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Issue no: 1057

• JUNE 15 - 18, 2018


FOCUS ON PRIME MINISTERS PM Kvirikashvili steps down and GD announces new candidate, Finance Minister Bakhtadze


In this week’s issue... 2017 UNICEF Welfare Monitoring Survey Highlights Continued Poverty NEWS PAGE 2


Mogherini Denounces Russia’s Military Presence in Georgia’s Occupied Regions POLITICS PAGE 4

China-US Confrontation: Russian Perspective

European Parliament Adopts Resolution in Support of Georgia EXCLUSIVE


he high representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Federica Mogherini, and more than thirty European Parliament members from eight different political groups took part in discussions on Russian aggression in Georgia on 12 June, going on to release a Resolution in that regard.

Most of the speakers condemned the Russian occupation and expressed their support for Georgia’s territorial integrity, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said. MEPs also called on Russia to fulfil the 2008 ceasefire agreement, remove its troops from Georgian territories and stop the violation of people's rights on ethnic grounds there. GEORGIA TODAY spoke to MEP Clare Moody to get her take on the Resolution. Continued on page 2


IBF Digital Marketing Event June 27 at Tech Park BUSINESS PAGE 9

GT Future Journalists Interview Director of National Library, Giorgi Kekelidze SOCIETY PAGE 10

Self-taught Guitarist Accepted to Prestigious American Jazz Academy

Chat with us CULTURE PAGE 15




JUNE 15 - 18, 2018

Tbilisi City Hall to Revive Public Parks BY SAMANTHA GUTHRIE


bilisi Mayor Kakha Kaladze has announced a new plan for the city’s parks. In a statement, Kaladze said that two parks will be completely renovated by the end of this year – Tsurtsumia St. in the Avlabari neighborhood, and Vaso Godziashvili Park AKA ‘Red Park’ in Saburtalo. “For Tsurtumia Park, which was run down and old, infrastructure works are about to begin,” said Kaladze, “We are starting the rehabilitation of the Godziashvili Park, and it will be completed by the end of the year. Tbilisi citizens will be able to visit and enjoy the renewed form of this park this year.” By the end of 2019, City Hall plans to renovate 12 big parks in Tbilisi, including its most well-known public green space – Vake Park. The renovations will include benches, lighting, footpaths, and different attractions for children. In Vake Park, there will be a special dog area for pets and their owners. There are also discussions to build a small amusement park in Vake Park, as there was during Soviet times. Deputy Mayor Maya Bitadze has already been given the official order to prepare the plans for the rehabilitation and renovation project, expected by the end of 2018. The renovation project will be finished by the end of 2019, according to Kaladze’s plan. “We should do everything to reestablish a park culture and to give people comfort in entering a nice park,” said Kaladze, “This is the demand of society. Current infrastructure needs renovation and where we don’t have anything, we should create it.” City Hall also promises to build two new parks – in the Dighomi area, a park called ‘Dighmis Chalebi’ and a park called ‘Temkis Khevi’ in the Temka area. There are also plans to build a third new park in Gldani’s VI microdistrict which will be more than three hectares in size. Currently, many of the city’s public

parks are barely useable due to crumbling and unsafe infrastructure, lack of grass or trees, and poor or no lighting at night. Over the past seven years, Tbilisi City Hall has renovated many smaller parks, including adding outdoor exercise equipment painted in the bright blue of the ruling Georgian Dream party. According to research done by FactCheck.ge in 2016, Tbilisi has a long way to go to catch up to European cities in terms of green space per capita. In Tbilisi, there is no more than five-six square meters per person of green space, while the World Health Organization recommends at least nine square meters per person. According to a document from the Research Department of the Parliament of Georgia, the average green space per capita is 35.5 square meters in the larger cities of the Council of Europe’s 31 member countries. The report lists Vienna as the greenest city per capita, with each Viennese resident having access to a luxurious 120 square meters of green per person. Soviet standards listed a minimum of 15 square meters per capita for cities of 500,000 – although that goal was never achieved. There have been several public protests this year against the destruction of some of Tbilisi’s green areas, notably the SOS Hippodrome movement, which rallied against the construction of a new highway overpass near the Hippodrome in the Saburtalo neighborhood. Earlier this month, Prathap Nair published an article on the CityLab website detailing the rise of environmental activism in Tbilisi, citing the 2016 International Energy Agency report on air pollution (based on data from 2012) as a wakeup call for many Georgians, as the country was ranked as having the highest mortality rate in the world due to air pollution, with close to 300 deaths per 100,000 people. In January, a law on vehicle inspections, including emissions standards, went into effect for large engine and passenger vehicles. The law will be implemented for all vehicles beginning January 2019. Last month, a nationwide ban on smoking indoors in public places was enacted in a further attempt to clear the air.

Vake Park, Tbilisi by Georgia Pictures

European Parliament Adopts Resolution in Support of Georgia Continued from page 1

"It’s a long text for a resolution and it has some very clear messages about the view of the EU on what has happened in Georgia’s two regions and about the EU’s position. It refers not just to Russia’s action but to other institutions which do not recognize the territorial integrity of Georgia." The Resolution comes in support of the actions that Georgia has taken in terms of the peace initiative and is, as MEP Moody put it, "a form of reaching out that hand of friendship to the Georgian citizens." "Coming on the 10th anniversary of the Russo-Georgian War, the sad truth is

there's no quick solution to the problems seen, as proven so far. But the action taken by the Georgian Government towards peace is an example to conflicts that are happening elsewhere in the former Soviet space. It is a positive step that needs time. The EU is clear that the programs we offer, visa liberalization and support are offered to all Georgian citizens." "As to reflecting the US sanctions adopted against countries/institutions, like Syria, which recognize Georgia's regions as independent, the sanctions list agreed in Georgia is in the text of the Resolution and I can see why we should adopt the same scenario and would hope to see it."

2017 UNICEF Welfare Monitoring Survey Highlights Continued Poverty BY SAMANTHA GUTHRIE


his week, UNICEF Georgia released the 2017 results of its annual Welfare Monitoring Survey (WMS). The report’s major findings are that the Georgian government’s social protection programs have improved at being able to identify poor families with children and that average household income has significant increased compared with 2015. Poverty remains a major challenge, however, and disproportionately affects children, who are more likely to be poor than the general population or pensioners. UNICEF estimates that 4.3% of all households, or 5.0% of the population, 6.8% of children and 3.7% of pensioners, live below the extreme poverty line ($1.25 per day). Higher levels of education and, unsurprisingly, a household member having regular paid work reduces the incidence of child poverty. The WMS reports that the average household income in Georgia was GEL 771.9 ($314) a month in 2017, and 608.9 ($248) in 2015. While non-monetary indicators of child poverty have improved, consumption poverty is increasing. As survey findings show, children have more durable goods in their households and there are less children living in poor housing conditions than in 2015, but monetary poverty indicators are on the rise. Still, almost 9.3% of urban children and 32.9% of rural children live in households with unimproved sanitation facilities. The report attributes increased poverty rates primarily to a lack of strong and inclusive economic growth, unemployment, and higher consumer prices. General poverty rates increased from 16.4% of total households in 2015 to 19.6% in 2017, which is much better than in 2013, where estimates put general poverty at nearly 22% of households. Real salaries (adjusted for 2010 prices) increased from 2015 by 2.2% to an average of GEL 940 ($382) a month in 2016. There is a large gender wage gap – men’s average nominal salary was GEL 1116.6 ($455) in 2016 while women earned an average of just GEL 731.2 ($298). However, the change from 2015 was an increase of 4% for men and 5.6% for women. Social protection expenditure is the largest spending item in the state budget, accounting for 24.6% of the central public expenditure, (6.7% of GDP) in 2017, most of which goes towards pensions. Targeted Social Assistance (TSA), which aims to improve the socio-economic

conditions of families experiencing financial and material hardship, had a monthly budget of GEL 21,128,468 ($8,606,301.13)in 2017, and allocated its budget to needy Georgians. The TSA benefit ranges from GEL 30 to GEL 60, plus a GEL 10 ($4) child benefit for each child under 16 years-old. As of September 2017, 324,177 households were registered in the unified database for socially vulnerable families, yet only 12.4% had received cash benefits due to limited funds. UNICEF estimates that without the TSA benefit, extreme poverty among children would be at 13.1% rather than today’s 6.8%. Poverty starkly effects education. Children from poor households tend not to attend preschool or primary school. 98% of children in the country’s richest quintile attended school between the ages of 15-18, while less than 81% of children in the poorest quintile attended school. Only about 5% of 20-year-olds from the poorest quintile attended some type of educational institution after high school, versus 77% from the richest. A positive finding from the report noted that all aspects of social exclusion except ‘accessing land ownership or employment’ showed an impressive decline. There is also a tendency that local households are less dependent on transfers from abroad and get more income from their own labor, which indicates some improvement in the country’s economic situation. “Children still remain the most vulnerable group in Georgia’s society,” said Laila Omar Gad, UNICEF Representative in Georgia. “To reduce child poverty, a comprehensive social protection system is needed and child benefits should be expanded in amount and in coverage. At the same time, family support services

and child care needs to be expanded in Georgia to support families with children,” she added. Other key findings include: • Categorical benefits (for persons with disabilities, IDPs, etc.) significantly reduce the incidence of poverty. • People’s perception of being in poverty has improved, most likely due to real increases in incomes. • The average out of pocket expenditure on health increased, and purchasing medicines remains the main component of healthcare spending. • To cope with economic hardships, more families resort to borrowing. Use of financial instruments (banks and pawn shops) considerably increased in poor families. • 6 out of 10 children aged 3-5 from poor families have no or insufficient access to children’s books. Access the full study on the UNICEF Georgia website. The Welfare Monitoring Study is a biennial household survey covering all government-controlled regions of Georgia. In 2017, surveys were administered in July and August, and examining the prevalence and distribution of consumption poverty, material deprivation, subjective poverty and social exclusion. UNICEF says the results are nationally representative, with 4,697 households having completed the questionnaire. The aim of the WMS is 1) to review recent socio-economic trends in Georgia, 2) to assess the dynamics of key welfare indicators and compare the findings with the results of earlier rounds of the WMS; and 3) to capture the effects of Georgia’s TSA reform and provide policy-makers detailed information on developments that have taken place since the introduction of the new methodology and benefit scheme in 2015.

Georgian Airways Joins Italian June Campaign BY ANNA ZHVANIA


eorgian Airways has joined the new campaign “Italian June”. Georgian Airways carries out direct flights from Tbilisi to Bologna and is actively involved in developing tourism and business in the two countries. Georgian Airways recently participated in a joint presentation of the Italian Embassy and Italian Trade Promotion Agency, which was held at “Iota Hotel Tbilisi” for tour operators and media representatives. The airline is launching a new campaign within the scope of “Italian June”. On direct flights from Tbilisi to Bologna, Georgian Airways offers travelers the chance to carry additional luggage of 32 KG free of charge,

beyond the 23 kg luggage included in the purchased ticket. Within the framework of the campaign, from June 15 to June 30, the cost of a single ticket will be GEL 424 for flights between July 1 and July 30, 2018. With direct flights from Tbilisi to Bologna, Georgian Airways supports the tourism development of the two countries. Moreover, this initiative will play a vital role in expanding small and medium size businesses. “The airline started offering prices and terms for the Tbilisi-Bologna direct flight that will lead to an increase of tourism interest and development of trade relations,” said Tamuna Tandashvili, Deputy Head of Commercial Services in the Business Development Department at Georgian Airways. “We want consumers to enjoy the comfort of a direct flight, the tour operators to create new packages, and for passengers to visit several

Italian cities easily. Bologna is just the right location to make it feasible, also being a city famous for its ‘Outlet’ and discounted prices on textiles. In terms of business, many small retail stores in Georgia import products from Bologna. It is essential for us to support small businesses, to take into account their interest in managing a successful business. With this approach, we will retain more loyal customers. Georgian businesses should help each other, in order for small country representatives to reach international markets effectively.” Georgian Airways is the first Georgian airline to have been operating on the Georgian market for 25 years. In 2018, it opened direct flights from Tbilisi to Paris, London, Brussels, Bologna, Bratislava, Kazan, Kiev, Yerevan, Moscow, Saint-Petersburg, Berlin, Cologne, Tel-Aviv, Vienna, Amsterdam, Prague and Barcelona.


GEORGIA TODAY JUNE 15 - 18, 2018


PM Resigns, New Candidate Chosen BY THEA MORRISON


rime Minister of Georgia, Giorgi Kvirikashvili, on Wednesday announced his resignation, claiming the main reason is differences of opinion with the Georgian Dream (GD) Chair and founder, billionaire Bidzina Ivanishvili, who is often referred to by the opposition as Georgia’s “informal ruler.” "The ruling political force held a meeting during which a difference of opinion on certain issues between the ruling team and myself became evident. In particular, our conversation involved the economic policy implemented by the government under my leadership. Since 2012, including through my tenure as Minister, I have never shied away from debate, and I believe that today is the time when the Party’s Chairman should be able to put together a team in line with his own views,” the PM said in his televised resignation address. “I have served as our country’s Prime Minister since the end of December 2015. In that time, the government under my leadership has carried out crucially important reforms, including vitally important economic reforms. Throughout that time, despite the most complicated political, economic, and security situation in the region, we, together with our team, successfully established an environment of stability in Georgia and put the country on the right track to development. Today, we have the highest economic growth rates in the region, the most favorable environment for doing business, guaranteed protection of property rights, and free trade agreements with some of the largest markets. All this is recognized by every authoritative global organization and clearly reflected in international rankings. Today, even while two of our regions remain occupied, Georgia has a safe and stable envi-

ronment as a result of our pragmatic and prudent policy,” he said, going on to note the unprecedented support from strategic partners the US and the EU. “We have expressed readiness to take steps toward regulating relations with Russia in the Geneva Talks format, and I believe that these offers will sooner or later yield concrete results. I was sure back when we developed the government’s four-point reform agenda— the foundation of Georgian Dream’s winning platform in the 2016 parliamentary and 2017 local self-government elections—and I remain absolutely confident that we chose the right path for Georgia’s development. I know well how needy our people are; we have many families struggling against the most difficult circumstances of everyday life to provide for themselves, for their children, and to survive. But I also have no doubt in my mind that, without our policy, even the possibility of ensuring normal living conditions for the people would have been delayed for many years, which I could never allow. I believe that the team was fully motivated to work toward this end. I believe that a responsible politician, even more so the Head of Government, is obligated to make decisions, and even take unpopular steps in some cases, that aim for the country’s development and longterm objectives, not at immediate onetime outcomes.” “Our economic policy decisions involved floating exchange rates, a moderate increase in refinancing rates to prevent negative economic growth, and steps in the direction of excessive debt and de-dollarization taken only after putting in place macroeconomic, fiscal stability, namely in late 2016 and early 2017, when we started taking these steps after we lowered the budget deficit to prudent limits,” Kvirikashvili said. “We could have taken steps toward fixed exchange rates, which may have eased the population’s life at the moment,”

Mamuka Bakhtadze

he noted. “This way, however, we would have ended up wasting our currency reserves, and would have failed to ensure the economic policy and dynamics we have in the country today. It would have been possible to adopt certain compensators for the most vulnerable strata when making these decisions, and I accept critical remarks when it comes to that issue, but I repeat that the current dynamics stem precisely from rightwing decisions.” He went on to state the figures: today Georgia has the highest economic growth in the region: 6.5% in April, 5.5 in the first four months of 2018 alone, a recordbreaking tourism growth rate in the first five months of this year (24%), meaning that this indicator will significantly surpass 8,000,000 international visitors in 2018. In January-April 2018, export grew 22%. Infrastructural projects of unprecedented scope have been launched, with over 9 billion GEL to be invested in their implementation in 2017-2020, and the implementation of these particular projects

Giorgi Kvirikashvili

will create about 40,000-50,000 jobs. Today, Georgia is recognized throughout the world as a safe country attracting investors and fit to host world-class championships and meetings in different global formats. “All this preconditions the country’s development in the right direction. It is a solid foundation which, I am convinced, will yield great results, and our children will live in a safe, developed, and economically strong state,” Kvirikashvili said. “I have tried to be the Prime Minister of each and every citizen. Yes, I have made decisions putting me at a disadvantage, but I always believed—and I still believe with all my heart—that my every decision, every step, was made to benefit my country, my homeland; to make a difference. I have always been a team player. This is why, observing the attitudes within the team, I made the decision that any team leader must make under these circumstances. Today, I resign from my office.” In closing, he addressed with gratitude

his staff, ministers, team and parliamentarians. During the next seven days, the President of Georgia, Giorgi Margvelashvili, will have to name a new candidate for Prime Minister, as selected by the Parliamentary Majority – Georgian Dream. The candidate for prime minister can maintain the previous Cabinet or change some ministers and present them before the Parliament of Georgia for confirmation. The majority party presented acting Finance Minister Mamuka Bakhtadze as the Prime Minister candidate on June 14. Mamuka Bakhtadze is the fourth PM presented by the GD majority since they came to power in 2012. Bakhtadze was born in 1982 and served as the Director General of the Georgian Railway from April 2013 to November 2017. Bakhtadze assumed the post of Finance Minister in November last year. For updates, go to georgiatoday.ge

The Unbeatable Style & Convenience of Fit Club


rt House is a newly built club house in the very center of Tbilisi uniting different restaurants, lounge bars and a Fitness Club known as Fit Club. Fit Club is equipped with modern training equipment from Technogym and also offers personal Pilates training sessions using the latest Pilates reformer equipment for the very first time in Georgia.

Club members are treated exclusively, given access to the rooftop pool, Finnish sauna and pool bar. Locker rooms provide each guest with towels and robes. Fit Club has a unique rooftop pool with spectacular views over Tbilisi. The pool features a motorized roof, making it easier for members to swim during chilly winter days. The pool bar serves the best smoothies, fresh salads and drinks for those looking

to take a relaxing break from the working week. Fit Club further offers complementary group classes, such as CrossFit; Box Fit and ABS Workout. Certified personal trainers are available for the gym, Pilates and swimming sessions. Despite its central location, Fit Club is able to boast a convenient and large underground parking lot, easing access to our incredible facilities.




JUNE 15 - 18, 2018

Mogherini Denounces Russia’s Military Presence in Georgia’s Occupied Regions BY THEA MORRISON


igh Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Federica Mogherini, says that the Russian military presence in the breakaway regions of Georgia – Abkhazia and South Ossetia, and the construction of physical barriers and dividing lines there, is unacceptable for the EU. The EU high representative made the statement at the European Parliament during the debates on Georgia. Mogherini praised Georgia for its steps towards peaceful resolution of the conflict, noting that even 10 years since the 2008 August Georgia-Russia war, the EU has never stopped working on the issue. "The European Union's mediation during the war prevented further escalation of the conflict and eventually

ended the ceasefire. Since then, the EU has been a central player in the conflict management, improving people's lives in the region and finding long-term decisions,” she said. According to Mogherini, the EU has a special role in Georgia due to the EU Monitoring Mission (EUMM) there. “Today, we are the only international observer mission on site. The mission has fulfilled the necessary function of stabilizing the situation in favor of all parties affected by the conflict,” she added. Mogherini says the EUMM, deployed in the breakaway regions in September 2008 following the EU-mediated Six Point Agreement which ended the August war, has 200 monitors from various EU Member States working on the ground. “The function of the monitors is not only monitoring but normalization and stabilization of the process, as well as promotion of confidence building, reduction of tensions, and helping to prevent any esca-

lation of the situation," she explained. According to the high representative, the EU condemns Russia’s steps made in Georgia’s separatist regions, noting it is the consolidation of the so called “new reality,” a term often used by Russia. Mogherini says that the EU’s nonrecognition and engagement policy for occupied Abkhazia and South Ossetia is fully in line with the Georgian government's approach. “Our approach is to involve separatist regions in our programs in Georgia whenever possible. This concerns our programs of agriculture, rural development and professional training. We support all initiatives that will help to restore trust between the parties. All our actions are fully coordinated in these two regions and approved by the Government of Georgia and are fully compatible with Georgia's engagement policy,” she stated. The EU high representative underlined that the conflict is not forgotten and is

Photo source: European Parliament

one of the top priorities of the EU. Georgia’s Vice-Premier and the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mikheil Janelidze, stated that such support from the EU is very important for Georgia. “Federica Mogherini was very clear about all the problems that exist in the

occupied regions, which are accompanied by Russia's occupation of Georgian territories. The international community is extremely active in terms of supporting Georgia and we will continue doing our best towards the peaceful regulation of the conflict,” the Minister stated.

A Eurasian Contest of Wills: New Winds, but the Same Summons ANALYSIS BY VICTOR KIPIANI


ars and forceful standoffs have regrettably become routine since the very inception of humanity, and continue, sadly, to be an ever-present addition to the rest of our mundane dealings. Some are fought on minor scales, whilst others involve entire territories and a multitude of mortals fighting for a "just cause". This is a pity, of course, but the struggle to promote one's own agenda and subjugate another's grew among the currents which began to crystallize with the advent of much higher stakes, and is nowadays encapsulated in the notion of geopolitics. This term, currently in fashion, essentially involves a ceaseless struggle to dominate large landmasses inhabited by tens of millions of people with different cultures, religions and philosophies of life on Earth. More importantly, with the dawn of modern technology, warfare and economic patterns, this ceaseless clash increasingly avoids all-out military confrontation, and is instead pursued in a more "hushed" manner with all the subtle tools of modern political thinking, science and industrial capacity and capability at one’s disposal. Considering the direct relevance of these criteria, the desire to dominate the vast Eurasian continent far exceeds in scale and importance all other geopolitical struggles, whether active or merely dormant, but the results, foreseeable or unexpected, of wielding power over the entire continent would surely be of fateful significance to the newly re-emerging world security order. Unsurprisingly, the small number of geostrategic theories includes one, Mackinder's “heartland” theory, which is explicitly based upon Eurasia as a pivotal area, and holds that "Who rules the Heartland [Eurasia] commands the World Island; who rules the World Island commands the world.” Mackinder’s theory was further revitalized by Huntington's famous “clash of civilizations”—and here we are now, witnessing a clash of civilizations in that pivotal area, Eurasia.

RIDING THE TURF: PRIME ACTORS In the struggle for power in Eurasia, Chinese efforts to spearhead their signature “Belt and Road” initiative are definitely the dominant force. This is a network without precedent, a trillion-dollar project expanding westwards over both land (the Silk Road Economic Belt) and sea (the Maritime Silk Road), encompassing over 68 countries, 60 percent of the world's population and up to 40 percent of global GDP. The BRI does of course come with some clear political strings attached, but it tends to disregard negative external factors and projects are usu-

ally evaluated according to their potential impact rather than the viability and bankability of specific businesses. Above the (hidden) undercurrents of BRI rises the spiraling vortex of Beijing's "Go Out" policy, which seeks to ensure that Chinese construction firms “win” as many contracts as possible for international infrastructure projects. This same policy also helps to bolster the Chinese economy by providing outlets for excess industrial capacity—a crucial factor for stable domestic growth which, in turn, is directly linked to political stability. Yet it is alarming that, by using "debttrap diplomacy", Chinese foreign policy tends to neglect transactionality and ignore the economic, social and environmental consequences of certain infrastructure projects. The goal instead is to increase the country’s influence by providing loans. Objectively speaking, of course, lax project financing standards also often play into the hands of borrowers, as they impose fewer conditions in terms of respect for human rights, protecting the environment, accountability and other universally recognized obligations. The fact that this policy largely mirrors domestic lending patterns, which have led to a dramatic increase in local Chinese debt, can help us understand China's desire to lend money abroad— albeit with a major caveat: it is sovereign nations that are in debt to Chinese investments abroad. This "debt-trap diplomacy" appears to be a conscious effort to build political influence by discarding responsible lending principles and sound commercial rationale. To wit, China’s ExportImport Bank held negligible amounts of distressed loans in 2008, but by 2015-2016 this figure had jumped to over USD 5 billion a year, and it continues to increase. As for the China Development Bank, the Ministry of Finance injected roughly USD 50 billion in cash to maintain the bank’s capital adequacy ratio (a measure of its solvency) at minimum levels. The borrowing end also experiences additional backlashes, as the availability of Chinese investments can lead to cronyism and resource curse. The truth is that the West is losing its leadership of Mackinder’s Eurasian "Heartland" to China, and that the Sinocentric order is expanding throughout the “World Island". This is worrying in many ways, and one can also plausibly argue that, if successful, the ambitious Belt and Road Initiative (sometimes referred to as “China's Marshall Plan”) would make China a powerful force for economic and political integration in Eurasia. Besides, its success would strongly align with Xi Jinping's "Chinese Dream" policy (or "China First", whichever suits the reader better). Russia's efforts to create and strengthen the Eurasian Union by reconnecting former Soviet states economically (and militarily via other networks) can be seen as an attempt to fend off Chinese plans for

the region’s gradual integration. In any case, Moscow's efforts are aggravated by the need to “combat” US influence along the entire length of Russia’s western borders. The country would like us all to believe that Eurasia falls within her sphere of privileged interests, and the Kremlin has actively defended this Russian concept of a "near abroad" by attacking Georgia and Ukraine. Yet the current impasses between Russia and the West on one hand, and Russia and China on the other, promise to be of different calibers. The former, presumably, would be less intense as a result of America’s gradual retrenchment, which began under George W. Bush and has led to an absence of clear policies towards Russia and Eurasia under Trump. In addition, the US remain rather lukewarm towards NATO, regardless of recent upticks in assertiveness in the statements of various high-ranking officials. And besides, with new challenges to classic Cold War deterrence, Russia feels less constrained by the niceties of international law and is almost free to deal with her Eurasian neighbors as she pleases, working to increase her stature on the world stage. It is fair to mention, though, that this aversion to a rules-based system is not risk-free, as it cannot quite ignore the possible risk of confrontation with the West. This could also quite well be the case with certain US defense and security programs in some of Russia's neighbors (particularly in Georgia), but overall it must be admitted that US policy towards Russia's "near abroad" remains in limbo. As mentioned above, the impasse between Russia and China is quite different in nature. Above all, Moscow considers Beijing’s actions in Central Asia to be intruding in its "sphere of privileged interests". An imminent clash between the "privileged" interests of both parties brings a note of irony to various initiatives—from strictly bilateral co-operation agreements to proposals for broader and more inclusive cooperation in Eurasia. The latter include the “Greater Eurasia" project, which calls for the creation of a network of bilateral and multilateral trade agreements between the Eurasian Economic Union, China, India, Pakistan, Iran, CIS members and other interested countries, but most importantly may give Russia the chance to establish herself as an “Atlantic-Pacific” power. All in all, it seems to us that whilst China will continue for the time being to be on the offensive in Eurasia through the BRI and associated programs, Russia will remain a major Eurasian power but one on the defensive, clinging on through the Eurasian Union and affiliated platforms.

HAVING THEIR SAY, TOO The US and India (yes, India) are rightfully thought of as legitimate contenders for the geopolitical dominance of Eurasia, yet they cannot be considered as

being quite in the same “class” as China and Russia for a variety of reasons. In the struggle for the continent, India enjoys the advantages of a vast geography, of an enormous population, of a huge diaspora and of a large and dynamic economy. The country plays an active role in various multilateral institutions, and never loses sight of the wider foreign policy picture. Currently, however, Indian concerns are mostly related to Chinese dominance, and for the time being are mainly emerging to the east of the Eurasian corridor, as Beijing's programs threaten to undermine India's "Act East" and "Connect Central Asia" policies. Chinese maritime expansion into the Indian Ocean further adds to Delhi’s unease—not to mention the $62 billion China-Pakistan Economic Corridor project, which is also the cause of India's reluctance to join the BRI due to her historical rivalry with Pakistan. In any case, India’s Eurasian policy seems much less one-sided than China’s and more oriented towards working within international organizations: India, for example, helped to set up the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, and now ranks as its second largest shareholder. But despite positioning herself very close to US policy, India, like China, is unwilling to meet American expectations of the future regional setup which the West would like to see in place. At the same time, however, serious constraints currently prevent India from being a primary contender in Eurasia—primarily the country’s somewhat limited economic capacity and an inadequate militaryindustrial sector. Because of these limitations, India may find it very difficult to break free from the bonds of her neighborhood and actively follow a Western trajectory. Having said that, we believe that in the foreseeable future India will mainly act as a super-regional power on the eastern flanks of Eurasia, and that her key priority (especially if building her bilateral relationship with US will require greater Indian leadership in the Pacific region) will be seeking to limit China's rise in the New Asian Order by at least trying to undercut Beijing's efforts to establish the Maritime Silk Road component of the BRI. India’s traditional policy of non-alignment might be an alternative to greater foreign policy efforts in Eurasia, but can perhaps be discounted given Indian ambitions— even if these are some way ahead of the country’s current capacity to pursue a bigger and bolder foreign policy. Washington is seemingly losing its grip on its own, US-centered model for Eurasia—at least in appearance, following the adoption of a reinvigorated policy of “America First”, which is in itself proof of the current administration’s increasingly selective interference in urgent global issues. Given the wide range of "caveats" in the Trump administration's foreign policy (many of which have

already been discussed in greater detail in previous articles), both the strength and inclusiveness of America’s Eurasian outreach remain unclear. The recent National Security Strategy (NSS) and National Defense Strategy (NDS) can, however, offer some insight into the matter. Whilst the NSS speaks of a “principled realism that is guided by outcomes, not ideology", naming China and Russia as challengers to "American power, influence and interest" and underlining Europe’s “vital importance to the United States" (as the western end of the “Heartland”), the NDS refers to the need to “deter aggression in three key regions— the Indo-Pacific, Europe, and [the] Middle East”. And yet US links to the IndoPacific region are considerably weaker than they were during previous decades, and US policy in the eastern part of the Eurasian continent has become much more "concessionary" in nature—favoring either regional setups (quite unlikely, though, under the Trump presidency) or relying more heavily upon bilateral partnerships (e.g. the US-India relationship). All in all, and despite having proclaimed a "pivot to Asia", the US will have to limit themselves to maintaining their role within the fluctuating geopolitical system of western Eurasia and supporting various liberal strongholds by fortifying the transatlantic alliance. This trend within the Free World of "sliding back" seems to be heralding the birth of new global "order" which will swing pendulum-like between the extremes of multi-polarized, centrifugal and irrationally-led policies.

GEORGIA: DESTINED TO BE A PRISONER OF GEOGRAPHY? The Eurasian contest of wills forces small nations such as Georgia to choose between two major readings. On one hand, centuries of experience of playing foreign powers off one against another, attempting to gain or maintain a purely national sovereignty based upon political and economic benefits, point to the extreme precariousness of following such a policy. One must also bear in mind that no international system can function viably enough unless it includes the largest and fastest-growing countries, even if the latter are fierce competitors amongst each other. If Georgia, despite the risks, wishes to follow the former path, that will require a great deal of sophistication, knowledge and luck; if, on the other hand, she chooses the latter, then working hard to include the country in collective systems of economic co-operation and security would be a useful way of building enough geopolitical importance for the country to be in a position to make positive, meaningful contributions to certain matters. With that in mind, the NATO summit in Brussels will have be a real game-changer if it is to break the seemingly eternal bonds of Georgia’s geography.




JUNE 15 - 18, 2018

China-US Confrontation: Russian Perspective ANALYSIS BY EMIL AVDALIANI


hina’s economic rise, coupled with military development, has poised the country to become a powerful world player in international politics. More importantly, China’s strategic imperatives clash with those of the US: China needs to be more secure in procuring necessary oil and gas resources which are currently mostly available through the Malakka Strait. In the age of US naval dominance, the Chinese imperative is to redirect its economy’s dependence as well as supply routes elsewhere from the Malakka Strait. Thus, comes the famous almost trillion US Dollar Belt and Road Initiative to reconnect the Asia-Pacific with Europe through Russia, the Middle East and Central Asia. At the same time, Chinese naval ambitions are on the rise to thwart the US dominance close to its shores. Since the domination in the oceans is at the heart of the US global power and insecurity of the Chinese economy, mutual suspicions between Beijing and Moscow are bound to increase over the next years and decades. Numerous foreign policy scenarios have been proposed on whether China is similar to an expansionist Germany of pre-WWI and there being a coming showdown between the two powers. However, what seems lacking in those at times very good analyses is the Russian position. The country stretching from the Baltic Sea to the Pacific and ensconced between the West and China in fact is poised to play a pivotal role in the possible US-China confrontation due to its geography and military and economic capabilities.

SHUT IN THE WEST, OPEN IN THE EAST It is fundamental to understand Russianthinking as the country sees within this conflict a possibility to advance its geo-

Image source: Sasha Mordovets | Getty Images

political agenda, much constrained by the Europeans and Americans over the past three decades of competition. The current crisis between Russia and the West is formed from so many fundamental (geopolitical) differences, both in the former Soviet space and elsewhere, that there are indications the relations will remain stalled for long into the future unless one of the sides makes large concessions. This, as well as successful western expansion into what was always considered as the “Russian backyard,” in some sense isolated Russia’s projection of power and diminished the country into the north of Eurasia – between the fast-developing China, Japan and other Asian countries and the technologically modern European landmass. Nowadays, Russia claims that the country’s western borders are vulnerable because NATO and the EU are marching East. In fact, Russia has far more vulnerable territories, such as the North Caucasus and the porous Central Asia. In some respect, the Russians are simply spending too much of their national energies on problems with the West.

Costly military modernization and support for various separatist regimes in Moldova, Ukraine and Georgia weighs much on the Russian budget. Some Russians could rightly question as to why their country is spending so much on the former Soviet space when Russia’s current borders are more in Asia. Why is their country spending so much on unsuccessfully derailing the Western influences in many parts of the former Soviet space? It is doubly true when one looks at the map of Russia with its large Siberian lands uncultivated and free of population masses. Today, when Europe is as much a source of technological progress as Japan and China are, never in Russian history has there been such opportunity to develop Siberia and transform itself into a powerbase of the world economy. Russia’s geographic position is indeed unique and will remain so for another several decades, as the ice cap in the Arctic Ocean is set to diminish significantly. The Arctic Ocean will be transformed into an ocean of commercial highways, giving Russia historical pos-

sibilities to become a potential sea power. Chinese and Japanese human and technological resources in the Far East of Russia, and European resources in the West of Russia, will transform the country into a land of opportunity.

GEOPOLITICS AND RUSSIA’S CIVILIZATIONAL CHOICE This geographic position of Russia should be kept in mind when analyzing Moscow’s position in the China-US competition. However, apart from this purely economic and geographic pull that the developed Asia-Pacific has for Russia’s eastern provinces, the Russian political elite could see the nascent US-China confrontation as a good possibility for enhancing its weakening geopolitical stance throughout the former Soviet space. Russians are right to think that both Washington and Beijing would dearly need Russian support, and this logic would drive Moscow’s preferably non-committal approach towards Beijing and Washington. In purely cold-blooded understanding of the international affairs, Russia would try to position itself in a

situation where the US and China would strongly compete with each other to win Russian favor. In allying itself with China, Russia instead would expect to increase its influence in Central Asia where Chinese power has grown exponentially since the break-up of the Soviet Union in 1991. Although the Russians have not yet voiced their official concerns, this is not to deny the existence of any within the Russian political elite. However, if Russians choose the US side, the concessions the latter would have to make could be more significant than from the Chinese side. Ukraine and the South Caucasus would be the biggest prizes, while NATO expansion into the Russian “backyard” would be stalled. The Middle East can be another sticking point where Russia might get fundamental concessions, for example in Syria, if the conflict in the country remains longlasting. Beyond the grand strategic thinking, for the Russians it will also be a civilizational choice molded in the perennial debate which exists within Russia on whether the country is European or Asiatic, or rather Eurasian – a mixture of the two. Geography will inexorably pull Russia to the east, but culture – to the west. While similar decisions are usually expected to be based on geopolitical calculations, cultural affinity will also play a role. Tied into the culture aspect is the fear that the Russians (as in fact most in the world) do not know how the world would look under Chinese leadership. The US might represent a threat to Russia, but it is still a “well-known” for the Russian political elites. Potentially, a China-led Eurasia could be more challenging for the Russians considering how open Russian frontiers and provinces are to large Chinese segments of population. As such, the Russian view on the nascent US-China confrontation will be opportunistic and based on which side would offer more to resolve Moscow’s problems across the former Soviet space.



espite it being the second biggest Parliament in the world, it’s still rare enough to find a member of the European Parliament who is knowledgeable about Georgia. Even rarer are those who boast a sound and thorough knowledge of the whole South Caucasus, so when you get an opportunity to interview one of those, you take it with both hands. This was the case with MEP Gunnar Hokmark, whom GEORGIA TODAY interviewed for our “Messages From Brussels” Series.


society. I hope that this is a step in the right direction regarding stabilizing democracy and Armenian independence.



FOR ARMENIA? I think that this has been true in recent history but I don’t think it is the reality today. Obviously, the Armenian authorities would be better judges of that but I think the main threat for Armenia as a country is the lack of independence ver-

sus Russia which we have seen because Armenia could have come much closer to the European Union, into Europe, without this agreement with Moscow regarding the Eurasian economy, for example. Continued from page 6

No one knows that and I don’t think that even the new leadership in Armenia really knows what it can and cannot do, but what is important is that the European society and the international community needs to be very clear that no one has the right to interfere in Armenian society and Armenian sovereignty. I think it’s very important to be very clear about that as soon as possible, because I guess there are some temptations for Moscow to intervene in one way or another. The best thing for Armenia could also be to phase out the military presence of Russian troops in Armenia.


10 Galaktion Street

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





real ancient Greek type of drama is happening in Georgian politics. Although the actors have stayed the same, clearly the roles have changed. The ex-United National Movement members blame the officials of the current majority party for executing systematic violence. The detonator for these changes was the uninvestigated case of two murdered schoolboys, which first triggered the dismissal of the Chief Prosecutor and later of the whole government. The wave of protests “Don’t Kill Me” became a nightmare for Georgian Dream (GD). Six years since the party came to power, citizens hit the streets demanding legitimate answers from them. Some years ago, the current government was in the opposition and demanding the same of the infamous Girgvliani case. Although GD argues the case is different, we can still see the similarities and that both cases are connected by the high-level protection of those who are guilty. Despite these similarities, the political processes are developing differently. In 2007, the government did not fulfill any of the resignation demands of the people, instead raiding the rally and setting early presidential elections. Unlike the UNM, GD chose a different path, firstly satisfying one demand by dismissing the Chief Prosecutor, and secondly by sending home the Prime Minister and his whole government with him. Demands met, government dismissed, investigation ongoing- so the crisis should be over, but it is apparent that the government is heading towards another crisis uncon-

nected with the protestors. GD is not working the way it did before. A very clear illustration of this is this week’s GD party meeting, where certain news was announced, only to be denied hours later. There are rumors that some members no longer obey the leadership and even argue back. The farewell speech of PM Kvirikashvili was a clear confirmation of this, not to mention the information on social media which suggested the PM was against his resignation and told Ivanishvili so. Although Kvirikashvili took it back within 24 hours, the precedent of disobedience is noted. Our electorate is more than anything an “observer” sitting in front of the TV and watching the “gladiators” in battle. During elections, they vote for the ones who are stronger. The weaknesses of the GD gladiators is apparent, but although the second gladiator is in Amsterdam and quite far from the epicenter, the latter still manages to push gladiators on stage, weakening his opponents before the upcoming crucial battle. In short, we are now witnessing a very difficult and dangerous game. After steeping down from his PM post, Ivanishvili stated that only the “Second Coming” could make him return to politics. Apparently, it has already started, as Ivanishvili is back. However, it is still unknown and unpredictable for whom it will be Judgment Day – him or Misha?


JUNE 15 - 18, 2018

Conservative Journalism & Our Lifestyle OP-ED BY NUGZAR B. RUHADZE


onservative journalism – and I belong right in there – is about having faith in personality rather than crowd ideology. Also, it utterly defies the idea of overblown government and its pointless liberal munificence towards the have-nots of this country, which promotes indolence and encourages freeloaders. I probably do not need to say that small government means lower spending of taxpayers’ money and brings about an individual’s freedom for being highly productive. It is awfully frustrating that the so called losers within our society tend to place the fault for their drawbacks and failures on the shoulders of the government, and what’s worse, that the government is often prepared to own up to those preposterous accusations. Wouldn’t it be better to reconcile ourselves with the idea that we the citizens of this country are intelligent, qualified and laborious enough to take care of our own problems so that the participation of government in the solution of our everyday issues is made as restricted as possible? Why can’t we leave the government to their own devices, securing our safety from internal crime and external evil? The government guaranteeing the enforcement of law and maintenance of order on the territory of Georgia should be just about enough to let our people be as creative as possible without need of governmental dictate, instructions and assistance. In the hands of the current Georgian government, as I have come to understand, we have enough political freedom and economic liberty to be independent from our ruling elite. So, what are we waiting for? Why can’t we make reason-

able use of those two gifts of our auspiciously constructive times? Why do we continue waiting for some unlikely governmental magic to do the trick for us? It might be our socialist past that is the obstacle here, as we still have a taste of that weird socialist distribution of labor and its product, and the habitual governmental care in our veins. Getting rid of that lingering vice may well take us more time to overcome than we expected it would. And this is where conservative journalism should come in more vigorously, to tell our people, still shunning the thorny ways of modern capitalism, that we may reasonably ask our government only for the secured opportunity to continue working in peace, but that we should be fair enough to carry the responsibility for the consequences. The result of the utilized opportunity is totally on us, the people. The liberal hypocritical compassion, the cynical refusal of family values and traditions, their thoughts about condoning the idle routine and all kinds of deviation from a generally accepted healthy lifestyle might someday turn out extremely pernicious for our unsuspecting people in terms of the winsome development of this society. We can no longer afford the kinky outbursts of pseudo-modern shticks and

attitudes. It is time to stop being weird and to forget forever about governmental help, roll up our sleeves and get down to real life vicissitudes, where only an individual venture and bottom-line orientation make sense and yield a plausible ending. Here, I am tempted to make allusion to the words of one celebrated western conservative journalist: “compassion is defined not by how many people are on the government dole but by how many people no longer need governmental assistance; that political and economic freedom are inextricably intertwined; that society owes its citizens equality of opportunity but cannot guarantee them equality of outcome; that strong, wholesome family values are at the very core of a productive, prosperous, and peaceful society; that those values cannot be instilled by government.” Normally, governments use their citizens’ money to protect those citizens from wars and natural disasters and from being hurt by delinquents. Citizens of steadily and successfully developing countries are taking care of themselves and their families without looking for the hands of their governments. This is a generic standard of living in the West which for us happens to be the epitome of good living. Shall we ever do as they do out there?

MEP Hokmark on Armenia, Georgia and Assad Continued on page 8

WOULD YOU SAY THERE’S A ZERO-SUM GAME GOING ON IN THE CAUCASUS AND THAT RUSSIA HAS MORE PULLING POWER THAN THE EU? Societies and history are never about zero-sum; it’s always about stabilizing democratic institutions and the rule of law. Then you will always have a winwin situation because you are creating more stability, more security but also more freedom. So Armenia only stands to gain by creating and establishing more independence.

SO WHAT DO EUROPE AND THE EU IN GENERAL EXPECT OF THE NEW LEADERSHIP? A firm rule of law, a fight against corruption, an open economy, securing more free trade from Armenia to Europe, opening the country up for all the agreements we have prepared and being an active partner in the Eastern partnership. A lot of things can be done, as we have seen in Georgia and in other countries coming closer regarding the visa regime and other things.

IF THAT REALLY HAPPENS AND ARMENIA SETS OUT ON A STEADY PATH TO BECOMING MORE INTEGRATED WITH EUROPE AND THIS IS FOLLOWED BY A RESPONSE FROM RUSSIA, WHAT WILL THE EU DO? I think we need to in some way to differ between Putin's response and the Russian response because, well, even if it’s the same today, it’s clear that for Russia it’ll be beneficial to have a stable and prosperous Armenia as a neighbor.

BUT THAT KIND OF RUSSIA EXISTS ONLY IN THEORY. I agree with you but you know it is important to clarify that while we are

think Mr. Ivanishvili is a part of that contamination.

very firm against Putin's regime, at the same time we are very open to Russia as a society and country. The problem with Russia is not Russia as a country, it is the leadership and that is why I say that it is a problem for Putin if Armenia becomes more European. For Russia it would be only a good thing to have a strong economy emerging in Armenia and linking Russia more to Europe.


LET ME REPHRASE MY QUESTION THEN. IF PUTIN DECIDES IT’S NOT A GOOD THING FOR ARMENIA TO GET CLOSER TO EUROPE AND PUTS IN SOME PUNITIVE MEASURES, WHAT WILL THE EU DO? WHAT WOULD YOUR RESPONSE BE? We have already sanctions concerning Ukraine and we know that this has influenced Putin and that’s why I said we need to be clear that there should be no interference from Moscow and from Putin.

LET’S MOVE ON TO GEORGIAN AFFAIRS. I THINK QUITE FAIRLY THAT THE BIGGEST POLITICAL ISSUE OF THE RECENT WEEKS WAS THE MESSIANIC RETURN OF THE FORMER PRIME MINISTER AND I REMEMBER YOUR OPEN LETTER, ADDRESSED TO HIM, WHICH WAS QUITE CRITICAL, HINTING THAT THERE WERE QUESTIONS ABOUT THE RULE OF LAW AND SO ON. HOW WOULD YOU ASSESS HIS RETURN NOW? I think it’s a bad thing for him to come back because there’s a hidden agenda and lack of transparency. I think Georgia needs to do better than to have an oligarch that sometimes is in the shadows or sometimes on the scene. We saw during the discussions about the new constitution and the constitutional changes that you can have successful cooperation in Parliament between

parliamentary groups. I think it’s the only way forward for Georgia - to have political development based upon the parliamentary situation, instead of someone popping in and out from the hidden obscurities.

YOU SAY IT’S BAD THAT HE IS COMING BACK. IS IT BETTER OR WORSE THAN WHAT YOU AND YOUR COLLEAGUES CLAIMED - THAT THERE WAS A SHADOW GOVERNMENT THAT WAS PULLING THE STRINGS BEHIND THE SCENES; IS THAT THE POSITIVE CHANGE IN THAT NOW HE IS DOING IT OPENLY OR IS THAT EVEN WORSE? It’s the same thing because he’s entering suddenly from the shadows not based upon any parliamentary election or on a real political change. He’s exercising some sort of personal power and in a democracy you don’t have one person entering with personal power using financial strength in order to intervene in the political landscape.

IF YOU TOOK HIM OUT OF THE EQUATION, WHAT KIND OF POLITICAL LANDSCAPE DO YOU THINK WE’D HAVE IN GEORGIA? Well, judging from my own experience, having met with parliamentarians from all political groups, there’s eagerness for responsibility in Georgia. I also think that the contaminated scenes we have seen in the past can be gotten rid of by focusing the parliamentary work on cooperation, as wesawregardingtheconstitutionalchanges.

YOU DON’T MEAN THE WHOLE NEW GENERATION OF POLITICIANS COMING IN, WHAT YOU MEAN IS ALL THESE PEOPLE WHO HAVE BEEN AT EACH OTHER’S THROAT FOR 10 YEARS ALREADY SETTLING THEIR DIFFERENCES… I think when time goes you will always see new generations but also new approaches and sometimes it’s surprising how contaminated the political scene is due to a situation you have had and I

I don’t really know and I cannot judge. The only thing I know is that it’s very important that the future of Georgia is decided upon by parliamentary elections and by people acting in Parliament. It might be Mr./Mrs. A, B or C but it must be in the Parliament where the changes are taking place.

OUR INTERVIEW WOULD BE INCOMPLETE WITHOUT HEARING YOUR OPINION ON SYRIAN GOVERNMENTS – THAT IS, IF YOU RECOGNIZE BASHAR ASSAD'S REGIME'S DECISION TO RECOGNIZE ABKHAZIA AND SOUTH OSSETIA AS INDEPENDENT ENTITIES. MANY SAW RUSSIA’S HAND IN THIS. WHAT’S YOUR TAKE? The recognition of Abkhazia and South Ossetia as independent states violates international law and illustrates the close links between the Syrian regime and Russia. It's clear that these recognitions by criminal regimes are influenced by Russia, with the Assad regime getting military support from Russia and using it against its own people. The interesting thing is that so few regimes are doing it, only those who are defining themselves by the same criminal behaviour as the Russian regime, and only when you are totally dependent on it for survival.


GEORGIA TODAY JUNE 15 - 18, 2018


IBF Digital Marketing Event June 27 at Tech Park BY ANNA ZHVANIA


he International Business Forum (IBF) is the only Georgian company hosting international forums, masterclasses, conferences and events. Seven events are planned within the scope of IBF this year: Digital Marketing, Project Management, Strategy Planning, Sales Management, HR Management, Public Relations and Branding. The digital marketing event will take place on June 27 at Tech Park Tbilisi. Daniel Marote, Professor at IE Business School and Founder of digital marketing agency Hydra, will host the masterclass. The first part of the event will be theoretical, while the second will offer a workshop where participants will have the opportunity to analyze cases. The main topics of the event are: • The biggest enemy for clients is spam messages from businesses; • 92% of brands will spam users this year; • People don’t like you to sell to them, they want to buy; • To win people’s pockets you first need to win their empathy; • Empathy is the newest most important asset businesses should be working today; • Digital transformation is not about technology, it’s about people and company culture;

• Happy employees make happy clients. The main objective of IBF is to develop the sphere of narrow professions and hold master classes in these narrow segments. IBF hosts professionals from specific areas who share their experience and offer advice on what works and what does not. The aim is also to connect people within the same profession and create an interesting, comfortable day

where they will have the opportunity to learn. International Business Forum was founded in 2015 in Georgia and its core activities include hosting international speakers in Georgia. Brian Tracy and David Allen visited Georgia in an event organized by IBF. A large event in Leadership was hosted in Batumi where managers from the Caucasian region and

Georgia attended a two-day forum. The previous two-day forum, held in Tbilisi hosted Sales Gurus: Ania Jakubowski, General Manager of Coca-Cola, Evgeny Kotov, Number One Sales Trainer in Russia, Pierandrea Quarta, Global Brand Manager of Procter & Gamble, Gil Petersil, Networking Guru, Haseeb T. Hasan, Coach. Participants from Georgia included Trainers Davit Chikvaidze,

Play Daily, Win Daily at Casino Jewel For the first time in Georgia, Casino Jewel is giving its guests a unique opportunity to be winners every day! The “Play Daily – Win Daily” promotion kicks off today and will feature daily prizes like Iphone X, Samsung S9, Ipad, Gold and Silver coins, laptops and more. A new winner will be announced every hour! Come and enjoy the best food, entertainment and prizes!

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Tornike Guruli and Vakhtank Kordzaia. Sponsors of the event include SEU Development, a construction company that has been operating on the market since 2014. SEU Development has completed several construction projects, including Georgian National University’s old and new building, and its current project is the “Green Yard” Residential Complex located in the Saburtalo District.




JUNE 15 - 18, 2018

GT Future Journalists Interview Director of National Library, Giorgi Kekelidze WHAT’S THE BEST WAY TO MOTIVATE THIS GENERATION OF YOUTH TO GET IN TOUCH WITH BOOKS?



he Future Journalist competition gives Georgian youth throughout the country the chance to showcase their journalistic skills in three stages, with the ultimate prize a two-week English and Journalism course in the UK this summer. Organized by Georgia Today Education and supported by UK Bridge, the competition aims to discover the best future journalists in Georgia. Giorgi Kekelidze was born in 1984 in Ozurgeti, Guria, and is a poet, essayist and the founder of the first Georgian digital library lib.ge. Since 2010, he has been a literary columnist for the popular magazine Tabula. He delivers lectures on Classical literature at the Free University of Tbilisi. In 2012, he founded charitable organizations "Lib-Equilibrium" and "Lib-Club" which unite students and have social and educational functions. In 2012, he was appointed as a director of the National Parliamentary Library of Georgia, at the age of 27, the youngest ever to hold the position. He began reforms in several directions - digitalization, TV programs, the opening of various thematic corners, including in libraries in other countries for the Georgian Diaspora, a library of e-learning which united regional libraries, the opening of the largest electronic room in Georgia - 40 tablet computers, free inter-

I think the best way to motivate students is to have good schools employing good teachers. It’s the most important thing that we have to change to motivate students.

WHO OR WHAT HAS BEEN THE GREATEST INFLUENCE IN YOUR CREATIVITY? The greatest influence in my creativity has been the environment I’m living in. There are a lot of authors who inspired me- too many to list, but top of the pile would be Vazha Pshavela and Galaktion Tabidze.

net zone, publishers' corner with the latest books, and a presentation space - as well as a Georgian ecological hall, renovated children's room and, last year, he helped open the biggest Book Museum in Georgia. He also founded the literary prize for children's books in 2013. All the above merely scratch the surface of what Mr Kekelidze has done for the benefit of Georgian literature and the exposure of citizens to that literature. We met him to find out more.


honor too, because the Georgian National Library is a book store which includes all of the published books that have been published in Georgia and, naturally, all of them need to be protected, preserved and, in most cases, popularized too.

DO YOU THINK MODERN GEORGIAN AUTHORS HAVE THE SAME WRITING POTENTIAL AS AUTHORS OF THE 19TH OR 20TH CENTURY? Yes, I think that we have many talented authors, as much in poetry as in prose. But our main problem is that we’re lacking the right management: there are right and wrong ways to go about popularizing books with Georgian and foreign readers.


QUESTIONS FROM RUNNER-UP KETI KVELIASHVILI: WHERE DO YOU GET YOUR INSPIRATION? I have a different style of writing, trying to turn imagination into reality. I also get ideas from my childhood. Imagination and fiction is life, which for me means every minute and every second that we live. Inspiration can be found anywhere- even in this interview! From even a second of formality, a new idea can be borne.

HOW DO YOU DEAL WITH CRITICISM OR NEGATIVE REVIEWS FOR BOOKS YOU HAVE WRITTEN? I used to get really emotional about negative feedback, but I’ve got used to it now. It’s really important to accept criticism and to listen to and learn from it, and I think we need to focus on this critical system because it’s important for a writer’s moving forward in his work.

I don’t know. I’ve not thought about it, but because I’m writing a play and the lead character is an old man, maybe he could be played by John Malkovich.



There are enormous differences in the way I create poetry and prose. In poetry, I try to process folklore, use idioms, play with words. In my prose, I always make a connection with my childhood experiences. In general, it’s about introspection and bringing up feelings I’m familiar with. I’d say the pen is a phenomenon by which my feelings, wishes and pains are shared with the public.

I think we unexpectedly meet such people every day. For me, these types of people are those I meet in villages; their lives and biographies aren’t at all different from famous people’s lives in their intrigues and interesting facts.


GEORGIA TODAY JUNE 15 - 18, 2018

Raising Awareness of Hypertension


dequate control of blood pressure significantly reduces the risk of brain stroke and cardiovascular disease. This year, the world has announced May as the month of hypertension, kicking off the campaign “Check your pressure – I say this for you.” The campaign is a social and global project promoting the prevention and management of cardiovascular disease (hypertension) in Georgia and throughout the world. According to the latest data, about 1.2 billion people worldwide are fighting hypertension, a rate in constant growth. The current campaign addresses the key issues in the fight and intends to increase awareness of the disease within society. Encouraging young people will further motivate their parents and relatives to check their pressure and better monitor the disease. Informing the public about hypertension is imperative in fighting the disease. "Arterial hypertension is a disease in which we observe increased blood pressure by a tenth as compared to the normal pressure level,” explains Gigi Khabeishvili, Doctor, Cardiologist and Head of the Euromedi clinic. “Statistically, according to some research carried out in the last few years, hypertension is the most common disease in Georgia, with approximately 30-40% of the population affected. Arterial hypertension, at the initial stage, can occur for a long period without complaints, symptoms or indicators. Often, people with hypertension do not control their blood pressure or see the necessity to do so. The first signs of the disease can occur after complications develop. Hypertension is not characterized by any specific complaints; it is often revealed after checking blood pressure and can be accompanied by headaches, dizziness or fatigue. As the blood pressure increases, a person develops shortness of breath, insufficiency of air, accelerated heart rate during physical activity, pain in the heart area and sometimes bleeding of the nose, sensation

of pulsation in the head and redness of the skin. Heart and blood vessels are often damaged during arterial hypertension, as are the brain, heart muscle and kidneys. A headache, vomiting, faintness and loss of vision are present in the case of damaged brain vessels. If the problem occurs in the heart, it is expressed by arrhythmia or lack of air.” Zviad Kipiani, Head of the Cardiology Department of New Hospital, notes that after a certain age, an increase in arterial pressure is detectable and that, fortunately, it is very rare among children and young adults if they do not belong to a particular risk group. In general, few people control their blood pressure before and after physical exercise. Kipiani explains to what extent this statement is true: “This is a global problem. Unfortunately, not all gyms have resources to employ a doctor unless it is a rehabilitation center. When a person goes to the gym, it is necessary for the gym to ask the person for a special test which shows blood pressure levels, the presence of hypertension, pulse rate changes and to what extent a person can be physically active,” he says. “It is important to have an electric cardiogram before any physical activity, particularly before exercising and when the person is not generally physically active. Sudden death is a very serious problem that can occur among youth who go to the gym or even play football. Therefore, it is critical to take the test after a certain age. If a person has blood pressure and knows about it, it is essential to first check the pressure and then start training.” As specialists explain, the main causes of death today are cardiovascular diseases. The World Health Organization estimates that in 2012, 17.5 million people died as a result. Of these, 7.4 million died due to ischemic heart disease and 6.7 million due to a stroke. 80% of such deaths can be avoided by modifying the risk factors that aid the development of cardiovascular disease and increase the likelihood of a lethal outcome. Arterial hypertension holds

the leading position among these factors. To illustrate the scope of the problem, the following data is sufficient: 9.4 million deaths per year are related to arterial hypertension; three out of every ten adults have high blood pressure; almost half of the 1.8 billion people suffering from hypertension are unaware of it; many of those who are aware do not proceed with treatment. Due to this, arterial hypertension is one of the most vital medical problems in the modern world. Georgia faces a worse problem than the average situation – out of ten deaths, five are caused by arterial hypertension. What is more alarming is that three out of five people with hypertension are not being treated. “Part of society is uninformed about hypertension, another part knows but fails to pay enough attention,” says Professor Zurab Paghava, Head of N. Bochua’s Vascular and Cardiovascular Clinic. “The main aim of the #checkyourbloodpressure campaign is to increase awareness of the causes and risks associated with hypertension. It is imperative to ask everyone to measure their blood pressure and in case of high blood pressure, consult a doctor for diagnosis and treatment. Everyone has blood pressure. Generally, blood pressure helps a person adapt to the environment. When a human organism needs more blood, more oxygen, pressure levels increase. When there is no need, pressure levels are regulated. An increase in blood pressure indicates that particular pathological processes are taking place in the human body which, in turn, raise blood pressure levels and holds them for a long period of time.” The main goal of the campaign #checkyourbloodpressure is to focus on young adults and motivate them to encourage parents, other relatives, and friends to take care of their health. Children should urge parents not to ignore high blood pressure, systematically measure their pressure, get diagnosed in time, and more importantly, start treatment.





JUNE 15 - 18, 2018

Horn Curse: Agara



ou know that place that your 50-kg bags of Georgian sugar come from? Agara, an hour or so west of Tbilisi as the autobahn flies? That’s the scene of our story. It starts sweet but turns rather sour. A friend of mine was having his 65th birthday there, in his wonderfully grapevine-shaded yard. He’s a nationally famous tamada, or toastmaster, and had borrowed my pair of kudu horns to use as

drinking horns once before. He asked for them for this occasion too, so I dragged them from our house far away in Svaneti across the country to his place for the special event. The supra, or feast, was a little underway when my friends and I arrived from our mountains in the early evening. Tables invisible but practically groaning under the loads of plates on plates of Georgia’s most delicious foods; business as usual. Complete with live music, a microphone and speakers so that the 65-odd guests could hear the eloquence. No one introduced me to the man sitting next to me, although within seconds

everyone knew that a foreigner had joined the fray. A shame, perhaps, as my neighbor turned out to be the ex-president of one of Georgia’s brutally bittenoff regions, the places receding farther and farther from reach. Still, it was perhaps refreshing not to have to think about how to relate to such a personage as anyone more than just another Georgian, which is what I did. Profound words were said; the horns made their appearance, long, spiral, possibly unique in all Georgia, holding about a liter of wine each. Most people seemed too awestruck to imbibe from them, which gladdened me I must admit, as I

would have hated to become the accessory to a drinking and driving incident if not worse. They did, however, pose for photos with the things held up, at least pretending to use them. Until my host tried one and a few others followed his example. But no one was going to be allowed to drive away drunk. The mood seemed mostly happy, the dancing giving me a revelation that even without national costumes and stage, Georgians in traditional motion will do just fine. They always make it look so easy, including improvization; but I know that here as with all art forms, you can only be so free to play around if you really know what you are doing from years of practice. Then and only then are you free to break the rules successfully! Otherwise, you’re just a buffoon who might get it right for a short spell but won’t be the monkey hammering out complete Shakespeare on a typewriter. The crowd thinned a bit as the evening continued, some people going their ways near or far. My friend with whom I had driven for the party, wanted to get as far as Kutaisi that night, bed down there, then continue to Svaneti the next day, which suited me fine as I felt that we had done our part sufficiently to leave without causing offense. Offense, however, seemingly wasn’t ready to part with us. The tamada, in his

cups a bit by this point, began demanding over the speaker system that I leave behind my precious kudu horns as a gift for the family! Neither the host nor I had had this in mind; he knew I wasn’t prepared to part with something which had actually waited for me in Zimbabwe for seven years until my successful attempt to fly out with them. At this my Svan friend became so enraged he was practically sputtering, and once the horns were located (someone had joking suggested stealing them, which hadn’t helped), we jumped in his car and drove off. The host called the next morning to apologize and make sure that all was OK, and we put the incident behind us. But I am realizing more and more that being the owner of perhaps Georgia’s single pair of kudu drinking horns is not the cool thing it might seem; if all they cause is envy and obsession, what’s the point? Tony Hanmer has lived in Georgia since 1999, in Svaneti since 2007, and been a weekly writer for GT since early 2011. He runs the “Svaneti Renaissance” Facebook group, now with nearly 1900 members, at www.facebook.com/groups/SvanetiRenaissance/ He and his wife also run their own guest house in Etseri: w.facebook.com/hanmer.house.svaneti


GEORGIA TODAY JUNE 15 - 18, 2018


Estonian National Symphony Orchestra’s Concert Marks 100th Anniversary of Estonian, Georgian Statehood BY LIKO CHIGLADZE


his year, Estonia marks its statehood’s 100th anniversary and in relation to this historic occasion, a concert of the Estonian National Symphony Orchestra was held at the Kakhidze Music Center in Tbilisi. It is symbolic that the jubilee of Estonia coincided with the 100th anniversary of the establishment of the First Democratic Republic of Georgia. The Estonian National Symphony Orchestra and its honorary principal conductor, Neeme Järvi, performed in front of a mixed Georgian-Estonian audience as part of Estonia’s centennial celebrations, organized throughout Estonia’s partner countries. The Estonian National Symphony Orchestra (known in Estonian as Eesti Riiklik Sümfooniaorkester, or ERSO) is the longest continually operating professional orchestra of its kind in the country. The orchestra’s history dates back to 1926 and, like that of many other world orchestras, is connected to the birth of national broadcasting. Since 2010, it has been led by principal conductor and artistic director Neeme Järvi. The orchestra performs with renowned conductors and soloists from around the world, naturally including Estonian musicians of the highest caliber. Its recordings on CD (Chandos, BIS, ECM, etc.) demonstrate a quality recognized by many prestigious music magazines,

Photo by Lika Chigladze

having won several prizes, including a Grammy Award. The concert of classical music was opened by Estonian Ambassador H.E. Mrs. Kai Kaarelson who delivered a speech in which she coined the concert a “historic event.” “Relations between Georgia and Estonia are more than just relations between two governments, it is a friendship between nations and I think it is very important to recognize that this event today is a true celebration of our relations and of the public diplomacy between our two countries,” she said. The concert started with a piece by

Rahmaninoff accompanied by vocals (soprano: Elina Nechayeva). The program included Artur Lemba. Piano concerto No 1 (piano: Mihkel Poll) and Eduard Tubin Symphony No 5. Distinguished and internationally-recognized Georgian composer Giya Kancheli’s piece A Little Daneliade (violin: Arvo Leibur, piano: Mihkel Poll) was also performed by the Estonian National Symphony Orchestra. The great maestro himself was present at the concert, a “pleasure and honor,” according to the Minister of Culture of Estonia, Indrek Saar. The Minister noted it was a great honor for him to open the concert in Tbilisi

and congratulated the audience on the occasion of the 100th anniversary of Estonian and Georgian independence. “Georgia and Estonia are good friends and today the celebration of our centenaries together is a perfect demonstration of it. A few years ago, when we started preparing for our jubilee celebration, we decided that it would be a good idea to take part of Estonia’s birthday celebrations to our friends all around the world, and it has proven a very good present because it makes us even closer to our friends, near and far,” he said. A special guest of the concert was prominent Estonian conductor Neeme

Järvi who specifically for the celebration came to Tbilisi and performed in front of the audience. The head of a musical dynasty, Järvi is one of today’s most highly respected maestros. He conducts the world’s most prominent orchestras and works alongside soloists of the highest caliber. A prolific recording artist, he has amassed a discography of nearly 500 recordings. Over his long and highly successful career, he has held positions with orchestras around the globe. The Minister of Culture and Sport of Georgia, Mikheil Giorgadze, congratulated Estonia on its anniversary and wished continuous prosperity and success. “For such small nations like ours, I do believe that it is not just another anniversary; the occasion has an existential meaning since both countries, both nations, have been fighting for independence and freedom for centuries. Both Estonian and Georgian people have fought to preserve their cultural and national identity, and today Estonia has established itself as a free, democratic and one of the most innovative countries. We are happy to have such a friend and strategic partner; we are very grateful for our friendship and continuous support that we feel literally every day in many different fields. We are very grateful to the Estonian people and government for sharing their knowledge and experience with us. I believe that with joint effort, there is room to deepen our relations further,” Giorgadze noted.




JUNE 15 - 18, 2018


TBILISI ZAKARIA PALIASHVILI OPERA AND BALLET THEATER Address: 25 Rustaveli Ave. Telephone: 2 99 04 56 June 16, 17 * Premiere SIMON BOCCANEGRA Giuseppe Verdi Starring: Vittorio Vitelli, Kakhaber Tetvadze, Irina Taboridze, Giorgi Meladze, Giorgi Mchedlishvili, Giorgi Chelidze, Tamaz Saginadze, Manana Iordanishvil Director- Alfonso Signorini (Italy), Conductor- Zaza Azmaiparashvili, Costume Designer- Ester Martin (Spain) Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 10-100 GEL MOVEMENT THEATER Address: 182, Aghmashenebeli Ave. Telephone: 598 19 29 36 June 15 DON JUAN Directed by Kakha Bakuradze Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 15 GEL June 16 LABYRINTH Directed by Ioseb Bakuradze Start time: 20:00 Ticket price: 10-15 GEL SHALIKASHVILI THEATER Address: 37 Rustaveli Ave. Telephone: 595 50 02 03 June 15, 16 Roma Rtskhiladze and Pantomime Theater with electronic music presents THE WISH TREE Start time: 20:00 Ticket price: 20 GEL GABRIADZE THEATER Address: 13 Shavtelis St. Telephone: 2 98 65 93 June 15 STALINGRAD Rezo Gabriadze Directed by Rezo Gabriadze English Subtitles Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 20, 30 GEL June 16, 19 THE AUTUMN OF MY SPRINGTIME Rezo Gabriadze Directed by Rezo Gabriadze English Subtitles Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 20, 30 GEL

June 17, 20 An animated documentary film REZO Directed by Leo Gabriadze Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 15 GEL TBILISI VASO ABASHIDZE MUSIC AND DRAMA STATE THEATER Address: 182 D.Agmashenebeli Ave. Telephone: 2 34 80 90 www.musictheatre.ge June 15 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 CINEMA

AMIRANI CINEMA Address: 36 Kostava St. Telephone: 2 99 99 55 www.kinoafisha.ge Every Wednesday ticket: 5 GEL June 15-21 JURASSIC WORLD: FALLEN KINGDOM Directed by J.A. Bayona Cast: Bryce Dallas Howard, Chris Pratt, Jeff Goldblum Genre: Action, Adventure, Sci-Fi Language: English Start time: 21:50 Language: Russian Start time: 14:00, 19:30, 22:00 Ticket: 9-14 GEL SOLO: A STAR WARS STORY Directed by Ron Howard Cast: Emilia Clarke, Paul Bettany, Alden Ehrenreich Genre: Action, Adventure, Fantasy Language: Russian Start time: 16:10 Ticket: 13 GEL DEADPOOL 2 Directed by David Leitch Cast: Morena Baccarin, Josh Brolin, Bill Skarsgård, Ryan Reynolds Genre: Action, Adventure, Comedy Language: Russian Start time: 19:45, 22:10 Ticket: 15 GEL INCREDIBLES 2 Directed by Brad Bird Cast: Sophia Bush, Samuel L.

Jackson, Holly Hunter Genre: Animation, Action, Adventure Language: Russian Start time: 11:45, 14:00, 16:45, 19:10 Ticket: 8-15 GEL LOVING PABLO Directed by Fernando León de Aranoa Cast: Javier Bardem, Penélope Cruz, Peter Sarsgaard Genre: Biography, Crime, Drama Language: English Start time: 19:30 Language: Russian Start time: 17:00, 22:00 Ticket: 10-14 GEL

JURASSIC WORLD: FALLEN KINGDOM (Info Above) Language: English Start time: 19:45 Language: Russian Start time: 11:45, 14:00, 16:45, 22:15 19:30, 22:15 Ticket: 10-19 GEL DEADPOOL 2 (Info Above) Language: Russian Start time: 17:00, 22:15 Ticket: 13-19 GEL MUSEUM

RUSTAVELI CINEMA Address: 5 Rustaveli Ave. Telephone: 2 55 50 00 www.kinoafisha.ge Every Wednesday ticket: 5 GEL June 15-21 INCREDIBLES 2 (Info Above) Language: Russian Start time: 11:45, 14:30, 17:15, 19:45 Ticket: 8-14 GEL LOVING PABLO (Info Above) Language: Russian Start time: 22:30 Ticket: 13-14 GEL JURASSIC WORLD: FALLEN KINGDOM (Info Above) Language: Russian Start time: 22:30 Ticket: 14 GEL DEADPOOL 2 (Info Above) Language: Russian Start time: 22:30 Ticket: 13-14 GEL CAVEA GALLERY Address: 2/4 Rustaveli Ave. Telephone: 200 70 07 Every Wednesday ticket: 8 GEL June 15-21 INCREDIBLES 2 (Info Above) Language: English Start time: 11:50, 14:20, 19:30 Language: Russian Start time: 13:45, 16:30, 19:15, 22:00 Ticket: 10-19 GEL LOVING PABLO (Info Above) Language: English Start time: 22:15 Language: Russian Start time: 17:15, 19:45 Ticket: 14-19 GEL

GEORGIAN NATIONAL MUSEUM SIMON JANASHIA MUSEUM Address: 4 Rustaveli Ave. Telephone: 2 99 80 22, 2 93 48 21 www.museum.ge GEORGIAN COSTUME AND WEAPONRY OF 18TH-20TH CENTURIES NUMISMATIC TREASURY Exhibition showcasing a long history of money circulation on the territory of modern Georgia from the 6th century BC. to 1834. EXHIBITION STONE AGE GEORGIA ARCHEOLOGICAL TREASURE NEW LIFE TO THE ORIENTAL COLLECTIONS April 26 – September 1 UNKNOWN COLLECTIONS OF GEORGIAN NATIONAL MUSEUM– INDIA, CHINA, JAPAN The exhibition showcases up to 500 artworks - paintings, sculptures and samples of applied art, chronological range of which is certainly wide and many more. May 26 – September 30 The Georgian National Museum and Ivane Javakhishvili Tbilisi State University, National Parliamentary Library of Georgia, Korneli Kekelidze Georgian National Center of Manuscripts and National Archives of Georgia, presents the exhibition THE DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF GEORGIA - 100 YEARS IOSEB GRISHASHVILI TBILISI HISTORY MUSEUM - KARVASLA Address: 8 Sioni St. Telephone: 2 98 22 81 May 19-June 20 THE EXHIBITION OF KETI KAPANADZE'S ARTWORKS 8 MINUTES MUSEUM OF SOVIET OCCUPATION Address: 4 Rustaveli Ave. Telephone: 2 99 80 22, 2 93 48 21 www.museum.ge PERMANENT EXHIBITION Discover the State's personal files of "subversive" Georgian public figures, orders to shoot or exile, and other artifacts representing Sovietera cultural and political repression in Georgia. SVANETI MUSEUM Address: Mestia, Svaneti May 19 – August 19 The Svaneti Museum of History and Ethnography hosts an exhibition "MAGNUM PHOTO 70 - GEORGIAN JOURNAL: ROBERT CAPA 1947, THOMAS DWORZAK 2017".


THE NATIONAL GALLERY Address: 11 Rustaveli Ave. www.museum.ge May 15 – August 5 For International Museum Day, GNM presents the Georgian National Museum festival, dedicated to the 100th anniversary of the Democratic Republic of Georgia. Exhibition TITIAN - MASTER OF COLOR: THE VIRGIN AND CHILD May 25-August 26 The Georgian National Museum and the Embassy of Italy to Georgia, within the Museum Fest, present the exhibition EVIDENCE. A NEW STATE OF ART The National Gallery is hosting the exhibition of Garuzzo Institute for Visual Arts- presenting contemporary Italian artists' artworks created since the 1950s. May 25-August 26 The Georgian National Museum and the Embassy of Italy to Georgia, within the Museum Fest, present the exhibition GENIUSES OF RENAISSANCE MUSIC

TBILISI CONCERT HALL Address: 1 Melikishvili St. Telephone: 2 99 00 99 June 16, 17 BU SEHIRDE PRESENTS A NEW CONCERT PROGRAM THE BRIDE Start time: 19:00 Ticket: 10-40 GEL EZO FESTIVAL 2018 Venue: Mtatsminda Park June 15 Lineup: EZO STAGE: June 15 Zurkin, Gabunia, Phil Weeks, Steve Bug Start time: 14:00 Ticket: 30-150 GEL June 16 Autumn Tree (Leon), Rati, La Fleur, Chez Damier, CAFE STAGE– MZESUMZIRA WITH FRIENDS Ako Von Unten, Audio Space, Gabunia, Dj Tomwildculture, L8, Micro Bax, Nika J, Radio Grue, Rati, Tobacco Twins, Vasil Start time: 14:00 Ticket: 30-150 GEL TBILISI STATE CONSERVATOIRE Address: 8 Griboedov Str. Telephone: 298 71 86 June 16 TENGIZ AMIREJIBI VI INTERNATIONAL MUSIC FESTIVAL Starring: Levan Tskhadadze, Giorgi Gvantseladze, Tamar Licheli, Ken Aiso, Giorgi Kharadze, String Orchestra Conductor: Mirian Khukhunaishvili Program: A.Pasculli, G.Verdi, L. Bassi, V. Bellini, D. Lovreglio, L. V. Beethhoven Start time: 19:00 Ticket: 5-20 GEL DJANSUG KAKHIDZE TBILISI CENTER FOR MUSIC & CULTURE Address: 125 Aghmashenebeli ave. Telephone: 2 96 12 43 June 15 The Festival of children’s folk ensembles MRAVALZHAMIER The participants of the festival will be 13 ensembles. Start time: 19:30 Ticket: From 10 GEL


GEORGIA TODAY JUNE 15 - 18, 2018


The Spiritual Heir to Pirosmani: Natela Iankoshvili 100 Years BY LIKA CHIGLADZE


atela Iankoshvili (19182007) is a unique phenomenon whose name is little known to wider society, but who made history and left her eternal mark in the Georgian Arts. 2018 marks the 100th anniversary of this Georgian female artist and to celebrate, The Zurab Tsereteli Museum of Modern Art has been hosting an exhibition of her works (open until June 16). The artist was a radical who put the integrity of her art before all other values and managed to develop her artistic oeuvre without compromise and with boundless energy. She was a master of landscapes and at the same time a virtuoso portraitist. Mamuka Bliadze, artistic director at Galerie Kornfeld in Berlin, who has made an immense contribution to promoting Iankoshvili in Europe and elsewhere, paid a visit to Tbilisi for the occasion of the exhibition. GEORGIA TODAY met the art expert in person. “Strange as it may sound, Natela Iankoshvili’s solo exhibition has not been held in Georgia in 45 years,” Bliadze remarked, noting that he has exhibited Natela’s works at many prestigious art fairs like Frieze New York, in London, Basel, Cologne, etc. “A few days ago, a small artwork by Iankoshvili was sold at auction in Munich for EUR 50,800, serving as yet further proof of her international recognition and success,” he said. “Last year, at the Brussels International Art Fair, our gallery was included in eight galleries worldwide in the section of rediscovery,” Bliadze told us. “Galerie Kornfeld was selected for presenting amazing artworks by this Georgian painter. The art fair is attended by

renowned art critiques and one of them, after seeing her work, dedicated an article to her in a prestigious German newspaper, coining her the Pioneer of Eastern Europe. One month ago, we displayed her works in New York, at the world-famous Frieze art fair. Our gallery was named among 11 galleries out of 190 for displaying her paintings. I have been promoting Natela for over 18 years abroad, in particular in west Europe, while in Georgia, sadly and to my surprise, her name is all but forgotten and she has not had a solo exhibition for decades!” Renowned art-theorist and philosopher, Waker Benjamin, once said about Van Gogh that he “could even paint an aura”. The same can be applied to Iankoshvili, who could also reflect aura on canvas. The subjects depicted in her works are spread across the space of the canvas like an echo – having their own dynamic and rhythm. As Van Gogh added his particular note and wilderness to landscape painting, Natela left a similar signature mark in the form of mystical light in her artworks. When looking at her paintings, it is impossible to say whether it is day or night; one can perceive her works in many ways, and this particular feature makes her a great artist. According to Mamuka Bliadze, Galerie Kornfeld in Berlin owns 42 of her works. From time to time, the artworks are exhibited in different corners of the world with the aim of promoting Georgian art among international society. Apart from paintings, she made a number of illustrations for around 100 books, both for Georgian and translated classics. Among them the most important and distinguished is The Knight in the Panther's Skin. When the prolific Georgian epic poem was translated into Japanese in 1966, the book was released with Iankoshvili’s illustrations- an immense achievement.

The artist even traveled to Cuba in 1961 and made many portraits of locals. She stayed there for a while and even organized her own solo exhibition. She can be considered one of the first feminists in Georgia for her bravery and revolutionary steps. Upon her arrival in Cuba, she created around 200 graphic works that were later displayed in the Blue Gallery in Tbilisi. After Cuba, she also visited Mexico, where she was quite productive too. Yet, her debut exhibition in Georgia was held when she was already 42 years old. She was the first female artist to have a solo exhibition at the famous Blue Gallery at which 250 works were put on display, a record breaking number in the history of the gallery. During Soviet times, when religion and churches were prohibited, she traveled and depicted almost all the major cathedrals and towers in the regions of Georgia. She even dared to exhibit her works that ran contradictory to the ideology typical of the period. Her teachers were great Georgian painters Lado Gudiashvili, Davit Kakabadze and Sergo Kobuladze. Gudiashvili described her artworks as a novelty, a discovery, and revolutionary. Iankoshvili was also praised and recognized by Shalva Amiranashvili, a great Georgian art historian and a Director of the Art Museum of Georgia who, in 1968, exhibited minimalist Georgian painter Niko Pirosamni in the Paris Louvre. Iankoshvili is often referred to as the spiritual heir to Pirosmani for her masterful synthesis of dark and bright colors, yet her painting technique is still different and far more complex. As we discovered, the artist lived with her husband Lado Avaliani, a writer, in a very small apartment in poor conditions. The space was so small that the couple could not work simultaneously. She painted during the daytime and then her husband worked at night at

the same desk. Bliadze told us that some people say she was not very friendly since she did not like wasting her time: “She was a true artist who sacrificed her entire life to art,” he said.

“She certainly deserves international recognition for her aesthetic and artistic excellence,” Bliadze noted. “She is an utterly inimitable, unique and standalone artistic phenomenon, one that cannot be confused with anybody else.”

Self-taught Guitarist Accepted to Prestigious American Jazz Academy ing expenses. Nikoloz’s family helped to finance one year of tuition and living costs through a bank loan. However, although Nikoloz would like to continue into the second semester from September, his parents are unable to provide further means of financing. Therefore, he is now back in Georgia on a quest to obtain funding for his studies. Currently, the Government of Georgia does not offer any type of funding for young musicians to complete a Bachelor’s Degree. This makes it harder for hardworking, motivated musicians who aspire to be successful in their related fields to get access to international education. In Nikoloz’s opinion, the Government should create special funding programs for musicians who wish to achieve their dreams and pursue a career in music.



ikoloz Bichiashvili, a 24-year-old self-taught guitarist from Tbilisi, has been studying in New York for the past year, in one of the most prestigious American Jazz Academy’s “New School”. Only three other Georgians study the same course as him. Nikoloz does not have a music educational background as he was entirely self-taught. He applied to the University after submitting a video and successfully made it to the final round of examination. After his acceptance, Nikoloz obtained a partial financial aid of USD 6,000. However, the entire program costs USD 26,000 per semester, excluding liv-



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Profile for Georgia Today

Issue #1057  

June 15 - 18, 2018

Issue #1057  

June 15 - 18, 2018