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Issue no: 1109

• DECEMBER 14 - 17, 2018

• PUBLISHED TWICE WEEKLY

In this week’s issue...

FOCUS

Non-Governmental Sector Criticizes Amendments to Law on Public Service

ON THE INAUGURATION Georgia's 5th and first female President will take her place in history this weekend

PRICE: GEL 2.50

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NEWS PAGE 3

Appathurai Speaks of “More NATO in Georgia” Next Year POLITICS PAGE 4

Swiss Ambassador on His Tenure in Georgia POLITICS PAGE 6

Euroins Insurance Group to Launch Georgian Insurance Market

Kakha Kaladze’s Weekly Priorities: TV Tower, Noise Pollution, New Year’s Love BY SAMANTHA GUTHRIE

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ach week, the municipal government of Tbilisi holds a meeting at City Hall. Preceding this week’s meetings, Mayor Kakha Kaladze remarked on several topics of interest. Kaladze opened the meeting by calling on construction companies to present proposals to develop alternative housing options for people who were affected by failed housing cooperatives projects or scammed by other construction companies. “More than 3,000 families have been worried about this issue since the 1990s. My pre-election promise was that we would solve this problem. Concrete steps have already been taken. We will be the government of a city that will solve these problems and ensure accommodation [for those in need]. We have already selected specific areas where the construction of cooperative buildings is possible. We called for expressions of interest, but unfortunately, no company came forward to implement these projects,” said Kaladze. Mostly during the 1990s, there was a trend for

BUSINESS PAGE 8

New Year Offer from MAQRO Construction: Apartments in GREEN DIAMOND with Unbelievable Discounts & Free Parking Spaces SOCIETY PAGE 10

Professional School of Theatrical Costumes & Accessories Opens at TAFU CULTURE PAGE 15

Image source: Tbilisi City Hall

a small group of people to pool their money to hire a construction company to build them an apartment building or ‘cooperative housing project.’ Some of these companies took people’s money but failed to build anything, either due to corruption or bankruptcy. Now, Kaladze is

calling on other companies to step in and build housing for these people who lost their money in such situations. The government of Tbilisi will give special benefits to companies who agree to this project, such as free land. Continued on page 5


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NEWS

GEORGIA TODAY

DECEMBER 14 - 17, 2018

Conference on Hydro Structure Safety: Renewable Energy Development 2018

Non-Governmental Sector Criticizes Amendments to Law on Public Service BY THEA MORRISON

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n international conference ‘Hydro Structures (dam) Safety. Renewable Energy Development 2018’ is to be held in Expo Georgia on December 14, 2018. The conference is organized by the Georgian National Committee on Large Dams (GNCOLD) within the frames of ELCOM Caucasus 2018 (the fifth exhibition of energy, electricity and telecommunications). Georgian and international experts will discuss dam safety issues. The recent emergency situations at the Georgian hydro power plants represent the safety issues of building hydro power plants, infrastructure, water supply and melioration. In order to prevent further incidents, it is therefore necessary to take measures. The conference will reveal new approaches, technologies and inter-

national practices of dam safety. Renewable and green energy issues will also be discussed. Renewable energy sources (hydro, wind and solar) in Georgia will also be debated, while the existing situation and constraints will be analyzed. Renowned Georgian and international experts will participate, including Dr. David Mirtskhulava, Chairman of the Georgian National Committee on Large Dams, Doctor and Technical Sciences, Professor; Manuel Antunes-Vallerey EDF (France); Dr Alexandre Pachoud Stucky, Switzerland; Agostino Avanzi, Beta Studio (Italy); Mauro Picollo – Eurecos, founder (Italy); Archil Motsonelidze, Professor; Gia Arabidze; Paata Tsintsadze; Murman Margvelashvili and others The conference opening is in parallel with an exposition in the 11th Pavilion of Expo Georgia.

on-Governmental Organizations and the Public Defender of Georgia have said they disapprove of initiated changes to the Law on Public Service under which employees of the President's Administration will no longer be classed as public servants. The changes were initiated by the ruling Georgian Dream (GD) MPs Rati Ionatamishvili and Guram Macharashvili, and they transform the staff of the Presidential Administration from public servants into administrative personnel. The NGO Georgian Young Lawyers’ Association (GYLA) described the regulations initiated in relation to the employees of the Presidential Administration as “unconstitutional.“ “The submitted legislative initiative contradicts the Constitution of Georgia, the practice of the Constitutional Court of Georgia and does not comply with the principles enshrined in the Law of Georgia on Public Service, thus grossly violates the labor rights of persons employed in the Presidential Administration,” the statement reads. NGO Institute for Development of Freedom of Information (IDFI) said the proposal is contrary to the Georgian government’s stated policy, damages Georgia’s commitments to the European Union and are possibly also contrary to the Constitutional guarantees of fair employment. “The initiated amendments infringe upon the rights of civil servants, pose a risk to the establishment of an effective, sustainable and politically neutral civil service in Georgia and generally to the successful implementation of public administration reform,” the statement

Image source: Video screenshot

of the NGO reads. Nino Lomjaria, the Public Defender of Georgia, stressed the legislative initiative violates the labor rights of the employees, including the constitutional right of Georgian citizens to be protected from unjustified dismissal. The Public Defender called on the Parliament of Georgia to consider the labor rights of professional public servants employed in the Presidential Administration, the right of Georgian citizens to be employed in the public service, as well as the values and principles of the new system of public service, and not to adopt the unconstitutional law. “The draft law changes the status of the employees of the Presidential Administration without any justification, endangers their unhindered performance of duties and creates unconditional grounds for their dismissal,” Lomjaria’s statement reads. The President’s Administration says the planned changes are “categorically unacceptable” as the employees of the Administration will not enjoy public

servant guarantees and can be dismissed without any compensation or explanation. "We are concerned that professionals who have been working in the administration for years are at risk. We fight for people who are very high rank employees and such attitude towards them is unacceptable for us,” President Giorgi Margvelashili’s advisor, Pikria Chikhradze, stressed. MP Sergi Kapanadze of the opposition European Georgia party also assessed the proposal negatively, saying that it “abuses the principle of civil service,” while the United National Movement says the changes are the first step of “political cleansing” of the Presidential Administration from Margvelashvili’s staff. Chairperson of the Procedures Committee Giorgi Kakhiani said Georgia’s public service reform was approved by the non-governmental sector and international organizations, adding there would be no changes that might negatively affect the reform.


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POLITICS

GEORGIA TODAY

DECEMBER 14 - 17, 2018

Appathurai Speaks of “More NATO in Georgia” Next Year BY THEA MORRISON

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ATO Deputy Assistant Secretary General for Political Affairs and the NATO Secretary General’s Special Representative for the Caucasus and Central Asia James Appathurai stated the Alliance is looking forward to even more NATO in Georgia and more Georgia in NATO next year. Appathurai made the statement at the meeting with the Georgian Prime Minister Mamuka Bakhtadze, during his official visit to Georgia. “Next year, we will see more NATO in Georgia; we should have a lot of highlevel visits - more than this year, so that we really show the Georgian people that this cooperation is paying off and that NATO is committed,” Appathurai said. He noted that he and Bakhtadze mainly talked about the steady reforms and steady progress in Georgia's way towards NATO. “We discussed concrete ways in terms of more cooperation on Black Sea security, more support for reforms in Georgia, which is happening well, and practical cooperation on operations,” he added. Appathurai congratulated Bakhtadze on completion of the presidential elections, but also expressed some concerns about the polarization of the political dialogue. “What we want in NATO is an inclusive political process in Georgia,” the NATO Deputy Assistant Secretary General said.

PM Bakhtadze assured Appathurai that the country’s Euro-Atlantic aspiration is a high-level priority of the government, which is eagerly supported by the Georgian people. It was highlighted that 2018 was particularly successful within the scope of NATO-Georgia interaction and the progress achieved in recent years is particularly noteworthy. The NATO official also held a meeting with Georgian Foreign Minister David Zalkaliani, stating after the meeting that the aim of his arrival is the preservation of the positive political dynamic between Georgia and the EU and to summarize the recent NATO ministerial. “I believe that the Georgian people will see more NATO in Georgia next year. Of course, we should work for concrete outcomes. For instance, the implementation of effective reforms and strengthening of democratic processes,” Appathurai said after the meeting. The NATO Secretary General's Special Representative told the media that the Alliance thinks Russia has not changed its aggressive behavior. “The incident in the Black Sea between Russia and Ukraine is proof of this. Alliance members recognize that in terms of Russia, we are facing a real challenge and this situation is not improving. That is why we are strengthening NATO's collective defense and assisting our partners, including Georgia and Ukraine, in this region,” he said, adding that NATO wants a good relationship with Russia only if it “respects international law and its neighbors.” Appathurai also met Georgia’s Presi-

Image source: PM’s Press Office

dent-Elect Salome Zurabishvili and the second presidential candidate in the runoff, Grigol Vashadze. The official expressed NATO’s continued support to Georgia and its territorial integrity. “I saw Salome Zurabishvili's editorial several days ago, where she made it very

clear that her intention was to carry out the will of the Georgian people: EuroAtlantic integration. This is a clear and strong message,” he said. In relation to Vashadze, Appathurai said all parties should respect each other. “The political message I want to voice during my meeting with Grigol Vashadze

is that elections always divide parties and raise the political temperature. However, now it is time for unity and all political parties should show respect to one another,” he stated. During his visit to Georgia on December 12, Appathurai also met Georgia’s Defense Minister, Levan Izoria.

You Can’t Eat Politics, Can You? OP-ED BY NUGZAR B. RUHADZE

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ho wouldn’t agree with the Republic of Georgia staying away from politics for at least a little while and doing something more attractive? I suggest we get busy with a simple theme of ‘good living’ instead. Just for a change! Good living as such has been the ultimate goal of Man since the Australopithecus became extinct on earth and Homo Habilis came around in its place. So I am not trying to suggest anything terribly strange and new to deliberate on. What, in reality, is a good life? It probably means living well, and I am neither the first nor the last man to know and say this. I even went through pages of specific reading matter on the topic before I embarked on turning my thoughts into words, whereupon I concluded that we have nothing more important on our hands right now than seeking to give

ourselves a quality life. This is exactly what our western partners, certainly worthy of emulation, are concerned about rather than wasting time and political energy on issues that have no way of keeping their people, a.k.a. electorate, full and sated. Every other concern comes after this steadfast priority that we are used to qualifying as a good life: such is the nature of a life-quality evaluation scale. The notion of a good life differs from place to place, from community to community, from nation to nation, and from person to person, but there must be an average standard that works globally. I would be more than happy to transplant that average into this country, but a good life is such a stubborn little thing that it never visits us just like that, out of the blue. It takes a lot to grab it by the ear and drag it in. In the first place, good living happens in time and space, and needs a lot of work to materialize. What I mean is that a good life will not happen to us unless we spend time on it and make well-targeted moves in the space that is given to us for those moves.

One might ask, fairly enough, why am I using so many words to introduce the topic? Because I am cautiously tiptoeing towards an interpretation of the problem that might be very painful for all of us here in Georgia, where time is not appreciated and is wasted instead on a livid desire to talk and talk and talk, and to do this talking, as empty and senseless as it is, anywhere in the god-given space: a crowd-full street or an office building, a facility of media or an entertainment joint, a wedding or funeral, a lovers’ shack or a sweetheart’s birthday party, a mama’s yard or a papa’s orchard, or just an old neighbor’s cozy kitchen. We are crazy about talking and politicizing every move of ours, and this has been happening in the last thirty years with no visible end in sight. So, the entire time meant for creating the prerequisites of a good life is used on talking, and what is most fascinating, we have the proclivity to wonder all the while why a good life is so late arriving in this land. We are not prepared to understand that if we only talk, that good life will walk: this is the rule of thumb

10 Galaktion Street

Image source: georgiantable.com

we can’t hide ourselves from. Talking would have been OK if it did not have a shocking propensity to translate into tiring gibberish on any possible issue, mostly politics – I apologize for the word! Well, politics is not that bad a thing after all, but it is not edible, is it? What I am trying to drive home is so awfully simplistic, but I can’t help it. I just see and take to heart the effect of the oversized and overdone political or other type of talking in Georgia, which might very well curb our creativity and productivity which are absolutely indis-

pensable for letting a good life conquer this soil. Moreover, we need to keep mum for a brief while in contemplation, and let our thoughts and inclinations take a different shape and direction, aimed at eliminating the excessive talk and giving the nation the energy for productive work and the consequential birth of good living. In the well-informed Georgian society, everyone knows what good living looks and tastes like. Who would not go for it? Especially when the secret of bringing it in is already clear: shut up and start sweating!

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


POLITICS

GEORGIA TODAY DECEMBER 14 - 17, 2018

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Kakha Kaladze’s Weekly Priorities: TV Tower, Noise Pollution, New Year’s Love Continued from page 1

"I understand the construction companies- everyone has their own business model, but now we have changed our approach. Many construction companies are interested in these projects now, and are coming together to support the victims [of failed housing cooperatives] and offering City Hall various proposals. We are ready for cooperation. I would like to call on construction companies to present their proposals on the abovementioned land. We want to put their proposals on the website of the City Hall where all the stakeholders will be able to see them. The winner will be the one that offers City Hall the most space to provide as many people with housing as possible,” said the Mayor. The second issue to which Kaladze drew attention at yesterday’s meeting was the Tbilisi Modernization Project, which will be presented to the business sector in the near future. Within the framework of the project, 10 million EUR ($11.37 mln) will be invested and, most importantly, the full rehabilitation of the TV Tower on Mtsatsminda will be conducted. “The Tbilisi TV Tower Modernization Project was also one of my pre-election promises. We ran a campaign ad on how to implement the modernization project of the tower. This project, in addition to complete modernization, envisages arranging a visitors’ center. The concept was developed by Estonian company Koko Architectures, after which we discussed several versions with the Cultural Council. Two versions have been developed and we want to continue working on what will be implemented,” said Kaladze. City Hall promised to put selected sample designs online to get public feedback. The

visitors’ center and a proposed restaurant would be able to accommodate 300,000 visitors per year. Kaladze continued, "The tower has not been repaired for a long time and therefore needs full rehabilitation. The project is quite important...for tourism development. Additionally, ...40 people will be employed permanently [by the renovated tower]. The panorama restaurant will be located on the first level of the tower, and on the second level, an open-air panoramic viewing platform.” He also touched on the issue of stricter enforcement of noise violations, particularly in tourist areas. “Unfortunately, we have serious problems in this area,” Kaladze explained. “Tourist areas are critical. The population of Kalaubani [Old Tbilisi] is particularly concerned, and hotels in these districts are being affected. I want to address the municipal inspection - my categorical demand is that it should be regulated and enforced. Of course, we can have cafés, bars, even clubs, but the approach taken by these particular locales is unacceptable. Speakers are used outside, trying to beat each other [in attracting customers], causing complete chaos. No developed city has such.” He noted that on Google maps, some areas of the city are already marked red, recommending travelers not stay there, which, he said, “is a serious problem for people who have invested in hotels. I repeat once again, we do not oppose it, but the situation must be regulated and brought into line with the law.” Kaladze then responded to news on Tuesday criticizing City Hall for spending 2 million GEL ($750,000 mln) on New Year events and decorations. He disputed the story, saying City Hall will spend this year closer to 1.6 mln GEL ($600,000), and that figure includes other

city events including Tbilisoba and 26 of May celebrations. He went on to talk about the New Year events planned in the capital. With regards the traditional Rustaveli Christmas tree, whether the protestors outside Old Parliament would prevent it being put up or not, news is to “follow shortly.” “From December 28 to January 7, Tbilisi will host a New Year's Village where visitors will be able to find new installations, great children's spaces, fairy tales come to life, children's concerts, day bands and evening thematic concerts, a Christmas market and the chance to taste different dishes. Numerous performers will participate in the New Year's concerts and no citizen will be left out of the opportunity to join in the celebrations,” he said. The Gala concert is to be divided into three parts and spread over three spaces. “Renowned Conductor, Nikoloz Rachveli, together with the national Orchestra, will present 40 famous film soundtracks and many Christmas and New Year hits. 170 musicians will perform and there will be space for people of all generations to come and enjoy the spirit of the season,” the Mayor said. Finally, Kaladze praised his staff and the projects they have implemented in the past year, saying “the main driving force and motivator in doing all good and great things is love. More love for each other, our districts, our city, elderly, youth, people in need, street animals; we have more respect for our great heritage and uniqueness. I want love to be the basis for every new initiative. No more swearing at each other, cursing each other, but we love for ourselves and for serving our city, population and homeland. That's why our New Year's Slogan will be ‘City of Love.’”

Georgia to Inaugurate First Female President on December 16 BY TEAM GT

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he inauguration ceremony of Georgia’s first female president,SalomeZurabishvili,will be held in Telavi, the administrative center of Georgia's eastern province of Kakheti, known as the winemaking region of the country. Traditionally, the ceremony is held in the capital of Georgia, Tbilisi, but as the PresidentElect stated, this time Telavi will play host to this important event. Telavi is the town where Zurabishvili was unable to get the majority of votes in the November 28 runoff. She explained this is why it was decided to hold the inauguration there. “There were several scenarios, but Telavi was my proposal because the whole election campaign was focused on our need to develop the regions, and I think that Telavi is the right choice.” The President-Elect has already begun to meet with important foreign persons, this week welcoming NATO Secretary General's Special Representative for the Caucasus and Central Asia, James Appathurai.

“I saw Salome Zurabishvili's editorial several days ago, where she made it very clear that her intention was to carry out the will of the Georgian people, i.e. EuroAtlantic integration,” he said after their meeting. “This is a clear and strong message,” he said. She also held an official meeting with Ambassador of the EU to Georgia Carl Hartzell. “It was the first opportunity after the second round of the elections for me to meet and personally congratulate the President on her victory,” said Hartzell. “We discussed a number of issues, such as the inauguration and our future objectives.” Hartzell noted Zurabishvili’s pledges will be supported by the EU. The President-Elect also spoke to United States Secretary of State Michael R. Pompeo in a phone conversation on December 10. The US Department of State reports that the sides discussed US-Georgian cooperation on common global security priorities, the US’ unwavering support for Georgia’s sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity, and the importance of electoral and judicial reforms for Georgia’s democratic development and Western integration.


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POLITICS

GEORGIA TODAY

DECEMBER 14 - 17, 2018

Swiss Ambassador on His Tenure in Georgia EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW BY KATIE RUTH DAVIES

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t the end of November, the Ambassador of Switzerland in Georgia, Lukas Beglinger, completed both his ambassadorial assignment to Georgia and his 32-year diplomatic career. Although he and his wife Barbara have plans to make Georgia their second home, GEORGIA TODAY decided to catch him before the Christmas holidays and ask for a summary of his time as Ambassador here.

COMPARE THE GEORGIA YOU SEE TODAY WITH THE GEORGIA YOU SAW WHEN YOU ARRIVED. Although three years is a very short period in a country’s history, there is ample evidence of Georgia’s continuing quest for reforms, modernization and increased prosperity. New transport and touristic infrastructure, buildings, power generation plants and manufacturing facilities are the most visible signs of that process. But I also witnessed political reforms as well as progress in many economic and social fields, which was underpinned by

generally forward-looking government policies and an increasingly market and business-oriented attitude of the people. In some key areas such as education, farreaching reforms were announced, but need yet to be implemented. Serious systemic weaknesses inherited from the past persist and remain to be adequately addressed. The experience of other countries in transition shows that such processes take time, hence it is all the more important that Georgia stays on its path of reform.

WHAT OF THE EXTENSIVE WORK OF THE SWISS EMBASSY WOULD YOU HIGHLIGHT AS HAVING HAD THE GREATEST IMPACT ON GEORGIA? Our bilateral relations were strengthened, in particular economic and trade relations, which now benefit from a free trade agreement that was concluded in 2016 between Georgia and EFTA countries. This year, Switzerland and Georgia signed an agreement on the protection of geographical indications for wines, spirits, cheese and other special products which will underpin our efforts to expand mutual trade. We promote trade with Georgia, but we also aid Georgia. Over the past two

decades, Switzerland has systematically contributed to Georgia's democratic, economic and social development, and I am glad to say that our support has produced tangible results. In the agricultural sector, which accounts for almost half of Georgia's total employment, our longstanding assistance in the milk, cheese, meat and other product lines helped farmers, suppliers and processing companies to produce successfully for the market, in some cases even for overseas markets. Switzerland and Swiss companies have a lot to offer in the field of practice-oriented vocational and professional education and training, which needs to be developed in Georgia by all means and is rightly considered a priority by the Georgian government. Another important focus of our cooperation concerns political and financial decentralization and the concomitant requirement of appropriate public services at the regional and local level. In this area, which is critical for containing the ongoing rural depopulation, Georgia can benefit from Switzerland's century-old, successful experience and expertise as a "bottom-up" country. Last but not least, Switzerland has continued to offer its good offices as a protecting power acting on behalf of Geor-

gia and Russia and as a mediator. The results of our discreet efforts in this field may not always be obvious and well known, but they are real and serve the interests of all parties concerned.

WHERE DO YOU SEE GEORGIA IN FUTURE, SAY FIVE YEARS FROM NOW? I do not expect miraculous developments, but I am confident that Georgia will maintain an adequate degree of political, economic and social stability which will enable the country to make further progress towards a functional democracy and a thriving, competitive economy.

WHAT ADVICE CAN YOU GIVE GEORGIA MOVING FORWARD, BASED ON THE PROJECTS YOU HAVE BEEN INVOLVED IN WHILE HERE? I hope that Georgia will persist in pursuing its path towards reform, modernization and European standards in all areas. This is a key necessity in order to overcome the current economic and social challenges. As witnessed in many projects, the widespread lack of professional knowhow and practice-oriented training is a major impediment to Georgia's development. Hence, a thorough reform of the

education system is necessary to ensure adequate skills and the employability of the workforce. Another big impediment, the unresolved separatist conflicts within Georgia, merits to be addressed rather than just kept in status quo, based on an attitude of constructive dialogue.

WHAT ARE THE BIGGEST TAKE-AWAYS OF YOUR TIME HERE? WHAT WILL BE YOUR FONDEST MEMORIES? Georgia is highly rewarding for its rich cultural heritage, its amazing landscapes, its nature, cuisine, wine tradition and many other special features. But I and my wife are most impressed and attracted by the Georgian people: they are very open-minded, accessible, hospitable and truly cordial, which makes it really worth working and living in this country.

WHAT ARE YOUR FUTURE PLANS? As I retire from the diplomatic service, we plan to stay in Georgia and continue to promote Georgia’s development as well as Swiss-Georgian relations in our private capacity, notably by exporting high-quality Georgian products such as wine and tea to Switzerland and by fostering wine and mountain tourism.

BUSINESS

The Welcome to Georgia! National Tourism Awards Holds Press Conference BY KETEVAN KVARATSKHELIYA

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n December 13, the Headquarters of the Bank of Georgia hosted a press conference regarding the Welcome to Georgia! National Tourism Awards. The press conference was attended by the Co-Founder/Managing Partner of Welcome to Georgia! National Tourism Awards, Marina Chayka; Deputy Head of the Georgian National Tourism Administration, Medea Janiashvili; Head of the Municipal Department of Economic Development of Tbilisi City Hall, Andria Basilaia; Partner of BDO Georgia, Maia

Khachidze; and Head of Retail Business Banking Department of Bank of Georgia, Zurab Masurashvili. Zurab Masurashvili focused on the developing trend of tourism in Georgia and expansion of varieties of tourist services in the country. He also underlined the significance of improvement seen in the quality of services. Marina Chayka spoke about the Award Ceremony and announced that this year the format will be modified, with a number of categories added to the list. She also mentioned that the guests of the event will be delivered information about the present statistics of the tourism industry and the perspectives of its development. Chayka intrigued the audience by announcing a surprise which

The long-term delivery service of 25 to 50 kilograms sacks from China. With the organic responsibility of the Trading Company "HanLin" from Alashankou. E-mail: yuechungian@163.com Tel/Fax: 86-0909-699-5859

will be revealed on December 17, the day of the Awards, to be held in Rustaveli Theater. The winners of 20 nominations among more 350 participants will also be revealed at the event. The Award ceremony is a closed event to be attended by more than 800 guests: the project nominees and partners, representatives of the government and business sectors, and international and local media. Each nominee has been assessed using an internationally recognized method by the Awards’ independent jury, comprised of international and domestic tourism and hospitality professionals.

This is the 4th year the transparency and impartiality of the assessing process for all the nominees has been guaranteed by the independent audit of BDO Georgia. BDO Georgia is also to reveal the winners of each nomination. For the past two years, Bank of Georgia has been the official sponsor of the project and this year carries the status of the co-organizer of the project. Within the scope of the partnership, Bank of Georgia has outlined three special categories: ‘The Best Woman Entrepreneur in the Tourism Industry,’ ‘ICREATE – the Most Successful Georgian Brand in the

Tourism Industry’ and ‘The Fastest Growing Company of the Year in SME Segment’. The winners of these categories will be awarded special prizes by Bank of Georgia. The ceremony is to be held for the fourth time with the co-organization of the Ministry of Economy and Sustainable Development of Georgia and the Georgian National Tourism Administration. Official supporters of the event are Tbilisi City Hall and the Partnership Fund. The co-organizer of the project is Bank of Georgia. The Independent audit – BDO Georgia.


BUSINESS

GEORGIA TODAY DECEMBER 14 - 17, 2018

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Euroins Insurance Group to Launch Georgian Insurance Market BY KETEVAN KVARATSKHELIYA

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nsurance company ‘IC Group’ has become a member of a major Eastern European insurance company – Euroins Insurance Group (EIG). The press conference and the agreement-signing ceremony were hosted by the Rooms Hotel on December 11. To complete the first phase of the merging process, Georgia was visited by the Deputy CEO of EIG, Georgi Markov, and the member of board of Directors, Cagatay Uludag, who will also join the Board of Directors of Euroins Georgia in the position of Chief Strategic Officer. ‘IC Group’ will continue to operate on the market under the name of ‘Euroins Georgia’ and will fully implement the practices of the European insurance company, international experience and modern insurance system already approved in Europe, which are eligible for the local consumer market. At the conference, the representatives of EIG stated this investment in Georgia is a strategic step forward for their company. “We see Georgia as a country with great opportunities, potential for developing insurance practices and other spheres,” stated Markov. The main reason for their decision to enter Georgia is the healthy business environment, economic growth and the dynamic development forecasts of the insurance sector, he noted. It was also said that Euroins Georgia will implement diverse insurance ser-

vices, including cyber security, vital for decreasing vulnerability towards cybercrime. It is also planned to offer customers more comfortable ways of using a wide range of EIG services, such as by mobile application, which will give them an opportunity to purchase an insurance policy online and manage claim handling online. Security and innovative programs were announced as the major priorities for the Euroins Insurance Group. Aside from attracting foreign investment, Euroins Insurance Group will also import western expertise and knowledge to Georgia. It is planned to rotate company employees in the insurance companies and training centres of different European countries. Foreign specialists will come to Georgia, enabling the company to share knowledge and experience.

INSURANCE COMPANY ‘EUROINS’ Euroins Insurance Group represents one of the major insurance companies operating in the Central and Eastern European markets. The company is oriented on the full spectrum of insurance services. The company, founded in Bulgaria functions in 8 European countries. The company has subsidiaries in four of these countries: Bulgaria, Romania, Macedonia, and Ukraine. In 2014 Euroins started operating in Greece. EIG has approximately 1600 employees, while the number of customers reaches more than 2.5 million. The annual revenue of the company is half a billion Euro.

Image source: IC Group

INSURANCE COMPANY ‘IC GROUP’ ‘IC Group’ was founded on November 10, 2005 and since then has offered a full specter of services to its customers. The company is actively involved in the

implementation process of legislative regulations, as the member of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry (France, Georgia), Business Association of Georgia and Georgian Insurance Association. Currently, there are more than 100

highly qualified employees in the company, some of them having the experience of more than 20 years of working in insurance field. ‘IC Group’ is socially responsible company, respecting traditions and aspects of business ethics.


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BUSINESS

GEORGIA TODAY

DECEMBER 14 - 17, 2018

TBC Bank Group to Develop Electronic Commerce on the Georgian Market BY KETEVAN KVARATSKHELIYA

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BC Bank Group is planning to develop E-commerce in Georgia. Soon, the Georgian market will host a new digital trade platform which will give customers the opportunity to shop online in comfort. Within the scope of the project, TBC Bank Group is initiating a new online shopping mobile application ‘Vendoo’, which is planned to be launched in February 2019. The presentation was delivered by the CEO of TBC Bank Group Vakhtang Butskhrikidze and TBC Bank Group CIO Amiran Sherozia on December 11. The idea of creating this app came

from the strategy of TBC Bank Group to make the life of its customers easier, take into account their demands and meet them with high-quality services. The brand new ‘Vendoo’ app, which Sherozia noted will not be a typical retail, but more of a market sale, will be based on the already existing company ‘Swoop’, recently purchased by TBC Bank Group. ‘Vendoo’ will offer a wide variety of products within different price ranges, personalized offers, deferred payment method, rapid delivery of purchased items and a flexible return policy. The delivery service will cover the entire country, meaning even customers in rural areas will be able to use ‘Vendoo’. The primary goal of this large-scale and innovative project is to boost

E-commerce in Georgia and supply clients with high-quality products. The given initiative will be interesting for small and medium entrepreneurs, as they will be able to distribute their products to Georgian customers online. The digital trade platform will support entrepreneurs to enlarge their businesses, ameliorate the rate of sales, obtain trade funding and produce online marketing. Placing the products will be open to every entrepreneur, as they will have a ready online platform and stock, and well-organized logistics for electronic trade. The only expense for them will be the costs of their products and distributing them to the main warehouse of the company. E-commerce is one of the fastest growing areas in Georgia. Within the modern

technology conditions, it is a highly indemand service. The new digital platform will facilitate the shopping process for customers on one side and boost business development on the other.

Aside from ‘Vendoo’, TBC Bank Group is planning to launch other major and ambitious projects, go beyond the borders of Georgia and reach up to 10 million customers by 2022.

TBC Capital Presents Results of FMCG Sector Investment Analysis of the project is to present to the companies and potential investors the current condition of the market and the potential for further development in the area. The CEO of TBC Bank, Vakhtang Butskhrikidze, focused on the importance of the investigation of the FMCG field, stating: “The majority of companies operating on the Georgian market are the core partners of TBC Bank. For our Bank, long-term partnership is vital, and this is why it was important for us to present valuable and interesting information to the companies about the present situation on the market, tendencies and changes taking place on it, and observations about its further growth.” Butskhrikirdze also emphasized the intentions of TBC Bank to have 10 million customers by 2022.

BY KETEVAN KVARATSKHELIYA

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n December 12, the representatives of TBC Bank gave a presentation on the results of a FastMoving Consumer Goods (FMCG) Sector Investment Analysis. The given investigation, carried out by TBC Capital with the support of worldwide management consulting firm McKinsey & Company, is the first investment analysis of this sector in Georgia. The idea to explore the FMCG field was inspired by companies operating on the Georgian market and the growing trend of investors who need relevant, trustworthy and competent information about the sector. The aim

Organized retail has a high potential for progress in Georgia. In 2017, the value of the given sector was approximately 7.8 billion GEL. “Organized retail is a field with a very high perspective of development in Georgia,” said the Head of Research and Brokerage of TBC Capital, Nino Tskhadaia. “According to our observations, this sector is forecast to grow by 6% within the next six years, which will be approximately 11 billion GEL.” She added that the organized retail sector is mostly concentrated in the capital city and needs expansion into the rural areas. TBC Capital is an advisory arm of TBC Bank offering Corporate Advisory, Research and Brokerage solutions in Georgia. In 2017, TBC Capital became part of the Corporate and Investment Banking Business.

SOCIETY

Wheelchairs for Georgian Kids: MAC Fundraiser Calls for Donors, with EBRD to Match Funds Raised BY KATIE RUTH DAVIES

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EORGIA TODAY asked MAC Director Jeremy Gaskill to talk about his new fundraiser- supplying wheelchairs to Georgia’s disadvantaged children. “I started with MAC Georgia in 2014 and quickly realized, as I visited kids across the regions, that while wheelchairs were available to most, they often weren’t appropriate for the individuals using them. Some chairs were too big and thus prevented the child from reaching the wheels or enjoying independent mobility; most chairs didn’t lean back or adjust; nor did they have any head or side support,” he told us. “As a result, kids with

postural problems leaned forward, hung to the side or even slipped out of their seat. Left without alternatives, mothers or caregivers often tied their kids into the chair with a scarf or rope. Other children couldn’t use the chair at all and so remained in bed.” He noted that a common misconception he often runs into is the idea that a wheelchair is only important as a means of moving a person from point A to point B. “While this is of course part of its purpose, a chair is also a crucial tool for reducing physical deformities and preserving a person’s posture. Imagine a child that perpetually leans to one side of her chair. Gravity pulls at her body and over time this initially slight lean grows into a more extreme deformity. Her spine twists and her muscles shorten, thus locking her into a contracted position. Her

ability to swallow and to breathe deteriorates and her overall ability to actively engage with the world becomes greatly reduced. Worst of all, this is preventable.” MAC Georgia is committed to ensuring that persons with more complex postural support needs get the chairs they need. They have spent more than two years field-testing wheelchairs across various Georgian rural and urban areas, observing how each model stands up to the rigors of use, listening to user and parent feedback, and assessing each chair’s ability to support the wide range of physical needs. This work has helped MAC to identify wheelchair models that they believe are well suited for the Georgian context. “We intentionally avoided looking at high-end, expensive chairs, instead focusing our attention on wheelchairs that are well designed but priced for lower-income countries,” Gaskill said. “It’s imperative to us that these chairs be something that the Georgian government can realistically afford. In the end, each of the chairs we identified runs somewhere between $300 and $500. It’s more than the approximately $200 that the government currently pays per wheelchair, but we believe, given the overall benefits, it’s well worth the additional cost.” The right wheelchair, if fitted correctly, can transform a child’s life. In many cases it means the difference between health and chronic illness, inclusion and isolation, independence and dependence, even – in extreme cases – life and death. “There’s a high number of kids with Cerebral Palsy in Georgia,” Gaskill reports. “The vast majority of these children can’t sit upright on their own. In cases like this, a standard chair isn’t enough. A properly fitted, postural supportive wheelchair is

needed to brace their bodies in an upright position.” Improved posture means greater comfort, wellbeing, and preserved functional independence. Fitting a child into a wheelchair with correct postural support preserves the child’s physical health and significantly improves their overall quality of life. “We want to change the way that wheelchairs are distributed in Georgia. Rather than a ‘one model fits all’ approach, we want to show that chairs can and should be fitted to the needs of each user,” Gaskill summarized. “Our Occupational Therapists will assess, prescribe and fit each child into the chair that best suits their specific needs. Importantly, 100% of each donation will go to the purchase and shipping of wheelchairs. All administrative costs will be covered by MAC Georgia.” Earlier this year, Thea Kokhreidze, a Georgian citizen who’s with the EBRD in London, met Jeremy Gaskill to talk about MAC Georgia and the work they are doing to improve the lives of persons with disabilities. “The topic of wheelchairs came up and I described our efforts to match kids with the wheelchairs they need,” Gaskill told GEORGIAT TODAY. “Time passed and then I got a call from Thea saying that she’d like to recommend us to the EBRD Community Initiative’s Matching Program, suggesting this would be an excellent opportunity to raise the money needed to impact more lives. She submitted the application and the EBRD Community Initiative Program approved it. As a result, the EBRD Community Initiative Program agreed in principle to match the funds we raise subject to the certain conditions.” GEORGIA TODAY spoke to Thea

Kokhreidze. “I am very pleased to have the opportunity to support MAC Georgia in buying supportive wheelchairs for children in Georgia,” she told us. “I was amazed to learn how much MAC does in Georgia for people with disabilities and it didn’t take much time for the idea of fundraising to be born. Jeremy Gaskill and I decided to knock on every door to raise at least EUR 5,000 to buy supportive wheelchairs for kids mostly in rural parts of Georgia. Then I had the idea to approach my employer, EBRD, and get the initiative connected to its wonderful Community Initiative Program.” Established in 2016, EBRD’s Community Initiative supports staff engagement in philanthropic and charitable activities related to EBRD’s country of operations (including Georgia). If a project is approved, EBRD doubles the funds raised. “We are excited that ERBD’s Community Initiative Program approved our proposal,” Kokhreidze said. “This means that if we reach our goal of EUR 5,000, that this amount will be doubled by the EBRD, enabling us to buy at least 25 wheelchairs for children with disabilities across Georgia. Please consider giving. And please share our justgiving page with your friends and contacts.” https://www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/ givingindependence You can learn more about the EBRD and its Community Initiative Program here: https:// www.ebrd.com/who-we-are-ebrd-communityinitiative.html You can watch a video on why it is important for disabled kids to have supportive wheelchairs. Please be warned that it includes images of severely disabled children. https://youtu.be/9mB77guCPj0


SOCIETY

GEORGIA TODAY DECEMBER 14 - 17, 2018

Gaioz Kubaneishvili, Caritas Georgia’s Healthcare Program Manager

Caritas Georgia – Homecare Services for All BY SAMANTHA GUTHRIE

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aritas Georgia is a charitable organization associated with the Catholic Church. They are part of a worldwide network of Caritas organizations that implement charitable missions in more than 160 countries. Caritas has been operating in Georgia since 1993, first as a volunteer effort, and then, by the end of 1994, as an official branch of the global network. Caritas Georgia operates a variety of social programs in the fields of Children and Youth Protection and Development, Health Care, Social Care, Development of Communities and Individuals, and Emergency Response and Preparedness. Projects and programs focus on Georgia’s

Image source: Caritas Georgia

poorest and most vulnerable populations – the elderly, those living below the poverty line, the homeless, children without parental care, the sick and disabled, and the generally socially unprotected – all without regard to nationality or religion. The organization promotes a vision of Georgian society where the dignity and basic rights of every person are protected, peace, justice, mercy and solidarity are dominant, and the public good prevail over individual interests. Caritas Georgia’s mission is “promoting human development and social justice, bringing relief to vulnerable and disadvantaged people and encouraging their self-responsibility and dignity.” One of Caritas Georgia’s flagship programs is a homecare service for the elderly and bedridden. As a Caritas spokesperson told GEORGIA TODAY, with their limited resources they are

able to serve only about 1% of the population who need such services. Based on 2014 census data, they estimate that upwards of 185,000 Georgians nationwide are in need of long-term care and treatment in their homes. According to Gaioz Kubaneishvili, Caritas Georgia’s Healthcare Program Manager, currently only 5% of beneficiaries have access to homecare services provided by private charitable organizations, while the vast majority of people in need are beyond the reach of professional quality services. These people are cared for by family members or other informal caretakers, “characterized by,” says Kubaneishvili, “improper and poorquality services.” The Georgian government funds several different healthcare and social assistance programs, but homecare is not included in any state-funded program, says Caritas. The non-governmental organization (NGO) network in Georgia provides nearly all homecare services. The majority of programs are supported by donors and aimed at socially vulnerable populations. Caritas’ program is different, however, offering a paid homecare service. This model increases the program’s sustainability while also providing an affordable service for those in need who do not qualify for other NGO programs. Caritas Georgia also offers a professional qualification enhancement program for medical personnel to train them on modern methodologies, focused on German medical standards and practices. This training ensures high quality services are available to a wide section of the population in need. Caritas Georgia nurses specialize in the treatment of chronicle injuries, kinesthetics, and rehabilitation. The organization also conducts a nursing education support program for students, aimed at supplementing and improving the nursing education in the country. The program trains 400 students per year in collaboration with vocational institutions.

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SOCIETY

GEORGIA TODAY

DECEMBER 14 - 17, 2018

New Year Offer from MAQRO Construction: Apartments in GREEN DIAMOND with Unbelievable Discounts & Free Parking Spaces ADVERTORIAL

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ocation, green yard, spaces for all your needs, an experienced construction company and parking spaces are the main criteria for potential buyers of apartments. Despite the strong competition on the construction market, MAQRO Construction is one of the most distinguished companies, fully meeting all the above criteria. The company has a special New Year offer to those interested in buying real estate: if you buy an apartment in the Green Diamond residential complex before January 15, you will get up to 23% discount and a parking space as a gift. The offer includes various-sized apartments in a complex, construction of which has already been completed. The apartments are new, fully renovated and equipped with kitchen furniture and appliances. The number of apartments is limited. Green Diamond, a residential complex of European standard, consists of three stages and will cover a total of 70,000 square meters. All three stages of construction combined offer 1,800 apartments. The complex has three swimming pools, one of which started functioning after the completion of the first stage. The complex also has a sports ground, leisure areas and pathways, all located in a green environment, close to nature, far from the tense city rhythm, taking into view all elements of comfort. MAQRO Construction completed the first stage of construction before the expiration of the contract term. The second phase is now underway and will be finished within the next few months. The final phase of Green Diamond will start in 2019, will take 30 months and will be a continuation of the long-term strategy observed by the company in its projects for years. “The best living and working standards for locals and guests - this is our main goal,” say MAQRO representatives. “Considering these factors, the company has elaborated a concept - Smart Living,

which implies improved standards in every aspect of life. In accordance with this very concept, Green Diamond provides everything necessary for you to live far from the city's rapid rhythm, in an ecologically clean and green environment, and to enjoy every element of comfort. Sport grounds, paths and running tracks, leisure spots, children's playgrounds, swimming pools, commercial spaces – all this can be enjoyed by the residents of Green Diamond without leaving the complex. A satisfied customer - this is the credo of MAQRO Construction.” MAQRO Construction is an integral company of

MAQRO Group. In terms of foreign investments in Georgia, MAQRO Group is one of the five leading investors. The volume of direct investments in the Georgian economy exceeds $270 million. The main directions of MAQRO Group are construction and development, tourism (hotel business), furniture manufacturing, wholesale and retail sales, catering and the restaurant sector. Ongoing projects in the construction sector see the company among the top three companies in Tbilisi. Green Budapest and Green Diamond residential complexes, Mercure Tbilisi, Old Town and Ibis Styles Tbilisi Center hotels, Glorya Furniture

and Bellissa, shop-salons of home accessories, household items and Madam Coco perfume, as well as the Dinehall restaurant, are the successful projects gradually implemented by the company in Georgia since 2013. MAQRO Construction has already completed the construction of Green Budapest, one of the most outstanding residential complexes in Georgia and a customer-oriented complex according to its highquality construction. The total investment cost of the project amounted to $48 million, while Green Diamond's total investment cost exceeds $120 million.


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SOCIETY

GEORGIA TODAY

DECEMBER 14 - 17, 2018

Winter is Coming: Etseri, Svaneti BLOG BY TONY HANMER

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t’s been such a mild NovemberDecember here that one is even reluctant to call it winter, unlike what the folks over in Game of Thrones have to deal with, their final season’s brutally spectacular wars to be fought in 2019. But it is slowly, steadily advancing, albeit late. While I’m using words which start with “albe”, here’s another one: albedo, the amount of radiation-reflectivity of a surface. It can be anything from 0 (scientifically called a black body, absorbing 100% radiation to 1 (reflecting 100%). The ground in the village has been moving from a much darker color, absorbing much more light and heat from the sun and thus staying warmer, to a much lighter tone, closer to an albedo of 1, as snow comes. As yet, the snow has been losing the battle and melting: there hasn’t been enough to stay, cool the ground underneath itself, reflect most of the sun’s heat, and thus become permanent for the season. Ground has been winning. The next few days’ forecasts could be the tipping point, as more snow is predicted. It might just be enough to last until more can come and be added to it, building up. We’re also currently tilted,

planet-wise, in respect to the sun such that what does reach us of its rays is much less than the direct, nearer 90-degree angles of midsummer, with a correspondingly weaker warming effect. That’s why we’re moving into winter in the first place, the rain becoming snow. It will change back again in the spring. Does our current season, the mildest winter my wife and I have experienced in our six years here, mean that global warming has finally arrived in Svaneti? Maybe. As long as we get enough snow to replenish the huge Enguri dam in spring, currently draining as usual for now with extra electrical usage (our heaters) and less refill (snow falling and not melting for some months), we’ll be fine. We’d really like to remain mosquitofree, though, please, too dry for them to live up here in summer! Their entrenchment up here would not be a blessing, not by any means. Ask the people in Poti. As long as the trees don’t get fooled into thinking that spring has come much too early, and start budding and blossoming, only to have all that new growth killed off by the real winter still gathering strength. Then our temperate fruit crops would fail for 2019: plums sweet and sour, apples, cherries white and dark, sweet and sour, pears; not to mention walnuts. All of these flourish up here when the weather is normal.

Yesterday I decanted our first ever crop of plums since we moved here (now protected by fences) from their fourmonth soaking in moonshine. I strained the liquid and added sugar syrup: liqueur! Then, not to waste the fruit, I pitted it all and boiled it with more sugar and warm winter spices, cloves, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg. Most of the alcohol boiled off, leaving its taste behind, in what we refer to here as “drunk jam”. Just right for the Christmas holidays! I do this with all the fruit liqueurs I make, of which there is quite a seasonal variety, and the results are worth sampling, if I say so myself. POW, as my late father would have exclaimed. You’ll have to come up to Hanmer House and try them, on crepes or toast or ice cream. While Mestia will give you the skiing infrastructure, true, we’ll give you these jams along with aged sulguni cheese and other delights unique to us. Dig in and enjoy. Tony Hanmer has lived in Georgia since 1999, in Svaneti since 2007, and been a weekly writer for GT since early 2011. He runs the “Svaneti Renaissance” Facebook group, now with over 1900 members, at www.facebook.com/groups/SvanetiRenaissance/ He and his wife also run their own guest house in Etseri: www.facebook.com/hanmer.house.svaneti

CULTURE

Rustavi Ensemble Exec. Director on Past Successes & Future Developments

BY ANNA ZHVANIA

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he 40-year-old Rustavi Ensemble and Martve Studio have for decades, under the guidance of Anzor Erkomaishvili, trained thousands of children in the art of folk songs and chanting. With its concert work, television shows, radio recordings and other promotional activities, the renowned group has for years generated great interest in singing among the youth of Georgia. Folklore ensembles composed of children are on the rise in Georgia today, with children singing songs passed down to them from previous generations of folk singers. And so the tradition goes on. The Rustavi Ensemble has held more than 1500 concerts during its existence and participated in many TV and radio programs. It was even watched by over 100,000 spectators in a series of concerts in Japan recently. Here's what 8-year-old Hiromasa Tabagi, who lives in Hiroshima, said of the Georgian folk group: “Thank you very much for showing us such great songs and dances. I'm excited. Come to Nagasaki again! We will give you wine and Crane Origami!” The Ensemble was in Japan for a month and a half, on their 50th year anniversary

tour. The tour, which began in the city of Ichikawa (Chiba), ended on November 21 in the city of Osaka. It was an unprecedented event in the history of Georgian culture. Such large-scale concerts have never been held beyond Georgian territory or in the history of Japan. The concerts were a great success according to the Japanese press. Giorgi Gabunia, Executive Director of ‘Rustavi’ and ‘Martve,’ talked about what’s next. “Significant structural changes have been made. In the spring of 2018, Martve Studio joined the State Academic Ensemble Rustavi as a structural unit of Georgian folk song and dance. Based on this, we began a major reorganization in the studio. The project ‘Manage New Life,’ the organizational formation of the Ensemble, implementation of new goals and tasks, and improvements to the teaching quality have enhanced and renewed the energy of the Studio’s work,” Gabunia noted. “Giorgi Donadze, Artistic Director of the Basiani Ensemble, was invited to join us as Artistic Director. This is very important for us because he is the most outstanding and successful lobby in our generation. I’m convinced that the creative processes here will only get better. The curriculum was renewed and new academic disciplines were added, which aim at raising the quality of education and professionalism. The

Board is composed of well-known musicians, including the Ensemble’s Artistic

Director Anzor Erkomaishvili, Chief Choreographer Fridon Sulaberidze, Tamaz Andghuladze, Head of the Jansugh Kakhidze Music Center Vakhtang Kakhidze, Georgian Chakua Foundation Director Nana Gotua and The Georgian Folklore State Center. That's the council that leads the priorities of this big organization and the one which makes the important decisions. The Studio teaches Georgian folk song and traditional chant, Georgian folk instruments, choreography, theatrical art, reading and speech,” he emphasized. Over 40 years, the popularity of Georgian traditional song and folklore has grown. Georgian traditional chanting has been made a separate direction in studies at the Studio, a complex change expected to bring great results in future.

“With the opening of the schools of the Folklore State Center in the regions, we have achieved quite significant success, with hundreds of young people having already mastered the Georgian traditional art and an unprecedented increase seen amongst youth interest in Tbilisi,” Gabunia noted. “In the end, this will definitely cause a great intellectual explosion. I am happy to see how many talented children come along. The Studio is also preparing for a solo concert, a matter of pride for all our young talent.” They also have a new program in the choreographic direction with boys and girls working together. “We expect that further interest will increase in this direction,” the Rustavi Executive Director stated.


CULTURE

GEORGIA TODAY DECEMBER 14 - 17, 2018

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Light Movement Transformed into a Symphony by the HUAWEI Mate20 Pro BY MARIAM DIASAMIDZE

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hat is the sound of light? It was a thrilling question that the Huawei representative asked his creative team and experts of Artificial Intelligence (AI), inspiring them to create an ambitious project that transformed the Northern Lights into a symphony through the study and observation of light movements and which was recently presented to the public in the music hall of Brahms, in Vienna, Austria. The company's HUAWEI employees were tasked to capture the Northern Lights in Norway and work on it with the AI used in the HUAWEI Mate20 Pro in order to discover the main elements of light portrayed in the photo and then

convert them into a melody. The main challenge of the creative team was to create an audio-visual product that would once again confirm the possibilities of higher AI through the language of the unknown North. And so it began. In the open air, under the Tromso night sky in Norway, Keitel Scogli and award-winning composer Mark Seifrides sought to capture the Northern Lights. Seifrides worked with the AI of the HUAWEI Mate20 Pro to create a symphony from the collected material. When the composition was created, James Sherman, one of the best composers in the world, played it with an Orchestra at the Brahms Music Hall, in Vienna. He said, “My goal is to create, inspire and guide the symphony performance and with the help of artificial intelligence bring it to life. I want to create feelings like the Northern Lights are speaking through the music.”

Seifrides noted that the involvement of AI in music presented a new range of creative opportunities: “The artificial intelligence system can absorb the Northern Lights and analyse it according to color, size, shape and speed. Then it generates music variations based on what it sees. When AI perceives strong light, it can modulate the sound to reflect the intensity of the composition. After that, I can use the created elements in the symphony.” The light voice was a one-month project that confirmed that AI can read photos and create new sounds. What kind of sound do the Northern Lights have? The answer to this question has already been provided by the HUAWEI Mate20 Pro through the most advanced AI. More than 300 people, including media, attended the event presenting the symphony of light in Vienna, led by James Sherman.

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 HUAWEI's three business units, mainly focusing on smartphones, personal computers, tablets and cloud services. HUAWEI Global Network is based

on 20 years’ experience in the telecommunications business and serves to provide innovative technologies to customers around the world. Links to watch. https://drive.google.com/ open?id=1tV8Z-AM7YPKXfvkbeVJ9kgGU359m6ZsU http://bit.ly/2zuTrxV https://www.youtube.com/ watch?v=TQ3KNXQwO1o


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CULTURE

GEORGIA TODAY

DECEMBER 14 - 17, 2018

WHAT’S ON IN TBILISI THEATER

SHALIKASHVILI THEATER 27 Rustaveli Ave. December 14 LULLABY Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 15 GEL December 15 HOST AND GUEST Based on a Vazha-Pshavela poem Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 15 GEL GABRIADZE THEATER 14 Shavteli Str. TEL (+995 32) 298 65 93 December 16 RAMONA Revaz Gabriadze Directed by Revaz Gabriadze English Subtitles Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 20, 30 GEL December 15 STALINGRAD Revaz Gabriadze Directed by Revaz Gabriadze English Subtitles Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 20, 30 GEL December 14, 20 Animated documentary film REZO Directed by Leo Gabriadze Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 15 GEL MUSIC AND DRAMA STATE THEATER 182 Agmashenebeli Ave. TEL (+995 32) 234 80 90 December 18 WELCOME TO GEORGIA A musical, theatrical play and romantic comedy telling a story about Georgia and its people by combining song, dance, culture, traditions, history, national costumes and local cuisine. Musical Language: English, some Georgian With English subtitles Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 50-80 GEL MOVEMENT THEATER 182 Aghmashenebeli Ave. TEL (+995) 598 19 29 36 December 14 PARADISO Directed by Irakli Khoshtaria Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 10-15 GEL

December 15 THE STORY OF A MURDERER Directed by Kakha Bakuradze Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 10-15 GEL December 16 INTRO Directed by Kakha Bakuradze 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 Exhibitions: GEORGIAN COSTUME AND WEAPONRY OF THE 18TH-20TH CENTURIES NUMISMATIC TREASURY STONE AGE GEORGIA ARCHEOLOGICAL TREASURE NEW LIFE TO THE ORIENTAL COLLECTIONS December 6 – February 28 In the framework of the celebrations of the European Year of Cultural Heritage in Georgia, the Georgian National Museum presents the exhibition WISDOM TRANSFORMED INTO GOLD IOSEB GRISHASHVILI TBILISI HISTORY MUSEUM - KARVASLA 8 Sioni St. TEL (+995 32) 298 22 81 Until January 20 Georgian National Museum in the framework of the Project “Contemporary Art Gallery” presents THE SOLO EXHIBITION OF LIA BAGRATIONI A MAD TEA-PARTY

Ucha Japharidze, Aleksandre Bajbeuk-Melikov, Korneli Sanadze and more. The exposition also showcases documentary footage depicting the 1920-30s repressions. GALLERY

THE NATIONAL GALLERY 11 Rustaveli Ave. TEL (+995 32) 215 73 00 October 9 – January 17 (2019) NIKO PIROSMANI’S RENEWED EXHIBITION October 10 – October 5 (2019) EXHIBITION MASTERS OF GEORGIAN ART Paintings of Kirill Zdanevich, Shalva Kikodze, Ketevan Magalashvili and Elene Akhvlediani together with Lado Gudiashvili's and David Kakabadze, giving a comprehensive picture of the diversity and aesthetics of Georgian Art. Until January 20 The anniversary exhibition of Georgian artist USHANGI KHUMARASHVILI His artistic traditions are classic avant-garde. A severe Soviet legacy and socialism brought his creativity into a space of non-conformism. The main and initial stage of his art began in the 1970s, when he defined himself as an expressive abstractionist. KHIDI V.Bagrationi Bridge, Right Embankment December 7-20 Multidisciplinary exhibition project IN-BETWEEN CONDITIONS ‘In-Between Conditions’ displays 18 works expressing cultural impulses affected by political or social forces. MUSIC

SOUNDS OF GEORGIA MUSEUM OF SOVIET OCCUPATION 4 Rustaveli Ave. TEL (+995 32) 2 99 80 22, 2 93 48 21 www.museum.ge December 11 – March 1 Exhibition RED TERROR AND GEORGIAN ARTISTS The Exhibition showcases artworks by Dimitri Shevardnadze, Petre Otskheli, Henryk Hryniewski, Richard Sommer, Kiril Zdanevich, Vasily Shukhaev, Elene Akhvlediani, Lado Gudiashvili, David Kakabadze,

December 14, 19, 20 Mini concerts in Old Tbilisi, a mix of traditional Georgian music featuring folklore, A-Capella, guitar, and new Georgian pop and city songs. Start time: 17:00 Tickets: 23 GEL Venue, December 7: New Tiflis, 14 Agmashenebeli Ave., Wine bar ‘Wine Station’; Venue, December 19: 16 G. Kikodze Str., Café ‘Ezo’; Venue, December 20: Europe Sq., 2 D. Megreli Str., Hotel "Nata", Terrace

TBILISI EVENT HALL 1 Melikishvili St. TEL (+995 32) 2 99 00 99 December 15 Famous Azerbaijani pop singer DALMA Start time: 17:00 Ticket: 30-60 GEL TBILISI CONCERT HALL 1 Melikishvili St. TEL (+995 32) 2 99 00 99 December 19 NEW YEAR CHARITY CONCERT Charity Fund ‘Life Is Beautiful’ Concert for Luka Alibegashvili, 23, who has been diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia. Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 10-40 GEL IN THE DENSE FOREST Tskneti, The last stop December 16 BARBAROBA AT DENSE FOREST BAND MUKHAMBAZI Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 20 GEL ART HOUSE 18 Gudiashvili Str. December 20 GIGI WONDER, CONTEMPORARY ART BY OLEG TIMCHENKO AND KHATUNA KHABULIANI Start time: 21:00 Ticket: 30-50 GEL GEORGIAN NATIONAL MUSEUM 3 Rustaveli Ave. December 18 Classical Music in an Alternative Environment OPENING CONCERT Soloist Tiffany Abban, soprano Tbilisi Women’s Choir, choirmaster Omar Burduli Program: Hugh Martin and Ralph BlaneHave yourself a Merry Little Christmas John Rutter– Birthday madrigal #1 Franz Schubert– Ave Maria Charles Gounod– O, Divine Redeemer Mykola Leontovich- Hark how the Bells Catholicos-patriarch of GeorgiaKyrie Eleison Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 50 GEL December 20 CHAMBER MUSIC CONCERT S TRIO GAON Tae-Hyung kim, Piano Jehye Lee, Violin Samuel Lutzker, Cello Program: J. Brahms, 3 Duets J. Brahms, Trio No. 2, in C major, Op. 87 F. Mendelssohn, Trio No.2 in C minor, Op.66 Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 50 GEL TUMANISHVILI FILM ACTORS THEATER 164 Agmashenebeli Ave. December 15 VOCAL ACADEMY’S CHRISTMAS CONCERT Start time: 16:00 Ticket: 10 GEL TBILISI STATE CONSERVATOIRE 8 Griboedov St. TEL (+995 32) 2 93 46 24 December 14 CLASSICAL MUSIC COGNITIVE PROGRAM Start time: 16:00

Ticket: 10-50 GEL December 15 PIANO MUSIC EVENING Vadym Kholodenko In program: M. Ravel - Sonatine; Miroirs S. Prokofiev Piano Sonata No. 6 in A Major, Op. 82 Start time: 19:00 Ticket: 10-40 GEL December 17 CLASSICAL MUSIC COGNITIVE PROGRAM Participants: Tea Demurishvili, Mezzo-Soprano, Nato Metonidze, Vocals, Giorgi Tsagareli, Alt Nicholas Rachveli- conductor, Kakhi Solomnishvili- conductor Svimon Jangulashvili- conductor, Patriarchate of Trinity Cathedral E. Mikeladze National Symphony Orchestra of Georgia Start time: 19:00 Ticket: 5-20 GEL December 19 BRAVO MAESTRO! dedicated to the 90th anniversary of Bidzina Kvernadze Participants: George Khaindrava, violin, Gogi Tchitchinadze, conductor, Evgeny Mikeladze Georgian Philharmonic Orchestra In program: Orchestral works by Bidzina Kvernadze Start time: 19:00 Ticket: 5-20 GEL IOTA HOTEL TBILISI 10 Lermontov Str. December 17 POWERPOINT KARAOKE TBILISI VOL. 8 Entertainment, training, contest and networking in a friendly, informal environment. Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 15 GEL DJANSUG KAKHIDZE TBILISI CENTER FOR MUSIC & CULTURE 123 a Agmashenebeli Ave. December 14 CONCERT OF PIANO MUSIC Dedicated to the 90th anniversary of famous Georgian pianist, merit professor of Tbilisi State Conservatory Alexander Vasadze. Scarlatti, Beethoven Chopin, Liszt and Prokofiev will be performed by his grandson, pianist and organist – Alexander Vasadze. Start time: 19:30 Ticket: 10 GEL December 19 THE MICHIGAN STATE UNIVERSITY STRING QUARTET “IBERIS” Start time: 19:30 Ticket: 10 GEL SPACEHALL 2 Tsereteli Ave. December 15 TREEBAL: ACE VENTURA at SPACEHALL Ace Ventura by Yoni Oshrat Acidwave Obri & Zen Oogway Start time: 23:00 Ticket: 20-50 GEL JINSEBIS TAOBA LOUNGE BAR 22 Metekhi Str. December 15 LEQSENI, BIG TIKO, MINDOZA, QETI GOMARTELI LIVE CONCERT Start time: 22:00 Ticket: 20 GEL


CULTURE

GEORGIA TODAY DECEMBER 14 - 17, 2018

15

Professional School of Theatrical Costumes & Accessories Opens at TAFU BY ANA DUMBADZE

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n December 12, the official opening of the Professional School of Theatrical Costumes and Accessories was held at the Shota Rustaveli University of Theater and Film (TAFU). The Artistic Director of the School is renowned Georgian costume designer Anna Kalatozishvili. The opening ceremony and presentatin of the School was attended by famous Georgian artists and art lovers. Nino Ananiashvili, Georgian Prima-Ballerina and Artistic Director of the State Ballet of Georgia, is one of the founders of the School. Kalatozishvili has designed costumes for theater performances and movies; among other works, she created the costumes for the ballets Gorda and Tsuna and Tsrutsuna. The School is aimed at saving the profession of Master of Theatrical Costumes and Accessories, which is becoming an ever rarer profession nowadays not only in Georgia but globally, and assisting individuals interested in this profession to learn the basics of sewing theatrical costumes. It was established with the financial support of the Ministry of Education, Science, Culture and Sport of Georgia, the President’s Reserve Fund, Open Society – Georgia, and the David Sarajishvili Charitable Foundation. The course is to include both an educational and manufacturing element in order to boost the number of professionals working in this direction in Tbilisi and in the regions of Georgia.

Kalatozishvili notes that establishing such an institute is essentially important nowadays when the number of professionals who can create beautiful costumes and accessories for theatrical performances is decreasing at an alarming rate. “I came up with the idea of establishing such a school a long time ago,” she told GEORGIDA TODAY. “It is a big problem nowadays that we do not have many professionals working in this direction, and their number is decreasing not only in Georgia but throughout the world. Such a school was opened in London several years ago to address this exact problem, a fact which gave me the motivation to implement my goal and establish the same in my country. We are seriously lacking a young generation of professionals working in this direction. I would like to express my deep gratitude towards everyone who helped me in implementing my goal,” she added. Due to the importance of the project, many people and organizations were involved in the process of establishing the School. The founders, alongside Kalatozishvili and Nino Ananiashvili, are the Shota Rustaveli University of Theater and Film, Nodar Dumbadze Theater, Tumanishvili Film Actors Theater, Liberty Theater, and Film Studio Georgian Film. The School started operating in October with a “pilot project.” “Teaching at the School actually started in October. We warned all the students that only those with a true interest in learning this profession would be chosen, as theater and film are two directions where you can’t achieve anything without a love of your profession. It should be part of your life. We have many

interesting plans and from January we will work more actively to implement them,” she told us. Nino Ananiashvili noted that establishing such school is an important and timely move, as there are only a few professionals left in the country who can create theatrical costumes by hand. “Establishing such a studio school aimed at preserving the profession of the Master of Theatrical Costumes and Accessories is vitally important. I would like to thank everyone who helped Anna Kalatozishvili in implementing her goal. Creating theatrical costumes is an issue nowadays as there are so few profession-

als working in the sphere in Georgia. Modernity is good, but we should not forget about our culture and traditions. Costumes sewn by hand are much more beautiful than ones created by machines. This is a valuable and necessary profession worldwide and I am happy that the younger generation in Georgia will now have an opportunity to learn it.” Ananiashvili added that she is happy to be one of the supporters of the idea, as without such actions the profession itself will be lost. “At times we were unable to make large orders of theatrical costumes because we did not have enough professionals to sew

them. If we hadn’t taken action, soon this profession would have been lost and we would have been forced to import theatrical costumes and accessories from abroad, which would be a sad fact. Fortunately, now we have a new school and I am sure that with the right development, we will overcome this problem.” The School will continue operating at the Shota Rustaveli University of Theater and Film on Rustaveli Avenue, Tbilisi. Of note is the fact that there is no age limit for students, so that even adults who have left school can get involved in revitalizing the profession of Master of Theatrical Costumes and Accessories.

observed, I was shocked. I know one painting is not enough to highlight this problem to society and I’m planning to create more works addressing this issue,” the artist told us. “The exhibition gave the artists the opportunity to think about rights and express them through visual art,” said Eka Tsereteli, WISG Director. “Within the contest out of 50 works, 16 participants were selected that symbolically coincide with 16 days of campaigning and the articles of the Declaration. We had an installation of torn school books, demonstrating that often teachers at Georgian public schools skip the themes related to anatomy and sexual studies,

too ashamed to talk about the topics and subsequently making them taboo subjects,” she said. “Most of the works here express oppression and the struggle for one’s rights. Rights are not priviledges to be earned but part of what is means to be human.” The Women's Initiatives Supporting Group was founded in 2000 by eight women of different professions, their main goal being to support the formation of a harmonious society based on principles of social justice by empowering women, which ensures the full involvement and equal participation in social, political, cultural and economic life for all women.

Exhibition ‘Passions & Rights’ Held in Tbilisi within 16-Day Campaign against Gender-Based Violence BY LIKA CHIGLADZE

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ver the years, the number of crimes and cases of violence against women as well as discrimination and oppression on grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity have been seen worldwide. Georgia is one of those countries that still faces many problems and forms of violence both in families and in society. For the majority of the population, it is still difficult to understand that sexual rights are a component of human rights and contribute to the freedom, equality and dignity of all people. Every year from 25 November, the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, to 10 December, Human Rights Day, the ‘16 Days of Activism against GenderBased Violence Campaign’ aims at ending the violence against women and girls around the world. To mark the occasion, on December 8-9, the exhibition Passions and Rights was held by Georgia’s Women's Initiatives Supporting Group (WISG) at Fabrika, Tbilisi. 16 works by local artists were selected based on 16 principles of the Declaration of Sexual Rights within

the 16 Days of Activism. The works by contemporary Georgian artists were made in different forms of visual media (photo, painting, collage, etc.) and interpreted sexual rights from different aspects: reproduction, repressed sexuality, early marriage, sexual education, identity and self-determination. Each artwork was accompanied by an article from the Declaration in order to better transfer the message to the public. “We wanted to discover new faces and artists to collaborate with them in the future,” Natia Guliashvili, Media Officer at WISG told GEORGIA TODAY. “This time the competition comprised only Georgian artists. We join the international campaign annually in different ways. In the past we held an online campaign on social media that aimed at revealing those stigmas and forms of violence that are most common in our society.” At the end of the evening, three winners were revealed and awarded, yet all the participants received symbolic prizes from the organization. Georgian artists Maka Zedelashvili, Anuk Beluga, and Mariam Gabrichidze came in the first three places. “The competition was about women’s rights, something that is crucial to me,” first place winner Maka Zedelashvili told

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GEORGIA TODAY. “This is a theme that I have thought about many times. Almost all my works over the past three years have evolved from this issue. I dedicated two personal exhibitions to women’s rights. I wish we could bring real changes in this direction through different forms of art. I came up with two artworks at the exhibition. The first one, called ‘Identification/ Eldorado’ is about Muslim women who are wearing colorful dresses under black clothes. I once saw a video where the Muslim women demonstratively took off their black clothing and showed their colorful dresses. This show was impressive and simultaneously shocking to me, since this action could put their lives in danger. Still, these women were brave enough to express their identities. I perceived it as the highest form of protest and expression of oneself. I thought about that for a long time and painted Muslim women in Voltaire’s world. It is a utopian world, like a paradise on earth. I intended to show the contrast between the two worlds, our reality and a nonexistent world,” she said. Her second painting at the exhibition was about female genital mutilation, a centuries-old tradition that is still actively exercised in three villages of Georgia. “When I discovered this ritual is still

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Profile for Georgia Today

Issue #1109  

December 14 - 17, 2018

Issue #1109  

December 14 - 17, 2018

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