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Issue no: 1091

• OCTOBER 12 - 15, 2018

• PUBLISHED TWICE WEEKLY

PRICE: GEL 2.50

In this week’s issue... Vehicle Inspection Advancements NEWS PAGE 2

Georgian Delegation Attends European Week of Regions & Cities in Brussels

FOCUS ON OUR INTERVIEWEES GT meets Ambassador Fournier, Marriott's VP of Premium Brands and UN Independent Expert Victor Madrigal-Borloz Check out what they have to say inside

POLITICS PAGE 5

The Fall of Splendor: Etseri, Svaneti SOCIETY PAGE 11 PAGE 4,6,10

MEPs Welcome Georgia’s Sustained Reform Track BY THEA MORRISON

GIFT Festival Brings International Dramatic Artists to Tbilisi SOCIETY PAGE 12

Young Actors Perform Oldest Caucasus Epos in Georgian & Ossetian

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he Committee of the Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) assessed the implementation of the EU association agreements with Moldova and Georgia which entered into force two years ago, highlighting areas that need additional efforts for the countries to approximate further to the EU. The assessment reads that MEPs on the Foreign Affairs Committee “welcome Georgia’s sustained reform track, which makes it a key partner in the region.” They note that the EU is now Georgia’s largest trade partner and the largest source of foreign direct investment. “The MEPs call on the Georgian authorities to continue ensuring stability, further democratic reforms and economic and social improvements for Georgians. High-level corruption, full independence of the judiciary and the depoliticization of media content remain key areas of concern, they stress,” the statement reads. The MEPs say that 10 years after the GeorgiaRussia conflict, Russia still continues its illegal occupation of Georgian territories. “The MEPs reiterate their unequivocal support

CULTURE PAGE 15 for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Georgia and emphasize the importance of proactive communication to Georgian citizens about the tangible benefits and goals of the Eastern Partnership,” they added. According to the MEP on Georgia, Andrejs Mamikins, Georgia has a clear aspiration to become a part of the European family and the cross-party consensus on this European agenda is very important. He says the implementation of the Association Agreement including the Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area is going well.

“We also witness positive dynamics in the visafree regime and the EU-Georgia security dialogue, amongst others,” he said. However, the MEP added that Georgia still has a number of issues to focus on, including labor rights, economic emigration, high-level corruption, abuse by law enforcement officials, gender equality, and children’s rights. “The EU, including the European Parliament, will maintain its engagement and support to Georgia on its ambitious reform path,” Mamikins noted.


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NEWS

GEORGIA TODAY

OCTOBER 12 - 15, 2018

Vehicle Inspection Advancements Georgian PM Opens Frankfurt Book Fair BY THEA MORRISON

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he Prime Minister of Georgia, Mamuka Bakhtadze, opened the Frankfurt Book Fair together with Federica Mogherini, High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and Jurgen Boos, Director of the Frankfurt Book Fair, where Georgia is this year's Guest of Honor. Bakhtadze noted that it is an honor for Georgia to be the Guest of Honor at a book fair which boasts a history of 500 years. “European society is well aware of the fundamental importance of the cultural legacy in the formation and development of the European identity,” he said. Throughout the year, Georgia has been exposing Germany to its full resources in literature, drama theater, music, paintings and drawings, cinema, folklore and other mediums. He also spoke about the uniqueness of the Georgian alphabet and its centuries-old culture and civilization. “Georgians have an exceptional feeling

of pride towards the Georgian alphabet, which is one of the oldest and most unique scripts in the world. This alphabet served as the basis of Georgian literature, which originated in the 5th century and has a 15 century-long history,” he added. Bakhtadze spoke about the 7th century epic poem Knight in the Panther’s Skin, saying it nearly equals the Bible for Georgians. “We have brought a new handwritten copy in an original embossed cover to the book fair. After being exhibited here, it will be deposited in the Arts Collection of the United Nations as a priceless and glorifying creation of the Georgian nation,” he said. Bakhtadze emphasized it is symbolic that Georgia is showcasing its literature and culture on the 100th Anniversary of the First Democratic Georgian Republic. “It is our great honor to showcase Georgia in Germany - a country which was among the first to recognize the Democratic Republic of Georgia 100 years ago,” he said, adding Germany has stood by the side of Georgia at every stage of its development.

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rom January to date, 90,000 vehicles have undergone compulsory periodic technical inspections, 24,000 of which failed the test at the first attempt, - said Vazha Iordanishvili, Head of the Association of Automobile Inspection. Mandatory periodic technical inspections started in Georgia from January 1, 2018. The cost of inspection for cars is 60 GEL (about $23). In the event that a car fails the test the first time, its owner is given a 30-day period to fix the identified problems. Re-inspection is free. "I think the existence of up to 27% of cars with malfunctions is quite a high figure. We are talking about the first inspection attempt: every fourth car does not pass inspection the first time," Iordanishvili noted. Refusal to re-check is due to the fact that the country does not strictly monitor the serviceability of cars on the roads, and officers of the patrol police who are charged with checking the presence of a vehicle inspection certificate do not penalize drivers. In addition, the owners of cars sometimes claim they do not have time to fix the problems within in 30 days. “Thus, on the roads, we get the result that only patrol inspectors are responsible for administering. If we look at the work that patrol inspectors have to do, who, in addition to road safety, do other work, we will see that they cannot stop and check all cars," Iordanishvili added. From November 2017, the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Georgia began to install smart cameras that automatically note violations and write out a fine to the driver. The Head of the Association

of Automobile Inspection believes that if smart cameras are equipped with the function of identifying vehicles that have not undergone mandatory inspection, the situation on the roads will improve. "We have heard that before going for an inspection, drivers fill their vehicles with better quality fuel, change the filters, and unfairly add certain mixtures to fuel [for better environmental performance]. They go to centers in this relatively improved condition and pass. Therefore, on the roads there should be appropriate monitoring of such of cars, from which smoke or exhaust fumes are clearly visible,” the expert stressed. As a way out of this situation, Iordan-

ishvili suggests that the Georgian authorities adopt the experience of the United States, where special indicators are installed on the roads which automatically measure the quantity and quality of exhaust gases of cars. "A proven method in the United States is that there are indicators on the roads that measure the exhaust of a car so that it is not necessary to stop it. Its identification takes place basedon the license plate. With such devices, we will get quite a better result. I hope this will be discussed. by the Committee for Environmental Protection, I think the decision will be made in a timely manner,” he concluded.


NEWS

GEORGIA TODAY OCTOBER 12 - 15, 2018

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Conde Nast Article Celebrates Tbilisi's Changes BY SAMANTHA GUTHRIE

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he latest article in praise of Tbilisi was published recently by Conde Nast Traveller online, written by novelist and travel writer Tara Isabella Burton. The article goes through all the standard hip hot spots in the city for sleeping and shopping: Rooms Hotel, Stamba, the Grove Design Hotel, Chaos Concept Store. Of course, it also outlines the coolest bars and best places for Georgian food with an innovative twist: Café Gallery, Bassiani, Café Littera, Keto and Kote, Pur Pur. Where this article diverges from the dozens of others that have gushed about Georgia as a newly discovered destination for the past five years is Burton’s personal connection to the city. She moved here with her mother in 2010, and engagingly recounts the ways that “Europe’s Most Curious City” has changed. In 2010, she writes, “The streets near my apartment – near the 19th-century bathhouses whose natural sulphurous heat give Tbilisi (from tbili, for warm) its name – were uniformly unpaved. The odd rooster traversed my path from home into the Old Town, where unkempt wooden-balconied houses tilted at outrageous angles and ivy grew so riotously around the pockmarked gargoyles and angels of the wealthier homes that all light seemed to be choked out of the windows. It was impossible to get breakfast anywhere before noon, the electricity went out at least weekly.” “Over the past decade,” she admits, “Tbilisi has become all but unrecognizable.”

Georgian Detainees Released from Tskhinvali Prison BY SHIRIN MAHDAVI

Photo: Roberta Valerio

Burton recognizes that the people have changed along with the architecture. “The Georgian Dream government, more nationalist than its predecessor, has come to power in part through extremely conservative, Orthodox Christian and homophobic rhetoric,” and part of the city’s new drive is “consciously counter-cultural.” And in an emotional closing that any-

one who has spent any time in Tbilisi and then returned later will understand, Burton muses, “The Tbilisi I loved will never be the Tbilisi I come home to. The city always changes; I change. The cafés I love most change name and shape and ownership or move halfway across town; I move with them. It does not matter. The city’s heart is there”

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n Wednesday, Georgian detainees Maia Otinashvili and Akaki Dotiashvili were released from the Tskhinvali prison. The two were accused of illegally crossing the boundary line of the Russian-occupied Tskhinvali region. On September 19, Otinashvili was kidnapped from her garden and on October 2, she was sentenced to two months detention for "crossing the border" and for supposedly soliciting money by helping others cross the border. Otinashvili

and her family reside in the village of Khurvaleti, Gori Municipality. In this territory, which is controlled by Tbilisi, Otinashvili is the fifth woman that has been detained. Akaki Dotiashvili, from the village of Kirbali, Gori Municipality, was detained on October 6. Regarded as one of the most dangerous places in the municipality, one from nearly every family in Kirbali has been held in a Tskhinvali prison at one time or another. Both detainees, however, have now been released. Otinashvili’s sentence was suspended, and she was given a six month probation. Dotiashvili, on the other hand, paid a fine in order to be released.


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POLITICS

GEORGIA TODAY

OCTOBER 12 - 15, 2018

Sorting Fact from Fiction: Ambassador Fournier on the August War thing to present the Georgian and French flags on a base.

EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW BY VAZHA TAVBERIDZE

BUT IT WAS IN THE MIDDLE OF A RAGING CONFLICT, SOMETHING A SOLDIER NEEDS TO BE DOING, NOT AN AMBASSADOR

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ric Fournier, former French Ambassador to Georgia, was, as he himself admits, an unconventional diplomat in some ways. Or, change that ‘some’ with ‘many;’ in many ways. Fournier, never afraid to speak his mind, has a special story to tell about the 2008 war, one that is still talked about in diplomatic circles in Georgia. GEORGIA TODAY and Realpolitik Talk Show spoke to him in an exclusive interview that went viral in Georgian media. “When the war started, I was in France with other ambassadors who had left Georgia following a discussion with the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Eka Tkeshelashvili, who had reassured us that the probability of conflict was low. When the August 7 attack took place, I was in France, and I was immediately called back by the Ministry for an urgent meeting with Bernard Kouchner [the French Minister of Foreign and European Affairs] in Paris; and that’s when we decided to react, first of all because France had the presidency of the EU, and secondly because my minister and myself thought that we could not do nothing while this conflict was ongoing. I went back to Georgia to help prepare the first draft for a ceasefire, waiting for Kouchner’s arrival. He came on August 10 with the OSCE President, Alexander Stubb, from Finland. We presented our ceasefire agreement to President Saakashvili on the evening of August 10.”

JOHNATHAN LITTELL’S ACCOUNTS OF THE 2008 WAR HAD YOU TELLING HIM THERE WAS NO NOTICE WHATSOEVER GIVEN TO THE WESTERN ALLIES OF GEORGIA THAT THE COUNTRY WAS UNDER ATTACK BY RUSSIA. WAS THAT REALLY SO? I don't think this is an exact presentation of the situation. As early as April, the tension was growing between Georgia and Russia, and we knew it. Everybody saw that the Russian air force had shot a drone over Abkhazia and that shots were being fired at OSCE cars. It's not correct to say that we were not prepared; the only thing that was not foreseen was the night attack that took place with Georgian forces against Tskhinvali; we were not informed about it. We only heard when the Russians passed through the Roki tunnel. INTERVIEWER’S NOTE: At the end of June 2008, Eric Fournier gave an interview to Russian outlet Novaya Gazeta, where he said, ‘the international community does not consider Abkhazia and South Ossetia serious problems, we have Iran, Afghanistan, Sudan, Lebanon, Iraq; nobody in Brussels is considering sending international forces to the Caucasus region; the European Union does not have extra soldiers for an issue of such small importance and this is actually a Russian affair because the main player in the region is Russia.’ We reminded him of this interview and asked him if it was still his view. “I would need to see the text,” he told us. “And I don't see the point of doublechecking interviews made 10 years ago; so I don't see exactly what the meaning of this quotation is.”

YOU SAID YOU CONSIDERED RUSSIA THE MAIN PLAYER IN THE REGION, AND THE ISSUE OF THE CONFLICT OF SMALL IMPORTANCE, AND ALL THIS IN JUNE, WELL AFTER APRIL, WHEN YOU SAY THE TENSIONS STARTED TO GROW. WAS THAT YOUR VIEW AND HAS IT CHANGED?

I’d been to Sachkhere before, and when [I raised the flag], it was a peaceful area, there was no attack, it was quiet, so I could not say it was in the middle of a conflict, and the ceasefire had been signed one week before. So, you may consider it risky, but for me it was just moving freely on Georgian territory after the ceasefire.

ON YOUR JOURNEY BACK, YOU WERE APPREHENDED BY RUSSIAN BORDER GUARDS

Saakashvili presents an award to Ambassador Fournier in 2011 just before his departure, in the Tbilisi Presidential Palace

I don't think this idea of a small or large conflict makes sense when diplomats are trying to solve conflicts, and our main concern was to find a solution to the conflict, not to put a scale on this or that conflict. You have to remember that at that time there were other issues as well, and I suppose that we have to see everything in a different context: we are not going to go back into the international situation of 2008, but there were indeed many other issues at stake at that moment.

THE AUGUST 7 ATTACK IS CONSIDERED A PIVOTAL MOMENT. SOME IN THE WEST BLAME THE GEORGIAN SIDE’S MORNING ATTACK FOR SPARKING THE ORIGINAL VIOLENCE. WHAT'S YOUR TAKE? This idea of finding a culprit and elaborating on who started what, and when, was not considered a priority by France at that time. I could quote Kouchner, because I remember very well that he said the point is not to know who attacked, but to find a way out of the war, to sign a ceasefire and to negotiate in order for the refugees to have a safe haven. So, I don't want to be dragged into the question of who started it; again, it has been documented enough, and we know precisely what happened there: in short, there were provocations from both sides during the 4-5 months prior to August, including minor military action. A drone was shot down over Abkhazia, an OSCE car was shot at: provocations were coming from both the north and the south.

PROVOCATIVE TO WHOM? WHAT DID YOU SEE AS PROVOCATION FROM THE GEORGIAN SIDE? Well, the rhetoric was extremely aggressive, and there were provocations on the field from both sides. I don't remember the exact condition or the precise moment, but there were provocations which were documented by OSCE observers, and we kept on calling on both sides to cool down. There was shooting from both sides, retaliation shooting, civilians being kidnapped by the South Ossetians, and so on and so forth, and of course I'm not going to blame anyone for that, because the main point was that at that time, Georgia was trying to strengthen its control over its territorial integrity, and so it was a perfectly legitimate action from the government. But of course, other people, such as the so-called authorities of South Ossetia, did not see it the same way. So, there were growing tensions. The same applies for Abkhazia, by the way.

WE OFTEN HEAR THAT SAAKASHVILI AND HIS

GOVERNMENT WERE WARNED NOT TO PROVOKE OR ATTACK RUSSIA. DID ANYONE EVER TELL RUSSIA NOT TO PROVOKE GEORGIA? I can confirm that there were regular talks with the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs on such issues, and I also served in Russia before, so I remember very well that in the framework of regular exchanges with Russian diplomats, we were talking about many issues and passing messages through. So, I'm sure that at that time many diplomats from the West made regular requests to the Ministry in Moscow to be told the intentions of the Russian government and to find out whether there were any preparations for a conflict. I remember from my colleagues in Paris and in the OSCE in Vienna that we discussed the incidents which had taken place on the line of control between South Ossetia and the rest of Georgia and there are many moments when diplomats in the West raised their concerns about the rising tensions.

DISCUSSING AND RAISING CONCERNS IS ONE THING, BUT WAS THERE ANY ATTEMPT TO PUT A RED LINE TO RUSSIA? Well, you know red lines: sometimes you don't see them at night, and I think many incidents were taking place at night, many things were confusing and worrisome, but it was not considered, probably wrongly, as a moment where tough action needed to be implemented to stop those provocations, and we can regret that, but there were warnings sent to both sides.

IMAGINE YOUR CHILDREN ARE VICTIMS OF BULLYING AT SCHOOL AND YOU GO TO THE SCHOOL TO FIND OUT WHAT THE SITUATION IS. THE TEACHER TELLS YOU THAT THAT THEY TOLD YOUR SON NOT TO PROVOKE THE BULLY. DOES THAT NOT REFLECT WHAT HAPPENED IN GEORGIA? That is an illustration of the childish game taking place at the time; somehow, unfortunately, there was a lack of responsibility on many sides; it is something we can all regret, that this provocation could have been stopped by a schoolmaster. To keep to your metaphor, who should have said “enough is enough: kids go back to your class and behave!”? That did not happen, but we did our best to prevent that sort of talk to both sides. Yet, despite numerous ambassadors regularly going to the ministries in Moscow and Tbilisi to make sure that nothing bad would happen, we couldn't stop the war.

WHO WOULD HAVE BEEN THAT SCHOOLMASTER? The United Nations Security Council of course; this is where peace is decided, theoretically, and the schoolmaster at that time was, or should have been, the Security Council of the United Nations.

OF WHICH RUSSIA IS A VETOING MEMBER Yes. For many years, the Security Council had a special group which was dealing with Georgia: a group of diplomats working to find a solution to the Abkhazian dilemma, a group which proposed the presence of United Nations soldiers in Abkhazia to monitor the peacekeeping process. It was all very much under the control of the United Nations, so there was a schoolmaster at that time.

LET’S GO BACK TO YOUR PERSONAL EXPERIENCES DURING THE WAR. YOU WERE IN SACHKHERE AS WE KNOW The ceasefire was signed on August 12, and I went to Sachkhere on the 19th as there were indications that Russian troops were moving towards Sachkhere, planning to continue their military movement on the territory of Georgia, which I considered a violation, or a possible violation, of the ceasefire, and as a representative of the President of France who had signed the agreement, I considered it my duty to make sure that the ceasefire was implemented all over Georgia. We left for Sachkhere the morning after we received news that there was a movement of troops. The trip was a bit difficult because we had to cross many checkpoints controlled by Russian troops, so it was quite a challenge, but eventually we got there. We decided to have a ceremony on the military base to reiterate that this base had been ruled and managed with the cooperation of French military forces, and therefore it was my duty to protect that base, and so [we raised the French flag there] to demonstrate our support to Georgia, but also to the peace agreement.

HOW COULD YOU BE SURE THAT IT WAS ENOUGH TO DETER RUSSIAN TROOPS? IT WAS QUITE A RISK Well, we’d heard that mostly Chechen soldiers were moving towards Sachkhere, but the Mayor of the town could not confirm whether they would come and attack it or not, so it was a gamble that my presence on the base would prevent an attack. There were journalists from Georgia there, and some from France, broadcasting. Perhaps it was considered a moment of non-conventional diplomacy, but after all, it was a very routine

We had to return to Tbilisi of course, and we did it after a night spent in Sachkhere. On the way to Gori there was a checkpoint where Russian soldiers told us that they had instructions not to let anyone through, so we were stuck there. There was no way we could continue the trip and I didn't want to go back up to Sachkhere. I waited and protested, referring to the ceasefire agreement and the fact they had no right to prevent me, an ambassador, from traveling freely. But the soldier was having none of it, so I decided to call my contacts. I called the Georgian authorities first because I was a diplomat appointed in Georgia, I called the OSCE, who could not do much, but they agreed to send observers, so we waited a while. Two military people from the OSCE came and just inspected a Russian tank then left, so finally I called John David Levite in Paris, who was a diplomatic advisor to Sarkozy, and he called the Kremlin and asked them to explain why they were preventing me from moving, and so the Kremlin said “Okay, there is something wrong, we will check it out” and thereafter a general from the Russian side called me from Russia and asked to speak to the soldier. I handed my phone to the soldier and the soldier spoke to his superior who told him to let me pass, and that is how the tank moved back and allowed me to continue my trip to Tbilisi safely.

YOU, YOURSELF SAID IT WAS A PIECE OF UNCONVENTIONAL DIPLOMACY, AND THE MEDIA REPORTED THAT PRESIDENT SAAKASHVILI OFFERED A TOAST TO YOU AND DESCRIBED YOU AS THE CRAZIEST AMBASSADOR IN GEORGIA. WAS THAT REPUTATION DESERVED? That quote and story was taken out of context. After the war was over, and once the tension had decreased, some French people who supported Georgia wanted to organize a concert for the IDPs near Zugdidi, and so a lot of singers with a lot of equipment came, and a concert was held, attended by maybe 10 or 20,000 people. At the end of the concert, the Georgian authorities organized a supra in a beautiful place not far from Zugdidi, in a castle, and all the musicians were there together with President Saakashvili, myself and others, and there was a traditional banquet as only the Georgians can organize, with shashlik and chacha and wine and dancing and so on. It was a really traditional moment of Georgian culture and during that evening, very late at night, we all started to sing and to celebrate things and that is when President Saakashvili, as tamada, gave a toast to me and said that I was the craziest ambassador. It was a late night after much celebrating, a moment at the end of the war, with people united in peace and friendship. Those are the facts, and for a diplomat, facts are important. Everything has a meaning. Find out what Ambassador Fournier had to say about the 2008 Ceasefire Agreement in next week’s Georgia Today.


POLITICS

GEORGIA TODAY OCTOBER 12 - 15, 2018

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Georgian Delegation Attends European Week of Regions & Cities in Brussels BY LIKA CHIGLADZE

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n October 10, the Georgian Delegation officially participated in the European Week of Regions and Cities held in Brussels. The European Week of Regions and Cities is an annual four-day event during which cities and regions showcase their capacity to create growth and jobs, implement a European Union cohesion policy, and prove the importance of the local and regional level for good European governance. It welcomes around 6000 participants in October each year (local, regional, national and European decision-makers and experts) for more than 100 workshops and debates, exhibitions and networking opportunities. As part of the session, a separate session “Regional Policy in Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine: achievements and challenges” was devoted to Eastern Partnership (EaP) countries that have signed the EU Association Agreements (AA). Along with DG REGIO and highlevel representatives from the respective Moldovan and Ukrainian state agencies, Giorgi Kezherashvili, representative of the Ministry for Regional Development and Infrastructure of Georgia, and Erik Marx, GIZ (Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit) Good Local Governance Program team leader in Georgia, delivered presentations at the session. The aim of the session was to present the current regional development policies in all three countries, focus on up-

to-date achievements and current common challenges. The Georgian delegation underlined the importance of the AA, by the signing of which Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine have committed themselves to regional development based on the core principles of the EU regional policy, including multi-level governance, partnership and overcoming regional disparities. The Regional Development chapters in the three AAs show great similarities and the progress in their implementation is actively supported by the EU and its member states. The session was followed by a discussion on common issues, e.g. how regional policy can contribute to economic development and how a partnership with regional and local stakeholders could be further developed. “We presented the new Regional Development Program 2018-2021, which was adopted by the Government of Georgia in 2018 and which promotes the Integrated Territorial Investment approach,” Kezherashvili noted in his speech in Brussels. “In line with the EU Cohesion policy, it also combines certain aspects of Smart Specialization platform and competitiveness principles.” “In 2013-2018, the Government of Georgia introduced a proactive agenda to advance and approximate its regional and territorial development planning and implementation practices to major approaches, standards and instruments applied in the EU member states under the EU Cohesion Policy,” he added. “The new document sets out Georgia’s objectives for regional development and determines operational priorities and measures for the following four-year

period. It aims to fully use and utilize the unexploited potential of each particular region/territory, find specific niches and comparative advantages and to show how a territorial dimension should be taken into account in different sectoral policies. We are now working on developing Pilot Integrated Regional Development Programs for four focus regions: Kakheti, Imereti, Racha Lechkhumi-Kvemo Svaneti and Guria, where all the main principles and strategic objectives of the RDP will be translated in more practical terms. It aims to adapt existing sectoral policies to the identified territorial needs, and to identify and use economic potential ranging from agriculture, tourism and industry to innovation and a knowledge-based economy.” Since September 2017, with the funding of the German Federal Ministry for Eco-

nomic Development and Cooperation (BMZ), GIZ has supported an initiative that aims to enhance the cooperation between Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine on key directions of regional development policy. Within the frames of this initiative, the respective responsible agencies of all three countries share experience on planning and implementing regional policies in line with the European standards with each other as well as with EU member and candidate states. Erik Marx, who accompanied Georgian delegation in Brussels, stressed the importance of Georgia’s participation in the sessions. “What is really important about this session and the fact that Georgia is attending it, is that it is part of the European Week of Regions and Cities which is a major gathering of the EU-wide

community of practice for regional development, so the Georgian participation shows that Georgia is actually part of this community of practice, which is a great recognition and a good opportunity for networking and showing the first results.” Kezherashvili thanked GIZ, Georgia’s European partners, for giving his home country an opportunity to present what it has achieved in terms of regional development, where it is currently positioned and which direction it is heading in. Along with other issues, Georgia also presented the working process of developing a Decentralization Strategy for 2018-2025, aiming to increase the role, competences, financial and human resources and quality of transparency and accountability of governance at the local level.


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POLITICS

GEORGIA TODAY

OCTOBER 12 - 15, 2018

What’s So Good about Being President of Georgia, Anyway? OP-ED BY NUGZAR B. RUHADZE

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he Presidency of Georgia has lost power, yet it seems to have maintained its charm. Why are so many seekers of the job bending over backwards to become the next occupant of this weakened-to-the-utmost political position? There must be some magic to it. Or perhaps it’s the high monetary reward, chauffeur-driven cars, luxurious offices, the pride-boosting state-of-the-republic-address once a year, numerous staff, free globetrotting, board and lodging on the house, profuse deference, copious fringes, and nothing much to sweat about – anybody’s wildest dream! The fight for this treasured opening in the system is overheating, but none of the candidates want to get out of the kitchen, choosing to risk a roasting for the chance to have a legally guaranteed say, however flimsy, in the social-moralistic life of the country. There is one critically attractive streak to this unlikely governmental post, though: the chance for the opposition to get its foot back into the business of the nation. There can’t be a more auspicious occasion for them to commence this revanchist takeover. It tends to start very simply: in the beginning, the opposition acquires the presidential

View from the dome of the Presidential Palace, Tbilisi. Source: wikipedia.org

incumbency, then they create the impression of dutiful service, later they will verbally boost the President’s responsibilities, and finally they will try to elevate the presidential obligations into a seemingly viable rank to release from prison the high-caliber culprits; to return the Georgian citizenship to the expresident, exonerating him from pending charges and possible apprehension, and to attach to him the lovable image of a comeback kid. As soon as all those premeditated movements are in place, there starts the thrice-calculated process of imposition of their plans and ideas on the public, so sneakily that the electorate might decide to deviate from the center towards the oppositional pseudo oases. This is how the change of power usually takes roots and consequentially comes to fruition. Now, we know why the Georgian politicians, opposed to the current government are so eager to see themselves adorned with the presidential regalia: sweet to the taste, easy to carry and handy to effect a change. Conversely, the current government is not very excited about dragging its own presidential candidate to the finale. They have not even come up with their own candidate: they think they don’t really need the position to promote their goals and are sure that they are creating a democratically balanced and evenhanded political arena. Some experts think that the ruling party’s refusal to

make a run for the presidential post was a misjudged move which might bring forth a negative domino effect for current authorities who thought that they would be able to maintain power without having their own feather in the presidential cap. It is also notable that the state budget has allocated almost forty million to the presidential elections – a fiscal step that may boost the image of the future head of state of Georgia. Again, the opposition needs it in the first place for better organizing the potential comeback. Notwithstanding the lost potential, the presidency of Georgia is still functional in terms of representing the country in the international arena, and that’s exactly the place the opposition to the current government will use it, if elected, to the best of their advantage, because the international arena will always provide for the opportunity to denounce the functioning government of Georgia and to impair its image in the eyes of its friends and partners. The opposition has more than one reason to fight for the post selflessly and without any reservation. As a matter of fact, this could even be their last chance to cling to power in hopes of acquiring a stronger political position if the presidency is theirs. Well, blessed are the believers, as the Book of Books has been teaching us from time immemorial; even a sharpersounding today.

public figures, come out in support of a community that is subject to violence and discrimination. It was the right and a brave thing to do. As for the reactions and aggression to it, I think it’s related to misinformation in society. If people work to understand the degree of the violence that goes on against LGBT people, the majority would actually think twice before criticizing somebody who is trying to eliminate such violence. I think we need to make sure that people understand that lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people are in our families, in our neighborhoods, in our schools, and they are people who are getting beaten, getting bullied, and we need to stop that,” he told us. Victor Madrigal-Borloz, from Costa Rica, took on his role as the UN Independent Expert on the Protection against Violence and Discrimination based on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity for a three-year period starting on 1

January 2018. He also serves as the Secretary-General of the International Rehabilitation Council for Torture Victims (IRCT), a global network of over 150 rehabilitation centers with the vision of full enjoyment of the right to rehabilitation for all victims of torture and ill treatment. The Independent Experts are part of what is known as the Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council. Special Procedures, the largest body of independent experts in the UN Human Rights system, is the general name of the Council’s independent fact-finding and monitoring mechanisms that address either specific country situations or thematic issues in all parts of the world. Special Procedures experts work on a voluntary basis; they are not UN staff and do not receive a salary for their work. They are independent from any government or organization and serve in their individual capacity.

UN Expert Assesses Human Rights of LGBT Persons in Georgia INTERVIEW BY ANA DUMBADZE

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n Friday October 5, the UN Independent Expert on the Protection against Violence and Discrimination based on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity, Victor Madrigal-Borloz, gave a press conference in Tbilisi to share the preliminary findings of his official visit to Georgia on 25 September – 5 October. He noted that the visit was an important opportunity to assess the implementation of existing national and international human rights standards to combat violence and discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people in the country. The expert will present his findings and recommendations to the UN Human Rights Council in June 2019. During the press conference, MadrigalBorloz thoroughly elaborated on the details of his report, the conclusions he had made as a result of analyzing the current situation in terms of violation of the rights of LGBT persons, and his recommendations for future steps needing to be taken by the relevant skateholders. The UN expert commended the commitment of the Georgian government to address violence and discrimination against the LGBT community members, but expressed concern that implementation is falling short of what is urgently needed. The independent expert positively evaluated the government’s efforts and reforms for improving the lives of LGBT people but noted the situation in Georgia is still quite difficult: beatings are commonplace, harassment and bullying constant, and exclusion from family, education, work and health settings are not unusual. He also highlighted that LGBT people

are particularly vulnerable to violence, ill-treatment and discrimination, many facing it on a daily basis at the hands of individuals, criminal gangs, and even their own families. “In recent years, the Georgian government has taken significant steps to address the situation of LGBT people, who are among the most discriminated against and vulnerable communities in Georgia,” Madrigal-Borloz said. “The Government of Georgia has already taken the most important step: recognizing the eradication of violence and discrimination as one of its main priorities, and firmly declaring sexual orientation and gender identity as protected grounds. I encourage the authorities to continue along this path; I am convinced that respect, peaceful coexistence and tolerance are cherished Georgian values and I am certain that they will provide a foundation where all Georgians who happen to be gay, lesbian, trans or bisexual will live free and equal.” Following his 11-day visit to Georgia’s capital Tbilisi, Kutaisi and Batumi regions, Madrigal-Borloz stressed that trans persons, particularly trans women, find it difficult to access State services, a challenge exacerbated by requirements for legal recognition of their gender identity, and disempowerment resulting from a reliance on the opinion of medical doctors, unnecessary in this case. After the press conference, Mr Madrigal-Borloz gave an interview to select media representatives, including GEORGIA TODAY. We asked him to elaborate on the importance of his report about the lives of LGBT people in Georgia, his opinion about the work of NGOs operating in this direction and about the most scandalous cases of recent times related to supporting LGBT rights. When asked about the changes his report might bring to Georgian reality, Madrigal-Borloz expressed hope that it will definitely affect and improve the situation in terms of the violation of LGBT rights, as long as it can be used

as an instruction for future actions. “I hope that my report will be seen as a technical input into what could be a program of action. Some of the actions that I am recommending, for example legal recognition of gender identity, should actually go very far in promoting the rights of trans women. “The adoption of a policy of zero tolerance in relation to hate speech on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity, accompanied by the adoption of effective measures of investigation and sanction, should go very far to curtailing hate speech. So, yes, I am hoping that it will bring a very specific change!” As for the Georgian NGO-s operating to support the rights of LGBT persons and restrict the violence against them, the Independent Expert positively evaluated their work, but stressed that more steps and actions should be taken for better results: “I think that the work of NGOs is excellent. They demonstrate great quality in their work. The NGOs I’ve met have a very strong value base and are clearly aiming at the right targets and objectives. But they need to be supported more. The international community and all sectors of society should support them more, because I don’t think that they manage to cover all the needs. There are organizations that document hundreds of cases of violence, but my working theory is that there are thousands of cases of violence and there should be more support so that they can actually document them.” We asked Madrigal-Borloz to express his opinion about the recent scandal related to Georgian footballer Guram Kashia, who wore a rainbow armband in support of LGBT rights and found himself severely criticized by some members of Georgian society; some people even called for him to be stripped of the National Team captaincy. “First of all, he has my full support. I find it extraordinary when members of the overall community, and particularly


POLITICS

GEORGIA TODAY OCTOBER 12 - 15, 2018

7

Georgia, Russia Cannot Agree on Key Issues despite 10 Years of Geneva Int’l Discussions BY THEA MORRISON

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eorgia and Russia are still unable to reach agreement on key issues of the Geneva International Discussions (GID), 10 years after the creation of the format. During the 45th round of the GID, held in Geneva on October 9-10, the ten years’ work of the meetings was summed up and the importance of the discussions highlighted by the participants. The GID was established after the August 2008 Russia-Georgia military conflict in order to stabilize the situation and implement the August 12 ceasefire agreement between the two countries. The discussions, which represent the only format of an ongoing international dialogue between Georgia and Russia, are usually held with the co-Chairmanship of the EU, UN and OSCE, and with the participation of Georgia, the Russian Federation and the USA. The representatives of Georgia’s breakaway regions, the Sokhumi and Tskhinvali occupation regimes, also attend the working group sessions. The talks are usually held within a two

meeting-group format. At one meeting, the sides discuss security and stability issues in Georgia’s breakaway Abkhazia and Tskhinvali regions, while the second meeting concerns the dignified and safe return of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) and refugees to their homes in the occupied regions. Georgia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) reports that, “as usual,” the Russian and occupation regimes left the second part of the talks in protest. The MFA says that representatives of the US, European Union Monitoring Mission and of Georgia noted that the Russian Federation grossly violates the EU ceasefire agreement of 12 August 2008 and urged Moscow to fully fulfill its international obligations, including the withdrawal of occupation forces from the territory of Georgia. “In this context, the Russian military presence in breakaway Abkhazia and Tskhinvali regions, their frequent military exercises and violations of Georgian airspace have been condemned, which is aimed at further destabilizing the situation on the ground,” the ministry added. Among the top issues of the talks were the killings of Georgian citizens Archil

“Everyone recognizes that the Ergneti and Gali mechanisms are important and should be maintained… Today, both mechanisms are under threat. One of the main topics of discussion was that all of us should do our best to get back to the negotiating table because this is the most important component that contributes to the relative stability of the site,” Dondua stated. Russian Deputy Foreign Minister, Grigory Karasin, also said that the IPRM meetings are important. “These mechanisms are products of

the GID…They should continue as, more or less, they have been working well,” the diplomat stated. In addition, Karasin expressed concern about the Georgia-NATO joint military drills to be held in March 2019. “Russia will spare no effort to safeguard borders during preparations for the Georgia-NATO joint exercise…We will appropriately respond to that massive exercise, as it is being held near our borders…Naturally, we will be taking precautionary steps,” he told media outlet TASS. The Russian Deputy Foreign Minister added that a joint statement on the nonuse of force is unlikely to be signed by all participants in the Geneva Discussions on security and stability in the South Caucasus, as Georgia is focused on its presidential elections this month. "We have agreed to continue discussions on this issue. Perhaps the work will move more easily in December when the next round of discussions is held… We’ll see. It will depend on the outcome of Georgia’s presidential election," he noted. The next round of Geneva International Discussions will take place on December 11-12.

did not oppose the government in Syria, and then, when the opportunity appeared to displace Assad, Israel began to contact the opposition and even helped it with weapons. However, in the end, Assad won and Israel ended up on the losing side. In such a situation, purposefully increasing tensions with Russia, according to Russian analysts, would be unthinkable geopolitically. Igor Delanoe, Deputy Head of the Franco-Russian Observo-Analytical Center, a specialist in international politics, believes that the agreement on the coordination of the Russian and Israeli military will remain, since it is beneficial for both Moscow and Tel Aviv. “They have a common understanding that confrontation with each other is unprofitable,” he told RIA Novosti. Indeed, put in the overall geopolitical context, it is unimaginable that even following the tragic IL-50 incident, Israeli-Russian relations would deteriorate substantially. Tensions will persist, but states understand that they

actually need each other. For Russia, alienating Israel around the Syrian battlefield would be an unfortunate development. Moscow is attempting to maintain a dominant position in Syria after having gained important victories. Achieving this grows more difficult as the Syrian battlefield becomes more crowded. The Russians understand that in view of Israel’s security imperatives, intermittent Israeli intervention is going to take place. They also know that Israel will almost certainly have to respond again, even if the Golan Heights are not directly threatened. This is a difficult geopolitical situation. The Russians see that an understanding between the two countries might be kept, but such military complications are bound to happen again in the future. Cooperation is essential for Russia and Israel, but separation of their military zones and interests so that both sides remain militarily safe is impossible.

Photo source: MFA

Tatunashvili in breakaway S. Ossetia, who received 100 injuries prior to his death, of Giga Otkhozoria in May 2016, and of Davit Basharuli, murdered in unclear circumstances in breakaway Tskhinvali in 2015. The sides were encouraged to continue exchanging information on the three cases. Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of Georgia, David Dondua, says the sides stated that the Incident Prevention and Response Mechanism (IPRM) meetings in Gali and Ergneti, which have not been successful of late, need to be continued.

Russian Perspective on the Death of IL-20 BY EMIL AVDALIANI

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he Russian press and overall Russian public opinion has been exceptionally negative about Israel over the last couple of weeks following the downing of a Russian military plane near Syria on September 17, which killed 15 Russian troops. Many Russian analysts agree that though the downing of the plane was allegedly an Israeli mistake, it is clear that there will be no major deterioration in bilateral relations, and that this is not a casus belli to result in Russia going to war against Israel economically or even in some military sense. However, that also does not mean that Russians see the situation in a positive light. They agree, from high-level politicians to analysts and ordinary citizens, that the situation is actually quite bad, and, of course, bilateral relations between the countries will remain undermined. There are ongoing calls to penalize Israel or even sever diplomatic relations. However, those opinions belong to radical nationalists, since pretty much the entire political class understands that Russia and Israel need each other, as both have strategic interests in Syria. Some analysts suggest that the situation, in principle, could be corrected by Israel if it agrees to pay compensation for the IL-20, but so far such a desire is not on the horizon.

Following the downing, an interesting thinking appeared among politicians and analysts that the incident could be compared to what happened in the Turkish skies in November 2015 when the Turks shot down a Russian fighter jet. Later on, these comparisons were discarded since, as the Russians claim, the Turkish pilot had the mission to shoot down the Su-24 jet, whereas in this latest case, Israel, most likely, delivered strikes against objects connected with Iran who, at the time of the battle, decided to hide behind a Russian plane. Others think that where, as a result of the 2015 conflict escalation between Moscow and Ankara, both sides lost more than $40 billion, the consequences of a similar confrontation with Israel could be more destructive for Russia, given Israel’s position in the international political and financial system and its lobbyist power around the globe (especially in the White House). The wider opinion also goes that if, later, it turns out that the events that led to the incident were part of Israel’s purposeful game and its military deliberately put the Russian plane at risk to spoil Moscow’s relations with Damascus, then this will not be left unanswered. Russian analysts and many middle-level politicians have suggested that the fact that Russia, for the time being, agreed with Israel’s strikes on certain objects in Syria was perceived by Israelis not as a temporary exception, but as a granted, the result of which was the Israeli F-16 attack, which caused the downing of the

IL-20. Israel’s explanation that they hit the “infrastructure facilities of the Syrian army that produced weapons of mass destruction for the terrorist organization Hezbollah” and “these weapons were intended for use against Israel” cannot serve as an excuse. More radical analysts associated with the Kremlin proffered that Israel does not want strong neighbors and it is doing what it can to weaken them. The war in Syria was beneficial to Israel because the Arabs, who had not forgiven it for either the seizure of Palestinian land or the occupation of East Jerusalem, were engaged in self-destruction. However, thanks to Russia, this war is coming to an end and Israel, if it really wants to preserve the chance for some sort of peace, needs to get used to the fact that it will have to respect the territorial sovereignty of its neighbors. It was even suggested at the level of the State Duma that Israel will have to stop attacking targets in the seaside Syrian province of Lattakia, located more than half a thousand kilometers from the borders of Israel. Moderate views expressed over the past days include the thinking that the Israeli actions were not carried out deliberately. Most likely, the Israeli military pilots decided to use a Russian aircraft as a shield on the spot and this was, apparently, the initiative of a specific pilot. Many do not believe that Israel could have done it on purpose, as Israel does not need to aggravate relations with Russia. The Russian logic goes that at the very beginning, Israel

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8

SOCIETY

GEORGIA TODAY

OCTOBER 12 - 15, 2018

HUAWEI Mate20 Lite Already in Georgia! BY MARIAM SURMANIDZE

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UAWEI Mate20 lite is the latest smartphone equipped with artificial intelligence and 4 cameras that can detect scenes and objects. Georgian customers will not have to wait, because the latest model of the HUAWEI Mate series is already in Georgia and is available for all those who are interested. This is a smartphone that represents a new word in the business world. The presentation of HUAWEI Mate 10 was held last October, and since then the model is very popular among high level business representatives. But in order to enable users to enjoy the more distinguished features of the HUAWEI Mate series, HUAWEI has created HUAWEI Mate 20 lite for young businessmen. The four existing cameras provided by the support of artificial intelligence can capture beautiful photos in a wide range of different situations. The phone is also equipped with the new EMUI 8.2, which satisfies the user's requirements in a better way. Smartphone is designed for young, hard-working people who want to work and have fun with each other.

BOLD RESPONSE TO THE FASHION TRENDS Young people, who are now starting to

operate in the business sector, have higher requirements for mobile phones. HUAWEI Mate 20 lite fully shares customer requirements in design and technical characteristics. People are attracted by symmetry, because it emphasizes formality, harmony, calmness and balance. HUAWEI Mate 20 lite is symmetrical on both sides, which makes the device not only comfortable to capture, but also visually distinct. The desire to share events through social media is almost instinctive for the contemporary people. The Internet is in the foreground for them, they get familiar with their world through the Internet exactly. That's why camera and image quality plays an increasingly important role. The company boldly responds to this challenge as well - HUAWEI Mate 20 lite is equipped with 4 cameras with artificial intelligence (2 front and 2 main cameras, for better photo shoot experience).

DISTINCT FEATURES OF HUAWEI MATE 20 LITE DUAL CAMERAS The HUAWEI Mate 20 lite is equipped with dual front cameras - 24MP and 2MP lenses. Dual cameras use the main lens to capture the image, and the second additional lens to capture the depth and blur effect. In contrast to the existing equipments, HUAWEI Mate 20 lite uses artificial intelligence while the front cameras are working, which can recognize more than 200 scenes from 8 dif-

ferent categories. HUAWEI Mate 20 lite Not only has the ability to recognize the object, but by special algorithm, while taking a selfie, it can highlight the details in any lighting. It also has 3D Qmoji and also 5 types of professional lighting that makes photos look more attractive and gives the users the opportunity to demonstrate their own lifestyle.

WHAT DOES HUAWEI OFFER WITH THE NEW SMARTPHONE The HUAWEI Mate 20 lite is equipped with Kirin 710 and the latest EMUI 8.2, so that users get the maximum benefit from the efficient integration of software and technical support. Kirin 710 is Huawei’s first 12nm chip. As a chip tailored for the HUAWEI Mate 20 lite, Kirin 710 features the A73 core that is 75% more powerful than the A53 in Kirin 659 4 cameras with artificial intelligence, beauty algorithm and 5 types of studio lighting effects - are designed for high quality and professional photos. With the Kirin 710 processor and the latest internal interface, HUAWEI Mate 20 lite equipped with EMUI 8.2 provides improved smartphone performance, including for the mobile games. Photography, communication and gaming are the three essential needs consumers have for their devices. Even the business elite must rest after work. In addition to Huawei Kirin 710 and 4G

RAM, HUAWEI Mate 20 lite is powered by Game Suite, offering high quality mobile gaming experiences. Then, to provide an enduring experience, HUAWEI Mate 20 lite is packed with a massive 3750mAh battery, and support for HUAWEI Quick Charge. HUAWEI products and services are available in more than 170 countries and are used by a third of the world's population. Sixteen research and development

centers operate throughout the world, in the United States, Germany, Sweden, Russia, India and China. HUAWEI Consumer BG is one of HUAWEI's three business units, and its main focus is on smartphones, personal computers, tablets and cloud services. The HUAWEI global network is based on 20 years of experience in telecommunications and offers innovative technologies for the consumers worldwide.

The Surprising Health Benefits of Drinking Beer concluded that the alcohol content in beer increases insulin sensitivity, which helps prevent diabetes. Additionally, beer is a good source of soluble fiber, a dietary material that helps to control blood sugar and plays an important role in the diet of people suffering from diabetes. So, whether you've got diabetes or not, a glass of beer is just what the doctor ordered.

BY MARIAM SURMANIDZE

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ational Beer Day seems like as good a reason as any to savor a pint of the amber nectar (though not Fosters, obviously – these days the selection on offer is much better than that). And here's another: that same glass of beer could actually help you live longer. Last year, a study of 80,000 adults conducted by the Pennsylvania State University found a pint or two a day could help reduce the risk of having a stroke or developing a cardiovascular disease. The research, conducted among Chinese adults, discovered that a moderate daily alcohol intake (most visible with beer) helps slow the decline of highdensity lipoprotein (HDL), or "good" cholesterol, better than not drinking at all. In fact, there are more surprising health perks hiding in your pint glass than you may think (though, of course, you should always drink in moderation)

BEER LOWERS THE RISK OF KIDNEY STONES Last year, a study suggested that the risk of developing kidney stones decreases with increased beer consumption. Finnish researchers, led by Dr. Tero Hirvonen of the National Public Health Institute of Helsinki, used their detailed study of 27,000 middle-aged men to conclude that "each bottle of beer consumed per day was estimated to reducing the risk by 40%". The study authors noted that both the water and alcohol found in beer are shown to increase urine flow and dilute urine, thereby reducing the risk of stones forming. Alcohol may also "increase the excretion of calcium," the prime constituent of kidney stones, said Hirvonen.

BEER PROTECTS YOU FROM HEART ATTACKS A research team at the University of

BEER REDUCES THE RISK OF ALZHEIMER'S

Scranton in Pennsylvania found that dark ales and stouts can reduce the incidence of heart attacks. Atherosclerosis, when artery walls become furred-up with cholesterol and other fatty substances, is known to cause heart problems, but Dr Joe Vinson, a professor of chemistry and lead author on a 2000 study, revealed that beer can cut the risk of this disease by as much as half. However, the researchers were keen to add that moderation was key.

BEER REDUCES THE RISK OF STROKES Studies by both the Harvard Medical School and the American Stroke Association have shown that people who drink moderate amounts of beer can cut their risk of strokes by up to a 50% compared to non-drinkers. Ischaemic strokes are the most common type of stroke. They occur when a blood clot blocks the flow of blood and oxygen to the brain. However, when you drink beer, your arteries become flexible and blood flow improves significantly. As a result, no blood clots form, and your risk of having a stroke drops exponentially.

BEER STRENGTHENS YOUR BONES Beer is known to contain high levels of silicon, an element that promotes bone growth. But you have to get the balance right. Academics at Tufts University in Massachusetts found that whilst one or two glasses of beer a day could significantly reduce your risk of fracturing bones, more than that would actually raise the risk of breakages. So be careful when you visit the pub: if you drink too much, your bones will be weakened and those drunken nightime tumbles could result in nasty fractures. Drink the right amount, however, and you'll walk home with your bones and dignity intact. Cheers!

BEER DECREASES THE CHANCE OF DIABETES In 2011, Harvard researchers found that middle-aged men who drink one or two glasses of beer each day appear to reduce their risk of developing Type 2 diabetes by up to 25pc. Dr Michel Joosten, a visiting professor at the Harvard School of Public Health, studied 38,000 middle-aged men, and

Studies dating back to 1977 have suggested that beer drinkers can be up to 23% less likely to develop cognitive impairment, Alzheimer's disease or other forms of dementia. However, despite the statistics speaking for themselves, one study surveyed over 365,000 people, it is unknown why moderate drinking can have a beneficial effect. One theory suggests that the well-known cardiovascular benefits of moderate alcohol consumption, such as raising good cholesterol, also can improve blood flow in the brain and thus brain metabolism. The silicon content of beer could also be responsible. Silicon is thought to protect the brain from the harmful effects of aluminum in the body, one of the possible causes of Alzheimer’s.

BEER CAN CURE INSOMNIA Beer is a natural nightcap. Ales, stouts and lagers have been found to stimulate the production of dopamine, a compound that may be prescribed to insomnia sufferers by a doctor, in the brain. According to research undertaken at the Indiana University School of Medicine, simply tasting beer increases the amount of dopamine in the brain - and thus make drinkers feel calmer and more relaxed. However, the academics clarified that these effects are achieved after only a taste, and so a paltry 15 milliliter serving is all you need - the equivalent of one tablespoon of beer.

BEER CAN STOP CATARACTS Too much and your vision will get blurry, but consume just the right amount of

beer and your eyes will benefit. Researchers at the University of Western Ontario found that the antioxidants found in beer, particularly ales and stouts, protected against mitochondrial damage. Cataracts are formed when the mitochondria, parts of a cell responsible for converting glucose into the energy, of the eye's outer lens are damaged. Antioxidants protect the mitochondria against this damage, and therefore the study authors recommend one drink a day to keep the eye doctor away.

BEER MIGHT CURE CANCER Could beer cure cancer? Scientists at the University of Idaho think so. In January, at the National Meeting of the American Chemical Society, researchers presented findings that suggested a key ingredient in beer could be used in the fight against cancer and inflammatory diseases. Acids called humulones and lupulones, which are found in hops, possess the ability to halt bacterial growth and disease, and scientists hope to find a way to extract these compounds or synthesize them in a lab in order to develop active agents for cancer-treating pharmaceuticals.

BEER HELPS YOU LOSE WEIGHT It may seem a strange one, considering we've named the 'beer belly' after the weighty effects of alcohol, but researchers at the State University of Oregon seem to think that beer can help you shed some pounds. The scientists published a study earlier this year showing that a compound called xanthohumol, commonly found in hops, can lower an individual's chances of developing metabolic syndrome, a condition that indicates obesity, elevated blood pressure, increased blood sugar, and bad high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol levels. Sadly, the researchers concluded that humans would have to drink over 3,500 pints of beer a day to feel the benefits of the 'miracle' compound – by which point they'd need a miracle just to be alive.


10

SOCIETY

GEORGIA TODAY

OCTOBER 12 - 15, 2018

John Licence on What Makes the Marriott Brands our strategy for expanding the brand in this region.” We asked Licence how the Tbilisi Moxy had come about. “GMT Group, our partner in Tbilisi, was looking to develop another hotel with us. They’d seen the Moxy brand in Europe and wanted it for Georgia. What they’ve delivered is excellent- the Tbilisi Moxy has a great location by the river and there’s a lot going on around it. The design follows the Moxy principle with a touch of Georgia, particularly in the coloring, the red. In the room there’s a very dramatic picture of a Georgian dancer and that generated a lot of discussion at first, but when you see it, you see it works- it looks…cool. The finish on the hotel, the lovely red Tbilisi bricks, the attention to detail in that location stands out. I love the metal entrance. There are always hotels that we tell future owners ‘if you want to see a good example of an active Moxy…’ now the Tbilisi Moxy is on that list.”

EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW BY KATIE RUTH DAVIES

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r. John Licence, Vice President Premium and Select Brands at Marriott International in Europe, trained as a chef in a London hotel. While cooking was his passion, he then decided to take a hotel management degree. 25 years ago he was a General Manager in London and was asked to move to a regional role. He agreed to it, and has been traveling around the world working for Marriott ever since. He’s been with the company 34 years and on his visit to Tbilisi last week, GEORGIA TODAY grabbed the opportunity to find out about the upcoming renovations on the Tbilisi Marriott Hotel and the new Tbilisi Moxy.

THE MARRIOTT First, a little history. The hotel was designed by Aleksandr Ozerov in 1911 and later remodeled by Gabriel TerMikelov. Construction was completed in 1915 and it was named Hotel Majestic. Before it could serve the public, war and the Soviet takeover of Georgia forced owners to put it to use as a military hospital and trade center. In 1939, the refurbished building was restored to its original function as Hotel Tbilisi run by the state-owned travel agency Intourist. Heavily damaged by fire during the December 1991–January 1992 coup d'etat, a prelude to the Georgian Civil War, it was reconstructed under the guidance of architects G. Metreveli and V. Kurtishvili from 1995 to 2002. On 26 September 2002, the Tbilisi Marriott Hotel was opened by GMT Group in the building. “We’ll be renovating the rooms, restaurant and public areas of the Marriott hotel,” Licence informs us. “The renovations will reflect the history of the building but will bring it a contemporary feel. Each of the Marriott brands has certain guidelines to be followed. The ‘Great Room,’ like this space we have here, will feature high and low tables, cozy areas, and a central open bar area. We want to make sure it gets engaged into the local community again, with a beverage selection for both guests and passersby in order to attract locals and businessmen alike. The design will be a little less traditional, more flexible. You’ll come in and see someone at a high table working on a laptop, another on a sofa having a tea. It’s about creating a dynamic multifunctional space. The colors and other small details are being finalized now.” We asked Licence how they go about a re-design and how much the locals are involved. “We create model rooms, which in the Tbilisi case is close to completion, and we get an interior designer in, we brief them and get the hotel owner involved. The model room is reviewed and fine-

THE MARRIOTT TEAM

tuned by a number of people. Once that room is agreed on, we go ahead and purchase what we need. We try to purchase locally and support the local community as far as possible, but we might order select pieces of furniture, for example, from other parts of the World. Everywhere we operate, we try to engage with the local community as much as possible in terms of what we do- that’s where success comes.” Marriott is a global brand, so of course there are things people come to expect of a stay in one of its hotels, but local tastes and features are important so as to reflect the location in which guests are staying and to make each hotel stand out. “International travelers need familiarity, but we also give them the opportunity to get a taste of the local flavor as well.” The décor also aims to integrate local flavor, License tells us, and they never aim to cookie-cut their hotels. “For each brand, we have interior design agencies that understand the brand requirements, based all over the world, etc. The hotel owner then chooses a designer, who comes to get a feel for the building and history. Here, the interior design will reflect the Georgian character.” The Tbilisi Marriott renovation will go ahead in three stages in a well-practiced manner carefully controlled by a professional and experienced team whose aim is to disturb guests as little as possible. “It’s a bit like a military operation,” Licence says. Rooms are to be remodeled floor by floor at times of lower occupancy, starting in January and ending in April. After the rooms, the Great Hall will be done up, then the restaurant. “The whole job is expected to take no

more than a year and will result in a wonderful new product to relaunch on the market. I’m looking forward to it,” our interviewee says.

MOXY Moxy was developed six years ago and launched three years ago. At the time, Marriott in Europe did not have a select or economy brand and the competitors that did offered, as Licence puts it “much of a muchness.” “We wanted something to shake up the market; something that would appeal to the Millennial traveler”, Licence says. “What was missing was a hotel that had a great design and atmosphere where people could hang out in a social setting. Moxy being in the select segment means the rooms are a little bit smaller- of course, they have great beds, showers; everything you need in your room, but we looked to designing our public areas for the Millennial Traveler who likes to be in a social environment. We call our guests “fun-hunters” and we incorporated different zones- chill back, a play zone, an eating zone- guests come down from their rooms with a laptop, eat, drink and enjoy what’s going on around them.” There will be 26 Moxys by year-end in Europe, and with more than 50 signed hotels in Moxy’s pipeline expected to open between now and year-end 2020, it is Marriott’s fastest growing brand in Europe, not just in capital cities but also in secondary cities and airport locations. “There are 9 Moxys in Germany, four in the UK, two in Italy… we wanted to move to Eastern Europe. Having this hotel here and getting the exposure we are with potential owners coming in from Eastern Europe and elsewhere for the official opening this week is part of

“At Moxy, we don’t call the managers ‘General Managers’ they are Captains and the staff are crews. Crew members need to be flexible. We hire for personality, for character. You can train skills but not character. Especially in a Moxy, you need that energy and ‘can do’ attitude. You should be able to check someone in, then serve them a cocktail!” He emphasizes the fact that you can be successful in the hotel business by being flexible. “If you’re prepared to be flexible and to travel, the world is your oyster,” he says, and he should know- having lived in both the US and Germany and traveled worldwide when dealing with the various brands. “I’ve been with Marriot 34 years, and never had to change company because there is always a new opportunity [internally]. Bill Marriott [founder] is still the Chairman, even though he’s in his mid-80s, he’s still in the office every day. He says: ‘Take care of the associates and they’ll take care of the customers,’ which is so true- there’s a great culture in Marriott which I don’t see in other companies.” He goes on to tell us of the various hotels he has visited in Georgia, and elsewhere, whose staff started out at Marriott. “They still have a passion for Marriott,” he says. “Our culture and training opportunities set us aside. In Tbilisi, more hotels means more options for people to move around [in their hospitality careers]. We offer reams of training through online programs and direct face-to-face tutorials: core leadership training, presentation skills, discipline training. All managers have to do a training every year. And we make sure to sit down and talk to people. The company is very positive about asking people what they want to do and helping them do it, but they themselves need to have the drive and initiative to grab those opportunities.”

Take care of the associates and they’ll take care of the customers. – Bill Marriott THE FUTURE Technology is moving on, and the Marriott team is working on ways to ease guest movement. They already employ key-on-iPhone tech and online check in and out, meaning there’s no queueing. “We need to drive business through the Marriott online system- last year we generated $14 billion in revenue through Marriott.com, and over 50% of our revenue comes through direct channels, the lowest cost channel for our owners and hotels. We saw the biggest growth in digital: iPhone keys, online check in-out and communicating with the hotel staff through a chat box,” Licence says. We have a department in our head office in the US that is focusing on future technology and regularly analyses the model rooms, looking for ways to improve them for added guest comfort. Automatic rooms that respond to individual guest requirements is one future direction.” We ask him if he can envisage a future Marriott brand that is fully-automated. “Robots? Never say never!” [he laughs] “Human interaction is an important part of the hospitality industry and provides memorable experiences. New technology should enhance an experience and remove barriers- like the no queuing aspect, which can now be done automatically. We’re trying to develop technology so our associates can spend more time giving guests a memorable experience. We might develop such a brand, but we’ll have 30 brands doing other things. What we do in Moxy is very different to what we do with other brands, say the Ritz Carlton or St. Regis, where people have a personal butler for their every need. There are always going to be changes in the industry, but we need to make sure that each brand has an individual character and element of service that differentiates them and fits customer needs. Some guests want the high-end touch, others want to come and sit on their laptop and be left alone. Our loyalty program has 110 million people. They know us and want us to know them well; to know how they travel what they need to make their stay with us personal.” And the future in Georgia? we ask him. “We have a strategy for Georgia and the region. We see huge opportunities for bringing other brands into the market,” he says. “So, watch this space.”

Labor Inspection: Safety Norms Violated in 50 Checked Enterprises BY THEA MORRISON

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rom August 1 to present, labor safety conditions have been checked in up to 50 enterprises which carry out severe, harmful and hazardous works. In all 50, breaches of labor safety norms were revealed. The information was released by the Labor Inspection Department under the Ministry of IDPs from the Occupied Territories, Labor, Health and Social Affairs of Georgia, which says that they issued warnings and called on the enterprises to eliminate the shortcomings. However, in the places where the problems remained unsolved, the administrative penalty was used and the enterprises were fined. The main violations revealed in the enterprises were a lack of microclimate

parameters and noise measuring, improper maintenance of special equipment and absence of risk prevention and assessment of potential risks. In addition, in some enterprises, the noise level was found to be high enough to potentially lead to loss of hearing and serious physical exhaustion in employees. Some workplaces had no protective barriers to prevent injury to workers and, in other cases, the electrical system was faulty. Employee behavior was also a worrying factor. “In the majority of the inspected enterprises, there was no responsible person allocated to test the employees for alcohol or drug consumption,” the department noted. In one case, pregnant women were employed to supervise waste management (including hazardous waste) and the enterprise had no plan of action or evacuation for emergencies. The inspection of enterprises contain-

ing hazardous threats started from the first of August, allowing inspectors to freely enter an enterprise without preliminary warning. Georgian Parliament adopted a law on Labor Safety, with the third and final reading on March 7, 2018. According to the new version of the labor safety law, sanctions for the breach of safety norms were tightened, and fines were increased from 100 to 50,000 GEL. However, the requirements of the law only cover 11 areas of severe, harmful and dangerous jobs. Human rights defenders say the law is discriminatory as it does not cover all jobs. According to the law, the sanctions on breach of labor safety can be one of three types: Non-existent, substantial and critical. The sanctions on all three types of violations are based on how much annual turnover the enterprise has.


SOCIETY

GEORGIA TODAY OCTOBER 12 - 15, 2018

The Fall of Splendor: Etseri, Svaneti

BLOG BY TONY HANMER

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t’s that season again. Temperatures begin to dip towards freezing on clear nights, the first frost appears on the ground early mornings, and trees start to change and prepare for winter. Did you know that autumn deciduous leaf color changes are less often due to an addition of something, but to a removal? The thing withdrawing is chlorophyll, the green-colored food-producing part of leaves which reacts with sunlight. It is pulled back as the trees stop making food and get ready for a long winter hibernation. It’s what is left, which gives the reds, yellows and browns, is the leaves’ real color once the green is pulled back! We have an especially pretty autumn palette up here thanks to the mixes of various leaf-bearing and evergreen trees. The latter, of course, the conifers, have needles instead of leaves, and also have different processes, and don’t change color for autumn. So, the warm hues are stirred together with the various shades of green as you look across the landscape. You can even see a change from day to day. The next layer we are sometimes lucky enough to have is added when two impor-

tant things happen. First, the air remains free enough of wind that the leaves stay on long enough… for, second, a light first season’s snowfall to cover everything with icing sugar! This might happen only on the surrounding mountains’ upper layer, showing a line above which is a whiteness over the warm and green colors, and below which are the same hues without the snow. A real interseason moment. If you see it, photograph it immediately, because that thin layer of snow can easily melt or blow off before the day is done. Don’t wait for better light, because an hour or two can strip it away, and before it returns, the leaves might all fall anyway, as is their destiny. I am writing this from Tbilisi, where I have been for nearly a week, with another to go before I ascend home again. But at least I was able to see the fall colors in all their glory before I left, if not this year the snow layer on top. I will be very surprised if leaves enough remain for my return later this month, and I get to witness the first snow over them. But you never know. In the days before I left, I had the chance to walk around the village and note some good vantage points for the specific landscape compositions I was looking for, especially ones with Etseri’s only complete watchtower in them against a

fall background. Then I waited for the right light, which makes all the difference in such photography. But, to be honest, some of the very best views are to be had simply by going upstairs, opening a window north or south, and shooting. My choice of zoom or wide-angle lenses lets me capture just a small part of the scenes before me, or the whole thing. I often also turn the camera to a vertical frame and shoot a carefully overlapped set (ideally on a tripod). My computer then “stitches” these together for a massive seamless panorama, more closely copying what my eyes see as I scan the magnificence before me. From vertical frames, so that their pixel dimension is as large as possible, and the whole panorama’s width is made of four or more frames, up to as many as 16 or 20 even, and it really gets huge. Such are the joys of autumn. Tony Hanmer has lived in Georgia since 1999, in Svaneti since 2007, and been a weekly writer for GT since early 2011. He runs the “Svaneti Renaissance” Facebook group, now with over 1900 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

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SOCIETY

GEORGIA TODAY

OCTOBER 12 - 15, 2018

GIFT Festival Brings International Dramatic Artists to Tbilisi BY SAMANTHA GUTHRIE

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n the Autumn, Tbilisi’s artistic venues awaken from their summer hibernation and burst into life with a series of theater and arts festivals. The next festival to light up the city will be GIFT –the Georgian International Festival of Arts in Tbilisi. GIFT was founded in 1997 by the Georgian State, the International Board of Directors, and Keti Dolidze. It was the first international art festival established after Georgian independence from the Soviet Union in 1991. GIFT is held annually and has hosted more than 300 international groups and companies representing the fields of theater, drama, dramaturgy, literature and stage painting in Tbilisi. The festival is named in honor of Mikheil Tumanishvili (1921-1996), famed Georgian theater director and teacher who broke ground with his improvisation techniques. The festival’s stated mission is “to establish and extend cultural bonding worldwide. Despite any vulnerability that might appear in the world, we trust that art is the only lan-

guage to communicate with different countries and to the world around us. This language is widely spoken and it doesn't hate, but loves.” International partners are attracted to the festival, say the organizers, because it is “a memorable professional experience with quality international productions, combined with a unique opportunity to explore the rich culture of Georgia.” The 2018 festival is bringing new and interesting artists to the Georgian stage, with a special focus on Italy and Norway. Within the festival’s ‘Italy: Sardinia Culture Days’ focus section, a version of Shakespeare’s Macbeth will be performed in Sardinian (Macbettu) by the Mediterranean Sardegna Teatro, a performance that was awarded the 2017 National Association of Theater Critics prize and the 2017 Ubu Prize for Show of the Year in Italy; it will be accompanied by the Tenore Murales folk vocal ensemble from Sardinia. Sardinian novelist Marcello Fois will give a reading, and there will also be a lecture on Italian contemporary theater titled Rispondi al Futuro (Reply to the Future). From Norway, company Winter Guests and Alan Lucien Øyen will present Sim-

ulacrum, a Japansese Kabuki-inspired dance and movement performance. Also from Norway, the Danse- og Teatersentrum theater will present a dance-concert fusion called STATE, with extravagant costumes designed by Henrik Vibskov. There will also be a screening of the Georgian documentary "Knut Hamsun's Caucasian Mysteries," exploring the legacy of 19th century Norwegian author Knut Hamsun. There will be an arts and crafts fair in the evening of October 27, and all day on November 4, at the Rustaveli Theater, celebrating local artists and craftspeople who will display and sell jewelry, beaded glass, fiber and wearable art, paintings, drawings, ceramics, and more. Performances will be held in various venues across the city – Rustaveli Theater, Marjanishvili Theater, Royal District Theater, the National Parliamentary Library, and Amirani Cinema are all hosting events. The 2018 GIFT festival will take place from October 18-November 16. For a full schedule of events, see the GIFT Facebook page. Tickets are on sale now at biletebi.ge. GEORGIA TODAY is an official media partner of the GIFT festival.

Image source: GIFT Festival, Facebook (Henrik Vibskov)

MenCare Georgia to Be Presented at Frankfurt Int'l Book Fair

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he MenCare Georgia Campaign, having won the Emerging Europe Award in 2018 for the best Equality-Friendly Initiative of the Year in Europe, will be presented at the Frankfurt International Book Fair, where Georgia is a Guest of Honor this year. Three events will be held in Frankfurt under the auspices of the campaign, in cooperation with the UNFPA Georgia Country Office, Georgian National Book Center, and the organization LitCam. The celebrities involved in the campaign, as well as its organizers, will highlight the different aspects of the campaign during these events. On October 10, Karl Kulessa, UNFPA Representative in Turkey, Country Director for Georgia and Lela Bakradze, UNFPA Georgia Country Office Assistant Representative spoke about the significance of gender equality, the necessity of fathers’ involvement in caregiving and the achievements attained as a result of the campaign. Joe Messi, head of the German NGO Stiftung Lesen also participated in the discussion. The Panel members reflected on gender equality from the perspective of two countries. On October 12, at 17:00, Mariam Bandzeladze, gender portfolio manager at the UNFPA Georgia Country Office and Alexander Lortkipanidze, an activist of the MenCare Campaign, TV-presenter and writer will discuss the development of the campaign throughout the years,

major initiatives implemented within this period, and the future plans of MenCare Georgia. The book “Lullaby for Lily”, by Alexander Lortkipanidze (illustrations by Sopo Kirtadze), will be presented in the same panel. On October 13, at 11:00, Levan Kobiashvili, President of the Georgian Football Federation, will deliberate on the partnership of the MenCare Campaign and the Georgian Foorball Federation on the LitCam stage. Claudemir Jerônimo Barreto (Cacau), a famous football player will also participate in the panel discussion. The speakers will discuss the social responsibility of football and role of football players’ as the allies for attaining gender equality. The MenCare Campaign in Georgia has been implemented since 2016 by the UNFPA Georgia Country Office in partnership with the NGO We Care within the framework of the UN Joint Program for Gender Equality funded by the Government of Sweden. MenCare Campaign aims at promoting men’s involvement as equitable, nonviolent fathers, partners and caregivers in order to achieve better health and family well-being and to encourage men to support gender equality and social and economic participation of women and thus contribute to harmonious development of the society. MenCare campaign is open to all men, who share the idea and principles of the Campaign.


SOCIETY

GEORGIA TODAY OCTOBER 12 - 15, 2018

The winner of Sketch Battle at Fabrikaffiti Urban Art Fest 2018 - SPORE3

Fabrikaffiti Urban Art Festival Hits Tbilisi for 3rd Time REVIEW BY LIKA CHIGLADZE

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treet Art is flourishing in Georgia’s capital, with more and more murals, stencils and graffiti artworks adorning the old streets, underground walkways and other public spaces throughout the city. The Fabrikaffiti Urban Art Festival is one of the most vivid demonstrations of this fact, showcasing that such art is gaining not just importance but is becoming a major element of the country’s contemporary culture, created by a new the generation of artists. This year, on October 6-7, the Fabrikaffiti Urban Art Festival took place for the third time in the capital Tbilisi. The festival brought together around 40 artists, including locals Mysa, Gagosh, Gameza, and Lamb, and visiting artists from Italy, Germany, USA, Azerbaijan, and the Baltic countries. As per tradition, the main location of the festival was Fabrika Tbilisi, a hostel and multifunctional space, and its surroundings. The festival has developed over the years to offer more and more activities to the public. All parts of the festival were free to attend and gave the public a chance to see the painting of the walls during daylight, something which is usually done at night by street artists, when the city sleeps. This year’s festival was special since it hosted such distinguished artists as Milo, Martha Cooper and Nika Kramer. The headliner was Milo, an Italian artist renowned for his huge wall murals and who has been featured in a number of Street Art festivals. One can find his works in Rome, Milan, Florence, London, Paris, Luxemburg, Rio de Janeiro and now in Tbilisi as well. In 2014, he won the B. art contest and transferred 13 different tales onto the walls of Turin. Milo’s artworks are simple at first glance, yet tend to convey deeper meanings. Martha Cooper is a legendary American photographer who embarked on numerous street photography projects and documented New York’s graffiti scene and urban culture of the 1970-80s through her camera. She is the author of the first book about

graffiti named “Subway Art,” highlighting graffiti, hip-hop and underground subcultures. The book is often referred to as the Bible of Graffiti. The photographer held a meeting with the audience and answered their questions. Also in the program, Sasha Krolikova delivered an interesting lecture about street art in post-soviet countries. “The festival was well-organized and included a more diverse program than usual, like the Graffiti Sketch Battle, Skateboarding, and talks with renowned urban artists Martha Cooper and Nika Kramer,” co-organizer and artist ‘Lamb’ told GEORGIA TODAY. On the second day of the two-day street art festival, the winner of a sketch battle was revealed, a 14-year-old boy known by the nickname Spore3, who has recently started making graffiti and has already succeeded in this field of art. There were no age or gender limits at the festival, opening the opportunity for everyone to showcase their talent to the public. “The festival was founded by the Artileria crew made up of Bacha Khoperia and Mirian Shengelaia. From the very beginning, we supported their idea and the very first festival was held at Fabrika,” said Marika Kvirkvelidze, Fabrika Brand manager. “Since then, Fabrika and its vicinity have become the main location of the festival. The walls are annually painted and empty spaces are filled with new murals. Every year, the Fabrikaffiti Urban Art Festival hosts artists from different countries. This year, the festival’s program has expanded and involved other fields of urban culture, such as skateboarding and the BBOY Battle, a break-dancing contest, etc. We are planning to hold an even larger-scale festival in the following years and cover more fields of art,” she told GEORGIA TODAY . The festival was organized by Artists’ Union Tsru in collaboration with Fabrika and Impact Hub Tbilisi. Fabrikaffiti was supported by Fabrika Hostel, TBC Bank, Urban Art Georgia, the US Embassy to Georgia, Embassies of Germany and Italy as well as Tbilisi City Hall, Creative Education Studio and Margo Skate Shop.

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CULTURE

GEORGIA TODAY

OCTOBER 12 - 15, 2018

WHAT’S ON IN TBILISI THEATER

MUSIC AND DRAMA STATE THEATER Address: 182 Agmashenebeli Ave. Telephone: 234 80 90

October 14, 18 Animated documentary film REZO Directed by Leo Gabriadze Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 15 GEL CINEMA

October 16 WELCOME TO GEORGIA A musical, theatrical play and romantic comedy telling a story about Georgia and its people by combining song, dance, culture, traditions, history, national costumes and local cuisine. Musical Language: English, some Georgian (with English subtitles) Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 50-80 GEL SHALIKASHVILI THEATER Address: 37 Shota Rustaveli Ave. Telephone: 595 50 02 03 October 12 SHAKESPEARE SONNETS Based on William Shakespeare’s Sonnets Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 15 GEL October 13 KRIMANCHULI Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 15 GEL GABRIADZE THEATER Address: 14 Shavteli Str. Telephone: 2 98 65 93 October 12 MARSHAL DE FANTE’S DIAMOND Revaz Gabriadze Directed by Revaz Gabriadze English Subtitles Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 20, 30 GEL October 13 STALINGRAD Revaz Gabriadze Directed by Revaz Gabriadze English Subtitles Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 20, 30 GEL

AMIRANI CINEMA Address: 36 Kostava St. Telephone: 2 99 99 55 www.kinoafisha.ge Every Wednesday ticket: 5 GEL October 12-18 VENOM Directed by Ruben Fleischer Cast: Tom Hardy, Michelle Williams, Woody Harrelson Genre: Action, Horror, Sci-Fi Language: English Start time: 14:30 Ticket: 9-10 GEL CLIMAX Directed by Gaspar Noé Cast: Sofia Boutella, Romain Guillermic, Souheila Yacoub Genre: Drama, Horror, Musical Language: Russian Start time: 22:00 Ticket: 10-11 GEL BAD TIMES AT THE EL ROYALE Directed by Drew Goddard Cast: Chris Hemsworth, Dakota Johnson, Jon Hamm Genre: Mystery, Thriller Language: English Start time: 19:30 Language: Russian Start time: 16:15 Ticket: 10-11 GEL BLACKKKLANSMAN Directed by Spike Lee Cast: John David Washington, Adam Driver, Laura Harrier Genre: Biography, Comedy, Crime Language: Russian Start time: 13:15 Ticket: 12 GEL CAVEA GALLERY Address: 2/4 Rustaveli Ave. Telephone: 200 70 07

Every Wednesday ticket: 8 GEL October 12-18

NEW LIFE TO THE ORIENTAL COLLECTIONS

FIRST MAN Directed by Damien Chazelle Genre: Biography, Drama, History Language: English Start time: 22:30 Language: Russian Start time: 13:00, 16:0, 19:45, 22:15 Ticket: 11-19 GEL

UNKNOWN COLLECTIONS OF THE GEORGIAN NATIONAL MUSEUM– INDIA, CHINA, JAPAN The exhibition showcases up to 500 artworks - paintings, sculptures and samples of applied art, the chronological range of which is wide.

BAD TIMES AT THE EL ROYALE (Info Above) Language: Russian Start time: 22:00 Ticket: 16-19 GEL

SVANETI MUSEUM OF HISTORY AND ETHNOGRAPHY Address: 7 A. Ioseliani Str., Mestia

A STAR IS BORN Directed by Bradley Cooper Cast: Lady Gaga, Bradley Cooper, Sam Elliott Genre: Drama, Musical Language: English Start time: 16:30 Language: Russian Start time: 22:30 Ticket: 13-19 GEL VENOM (Info Above) Language: English Start time: 19:45 Language: Russian Start time: 11:45, 14:15, 17:00, 22:30 Ticket: 10-19 GEL MUSEUM

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

Georgian National Museum and Project ArtBeat Present Maia Naveriani's exhibition "Gone Here Today Tomorrow.” MUSEUM OF SOVIET OCCUPATION Address: 4 Rustaveli Ave. Telephone: 2 99 80 22, 2 93 48 21 www.museum.ge PERMANENT EXHIBITION Discover the State's personal files of "subversive" Georgian public figures, orders to shoot or exile, and other artifacts representing Sovietera cultural and political repression in Georgia. GALLERY

THE NATIONAL GALLERY Address: 11 Rustaveli Ave. Telephone: 215 73 00 September 11 – November 25 EXHIBITION BERNINI'S SCHOOL AND THE ROMAN BAROQUE After the works of Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo, Raphael, Botticelli, Titian and other great Italian artists, the Georgian National Museum and the Embassy of Italy in Georgia present the exhibition October 9 – January 17 (2019) NIKO PIROSMANI’S RENEWED EXHIBITION

MUSIC

ART HOUSE Address: 18 Gudiashvili Str. October 13 PUBLIC(A) TALKS Davit Aladashvili and Ketevan Davlianidze Start time: 08:30 Ticket: 30-50 GEL INTERNATIONAL MUSIC FESTIVAL AUTUMN TBILISI Venue: 123/125 Agmashenebli Ave. October 15 TRIBUTE TO FAMOUS GEORGIAN OPERA SINGER- ZURAB SOTKILAVA. Program: Giuseppe Verdi’s “Requiem”. Soloists: Georgian Opera Stars– Iano Tamar, Ketevan Kemoklidze, Shalva Mukeria and Ramaz Chikviladze, Tbilisi Symphony Orchestra and united Georgian State and Tbilisi Opera and Ballet Theater Choirs. Conductor: Vakhtang Kakhidze Start time: 19:30 Ticket: 10-40 GEL TBILISI CONCERT HALL Telephone: 2 99 05 99 www.tbilisijazz.com October 14 MERAB SEPASHVILI JUBILATION CONCERT Start time: 20:00 TERMINAL Address: 34 Abashidze Str October 15 POWERPOINT KARAOKE TBILISI VOL. 5 Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 15 GEL SOUNDS OF GEORGIA October 12, 17, 18 Regular mini-concerts of traditional Georgian live music in Old Town will make you get to know and fall in love with Georgian character and culture. Start time: 17:00 Ticket: 23 GEL Venue: October 12: New Tiflis, 9 Agmashenebeli Ave., Wine bar ‘Wine Station’; Venue: October 17: 2 Ivan Turgenev Str., Tbilisi deep yard Venue: October 18: Europe Sq., 2 D. Megreli Str., Hotel "Nata", Terrace TELAVI INTERNATIONAL MUSIC FESTIVAL Venue: Telavi Vazha-Pshavela State Drama Theater October 13 CLOSING CONCERT OF THE FESTIVAL The Festival Orchestra Ariel Zuckermann- Conductor Eliso Virsaladze- Piano Alexander Ramm- Cello Program: Elgar- Cello Concerto in E minor op. 85 Beethoven- Piano Concerto no. 2 in B-flat major op. 19 Beethoven- Piano Concerto no. 1 in C major op. 15 Start time: 19:00 Ticket: 20-35 GEL


CULTURE

GEORGIA TODAY OCTOBER 12 - 15, 2018

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Vienna’s Albertina Museum to Host Solo Exhibition of Niko Pirosmani BY LIKA CHIGLADZE

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o you know what we need, my brothers. Let us build a big house, a place where we all can come together, somewhere in the city center, accessible for all. Let us buy a table and a samovar. We will drink tea and speak about art; however, you do not want to do that, you speak about different things – said Niko Pirosmani (1862–1918). It was just one of the dreams of great Georgian artist Pirosmani that never came to be, leaving him to die a lonely death in 1918 in a basement. And yet he left behind him a huge legacy for Georgian art. 2018 marks 100 years since the death of the remarkable Georgian artist, known as the father of minimalism, Niko Pirosmanashvili. In relation to this occasion, the renowned and prestigious Albertina Museum of Vienna is devoting a comprehensive solo exhibition to the 20th century Georgian painter, who tragically died in poverty and whose burial place is still unknown. Pirosmani was one of those rare talents who were true servants of art and devoted their entire life to their passion and calling. Pirosmani was a self-taught genius who earnt the semblance of a living by painting the walls and signs of shops and taverns. He often went hungry, instead buying paints with the money collected, and he lived in a small room under a staircase for the last part of his life. Only after his death did Pirosmani’s paintings

earn fame both within the country and beyond its borders. Several exhibitions have been held in the Louvre, Paris, in Switzerland, Poland, and elsewhere. And now the Albertina Museum is preparing to host an exhibition titled ‘A Wanderer Between Worlds,’ which will be on display from October 26 - January 27, 2019. “It is a very important occasion since the Albertina Museum of Vienna is one of the main cultural hubs in Europe,” Eka Kiknadze, Director of Georgian National Gallery noted. “The museum is extremely popular, so it is a must-visit place for tourists. The gallery houses artworks dating back to the 15th century up to the modern era. Exhibiting Niko Pirosmanashvili’s artworks at the museum will help to promote and further introduce the Georgian artist to the international audience. Even though he is beloved and cherished in Georgia, the 20th century artist is still little-known to the world, so this will be a big step towards raising awareness not only about Pirosmani but simultaneously about Georgia. His works will serve as a perfect representation of the country, its culture and history. We have been preparing for this exhibition for a few years and now everything is ready to put Pirosmani’s art on display. The concept of Pirosmani’s exhibition was made by two important figures: Bice Curiger, Chief Curator of the Exhibition and an Artistic Director of the Fondation Vincent van Gogh Arles, and Elisabeth Dutz, Curator at the Albertina Museum,” Kiknadze said. Initiated and organized by the Infinitart Foundation in collaboration with the Georgian National Museum and the

Ministry of Education, Science, Culture and Sport of Georgia, the first significant exhibition of Niko Pirosmani in Austria will feature 29 of his artworks. The exhibition commemorates the 100th anniversary of his death and simultaneously celebrates his resurrection in the conscience of many. “For him, art, painting, was emancipation, by means of which he achieved independence, freedom, and sovereignty,” said Bice Curiger during her visit to Tbilisi. “Today, the autodidact who painted his vivid and striking works for the Georgian pubs and inns at the turn of the century is above all also a partly forgotten hero of the avant-garde. Giving broader audiences the chance to discover him is long overdue.” The exposition will run in parallel with a retrospective of impressionist Claude Monet and will be accompanied by an exposition of contemporary artists,

including Georgian Andro Vekua. “Albertina is one of the major museums of Europe, so such a large scale exhibition devoted to Niko Pirosamni will be good way for the Europe and the world to rediscover this great Georgian artist,” said Mikheil Giorgadze, Deputy Minister of Education, Science, Culture and Sport of Georgia, whilst speaking to media at the Dimitri Shevardnadze National Gallery, where the permanent collection of Pirosmani’s artworks are on display. Together with Pirosamni’s unique artworks kept at the Shalva Amiranashvili National Museum, a book about the artist ‘Pirosmanashvili 1914’ made by Ilya Zdanevich, a Georgian-Polish writer and artist, will also be presented at the Albertina Museum. The book includes a portrait of Pirosmani done by Pablo Picasso in 1972. Ilya Zdanevich introduced Pirosmani’s art to the great Spanish artist, after which, inspired by the sad story of

Pirosmani, Picasso created a graphic portrait of the Georgian painter. Within the frames of the exhibition, renowned Japanese artist and architect Tadao Ando’s ‘Table of Pirosmani’ will be presented at the museum. Inspired by Pirosmani’s tragic fate, Infinitart has made it a mission to build a tomb for him. Now, 100 years after his death, this table is built in his memory. “As this table will represent the metaphorical grave of Niko Pirosmani, I sought to use a symbol which would thoroughly respect his memory, lifetime of work, and Georgian heritage. As I looked through many of his paintings, I found the reoccurring use of motifs such flowers and roses. As the idea for this table developed, the rose became central,” Tadao Ando said. Pirosmani produced a large quantity of works throughout his life, but few have survived. Some of his paintings scattered across the world were sold at Sotheby’s and Christie’s auction and some were gifted to the National Gallery of Georgia. His most famous works are: Fisherman in a red shirt, Georgian Feast, and Roe Deer, with Pirosmani's animal portraits amongst the artist's most popular compositions. Pirosmani applies light colors to a matt, black ground, endowing his subject with an ethereal, luminescent quality and strengthening the impression of an unreal, fantastical world. The untrained artist stood out for his simple and distinct manner of painting through which he achieved great heights and created amazing masterpieces that represent a priceless heritage of Georgian culture.

Young Actors Perform Oldest Caucasus Epos in Georgian & Ossetian BY ANA DUMBADZE

T

he Nart Sagas, one of the oldest Caucasus eposes, received a second life on the stage of the Shota Rustaveli Theater and Film State University of Georgia. A group of young actors performed the ancient stories of courage, friendship and love in both Georgian and Ossetian. The Nart Sagas are a series of tales originating from the North Caucasus. They form the basic mythology of the tribes in the area, including Abazin, Abkhaz, Circassian, Ossetian, KarachayBalkar, and Chechen-Ingush folklore. The theatrical performance, which was attended by over 100 representatives of the Georgian government, civil society and international organizations, opened with welcome remarks from Dr. Naira Bepieva, Professor at Georgian-Ossetian Relations Research Center of Iv. Javakhishvili Tbilisi State University and Chair of a non-governmental organization “Caucasian Mosaic”, and representatives of the European Union (EU) and United Nations Development Program (UNDP). The performance was received warmly by the audience and received positive feedback. According to Dr. Bepieva, the performance itself is the part of the important

peaceful mission implemented in collaboration with the EU and UNDP. “This is a peace-keeping mission aimed at restoring Georgian-Ossetian relations and building confidence. Accordingly, it is a matter of a great importance nowadays. We presented the performance in three parts: in Georgian, in Ossetian and the last one in both languages. We have been working together with the EU and UNDP for years. With their financial support, we have already published unique editions of Georgian-Ossetian

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and Ossetian-Georgian dictionaries and an adapted and illustrated version of the Nart Sagas for children. Today’s performance is part of the abovementioned processes. It is also noteworthy that young people from Georgia and Tskhinvali are involved in it, performing with great enthusiasm and love: that is the reason why the spectators were so satisfied after the performance,” she noted. The performance was also attended by the students of the Tbilisi Classical Gymnasium, interested in studying the Nart

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

Epos. As Dr. Naira Bepieva said, it was yet another opportunity for them to enhance their knowledge about the oldest Cucasus epos and learn more about the universal human values. “By attending today’s performance, the young children had the opportunity to compare the Nart Sagas to Georgian, Greek and Egyptian myths and draw interesting parallels between them. They might become the Ambassadors of Peace of the feature, as the treasure created by the people is valuable for everyone who wants to build peace and confidence among the members of society,” she added. Director of the theatrical performance, Tamar Khizanishvili, told reporters that the main message she wanted to deliver to the audience was that taking care of each other and preserving peaceful relations are the most important issues nowadays. “This is a play about the Nart Epos and how we perceive it in complicated Georgian-Ossetian relations. The Nart Epos are a series of stories about diginity and universal human values. Bringing the oldest Caucasus epos onto the stage was no easy task, but thanks to our excellent group, the performance turned out very successful. My personal message to the audience was that we should take care of each other as much as possible. At the end of the performance, there is a shot depicting an empty land, without humans – this is what I wanted to express. I am

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from Tskhinvali myself and I would say that no-one wants to live in a war-torn land. Accordingly, we must be very careful and take care of each other, otherwise, one day, we may also find ourselves in an empty space,” Khizanishvili explained. The Nart Sagas were adapted for the theater in summer 2018 by the organization ‘Caucasian Mosaic’ in collaboration with Shota Rustaveli Theater and Film State University of Georgia. The theatrical adaptation followed the illustrated Georgian-Ossetian edition of Nart Sagas for Children published in 2017. The book is illustrated by Georgian and Ossetian artists and is circulated in schools and libraries in Tbilisi and Tskhinvali. The initiative was supported by the European Union (EU) and UNDP under their joint program for building confidence between conflict-divided communities, the Confidence Building Early Response Mechanism (COBERM). The Nart Sagas is one of 190 confidencebuilding initiatives supported under the COBERM since 2010. Working closely with civil society organizations on all sides of conflict divides, the EU and UNDP addressed some of the key confidence building areas, such as youth education, people diplomacy, cultural cooperation, minority rights, gender equality, environment protection, healthcare and more. The ongoing third phase of COBERM will be completed in December 2018.

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Profile for Georgia Today

Issue #1091  

October 12 - 15, 2018

Issue #1091  

October 12 - 15, 2018

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