Page 1 georgiatoday

Issue no: 793

• NOVEMBER 13 - 16, 2015



In this week’s issue... Russia Wins Azerbaijan POLITICS PAGE 7

China Southern Airlines Presents Products of 2015 BUSINESS PAGE 8

Akaki Tsereteli Brought to Life in Vivid New English Publication




Heimo Laakkonen, Director of the UNFPA a Office, Eastern Europe & Central Asia rgia Today shares his thoughts with Georgia

Baroque Festivall S Sett tto Wow Audiences in Tbilisi



Federica Mogherini: EU Challenges Should Not Hinder Eastern Partnership BY STEVEN JONES


rederica Mogherini, High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy/VicePresident of the European Commission, visited Tbilisi Tuesday as part of a broader tour of the partner countries in the Eastern Partnership. Opening the “Achieving Gender Equality” International conference held in Tbilisi on November 11, Mogherini stated, “A lot of women are in this room, but also there are a lot of men. We have gathered here because we believe in Gender equality and we believe we will change the situation.” Mogherini cited that gender equality is not only a moral obligation or social status adding, “Granting women and men the same rights enriches our society and makes it safer. It is an issue of develop-

ment. Strong women bring many benefits to society. It is easier to overcome economic and social barriers when women are strong and they are recognized as equal citizens in the community. This is part of the sustainability of our society.” The EU’s Chef Diplomat discussed some strategic issues of Georgian-EU relations at a face-to-face meeting with Georgia’s Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili. The agenda of the official meeting included bilateral cooperation priorities, the implementation of the Association Agreement and the importance of the completion of the visa liberalization process. Garibashvili stressed that the successful completion of the visa dialogue with the EU is a top priority on the agenda of cooperation. He said the government has tried its best to fulfil all the requirements of the Visa Liberalization Action Plan. According to the Prime Minister, the high-ranking visit clearly confirms the EU’s strong support of Georgia’s Euro-

EU Chief Diplomat Federica Mogherini and Georgian Prime Minister. Source: Georgian Prime Minister’s official Fb page

pean choice and reflects the unique relationship that Georgia and the EU have already established in the form of political association and economic integration. The Georgian PM emphasized that the second session of the EU-Georgia Asso-

ciation Council on November 16 in Brussels will enable [them] to summarize the process at the highest political level, the progress, which [they] have achieved in a short time. “We will prepare a basis for new achievements and initiatives.”

Mogherini herself emphasized that Georgia has fulfilled many significant obligations and should keep on the same path in order to receive positive recommendations at the end of the year in terms of visa liberalization. Mogherini said that, despite the fact the EU was facing a great deal of challenges, “these problems would not hinder the importance of the EU’s relationship with Eastern European countries.” Parliament Speaker Davit Usupashvili also met with Federica Mogherini. Usupashvili thanked the EU diplomat for visiting Georgia, saying he hopes for more advice that will help move Georgia closer to Europe. According to Usupashvili, when it comes to Georgia’s Euro-Atlantic integration, Parliament is working as a team. During the visit, Federica Mogherini also met with the Georgian President Giorgi Margvelashvili, Foreign Minister Giorgi Kvirikashvili and leaders of parliamentary factions and civil society.




NOVEMBER 13 - 16, 2015

Head of ICC Georgia Pens Open Letter to Billionaire Ivanishvili


hairman of the International Chamber of Commerce Georgia, Fady Asly, has sent an open letter to Georgian tycoon and former Prime Minister Bidzina Ivanishvili. Through the letter Asly hits back at Ivanishvili’s comments about him. On November 10th in an interview with Georgian media, Ivanishvili stated that Asly has nostalgia for Merabishvili and Saakashvili’s rule, claiming that he is a friend of theirs and had conducted a number of suspicious deals with them. “Dear Mr. Ivanishvili, I read with great amazement your interview of November 10 in which you deny that businesses are being pressured and harassed by financial bodies and in which you claim that I had many suspicious deals with the United National Movement when in power, and that I have nostalgia for Saakashvili and Merabishvili. May I remind you of some historical facts: I was the ONLY businessman in Georgia to fight against harassment of businesses by the Financial Police under the Saakashvili administration and I paid a very hefty price for that at a time when you were the number one supporter of this administration and its major financier. Your accusations remind me of those of Arab rulers who systematically accuse those who criticize their policies of being “agents of Israel”. When I was a teenager my late father

Chairman of the International Chamber of Commerce Georgia, Fady Asly, has sent an open letter to Georgian tycoon and former Prime Minister Bidzina Ivanishvili

had me take a pledge to never join any political party; in summer 2012 when you were personally attacked in your businesses by the previous government and deprived of many of your assets I felt so angry and so frustrated that I was

about to break my pledge to my father and join the Georgian Dream as a gesture of solidarity with you. The only reason I did not join your party was because of my function as Chair of the International Chamber of

Commerce, an apolitical organization; however, I did vote for your party in October 2012 and if your memory is not faltering, you will surely remember that I did organize on October 5th 2012 your first meeting with the business community. I will remind you of your statements to businesses during this particular meeting and I quote you: “I vow that my government will provide equal conditions for all businesses and will eradicate the practice of pressuring of businesses by the state.” “You should immediately set off alarm bells if a government official exerts pressure on you.” “I guarantee that no one will dare to exert pressure on businesses and the very first case of such pressure will be strictly punished. But you, too, should not yield to [pressure] and you should speak out in order to make it easier for us to investigate the [circumstances]… Speak out and let us know if there is a problem so that we can react instantly.” “The Government should be kept a distance from business. You have to tell the government if legislation is wrong; the initiative should be coming from you and not vice versa.” “As soon as someone from the government starts trying to befriend you, you should start shouting out loud: ‘I’ve been raped’… and you should start ringing alarm bells as soon as someone from the government starts offering ‘help’.” Dear Mr. Ivanishvili, we have followed your instructions word for word and for

three years we have set off all kinds of alarm bells; we have spoken out to make it easier for you to investigate; we haven’t yielded to pressure and we have told the government when the legislation was wrong; we have shouted “we’ve been raped” hundreds of times, however, unfortunately, it has fallen on deaf ears, just as your words and promises died with the sunset of October 5th 2012. What also struck me in your interview [of yesterday] was your statement that international society, authoritative organizations, diplomats, foreign media and foreign ambassadors to Georgia have all been misled; so in your own thinking everyone is wrong including eighty nine percent of the Georgian population but your ruling coalition is right! Dear Mr. Ivanishvili, as long as you are in denial of the reality, the situation in Georgia will worsen and your ratings will fall even further; people will not only have nostalgia for Saakashvili and Merabishvili but also nostalgia for Shevardnadze and the Soviet Union! My advice to you is to listen attentively to those who are criticizing you, instead of listening to those who are polishing your shoes! You will then better understand what is really happening in Georgia, why the economy is doing so badly and why the government that you have appointed is in free fall. Best wishes, Fady Asly Chairman, ICC-Georgia”



Rustavi 2 – No Lessons Learned By Georgian Governments BY ZVIAD ADZINBAIA


bilisi City Court on the evening of November 5 terminated the right of the General Director of Rustavi 2, Nika Gvaramia, to rule the Television Company, appointing two outsiders as provisional heads of Georgia’s largest TV Company until the Constitutional Court makes a final decision on ownership. Judge Tamaz Urtmelidze ruled that Kibar Khalvashi’s immediate takeover has to be reflected in civil registry documentation before it is binding. Davit Dvali, a former co-owner of the company, and Revaz Sakevarishvili, the Deputy Director of rival TV Company Imedi, have been appointed provisional heads of Rustavi 2. Rustavi 2’s current management consider the ruling unlawful based on the Constitutional Court’s ruling three days prior in which it temporarily suspended the government’s right to immediately enforce decisions in first instance courts if they have been appealed to a higher instance court. Nika Gvaramia posted on his Facebook page: “Congratulations, my friends. Dictatorship has now been officially established in Georgia.” Following the decision, Gvaramia held an emergency briefing saying that the government has eradicated even traces of democracy in Georgia, reversing the country’s course from Euro-Atlantic integration towards Russia’s Eurasian Union. Some influential representatives of Civil Society and Non-Governmental organizations in Georgia published a joint statement naming the court’s ruling concerning the replacement of Rustavi 2’s top management ‘unlawful’.

The Gas Game: Aliyev, Vova & Silvio OPED BY ZAZA JGARKAVA

A large crowd assembled in support of Rustavi 2 and freedom of speech. Photo: Nika Urushadze

According to the statement, the decision destroys the editorial independence of Rustavi 2, fundamentally undermines the freedom of media, ruins media pluralism in the country and has implications for the challenging of Georgia’s constitutional order and stability. “Maintaining Rustavi 2 as a critical TV channel is essential for Georgia’s democracy, especially in light of the upcoming parliamentary elections in 2016,” the statement from Georgian NGOs reads. Rustavi 2 also received international support from such figures as the US Ambassador to Georgia and Head of the EU Delegation to Georgia, Janos Herman, both of whom expressed deep concern over Rustavi 2’s recent developments. According to Herman, adherence to the rule of law, democracy and principals of media freedom are important for the EU and, in this direction, the European Union has repeatedly helped Georgia. “It is important not only to preserve the achievements that Georgia has in terms of the democratic, the rule of law and freedom of the media, but to take the next steps forward.”

ANALYSIS: The situation in the country, especially surrounding Rustavi 2, is dire. By ‘dire,’ Georgian and international experts as well as the media and civil society mean that the fight is not being waged in law, but through the political interests of the government. In watching the flood of statements by almost all competent and powerful international and local organizations, one could get the impression that only the Georgian Dream and the government in general believe that the case of Rustavi 2 is an argument between two private entities. Meanwhile, the Georgian government seems to be losing her golden time to advance her democracy and think forward instead of falling into the same pool the previous UNM government did when Imedi TV was massacred in November 2007. Remarkably, the Imedi case became one of the top arguments for Georgia-sceptic European countries not to grant MAP to Georgia at the NATO Bucharest Summit 2008. Curiously, the next NATO Summit of Warsaw is approaching. Is the history being repeated? No lessons learnt by the Georgian governments, it seems.



he broadcasting company Rustavi 2 and the court dispute around it remain the country’s top news, however, apart from this existential issue, there are other important political events going on for the government. Following on from the visit of Serzh Sargsyan, the President of Armenia, Tbilisi hosted the President of Azerbaijan - Ilham Aliyev. The President of Azerbaijan, like the Armenian president, also got an airport welcome by the Minister of Energy – Kakhi Kaladze, which implied that in this case, too, the main theme of the visit was energy. Indeed, natural gas was the subject that President Aliyev had to address during his meetings with all hosts, including the Patriarch Ilia II himself. President Aliyev’s visited was preceded by the scandal of Russian Gazprom that started in Brussels with Energy Minister Kaladze and ended in Milan. The government offered its version behind the country’s energy diversification, naming the insufficient amount of Azerbaijani gas as a reason for the secret meetings that were held between Kaladze and the senior officials of Gazprom. President Aliyev’s visit was expected to shed light on the secret meetings of the Georgian minister. “Azerbaijani gas will be exported to Turkey in 2018 and to the European market by 2020. This is an enormous energy project involving an investment of 45 billion US Dollars. Azerbaijan has big reservoirs of gas,

which means that even in 100 years Azerbaijan can satisfy not only the demands of its own market, but that of its neighbors and Europe as well”, said President Aliyev during his meeting with President Margvelashvili, which was also attended by the Minister of Energy. Despite this response by Aliyev, the main intrigue of his visit has still been linked with the former Prime Minister – Bidzina Ivanishvili. Yet, unlike the case with the President of Armania, Ivanishvili did not wish to meet President Aliyev. Nevertheless, according to the information spread afterwards by an Azerbaijani agency - their meeting did happen in the Embassy of Azerbaijan. According to the agency, apart from natural gas, President Aliyev discussed the anticipated results of the railway road reestablishment, going through Apkhazia to Russia, with the “khazain (rus. owner)” of Georgia . “I will not allow Azerbaijan to be moved to one side, not to have a lever of some sort and not to have influence on the policies of opening a railway in the Trans Caucasus,” – Aliyev is reported to have told Ivanishvili. Another version of the secret meeting with Aliyev was later disclosed by Ivanishvili: “We had a far more interesting conversation with Mr. Aliyev than with Gazprom,” Ivanishvili is reported to have said. “We had a very interesting meeting, a very friendly discussion and we parted in a friendly manner. These themes are much more interesting than Gazprom,” Ivanishvili said. That same agency has revealed the real interests of the Minister of Energy in the gas scandal. Continued on page 15




NOVEMBER 13 - 16, 2015

UNFPA Regional Director Heimo Laakkonen on SDGs, Gender Equality and Population Dynamics BY KATIE RUTH DAVIES


his week Tbilisi welcomed the high-level international conference: Achieving Gender Equality – Challenges and Opportunities in the European Neighborhood Policy (ENP) Region. Around 250 guests and high-ranking officials, including Georgian Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili, high-level representatives from the European Union’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, the Assistant Secretary-General of the United Nations, and the Director of the UNDP Regional Bureau for Europe and the Commonwealth of Independent States, Cihan Sultanoglu participated in the event as part of a joint initiative by the Georgian Government and the United Nations and European Union. Another important guest at that Conference, Mr. Heimo Laakkonen, Director of the UNFPA Eastern Europe and Central Asia Office, was kind enough to share his ideas with Georgia Today.

“TRANSFORMING OUR WORLD: THE 2030 AGENDA FOR SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT“ – THIS RESOLUTION AND THE SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT GOALS (SDGS) ADOPTED BY THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY ON 25 SEPTEMBER 2015 EMPHASIZED THAT THE AGENDA FOR THE NEXT 15 YEARS IS A PLAN OF ACTION FOR PEOPLE, PLANET AND PROSPERITY. IT ALSO SEEKS TO STRENGTHEN UNIVERSAL PEACE IN GREATER FREEDOM. HOW DOES THE UNFPA SEE ITS ROLE IN HELPING THE COUNTRIES TO ACHIEVE THOSE SDGS? HOW YOU SEE THE ROLE OF THE UNFPA IN GEORGIA IN THIS REGARD? 2015 has been a big year for the entire family of UN Member States, including Georgia with world leaders having committed to implementing the comprehensive SDG agenda adopted at the UN GA in September. In 2014 we marked the 20th anniversary of the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD). Together with member states, we assessed how far we have come in achieving the goals set 20 years ago – globally, in this region and at the country level, including here in Georgia. The assessment issued in 2014 clearly showed progress in areas such as health and longevity over the past two decades. And yet it also warned of the threat of increasing inequalities. Governments have been urged to pass and enforce laws to protect the poorest and most marginalized, including adolescent girls and women affected by violence as well as rural populations. These messages are fully applicable to this region as well. The global SDG agenda fully integrates the priorities outlined by the ICPD review: reducing maternal mortality; ensuring universal access to reproductive health and rights services, information and education; integration of reproductive health (RH) into national development strategies and programmes; taking account of population trends and projections in national rural and urban development strategies and policies; eliminating all forms of discrimination and violence against all women and girls

in the public and private spheres, including through the engagement of men and boys; eliminating all harmful practices such as child, early and forced marriage, etc. The Sustainable Development Goals are ambitious, and they will require enormous efforts across countries, continents, industries and disciplines – but they are achievable. The UNFPA is working globally with governments, partners and other UN agencies to directly tackle many of these goals – in particular Goal 3 on health, Goal 4 on education and Goal 5 on gender equality – and contributes in a variety of ways to achieving many of the remaining goals. Let me say in this context that we welcome the introduction of the universal health program in 2013 by the Government of Georgia. This is a major step towards making health services more accessible and reducing inequalities. I also welcome the commitment of the Ministry of Labor, Health and Social Affairs to support the expansion of breast and cervical cancer screening programs.

This is very important, and the plan to introduce an organized cervical cancer screening program in partnership with the UNFPA is a remarkable step forward as it will increase the quality of the screening program and the coverage of the target population, which in turn will reduce the number of women dying from cancer. We are working with the authorities to strengthen primary health care in

Total Induced Abortion Rate down

3.7 in 1999 1.6 in 2010

Today’s young people are the country’s future human capital, and the level of their education, skills and health are major determinants for a country’s sustainable development

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Georgia through better integration of reproductive health services, improving access to youth-friendly services and making sure clinical protocols are used for quality assurance. Although considerable progress has been made over recent years, many issues remain to be addressed, particularly in light of the enormous economic, social and demographic changes in the country.

YOU CAME TO GEORGIA TO PARTICIPATE IN A HIGHLEVEL CONFERENCE ON GENDER EQUALITY. WHAT WAS THE FOCUS OF YOUR INTERVENTION? WHAT IS THE UNFPA DOING TO ADVANCE GENDER EQUALITY IN THE REGION AND IN GEORGIA? It is no coincidence that this important meeting took place in Georgia, a country which has made remarkable progress over the past decades towards strengthening the human rights and gender equality agenda, including the goals set at the International Conference on Population and Development. Just to give a few examples (from the 2010 RH Survey supported by UNFPA, USAID and UNICEF): • The use of modern contraceptive methods among married women increased from 20% in 1999 to 35% in 2010; • The Total Induced Abortion Rate more than halved between 1999 and 2010, from 3.7 to 1.6.

Importantly, these achievements were made while the total fertility rate went up. This means Georgians used more contraception, allowing them to make choices about when to have children and how many, and at the same time they had more children – not fewer. This debunks the still widespread myth that better access to contraception would lead to lower fertility levels. Addressing discrimination and violence against women is a major challenge that needs much more attention. Globally, one in three women experience violence, often within families. In Georgia, and other countries of the region, the UNFPA supported the first nationwide research projects on domestic violence, providing indispensable data for evidence-based policies and programs. Deep-rooted gender inequalities are also a key factor for a trend we have been observing in the South Caucasus, including in Georgia: the practice of pre-natal sex selection in favour of sons, leading to a skewed birth ratio with farreaching social and demographic consequences (in Georgia 110 boys are born for every 100 girls). We have supported a major study together with the World Bank, shedding light on causes, consequences and implications of this harmful practice to provide evidence and recommendations on how to counter it. It has been estimated that in 2010 in Georgia 25,000 girls of age 0-19 had already gone missing due to this practice. This has significant implications for Georgian society and the country’s demographic situation. It is clear that without making progress on gender equality it will be impossible to reverse this trend. In more than 14 countries throughout the region, including Georgia, the UNFPA helps to promote a multi-sectoral approach to combatting gender-based violence, including by working with health care professionals to recognize and provide appropriate services for victims of violence; all countries have

Tel: (995 32) 2 45 08 08 E-mail:

been trained on healthcare sector response to GBV and equipped with regionally developed tools. Harmful traditional practices of child marriage and bride kidnapping still exist in the region. Child marriage hinders girls’ rights to education, life and physical integrity – in Georgia the UNFPA supports strengthened prevention of this harmful practice and facilitates the work of a specific inter-sectorial Task Force established at the Prime Minister’s Office. In Georgia and in other countries in the region, the UNFPA helps in promoting men’s involvement for greater gender equality and combating violence against women and girls through supporting innovative gender transformative programming and mobilizing men as actors for change.

POPULATION DYNAMICS HAS BECOME AN IMPORTANT FACTOR THAT DETERMINES THE SOCIAL AND ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT OF NATIONS AND COUNTRIES. GEORGIA, LIKE MANY OTHER COUNTRIES OF THE REGION, FACES CHALLENGES RELATED TO AGEING. WHAT IS THE FOCUS OF UNFPA SUPPORT IN THIS AREA? Integration of population dynamics and trends into national development planning is increasingly becoming a priority for UNFPA assistance globally, in the region, as well as in Georgia, as the country, together with other countries of the region, faces challenges related to changes in the population structure and ageing. The UNFPA has been a leading partner for the government in undertaking the 2014 census, analysing and disseminating data to inform policy-making and planning. One of the important aspects of population dynamics is related to young people. Young people have the potential to have a very positive impact on a country’s sustainable development, if they have the opportunity to fully realize their potential, have access to quality education and healthcare, including in the area of reproductive health, and have opportunities for descent employment. Investing in youth development will also help countries to respond to challenges of ageing – a demographic phenomenon observed in almost all countries of the region. In Georgia, UNFPA is collaborating with the Parliament and the Government, for example on elaborating Georgia’s National Action Plan on Ageing based on the recommendations provided in the comprehensive Road Map on Mainstreaming Ageing. UNFPA is committed to continuing its technical and policy advice support to ensure that national development strategies address population dynamics by accounting for population trends and projections in setting development targets.




NOVEMBER 13 - 16, 2015

Georgian Gas Potential a World Class Play BY ZVIAD ADZINBAIA


eorgia Today continues to inform its readers about the finding by US independent oil and gas exploration and production company Frontera Resources of an estimated 3.8 trillion cubic meters of gas in the Georgian region of Kakheti early in October this year. In search of an expert opinion on the subject, Georgia Today was able to exclusively interview a London-based energy expert- a scientist working in the field of energy.

HOW CAN WE ASSESS HOW MUCH GAS WILL BE RECOVERABLE FROM THE 135 TRILLION CUBIC FEET GAS-IN-PLACE IN THE SOUTH KAKHETI GAS COMPLEX? Earlier this year, the independent O&G consulting firm Netherland, Sewell & Associates confirmed combined prospective natural gas resources of as much as 12.9 trillion cubic feet (365 billion cubic meters) of gas-in-place, with as much as 9.4 trillion cubic feet (266 billion cubic meters) of recoverable prospective natural gas resources at the Mtsare Khevi Gas Complex and Taribani Field Complex. In terms of recoverability, 70% of the gas-in-place is classed as recoverable from this sourcerock.

The recently upgraded internal estimate of gas-in-place of 135 trillion cubic feet was realized as a culmination of many years of geological studies when it became clear that the two separate gas fields were in fact one giant gas field. This upgraded giant field could also yield a similar recovery prospect of 70% giving a figure of anywhere between 50 and 100 trillion cubic feet of gas recoverable as a prospective resource. While there are numerous ex-Soviet wells drilled into the Mtsare Khevi and Taribani fields that are being re-entered and re-perforated to yield additional gas, Frontera is continuing to advance drilling programs to progress the development of these fields with new wells. In addition, the large team of Frontera engineers has been upgrading the gas gathering, processing and associated facilities. While it is clear that a great deal of money and additional resources will need to be spent to realize the full potential of this field and this could take many years, significant increases in production are currently within reach for the near future.


The South Kakheti Gas Complex is truly a world-class play, comparable with many of the larger fields in the world. The Georgian gas potential can only strengthen relations between countries in the region as it contributes to the regional success as an energy supplier to mainland Europe through TANAP and other regionally significant projects. Azerbaijan is looking to diversify its trade and so, as the region develops and diversifies its own energy potential, it will be seen that there is plenty of demand for gas- bringing prosperity to the different contributors to the international gas markets from this region. The international gas market has always been fluid and flexible and this Georgian resource will not impact upon Georgia’s relationship with Azerbaijan; the potential of the Southern Gas Corridor via Turkey is big enough for all players. One key aspect of Georgian geography, however, is its Black Sea coast; LNG (Liquefied Natural Gas) tankers from Qatar and elsewhere are currently unable to pass through the Bosporus strait into the Black Sea to supply Romania, Ukraine etc. Georgia will in due course potentially be in a unique and strong position to contribute to the trans-Black Sea supply of LNG from its own resources to countries with Black Sea ports. It is possible that Georgia could leverage its advantage here in time, but it needs to be careful in the short term to ensure that it doesn’t upset its neighbors as it will take time to fully develop this gas field, and diversifying supply in the

Former US ambassador to Georgia Richard Norland surveys gas well in the Mstarekhevi gas field with Frontera Resources’ Chairman and CEO Steve Nicandros. Source: US Embassy Georgia

short term, even with Gazprom, would be sensible.

TO WHAT EXTENT DO YOU THINK THESE GAS RESOURCES COULD BE PART OF THE GREATER POLITICS AND WHO ARE THE POTENTIAL PLAYERS IN THIS PROCESS? It is widely recognized that the US supports the principal of Europe reducing its reliance on Russian gas and diversifying its supply. Georgia has a warm relationship with the US and Europe and, in June last year (with Ukraine and Moldova), Georgia signed an Association Agreement with the European Union, by doing so announcing that their ultimate goal is to join the European Union. USAID projects continue to help facilitate investment in the energy sector in Georgia and the nation continues to develop economically in a very positive way with this international support. The development of Georgia into an economically strong nation helps to assure the energy security for the region and for the European mainland; as a key transit country for energy and increasingly as a potential partner in the export of its own energy.


tinue to form business alliances with larger more fiscally flexible organizations to exploit this gas field and other potential resources in a timely manner. The Georgian government will certainly wish to see this valuable asset exploited quickly and therefore larger organizations with deeper pockets will play a part as the project develops. However, it is Frontera who has spent many years and huge resources understanding and unlocking the potential of these fields. The South Kakheti field is a large and complex gas play and Frontera are critically and uniquely positioned to build upon their deep understanding of the geology of the Kura basin. In Frontera Resources, Georgia has similar technological expertise and experience that facilitated the shale gas boom in North America working to develop Georgia’s potential; the upstream skill-set of the team within this company is highly impressive. However, Frontera is a relatively small organization; there are obvious players in the international O&G industry who are mooted to be potentially looking to a joint venture with Frontera to develop this and other plays within Eastern Georgia. Zviad Adzinbaia is an Analyst at Georgia Today newspaper covering regional politics, security, Russia-Georgia affairs and issues of Georgia’s EuroAtlantic integration. He is also a fellow of a number of high-caliber programs at the Georgian Foundation for Strategic and International Studies (GFSIS).


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ith public attention focused primarily on the convolutions of the Rustavi-2 saga, the visits to Tbilisi of the presidents of two neighboring states in the space of one week – Serzh Sarkisian or Armenia on October 30 and Ilham Aliyev of Azerbaijan on November 5 – went virtually unnoticed by the general public and pundit community alike. This lack of attention and coverage is hardly surprising given the preoccupation of the general public with daily problems of unemployment, low income and other burning daily pursuits. Those more interested in international affairs are primarily concerned about EU visa liberalization chances and are apprehensive about growing – albeit slowly – Russian softpower projections and creeping annexation. So the reasons the two neighboring republics – one of them, Azerbaijan, being Georgia’s ‘strategic partner’ and reliable energy partner – end up at the back burner of the public eye are very simple. Neither of these countries aspires to NATO membership or closer integration with the European Union, which contrasts sharply with Georgia’s proWestern ambitions. And neither suffers – directly at least – from Russia’s aggression, which could render Georgia and the victim companions in distress. The very fact that regional neighbors do not share Georgia’s western orientation does not bode well for Georgia itself. The West would have been far more supportive and energetic had all three republics of the South Caucasus been pursuing the path of democratization and modernization. Indeed, one can hardly imagine the EU or NATO extending such massive support to

Estonia with Latvia and Lithuania being Russia’s partners or members of the Non-Aligned Movement. But what to me is far more unsettling is not the current state of affairs, but the trend: just a decade ago there was a hope, both in Washington and Brussels, that Armenia and Azerbaijan, despite the dependency on Russia of the former and problematic Human Rights record in the latter, would manage to sort out their problems and embark more resolutely on a westward quest. This optimism was based on the rational expectation that the leadership of both Baku and Yerevan did understand the longer-term benefits for their nations of the genuine western-style reforms and therefore they needed just a little bit of prodding on the part of the West that would ensure the requisite political will. But these sanguine beliefs have been dashed completely over the course of the last few years. In 2011 Azerbaijan joined the Non-Aligned Movement, thus signaling its lack of interest in becoming a part of the West. And in September 2013, the Armenian president abandoned years of negotiations with the EU over the Association Agreement and committed to the Russia-led Custom’s Union, which later transformed into the Eurasian Economic Union. Since 2013, as the Azerbaijani authorities have intensified their crackdown on NGOs, independent and investigative journalists and human rights groups, Baku’s official anti-Western rhetoric has become so aggressive that it is reminiscent of the Soviet era. Phrases such as “corrupting influence of the West” are often touted by senior officials, including the President. Not surprisingly, the country is ranked 162nd out of 180 countries in the 2015 World Press Freedom Index, falling even behind Russia, which is ranked 152nd. Georgia and Armenia are far ahead, ranked 69th and 79th respectively.

All this proves that Russia won the strategic tug of war over Azerbaijan. It does not mean that we should expect an abrupt termination of the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan or Baku-Tbilisi-Erzurum energy routes. Russia has achieved a far greater goal, namely ensuring that Azerbaijan will not even attempt to become a pro-western state in the observable future. More than alternative natural gas routes, Putin’s Russia fears an economically successful democratizing country on its post-Soviet periphery, because this might question the efficiency – and later legitimacy – of Putin’s ‘sovereign democracy’, the regime that stifles political pluralism and brings entire mass-media under state control. This paradigm is based on the notion that democracy and liberalism are essentially western phenomena and are inapplicable anywhere outside the West. So, successful transformation of a post-Soviet state along the lines of democracy and market economy is the biggest anathema for the Russian authorities. For this very reason Putin’s genuine dislike of Georgia’s reforms started in 2005-2006, when the reforms started to deliver tangible results. He sensed the danger of these reforms becoming too successful and therefore capable of debunking the sovereign democracy myth. Hence the economic embargos on Georgian agricultural products, deportation en masse of ethnic Georgians and a series of natural gas price hikes. And when economic pressure did not work as intended, Russia attacked Georgia in 2008. This very line of reasoning explains Russia’s aggression against Ukraine. The Maidan Revolution created once again the danger of a ‘success story’ – and Putin acted to prevent this from happening. But the cases of Georgia and Ukraine are ones where the Russian leader went to extreme lengths, because other means were exhausted. In case of Azerbaijan,

Putin shakes hands with Azeri President Ilham Aliyev. Azerbaijan’s rabid anti-Westernism and growing authoritarianism is very much to Moscow’s liking. Source:

Russia may boast “subduing the enemy’s resistance without fighting” – the words of Chinese military strategist Sun Tzu, ones Putin likes to quote. Capitalizing on the centrality of the Nagorno Karabakh problem, Russia gained in the eyes of Baku the role of the only broker that holds the key to the resolution – this was not difficult given the West’s overall disengagement with such post-Soviet conflicts. Selling weapons to Azerbaijan

instills the latter with hope that Russia might not defend Armenia in case of resumption of hostilities. And the Russian leaders have never criticized Azerbaijani authorities even for the most dismal Human Rights abuses. These factors ensured Azerbaijan’s rabid antiWesternism and growing authoritarianism, which is very much to Moscow’s liking, as it vindicates Putin’s spurious narrative.




NOVEMBER 13 - 16, 2015

Hotel sympatia

China Southern Airlines presented its products for 2015 at the Hualing Hotels and Preference hotel in Tbilisi

China Southern Airlines Presents Products of 2015 BY TAMAR SHELIA


ir company China Southern Airlines has opened a number of new flights from the Tbilisi International Airport to several cities of the world. The company presented its products for 2015 at the Hualing Hotels and Preference hotel in Tbilisi. The presentation highlighted flights of Tbilisi-Urumqi-Seoul, TbilisiUrumqi-Guanzhou-New York, Tbilisi-Urumqi-GuanzhouToronto and Tbilisi-UrumqiGuanzhou-Los Angeles. The Head of the Marketing Department of the head office of China Southern Airlines, Zhang Jun, Counselor of the Trade-Economic Chamber

of the Embassy of China, Liu Bo, staff of the Embassy of China in Georgia, Council members of Tbilisi, representatives of civil aviation and tourism agencies, Tav-Georgia – the managing company of the Tbilisi International Airport, and other invited guests attended the presentation. The event was opened by the Ambassador of China to Georgia, Yue Bin, who spoke about Georgia’s main role in the old Silk Road, its strategic location, and importance in the development of economic and trade relations between the two countries. Head of the Marketing Department of China Southern Airlines, Zhang Jun, presented information about the main strategy and international flight network of Chinese Airlines. He said that since June 2011, when the direct flight of

Urumqi-Tbilisi was opened, the air company has been working constantly on increasing the number of flights and improving the quality of service. “Since September 2014, China Airlines had been flying direct to Lanzhou to make trips of Georgian students going there and Chinese teachers more comfortable. We do not have many tourists from Georgia yet. But if people are willing to use the transit services of our company, we will have lower prices for them. Chinese people like Georgia very much but the majority do not know its history yet. The introduction of new flights will bring the peoples of the two countries closer to each other,” Zhang Jun said. Director of the Civil Aviation Agency, Guram Jalaghonia, said that China Southern Airlines has been operating on the Georgian

air market for four years and it has not had any problems with Georgia. “We do not have any problems either. The flights of the company are oriented on the development of tourism. We are very happy that the Chinese side is planning to increase their number [of flights]. The Chinese government is discussing the issue of a free trade agreement with Georgia, which is very important. The growth of the country’s economy, development of tourism, and creation of jobs is unimaginable without the development of airlines,” Jalaghonia said. At the end of the meeting, a lottery was held and the lucky winner got a return ticket from Tbilisi to Beijing and the runner up, a return ticket from Tbilisi to Urumqi.

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Georgian GPs to Follow Sanford University Guide to Antimicrobial Therapy

President of Global Alliance, Jean-Elie Malkin, discussed the overall healthcare conditions in Georgia at a conference on the application of Antimicrobial Therapy



he National Center for Disease Control and Public Health of Georgia (NCDC), hosted a conference in order to introduce the rational application of Antimicrobial Therapy. The Georgian version of the 45th edition of the Sanford Guide to Antimicrobial Therapy, an internationally acclaimed publication used daily by American

General Practitioners (GPs) was presented at the event. From today Georgian therapists will also take instruction from the book, which has a long history. At the conference, Dr. Elizabeth Bouvet and Dr. Malvina Javakhadze addressed the European perspective on the use of antimicrobial therapy, as well as the instruction for implementation of the Sanford Guide for Georgian GPs. The event was organized by the Ministry of Health and the National Center for Disease Control and Public Health, in


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collaboration with the Georgia Association of Homes and Services for Children (GAHSC), and was attended by representatives of the Ministry of Health, NCDC, Global Alliance and Georgia’s regional hospital practitioners. Zaza Sopromadze, Deputy Minister of Health, considers Antimicrobial Resistance a global issue: “We are trying to share the Western experience with our GPs and give them adequate recommendations and instructions. The National Coordination Council of Antimicrobial Resistance has been created in Georgia, in the format of which a national strategy has been prepared, that, first of all, means rationalizing pharmaceutical therapy. This is vital in light of the antimicrobial resistance-related infections which are already overloading the health care system- such infections are difficult to treat and this results in certain costs”. President of international consulting company Global Alliance, Jean-Elie Malkin, discussed the overall healthcare conditions in

Georgia and outlined that Antimicrobial Resistance is the way forward to rationalizing the use of antibiotics: “We at the Global Alliance support the authorities of Georgia, the Ministry of Health, and the Minister himself in the ongoing process of improving the whole health care system. The initiative taken by the Ministry and NCDC of translating the Sanford Guide on the use of antibiotics is fully in line with what we are doing. We, too, aim to improve the health system, to improve the quality of services, to improve the efficiency of services and to improve the cost effectiveness of services,” Jean-Elie Malkin said. Antimicrobial Resistance is the global challenge of the 21st century, which has surpassed state boundaries, expanded to all parts of the world and become pandemic. The rational therapy is on the one hand an important intervention to treat infectious diseases and, on the other, it is a major instrument to tackling antibiotic resistance.

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Vice-Prime Minister and Minister of Energy of Georgia Kakha Kaladze and the EU Ambassador to Georgia Janos Herman at Georgia’s Energy Sector – Progression Towards the EU and Electricity Trading Mechanism Conference. Source: Ministry of Energy of Georgia

Georgia: A Country with Energy Potential BY EKA KARSAULIDZE


eorgia’s Energy Sector held a conference in Tbilisi on November 11 – Progression Towards the EU and Electricity Trading Mechanism. Representatives of government and various organizations talked about recent achievements, future plans and their vision of Georgia’s European integration. The Conference was organized by USAID’s Governing for Growth (G4G) in Georgia and EU Project Civil Society Dialogue for Progress, implemented by World Experience for Georgia (WEG). The main topics of discussion were Georgia gaining EU Energy Community membership and other important issues of the Association Agreement, such as Directive Requirements, gap analysis, energy security and sustainability; infrastructure, institutional development, and the Electricity Trading Mechanism. Energy Community Negotiation issues were also raised at the Conference. In particular, Deputy Minister of the Ministry of Energy of Georgia, Mariam Valishvili, reported that negotiations on

accession to the Community last over a year; they have already held a cycle of reforms and Georgia is expected to be ready to become a member of the Energy Community in September 2016. “What Georgia has already achieved is remarkable and we can most definitely talk about its development and European future,” said EU Ambassador to Georgia, Janos Herman. “Together, we are planning a new program and we consider Georgia as an electricity hub which has great potential and opportunities.” Alongside Mr. Herman, the conference was attended by representatives of the ministries of Energy, Economy and Sustainable Development, Environment and Natural Resources Protection; Electricity System Commercial Operator (ESCO); Georgian State Electrosystem; Georgian Oil and Gas Corporation; World Bank, European Union, and other international institutions; private energy market players, developers, investors, and energy sector think-tanks and experts. Vice Prime Minister and Minister of Energy, Kakha Kaladze, opened the conference and noted the importance of the institutions’ inclusion in the country’s energy development. “I would like to thank USAID’s Governing for Growth

(G4G) for organizing the conference and its involvement in the country’s economic development. We could not have achieved such success in our field without the support of foreign and local investment. Our Ministry always welcomes new projects and will continue to do so. Collaboration will not only contribute to successful economic development, but also help Georgia to join the European Energy System,” said Minister Kaladze. Georgia’s Energy Sector - Progression Towards the EU and Electricity Trading Mechanism conference was organized by USAID’s Governing for Growth, which aims to support the Georgian government to create a better business enabling environment in which legal and regulatory reforms are fairly and transparently conceived, implemented and enforced through consultative process. “Georgia has a lot of resources that can contribute to the success and proper development of the country. This especially concerns the energy sector, which is a priority for us. Therefore, with the help of this conference and in general, G4G is helping to create a better economic environment in Georgia,” said Milo Stevanovich, Chief of Party of USAID’s G4G.

Henkel to Build Factory in Georgia BY KATIE RUTH DAVIES


orld-famous German company Henkel has begun work on a factory in Gardabani, a district in Eastern

Georgia. Henkel is one of the global leading companies in the chemical sector. Based in Germany, it employs 50,000 people worldwide. Its sales in 2014 amounted to 16.4 billion Euros.

The event to mark the start of construction was attended by the Prime Minister of Georgia, Irakli Garibashvili.

“I am very pleased that a large company like Henkel has come to Georgia and it is a first for our region. I had a meeting with the representatives of the company in Davos in January and it was a crucial moment. We welcome the fact that German discipline and quality has come to Georgia!” the PM said. This will be the first Henkel factory in Georgia and signifies an $8 million investment. It will start operations in 2016 and is to produce adhesive materials which will be sold not only in Georgia but also in Armenia and Azerbaijan. 35 people will be employed in the factory.


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NOVEMBER 13 - 16, 2015

UN Countries Advise Georgia to Guarantee Media Freedom and Pluralism BY TAMAR SVANIDZE


eorgia has been elected a member of the Human Rights Council for 20162018. At the same time, 71 Member States of the United Nations have reviewed and given recommendations on the human rights conditions in Georgia. At the session of the UN Human Rights Council’s Universal Periodic Review (UPR) in Geneva, the Georgian delegation presented a report on the reforms the Georgian Government has carried out since 2011 to improve the human rights situation in Georgia While presenting the national plan provided by State, Georgia’s Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, Khatuna Tortladze, emphasized the successful achievements of the Georgian Government in terms of improving human rights in the country. “We have successfully implemented

democratic and free elections and created a precedent for the peaceful transfer of power in 2012. The country’s Parliamentary Elections in 2012, Presidential in 2013 and Local Elections in 2014 were all assessed free and democratic by international organisations,” Tortladze said at the session. Furthermore, adoption of National Human Rights Strategy and its Action Plan in March 2014 was considered one of the main achievements by the government in terms of the human rights record. The UN Member States recommended that the Georgian Government continue to carry out further reforms in the human rights area. The delegations gave particularly high assessment to the Human Rights Strategy adopted by the Georgian Government and the establishment of the Human Rights Council under the Georgian Prime Minister. Special emphasis was placed on the necessity of introducing international monitoring mechanisms in the occupied territories to ensure human rights protection.

Recommendations were also made regarding the ways to address the challenges still facing Georgia. Special attention was paid to the protection of rights of women, children and people with disabilities and to the ensuring of freedom of speech in the country. “We recommend that Georgia ensure the right of freedom of expression, in particular ensuring plurality and independence of the media, as well as protection of media outlets,” a representative of the Czech Republic said.

WHAT THEY ADVISED THE GOVERNMENT OF GEORGIA United Nations: “We remain concerned by persistent shortcomings in Georgia’s legal system that have resulted in incomplete investigations, premature charging of suspects, and inappropriate use of pre-trial detention. We are also concerned by the increased societal intolerance of members of minority groups, and an apparent narrowing in the space for media. We recommend that Georgia bolster respect for pluralism and open debate by fostering a non-violent envi-

ronment [that is] tolerant of dissenting voices – including those of the opposition – and avoiding politically motivated actions against critical media outlets.” Poland: “Enhance efforts to guarantee freedom of speech and of the press and other media, and to ensure that complaints in this regard are promptly investigated and the perpetrators are prosecuted and punished.” Germany: “Ensure equal treatment for all media and prompt investigations of reported violations against the rights of press and speech.” Norway: “Ensure that allegations of self-censorship, threats against journalists and low public trust in the media are investigated in a timely, transparent and effective manner and that those responsible are held to account.” Belarus: “Develop relevant legislation to resolve the issue of ownership of private media, in a spirit of transparency.” Georgian Foreign Minister Giorgi Kvirikashvili, in his special briefing dedicated to the UN Human Rights Council’s UPR, highlighted that the Report reflects a

series of important steps the Georgian Government has taken towards ensuring the fundamental principles of human rights on the path towards building a truly European democratic state. “The Georgian Government’s position with respect to media freedom is firm and unequivocal.” Kvirikashvili said. “I would like to reiterate the government’s very strong position in a regard to the freedom of the media. We are trying our best to provide objective information to the international community and international organizations about media freedom in the country. I would like once again to confirm our strong position in the non-interference of the court,” he said. He went on to emphasize the necessity of conducting transparently those steps taken with respect to such matters of great public interest and significantly impacting on the international image of the country. The UPR working group’s report, which will incorporate all recommendations for Georgia, is to be approved on 12 November 2015.




German Cultural Scientist Hildegard Kurt: Putting Sustainability into Language Lessons BY MERI TALIASHVILI

G Sultanoglu Gets First-Hand View of Georgian Decentralization and Local Governance BY MERI TALIASHVILI


uring her three-day visit to Georgia, Cihan Sultanoglu, Assistant Secretary-General of the United Nations, travelled to the Dusheti municipality with the Assistant Administrator of the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) and Director of the UNDP Regional Bureau for Europe and the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) to meet the Deputy Minister of Regional Development and Infrastructure, Tengiz Shergelashvili, the Head of the

Dusheti Administration, Vazha Chokheli, and various civil society organizations. Sultanoglu met local residents, paid visits to a number of villages and got to witness first-hand the results of decentralization and local governance in the region. Ms. Sultanoglu congratulated Vazha Chokheli on being the first mayor of the Dusheti municipality elected directly and recognized the fact as a demonstration of decentralization and democratic transformation in Georgia. UN Resident Coordinator and UNDP Resident Representative, Niels Scott, and Deputy Resident Representative of UNDP Georgia, Shombi Sharp, were also present during the visit.

erman cultural scientist, sustainability researcher, author and co-founder of Berlin Art Institute Hildegard Kurt this week visited Tbilisi in the framework of the Goethe Institute’s large-scale project Unite for a Sustainable Future/ Vernetzt für Nachhaltigkeit. At the Institute she delivered hands-on educational-methodological seminars on environmental and green pedagogy as well as sustainable development. Hildegard Kurt spoke to Georgia Today and explained her concept of culture and also expressed her amazement at the commitment of the Georgian teachers she had met. “My work as a cultural researcher has been to explore the links between sustainability and culture. That means that the whole concept of sustainability is a cultural challenge. This is the question I have been exploring for the past fifteen years. Culture does not mean only going to a theatre or museum. It is about our values, attitudes, and how we can find values that help us stop destroying the planet and instead shape the economy, business, and school systems so that we can live on this planet peacefully without destroying each other and other beings. I am absolutely amazed how committed Georgian teachers are. I am amazed by the creativity they unfold in their work and with their pupils in order to give them a sense that each of them is an agent of change.” The project aims to integrate environ-

The project deals with combining language teaching with questions of sustainable development

ment protection and sustainable development during the time of German lessons in schools through the CLIL (Content and Language Integrated Learning) teaching method. It involves certain subjects e.g. social, humanitarian and natural sciences to be taught in a target foreign language. Prior to Hildegard Kurt’s visit, Vienna agricultural and environmental protection pedagogy graduates arrived in Georgia, bringing with them Austrian models of integrating environmental issues in German language lessons. They visited Akhaltsikhe, Kutaisi, Tbilisi, Rustavi, Vani and Zugdidi schools. The Austrian graduates entered classrooms along with Georgian teachers and gave practicalmethodological seminars. They plan to assist the Goethe Institute to publish a handbook which will benefit future generations. The handbook will cover the teaching of both theoretical and practical aspects and will reflect specific methods for the educational process and describe the experiences of

schools already involved in the project. Eike Pockrandt, coordinator of the project at Goethe Institute in Georgia: “The project deals with combining language teaching with questions of sustainable development. Our teachers convey the idea of development and different directions of development to our children. Additionally, we are aiming for our teachers to improve the lessons in terms of sustainability. Even in language lessons, in this case German, one can teach sustainability. For instance, when you have a typical German breakfast you can talk about where the ingredients it consists of came from, what they do to the body, etc.- this is sustainability.” The project was launched in spring, 2015 and is going to end in December. It is supported by the Ministry of Education and Science of Georgia, the Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources Protection of Georgia and is financed by the Foreign Affairs Ministry of the Federal Republic of Germany.




NOVEMBER 13 - 16, 2015

Svaneti: What it Takes BY TONY HANMER


have some new American friends who have tried out living in our village, a young family I’ve previously written about. They are now back home for a few months but preparing to return next spring as far as I know. Now another similar family is considering the move too. Turns out I’m not the only crazy foreigner from a rich and developed country to want to pull up roots and resettle here! With that in mind, here are a few characteristics which I believe to be useful in anyone thinking about this momentous decision. Good at DIY (do it yourself) or willing to learn it. This applies to things around the house—plumbing, electrical, &c— and extends to whatever might be useful in an isolated situation: minor medical, dental, automotive knowledge and other things. The better the shape you’re in, the more you can do. Willing to have an ongoing “debt of kindness” with your neighbors. Because there will be things that you need their help with, and vice versa; and doing these things for each other goes a long way towards building good feeling. It may or may not include monetary loans—as the foreigner you will be assumed to be rich, but lending money to friends seems to be a good way to change that status for the worse. So this one needs to be handled with care. Comfortable in discomfort from: weather changes (a good six months of snow),

electricity and water coming and going, sharing your house with a number of “critters” including various insects and possibly rodents as well. My attitude to getting cold and wet outside is “There’s a warm dry house waiting for me at the end of this,” so I get on with it and come through. Willing to try farming (it’s what everyone here does). Not necessarily on a huge scale, but it’s good to understand the ups and downs of what people here do for a living; and it can be quite satisfying too! I’ve learned how to milk the cow, and am experimenting with European style cheese production—pressed and aged, in wax or not, with various herbal additions or not. Being that I really miss the cheeses I grew up with, this is a very satisfying personal project. It’s really about finding one’s place in the community, in both one’s own and others’ perceptions. Knowing and sticking with one’s stand on drinking. Svaneti is too high for serious grape growing, so the drinks of choice are moonshine from local fruits or other sources, beer or wine from elsewhere. I’m not teetotal, but I’ve seen firsthand many of the effects of too much drinking on the lives of the people around me, up to and including death from liver disease or drunk driving. And the freedom from inhibition that drinking brings also allows unfinished old or ancient business to rise to the top, seldom with good results. Optimistic and positive in the face of apathy and gloom. Svaneti has had its share of ups and downs since Georgia became independent in post-Soviet times:

It’s about finding one’s place in the community, in both one’s own and others’ perceptions

losing the vital support of Tbilisi, becoming a nest of bandits, restoration of law and order along with much new infrastructure and all-season tourism, and now new uncertainty with the last change of government. We bought our house after it had been empty and unfinished for 10 years; the landscape is peppered with similar ones, which are lucky if their roofs survive the lack of attention during winter. Determined to be friends with people who are each other’s enemies. A hard balance! Ready to learn: language, history, culture, traditions and more. These things run deep; understanding them makes you more than a tourist or a stranger, it helps you fit in as much as possible. And: the more you listen, the more right to

speak you earn. Present at funerals as well as the happier occasions such as birthdays or weddings. Standing with people when it’s tough or sad as well as when it’s happy. They’ll notice. Preferably not afraid of dogs... because not all of them are chained up, not all see the fence as their territory’s boundary, and some are bred and raised for fighting other dogs, with heightened aggression. Walk softly and carry a big stick, I say. Realizing that these are ancient, groupbased, very conservative communities, resistant to change, sometimes fiercely so. Not even 15 or so centuries of Orthodox Christianity have changed much of the old “pagan” (animist) heart, appearances notwithstanding.

Willing always to be seen as a foreigner, even if you’re Georgian but not Svan! This I have heard from Georgians who have lived here 20 years or more and know Svan perfectly. They will always be outsiders to some degree in the locals’ eyes; how much more will we real foreigners be? This, in my humbly offered opinion from the last 16 years, is some of What it Takes to live here in Svaneti. Tony Hanmer runs the “Svaneti Renaissance” Facebook group, now with over 1250 members, at He and his wife also run their own guest house in Etseri:




The 220-page catalogue includes more than 500 illustrations, most of which were previously unknown to the general public

Akaki Tsereteli Brought to Life in Vivid New English Publication BY KATIE RUTH DAVIES


comprehensive book on the life and works of Akaki Tsereteli was officially presented this week at the Ministry of Culture. Akaki Tsereteli (1840-1915) was a prominent Georgian poet and national liberation movement figure who was born in the village of Skhvitori, Imereti region, West Georgia, to a prominent Georgian aristocratic family. He was a good friend of Ilia Chavchavadze, a Georgian progressive intellectual youth leader, one of many of a generation who actively protested against the Tsarist regime and campaigned for cultural revival in Georgia. Tsereteli is the author of numerous patriotic, historical, lyrical and satiric poems and stories, as well as an auto-

biographic novel. He was also active in the educational, journalistic and theatrical spheres. “On this, the 175th anniversary of Akaki Tsereteli, we are proud to present such a catalogue,” said Mikheil Giorgadze, Minister of Culture and Monument Protection at the presentation on November 10th. The bi-lingual book, in Georgian and English, presents the well-known Georgian poet from the perspectives of those

who knew him best. The 220-page catalogue includes more than 500 illustrations, most of which were previously unknown to the general public, and is made up of eight chapters which include the author’s life as a well-known poet, as well as less well-studied and discussed details. The text was put together from letters, newspapers and other materials kept at the National Center of Manuscripts and the Pushkin State Museum of Skhvitori. Giorgi Kalandia, Director of the Georgian State Museum of Theatre, Music, Cinema and Choreography (Art Palace) and his dedicated team of researchers, translator and editor, were the ones to make the new book on Akaki Tsereteli a reality - a beautifully bound displaythrough photos and descriptions- of the life and times of the grand poet beloved of the Georgian nation.

Invitation to Participate in the Sales Procedures Announced by the Embassy of the Republic of France in Georgia on the Sale of 3933 sq/m Land Plot Located in the Center of Tbilisi The Embassy of the Republic of France in Georgia has announced a Sales Procedures on the sale of land plot located adjacent to the Rustaveli Avenue at 4 Khazina St., Tbilisi, Georgia. The land plot has the following characteristics: cadastral code –; total area of the land plot - 3933 sq/m. The land plot qualifies as type 2 recreational zone with the following coefficients: K1= [0,2], K2=[undefined] and K3=[Undefined]. Please, take into account that the Sales Procedures n will be conducted in accordance with the Rules for Submission of Offers available on the web-page of the Embassy:, or by e-mail request at The interested Parties shall submit their Expression of Interest in a form and to the addressee(s) envisaged in the Rules for Submission of Offers. In case of additional questions, please, contact [the consul or hes representative] at the following e-mail [] or call at [(00 995 32) 272 14 90] from Monday to Friday from 9:30 AM till 12:30 PM. The Expression of Interest shall be submitted to the Contact Person indicated above no later than 15th of October 2015.

A pupil of the St. George’s British-Georgian School wearing a remembrance poppy

A Very British Way to Help Georgian Veterans


school in Tbilisi has adapted a British tradition to help the families of Georgian veterans. November 11 is Remembrance Day in the UK, when the past sacrifices of soldiers and civilians in wars are honored. Paper ‘poppies’ (a red flower) are bought and worn. The money raised goes to support veterans and their families. This year the Headmaster of St. George’s British-Georgian School, Dr. Christopher Greenfield, donated poppies made in Britain for re-sale to support Georgian veterans. The ‘poppies’ were purchased by staff and students at the school, and were worn when the traditional two minutes of respectful silence was held at the school at 11am on Wednesday 11 November (the time and date the First World

The ‘poppies’ were purchased by staff and students at the school War officially ended). “All proceeds are being donated to Georgian veterans and their families,” Dr. Greenfield told Georgia Today: “I am pleased that the British tradition has been used to help Georgian veterans. The idea was very popular amongst our staff and students.”




NOVEMBER 13 - 16, 2015

Open Forum Brings New Regional Films Together Composer Gia Kiacheli awarded the Sophiko Chiaureli award at the 2015 Tbilisi Open Film Forum



rom November 4 to November 8, the Tbilisi Open Film Forum was held in the Georgian capital. Over 30 films awarded with international prizes could be found in the spotlight of Amirani Cinema, aiming to enhance cultural links and give an open space to the movies directed within the last three years.. These 5 days were, for those who love Author’s movies, and tickets - at a moderate price. The Opening Gala presented the film by Alexander Sokurov, “Francophonia” (France-Germany). Mako Jaoshvili, Director of the festival, said: “It is the fifth year for this event, based on the Russian Film Festival in Tbilisi, and aims at noncompetition screening within the scope of the Eastern Partnership countries and enhancing the development of the film

industry. Its area has been widened beyond the post-Soviet space to include Turkey and Iran. Mostly co-productions were presented. In this year’s spotlight was Ukraine. It is also worth mentioning that the Georgian Panorama was added, featuring Tinatin Kajrishvili’s ‘Brides’ and Olesya Fokina’s ‘Doctor Zhivago’s Boys and Girls.’” Traditionally, as the films are shown beyond any contest, a special prize named after famous female actress Sophiko Chiaureli is conferred to a particular person. This year, Gia Kancheli, renowned Georgian composer, was chosen as the award-winner- creator of unique film music throughout the history of Georgian cinematography. The event coincided with his 80th birthday. Georgia Today talked to Paata Iakashvili, film critic: “Such forums are always worth attending. They give you an impression of creative processes in different countries. This festival gives a very fertile ground for discussion. I

got acquainted with recent tendencies. I watched the opening film “Francophonia’ in which there is a strong pain and regret that Germans managed to make the French culture a commonly European feature. The fact that the Louvre purchased a lot of pictures from Germany during the latter’s occupation was not a mere decision of the museum director, but also denoted the European approach in general. The director is concerned that St. Petersburg (then, Leningrad), did not behave in the same way. The socio-political system of Russia let Russia beyond the common European cultural circle. Showing the photo of Stalin – as the main criminal – is not enough either, as the whole system was guilty of this isolation.” The Tbilisi Open Film Forum was closed with the movie “Orleans” directed by Andrey Proshkin. If you missed the Forum this year, be sure to pencil it in for 2016!

Baroque Festival Set to Wow Audiences in Tbilisi Spanish conductor Jordi Savall at the press conference regarding the opening of the Tbilisi Baroque Festival

bilisi is ready to host the first Baroque Festival in the Caucasus which will bring together outstanding musicians from across Georgia and Europe. Concerts of many wellknown musicians will take place on the small stage of Rustaveli Theatre from November 13 to December 6. The Tbilisi Baroque Festival is a unique opportunity to enjoy Baroque music played by means of old-fashioned instruments. Tbilisi State Chamber Orchestra Georgian Sinfonietta is organizing the Tbilisi Baroque Festival with the support of the Ministry of Culture and Monument Protection of Georgia. Georgian Sinfonietta is the only academic ensemble of old music in the region. It has already attracted the attention of the best concert halls of the world. However, during the Festival it will perform along with the greatest musicians from Spain, Italy, Germany, Poland and other countries. According to Giorgi Kerelashvili, artistic director of the Sinfonietta Orchestra, Baroque music festivals have become very popular in Europe in the past 30 years. “Unfortunately, people in Georgia do not know much about this music, but on the other hand our festival will give the audience the opportunity to enjoy and get know new music from a seemingly familiar era,” noted Kerelashvili.

The festival itself took several years to prepare. Konstantine Kasradze, director of the Sinfonietta Orchestra, pointed out that the festival will bring to Georgia outstanding Baroque music artists from Europe; it took several years to coordinate their schedules and gather them all together. The Tbilisi Baroque Festival will host 13 guests, amongst whom will be Sergio Azzolini (Italy), Christine Busch (Germany), and Pawel Kotla (Poland / England), with the first concert held under the guidance of worldrenowned conductor Jordi Savall. One of the distinguishing features of the festival is that the music will played on ancient instruments. “Perhaps the audience will not note any difference in appearance between modern and oldfashioned instruments, but for the musicians themselves it is a big difference, for example, ancient instruments are heavier than new models. But the oldfashioned ones have a special sound which will undoubtedly be noticeable to audiences,” said Kerelashvili. “The program that we’ll play in Georgia will consist of the most beautiful works of the greatest writers of the Baroque era. The musicians of the Tbilisi State Chamber Orchestra Georgian Sinfonietta are wonderful, perhaps they have not played Baroque music for many years, but they have the appropriate skills and energy to it,” said Jordi Savall, famous conductor. “Baroque music is very easy to understand: no special education is needed to understand it. This music speaks directly to our hearts,” he added.


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ZURAB TSERETELI MUSEUM OF MODERN ART Address: 27 Rustaveli Ave. Telephone: 2 14 84 11, 2 98 60 04


October 9 - November 15 THE SOLO EXHIBITION OF FAMOUS GEORGIAN ARTIST OLEG TIMCHENKO The exhibition combines a series of three different projects under the title “Self-Portrait, Culmination, No Comment”.

November 6-16 “GEORGIAN BEAUTIES”, ALEXANDER FLORENSKY, RUSSIA. Baia Gallery, 10 Shardeni Str.




Address: 13 Shavtelis St. Telephone: 2 98 65 93 November 13 MARSHAL DE FANTIE’S DIAMOND Rezo Gabriadze Directed by Rezo Gabriadze English Subtitles Start time: 20:00 Ticket price: 10, 15, 20 Lari November 14 RAMONA Rezo Gabriadze Directed by Rezo Gabriadze English Subtitles Start time: 20:00 Ticket price: 10, 15, 20 Lari November 15 AUTUMN OF MY SPRING Rezo Gabriadze Directed by Rezo Gabriadze English Subtitles Start time: 20:00 Ticket price: 10, 15, 20 Lari TBILISI NODAR DUMBADZE STATE CENTRAL CHILDREN’S THEATRE Address: 99/1 Agmashenebeli Ave. Telephone: 295 39 27 November 13 BIRTHDAY PARTY Fairy Tale Directed by Nikoloz Sabashvili English Subtitles Start time: 12:00 Ticket price: From 8 Lari November 15 SALAMURA Archil Sulakauri’s tale Directed by Kote Mirianashvili English Subtitles Start time: 12:00, 15:00 Ticket price: From 8 Lari

November 15 KING LEAR IN THE SHELTER William Shakespeare Directed by Otar Bagaturia English Subtitles Start time: 19:00 Ticket price: From 6 Lari ILIAUNI THEATRE Address: 32 a Chavchavadze Ave. Telephone: 2 29 47 15 November 13 SCAPIN’S DECEITS Molière Directed by Goga Kachibaia English Subtitles Start time: 20:00 Ticket price: 5 Lari TBILISI VASO ABASHIDZE MUSIC AND DRAMA STATE THEATRE

Address: 182 D.Agmashenebeli Ave. Telephone: 2 34 80 90 November 12, 13 DIVORCE Giorgi Eristavi Directed by Davit Doiashvili Musical Start time: 19:00 Ticket price: From 8 Lari CIRCUS

Address: 1 The Heroes Sq. Telephone: 2 98 58 61 November 14, 15 NOVEMBER 1 Clown Assembly Start time: November 14 – 17:00, November 15 – 13:00, 17:00 Ticket price: From 10 Lari CINEMA AMIRANI CINEMA

Address: 36 Kostava St. Telephone: 299 99 55

November 13-15 SPECTRE Directed by Sam Mendes Cast: Daniel Craig, Christoph Waltz, Léa Seydoux Genre: Action, Adventure, Thriller Language: English Start time: 19:45 Language: Russian Start time: 12:15, 16:00, 19:30, 22:40 19:45, 22:30 Ticket price: 7.50 – 12.50 Lari BLACK MASS Directed by Scott Cooper Cast: Johnny Depp, Benedict Cumberbatch, Dakota Johnson Genre: Biography, Crime, Drama Language: Russian Start time: 17:15 Ticket price: 9.50 – 10.50 Lari BURNT Directed by John Wells Cast: Bradley Cooper, Sienna Miller, Daniel Brühl Genre: Comedy, Drama Language: Russian Start time: 15:00, 22:40 Ticket price: 8.50 – 12.50 Lari MUSEUM


Address: 1 Lado Gudiashvili St. Telephone: 2 99 99 09 November 4-11 THE JAPANESE CONTEMPORARY ARTIST SHU KUBO’S EXHIBITION


Address: 164 D. Agmashenebeli Ave. Telephone: 2 34 28 99; 2 35 70 13 November 10-17 SIMON MACHABELI’S EXHIBITION THE NATIONAL GALLERY

Address: 11 Rustaveli Ave. November 7 – December 6 THE EXHIBITION OF SCENOGRAPHY by three Georgian artists – Oleg Kochakidze, Alexander Slovinsky, Yuri Chikvaidze. MOVEMENT THEATRE


“WHAT’S ON YOUR MIND?” ARTISTERIUM 8 / 2015. Tbilisi History Museum “Karvasla”, 8 Sioni Str. “MYTH” INTERNATIONAL EXHIBITION PROJECT FROM THE UK. Europe House, 1 Freedom Sq. “A HISTORY OF THE RECEDING HORIZON“, KATHLEEN HERBERT, UK. State Museum of Georgian Literature, 8 G. Chanturia Str. “ON POINT”, LIA BAGRATIONI, GEORGIA. Artarea Gallery, 10 D. Abashidze Str. “I REMEMBER,” GROUP EXHIBITION PROJECT, GEORGIA. Container Gallery, 10 Radiani Str. MUSIC

Address: 182, Aghmashenebeli Ave., Mushthaid park Telephone: 599 555 260


November 13 ARTISTERIUM 2015 Goethe Instut presents The Diamond Road Show Start time: 20:00

November 13 JORDI SAVALL Start time: 19:30 Ticket price: From 10 Lari Address: Rustaveli Theatre recital hall




Friends of the Georgian Ballet Host Exclusive Opera House Reception BY KATIE RUTH DAVIES


he Friends of the Georgian Ballet (FGB) last weekend held an Exclusive Season Opening ballet performance and reception, sponsored by the Sheraton Metechi Palace Hotel and Chateau Mukhrani. Wife of the Estonian Ambassador, Pirjo Turk, in her welcome speech quoted world famous ballet choreographer of Georgian origin, George Balanchine: “I don’t want people who want to dance, I want people who have to dance!” “This total encapsulates Nina [Ananiashvili] and the Ballet Company,” Pirjo Turk said. “A group of people whose passion to dance is so sincere and powerful that in spite of not having a theatre of their own and in spite of having seen difficult times economically and politically, are still finding ways to keep going and to keep dancing.” The show, exclusively put on for the FGB on the small- never before danced on- stage on the seventh floor of the Opera House by the children of the V. Chabukiani Tbilisi Ballet Art School, began with a demonstration by the youngest students in basic warm-up techniquesa group of seven year olds who showed off their nimbleness with such ease it left many an older and less-flexible audience member in awe (this writer included!). The show went on and up through the grades of the school to the 12th Graders who amazed and impressed, dancing

on-pointe first the Awakening of Flora, followed by a classical-folk fusion of the Georgian ‘Gandagan.’ Ballet Company soloists David Ananeli and Victoria Kikabidze danced the Bolero of Don Quixote (a teaser for the up-coming show in the Griboedov Theatre on November 21st and 22nd); soloists Lana Kiknadze and John Abenanty danced the Chinese Dance from The Nutcracker; and soloists Mariam Eloshvili and Solieh Samudio performed the Adagio from The Nutcracker. Following the show, Prima Ballerina and Artistic Director of the State Ballet of Georgia, Nina Ananiashvili, and the FGB Committee- the event’s organizers - Pirjo Turk, Caroline Wilkes, Orsolya Sarossy and Luba Protsiva, presented nine talented students of the V. Chabukiani Tbilisi Ballet Art School with oneyear scholarships, including those sponsored by Friends of the Georgian Ballet- one of which was handed over by Japanese Ambassador Toshio Kaitani and his wife Harue Kaitani. Guests were then able to enjoy a sumptuous hors d’oeuvre and wine reception in the foyer with access to the terrace boasting a stunning view over Tbilisi and the renovated gardens of the Opera House. Andreas Heidingsfelder, General Manager of Sheraton Metechi Palace Hotel: “Tonight we provided catering. As a big fan of ballet, I joined the Friends of the Georgian Ballet pretty much as soon as I arrived in Georgia in 2012.” Pirjo Turk: “I was delighted to see so many of our Friends here today during this, the 164th season opening of Geor-

gian Ballet. It is also a significant date for the FGB, it being the 10th anniversary since the organization was founded in 2006 by Mariella Tefft. I want to thank Nina Ananiashvili and the School pupils, Company and Soloists for putting on the show today. And I want to say how much

I admire the patience of the Ballet Company, which has stubbornly kept up its great work and which has found ways to perform and attract guest dancers from all over the world. It provides critical support to the Ballet School which is in need of renovation and expansion;

training ballet students and nurturing their passion and love for dance, which Nina and all the Ballet Company clearly share. For more information on the Friends of the Georgian Ballet or to join, contact:

The Gas Game: Aliyev, Vova & Silvio Continued from page 3 The case is linked with the new supply of gas to the newly built power plant in Gardabani. “There is no gas for the new power plant and there can’t be any, because nobody has contracted the supply of gas to this entity. The Minister of Energy had to deal with this issue even before the construction of the plant began. For the timely supply of gas, a contract, considering all rules, should be signed, the violation of which should normally be followed by sanctions. Currently, Kaladze wants to blame everything on Azerbaijan in order to somehow get out of this situation.” – writes the agency. The gas theme was followed by the Georgian media revealing the real reason behind the Minister Kaladze’s meeting in Milan: to invite one of the most scandalous Italian politicians, billionaire,

ex-prime minister, media magnate and the owner of FC Milan – Silvio Berlusconi to visit Georgia. The numerous titles and awards of Berlusconi do not seem sufficient without pointing out this phrase – a friend of the President of Russian Federation, Vladimir Putin. It becomes clear from the couloirs that the date of visit of the ex-PM of Italy to Georgia depends on the consent of the ex-PM Bidzina Ivanishvili. When the latter intends to agree to such a meeting with the ex-PM of Italy and to hearing the message of Putin, is unknown at this time. However, it is a fact that both in Moscow and Tbilisi separate personas are very eager for this meeting to happen. At the very least their future political and business interests largely depend on what ‘Vova’ (Putin) will say to Silvio and what promise Bidzina will make them.



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Profile for Georgia Today

Issue #793  

Nov. 13 - 16, 2015

Issue #793  

Nov. 13 - 16, 2015