military uniforms.

FAKE # 4: THE OCCUPYING FORCES ACTED VERY HARSHLY. THE GEORGIAN TROOPS ACTED EVEN MORE HARSHLY IN OSSETIA IN 1919 AND

1920. THIS WAS WHAT WE CALL TODAY “GENOCIDE”. Answer: Ossetian people lived in many regions of Georgia and they never faced any trouble anywhere during the existence of the Democratic Republic of Georgia. Moreover, a few Ossetians from the Social Democratic Party were the members of the Supreme Council of the Republic of Georgia. They actively worked for Georgia’s independence. As for the fact that there were rebellions on the territory of Shida Kartli Region of Georgia, they were inspired by Bolsheviks who used to come from North Caucasus and arrange so-called “rebellions” there. Consequently, Georgian troops had to expel them. There were no rebellions, just Bolsheviks used to arrange such confrontations in villages inhabited by ethnic Ossetians. However, there were many Ossetians in the Army of the Democratic Republic of Georgia who had to oppose them.

FAKE # 5: THE GEORGIAN AUTHORITIES WOULD DO WELL TO REMEMBER THIS. IT MUST NOT BE FORGOTTEN IF GEORGIA’S CURRENT GOVERNMENT WANTS TO MEND RELATIONS WITH THE PEOPLE OF ABKHAZIA OR SOUTH OSSETIA. Answer: Georgia would always be able to manage relations with Abkhazians and Ossetians if there was no Russian intervention. The periods of the Democratic Republic of Georgia and the Soviet Union are its obvious examples. Moreover, if they look through the statistics, there were research centers of local culture, history, ethnography, etc., in Abkhazia and Ossetia. There were no similar centers in North Ossetia or in any other

autonomous republics. None of the autonomous republics existing on Russian territory had their own television, while there was a local television in Abkhazia, there were universities operating in Sokhumi and Tskhinvali, etc. In reality, the main center for studying Ossetian Culture and history (I mean historic North Ossetia, which is occupied by Russia), was Georgia, namely the scientific centers of Tbilisi and Tskhinvali. So, Georgia would freely normalize relations with people living in Abkhazia and Ossetia if there was no Russian intervention. Russia does not love any nation - this country has its own imperialistic thoughts and has no empathy for anyone. Putin tells us his alternative version of history and forgets the genocides Russia arranged in North Caucasus.

FAKE # 6: DURING THE SOVIET ERA, IT WAS DECIDED TO ESTABLISH THE SOVIET SOCIALIST REPUBLIC OF ABKHAZIA, WHICH INCLUDED TODAY’S GEORGIA. IT WASN’T EVEN GEORGIA. THE SOVIET SOCIALIST REPUBLIC OF GEORGIA WAS ESTABLISHED DURING STALIN’S TIME, AND ABKHAZIA WAS INCLUDED. BY THE WAY, HUMAN RIGHTS ACTIVISTS NEVER NOTE THIS, WHICH IS STRANGE. However, on Stalin’s orders, the NKVD, governed by Beria, took very harsh measures on Abkhazians in order for Georgia to absorb this territory and the Abkhazians. Answer: By mentioning Stalin, Putin raised quite an intriguing topic. He needed to mention Stalin because he was Georgian. However, everything happened before Stalin, in 1921. For a few months,

Answer: Putin made several mistakes in these two sentences. First of all, no one abolished the autonomous republics of Abkhazia and Ajara. South Ossetia did not have the status of the autonomous district at all. As for fratricidal war, Putin does not have to go far if he is interested who started this war in Abkhazia and Tskhinvali. He must have the relevant documents in his cabinet, as he was the Security General at a time. Additionally, he can ask his colleagues about it, they will definitely give answers.

FAKE # 8: AT THE TIME, I TRIED TO CONVINCE MR. SAAKASHVILI. I SAID, “MR. SAAKASHVILI, DO NOT TAKE ANY MILITARY ACTIONS AGAINST ABKHAZIA OR SOUTH OSSETIA.” I SAID THE SAME TO THE AMERICANS: “NO, UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCES." AND WHAT HAPPENED? THEY STARTED A WAR. THE RESULT? IT IS WELL-KNOWN TODAY. RUSSIA HAD TO ACKNOWLEDGE THE INDEPENDENCE OF THESE REPUBLICS AND PROTECT THE ABKHAZIANS AND THE SOUTH OSSETIANS. Answer: I can’t say anything about it, as it is our modern history and everyone knows about the developments. The society can judge it itself. It does not matter, I once again say that this is occupation and until Russia frees itself from imperialistic thoughts, of course, it will always be a danger for Georgian statehood. We need to work more and more actively to avoid these dangers. It does not only mean to strengthen our economy but also to fight against hybrid war, which also includes intellectual war. What we have just seen from Putin is an obvious example of intellectual war. We should show our real history to Europe and the whole world and prove that what he said is absolute nonsense.


POLITICS

GEORGIA TODAY JULY 12 - 15, 2019

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Russian MP Gavrilov: Georgia Can Learn Protection of Human Rights from Moscow BY THEA MORRISON

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ergey Gavrilov, Head of the State Duma Committee on the Development of Civil Society, Issues of Public and Religious Associations, whose appearance on June 20 in the seat of the Georgian Parliament Speaker sparked largescale protests in Tbilisi, says Georgia could learn human rights protection from the experience of Russia. The MP said sharing Russian experience in human rights protection would help Georgia for the stabilization of recent developments. The information was released by the Russian media. At the Duma Committee sitting, which was also attended by the Russian Ombudsman Tatjana Moskalkova, Gavrilov thanked the Public Defender for "the prompt reaction related to the incident in Georgia, when Russian MPs were attacked.” “It is a pity that Georgia is not part of the Eurasian Alliance (ombudsmen) because it would learn from the experience of Russian human rights activities which would help to stabilize Georgia’s internal political situation and restore its image, build a democratic model and develop this country,” he said. Anti-Russian demonstrations in Georgia were launched after a session of the General Assembly of the International Assembly on Orthodoxy (IAO) on June 20. Gavrilo, IAO president, took the speaker’s seat in the Georgian parliament. Outraged by this action, the Georgian opposition disrupted the event and the protests ended in an attempt to break into the parliament’s building. The Russian delegation had to leave the country and the assembly was ended, after which Gavrilov claimed Russian MPs were attacked. Officially, Tbilisi says Russian lawmakers were not attacked. The authorities also assure that the safety of all tourists

Photo source: duma.gov.ru

and guests, including Russians, are properly ensured in Georgia. Following the anti-Russian protests, Russian President Vladimir Putin banned flights to Georgia and tightened Georgian wine exports to Russia. Freedom House report Freedom in the World 2019 measuring democracy in countries, shows that Russia is listed among Not Free countries, with 20 points out of maximum 100. The report reads that “power in Russia’s authoritarian political system” is

concentrated in the hands of President Vladimir Putin. “With loyalist security forces, a subservient judiciary, a controlled media environment, and a legislature consisting of a ruling party and pliable opposition factions, the Kremlin is able to manipulate elections and suppress genuine dissent. Rampant corruption facilitates shifting links among bureaucrats and organized crime groups,” the Freedom House says. The report also stresses that although

the Russian constitution provides for freedom of speech, “vague laws on extremism grant the authorities great discretion to crack down on any speech, organization, or activity that lacks official support.” Freedom House reports that the Russian government continued its “relentless campaign” against nongovernmental organizations in 2018 and a total of 15 foreign NGOs have been deemed “undesirable organizations” on the grounds that they threaten national security.

As for Georgia, it has 63 scores and is in the list of Partly Free countries. The report reads Georgia holds “regular and competitive” elections, and its democratic trajectory “showed signs of improvement.” Regarding freedom of expression and human rights, the report reads freedom of assembly is generally respected in the country, adding the civil society sector has grown significantly in recent years. In this category, Georgia has 3 out of a maximum 4 points, while Russia has 0.

First Ever Pride March Held in Tbilisi Despite Ultra-Conservative Opponents Continued from page 1 Georgian businessman Levan Vasadze also joined the rally in front of parliament together with his supporters and representatives from extreme-right political and social movements such as ‘Georgian March’ saying “they will never allow such events to take place in Georgia.” On June 16, Vasadze had released a video address calling for “real” men to prevent Tbilisi Pride from taking place and to create a “people’s army”. “We will divide the city, patrol the city quietly, quietly, we will not have any weapon, except for one – we will bind their hands with belts and take them away,” Vasadze threatened. The Church also called on the government to prevent Tbilisi Pride from taking place saying it is ‘absolutely unacceptable’ and a ‘sodomite sin’. ‘Regrettably, certain LGBT groups and their supporters present information to foreign countries as if they are

under much duress and persecution and receive significant funding based on this argumentation.’ read a statement by the church. ‘They want to present their activities as a fight against discrimination, while in reality, they work to popularize and propagate their way of life, aiming to officially and legally sanction it. Georgia has a poor track record of protecting the rights of its LGTQI community. In 2013, a small anti-homophobia march was met violently by approximately 20,000 counter-protestors. Around 28 people were injured during the clashes. Given the threat of violence, Tbilisi Pride organizers had asked the Ministry of Georgian Affairs (MIA) to guarantee their protection and right to protest, which the MIA denied. Tbilisi Pride organizers cancelled their planned march twice. On June 22, they delayed their march due to the antiRussian occupation protests that began on June 20. In addition, on Monday, they decided

to cancel the event after the time and location were leaked online. However, around 40 activists and the Tbilisi Pride organizers still gathered in front of the Ministry of Internal Affairs, fooling their opponents and avoiding violence. Chanting “Gakharia, resign!” during the procession, the LGBTQI protestors criticized the Minister of Internal Affairs Giorgi Gakharia for failing to guarantee their safety. “The violent regime should end,” stated march participants. “We want to live a decent life.” LGBTQI protestors also used a drone to fly a LGBTQI rainbow flag over opponent protestors who had gathered in front of the parliament with Vasadze. After hearing that the Pride march had taken place, ultra-conservative groups and Vasadze rushed to the Interior Ministry. However, the march had already finished after around thirty minutes. On July 9, Tbilisi Pride released a statement that they had ‘achieved some significant results’ by organizing Tbilisi Pride. However, they were critical of the

Photo source - Tbilisi Pride

government’s handling of the event: ‘the authorities have shown us that fundamental human rights are neither pro-

tected in Georgia nor is there any political will for its protection,’ read the statement.


6

POLITICS

GEORGIA TODAY

JULY 12 - 15, 2019

Family Day Picnic of the AmCham and US Embassy BY NINI DAKHUNDARIDZE

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n July 6, 2019 the American Chamber of Commerce in Georgia (AmCham Georgia), hosted a family picnic together with the U.S. Embassy in Georgia which celebrated the 243rd anniversary of the signing of the U.S. Declaration of Independence. American, Georgian and international families enjoyed an American style picnic with a giant barbeque, live bands, a beer and wine garden, illusionist and toys for the children. From bouncing castles to face-painting and riding a rodeo bull – the picnic featured a large variety of fun activities. The picnic celebrated not only American Independence Day, but also the friendly partnership with Georgia, being one of AmCham’s primary missions. Founded in 1998, AmCham Georgia is the largest business association in Georgia representing more than 200 Georgian, American and international companies. The association works to strengthen U.S. – Georgia business and economic relations while focusing on giving valuable input towards the improvement of the business climate in Georgia. The President of the American Chamber of Commerce, Michael Cowgill, mentioned in the interview that the “relationship between America and Georgia has never been stronger”. “We, the AmCham, partner up with

the Embassy on many things and with the Government in the USA – looking for a way to make sure that Georgia is successful,” said Cowgill. “We believe that the basis of that is a very strong economy so we always look for more American, Georgian and international companies to include. This combination of American, Georgian and International companies is what makes us so strong. This is what the real basis of future success of Georgia looks like,” he continued. While welcoming the media, Elizabeth Rood, Chargé d’affaires, commented on the event; “We are very happy today to be celebrating the 243rd anniversary of the United States of America with our partners from the American Chamber of Commerce,” stated Rood. “This is the 19th year that we have celebrated together with AmCham here on the grounds of the Embassy. The American Chamber of Commerce is a very strong partner of the U.S. Embassy in promoting American business here in Georgia and helping American companies invest and do business. And, when more American companies succeed in Georgia it makes our relationship stronger and it makes Georgia stronger too.” Elizabeth Rood also commented on the recent happenings in the country and emphasized USA’s support of Georgia on the subject once more; “The United States firmly supports Georgia’s territorial integrity, and we call on Russia to do the same, including to abide by the 2008 ceasefire agreement and to reverse

its recognition of the so-called independence of South Ossetia and Abkhazia.” After Rood and Cowgill welcomed

around 1,500 guests, the American national anthem was performed by Katie Nutt from the US Embassy and the Geor-

gian national anthem by Natalia Blauvelt. The annual event closed with a beautiful display of fireworks.

100th Anniversary of Georgia’s Parliamentary System in the UK

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n July 9, 2019 the UK All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Georgia and the Embassy of Georgia to the UK jointly hosted an event dedicated to the 100th anniversary of Georgia’s parliamentary system. The event was opened by HE Tamar Beruchashvili Ambassador of Georgia to the UK, and Mr Jonathan Djanogly MP, Chair of the APPG on Georgia. A century ago the newly-emerged Democratic Republic of Georgia held the first universal, democratic and multiparty election of the Constituent Assembly. The first Georgian legislative body was elected by universal suffrage, based on gender equality and inspired by such values as liberty, democracy and rule of law. The Constituent Assembly was a multiethnic institution, members of which represented almost all main ethnic minority groups. Even more significant achievement was the election of five women as members, at a time when in the majority of the European states women did not

even have the right to vote. The event in the UK Parliament featured an exhibition reflecting on this important anniversary. The guests had an opportunity to look through the historical photos of the members of the Constituent Assembly, core achievements by the Assembly, as well as interesting facts related to the first Georgian legislative body. Besides the historic dimension of the event, the Ambassador of Georgia also talked about the importance of this anniversary in the contemporary context, as modern Georgia is inspired by and stands firmly on democratic values, ideas and approaches of the First Democratic Republic. The event was attended by the members of the UK Parliament, diplomatic corps accredited in London, the group of Chevening scholars, representatives of Georgian diaspora organizations and educational institutions. At the end of the event the guests were invited to the reception hosted by the Embassy.


POLITICS

GEORGIA TODAY JULY 12 - 15, 2019

7

Tomos Wars: Rogue One – Interview with Honorary Patriarch Filaret CHURCH ANNOUNCED THAT ALTHOUGH YOU REMAIN AN HONORARY PATRIARCH AND BISHOP, YOU HAVE LOST THE RIGHT TO YOUR DIOCESE IN LIGHT OF YOUR LATEST ACTIONS. WHAT HAPPENS NEXT? This decision has nothing to do with our church. On June 20, we held a local council, which is the supreme body of the church governance; this local council took a decree saying that we withdraw from the Ukrainian Orthodox Church and we stay within the Ukrainian Orthodox Church – Kiev Patriarchate. So, their decision has nothing to do with us.

IS A COMPROMISE POSSIBLE? HOW ARE YOU GOING TO SOLVE THIS DISPUTE? Maybe there will be four churches in Ukraine: Ukrainian Orthodox Church – Kiev Patriarchate, Ukrainian Orthodox Church – Moscow Patriarchate, Orthodox Church of Ukraine (OCU), and possibly this autocephalic church. And the Tomos is to blame for that. If it wasn’t for the Tomos, Ukrainian orthodoxy would grow and be united. The Tomos split us.

ISN’T IT RUSSIA THAT BENEFITS FROM THIS CONFRONTATION? Indeed it does - Russia really benefits from this situation. Russia is glad that as a result of the Tomos, we now have this schism and infighting.

BY VAZHA TAVBERIDZE

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power struggle has split the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, just six months after the country celebrated the creation of the unified Orthodox Church of Ukraine independent from the Moscow Patriarchate. Honorary Patriarch Filaret Denisenko was seen as a leading campaigner for this independent church and instrumental in obtaining a Tomos, the document confirming the Ukrainian Orthodox Church’s autocephaly from the Patriarchate of Constantinople. But, the 90-year-old firebrand cleric now claims that the Tomos has not granted the church true independence. As head of the Kiev Patriarchate, one of the country’s three orthodox confessions, Filaret has now announced that he will not join the newly formed church. Metropolitan Epiphanius, who heads the fledgeling unified Orthodox Church of Ukraine church, has promptly stripped Filaret of his rights to govern his diocese, although he retains the status of a bishop. IWPR spoke to Filaret about why he thinks that the Tomos leaves Ukraine even more vulnerable to Russian interference.

IWPR: WHAT ROLE DOES RELIGION PLAY IN THE ONGOING WAR BETWEEN UKRAINE AND RUSSIA? Filaret: The war waged by Russia was directed against the Ukrainian people. The Ukrainian people were inspired by the Ukrainian Orthodox Church - Kiev Patriarchate. The Kiev Patriarchate supports the independence of the Ukrainian state, supports it morally and inspires the people to defend Ukraine. If it were not for this church of Kiev Patriarchate, I think Putin

would have already been in Kiev. Due to the fact that there’s the church of Kiev Patriarchate, Putin did not go beyond some areas of Donbas. The Kiev Patriarchate played a great role in this war. On the other hand, the Ukrainian Church of Moscow Patriarchate assists Russia in spreading the lie that this aggressive war, the capture of our Ukrainian territories of Crimea and Donbas is not an aggressive war waged by Russia but a civil war of Ukrainians against Ukrainians.TheUkrainianOrthodoxChurch – Moscow Patriarchate defends the interests of Russia by suggesting that the war is not waged by Russia.

THERE IS THIS NOTION IN MANY ORTHODOX COUNTRIES THAT DESPITE ALL KREMLIN MACHINATIONS, RUSSIANS STILL SHOULD BE TREATED AS BROTHERS IN THE SAME FAITH. WHAT DO YOU THINK OF THIS CONCEPT? I would like nothing better than for the Christians of Ukraine and the Christians of Russia to live like brothers. We want it. But today it is not possible because Russian Christians support Putin who is an aggressor and a tyrant. We want them to stop supporting Putin and the war that he wages, as true Christians would do.

WHAT’S THE IMPORTANCE AND THE IMPACT OF UKRAINE’S STRUGGLES TO OBTAIN AUTOCEPHALY, INCLUDING IN THE CONTEXT OF THE WAR? We need the recognition of the Ukrainian church in order to enter into relations with other Orthodox churches. But the Tomos does not grant us full autocephaly. If there is no independent church in Ukraine, Putin will conquer the Ukrainian state. If he conquers the Ukrainian state, he will go far beyond, capturing the Baltic states, Poland.

MOST OF THE WORLD’S CANONICAL ORTHODOX CHURCHES SEEM TO BE HESITANT TO RECOGNIZE THE UKRAINIAN ORTHODOX CHURCH’S AUTOCEPHALY. WHAT DO YOU THINK ARE THEIR REASONS?

We want to be free and we won’t settle for less.

Not just most Orthodox churches - the Tomos granted by the Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople is not recognized by any of the world’s 13 orthodox churches. That’s why this Tomos did not bring us anything good. It brought us more problems. This Tomos split the Kiev Patriarchate from inside. Another reason for their reluctance is that Russia tries to use its influence on these churches to make sure they won’t recognize this Tomos.

I confirm that. We didn’t know the content of the Tomos – had I known what it entailed, we would not have agreed to hold this council and to accept it. This Tomos did not bring us recognition by other churches. It split the Ukrainian orthodoxy which was whole and united before. All it brought us is trouble… we were told that the Tomos would mean autocephaly. And we thought that this Tomos would be the same as the one of other churches – Romanian, Greek, Bulgarian, Georgian and others... But as it turned out we didn’t get that kind of Tomos, what we got was a document that puts us in subservience.

EVERYONE EXPECTED RUSSIAN PRESSURE, BUT NO-ONE THOUGHT THAT THE TOMOS, HAILED AS A MAJOR ACHIEVEMENT, WOULD FRAGMENT AND SPLIT THE UKRAINIAN CHURCH INSTEAD OF UNIFYING IT. WHAT HAPPENED? The Ukrainian Orthodox Church of Kiev Patriarchate did split due to the fact that we believed that this Tomos would grant us autocephaly, full independence. We believed and wanted it to be this way. Instead, all we’ve got was the Tomos that placed us under the dependence not of Moscow, but of Constantinople. Thus, this Tomos resulted in splitting the Ukrainian Orthodox Church – Kiev Patriarchate. Dependence is dependence, no matter how you look at it. We don’t want to be dependent either on Moscow or on Constantinople. We want to be both an independent state and an independent church.

ON JUNE 20, YOU SAID WOULD NOT HAVE SIGNED THE TOMOS HAD YOU READ ITS CONTENTS BEFOREHAND. DO YOU STILL STAND BY THAT?

IS THERE A CHANCE THAT UKRAINE MIGHT LOSE THE TOMOS ALTOGETHER? It depends on the Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople, not on us. He can revoke this Tomos. Even if he does so, it will not bring us great problems - it already brought greater problems by splitting the Kyiv Patriarchate.

AND IF THAT WERE TO HAPPEN, WOULD IT TARNISH YOUR LEGACY AS A RELIGIOUS FIGURE? I will not be the one to blame for that. We wanted the Tomos granting us the independence and the autocephaly. They deceived us. And as it is they who deceived us, how can I be responsible?

THE UKRAINIAN ORTHODOX

IN LIGHT OF THAT, WOULD NOT IT BETTER FOR THE UKRAINIAN CHURCHES TO PUT ASIDE THEIR DIFFERENCES AND COOPERATE IN ORDER TO OPPOSE TO RUSSIA? We cannot unite based on a lie; we can unite only based on the truth. The truth is that Ukraine should have an independent church as Ukraine is an independent country. With that, the Kiev Patriarchate will become once again as great as it used to be and will have the same influence as it used to have on Ukrainian society… We believe that the truth will prevail. And the truth is that the Ukrainian state is independent and this independent Ukrainian state guarantees peace in Europe. If there’s no Ukrainian state, there will not be peace in Europe because Russia will go further. Europe should ensure that Ukraine will remain an independent state. In order to do so, it is necessary to have an independent church. If Europe allows the dependence of the Ukrainian church through Moscow or Greece, that will bring harm both to Ukraine and to Europe. The article was prepared as part of the fellowship funded by the Institute of War and Peace Reporting (IWPR) within the Project “Giving Voice, Driving Change - from the Borderland to the Steppes.” The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the Institute for War and Peace Reporting.


8

SOCIETY

GEORGIA TODAY

JULY 12 - 15, 2019

EU Invests in Akhalkalaki to Preserve Heritage, Raise Employment BY SAMANTHA GUTHRIE

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he European Union’s primary program for supporting agriculture and rural development in Georgia is the European Neighborhood Program for Agriculture and Rural Development (ENPARD). Launched in 2013 with a total budget of EUR 179.5 million, the main goal of ENPARD is to reduce rural poverty in Georgia. Within the ENPARD project, the EU selected 12 target municipalities for direct support, implemented by international and Georgian non-governmental organizations: Tetritskaro, Dedoplitskaro, Borjomi, Kazbegi, Lagodekhi, Khulo, Keda, Tsalka, Mestia, Tskaltubo, Akhmeta, and Akhalkalaki. The Akhalkalaki project is being implemented by Mercy Corps with implementation support from the Georgian Institute of Public Affairs, Georgian-Dutch development technology firm Elva, and Irish organization West Cork Development Partnership. Akhalkalaki is a small city with fewer than 10,000 people in the Samtskhe-Javakheti region, near Georgia’s borders with Turkey and Armenia. The population of the municipality is almost entirely ethnic Armenians, and there is generally a low knowledge of the Georgian language, making integration into the wider Georgian society and economic markets more difficult.

Earlier this week, the European Union Delegation to Georgia shared a success story from ENPARD Akhalkalaki that assists with strengthening employability and helps preserve the cultural heritage of the region. A major aspect of the project is distributing small and mediumsized grants within the target community, especially for startups and small businesses looking to expand. In one project, the Akhalkalaki Adult Education Center was given 12,000 GEL, matched by 3,000 GEL of their own contribution, with which they purchased machines for knitting, sewing, and embroidery. The new equipment is used in free classes that teach techniques for making carpets, rugs, and tapestries with traditional Armenian-Georgian designs and patterns. There are no age or gender restrictions, but the classes are most popular among young and middle-aged women with an eye for building skills that could help them find employment, or even start their own business. The participants in the first course discussed opening a social enterprise together which could perhaps increase the number of tourists who to come to the region. The project is one of only 16 funded by the ENPARD program in Akhalkalaki. Across the 12 ENPARD municipalities, more than 360 rural development projects have been selected for funding, with more to come. Projects include the renovation of public facilities such as parks, sports stadiums, or kindergarten playgrounds,

Photo: ENPARD

the renovation and expansion of businesses from guesthouses to paintball parks to dairy processing factories, or community projects like developing a tourist guide for little-known areas. The priority areas for funding vary by municipality, as they are based on the Local Development Strat-

egy created by the Local Action Group – a non-profit organization that acts as the voice of local people in an area, as a counterpart to municipal government. Local Action Groups have been established in all ENPARD municipalities, in accordance with European best practices of rural

development, under the LEADER model of community-led local development, which has seven principles: area-based, bottom-up, public-private partnerships, innovation, integration, networking, and co-operation. The ENPARD program is scheduled to end in 2022.

Batumi Hosts International Conference 'Georgia's European Way' BY ANA DUMBADZE

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he International Conference “Georgia's European Way”, dedicated to the 10th anniversary of the Eastern Partnership (EaP), has been opened in Georgia’s seaside city of Batumi. The conference aims to assess the EaP and its main deliverables, as well as present geopolitical context. Georgian President Salome Zurabishvili, Prime Minister of Georgia Mamuka Bakhtadze, as well as members of the Government addressed the conference’s participants. High-ranking officials, including the President of the European Council, European Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Management and ministers of several countries attended the conference. Georgia is represented at the conference

by the executive authorities as well as the high ranking officials of the legislative body. The moderators of the conference are wellknown media and international experts. Participants of the conference will reflect on the challenges common to the EU and Eastern partners so that Eastern Partnership effectively accommodates to the interests of each party, in line with the principles of differentiation and inclusiveness. Two parallel events: Eastern Partnership Investment Forum and Donors’ Annual Assembly of the Eastern Partnership Technical Assistance Trust Fund will take place on the sidelines of the conference. The EaP is a joint initiative involving the EU, its member states and six Eastern European Partners: Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, the Republic of Moldova and Ukraine. The Eastern Partnership aims to increase open democracy, prosperity, and stability in the region. The conference will end on July 12.

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SOCIETY

GEORGIA TODAY JULY 12 - 15, 2019

9

Caucasus University Breaks Ground on New Batumi Campus BY SAMANTHA GUTHRIE AND KETEVAN KVARATSKHELIYA

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n Wednesday, Caucasus University began construction on their new Batumi campus. The project was launched in an official ceremony, attended by representatives of the government of the Autonomous Republic of Ajara, Caucasus University administration, staff, and students and other invited guests. Remarks were delivered by Georgian President Salome Zurabishvili, Chairman of the Government of the Autonomous Republic of Ajara Tornike Rizhvadze, Deputy Minister of Education, Science, Culture and Sport Irina Abuladze, and President of Caucasus University and the International Association of Universities Kakha Shengelia. While addressing the audience, Zurabishvili emphasized the significance of launching the new university in Ajara, noting that it is leading the process of decentralization and development of the regions, which is pivotal for the strength of the country. “I have said multiple times that the development of the regions is our major priority and obviously, launching a new educational institution is one of the paramount steps in this direction,” said the President. Zurabishvili also expressed happiness with the fact that the modern university building has been designed by Georgian architects and will create jobs for local people – yet another way it is contributing to the regional development of the country and stemming the brain drain and rural-urban migration. Finally, the Georgian President noted that the Batumi branch of Caucasus University will serve Georgian, as well as international students, opening a source for additional financial profit from abroad. Chairman Rizhvadze told the guests that the project not only involves the construction of a campus

Photo: Caucasus University

of an educational institution, but will provide welldeveloped modern infrastructure for young people, including all the necessary facilities: labs, libraries, sporting arenas, and more, for obtaining a highquality education. Rizhvadze expressed hope that the new campus will transform Ajara into a regional hub for education. Caucasus University has nearly 130 partners from 70 countries, enabling it to admit foreign students and lecturers, as well as to conduct dual education and exchange programs for students, faculty, and staff. The project underwent several months of negotiations to determine the land where the new campus will be constructed and the architectural design. The university plans to have it completed within three years. The Caucasus University has been implementing Educational Programs in Batumi since 2010 in tourism, law and economics. The new campus will house 1500 Georgian and 500 international students. In addition to its standard under-

graduate and graduate programs, the university will also offer courses in vocational education and training. Academically high achieving students with expressed financial need will be eligible for scholarships and fee waivers – worth noting, as Caucasus University is one of the more expensive private universities in Georgia. Caucasus University was established in 2004 on the foundation of Caucasus School of Business, established in 1998. In 2018, the university launched a new campus in Tbilisi, marking its 20th anniversary. Last fall, Caucasus University announced another new campus in the town of Gurjaani, called ‘Caucasus Wine University,’ which plans to accept its first class of students in the 2020-2021 academic year. The campus will provide vocational education and training for the viticulture industry. Caucasus University is not the only higher education institution with interest in the regions, though. While, traditionally, higher education out-

side Tbilisi has been sparse and often lower quality than in the capital, there is growing recognition that sustainable growth and the preservation of Georgia’s regions depends on decentralization. With consistently improving transportation links throughout the country, both rail and road, the logistics of a major university outside Tbilisi are also becoming more feasible. Construction is currently underway in Kutaisi on a massive University City project, financed by the Cartu Foundation, the charity fund of Bidzina Ivanishvili, Georgian billionare, former Prime Minister, and founder of the ruling Georgian Dream party. The university will focus solely on science and technology, with the aim of drawing 60,000 top students out of Tbilisi, and from other countries, to study in Kutaisi. It will feature state of the art facilities in an American-style multi-building living and studying complex over 140 hectares of land. The current schedule will see the first class of students enter the university in the fall of 2020.

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10

SOCIETY

GEORGIA TODAY

JULY 12 - 15, 2019

Victoria’s Secrets – Canada

of my Canadian family live; more expensive; more eclectic, wacky spiritually; it has both the mountains and the ocean, even though I admit the water’s far too cold for more than a splash on even the hottest days. Fruit abounds. Driftwood delights. Sand, salt, sculpture. Oh, there is the top end of the infamous San Andreas Fault running up there too; rumbling in Richter 6s and 7s down south of late, and threatening to swallow Vancouver Island into the sea if The Big One comes, as apparently eventually it must. The losses would be millions of people. But might it be quick? It might, I suppose, and be more merciful to those submerged than to survivors. So every place has its pluses and minuses, and in my scorebook, the Island still comes out in the black. For now, Georgia remains my chosen home and this only an occasional visiting place. I’m content. Tony Hanmer has lived in Georgia since 1999, in Svaneti since 2007, and been a weekly writer for GT since early 2011. He runs the “Svaneti Renaissance” Facebook group, now with nearly 2000 members, at www.facebook.com/groups/SvanetiRenaissance/ He and his wife also run their own guest house in Etseri: www.facebook.com/hanmer.house.svaneti

BY TONY HANMER

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o, not the lingerie kind. The kind held by the small city which is the capital of British Columbia, dwarfed by wet mainland Vancouver, island-based, charming. I was back for a visit after about 12 years, stopping off on my way to family near Edmonton, capital of neighboring Alberta province. I biked here with a good friend almost exactly 30 years ago: first a train to Jasper in the Rocky Mountains, then cycling down to Banff and east. In 3 weeks of leisurely mountain-biking and tenting we had only a 2-hour stretch of rain and that was as we were heading into Kamloops to stay indoors with friends. We slacked off for 3 days, losing some of that hard-won tone, then compounded the mistake by setting lazily off at hot midday. The huge, long uphills of the dry Coquihalla Highway dried us out, and we began looking longingly at dirty puddles for water. Pressing on in desperation, we finally found a proper campsite as dark was falling: saved, just! Within 24 hours of arriving in nearby Sidney, we had perfect jobs in Victoria, driving Kabuki Kabs’ pedicabs, which are foot-powered tourist taxis. This lasted a few necessary weeks before something better turned up as the tourist season was winding down. We lived in my friend’s grandparents’

caravan in their driveway. Literally a stone’s throw away was the Pacific, a long, stony but quite comb-able beach, which I would walk almost every free morning I had. The thing which I will never forget about these strolls, aside from the endless variety which the ocean would throw up for inspection, was the smell. It might have been mostly seaweed going off, but I detected just salt air. If I could bottle this aroma, I would; it might be the main thing I miss landscape-wise in Svaneti. My friend took me back to the exact same spot on this trip, and again, despite the changed surroundings of 3 decades later, I marveled at the air and its power to snap one back to the time of the associated memories. Victoria has North America’s secondoldest Chinatown, and seems to be booming. After 3 days I bus/ferried back to Vancouver, where another old friend met me for the Great Road Trip back to Spruce Grove, Alberta. For much of this, we retraced the cycles of that Great Bike Trip of summer 1989, and I marveled at the crazy long hills outside Kamloops again: Did we really bike up those? Well, we were 22, invincible, and yes, we did. Our biked weighed more than we did, but we weren’t going for speed, just for the comfort of mountain bikes. Our shortest days were about 50 km, our longest one 120 and the average 80. We were in such good shape when we finished! If I ever resettled in Canada, I would choose the West Coast. It’s much milder than the Siberian interior where the rest

A Real Snafu in Georgia OP-ED BY NUGZAR B. RUHADZE

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his nation has lately stopped eating, drinking and having fun. It has started living on protests and manifestations of every possible substance and curve, materializing all over the place. The public exaltation became overwhelming, both in the streets and the Internet space, threatening all of us with the maturation of extraordinary developments unless some legitimate power, like a government, wants to take up the situation in its own iron but fair hands, and call the country to order. The startling snafu came upon the happily quiescent country right out of the blue and it stuck. All of a sudden, people found themselves massively crowded in front of the Parliament building in Tbi-

lisi in a totally unexpected violent demonstration of anti-Russian sentiments, coughing out the unheard-of invectives and vituperations against the occupant Russia. The emotion has probably been latent for years until it became so visibly turbulent, mostly expressed by the young people of cell-phone epoch, who were not even born in the years of Georgia’s latest fight for independence. The trigger of the snafu used to be a Russian parliamentarian, publicly and expressly feeling himself at home in Georgia. Then the heat increased and the nation broke up into rivaling sides, politically and journalistically represented on TV screens with nervous party and corporate intentions respectively. The demonstration, described as peaceful by the opposition and qualified as violent by the administration, came to a dire finale for physically injured protesters who now demand the resignation the police-

man number one of the country in retaliation of the used teargas and rubber bullets against them. The other day, there came another bomb when the cockiest among the ladies and gentlemen of the press started his show with an outburst of a diatribe, personally directed against the Russian president and worded with the harshest possible vocabulary one would hear on the air. The terribly unpolished rant of an anchor ended up in a massive demonstration of viewers in front of his TV station, spontaneously and unsuspectingly defending the otherwise-hated-inGeorgia Russian leader. The third nidus of discontent was built somewhere in the center of Tbilisi by the gay-haters, bullying off the frightened but still persisting LGBT community. All what I am saying is no longer the news but it is the piece of our history which needs to be parsed. This is just a

brief recount of what the nations is breathing with these days. Axiomatically, the process of building a free democratic society contains in itself the likelihood of manifest public discontent, exposed in occasional public upheavals, but in case of Georgia, the picture called ‘people-in-the-street’ has become a constant political value. We just want to be out there to yell until our voice cords are torn to a lethal extent. I am not saying to keep mum at all times like we did in the still remembered weird soviet times and never say a disgruntled word. I am only against admitting that the street politics in its permanency and endlessness is the only and the best way of building the life we want to build in this country. This style of expressing our dissatisfaction costs us billions of – you name the currency! How shall we get there if the already dying out generation of the Georgian

people is still nostalgic of the ‘good old times’ and the younger one is so disoriented philosophically that the preference is mostly given to politics, and not to science. Who will take us towards the western horizons unless we drag ourselves in that direction on our own? What will keep this land on the track of unhampered development and also safe from possible skirmishes with better armed neighbors and potentially looming wars with them unless we know exactly the most optimal ways and instruments of our survival? Standing in the streets interminably and shouting the worn-out slogans might very well be an expression of national freedom and independence but it does not make a better standard of living for us. The outdoor politics might be a token of forwardness but it also is a harbinger of economic backwardness. Shall we at least look for the golden median?


SOCIETY

GEORGIA TODAY JULY 12 - 15, 2019

Want to Increase Birth Rates? Try Gender Equality

OP-ED BY ALANNA ARMITAGE AND TOMAS SOBOTKA

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any countries in Eastern Europe face what is often perceived as a population crisis. Highly skilled people of reproductive age are leaving their countries to look for better opportunities elsewhere. Among those who stay, birth rates are below two children per woman; in some countries, they are closer to one. These trends have raised alarm among politicians and the general public. The fear is that outmigration and low birth rates will lead to smaller, older and weaker nations. Are these fears justified? To some extent, yes. Rapid population decline and ageing can pose serious challenges, especially if countries, for economic or ideological reasons, can’t attract immigrants to compensate for demographic losses. In such cases, lower population numbers can indeed put strains on economies, social systems, and infrastructure in sparsely populated areas. However, much of the unease around these demographic changes is rooted in outdated notions of nation and power. On today’s World Population Day it is important to emphasize that it is not population size that matters in contemporary societies. What matters is the human capital of a population – its education and health, productivity and innovative potential. Countries like Germany or Japan have had very low birth rates

for decades, and have continued to thrive. Small countries like Switzerland or Norway have continuously punched above their weight. What this tells us is that the fixation on numbers we sometimes see in the region, and on birth rates in particular, is unproductive. Most scientists agree that there is no optimal fertility rate, and that, in any case, raising birth rates is not an easy fix. Studies show that traditional programmes providing parents some form of financial incentive for having more children generally only have a temporary effect. People might choose to have a baby earlier than planned to cash in on the incentive, which initially drives up the number of births. But they won’t have a bigger family overall, so long-term birth rates remain largely unchanged. This is not surprising: even the most generous financial incentives will only cover a tiny fraction of the total costs of raising a child. Besides, without changes to the overall environment, any potential gains would just mean adding more young people to those who already can’t find a decent job or can’t see a long-term future in their country and are moving elsewhere, taking public investments in their education with them. A more promising path for the countries of Eastern Europe is to focus on one often-overlooked fact: most people in the region actually want two or more children. The reasons why they can’t realize their reproductive intentions are the key for finding solutions to the region’s population crisis. Where young people can’t be confident about their country’s future and their own job prospects, having children is financially risky, especially given the weak social safety nets in the region. High youth unemployment, low salaries – especially for women – and the trend towards more unstable work arrangements don’t help. Another major factor is a lack of support for working women, who are still widely expected to take care of children and the household. Public childcare for small children below age three is woefully inadequate in Eastern Europe and work arrangements rigid, leaving many women forced to choose between children or career. What all this means is that for any government to be successful in lifting birth

rates close to the level of people’s fertility desires – and to provide alternatives to outmigration – it must create an environment in which young people are confident to plan their future and start a family. This requires progress on good governance, making economies more competitive and matching individual skills with labour market demands. And, it requires a set of specific policies responding to the needs of families, women, men and children. There is broad consensus on what needs to be part of such a policy package: Quality, affordable childcare starting from an early age. Flexible and generously paid parental leave for both parents (with incentives for men to take what they are entitled to). Flexible work arrangements, and providing equal pay for women. Programmes to encourage men and women to equally share care and household work. And affordable housing as well as financial support for low-income families. Countries like Sweden show that variations of this policy mix can work in sustaining higher birth rates. Estonia has gone further still in its radical redesign of parental leave policies and has significantly expanded early childhood education. A few countries in Eastern Europe have also embarked on this journey, with support from UNFPA, the United Nations Population Fund, and its partners. It is not going to be easy. Shifting scarce resources towards family policies is likely to spark resistance, as will the urgently needed transformation of traditional social norms and stereotypes about men and women’s roles in society. Overcoming these roadblocks will require strong political leadership and readiness for change. But the potential benefits are massive – and go far beyond increasing birth rates. Because when young people have confidence in their future and women can fully participate in all spheres of society without having to give up childbearing, countries are likely to grow, not only in numbers, but in opportunity, stability and prosperity for generations to come. Alanna Armitage is Director of the United Nations Population Fund Regional Office for Eastern Europe and Central Asia. Tomas Sobotka leads the research group on fertility and family at the Vienna Institute of Demography, Austrian Academy of Sciences.

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SOCIETY

GEORGIA TODAY

JULY 12 - 15, 2019

TBC Status and Eastern Promotions Present 13th Jazz Festival

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atumi will host the 13th Black Sea Jazz Festival on July 18-20 This year festival participants include: CORY HENRY & The Funk Apostles (USA); MokuMoku Band (GEO), ‘Kraak & Smaak’ funk-group, INCOGNITO (UK), and official festival resident artist - DJ. MACHAIDZE. The festival will be held in Batumi Tennis Club on July 18. Cory Henry and the band ‘The Funk Apostles’ will start the first day of the festival. On July 19, MokuMoku group will perform in front of the auditorium, after which the Dutch funk-group ‘Kraak & Smaak’ will appear on the stage. The legendary British group "Incognito" will close the festival in July 20.

During the jazz festival, TBC Status will take care of visitors not only at night but during the day as well - on July 18-20, Iveria Beach will turn into the beach of TBC status offering: - Consumers of TBC Status will have the opportunity to use the beach with 20% discount; - During the day, the iconic marine gifts of TBC Status will be handed over to all holidaymakers who will be on the beach at the moment; - Happy hour 14: 00-17: 00 (free drinks); - Live music Tickets for 13th Black Sea Jazz Festival are available online at TKT.GE. Consumers of TBC Status will get 20% of cashback while purchasing online and in cashier’s office (box-office).

HUAWEI P30 Series Forms New Rules for the Game – 10 Million Sales 85 Days after Presentation

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UAWEI P30 Series sets new record – newest models show the best selling results in the history of the company. Only 85 days

after the presentation, the number of sales reached 10 million. The aforementioned information is confirmed by HUAWEI Service Business Group. The company outdid their previous record by 62 days.

Kevin Ho, the President in Sales Department of HUAWEI Service Business Group, made the statement about the “10 Million sales 85 days after the presentation” at the MWC Shanghai Global

Summit; saying that “in 2018, 10 Million P20 Series were sold 147 days after its presentation. This year, it took us 62 days less to reach this impressive number.” Thanks to HUAWEI’s innovations, the P30 Series offers yet another set of impressive possibilities to users – ultrasensitive, 4 general cameras created with leica, 10x hybrid zoom, ultra-powerful battery and totally new and wide choice of colors. The leading international media gave the P30 Series the title of “2019’s Best Camera phone.” According to the company’s data, in sum, HUAWEI has invested more than 480 billion Chinese Yen in technological development and different partnerships with its programming and technical supplier. These approaches served as the key to HUAWEI’s success – becoming one of the leading companies in the industry of technologies and smartphones. All those behind HUAWEI think that constant innovation and investing in this direction will lead to more developments in their products, hence giving the consumers the best experience possible, assuring their loyalty. HUAWEI’s production and service is

available in more than 170 countries and is used by one third of the world population. 16 research and development centers function worldwide in the USA, Germany, Russia, India and China. HUAWEI Consumer BG is one of the three HUAWEI business dimensions. The main direction of their work is producing smartphones, personal computers, tablets and cloud services. The global network of HUAWEI is supported by 20 years of experience in the telecommunication business and serves as a source of offering innovative technologies to consumers around the world.

Destination Wedding Market in Georgia Is Rapidly Growing

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eorgia is becoming an increasingly popular destination for weddings for couples from around the world. Some come here for the beautiful nature, reasonable pricing, good food and wine, others - for bureaucratic convenience in registering an official wedding. Being the first professional awards, Wedding Stars Awards aims to evaluate the market. The Ministry of Juice provided interesting statistics regarding the increase of destination weddings in Georgia. 1216 marriages were registered between foreign citizens in Georgia in 2017. Whilst in 2018, this number grew to 1911 marriages. These figures include all the registrations whether the couple simply came to the Public Service hall and signed the papers or did a big outdoor ceremony among family and friends.

According to representatives of several wedding agencies working with foreign couples, the nationality of people who come to Georgia to marry is quite wide: starting from neighbouring countries, to as far as Canada, the USA and the Philippines. Foreign weddings in Georgia help to develop both tourism (on average wedding guests spend two to three times more than a tourist) whilst also developing the internal wedding market. More and more Georgian couples pay attention to details and elements of Western weddings. This trend could develop further and as weddings on the local market become more elaborate, combined with Georgian traditions, of course. The wedding business is a synthetic sphere, influencing many other business areas: from hotels and restaurants to transport companies and wineries, to

music bands and souvenirs' productions. Developing the wedding market, in general, helps to grow existing players and also creates new business openings. For example, now the profession of wedding host is on the rise when it didn’t exist here a few years ago. The first professional Wedding Stars Awards will help all market players to grow and achieve a higher level of service and creativity that will benefit the market. Organizers of the Awards invite all companies and private persons who work in the wedding market in Georgia to participate in the competition and apply. The Awards will be distributed for 25 nominations covering all main services related to weddings. The application deadline is November 1st, 2019. The Wedding Stars Awards gala ceremony will be held on December, 5th, 2019 in Biltmore Hotel in Tbilisi.


SOCIETY

GEORGIA TODAY JULY 12 - 15, 2019

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International Seminar with the Support of the EU on Tourism Development in the Black Sea Basin

Making presentation at the seminar

TRANSLATED BY KETEVAN KVARATSKHELIYA

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he major aim of Georgian tourism strategy is to launch a guide which will contribute to the sustainable development of the tourism industry, growth of income and increasing of the importance of the field. Whereas, the government is tasked to design and implement a plan, which will transform the rich natural and cultural resources into a global-scale tourist product and create the possibility for obtaining unique and unforgettable impressions. The abovementioned is to attract tourists with higher payment capabilities from European countries, North America, as well as the Middle East and Asia. From 2009 to 2015, the visitor inflow in Georgia was one of the highest in the world: the total number of international travelers increased by 293% and exceeded 5.9 million (2009, 1.5 mln). The profit obtained from the tourism industry increased rapidly from $476 million to $1.9 billion. The international seminar-presentation, financed by the EU project “Development of Sustainable Cultural Tourism in the Black Sea Basin” CULTOURBSB, EMS number: BSB 117“ and taking place on May 11-12 at the Cruise Hotel in Tbilisi, was dedicated to resolving the given issues. The heads of the international project are as follows: Lead Partner - Sozopol Municipality (Mrs. Petya Chapevova, Vice-Mayor of Suzopolo, Radina Bayanova, business consultant, Simona Valchanova, Tourism Expert, Bulgaria) Bulgaria and Project Manager of CULTOUR-BSB Bulgaria), Project partners: Constanta Municipality (Georgiana Petre, Communication officer PB2, Cristina Sapunaru Tourism Expert, Roman), NNLE - Ecocenter For Environmental Protection (Georgia), Agency of Sustainable Development and European Integration “Lower Danube Euroregion” (ASDEI), (Ukraine), Executive committee of Izmail city Council (Ukraine) and Düzce Governorship (Turkey). Heads of the governmental and non-governmental organizations (NGOs), professors and specialists in tourism from a number of universities, as well as organizations and tour operators from different regions and municipalities of Georgia, participated in the seminar.

Filling in the questionnaire

International guests from the countries implementing the project, have also traveled to Georgia to participate in the seminar: Mrs. Petya Paseva, Communication Officer, LP - Sozopol Municipality, Bulgaria and Project CULTOUR-BSB, Mr. Serhii Luzanov Executive Committee of Izmail City (Ukraine) Council, Communication Officer, Mr. Viorel Babaian, Communication Officer, Communication Officer, (Ukraine) "Lower Danube Euroregion, Mrs. Tetiana Pasmarnova Tourism Expert, ASDEI “Lower Danube” Euroregion” Ukraine, Mrs. Hanna Bilobrova, Tourism Expert, Executive Committee of Izmail city Council, Ms. Zeliha Oraloglu, Communication Officer (Turkey), Ms., Elif Berna Bakir, Duzce Governorship. Special booklets, triplets, banners and other informative material, aimed at the promotion of the international project, were given to the seminar participants, guests and students interested in the tourism industry. The seminar was officially opened by Givi Gavardashvili, Director of the Ecocenter for Environmental Protection, Doctor of Technical Science, Professor and Supervisor of the international project “CULTOUR-BSB, EMS number: BSB 117“ from Georgia. Mr. Givi Gavardashvili spoke regarding the significance of the project for the development of the Black Sea tourism, which is to contribute to the sustainable progress of the tourism industry in Georgian and increasing the profit. The speaker strongly focused on the assimilation of new tourist routes in Georgia, as well as their promotion across Europe, noting that this process will increase the tourist inflow in Georgia and as a result help the stable growth of the country’s economy. At the seminar, welcoming speeches were delivered by: Mr. David Bujiashvili, Head of the EU Assistance Coordination and Sectorial Integration Department Directorate General for European Integration Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Georgia, Ms. Rusudan Mamatsashvili - First Deputy Head of Georgian National Tourism Administration, who noted that the project is of strategic importance for Georgia in terms of the development of tourism in the Black Sea Basin and expressed their support towards the implementation of the project, which is to contribute to the progress of tourism as business in the country. The following participants addressed the audi-

From the right - Mr. David Bujiashvili, Head of the EU Assistance Coordination and Sectorial Integration Department Directorate General for European Integration Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Georgia and prof. Givi Gavardashvili, Director of Ecocenter for Environmental Protection

ence at the seminar: Mrs. Gulnaz Surmanidze (Association Executive director) - Mtirala and Machakhela Protected Areas Friends, Professor Soso Surguladze - Ivane Javakhishvili Tbilisi State University, Tourism Department, Company ''Hi Georgia" Ms. Nehayat Aleso, Public Relations Manager - Gvantsa Kordzakhia, Company “Mtskheta Cruise'', Ms. Nino Kekelidze Director of Company “Discover Georgia", Prof. Giorgi Begadze - Tourism Management center of Ilia State University, Mr. Irakli Maisashvili - Tourizm center of Tskaltubo, Prof. Kakhaber Jakeli – International Black See University, Tourism Department, Mrs. Ketevan Zautashvili (Head of department) - Foreign Relations, International Projects and Tourism Department of Kvareli Municipality (Kakheti region), Mr. Gocha Khorava (Head of department) - Tourism Department of Baghdati municipality (Imereti region), Mr. Alexander Khmaladze – Director of Company "Discover Sighnaghi", Ms. Lali Giguri Director of Company, "Georgia holiday", Ms. Makvala Rikrikadze – Director of Company "Travelgeorgiarik", Ms. Khatuna Chargazia Director of LTD "Turalux", Mr. Giorgi Didebulidze - Director of LTD "Gland travel Georgia" e.c. Along with the issue of developing Black Sea tourism, the speakers also accentuated the importance of sophisticated educational programs in business administration. It was also stated that it is vital to enable students to obtain education in accordance with the modern requirements, which will create a solid basis of different business administration areas, including marketing, management and more.

Tourism was emphasized at the meeting. The main aim should be to prepare tour agencies, bureaus, etc., to better operate in the industry. Meetings and discussions also took place during the seminar coffee-breaks as follows: Discussion with representers of local tourism agencies of Georgia, as well as the tourism experts, participating in the project „Development of Sustainable Cultural Tourism in the Black Sea Basin” CULTOURBSB, EMS number: BSB 117“: professor Giorgi Meladze, academic dctors – Tamriko Supatashvili, Natia Gavardashvili, Petiya Paseva, Sergey Luzanov, Zeliha Oraloglu, Viorel Babaian and others. During the working process of the seminar, the target groups were offered specially designed survey comprising of questions for three types of organizations regarding the current situation in the tourism industry, challenges, as well as future perspectives. More than 60 representatives from the various organizations participated in the survey. The Ecocenter for Environmental Protection, as the partner organization of the international project „Development of Sustainable Cultural Tourism in the Black Sea Basin” CULTOUR-BSB, EMS number: BSB 117“ from Georgia is currently processing the surveys completed by the tourism experts and will distribute the results to the lead organization – Suzopolo Municipality shortly. ECOCENTER FOR ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION Organization in consultative status with the Economic and Social Council ECOSOC


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CULTURE

GEORGIA TODAY

JULY 12 - 15, 2019

WHAT’S ON IN TBILISI THEATER

GABRIADZE THEATER 13 Shavtelis St. TEL (+995 32) 2 98 65 93 July 12, 13 THE AUTUMN OF MY SPRINGTIME Revaz Gabriadze Directed by Revaz Gabriadze English Subtitles Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 20, 30, 40 GEL July 14 STALINGRAD Revaz Gabriadze Directed by Revaz Gabriadze English Subtitles Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 20, 30, 40 GEL July 16 Animated documentary film REZO Directed by Leo Gabriadze Start time: 12:30 Ticket: 15 GEL MUSEUM

GEORGIAN NATIONAL MUSEUM SIMON JANASHIA MUSEUM 3 Rustaveli Ave. TEL (+995 32) 299 80 22, 293 48 21 www.museum.ge Exhibitions: GEORGIAN COSTUME AND WEAPONRY OF THE 18TH-20TH CENTURIES NUMISMATIC TREASURY EXHIBITION STONE AGE GEORGIA ARCHEOLOGICAL TREASURE NEW LIFE TO THE ORIENTAL COLLECTIONS Until September 10 Under the joint initiative of Georgian National Museum and Georgian Post, Exhibition: STORY TOLD BY POSTAGE STAMPS Dedicated to the 100th anniversary of the first Georgian stamp. Until August 31 Multimedia technology exhibitionIMMAGICA. A JOURNEY INTO BEAUTY An impressive journey within time, introducing us to Italian

paintings of the XIV-XIX centuries; a combination of voice, lighting, immersive visual and multimedia. Giotto– ‘Ognissanti Madonna’ and the ‘Scrovegni Chapel,’ Leonardo da Vinci– ‘Annunciation,’ Botticelli– ‘The Birth of Venus’ and ‘Spring,’ Raffaello– ‘The Madonna of the Goldfinch, Bellotto– ‘Piazza San Marco,’ ‘Castello Sforzesco,’ Canaletto– “The Chapel of Eton College”, Canova– ‘Amor e Psyche’ and ‘The Graces’. IOSEB GRISHASHVILI TBILISI HISTORY MUSEUM - KARVASLA 8 Sioni St. TEL (+995 32) 2 98 22 81 Until September 10 The Georgian National Museum within the project "Contemporary Art Gallery" presents Vakho Bugadze's exhibition: ‘Three, Four" Together with Vakho Bughadze are artists Gogi Okropiridze and Katrin Bolt. Within the framework of the exhibition, documentary film about Vakho Bugadze will be presented. MUSEUM OF SOVIET OCCUPATION 4 Rustaveli Ave. TEL (+995 32) 2 99 80 22, 2 93 48 21 www.museum.ge The exhibition hall is equipped with monitors, where visitors can see documentaries of various historical events. The exhibition also includes one of the train carriages in which the participants of the national uprising of 1924 were executed. It is also dedicated to the history of the antioccupational, national-liberation movement of Georgia and to the victims of the Soviet political repression throughout this period. MUSEUM OF ILLUSIONS 10 Betlemi Str. Discover the Museum of Illusions Be brave enough to jump into an illusion created by the Vortex, deform the image of yourself in a Mirror Room, be free in the Infinity room, resist the laws of gravity and size ratio, and take selfies in every possible pose. Enjoy the collection of holograms, and discover optical illusions.

MUSEUM OF BROKEN RELATIONSHIPS 10 Betlemi Str. THE MUSEUM OF BROKEN RELATIONSHIPS The unique collection of the museum aims to provoke feelings of understanding among individuals and serve as some kind of therapy for those who have experience break-ups. GALLERY

THE NATIONAL GALLERY 11 Rustaveli Ave. TEL (+995 32) 215 73 00 Until February 26 (2020) GRAND MASTERS FROM THE GEORGIAN NATIONAL MUSEUM COLLECTION XIX – XX CENTURY MOVEMENT THEATER 182, Aghmashenebeli Ave. TEL (+995 32) 598 19 29 36 July 12 Unlock: Chapter Three Multimedia journey- "Today", aims to show our present reality from a new angle PHOTO, VIDEO, INSTALLATION, MUSIC, PRINT Start time: 21:00 Free Entrance MUSIC

SOUNDS OF GEORGIA July 14, 15, 17, 18 SING AND DRINK Mini concerts in the cozy atmosphere of Old Tbilisi, a mix of traditional Georgian music of different genres: folklore, a capella, guitar, and Georgian pop and city songs. Start time: 17:00 Ticket: 24 GEL Venue: July 14- 10 Erekle II Sq., Tekla Palace Hotel, July 15- New Tiflis, 9 Agmashenebeli Ave., Wine bar ‘Wine Station’, July 17- Corner of 2 Turgenev Str., and 37 Javakhishvili Str. July 18- Europe Square, 2 D. Megreli Str., Hotel “Nata”

ART GENE FESTIVAL Tbilisi Museum of Ethnography July 12 20:00-21:30 Folklore Concert: Samegrelo 22:00 Final Concert: NINO KATAMADZE Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 29 GEL July 13 20:00-21:30- Folklore Concert: Racha-Lechkhumi 22:00- Final Concert: 33A Start time: 20:00 July 14 20:00-21:30- Folklore Concert: Adjara 22:00- Final Concert: SUKHISHVILEBI Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 29 GEL EZO FESTIVAL Mtatsminda Park July 13 EZO FESTIVAL 2019 SEASON CLOSING Start time: 18:00 Ticket: 50 GEL MOVEMENT THEATER 182, Aghmashenebeli Ave. TEL (+995 32) 598 19 29 36 July 13 DJ Set MICHEL Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 5 GEL July 16 JAM SESSION Musical art director- Sandro Nikoladze Start time: 20:30 Free Entrance BAR DYSTOPIA 4 K. Marjanishvili Str. July 12 Mind Atrophy Lasha Avsajanishvili and Lasha Kantaria's raw techno project, primarily oriented on heavy industrial and hypnotic sound that demands so much energy while rave. Their b2b performance is not just playing the music, for the most part, it is the storytelling. Start time: 21:00 Ticket: 10 GEL

RIKE Touristic center "Gamarjoba", Next to Bridge of Peace July 12 Ethnic Dinner Show "Gaumarjos" Introducing cultural performance about history of Georgia, traditions and culture. Show is performed by professional dancers and singers, along with culinary performance by executive chef, paired with delicious Georgian cuisine and wine. Start time: 19:00 Ticket: 120 GEL FOLKLORE CONCERTS FOR TOURISTS Sanapiro Str. Bldg 2. Every Sunday July 15 Folklore Evenings of ensemble EGARI Ensemble offers folklore events in order to popularize Georgian folk music creation for tourists. The concerts will present songs, trisagions, instrumental music, dance, urban folklore from diferent parts of Georgia and ethno-jazz music. The guest will listen live polyphony, diversity of instruments (Salamuri, Panduri, Chonguri, Chiboni, Doli). Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 50 GEL GEORGIAN FOLK SHOW 10 Rustaveli Ave. Every Tuesday, Friday, Sunday July 12, 14, 16 The first full and systematic folk show for tourists. Visit Georgia’s regions in one hour through its world renowned folklore. Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 40 GEL IN THE DENSE FOREST 5 Iliko Sukhishvili Str., Tskneti July 14 PAPUNA'S BOSTON TRIO FEATURING KHODZI Papuna Sharikadze, Giorgi (Khondzi) Berishvili, Max Gerl and Tyson Jackson Present an extraordinary night with special guests After-party for All Start time: 16:00 Ticket: 20-80 GEL ADJARA BLACK SEA JAZZ FESTIVAL Batumi Tennis Club July 18 CORY HENRY & The Funk Apostles (USA) Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 100-200 GEL UP2YOU Seafront Promenade 13 July SAKHE A2K CHIKI Start time: 21:00 Ticket: 20 GEL 18 July DAVIT GOMATELI Start time: 21:00 Ticket: 25 GEL SOHO BATUMI Old boulevard 13 July LEXSENI Start time: 18:00 Ticket: 20 GEL BATUMGORA Venue: Cable car Argo FOLKLORE SHOWS EVERY DAY During whole summer, you will have a wonderful opportunity to attend traditional folk shows every day from 8 pm. Enjoy UNESCO recognized traditional folk dances and songs, Georgian drum show and master classes in dancing on 250 meters above the sea level. Start time: 20:00


CULTURE

GEORGIA TODAY JULY 12 - 15, 2019

15

Unprecedented warranty offer from HUAWEI

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UAWEI in Georgia offers an exceptional guarantee service to their consumers, proving once again that the users’ interests are a priority for the company. Here are the conditions of the suggestion – If your device can't run Google and Facebook apps HUAWEI will give you 100% reimbursement. The one-month-long campaign started on July 5. Additionally, the warranty service will be available only for newly bought smart-phones during 2 years. Bear in mind that the guarantee conditions only apply to official HUAWEI Smartphones. “A lot of disinformation spread claiming that Facebook and Google Apps will not work well on the new HUAWEI smartphones (the ones that are already selling

on the market). This was in fact caused by the US President Donald Trump’s decision that American companies would not be able to provide production to HUAWEI but the announcement was applied to smartphone models that the company produces after August 19. As of today, Trump has changed his decision and has allowed American companies to continue trading and partnering with HUAWEI. With the abovementioned campaign, we’d like to assure our consumers that our brand is trustworthy. This campaign is an additional proof and guarantee that there are no restrictions,” says the Manager of Guarantee Service of HUAWEI, Salome Melitauri. Lately, a lot of information from unreliable sources have been spreading around HUAWEI and this situation news misguides consumers. However, with all the

versions and predictions, one thing is clear – HUAWEI is on the road of technological development and promises their consumers many pleasant surprises and innovative decisions. HUAWEI’s production and service is available in more than 170 countries and is used by one third of world population. 16 research and development centers function worldwide in the USA, Germany, Russia, India and China. HUAWEI Consumer BG is one of the three HUAWEI business dimensions. The main direction of their work is producing smartphones, personal computers, tablets and cloud services. The global network of HUAWEI is supported by 20 year-old experience in telecommunication business and serves as a source of offering innovative technologies to the consumers around the world.

Artists Recreate Georgian Medival Poem Knight in the Panther’s Skin as a Comic Book BY LIKA CHIGLADZE

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n July 10 the long-awaited exhibition and presentation of a new contemporary edition of the internationally known Georgian epic poem The Knight in the Panther’s Skin was opened at The Georgian Museum of Fine Arts in Tbilisi. Acclaimed Georgian artist David Matchavarianiis is the main person behind the graphic novel. The artist, better known by his nickname, Kakadu, worked for three-years nonstop to create amazing graphic drawings of each episode and characters of the 12th-century national poem. The exhibition hall was overcrowded by people, eager to see the amazing works presented on huge canvases at the exhibition hall. The guests could get a copy of the limited inaugural edition of the book with the mind-blowing comics as well as get it signed personally by the authour of the drawings. Artworks made for the classical version of the book by David over the last ten years were also showcased in the hall. Written in the 12th century by Georgian poet Shota Rustaveli, The Knight in the Panther's Skin is considered to be the main masterpiece of Georgian classical literature. The book, uncovering a thrilling story about true love, friendship and heroism, conveys deep philosophical ideas that can change one’s mindset and attitude toward the world. It is labeled as the artifact of Georgian renaissance, the Golden Age, when the country was ruled by its first female monarch, Queen Tamar. Although the story takes place in the fictional settings of "India" and "Arabia", in fact it represents an allegory of the rule of Queen Tamar of Georgia, describing the size and glory of the Kingdom of Georgia at that time. Through creating graphic artworks for

this poem the artist gave birth to a new genre whilst also reviving the centuriesold monumnet. “It is such a complex piece that anyone who tried to work on it, was lost into its deepness and philosophy. So it was a really big challenge to me as well”, Davit Machavarian told GEORGIA TODAY. “We, as a traditional country, find it difficult to accept novelties and something different, that in fact expands our horizons and mindsets,” said Machavarian. “This is the very reason, why for such a long time, we were afraid to transform our epic poem and present it in a new form.” “Over the three years of the working process, I explored Arabic architecture and Indian costumes too feed my inspiration and obtain historic elements to embody them into my artworks. I started working on this project in Tbilisi and very soon I moved to Nepal to escape all the distractions and commit myself to this job, then I travled to France where I worked at my uncles’ studio and then I was planning to go to India, but suddenly I found enthusiastic people who helped me to finish these works, so I changed my plans.” “We locked ourselves in our studio and worked day and night to present the book in its present form. When I was working on the classic edition of the book and making relatively solid drawings on the same theme 10 years ago, even though it required more detailed and sophisticated technique, it was much easier than creating comics.” “Telling stories through illustrations is easier, since you make illustrations between ten pages or even more and in this way incorporate important passages in one unit. As for the comic book, it took me one week to create one page. Besides the exhausting working process, I had to think how to transfer the story in a smooth way so that the plot is well rounded and harmonically linked to one other as well as fitted to rhythm and

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Photo source - Tbilisi Museum of Fine Arts

time, eventually building one integral monument. This was the most difficult part, since I was thinking both about the past passages, the present one I was working on as well as the ones laid ahead, to link them naturally and flawlessly”, David Matchavariani elaborated when talking to GEORGIA TODAY. As David says, The Knight in the Panther's Skin taught him many things. “It’s like a second bible that liberates to one’s mind and soul. I learned that soul is immortal, that what you send out to the world comes back to you. I think this is the book that unites all of us, the whole nation”, he adds, saying that despite living in the modern era of technologies, he purposefully decided to use traditional ways to create his drawings simply using paper, pencil and ink. “If they are meant to survive and endure time, they will. Let god and nature decide their destiny.”

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

After graduation of State Academy of Arts in Tbilisi, David traveled to the US where he met DC Comics Editor Dan Raspler in Philadelphia who has heavily influenced the artist’s subsequent creative formation. After returning to Georgia, David Machavariani worked across a variety of genres, such as illustrations, comics, theater performances, cinema, video games, and others. The project the artist has dreamed about so long, was realised in cooperation with Sulakauri Publishing, that marked its 20th anniversary through printing this glorious graphic novel. “This book represents an epic poem told through graphic illustration consisting of 222 pages. This is the project that Our publishing house is extremely proud of. The text was specifically adapted for this version of the book and Salome Benidze (writer) handled this duty with success. The book will help us to under-

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stand this masterpiece in a new different way. The good news for foreign readers is that the book is already being translated into English and Russian as well”, Tinatin Mamulashvili, Director of the publishing house told us. The text for the graphic novel was adapted Saba Award Winner Salome Benidze, a young female writer, notable for her unusual storytelling and writing style. “To me, it is a century’s project and probably the biggest challenge and responsibility in my life so far”, the writer said. “When working on this project I had a feeling that we were opening a new way, a new path for the readers to get closer to this poem. After having a close look at the graphic novel, I think society will rediscover this great piece in a different way. Besides, I hope teachers at schools will find this version of the poem very helpful when teaching it to students. We hope this will become favorite book of many.” “I must admit it was extremely difficult to transform such an extensive and complex poem into a graphic romance. Although the current text is quite different, we tried to maintain certain passages from the original version that are very important in an authentic way,” she continued. “In the beginning I was a little bit frustrated, I did not know how to cope with such difficult writing, but eventually, I managed. As for the drawings, David has put a monumental effort, he started creating comics far earlier than I started working on the text. At times, we cooperated on some issues so that the storyline and drawings were in line and filled each other. In this case, first came the image and then the words. So I basically followed and relied on the drawings when editing the text”, Salome Benidze noted. The exhibition will be on show until July 17 at Rustaveli Avenue 7. Attendance is free.

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Profile for Georgia Today

Issue #1167  

July 12 - 15, 2019

Issue #1167  

July 12 - 15, 2019

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