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Issue no: 1048/129

• MAY 15 - 17, 2018

• PUBLISHED TWICE WEEKLY

In this week’s issue...

FOCUS

Georgia, Israel Launch Joint Feasibility Study on Free Trade Agreement

ON THE TBILISI PROTESTS A summary of the dramatic weekend protests in Georgia's capital

PRICE: GEL 2.50

NEWS PAGE 3

Air Quality in Georgia. How Are We Doing?

PAGE 2

ISET PAGE 4

Turkey to Continue to Trade with Iran

BUSINESS PAGE 5

Photo by Shawn Wayne/GT

Qalaqi: Your Home from Home BY KATIE RUTH DAVIES

Second Int’l Investment Business Forum ‘Georgia: Land of Opportunities’ Organized by BIA in Tbilisi BUSINESS PAGE 6

O

n May 17, the much-awaited Georgian - European restaurant Qalaqi (‘City’) is to officially open. It has spent the past week working in “soft” mode, treating guests to a variety of delicious dishes designed by Michelin Star French Chef Nicolas Isnard and resident Chef, David Tavernier. The day before, the Michelin Star standard 35-seat French restaurant within Qalaqi, “Bronze by Nicolas Isnard,” will open to specially invited guests, welcomed by the two chefs and the Ambassador of France to Georgia, Pascual Meunier. “Qalaqi is completely different from anything else in Georgia; the way of service, the style of cooking: everything is revolutionary, with a menu updated seasonally,” David told GEORGIA TODAY in an exclusive interview this February. “Bronze itself will have a menu, updated monthly, with five starters, main courses (fish and meat) and desserts, from which guests will be able to choose. Continued on page 7

EU, UNDP Support Georgian Parliament to Open a Dialogue with Youth SOCIETY PAGE 14

While Tbilisi Protests, Moscow Watches POLITICS PAGE 15 Prepared for Georgia Today Business by

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NEWS

GEORGIA TODAY

MAY 15 - 17, 2018

The Weekend Protest Summarized

Photo by Shawn Wayne/GT

BY THE GT TEAM

L

ike something out of a movie, on Friday night armed police, geared up with machine guns, cordoned off the Tbilisi streets around Dinamo Stadium and on Rustaveli Avenue as two renowned nightclubs were raided in the search for drug dealers. The raid was said to have been connected to five drug deaths which occurred within the last two weeks, causing an outcry among many opponents of the Tbilisi nightlife scene. Although the government has a zero-tolerance drug policy, places like Bassiani and Café Gallery are considered safe spots for minor drug consumption. The reputation of both nightclubs goes beyond Georgian borders, as both host international guests and artists on a regular basis. "The Ministry has been conducting intensive investigative measures for the last three months in order to establish the facts of drug trading in the Bassiani and Cafe Gallery nightclubs," the Interior Ministry said in a statement published by civil.ge justifying the actions. During the raid, nightclub lovers protested in front of police and took video recordings to document their behavior. According to protestors, the police used disproportionate force. Besides arresting eight alleged drug dealers, the police detained several protesters before the crowd moved from

the clubs to the traditional Tbilisi “protest point” outside the old parliament building on Rustaveli Avenue. Their protest continued again the next day, starting at 3 PM, with a variety of speakers taking to the makeshift stage to voice their concerns, demands and anger. With the amount of people increasing, the police gave way so the protesters could occupy one side of the Avenue, turning it into a one-way street and sending most traffic via the embankment. The riot police were then called in to stand close to Kashueti Church in case the rally turned violent. Beka Tsikarishvili, standing firm as a representative of the White Noise Movement, addressed the people. “Last night the government repeated what the previous government did. This is a blow to Georgian democracy,” he said, going on to demand answers from the government, and from Prime Minister Kvirikashvili and Minister of Internal Affairs Giorgi Gakharia, in particular. Giving them until 10PM, DJs were called in and those gathered began to dance to electronic music. Tbilisi Mayor Kakha Kaladze addressed protesters from City Hall. “My sisters, brothers and my friends, I am offering you the chance to stand together against the drug trade and drug dealers, in coordination with the respective agencies," Kaladze said. "All of this seriously harms the club scene. Young people, our children, brothers, sisters and fellow citizens are dying. I am con-

vinced that the youth rallying outside old parliament can stand side-by-side with us and together we will be able to put a stop to drug trafficking." "We are not defending or supporting drug dealers," one protestor told GEORGIA TODAY. "We are protesting the show the government staged as an act of demonstration of power, an act against Kaladze and his night economy project,

an act of moving the attention from the core of the problem to a minor one. If they had acted sooner to prevent the drug dealing, they could have saved lives." The protests continued on Sunday. In the afternoon, Giorgi Chelidze, the leader of the Georgian National Unity, joined by numerous ultra-nationalists in a counter-rally, announced plans to attack the protesters outside the parliament building, saying the majority of them were “drug-addicts, LGBT supporters and Soros-founded NGOs,” and demanding the “introduction of a death penalty for drug dealers.” In response, police were called in from around the city and from as far away as Gori. Dressed in riot gear, the formed barricades around the White Noise Movement and its gathered supportersrows of police officers, in places 12 deep, blocking all access to the parliament building and its surroundings. Buses blocked Rustaveli Avenue to either side of parliament, holding back the ultranationalists as they fought to push into the area. “Everyone has the right to express their position, but it should not be followed by any confrontation or hatred due to different viewpoints,” Prime Minister Kvirikashvili said in a televised address, again calling on the demonstrators to jointly fight drug problems in the country. Head of the NGO White Noise Movement, Beka Tsikarishvili, said the response “was not good enough” and soon after, Vice-Premier and Interior Minister of Georgia, Giorgi Gakharia appeared on Rustaveli Avenue to talk to him alongside Human Rights Defender , Vakhushti Menabde. Promises were made to meet on Monday to begin to find a compromise for

revamping drug laws in Georgia. Gakharia and Mayor Kaladze then addressed the ultra-nationalist group in person, asking them to leave and not to incite violence, but were shouted away. Several of the group were arrested for using force against police officers. Beka Tsikarishvili then called off the main protest and police helped to remove the protesters from the site on escorted buses to protect them from the aggressive ultra-nationalist crowd. "First of all, we should agree on a format. We must also select a team to negotiate on our behalf. We need specific people to have the legitimacy to speak for the community. This is important to get the trust of society," Tsikarishvili explained when asked about the goal of the next day’s negotiations. "We’ve already made a serious compromise to avoid an escalation, but we cannot compromise on anything else. I think it was the right decision to stop the protest. I couldn’t allow a confrontation," he said. President Margvelashvili complained that the situation had escalated so much and so quickly, and slammed the fact it had moved to the point of civil confrontation. “This weekend, we saw the complete collapse of political and administrative actions and a series of mistakes starting with a raid and followed by subsequent developments. How could they manage to arrive at such a zenith of civil confrontation in a few hours? This question requires a direct answer,” Margvelashvili stated. On Monday morning, representatives of the NGO White Noise Movement met with officials of the Ministry of Internal Affairs. Unless a compromise is found, Tsikarishvili says they will hold another protest on Saturday.


NEWS

GEORGIA TODAY MAY 15 - 17, 2018

3

Tbilisi-Seoul Direct Flights to Be Tested from May 17 Georgia, Israel Launch Joint Feasibility Study on Free Trade Agreement BY THEA MORRISON

BY THEA MORRISON

A

s a result of works carried out and an agreement made between Georgia’s Embassy to the Republic of Korea and the country’s tourist agency Hanjin Travel, which is affiliated with the country’s top airline company - Korean Air, flights are to open between Tbilisi and Seoul. The information was released by Geor-

gia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs in a statement which reads that for the first time in the history of relations between Georgia and the Republic of Korea, direct flights will be conducted on May 17, 24 and 31. The ministry underlined that through this project, more than 500 Korean tourists will visit Georgia. “The implementation of direct flights between Georgia and the Republic of Korea will lay grounds for the possible appointment of regular flights, which will not only seek to promote tourism

development in both countries, but will also deepen bilateral economic ties between the representatives of private sectors of the two,” the statement of the Ministry reads. On May 17, in order to mark the inauguration ceremony, the first Korean tourists will be welcomed to Tbilisi Shota Rustaveli International Airport. The ceremony will also be attended by the representatives of the Georgian state agencies and the Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Georgia to the Republic of Korea.

G

eorgia’s Vice-Premier and Economy Minister, Dimitry Kumsishvili, and the Minister of Economy and Industry of Israel, Eli Cohen, signed a declaration on launching a feasibility study on free trade agreement negotiations between Georgia and Israel. The agreement was signed in Tbilisi on Thursday and identifies specific investment projects and opportunities in the different sectors of the economy of Georgia for Israeli investors. “I am sure that this process will give us a positive result and will give our country even more opportunity to create new jobs, increase our exports and deliver technological transfer from

Israel," Kumsishvili stated. According to the first Vice Prime Minister, Georgia is one of the leading countries in terms of an attractive investment environment. He added that economic reforms carried out in Georgia have already brought tangible results that are well reflected in international ratings. “We have a distinct geopolitical location on the crossroads of Europe and Asia as well as a stable and attractive business environment and an investment climate. Our goal is to make Georgia a significant contributor to building a regional economy," said Kumsishvili. Dimitry Kumsishvili and Eli Cohen Signed #Georgia-#Israel Joint Declaration on Launching of Joint Feasibility Study on Free Trade Agreement Negotiation pic.twitter.com/LuLZENQOvk — Ministry of Economy (@Economygovge) May 10, 2018

FIVE HOUSES ARE TO BE BUILT WITHIN THE FRAMEWORK OF THE PROJECT, EACH HOUSE WITH AN INDEPENDENT ENTRANCE, A GARAGE FOR TWO CARS AND ITS OWN ISOLATED YARD

EACH SPACE IS For Living: 360 m2 For Summer: 93 m2 Houses are sold in white carcass, with a facade of natural stone, travertine and high quality, black aluminum doors and windows. Address: Pkhakadze Str., Tbilisi TEL (+995) 593 74 47 00 Fb: პანორამა ვაკე


4

BUSINESS

GEORGIA TODAY

MAY 15 - 17, 2018

THE ISET ECONOMIST A BLOG ABOUT ECONOMICS AND THE SOUTH CAUCAUS

www.iset-pi.ge/blog

The ISET Policy Institute (ISET-PI, www.iset-pi.ge) is an independent think-tank associated with the International School of Economics at TSU (ISET). Our blog carries economic analysis of current events and policies in Georgia and the South Caucasus region ranging from agriculture, to economic growth, energy, labor markets and the nexus of economics, culture and religion. Thought-provoking and fun to read, our blog posts are written by international faculty teaching at ISET and recent graduates representing the new generation of Georgian, Azerbaijani and Armenian economists.

Air Quality in Georgia. How Are We Doing? BY SELAM PETERSSON

I

f you are a governmental stakeholder, civil society organization, research institute or a concerned citizen pondering the state of the environment, the biennial Environmental Performance Index (EPI) tells an inconvenient truth regarding the trajectory of each country and their performance. The rankings provide unpolished results concerning countries and their commitments, or lack thereof, to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and other com-

makes the EPI a pedagogical tool for any policymaker who wishes to look more closely at this year’s result (or for that matter all EPI lists since its inception), is the immense transparency offered. EPI can tell policymakers and the public alike how far, or close to, a country is in achieving environmental policy objectives. If a country scores low on EPI, it needs to scale up its efforts in several areas. For each analyzed indicator, one will find a set of sources used, such as the international organizations that provided data or contributed with extensive research. Scratching the surface of this year’s result, we note that Turkmenistan

Figure 1. Source: Original data from the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (Technical Appendix of EPI, 2018).

plementary international agreements. The EPI list should provide signposts for policymakers to fathom what actions are needed to reverse negative impacts on the environment and its citizens. So, what is EPI and what does this year’s result say about Georgia? Is there any specific indicator that we should feel concerned about?

WHAT DOES EPI TELL YOU? The EPI, an index produced by prestigious Universities such as Yale and Columbia, with support from the World Economic Forum, has been presenting data on a number of countries and their performance since 2002. The current list reveals the scoring of 180 countries and their individual performance regarding Ecosystem Vitality (the protection of, e.g., natural resource services) and Environmental Health (e.g., progress in air pollution or protection of drinking waters that can endanger human health if not considered). What

ranked the highest amongst the Former Soviet Union (FSU) countries. They performed well, especially with regard to Environmental Health indicators. Georgia ranks in 94th place (it was in 111th place in 2016) and scores a bit higher in Environmental Health than in Environmental Vitality. Azerbaijan, on the other hand, had the highest scores in Environmental Vitality, compared to their performance in Environmental Health, among all the FSU countries. The downfall for the EPI project is the lack of data, especially in areas such as water management, biodiversity loss and agriculture. The EPI team has made an urgent call to improve data collection, verification and reporting. A compelling solution to this would be to create an enhanced global data system (EPI, 2018). However, establishing such system is paired with some difficulties and challenges, which need to be jointly met by a range of stake-

Source: Original data from the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (Technical Appendix of EPI, 2018).

holders such as researchers, the civil and private sectors, and governments (WorldBank, Discussion Draft, 2017). Despite the highlighted weaknesses that challenge the project, the main finding of this year concerns the inability across all nations to improve air quality.

THE MAJOR CONCERN ABOUT AIR QUALITY The basic need to breathe fresh air, free from particulate matter, sulphur dioxide and the like, has been constantly challenged thanks to industrialization. What complicates the issue is that it is not only outdoor air that is at stake, but also the indoor environment, due to household solid fuels (use of indoor fires for cooking etc.). To fully grasp the magnitude of the problem for Georgia and the FSU countries, I will present two figures: Figure 1 shows the proportion of people exposed to PM2.5 that exceeds WHO’s guidelines. The PM2.5 pollutant is a small but deadly particulate matter that can derive from combustion sources, causing severe breathing problems as well as cardiovascular disorders (World Health Organization, 2006a; EPI, 2018). Figure 2 shows the numbers of lost lives due to exposure to household solid fuels. With a few exceptions, it is quite clear that instead of a steady decline in exposure to PM2.5, many countries are recording increasing numbers. As seen in Figure 1, they are even exceeding the current level of pollution compared to 2008 levels. But how far off is Georgia regarding the guidelines outlined by WHO, really? Considering that the typical Georgian citizen was exposed to 15 μg/m3 of PM2.5 in 2015 (measured in mean annual concentration) and cross checking this number with the information provided in Table 2, Georgian air quality is still poor. With exposure at even 10 μg/m3 of PM2.5 WHO has established, with a 95% confidence rate, the connection between these levels and mortality caused by heart and lung diseases. At the lowest level recorded at 2009 (11 μg/m3 of PM2.5),

10 Galaktion Street

Table 2. Interim targets and AQGs in annual mean concentrations.

Interim target

PM2.5 (μg/m3)

Basis for the selected level

1

35

These levels are associated with about a 15% higher long-term mortality risk relative to the AQG level.

2

25

In addition to other health benefits, these levels lower the risk of premature mortality by approximately 6% [2–11%] relative to the IT-1 level.

3

15

In addition to other health benefits, these levels reduce the mortality risk by approximately 6% [2-11%] relative to the -IT-2 level.

Air quality guideline (AQG)

10

These are the lowest levels at which total, cardiopulmonary and lung cancer mortality have been shown to increase with more than 95% confidence in response to long-term exposure to PM2.5.

Adjusted table showing air quality guidelines and interim targets for particulate matter emissions set by WHO. Source: World Health Organization (Ed.). (2006a, p. 11).

Georgia still exceeded the WHO air quality guideline. In order to highlight the consequences of bad air quality, the EPI has provided a data set stretching from 2000-2016, estimating the number of life-years lost as a consequence of poor air quality. As can be seen in Figure 2, Georgia tops the FSU countries with a staggering four-digit number (year 2016), with 1,107 life years lost per 100,000 persons. Fortunately, as noted in Figure 2, a steady decline of life-years lost can be registered from the year 2000 and onwards, not just for Georgia but also all FSU countries. So, what can be done to curb the emissions? Are there any specific targets to focus on?

SO, WHAT CAN BE DONE? As neither the interim targets nor the air quality guidelines (AQGs) from WHO should be used as thresholds, government should consult stipulated document such as The European Associate Agreement (AA) with Georgia. The AA refers to Directive 2008/50/ EC, which aims to improve ambient air quality in Europe. This directive settles the requirements for assessment of concentrations regarding ambient air quality. The limit value is set to 24

μg/m3 of PM2.5 annual average. Within these limits, the directive has outlined an upper and lower assessment threshold of 70 % of limit value and 50% of limit value, respectively. Would Georgia be even close to reaching any of these values? With an exposure level of 15 μg/m3 of PM2.5 in 2015 (as recorded in the EPI-dataset), Georgia somehow places itself in the middle. The good news is, of course, that Georgia is fulfilling the objectives spelled out by the directive and has done so for many years (below 24 μg/m3 of PM2.5). Although Georgia has not yet gone below 10 μg/m3 of PM2.5, it did already reach the directive’s lower assessment threshold in 2009. As a final note and reminder, I wish to stress that the EPI should serve as an indicative tool, and each individual result can work as a catalyst for policymakers to further improve and perfect actions that will reduce environmental impacts. Thanks to the EPI’s transparency, policymakers can in fact consult the various documents provided by the EPI team. This enables a fairer picture of each country and their individual result, with the help of aggregated data, and can also serve as an annotation of past records.

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


BUSINESS

GEORGIA TODAY MAY 15 - 17, 2018

Turkey to Continue to Trade with Iran

External Merchandise Trade of Georgia in January-April up by 22.2% BY THEA MORRISON

T

he preliminary data from the National Statistics Office of Georgia (Geostat) reads that in January-April 2018, the external merchandise trade of Georgia amounted to $3.786.2 million, 22.2% higher than the data of the same period last year. According to the data, the value of export increased by 22%, reaching $961.4 million, while import grew by 22.3% and

BY DIMITRI DOLABERIDZE

T

he Turkish Minister of the Economy, Nihat Zeybekci, reacted to US President Trump’s plan for the United States to abandon its nuclear deal with Iran by announcing that Turkey will continue to trade with Iran to

the maximum extent possible. “We will carry on trading with Iran, within the possible framework, and we will not be held accountable by anyone for doing so,” Zeybekchi said in an interview with CNN. According to the Customs Administration of the Islamic Republic of Iran, in the fiscal year March 2017 - March 2018, the Iranian non-oil trade with Turkey amounted to $7.18 billion, an increase of 20.01% over the previous year.

Iran exported 14.36 million tons of goods worth $3.99 billion to Turkey throughout the year, registering an increase of 31.41% and 22.88% in tonnage and value, respectively, year on year, according to the Financial Tribune. Turkey exported 1.83 million tons of goods worth $3.19 billion to Iran in the same period, which indicates a 13% increase in tonnage and growth of 16.61% in cost compared to the 2016-2017 period.

5

amounted to $2.824.8 million. The trade deficit equaled $1.863.5 million and its share in trade turnover constituted 49.2%. As for January-March statistics, the external merchandise trade of Georgia in Quarter 1, amounted to $ 2 823.8 million, 23.3% higher than the data of the same period last year. Geostat says that exports in Q1 equaled $740.3 million (28.4% higher), while imports stood at $ 2 083.4 million (21.6% higher). Geostat says that the detailed data on external merchandise trade of JanuaryApril will be published on 21 May, 2018.


6

BUSINESS

GEORGIA TODAY

MAY 15 - 17, 2018

Second Int’l Investment Business Forum ‘Georgia: Land of Opportunities’ Organized by BIA in Tbilisi

O

n May 15, the second annual international investment forum ‘Georgia: Land of Opportunities’ was held at the Radisson Blu Iveria Hotel in Tbilisi. Aieti Kukava, CEO of BIA, and Lasha Khutsishvili, the Deputy Minister of Finance, opened the forum. Irakli Karseladze, the First Minister of Regional Development and Infrastructure of Georgia and Nodar Kereselidze, the Deputy Minister of Agriculture were among the speakers, together with the representatives of such well-known companies as S&P Global, Fitch Ratings, Google, Gryphon Emerging Markets, Omidyar Network, Finance-in-Motion, BlueOrchard Finance, and ESPA. Around 500 delegates participated in the investment forum throughout the day. Besides the Government officials and foreign investors and businessmen, the representatives of foreign embassies, chambers of commerce and associations from Georgia and Europe, USA and neighboring countries were in attendance at the event. Local businesses were able to schedule meetings with other registered

forum participants during the event via the BIA forum website in advance. BIA, together with the investment group

Alliance Group Capital (AG Capital), consulted local businesses on preparing a portfolio of investment projects and

CEO of Adjara Group on His New Title

T

he Executive Director of Adjara Group, Valeri Chekheria, was last week named the 2018 Young World Leader by the World Economic Forum. GEORGIA TODAY caught up with him at an exhibition held by the ‘Shuki Movida' organization, of which Chekheria is a great supporter, to find out his reaction to receiving the title. “It’s a big responsibility and an additional ‘job’ that I very much look forward to, as part of which I’ll be focusing on ways to develop Georgia and introduce its potential to the world over the next five years. We’ll be working on global issues- not local issues alone- human rights, culture, education and such. I believe Georgia can

be number one in education, economy, investment, and hospitality. What we have done so far- and so successfullyin the hospitality sector is just the beginning. There will be a big meeting in San Francisco in September to set the agenda for the next year with regards activities to open people’s eyes to what Georgia is and what it can offer.” Valeri Chekheria, Chief Executive Officer at Adjara Group Hospitality, Georgia, has been dubbed “one of the visionaries leading the creative transformation of Georgia's capital, Tbilisi.” His company is said to be on the cusp of “revolutionizing the hospitality industry as the country raises the tourism bar and positions itself as an emerging European destination.” [source:

widgets.weforum.org] The world's most promising and hopeful artists, business persons, public servants, technicians and social workers are invited to join the World Economic Forum's Young Global Leaders (YGL). They join the union and the five-year program, within which they have to think beyond their competence and thus become more influential and more effective leaders. The 100 most prominent leaders in the age group of 40 years were selected to “create an inclusive and sustainable future.” Each is named for their innovative activities, unconventional approach to problems and the bridges they have built between cultures, businesses, government and civil society.

presenting it to perspective investors. Parallel to the forum, the presentation of private investment projects was held.

As Aieti Kukava, CEO of BIA, says, attracting perspective investors for investment projects are done not only through the BIA forum but will continue in the future. The aim of the forum is to support positioning Georgia as a financial and business hub of the region by demonstrating the economic and investment potential of the country and introducing affordable financial sources to entrepreneurs. Potential investors heard about the microeconomic aspects of the country and about current and perspective projects in infrastructure, energy, tourism, real estate, and agriculture from top government officials and lead businesses. Local businesses were able to listen to experts from international rating organizations, capital markets, venture and private capital firms, international funds and investment banks. The forum was sponsored by AG Capital and the Forum partner was Pasha Bank. A detailed overview of last year’s investment forum is available at https://youtu. be/0sR7MBGRf0Y


BUSINESS

GEORGIA TODAY MAY 15 - 17, 2018

7

Qalaqi: Your Home from Home Continued from page 1 We went to catch up with David ahead of the opening and to meet the renowned Nicolas Isnard in person to find out his personal goal in opening Qalaqi in Tbilisi. “It is everything we imagined it to be when we planned. The décor is something truly special. And, of course, the kitchen is the same level as what you see when you walk in the door.” He tells us his mission is for Qalaqi to quickly become recognized as “a good place to be in Tbilisi;” one which will give pleasure to guests. “The first time I came, in 2017, I took time to explore the Georgian produce,” he informs us. “There’s both an Asian and a European element to the Georgian style. Georgia’s reasonable proximity to the Mediterranean Sea allows us to use Qalaqi to translate flavors from there and offer a genuine dining experience for European and Georgian tastes, as well as for those wanting to try something new.”

Qalaqi boasts fresh local products in all its dishes, differentiating it from many restaurants of its class. “This is a challenge we set ourselves,” David says. “Using local products for Mediterranean dishes, we try to bring as few ingredients as possible from abroad, instead opting to fulfil one of the missions of this restaurant: to support the local economy, the local farmers, and to use Georgian produce.” “Why import when what Georgia has is of such a high standard?” Nicolas asks, going on to explain his joy at catching the first scent and taste of Georgia-grown strawberries, “better than anything he had tasted before.” “I can spend hours walking in the station market,” he confesses. “The cuisine, the atmosphere in the city, the hunger for novelty and for new flavors, is what inspired me to agree to start this project. It’s a huge investment,” he acknowledges. David also confesses his love for Georgian cuisine and we ask what his experience is of local cooking and how it influences his decision-making when

compiling the next menu for Nicolas’ approval. “I spent five months’ in the kitchens of various Georgian restaurants in Tbilisi,” he tells us. “I watched, I learned, I ate…a lot. Then I brought that knowledge to Qalaqi and began to play with it.” Nicolas and David speak every day, even when Nicolas is overseeing one of his other restaurants in France or Asia. “David will design a dish and send me the description and a photo,” Nicolas explains. “I can’t taste it, but I know his style and from that we make a joint decision on each aspect of the menu. The day-to-day running of the Qalaqi kitchen, and training of the staff, is on David.” “We aim to connect the French and Georgian spirit,” David says. “Our staff are trained and motivated. The waiters themselves are involved in the selection of the menu, tasting dishes; understanding them so they are informed and knowledgeable when serving guests.” “Our focus is pleasure,” Nicolas tells us. “First, we aim to satisfy and inspire Georgian guests. But parallel to that, we are here to welcome tourists and foreign visitors. We need to adapt the flavors for Georgian guests, giving them local ingredients prepared using French techniques. We are French chefs in a Georgian restaurant in Georgia, providing local produce for local guests prepared with a French flair. We are the first in Georgia to do so,” he states. “It is important that we remain open and adaptable to Georgian culture- taking the best from both French and Georgian traditions,” David adds. We ask Nicolas to tell us what his expectations are when introducing a dining culture as high as ‘Bronze.’ “I knew from the outset that we couldn’t offer only fine-dining as it can be rather intimidating at first for those unfamiliar

with the concept,” he answers. “We wanted to introduce the Qalaqi experience to the Tbilisi community step-bystep, and so Bronze is the last level of the Qalaqi restaurant that we are opening. Comfort is paramount. If a guest feels comfortable, they’ll come back again and again. That’s our aim: to make guests feel that Qalaqi is a home from home.” David agrees. “We don’t want guests to walk in and see this sophisticated, incredible décor, and have an expectation that it will be unaffordable or too luxurious; that they should dress in a certain way or speak in whispers,” he says. “This restaurant is for everyone: couples, families, friends, business persons. The food is the standard you would expect from a Michelin Star kitchen, but we are careful to keep costs down as far as possible, by using local products, by buying an entire cow, for example, rather than its individual parts, and using it in its entirety… This way we can be sure the Qalaqi experience is open to as many people as possible. You won’t feel you’ve been ‘ripped off’ at the end of a meal with us,” he claims. “Yes. We have high standards of food, service, wine, music…but in a way that

is affordable. We want people to enjoy being here,” Nicolas affirms. Nicolas will return to Qalaqi every two months to look over and make adjustments to the entire menu, keeping it fresh, French and of a guaranteed Michelin-star standard. Try your ‘home from home’ at Qalaqi restaurant. 45B Kostava Street, Tbilisi. TEL 0322 55 10 30, open 11 AM – 11 PM.

MORE ABOUT NICOLAS ISNARD

The award-winning 41-year-old Nicolas Isnard owns a Michelin Star. His career began in 2000, as a Sous Chef in the Michelin Star restaurant Le Vieux Logis. In 2007, he was awarded the Under-32s Golden Gault & Millau's "Young Talent" for his work at the Michelin Star Château de Curzay, upgrading that to Gault & Millau's "Tomorrow's Best Chef" in 2009, just nine months after opening his own restaurant, L'auberge de la Charme. The following year, the restaurant was awarded the Golden Gault & Millau. Nikolas later opened the catering company Kook'In and in 2011 was awarded the title of four Chefs Hats, and a Golden Gault & Millau. During his career, Nicolas Isnard has participated in a number of gastronomical events and master classes at the invitation of famous hotels around the world.


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Average Hotel Prices in Georgia & Hotel Price Index: April

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HECK OUT THE LATEST UPDATES BELOW.

• The 3-star, 4-star and 5-star hotel price index increased by 3.4% in April 2018, compared to March 2018; • The prices for guesthouses increased by 6% in April 2018, compared to March 2018; • According to Airbnb, in April 2018, looking at the capital cities of Georgia and its neighboring countries1 the cheapest apartments were found in Ankara (on average US$35 per night), while the most expensive were found in Moscow (on average US$130 per night); • On Airbnb, in April the average price of an apartment in Tbilisi was US$44 per night, while in Georgia as a whole it was US$45 per night; • According to the Georgian National Tourism Administration, during 20162017 the highest number of accommodation units2 were opened in Guria, with a total of 30 units.

AVERAGE HOTEL PRICES In Georgia, the average cost of a room3 in a 3-star hotel was GEL 136 per night in April 2018. The most expensive 3-star hotels in April in Georgia were in the Mtskheta-Mtianeti region (exceeding the average price by 20%). The average cost of a room in a 4-star hotel in Georgia in April 2018 was GEL 234 per night. The most expensive 4-star hotels for this month were found in Tbilisi (exceeding the average price by 16%). The average cost of a room in a 5-star hotel in Georgia in April 2018 was GEL 394 per night. In Tbilisi, the average price was GEL 615, followed by Kakheti357 GEL, Samtskhe-Javakheti-GEL 304, and Adjara-GEL 291. In April 2018, the average cost of a room in a guesthouse4 in Georgia was GEL 75 per night. The highest daily rates for guesthouses were found in Kvemo Kartli and Guria for this month.

In terms of apartments, on Airbnb in Georgia, the average cost of an apartment in April was US$45 (110 GEL). For tourists, when comparing Georgia and its neighboring countries, the cheapest prices for apartments were found in Georgia. Apartments in this area are most expensive in Russia-US$ 134, followed by Azerbaijan-US$ 53, Turkey-US$ 50 and Armenia-US$ 49 (all prices average per night). Looking at the capital cities of Georgia and its neighboring countries, the average prices for apartments are cheapest in Ankara-US$ 35 and the most expensive are in Moscow-US$ 130. The average price of apartments in Tbilisi was US$44, while in Yerevan it was US$49, and in Baku it was US$54.

HOTEL PRICE INDEX In April 2018, the hotel price index5 increased by 4.2% compared to March 2018. The daily rates for standard double hotel rooms increased mostly in Tbilisi (6.3%), while the daily rates decreased the most in Mtskheta-Mtianeti region (4.1%). Notably, the number of international travelers in April compared to March increased by 3.1%, although of these international travelers, the proportion who stayed in Georgia for 24 hours or more (classified as tourists) decreased by 4.8%6. The 3-star, 4-star and 5-star hotel price index increased by 3.4% in April 2018 compared to March 2018. Similar to March, in these types of hotels, the highest price increases were recorded in Tbilisi and Adjara. The prices for standard double hotel rooms decreased the most in Mtskheta-Mtianeti compared to the previous month. For guesthouses, the price index increased by 6% in April 2018 compared to March 2018. In this type of accommodation, the biggest percentage price increase for standard double rooms was recorded in Tbilisi.

ACCOMMODATION UNITS STATISTICS 2016-2017 According to the Georgian National Tourism Administration, during the last two years, 2016 and 2017, among 10 regions of Georgia and Tbilisi, the highest number of accommodation units2 were opened in Guria, with a total of 30 units. It is also worth noting that there are also currently 32 new accommodation units under construction in Guria. During 2016-2017, the quantity of opened accommodation units increased notably in Adjara and Tbilisi. Contrastingly, in Kvemo Kartli and Shida Kartli

there were almost no new accommodation units opened, with two in the former and one in the latter. According to the given data, in 20162017 no new accommodation units were

opened in Racha-Lechkhumi and Kvemo Svaneti, whereas in 2018 only one accommodation unit has been opened so far. Currently, three accommodation units are under construction in this region.

1 Russia, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Turkey 2 According to the Georgian National Tourism Administration Accommodation Units consists of: Hotel, Family Hotel, Guesthouse, Other. 3 The results are based on the surveying of standard double hotel room prices of 3, 4, 5-star hotels and guesthouses in 10 regions of Georgia. Hotels were chosen arbitrarily according to random sampling principle. The study contains 71% (312) of all 3, 4 and 5-star hotels and 25% (456 guesthouses) of all guesthouses registered on www. booking.com The 3, 4 and 5-star hotel price data was collected by contacting hotels individually, while the prices of guesthouses were taken from booking.com. The average prices are arithmetic mean of standard double hotel room prices. 4 Guesthouse: a type of accommodation that is characterized by having a small number of rooms and services are usually offered by the resident family. 5 The calculation of the hotel price index is based on the recommendations given by the International Monetary Fund (IMF). The elementary aggregate price index is calculated by Jevons index (Consumer Price Index Manual-Theory and Practice (2004), Practical Guide to Producing Consumer Price Indices (2009)). 6 According to the Georgian National Tourism Administration, in April 2018, 596,703 international travelers visited Georgia. Of these, 278,032 travelers stayed in Georgia for 24 hours or more. In March 2018, the number of international travelers was 578,514, of whom 292,017 travelers stayed in Georgia for 24 hours or more.


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Anaklia Deep Sea Port Becomes the Part of “Middle Corridor”

Photo: Trend News Agency

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naklia Deep Sea Port has become an associate member organization of the Trans-Caspian International Transport Route,

called “Middle Corridor”. The decision of membership was made at the meeting of the TITR, in Baku. All members of the board supported the Anaklia Port joining the association,

agreeing that promoting Anaklia Port is an important task for all players in the region and the successful completion of the current large initiative projects is essential for development of the

middle corridor. "Georgia is one of the most important players of the ‘Trans-Caspian International Transit Route,’ said Levan Akhvlediani, Director General of the Anaklia

Development Consortium. “The existence of a deep-water port is a necessary condition for increasing the competitiveness of the middle corridor in our country. Interest in Anaklia Port has significantly increased, even though it does not yet operate and is in the early stages of construction. This again emphasizes the importance of the project for both Georgia and the region as a whole." The Trans-Caspian International Transit Route combines the countries participating in the Silk Road project and important players of the region. Its members are leading maritime and transport companies from Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Ukraine, China and Turkey. The union aims to popularize the middle corridor, accelerate and simplify cargo transportation procedures between Asia and Europe, and make special preferential tariffs. Between East and West, in terms of cargo, the middle corridor helps to compete with the north-south routes. The TITR session was held in parallel with the International Association of Ports and Harbors (IAPH) Conference in Baku. Anaklia Development Consortium and ‘Anaklia City’ were participants of the conference, holding meetings with leading international companies in the maritime and transport sectors. Along with joining TITR, the Anaklia Development Consortium is already cooperating with other strategic ports of the middle corridor, such as Kurik (Kazakhstan), Aktau (Kazakhstan), Khorgos (Kazakhstan-China), and Baku Port (Azerbaijan).

Georgia’s Black Sea Batumi to Host 43rd World Chess Olympiad BY THEA MORRISON

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he World Chess Federation (FIDE) will hold the 43th Chess Olympiad in Georgia’s Black Sea coastal city of Batumi. The competition will take place from September 23 to October 6 and teams of women and men from 190 countries will participate in it. Aside from the Olympiad, FIDE and Continental presidential elections, the FIDE 89th Congress and other important chess events will take place in Batumi.

Chess players, captains, arbiters, accompanying persons, congress delegates and foreign journalists will all be in Georgia from September 21, flying into Georgian airports in Batumi, Kutaisi and Tbilisi. A festive opening ceremony will be held at the Black Sea Arena on September 23, while the closing ceremony will be held at the Batumi State Music Center on October 5. The Chess Olympiad is open to all National Federations affiliated to FIDE, who can nominate one team for the open section and one for the women's section. Each team must consist of four players, one reserve and one captain. The captain may be, but is not limited

to being, one of the players or the reserve. Additionally, each delegation can nominate one head of delegation and one delegate for the FIDE congress. In parallel with the teams of different countries, the Organizing Committee of the 2018 Chess Olympiad invites the most motivated, erudite and enthusiastic young people (18-30) to volunteer and work in the framework of the 43rd Chess Olympiad. All participants to the Olympiad and the Congress have to be registered. The registration is open from 23 April to 23 July 2018. Registration of the FIDE 89th Congress participants is the same as for the teams. The Congress participants may register

from 23 April until 23 July 2018 through the official registration system of the Olympiad: https://batumi2018.fide.com/ en/register The registration fee is 100 Euros per person. This fee covers accreditation and transportation costs throughout the Olympiad in Batumi. All participants of the Olympiad will be accommodated in 5 and 4-star hotels located in Batumi and its surroundings. The Olympiad venue, Sport Palace, situated in the center of Batumi, was opened this year and the Olympiad is the first event to be held there. On May 11-13, the Organizing Committee of the 43rd Chess Olympiad held a Media Tournament in Chess

– Batumi 2018. The winner was Gocha Tandarashvili, a journalist of the Comedy Channel. The champion got 6 points out of 7 and earned first place. 5-time world champion Nona Gaprindashvili and twice world vice-champion Nana Ioseliani gave all participants of the tournament 43rd Chess Olympiad branded prizes. A special prize was awarded to Nino Pashalishvili from Maestro TV, who had the best result among women. A special event in connection to the World Olympiad was held in Batumi on Europe Square on May 13, attended by locals and representatives of the Adjara government.

June Opening Set for Azerbaijan-Turkey Gas Pipeline BY DIMITRI DOLABERIDZE

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he Trans-Anatolian Natural Gas Pipeline (TANAP), a natural gas pipeline from Azerbaijan passing through Georgia and Turkey to Europe, is to be put into operation on June 12. The Minister of Energy and Natural Resources of Turkey, Berat Albayrak, said that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, as well as Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev, will take part in the opening ceremony of the gas pipeline, with gas supplies to begin on June 30.

The Trans-Anatolian gas pipeline construction project was launched in March 2015. It is planned to supply gas to Western Europe from the large Azerbaijani Shah Deniz-2 field. Shah Deniz Stage 2, or Full Field Development (FFD) is a giant project that will add a further 16 billion cubic meters per year (bcma) of gas production to the approximately 10 bcma produced by Shah Deniz Stage 1. TANAP is a whole system of gas pipelines running from the Georgian-Turkish to the Turkish-Greek border, as well as a short sea section. The capacity of the gas pipeline with a total length of about 1850 kilometers will be at least 16 billion cubic meters.


BUSINESS

GEORGIA TODAY MAY 15 - 17, 2018

Classic Car Rally Charity Gala to Raise Funds for Temi Community BY KATIE RUTH DAVIES

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eorgia’s first ever historic classic car rally, to be held May 27-June 1 in the frames of the Project ‘Driving with Zoe,’ is fast approaching. The project is being led by Zoe Whittaker, a rallyist well-known in car circles for her enthusiasm and desire to share her experiences. Zoe told us in an earlier interview that she hopes to “inspire others to discover the beauty of cars and the thrill of driving, and to encourage men and women to follow their own dreams and ambitions.” Zoe will tour Georgia with a number of invited rally drivers who will bring their vintage cars and discover Georgia’s diverse traditions, culture, landscape and unexplored roads. The British-Georgia Chamber of Commerce is organizing the event. GEORGIA TODAY spoke to Ekaterine Gegia, Director of BGCC-Georgia Representation, to find out more. “This rally is the first of its kind in Georgia. It will start and finish in the capital, Tbilisi. Along the way, participants will drive through medieval towns, charming countryside and past historical architecture. Zoe’s goal is for rally participants to experience the country for everything it has to offer, from warm-hearted people and their timeless traditions, to organic cuisine and what has recently been recognized as the longest wine-making tradition in the world.” The rally will be covered by national TV and all leading Georgian TV Channels. The rally is already attracting international media interest, and foreign TV crews, newspapers, and magazines will be flying into Georgia specifically to cover the event, supported by the Georgian National Tourism Administration. “The rally route has been devised in consultation with and with the support of the Georgian Automobile Federation (GAF) and Transport Safety Consultants (TSC),” Gegia tells us. “As well as relaxing cruising roads, it includes hill climbs and

time trials to get participants’ competitive juices flowing. The rally will last 4 days/3 nights, covering nearly 700 km, and concluding with a spectacular Gala Dinner which will be attended by representatives of several multi-national companies, members of the Georgian government, and car enthusiasts.” She highlights that the main aim of the Gala Dinner will be to raise awareness for the Temi Vineyard Community, which helps people with disabilities to enter into a working environment. GEORGIA TODAY spoke to Maka Gotsiridze, Board Member of Temi Vineyard Community. “Temi aims to develop the capacity in those with special needs to earn a sustainable income,” she tells us. “We provide a safe and stimulating environment in which our members can develop to their full potential. This requires the provision of facilities, resources, and life opportunities, as well as love, and mental and physical care and encouragement. Temi also ultimately aims to exist without harming the environment through pollution or degradation, as there is no financial or community sustainability without protection and stewarding of the one world in which we all live.” A charitable auction of artwork and other exclusive items will be held at the Gala Dinner, the full proceeds of which will support Temi to achieve the self-sustainability needed to ensure its longterm survival, and to further development its current facilities. This will guarantee that children and adults of the community are offered the best chance in life. What’s more, all proceeds raised from ticket sales are to be given to the very same Community. “The Gala Dinner will take place at the famous and picturesque Underwheel Hall located at Funicular on June 1,” Gegia informs us. “Among the honorable guests of the Gala Dinner will be HE Ambassador of Georgia in the UK, Tamar Beruchashvili, HE Ambassador to Georgia, Justin McKenzie, and Mayor of Tbilisi, Kakha Kaladze. Other representatives of the Georgian government and international businesses will also be welcomed. At this event, we will offer a full program of entertainment for guests.”

For all reservations and other enquires, please contact Sandra Mattson by mobile +995 599 990 047 or by email: sandramattson05@gmail.com

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GEORGIA TODAY

MAY 15 - 17, 2018

Georgia Awarded in Italy for Viticulture & Winemaking

Photo: Georgian delegation in Italian Piedmont region. Source: Wines of Georgia Facebook

BY THEA MORRISON

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ast week an event was held in the Italian Piedmont region, famous for winemaking, where Georgia was awarded the honorable certificate of the "country of the world's most beautiful and important viticulture landscapes.” Georgia’s National Wine Agency (NWA) reports that the event was held in the historic castle Grinzane Cavoir and was attended by Italian Piemonte Region Administration, scientific community and media, as well as local vendors and winemakers. The meeting was attended by the Mayor of the city Alba, Mauritius Marelo, who awarded the Georgian Delegation with certificates. From the Georgian side, the event was attended by the representatives of the National Wine Agency

and Director General of Wine Company Winery Khareba, Giorgi Ezurgbaia. Participants of the event were able to taste Georgian wines, presented by Winery Khareba: Saperavi, Otskhanuri Sapere and Kakhetian Green, made using traditional Qvevri 9amphora) winemaking technology. Georgian winemaking and viticulture history, the Georgian traditional method of Qvevri winemaking and Georgian wine and viniculture in general was introduced to the guests by Dr. Jovani Tezio, Professor Osvaldo Faila (Milan University) and Dr. Donato Lanati. The awarding was held under the auspices of UNESCO Treasures. In past years, similar awards had been given to such famous winemaking regions as Tokay (Hungary), Mendoza (Argentina) and Burgundy (France). The organizer of the event was Piemonte Vinegar Society Enoteca Regionale Cavoir and its president, Senator Tomazo Dzanolet.

58% of Georgians Believe Judiciary "Under Ruling Party Control" BY THEA MORRISON

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on-Governmental Organization (NGO) Transparency International (TI) Georgia released the results of its public survey on May 11, according to which, 58% of the respondents believe that the judiciary is under the influence of the ruling Georgian Dream (GD) party. 51% think that the judiciary is not impartial and 80% say that the judges who have been pressured into making unjust decisions in the past must not work in the judiciary. As for the law enforcement bodies, the majority (57%) of respondents believe that the Prosecutor’s Office, Ministry of Internal Affairs (55%) and the State Security Service (55%) serve the interests of the ruling party. Moreover, 36% responded that abuse of power

for personal gain by public officials is common in Georgia, while 16% said that it is not common. “Compared to other state institutions, public trust towards Parliament and the judiciary is significantly low as only 17% and 20% of the respondents trust them respectively,” the NGO stated. Only 30% of the poll respondents have accurate information about the government optimization in 2017 regarding the reduction in the number of Ministries, and in the opinion of 61% of the poll respondents, the number of Ministries should be reduced further. The survey was conducted by the Caucasus Research Resource Centers (CRRC). CRRC conducted 1843 face-to-face interviews with adult Georgians throughout the country March 3-28, 2018. The margin of error in the survey results is 2.8%. The research covered issues related to corruption, trust towards state and public institutions, performance of the main bodies of the government, significant public policy issues, work of the media and non-governmental organizations.


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Female Voices Disrupt a Male-Dominated Film Industry BY BENJAMIN MUSIC

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s so often in male-dominated industries across the globe, a woman particularly struggles to make her voice heard. The Georgian film industry is no different to these obstacles, where male directors receive the most significant junk of financial funding. This is insofar surprising, as the proportion between men and women is far weaker in Georgia than in other countries. With a long tradition of female directors starting in the 1920s, Nutsa Gogoberidze became the first female Georgian film moviemaker at the age of 25 and, in the sector of documentaries, there are even more women than men operating today. Five women, three from Georgia and two from Sweden, decided to do something against this male dominance by supporting rising female directors from the South Caucasus region. Renowned Swedish movie directors Karin Ekberg and Johanna Bernhardson teamed up with Sakdoc, a leading Georgian movie production company run by Salomé Jashi, Anna Dziapshipa, and Keto Kipiani, to hold a workshop for female documentalists. A competitive selection process chose three female motion picture artists from each state in the South Caucasus region to participate in this nine-monthworkshop. From September last year, all nine directors met up in Tbilisi three times to pick the brains of their trainers from Sweden. From developing their ideas in scriptwriting sessions to the screening of their work, Ekberg and Bernhardson carry the women through the different steps of moviemaking. “Work in progress” is what the accomplished directors from Sweden call their workshop informally. “We aim to generate a momentum away from male-influenced storytelling in movies. When we visited Tbilisi for the first time, we were stunned by the male domination in the industry, which produced stories told in a very traditional way. We decided to do something about it and to organize workshops to empower female narratives,” explain Ekberg and Bernhardson the start of the project. Supported by the Swedish Institute, they found the perfect partner in Sakdoc, which is a harbinger for female movie-making in Georgia. Their pride doesn’t just stem from the fact that three women run the company, but that they have successfully influenced the Georgian movie industry. Besides functioning as a mouthpiece for rising directors and producers, an essential aspect of Sakdoc is the organization of educational workshops to spur innovation

SOCIETY

and emancipation in the movie industry. “The cooperation with Karin and Johanna works excellently. Also, we work with many local partners to facilitate the workshop, such as the Goethe Institute or Frontline Club, where we hold our workshops and screenings. We have selected a highly competitive group of individuals, many of whom have even featured longer productions already,” says Keto Kipiani of this year’s workshop. In fact, it is already the 3rd edition, and more than 20 female directors enjoyed the training by the Swedish professionals. They explain how, at the beginning, only Georgians participated in the workshop, but with additional support from the Swedish Institute, they were soon able to bring female voices from Georgia, Armenia, and Azerbaijan to Tbilisi. From September 10 to 12, the first session was held focusing on the introduction of the different participants. After everyone was comfortable with each other, Ekberg and Bernhardson helped them to develop their first ideas. “What should the subject be?” or “How can I narrate my subject’s story most compellingly?” were questions they tackled together. “It was important to identify the individual styles and to advise them how they can improve their storytelling methods using those styles,” the trainers highlight. The next session was scheduled for December to intersect with the Tbilisi International Film Festival. However, in the meantime, there was no time to rest as the nine directors were tasked with developing their stories. Many shot their first footage for the project, and others revamped their initial idea by changing the storyline or the protagonists. When they met in December, they delved into detailed questions integral to a top-notch narrative. The trainers evaluated their work and gave essential tips to improve their productions. After December, the directors were given again the freedom to develop independently and work on their stories. In the frames of the Tbilisi Documentary Film Festival CinéDOC, they met up again this week for the last time. The session was used to put the final touches and comments on the productions before everyone screened their work at Frontline Club to conclude the workshop. Sitting in at one of the sessions, I noticed the empowering emotional discussions between the trainers and the female moviemakers. Karin Ekberg spoke about her works and how the beginning is often very frightening to every director. “It is important to overcome this fear and to know that the stuff I'm producing is fantastic. Be it a mentor or other people from the industry; a support system helps me walk the extra mile knowing that others like the work I produce. One important

Photo: Sakdoc

aspect of the workshop is to create a strong cohesion among the women so they become each other’s support network after we leave,” she explained. Giving some PR tips, the trainers elaborated on the importance of finding a unique style to make the movies recognizable in front of a wider audience. Movie directors with an individual way of directing stay in people’s mind, which is essential to building up a profile. A female director from Azerbaijan explained her issues with putting her ideas onto paper. “I once explained my storyline to a colleague, and he loved it, but when he read my script he was confused as I couldn’t replicate the ideas in my mind into a strong script,” she told the group. Female director Tatia Skhirtladze mentioned her struggle to conclude the movies appropriately. Living in Vienna and Tbilisi, one of her productions deals with the different personalities of two female chess players. “Often, people ask me about the end, and I struggle to give a concrete answer,” Skhirtladze smiles while telling the other participants her experience. It was visible that the group is functioning as a great team when multiple participants then offered Skhirtladze some ideas and solutions. During lunch, I sat down with moviemaker Elene Mikaberidze to understand the impact of the workshop on her work. “I'm thrilled that I could finally participate in the workshop, I had already applied two years ago, but back then my application wasn’t successful.” Her eyes light up enthusiastically. “This time, I applied with my first full-length feature tackling the issues of borders in our society. The workshop helped me to put my thoughts together and to discover who I am as a

director. I'm a shy person and usually afraid of speaking up, yet my self-confidence experienced an incredible boost. I feel very supported by other talented directors, who make amazing features themselves. I will leave this experience with a network of filmmakers,” Mikaberidze says, thanking the organizing team. Before the workshop ends for good, Ekberg and Bernhardson sit together with each participant discussing the next steps and where they plan on heading. They are aware of the misconceptions of funding institutions. Often, documentaries with substantial emotional and psychological work don’t receive the attention desired, whereas action movies benefit from vast amounts of money. They see it as essential to break with these traditions and to value the work and time that went into long documentaries. When they leave the workshop, they hope that the group will work together to become a rising voice in the male-dominated movie industry. All three countries have the same fate and men are an advantage over female counterparts. “As we sharpen their skills and give them a network, men will have difficulties to make them compete with each other; a phenomenon widely observed across male-dominated industries,” the trainers explain. Looking ahead to next year, Keto Kipiani is convinced that there will be the 4th edition. “We still don’t know the exact framework, but at the moment we plan on starting in January 2019. We want to spice up the workshops a bit and incorporate more activities, such as lectures and master classes. Like the previous years, we aim to have a very diverse group from different areas so that they can learn

EU, UNDP Support Georgian Parliament to Open a Dialogue with Youth

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Image source: masterlist.co

from each other,” Kipiani says. The team behind the workshops also wants to make the individual sessions longer to benefit more efficiently from the time the participants spend together in Tbilisi. The selection process will be very competitive, and dozens of moviemakers will try to grab a spot in the workshop. The focus is on beginners and semi-professionals who have the potential to become a mouthpiece for their society. “There are three things we are looking for in applicants. First, she must show her motivations for the project, keeping in mind multiple aspects of narratives. Then, we require a compelling CV to evaluate past achievements, before we ask for a project, with which they strengthen their application,” Bernhardson says. Interested artists should stay in touch with Sakdoc online to see upcoming calls for applications. For individuals hoping to explore also other aspects of directing, Sakdoc hosts many more workshops improving the skills of moviemakers. A recent workshop, called RoughCut, supported directors with the editing of their footage. Searching through hours of footage, certain techniques help to be more efficient in finding the right shot. A group of trainers equips directors with methods which will save them hours of work. Another workshop, called PitchDoc, deals with anxieties and presentation skills when pitching an idea to producers or a completed feature to movie distributors. Audiences don’t notice it when they watch a movie, but behind the scenes, many strings are pulled to bring a motion picture to the movies. The work of Karin Ekberg, Johanna Bernhardson, and the team of Sakdoc is the first stepping-stone for future directors to enter this intricate industry.

n 14 May, in Fabrika, Tbilisi, the Georgian Parliament Committee on Sports and Youth arranged an informal meeting with students and youth organizations to discuss its new strategy and action plan 2018-2020. Organized with support from the European Union (EU) and United Nations Development Program (UNDP), the event brought together around 80 young people, Members of the Georgian Parliament, and representatives of the Georgian Government. Mikheil Kavelashvili, Chairperson of the Committee on Sports and Youth;

Irina Pruidze, Chairperson of the Permanent Parliamentary Council on Open and Transparent Governance; Natia Natsvlishvili, UNDP Assistant Resident Representative in Georgia; and Nino Samvelidze, Program Manager for Culture, Youth and Information Society, Delegation of the European Union to Georgia, addressed the participants. The Committee on Sports and Youth presented its strategy and action plan to the public in April 2018. The discussion with young people is part of this information campaign aiming to create a space for open exchange, comments and new ideas.


POLITICS

GEORGIA TODAY MAY 15 - 17, 2018

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While Tbilisi Protests, Moscow Watches OP-ED BY EMIL AVDALIANI

T

he recent protests in the center of Tbilisi showed how the Georgian population’s attention, as well as that of the political class, was entirely shifted to the events on Rustaveli Avenue. The police and the government acted magnificently, and order was promptly restored. Nevertheless, these two-days of demonstrations showed how fragile modern states are; how easy it is to organize the masses through social media and to spread unofficial, incorrect information. Georgia is in the midst of a geopolitical threat emanating from the north, which is exemplified by the Russian military presence in the breakaway territories of Abkhazia and Samachablo (the so-called South Ossetia). In the Russian thinking, this very presence should serve as an additional tool of pressure on any Georgian government when the latter faces protests. Every innocuous protest inside the country could spill over into something more serious, with repercussions for foreign policy relations. Perhaps it is inconceivable to attach all internal problems to the Russians,

but one thing is clear: the Russian perspective on the protests in neighboring countries is quite opportunistic. In case of internal difficulties, it will be easier to pressure Tbilisi on the foreign policy front. It is this mixture of Russia’s physical (military) presence in Georgia as well as potential instabilities in Tbilisi or elsewhere in the country, that makes up the Russian strategy. Indeed, the unstable ridge of countries around Russia is one way for Moscow to project its influence. Historically, one of the reasons for there having been so many Russian successes in incorporating the neighboring territories was the ability for it to position itself as a source of progress. When the Russians entered Georgia in the late 18th - early 19th century, the country was being ravaged by the Turks and Persians, which made incorporation into the Russian Empire much easier. The same went for other territories of the South Caucasus and Ukraine. Even in Central Asia, where there was no serious opposition to the Russians, for the locals Russia was a European state. Over the last several centuries, the Russians have been progressive. True, they lagged behind the Europeans. The abolition of serfdom took place in Russia only in the late 19th century, while widescale industrialization happened

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only in the 20th century. Nevertheless, Europe was far from the core Russiadominated lands such as the Caucasus and parts of Ukraine. The geographic

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distance from Europe allowed Russia to portray itself among the Georgians and many others as a source of European military and economic progress. Even

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for all those living in Soviet times, Moscow was still a center of gravity for political and cultural changes and developments. Moreover, for centuries, Russia was even able to attract local elites and this constituted one of the pillars of Russian attractiveness. This is why the Russian strategists are deeply concerned that in modern Georgia and Ukraine, beyond political preferences, local elites are attached to the West and Russia is no longer seen as a source of economic and political progress. This brings us back to the protests which occurred in Tbilisi. Considering how diluted Russia’s power of economic and political attraction is, the only strategy Russia could apply nowadays in its neighborhood is to incite/support local disturbances that will keep those countries relatively unstable. The Tbilisi protests did not have anything related to Russia, but Moscow watches closely and this should be kept in mind. There is nothing grandiose in these tactics. All great empires have done so. But it is nevertheless interesting to point out how Russia’s powers have declined over the last several decades. No longer is Russia a center in the minds of Georgians and many other former Soviet nations.

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Issue #1048 Business  

May 15 - 17, 2018

Issue #1048 Business  

May 15 - 17, 2018

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