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Issue no: 1185



Check out our exclusive interview with Lithuania's MFA, Linas Linkevicius



In this week’s issue... James Appathurai Responds to Rasmussen's Statement on Georgia NEWS PAGE 2

Ukraine & Georgia: Time to Team Up?


The Rasmussen Proposition for Georgia POLITICS PAGE 6

Violence Doesn’t Pay Can Georgia Become Too American?

Women Councillors Seek a Greater Say in Georgia’s Economic & Political Life


eeting in Tbilisi Wednesday at their sixth annual conference, more than 150 members of the Women Councillors’ Forum of Georgia sought a greater say in economic and political issues at the local level. Participants called for municipal public services to pay greater heed to the needs of women, for example in expanding childcare options, and advocated better vocational training opportunities to help women succeed in the labor market. Organized by the Municipal Service Providers’ Association (MSPA) of Georgia with assistance from the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) and Austria, Denmark, Sweden and Switzerland, the event brought together women members of local councils from all regions of Georgia, as well as representatives of the Georgian Government, Parliament, civil society and international organizations, to discuss the opportunities arising from ongoing local governance reforms. Prominent national and international figures welcomed the conference as a vital forum for women’s voices; encouraged Georgian women to become more active in public life; and called for gender parity at all levels of governance. “The voices of women are becoming louder at all levels of Georgia’s politics,” said Tamar Chugoshvili, First Deputy Speaker of Parliament and Chairperson of the Gender Equality Council. “The Women Councillors’ Forum is a powerful platform to help women play a more active role in local governance, ensuring meaningful gender equality in decisionmaking.” “The political and economic empowerment of women is crucial for democracy and human rights and for ensuring equitable economic growth including all sectors of society, leaving no one behind,” noted Ulrik


Georgia Responds to Duma's Step to Investigate "Ossetian Genocide by Georgians" POLITICS PAGE 7

CENN/USAID Program Assists the Local Government to Close an Illegal Landfill in Batumi SOCIETY PAGE 9

Tideström, Ambassador of Sweden to Georgia and Armenia. “We are all aware of women’s untapped potential in many spheres in Georgia, as in many other countries, from the family home to the private sector as well as in local and national politics,“ said Danielle Meuwly, Regional Director of the Swiss Cooperation Office for the South Caucasus. “We thus remain strongly interested in further contributing to gender equality and strengthening women’s positions to achieve sustainable development for the society and economy at large.” Other speakers included Arad Benkö, Ambassador of Austria, and Elizabeth Rood, Acting US Chargé d’Affaires. Continued on page 8

Georgian, Swedish Gov’ts to Launch ‘Keep Georgia Tidy’ Project SOCIETY PAGE 12

Promotion of Georgia Underway on CNN CULTURE PAGE 15




SEPTEMBER 13 - 16, 2019



rally in Sokhumi concluded late night on September 10, having seen activists protesting the results of socalled presidential elections and demanding new elections. The protest broke up after the leader of the “Amc Akhar” political party, de facto presidential candidate Alkha Kvicinia, assured his supporters that he would continue his fight lawfully, in court. Simultaneously, the supporters of de

facto president Raul Khajimba gathered in front of the so-called President Administration building. While meeting with his supporters, Khajimba announced that despite dissatisfaction among the opposition, he had won the elections and the court would prove it. Abkhazian police stood guarding the buildings of the so-called parliament and President Administration as the protests took place. Abkhazia, a territory of Georgia still occupied by Russia, held the "elections" on September 8. Raul Khajimba got 47.38% of votes and Kvicinia 46.19%.

Image source: mod.gov.ge

James Appathurai Responds to Rasmussen's Statement on Georgia BY MARIAM MERABISHVILI

F Image source: radiotavisupleba.ge

ormer NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen wrote on his Twitter page on further developing relations between Georgia and NATO and stated that Georgia can show Russia that frozen conflicts in the country cannot stop its development. His Tweet suggested breaking the stalemate of the Georgia/NATO membership. “Georgia could discuss joining

NATO without Article 5 coverage for the illegally occupied territories. It would show Russia that creating frozen conflicts can't forever freeze Georgia’s future,” he wrote. This statement was met with differences in opinion among the public. The NATO Secretary General's Special Representative for Central Asia and the Caucasus, James Appathurai, responded to the statement. “I’ve seen the current exchanges in Georgia on joining the Alliance without Article 5 applying to the two regions. In my view, there is no point in a dis-

cussion of this issue now. I don’t see an appetite in NATO to consider this, nor do I believe the current international security environment makes this idea timely. “The Georgian Embassy to NATO is actively promoting more Georgia in NATO, and more NATO in Georgia, with clear and concrete ideas. This is the right approach, politically and practically. And the NAC will soon be in Georgia to discuss how to further deepen our cooperation, including to help Georgia with the reforms that help it prepare for membership,” Appathurai notes.




Things to Know about Rasmussen’s “Indecent Proposal”



s displeased as Irma Inashvili (of the Patriot Alliance party) and her cohort of like-minded “West’s bad, Russia’s good” followers were, or perhaps because of it, the proposal that the former NATO Secretary General voiced at the Tbilisi International Conference this week, was an offer that Georgia simply has no luxury to refuse, to put it in Godfather lingo. That is, unless we want

Russia to continue biting off the Georgian territory piece by piece, hardly bothered by stern words of condemnation that the many Western powers have found themselves limited to when it comes to reacting to Georgian issue. Just let a couple of things sink in: • The man tables the (arguably only) realistic scenario for Georgia to become a NATO member and the vice-speaker of Georgian Parliament tries to sabotage the conference where it’s being discussed. • Let’s assume tomorrow NATO tells us we can go in and Article 5 can cover the whole of Georgia, including Abkhazia and South Ossetia. Never mind

TBC Bank Co-founders to Establish Political Party



amuka Khazaradze, the founder of the public movement Lelo, on Thursday announced the establishment of a new political party together with his partner and fellow TBC co-founder Badri Japaridze. Speaking from the seaside city of Anaklia after the presentation of his public movement, the Georgian businessman noted he is not going to cooperate with any political party for the elections, adding that at this stage the organization is determined to participate independently in the 2020 elections, while after it enters parliament, it will act for the benefit of the country. "We are establishing a force focused on winning the elections in 2020, we declare this very seriously. We will not cooperate with anyone. We will par-

ticipate in the elections independently, without prominent politicians. "We will not cooperate with anyone at this stage. When we enter parliament, we will decide what will be important for our country, for our statehood,” he noted. He did not say who will be the members of the party, however, he noted that new faces will be appearing. Ana Natsvlishvili, the former chairperson of the Georgian Young Lawyers Association, will be the Speaker of the TBC Founders’ new public movement Lelo. “It will be a new, modern platform, with a strong team focused on goals and results, which will bring together high-class professionals,” Khazaradze said this week. “Ana Natsvlishvili has joined our new team and she will be the speaker of the movement. Ana is a true team-player with huge professional experience, firm character, a high level of objectivity and freedom.” Continued on page 6

NATO defenses- are we ourselves ready for such a scenario militarily? Hardly. And now for the “German model” that Rasmussen, and earlier, Heritage Foundation’s Luke Coffey referred to: West Germany became a member of NATO on May 6, 1955. As you well know, Germany was a divided country back then, with its eastern part occupied by the Soviet Union, creating a Democratic (the nerve!) Republic of Germany, which had no real will or sovereignty to decide its own course. From 1955-1990, until the unification of Germany, Article 5 of the NATO Charter, that of collective security, did not cover the territory of the Democratic Republic of Germany (GDR, or East Germany, to put it simply, where the Soviet Military forces were still lounging about). Now some might point to the fact that West Germany should have recognize the sovereignty of its eastern half, but let’s delve deeper into the subject before we pass judgment, shall we? From 1955, one of the tenets of West Germany’s foreign policy was the so-called Halstein Doctrine, dictating that the Federal Republic of Germany would not establish diplomatic relations with countries that recognized the GDR as a sovereign state. The Halstein Doctrine, in essence, can be compared to the non-recognition policy that our country has pursued since 2008. But there is yet another plot twist. 17 years after becoming a NATO member, on December 21, 1972, West and East Germany signed an agreement recognizing each other as sovereign countries. And as unthinkable as such scenario is in Georgia’s case, one must remember that even that couldn’t deter the German people from uniting in 1990 and creating one country that is modern Germany today. Theoretically, the Rasmussen Model, as cheesy

as it sounds and at the risk of provoking Mr. Coffey’s ire, offers us the following: Georgia becomes a NATO member and this membership will be modeled after West Germany membership from 1955 to 1972. There are three main conditions to identify here: 1. We do become part of the Alliance 2. Article 5, of Collective Security, does not cover, TEMPORARILY, territories occupied by the Russian Federation 3. We continue the non-recognition policy It would be quite far-fetched for anyone to say that, like Germany, we would have to recognize our breakaway territories as sovereign states after becoming NATO members. Another thing to underline is that the non-recognition policy, notwithstanding who has been at the helm of the country so far, has proved a success and we don’t have much to worry that the modern democratic world will change its mind towards this issue anytime soon. That’s what simple realpolitik logic dictates. What we need to do is not be a failed state when such opportunity arrives to slot seamlessly into the Euro-Atlantic security space. And for sanity’s sake, let’s forego the speculation that NATO wants us to give up and relinquish something. This might be a bitter pill to swallow but NATO membership in the foreseeable future is much more likely than regaining territorial integrity. In fact, the latter would hardly happen if the former were not to take place first. As for James Appathurai’s recent statement, where he said that there’s no appetite in NATO to consider such a scenario [see page 2], as much a friend of Georgia he is, and even keeping in mind that Appathurai is still an active official at NATO, while Rasmussen is a former Sec Gen, I would not think the latter’s opinion on the matter to be spontaneous or less important. Think Positive.




SEPTEMBER 13 - 16, 2019

Linkevicius on the West Georgia - Russia Triangle WEST, THEY WOULD SAY IT’S THE ‘ALL TALK, NO ACTION.’ WHEN WILL THIS CHANGE?



ow What? was the title of the Tbilisi International Conference 2019 and it was the same question that we asked Lithuania's Minister of Foreign Affairs, Linas Linkevicius, in an in-depth interview for GEORGIA TODAY and the Georgian Institute for Security Policy (GiSP) that effectively moonlighted as his vision on the geopolitical conundrum that the Georgian issue came to be between the proverbial West and Russia.

ALMOST EXACTLY ONE YEAR AGO YOU PUBLISHED AN OPED IN WAPO SAYING THIS IS A NEW POLITICAL SEASON THAT WILL PROVE TO BE A LITMUS TEST FOR TRANSATLANTIC UNITY. ONE YEAR ON, HAS THE WEST PASSED THIS TEST? I wouldn't say there’s been great progress but at least it's not collapsed. It’s ongoing and is in fact a stress test for the Euro-Atlantic alliance. We should act with high responsibility from both sides of the ocean, especially considering that sometimes we hear some very discouraging messages from overseas. Let's admit, though, there are some projects in the EU that may also raise questions, like the “European army.” As former Minister of Defense, I can say that neither I nor my colleagues fully understand it, but this is an issue being publicly discussed and raising some tensions and even suspicion overseas. Further, the language used overseas for bashing Europeans is at times too sharp, but we cannot deny the fact that Americans are bearing this burden and that it cannot last forever. Above all, we have to make sure that the Alliance remains as strong as it has been throughout its 70 years of history.

a workload but also taking risks, paying a price. When we talk about future membership, we always focus on the important of seeing alignment with the common policies, be they EU or NATO; we can criticize the country for its domestic affairs and internal conflicts, but the mechanisms are in place and we would like to see Georgia more advanced. At the same time, we should admit that there’s no consensus (in NATO) as yet. Despite that, we are supporting not just the country’s aspirations but its membership, and we’ll try to build this likeminded group as much as possible; it takes time and patience. It was the same with us Lithuanians. Better to improve yourself than point to others’ guilt and so waste time: deepen ties, create implicit security guarantees if not judicial, and become part of this bigger alliance not de jure but de facto. Georgia should be proud of what was achieved, understanding that the ultimate position is not reached so easily but is unavoidable.



Georgia deserves to be treated better than it is now because this treatment has to be based on the effort made and the performance on the ground. It's important to emphasize that. Georgia’s participation in peace missions is the largest per capita and this is not just theoretical statistics but people dying, being killed, so they’re not just sharing

Nobody knows. For Lithuania, I'm convinced the determining point was 9/11 in New York and Washington because, before that, we were not treated seriously, and our perspective was questioned by many. But when these terrorist attacks took place, it changed the mindset in the United States: first of all, they needed allies, regardless of the size, they needed

allies who really shared the risks and who wanted to join this coalition. That was understood consequently in western Europe, which was usually more careful or less enthusiastic [about expansion]. In our case, the turning point was really unexpected. But Georgia has been promised membership, in our case we were not.

SEEING AS WE HAVE RECENTLY WITNESSED A HUGE WAVE OF PUBLIC PROTESTS IN RUSSIA, WOULD A LEADERSHIP CHANGE IN RUSSIA BE THAT KIND OF WINDOW OF OPPORTUNITY FOR GEORGIA? It depends on civic society. We know that sometimes things in Russia change very quickly. I’m not predicting anythingI’m just saying this is historical fact. On the other hand, it’s also true that nobody would do anything from outside; Russia should do it itself. We have no intention and no right to intervene, but our duty is to facilitate the dialogue. That said, waiting for someone [Putin] to go is not a strategy; waiting for anything is not a strategy.

WHAT ABOUT STRATEGIC PATIENCE? Patience is fine but not if during this time you sit and do nothing; it’s not just waiting for something to change- that’s not smart; we have to cooperate, we have to do our best to keep channels of communication open and trying to sell our case. Also, we need to keep in mind that Russia is not just the Kremlin; Russia is bigger; there are many people also living

in [difficult social circumstances]. In Russian civil society there are intellectuals and those who really know what freedom means, what democracy means, and they deserve to be treated as partners and this is the Russia that we have to talk to.

YOU SAID BEFORE THAT AN APPEASEMENT POLICY TOWARDS RUSSIA HAS NEVER ENDED WELL FOR THE WEST. DO SUCH STATEMENTS MAKE A DIFFERENCE OR DO THEY FALL ON DEAF EARS? Things change, not just because I'm making these statements but also because of national experience. When you’re living in your comfort zone, war is bad, and while the occupation of some countries is also bad, it's not happening to you. But there have been events which really triggered different thinking in many Western European countries, like the Salisbury poisonings, and the downing of that plane, or the presidential elections in France.

YET MACRON HAD A LOVELY CHAT WITH PUTIN RECENTLY. But he was very angry about his meddling in the elections. We’ll see how it goes. It is changing, though at a slower pace than many would like.


Without talk there can be no action. Ideally, there should be consensus and then action can follow; actions so far implemented are the sanctions- economic sanctions for Crimea, sanctions because of the Kerch Strait and chemical attacks, because of the cyber-attacks. You see how it's increasing, and this is the good side; again I would repeat it's not about aggression, it's not an aggressive policy, though Russians always try to present such issues as anti-Russian. They simply should not be allowed to violate international law. It can be very difficult to find the right action. With Georgia, Ukraine, the aggression in Donbass, visiting these places and talking to the people, I find they think the same: “nobody needs us.” It’s very difficult to argue when such fighting is taking place in the middle of Europe. It's very sad but again, what can we do? We must do our best to change the situation, which is what we are going to do regardless of these problems and skepticism and lack of action.

WHAT DOES THE FUTURE HOLD FOR THE EASTERN PARTNERSHIP? We recently decided to make a differentiation in the program, to recognize that these three association agreement countries are not the same. Now we must give it more substance and give more to those who are able to digest more and to make sure that even if it's not an accession process, it is nevertheless rapprochement with the European Union rather than with the Asian Union. I suggested examples that would be preferable to our partners- projects which are more tangible and visible for people, bringing them closer to the European kitchen, among them energy, the single digital market, connectivity projects, roaming. In line with the visa-free, these would make it really clear to people that something is changing in their everyday lives. I'm not saying that it's so easy to reach out- it takes effort, but if these priorities are made and the differences between the countries recognized…Azerbaijan, Belarus they have different objectives, no missions to join, but they should also feel comfortable in the program; there should be no discrimination. So, if somebody decides to go deeper and wider, then it doesn’t mean that the other side is discriminated against, because that's their choice. The program needs to be attractive to both those who are running fast as well as to those who want something else. This is up to us. By default, it is not a success story yet it has the potential to become so.


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

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Ukraine & Georgia: Time to Team Up? BY LORRAINE VANEY


n five years, the Tbilisi International Conference has built up a grand reputation through its speakers, mostly foreign experts and diplomats from the US and European countries. This year, each took the opportunity to emphasize its full support to Georgia’s democratic development, to its Western orientation and to its territorial integrity (minus the comment of the former NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen regarding the possible exclusion of Abkhazia and South-Ossetia from the integration process to NATO). This last would indeed be a way out of the current blockade, but even if, internally, Georgia could come to an agreement, NATO members should also find a consensus regarding the integration of Georgia- something which is not riskfree for the Alliance, nor for the region. President Vladimir Putin told Fox News last year that Russia would react “extremely negatively” should Georgia or Ukraine join NATO. The timing doesn’t seem so right on the international stage either, with some European countries making efforts to restore political dialogue with the Kremlin. On September 9, the same day as the opening of the conference, the French Minister of Foreign Affairs M. Jean-Yves le Drian was visiting his counterpart in

Moscow for the first Russian-French Security Cooperation Council in five years. He noted that “The time has come, the time is right, to work towards reducing the distrust between Russia and Europe, who ought to be partners on a strategic and economic level." In this context, Georgia’s voice alone may not loud enough to be heard in the international arena. This is a concern that was underlined by several speakers at the conference. However, it could actually be an opportunity for Georgia and Ukraine to enhance their cooperation and push the issue of the Russian occupation higher up the European agenda. Lately, Europe has indeed been rather ambivalent. In June, the Council of Europe decided to restore Russia’s voting rights despite the fact that the reasons for its exclusion, namely the annexation of Crimea in 2014, remain unresolved. The resolution was presented as a step forward in protecting human rights in Russia, as it gives Russian citizens the opportunity to appeal to the European Court of Human Rights. Interviewed on the margin of the Tbilisi International Conference, Natalia Arno, a Russian human rights activist based in the US, disagreed with this position. “Even among human rights activists in Russia, the decision was not welcomed, because the regime did not do anything to deserve this gesture. In fact, the situation within Russia is no better: human rights violations are on

the rise and on the international stage, Russia has not made any substantial changes.” “It is not sending the right message to the Kremlin and may encourage Russia to continue violating human rights and international law,” she adds. Invited to the Conference, the Ukrainian politician Svitlana Zalishchuk, who was part of the Ukrainian Delegation at the Council of Europe, notes that “it delegitimizes any decisions from the CoE, especially since the decision to suspend Russia’s voting right was made because of serious war crimes.” During a panel on the Ukrainian situation, she expressed her concerns regarding the new political strategy of some European countries, France among them. “President Macron said that the enemy of our friends is not necessarily our enemy. It was a turning point for me in the trajectory of the European project because the EU and NATO are both relying on the opposite strategy to solidarity, and this is how these two projects have

survived to date, with success. The direction proposed by President Macron won’t lead to anything but the weakening of the European project,” Zalishchuk claimed. “History speaks for itself,” she added during an interview. “There was the Obama policy of ‘reset’ with Russia, but it only brought war in Ukraine and war in Georgia.” If European countries are softening their politics towards Russia, it could then be crucial for Ukraine and Georgia to strengthen their solidarity in front of the Russian occupation. Zalishchuk confirmed, “There are many opportunities for Ukraine and Georgia to work better together within the framework of the Eastern Partnership, but also in exchanging know-how in terms of democratic development. We are not just fighting against Russia but also for our national success.” During the same panel, James Nixey, researcher at Chatham House, noted that from his external perspective and experience, there is a lack of coverage of the

Ukrainian and Georgian questions in the US. He argued that Ukraine and Georgia should further reinforce their cooperation in order to make their voice louder on the international stage, and to push their priorities to the top of the diplomatic agenda of their European and American partners. It also echoes to the proposition of the Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to Georgian President Salome Zurabishvili during their last meeting on September 2. He offered to create “a joint strategy with Georgia on how to combat the Russian occupation and help both countries become members of the EU.” However, with former President Sakaashvili, leader of the Georgian opposition, back in Kyiv, this might be a controversial position for the ruling elite. Hence, although strategic and praised by international experts, teaming up with Ukraine remains a matter of internal politics, which enters a complicated phase ahead of the parliamentary election in October 2020.






SEPTEMBER 13 - 16, 2019

The Rasmussen Proposition for Georgia OP-ED BY EMIL AVDALIANI


he proposition of the former NATO Chief Anders Fogh Rasmussen during a geopolitical conference in Tbilisi on accepting the country into NATO without the Alliance’s obligation (most notably Article 5) to cover the separatist regions of Abkhazia and Tskhinvali region caused widespread discussion within Georgia’s political and analytical community. In a way, Rasmussen's ideas can be regarded as a reflection of internal debates within NATO. Similar ideas were advanced last year and, considering various statements from western political and military leaders on Georgia’s NATO chances, there might be some willingness to move the idea forward for a wider, much deeper discussion. While many in Georgia praised the proposition, others stated it would end Georgia's hopes for territorial reunification. What the majority actually missed is that geopolitically the situation in the South Caucasus has not changed since 2008. In fact, what we see nowadays is Russia's build-up of military capabilities in Abkhazia and the Tskhinvali region. A look at the map of the South Caucasus shows that it would be difficult for the West to get Georgia into NATO in the current context. Tbilisi is almost sur-

rounded by Russian troops. Military bases in Tskhinvali region and in Gyumri, Armenia, would serve as a strong disincentive for the West. Making a move in a militarily highly-congested region would require a much stronger and stable leadership in the West, similar to what we saw in the post-World War II period when US troops were facing the Soviet in various parts of the world, risking global warfare. Another disincentive is that there is also a strong Russian resolve in keeping the Abkhazia and Tskhinvali regions under control because troops as close as possible to Tbilisi will always put any Georgian government under pressure by ramping up or cooling military activities. Making Georgia a NATO member will require a strong commitment from the West to confront/respond to Russian moves. Georgia is interesting for Moscow due to its geographical position in the South Caucasus. And it is not only about barring Tbilisi from joining NATO or the EU. Russia’s goal historically has been to minimize the importance of the Caucasus mountain range as a barrier between the South Caucasus and the Russian mainland. An insecure, destabilized South Caucasus would be a serious problem for Moscow as it could spill over into the North Caucasus (Chechnya, Dagestan, etc.). But it would be more problematic for Moscow if the South Caucasus was stable, pro-western and under NATO

influence. It is exactly for these reasons that the Russians have been threatening the road, pipeline and railway infrastructure running from east Georgia to the Black Sea shore and vital to the entire region. In Moscow’s thinking, an unstable South Caucasus full of Russian troops (as is the case in our time) is what would limit, if not entirely preclude, Georgia from joining western alliances. Considering that, the Rasmussen proposition, and I would like to point out that it was only a suggestion to discuss the idea, not to actually move forward with it straight away, also takes place at a time of grand geopolitical shifts taking place in Western-Russian relations. Various signs show that there might be an improvement in said relations. As the West is worried about Russia's increasing friendliness with China, moves not to lose Russia "forever" will be made. This does not mean that Ukraine and Georgia might become a part of grand bargain where Russia will be given a carte blanche, but the need to have Russia closer nowadays would outweigh a difficult decision to make Georgia a NATO member. Thus, there are considerable obstacles to Georgia’s NATO accession. As said, the Rasmussen proposition does show that discussions on Georgia’s membership within the alliance are indeed taking place. However, it would be premature to say more than that, as there are still too many geopolitical obstacles in Georgia’s way.

Image source: nato.int

Khajimba Wins, Opposition Protest OP-ED BY ZAZA JGARKAVA


nalogies between the presidential elections held in occupied Abkhazia and last year in the rest of Georgia continue. Like the Georgian Dream case, the occupied regime was able to mobilize an unprecedented number of voters during the second round of the elections. Like a year ago, the candidate who came in third in the first round called on his supporters to vote for the opposition candidate in the second round. The election campaign strategy was also similar – pressuring voters, bribes and fraud. The analogies end there, but the second round of elections in the breakaway region had other interesting features too. Let’s take a look. Raul Khajimba’s forecasts proved true. He said after the first round: “We know where we have worked and where we still have room to gain votes.” And together with his election team, he was able to get the votes he had hoped for. The second round showed that votes had been ‘seized’ from that very electorate which the oppositional candidate thought guaranteed his victory. Sokhumi, the biggest election region of the occupied territory was where Khajimba lost the first round. It seems Putin’s favorite did his homework in Sokhumi and was able to take advantage of the fact, though Khajimba is not a

Image source: emerging-europe.com

member of the so called Abkhazian elite, which made his situation even more difficult. Khajimba comes from Tkvarcheli, region with the least number of voters. He couldn’t have relied on votes from the region, nor from those of Gali, the region where Khajimba’s policy deprived the majority of their right to vote. Of course, it was clear who the Georgians would vote for, given a chance. Polling stations were open in Moscow and Circassia, where he lost again in the second round,

and this fact further reinforces the opinion that Khajimba won over his competitor’s votes, the ones that the opposition had hoped for. Alkhas Kvitsinia seemed to have a guaranteed victory in the second round: he was supported by the party of former President Alexander Ankvab, which meant that he was supported by the Abkhazian elite and, most importantly, the so-called citadel of Abkhazian independence – the Gudauta region. Alex-

ander Ankvab and the oppositional spectrum decided to support Kvitsinia only a few days prior to the second election. At first, it was thought that the opposition wouldn’t support any candidates, thus leading to the likelihood of a third round. The majority of the opposition supported this scenario, however, everything in the end was decided by the position of Ankvab, the former leader of the occupied regimen. Kvitsinia’s campaign team agreed to get the votes

in return for appointing Ankvab as Prime Minister. This is how Khajimba and Kvitsinia came to September 8, but despite such support, Kvitsinia was unable to defeat Khajimba. And while he has already appealed the election results, it is highly unlikely that anyone will annul the final results, results which put Putin’s favorite candidate in power. Kvitsinia and the whole opposition of Abkhazia believes that the election law was violated, which states that the elections are won by the candidate who gets more votes than the sum of the defeated candidate’s votes and the votes given “against every candidate.” Despite this, there is another article in the law, which states that the winner of the second round is the one who simply gets the majority of votes. Khajimba got 999 more votes, while 3154 people voted “against every candidate.” Perhaps this fact will be the major trump card for the opposition. The results of the elections held in the occupied territory are as follows: Khajimba – 47.38%, Kvitsinia 46.19%, voter turnout 65.98% and the total number of voters 126,950 people. Whether the legislative collision in the occupied territory becomes the cause of a future political crisis is yet unknown. A crisis like that of 2004, when the Kremlin agreed to having their favorite candidate only as a vice president, but what is noteworthy is that in 2004 too, the Kremlin’s favorite was that same Raul Khajimba.

TBC Bank Co-founders to Establish Political Party Continued from page 4 In her turn, Natsvlishvili says that she sees the real power and resources to create a new reality and change the situation in the country in Mamuka Khazaradze's movement. "Recent developments in the country are getting alarming. There is a deliberate pro-

cess of confrontation and splitting our community,” Khazaradze says of the reason for creating Lelo. “On the night of June 20 our worthy and free youth expressed fair and sincere protest against occupation and violence. This protest is a part of the continuous historic process and continuation of our country's struggle for independence. “It is necessary today to consolidate and

create a healthy, progressive and proWestern society since it is obvious that the de-escalation of the situation and the achievement of civil peace is impossible only through the efforts of government or political parties. Society should be actively engaged in ongoing processes. Therefore, I believe that it is necessary to establish a new public movement which

will be joined by the representatives of different spheres, those who will be united by the idea of building a modern western state in Georgia, with the most competitive and strongest economy in the region, where the rule of law will be celebrated. Once and forever, we must stop using labels against each other. On the contrary, we should all come together for the idea

of civil peace,” he said. “Based on this, I made a decision to establish a public movement with my friends and colleagues and professionals of various spheres, the main purpose of which is to unite the country and maintain its independence and freedom. “Long live united and free Georgia!” Khazaradze stated.




Violence Doesn’t Pay - Can Georgia Become Too American? OP-ED BY NUGZAR B. RUHADZE


he notorious epidemic of killing people in the United States has turned into a national problem of overwhelming gravity affecting the American citizenry not only physically but psychologically too. Take me, for instance: while walking the streets of the lovely little town of my habitual residence in America, I would catch myself thinking nervously of the chances of an unexpected wacko shootout happening at any moment during my regular recreational strolls in the neighborhood. This uncomfortable sensation stuck in people’s minds is called ‘fear’, and one might have a good number of reasons for being under said stressful spell of fear. In the free (or not so free!) world, everybody is talking about the likelihood of being slaughtered right out of the blue, right in the middle of the street or in a dark alleyway. Isn’t this awful? I first went to America in the early and blissful 1980s and I think that little is left of what I saw then and there. The so called mass shootings have become a scary routine in the New World which, statistically speaking, is an uncontested champion of this infamous trade. I am reading in reliable reference books that since 2013, there has been, on average, a shootout a day in the public, which makes more than 2000 shootings to date. To be fair, such atrocities happen not only in the United States but in many

Image source: Karen Bleier/AFP via Getty Images

other places on our trouble-ridden planet too, but not in numbers like this. What is happening to the US, then? Well, this is too big and complicated a question to be answered in a small journalistic piece like this but finding a quick answer to it is not completely impossible. My most affordable guess is that the entire 400-

year old American culture is currently going through a painful metamorphosis, but it is almost impossible to make a clear statement right now as to whether the ongoing change might end in something very negative or moderately positive for the nation. One of the most noticeable factors of

regular American lifestyle is a Hollywood cinematographic paradigm of the blood and violence usually reserved for movie screens: but it is gradually moving from screen to street, turning us all into the witnesses of a cruel bloodshed and human aggression that destroys the lives of innocent thousands.

Should this bother me so much? Yes and No. No, because I cannot cure all the vices of the world with my inapt and fragile hands, and yes, because there looms the prospect of Georgia imitating the dire paradigm of the West as it does almost everything else. Incidentally, I have nothing against useful mimicry, like a lucrative economy or promoting modern education, but I cannot accept the thoughtless mechanical copying of all that is called western, saying no to good old indigenous traditionalism and way of life. There is something that scares me about where America is going today and how much Georgia is involved in the process of westernizing our society, which does not always mean ameliorating the life in the country. Let’s look at the general picture this way: modernization is good and even necessary, but roots are also very important. I can hardly imagine enjoying the fruits of scientific novelty and techno-economical modernity unless all those good things are grafted on traditional values and purely ethnic features that attract our foreign guests and friends like magnets to our culture. Would it not be perfectly acceptable for all of us to walk through that golden median safely and peacefully? I dare say this might work as the most powerful and productive national medium for making this beautiful land the paradise we’re all dreaming of. I understand that this kind of idealistic thinking is too far removed from real-life pragmatism, but thinking, at least the way I think, is not yet prohibited by law, is it?

Georgia Responds to Duma's Step to Investigate "Ossetian Genocide by Georgians" BY THEA MORRISON


eorgian Parliament Speaker Archil Talakvadze says “Georgian history can be read, but not rewritten or changed.” He made the statement in response to information released by the Russian State Duma on the creation of a special working group to study “the genocide of the South Ossetians in 1920 by Georgians.” “This is not the first attempt from the Russian side to revise Georgian history… Our choice is not to seek new conflicts or to open old wounds, but to find common ground with Ossetians and Abkhazians," he stated. The Speaker added that the use of historical themes for political conjuncture is risky, especially in such a region as the Caucasus. “We consider this kind of short political vision as unpromising and dangerous,” he stressed. Vyacheslav Viktorovich Volodin, a Russian politician who has served as the 10th Chairman of the State Duma since October 2016, stated that the legislative body has set up a working group which will discuss the appeal of the breakaway South Ossetia’s “parliament” asking the Duma to recognize the “genocide of the South Ossetians in 1920 by Georgia.” He said the group will be led by Viktor Vodolatsky, First Deputy Chairman of the Committee on CIS Affairs, and after it studies the issue and drafts a proposal, the State Duma will return to the matter and make a decision. “It is important for the Russian lawmakers that the decision be objective and eve-

Image source: duma.gov.ru

ryone realize that if the people of South Ossetia suffered a genocide, it would be right to acknowledge it and support our colleagues in South Ossetia,” he noted. Volodin said much depends on what kind of arguments and materials will be presented and whether or not Georgia will cooperate. “We hope to cooperate with Georgia during the consideration of the South Ossetian appeal regarding the recognition of the Ossetian genocide,” he added. Russian leadership, the State Duma and the Federation Council, were addressed by de facto South Ossetian parliament regard-

ing the “genocide” issue on July 31. The address specifies that "the 1920 events were not appropriately assessed, and the masterminds and those behind the genocide of South Ossetians were not held accountable." Moreover, it reads that after breakaway South Ossetia declared its right to selfdetermination and ascension to Soviet Russia, "the Georgian government sent their units to suppress South Ossetia" in June 1920 and "the Georgian troops eliminated most of the residential communities in South Ossetia." "Several thousand people were killed,

which was between 8 and 25% of the whole population, according to different assessments,” it says, adding that in 19891992, Georgia "again attempted ethnic cleansings against the Ossetian people, but the Russian interference in 2008, which forced Georgia to [declare] peace, prevented the people of South Ossetia from being completely wiped out.” The conflict between Ossetians and Georgians started as a social dispute but rapidly turned into a conflict after the uprising of Ossetians in breakaway Tskhinvali region in 1918 which culminated in 1920 when Georgian troops quelled the

resistance. It was incited and supported by Bolsheviks from Russia while the Georgian government at the time was dominated by their opponents - the Mensheviks. The conflict resulted in the loss of thousands of lives on both sides, but the approximate number is said to be around 2-6 thousand casualties. In contrary to the position of the breakaway South Ossetian authorities, Georgia denies the notion of this being genocide and points to the destructive and destabilizing role played by Russian Bolsheviks in the conflict.




SEPTEMBER 13 - 16, 2019

Georgia Negotiating Direct Flights with the US Women Councillors Seek a Greater Say in Georgia’s Economic & Political Life Continued from page 1 The low political representation of women has been a growing concern in Georgia in recent years. Only 14% of municipal council members are women. Only one of 64 elected mayors is a woman. The share of women in the national Parliament is just 15%. The Women Councillors’ Forum was established in 2013 with support from UNDP and Sweden as a vehicle to encourage Georgian women to become more active in public life and local decision-making. “Heeding women’s voices is not just about fairness,” said Louisa Vinton, UNDP Head in Georgia. “It’s about designing public services that meet everyone’s

needs and unleashing the energy and creativity of every member of the population. Georgia will only realize its full potential when it ensures equal economic and political opportunities for all of its citizens.” Participants discussed economic and educational opportunities available for women in Georgia’s regions, including state-funded programmes. Priority needs include vocational training, preschool education and health care in rural areas. Representatives of the Ministry of Regional Development and Infrastructure outlined the ongoing decentralization reform, focusing on its impact on Georgia’s efforts to achieve meaningful gender equality at all levels of governance.

Image source: Ministry of Economy



atia Turnava, Minister of Economy and Sustainable Development of Georgia, along with an official delegation, is in the US this week to negotiate the

launching of direct flights between the two countries, reports the Ministry of Economy of Georgia. The Georgian official will meet with the representatives of the world’s leading companies, such as Delta Air Lines and United Airlines, and deliver a thorough presentation on Georgia. It is noted in the Ministry statement that achieving an agreement on direct

US-Georgia flights will be a very clear, positive political step in terms of the strategic partnership of two countries, and a commercially attractive aspect for various companies. The visit of the Georgian delegation was organized by the Ministry of Economy and Sustainable Development of Georgia and the Embassy of the USA to Georgia.




CENN/USAID Program Assists the Local Government to Close an Illegal Landfill in Batumi the legislative requirement – as of February 2019, all local governments are required to start the gradual introduction of separated waste collection within their territories. It is also important because it reduces the amount of waste disposed of in landfills and supports the economic development of the country.

WHAT ELSE IS PLANNED IN THE ADJARA REGION AND IN GENERAL, COUNTRYWIDE? 10 illegal dumpsites of various sizes were closed in Adjara in close cooperation with the local government. Such activities have also been implemented in the Kakheti region. In the future, a separated waste collection system is planned to be introduced in two municipalities of Adjara (Kobuleti and Khelvachauri), which will further progress the waste management situation in the region. This initiative will be implemented in close cooperation with the local government.



atumi, the charming seaside city in Georgia’s Adjara region, represents one of the leading tourism destinations in the country due to its breathtaking nature and landscapes. Thousands of tourists visit Batumi every year to take in the sites and indulge in its natural wonder. However, special care and attention is needed to maintain such a unique and diverse natural environment and protect it from littering and pollution. Littering is an ever-increasing worldwide problem. Chances are, you’ve seen litter scattered along roadsides, floating in waterways, or blowing across parks. The well-being of people, animals, and the environment is compromised by litter. People can become injured by items such as broken glass and are susceptible to disease caused by unsanitary conditions. Animals are at risk of ingesting garbage and becoming trapped and debilitated by waste. The environment becomes threatened when litter invades natural habitats and when toxic chemicals from items, such as plastic, seep into soil and groundwater. To combat this, the Waste Management Technology in Regions Program implemented by CENN with the support of USAID, assisted the local government of the city of Batumi in closing an illegal dumpsite located on I. Gagarini Street. This is the second landfill closed in Batumi this year, with an illegal landfill on Tabidze Street shut down in April.

The Gagarini dumpsite covered an area of 1,950 m2. Batumi City Hall placed two waste bins on the territory. Furthermore, the program will install an informational banner on the cleaned area in the hopes of preventing further littering. GEORGIA TODAY contacted Batumi City Hall for more details. A representative of the Agency noted that the closure of the landfill is important for the city’s ecology and human health, as it represented “quite a serious danger” to the local population. “Batumi City Hall has been actively cooperating with CENN for several years, within the framework of the WMTR program supported by USAID,” the City Hall employee told us. “Through joint efforts, we established a five-year waste management plan for our city and began implementing it. This resulted in closure of the dumpsite on Gagarini Street, where different types of municipal and construction waste had been accumulated. Over 2500 cubic meters of waste was collected and transported to a legal landfill in Batumi. Illegal dumping not only distorts the appearance of the city, but it is also pollutes the air, soil and groundwater. Such steps aimed at reducing negative environmental factors, especially in a touristy town like Batumi, are of utmost importance.” Over the years, low environmental awareness has been and remains a major challenge countrywide, including in the Adjara region. “We have to identify illegal waste disposal sites every year and conduct further liquidation works. Although we see a clear decline in this direction compared to previous years, it is still a major envi-

ronmental problem in our city,” the representative told us. “In general, closure of illegal landfills can be expensive. Human resources alone are not enough - heavy equipment is also needed, especially when working towards international standards. In the Gagarini Street case, those expenses were fully covered by the CENN / USAID WMTR program. City Hall participated through non-cash contributions - as defined by the project. This is the second illegal landfill in Batumi to be closed in collaboration with CENN/ USAID. In April, an illegal landfill on Tabidze Street was also cleaned up and closed - about 2000 cubic meters of waste was collected and transported to a legal landfill in Batumi. City Hall has placed waste bins in the area of all closed illegal landfills to prevent further pollution and organizes meetings and events aimed at raising the environmental awareness of residents.” Apparently, illegal dumpsites can “spontaneously occur” in various locations. Batumi City Hall has been cooperating with CENN within the scope of the USAID-supported Waste Management Technology in the Regions program since 2015. Considering that many important events have been implemented and much effort has been made to improve the environment in the city of Batumi as well as in the whole region, City Hall says it expects that cooperation will become even more active in the future to positively impact the environmental policy of the city. GT also talked with CENN representative Nino Tevzadze, Deputy Chief of Party of WMTR Phase II, to find out more about the illegal landfill closure, ecological conditions in the region and CENN’s future plans for the WMTR program.

and transportation of the waste disposed in the dumpsite to Batumi’s official landfill. In addition, two waste collection bins were placed on the territory that will be served by the local municipal waste collection service. Furthermore, an informational banner will be installed in the area to prevent further littering on the territory.



The closure of the illegal landfill was important not only from an environmental perspective, but also for promoting tourism. In general, illegal landfills create a serious problem in terms of both groundwater and air pollution, create unsanitary conditions at the local level and are visually displeasing. Therefore, we think that such activities are important for the development of the region.

The two closed dumpsites were the two largest in the city, the closure of which has had quite a positive impact on the city. Batumi has actively begun to introduce a separated waste collection system in the city with the support of our program. Currently, 11 recycling corners have been installed, where residents and visitors can bring their separated waste (paper, glass, aluminum and plastic PET bottles) to be further recycled. These recycling corners are served by the municipal waste collection company and are important for meeting

WHAT MEASURES WERE TAKEN WHILE CLOSING THE LANDFILL? Closure works included the collection

IS IT TRUE THAT WASTE HAD BEEN ACCUMULATING IN THE AREA FOR 15 YEARS? WHY WASN’T IT CLOSED SOONER? Yes. Different types of municipal and construction waste were disposed of during this time on the territory. The dumpsite was located in a non-urban part of the city near a rural settlement and was often a place cattle roamed. In the last few years, urban development has progressed in the direction of Gagarin Street. There are number of differentsized illegal dumpsites in the city and the local government is working to close them. Closure of the sites is quite expensive and maintaining the cleanliness of the area is not only dependent on the waste collection service, but also on the behavior of the public. This is why it is integral to raise environmental awareness.

THIS IS THE SECOND CLOSED ILLEGAL LANDFILL IN BATUMI THIS YEAR. PLEASE TELL US ABOUT THE FIRST. Our program cooperated with the local government to close the illegal dumpsite on Tabidze Street, in which similar aforementioned activities were implemented. It is essential to implement such activities in close cooperation with local governments as their involvement ensures the sustainability of the results.

TELL US MORE ABOUT THE WMTR PROGRAM. WHAT CONTRIBUTION DOES IT MAKE TO ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AND WHICH ORGANIZATIONS COOPERATE WITH CENN IN ITS IMPLEMENTATION? The program is implemented by CENN with the support of USAID in three regions – Kakheti, Shida Kartli and Adjara –and in Tbilisi. The program assists the Government of Georgia to modernize the country’s waste management sector and supports sustainable development and inclusive economic growth, ensuring responsible management of natural endowments that will minimize adverse impacts from waste on human health and natural resources. We are actively working with both the central and local governments at the legislative level as well as implementing actual work in terms of assisting the local government in fulfilling their waste management obligations under legislative requirements. We are working with the private sector to support the development of the waste management sector in the country. Within the program, the Waste Management Association of Georgia was established which unites separated waste collection and recycling companies. The association has two main objectives: creating a business-friendly environment for the development of waste recycling and aggregating companies in Georgia through advocating and lobbying key issues for sector development with different interested parties, including decision makers; and developing the capacity of recycling and aggregating companies according to the best international practices. We are also working with individual waste collection and recycling companies through various technical assistance to support their further development. Within the program, we have a grants component that aims to equip target companies with modern equipment to support their development. A key component of the program is awareness raising and public outreach; within this component the program is actively working with youth via various campaigns.




SEPTEMBER 13 - 16, 2019

Murman Pataraia, Director General of Biodiesel Georgia on Launching Regulations on Energy Commodities Export is prohibited. The government policy should also do the same with regard secondary oil.” Pataraia goes on to note that we live in an era where we have to face numerous challenges, where energy resource supply is decreasing on a daily basis globally. “Taking into account the fact that Georgia is certainly not rich in terms of oil products, we must maximally assimilate and use everything we have,” he says. “We plan to launch a large-scale campaign in the near future, working actively with government services, including executive and legislative circles, and the offices of the Business and Energy Ombudsmen. We also plan to hold consultation with NGOs, international organizations and diplomatic corps to use this industrial resource primarily for the energy independence of Georgia,” Pataraia concludes.



eorgia is in an extremely poor condition in terms of energy independence, especially with regards to the fuel sphere, where the country is mostly dependent on imported oil products – Pataraia tells us. Yet, turns out that through modern technologies and innovative approaches, even countries with scarce oil resources can produce their own renewable and ecofriendly fuel, including biodiesel, bio-petrol as well as bio-gas. In Georgia, the first step in this regard has already been made by the startup Biodiesel Georgia, which has been operating for two years. This innovative startup produces biodiesel, utilizing secondary cooking oil as the raw material. Thanks to modern technologies, secondary oil has become a significant strategic resource for Georgia. Indeed, through the utilization of this waste product, the country has been given an opportunity to regularly manufacture fuel and decrease dependence on the import of oil products, as well as ameliorate the ecological and economic conditions. “Any state would take special care of this resource and use it beneficially. And yet we see a reality where an energy commodity of vital importance

is uncontrolledly leaked from Georgia. The process of leakage takes place even when a special refinery, able to produce an alternative product – biodiesel – out of this resource, is running in the country. Considering this, moving this resource out of the borders of the

country, is, to put it mildly, a crime,” Pataraia claims. “The government should strictly control the use of this strategically important resource, restrict its export and prioritize local manufacturers, especially when the first step has already been made and the

first successfully bio-fuel factory is already in operation in Georgia,” he says. “Our legislation with regards to electricity export is a clear example of the kind of policies implemented by the government: if there is no excessive production of electric energy in our country, its export

NGO: Crime in Georgia up by 17.23% in 2019 BY THEA MORRISON


henon-governmentalorganization ‘Institute for the Development of Freedom of Information’ (IDFI) reports that the crime rate in the first seven months of 2019 has increased by 17.23%. The NGO says that in January-July 2019, 38,748 crimes were registered in the country, 17.23% more than in the first seven months of 2018. Moreover, in 2019, there is also a negative trend in terms of opening of criminal cases, which has deteriorated by about 4% compared to 2018. The report reads that comparison of the 2018 and 2019 crime rates to statistics of the previous years raises important questions about the methodology used and possible falsification of statistics to show the desired results. “The number of crimes registered in seven months of 2019 already exceeds those recorded in 2014-2017 throughout the year… Also, changing the accounting system seems to have had a significant impact on the accuracy of case opening rates. For example, in the first seven months of 2017, the opening rate was 53.82%, which is down to 32.28% in 2019,” the IDFI claims. The organization also noted that according to the Ministry of Internal Affairs, during the first seven months of 2019, only the number of traffic and public servants’

crime groups decreased compared to the previous year. The growth rate of other registered crime groups ranges from 4% to 33%. The number of crimes against human rights and freedoms has increased by approximately 33% compared to the same period last year, which is 393 more cases reported to the police. Moreover, in the same period, the number of drug offenses has increased by 26% compared to the previous year. Among them, 257 cases of drug possession, storage or selling were registered, with 227 cases of repeated drug use. The increase in this category can be partly explained by the tightening of control in this field. However, the number of crimes against life declined by 16% compared to the previous year. The number of suicide cases increased by 15.5% (168 cases) while the number of premeditated murders decreased by 54% (25 cases less), but at the same time the number of premeditated murders in aggravated circumstances increased by 43.7%. In 2019, the number of crimes against property increased again (by 19.6%). The biggest increase (+2265 cases) remains as theft. In addition to this, the rate of domestic violence increased by 305 cases, (+10.38%), followed by rape (18 cases more, +36%) and cybercrime (+610 cases, +130%), which includes unauthorized access to computers, computer data or illegal use and of the computer system. The organization noted that during the first seven months of 2019, the increase

Image source: molivam42.com

in the number of registered crimes by crime groups had a negative impact on their case opening rate. “The crime opening rate declines every year amid increasing funding allocated from the state budget to the ministry,” IDFI said. Despite the concerns expressed in the

report, the IDFI welcomed the Ministry of Internal Affair’s (MIA) practice of proactively disclosing crime statistics from 2018. The 2018 statistics of the MIA showed that crime increased by 55.8% JanuaryJuly compared to the corresponding period of 2017 while the crime opening

rate in 2018 was 17.2% less compared to the previous year. As in the past, this year the MIA said the main reason for the increased crime rate is that citizens are addressing the police more often following awareness raising of their rights, and due to increasing trust towards law enforcers.



Unique Technology News from Smartphone Manufacturers IFA 2019


UAWEI has introduced the first 5G processor, the Kirin 990, at the IFA 2019 in Berlin, where the innovative products of the most popular brands were showcased. At the event, special attention was devoted to the product which immediately appeared in the focus of the world tech media, the 5G, 7-nm+EUV manufacturing process Kirin 990, which achieving a smaller area and lower power consumption. “Kirin 990 (5G) is the world's first 5G SoC, and it will enable end users to access superb 5G connectivity experience one step ahead in the first year of 5G commercialization.” stated Richard Yu, CEO of Huawei's consumer business group. According to his estimation, the Kirin 990 5G is designed to fully meet customer expectations in the new technology era: “The Kirin 990 Kirin 990 (5G) has been fully upgraded in terms of performance and power efficiency, AI computing, and ISP, extending mobile phone experiences to a new level.” Kirin 990 (5G) is the first flagship SoC that packs a dual-core NPU built on the Da Vinci architecture, which comprise large NPU cores and tiny NPU cores. The large cores achieve high performance and power efficiency in heavy computing scenarios, while the tiny core structure, first in the industry, empowers ultra-low power consumption applications, fully tapping into the intelligent computing power brought by the innovative NPU architecture. To enhance the photography experience, the Kirin

990 (5G) provides a brand-new ISP 5.0 for capturing brighter and sharper images in low light environments. It is also the first to use dual-domain video NR for more accurate noise processing for videos. Moreover, at the IFA 2019, HUAWEI also presented its new, wireless earphones. HUAWEI FreeBuds 3 uses a delicate earphone design and comes with a unique, round case. HUAWEI FreeBuds 3 provides users with more comfortable wearing experience and a nice grip. It has two color options: black and white. HUAWEI FreeBuds 3 provides stable and fast connectivity, impressive sound quality and smart noise canceling experience. It’s the world’s first open wireless earphone that provides real active noise canceling performance. It was also announced at the event that HUAWEI Mate Series models, which will work on the new Kirin 990 Series chip, will be coming soon in September. HUAWEI products and services are available in more than 170 countries and are used by a third of the world's population. There are 16 research and development centers operating worldwide in the USA, Germany, Sweden, Russia, India and China. HUAWEI Consumer BG is one of three business units of HUAWEI, mainly focusing on the production of smartphones, personal computers, tablets and cloud services. The HUAWEI Global Network is based on 20 years of experience in the telecommunications business and serves to the production of innovative technologies to customers around the world.





SEPTEMBER 13 - 16, 2019

Doubling: Rikoti Pass, Georgia almost to the Pass now, nearing Khashuri and Surami at its east end. But for years I have been wondering: in these narrow places, just how are the road engineers going to proceed? Surely they can’t find or make the necessary space for the job! So many new bridges and tunnels to build; will they simply bypass this whole road and take the highway elsewhere? We were forced to use bad-grade alternate routes across the country for a while after the 2008 war anyway, as Russia had bombed the main bridge near Gori. Well, it looks like they’re going through. In many spots there are temporary buildings erected to house the hundreds of workers living here; hundreds of heavy machines are parked or busy; cement factories have been built; forest sections are being cleared, ramps built, much earth moved. It’s a massive project which could take years; it will also have to wait when snows come, as they do to this area. Most of the highway will, just like the bit immediately west of Tbilisi’s edge, be on two different levels, one for each direction. It is a badly needed increase in road space for this otherwise dreadful trucking and slowdown section, which was crawling at walking pace for quite a bit if its



had some swift business in Tbilisi, so, time to shut up shop and guest house for just a couple of days. Having washed up from serving breakfast to 10 guests, I handed over barn duties to kind neighbors and fled the scene with just a single small day-backpack. After about 10 cars ignored my outstretched hitchhiking hand, one stopped: my first time ever taking a taxi from our

village down to Zugdidi, the hour being just a bit too late for the morning minivan runs. Fortunately, the car was shared, so the price per passenger was only 20 GEL. Three hours later… I played in my head this little speech: “Use this money to get your [broken] speedometer fixed, so you can see how fast you’re NOT going.” But instead of delivering it, I just paid up and left, memorizing the car’s make, model and license plate so as never to take it again. Next stop, after a quick lunch, Zugdidi railway station, where I was the last passenger to board the minibus and off we set towards the Big City.

However, this leg turned out to be no faster. Probably due to a combination of factors. One was the slightly later hour when we hit the bottleneck part, the Rikoti Pass after Zestaponi, now with more big trucks on it slowing everything down in the many places where the twists and turns prevent overtaking. The other was that this section, 60 km or so long, is now finally being doubled in width, part of the decade or so long program to massively upgrade the main road through the whole of Georgia from Azerbaijan to the Black Sea coast cities. West from Tbilisi, we’re completed

Georgian, Swedish Gov’ts to Launch ‘Keep Georgia Tidy’ Project BY KETEVAN KVARATSKHELIYA


n September 10, the Ministry of Environment Protection and Agriculture of Georgia hosted the representatives of governmental and non-governmental organizations, as well as media, to announce the upcoming project titled ‘Keep Georgia Tidy’. The four-year initiative is to be implemented by the Ministry of Environment Protection and Agriculture of Georgia, the Greens Movement of Georgia and the NGO Keep Georgia Tidy (KGT), with the support of the Government of Sweden in 2019-2023. Ulrik Tideström, the Ambassador of Sweden to Georgia and Armenia, addressed the audience on the crucial importance of environmental protection with regards to climate change, and strongly accentuated the significance of this project in terms of improving the waste management system in Georgia. “The main aim of the project is to reduce pollution of the environment and greenhouse gases by 2030, promoting sustainable environmental education and a circular economy,” stated Tideström. The Ambassador of Sweden also commented on the case through social media. “Happy to launch #KeepGeorgiaTidy with implementing partners and Minister of Environment Levan Davitashvili. Project aims to reduce pollution and emissions by educating 700.000 people incl. schoolchildren on sustainable development,” reads his Tweet. It was also noted at the press conference that with regards to the upcoming World Clean Up campaign, there are various activities planned in more than 1,000 locations countrywide on September 20-22.

Image source: Ministry of Environment Protection and Agriculture of Georgia

length when I took it. I only hope the homeowners who are forced to sell and move are being properly compensated. As for the churches along the road, well, especially the old ones will simply stand where they are, forcing detours as they can’t be moved and are too important to be lost. And the local clay-works, originally just at Shrosha but now much more widespread, which are a mainstay of the area? I also hope that these will survive to make more qvevrebi (amphorae for wine) and tonebi (cylindrical bread ovens). Of course, the question must be asked, why now? Well, either simply because the time has come for this stretch of road to be tackled; or because there are Elections looming and we must be seen to be being busy! Tony Hanmer has lived in Georgia since 1999, in Svaneti since 2007, and been a weekly writer for GT since early 2011. He runs the “Svaneti Renaissance” Facebook group, now with nearly 2000 members, at www.facebook.com/groups/SvanetiRenaissance/ He and his wife also run their own guest house in Etseri: www.facebook.com/hanmer.house.svaneti



Proving the Pessimists Wrong – Datishvili on the Joys & Difficulties of His Bike Journey to Edinburgh a well-planned-out route made it much easier to make the journey.

WERE YOU ALWAYS SURE THAT YOU WOULD REACH YOUR DESTINATION? DIDN’T YOU EVER WANT TO GIVE UP? I was always confident I would reach my goal. When hard times hit, I never thought about giving up. What I did think about then was taking a break, resting, and then carrying on. The rugby match between Scotland and Georgia was something that kept me focused – I knew I had to make it in time.

WHAT IS YOUR ADVICE TO THOSE WHO MIGHT WANT TO FOLLOW IN YOUR FOOTSEPS, OR RATHER, YOUR BIKE TRACKS? My advice is to get to really know yourself; find out what your abilities and wishes are so that what is expected and what is a likely reality do not part ways and there is no room for disappointment. Plan the route in detail, as much as possible, and listen to those who have done it before you. Each misguided calculation can really ruin the experience.



andro Datishvili is a 25-yearold Georgian architect who cycled all the way from Tbilisi to Edinburgh, Scotlandthrough Turkey, Greece, Bulgaria, Serbia, Austria, Hungary, Germany, Luxemburg, Belgium and France, to the UK. Sandro left Tbilisi on June 1 and made it to Scotland on September 4, two days ahead of his schedule: his goal being to arrive in the capital of Scotland on September 6, the date of the rugby match between Scotland and Georgia. While he was in the UK, the BBC wrote an article about Sandro and his impressive 113-day bike journey. Now, he is getting back to his normal life in Tbilisi, GEORGIA TODAY went to talk to him about the joys and difficulties of his journey from Georgia to Scotland. “At first, before I decided to put the theory of cycling into practice, I realized how unusual cycling is in Georgia and saw how the countrywide pessimism is something of a disease; killing every creative idea its habitants might have. The bike thing was just a hobby to interest and humor myself at first. But then, I kept calculating how much time it would take to travel from here to Germany or someplace else and each time I tried to share it with someone, they would start talking about the troubles the trip could (and would) bring, not the possible happy days and moments, the adventures that it would surely offer. So I decided to give them [the Georgians] an example of how to deal with difficulties: how to set a goal and accomplish it.”

WHY THE RUGBY MATCH? I’ve been a big fan of rugby for a long time. So when the match was announced, I got my second important motivator to finally put my theory into practice. I didn’t think there would be another chance like it to conclude such a journey with triumph.

WHAT WERE THE BIGGEST CHALLENGES YOU FACED ON YOUR JOURNEY? The mistrust and pessimism of society, I would say. No-one believed I would cross the finish line. Consequently, it became nearly impossible to find sponsors or get any kind of encouragement. The moments they would try to change my mind or stand in my way were very annoying. It was even more frustrating that those who could have made this journey a better project chose a state of disinterest – they couldn’t have cared less. For me, traveling is an essential part of those enchanted by the world of art, as it is a great way to get new sources of inspiration.

DID YOU DO ANY PHYSICAL OR PSYCHOLOGICAL TRAINING BEFORE YOU SET OUT? I started thinking about this trip one year before I headed off on the journey, psychological training of a kind. It the belief in my mission and psychological readiness that helped me most through the difficulties on the road. About the physical training – I didn’t have time to do much working out because of my job. I bought my bike a few months before I left Tbilisi! So, to say that I met the start of this trip in the shape of a true sportsmen would be a lie. However,

Each kind person I was lucky enough to cross paths with on this journey is a memory I treasure. The biggest accomplishment is the relationships I have formed through this experience.

DID YOU EVER IMAGINE THAT YOUR STORY COULD BECOME SO TALKED ABOUT? Even before I headed down the road, I was sure the project would be a subject of interest. However, even with that realization, it was never part of the point or main goal. And during the trip itself, I realized that it was not such a big deal to the public. The BBC did write about me, though, and a very good article, at that.

IN YOUR OPINION, COULD SUCH ACTIVE CYCLING AND ADVENTURE-SEEKING BECOME A NORM IN GEORGIA? The biggest things needed here are selfimprovement, empowerment and getting more experience. Tourism is interesting everywhere. However, it can be rather tough in Georgia because many routes are in bad shape. On the other hand, this is balanced with picturesque nature and historical monuments. The only two things that cause obstacles for cycling becoming part of everyday life in Georgia are laziness and the wrong mentality.

ANY INTERESTING PLANS FOR THE NEAR FUTURE? I can’t imagine life without change and novelty. I guess I’ll think of something but right now I’m concentrated on getting my strength back and getting back into the swing of my normal life. I hope that lots of interesting things lay ahead.





SEPTEMBER 13 - 16, 2019


GABRIADZE THEATER 13 Shavtelis St. TEL (+995 32) 2 98 65 93 September 13 THE AUTUMN OF MY SPRINGTIME Playwright, director, and Art director: Rezo Gabriadze Language: Georgian English Subtitles Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 20, 30, 40 GEL September 14, 18 STALINGRAD Playwright, director, and Art director: Rezo Gabriadze Language: Georgian English Subtitles Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 20, 30, 40 GEL September 15, 17 RAMONA Playwright, director, and Art director: Rezo Gabriadze Language: Georgian English Subtitles Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 20, 30, 40 GEL September 19 REZO Directed by Leo Gabriadze Script: Rezo Gabriadze Producer: Timur Bekmambetov Genre: Animation, Biography Language: Georgian English Subtitles Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 15 GEL

MOVEMENT THEATER 182, Aghmashenebeli Ave. TEL (+995 32) 598 19 29 36 September 14 FAUST After Johann Wolfgang von Goethe Directed by Kakha Bakuradze Composer/Arranger: Sandro Nikoladze Language: Non-verbal Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 10, 15 GEL September 15 ASTIGMATISTS Directed by Ioseb Bakuradze Composer: Sandro Nikoladze Language: Non-verbal Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 10, 15 GEL September 19 INTRO Directed by Kakha Bakuradze Sandro Nikoladze's Musical Alegry The performance is the synthesis of various genres- Brecht's theater, circus performance, puppets and contemporary theater. Language: Non-verbal Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 10, 15 GEL MUSEUM

GEORGIAN NATIONAL MUSEUM SIMON JANASHIA MUSEUM 3 Rustaveli Ave. TEL (+995 32) 299 80 22, 293 48 21 www.museum.ge

TBILISI VASO ABASHIDZE MUSIC AND DRAMA STATE THEATER 182 D.Agmashenebeli Ave. TEL (+995 32) 2 34 80 90 www.musictheatre.ge


September 17 WELCOME TO GEORGIA The Musical 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. Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 50-80 GEL

Until November 30 Exhibition ‘WISDOM TRANSFORMED INTO GOLD' Supported by the EU With ancient archaeological finds, the exhibition presents for the first time gold jewelry of Late Antiquity (2nd-4th century AD), goldsmiths' tools from the Museum's ethnographic collection, and items made from gold and precious metals.

Until September 29 Multimedia technology exhibitionIMMAGICA. A JOURNEY INTO BEAUTY With the help of the screen projection, visitors have a chance to take a look at the following artists’ artworks: Giotto– “Ognissanti Madonna” and the “Scrovegni Chapel”, Leonardo da Vinci– “Annunciation”, Botticelli– “The Birth of Venus” and “Spring”, Raffaello– “The Madonna of the Goldfinch, Bellotto– “Piazza San Marco”, “Castello Sforzesco”, Canaletto– “The Chapel of Eton College”, Canova– “Amor e Psyche” and “The Graces”. MUSEUM OF SOVIET OCCUPATION 4 Rustaveli Ave. TEL (+995 32) 2 99 80 22, 2 93 48 21 www.museum.ge The exhibition hall is equipped with monitors, where visitors can see documentaries of various historical events. MUSEUM OF ILLUSIONS 10 Betlemi Str. Discover the Museum of Illusions Be brave enough to jump into an illusion created by the Vortex, deform the image of yourself in a Mirror Room, be free in the Infinity room, resist the laws of gravity and size ratio, and take selfies in every possible pose. Enjoy the collection of holograms, and discover optical illusions. GALLERY

THE NATIONAL GALLERY 11 Rustaveli Ave. TEL (+995 32) 215 73 00 September 20 GRAND MASTERS FROM THE GEORGIAN NATIONAL MUSEUM COLLECTION XIX – XX CENTURY Discover the cultural heritage of artists who founded 20th century fine art in Georgia: Gigo Gabashvili, Mose Toidze, Valerian SidamonEristavi, Alexander Tsimakuridze, Aleksandre Bazbeuk-Melikov, Dimitri Shevardnadze, Sergo Kobuladze, Irina Shtenberg, Mikheil Bilanishvili, Felix Varlamishvili and Tamar Abakelia.


TBILISI SPORTS PALACE 1 26th May Sq. September 13 David Garrett’s new tour UNLIMITED –LIVE Garrett celebrate his 10-year crossover anniversary with fans Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 130-250 GEL MOVEMENT THEATER 182, Aghmashenebeli Ave. TEL (+995 32) 598 19 29 36 September 17 JAM SESSION- Improv played by different Georgian and foreign musicians and instrumentalists. Musical art director- Sandro Nikoladze Start time: 21:00 Ticket: 5 GEL FOLK SHOW 10 Rustaveli Ave. September 13, 15, 17 FOLK SHOW The first full and systematic folk show made for tourists Start time: 19:00 Ticket: 25-55 GEL DJANSUG KAKHIDZE TBILISI CENTER FOR MUSIC & CULTURE 123a D. Agmashenebeli Ave. September 15 The opening concert of the 27th International Music Festival “AUTUMN TBILISI” The participants: Tbilisi Symphony Orchestra Under the baton of Maestro Vakhtang Kakhidze Soloists: violist Georgy Kovalev and cellist Giorgi Kharadze Program: Concerto for viola and orchestra by Alfred Schnitke and Concerto for cello and symphony orchestra by Antonin Dvorak Start time: 19:30 Ticket: 10-30 GEL September 19 DUO GURFINKEL AND TBILISI SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA Program: concertos by Ivan Erod and Evgeny Levitas, “Fantastic Symphony” by Hector Berlioz Start time: 19:30 Ticket: 10-30 GEL

RUSTAVELI THEATER 17 Rustaveli Ave. September 13 CHARITY CONCERT FOR VATO Performers: Georgian Philharmonic Orchestra Conductor- Ilya Mashkevich, Piano- Giorgi Gigashvili Program: Sergei Prokofiev- Piano Concerto N3, op.26 Dmitri Shostakovich- Symphony N5, op.47 Start time: 19:30 Ticket: 10-35 GEL TSINANDALI CLASSICAL MUSIC FESTIVAL Tsinandali, Kakheti September 13 SCHUMANN, SCHUBERT Repertoire: Franz Schubert- Songs on Texts from Heinrich Heine Robert Schumann- Die Lieder für eine Singstimme und das Pianoforte / Gedichte Baritone- Thomas Hampson Piano- Jan Lisiecki Start time: 12:00 Ticket: 25-180 GEL September 13 BEETHOVEN, SCHUMANN Repertoire: Ludwig van Beethoven Piano Sonata No. 12 in A flat major, Op. 26 Robert Schumann Piano Sonata No. 1 in F sharp minor, Op. 11 INTERVAL Robert Schumann Fantasie in C major, Op.17 Ludwig van Beethoven Piano Sonata No. 21 in C major, Op. 53 Sir András Schiff (Piano Recital) Start time: 19:00 Ticket: 25-300 GEL September 14 CHOPIN, FRANCK Start time: 12:00 Ticket: 25-180 GEL September 14 TCHAIKOVSKY, SIBELIUS, MOZART Start time: 19:00 Ticket: 25-300 GEL September 15 CHOPIN, SHOSTAKOVICH, MENDELSSOHN Start time: 12:00 Ticket: 25-180 GEL September 15 ENESCU, DVORAK, SIBELIUS Start time: 19:00 Ticket: 25-300 GEL September 16 CHOPIN, MEDTNER, RACHMANINOFF Start time: 12:00 Ticket: 25-180 GEL September 16 FRÉDÉRIC CHOPIN Start time: 19:00 Ticket: 25-300 GEL September 17 RACHMANINOFF, TCHAIKOVSKY, SCRIABIN, SHOSTAKOVICH Start time: 12:00 Ticket: 25-180 GEL September 17 MOZART, SCHUBERT Start time: 19:00 Ticket: 25-300 GEL September 18 WEBER, BRAHMS Start time: 12:00 Ticket: 25-180 GEL September 18 RACHMANINOFF, PROKOFIEV, SHOSTAKOVICH Start time: 19:00 Ticket: 25-300 GEL September 19 FAZIL SAY & FRIENDS Start time: 12:00 Ticket: 25-180 GEL September 19 MOZART, SHOSTAKOVICH, BEETHOVEN Start time: 19:00 Ticket: 25-300 GEL




Promotion of Georgia Underway on CNN BY KETEVAN KVARATSKHELIYA


he promotion of Georgia as an exceptional tourist destination is underway on one of the world’s leading media platforms, CNN. CNN International has released a promo to the documentary titled ‘Destination: Georgia,’ which is to be broadcasted on Saturday, inviting travel enthusiasts to

discover the ‘country with rich history and trendy urban spaces.’ Mesmerizing views, fine cuisine, and the ancient winemaking tradition have also been included in the promotion. This is not the first CNN project aimed at introducing Georgia to the rest of the world as it recently launched a special webpage ‘Discover Georgia,’ focusing on Georgia’s history, nature and cuisine. Various articles about historic sights around Georgia have also been published by CNN.

Image source: lonelyplanet.com

Autumn Tbilisi Music Festival 2019





n September 15, the Djansug Kakhidze Tbilisi Center for Music & Culture will present the 27th annual Autumn Tbilisi Music Festival. The musical celebration will conclude on October 17. The participants of the international festival’s celebratory opening concert will be the Tbilisi Symphony Orchestra, under the baton of Maestro Vakhatng Kakhidze, and two outstanding soloists: violist Georgy Kovalev and cellist Giorgi Kharadze. Both soloists are prize winners of several prestigious international competitions; they also pride themselves on having played at major concert venues of the world. The pair will perform a Concerto for Viola and Orchestra by Alfred Schnittke and Concerto for Cello and Symphony Orchestra by Antonin Dvorak.

The 2019 festival is dedicated to the 30th anniversary of the Djansug Kakhidze Tbilisi Center for Music & Culture and will host musical ensembles from Italy and Latvia, famous soloists from Israel, France, Germany, and China. Festival Schedule: 15 September, Opening concert (19:30) Tbilisi Symphony Orchestra Conductor: Vakhtang Kakhidze 19 September, Concert of symphonic music (19:30) Tbilisi Symphony Orchestra Conductor: Vakhtang Kakhidze 22 September, 15th anniversary of the folk ensemble "Didgori" (19:30) Folk ensemble "Didgori" 25 September, Vocal Ensemble "Latvian Voices" (19:30) Vocal Ensemble "Latvian Voices" 28 September, Concert of symphonic music (19:30) Tbilisi Symphony Orchestra Conductor: Vakhtang Kakhidze 1 October, Concert of choral music (19:30)



Commercial Director: Iva Merabishvili Marketing Manager: Sesili Tikaradze



Editor-In-Chief: Katie Ruth Davies

City of Riga Stradins University Mixed Choir "Riga" Georgian State Choir Conductor: Evita Taranda, Zane Zilberte (Latvia), Archil Ushveridze 3 October, Concert of chamber orchestra (19:30) Chamber orchestra "Cameristi Della Scala" (Italy) Conductor: Vakhtang Kakhidze 6 October, Concert of piano music (small hall 19:30) 9 October, Concert of symphonic music (19:30) Tbilisi Symphony Orchestra Conductor: Vakhtang Kakhidze 11 October, 100th anniversary of Alexander Shaverzashvili (small hall 19:30) 17 October, Concert of choral music (19:30) City of Rustavi Youth Choir "Tutarchela" Conductor: Tamar Buadze The tickets for the opening concert of the Autumn Tbilisi Music Festival are available online.

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

he annual Batumi International Art-House Film Festival (BIAFF), established in 2006, this year will open on September 15. Partnered with Batumi City Hall, the founder, and organizer of the international festival is "ARGANI", the Batumi Art-House. The festival focuses on art-house cinema and has enjoyed ever-growing recognition as it aims to become the biggest film festival on the Black Sea Coast. BIAFF’s international competition program includes three sections: - BIAFF Feature Films Competition - BIAFF Doc Films Competition

Website Manager/Editor: Katie Ruth Davies Layout: Misha Mchedlishvili Webmaster: Sergey Gevenov Circulation Managers: David Kerdikashvili, David Djandjgava

- BIAFF short films competition The BIAFF 2019 International Jury features: Alexander Mindadze, Russia – Head of Jury, Tatiana Detlofson (USA), Martin Blaney (UK), Carmen Grey (UK), Rusudan Glurjidze (Georgia) Besides the competition, the festival showcases three other sections that have proven interesting for cinema-goers: - BIAFF Master’s collection – presenting the latest films by famous filmmakers - BIAFF Special Screenings – films presented by special guests and partners of the festival - BIAFF Georgian Panorama – showcasing new Georgian films (shorts, feature, docs) You can see the list of nominated and screening movies on the official website of BIAFF here. BIAFF will wrap up on September 22.


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Profile for Georgia Today

Issue #1185  

September 13 - 16, 2019

Issue #1185  

September 13 - 16, 2019