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Issue no: 911

• JANUARY 13 - 16, 2017



In this week’s issue... Georgia and Gazprom Make New Deal NEWS PAGE 2

Cones and Cannabis: Ogden on the Floundering Opposition POLITICS PAGE 5


Georgia, Turkey Discuss Deeper Cooperation


Planting more seeds of political incompetence: The Girchi Stunt

PAGE 4, 5

LIBE Committee Backs Georgia’s Visa Waiver BY THEA MORRISON

Produce in Georgia to Unite State Support Programs Under One Brand BUSINESS PAGE 9

About Community-based Housing for the Disabled, and a Dream SOCIETY PAGE 12


he European Parliament Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs Committee (LIBE) has declared its support of amendments to the text of Georgia’s visa liberalization, agreed and adopted by the EU Commission, EU Parliament and Council in December, 2016. 42 members of LIBE supported the issue, while two were against and one refrained. This support means that only a few steps remain before Georgia gains visa-free travel in the EU’s passport-free Schengen zone. The European Parliament and the Council of Europe reached a political agreement on Tuesday over Georgia’s visa liberalization with the EU on December 13, 2016. On December 20, 2016, the EU Council Committee of Permanent Representatives of the Governments of Member States to the EU


European Parliament Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs Committee

(Coreper) approved the amendments to the text of Georgia’s visa liberalization. Following this announcement, now it is for the European Parliament to make the final decision. If Georgia’s visa liberalization is also approved by the European Parliament, the amended regulations will be formally approved by the EU Council at the ministerial level. After signing of the legislative amendment by the President of the European Parliament and a representative of the country holding the EU presidency, the

regulations will be published in the official EU journal. Georgia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs welcomed the decision of LIBE. “This is one more step toward visa-free travel with the European Union…We hope the entire process will be completed soon,” the MFA stated. When the visa-free regime between Georgia and the EU goes into force, Georgian citizens will be able to enter the EU visa-free for 90 days in any 180-day period.

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Meet the Artist: Otar Jorjikia, Tenor CULTURE PAGE 12

Secrets of Happiness and Why We Are Not Immortal CULTURE PAGE 15




JANUARY 13 - 16, 2017

Leading International Terminal Operator Interested in Operating Anaklia Sea Port

Georgia & Gazprom Make New Deal BY THEA MORRISON

G Prime Minister Giorgi Kvirikashvili, Bob Watters, SSA Marine, and Anaklia Development Consortium representatives



eading international terminal operator SSA Marine has started negotiations with the Anaklia Development Consortium on operating Anaklia Deep Sea Port. SSA Marine is headquartered in Seattle, US, and owns terminals in nine countries with an annual capacity of 27.2 TEU.

Bob Watters, SSA Marine Senior Vice President, had a meeting with Prime Minister of Georgia, Giorgi Kvirikashvili, on January 10, at which the strategic importance of the Anaklia Port project for the country was emphasized, along with the significance of the involvement of the US company. The PM also talked about the growing geo-political potential of the country and introduced to Watters a number of projects the government is undertaking, including those implemented in partnership with the private sector.

eorgia and Russian energy company Gazprom have reached a new agreement, which means that Georgia, which serves as a transit country for the transportation of Russian gas to Armenia, will from 2018 receive payment from Gazprom. Russia has been paying Georgia for gas transportation by supplying natural gas to the amount of 10% of the volume of transported gas. The details were agreed on January 10 in the Belarusian capital of Minsk at a regular meeting of the General Director of Gazprom Export, Elena Burmistrova and Georgia’s Energy Minister, Kakha Kaladze. The new agreement is a two-year deal. The previous arrangement will remain in place throughout 2017, after which the new payment system will come into effect. The new agreement comes following the expiry of the previous deal on December 31, 2016. At the press-conference, Kaladze explained that the new agreement does not mean that Georgia is becoming more dependent on Russian energy. “Georgia’s dependence on Russian energy resources will not increase. Only the payment conditions have been changed. And it will be one of the highest transit fees among European countries,” he stated. The Minister added that if Georgia needs additional gas supply in winter, it would be received at a reduced price of

Georgia’s Energy Minister, Kakha Kaladze. Source: news.ge

$185 instead of $215 per 1000 m3. Burmistrova said the new deal was profitable for both sides. "Gazprom Export has made a package of proposals to Georgia under optimal and mutually beneficial conditions, which will allow the Georgian party to increase guaranteed income from transportation services and improve the reliability of gas supply in Georgia," Burmistrova said. Georgia’s key opposition party- the United National Movement (UNM) disapproves of the new deal, saying it shows that Georgia’s government is under the influence of Russia. “The decision of the government is a betrayal,” said UNM member, Roman Gotsiridze. “I see personal interests here… Russia’s next target will be the Tbilisi gas distribution system, after this- the railway. This is a creeping economic annexation”. Expert Soso Tsiskarishvili believes the

Georgian side should have kept the conditions of the previous deal, which, according to him, were more profitable for Georgia. “The Government's decision is, of course, a capitulation. Kaladze will have to explain what happened, why the government decided to give up,” he said. The Georgian government has had many rounds of negotiations with Gazprom about the issue. However, until now, Kaladze always said the monetary payment offered by Gazprom was unfavorable for Georgia. Georgia’s Finance Minister, Dimitry Kumsishvili, said the government had done its utmost to secure the best deal in the existing conditions. He emphasized that, “Georgia is maintaining its energy independence”. “Moreover, Azerbaijan remains Georgia’s strategic partner and top gas supplier. This is the most important part of the new deal,” the Minister claimed.

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Georgia Calls on Russia to Stop Destruction of Cultural Monuments in Occupied Regions

Romania to be the First to Close the Gender Pay Gap in Europe BY NINO GUGUNISHVILI


Georgia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs



eorgia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) says the Russian Federation is destroying Georgian cultural monuments on the territories of the occupied regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia. The MFA has released a statement which says that, according to Russian and Abkhaz sources, on January 3, the Russian occupation forces in Abkhazia region destroyed a multi-layer archeological and architectural monument during the construction works of a military polygon in Tsebelda village, Gulripshi District. Within the work area were a VIII-IX century and late Middle Ages settlement, tombs, ruins of a church, and a Polish graveyard of the mid-XX century. The MFA condemns this latest fact of damage to monuments of Georgia’s historical and cultural heritage by the occupation regime as an act directed against the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Georgia, and calls on the Russian Fed-

This illegal act once again demonstrates the grave military and humanitarian situation in the occupied territories of Georgia

eration to desist from the practice of destroying Georgian cultural monuments in the occupied territories. “This illegal act once again demonstrates the grave military and humanitarian situation in the occupied territories of Georgia,” the MFA statement reads. Moreover, the MFA underlines that the intentional damage carried out by Russia on monuments of cultural heritage violates the provisions of the International Humanitarian Law, notably the 1954 Convention on the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict, as well as the principles of the 2003 UNESCO Declaration concerning the Intentional Destruction of Cultural Heritage. The Ministry is calling on the international community, UNESCO and other international organizations to properly assess the illegal actions of the Russian Federation and take necessary measures to protect historical and cultural heritage in the occupied territories of Georgia. Georgia’s President, Giorgi Margvelashvili, also condemned Russia’s actions. “We express our extreme concern over the destruction of the historical monuments in Tsebelda village by the occupation forces of the Russian Federation. This is a deliberate act of vandalism, which violates international law, including the norms of the 1954 Hague Con-

This is a deliberate act of vandalism, which violates international law, including the norms of the 1954 Hague Convention vention,” the President’s statement reads. The Sputnik news agency reports that Russia’s Defense Ministry has denied all allegations over the issue. "We were surprised by the remarks. No construction or any other work in the interest of Russia's 7th military base has been carried out or planned in the village of Tsebelda," the Russian Defense Ministry claims.


new study from Expert Market, Europe’s leading marketplace, has examined the factors affecting the gender pay gap throughout the European Union (EU). By analyzing such factors as hours worked either full or part time, age group, public or private sector, industry and type of job, the research identified which groups of women will most likely achieve equal pay with their male counterparts first, as well as the employment criteria that will help to close the pay gap quicker. The study shows that the top ten European countries to close the pay gap in the near future sees Romania in first place in the ranking, with a potential pay gap closure in 2018 for women aged 25-34 employed in the private sector and working in skilled manual roles in the hospitality sector. Poland is second in the ranking, with a potential pay gap closure in 2018 for women aged 45-54 working in sales or service roles in the catering industry. Belgium is in third place with a potential pay gap closure in 2020 for women aged 25-34 working full time in the public sector in clerical positions in public administration or government organizations. Iceland appears fourth in the ranking with a potential pay gap closure in 2020 for women under 25, employed in clerical jobs in the electricity or utilities industry. The Netherlands is in fifth place, its potential pay gap closure date predicted as 2020 for women aged 25-34 working in the private sector in the energy and utilities industry. In Slovenia, the study claims the pay gap will reach its closure in 2022 for women aged 65 or older, employed in the private sector in technical and managerial roles in government or public administration. Lithuania is expected to reach pay gap closure in 2023 for women under 25 working full-time in the private sector, in entertainment and utilities. Italy is in 8th place, with an expected pay gap closure in 2024 for women aged 55-64 working in managerial positions in the education sector. Sweden is in 9th place with a possible gap closure in 2025 for women under 25 and working part time in the public administration sector as skilled manual workers, and Luxemburg is in last place with a potential pay gap closure for 2026 for women aged 35-44, with full-time jobs in the sphere of education. Contrary to the top ten countries listed, the research undertaken highlights that the UK, Germany and France are among the slowest to be closing the pay gap, with Hungary said to be the slowest of all. It appears the UK, Portugal and Hungary will achieve pay gap closure in 2067, 2068 and 2068, respectively. The UK is currently in 24th place out of 26. The research also says that women in the EU working in the energy sector or the government will be first to see the pay gap close. “Although it is troubling to see the gender pay gap persisting in the EU, it is encouraging to see several potential closure dates in the near future. This research indicates that the traditional European powers – UK, France and Germany - could be doing more to help close the gender pay gap,” said Michael Horrock from Expert Market. The full report is available at: http://www. expertmarket.co.uk/focus/closing-eu-genderpay-gap

Country Ranks Graphic. Source: Expert Market




JANUARY 13 - 16, 2017

Experts Investigate Marijuana Seeds in Girchi Office



olice are investigating the office of The New Political Center Girchi following a marijuana-planting stunt shown on social media in which party members, with volunteers, planted marijuana in their office as a form of protest against Georgia’s strict drug policy. Experts asked all party members to leave Girchi HQ while they searched the premises. Only party leaders Zurab Japaridze and Iago Khvichia were present throughout the process of investigation. Before the start of the investigation, Party Chair, Zurab Japaridze, told journalists that there was nothing to investigate as the planting of marijuana seeds

At present there are more than 80 pots of marijuana in the office

in the office had happened publicly. “The only thing that experts have to investigate is if the marijuana seeds in the pots are genuine,” he said. The pots were used to collect signatures from supporters of the decriminalization of the drug in Georgia. Japaridze said the investigation is being carried out under Article 265 which is “irrelevant in relation to the situation”. “At around 12.00 am, the representatives of Ministry Internal Affairs came to our office with a search warrant from the court,” he said. “The investigation is being carried out under the first part of Article 265, which implies the cultivation of a plant containing a small quantity of drugs. But, in reality, the second and third parts of the Article were violated, as it was in large quantity and involved a group of people”. He claims that at present there are more than 80 pots of marijuana in the office. The violation of the first part of Article 265 of the Criminal Code is punishable by a fine or imprisonment for a term of two to five years. The New Political Center Girchi is a Liberalist party which split from the United National Movement (UNM), and is chaired by Zurab Japaridze. The party is in opposition to the current Georgian Dream coalition. Founded in November 2015, the name Girchi (pine cone) was chosen as a symbol of freshness, greenery, growth and freedom.

Thoughts from America on the President - Elect OP-ED BY NUGZAR B. RUHADZE


he first thing I usually do the morning after my arrival in the US is avidly grind into the press and zap through all available TV channels, trying not to miss anything that might be going on. I also have a habit of talking to those American friends and colleagues who are better versed in the current political developments, and are willing to let me pick their minds on the subject. Amazingly, I was given a quick tip to stay away from openly expressing my opinion on the results of the recent presidential elections, especially if I wanted to say something positive about the conservative electoral triumph in America. People have taken the Clinton defeat and the Trump victory here very emotionally and, I would say, personally, as a result of which even a minor opinionated sparkle may carry the potential to ignite a politically charged fallout. Having taken this valuable advice, I delved into media even more voraciously to get a clearer picture of the issue. Incidentally, the prognosticating comments in our media about the American elections and the presumptions on the preference of one particular candidate’s victory for us have proved to be totally

irrelevant. How could we have known who would be better for Georgia when Americans themselves cannot make head nor tail of what has happened – nobody has the slightest clue what is in store for America in the next four years, or eight. The air is heavily pregnant with expectations today in the United States of America – as determinative as those expectations might turn out to be. Did I say ‘united’? Some of them would say ‘divided’ – and I shudder at the metaphor. ‘He or She’ – this was the alternative question of the century that generated the division, the overwhelming division, to put it more precisely: our Georgia was divided on who would give her more chance against Russia; America was divided on who would bring an effective change; the world was divided on who could heal the sick globe quicker; families were divided on who would take better care of their basket of staples. Technically, the reason for that ubiquitous division was the fact that Hillary’s candidacy was taken more seriously than Don’s. Isn’t it hilarious that the entire world bungled the prediction? Time to wake up and face the music! The piece is already written and the orchestras of the world are hurrying to learn the tune to have it sound as agreeable as possible. Will he really deliver the change? Does he really believe in ‘great again’? Can he really challenge the extant order in the world? Those are the questions that have dominated

Source: ibtimes.com

both the most brilliant and the plainest minds of late. Not much time is left to find out, but shortness of breath and patience is still in our way. No other election of no other leader in history has ever generated this much universal interest, although it is a vivid case of love and hatred, hope and fear, doubt and confidence. We all identify with this American choice – unbelievable but true! It only takes to read a little deeper into American press to come closer to the truth. Here is what I have found there: the recent elections have almost eliminated the party lines; the ascent of rightist nationalists around the globe has resulted; it has been revealed what America values more; it makes no sense to talk about popular vote because it is legally unjustified; the possibility of a female commander has gone up in smoke; the qualities of a candidate that once mattered have been outdated; not many people thought Trump was qualified to be president, but he is; race relations will worsen; women will be worse off, too; the presumed new deal, refreshed ways of trade and reopening of factories are already under cloud, and so on and so forth. Time Magazine has made the American President-Elect the 2016 Person of the Year, having emphasized that ‘the truth is only as powerful as the trust in those who speak it’. Golden words! Trump seems to have spoken the truth all the way. Not true? Who cares?




Cones and Cannabis: Ogden on the Floundering Opposition OP- ED BY TIM OGDEN


t has always seemed to me that being in any political opposition is rather easier than being in the government. After all, their role is simply to criticize and claim – but not show – what they would do differently; despite their exotic name, Britain’s Shadow Cabinet are simply a group of adults pretending they have jobs they do not actually have. Given that Georgia’s Georgian Dream government has hardly lived up to the public hype of 2012 (with most people assuming that if they voted for a billionaire he would redistribute his wealth amongst them, more fool they), being in the opposition in Georgia should not prove to be overly daunting. If opposition parties could eloquently and clearly express issues such as Bidzina Ivanishvili’s continued influence on the ruling party, or the appointment of footballers to ministerial positions, or the regular replacement of those occupying senior government posts, they might see a noticeable shift in public support. October’s elections were more a loss for the opposition than a win for the government. Every opposition party failed to show itself as a viable alternative to Georgian Dream, with the United National Movement making the gravest mistake of all in turning their campaign

into a referendum on a potential return of Saakashvili. Had the former President come back to Georgia, he would undoubtedly have undertaken a crusade against those in the Georgian Dream government he perceives to have persecuted his former political allies, and a wave of mass arrests and unrest would have set back Georgia’s Western ambitions even further. However, although I recall writing last summer that the elections were a chance for the smaller parties to cause a political upset, these, too, failed miserably. David Usupashvili’s Republicans, despite being sensible and competent, failed to connect with the average voter; their plans for NATO and the EU, while solid, meant little and less to rural dwellers to whom people from another region are ‘foreign’. I also had high hopes for Girchi, whose policies seemed consistent with a European state, and their party leadership displaying a modern – if perhaps a little eccentric – mentality. Girchi then entered into an ill-fated alliance with opera singer Paata Burchuladze, a union which lasted several weeks, and did not partake in the elections at all. However, unlike Burchuladze’s party, Girchi survived the electoral period, with promises to return stronger for the next political cycle. To many, their poor planning and lack of foresight over the union with Burchuladze showed that the party had a

CARTOON: By Brian Patrick Grady

total lack of good judgment, yet while this sort of public opinion might be difficult to recover from, it would be by no means impossible. Girchi retains some former UNM ministers amongst its ranks, and as the UNM itself continues to fracture between Saakashvili supporters and detractors, Girchi might have surged ahead as the only sensible party offering a viable alternative. It would have taken time, determination, and skill, but it would have allowed Girchi to at least have won some seats in Parliament in 2020. Instead, with what can only be perceived as a twisted and confused interpretation of Western values, Girchi

launched its cannabis stunt on New Year’s Eve. A few months earlier, Girchi had promised that unless the government launched a discussion over the legalization of marijuana in parliament, it would plant a cannabis plant live on social media… to which once might well ask, ‘Why?’. According to the Facebook page of party leader Zurab Japaridze, the stunt was intended to show the party’s support for social liberty, freedom of expression, and all the other Western values the party claims to embrace. Despite some legalization taking place in certain states of the US, Portugal and the Netherlands, along with the lack of

severity of Class B drug offences in the UK, cannabis remains illegal in most Western countries. Georgia suffers from a number of other problems (such as violence against women) that would have elicited far more sympathy from any would-be European (and Georgian) supporters. Exactly what video footage of committing a crime is meant to do to enhance the party’s prestige is anyone’s guess; daring the police to arrest members of the party and those supporters who signed their names on cups with cannabis seeds in them seems to have predictably backfired when police officers turned up at the party HQ yesterday. Were I in the government, I would have ignored the stunt entirely. After all, the plants may not be cannabis at all, and any tests to reveal their true nature could embarrass the police (not that this negates the stupidity of the ploy). However, the real tragedy is that a party of seemingly modern and forwardthinking Georgians has missed the opportunity to emerge as a real opposition force, and is behaving like a protest movement rather than a political party… and protesting something which few Georgians care about. As I have already written, being in the opposition is the easiest job in politics, but if Georgian politicians are incapable of even making effective criticism of the government, I can see Georgian Dream staying in power for some time yet.




JANUARY 13 - 16, 2017

Georgia’s Foreign Policy Challenges for 2017: Relative Stability amidst Global Geopolitical Chaos BY TEONA LAVRELASHVILI, ADVISOR, EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT


his year it will be one century since the two revolutions of 1917 that had enormous and, to a great extent, tragic impact upon the peoples of Georgia, the former Russian Empire, and the world as a whole. During this century, Georgia has experienced the rebirth of its independence twice, multiple mass repressions and the loss of its intellectual and moral elite, a period of optimism caused by the disintegration of the Soviet empire that had engulfed the country for 70 years of political slavery, the bloody conflicts of the early 1990s and war with Russia as recently as just eight years ago. Though the years of the second independence – i.e. since 1991, have been marred by civil war and ethnic conflicts, coups d'état and violent changes of government, before the political landscape became somewhat stabilized in the first democratic change of government in 2012, Georgia is still facing multiple challenges and issues, both internal and external. Still, one thing to be proud of is the essential continuity of Georgia’s foreign policy orientation, as Tbilisi has never really wavered from its pro-Western, pro-European path, notwithstanding changing governments, consistency of policies or rhetoric.

As the latest sign of this, the Georgian parliament met the New Year with yet another confirmation of this continuity, as on December 29th it unanimously adopted the resolution on Georgia’s foreign policy proposed by the ruling party. The resolution lists EU and NATO membership as Georgia’s top foreign policy priorities having “no alternatives”, while pursuing a “rational policy” with Russia for the purpose of “minimizing threats” and “restoring territorial integrity.” The resolution is quite similar to one adopted on March 7, 2013, drafted jointly by the Georgian Dream and the United National Movement, reiterating Georgia’s commitment to its pro-Western course. Europe has entered a period of confusion and turbulence, with a multitude of systemic and other existential crises, including a surge in terrorism, uncontrollable migration inflow, economic slowdown combined with rising inequality, the looming Brexit, Italy in deep crisis, hybrid military action along its borders, and the dangers from Russia’s aggressive expansionism and information warfare, combined with a dramatic upsurge of dangerous nationalism, isolationism, authoritarianism, Euroskepticism, and radical populism. The pillars of Europe's unity and security are damaged and Europe's increasingly mediocre leaders are in disarray as the problems multiply further with uncertainty brought around by forthcoming elections in the key EU member states, and the risks of an expected US withdrawal from Euro-


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pean affairs and weakening of its support of NATO and European security. This may lead to dangerous political turbulence in 2017 and following years as the EU will be absorbed dealing with nasty issues of survival, leaving it with little time and energy to project its soft power. In the US, Georgia’s most consistent and strongest supporter, one observes the spectacular rise of the anti-establishment movement combined with a revolt against liberal values; democratic pathologies that allowed a presidential candidate who won 3 million less votes to be elected, an inept government, and the paradoxical mixture of indecisive foreign policy crossbred with imperial over-stretch. As a result, the future policies of President-elect Trump remain a puzzle even though there are expectations of vacillating decision-making, isolationism and incompetence that may start with the undoing of many of the achievements of the previous government, such as multilateral trade agreements, a nuclear deal with Iran, liberalization of immigration policies, disrupting relations with China, and softening or abolishing anti-Russian sanctions. These trajectories demonstrated by Georgia’s Western partners and supporters may leave Georgia even less protected against Russian pressures if not immediate military adventurism, against the background of convergence of positions between Russia, Turkey and Iran on a number of foreign policy issues, Syria in particular. The new isolationism in the West will also cause further frustration among the Georgian public and disappointment in the government’s pro-Western orientation, and leave the country even less secure against any dangerous development, be it external incursion, hybrid warfare, hostile prop-

aganda, or regional instability resulting from the possible revival of the Karabakh conflict or post-IS surge in Islamic fundamentalism and terrorism. Georgia will need to calculate very carefully and pro-actively every single step of the balancing act ahead so as not to provoke any undesirable development in the short-term, while persisting in its pro-Western orientation and strategic goals of Europeanization, democratization, and Euro-Atlantic integration. This is even more important as the West may temporarily weaken its support for such processes, so that Georgia will need to act with greater perseverance and resilience in dealing with external threats and internal problems. In the latter case, special focus is needed not just on economic growth and financial stability, but much greater attention should be paid to reducing inequality and the income gap in order to avoid the same dangerous tendency of anti-establishment revolt as observed elsewhere. Georgia may also need to strengthen its partnership with its other pro-western neighbors, and the recent agreement to strengthen Georgian-Ukrainian policy dialogue is a good sign that this point is well understood on both sides. Still, it is clear that in the years to come, national security will remain the top priority for any Georgian government. While security is not always about building up adequate military hardware against a perceived enemy and more about creating an environment conducive to peace, for a small state like Georgia, strengthening military capacity and commitment to defend its own sovereignty should necessarily go hand in hand with what is dubbed ‘strategic patience’ and diplomatic efforts to reduce potential threats. With due care and the right policies, Georgia will successfully

The resolution lists EU and NATO membership as Georgia’s top foreign policy priorities having “no alternatives”, while pursuing a “rational policy” with Russia for the purpose of “minimizing threats” and “restoring territorial integrity.” cope with existing and expected challenges and its prospects of stability, peace and hopefully even prosperity will make it an island of stability in a world that is going crazy. However, as the old Latin adage says, si vis pacem, para bellum (if you want peace, prepare for war) and this is true far beyond purely military issues.






his month, three top US SenatorsJohn McCain, Lindsay Graham and Amy Klobucher, as part of a bipartisan delegation to Georgia, visited the Russian occupation line in the village of Khurvaleti and travelled to Tbilisi to demonstrate, many would say, some strong views to Tbilisi, Moscow and Washington. Voice of America polled Washington-based analysts and Caucasus watchers for their commentary and analyses. The report was first published by Voice of America’s Georgian Service in Washington. Interviews were recorded by Anna Kalandadze. Here is an abridged version of two of those interviews:

DAMON WILSON, EXECUTIVE VICE PRESIDENT, US ATLANTIC COUNCIL, WASHINGTON The visit of Senators McCain, Graham and Klobuchar to Georgia was very significant and deliberate. They were trying to send clear messages. Now remember that the visit started in the Baltics, and then went on to Ukraine and Georgia with the express aim of first reassuring our allies and partners- in Sen. Mccain’s words, he sees Georgia as a US ally- and sending a clear signal of US support to the counties in the region, and second, for the eyes of the real audiences in Washington and Moscow. For Moscow, the intention was to say that ‘regardless what you hear about our transition or even from the President-elect, the US Congress and the US senate remains very strong in support of our allies, very skeptical and concerned about what Russia is doing, and plans to

McCain, along with two other US senators - Lindsey Graham and Amy Klobuchar – came to Georgia on a two-day visit to emphasize his support for Georgia's "sovereignty and territorial integrity"

exercise its role and its authority to maintain a strong US posture against Putin’s adventurism and in support of sanctions’. And at the same time, the message to Washington was that the Senate has strong views on Russia and they will be heard and they will be acted on. I think at this time of uncertainty, with the Senators’ visit, they wanted to set out that they know what Russia is doing, saying ‘we want to expose this a little more

Georgia, Turkey Discuss Deeper Cooperation



ithin the framework of his official visit to Turkey, Georgia’s Foreign Minister, Mikheil Janelidze, held meetings with Turkish officials and discussed the prospects of increasing bilateral cooperation between the two countries in various fields. At a meeting with the President of Turkey, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the two sides highlighted the friendship and close bilateral relations that already exist between Turkey and Georgia. Janelidze condemned the recent terrorist attacks in Turkey and expressed his support and solidarity for the Turkish government and people. The issue of expanding the free trade agreement between the two countries was a key issue of Janelidze’s discussions with the Turkish Prime Minister, Binali Yildirim. The sides highlighted the strategic partnership between Georgia and Turkey and the political agenda of the two countries. The officials expressed readiness to contribute to deepening bilateral co-operation in the sectors of trade, economy, energy and transport and discussed the free trade agreement and terms of concluding the first stage of the Baku-Tbilisi-Kars railway project, as well as

implementation of various economic projects. The officials agreed to continue work within the High-level Strategic Cooperation Council, the next meeting of which will be held in Georgia. Trilateral cooperation between Georgia, Turkey, and Azerbaijan was also mentioned. The long-awaited Baku-Tbilisi-Kars rail line is slated for completion this year, and takes the trilateral partnership into the realm of international importance. While meeting his Turkish counterpart, Mevlut Cavusoglu, Janelidze pointed out that in 2017 Georgia and Turkey are celebrating 25 years of diplomatic relationship. “Together, we are developing regional strategic projects, such as railways, energy projects, electricity transit, and other projects, which are important not only for our neighbors and the region, but for Europe, too,” said Janelidze. Cavusoglu reasserted Turkey’s firm support of Georgia’s sovereignty, territorial integrity, and EuroAtlantic integration aspirations. Janelidze also attended a meeting with Vice Speaker of the Parliament of Turkey Ahmet Aydın, and participated in the ninth conference of Turkish ambassadors. "I believe the relationship between our countries will be strengthened in the future, which will be the basis of security and stability in the region,” Janelidze said, addressing the ambassadors. Turkey remains Georgia’s largest trade partner.

to the American people and at the same time stand firmly by our allies and partners in the region.’

JOSHUA KUCERA, EDITORIN CHIEF AT EURASIANET, WASHINGTON AND ISTANBUL The Senators were trying to show that in spite of all the uncertainty towards Russia in US, at

least some parts of US Government are firm in their support for Georgia and their opposition to Russia- that was pretty clear given the itinerary: Baltics, Ukraine, and Georgia. So, that was the message to Russia, and back to Presidentelect Trump: that if he is going to change the policy towards Russia or Georgia, there will be opposition in Congress and other parts of the US Government. Sen. McCain alone will not be able to influence the US Government’s actions, but if Trump is to dramatically change policies, he will likely run into an opposition from the US State Department, US Defense Department and other agencies. But if I were a Georgian, I would ask how this is different from anything else that has happened in the last ten years. These are very strong messages of America’s friendship to Georgia. So, the question is whether the US is defending Georgia against Russia? Of course not; we saw that in 2008 and I don’t think anything has substantially changed since then. So, if I were a Georgian, I would take all this skeptically. To me, it’s just a photo-op, a grandstanding by Senators that otherwise does not mean very much. What you have to look at is the details of US policy. Last summer, the US started a new military cooperation agreement, a memorandum with Georgia that will completely change the direction of US security assistance which has been helping Georgia train its forces to deploy them in places like Afghanistan. Now it’s going to deemphasize that and emphasize territorial defense, which is what the Georgian forces always wanted. So, the trendline of US security assistance is positive from Georgia’s perspective. Nobody knows if that is going to change come January 20, but in general, the US has been more strongly supportive of Georgia militarily than ever before.




JANUARY 13 - 16, 2017

Government to Launch Loan Larization Scheme



he Georgian National Bank and the government of Georgia will initiate the loan Larization scheme from January 17 in a move announced during the government meeting on January

11. The credit loan Larization process is expected to decrease the dependency of the country’s population and its financial sector on foreign currencies, the US dollar in particular. During the meeting, Prime Minister of Georgia Giorgi Kvirikashvili made a formal address to the Minister of Finance, Dimitry Kumsishvili, asking him to begin detailed

clarifications of the procedures for the planned Larization process after the completion of the meeting. According to current plans, this will affect clients who took out loans before January 1, 2015, whose income did not exceed 10,000 Lari that year, and whose remaining credit balance is not higher than $40,000. However, if the loan is already paid in full for the period from January 1, 2015 to November 28, 2016, the credit remaining for the period after that point will be subsidized by the Georgian government. “We’re providing commercial banks enough resources both in national currency and in US dollars so no additions will be needed in the process,” said Archil Mestvirishvili, Vice President of the Georgian National Bank.

The President & His Predicted Resignation OP-ED BY ZAZA JGARKAVA


he first days of the New Year, as a rule, are never marked with special political activities. The whole country, including politicians, is seated at the feast table, enjoying Gozinaki and Satsivi, drinking toasts to a “happy future.” And exactly in light of these fun and merry times, David Usupashvili’s prediction about the resignation of President Giorgi Margvelashvili has become the latest political scandal. The ex-Parliament Speaker voiced that he is in no doubt that in June, the Chief Commander will address Georgian citizens with the following words: “The Dream is seizing your rights to directly elect the president, I am powerless against these changes. However, I will resign, giving you the chance to once again elect the President you want to have, until these changes come into force in 2022.” The former Parliamentary Speaker is not the first to call on Margvelashvili to resign. As early as 2014, a few months after his election, then-Prime Minister Ivanishvili urged him to do so. Later, in 2015, a group of Georgian writers published an open letter titled ‘Giorgi Margvelashvili – Saakashvili 2, who chose to stand beside the “UNM’s Talibans”, should resign from the post of the Georgian President!’ A group affiliated with the Georgian Dream began collecting signatures demanding his resignation in 2016. They blamed the President for perversion as he had been against adopting the law to define a “family union” in the Constitution. And now, in the very first days of 2017, the resignation of President Margvelashvili has been predicted by Usupashvili. The President’s response regarding this foretelling was quite original: “First of all, to what extent is this issue relevant? Secondly, I do not have any comments regarding this subject specifically... you want the President to comment on somebody else’s comment? ...The question was

asked incorrectly. I do not wish to comment on this subject,” he told journalists. Naturally, the New Year’s impromptu by our exSpeaker was commented on by the government. One of the leaders of the Georgian Dream, Gia Volsky, said that such a development would be favorable only to those who want instability in the country: “This scenario is ungrounded, untimely, unconstructive and openly harmful for the country, oriented towards confrontation, and by no means does it have anything to do with an expert analysis. This is favorable for those political parties and powers which have no chances in future elections.” The words of the former Head of the Parliament also surprised his former party colleague Vakhtang Khmaladze. Current member of the Constitutional Commission, which will decide the fate of the President’s post, Khmaladze is in favor of abolishing the direct election of the President, though he stresses the timeline of the changes is far off: “Given the fact that the indirect election of the President is more typical to Parliamentary Republics and so also to us, I believe it is more acceptable; so let them make the relevant changes to the Constitution. But these changes will come about in 2018, that is, after the Presidential elections.” Overall, the community of experts notes that what Usupashvili voiced is quite possible, though they find it too early to discuss: “In order to prepare all the relevant constitutional changes and hold consultations with Parliament, the Commission will need a minimum of 10 months. Therefore, I regard such an announcement as incorrect,” said constitutionalist Kote Chokoraia. Moreover, observers are not ruling out that the main reason for the exSpeaker’s comments might be his own wish to fight for future Presidency. The political year has started out scandalously. Whether ex-Speaker’s prediction will prove true is hard to say. As time passes, more and more political value will be added to President Margvelashvili, especially in the given circumstances, that is, when the political field is completely clear and the acting President has no competitors to deal with.



(left) Giorgi Gakharia, Minister of Economy and Sustainable Development of Georgia, Giorgi Margvelashvili, President of Georgia (center) and (right) Dimitry Kumsishvili, Minister of Finance

Produce in Georgia to Unite State Support Programs Under One Brand BY NINO GUGUNISHVILI


he Produce in Georgia for Fast Development Platform was presented at the Radisson Blu Iveria Tbilisi Hotel on January 12. The Platform aims to unite all the State supported programs realized by the Ministry of Economy of Georgia, Enterprise Georgia, Ministry of Agriculture, Georgia’s Innovation and Technology Agency, and the projects of the Georgian Partnership Fund, under one brand. The new initiative expects to facilitate and foster cooperation between the publicprivate sectors in the country. As Giorgi Margvelashvili, President of Georgia, stated in his opening speech at

the event, supporting the growth of employment opportunities, the development of small and medium businesses, and assisting various local initiatives are the answers to the challenges facing Georgian society today. “We won’t be able to develop very effective State supported health programs, we can’t invest more in education, we won’t be able to intensively finance infrastructure projects and we won’t be able to serve our society more effectively if the business sector is not empowered,” the President said. “The mission of our government is to create a strong economy. We all understand that the basis of a strong economy is a strong and competitive private sector. Our goal is to have enterprises that will be able to compete and to produce competitive Georgian products. Other-

wise, we will not be able to enjoy fast economic growth or the creation of new work places and employment opportunities,” said Giorgi Gakharia, Minister of Economy and Sustainable Development of Georgia. It was recognized that the State needs to better support entrepreneurial spirit, the main idea behind the Produce in Georgia initiative, which aims to create a common space for business services, making it easier for potential customers to communicate. Further, Produce in Georgia needs to be more oriented towards maximizing the involvement of the small and medium scale businesses, focusing on engaging them more actively in the process. Also highlighted was the need for the State to show more interest in exporting locally-made products.

Smart Capital: Davos to Host Caspian Week Business Forum


n January 16-20, Davos will host the Caspian Week Business Forum organized by Swiss Integral Petroleum and its Georgian partner oil products transportation company – Smart Capital. The Forum aims to intensify employment of Caspian-Black Sea and Silk Road resources and to create business development opportunities throughout the region. The Forum will be attended by representatives of the business sector, global financial institutions, banks, logistics and transportation companies, manufacturing and investment companies and Silk Road countries, including Georgia. At the Forum, experts will introduce regional development perspectives and new business opportunities in transport, investment attraction, healthcare and

human resources management, infrastructure development and energy issues. “The Forum provides a good platform to introduce the Region's resources to businessmen and outline new opportunities for business development,” Smart Capital founder Vano Chkhartishvili said. “It is in Georgia's interest to attract as much cargo as possible and increase the

role of our country as a key transport and energy hub of the Silk Road. Over recent years our company has handled millions of tons of oil products via Georgian railway and seaports. We hope after the Forum we will increase cargo turnover and create new job placement. The Forum will be held annually,” Chkhartishvili said.





JANUARY 13 - 16, 2017

Georgia Opens 14 “Fab Labs” Countrywide

FabLab surti: The official opening ceremony, at the Community College of Mermisi, was attended by Georgia’s Minister of Education and Science, Alexander Jejelava, and by the Minister of Economy and Sustainable Development, Giorgi Gakharia



eorgia’s Ministry of Education and Science opened fourteen “Fab Labs” around the country this week, a move that supporters claim has brought Georgia near the top of world rankings in regards to the number of laboratories in any given state. State-funded Fab Labs are touted as modern and innovative laboratories which help young innovators turn their ideas into reality. They are equipped with modern computers and other equipment, where students can create products on the basis of knowledge gained in vocational colleges, and attempt to commercialize their innovations. Fourteen such labs were opened in 10 cities of Geor-

gia: Tsalenjikha, Mestia, Gurjaani, Akhaltsikhe, Batumi, Kutaisi, Batumi, Rustavi, Ambrolauri and Tbilisi in vocational colleges and other innovation centers. The official opening ceremony, at the Community College of Mermisi, was attended by Georgia’s Minister of Education and Science, Alexander Jejelava, and by the Minister of Economy and Sustainable Development, Giorgi Gakharia. Jejelava said such modern labs were a step forward for new opportunities in Georgia, and Gakharia added the labs would help to fill in the gap between demand and supply in Georgia’s labor market. The first Fab Lab was opened in Ilia State University in 2014. Since then, 22 labs have been founded throughout the country. The Ministry of Education says that opening of 14 labs at the same time is unprecedented in the Caucasus Region.

The Philosophy of Love & Avoiding Inevitability BY MAKA LOMADZE


EORGIA TODAY once again meets Merab Oniani, psychologist and arttherapist, to talk about the philosophy of love.

HOW CAN WE DESCRIBE THE PHILOSOPHY OF LOVE IN BRIEF? The right to love is absolute and unconditional. In love, there is a divine will. It comprises a creative act. It is always cosmic, necessary for the harmony of the universe. Therefore, love should not be feared for the pain it can cause.

HOW CAN WE IDENTIFY TRUE LOVE? There is no owner or private property in love.

IS THERE A BIG DIFFERENCE BETWEEN HOW MEN LOVE AND WOMEN LOVE? There is a deep and tragic irrelevance between these two phenomena. There is misunderstanding and alienation. A woman by nature dedicates herself to one partner. She receives happiness and pain from love equally. Women are often genial in love, having a universal attitude to it, and her hopes are connected with love. However, there is something formidable and as absorbent as an ocean for men about the element of feminine love. Factually, a woman’s requirements to love are so infinite that it is almost impossible for a partner to fulfill them. Therefore, an inescapable tragedy of love arises. Men searching for beauty to adore and worship. It is difficult for a man to love a woman because he wishes to adulate before beauty. Worshipping is a component of a man’s love. However, a woman is rarely such a beauty that deserves adoration. Therefore, love brings to men disappointment. The irrelevance between the woman’s face and eternal feminine beauty wounds him.


The latter. A good-looking woman is very attractive, but this is the first effect. Afterwards, more important are her personal traits, how kind she is, what values she has, etc. An attractive appearance, if not paired with inner beauty, is often compared to the beauty of a poisonous mushroom, which attracts nothing but poison…

SO, IF A MAN FALLS IN LOVE AT FIRST SIGHT IT SHOULD BE SEEN AS MORE A STEREOTYPE THAN A REALITY? Yes. It is superficial and women should not go along with such ideas. It would mean that men are only concentrated on visual things and not at all on audio effects. Moreover, it would mean that they do not have wits at all! Who said that men love frivolous girls? It is not true. To go back to our conversation about men, a really mystic sense of love is not worshipping, but the reciprocity towards feminine origin. The sense of eroticism is that it represents creative advance. The sense of love is not in a static life but in dynamic movement. Any victory of the former against the latter would mean death for love, turning it from creation into obedience. In real love, there is creative inspiration. Those who try to change love by obedience do not understand what they are doing, as it means that one is turning freedom into inevitability. There is nothing static about love. It is not about organizing anything.

WHAT HAPPENS INSIDE A PERSON WHEN ONE WAS IN LOVE AND LOST IT? Everyone who has once loved and lost it will start searching for it again, as love gives self-confidence and makes one more important a person. One cannot have achievements without it. Having lost it, one feels that one has lost one’s own self. One cannot recognize one’s own features, manners, attitudes… Only love can restore a human being, giving richness, harmony, enjoyment. It also helps in work. Love gives wings to those who wish to be able to fly. Love is the foundation of health, calmness of the soul and all that is good.



JANUARY 13 - 16, 2017


Soundtrack of that Life: Etseri, Svaneti



s has happened more than once in my seven years of marriage, I find myself alone again for New Year's and Orthodox Christmas. Sometimes I have gone to Canada on a free TLG winter holiday ticket, but those are no longer offered, so more usually I let my wife go to her people in Kakheti while I tend to the barn's denizens. One small project I undertook this time, solely for my own edification I admit, was the tracking down and reproducing of a certain music compila-

If smell is a powerful force in many people for reviving memories of certain occasions, for me, music has the same effect

tion CD's playlist, solely from YouTube. It dates from early 1996, and a friend of mine got his copy as a free insert in HMV Magazine of that time, in the UK. He's a rather special fan of music in general. He, another friend from the Netherlands, and I shared an apartment in St Petersburg, Russia, for a few wonderful years before they both married their sweethearts and we went our separate ways. Listening to it now, I'm THERE. The three of us were already such good friends before that move-in that it had just been a matter of time before we accomplished it, a matter of finding the right place. This turned out to be a twostory affair with 1.5 bathrooms, rather a special place in the St P of the 1990s. Its landlady appeared from even further north in Russia twice a year to demand rent, and more of her we could not have stood, but the flat was a dream. Each of the three of us had a different way of looking at music. The guy who had that CD, he didn't care what the message of the music was, its lyrics or theme; nor was technical accomplishment by the musicians his primary concern. The emotive content, how it made him FEEL, was primary to him. And his tastes ran the gamut from Brahms to Bjork. If the music and its associated feeling were powerful enough and he was behind the wheel, he'd have to pull over, or crash. He once walked in and started playing the grand piano during a crowded lunch at the city's Astoria restaurant, at which Hitler's printed menus for a victory dinner had been found when the Nazi siege of Leningrad finally was broken in the 1940s. Why spoil a good thing? Let him play on!

The Dutch fellow's main interest in music was its moral qualities; he had grown up with a pipe organ in his family's living room in Amsterdam. Neither was he thrown out when he sat down to a similar, if much larger, instrument in the main cathedral of Budapest and began to use it. He, too, was good enough to let play in that setting. Me? I could live with a poor message, or one with which I disagreed (as long as it wasn't actively Satanic, say), if the technical quality of the music and singing were high. That's why I love the Eagles and Rush, along with many other groups, and adore Annie Lennox's voice. Sing me the phone book, I don't care. This CD was the soundtrack of those few years with my flat-mates, often playing in the background. We could come together of an evening after being about our separate businesses all day long and dive, without any preliminaries, straight into any topic of philosophy, theology or the arts, and discuss it until the wee hours came and sleep forced itself upon us. All of the 16 tracks were by people unknown to me until then, and more than one of the compiled artists I decided to follow based upon that one initial song. They ran from Garbage and Portishead to the Chemical Brothers and Oasis. The songs can never mean anything similar to anyone else in the world, except perhaps my two friends from that era, and even then there will be differences between us. It has been like that for me at other times, too. If smell is a powerful force in many people for reviving memories of certain occasions, for me, music has the same effect. So... Billy Idol's White Wedding will always take me back to Grade 12 in my high school's art room in Canada (we were allowed

to have the radio on during art lessons); Iron Maiden's Run to the Hills dates from a few years later, and puts me in a certain pizzeria on Edmonton's Jasper Avenue, run by a pair of brothers from Iran, frequented by street people from after "official hours" until early in the morning. Here some friends and I made some very unlikely friendships with the city's down and out in late 1987, and ended up bringing about 50 of them a full Christmas dinner that year. I wouldn't say that these songs are necessarily at all to my liking; but the happy memories associated with them will always remain. So now, when I listen to my newly re-compiled CD from 20 years ago (see the artists and tracks below), I'm back there. Nothing wrong with the present (I'll look back on it and compile a new playlist for The Svaneti Years), but that nostalgia, too, has its deep hooks and attractions. What's the soundtrack of a particular time in YOUR life? Cast - Fine Time; Paul Weller - Stanley Road; Chemical Brothers - In Dust We Trust; Del Amitri - It Might As Well Be You; PJ Harvey - C'mon Billy; Portishead - Numb; Garbage - My Lover's Box; Suede - Shipbuilding; Leftfield - Inspection; Menswear - 125 West 3rd Street; Goldie - Still Life; Sheryl Crow - Run Baby Run; Tricky - Black Steel; Edwyn Collins - Out Of This World; Boo Radleys - Reaching Out From Here; Oasis - Champagne Supernova Tony Hanmer has lived in Georgia since 1999, in Svaneti since 2007, and been a weekly writer for GT since early 2011. He runs the “Svaneti Renaissance� Facebook group, now with over 1350 members, at 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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JANUARY 13 - 16, 2017

About Community-based Housing for the Disabled, and a Dream INTERVIEW NINO GUGUNISHVILI


ee me, I can! - Says a slogan of ‘the Hand in Hand’- an NGO that provides community based housing for persons with mental and intellectual disabilities. Georgia Today met with Maia Shishniashvili - the founder to tell the story how she decided to be the first to introduce and develop the new concept in the country.

WHAT MADE YOU DECIDE TO FOUND HAND IN HAND? It was because of my son, Levancho, who was born with a very rare Angelman syndrome, a complex genetic disorder that affects mainly nervous system. The condition is characterized with delayed development, intellectual disability, severe speech impairment and Ataxia - problems with movements and balance. Children with Angelman syndrome in most of the cases have epilepsy. Discovering Levan’s diagnosis was absolutely shocking. I went to US for Edmund S. Muskie scholarship when Levan’s condition worsened, the only diagnosis we had in Georgia was of epilepsy; the doctors had no answers to the questions I asked, which made me decide to take him to the US. The diagnosis of Angelman’s syndrome is still extremely difficult, practically impossible in Georgia. I went to the US alone and did my MS in community health education. Luckily, with enormous effort, I managed to finish a two-year MS program in one year, and by taking Levan with me had the chance to spend more time with him. Additionally, I tried to learn as much as I could about the services available for children with disabilities. I went to all the treatments and examinations he had, I observed, learned, and slowly got involved. The final results of my son’s diagnosis arrived when we were back in Georgia, and that’s when I first heard of Angelman syndrome. When I read about it, one phrase struck me in particular. It said he could never live independently; he would always need support services. I took him to an integrated kindergarten class, then to a day center, then to school, because it’s so important for him, and for all children with disabilities, to be included with children we call “normal”. Making friendships is hugely important.

even know that there were institutions for the disabled. Because I’d learned about the best existing practices in the US, my goal was to create an environment maximally adjusted to the conditions and atmosphere of family livingit was the only model I wanted to establish and follow. We founded our NGO Hand in Hand in 2010 with a mission to create better living conditions for people with disabilities and to support their inclusion and integration into society. I realized that the major problem was not in providing services for persons with disabilities, but in helping them transition from the institution to the community-based housing. There were many examples when people who came to live in our center from the so-called shelters had been physically and psychologically abused and consequently had no trust. Their stories and experiences were often dramatic and heartbreaking. It took a lot of effort to help them forget all that negativity. In Georgia, the concept of community-based housing for the disabled is slightly different from international practice. In foreign countries there are very strict limitations regarding the number of beneficiaries. The ideal number of people in each home must not exceed six, otherwise it becomes difficult to monitor the needs of each individual, and I agree with that totally. At Hand in Hand, we always try to pay attention to each of our inhabitants. Their freedom is very important for us. Our mission here is to assist them in becoming as independent as they possibly can in controlling and leading their own lives.

WHAT DO YOU THINK NEEDS TO BE DONE FOR THEM TO BE INTEGRATED INTO SOCIETY? Unfortunately, there still are many stereotypes in our country even with those social workers and psychologists who work with persons with disabilities. I think we have to give people who are mentally disabled a chance to make their own mistakes, and learn from them. We all make mistakes, but only people with disabilities are treated differently, with their mistakes often being credited to their disability. Of course, we’re here to assist them even when they make mistakes. We have to help them to acquire the necessary skills for independent liv-

ing. Very often, when we meet disabled people living in institutions, they don’t even know about the possibilities of living outside as many of them have spent their whole lives isolated. We ask that they visit us and choose. The services we offer in each of our six houses are for adults. However, it’s not enough to have just family-type community housing services. I would wish the same system we have here to be developed in homes themselves. Services should also be provided to children and adults living at home with their parents. Do we see them? No. They are isolated from society and locked in their own homes. From January, we’re starting a pilot project

WHAT WERE YOUR NEXT STEPS? I felt that something was missing; I feared the future. I constantly caught myself wondering what would happen to my child if I couldn’t be there for him for any reason, wondering how he’d cope. I started to think what kind of assistance should be provided. That’s when the idea of creating communitybased housing for people with disabilities came along. At the time, I didn’t

bringing assistants to homes directly.

CAN YOU NAME ANY POSITIVE CHANGES IN PROVIDING SERVICES FOR PERSONS WITH DISABILITIES? The State sees the importance of familytype housing for persons with disabilities and is starting to acknowledge their right to have free choices and to live in a comfortable environment. We are trying to develop our services according to the everyday needs and the skills gained by our beneficiaries. Two of them, Giorgi and Christina, were interns at the social enterprise “Babale” and will soon start to officially work there with salaries. The next step for us will be to assist them in learning how to manage their incomes. In our center in Gurjaani, both last year and this, we’ve been producing and selling Churchkhelas, with the money raised used for the needs of the center in Kakheti. Although we’re now enrolled in a state financed program, the only regular donor we have is the Open Society Georgia Foundation. Through a friend of mine, I met Judith Klein, who’s been the director of the Mental Health Initiative and worked for the Open Society Foundation since 1995. She was instantly inspired with the idea of creating a family type housing center for the disabled and I was sent to Croatia for training. Croatia has already started the process of deinstitutionalization, with State institutions being transformed into family-type housing centers. I’m dreaming of the time when the same comes to pass in Georgia, and I don’t want to wait another fifteen years for it; I’m dreaming of a time when people with disabilities won’t have to leave their homes, but will have services right there to help them be independent; I’m dreaming of seeing people with disabilities everywhere working, studying, traveling, having fun and enjoying their lives, just like others do.

International Dermatovenerology Clinic KANI Continues #takecare Social Awareness Campaign


nternational dermatovenerology clinic KANI has initiated another round of its social awareness campaign #TakeCare, which aims to motivate people to pay more attention to sexually transmitted infections. Recent statistics in Georgia suggest that in 2015 only around 15,000 cases of sexually transmitted infections were registered. This number, however, is likely misleading, as citizens are very often

quite reluctant to approach doctors with STIs. The actual number of cases in Georgia could very well be over 100,000. These statistics are quite alarming, because many infections can cause serious and life-altering complications if left untreated, such as infertility, impotency, or worse. KANI calls for citizens of Georgia to take care of their own health and the health of their partners. It is essential to

undergo medical tests. A number of celebrities, professionals, and psychologists are taking part in the campaign, urging more people to visit their venereologists. Kani clinic offers diagnoses via urinary DNA (genetic) analysis, which is completely in line with the all the latest international standards. With urinary analysis it possible to diagnose various infections, important news for everyone.

Men especially will appreciate the technological advance, since for them the full range of infections was previously diagnosable only by swabbing, a rather painful method. For treatment, too, Kani clinic meets every international standard. The #TakeCare social awareness campaign is being carried out on online social networks. There is also a web page, accessible at www.venerologia.ge


Shaburishvili’s ‘Guest’ to be Featured at Aubagne International Film Festival



new short film by Georgian filmmaker Nino Shaburishvili will be screened at a French international competition of film focusing on young cinema talent. The Aubagne International Film Festival will run in the south of France from March 20-25 and is to feature Shaburishvili’s 2016 work, Guest, in the short film category. The films protagonist, ten-year-old Andro, lives in a village on the coast of the Black Sea where he sells hot boiled corn on the beach. One day, a French familly comes to the village and they invite him for dinner. The next day, Andro shares his lasting impressions of his interaction with the French family with his father.

Shaburishvili’s film received the Prize of International Animation Film Festival TOFUZI at the 2016 Batumi International Art House Film Festival. It was also screened among 400 submissions of the Aesthetica Short Film Festival in York (UK) last year and was featured in the Short Film Corner of the Cannes Film Festival in France. Tbilisi-born film director Nino Shaburishvili has lived and worked in France since 2011. She graduated from Strasbourg University in Filmmaking last year. The Aubagne International Film Festival supports young cinematographic creation and musical creation related to image. The Festival is also acknowledged as a place of training and an international center of meeting for young directors, scriptwriters, composers and sound designers. It stands among the Top 20 French film festivals in the National Center of Cinematography’s listing.

Meet the Artist: Otar Jorjikia, Tenor INTERVIEW BY MAKA LOMADZE


EORGIA TODAY is beginning a series introducing famous Georgian artists who have already made “professional statements” by performing on various eminent stages around the globe. Otar Jorjikia is one such sparkling star. The 30-year-old young Georgian tenor studied in Austria at the Performing Arts Studio in Vienna, simultaneously singing at the Vienna Musical Society Chorus and participating in various concerts with famous conductors such as Georges Prêtre, Vladimir Ashkenazy, Michael Boder, Gerd Albrecht and more. He has sung with such singers as Krassimira Stoyanova, Michael Schade, Natalia Stutzmann, and Mariana Lipovsek. In 2007, he returned to Georgia to study at the V. Sarajishvili Tbilisi State Conservatoire under Prof. Nodar Andguladze. During his student years he participated in different concerts and performances, including in the Conservatoire opera studio where he sang the parts of Tamino (Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s Die Zauberflöte), Alfredo (Giuseppe Verdi’s La Traviata), Nemorino (Gaetano Donizetti’s L’elisir d’amore), the Duke of Mantua (Verdi’s Rigoletto), and Lenski (Pyotr Tchaikovsky’s Eugene Onegin). In 2012, Jorjikia received a Presidential Scholarship and in 2013 the V. Sarajishvili Scholarship. Since then he has won the Lado Ataneli International Vocal Competition, attended master-classes by Prof. Eda Mozer and Renato Bruson (Italy) and sung the roles of Kote and Siko in the successful project Barbale, based on Victor Dolidze’s comic opera Keto and Kote (together with Mariam Nachkebia and Mikheil Kiria) and conducted by Vakhtang Kakhidze, and performed the tenor part in Haydn’s oratorio The Creation of the World with the Georgian National Philharmonic Orchestra, under Davit Kintsurashvili. Since 2013 Otar Jorjikia has been the soloist of the Tbilisi State Opera and Ballet Theater, debuting in 2014 as Don Alvaro in Verdi’s opera La Forza del Destino. In 2014 at the Verdi Voices Competition (Busseto, Italy) Otar, as a finalist, was invited to Verdi’s Festival where he sang Alfredo in Verdi’s La Traviata, a co-production of three leading opera theaters (Parma, Bologna and Busseto), conducted by Stefano Rabaglia and directed by Henning Brockhaus. In 2015, he sang the parts of Malkhaz (Zakaria Paliashvili’s Daisi) and Don Jose (Georges Bizet’s Carmen) in the Tbilisi Opera and Ballet Theater’s productions. GEORGIA TODAY met the man himself.

YOU WERE RECOGNIZED AS A PRODIGY CHILD. WHEN DID YOU START SINGING? As a child, I sang constantly. Even the neighbors asked my mother to let me keep on at it! I began when I was 5 years old and both my mother and father encouraging and supported me in developing my musical gift.

WHAT WAS IT LIKE WHEN YOU FIRST REALIZED YOU WERE A WUNDERKIND? I never felt that I possessed something special. I’ve always lived in an ordinary way, which has helped me to find new experiences.

I went to school like others did. However, I changed schools three times. I was quite energetic and was quite good at football. I got on well with people.

WHICH ARE YOUR DREAM ROLES? Probably, Othello in Verdi’s “Othello” and Rodolfo in Puccini’s “La Boheme” and I hope very much that I will sing them both soon. My favorite part is Don Jose in Bizet’s “Carmen” and Gabriele Adorno in Verdi’s “Simon Boccanegra”.

I very much wanted to be a film actor or a football player.

WHAT IS MUSIC FOR YOU DESCRIBE IT IN THREE WORDS… Music is the energy of kindness.



This was the road set for me and I’m happy to be on it. Everyone learns and gains experience in their own way.

WHICH WAS THE HAPPIEST DAY IN YOUR CAREER? I can’t choose just one. There were plenty of beautiful days that stand out. Happy days in one’s life are like family- one can’t say which of them is dearer than another.



Tel: (995 32) 2 45 08 08 E-mail: info@peoplescafe.ge

Above all, a human being deserves respect due to his/her personal traits and his/ her behavior in society, notwithstanding how good or bad you might be in your profession. I’m happy to feel so much love from so many people. But, of course, nobody is loved by everyone.




10 Galaktion Street



JANUARY 13 - 16, 2017

If everything has its own height like stairs in a human being’s mind, I believe, in this case, the spirituality or the inner kindness that a man should bear, is abolished and lowered to a certain level. Music, as well as the person I love, gives me the will and strength to live. One cannot separate what one loves and is happy to live for. I am as much a part of music as a part of the love that makes me happy. As for your sub-question, yes, I am always romantic. Does it help me? Yes, it does, as every trait helps one, and of it does not, you simply try to get rid of it.


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





05.50 11.45 18.10 01.40 07.30 13.55

07.25 13.25 20.00 04.55 10.50 17.15





17.50 13.55

19.10 16.55

TK 381 EVERYDAY TK 380 TK 393 TK 392





JANUARY 13 - 16, 2017


TBILISI ZAKARIA PALIASHVILI OPERA AND BALLET THEATER Address: 25 Rustaveli Ave. Telephone: 2 99 04 56 January 13 NEW YEAR WITH ANDRIS LIEPA The evening’s gala program: Igor Stravinsky’s ballet, The Firebird Choreography of Mikhail Fokine Dedicated to the 10th Anniversary of the Friends of Georgian Ballet Start time: 19:00 Ticket: 10 - 70 GEL January 18 THE NUTCRACKER Pyotr Tchaikovsky New redaction of choreography by Alexei Fadeechev State Ballet of Georgia Start time: 19:00 Ticket: 10 - 70 GEL GRIBOEDOVI THEATER Address: 2 Rustaveli Ave. Telephone: 2 93 43 36 January 13 GAMBLER F. Dostoevsky Directed by Gogi Margvelashvili Language: Russian Start time: 12:00 Ticket: 5 - 10 GEL January 14 HANGER-ON I. Turgenev Directed by Nugzar Lortkipanidze Language: Russian Comedy Start time: 18:00 Ticket: 5 - 10 GEL January 15 KHOLSTOMER. A STORY OF A HORSE L. Tolstoy Directed by Avtandil Varsimashvili Main Stage Start time: 19:00 Ticket: 5 - 10 GEL GABRIADZE THEATER Address: 13 Shavtelis St. Telephone: 2 98 65 93 January 13 RAMONA

Rezo Gabriadze Directed by Rezo Gabriadze English Subtitles Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 10, 15, 20 GEL January 14 STALINGRAD Rezo Gabriadze Directed by Rezo Gabriadze English Subtitles Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 10, 15, 20 GEL January 15 MARSHAL DE FANTIE’S DIAMOND Rezo Gabriadze Directed by Rezo Gabriadze English Subtitles Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 10, 15, 20 GEL MOVEMENT THEATER Address: 182, Aghmashenebeli Ave., Mushthaid park Telephone: 599 555 260 January 13 RECITATIVE IN THE CITY Kakha Bakuradze Participants: Sandro Nikoladze, Irakli Menagarishvili, Levan Mikaberidze, Special Guest: Lado Marjanidze Start time: 21:00 Free Admission TBILISI VASO ABASHIDZE MUSIC AND DRAMA STATE THEATER Address: 182 D.Agmashenebeli Ave. Telephone: 2 34 80 90 www.musictheatre.ge January 13 DIVORCE G. Eristavi Directed by Davit Doiashvili Musical Start time: 19:00 Ticket: From 8 GEL January 14, 15 ONCE UPON A TIME CHRISTMAS TALE Directed by Davit Doiashvili Musical Start time: 19:00 Ticket: From 8 GEL CIRCUS Address: 1 The Heroes Sq. Telephone: 2 98 58 61 www.krakatuk.eu

January 14 NEW YEAR ATTRACTION PARADE Start time: 13:00, 17:00 Ticket: 15-25 GEL CINEMA

AMIRANI CINEMA Address: 36 Kostava St. Telephone: 2 99 99 55 www.kinoafisha.ge Every Wednesday ticket price: 5 Lari January 13-19 LA LA LAND Directed by Damien Chazelle Cast: Ryan Gosling, Emma Stone, Rosemarie DeWitt Genre: Comedy, Drama, Musical Language: English Start time: 19:30 Language: Russian Start time: 16:30, 19:15, 22:00 Ticket: 8-14 GEL PASSENGERS Directed by Morten Tyldum Cast: Jennifer Lawrence, Chris Pratt, Michael Sheen Genre: Adventure, Drama, Romance Language: Russian Start time: 14:30 Ticket: 8-9 GEL LIVE BY NIGHT Directed by Ben Affleck Cast: Ben Affleck, Elle Fanning, Brendan Gleeson Genre: Crime, Drama Language: English Start time: 22:15 Language: Russian Start time: 17:00, 19:30 Ticket: 8-14 GEL RUSTAVELI CINEMA Address: 5 Rustaveli Ave. Telephone: 2 55 50 00 www.kinoafisha.ge Every Wednesday ticket: 5 GEL January 13-19 2+1 Directed by Hugo Gélin Cast: Omar Sy, Clémence Poésy, Antoine Bertrand Genre: Comedy, Drama Language: Russian Start time: 17:00, 19:30 Ticket: 8-14 GEL

LA LA LAND (Info Above) Start time: 14:40, 17:00, 19:45, 22:35 Ticket: 8-14 GEL LIVE BY NIGHT (Info Above) Start time: 14:00, 16:45, 22:15 Ticket: 8-14 GEL MUSEUM

GEORGIAN NATIONAL MUSEUM SIMON JANASHIA MUSEUM Address: 4 Rustaveli Ave. Telephone: 2 99 80 22, 2 93 48 21 www.museum.ge PERMANENT EXHIBITION: GEORGIAN ARCHAEOLOGY FROM 8TH MILLENNIUM B.C. TO 4TH CENTURY A.D EXHIBITION OF GEORGIAN WEAPONRY NUMISMATIC TREASURY THE TESTAMENT OF DAVID THE BUILDER AND THE NEW EXHIBITS OF MEDIEVAL TREASURY June 11 – March 11 (2017) EXHIBITION MEDIEVAL TREASURY The exhibition showcases preChristian and Georgian medieval art September 27 – September 22 (2017) EXHIBITION STONE AGE GEORGIA MUSEUM OF FINE ARTS Address: 1 Gudiashvili Str. EXHIBITION “LADO GUDIASHVILI AND GEORGIAN MONUMENTAL PAINTING” The exhibition showcases only one aspect of Gudiashvili's great art - monumental painting, which was presented discretely at various stages of his life. MUSEUM OF SOVIET OCCUPATION Address: 3 Sh. Rustaveli Ave. PERMANENT EXHIBITION IOSEB GRISHASHVILI TBILISI HISTORY MUSEUM KARVASLA

Address: 8 Sioni St. Telephone: 2 98 22 81 December 24 - January 20 (2017) Contemporary Art Gallery Project Presents exhibition: “SHAPING IDENTITY” GALLERY

THE NATIONAL GALLERY Address: 11 Rustaveli Ave. www.museum.ge PERMANENT EXHIBITION November 29 - January 28 (2017) EXHIBITION DEDICATED TO THE 140TH ANNIVERSARY OF IAKOB NIKOLADZE January 10 - February 24 EXHIBITION OF ALEXANDER BAZHBEUK-MELIKOV'S ARTWORKS MANIFEST STUDIO Address: 53 V. Barnovi Str. Telephone: 599 92 36 62 January 15-17 Mari Akubardia’s Exhibition DOGS MUSIC

MOVEMENT THEATER Address: 182, Aghmashenebeli Ave., Mushthaid park Telephone: 599 555 260 January 17 LIVE JAZZ EVENING WITH RESO KIKNADZE Start time: 21:00 Free entry January 18 TANGO MILONGA TANGO LESSONS Start time: 20:00 Tango lessons: 5 Lari each TUNNEL CLUB Address: 1 Melikishvili Ave. Telephone: 599 43 25 11 January 13 NEW YEAR EVENT Start time: 22:00 Ticket: 15 GEL TBILI SIO Address: 1 Petriashvili Str. Telephone: 555 73 64 94 January 13 MANANA MENABDE LIVE Start time: 22:00 Ticket: 30 GEL TBILISI EVENT HALL Address: 1 Melikishvili St. Telephone: 2 99 00 99 January 13 OLD NEW YEAR WITH GIO+ Ticket cost includes wine and sweets Start time: 21:00 Ticket: 50 GEL January 14 Solo presents the amazing concerts of legendary BOYZ II MEN The most popular R&B group of all time and Grammy, Billboard, Soul Train, American Music and Mobo award winners Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 150 GEL BUDDHA BAR Address: Rike Park January 13 OLD NEW YEAR EVENT STEPANE SPECIAL GUESTS: NIKOLOZ RACHVELI AND MAIA DARSMELIDZE Start time: 22:00 Ticket: 50 GEL




Secrets of Happiness and Why We Are Not Immortal be easily explained. Why do we love or why are we fed up? I have always felt and seen this symmetry.


also got a chance to talk to the author, Mikheil Khalvashi, a philosopher from Batumi.



nce, a wise man said that happiness is like a ghost that is much talked of but which hardly anyone has seen. However, realizing this is not a very optimistic opinion, GEORGIA TODAY went along to the Shaqro Grandpa Bookshop on January 9 to attend the book presentation of ‘Happiness from a Scientific Point of View’. We

WHAT IS HAPPINESS? DOES IT HAVE A GENDER, AGE, ETC? As Aristotle said, happiness is manifested in infinite diversity: one earns money and is happy, one is in love and is happy, one is at the table, eating delicious food and is happy. So, it was so diverse that until today, everyone thought that it could have no dialectical regularity, which means that it had to have had some inner essential signs that could

Telegraph Includes Tbilisi on List of 21 Must-Visit European Cities

It implies the general energetic potential of a human being. It comprises all the data of soul and body. The sensation of happiness depends on the variability of this energetic potential and its fluctuation to different sizes. In the center, there is a neutral zone. To the right, there are different zones of pleasure and on the left, there are different zones of torture. If the sensation of misfortune and unhappiness lasts too long, then a human being ceases to exist. When one is overwhelmed from the inside with an oversized negative feeling, unhappiness comes. If a human being overcomes the unhappiness, emptiness will then show up. But pleasure and happiness usually come not long after the salary is deposited in the bank, or anything else that can generally raise our spirits, even more so if we get more than we expected. The state of Nirvana exceeds all the sizes of happiness. However, it also subordinates our regularity. In my book, there are definitions of religious happiness, as well as that of mystic happiness, idealistic happiness, intellectual happiness, aesthetic happiness and everyday happiness, and these all can be explained with our rules. You are probably interested, as all of us are its servants - what is the basis of love, right?

YES Love is provided by the vital energy accumulated by a sweet-heart’s beauty in body and soul. Beautiful is beautiful because it spreads around that sweet-heart more vital energy than there is in the size of the corresponding “shell”. It overfills them and that is how pleasure is felt. It is a divine mercy, cosmic regularity and the more one gives, the more one get, as Laozi says, which is one of the secrets. Love lives while there is a sense of happiness between the partners. If one likes somebody, one should give out life energy for him/her, instead of bad temper, i.e. smile, caress him/ her with words, and talk warmly to him/her, etc.

WHAT IS IDEAL HAPPINESS? As Plato says, the supreme idea – God - created the world, but before creation, he created ideas. The human being should reach God via self-knowledge. This happiness is connected to the supreme idea, which Plato depicts as the Sun, the infinite donor of life energy to all. This Sun receives energy from the Creator. So, idealistic happiness means sharing the same regularity. Life would be ceaseless if the Sun gave never-ending energy, but our life also depends on metaphysical things. A person, like everything in this world, is the unity of positive and negative energy, which means that both energies are necessary even for our organic processes, but here we talk about the huge amount of negative energy that can poison the whole body, which causes death, otherwise, we would be immortal. So, the extreme opposite to Nirvana is death.

Photo by Shermazana



ritish daily The Telegraph has included Tbilisi on its list of "21 European cities you never thought to visit but definitely should." Tbilisi takes fourth place, after Bergamo (Italy), Skopje (Macedonia), and Treviso (Italy).

The Telegraph advices its readers to get lost in the splendor of the Georgian capital, noting that Tbilisi itself means “warm” and touting the underground springs and sulphur baths. “These days its fine Art Nouveau buildings and pretty, traditional balconied houses are what some would call shabby chic: If any city needed a good lick of Farrow and Ball, this one does. Yet new hotels and shopping malls are springing up. Tbilisi feels like a city finally coming into itself,” the article reads.



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JANUARY 13 - 16, 2017

PM Addresses Alleged Prostitution and Discrimination at Tbilisi Nightclubs BY THEA MORRISON


eorgia’s Prime Minister, Giorgi Kvirikashvili, made a statement on Wednesday regarding alleged prostitution and male-targeted discrimination in a number of nightclubs in central Tbilisi, especially those located near Rose Revolution Square. The PM said that he has been informed of local men not being allowed into thesnightclubs, which are mainly owned by foreigners. He said the same allegations accuse underage persons of prostitution in these same establishments, presumably providing an explanation as to why Georgian men are denied entry. “This is a very big problem. For me, this is disrespect of our country’s dignity, and this problematic issue should be solved as soon as possible,” said the PM. Kvirikashvili tasked the Ministry of Internal Affairs (MIA) with studying the case, and solving the problem in a timely fashion. Deputy Interior Minister Shalva Khutsishvili said the MIA has already started working on the issue. He said the results of the investigation would be made known to the public. The PM’s statement caused a variety of reactions among politicians and society. Georgia’s main opposition party - the United National Movement (UNM) – has expressed concern that such state-

President's Spokesperson, Eka Mishveladze Source: frontnews.com

ments may hamper investments, as most nightclubs in Tbilisi are owned by foreigners. The UNM believes it is up to the owners of the clubs to determine who is and isn’t allowed to enter the establishments. Some parties have pointed out that prostitution has always existed in Georgia, suggesting that the PM raised the question in order to cover up other more important issues. Others suggest that the PM is somehow attempting an unspecified manipulation of matters using the anti-discrimination law adopted on May 2, 2014. “If there are any places where child prostitution takes place, this is violation

of the law and has nothing to do with the discrimination of ethnic Georgians,” said Giorgi Gotsiridze, member of the Georgian Young Lawyers Association, a local NGO. Another NGO, named ‘Article 42 of the Constitution’ says that police already have enough information about places of prostitution, but are doing nothing regarding the matter because of the number of police informants involved. “If the police are going to work on the issue of prostitution, the PM should not have assigned the task (to them) publicly. After his statement, I do not expect this to be an effective investigation,” the head of ‘Article 42 of the Constitution’ said.

President’s Son-in-law Wounded BY THEA MORRISON


india Gogochuri, the son-in-law of President Giorgi Margvelashvili, was shot last night. Gogochuri is married to Masho Chichua, First Lady Maka Chichua`s daughter. He was taken to the Republican Hospital for emergency surgery. A friend of Gogochuri was also wounded during the incident, and is also currently hospitalized. Doctors say the president’s son-in-law

is in stable condition and that his life is not in danger. At time of going to press, the details of the incident are unknown and police have not made any comments. An investigation has been launched under Articles 118 and 236, which address premeditated damage of health and illegal possession of firearms. The President's spokesperson, Eka Mishveladze, made an official statement, assuring the public of the victims’ stable condition and condemning the attack. “At present we cannot speak in any detail. The investigation is underway and we are waiting for its completion,” she said.

Profile for Georgia Today

Issue #911  

January 13 - 16, 2017

Issue #911  

January 13 - 16, 2017