Issue no: 861
• JULY 15 - 18, 2016
• PUBLISHED TWICE WEEKLY
PRICE: GEL 2.50
In this week’s issue... EU Commissioner Johannes Hahn Visits Georgia NEWS PAGE 2
The Georgian Sky Isn’t Falling POLITICS PAGE 4
FOCUS ON NATO LET-DOWN And so the wait goes on for Georgia
Vanessa-Mae to Grace the Black Sea Stage
Two Key Ministers Quit as Georgia’s Election Campaign Season Begins
uperstar and Britain's most successful artist, Vanessa-Mae, a violinist who has sold over 10 million albums globally, is to perform her world famous hits during a grandiose concert at the newly-opened Black Sea Arena in Shekvetili on August 6th for Georgian and international guests. The queen of electronic classical music is the first ever classical performer to receive the Brit Awards nomination for the Best Female Artist. Being one of the most famous stars of the classic scene, she has received numerous other awards, among them the 1997 World Music Award. Tickets can be purchased from 9:00 am on July 18th on tkt.ge.
POLITICS PAGE 5
Rattling the Sabre: Ogden on the Georgian Armed Forces SOCIETY PAGE 11
Hyperrealist’s Talent Lauded by Ferrari Designer CULTURE PAGE 17
Dinamo Arena to be Available for Visually Impaired SPORTS PAGE 19
JULY 15 - 18, 2016
EBRD to Support Solid Waste Management in Georgia Photo: EBRD
he European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) is providing a EUR 10 million (26 million GEL) sovereign loan to Georgia’s Municipal Development Fund as part of a campaign to improve solid waste management throughout 64 municipalities including in remote areas of the country. Georgia’s Finance Minister Nodar Khaduri and the EBRD’s Director for the Caucasus, Moldova and Belarus, Bruno Balvanera signed the loan agreement on July 12. The project is a significant step towards the implementation of the Georgian government’s plan to modernize the country’s waste management system to European Union standards and help preserve the environment, the EBRD said. A minimum of 140 new solid waste collection
vehicles and approximately 7,000 containers will be included in the project. Khaduri also said the EBRD and finance ministry will cooperate on future ventures. “I am very happy to sign this agreement, which marks another important successful step in the development of the municipal infrastructure sector in Georgia,” said Balvanera. “Creating better public awareness of the benefits of sustainable solid waste services is an integral part of the project, and we will continue working on a better and healthier environment.” The EBRD is a leading institutional investor in Georgia. Since the start of its operations in the country, the Bank has invested over EUR 2.73 billion (7 million GEL) into 195 projects in the financial, corporate, infrastructure and energy sectors, with 91 per cent of these investments in the private sector.
EU Commissioner Johannes Hahn Visits Georgia
he EU’s Commissioner for Neighborhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations Johannes Hahn visited Georgia on July 14 to deliver the keynote speech at the 13th Annual Batumi International Conference, meet with Georgian officials and visit EU-funded projects in Adjara, Georgia’s Black Sea Region. He will also hold a bilateral meeting with Prime Minister Giorgi Kvirikashvili, President Giorgi Margvelashvili, Foreign Minister Mikheil Janelidze and the Minister for European and Euro-Atlantic Integration David Bakradze. The Batumi conference is widely regarded an important forum for officials from Georgia, and other EU partner nations, to analyze and
Contact: www.edelbrand.ge Phone: 599 461908
discuss European affairs and other current issues as well as to exchange ideas on EU-related challenges. After the conference, Hahn visited a number of EU-funded agriculture projects in the Adjara region with the EU’s Ambassador to Georgia Janos Herman and United Nations Resident Coordinator Niels Scott. The visit included meetings with small farmers who offered their assessment of the role of agricultural cooperation aimed at boosting rural development in Georgia. The projects are funded through the EU’s ENPARD program. Since 2013, ENPARD has supported Georgia’s agricultural and rural development with donations of over USD 106 million (250 million GEL). Read the latest on georgiatoday.ge
GEORGIA TODAY JULY 15 - 18, 2016
NATO Warsaw Summit: Only a Minor Favor for Georgia? BY ZVIAD ADZINBAIA
n July 8-9 Warsaw hosted a NATO Summit that brought together 28 Alliance members to discuss the security challenges the Euro-Atlantic community faces. Georgia was invited as a loyal partner to the Alliance, who has done everything to become a member of the family but has yet to see its NATO dream come true. The final declaration of the Summit reiterated the decision made at the 2008 Bucharest Summit that Georgia will become a member of NATO with the Membership Action Plan (MAP) as an integral part of the process. It also welcomed the significant progress realized since 2008. “Georgia’s relationship with the Alliance contains all the practical tools to prepare for eventual membership,” the document stated. Interestingly, an important emphasis was given to this year’s parliamentary elections that “will be another key step towards the consolidation of democratic institutions.” In addition, NATO “highly appreciates Georgia’s significant and continuous contributions to the NATO Response Force and the Resolute Support Mission in Afghanistan and recognizes the sacrifices and contributions the Georgian people have made to our shared security.”
All the Alliance member states officially said that [they] will continue to provide the resources needed to strengthen Georgia’s capabilities and, thereby, help Georgia advance in its preparations for membership in the Alliance. The allies in particular will provide support to the development of Georgia’s air defense and air surveillance. NATO stated that it does not recognize the so-called treaties signed between the Abkhazia region of Georgia and Russia in November 2014, and the South Ossetia region of Georgia and Russia in March 2015. “These violate Georgia’s sovereignty and territorial integrity and blatantly contradict the principles of international law, OSCE principles and Russia’s international commitments.” Prior to the Summit, six major political parties in Georgia, including the Ruling Georgian Dream coalition and United National Movement, jointly addressed NATO that despite their substantial domestic political disagreements, they stand united on one principle: “Georgia is a sovereign, independent state, and the Georgian people are committed to building a European democracy that cherishes freedom, economic opportunity, and security, and aspires to full membership in all Euro-Atlantic institutions.” Former Georgian Ambassadors to the US, Vasil Sikharulidze and Batu Kutelia, hoped for Georgia’s to become part of NATO’s wider Black Sea regional strat-
egy with Ukraine, Bulgaria, Romania and Turkey. The NATO declaration only generally stated that the allies will also deepen their focus on security in the Black Sea region. In their article on the Atlantic Council, US, the two ambassadors highlighted that Georgia’s NATO membership will put an end to uncertainty about the future of Georgia and, in turn, the future of Europe and its eastern flank. US Army Colonel and a professor in the Department of National Security and Strategy at the US Army War College, Robert E. Hamilton, said that NATO’s declared policy that every country has the right to choose its own alliances, is untrue, referring to Georgia. He said that, having such a principle, in reality, Georgia would already be a NATO member, emphasizing Russia’s obstructive
role in the process. Hamilton believes that the US should consider guaranteeing Georgia’s security against external attack in this period between the announcement of Georgia’s invitation to join NATO and its actual accession into the Alliance. He calls the MAP process outdated as “Georgia has met all MAP requirements already.” Summarizing the Summit results, James Stavridis, former NATO Supreme Allied Commander, currently the Dean of the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University, said that among other losers coming out of Warsaw are Ukraine and Georgia. “Both have been invaded by the Russian Federation (Ukraine in 2014 and Georgia in 2008), and the Russians continue to occupy significant chunks of their territory,” the security expert said.
“Given these disputes with Russia, the likelihood of full membership seems quite distant, and the Warsaw Summit did not offer much in the way of hope for their goals.” Officials in Tbilisi, including Foreign Minister Mikheil Janelidze, underscored that Warsaw was a success as a sitting of the NATO-Georgia Council within the Summit was held for the first time and NATO reaffirmed its commitments toward Georgia and sent clear messages in terms of Georgia’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. On the other hand, security experts in Georgia explain that while the Summit was not a failure for Georgia, it did not bring very much to a country that is facing fundamental security threats from Russia. Opinions are also divided as to whether the Georgian government needs to carry out more proactive diplomacy and pursue more effective policies or if NATO should make a firm decision and open its door to the South Caucasian heartland. The answer can be two-fold: Georgia should do its best in terms of advancing further democratically, growing economically and becoming a more reliable partner for the western countries and the Alliance as a whole. On the other hand, NATO’s further expansion will probably much depend on the consequences of the forthcoming US elections and on geopolitical fluctuations on the old continent.
JULY 15 - 18, 2016
The Georgian Sky Isn’t Falling BY LINCOLN MITCHELL
he Georgia Analysis is a twice monthly analysis of political and other major developments in Georgia. Lincoln Mitchell is a political development, research and strategic consultant who has worked extensively in the post-Soviet space. He has agreed to share some of his analyses exclusively with GEORGIA TODAY. On the eve of the Warsaw Summit, with the Parliamentary elections only a few months away, it is easy to see all the big picture problems facing Georgia. Russia is not going away; NATO membership is not going to happen anytime soon; Abkhazia and South Ossetia are still functioning as de facto Russian protectorates or even colonies; political life is still extremely polarized; and while economic proposals are easy to come by, solutions to Georgia’s ongoing economic challenges are not in the immediate offing. In the strange logic of Georgian political life, it is possible that both major political blocks will agree on these points in the election discourse. The difference will be that the opposition United National Movement (UNM) will seek to blame all these problems on the incumbent Georgian Dream (GD) coalition, while the GD will argue that these problems, which may be getting slightly less severe, were caused by the decade of UNM misrule. Lost on both these parties is another possibility, one for which there is an increasing amount of evidence. Perhaps things are not going quite as badly for Georgia as the election narrative may suggest. Moreover, it is also possible that
while the current government should get much of the credit for this, in some cases they are building on the work of their immediate predecessors in the UNM and even of the Citizen’s Union block led by former President Eduard Shevardnadze, that was in power before being ousted in the 2003 Rose Revolution. This view should not be overstated, nor should it be so quickly minimized. It is true that some substantial problems remain. The economy is still not meeting the needs of many Georgians as concerns about inflation and unemployment have been a constant for years, beginning well before the GD came to power. Similarly, Abkhazia and South Ossetia remain under Russian control. However, a closer look at both the economic and foreign policy realm is less discouraging. More than two years after the Russian invasion of Crimea; and almost eight years after the RussiaGeorgia war of 2008, Russia has continued to harass Georgian citizens living in and near the disputed territories, and have moved the line between Abkhazia and the rest of Georgia further south, but they have been unable to gain any meaningful international support for their actions, gather the wherewithal to move substantially further into Georgia or figured out exactly what to do with Abkhazia and South Ossetia. Even following Russia’s successful incursion into Crimea, they were unable to turn their attention to Georgia in the way that many feared. This might be because Russian President Vladimir Putin decided he
The positive developments in Georgia may help frame this election as one about choice, policy, vision and politics rather than as being about a last chance to save the country from collapse. Source: fanart.tv
didn’t want to commit any more acts of aggression in Russia’s neighborhood, but that is a bit of an oversimplification. Rather, the network of political and
security arrangements that Georgia has been building for years proved to be very valuable even if they did not lead directly to NATO membership or a Membership Action Plan (MAP) for NATO. Instead, political signals from Georgia’s western allies, increased cooperation of the kind we saw this week in Tbilisi, and the broad opposition to Russia within Georgia all helped halt whatever ambitions Moscow had towards Georgia in the last two or three years. A d d i t i o n a l l y, Georgia is not lurching from crisis to crisis the way it did for many years. The country’s political life is no longer characterized by shooting wars with Russia, massive demonstrations occasionally violently dispersed, fake invasions by Russia, spy intrigue and similar fare. There are still occasional government shakeups, vocal and passionate political debates, the continuing role of informal leadership, although that also existed before 2012, concerns about abuses of power and the like, but no longer of a degree where the fear of the other foot dropping dominates political life. The coming election promises to be close as the outcome is genuinely in doubt with fewer than three months until votes are cast. While partisans of the GD and UNM undoubtedly believe
that victory for their party is essential to the country’s future, some perspective on that is also valuable. Regardless of who wins, Georgia is unlikely to again lose its democratic moorings as it did in the late UNM period. Another way to look at the Georgian election is that there is no likely outcome that will destabilize the country and threaten the rights and standing of minorities the way a Trump victory would in the US. The possible exception to this is if former President Mikhail Saakashvili seeks to return to Georgia following the election to try to mobilize an extra-legal effort to gain power, but even if that were to happen, it would be unlikely to be successful. There is, of course, a lot at stake in this election, as is the case with any national election, but the basic stability of Georgia will not be quite as central to the outcome as was the case in, for example, 2012. Building a modern functioning economy for Georgia will be the central challenge for whoever wins the October election, just as it has been of the previous two governments, but there are some accomplishments upon which the next government can build. The most significant of these may be the slow, but unmistakable, advance of stability in Georgia. While Georgia still finds itself in a geographical region that is unsettled with an aggressive Russia to the north and the Middle East wrought with conflict, refugee crises and terrorism, Georgia itself increasingly stands out from the region in this respect. The government in Georgia, while not exuding reformist enthusiasm as publicly and boisterously as its predecessor, has continued to build Georgia while striking a tone that is less fraught with adrenaline and more hands off than the GeorContinued on page 5
GEORGIA TODAY JULY 15 - 18, 2016
Two Key Ministers Quit as Georgia’s Election Campaign Season Begins BY TAMAR SVANIDZE
wo top Republican Ministers will leave their posts in Georgia’s cabinet as the Republican Party launches its election campaign ahead of parliamentary polls in October, the party’s leader and Parliament Chairman David Usupashvili announced at a special briefing Tuesday. Defense Minister Tina Khidasheli – the first woman to hold the position – who has served in her post since May 2015 and Reconciliation and Civil Equality Affairs Minister Paata Zakareishvili, will resign from the cabinet in the coming days and focus their attention on the Republican Party’s pre-election activities. Environmental Protection Minister Gigla Agulashvili – also a Republican – has opted to leave the party but remain in the government. “We are ending our alliance with the Georgian Dream Coalition. We are proud that we have done a lot of work with our partners over the past four years, but the country needs much more,” Usupashvili said.
At the briefing, Usupashvili announced that the Republican Party is officially launching its election campaign. Prime Minister Giorgi Kvirikashvili, who is also the chairman of the ruling Georgian Dream coalition, has yet to name his replacements for Khidasheli and Zakareishvili. The Republicans are the second largest faction in the Georgian Dream coalition. The party announced in late March that it plans to withdraw officially from the Georgian Dream before the October 2 elections and run on its ticket. The departure of the Republicans is expected to complicate the Georgian
Dream’s chances at re-election. Recent polls have shown widespread discontent with the incumbents due to their poor handling of Georgia’s crippled economy and a lack of policy cohesion amongst its disparate members. The coalition has been the dominant political force in the country since it defeated former President Mikheil Saakashvili’s United National Movement in the 2012 elections. The Republicans are a self-described pro-European, pro-Western, center-right party that champions a liberal market economy and close integration with Western institutions like NATO and the EU.
The Georgian Sky Isn’t Falling Continued from page 4
gia of five or ten years ago. While some see this as a sign that the government is not competent, others see it as a welcome reprieve and a signal that business will be unharassed by government. The fruits of that approach are visible for those who care to look. The indicators are still mixed, but the recent upgrade from a low-middle to upper-income country, the increasing investment from abroad and the steady expansion of tourism all suggest that the economy is not as bad as many suggest. This may or may not have much bearing on the upcoming election. In democratic countries voters have the right, even the obligation, to ask their leaders “what have you done for me lately?” Accordingly, Georgian voters may determine that the pace of progress has been too slow, that the current government is not likely to solve the remaining and ongoing problems facing Georgia or simply that it is time to give another political party a chance. However, the positive developments in Georgia may help frame this election as one about choice, policy, vision and politics rather than as being about a last chance to save the country from collapse. Claiming that victory for your party is all that is standing between your country and disaster is a well-worn political ploy because it is easy and always appeals to the hardest core supporters of that party. Rarely has that tactic been pursued more unambiguously than in the US election this year. This tactic is appealing and can lead to short term success.
However, when it is clearly the result of hyperbole rather than more objective analysis it is damaging to the country, any country, in the longer term, and makes it harder for that country to meaningfully address problems or achieve politically stability. Contesting elections without relying on what might be called the Chicken Little approach to politics is a challenge to both the opposition party as well as to the incumbent party. It forces both to articulate a view more sophisticated than simply raising irrational but alluring fears about the opposition. This is what Georgia needs now, but it is not something with which Georgia’s political class, regardless of party, has much experience. The GD, after all, came to power warning, not without accuracy, that their victory in 2012 was essential to stave off creeping authoritarianism in Georgia, while the UNM stayed in power for years by claiming that their defeat would mean victory for Russia, and, in so many words, the end of the Georgian state. Breaking old habits, particularly ones that have worked under similar, but also critically different, circumstances, is difficult, but it will be essential for Georgia’s future. In 2016, the politics of anger and calamity have thus far proven successful in many places, although most polling suggests that it will not continue to be the case in the US in November. Georgia, however, can ill afford this approach. Recognizing the accomplishment not just of the GD government, but of the Georgian state, is essential both for deepening Georgian political stability and for building on those accomplishments.
JULY 15 - 18, 2016
Georgia’s Ruling Coalition Releases Georgian President’s Statement the Right Step, List of Election Candidates says Volker
BY TAMAR SVANIDZE
BY IA MEURMISHVILI, VOICE OF AMERICA
he head of the Georgian Dream coalition and current Prime Minister Giorgi Kvirikashvili, announced his party’s list of candidates set to run in the upcoming October 8 parliamentary elections. Kvirikashvili named 15 new candidates who will take part in the parliamentary elections. Of note is the fact that eight from 15 are Western educated, and several are accomplished women in their 30s. After publicly presenting the new candidates, Kvirikashvili said that it is critical for Georgian politics “to have new energy, a new vision.” “Today’s realities push for a new agenda, new requirements…and our party meets these challenges with a renewed team that is ready to respond to every challenge,” said Kvirikashvili. “I believe that along with the existing team, the Georgian Dream’s newest members will win a convincing victory in the elections,” Kvirikashvili said without specifying how the newly named candidates would be positioned in Georgian Dream’s party list. Candidates ranked higher on their respective party’s list of MP candidates have more chances of getting a seat in the legislative body if that party clears the 5 per cent threshold in a nationwide vote. The Georgian Dream has yet to name its MP candidates in single-mandate constituencies. Under the constitution, the Georgian Parliament’s 150 members serve four-year terms, with 77 seats set by proportional representation and 73 in single-seat constituencies. The ruling Georgian Dream coalition
dominates the current parliament with 85 seats. The coalition - founded by Georgia’s eccentric billionaire oligarch Bidzina Ivanishvili - swept to power following a major prison scandal in 2012. Comprised of six independent parties, it won the parliamentary elections four years ago and unseated pro-Western President Mikheil Saakashvili’s United National Movement (UNM) in the process. The Georgian Dream candidates for the October elections are: Nino Goguadze – A member of Georgia’s Central Election Commission, recently a member of the Tbilisi City Council she is a member of the Conservative Party, which has been in the Georgian Dream coalition; Tamar Chugoshvili – Head of a Tbilisibased legal advocacy group Georgian Young Lawyers’ Association in 2010-2012; Tamar Khulordava – First deputy minister of the penitentiary system since September 2015; Sophio Kiladze – Former deputy rector of the Police Academy; Archil Talakvadze – Deputy Interior Minister since December 2014; Giorgi Gakharia – Business ombudsman at the PM’s office since the GD coalition came into power in late 2012;
Irakli Kobakhidze – The coalition’s executive secretary since early 2015; Sopho Japaridze – An Essex University graduate, PM’s assistant on human rights and gender equality issues; Mariam Jashi – Former deputy healthcare minister, who now chairs state-run charity Solidarity Foundation; A Harvard University graduate, a holder of Kennedy School of Government master’s degree in public administration; Irina Pruidze – A chairwoman at the Eurasia Regional Committee of the World Scout Movement; she was with the New Rights Party almost a decade ago. Sophiko Katsarava – Former political officer at the British embassy in Tbilisi; Kakha Kuchava – Legal scholar, Nottingham University graduate and corporate law master’s degree holder. Currently a corporate lawyer; Mamuka Mdinaradze – a practicing lawyer; Roman Kakulia – Head of the EU assistance coordination department at the State Ministry of European and EuroAtlantic Integration; Akaki Zoidze – Columbia University graduate specializing in governance with seven years of experience in public service. He served as deputy state minister in healthcare.
t the NATO Warsaw Summit, Georgian President Giorgi Margvelashvili announced a joint statement by all the major political parties in Georgia, in which the signatories unite under an overarching national goal to advance the country’s EuroAtlantic aspirations. Executive Director of the McCain Institute for International Leadership and former US Ambassador to NATO, Kurt Volker, participated in coordinating the agreement. Ia Meurmishvili of Voice of America spoke with Volker about the significance of the joint statement.
WHAT DOES THIS DECLARATION MEAN FOR GEORGIA? I think it is tremendously important. When you have a country with Georgia’s geography and history, and you have a population that has always looked west– always looked to be a democratic country, a market economy, a part of the community of Europe –for all of the political leaders of the current and former governments to get together around this one idea is tremendously significant. I’m not aware of anything else where we have seen the government and opposition parties unify around one statement, one idea, in the past. Seeing it this time – presented by the President of Georgia at the Warsaw Summit – is very significant.
HOW DOES IT REFLECT ON GEORGIA’S IMAGE OUTSIDE OF THE COUNTRY?
I think it is important to look at both sides – internally, inside Georgia, and externally, outside. Starting externally, one of the image problems Georgia has had over the past several years is that it is not a mature democracy: that the different political parties in Georgia cannot agree on anything, cannot work together; that there have been politically oriented prosecutions; that there have been fights over controlling the media; that there have been accusations about one party or the other. Despite all of that, and despite all the differences among them, the political parties have shown that they are united around this one idea – that Georgia is a European democracy that belongs to the community of transatlantic nations and should be a part of the EU and part of NATO – is tremendously significant. Internally: when you look inside Georgia, there are always debates, questions and doubts: “Can Georgia make it as a European democracy?” Russian propaganda certainly plays on that – trying to convince Georgians that they have no alternative, that they will be tied to Russia. This is a statement of all the political party leaders in Georgia – of the current and former government – saying ‘No. We believe that Georgia does have a future as part of Europe and, despite everything, we will work together towards that goal.’ Continued on page 8
GEORGIA TODAY JULY 15 - 18, 2016
shareyoursuccess is an active campaign which has taken off on social networks. Based on the principle of sound competition, representatives of various companies are encouraging each other to participate in the Business Award 2016, jointly organized by TBC Bank and Geocell. Online registration on http:// businessaward.ge will last until August 15. Companies can participate and compete in the following nominations: • Tourism enterprise of the year;
• • • • •
Agricultural enterprise of the year; Georgian product of the year; Innovative enterprise of the year; Small enterprise of the year; People’s favorite.
Snap Fitness Georgia is a tightly knit team with an ambition to do sound business. We believe that nothing is impossible and want to pass this drive to others. We have already registered for the competition and would like to encourage everyone to participate in Business Award
2016. SMEs should not miss this excellent opportunity to make their business popular with more people. We should all share our success to encourage the creation of more enterprises. Sound competition is good for consumers, as well as for the development of business,” - says famous basketball player and founder of Snap Fitness Georgia, Zaza Patchulia. Designer Zviad Tsikolia has already started working on the design of the prize, which will go to the winners at
the award ceremony, in November. “The concept of the prize design in based on infinite opportunities, 360 degrees, a circle – this is a symbol of infinite opportunities and development. I think that civilization and development is not possible without sharing success, and what is more important, success is contagious: this is why it is important that everyone tells their stories,” says designer Zviad Tsikolia. Winners of the Business Award 2016 will be revealed by a special jury that is
comprised of specialists in the fields of economy and business. The list of finalists will be revealed in September and their marketing support will be carried out by TBC Bank and Geocell. Business Award 2016 is the largest award to aim to support successful entrepreneurs and encourage them to achieve even more. It also aims to inspire others, embrace diverse opportunities that exist in the country, and develop businesses. ADVERTISING
JULY 15 - 18, 2016
A Road Runs though It OP-ED BY ZAZA JGARKAVA
he 135 km highway between Tbilisi and Vladikavkaz, the only road connecting us with Russia, destroyed by a natural disaster, has been restored after a closure of two-weeks. Truck drivers from neighboring Armenia, who waited patiently, were especially happy with the restoration, unlike the representatives of their government, who were able to create a new scandal within this short period, with the Minister of Transport, Gagik Beglaryan, visiting Tbilisi to ask Prime Minister Kvirikashvili to give them permission to take their cargo through occupied South Ossetia. Moscow was also involved in the talks.
“The road crossing South Ossetia is in good condition, and so negotiations are taking place between Russian and Georgian parties so that they can come to an agreement,” Beglaryan was cited as saying in Armenian media. PM Giorgi Kvirikashvili confirmed that consultations took place (apparently within the KarasinAbashidze format), however the agreement was not made, since, as he said, Russia raised political demands about the status of the occupied territories. “To me the hysteria following [Beglaryan’s] announcement is absolutely unreasonable,” said PM Kvirikashvili. “The law about the ‘occupied territories’ includes the point where in force majeure situations the cargo can be released with neutral status through the occupied territories. That is how we wanted to move the stopped cargo, in order not to create
greater loss to our businessmen and others. The Russian Federation responded with an answer directly connected with the status of the territories recognized by them, and so we refused to let the cargo through on the alternative road. Our offer was to open this route only if in compliance with our legislation,” said Kvirikashvili. Kvirikashvili’s words were confirmed by the so-called President of the South Ossetia Leonid Tibilov, who at the time Beglaryan was seeking alternatives for the cargo, was for some reason in Moscow talking about transportation issues in the Kremlin. It does not need much guesswork to deduce Tibilov was urgently invited to Moscow to talk exactly about this road issue. However, the Russian side was unable to make him agree, or to be more precise, they did not try hard enough
to make him agree and both Tbilisi and official Yerevan were given a diplomatic refusal. Tibilov then announced the official position of the Kremlin: “We talked about the issue of the opening of the road through South Ossetia with our partners in Moscow, but Armenia has not addressed us officially about this case and everything depends completely on the normalization of relations between the two states (that is South Ossetia and Georgia).” The prompt restoration of Dariali Gorge and opening of the highway has apparently put a full stop to this political scandal, however the stability in such an unstable place as Dariali is quite theoretical, as nobody knows when the road
crossing Georgia, which is vital for Armenia, will be closed again. This could be the reason our neighboring Armenia is so active in the issue of diversifying transportation routes in Georgia, offering recommendations about opening the railway through occupied Abkhazia. However, this “support” from Official Yerevan only goes as far as transportation and does not include other directions, for example, in the voting that took place in the UN some weeks before the disaster about returning Georgian IDPs to their homes, Armenia voted against. Naturally, their decisions are shaped by Russian interests. Thus, all we can hope for is that if the Georgian Dream is unable to answer our neighbors, at least nature will help us in doing so.
Georgian President’s Statement the Right Step, says Volker Continued from page 6
DO YOU THINK THE STATEMENT CLARIFIES ANY AMBIGUITY IN REGARDS TO GEORGIA’S WESTERN ASPIRATIONS IN THE MINDS OF WESTERNERS? I think it’s a step in the right direction. Under the previous government, we had questions in the West if Georgia really was a mature democracy and– as a result – if we were ready for membership, or the “Membership Action Plan” at the Bucharest Summit (in 2008). NATO decided to take a pause on that. Since then, we've had questions under the current government as well about what direction Georgia is taking. This statement is now something that everyone can point to, whether it is NATO, the EU, or political leaders inside Georgia. It is unequivocal that this is the
direction all the political leaders of Georgia want take.
WHAT NEXT? I think it’s important to build on the unity in this area, and start developing concrete steps that need to be taken to make it a reality. In order for Georgia to qualify as a member of the EU, or as a member of NATO, there is still a lot of work to do. If we want to look at how Poland, the Czech Republic, or Hungary developed at the time - in terms of democracy, market economy, good relations with neighbors, interoperability with NATO, contributions to common security –all of these things took time to settle in society. It took time to build consensus around them, to build the programmatic steps behind them, and to strengthen institutions to support them.
DO YOU THINK THERE WILL
BE A REACTION FROM RUSSIA ABOUT THIS UNITY? The one thing I would say about Russia is that you cannot really pay attention to what they say. Russia is always trying to influence the actions and beliefs of others through what it says. Russia would of course react to this very negatively, if they react at all. They will say that it is just a statement, that NATO does not really mean anything, that the Warsaw Summit will not offer the MAP… and so they will point to this as a failure. Do not believe any of it! That is just Russia’s way of trying to influence what Georgians think. What is more important is that all the political leaders in Georgia are reflecting what Georgians actually think which is that they deserve to be a free society, a democracy, and a market economy, just as much as any other Europeans – and that they deserve
to have security just as much as any other Europeans. And this idea is now firmly anchored in the policies of both the government and the opposition. One of the things I think is important about this declaration that the president has put forward is that each of the political parties is taking responsibility. This was not something that was thrown together or imposed on them- each of them is accepting responsibility that this is important for Georgia. That idea that there is a national interest that is greater than any one party’s political interest is a tremendously important idea. I hope that this is something that begins to strengthen Georgia, and becomes a way of shielding Georgia’s democracy from the influences that can pull it apart.
DO YOU THINK THIS UNITY COULD SERVE AS A
PRECEDENT INTERNALLY FOR THE GOVERNMENT AND OPPOSITION TO WORK TOGETHER TOWARDS ACHIEVING A NATIONAL GOAL? I hope so, but I wouldn’t want to make too much out of it at this point. As a matter of foreign policy and national security, I think there is agreement on this orientation for Georgia, and it was possible to write it down for the parties to agree. On domestic politics, there are still a lot of very deep differences. Over time, I hope that will be possible to establish overarching national goals that go beyond any one party’s interest– whether it is in foreign policy or a domestic issue. At this point, because Georgia is going into an election season, it would be very difficult to see this develop further, but at least this one step forward. Every bit of progress made starts with a step somewhere.
GEORGIA TODAY JULY 15 - 18, 2016
The Liberating Power of Brexit OP-ED BY ISIDOROS KARDERINIS
he referendum of June 23, 2016 regarding Britain’s remaining in or exit from the European Union (EU), through its subversive BREXIT result undoubtedly shook the dominant British and European political and economical system. The British, taken as a whole, are not the people of a protectorate who might have a slave mentality. They are the proud people of a great country that in the past has been an empire and today is one of the world's largest economies. The British, who are also the winners of two world wars, have developed a highly dignified attitude and behavior. So, it is understandable that the British citizens who endured with unprecedented fortitude and bravery the fierce bombardments of the Nazi air force in World War II, would not be able to accept, against any short-term negative economic impacts arising from the BREXIT, German domination and leadership in the EU. Thus, the incredible surprise of the German political leaders and far away standing bureaucrats in Brussels coming from this amazing, liberating for ordinary people result, on that promising and sunny dawn of June 24, 2016, does not comply in any way with any historical knowledge and thorough
data analysis. Germany's assiduous effort to put under its complete control the European people and once again the continent – this time not through the use of military weapons as in the past, but the use of economic ones-, presents a similar ignorance of history characteristics. It is obvious that the Germans, who cannot control in any way their great political and economic power, are completely ignorant of history, and so now, find themselves -by mathematical determinism- on the verge of a new defeat that will come through the imminent unraveling of the EU. The EU, which in 1993 through the Maastricht treaty replaced the until then EEC, is basically by default an unnatural and defective political and economic union of states with different political, legal, economic, military and cultural levels, but as well a union of people who feel like strangers to each other, without any mutual or brotherly feelings of solidarity Thus, the grandiose pronouncements and unrealistic visions for a democratic and prosperous from end to end EU could not but be bitterly ruled out. Germany, taking advantage of the impacts of the crisis erupting in September 2008 through the grandiose collapse of the banks (Lehman Brothers), and invoking -of course- the Maastricht Stability Pact and the need for reform packages so that the negative effects of the crisis could be confronted,
has been implementing since then, with exaggerated dominance, a kind of economic totalitarianism, mostly against the weak Member States of the European periphery. The anti-grass roots economic plans of the strictest neoliberal austerity imposed by Berlin have indeed leveled the societies of the southern European countries. In Greece, which is certainly the most typical example of the pilot implementation of these incredibly absurd and economically irrational policies, unemployment has increased dramatically to 26.8 percent of the workforce, while 36 percent of the Greek population lives below the poverty line. In Italy, 24.4 percent of the population is facing the risk of poverty and social exclusion. In Spain, 22.2 percent of households live below the poverty line and more than one in three children, 2.6 million, are facing the risk of poverty and social exclusion. In Portugal, one in four children lives below the poverty line and a total of about two million people, 20 percent of its population, live amid poverty and destitution. At the same time, Germany has clearly received unprecedented economic benefits. Its extreme profits arise from the transfer of investors’ money to “low risk” German bonds due to the crisis plaguing the eurozone. Especially after 2009, yields on German bonds have reached the bottom of the barrel, while in some cases (eg 5-year German bonds) reached negative inter-
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est rates. That means that Germany not only does not pay to borrow, but on the contrary, investors, given the insecurity in the euro zone, pay it in order to safeguard their money. Thus, in five years (2010-2015), Germany managed to save a total of EUR 100 billion, equivalent to 3 percent of its GDP, precisely because of the dramatic reduction in borrowing costs. It is obvious that the EU, and surely the extremely neoliberal Eurozone, operates in the interests of the hegem-
onic and dominant Germany at the expense of other Member States and mainly at the expense of the southern European countries. The extremely high trade surpluses achieved by Germany (for example, in 2013 it had a trade surplus of 200 billion thus remaining a highly competitive state) are certainly due to the great German economic machine but at the same time are scandalously increased by the unfair eurozone monetary system. Continued on page 10
JULY 15 - 18, 2016
The Liberating What We Want is Not Power of Brexit Always What We Can Get SOCIETY
Continued from page 9
Germany for the first time in many years, apart from its economic boom, has become a first rate international player, given that its political leadership has found itself in a key position thus being able to represent the other European countries without being asked to. So the exit of Great Britain- the first military power, a permanent member of the UN Security Council and the country with the third largest contribution to the EU budget- from the EU, represents a fatal blow to the international status of the EU and first of all to the status of Germany. Likewise, EU institutions and decision-
Thus comes the time for enslaved countries within the EU to follow the shining example of Great Britain; to break their steel shackles and become liberated
making processes lack democratic legitimacy and they are distant and inaccessible to the ordinary European citizen. Thus, a deep democratic deficit directly opposing the founding treaties of the EU grossly violating the original declaratory core of values, is clearly visible. The people of Europe exert absolutely no direct influence on the important EU decision-making institutions, i.e the European Council with its strong centralized role and the European Commission with its highly bureaucratic and technocratic nature, while these institutions have absolutely no accountability to the citizens. On the other hand, the directly elected European Parliament, which is based in Strasbourg, possesses no sufficient powers and continues to be a weak link. In conclusion, the European Union, which has been reduced to a type of German colony, despite the illusions cultivated by certain political circles, is not willing to change or improve, or even to acquire a democratic, social role. Thus comes the great time for the enslaved countries within the European Union and the euro zone to follow the shining example of Great Britain and the proud British people, to break their steel shackles and become liberated, looking forward with greater hope and optimism. Isidoros Karderinis was born in Athens in 1967. He is a novelist, poet and economist with postgraduate studies in the tourism economy. Articles of his have been published in newspapers, magazines and on websites worldwide. His novels and three of his poetry books have been published in the USA and Great Britain.
OP-ED BY NUGZAR B. RUHADZE
et us drop our political concerns this once and embark on something more humane like our regular happiness day in day out, part of which, as I understand, must be the agreement between our desires and solvency. Georgia is a typical country of contrasts, where prices for service are of a Western level and the ability of the majority of people to pay for that service is as low as it would be in any developing country, maybe even less. Incidentally, I recollected here my son’s quick joke of several years ago: ‘Dad, it’s so frustrating to have a Lord and Taylor eye, but a Wal-Mart pocket-book all your life’. I do not exclude that one of the main obstacles to business development here is the fact that people want to use certain amenities, suggested by various businesses, but are unable to afford to do so. For instance, tourists do not want to return to Georgia because of price incongruity on many products and services, especially in the short summer season they intend to enjoy here. I come across sporadic stragglers in chic boutique or perfume stores in Tbilisi – another example of the sharp discord between our appetite and ability to quench it with dough. Compounding the story, Georgia has places where it is just a pleasure to be. We have all heard, for example, about the Gino Paradise which is just a haven to hide out in for a day – with equal pleasure in winter and summer – but with summer offering something out-
standing: numerous swimming pools, both outdoor and in, spas, eateries, entertainment and what not. They often do courtesy admissions in special cases, giving a chance to those who cannot afford the pleasure. I have personally witnessed some of those events a couple of times. The other day, Gino Paradise hosted the schoolchildren from socially vulnerable families to enjoy an entire day program, including transportation and food. On the other hand, Gino is a business which was created thanks to a huge financial investment, and it is easily understandable that it needs to make money to operate as a remunerative enterprise. Otherwise, it wouldn’t be able to stay in business. Gino definitely has ample clientele, especially in the summer season, but the regretful thing is that the general economic situation
among the broader population does not allow all of us to splash in the wavy waters of its main pool under open skies. What I am trying to say is that sometimes Georgia amazes us with the level of service business, like Gino. Yet sometimes even at its lowest prices, it might still be financially out of reach to many of us, the reason being the low standard of living in the country rather than prices there. Frankly, the same kind of service would have cost us in America five times as much, if not more. What can businesses like Gino do? Should they go for charity all the time? Impossible! Lower the prices to the minimum level? Then you cannot run the business at all! So, how to turn things around? Probably, through the general enhancement of living standards in Georgia to the point where entertainment centers like Gino would thrive thanks to the solvency of the population. Otherwise, there might be an empty plot, as there was not very long ago, just where Gino stands today. Nobody wants that to happen. Just the contrary, we all wish to have our water parks full of kids and their happy parents watching their progeny learning how to swim, how to become physically fit and how to relax. Gino is just an example. There are numerous other businesses that are sailing in the same boat with Gino. Generally speaking, entrepreneurs in Georgia, both foreign and local, are trying hard to build useful businesses – spending a lot of money on this – to make profit and to cater to all desires and appetites, but they also need people in the market who can pay for their service. Why would their efforts make sense otherwise?
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JULY 15 - 18, 2016
Rattling the Sabre: Ogden on the Georgian Armed Forces OP-ED BY TIM OGDEN
hat with the parliamentary elections coming up and manifestos being thrown around like confetti, I've found it rather odd that so little emphasis has been placed on defense. Although NATO membership is being talked about a lot, little is being said about what the future of Georgia's Armed Forces might be, which seems odd to me since the two seem to go hand in hand. NATO forces have helped Georgia train its own troops over the years, as well as building bases and training centers throughout the country as part of its jargon-laden packages that it gives to Tbilisi rather than anything meaningful like membership (it seems to me that there isn't anything substantial about the NATO Substantial Package, the projects it has initiated being similar to those it was doing on Georgian soil before the Package was granted). Yet despite continuing to praise Georgia for its military reforms (and its sacrifices when Georgian troops are killed on NATO missions) and help modernize Georgia's army, it strikes me as strange that little is being done to restructure the military. Online information about the structure of the Georgian Army is limited, but the available information from the Internet and military friends of mine suggests a highly inflexible brigade model. Contrary
to popular belief, during the 2008 war the Russians did not swarm Georgia with millions of troops and overwhelm the Georgian Army by sheer weight of numbers. Bad organization contributed to Georgia's defeat â€“ fighting Russian regulars was clearly not as easy as South Ossetian militia, and Georgian troops were quickly driven out of Ossetia and then fled Gori without firing a shot. I'm not advocating last stands around the flag as a legitimate military tactic, but it
is oddly out of touch with the muchvaunted Georgian patriotism and fighting spirit. It sounds trite, but the will to win is everything: ask any soldier. If you believe youâ€™ll lose, you've already lost. The Army has changed a great deal since 2008; a great number of its rankand-file have combat experience from Afghanistan, and experience can make all the difference in combat (I still don't like the way the uniforms have been directly copied from the US Army,
though). However, the Army's structure seems relatively unchanged. This may partly be to do with a lack of equipment or men (although the Georgian Army has far more equipment than it is usually given credit for), but I can't fathom why NATO and the Georgian MoD have not drawn more attention to this. A Western military brigade contains everything it needs to engage an enemy force, whether it be made up of infantry, armoured vehicles, air assets, or every-
thing together. A brigade might be centred around one particularly corps (such as tanks, or light infantry) but it will still be capable of going up against almost any type of hostile unit. Georgian brigades, however, are centred around one corps; infantry brigades seem to contain only infantry, while artillery brigades only have heavy guns etc. To my civilian readers, imagine being given a bowl of rice and only a knife to eat it with; a different tool for a different job. I have it on the authority of a friend of mine who's a junior officer in the Georgian Army that should Georgian infantrymen need support from combat engineers or artillery, they have to call for assistance from bases some distance away; not overly useful if the country is ever invaded and attacked again and Georgia finds itself facing a multitude of threats. Georgia's light infantry units have apparently served well in Afghanistan, but since the Taliban do not field tanks or air assets, Georgia's brigade structure was not an issue, especially as Georgian contributions to NATO deployments make use of NATO combat support arms. Another war with Russia looks to be highly unlikely for the time being, but if NATO really does want to improve Georgia's self-defense capabilities, it might start with the basics rather than just throwing equipment and training teams at Tbilisi. Russian sabre rattling over the Baltic States and military adventurism in Ukraine and Syria should convince even the most sceptical that even if the threat is not immediate, it is ever present.
JULY 15 - 18, 2016
Random Musings: Svaneti BY TONY HANMER
ince my wife and I visited Zimbabwe, birthplace of my father, a couple of winters ago, I see cows here in Svaneti with new eyes. There, we could buy (if we were rich enough) tanned cowhide sofa throws at USD 1000 a skin, each one uniquely beautiful, never just a plain solid color but the best patterns that the species offers. The stripes, the spots, the swirls! No need to turn to zebra, giraffe, leopard! Now, every special bovine skin here, still on its owner, makes me wish I knew the tanning art, to turn it into something potentially much more valuable than the purchase price of the live animal. I also see wire and metal garbage here differently after that trip. What the Zimbabweans can make from these things should belong in the Met in New York as design classics, sculptures! That's what they were selling as. My childhood reminds me of shoebox-size cars, every part from wire, with rolling wheels and a working steering column which extended up a meter or so. African boys would take their car and run behind it, steering as they went. Again, miracles of form and function too. I now own a pair, my nostalgia on that front fully sat-
isfied. Svans, are you too proud to turn your hand to "art from garbage"? A mountain, even a relatively small one such as that on which half of my village's cows graze every day through the summer, is a big thing to get lost on. They go up each morning if you lead them to the edge of the village, but won't come down again in the evening without being chased! And if you go for them too early, a herd will scatter six ways into the forest, leaving you fuming while they munch away. There has to be an easier way to do this! GPS tracking, a responsible and mutually agreed rota system for herding the beasts every evening, something. At stake is the milk, which will dry up if you abandon them to their wishes: they should be milked twice a day, though missing an occasional milking won't bring immediate disaster. Spring and fall they're in local fields, which is much easier, but this mountain! I'm now waiting to hear back from an actual company, UK-based, which sells the blessed GPS cow trackers: how much per unit for one, ten, fifty? Will this 21st century dream come to our humble village and make our lives THAT much easier every summer and fall? Time, I hope fervently, will tell. Recently, I heard from one of the members of the local Riho Svan choir that they've just scored a double coup in a
New Runway Opens at Tbilisi Airport BY EKA KARSAULIDZE
singing competition in Tbilisi. Best vocal group from around 400, that's four hundred groups, and best regional choir. Svaneti sweeps the winnings! I'm very proud of you guys, and not very surprised, I have to say. Strength to strength. Next door to one of the Riho guys, a returning villager based in Tbilisi is rebuilding a house. This is a huge endeavor, involving several other workmen, and it represents a considerable faith in the future of this province and village. They're setting beams in place, pouring concrete into forms, replacing an entire vanished roof. No small task, but most pleasant to see their progress each morning as I send my pair of cows to the edge of the village for their daily
mountain forage. Another piece of good news. I don't yet know whether he's planning a permanent move or just to have a summer house, but I hope the former. In any case, such optimism does us all glad. Just a few of my recent thoughts revolving around life up here, where it's never dull. Tony Hanmer runs the “Svaneti Renaissance” Facebook group, now with over 1300 members, at www.facebook.com/groups/SvanetiRenaissance/ He and his wife also run their own guest house in Etseri: www.facebook.com/hanmer.house.svaneti
ore than three months after a heavily criticized reconstruction project began, which forced those travelling to and from Tbilisi to fly in the middle of the night or early morning, the main runway of Tbilisi’s Airport has now opened to regular traffic, Economy and Sustainable Development Minister Dimitry Kumsishvili said. “We plan to do everything to make the airport ready for any new challenges ahead,” said Kumsishvili. “The new lighting system will further improve the flight safety level of the airport. The incoming and outgoing aircraft will now be able to better land and take off during poor weather conditions.” The decision to upgrade the runway was made after the government renewed its agreement with TAV Holding, which is responsible for operating the Tbilisi and Batumi airports. The renovation project cost USD 30 million (70 million GEL) to carry out. The airport will begin building a new terminal later this year, with the completion date set for late 2017.
Rompetrol Georgia Organizes International Conference on Competition Law Issues
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eading Foreign specialists this week conducted an international conference on the topic: “Competition Law – New Challenge for Georgia.” The international conference was organized and financially supported by Rompetrol Georgia and took place under the aegis of Tbilisi State University. The conference was held at hotel Rixos in Borjomi, the first conference of such scale and level dedicated to competition law issues. The world's leading specialists and international law company partners made speeches at the conference. “In Georgia the competition agency launched operation several years ago. Rompetrol is trying to incentivize the field development in Georgia on behalf of our country. The objective of the agency is to promote market liberalization, free trade and competition. Rompetrol is trying to develop the competition law in Georgia and these efforts will have a positive influence on competitive environment development,” Rompetrol representatives noted. As part of the international conference, trainings - Capital Provision Norms, Merger and Competition Principles - were held. Those speaking at the conference included: James Hanks, Venable LLP partner, expert, lecturer, who spoke about “Major Statutes and Cases in the US Antitrust Law.” Bertold Bar-Bouyssiere, DLA Piper partner, who discussed: “The Application of Competition Law in Life Science Industries (Interface competition/ patents and etc.)”
Felix Scala, Head of the Competition Law Department in the German Office of Deloitte, spoke about: “Antitrust Compliance Programs from a European Perspective.” David Iakobidze, economist and professor at Georgian Technical University talked on: “Structured Transformation of Competitive Environment in Small Economies.” Varsha Kale, advisor of the London Antitrust and Competition Group for Meyer Brown, and Aleksandra Aninoiu, lawyer for Antitrust and Competition London Office of Meyer Brown together talked about “Cartels under the EU law: Legal developments and Practical Challenges.” Rob Davis, advisor for Venable LLP, discussed: “US Developments related to Proof of Agreements and Hub-and-Spoke Conspiracies.” Dr. Jan Joachim Dreyer, Partner of DLA Piper, spoke about: “Recent Developments in German Competition Law – enforcement highlights.” 70 persons interested in the mentioned issues are taking part in the conference, including magistrates, lawyers, competition agency representatives, business ombudsman and officials of the Prime Minister's economic board. The conference ended July 13th KMG International (former Rompetrol Group NV) was bought by KMG in 2007. The company owns two oil refineries in Romania and a network of petrol filling stations in EU countries. ADVERTISING
Direct Flights Dammam-Tbilisi-Dammam Bring Arabs to Enjoy Georgian Summer
irect flights on the Dammam-TbilisiDammam route started operation from July 13, three times a week, on Tuesdays, Fridays and Saturdays with B-735/737 and CRJ 100 type aircrafts. The flights, operated by Georgian Airways, come in cooperation with Yekta Safar Georgia, Seven Sky and Dream Travel and will allow more Arabians to be able to explore Georgia. Arabians have already taken advantage of the new flight schedule to visit Tbilisi from Dammam, and are currently enjoying Georgia’s green environment and rich culture. “With these flights Arabs will have a better opportunity to get to know Georgia; they already love the rich green nature, forests and woods here,” Mr. Ali Akbar, representative of Seven Sky in Georgia said. It is expected that up to 500 travelers will arrive in Georgia each week via the new scheduled flights in the coming months. The tours offered them include in and around Tbilisi, Batumi and Borjomi. The Tbilisi tour also offers a trip to Mstkheta and a stay in Hotels & Preference near Tbilisi Sea. Batumi, as a tourist
hub, will host the guests at hotels Intourist Colosseum and President Plaza. "The trip to Borjomi is not only to enable the guests to enjoy the astonishing and amazing nature but also, with the collaboration of Rixos, to relax with special spa treatments," Akbar added. "We faced several challenges with these tours, in particular the demand for five star hotels, which are few, and the availability of halal meat in restaurants." The passengers are not only considered as leisure tourists but are also interested in investing in the Georgian market and real estate. One of the activities of the mentioned companies is to introduce and promote Georgia as a tourist-investment hub. "We believe Georgia is a perfect hub for tourists, and we are ready to cooperate with high standard resorts and tourist destinations in different regions throughout the country," Akbar said. The tours are being handled to the highest standards specifically for the demands of the Arabs. Halal meat, Arab-Georgian tour guides and other facilities will be available to let the guests get the best experience while discovering Georgia.
JULY 15 - 18, 2016
Georgian Opera Stars Come Out against Tbilisi Opera Theater Management BY MAKA LOMADZE
bsence of repertoire, corruption, nepotism and threats of unfair dismissal... World-famous Georgian opera singers such as Mzia Nioradze, Tamar Iveri, Nana Kavtarashvili, Anita Rachvelishvili, and Lado Ataneli, with members of the Tbilisi opera choir, are up in arms at the current situation in the opera and have named their artistic director Davit Kintsurashvili “unprofessional” for having only staged three operas in the two years of his leadership at the opera theater. Mzia Nioradze, Mezzo Soprano, principal soloist at the Metropolitan Opera: “In the two years of Kintsurashvili as artistic director, there have been no artistic councils. Only now, following a recent meeting with the Minister of Culture to bring our complaints to light, was it suggested and a council formed. It’s unimaginable for any theater in the world to function without an artistic council. Now, the soloists are stuck without a repertoire. If a singer does not sing on stage for a year or two, it can be the end of their career!” Among other things, the singers accuse the opera head of redistributing 335,000 GEL among 17 members of the management since January. “The bookkeeper received 21,000 GEL. This all happens while not a single soloist or choir singer has received an extra penny as a bonus,” Tamar Iveri a soprano with a successful international career since her debut at La Scala in 2011, having appeared at Covent Garden, Metropolitan Opera, Vienna State Opera, Royal Opera House, Opera Bastille, and others, told GEORGIA TODAY. The protestors also say that while the former Minister of Culture, Guram Odisharia, expressed his good will by letting the opera theater hold democratic elections, they were bitterly deceived. Iamze Gurchiani, member of the Opera Choir, who has participated in rallies against the regressive leadership of Kintsurashvili: “We were waiting for the re-opening of the Opera House for six years, and in vain. We can’t realize our creative potential while secondary modern musical pieces are given priority. We have the Philharmonic Concert Hall and Music and Drama Theater for such concerts, but the Opera is first and foremost for an opera repertoire. It is pure fact that the Head of the Opera House does not have enough competence to handle his duties. Choirs are an inseparable part of opera, and a rich repertoire exists in world music history. Our choir is the core of the theater, we have magnificent voices; we are all worthy soloists.” “We also have a great school of conductors, starting from the fabulous Odyssey Dimitriad, Jansugh Kakhidze, Evgeni Mikeladze, Vakhtang Machavariani, and Zaza Azmaiparashvili. Today, Kintsurashvili, who was previously unknown to the Georgian musical elite, has appeared and is now using the Opera Theater for his own gains,” Nioradze said, going on to tell GEORGIA TODAY of the time the Opera was hired out to a Russian Oligarch for his daughter’s wedding and how, on a separate occa-
“In two years, only three performances have been staged. It’s an embarrassment to us and to the international community who want to hear us sing!”
Zura Balanchivadze, facebook
sion, the entrance hall was used to host a lesbian strip-tease show. “Kintsurashvili graduated from the faculty of choir conducting; he is not even a conductor of orchestra. Thanks to the PR he does worldwide via articles and lies, in three months, he says he has “staged seven performances,” which is absurd. Ingolstadt recently invited him, but after his failure, they quickly said a polite good-bye to him,” Nioradze said. “Even though the majority are united, Kintsurashvili says that this [protest] is merely a well-organized conspiracy against him,” Iveri said. “Yet we, the singers, merely want a stage to sing on. We will always be happy to serve our theater as best we can. In the two years since Kintsurashvili took on the position, there were 40 ballet premieres, thanks to Nino Ananiashvili’s dedication. Yet Kintsurashvili has only organized one new and two old opera performances, when our opera can take pride in having 36 soloists. Less than 10 are actively employed, while the rest are currently receiving salaries as a pension, depressed and without any chance of selfrealization. There is a police regime inside the theater. Kintsurashvili strictly controls all the comments on social media and then reprimands authors of anything negative and threatens to sack them. Nor has he kept his word to open an atelier workshop in the theater, for decorations and costumes, meaning the Opera House is no more than a concert hall. These days it is a house without a foundation,” Iveri continues. It seems fault for today’s disarray can be found within both the current and former Opera administration and within the way the Ministry of Culture has handled the complaints. Kakhaber Tetvadze, Chairman of the Trade Union of Opera and Ballet Theater, Bass, told us: “There were juridical question marks inside the administrative order. Recently, Kintsurashvili made a number of concessions and came to an agreement to make some amendments. Our first step forward was the election of a trade union. However, the theater is going backwards. I will be very straightforward: the Ministry of Culture is where the shoe pinches. They sent an audit, but it was again staffed with Kintsurashvili supporters. However, we shouldn’t blame him for everything. The previous Opera Head, Sakvarelidze, having been dismissed, ordered the burning of costumes of 10 performances, as there was a problem where to store them. Had his orders not been carried out, it would have been easier to stage many more operas.” “I left Georgia in 1994, when there was no electricity, no gas, nothing in Georgia. In those days, there were no embassies in Tbilisi,” Mzia Nioradze said. “I attended ‘Clowns’ recently and saw that the hall was full of tourists. I know a lot of ambassadors who wish to come and see the famous Tbilisi opera, but what will we show them? We have a theater of European standards, world-famous stars, and it can offer nothing to its spectators who had been looking forward to its opening. I just returned from Riga Theater, which despite being old and needing renovation, has such a high artistic level- they dedicate a separate festival to Verdi! Here, nothing happens. We wish to sing on our native stage, but how, if there are no performances?” “However, we won’t stop, as this is a national matter of dignity. We will fight to the end.”
JULY 15 - 18, 2016
Ballet from Georgia to Japan BY KATIE RUTH DAVIES
eorgia boasts a long history of ballet. Yet in Japan it was, until not so long ago, considered the “art of the enemy” and even today it is seen by many as a hobby, not a career choice. The new generation are hoping to change that view. Next week a number of the Georgian State Ballet Company’s top ballet soloists will be travelling to Fukuoka, Japan to put the final touches to the first Fukuoka International Ballet Festival, having spent the past two years planning it. GEORGIA TODAY spoke to the lead organizers, Frank van Tongeren from the Netherlands and Machi Moto, from Fukuoka, prior to the Festival.
HOW DID YOU COME UP WITH THE IDEA OF THE FESTIVAL? WHY DID YOU DECIDE TO DO IT IN JAPAN AND WHY IN FUKUOKA? Frank: Machi is originally from Fukuoka, which is the capital of the southern island Kyushu. Over the past eight years I’ve often travelled to Fukuoka. The city has a lot of ballet schools, several great theaters, and whenever there’s a ballet performance by either a ballet company from abroad or a gala concert that tours Japan, it generates a lot of interest with the local people. Over my time as a student and professional dancer I met many dancers that are originally from Fukuoka or its surroundings and who now work
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in well-known ballet companies around the world. To me it was strange that these dancers were unable to share their art form at home through their own festival. In February 2014 I got the idea to organize a performance that would bring the ‘Fukuoka born’ dancers together (at home) in which they would share the stage with their colleagues and friends from the international dance scene. Machi and I took on the challenge and spent a lot of time talking to people in the area, looking at the theaters and consulting dancers and organizers with experience of such event-planning. We realized we should present not only classical or already known works but something new, created especially for the Festival. We have three choreographers that have created new work that will premiere at the Fukuoka International Ballet Festival Gala Concert. One of them, Yuka Kawazu, is originally from Fukuoka and is now working in Germany. Then we have Kaloyan Boyadjiev from the Norwegian National Ballet and Peter Leung from the Dutch National Ballet.
'TEAM' BE INVOLVED? Karin has been helping promote the event on the web. He will also travel with us to Fukuoka to act as a translator between the Japanese team and the foreign dancers that will participate. Yuma has been providing Japanese and English subtitles for the promotion videos. Yonen Takano and Nutsa Chekurashvili will perform at the Gala Concert and we’ve done a photo shoot with them which - Fukuoka is 2 hours by boat from Korea and 6 hours from Tokyo by high speed train. - It is the fastest growing city in Japan - It was recently rated the 7th most liveable city in the world
WHO IS WORKING WITH YOU ON THE PROJECT? Two ballet schools, technicians and an experienced architect in Fukuoka, a web designer in Tokyo and the Japanese dancers at the State Ballet of Georgia, Karin Washio, Yuma Sumi and Yonen Takano. Will Pratt is also helping with administration.
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teachers that can inspire students to pursue a career as a ballet dancer.
WHAT CHALLENGES HAVE YOU FACED?
We hope to organize this festival once every two years. We really hope that this first time will have a great impact on the audience and the students at the workshops and that we can increase our support for the second edition of the festival. Of course, we want to keep inviting members of the State Ballet of Georgia and who knows, Nina Ananiashvili could be with us next time in Fukuoka as well!
As a dancer each day is very physical so it’s challenging to come home after rehearsals or a performance and start replying to e-mails, create promotional material, write letters to get financial support, etc. We’ve been working until 2 or 3am most nights! We don’t aim to make a profit from this event, but we want to cover our costs from the ticket income and the few sponsors helping us with the finances… it’s not easy, especially since we are dancers ourselves and we want to treat the Festival dancers how we would want to be treated. We are going to lay a special dance floor (sprung floor) in the theaters there, like we have here at the Opera House in Tbilisi. You can still perform on linoleum, but it’s very uncomfortable when you land from jumps because the surface under the linoleum is very hard, increasing the chances of injuries and bringing the level of the performance down. We will rent the floor from Japan Arts in Tokyo.
WHAT ARE YOUR EXPECTATIONS FOR THE FESTIVAL? We believe that we have a very unique program and something truly special to offer the audience. We’ll also be offering workshops with great
HOW WILL THE GEORGIAN
we’ve used for posters, flyers and the web. Yonen is also trying to get some ballet critics interested in reviewing the event.
10 Galaktion Street
WHAT ARE YOUR PLANS FOR THE FUTURE?
WHAT HAVE YOU LEARNED FROM THE PREPARATORY STAGE? We learned how much organization you need to create one performance! This event has totally changed our view and we now understand every single aspect that comes with this beautiful art form! I’m sure that most people underestimate what it takes when they watch a performance... The Fukuoka International Ballet Festival will take place on July 27 at the Fukuoka City Acros Fukuoka Symphony Hall and on July 28 in Kitakyushu (Fukuoka State) at the Kitakyushu Performing Arts Center. The workshops will be held in Fukuoka from July 30 to August 1 and in Kyoto on August 3rd and 4th. Machi Moto has been dancing ballet since she was nine, inspired by friends. Frank van Tongeren says he was following in his elder sister’s footsteps when he chose ballet. At age 11 he joined the professional ballet academy in Amsterdam.
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GEORGIA TODAY JULY 15 - 18, 2016
Hyperrealist’s Talent Lauded by Ferrari Designer BY MAKA LOMADZE
avid Dron is a young freelance artist and illustrator. For a week, visitors had an opportunity to see his hyperrealist water-color and pencil sketches at Art Palace, Tbilisi. GEORGIA TODAY went along to find out what makes him tick. David Dron is a freshman of the International School of Design coming from a course of industrial design at the Tbilisi State Academy of Arts. His career, it seems, is rocketing. “My first introduction to design happened when I was only five, at the Youth Technicians’ Club, where I met Zviad Tsikolia, a prominent Georgian designer,” Dron told us. “The model cars I saw there made a strong impression on me. Before that, I was drawing for fun, but when I drew a black Porsche, I realized I was going in the direction of hyperrealism.” Cars are an on-going theme in his works, yet the 22-year old has no car of his own. “It’s too stressful to drive in Tbilisi,” he says. But he does have a computer- the entrance of which into his life encouraged him further in the techniques of hyperrealism. Dron says that there are very few hyperrealists in Georgia. “It requires a lot of observation, nerves, patience and concentration. First and foremost, you should love your job very much. The most difficult sketch I did was a Mustang that I spent over a year on. My average startto-finish time is four weeks. I basically paint from the Internet. The main goal for me is to paint so that the pictures have an impact on spectators.” Legendary models like the Lamborghini Miura, Lamborghoni Countach, etc are also something Dron takes great interest in. The latest exhibition at Art Palace was dedicated to cars, with just three portraits of his collection on display, showing Charlie Chaplin, Audrey Hepburn and Winston Churchill. On the back of Audrey’s portrait, Giorgetto
FOR SALE: BMW – 321 model Date of issue 1936
PRICE 10.000 USD Giugiaro, the designer of Ferrari and Lamborghini, on a visit to Georgia in 2012, had written “Bravo” and praised the artist for his talent. “I painted Audrey when I was 17 as a gift to my mom. It is one of my best pencil sketches. I went to an event in Batumi where Guigiaro was visiting with his son, and showed him my work. I was still in public school then. It was a great day in my life- I’ll never forget it. He took off his sunglasses and put on glasses just to see my Audrey better,” David remembers in rapture. Reportedly, the portrait of Churchill was an order from his American neighbor, as was Chaplin. He remembers one interesting story: “One day, at the age of 14, I saw a red Ferrari for the first time in Tbilisi. I was delighted. My mum wouldn’t let me near it but I went back. Walking around it I saw the owner, an Italian businessman,
with an interpreter, sitting inside the car. He asked what I was doing. I told him I was fond of cars and showed him some of my sketches in my phone. He was very interested and asked me to show him the pictures themselves. I took a taxi and brought them to him immediately. He liked them a lot and offered me a job. That is how my talent helped me to find work at the age of 14.” Car design, concept-art, industrial design – this is an incomplete list of directions in which the artist works with pleasure. And he is in demand in Europe. The European School of Design says Dron could get a 100 percent scholarship. Dron says: “I have two options: either graduate from the International School of Design, or quit and continue getting an education abroad,” he confides. We wait with interest to see where this talented young man will end up.
Historic Video Footage of Tbilisi Projected onto Riverside Cliff BY EKA KARSAULIDZE
istoric video footage of Georgia’s capital is being projected onto the rocks of the old city’s Legvtakhevi Gorge in the old city’s Abanotubani district until July 25, the Tbilisi Center of Cultural Events said. Visitors will be able to see historic photos of Old Tbilisi, as well as newly produced video compilations of Georgia, shot by a drone, as well as a history of the city and video animation. The Legvtakhevi Gorge is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the Georgian capital. As the Tbilisi Center of Cultural Events noted, this site is an ideal fit for the project as it uses both technology and the natural surroundings to tell the history of Tbilisi. According to the organizers, the project hopes popularize and inform foreign visitors about the 1,500-year history of Tbilisi.
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JULY 15 - 18, 2016
WHAT’S ON IN TBILISI THEATER
GABRIADZE THEATER Address: 13 Shavtelis St. Telephone: 2 98 65 93 July 17 THE AUTUMN OF MY SPRINGTIME Directed by Revaz Gabriadze English subtitles Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 10-30 GEL MOVEMENT THEATER Address: 182, Aghmashenebeli Ave., Mushthaid park Telephone: 599 555 260 July 15 RECITATIVE IN THE CITY Directed by Kakha Bakuradze Start time: 21:00 Free Entry July 16, 17 FAN DO’S MAGORY Directed by Kakha Bakuradze Start time: 20:00 Ticket: From 10 GEL CINEMA
AMIRANI CINEMA Address: 36 Kostava St. Telephone: 2 99 99 55 www.kinoafisha.ge Every Wednesday ticket price: 5 Lari July 1-7 ME BEFORE YOU Directed by Thea Sharrock Genre: Drama, Romance Cast: Emilia Clarke, Sam Claflin, Janet McTeer Language: Russian Start time: 22:00 Ticket: 13-14 GEL GENIUS Directed by Michael Grandage Genre: Biography, Drama Cast: Colin Firth, Jude Law, Nicole Kidman Language: English Start time: 19:30 Language: Russian Start time: 17:00, 19:30, 22:00 Ticket: 10-14 GEL
RUSTAVELI CINEMA Address: 5 Rustaveli Ave. Telephone: 2 55 50 00 www.kinoafisha.ge Every Wednesday ticket: 5 GEL July 1-7 ME BEFORE YOU (Info Above) Start time: 22:30 Ticket: 13-14 GEL SADAKO VS KAYAKO Directed by Kôji Shiraishi Genre: Horror Cast: Mizuki Yamamoto, Tina Tamashiro, Aimi Satsukawa Language: Russian Start time: 17:30, 19:45, 22:30 Ticket: 11-14 GEL THE SHALLOWS Directed by Jaume Collet-Serra Genre: Drama, Horror, Thriller Cast: Blake Lively, Óscar Jaenada, Brett Cullen Language: Russian Start time: 12:45, 15:15, 22:00 Ticket: 8-14 GEL MUSEUM
GEORGIAN NATIONAL MUSEUM SIMON JANASHIA MUSEUM Address: 4 Rustaveli Ave. Telephone: 2 99 80 22, 2 93 48 21 www.museum.ge PERMANENT EXHIBITION: GEORGIAN ARCHAEOLOGY FROM 8TH MILLENNIUM B.C. TO 4TH CENTURY A.D THE CAUCASUS NATURAL HISTORY MUSEUM COLLECTION RENEWED EXHIBITION EXHIBITION OF GEORGIAN WEAPONRY NUMISMATIC TREASURY The exhibition showcases a long history of money circulation on the territory of modern Georgia from the 6th century BC. to 1834. June 11 – March 11 (2017) Georgian National Museum and Korneli Kekelidze National Center of Manuscripts present
THE EXHIBITION “MEDIEVAL TREASURY” The exhibition showcases preChristian and Georgian medieval art which reflects the continuity of the cultural traditions that were the basis for the formation of Georgian statehood and national identity. June 16 – December 16 THE EXHIBITION “NEW DISCOVERIES - GEORGIAN ARCHAEOLOGY” The exhibition will be held in the frame of the international conference On Salt, Copper, and Gold: The Origins of Early Mining and Metallurgy in the Caucasus” MUSEUM OF SOVIET OCCUPATION Address: 3 Sh. Rustaveli Ave. PERMANENT EXHIBITION Here, visitors can discover the State’s personal files of “subversive” Georgian public figures, orders to shoot or exile, and other artifacts representing Soviet-era cultural and political repression in Georgia. The exhibition hall is equipped with monitors on which visitors can watch documentaries of various historical events. IOSEB GRISHASHVILI TBILISI HISTORY MUSEUM - KARVASLA Address: 8 Sioni St. Telephone: 2 98 22 81 July 6 – August 30 EXHIBITION “QUARTER OF THE DAY” BY TAMAR MELIKISHVILI The exhibition showcases 70 paintings depicting people united by emotions: passion, melancholy, alienation, and mystery. SHALVA AMIRANASHVILI MUSEUM OF ART Address: 1 Lado Gudiashvili St. Telephone: 2 99 99 09 www.museum.ge May 18 – July 18 AVANT-GARDE 1900-1937
July 16-30 THE EXHIBITION "UNROLLING THE UNIVERSE" BY GEORGIAN ARTIST IRINA GABIANI The exhibition presents a selection of large-scale mix media works by the artist, who is inspired by the micro and macro worlds that, seen in a different perspective, becomes a source of endless inspiration. Showcased artworks have been created especially for the exhibition. GALLERY
THE NATIONAL GALLERY Address: 11 Rustaveli Ave. www.museum.ge PERMANENT EXHIBITION Niko Pirosmanashvili, David Kakabadze, Lado Gudiashvili and sculptor Iakob Nikoladze June 24, 2016 – June 24, 2017 NIKO PIROSMANASHVILI’S WORKS “YARD CLEANER” AND “EAGLE SEIZING A HARE” TBILISI FLEA MARKET Address: Mtatsminda Park July 16 TBILISI NIGHT MARKET Music by KONO and VINCENT Snacks and drinks available Start time: From 18:00
EXHIBITIONS Start time: 12:00 - 19:00 FOLKLORE REGION: ADJARA Start time: 19:00-22:00 FINAL CONCERT NINO KATAMADZE, “INSIGHT” Start time: 22:00 Ticket: From 23 GEL July 17 FOLK CRAFTS AND CONTEMPORARY ART EXHIBITIONS Start time: 12:00 -19:00 FOLKLORE REGION: RACHA, POTI Start time: 19:00-22:00 THE FINAL CONCERT NIAZ DIASAMIDZE”33A” Start time: 22:00 Ticket: From 15 GEL MOVEMENT THEATER Address: 182, Aghmashenebeli Ave., Mushthaid park Telephone: 599 555 260 July 19, 21 JAM SESSION WITH THE RESO KIKNADZE QUINTET Start time: 21:00 Free entry July 20 TANGO MILONGA Start time: 20:00 Tango Lesson: 5 GEL BATUMI
ART GENE FESTIVAL Address: Ethnographic Museum Season ticket: 70 GEL July 15 FOLK CRAFTS AND CONTEMPORARY ART EXHIBITIONS Start time: 12:00 -19:00 FOLKLORE REGION: KASPI, PANKISI, TUSHETI ABKHAZIAN DAY Start time: 19:00-22:00 FINAL CONCERT "FRANI" Start time: 22:00 Ticket: From 17 GEL July 16 FOLK CRAFTS AND CONTEMPORARY ART
BLACK SEA JAZZ FESTIVAL Address: Batumi Tennis Club July 15 QUINCY JONES & THE GLOBAL GUMBO ALL STARS Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 50 GEL July 16 MILES ELECTRIC BAND Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 50 GEL July 17 Ms. LAURYN HILL Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 50 GEL OUTDOOR CINEMA July 17 Start time: 20:00 Address: Batumi Black Sea beach THE CONCERT OF FOLK AND MUSIC GROUPS July 16, 17 Start time: 13:00 Venue: Khulo Municipality, Beshumi resort, Open Air GEORGIAN CORNER Georgian National dishes Cheese, Wine Every Day Start time: 19:00 Address: Batumi Boulevard Colonnades MUSIC FESTIVAL ‘ORANGE KOBULETI’ July 15, 16, 18, 21 Start time: 19:00 Address: The Amphitheater, Seaside Park, Kobuleti BATUMI ART CENTER Address: 1 O. Dimitriadis Str. July 16 CONCERT OF CTA "VIPMUSIC" Free Entry July 17 MUSICAL EVENING ‘SPRING MELODIES’ Start time: 20:00
GEORGIA TODAY JULY 15 - 18, 2016
Black and White Work by Georgian Photographer Goes on Display in Tbilisi
Dinamo Arena to be Available for Visually Impaired BY EKA KARSAULIDZE
he Ministry of Sport and Youth Affairs of Georgia integrated an international system of audio description (Tiflo commentary) for visually impaired fans at Dinamo Arena stadium for the first time during the Champions League qualifying round match between Dinamo Tbilisi and Armenian club Alashkert FC on July 12. Tiflo commentary was created to enable fans with any degree of visual disability to receive an audio description of the match they are attending. Thanks to this system, they are able to feel the real atmosphere at the stadium as much as possible. Specially trained commentators narrate the game through an audio system reaching visually impaired people via their personal mobile devices and headphones. The commentary includes details
like physical descriptions and facial expressions, to recreate the full experience seen by non-disabled supporters present at the games. The audio description technology can be used to cover the entire football stadium with its frequency, meaning disabled fans can choose any seat and still receive the service. This system has already been widely used at leading football matches for several years around the world. For example, visually impaired fans were able to fully enjoy the Euro 2012 and World Cup 2014 matches, as well as the recent Euro 2016 in France. The system was implemented in Georgia with the support of Center for Access to Football in Europe (CAFE), Georgia's Ministry of Sport, and Tbilisi City Hall. In the framework of the program, commentators have been retrained to provide people with disabilities with specific information. The new technology was tested before the recent match by a selected group of visually impaired individuals.
Photo: Beso Gulashvili
series of black and white photos by Georgian photographer Beso Gulashvili, known for his famous photo of Begi the Hippo wandering around the center of the
Georgian capital after a deadly flash flood in June 2015, are now on display at Tbilisiâ€™s T.G. Nili Art Space. More than a dozen black and white photos from his collection, taken between 2006-2008, are on public dis-
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play throughout July. The T.G. Nili Art Space is located at 12 Grishashvili Street in central Tbilisi. The exhibition is free to the public and is open every day from noon to 6 pm.
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July 15 - 18, 2016