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Issue no: 981

FOCUS ON GEORGIAN WINE From being Guest of Honor at La Cité du Vin Wine Exhibition in France to winning Gold at the Mundus Vini, Georgian wine is looking to be the next big thing... PAGE

• SEPTEMBER 15 - 18, 2017

• PUBLISHED TWICE WEEKLY

PRICE: GEL 2.50

In this week’s issue... Barbecue Festival to be Held at Sairme Resort NEWS PAGE 2

3, 8

What Makes Him Tick? POLITICS PAGE 5

OMV Head: Nord Stream-2 Financing Scheme Must Change BUSINESS PAGE 6

Winery Khareba Chief Winemaker on What Makes the Brand a Winner BUSINESS PAGE 8 Photo source: Georgian Wine Association

Georgian Mountains Wine Company

Zurab Pololikashvili Appointed as Batumi to Host 3rd Int’l Secretary-General of UNWTO Advertising Festival SOCIETY PAGE 10

CULTURE PAGE 13

BY NINO GUGUNISHVILI

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urab Pololikashvili, Georgia's former Ambassador to Spain, has been appointed as UNWTO Secretary General for the period 2018-2021, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Georgia reports. Pololikashvili was selected by the UNWTO General Assembly within its 22nd session taking place in Chengdu, China, from September 12 to September 15. The Ministry claims this is the first time that a Georgian candidate has been selected to such a high-ranking post within the international organization. The Georgian delegation, headed by Mikheil Janelidze, Georgia’s Vice-Premier and Foreign Minister, attended the ceremony while participating in the UNWTO’s General Assembly.

Griboedov Russian Theater Takes the Gulags on Tour CULTURE PAGE 14


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NEWS

GEORGIA TODAY

SEPTEMBER 15 - 18, 2017

10th International Forum for Local Economic Development Opens in Tbilisi BY NINO GUGUNISHVILI

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he International Forum of Local Economic Development commenced at The Biltmore Hotel, Tbilisi on Wednesday, a two-day event organized by the Tbilisi Municipality. The conference was attended by hundreds of top international speakers from USA, Austria, Germany, England, Spain, Italy, France, Moldova, Ukraine, Sweden, the Netherlands, Slovakia, Poland, Belgium, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Israel and Turkey in order to discuss topics ranging from governance, cities for economic growth, urban resilience, smart environment, energy efficiency, entrepreneurial opportunities in global trade, international relations, city tourism, open government partnerships, integrated approaches for territorial development and many other subjects. The forum was opened with welcome speeches from Courtney Fingar, Editor of FDI Magazine within the Financial Times; Tbilisi Mayor Davit Narmania; Bambang Susantono, Vice President of Knowledge Management and Sustainable Development at the Asian Development Bank (ADB); Christian Danielsson, Director General for Neighborhood and Enlargement Negotiations at the European Commission; Elizabeth Rood, Deputy Chief of Mission at the US Embassy in Georgia; Bruno Balvanera, European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) Regional Director for the Caucasus, Moldova and Belarus; and Grigol Liluashvili, Chairman of

Regional Policy and Self Government Committee at the Parliament of Georgia. “Part of our agreement is discovering new investment destinations and areas of the world that have potential for future development and investment,” said Courtney Fingar. “We’ve had an eye on Georgia for quite some time because of the exiting reforms that are taking place. Of course, the government places a huge priority on business reforms and improving the investment environment”. “The main focus of the forum this year is Progressive Cities: cities that aim to be sustainable, active and economically developed,” Narmania said in his opening speech, going on to talk about the many infrastructural projects realized with the financial support of international organizations such as the EBRD and ADB. Tbilisi's Mayor then thanked the guests and participants attending the event, as well as the international

Georgian Foreign Minister Participates in UNWTO 22nd General Assembly BY THEA MORRISON

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ikheil Janelidze, Georgia’s Vice-Premier and Foreign Minister, is taking part in the 22nd General Assembly of the UN World Tourism Organization (UNWTO). The event takes place on September 12-15 in Chengdu, China and gathers around 1500 delegates from 150 countries across the world. Georgia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) reports that on the sidelines of the General Assembly, Mikheil Janelidze held a brief meeting with representatives of the Chinese Authorities. “Highlighting the importance of developing people-to-people contacts and co-operation in tourism, the Chinese side thanked the Georgian delegation for participation in the General Assembly,” the Ministry stated. The 22nd session of the General Assembly is themed “Tourism and the Sustainable Development Goals: Journey to 2030”. The United Nations 70th General Assembly has designated 2017 as the

International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development. The UNWTO, the United Nations Specialized Agency for Tourism, has been mandated to facilitate the organization and implementation of the International Year, in collaboration with governments, relevant organizations of the United Nations system, international and regional organizations and other relevant stakeholders. Janelidze described as historical the decision to appoint Georgia’s candidate to such high position. "Georgia remains committed to the mission and principles of this organization and is well aware that respect of international rules and obligations is a key for the success of every country, nation and every citizen," he said. The Georgian MFA reports that the 105th session of the UNWTO Executive Council, meeting in Madrid, Spain, on 12 May, recommended Zurab Pololikashvili, Ambassador of Georgia to Spain, as a nominee for the post of SecretaryGeneral for the four-year-period starting January 2018. The Head of the Georgian National Tourism Administration Giorgi Chogovadze is also attending the General Assembly.

partners, and noted that the conference offers a platform to share experience that will benefit the development not only of Georgia’s capital, but other cities as well. Bambang Susantono, the keynote speaker, underlined the importance of resilience for cities, and went on to note the projects realized with the financial assistance of the ADB in Tbilisi and further afield in Georgia. “It is essential for cities to respond to economic change in such a fast changing world, and to inject new dynamics to sustain economic development,” Christian Danielsson said. He also underlined the importance of active municipalities and cities in order to facilitate sustainable economic development and growth, while local authorities need to engage with the private sector and with public organizations and civil society. “The United States remains committed

to Georgia and that includes our ongoing efforts to support local governance,” Elizabeth Rood told the audience. She underlined the importance of transparency, accountability and citizen participation in order to sustain a good level of local governance, noting the assistance of the United States’ Agency for International Development (USAID), which has been providing support to a number of cities in Georgia including Batumi, Kutaisi and Akhaltsikhe to introduce participatory budgeting, and to improve service delivery. “We have also seen positive effects from the efforts made in making governments more responsive. Entrepreneurship is booming in Georgia; more small businesses are operating now than ever before,” she said, further citing the assistance provided by USAID, with the opening of 10 civic engagement centers in Georgia that are used for public discus-

sions, seminars, training and outreach by municipalities, NGOs and other parties. Bruno Balvanera talked about the importance of using renewable energy for the sustainable development of cities. He stated that energy efficiency is one of the primary goals, as many years ago the EBRD started an energy efficiency plan which “has expanded and is set to become more ambitious in the future”. “Georgia is a very special country for the EBRD; it is the country with the largest investment of capital, it is the place that we see as leading in the second wave of reforming countries, after the first wave in central Europe, and clearly Georgia is leading these efforts by means of transparent elections, clear policies and priorities,” Balvanera said. “Tbilisi is one of the first cities in the EBRD area that is going to be supported in the green cities framework,” he added, highlighting that on the second day of the conference, a detailed report would be presented that the EBRD has been closely working on with Tbilisi Municipality, regarding how Tbilisi can afford medium and long-term policies to have green and sustainable development. “One of the main challenges we’re facing is the migration process from rural parts of our country to the bigger cities, and we aim to develop both the rural and urban centers equally. There are numerous projects realized in this regard, and I would like to thank our international partners for that,” said Grigol Liluashvili, pointing to the fact the forum on local economic development enables the sharing of the vast experience of the countries in attendance.

Barbecue Festival to be Held at Sairme Resort

BY TAMZIN WHITEWOOD

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n September 16, the Sairme resort in Bagdati, Imereti, will host a Barbeque festival. For the first time in Georgia, the best Georgian chefs will showcase their talents. The specially invited jury will judge the food prepared by the participants to reveal a winner. The honorable guest of the festival and of the jury is the well-known Armenian Chef Sedrak Mamuliani, who organizes gastro-festivals and cultural events in many European countries.

The Barbeque Festival is supported by the National Tourism Administration. Within the framework of this project, the Sairme Resort will host representatives of Armenian Diaspora living in Georgia, leading tourist companies, as well as Armenian media. Participant restaurants of the Barbeque Festival include: Sami Saukune, Begheli, Tsiskvili, Sharbati, Sakhli madatovze, Dzveli Sakhli, Kolkhuri Sakhli, Mais Restaurant, Crown Palace and Mtsvadiauri. The festival participants will be judged by a special jury consisting of Jaba Tsuladze, General Director of the Sairme Resort; Koba Bazidze, Procurement

Director of Tegeta Motors; Dachi Chanadir, Food and Veberage Manager of Residential Hooling; Gia Elizbarashvili, Hotel Biltmore's F & B Assistant; Salome Chachua, Chief Specialist of Georgian Relations with Service Providers in the field of Tourism; and Sedrak Mamoulian, famous chef, head of the public organization "Development and maintenance of Armenian cuisine traditions". The Barbeque Festival will also offer entertainment at the event, which will be led by Niko Kankia. Media Partners: Where.ge, Georgia Today, Radio Fortuna, Radio Palitra, TV Company Mir, TV Company Alike Media, Newspaper Vrtan Terti, Culture House Hayartun, Ambralejoe, and Sputnik.


NEWS

GEORGIA TODAY SEPTEMBER 15 - 18, 2017

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Prime Minister of Georgia Officially Opens Wine Exhibition in Bordeaux BY NINO GUGUNISHVILI

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n September 14, Giorgi Kvirikashvili, Prime Minister of Georgia officially opened the 'GeorgiaCradle of Wine' Exhibition at La Cité du Vin, the Center of Wine Civilization in Bordeaux, France. Other Georgian government officials were also in attendance at the official opening. Georgia is the first country to be invited to open a cycle of exhibitions dedicated to winemaking, and is the honorary guest of the museum. Cité Des Civilizations Du Vin is spread out over 14,000 square meters and aims to introduce the history and traditions of wine to its visitors from ancient methodologies to ultra-modern technologies. In honor of the ancient Georgian traditional Qvevri winemaking method being on the List of Intangible Cultural Heritage of UNESCO, a large Qvevri vessel, specially made for the exhibition, is situated at the main entrance, and will remain there as part of the permanent exposition. The Georgian National Museum has prepared an exposition that will showcase Georgian wine culture and its 8000 year history, displaying Qvevri vessels that were found in Georgia dating back to the VI-V centuries BC. Ancient ethnographic and archeological materials from the National Museum are also being presented at the exhibition in Bordeaux.

Photo source: La Cité du Vin

Until the exhibition ends on November 5, events will be hosted regularlyfrom scientific seminars and cultural events to conferences and wine degus-

tation. Figures show that for the first week of the exhibition alone, almost 4,000 people attended. GEORGIA TODAY contacted Nika

Zautashvili, CEO of Winery Khareba which is representing the full assortment of Khareba wines in Bordeaux, including Mukuzani Dry Red Wine,

gold winner of the Mundus Vini International Wine Award 2017. According to Zautashvili, Winery Khareba’s chacha was served at the official dinner which is a great honor for the company. “I would like to thank the Georgian government for supporting such an ambitious project aiming to promote Georgian wine culture. Hundreds of world renowned wine masters, wine exporters and wine industry stakeholders have learned directly from the presentations made by Georgia’s Prime Minister Giorgi Kvirikashvili and ministers of Economy and Agriculture, Giorgi Gakharia and Levan Davitashvili, about Georgia’s unique Qvevri winemaking tradition and the potential the Georgian wine industry has today. As a result of the Bordeaux wine expo, we expect a significant increase in our export numbers in such important markets as China, Europe and the US,” Zautashvili concluded. "The country's greatest success is that the wine industry specialists, experts and wine companies representing Georgia will be presented as the heritage of winemaking,” Georgian Prime Minister Giorgi Kvirikashvili said of the event. “This is a result of many years of research and hard work. We prepared well for this exhibition. There will be cultural events, as well as high-level meetings. This very important event opens a completely new perspective of Georgia not only in terms of wine but also in the cultural world, as a homeland of wine and the country's ancient culture and civilization".


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POLITICS

GEORGIA TODAY

SEPTEMBER 15 - 18, 2017

Georgia Denounces OSCE/ODIHR Starts Military Training in Occupied Abkhazia Election Observation

Mission in Georgia BY THEA MORRISON

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BY THEA MORRISON

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eorgia’s Defense Minister, Levan Izoria says that the joint military drills of Russia and de facto Abkhazia, being carried out on the territory of the occupied region, represent a violation of international standards. “Any such activity within breakaway territories is anti-constitutional and illegal. They have been criticized severely by the international community. We perceive all this as a threat and declare that it violates international legal norms,”

the Minister stated. Head of General Staff of Georgia, Vladimer Chachibaia, says the drills in occupied Abkhazia are unconstitutional. He claims the 49th army of the occupation troops is involved in the training process, which has declared combat readiness. Military action is underway at the 7th military base. “There are more than 2000 servicemen and 300 pieces of military equipment. The training serves to check the combat level of the troops. This is unconstitutional and the norms of international law are being violated. Of course, this training is a threat for Georgia,” the Head of General Staff of Georgia stressed.

SCE/ODIHR has begun its observation mission for the October 21 local elections in Georgia. The Head of the mission, Corien Jonker, stated at the press-conference on Wednesday that the observers are not interested in the election results but the electoral process itself and the level that democratic principles are followed during the elections. She said the main role and function of the mission is to observe the elections and prepare a report afterwards, on the basis of the revealed facts. Jonker added the mission will also assess the electoral legislation, activities of the Central Election Commission, how the election campaigning is financed and how the media covers election-related issues. “Our mandate envisages assessment of the elections as it happens in all OSCE participant countries. We will evaluate how the process corresponds to the OSCE as well as other international commitments and standards that imply conduction of democratic elections. We also

assess how the process is relevant to local legislation,” she stated. The OSCE/ODIHR mission consists of 14 international experts based in Tbilisi. In addition, 22 long-term observers will be deployed throughout the country from 20 September. Moreover, around 350 short-term observers will arrive in Georgia on October 17. They will be deployed throughout the country in multinational teams of

two to monitor the opening of polling stations, the voting, the counting of ballots, and the tabulation of results. The OSCE web page reports that the ODIHR, together with its partners, will issue a statement of preliminary findings and conclusions at a press conference. A final report on the observation of the entire electoral process will be issued approximately eight weeks after the end of the electoral process.

Dept of State: US to Continue Improving Georgia’s Military Readiness BY THEA MORRISON

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he United States (US) Department of State says the USA will continue to work with Georgian leadership to improve Georgia’s military readiness and resilience within the framework of the Memorandum on Deepening the Defense and Security Partnership. The statement was released by the Department of State’s Office of the Spokesperson on September 13, saying the Security and Defense Working Group of the US-Georgia Strategic Partnership Commission met in Washington last week. The Department of State acknowledges Georgia’s role as a strategic partner in the region, and as a steadfast partner promoting stability and security around the globe. The statement reads that both parties will continue to build on the success of Exercises Noble Partner 17 and Agile Spirit 17, adding they increased the scope of cooperation and improved interoperability. The sides exchanged perspectives on the regional security situation and reviewed updates to national strategy documents in response to emerging challenges. The working group also underscored the importance of a durable and strategic approach to defense and security cooperation, adding it increases the security of each country and strengthens regional stability and global security. The meeting participants also mentioned the July 31-August 1 visit of the US Vice President Mike Pence to Geor-

gia, who stated that the United States stands by the 2008 NATO Bucharest statement and strongly supports Georgia’s aspirations to become a member of NATO. “The Vice President also noted that Georgia, a key strategic partner, already exceeds NATO’s goal of spending two percent of gross domestic product on defense,” the statement reads. The Department of State reports that each side confirmed its commitment to the full implementation of the Substantial NATO-Georgia Package, which advances Georgian preparation for NATO membership and affirmed the additional cooperation activities discussed in Brussels to prepare Georgia for membership. The sides also expressed commitment

to strengthen Black Sea security cooperation, and recognized Georgia’s role as a special partner in the region. The US side expressed appreciation for Georgia’s significant contributions to NATO’s mission in Afghanistan. Recent developments in Georgia’s occupied regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia were also discussed at the meeting, with the United States emphasizing its unwavering support for Georgia’s sovereignty, independence, and territorial integrity within its internationally recognized borders, and calling on Russia to withdraw its forces from Georgia’s occupied regions, in accordance with the 2008 ceasefire agreement.

“The United States expressed strong concern about ongoing so-called ‘borderization’ and closure of crossing points,” the statement reads. Moreover, the group members discussed the US-Georgia defense and security partnership and agreed that bilateral defense cooperation will help enhance the readiness and self-defense capabilities of the Georgian Armed Forces. It was noted that Georgia’s best security asset is its continued pursuit of democratic and economic reforms. The US noted Georgia’s progress in this regard, particularly highlighting the “remarkable progress in defense reforms,

which has been exceptional over the past year.” The US government noted the Strategic Partnership Commission was "the primary mechanism for organizing and prioritzing the broad and deepening cooperation between the US and Georgia”. The first meeting of the Strategic Partnership Commission, held on June 22, 2009, launched four bilateral working groups on priority areas identified in the Charter: democracy, defense and security, economic, trade and energy issues, and people-to-people and cultural exchanges.


POLITICS

GEORGIA TODAY SEPTEMBER 15 - 18, 2017

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What Makes Him Tick? OP-ED BY NUGZAR B. RUHADZE

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opular ideas like free market, democracy and personal liberty have changed the world. One of the most outspoken instances of that change is the third Georgian president’s recent crossing of the Polish-Ukrainian border of his own will and without any relevant documents in his pocket, supported by his Ukrainian adherents and political buddies. In the last couple of months, the former Georgian president, who is a person without citizenship, has been striding from one European country to another in the accompaniment of his beloved family members. There is no other ex or current leader of a nation in the entire world today who has made such a splash in the news. Meanwhile, his Georgian opponents are shooting from the hip some of their sedate and self-confident comments that Saakashvili has lost his political topicality. And so he may have, in this country, but not in Ukraine. Ukraine is overwhelmed with what he is suggesting by his totally unbridled, unexpected and adventurous political movements. The guy forcefully stepped over the officially delineated frontier of his former and supposed citizenship; he has happily put himself up in a wonderful hotel in one of the biggest cities in the country, together with his wife and son; he is doing populous press-conferences and holding consultations with his Ukrain-

Photo source: www.japantimes.co.jp

ian co-fighters against crime and corruption; he is loudly revealing his plans on further massive advent towards the capital city; he looks blissful and vigorous, ready to carry on with his political cause and schedule thereof; he openly denounces the current Ukrainian government and emphasizes that they will have to go, making room for new and honest national political forces.

Do things like this happen in real life? What does Misha actually rely on? Who is telling him to behave the way he is and saying he will survive? Is he really on his own? What makes him tick? I will never know the answers to these questions. And my doubts will stick, because in the country of his former presidency, a court case against him is pending on several grave counts; his extradition from

Ukraine to Georgia is expected any day now, meaning he might very well be indicted and tried for unlawfully crossing Ukraine’s state border; he is deprived of citizenship; and the governments of three United Nations member countries (Russia, Ukraine and Georgia) have adverse sentiments towards him. Could the internationally unbridled political behavior of a person in this kind

of a situation instigate my misgivings that there must be more, much more, to all that we see on our screens day and night? Yes, indeed! I don’t sense concern among the ruling elite of Georgia about Saakashvili’s momentary political upsurge, albeit on a foreign soil. There might be some latent unease out there, but our poker-faced politicians reveal nothing of the kind. As far as I’m concerned, I can say straight out that Misha has lost Georgia and I strongly doubt that he’ll ever find it again in his erstwhile capacity. His problem is that he has, maybe unwittingly, eliminated the love and trust of most of our people. Misha is talented and smart enough to have found other important employments outside his beloved homeland, but that is not at all enough for him. He dreams to be a comeback kid some day. He needs Ukraine, and the rest of the world into the bargain, only to finally embrace his motherland again and to reinstate his people’s consideration for him. I hate to know that my ex-president is desperately trotting the world and sweating in search of new opportunities beyond his own motherland, doing this without even a legal passport in hand. I have no idea what the best-case scenario for Misha is: staying in Ukraine and making a new revolution, or coming back home to stand the intended trial and then live happily ever after…or going to the United States to lecture audiences on making America a better place to live. After all, it is not only Georgia and Ukraine that need assistance, but America too.


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POLITICS

GEORGIA TODAY

SEPTEMBER 15 - 18, 2017

Expecting Major Geopolitical Shifts in Asia Map of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation. Photo source: commons.wikimedia.org

OP-ED BY EMIL AVDALIANI

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his year has seen a string of important political developments, among which the expansion of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) is arguably the largest. Following years of negotiations on accession, this year India and Pakistan were finally admitted as full members of the organization. The expansion broadens the geopolitical potential of the organization. A look at the Eurasian map reveals that now more than 2/3 of the landmass is in the SCO and all major ports and economic routes now belong to the member states. There are other advantages, too. For instance, China will gain from India and Pakistan’s accession to the SCO in the security sphere. Pakistan, due to its location and involvement in Afghanistan’s internal affairs, offers China and the SCO an important partner in fighting extremism, separatism and other forms of violence. The same concerns drive Russia, which fears that Afghan militancy may spill over into the Central Asian region. China, in particular, wants the SCO’s Regional Anti-Terrorist Structure (RATS) to gain more relevance and for there to be more coordination in terms of military activities, information sharing and

confidence building. To understand the major drawbacks of the SCO as an organization before the current expansion, we need to look at the geopolitical imperatives of the organization’s most powerful states, Russia and China. Russia envisioned the SCO to eventually develop into a military alliance that would rival NATO. China, on the other hand, wanted to organize the SCO as a future economic platform for expanding its economic and political clout in Central Asia. The stalling of the organization was primarily conditioned by these differing visions of China and Russia. Thus, the geopolitical imperatives of Russia and China have been quite different. What is worrisome is that the inclusion of India and Pakistan could further complicate the potential for evolving the organization into a more serious regional player. India’s entry could especially frustrate Beijing because of rising geopolitical competition between the Asian giants and different approaches to counterterrorism. As a reflection of the disagreements in May this year, India decided not to send a delegation to Beijing’s Belt and Road Initiative Summit. The Indian opposition to the project stems from the plan to build the corridor through the disputed Kashmir region and to connect it to the strategically important port of Gwadar in Pakistan.

The effective work of the organization would be further constrained by Pakistan and India’s different understandings of terrorism. For instance, they have different views on whether cross-border attacks in Kashmir are considered terrorism. In 2016, Pakistan accused India of working to sabotage China's plans to build an economic corridor through the country. Beyond the Pakistan-India confrontation, there are also serious constrains on India-China relations. India tacitly supports the Dalai Lama and the Tibetan government, which causes irritation in Beijing. The latter, from its side, persistently defends Pakistan’s actions in Kashmir militancy, which complicates relations with India. Any potential cooperation between China and India is quite limited, as the developing Doklam dispute, with Chinese and Indian troops facing each other, is yet another example of tense relations between the two powers. Beyond Kashmir, India and China also confront each other in the maritime domain. For example, the Indian government recently strengthened its position in the strategic Andaman and Nicobar island chain in order to counter the Chinese “string of pearls” strategy. The strategy involves gaining access to important naval ports across the Indian Ocean which would be militarily advantageous in case of major conflict.

RUSSIA’S POSITION From its announcement in 2001, the SCO provided Beijing with a very effective tool in expanding primarily its economic influence over the Central Asian states dominated by Russia. But, today, more than 15 years later, China has made big strides in gaining economic upper hand in the region as well as already making inroads into the security realm. This all happens as Russian economic influence recedes and the country faces

significant pressure from the West. Therefore, Russia’s decision to have India as a member of the SCO is likely driven by the need to further improve bilateral economic and security cooperation and also to limit China’s ever-growing influence in the organization and the Central Asian region. Indeed, Russia is increasingly concerned that in the longer run, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan are tilting too far into China’s fold.

BUSINESS

OMV Head: Nord Stream-2 Financing Scheme Must Change

Photo source: blog.streitcouncil.org and energyworldmag.com

BY DIMITRI DOLABERIDZE

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ustrian oil and gas giant OMV expects that the scheme for financing the construction of the Nord Stream-2 pipeline will have to be changed due to the new US sanctions. As the head of the oil and gas concern, Rainer Seele stated, “it will probably not be possible to organize project financing for the planned 70% of the cost of the pipeline”. "We support this project and we are not going to refuse it,” he added. “The obligations to bring the project to an end are certainly preserved, and all enterprises that have given this commitment will try to fulfill them". OMV Aktiengesellschaft is one of Austria’s largest listed industrial com-

panies. It produces and markets oil and gas, innovative energy and high-end petrochemical solutions. With group sales of EUR 19 bn and a workforce of around 22,500 in 2016, OMV has a strong base in Romania and Austria and a balanced international portfolio. The new US sanctions, introduced in August, affect the activities of joint ventures in Russia and other countries in the oil and gas industry. In particular, foreign companies are prohibited from participating in such a business if the share of companies from the Russian Federation there exceeds 33%. At the end of April, Nord Stream 2 AG, a Gazprom subsidiary, and European partners Shell, OMV, Engie, Uniper and Wintershall, signed financing agreements for Nord Stream-2. Under the agreement, the companies pledged to finance a project worth EUR 9.5 billion, totaling 50%, that is, EUR 950

million each. Gazprom is to provide the other half of the funds: EUR 4.75 billion. At the end of the summer, Shell, OMV, Engie, Uniper and Wintershall allocated EUR 285 million each, and Gazprom's board of directors approved the allocation of another EUR 1.42 billion to Nord Stream 2 AG. The remaining 70% of the value of Nord Stream-2, or EUR 6.65 billion, was supposed to be covered by attracting project financing. And this is exactly what the American sanctions have called into question. "Project financing at a rate of 70% to us to execute it in its entirety will probably not be possible. The project management will now look for other opportunities,” Seele said. "We will have to look much more towards Asian and Russian banks and think less about banks in Europe and America”. The head of OMV is in no way ready or willing to give up and does not consider the issue such a serious problem. “Even in the worst-case scenario, in which no bank will give money for the project, the partners will be able to fully cover construction costs out of their own funds,” Seele said. On behalf of German businesses, he called on the European Commission and the German authorities to take measures in response to US sanctions. "In order to create security, we need constructive steps. We must remember the reliability of energy supplies to the European Union," he said. The Nord Stream-2 gas pipeline is expected to double the current Nord Stream (from 55 to 110 billion cubic meters per year), next to which it will be laid from the Baltic coast of Russia to Germany. Construction of the Nord Stream-2 is planned to begin late 2018, and put it into operation at the end of 2019.

Entrepreneurship Mentor Gary Whitehall Speaks at Startup Grind Event BY KATIE RUTH DAVIES

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n September 14, the ‘Venture Elevator’, a new business accelerator under Meidan Group, hosted Startup Grind, this time featuring global startup mentor Gary Whitehill as speaker. Whitehill shared his experience with the representatives of over 40 startups and inspired them to be a main driver in entrepreneurship, grow their businesses and never step back. Nicknamed “The Sheriff” by AOL and "The Harry Potter of Global Entrepreneurship" by Globo, Gary is the only person in history to travel from continent-to-continent studying comparative entrepreneurship and innovation. Having spent time in more than 40 countries, Gary believes both are the answer to the great debate toward the way forward for all of humanity, not just the motivated entrepreneur. As a global social reformer, serial entrepreneur, educator and mentor, Gary advises Presidents and Prime Ministers, Fortune 100 CEO’s, economic development offices, incubators, accelerators, think tanks and entrepreneurs

on the art and science of entrepreneurship, and innovation and economic development. Venture Elevator, run by Nino Skhirtladze, a startuper herself and marketing professional, is a new place for startups which offers various ways to grow their business. It guarantees access to space, extensive networking, mentorship, PR and Marketing essentials and, most importantly, connects startups with potential investors. Despite its recent establishment, Venture Elevator is already home to successful startups like VRex, QuickCash, IBF and Imedia Hub & Gebuy.net. The main idea behind its creation was exploring the needs of both startups and investors, therefore creating a fruitful cooperation framework. Startup Grind Tbilisi is organized by Colin M, Donohue, a digital marketing and startup consultant from the US who lives in Tbilisi. Startup Grind is an international network started in Silicon Valley in 2010 which now has over 1 million followers and 250 Chapters in 100 countries. Global sponsors include Google for Entrepreneurs, and local sponsorship is led by innovators Crystal MFO and Menu. ge.


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BUSINESS

Finance Ministry: Moody’s Upgrades Georgia’s Ratings

GEORGIA TODAY

SEPTEMBER 15 - 18, 2017

Winery Khareba Chief Winemaker on What Makes the Brand a Winner INTERVIEW BY KATIE RUTH DAVIES

W BY THEA MORRISON

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eorgia’s Minister of Finance and Vice-Premier Dimitry Kumsishvili stated that for the first time since 2007, international rating company Moody’s has upgraded Georgia's ratings to Ba2 from Ba3, adding that the outlook remains at stable. “Moody’s Ba2 is the highest level taken by Georgia in the ratings of other companies,” the Minister stated at a special press-conference, saying the reason for improvement was that Georgia's economy proved resilient to the significant economic, financial and exchange rate shock in the region in 2014-16. Kumsishvili stated that in the given period, Georgia’s GDP growth averaged 3.4% at a time when many of its neighbors were in or close to recession. He said that Moody’s attributed this resilience to effective macroeconomic policy management and strong banking supervision that allowed banks to continue to finance the economy. “The rating company also underlines that financial institutions in Georgia are strong,” the Minister added. The Investor’s Service of Moody’s upgraded the Government of Georgia's local and foreign currency issuer ratings on September 11. Georgia's foreign currency senior unsecured ratings have also been upgraded to Ba2 from Ba3. The local-currency bond and deposit ceilings were raised to Baa1 from Baa3. The foreign currency bond ceiling was raised to Baa3 from Ba1 and the foreign currency bank deposit ceiling was raised to Ba3 from B1. In addition, the shortterm foreign-currency bond ceiling was raised to P-3 from Not Prime and the short-term foreign currency deposit ceiling was maintained at Not Prime. “We expect Georgia's economy to strengthen and its resilience to shocks to continue to be enhanced as ongoing measures to diversify and reform the economy bear fruit,” the statement of the company reads. Moody’s also mentioned the ongoing process of diversification of trade and

investment relationships, including through the Association Agreement (AA) and Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Agreement (DCFTA) with the European Union (EU). “These agreements will provide Georgia with technical and financial support to further develop its already strong institutions and further deepen political and economic relations. Closer ties and alignment with EU norms will also boost competitiveness through measures to improve customs procedures, food quality, education systems, and labor codes,” the statement reads, adding that, beyond its relations with the EU, Georgia has growing access to a diverse set of markets, through various recent and prospective trade agreements, such as those with a number of Commonwealth of Independent States members, Turkey, and potentially through the prospective free trade agreement with China. The company added that the recent reforms in the country significantly improved financial situation. “We also expect that past microeconomic reforms, which have helped to boost the economy's shock absorption capacity, will continue to positively affect the economy,” Moody’s added. The statement reads that these reforms include success in reducing corruption to low levels compared with most other sovereigns and significant reductions in the number of taxes along with simplified tax administration, as well as broadening the availability of online tax payment. Moody’s added that labor market reforms started in Georgia in the last few years, adding they ease restriction on hiring, work hours and redundancy and will also boost the potential for enhanced productivity in the economy. “The business environment has also improved through reform of the system of licenses and permits which, for example, reduce the time to register businesses and receive permits for construction projects,” the statement reads. Georgia’s Finance Ministry believes that the increase of Georgia’s currency issuer ratings will increase the inflow of foreign investments in the country and will serve as a signal that Georgia is a reliable country for investments.

inery Khareba won the gold medal at the prestigious competition Mundus Vini International Wine Award 2017 in Germany for its Mukuzani Dry Red Wine. Nearly 164 international wine experts from 41 countries judged wines from more than 150 wine growing regions all over the world in the globally recognized summer competition. GEORGIA TODAY spoke to Vladimer Kublashvili, Chief Winemaker and Production Director at Winery Khareba, which was established in 1995. “Winery Khareba works to maintain the unique vine culture and winemaking using both ancient methods and modern technologies; consequently, the Company produces high-quality wines,” Kublashvili tells us. “Winery Khareba produces over 35 different kinds of wine from the best Eastern and Western Georgian varieties of grape and contributes to the safeguarding of Georgia's unique culture of viticulture”. Kublashvili decided to become a professional winemaker in the last year of high school study and in 2000 joined the Georgian Agriculture University. “Since that time, I’ve graduated several universities in Georgia and Europe as well and now possess Bachelor and Master Diplomas in Enology and an MBA Diploma in Wine Management and Marketing. I’m also an official member of the wine jury in various international wine competitions”. Once he graduated in 2006, Kublashvili began to work at Winery Khareba. “I can tell you that during these years, I’ve gained huge experience in my field and am learning every single day!” he says. “It’s a great honor for me to be a Chief Winemaker of Winery Khareba and to work with such great people”.

HOW DID YOU MANAGE TO CREATE SUCH A FINE WINE? WHAT TECHNOLOGIES DID YOU USE? Progress in Enology has led to considerable improvements in wine quality and made it possible to bring out the individual character of wine grapes, which is in turn relates to the environmental conditions specific to each vineyard. The wine team of Winery Khareba knows exactly how to produce highquality, healthy, clean wines whose flavor fully expresses the quality of the Georgian grapes. At the same time, tasting criteria have become increasingly demanding, which is also a good thing.

10 Galaktion Street

Photo, from the left: Vladimer Kublashvili, Chief Winemaker & Production Director,Winery Khareba; Paul Wagner, President, Balzac Communications & Marketing and Nika Zautashvili, CEO, Winery Khareba

We control all wine process very strictly because defects stand out even more in quality wines, as their highly-refined organoleptic characteristics are effected by the slightest problem. Our philosophy is to promote indigenous Georgian grape varieties, make the finest wines and encourage wine consumers to consume them around the globe. We use the highest technologies and old, traditional methods to achieve the final quality.

recognition of Winery Khareba in the wine industry and, of course, helps sales.

WHAT MAKES MUKUZANI STAND OUT FROM OTHERS OF ITS KIND?

Winery Khareba has a new GM, Nika Zautashvili, who joined the company several months ago and brought a new vision and bright ideas. One of the main objectives for him and the company over the next few years will certainly be to increase recognition of our brand name abroad. We work very hard to represent the company’s products in the traditional markets and in emerging countries. Besides traditional wine markets (like Russia and Ukraine), we do very well in China, where our sales are increasing. We also signed a contract with an American, San Francisco-based company last month and are ready to export the first of our wines shortly. Winery Khareba will always do its best to bring more fame and success to the Georgian wine industry and to defend its name.

The Saperavi grapes we use to make Mukuzani are planted in the Mukuzani Doc, which is the perfect place to make fine wines. It stands out for its soil, climate, and outstanding terrain. Such a combination of nature, grape and skillful winemaking led to the creation of this global class dry red wine.

WHAT DOES WINNING THIS AWARD MEAN ON A GLOBAL SCALE FOR THE WINE ITSELF AND FOR KHAREBA, THE BRAND? Winning any international award proves to us that we are in good shape, but winning the Gold Medal of such a recognized competition as Mundus Vini, brings big

HOW DOES IT FEEL TO WIN SUCH A PRESTIGIOUS PRIZE? When we gain such prestigious awards, we really feel proud, but it is also a huge responsibility as, year after year, we have to bring to our consumers ever better… without any compromise.

WHAT ARE YOUR ASPIRATIONS FOR THE FUTURE?

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


SOCIETY

GEORGIA TODAY SEPTEMBER 15 - 18, 2017

Birdwatchers at the International Birdwatching Festival, Adjara

Bird Watching: The New Eco Tourism Trend in Adjara BY NINO GUGUNISHVILI

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he Black Sea coast, and namely the area surrounding Batumi, is known as the Eastern Black Sea Migration Corridor, with over one million raptors migrating through it to Africa each year. The migration period runs from approximately August 15 and lasts until October 15, making the Adjara region one of the top places for bird watching in the world, as its raptor migrating corridor is considered one of the biggest at global third place. The unique topography and climate of the Adjara region is said to be a determining factor in the vast number of annual migrating raptors, bringing more and more popularity to bird watching as an ecotourism trend and a growing number of bird watching fans, scientists, biologists. The bird migration can be enjoyed from several specially prepared spots: from the platforms in the villages of Sakhalvasho and Chaisubani (Kobuleti municipality), from the Mtirala National Park and Ispani Sphagnum Peatlands and the Chorokhi Delta in Khelvachauri. From September 24 to September 30, Adjara is to host its annual International Birdwatching Festival, organized with the support of the Tourism Product Development Agency of the Tourism Department of Adjara. The idea to found the Birdwatching Festival came from international organization Batumi Raptor Count (BRC) back in 2012. The Birdwatching Festival this year entails a series of lectures and presentations held by foreign and Georgian specialists, with the involvement of Adjara tourist agencies, students and school pupils. Educational excursions are planned to the abovementioned bird watching spots as well as the Kolkheti National Park and Batumi Port. The Birdwatching Festival 2017 is organized by SABUKO (Nature Conservation Society). Alexander Rukhaia, its founder and director, was awarded the prestigious Whitley Award for protecting birds of pray in 2016. For the festival, Adjara Tourism Department have also established a bird watching platform and a housing infrastructure in Shuamta village, with guest houses in the area ready for visitors and event attendees. The festival is said to be a powerful tool not only for boosting bird watching tourism locally, but also for the conservation of the migrating raptors. Even if you can’t make it to this year’s International Birdwatching Festival, the bird watching platform at Sakhalvasho village alone is something you’d not want to miss if you happen to be in Adjara at the beginning of autumn, not least for the fact that the view is absolutely stunning, to say nothing of the actual bird migration process. While on a tour there last weekend, we spotted Irao soaring across the sky. “I’ve been coming here the past three years to spend two or three weeks studying the migration of raptors,” Steen Sogaard, Biologist from Denmark, told us, as we stood among volunteers from all around Europe, gathered on the Sakhalvasho platform. The story of Batumi Raptor Count started in 2004, when Brecht Verhelst, Stijn Hantson and Nicolas Vanermen travelled to the Caucasus and stayed in Batumi to observe the bird migration and came up with the idea of setting a full-season raptor count with the help of volunteers. It wasn’t until 2008 that the first Batumi Raptor Count was able to be implemented. “It happened that they were here at the right time,” Aki, a volunteer and a Batumi Raptor Count

coordinator from Finland told us. “Many of the species we see have different migration phenology; they don’t all come at the same time but spread out over this two-month period from August to October,” he said. “We’ve counted more than one million raptors annually since 2012, and we’re expecting to have one million raptors again this year,” he noted. What makes the raptor migration in Adjara so special is geography, as many birds we see here, Aki told us, avoid crossing the sea, but also avoid crossing mountains: “they squeeze in the area between the both. That’s why we have birds from all around Europe and even Kazakhstan”. One of the main species counted is the European Honey-buzzard, along with the Steppe Buzzard, Black Kite, Lesser Spotted Eagle, and Booted Eagle. On September 2, 2012, they counted over 170,000 Honey-buzzards. “Sometimes it can be stressful if they come too close, but when you have a good day, it’s really rewarding to get the feedback and you’re proud of the count results and of the team,” Aki said. There are around 20 people involved in the project from different countries, most of the volunteers staying for two weeks, but some for longer, for one or two months, usually at the guesthouses in the village. We visited one such guesthouse and spoke to owner Nuri Delaverov, frequently host to members of the bird watching community and other tourists visiting the Sakhalvasho area. We’ve are told that the Adjara Tourism Department assists locals to develop their guest houses to meet the fast-growing tourism demand in the region. Our next stop was the Kolkheti National Park, another spot on the bird migration itinerary, where you can spot species included on the Red List of Georgia. As Emzar Malania, ranger at the Kolkheti National Park said, “The place is getting more and more popular with international visitors, and especially bird watchers”. The park offers bird watching towers and boat tours on Paliastomi Lake to observe the rare species. Sulkhan Glonti, Head of the Adjara Tourism Department told us that Bird Watching becoming increasingly popular assists in the development of eco and rural tourism, “while at the same time bringing additional sources of income to the local population” as the bird watching platforms are mainly situated in the villages. “We’re doing what we can for the comfort of visitors, tourists, and scientists that come. We regularly retrain guest house owners to help them provide a more comfortable stay for guests, and, in this respect, the Birdwatching Festival is very important,” he stated. The infrastructure of the existing platforms is to be updated and modernized according to the specific needs and requirements of the visitors, which will be analyzed through a survey to be conducted during the Bird Festival. Glonti also pointed to the fact the tourist season in Adjara can be considered as extremely successful this year, largely due to joint public and private sector efforts and cooperation, and the massive promotional campaigns on different targeted markets of 16 countries around the world.” The region of Adjara has also been in the spotlight of such media outlets as BBC, Euronews and CNN. If you’re looking to experience something new, thrilling and probably unforgettable, or if you’re a bird watcher in search of new places to discover, grab your backpack and head to the Adjara region before October 15. Bird Festival attendance (Sept 24 to Sept 30) is free of charge and you can register to attend through the agency@ gobatumi.com or at: +995 977 90 90 93/ :+995 977 90 90 91

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SOCIETY

GEORGIA TODAY

SEPTEMBER 15 - 18, 2017

Georgian Mountains Stunning Photo Collection Gives Glimpse into Motherhood in 56 Wine Company

Countries & Cultures Worldwide

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he main task of the Georgian Mountains Wine Company, which was founded in 2017 and produces pitcher and sweet wine, is the creation of top quality wine that meets the needs of a worldwide demand for excellence. Georgian Mountains wine is made in a characteristically Georgian way that combines traditional indigenous Qvevri modes of manufacture with contemporary European technology. The result is a distinc-

tive and highly successful array of flavors and aromas that will appeal to all who enjoy quality and character in wine. You can taste Georgian Mountains wine at every restaurant of Mgroup, Alcorium, Sirajkhana, Kvareli Lake Resort, Vinomania and many more. TEL +995 514 12 22 99; +995 597 122 277 Facebook: @georgianmountainswinecompany E-mail: info@gmwine.ge

ommissioned by Play Like Mum through platforms including Upwork, People Per Hour and Fiverr, Mums of the World showcases mothers from 56 different countries and cultures through a series of portraits and quotes that depict what it means to be a mother. The campaign features photographs of mums from six of the world's seven continents, everywhere from an upmarket suburb of Birmingham, England, through to the conflict-zone that is The Gaza Strip. Daily life may not be the same for these 56 women, but their love and dedication to their families is indistinguishable. GuamanianAnnamarie had the following to say about her friend, the mother featured in the collection from her home country: “There is nothing that this mother will not go through to better herself and the environment for her children. [...] She says that she's not perfect. She can only try her best at everything. The only perfection in her life is her children and she would have it no other way.” 4,891 miles away in Pakistan, Mohammed speaks about his own mother: “The family may not have much money and, at times, life is diffi-

cult, however her love for her children shines through. They make her happy when she feels sad and she would do absolutely anything for them.” See the photos and stories at: https://www.playlikemum.com/mums-of-theworld/

City Mall Saburtalo to Expand BY THEA MORRISON

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ity Mall shopping center, located at 1 Kavtaradze Street, Saburtalo, is to expand its territory. The gross leasable area of the new building will be 57,000 m2, and the gross building area will be 87,000 m2 without the business center. The mall will feature international brand shops, food facilities and an entertainment zone for children and adults. There will also be a lounge for parents shopping with children. Underground parking will be designed for 1500 cars, allowing high traffic inflow and customer convenience City Mall Saburtalo expansion project is due to be completed in November, 2018.


SOCIETY

GEORGIA TODAY SEPTEMBER 15 - 18, 2017

Dolittle in Svaneti

BLOG BY TONY HAMNER

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he famed animal doctor who can communicate with all of his non-human patients visited recently and asked me to explain some of the words and phrases used by specific creatures and for specific purposes here in the mountains of Svaneti. Note, some of these may be used in other parts of Georgia as well, and possibly even outside the country, but always check to be sure you are saying what you THINK you are saying. This is so as not to cause your pigs to fight one another to the death or your poultry merely to scratch their heads with incomprehension, having landed on the backs of your bovines. The pronunciation is for standard (Tbilisi) Georgian. Please also note, these words are not ever to be uttered towards any human, as they may cause significant insult after

momentary confusion, a thing to be avoided among Svans at all costs, which might include one’s person becoming involved in injury or worse. Bovine: Dido: depart from hence aishpsh aishpsh, or gheya gheya (see Porcine): come (for calves: dziunu dziunu) Poultrine (technically, galline; possibly applicable towards ducks, geese, Guinea fowl and turkeys as well as chickens, but check for comprehensibility): jiba jiba: enter my presence ksh ksh: avast Canine: Sss: attack with extreme prejudice! (i.e. a person, other animal or other dog, especially in organized though technically illegal dog fights) shisht’a: withdraw instantly and with no further displays of aggression, because I am the alpha creature

Porcine: gheya gheya (see Bovine: a rare interspecies shared word): advance Arm yourself with these words and phrases and you will be ready for basic level communication with any domesticated animal and for most necessary or common situations. They may not reply using these exact words, but you can at least be confident of being understood and, hopefully, obeyed! (Especially by the ones who know their place below us in the food chain. Perhaps less so by those whose diet might conceivably include Homo Sapiens, and thus might regard themselves occasionally as parallel to or even above us in said chain: not a thought worth contemplating to its logical conclusion). Tony Hanmer has lived in Georgia since 1999, in Svaneti since 2007, and been a weekly writer for GT since early 2011. He runs the “Svaneti Renaissance” Facebook group, now with over 1500 members, at www.facebook.com/groups/SvanetiRenaissance/

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SOCIETY

GEORGIA TODAY

SEPTEMBER 15 - 18, 2017

Fergal Reaches New Heights in Kazbegi, Just 6 Years after a Major Back Op BY KATIE RUTH DAVIES

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n 2001, Irishman Fergal Hingerty was diagnosed with chronic sciatica caused by spinal deterioration from an old back injury. The prognoses left him with a choice: a risky major operation that might leave him in a wheelchair, or spending the rest of his life in a wheelchair. He chose the first option and not only managed to recover from the subsequent 9-hour operation, but went on to find his passion in hiking and mountain climbing. Now, having climbed almost all the highest mountains in the UK, he chose Georgia and Mount Kazbegi as his latest life challenge. GEORGIA TODAY met back up with Fergal in Tbilisi the day he returned to civilization from the four-day climb. Pink nosed, bleary-eyed and suffering from a ‘mountain cough’, he looked exhausted. “I should be feeling exhilarated, but I’ve barely slept- I guess it’ll sink in in a day or so,” he says with a smile. Kazbegi was recently named by Business Insider UK among the ‘Top 10 Places to Do in Your Lifetime’. Our first question: Did you make it to the top? A resounding, filled-with-well-

deserved-pride: Yes! Though not, he tells us, without difficulty. “We set off at two o’clock in the morning, pitch black, head-torches on. I got a little dehydrated despite filling myself up with tea. The problem at the hut there (3700m and seven hours’ hike up from the village of Stepantsminda) is a lack of fresh water. Everything has to be boiled and re-boiled, it comes from the glacier so it’s full of sand. That takes time. It wasn’t something I was well enough prepared for,” he admits. Another issue was pacing. “At one stage, for a few minutes, I couldn’t catch my breath,” he says. “You get into a rhythm. When the guide briefly sped up, that rhythm got broken and I started hyperventilating. But it didn’t last long, a few minutes at most: mind over matter, the way I always do it”. Another issue, a serious one, was a broken crampon. “Thank God the guide was able to fix it,” Fergal says. “Otherwise I would have had no grip and no more climb- I wouldn’t even have been able to get back down. The 5-strong team I was with would have been let down and so would I.” Not surprising, considering the ice sheets needing to be crossed. “Even an area that looked easy to cross, sandy, turned out to have a solid sheet of ice

Fergal Hingerty on Mount Kazbegi with fellow climbers Anya Bào, Michał Twardowski and Aneta Flis

Some people who suffer misfortune ask, ‘Why me?’ I ask: ‘Why NOT me?’ then turn it around and make use of it beneath,” he says. But the guide was able to save the day and with bang and twist, all was welland up the team went in “fine” 40 mileper-hour winds, temperature minus 20, all the way to the top, zigzagging past crevasses and enduring a horse-ride across a swollen glacial river. “I was so exhausted and, because of the strong winds, I couldn’t raise the sponsor’s or Ireland flag,” Fergal laments of his moment at the summit. “Plus the fact I’d already lost a glove in the wind on the way up- it was whipped out of my hand when I took it off to take a picture”. As on all his climbs, however, he did have spare gloves. Kazbegi is the highest mountain (5,047 m) Fergal has climbed to date, and the experience has changed him, he says, joking of the ‘hills’ he climbed before in Wales and Scotland, now seeming nothing in comparison. We ask him what’s next and he tells us some Iranians he met in the hut invited him to climb Iran’s highest- Mount Damavand (5,610m above sea level) but with a stunning hike through sulphur flats beforehand, Damavand being a potentially active volcano. We asked Fergal how he would rate his experience hiking in Georgia. “The views were absolutely stunning,” he told us. “There were just two negatives- the sanitation issue at the hut and the rescue team.”

At the 50-person hut, he met climbers from Iran, the UK, Canada, South Africa, Czech Republic, Poland, Slovakia, Ukraine, Israel, France- “all kinds of people from all kinds of places wanting to climb this mountain, but if you don’t have a mountain rescue, then you’re going to have a very serious incident up there”. Just two days after Fergal got down, reports reached him that a 42-year-old Polish climber died from altitude sickness, allegedly because he failed to alert his team he was suffering. The Ministry of Internal Affairs is looking into the case. “I was shocked when I heard that,” he told us when we contacted him about it. “We passed his group on the way down”. “There is a permanent rescue team based in Stepantsminda, and the helicopter from Rooms hotel helps out if needed- but to get from the village to the hut is a seven-hour hike. From there to the peak is another seven hours”. “There’s a tragic picture up there- people dying or going missing, you hear the stories,” Fergal tells us. “But even in Ireland, mountain rescue is depressingly underfunded”. Slipping and breaking a leg, disappearing down impenetrable crevasses, getting lost, dying of exposure or altitude sickness- these are risks familiar to any experienced mountain climber, but ones which can be mitigated by a permanent on-location rescue team. Fergal told us of a two-man volunteer Polish rescue team based at the Meteora Bethlemi Hut shelter within the frames of the ‘Safe Kazbek’ project through which the Medyk Rescue Team Foundation maintains the duty of Polish lifeguards. All rescuers participate as part of a social project and the equipment and maintenance of the base (a tent!) and on-call service is possible thanks to sponsors and donors. “Everyone is an expert in their field, ranging from medical rescue, missing search, high altitude rescue to mountain climbing. Together we create an excellent team ready to act in any, even the most demanding conditions,” the Medyk website claims. GEORGIA TODAY will be interviewing them this week. The Meteora Bethlemi Hut, we are informed, lacks toilets and showers, and

to answer the ‘call of nature,’ people have to head outside to the nearby ‘rubbish dump’. The idea came up in our discussion with Fergal that the local authorities could charge visitors some 10 GEL, half of which would go to sewage and hut maintenance and half towards mountain rescue. It currently costs 20 GEL to stay in the hut and 5 GEL to camp outside. In February, we reported on an initiative by entrepreneur David Chichinadze, who has vast experience working with the Swiss Development Agency managing disaster risk reduction and several construction projects in difficult-to-reach locations, to build the $400,000 ‘Altihut’ complex. Altihut will offer a café/restaurant, accommodation for up to 30 people, toilets, showers, washing facilities, a shop, rental equipment, mountain guides, and will accommodate mountain rescue services. “The main target group will be hikers, day trippers visiting the glacier, mountain bikers, ski tourers in winter and, of course, climbers,” Chichinadze told us. It is expected to be ready to host its first tourists in summer 2018. Until then, those wishing to climb Kazbegi will just have to hold their noses and be prepared: the views alone make such issues seem small. And as is the case with any extreme tourism, do your research before you go. “It’s tough going up there,” Fergal says. “And now I have great admiration for those lads that climb Everest, or indeed any remote mountain over 7000 meters; three to four weeks on the go, boiling water…going to toilet outside in minus 20. I’ve gone up a level with Kazbegi. It was nearly beyond me but my extraordinary will to never, ever give up pushed me to it. 50% of climbers don’t get to the top; the wind’s often too strong and the storms can be too dangerous to even attempt to climb in, but the view over the glacier is just something else. To be honest, I would have been happy even with the view from the little chapel up there (at 4000m).. But, no, nothing was going to stop me from getting to the top, even if I’d had to do it on my hands and knees. It’s that will to win. And when you look back up at that mountain from Kazbegi. Wow. Yeah. It’s a big achievement”.


CULTURE

GEORGIA TODAY SEPTEMBER 15 - 18, 2017

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Batumi to Host 3rd Int’l Advertising Festival n September 21-23, the third International Advertising Festival ‘Ad Black Sea’ will be held in Batumi. GEORGIA TODAY talked to Vato Kavtaradze, co-founder of the festival.

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it helps to raise the bar and the quality of the industry. Batumi is the best place for festivals of this kind as there is a nice atmosphere of sea, sun and people gathering to socialize and share their experiences. The festival stands on three pillars: contest, educational program (seminars and workshops), and entertainment (hanging out and having fun). As I said, Batumi is the best place for all three.

WHERE DID THE IDEA COME FROM?

WHAT ARE THE CONTEST CATEGORIES?

Such festivals boost the development of the relevant industry in the country. There are not many countries that enjoy such festivals. It demands a lot of effort and we began thinking about the festival some 5-6 years ago, because it needed planning and inserting into the international calendar. The first took place in 2015, with State support, as well as with the involvement of advertising workers and the private sector.

FMCG (Fast- Moving Consumer Goods), Other Consumer Products (Including Durable Goods), Consumer Services, Media, Entertainment and Leisure, Social Advertising and Charity, and Others.

INTERVIEW BY MAKA LOMADZE

HOW IMPORTANT IS SUCH A FESTIVAL FOR GEORGIA? Very important and very special, because

WHICH COUNTRIES WILL BE PARTICIPATING? Around twenty countries, mostly countries from our region, i.e. the post-Soviet space. The states from the Black Sea region, as well as the Baltic countries, will be there as will a number of entries from Eastern Europe. Perhaps one day we will broaded our scope, but for the

time being what we have more than satisfies the requirements of the region.

TELL US ABOUT THE JURY They are: Jean-Paul Lefebvre, a Creative Director from Belgium; Rimantas Stanevicius, Creative Director from Lithuania; Andrei Copots, Executive Director, Ukraine; Ants Tonnison, Creative Director from Estonia; Giorgi Kvlividze, Senior Art Director from Georgia; Can Faga, Executive Creative Director from Turkey; and Gleb Glonti, Creative Director from Russia. Each year, we try to put one Georgian to represent the country as we hope that it helps the integration of international expertise to the Georgian industry.

WHAT ABOUT THE AWARD? The award is specially designed and totally unique. It is made with plastic that is washed out by the Black Sea. With that we also fulfill some sort of social responsibility that makes a statement about the environment that we are serv-

ing. We hope that this is something that shows our perspective and vision as one of socially responsible. This special award stands out from all other awards that exist in the world.

HAS THERE BEEN PROGRESS SINCE 2015 IN THE ADVERTISING SPHERE? Definitely. The industry is developing, growing. The quality of produced advertisements from certain agencies is getting better and I think we are all contributing to that improvement.

WHAT ARE THE EXPECTATIONS FOR THE FESTIVAL THIS YEAR? Expectations are always good. This year, we are holding the festival together with the Check in Georgia project with the support of the Ministry of Economy and the government. We hope that this contribution will strengthen the festival and make it bigger. The collaboration of the government and the private sector is always appreciated.

WHAT WILL MAKE THIS FESTIVAL DIFFER FROM PREVIOUS ONES? We always try to make some improvements. There are several surprises that we are preparing for participants. Surprises usually come from the weather, too- the first festival was sunny, while the second saw continuous downpours! Let’s see what happens this time. Registration is open until September 17. Interested parties should go to: www.adblacksea. com


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CULTURE

GEORGIA TODAY

SEPTEMBER 15 - 18, 2017

WHAT’S ON IN TBILISI THEATER

TBILISI INTERNATIONAL FESTIVAL OF THEATER September 18 ENDGAME Samuel Beckett Directed by Kay Voges Designer- Michael SieberockSerafimowitsch Schauspiel Dortmund, Germany Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 20, 30 GEL Venue: Royal District Theater September 21 CHEKHOV’S FIRST PLAY Directed by Bush Moukarzel and Ben Kidd Composer- Jimmy Eadie and Kevin Gleeson Designer- Andrew Clancy Choreographer- Liv O Donoghue Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 20-55 GEL Venue: Kote Marjanishvili State Drama Theater, Big Stage GABRIADZE THEATER Address: 13 Shavtelis St. Telephone: 2 98 65 93 September 16 MARSHAL DE FANTE’S DIAMOND Rezo Gabriadze Directed by Rezo Gabriadze Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 10, 20, 30 GEL September 17, 20 THE AUTUMN OF MY SPRINGTIME Rezo Gabriadze Directed by Rezo Gabriadze Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 10, 20, 30 GEL September 21 STALINGRAD Rezo Gabriadze Directed by Rezo Gabriadze Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 10, 20, 30 GEL

SHALIKASHVILI THEATER Address: 37 Rustaveli Ave. Telephone: 595 50 02 03 September 15, 16 KRIMANCHULI Comedy novels presented, based on Georgian national motives Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 15 GEL TBILISI ZAKARIA PALIASHVILI OPERA AND BALLET THEATER Address: 25 Rustaveli Ave. Telephone: 2 99 04 56 September 17 ABESALOM AND ETERI Starring: Teimuraz Gugushvili, Makvala Aspanidze, Vakhtang Jashiashvili, George Chelidze, Elene Janjalia, Ira Iosebidze,Irina Sherazadishvili, Philipe Gachava, Aleksandre Tibelishvili, George Mchedlishvili. Tbilisi State Opera Theater Choir, Orchestra, Ballet, Georgian National Ballet "Sukhishvili". Conductor- Zaza Azmaiparashvili Director- Gizo Jordania Set, Costume and Lighting Designer George Alexi- Meskhishvili Choreographer- Iliko Sukhishvili Video Projection- David Matchavariani Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 7-50 GEL September 20 OPERA GALA Starring: Tbilisi Opera Theater soloists, choir and orchestra Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 7-50 GEL CINEMA

AMIRANI CINEMA Address: 36 Kostava Str. Telephone: 2 99 99 55 www.kinoafisha.ge Every Wednesday ticket price: 5 GEL September 15-21

MOTHER! Directed by Darren Aronofsky Cast: Jennifer Lawrence, Javier Bardem, Ed Harris Genre: Drama, Horror, Fa Language: Russian Start time: 21:15 Language: English Start time: 19:05 Ticket: 13-14 GEL

GEORGIAN NATIONAL MUSEUM SIMON JANASHIA MUSEUM Address: 4 Rustaveli Ave. Telephone: 2 99 80 22, 2 93 48 21 www.museum.ge

JOUR J Directed by Reem Kherici Cast: Reem Kherici, Nicolas Duvauchelle, Julia Piaton Genre: Comedy, Adventure, Fa Language: Russian Start time: 16:45 Ticket: 10-11 GEL

EXHIBITION OF GEORGIAN WEAPONRY

RUSTAVELI CINEMA Address: 5 Rustaveli Ave. Telephone: 2 55 50 00 www.kinoafisha.ge Every Wednesday ticket: 5 GEL September 15-21 MOTHER! Directed by Darren Aronofsky Cast: Jennifer Lawrence, Javier Bardem, Ed Harris Genre: Drama, Horror Language: Russian Start time: 17:00, 19:45, 22:30 Ticket: 13-14 GEL LOGAN LUCKY Directed by Steven Soderbergh Cast: Daniel Craig, Channing Tatum, Katherine Waterston Genre: Comedy, Crime, Drama Language: Russian Start time: 16:30, 19:15, 22:15 Ticket: 10-14 GEL 7 SISTERS Directed by Tommy Wirkola Cast: Noomi Rapace, Marwan Kenzari, Willem Dafoe Genre: Sci-Fi, Thriller Language: Russian Start time: 22:00 Ticket: 13-14 GEL

MUSEUM

PERMANENT EXHIBITION: GEORGIAN ARCHAEOLOGY FROM 8TH MILLENNIUM B.C. TO THE 4TH CENTURY A.D

NUMISMATIC TREASURY THE TESTAMENT OF DAVID THE BUILDER AND NEW EXHIBITS OF THE MEDIEVAL TREASURY EXHIBITION STONE AGE GEORGIA May 18- November 18 EXHIBITION GEORGIAN COSTUME AND WEAPONRY OF 18TH-20TH CENTURIES MUSEUM OF FINE ARTS Address: 1 Gudiashvili Str. Telephone: 299 99 09 August 10 – September 20 EXHIBITION EDEN BY ROGER VON GUNTEN IOSEB GRISHASHVILI TBILISI HISTORY MUSEUM - KARVASLA Address: 8 Sioni St. Telephone: 2 98 22 81 August 30 – September 20 EXHIBITION THE BORDER Curated by Inke Arns and Thibaut de Ruyter (Dortmund and Berlin), Production: Liaison des Arts, Karola Matschke (Berlin), Project co-ordination in Tbilisi: Lasha Khvedelidze (Goethe institute Georgia)

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. GALLERY

THE NATIONAL GALLERY Address: 11 Rustaveli Ave. www.museum.ge Telephone: 215 73 00 EXHIBITION CONSTELLATION Artworks by Chinese contemporary artists- Ai Weiwei, Hu Xiaoyuan, Li Shurui, Liu Wei, Lu Pingyuan, Lu Shanchuan, Ma Qiusha, Wang Guangle, Wang Sishun, Wang Yuyang, Xie Molin, Xu Qu, Xu Zhen, Yan Xing, Zhang Ding, Zhang Zhenyu, Zhao Yao and Zhao Zhao. MUSIC

INTERNATIONAL MUSIC FESTIVAL - AUTUMN TBILISI September 17 INTERNATIONAL MUSIC FESTIVAL AUTUMN TBILISI Opening Concert THE MISSA SOLEMNIS (Premier in Tbilisi) Ludwig van Beethoven Conductor- Vakhtang Kakhidze Soloists: Salome Jikia (Georgia), Nino Zakaidze (Georgia), Gyorgy Hanczar (Hungary) and Ramaz Chikviladze (Georgia) Start time: 19:30 Ticket: From 10 GEL September 19 TEL-AVIV SOLOISTS ENSEMBLE Start time: 19:30 Ticket: From 10 GEL


CULTURE

GEORGIA TODAY SEPTEMBER 15 - 18, 2017

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Launch of New Book Telling the Story of the First Georgian Republic

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ext year marks the 100th anniversary of the birth of the world's first democratic socialist government, the Georgian Democratic Republic. London-based author Eric Lee has written an important book on this long-forgotten but vital experiment in political history, The Experiment: Georgia's Forgotten Revolution, 1918-21. “The first Georgian republic had universal significance,” says Eric Lee. “The Georgian Social Democrats, led by Noe Zhordania, were both Marxists and democrats. They created a multi-party, pluralist democracy with free elections, including womens' suffrage, while at the same time carrying out a radical land reform, strengthening the cooperative movement, and encouraging the growth of independent trade unions with the right to strike. Their experiment in democratic socialism was widely known a century ago, but following the Soviet invasion in 1921, it was largely forgotten. As the world marks the centenary of the Russian Revolution, this is a good time to remind ourselves that another revolution, a humane and democratic one, was possible, as the Georgians proved”. Published by Zed Books in London, the official publication date is 15 September. In addition to the English version, translations are being prepared into Georgian, Russian, Esperanto and other languages. The Georgian edition will be published in 2018 by Poezia Press. Lee's book was launched at an event at Prospero's Books on Thursday, September 14.

Griboedov Russian Theater Takes the Gulags on Tour BY MAKA LOMADZE

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he first performances of the Griboedov Russian Theater’s 172rd Season took place on September 6-7 on the Batumi Ilia Chavchavadze State Drama Theater stage. The cast brought the performance ‘Algeria’ (Akmolinsky Camp for the wives of traitors of the homeland). On September 9, the audience of the Akaki Tsereteli Chiatura State Drama Theater got to see the same performance. ‘Algeria’ is a documentary drama staged by director Avtandil Varsimashvili. It is a historical account based on fact and describes the most horrific place of the Stalin era, the Gulag, namely, about one of the islands used to imprison people. ‘Algeria’ is the first ever performance

to be staged in Georgia by the Georgian Theater dedicated to these appalling stories of the 20th century. The sentenced included numerous members of well-known Georgian families: Ketevan Orakhelashvili, spouse of the conductor Evgeny Mikeladze; Alexandra (Ana) Dumbadze-Bakhtadze, mother of the writer Nodar Dumbadze and his aunt Tamar Dumbadze; Kira Andronikashvili, spouse of the writer Boris Pilniak; Ashkhen Nalbandian, mother of writer Bulat Okujava; and many more. In total, around 8000 women completed a sentence in the ‘Algeria’ gulag, among them 281 women from Georgia. Ludmila Artiomova-Mghebrishvili, Ina Vorobiova, Natalia Voroniuk, Nino Kikacheishvili, Mariam Kitia, Sopio Lomjaria and Ana Nikolava were among the actresses who took part in the performance ‘Algeria’. The tours were supported by the company ‘Sopmari’.

Jerome Bel’s ‘Gala’ in Tbilisi REVIEW BY MAKA LOMADZE

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n September 12-13, at the Nodar Dumbadze Children’s Theater, the worldfamous performance ‘Gala’ by Jerome Bel, famous French choreographer, took place within the framework of the international showcase program of the Contemporary Dance Festival. Gala is considered one of the best choreographic works of recent years on the contemporary dance stage. It has ben seen at numerous festivals and on many stages all over the world. It typically unites 20 local professionals and amateurs from different social strata and belonging to different age groups. In this case, the participants were aged from 6 to 79. The performance describes how dance can unite a diversity of people. The conception belongs to Jerome Bel who is assisted by Maxim Carvers. The

local staging assistants are: Chiara Galerian and Enrike Lopez. The costumes were chosen by the participants themselves. The Artistic and Company Development Consultant was Rebecca Lee; Production Manager, Sandro Grando; and counsellor in technical affairs, Jill Gentner. “I'm a member of ‘Catharsis’ Mercy House,” Jemal Nemsitsveridze, veteran amateur-dancer and the oldest participant in the project, told GEORGIA TODAY before the performance. “We hold concerts there from time to time. I was chosen by TV project ‘You’ve Got Talent’ which filled me with positive emotions together with a sense of responsibility. I’ll be dancing Salsa tonight with ballerina Eka Surmava. I have participated in various contests of ballroom dance in Georgia, but I have never seen such a program. It is a novelty, fulfilled to a very high level”. “It happened very easily, as a lot of artists abroad are interested in discovering Georgia. If there are relevant resources, goodwill and possibility, they come here

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Gala, by Jerome Bel. Photo by Herman Sorgeloos

with pleasure,” Giorgi Spanderashvili, Manager of the Contemporary Dance Festival, told us. “The Children’s Theater

Journalists: Tony Hanmer, Zaza Jgarkava, Maka Bibilashvili, Dimitri Dolaberidze, Maka Lomadze, Joseph Larsen, Vazha Tavberidze, Nugzar B. Ruhadze, Nino Gugunishvili, Thea Morrison Photographer: Irakli Dolidze

kindly agreed to give us use of the hall free of charge. This is a performance of a specific, unique format, which implies

Website Manager/Editor: Tamzin Whitewood Layout: Misha Mchedlishvili Webmaster: Sergey Gevenov Circulation Managers: David Kerdikashvili, David Djandjgava

the participation of a lot of people coming from different social strata and age. There are only 5-6 professionals. This is a performance about each and every person, covering most human issues. Therefore, every spectator can enjoy it, regardless of their age and values. There is a choreographer involved, but in most cases the participants stage their dances themselves. In other words, they are free to interpretation,” he said. The difference was reflected in the motley clothes. The show was full of humor, fed by the individuality of each amateur performer and bringing together people of different age, nationality, sexual orientation and (dis)abilities. Everyone was everyone’s friend, like in a dream land, dancing and having fun together, bringing laughter and joy to the spectators. The performance was supported by the Swiss Cooperation Office (SCO) in South Caucasus, the Ministry of Culture and Monument Protection, and Tbilisi City Hall.

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Issue #981  

September 15 - 18, 2017

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