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Issue no: 1203




As Parliament votes down a proportional system, Georgia reacts

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In this week’s issue... US Embassy to Fund the First Phase of Conservation of Jvari Monastery NEWS PAGE 2

Plugging into the World through the Black Sea POLITICS PAGE 4

Gakharia’s Foreign Trips Underscore the Importance of the Trilateral Format POLITICS PAGE 6

Statement by Bidzina Ivanishvili, Chairman of the Georgian Dream-Democratic Georgia Political Union POLITICS PAGE 7

Black Sea Bulletin: Tourism in the Black Sea Region BUSINESS PAGE 8

TBC Bank Wins Multiple Awards for Private Banking

Parliament Rejects Bill on Electoral Festival Mandarinoba at Amendments, MPs Leave GD Castello Mare Hotel SOCIETY PAGE 11



he Parliament of Georgia on Thursday rejected the bill on constitutional amendments relating to the electoral system in the first reading. The 2020 parliamentary elections will be held with a 3% barrier, blocs and a mixed system," Parliament Speaker Archil Talakvadze said after Thursday’s plenary session, adding that the Parliament had not supported the transition to a proportional system for the 2020 parliamentary elections. "The votes today were not enough. Accordingly, the decision was not approved by Parliament, which means that the parliamentary elections will be held with a 3% barrier, blocs and a mixed system. The vote results are available to the public,” Talakvadze noted. 141 MPs registered for the plenary session. 101 MPs, including opposition lawmakers, supported the bill on the transition to the proportional electoral system. Three MPs voted against the bill, though the required quorum was 113 votes, thus the MPs failed to approve the bill in the

first reading. The bill, drafted by 93 lawmakers, envisages holding the parliamentary elections in 2020 through a proportional system with a zero barrier and the admission of electoral alliances. And yet the Prime Minister himself was all for the proportional election.

"A proportional election is an essential step for the democratic development of the country and I hope that each Member of Parliament will fully share the responsibility assumed towards that democratic development and by each individual citizen when voting," PM Giorgi Gakharia stated at this week's Executive Government Meeting. “We have already stated our position and I will repeat it again that a proportional election with a zero threshold was the kind will and decision of our political team; a response to the urge for accelerated development of the democratic process in the country.” As a result of Thursday’s vote, several members of the parliamentary majority, at time of going to press Tamar Chugoshvili, Irina Pruidze, Giorgi Mosidze, Dimitri Tskitishvili, Tamar Khulordava and Sophio Katsarava, left the ruling Georgian Dream party. Mariam Jashi, a member of the parliamentary majority also left the Georgian Dream. Her statement to the press is as follows: “Almost three hours have passed since the vote. I used this time thoughtfully to safeguard my decision from being emotional. I am leaving the majority of the Georgian Dream and accordingly, Continued on page 3


We Must Unite! Patients with Multiple Sclerosis Waiting for Funding SOCIETY PAGE 12

Hidden Treasures? – Untranslated Tales of Yesteryear CULTURE PAGE 15

Special Offer for readers of Georgia Today -15% off all Diet Plans!





NOVEMBER 15 - 18, 2019

PM on Mikheil Chkhenkeli's Appointment as Education Minister BY ANA DUMBADZE


rime Minister of Georgia, Giorgi Gakharia, has responded to Mikheil Chkhenkeli's recent appointment as the Minister of Education, Science, Culture and Sport, replacing Mikheil Batiashvili in the role. "He will be able to continue the reforms that are successfully ongoing in the

US Embassy to Fund the First Phase of Conservation of Jvari Monastery BY NINI DAKHUNDARIDZE


n November 12, the US E m ba ssy i n T b i l i s i announced funding for a project focused on the conservation of damaged stones on the facades of the main church at Jvari Monastery. Funding for the project was made available by a grant through the Ambassador’s Fund for Cultural Preservation (AFCP). The $100,000 project will be implemented by the George Chubinashvili National Research Center for Georgian Art History and Heritage Preservation, with the help of various interdisciplinary teams, the US Embassy reports. This

project will cover the first phase of the conservation cycle by carrying out a comprehensive study to identify, classify and map the extent of damage and deterioration of the façade. The main church 'Jvari of the Holy Cross' (586-605 A.D.) is Jvari Monastery’s most important and valuable monument. The Jvari Monastery complex is part of the Historical Monuments of Mtskheta, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The Ambassadors Fund for Cultural Preservation has provided financial support to more than 1000 cultural preservation projects in more than 125 countries through the contribution of nearly $74 million towards the preservation of cultural heritage worldwide. In Georgia, the AFCP has funded 19 preservation projects worth nearly $1,5 million.

Image source: Wikipedia.

Ministry of Education without wasting time," he noted. The Head of Government pointed out that Chkhenkeli was involved in both the preparation of the systemic reform of education and at all stages of its implementation and is fully aware of what has been happening in the Ministry of Education in recent years. In addition, Gakharia emphasized the importance of vocational education and instructed the Minister of Education to devote particular attention to

this direction. Mikheil Chkhenkeli was appointed Georgia's Minister of Education on November 13, 2019. He has been the Advisor to the Prime Minister of Georgia in educational issues to date and in 2017-2018 served the Minister of Education and Science. Prior to that, he was Vice-Principal of Tbilisi State University. Mikheil Chkhenkeli holds a PhD and is a member of the Association of Professors of US Universities.



International Reaction to Failure of Georgian Parliament to Pass Constitutional Amendments on Proportional Election System BY GT TEAM


he co-rapporteurs of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) for the monitoring of Georgia have expressed their deep regret at the failure of the Georgian Parliament to pass the constitutional amendments required to introduce a fully proportional election system for the 2020 parliamentary elections. “We deplore the lack of support for these amendments. The introduction of a proportional system has been called for by all stakeholders for more than a decade, and its introduction was long overdue,” said Titus Corlatean (Romania, SOC) and Claude Kern (France, ALDE).

“In the light of the clear consensus by all stakeholders on the need to introduce this system before the 2020 parliamentary elections, the failure of the amendments to pass is incomprehensible. This is a step backwards,” added the co-rapporteurs. They called on all political forces, and particularly the ruling majority, to explore ways in which these amendments could still be passed before the coming elections. The US Embassy in Georgia noted that they had “welcomed the Georgian Dream party’s stated intention to transition to fully proportional parliamentary elections in 2020” and stated they had considered it an important step in advancing Georgia’s democratic development and strengthening trust among political parties. “We are disappointed, therefore, that

despite support from opposition parties, an insufficient number of Georgian Dream parliamentarians supported the required constitutional amendments in today’s vote. We urge all Georgian stakeholders, including the government, all political parties, and civil society, to work cooperatively in a calm and respectful manner to move forward in line with our shared commitment to strengthening Georgia’s democracy. “We again stress the critical importance of the passage of electoral reform legislation that incorporates the recommendations of international and local observer organizations for addressing shortcomings noted in the 2017 and 2018 elections in order for the next parliamentary elections to create a more level playing field for advancing Georgia’s political pluralism,” the US Embassy in Georgia concluded.

3 Georgian Citizens Released from Tskhinvali

Public Defender: We Must Act to Prevent Future Elections with Current System BY BEKA ALEXISHVILI




oday's decision from Parliament is the decision to maintain an unfair system, Public Defender Nino Lomjaria wrote on social media. “Unfortunately, I am abroad and have to respond to the recent developments from here. "The only bright spot that gave me hope that the country would emerge from a permanent political crisis and take real steps towards democratic development was the shift to a proportional electoral system. "Today's decision is the decision to maintain an unfair system. I do not know how many political resources are left,

but we must do everything to prevent having future elections with the current system. "The citizens of Georgia have the right to fair elections, the right to participate

in political life and the right to have their political will adequately and proportionally reflected in the election results! These rights are being deprived by the electoral system we have today," she wrote.


hree Georgian citizens detained by occupational forces, Ramaz Zadishvili, David Mishelashvili and Zurab Tukhashvili, have been released from Tskhinvali. According to the Georgian State Security Service, all three of are currently on Tbilisi administered territory. Famous Georgian physician and traumatologist Vazha Gaprindashvili and three other citizens have been illegally detained by Russian-controlled occupation forces, the Georgian State Security Service has confirmed. The Georgian Public Broadcaster reports that Gaprindashvili was detained near the village of Orchosani [under

Russian control] for “illegally crossing the border.” The "security committee of Tskhinvali" released a statement regarding the illegal detention of the doctor yesterday, while the man was kidnapped four days ago. Between 9 and 11 November, the occupation forces detained three Georgian citizens for “illegally crossing the border,” Ramaz Zadishvili, David Mishelashvili and Zurab Tukhashvili. The hotline was activated by the European Union Monitoring Mission and the negotiations are in progress regarding the release of the illegally detained individuals. The standard fine is 2,000 Russian rubles (about €28 / $31 USD). The Georgian citizens have been kidnapped for ‘illegally crossing the border’. No information has been released regarding the fourth citizen, Dr. Vazha Gaprindashvili.

Parliament Rejects Bill on Electoral Amendments, MPs Leave GD Continued from page 1 I am leaving the post of Chairman of the Committee on Education, Science and Culture. Although the debate over which electoral system is better suited to Georgia may continue indefinitely, it is our duty as the ruling party to comply with

the promise we gave our citizens two months ago. I will always remain proud of the initiatives and truly historic changes brought by the current government in Georgia, including the reforms in healthcare, prison and the education system. Nonetheless, my decision is a matter of

principle.” Following the repudiation of the bill on switching to the proportional electoral system at the plenary session of Parliament, members of the parliamentary majority have begun quitting their positions. All of them call their decision

a matter of principle. “This bill was of principled importance to us. We have no other option but to leave both the parliamentary positions and the parliamentary majority, as the failure of this constitutional amendment is a very difficult issue for which we can-

not take responsibility,” Vice Speaker Tamar Chugoshvili said. Civilian protestors immediately took to the streets outside Parliament, claiming they would not leave until they received guarantees of a proportional system for the 2020 elections.

Saving Water Promotes Agriculture & Helps Counter Climate Change


rip irrigation systems have been installed in three villages of eastern Georgia, Eniseli, Ruisi and Bediani, with support from the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), Global Environmental Facility (GEF) and the Ministry of Environmental Protection and Agriculture of Georgia. This demonstration initiative shows the benefits of water-saving technologies in promoting sustainable farming and countering climate change. It is part of the regional UNDP-GEF Kura II Project that assists Azerbaijan and Georgia in harmonizing water use policies and practices. Representatives of the UNDP, the Ministry of Environmental Protection and Agriculture of Georgia and the implementing company Amelioration Ltd. visited the village of Eniseli in Kvareli Municipality on Wednesday to meet local farmers and authorities and see the new drip irrigation system in operation. “Sustainable agriculture technologies save water and help increase crop yields,” said Deputy Minister Nino Tandilashvili. “With up-to-date methods of farming, we can better protect our national water resources and increase the income of local farmers.” “Climate change is bringing dryer and warmer weather to eastern Georgia and all of Azerbaijan,” said UNDP Head Lou-

Image source: interplast.com

isa Vinton. “By helping to manage water sustainably in this predominantly agricultural transboundary river basin, we are working to further foster international cooperation at a time when we are facing increasingly scarce water resources.” “In the Kura Basin, agriculture accounts for 70% of total water use. Reducing excess ground and surface water withdrawals will further contribute to food and water security in the region,” said UNDP-GEF Kura II Regional Project Coordinator Mary Matthews. “Understanding the benefits of water saving technologies allows farmers to improve their livelihoods despite the spectre of climate change.” To demonstrate the efficiency of drip irrigation, studies of crop patterns, crop production and water use will be carried out in the pilot villages before and after the installation of the systems. Local farmers and representatives of the farmers’ associations will attend educational seminars to learn how to use and manage the irrigation and drainage systems. The three locations were chosen to show that drip irrigation is effective for a variety of different crops: grapes in Eniseli; potatoes in Bediani; and onions in Ruisi. The Kura II Project has a total budget of $5.3 million, which is shared between the two countries. The project is in its third year of implementation and is due to conclude in 2020.




NOVEMBER 15 - 18, 2019

Plugging into the World through the Black Sea BY VICTOR KIPIANI, CHAIR, GEOCASE


he recent NATO-Georgia Public Diplomacy Forum held in October rightly underlined the need for new ideas, skills and partnerships and for the development of viable security structures capable of rising to the modern challenges of our era—and these needs are indeed especially relevant when one considers the current geopolitics and geoeconomics of the Black Sea region. Historically a space for trade, the latter is increasingly becoming an arena for competition and rivalry aggravated by the complexity of conflicting interests along its shores and by a lack of meaningful multilateral arrangements capable of resulting in trade-offs and ensuring some sense of balance.

INTERESTS OLD & NEW: SHADES & SHADOWS The Black Sea region is of course unique in many respects, but most importantly it is a perfect example of new interactions between “old” powers rendered more complex by the "new normals" of our upended world. For Russia, the geostrategic significance of the Black Sea has remained unchanged since the Crimean War of 1853-1856. In today’s landscape, however, with NATO and the United States replacing individual European countries as Russia's main geopolitical competitors, the Black Sea has become even more important. This increase is also accentuated by Russia's perception of its neighbors as entry points for attempts to shape its informational space and internal policies. The Kremlin's modus operandi reflects all these concerns: while trying to prevent neighboring countries from escaping from its perceived sphere of influence (the Primakov Doctrine), Russia also aims to undermine their ability to build competitive and sustainable national states. In purely strategic terms, the ultimate purpose of these twin objectives is to maintain a "strategic depth" along Russia’s borders; at the operational level, however, Moscow’s actions rely upon a series of modern military tools that are primarily hybrid (asymmetric) in nature and designed to be used in “grey area” or low-intensity conflicts (the Gerasimov Doctrine). NATO has long described the Black Sea region as "important for Euro-Atlantic security" (see, for example, the Bucharest Summit Declaration of 2008), but it was not until the Warsaw Summit in 2016 that NATO pledged to increase its

presence in the region—a pledge which has since been reemphasized in various NATO and NATO-Georgia Commission statements. Indeed, the very latest statement by the North Atlantic Council in Batumi speaks of "new priorities for the coming period". Such a strongly articulated interest is hardly surprising: with Russia dropping a new Iron Curtain across the Black Sea, the region is increasingly becoming a new defensive perimeter running along the fault line between two normative worlds—that of democracy, and that of authoritarianism. Effectively, we are witnessing (or certainly will witness) the reintroduction, in new forms, of Kennan’s policy of containing the USSR after the Second World War—but this analogy is, however, only partially true, given the challenges to the Alliance’s resilience posed by its many inner contradictions and its lack of practical means capable of reigning in asymmetrical modern warfare.

STRAINS INNATE TO UNLUCKY GEOGRAPHY The Black Sea region and Tbilisi’s geopolitical course through it are marked by a series of specific features. To begin with, Georgia is an “in-between” state (a reality that speaks for itself). Coupled

with the prevailing but mistaken view that the Alliance’s military focus should be on the Baltic rather than on the Black Sea, this seems to implicitly underscore the Alliance’s apparent vulnerability when the need arises to act near Georgia’s borders. Yet recent NATO statements and decisions, however, hopefully negate the apparent imbalance of interest in the Baltic at the expense of the Black Sea region. An extra point of consideration is related to the nature of Black Sea itself: unrestricted and unimpeded access. In this respect, the long-standing issue of free passage through the Turkish Straits (Bosporus and Dardanelles) and the extent of the limitations imposed by the Montreux Convention is compounded by Turkey’s attempts to find the right balance between its national and regional interests and NATO’s attempts to bolster the Alliance’s presence in the Black Sea. Coupled with developing a "special" relationship with Russia, Turkey's aims increasingly resemble walking on a tightrope. Next in line for the regional conundrum is Russia's attempt to reestablish a “closed-sea” doctrine in the Black Sea (incidents in the Sea of Azov are a testament to Moscow’s new objectives) while continuing to act as a besieged fortress

and, most notably, acting with a feeling of impunity. By claiming de facto sovereignty over the Sea of Azov, future Russian moves may well imperil the wider Black Sea basin (and, by extension, the eastern Mediterranean). For the record, however, it must never be forgotten that of six littoral states along the shores of the Black Sea, three are now NATO members and two have officially stated their aspirations to join, effectively transforming the sea into a "NATO lake". The core premise of this unlucky and perilous geographical location in which Russia and the West are increasingly locked in competition is that Georgia must pursue a highly sophisticated and rational policy. Our approach to circumstances on the ground should arguably be twofold: Tbilisi must continue to undertake robust domestic reforms while working with international partners to enhance our national security.

HURDLES, PUZZLES, OUTLOOKS Rapid changes in the regional security environment, beyond the Black Sea region to the wider Middle East, impose upon Georgia a search for various options capable of enhancing its security design. These options may range from one extreme to another, but each should be

gauged cautiously by studying its farreaching consequences. To name but a few, a recent study by the RAND Corporation entitled "A Consensus Proposal for a Revised Regional Order in PostSoviet Europe and Eurasia" discusses a so-called "third way" for in-between states (countries located between Russia and the West) and proposes various mechanisms for easing existing regional tensions through the establishment of a new regional order. At the other end of the "options menu" is the possibility of Georgia signing a defense treaty with its key strategic partner, and in doing so bypassing the hurdle of the absence of unanimity regarding the question of NATO’s expansion to Russia’s borders and negating Moscow’s "veto rights". When speaking about NATO in the Black Sea region and the idea of Georgian membership, one must bear in mind that, in addition to rifts between member states over the idea of the Alliance increasing its presence in Russia’s "near abroad", is the deterrent effect of brewing “ethnic” conflicts. Moscow is indeed perfectly aware of the inherent weakness posed by the multicultural nature of the Black Sea countries, and does its best to exploit the latter to further its geopolitical goal of preventing the Alliance from penetrating the region and coming closer to Russia’s borders. This policy of "divide, deter and dominate" maintains both Georgia and the West as hostages, and in any case the West has no clear-cut response capable of addressing the dilemma of the Senkaku Paradox. That said, the West must realize once and for all that supposedly “ethnic” conflicts are purely geopolitical and should formally welcome Georgia as a fullyfledged member, since offering Tbilisi "just enough partnership" merely increases Russian retribution.

NEW UNITY, NEW PROSPECTS In the context of a new unity between free nations in the Black Sea region, the Alliance must focus on pursuing continued, meaningful and results-driven actions with those regional partners that share its vision. At the same time, NATO must be alert to every possible opportunity to make the region a platform for deconflicting and accommodating clashing interests. Might this be feasible in the long run by agreeing in principle on the Black Sea region's significance as a bridge between Europe, the Caspian and Central Asia? Perhaps, provided that the Euro-Atlantic Alliance manages to define a meaningful security concept stretching from the Baltic to the Black Sea, and that countries in the region master the art of balancing conflicting interests.

‘No Substantial Progress’ after 7th Ergneti Meeting BY BEKA ALEXISHVILI


UMM head to Georgia Erik Hoeg says that the 7th special meeting in Ergneti, which was committed to reducing tensions in the villages of Tsnelisi and Chorchana, ended without significant progress. The Georgian State Security Service reported that the Kremlin controlled de-facto government of Tskhinvali still demands the removal of a commonplace police station from the village of Chorchana, Khashuri municipality, which is

located on the Tbilisi-controlled territory. The de-facto powers say that the crossing points to the region, which has been closed since September 4, will reopen when the police post is removed, as the post “creates threats to locals and is too close to the village of Tsnelisi [which is under Russian-control].” “7th technical meeting in IPRM format regarding the situation in Tsnelisi-Chorchana just ended. #EUMM presented overview of developments based on its 24/7 patrolling. No substantial progress. Participants committed to continue discussions on how to de-escalate further, however.” Hoeg tweeted.

“We also raised the recent illegal detention of two Georgian citizens by the occupation forces. We were told that they have been detained for so-called illegally crossing the border and that their trial is being held in Tskhinvali now,” the Georgian State Security official Irakli Antadze said, adding that the individuals are safe. Tensions in the zone began at the end of August, when Tbilisi opened a police post in the village of Chorchana. Tbilisi refused to remove the police station, so the oppressing forces opened two new ‘police posts’ in the village of Chorchana, on Tbilisi-administered area and also closed so-called checkpoints.




NOVEMBER 15 - 18, 2019

Gakharia’s Foreign Trips Underscore the Importance of the Trilateral Format BY EMIL AVDALIANI


ince becoming Prime Minister of Georgia in early September 2019, Giorgi Gakharia has paid visits to the neighboring countries. Visits to Turkey and Azerbaijan, though for many seemly ordinary trips, underscore the deep geopolitical interconnection Ankara, Tbilisi and Baku have developed since the early 2010s. The geopolitical alignment of the three countries first introduced in May 2012 in Batumi (Georgia), was a product of close cooperation between the three states since the break up of the Soviet Union. Back in the 1990s, both Tbilisi and Azerbaijan, having gained independence, tried to balance Russia's influence with larger economic and security cooperation with Turkey. The latter saw avenues for expansion of its influence in the South Caucasus. Since 2012, the engagement between the three countries has been gradually increasing in defense ties, namely, hosting of joint military exercises and sharing vital military and security intelligence. Moreover, the countries also cooperate on exchange of military staff and military expertise. Despite occasional misunderstandings between the three states, the TurkishGeorgian-Azerbaijani strategic partnership takes precedence. Military cooperation, although not ambitious enough to cause fears in Moscow, along with railways and pipelines from the Caspian to the Black Sea, represents a far greater sticking point for the countries. Considering how quickly the regional political and security landscape evolves in the South Caucasus and Black Sea region, the longevity of the trilateral format between Turkey, Georgia and Azerbaijan serves as a basis for regional stability.

The significance of the trilateral format is also underlined by the fact that despite the government change in Georgia in 2012, Turkey's strategic rapprochement with Russia and the generally unstable situation in the region, the format continues to operate. Moreover, the durability of this project is also visible in the fact that the format consists of NATO member Turkey, EU/NATO-oriented Georgia, and Azerbaijan which up until now has avoided joining any large economic or military alliances. Despite the three countries’ different foreign policy trajectories, the basis for the trilateral cooperation is likely to increase in the coming years. The basis for this that every country of the three needs the others. Turkey, for instance, needs a more stable Georgia with deeper economic and energy cooperation. The Georgian territory also serves for Turkey as a direct land corridor to Azerbaijan. The latter, in light of uncertainties regarding the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, needs Turkey’s backing in the conflict with Armenia. Georgia, being under pressure from Russia in turn needs both Turkey and Azerbaijan to diversify its foreign policy options. Moreover, the two countries are Tbilisi’s biggest trade partners and investment sources. From a larger geopolitical perspective, it could be argued that though the three countries do not align because of a common threat, they nevertheless all feel Russian pressure on various fronts from Syria to the Abkhazia and Tskhinvali regions to Nagorno-Karabakh. Even in Azerbaijan, a certain skepticism towards Russia has always existed because of Moscow’s close military relations with Yerevan. The trilateral cooperation between Turkey, Georgia and Azerbaijan disregards the countries’ different religions, foreign policy trajectories and instead focuses on powerful geopolitical imperatives tying the three states together. For


he European Union Special Representative for the Crisis in Georgia and the South Caucasus, Tovio Klaar, commented on the recent developments at the Administrative Boundary Line (ABL) with Georgia’s Russianoccupied South Ossetia region, saying the crossing points near Tsnelisi-Chorchana need to be reopened and the situation improved. In his interview with TV Imedi, Klaar stressed that the situation on the ground today has not been this complicated for many years. He added that international discussions will be held in Tbilisi, occupied Tskhinvali, Sokhumi and Moscow and that all

example, one such imperative is the gradual creation of a land corridor connecting the Black and Caspian seas. This is underscored by energy and transport infrastructure which has developed since the end of the Soviet Union in 1991 when various projects such as the Baku-TbilisiCeyhan pipeline and recently Baku-Tbilisi-Kars railway were inaugurated. Viewed from a Eurasian perspective, the trilateral format of economic cooperation gains further importance if seen within the context of China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). For example, the 826-kilometer Baku-Tbilisi-Kars railway could potentially enable the delivery of

cargo between China and Europe in approximately two weeks. According to various estimates, up to 8 million tons of cargo could be carried via the railway by 2025. Indeed, in early November 2019, the Baku-Tbilisi-Kars railway saw the first train coming from China and heading to Europe.

LONG-TERM PERSPECTIVE True, it is unlikely that Turkey, Georgia and Azerbaijan will move into a full-scale military alliance, and there will be challenges as to how to commonly deal with geopolitical instability in the South Caucasus. However, the format nevertheless

is likely to grow through larger military and economic cooperation. For instance, we could see larger military exercises and discussions on further infrastructural projects connecting the Caspian Sea with the Black. Georgia will continue to view the trilateral format as a backbone of its regional foreign policy. This will be one of the ways for Tbilisi to balance Russia’s increasing influence in the South Caucasus in an age when the EU is unlikely to expand eastward, talks to improve relations with Russia multiply, and the US’ global posture is still evolving and bringing much uncertainty to the region.

EU Special Representative: De-Escalation at ABL Necessary

Image source: trend.az


The Georgian PM meets with the Turkish leader in October. Image source: hurriyetdailynews.com

participants agree that the situation should be de-escalated. "This is the starting point, the foundation and the progress we need to be able to work from based on the specific situation on the ground," Klaar said. He noted that the main thing is to alleviate the living conditions of the locals at the ABL. “My main message during the scheduled meetings will be the following: this is an undesirable situation and we need to find a way to solve it. This means deescalation and incident prevention. This is the short-term main goal,” he said. He stated that all co-chairs of the Geneva International Discussions agree that it is necessary to de-escalate the situation near Chorchana-Tsnelisi. “Everyone realizes that today we have a situation we haven't had in many years. This refers to Chorchana-Tsnelisi, where

armed personnel are very close to each other,” he said. Klaar says that everyone is well aware of the role of the EU Monitoring Mission and their major contribution to ensuring on-site stability. “This is acknowledged by Tbilisi and by Moscow, among others. The EU Monitoring Mission has a hotline to assist the parties to exchange messages,” he said, adding that Incident Prevention and Response Mechanism Meetings (IPRM) are of utmost importance for all sides and need to continue. “It is unacceptable to set preconditions for meeting participants. This is a useful and necessary mechanism considering all its elements. I hope the meetings in Gali will be resumed in the shortest possible time, as happened in Ergneti,” he said. The last IPRM meeting, held in Ergneti a few days ago to reduce tensions in the

villages of Tsnelisi and Chorchana, ended without any progress having been made. Tensions in the zone began at the end of August, when Tbilisi opened a standard police post in the village of Chorchana, Khashuri municipality, which is located on Tbilisi-controlled territory. The de facto authorities of Tskhinvali say that the crossing points to the region, closed since September 4, will reopen only when the police post is removed, adding it “creates threats to locals and is too close to the village of Tsnelisi,” which is under the control of the occupants. Breakaway South Ossetia’s delegation walked out of the IPRM meeting on August 29 after Georgia refused to remove the police post. After this, they enhanced their own presence in the border area. The de facto authorities said on September 12 that the Georgian side was reinforcing its forces at the so called

border and was building more checkpoints. In addition to this, on November 5, occupied South Ossetia reported shooting from the Georgian side near Tsnelisi but the Georgian State Security Service denied these reports and assessed it as "misinformation and a provocative statement.” In the following days, the occupants reported “more shootings” from the Georgian side and stressed "the unprecedented increase in the activities of Georgian military and police drones in the border area in the period from November 8 to 11." Breakaway South Ossetia, along with the other Russian-occupied Georgian region Abkhazia, have been under Russian control since the August 2008 war, which left 20% of Georgia occupied by its northern neighbor.




Statement by Bidzina Ivanishvili, Chairman of the Georgian Dream-Democratic Georgia Political Union BY ANA DUMBADZE


oday, as our country is going through another important stage on the path of democratic development, as chairman of the ruling political party, I consider it necessary to respond to the processes that have unfolded in Parliament in recent days. I am disappointed that ultimately, our initiative to hold the 2020 parliamentary elections on a proportional basis with zero electoral thresholds failed to come to fruition. Unfortunately, the Parliament of Georgia rejected this initiative due to opposition from one part of the deputies of the Georgian Dream, most of who are majoritarians. The following question can be heard among the public: How did this so-called “majoritarian revolt” develop so suddenly in the ruling team, given that the several-month-long consultation process concluded successfully and the matter was put to the vote? In order to fully answer this question and to avoid speculation, I feel obligated to remind the public of several indisputable facts. More specifically: The political team of the Georgian Dream made the decision to switch to a proportional electoral system, on its own initiative, as early as in 2017, within the framework of the constitutional reform that took place against the backdrop of a campaign-like, aggressive boycott organized by the opposition spectrum, a part of the nongovernmental sector, and party media. For this reason, the corresponding changes were implemented in the legislation at the expense of the votes of the ruling party’s parliamentary majority. At the time, the National Movement boycotted this process – a process that gave us a truly European Constitution, rather than one that was tailored to one political leader and one political force. This received an unequivocally positive assessment from the entire international community. It is no secret that the idea of switching to a proportional electoral system never enjoyed particular popularity among majoritarian deputies, and a large part of them did not greet this reform with proper enthusiasm at that time

either. For this reason, an internal party consensus concerning our desire to abolish the mixed electoral system from 2020 onwards could not be reached. Correspondingly, a compromise decision was made regarding transition to a proportional electoral system in 2024. Imagine this – had the parliamentary opposition demonstrated a minimum of political maturity and an approach that prioritizes the interests of the state, had they not been committed to the narrow party agenda of damaging the authorities at any cost, and had they supported the constitutional reform, the discussion and turmoil of today would not have taken place at all. We would have persuaded our majoritarian deputies in the futility of the idea of postponing the electoral reform, and we would have unequivocally inscribed the decision to switch to the proportional electoral system from 2020 in the Constitution. This important circumstance should not be overlooked under any conditions, if we want to see the big picture objectively, and avoid ignoring the common context and assessing the situation in a fragmented manner, especially against an emotional background. Despite this, the events that took place during the summer of this year, the justified protest by a part of the public, was followed by a completely reasonable reaction from the ruling team – the chairman of Parliament assumed political responsibility and resigned, and the Georgian Dream addressed the public with an important initiative – to hold the 2020 parliamentary elections using the proportional system, with no electoral threshold. I will not hide that I, personally, was the author of this initiative and, despite the hesitation of some majoritarian deputies, the team largely supported this idea and the majoritarian deputies, with several exceptions, also submitted to party discipline. Although the Georgian Dream set the precedent in 2012 and, precisely under conditions of a mixed electoral system, defeated the political regime under whose rule the boundaries between the state and the party were erased, still, small and weakly organized parties felt that a proportional electoral system would have provided them with greater chances of success. This is precisely why we came up with this initiative. And by proposing

an electoral threshold of zero, we tried to further increase the opportunities of small parties. I am still convinced today that the public gave an appropriate assessment to our decision to refuse, in good faith and without any preconditions, the significant starting advantage that the political team of the Georgian Dream and its majoritarian candidates possess over the candidates of all opposition parties without exception. The most important result that should have followed our proposal was the elevation of the relations between our country, the authorities and the opposition spectrum, the authorities and various public groups, to a qualitatively new level of political culture, while the political process itself should have facilitated the emergence of a new stage of democratic development. We hoped that our bold political act would have been perceived positively

by other actors as well, and that we would have received a constructive reaction in response. Unfortunately, this is not what happened. Given the statements or actions of the National Movement and its satellites, the public clearly saw that the Georgian Dream’s attempt to elevate the political culture of the country to a qualitatively new level turned out to have been merely a unilateral desire and was perceived as an attempt to snatch the proportional elections from the authorities. Endless destruction, attempts to disrupt the country and the church, aggressive rhetoric, cynicism, derision, and personal insults – this is how the irresponsible opposition and its satellite organizations responded to our initiative. The developments reached a point whereby aggressive groups under direct or indirect control of the opposition burst into halls in the regions in order

to interfere with our deputies and to publicly insult them, with the purpose of derailing the public discussions of the constitutional amendments. Dissatisfaction within the ruling team due to these events has not begun today or yesterday. Even though we chose not to make the heated internal party discussions and disagreements that took place public knowledge, other leaders and I expended enormous efforts to keep the process from ending in deadlock. Despite this, the opposition did everything to break the fragile consensus that was reached within our team during the summer, and when deputies suffered grave personal insults directly in the chamber of Parliament, evidently a large part of them ran out of patience. Unfortunately, I was also unable to return them to a constructive state. There is no shortage of skeptics in our country but no one can escape the facts and it is also a fact that real, rather than superficial democracy exists within our team, which precludes attempts to force people to change their principled positions. We have consigned the Soviet, as well as National Movement’s characteristic, monolithic, administrative-imperative style of governance, whereby no one could go against the sole leader, to the past. Differences of opinion and discussions are natural processes in our team and our public has seen numerous examples thereof. Lastly – there are no perfect electoral systems. It is well-known that discussions regarding the pros and cons of any system are constantly ongoing in the civilized world. It is democracy, rather than the electoral system, that is the panacea – a political system with effective institutions, which should ensure the main thing – the fact that the people are the source of power, and their will must be reflected in the results of the elections without any hindrances. As the leader of the ruling political force, I once again reaffirm that I was and still am in support of transitioning to a proportional system of elections in 2020 and I sincerely regret that this failed to take place. I, along with my team and the authorities, will serve as guarantor that the process of the democratic development of Georgia will become irreversible. Free and fair elections in 2020 will be a precondition and prominent example thereof.

Nations Secretary General on Violence against Children. The conference brought together some 300 participants, including government representatives, members of parliament, child rights defenders, other experts, as well as children who are taking active part in the conference as young delegates acting as “challengers” in “Power Talks”, an innovative format of dynamic debates on a range of thought-provoking issues. Other issues that require an adjustment of laws and policies and that were discussed at the conference include safeguarding child activism as an expression

of children’s right to participate in decisions concerning them; ensuring that children do not become a bargaining chip in the acrimonious separation of parents; and effectively protecting children from online crimes. A report presenting the mid-term evaluation of the Council of Europe’s Strategy for the Rights of the Child 20162021 was presented at the event, the five priority areas of the Strategy being equal opportunities, participation, a life free from violence, child-friendly justice and the rights of the child in the digital environment.

Do the European States Do Enough to Protect the Rights of the Child?


two-day international conference on children’s rights took place in Strasbourg this week in the framework of the French Presidency of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe. It looks at what European states are doing to promote children’s rights protection and what challenges remain. Marija Pejcinovic Buric, Secretary General of the Council of Europe, and Adrien Taquet, Secretary of State on Child Protection, France, opened the conference. The Secretary General in her address said there are still “blind spots” in children’s rights protection, “areas where action is insufficient, often because the issues are controversial and those in power are uncomfortable dealing with

them”. Among such “taboo” issues are children who are perceived as a danger to society: minors in conflict with the law, those growing up in radicalized families or children sexually harming their peers. How to treat and protect both the victims and the aggressors who first and foremost need support, but are often deprived of liberty and face criminal justice systems designed for adults is a particularly difficult question to answer. “Where protection systems fail, this must be acknowledged”, Pejcinovic Buric stressed, talking about institutional violence, i.e. abuse of children in places where they should feel safe to live, learn and pursue hobbies and sports. Giving children courage to speak up about such cases is the key message of the Council if Europe’s campaign “Start

to Talk” against child sexual abuse in sports. As part of the Conference, on 14 November, the French Minister of Sports, Roxana Maracineanu, announced the launch of the campaign in France. Other high-level speakers at the conference included Liliane Maury Pasquier, President of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe; LinosAlexandre Sicilianos, President of the European Court of Human Rights; Dunja Mijatovic, Commissioner for Human Rights of the Council of Europe; Ásmundur Einar Daðason, Minister of Social Affairs and Children of Iceland; Elena Bonetti, Minister for Equal Opportunities and Family of Italy; Kasimierz Kuberski, Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Family, Labour and Social Policy of Poland and Najat Maalla M’jid, Special Representative of the United




NOVEMBER 15 - 18, 2019

Black Sea Bulletin: Tourism in the Black Sea Region


ourism is one of the fastest growing sectors in the world. It creates three hundred million jobs and accounts for 10% of global GDP. This bulletin reviews the tourism sectors of countries bordering the Black Sea in the last six years. The analysis is centered on the number of visits, dynamics, and the relationship between tourism and economic growth.

GENERAL OVERVIEW Unsurprisingly, of all the countries lining the Black Sea, Turkey had the highest number of visits in 2018. Approximately 39.5 million trips were made to Turkey by foreigners, of which, 11.7 million, or 29.7% were made from Black Sea countries. Turkey is an especially attrac-

tive destination for Russian tourists as every seventh visitor in Turkey is Russian. Whilst Turkey received more than $30 billion in tourism receipts, Turkish tourists spend only $5 billion overseas. Meanwhile, Russia had 22.37 million international visits in 2018. This number does not show the whole picture, as 7.2 million foreigners also entered the country for reasons of employment. Interestingly, only 71 thousand international visits to Russia were from Turkey, compared to the 5.96 million Russians visit-

ing Turkey. Instead, the majority of visits, 19.2% or 4.3 million, were made from Ukraine. Additionally, Russia is not a popular destination for the rest of the Black Sea countries: trips from other Black Sea countries, like Georgia, Turkey, Romania, and Bulgaria, make up as low as 0.8% of total visits. Furthermore, unlike any other country in the region, Russian visitors spend over $34 billion abroad in total, while receiving less than $15 billion in receipts. Bulgaria and Romania had similar numbers of foreign visits in 2018, 12.3 million and 11.7 million respectively, 57% of which were from the EU. In Bulgaria, 12.4% of visits were made by residents of neighbouring Turkey, and 16.5% by Romanians. Meanwhile, 12.5% of visits were made by Ukrainians to Romania, and 13.7% by Bulgarians, showing how similar tourism patterns are for these countries. Also, both countries experienced a sharp increase in the number of visits in previous years. Georgia, much like Romania and Bulgaria, also experienced a sharp increase in the number of visits. In the past six years, the number of arrivals has grown by 45.4%. Although the number of Russian visitors has more than doubled in that time span, it only amounts to 35.5% of the growth. In total, arrivals from Black Sea countries account for 37% of visits in Georgia, 92.8% of which are Russian and Turkish visits. The tourism sector in Ukraine has seen dramatic changes, which are discussed below. Presently, it is important to note that Ukraine has the lowest percentage of visits from the Black Sea region 19.55%, as well as the fact that the number of visits made by Moldovans to Ukraine last year is larger than the size of Moldova’s population.

TEMPORARY SHOCKS IN THE TOURISM INDUSTRY It is important to note that the tourism sector is susceptible to temporary or sometimes even permanent shocks. The tourism sector in Ukraine is a great example. Following Russia’s annexation of the Crimean peninsula and the occupation of selected regions in Donbass, in a matter of one year, the number of international visits dropped from 24.67 million to 12.7 million. These aggressive actions affected Russian tourists the most as their number of visits to Ukraine, in a matter of a single year, fell from 10.28 to 2.36 million. This drop shrank tourism receipts by 61.8%, weakening the economy even further. Temporary instabilities heavily affected not only Ukraine but Turkey. After the 2015 jet shootdown incident, a number of sanctions were imposed on Turkey by the Russian government, including the suspension of visa-free travel and prohibition of the sale of travel packages to Turkey. The sanctions turned out to be highly effective, as the number of Russian arrivals fell from 4.48 million in 2014 to 866,000 in 2016. Overall, 2016 turned out to be one of the worst years for the Turkish tourism sector. As a result of political instability, war in neighboring Syria, sanctions, and more than 35 terrorist incidents in major tourist areas, the number of arrivals in Turkey dropped to 25.35 million, the lowest figure since 2007. According to the World Bank data, the annual total of tourism receipts in Turkey decreased by $12 billion in two years and it hasn’t fully recovered yet. As stated by the IMF, the drop in tourism receipts shrank the economy of Turkey more than 1 percent of GDP. Other than temporary shocks, macroeconomic factors also affect tourism, and vice-versa. On the one hand, high economic growth is necessary for more individuals to visit foreign countries. On the other, tourism greatly contributes to the growth of an economy. This complex relationship is clearly visible in the Black Sea region. Due to multiple financial crises, all countries in the region saw a significant contraction of GDP per capita in 2014 (measured in US dollars). The

drop was so noticeable that only two countries, Romania and Bulgaria, had managed to fully recover as of 2018. Incidentally, total tourism expenditure and receipts have also decreased. Russia and Turkey lost approximately a third of the annual tourism receipts in the following years, while after the occupation of the Crimean peninsula, Ukraine’s receipts decreased from $5.93 billion in 2013 to $1.66 billion in 2015. Meanwhile, Bulgaria and Romania managed to retain more than 79.3% and 94.3% of their tourism receipts in the 2014-2015 period. Total expenditures mainly affected the Russian Federation, where in the last five years, international tourist spending (by Russian tourists) has dropped from $59.5 billion to $34.5 billion. However, unlike any other country in the region, Georgia has managed to sustain positive growth of tourism receipts every year since 2013. In fact, tourism receipts for Georgia have been increasing at an average rate of 15.1% since 2013. Back then, the receipts amounted to $1.719 billion, and in 2018 they reached more than $3.2 billion. Receipts from tourism have been growing way faster than the GDP denominated, either in Lari or in US dollars (the average growth of which was already negative for a period of four years). Because of such exponential growth, tourism has become a significant part of the Georgian economy.


reported that the tourism sector comprises 10.4% of the world’s GDP. According to the same organization, there are two ways of measuring the effects of a sector on the economy: the first is the direct contribution to the GDP and the second is the total contribution to the GDP. Total contribution combines the direct contribution, indirect supply-chain purchases, and induced contribution, and is therefore more relevant. For example in Turkey, where tourism plays a significant role in the economy, the tourism sector made a direct contribution of 3.9% of GDP in 2018, and the total contribution was equal to 12.1% of GDP. According to the Turkish Statistics Institute, the average tourist spends 617 US dollars on a single trip. By comparison, total tourism contribution to GDP in Russia was equal to 4.8% and an average tourist spent about 144,000 Rubles, or $2,160. In contrast, the Georgian economy is one of the most heavily dependent on tourism in the world, with its total contribution to GDP amounting to 33.7%. According to the WTTC, out of 175 countries, the Georgian economy is the sixteenth most dependent on tourism, right after islands such as Jamaica, Barbados, and Fiji. Tourism sector growth continues to outperform global GDP growth, and its role in the economy will only increase. As for the Black Sea region, political and economic instabilities in Turkey, Russia, and Ukraine have hindered growth in the highly profitable sector, while in Georgia, Romania, and Bulgaria the sector continues to grow.



NGOs Assess Proposed Amendments to Law on Common Courts

Image source: Emerging Europe



on-governmental organizations, united under the Coalition for an Independent and Transparent Judiciary, assessed the Proposed Amendments to the Organic Law on Common Courts, also known as the fourth wave of judicial reforms, which was submitted to the Parliament for approval. The coalition underlined some positive changes, like the specification of grounds for disciplinary responsibility of judges and separation of the selection of listeners of the High School of Justice (HSoJ) from the functions of the High Council of Justice (HCOJ), which is the supreme oversight body in charge of regulating the judiciary in Georgia. However, the NGOs stressed that some changes made to the bill are “critical” and need to be revised. The Organic Law on Common Courts reads that the High Council of Justice appoints the chairs and deputy chairs of the Appeals Courts and the Chairs of the District (City) Courts. The NGOs believe that this is not correct, noting judges should select the chairs themselves. “The problem is that this power is an additional tool for the HCOJ to control the judicial system and is directed against independence of individual judges. The proposal does not substantively address the existing problem, but only sets an obligatory consultation with the judges of the court, where a chair is to be appointed, with no obligation to heed their opinions. The Coalition has repeatedly noted that it supports the model where judges themselves select the court chair,” the statement of the coalition reads. The proposed changes read that the Chair of the Independent Board is elected by the HCOJ. The Coalition considers that to support the Board’s organizational independence, it would be best if the Board itself elected the Chair. Another issue criticized by the NGOs is the disciplinary responsibility of judges. According to the draft, a 2/3 majority of HCOJ members makes a substantiated decision on starting disciplinary proceedings against a judge and when deciding not to start disciplinary proceedings, the HCOJ does not have an obligation to substantiate the decision.

“The principle of accountability obliges the HCOJ to substantiate all of its decisions, which must be reflected in the law,” the coalition stated. The NGOs also have concerns regarding the new Judicial Ethics Council which will be created under the changes. They say that the draft does not contain enough information regarding the Council and it is unclear what the functions of this new body are, how its members are selected, etc. The Coalition believes that this part of the amendments should be suspended until these outstanding issues are specified. In addition, the proposed bill does not have a clear indication regarding the openness and transparency of HCOJ sessions, and only refers to publishing information on the web page and availability of audio recordings. The non-governmental sector believes that the HCOJ sessions should be open, including during the interviews with first and second instance court judges. “Also, it is important that the HCOJ sessions are transmitted via live-stream, allowing any interested party to observe the process. The Coalition considers that both of these issues must be directly regulated by the law,” the statement reads. Regarding the grounds for dismissing an HCOJ member, the draft reads that unsatisfactory fulfillment of responsibility remains one of the grounds for dismissing an HCOJ member. NGOs say this formulation can be interpreted extremely widely and will, in sum, affect the degree of independence of the HCOJ members, and should be abolished. Among these main concerns, the Coalition for an Independent and Transparent Judiciary also listed other issues that need to be addressed before the adoption of the Amendments to the Organic Law on Common Courts. The NGOs called on the Parliament to take into account the notes of the third sector regarding the deficiencies and to prepare amendments addressing the problems that impede improvements in the Georgian judiciary. The first wave of judicial reform was launched in Georgia in May, 2013. Since then, three waves of the reforms have been implemented so far, while the fourth has just finished and now the parliament has to decide to adopt it or not. The aim of the reforms is to secure the independence of judiciary and to consolidate an institutional democracy of functional institutions in the country.





NOVEMBER 15 - 18, 2019

Ren Zhengfei's Northern European Media Roundtable, Part 5


en Zhengfei, Huawei CEO, welcomed media from northern Europe to a roundtable and invited them to ask whatever they wished, however challenging the question. GEORGIA TODAY will be publishing those questions and answers in the present and following issues of GEORGIA TODAY newspaper.

WHERE WILL HUAWEI'S REVENUE MAINLY BE FROM? AFRICA OR ASIA? I think most of our revenue will still come from China and Europe.

WHAT DO YOU THINK ABOUT SWEDISH ICT ECOSYSTEMS AND KNOWLEDGE IN IT AND TELECOM? I think Sweden is a great country. Over 20 years ago, when I told the Head of the Guangdong Communications Administration Cui Xun that one day we would catch up with Ericsson, he just laughed at me and said it was impossible. He told me how Sweden does a great job providing universal education and facilitating scientific and technological innovation, and how many new technologies emerge from Sweden. We are now building a new campus for our Huawei University and the first phase will be finished in the beginning of next year. Its design was inspired by the buildings in Sweden's coastal areas. I think we can learn a lot from Sweden, in terms of both dedicated spirit of the Swedish people and Swedish culture as a whole. Chinese people are beginning to win the Nobel Prize awards. I truly feel that China is making such progress.

TWENTY YEARS AGO YOU DIDN'T THINK YOU WOULD REACH ERICSSON'S LEVEL, BUT TODAY YOU THINK YOU'RE AHEAD OF THEM, AT LEAST ON 5G. WHY? WHAT HAPPENED? I think the first reason is that we knew we were lagging behind. So we spent more time on our work

to try to catch up, even sacrificing the times that other people use to have coffee. Second, we are very open. We collaborate with research institutions and universities all around the world, and provide funding for their research. For example, the theory behind massive MIMO, a key 5G technology, was first proposed by a professor at Linkรถping University in Sweden, and Huawei was the first to apply the technology to products. To sum up, since we knew we were lagging behind, we have been working all out with partners around the world to catch up with other world leaders.

HOW DID CHINA'S CULTURAL REVOLUTION SHAPE THE WAY YOU THINK AND THE WAY YOU SHAPED HUAWEI? I'm an eye-witness to how the People's Republic of China has grown into what it is today from when it was founded. I lived in an extremely poor region

when I was a kid, and I saw what life was like for poor people with my own eyes. I also witnessed many political campaigns and how China struggled and kept moving in the wrong directions by constantly swinging one way to another. I think the Cultural Revolution is the biggest mistake China has ever made, and it had an enormous impact on the country. At that time, China built the Liaoyang Synthetic Fiber Factory with equipment imported from two French companies, Technip and Speichim. During my time at the factory, I had access to world-leading technologies, and was able to distance myself from the radical revolutionary movement. As China sought revival after the collapse of the Gang of Four, I had the opportunities to put what I had learned into practice. As a result, I grew rapidly during that period. Later, China significantly downsized its military so that it could focus on economic development. After my entire military unit was disbanded, I came to Shenzhen, which was then at the forefront of China's reform and opening-up. At that time, I knew very little about the market economy. For instance, I didn't even know what supermarkets were when many friends who had studied abroad came back and told me about them. I knew nothing about them and could only guess what they were like or why they were called supermarkets. Just imagine how difficult it was for someone as ill-informed as I was to go into the market economy! At first, I worked as the deputy manager of a small company and had very little power. Other managers were directly appointed top-down with certain titles; some of them never reported to me, but any mistakes they made would be my responsibility. With a poor grasp of the market economy, I made a big mistake that got me cheated out of a ton of money. Reclaiming that money took me more than a year. I couldn't afford to hire a lawyer for my lawsuit, so I studied all the law books I could get my hands on and tried to be my own lawyer. In the end, what I got back were assets, rather than cash. Turning those assets into cash caused some losses to the company, so they decided to let me go. I had no option but to start a company of my own. After I started making some money, I helped my former employer repay some of its debt. It was not until then that I started to grasp a little bit about the market and the economy, and I ran my company without knowing what the world of communications was about. The first generation of Huawei employees made communications products by referencing a textbook written by a university professor. This simple approach to R&D was the beginning of our journey. One thing that sets Huawei apart is that we spend less on our own meals or clothes but more on the company's future. You may wonder why Huawei is more successful than many other companies. Most Americans throw their money into Wall Street. Most Europeans spend their money on personal wellbeing. At Huawei, we invest all our money into the company's future. And our investments have been enormous. Our annual investments into R&D are around 15 to 20 billion US dollars, and we have about 90,000 R&D employees who throw themselves into their work no matter what. Our immense, focused investments have led to breakthroughs. At Huawei, there is no legacy holding us back, and we are always open to new things. Our 5G technology is based on a mathematics paper by Turkish professor Erdal Arikan. We came across this paper just two months after it was released ten years ago. We have dedicated several thousand

employees to analyzing the paper, turning out patents, and getting our 5G business up and running. We are supporting universities all over the world. This practice has the same spirit as the US's BayhDole Act, which provides funds for universities without demanding their research findings or returns on investment. The US government often gives funds to universities, and whatever patents come out of these funds still belong to the universities. We provide funds to universities the same way. Research findings that our funds make possible belong to the universities themselves, and we only want to be informed of the findings. This way, universities are like beacons that light the way for us and others. And we can stay one step ahead of others if we are the first to understand how these beacons work. At Huawei, a team of 15,000 scientists, experts, and senior engineers focus on understanding the findings of scientists and turning money into knowledge. Another 70,000 engineers turn that knowledge into products and finally money. This is how we have gradually explored our own path and learned new things. Having been through many ups and downs over the past three decades, we are now just beginning to scratch the surface of how things work. But there's still a long way to go, and we can't say for sure that we will never make the wrong step.

DID THE TURKISH PROFESSOR EVER RECEIVE REVENUE FOR HIS FAMILY OR DIVIDENDS FROM HUAWEI FOR USING HIS FORMULA? No. We wanted to offer him some rewards, but he rejected outright. But we have been supporting his lab.

COULD IT BE THAT HUAWEI'S SUCCESS IS NOT JUST HUAWEI'S SUCCESS, THAT IT'S A PUSH FROM THE WHOLE OF CHINA THAT NO OTHER TECHNOLOGY COMPANIES CAN BENEFIT FROM? First of all, export credit was first adopted by Western companies. When China was just starting its reform and opening up, it was still very poor and underdeveloped. As carriers didn't have money to buy equipment from Nokia, Ericsson, or Alcatel, the Western governments provided loans to these carriers to buy equipment from these vendors. However, the Chinese government at that time couldn't provide such loans to carriers, so they didn't buy our equipment. That was how things were in the beginning. Later, the Chinese government mimicked its Western peers and started to provide loans to carriers in Africa and some other underdeveloped countries. The loans were offered to carriers, not us, because we couldn't afford to take on the debt ratio. In fact, we weren't eligible for that much export credit, and most of the credit was allocated to large-scale infrastructure projects, like bridges and railways. Generally, telecom contracts were relatively small, and most telecom carriers had enough money to buy equipment, so export credit wasn't a critical issue for our equipment sales. In China, export credit was first introduced by Western countries exporting to China. At that time, China was just opened up, and it had very little money. Export credit has become a common practice around the world.

INFLUENTIAL PEOPLE IN CHINA DON'T LIKE THE PRESS, ESPECIALLY THE FOREIGN PRESS. UNTIL RECENTLY, YOU DIDN'T GIVE INTERVIEWS LIKE THIS. HOW COME YOU FEEL COMFORTABLE DOING THIS? FOR INSTANCE, JUST A MOMENT AGO, YOU CRITICIZED THE CULTURAL REVOLUTION. DON'T YOU SOMETIMES THINK THAT EVEN YOU SHOULD BE MORE CAREFUL ABOUT WHAT YOU SAY IN CHINA? This criticism of the Cultural Revolution isn't mine alone; the government also recognizes the impact of that mistake. It's not like we're not allowed to criticize anything in China. As long as we speak the truth based on real facts, we don't need to worry about what we say. Like in Western countries, China also respects people's freedom of speech. We are just more careful about not crossing the line.




TBC Bank Wins Multiple Awards for Private Banking


BC Bank has been named the Best for Private Banking in Georgia by two leading industry magazines. It has received the country’s Best Private Bank 2019 award from The Banker and Professional Wealth Management (PWM) magazine and Global Finance’s Best Private Bank Award in Georgia 2020. These prestigious awards acknowledge TBC Bank’s leading position in delivering exceptional private banking services and the highest standards of client satisfaction. “We are extremely proud to receive these distinguished awards in recognition of our sophisticated personalized private banking solutions including universal personal banker services, tailor-

made products and exclusive lifestyle offers as well as dedicated multichannel strategy with strong focus on digital,” Vakhtang Butskhrikidze, Chief Executive Officer, TBC Bank, said.

ABOUT PWM AND THE BANKER MAGAZINES’ PRIVATE BANKING AWARDS The annual awards recognize players that are emerging as industry leaders in private banking. Private banks operating in Europe, Asia, North America, Middle East, Latin America and Africa, or globally, are evaluated against a set of growth and performance measures, as well as on their particular private banking services. Further information on the Private Banking Awards can be found on the

following website: http://www.privatebankingawards.com.

ABOUT GLOBAL FINANCE: Global Finance, founded in 1987, has a circulation of 50,000 and readers in 188 countries. Global Finance’s audience includes senior corporate and financial officers responsible for making investment and strategic decisions at multinational companies and financial institutions. Global Finance is headquartered in New York, with offices around the world. Global Finance regularly selects the top performers among banks and other providers of financial services. These awards have become a trusted standard of excellence for the global financial community.

UK/Georgia 2019 Hosts Crafting Futures Networking Forum for Central Asia, South Caucasus & UK Country Reps


s part of the UK/Georgia 2019 season, on 7 and 8 November the ‘Crafting Futures Networking Forum for Central Asia, South Caucasus and UK Country Representatives’ was held. The forum was supported by Ministry of Education, Science, Culture and Sports of Georgia, in partnership with Georgian Arts and Culture Center. The Crafting Futures Networking Forum was a kick-off event of the British Council Crafting Futures program which contributes to strengthening economic, cultural and social development through learning and access. The Crafting Futures project supports practices and people through research, collaboration and education. The forum was attended by the representatives of the crafts sector from Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, UK and Uzbekistan. The Crafting Futures networking forum had several aims, among them to establish a network of crafts organizations and practitioners across Central Asia and the South Caucasus; to share the UK experience and good practice in crafts developments; and to provide an opportunity for crafts organizations from these regions to learn more about each other and the UK and begin to explore possibilities for exchange. The forum supported the participants to discover how Crafting Futures can provide a platform

for this exchange and network to continue and for participants to leave with a better understanding of how Crafting Futures can contribute to sector development and lead to the economic and inclusive social development of the participating countries. The UK/Georgia 2019 season is a specially curated program of more than 60 events jointly presented by the British Embassy in Tbilisi and British Council in Georgia, running from September to December 2019. UK/Georgia 2019 includes events in Tbilisi, Batumi, Kutaisi

and other locations across Georgia and is showcasing the best that modern, diverse, global Britain has to offer in culture, sport, education and business. It draws on the shared values of both UK and Georgia to deliver a program with a specific focus on diversity and inclusion. You can find more information online using the hashtag #UKGeorgia2019 The UK/Georgia 2019 is funded by the British Embassy and the British Council, working closely with a small group of sponsors including Georgia Capital, Bank of Georgia, BP, Adjara Group and Wissol.





NOVEMBER 15 - 18, 2019

We Must Unite! Patients with Multiple Sclerosis Waiting for Funding BY MARIAM DIASAMIDZE


e are patients with this terrible illness, and this is not our fault, - say Georgian patients with multiple sclerosis, accusing the Ministry of Health of neglect. Patients for several years have been asking the State to make the treatment more available and to regulate and help provide financial solutions to problems related to it. They have also been talking about the need for timely diagnosis and adequate treatment for a long time. As a patient with multiple sclerosis, Maiko Mgeladze explains that patients in Tbilisi and the rest of Georgia are expecting funding in 2020. Their main demand is that the Georgian government, including the Ministry of Health and Tbilisi City Hall, make disease-modifying therapy available to everyone. "Patients in Tbilisi and the rest of Georgia are looking forward to funding in 2020 and urge the Georgian government to make disease-modifying therapy available to us as well." In 2019, the Ministry of Health of Ajara paid 25 thousand GEL for expensive medicines for patients with multiple sclerosis. The program has 10 beneficiaries at this stage. By 2020, however, the Ministry plans to increase the number. “Some time ago, a government official asked us with surprised eyes - do you know how much money you are talking about and asking for ?! He forgot that we are talking about patients between the

The Forbidden Fruit OP-ED BY NUGZAR B. RUHADZE


omebody, somewhere, for some presumablyjustifiablereasonand interest, wanted and managed to create a movie which is a fresh but trivial paradigm of gay lifestyle, taking place in a Georgian dance company and depicting the affair of a male homosexual pair. Not a big deal at first sight. As a matter of fact, this newly born piece of art should have been inconsequential by any stretch of cinematographic taste and curiosity. But the habitual Georgian attitude towards homosexuals and the overly animated sentiments used to appreciate their physical ways and means, quickly made the film as consequential and sought after as a masterpiece of our time. Was this good or bad? Neither! It was simply unnecessary: why should anyone be given the chance to enjoy the commercial advantage of this magnitude absolutely free of charge? The movie, titled ‘And Then We Danced’ has received in Georgia a monstrous advertising opportunity like manna from the skies, a real windfall that one might get once in a lifetime or never at all. It is difficult to evaluate the potential box-office success of the movie now that the anti-gay community of Georgia has already promoted it unwittingly but very aggressively by taking to the streets of Tbilisi and Batumi to protest its screening outside movie theaters. I have no numbers, but I suspect with some reasonable confidence that most people in Georgia have zero tolerance for gay men and women. I don’t know exactly where this much glaring belligerence and blatant

ages of 20 and 40 and about the country’s budget, which they and their family members contribute to. We are patients who bear no responsibility for having this terrible disease. The causes of the disease are unknown to the world, and no one knows which family will suffer from this devastating disease. So please, let’s unite for each other.We, the patients, definitely need state funding / co-financing of rehabilitation and therapy,” Maiko said. MSSF, the Georgian Foundation for

Multiple Sclerosis, demands provision of access to treatment for patients with multiple sclerosis and created a special petition for this purpose. "Patients like me have been running a disease awareness campaign for several months with the support of doctors, and we have almost broken the stereotype called 'sclerosis' in society, that is, we have informed the public that multiple sclerosis is not a mental disorder or memory disorder,” Maiko says. “This is a disease

felt by the younger generation, mainly female patients, and the initial symptoms appear at the age of 20 - 40, ie at a time when human labor or productivity is otherwise highest. Multiple sclerosis is a major cause of non-traumatic disability for patients. However, in the world there are a number of modifying drugs that significantly hinder disease activity and help maintain a patient's quality of life.” The Georgian State protocol for clinical management of multiple sclerosis

says that according to unofficial statistics in Georgia, there are 1,100-1,200 patients with multiple sclerosis. There is no information on the frequency of the disease in different regions. We contacted the Health and Social Services Department of the Tbilisi City Hall, who confirmed that the agency does not currently have a program to finance the treatment of patients with multiple sclerosis. They added that they were “unable to discuss funding for such treatment at this time.” To support people with multiple sclerosis, there has been a worldwide campaign ongoing since spring, titled "Bringing us Closer". The goal of the campaign is to raise public awareness about the disease, timely diagnose it and provide access to adequate treatment. Information on Multiple Sclerosis: Multiple sclerosis is a chronic, progressive neurological disease and approximately 2.3 million people worldwide have this pathology. The first symptoms mostly appear in the age group of 20 to 40 years and therefore multiple sclerosis is a major cause of non-traumatic disability in young people. The disease activity is very important in all forms of the disease - inflammatory processes in the nervous system is followed by the death of neurons in the brain. It is noteworthy that this process can continue even if the patient has no clinical symptoms. The primary purpose of treatment for multiple sclerosis is to reduce disease activity at an early stage so that disability is not progressed. Nowadays, modifying therapy for the treatment of multiple sclerosis is provided, which significantly reduces disease activity and progression of disability.

Festival Mandarinoba at Castello Mare Hotel aversion for the gay lifestyle comes from, but a fact is a fact. Nobody knows for sure the number of pros and cons of homosexual predilection in this country, but the overall picture is that most Georgian men and women have a problem with it, hence the protest against the movie which shows that a gay lifestyle may thrive even in a Georgian national dance company, where both the masculinity and the femininity of dancing characters are pronouncedly vivid and obvious. On the other hand, the situation seems to be helpless because no manifestation can help the gay-haters prohibit the screening of the movie. One may achieve prohibition in a couple of movie theaters, but what can you do with the internet’s limitless potential to show anything without any problem, killing on the spot the attempt to abrogate the ‘unwelcome’ piece of information? There has already appeared a solid article in Wikipedia about the film, saying that it is a 2019 Swedish-Georgian drama film directed by Levan Akin and which was selected as the Swedish entry for the Best International Feature Film at the 92nd Academy Awards. This is already a recognition which cannot be ignored and shunned. Yet, all those efforts must be abortive due to modern technology, and not only. The world has drastically changed in the last fifty years, starting with the notable time of sexual revolution, associated with the name of the incomparable Marilyn Monroe. It would take only an elementary smart mind to realize the probable result of a forceful measure like a massive demonstration against a film which would have otherwise disappeared from our life as it has appeared – unnoticed and without any pain in the neck.


n November 16, Castello Mare Hotel & Wellness Resort, along with the Kobuleti Municipality, will host Mandarinoba (Tangerine Festival). Exclusively for the event, the entire area of the hotel will be adorned with thematic decorations and lights, exhibition stands will feature local products and a special exhibition corner will be devoted to the Kobuleti Museum. A myriad of activities is planned throughout the day, including tangerinepicking in the hotel’s citrus gardens, master-class and tasting of Georgian dishes, master-class of Georgian dances, performances of local folk ensembles and a barman show. Musical entertainment at the event will be furnished by the band ‘Blue Sail.’ As reported by Mano Kuchukhidze, Sales and Marketing Manager at Hotel Castello Mare, “The area of the hotel is overflowing with tangerine gardens which we harvest annually. This year, we came up with the idea to organize a festival that will integrate the Georgian tradition of hospitality with the Ajaran tradition of citrus harvesting. With proper packaging, Mandarinoba can be as alluring for tourists as the Georgian custom of vintaging. “We have recently launched Citrus Health and Detox programs on an international scale for the period from November to December and we have already received the first group from Slovenia. The Mandarinoba festival is among the activities designed to promote the local subtropical culture and to make the hotel seasonable for the autumn and we hope to hold it annually.” Mandarinoba is open to all. Welcome

to attend are hotel guests as well as outside visitors. Attendance is free of charge. Kobuleti Municipality has been very supportive in organizing the first festival. The township fully coordinated the formation of the exhibition space and the participation of local entrepreneurs.

FESTIVAL PROGRAM: 12:00 - 14:00 - Tangerine picking. Participants met at the hotel. They will be provided with the necessary equipment and gloves and will be taken by minibus from the hotel to the citrus gardens (1 km). There, they will be divided into teams to compete in harvesting. The event will be anchored by a host and animator. 14:00 - Exhibition-Sale and Entertainment Program Hotel Castello Mare will be adorned with special decorations: citrus, sun-

flower and floral compositions. Visitors to the site will be greeted by a fruit board, a buffet of Greenwich and local fruit compote and accompanied by a concert of Georgian folklore. Trees in the garden area will be lit with ornamental lights and seating areas will be arranged. Special stands for exhibiting and sale will be placed in the area. Corners of the museum, community college and entrepreneurs will be displayed, featuring local produce. Guests will be able to participate in culinary master-classes (Tatar, Muraba, Khinkali) and taste the dishes. The event will also host LEPL College New Wave with a show of bartenders making citrus cocktails, and will be closed by the musical band ‘Blue Sale.’ Note: Parking will be available in three zones up to a maximum of 1km distance from the hotel.




Looking Back, Decades 1 & 2 Only shaking hands with a current Minister of Science and Education, who later became president, Giorgi Margvelashvili, at TLG’s 2011 closing ceremony. Plus, meeting his predecessor, and two who came after him, at various times in connection with TLG volunteering. Will we ever see the Svan language offered as an optional subject in local schools? Stay tuned. Living in Ushguli for the winters of 2007-9, just before getting married. I had wanted to see how the Svans get through the hardest season in the highest place. Weekly baths in a little galvanized metal tub; walks up mountains through hipdeep snow for photos; teaching English to the entire school population of 51 at their parents’ request; staying with the Ratiani-Chelidze family when their guest house was a fraction of the size it is now. Unforgettable times, the first year shooting 35mm film, the second having switched to digital and never looked back. Getting my avalanche-road-closure photos and phone interview on morning TV news, which led to a Rustavi 2 film crew coming up for a week to film a 6.5-minute segment on me; watching this with the power out in the village and its only generator running, 30 of us and 10 charging cellphones crammed into 1 room. That segment being chosen as one of that channel’s best 10 of the year… back on TV for a gift basket, along with my new wife. And so it goes, rarely dull. Nowhere has inspired me as an artist, photographer and writer like Georgia. 42 countries later, still true.



f course, one’s 20 years in this country would bring a variety of meetings with interesting people and situations. For example: Running a medical aid program for Chechen refugee children in Tbilisi, 2000-2001. An NGO had been given $100k by a single anonymous donor, who requested the program. I worked with a surgeon from the Iashvili Children’s Hospital, who happened to be a Svan, from… Etseri. THAT’S why we live here. Amazing surgery, tuberculosis treatment for whole families, lives transformed. All this before the Rose Revolution brought light and infrastructure to a crumbling country. Groping through Tbilisi’s night darkness at the end of Shevardnadze’s era; getting mugged, robbed and knocked out in it; stitching up, learning my lesson about street smarts, moving on, not giving up. Seeing the Rose Revolution in Tbilisi as Shevardnadze gave way to Saakashvili, late 2003. Such euphoria you could hardly imagine as that time of corruption and backwardness turned a corner into… what? Now, after huge moves forward, we seem to be stuck again, though somewhere else. Several times crossing paths with the notorious Aprasidze clan of Etseri, while they were the main Godfathers of Svaneti and my protectors. Then having to go to their funeral, with 600 places and vastly much too much food in February’s snow, outdoors, in 2004. Helping organize a week of trauma counselling training targeted at Christian counsellors, to which members of the Patriarch’s office came along with Protestants, in the early 2000s. One sitting president, Mikeil Saakashvili, on two occasions. He invited the first two groups of TLG (Teach and Learn

with Georgia) to Batumi for lunch as the program started in 2010; I was in Group 1. Then he was handing out medals for Civic Sacrifice to all the subjects of the weekly Imedi TV show, Heroes of Hope,

in 2013 at the Presidential Palace in Tbilisi. He’s a big man, with a lot of languages in him. Then he was gone. I met his wife, too, Sandra Roelofs, much later, at the 20th anniversary party

of Prospero’s Books in Tbilisi, my favorite shop in the country. Among other things, she is currently with the World Health Organization, and I am thinking of ways we might work on health issues in Svaneti.

Tony Hanmer has lived in Georgia since 1999, in Svaneti since 2007, and been a weekly writer for GT since early 2011. He runs the “Svaneti Renaissance” Facebook group, now with nearly 2000 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

Urban Planning in a Democratic Georgia


ow that the Republic of Georgia is managing its own government, developing its own agencies and establishing its own purposes and procedures, what is the country’s ability to plan for its future? In light of Tbilisi’s recently completed General Plan, the answer to this question is important for those looking for improvement in Tbilisi’s urban structure. Evidence of chaotic development is all too common. Four years ago, systematic consideration of Georgia’s urbanization was only beginning to surface according to urban planner Gogi Abashidze, one of four panelists who spoke at a Capstone Seminar on the topic of urban planning. He joined Davit Asanidze, Head of Urban Policy & Planning for Tbilisi, Anano Tsintsabadze, an attorney with legal experience in planning issues, and Roger Akeley, a guest planner from New York, to review the recent past and current progress in Tbilisi’s planning capabilities. The seminar was the culmination of an intensive urban planning course offered by the Georgian Institute of Public Affairs (GIPA) in October. Graduate students have examined topics of urban history, planning processes in a democratic environment, and planning methods necessary to gain approvals for development projects. Students focused on three Tbilisi neighborhoods for analysis as they examined issues of historic preservation, economic development, environmental protection, urban design and transportation. The instructor, Roger Akeley, is a former planning commissioner and professor in New York. He came to Georgia on a Fulbright Specialist Grant, administered by

the United States Department of State with the cooperation of World Learning. “Our first class of graduate students worked hard as they began to consider Tbilisi and Georgia through the perspective of professional urban planning knowledge;” said Irini Gorgiladze, Dean of School of Government at GIPA, “we plan to continue offering this important perspective beyond this semester.” Students and members of the public who attended the seminar were particularly focused on the role of public participation at the beginning and throughout the plan preparation process. “I question whether the public was ade-

Tbilisi. Image source: reynaers.cz/

quately involved in preparation of the Tbilisi General Plan;” said Giga Abuldze as he listened to presenters who discussed how the plan was created; “I think the top-down approach does not allow local residents to make a significant contribution to the plan.” The limited number of meetings, sometimes low attendance at them and overly technical content presented during the General Plan meetings was acknowledged. Media coverage was not a sufficient backup support for involvement during the General Plan development. There seemed to be a consensus among those attending the GIPA seminar that Tbilisi needs to develop a sustaining

and effective program for continuing citizen involvement from now on. Professor Akeley offered several procedures that are used in the United States to guide the planning process there. These included giving powers to appointed planning boards so that land use and development decisions are buffered from direct political involvement by elected officials. This is to prevent private deals from occurring and ensures that debate on new developments will be reviewed publicly, solely for their merit and their adherence to governing zoning, site planning and environmental regulations.

Akeley also discussed the central importance of a formal environmental review process that identifies potential issues up front so that mitigating measures can be identified before project money is spent going in the wrong direction. He offered assistance in establishing a credible program for Tbilisi. City planning capacities have increased substantially in Tbilisi in recent years, especially in response to the General Plan, and the City is continuing to strengthen it plan implementation capacities. Its planning staff size now exceed forty professionals, an encouraging step forward.




NOVEMBER 15 - 18, 2019


GIFT FESTIVAL PROGRAM 2019 November 15, 16 GIFT FESTIVAL presents a living legend, inseparable from the history of contemporary dance- Ms. Carolyn Carlson, with her company and the Georgian Premier of Crossroads to Synchronicity Venue: Rustaveli Theater Start time: 20:00 November 17,18,19 WORLD PREMIERE KING LEAR. REIMAGINATION OF ANDRIY ZHOLDAK Based on William Shakespeare’s play “The Tragedy of King Lear” Start time: 20:00 Venue: Griboedov Theater OPERA AND BALLET THEATER 25 Sh. Rustaveli Ave. November 16, 17 UN BALLO IN MASCHERA Giuseppe Verdi Participants: George Oniani, Irina Taboridze, Mamuka Lomidze, Tea Demurishvili, Mariam Roinishvili, Levan Makaridze, Giorgi Goderdzishvili, Levan Tabukashvili, Aleksandre Tibelishvili, Paata Sukhitashvili. Conductor: Filippo Conti Music Director of the production: Zaza Azmaiparashvili Director, Scenographer, Costume Designer: Pierluigi Samaritani Start time: 19:00 Ticket: 15-200 GEL GABRIADZE THEATER 14 Shavteli Str. November 15, 16 RAMONA Revaz Gabriadze Directed by Revaz Gabriadze English Subtitles Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 20, 30 GEL November 17 STALINGRAD Revaz Gabriadze Directed by Revaz Gabriadze English Subtitles Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 20, 30 GEL

November 19 REZO Animated documentary film Directed by Leo Gabriadze English Subtitles Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 15 GEL November 20, 21 THE AUTUMN OF MY SPRINGTIME Revaz Gabriadze Directed by Revaz Gabriadze English Subtitles Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 20, 30 GEL SHALIKASHVILI THEATER 37 Rustaveli Ave. November 15, 16 SHAKESPEARE SONNETS Based on William Shakespeare’s sonnets Language: Non-verbal Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 15 GEL MOVEMENT THEATER 182 Agmashenebli Ave. November 15 INTRO Directed by Kakha Bakuradze Music: Sandro Nikoladze Language: Non-verbal Mute Movie Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 10, 15 GEL November 16 THE STORY OF A MURDERER Directed by Kakha Bakuradze Music: Sandro Nikoladze Language: Non-verbal Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 10, 15 GEL November 17 PARADISO Directed by Irakli Khoshtaria Choreographer: Lasha Robakidze Language: Non-verbal Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 10 GEL MUSIC & DRAMA STATE THEATER 182 Agmashenebeli Ave. November 19 WELCOME TO GEORGIA The Musical A musical, theatrical play and

romantic comedy telling a story about Georgia and its people by combining song, dance, culture, traditions, history, national costumes and local cuisine. Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 50-80 GEL MUSEUM

GEORGIAN NATIONAL MUSEUM SIMON JANASHIA MUSEUM 3 Rustaveli Ave. TEL (+995 32) 299 80 22, 293 48 21 www.museum.ge Exhibitions: GEORGIAN COSTUME AND WEAPONRY OF THE 18TH-20TH CENTURIES NUMISMATIC TREASURY EXHIBITION STONE AGE GEORGIA ARCHEOLOGICAL TREASURE NEW LIFE TO THE ORIENTAL COLLECTIONS Until December 10 An international-scale archaeological exhibition THE COLORS OF ANCIENT ROME. MOSAICS FROM THE CAPITOLINE MUSEUMS The exhibition features 21 mosaics found in Rome, covering a wide chronological period ranging from 2nd century BC until 4th century AD Until December 15 The first-ever exhibition of a remarkable coin from the time of King David the Builder The coin shows Kind David IV dressed in Byzantine imperial attire, wearing stemma, and holding a Globus cruciger. On the reverse is an invocation in Georgian surrounding a cross and listing the extent of David's kingdom: 'Lord, aid David, king of Abkhazians, Kartvelians, Rans, Kakhs, Armenians.' Until November 30 Exhibition ‘Wisdom Transformed into Gold' Supported by the EU With ancient archaeological finds, the exhibition presents for the first time gold jewelry of Late Antiquity

(2nd-4th century AD), goldsmiths' tools from the Museum's ethnographic collection, and items made from gold and precious metals. Until December 9 Exhibition MUSEUM OF CERAMICS Eight artists united around the idea of creating a museum of ceramics to describe the history of ceramics: Malkhaz Shvelidze, Nato Eristavi, Lia Bagrationi, Gigisha Pachkoria, Lali Kutateladze, Otar Vepkhvadze, Merab Gugunashvili, Ilia Biganashvili. IOSEB GRISHASHVILI TBILISI HISTORY MUSEUM - KARVASLA 8 Sioni St. TEL (+995 32) 2 98 22 81 FRIDON NIJARADZE’S FIRST SOLO EXHIBIITON Curator: Natalia Kldiashvili MUSEUM OF SOVIET OCCUPATION 4 Rustaveli Ave. TEL (+995 32) 2 99 80 22, 2 93 48 21 www.museum.ge The exhibition hall is equipped with monitors, where visitors can see documentaries of various historical events.

GRAND MASTERS FROM THE GEORGIAN NATIONAL MUSEUM COLLECTION XIX – XX CENTURY Until November 20 Georgian National Museum and the Embassy of Italy in Georgia present the exhibition "THE FORM OF COLOR FROM TINTORETTO TO CANALETTO" from Trieste's National Gallery of Ancient Art. TBILISI DIGITAL SPACE Tbilisi Mall The first museum of digital art in Tbilisi, where you will meet three different spaces: Vazha-Pshavela's "Dried beech", the world of torches, and a digital space decorated with various graphic and visuals effects. In the main hall is decorated with video projections and mirrors, demonstrating there is no boundary between man and nature. Ticket: 10-30 GEL MUSIC

TBILISI CONCERT HALL 1 Melikishvili Ave. November 21 PETER BENCE FIX Group Start time: 23:00 Ticket: 50 GEL BUDA BAR AREA

THE BOOK MUSEUM 5 Gudiashvili Str., National Parlamentary Library +995 32 297 16 40 The Book Museum holds a unique collection of items, including the private libraries of Ilia Chavchavadze, Dimitri Bakradze, Giorgi Chubinashvili, the recently recovered book collections of Grand Duke Michael Nikolaevich Romanov and Brothers Zubalashvili, as well as books with the signatures of Ilia Chavchavadze, Ivane Machabeli, Victor Hugo, Dmitri Mendeleev and AntoineAugustin Renouard. GALLERY

THE NATIONAL GALLERY 11 Rustaveli Ave. TEL (+995 32) 215 73 00

Rike November 16 ORIGAMI X RISE SHOWCASE Age control: 21+ Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 10-90 GEL TBILISI BAROQUE FESTIVAL Rustaveli Theater, Small Stage November 18, 19 EARLY DANCES Musical-Choreographic Performance Performers: Tbilisi State Chamber Orchestra– Georgian Sinfonietta Giorgi Aleksidze Tbilisi Contemporary Ballet (artistic director Mariam Aleksidze) Mikheil Abramishviliccountertenor, Georgia Anna Kurdovanidze– harpsichord & positive organ, Georgia Josep Maria Marti Duran– theorbo & baroque guitar, Spain Daniel Garay Moragues– drums, Spain Uta Bekaia– costume creator Start time: 19:30 Ticket: 10-30 GEL DJANSUG KAKHIDZE TBILISI CENTER FOR MUSIC & CULTURE 123a Agmashenebeli Ave. November 16 CONCERT OF THE N. SULKHANISHVILI GEORGIAN STATE CHOIR Which performs choral works by N. Sulkhanishvili, I.Kechakmadze, J. Beglarishvili, R. Khorava, Z. Bolkvadze and L.Basharuli. Conductors will be members of State Choir T. Talakvadze, K. Kartvelishvili, M. Gulagashvili, M. Edisherashvili, G. Janelidze, G. Afriamashvili, G. Gogichashvili, I. Kortava, I. Kakhniashvili, G. Mkervalidze, G. Margvelashvili, D. Kakhidze. Start time: 19:30 Ticket: 10-30 GEL MOVEMENT THEATER 182 Agmashenebli Ave. November 19 JAM SESSION- Improv played by different Georgian and foreign musicians and instrumentalists. Musical art director- Sandro Nikoladze Start time: 21:00 Ticket: 5 GEL




Hidden Treasures? – Untranslated Tales of Yesteryear BY PETER SKINNER


oday’s Georgia is intent on telling her story to a wide range of international audiences – students from abroad, visitors, and the international business community. Georgia, produces attractive, accurate and engaging materials on the nation’s literary history, architecture, art, costume; publications include the contemporary take on detective fiction, futuristic and science fiction, women’s issues, and much else. Yet one category of literature remains wrapped in comparative – if not complete – obscurity. What do we have on hand by way of 19th-century writertraveler-explorer literature on Georgia? Works of the 1850s to 1900: more modern than archaic, more given to adventure and romance than to dutiful accounts of domestic life and small-farming? This was, after all the age in which the colorful works of Sir Walter Scott and Lord Byron were known to every educated Georgian. Action, adventure, escapism fueled rich and often exotic narratives. The October 17th issue of Georgia Today carried an article on Alexandre Dumas’ engaging travelogue, Voyage au Caucase (1859), so rich in anecdote and excursions into the more dramatic episodes of Georgian history, but – sadly – still not yet translated in full in a modern, illustrated edition. But other authors writing on Georgia remain un-translated into English. Perhaps two of the most prolific were Artur Gundaccar von Suttner and his wife Bertha Kinsky von Wchinitz und Tettau – whose personal and professional live were full of romance and interest, and who merit rediscovery. The story begins in Germany in 1864, in the spa town of Homburg vor der Höhe. Bertha, the then unmarried 21-yearold music-loving daughter of impoverished Czech aristocrats, was advised by her voice teacher that “The Princess of Mingrelia” had a “keen desire to make her acquaintance.” The princess was Ekaterina Chavchavadze Dadiani, the widow of Prince David, Dadian (hered-

itary ruler) of Mingrelia. With her options limited and under Russian pressure, Princess Ekaterina moved to St Petersburg, joining the Russian court, but with visits together with her children to Paris and to Homburg, where she was a widely recognized society figure. Bertha willingly met the princess, “a very elegant lady of forty-six or forty-seven, still goodly to look upon, and must in her youth been a dazzling beauty of the genuine Georgian type.“ A close friendship developed, and Bertha found her new life, with its “oriental, exotic quality, commingled with the Russian and Parisian tone of high society, spiced with romance and surrounded with the glitter of wealth” to be fascinating. So is Bertha’s biography, The Records of an Eventful Life (1910), in which she records a great deal more of the oriental, exotic and romantic . . . a fair amount of which involved her personally. Being told by Prince Erekle, the melancholy son of Giorgi XII, last king of Georgia, that she was “a magnificent girl” and meetings Emperor Alexander II of Russia and with Princess Anna Chavchavadze (who had been Shamyl’s captive in 1854), were only part of the fascination. More than a decade later, in 1876, Bertha, now thirty-three, married Artur Gundaccar von Suttner; she had been a tutor to his sisters. Both sets of parents had hoped their child would marry into great wealth, and both were very disapproving of the match. The couple willingly accepted the invitation that Princess Ekaterina, now back in Mingrelia, extended to them to visit her. The wildly optimistic Bertha even hoped that the Princess’ son Niko, now the nominal Dadian of Mingrelia, would secure Artur “a position as aide to the emperor [Alexander II] or something of the sort.” Nothing of the sort eventualized, but after a typically warm Georgian welcome, which Bertha eloquently describes in her biography, together with details of the journey, receptions and a long stay in the summer palace at Gordi, the von Suttners made every effort to pay their way. The couple moved to Kutaisi, where they taught music and German to the children of wealthy families; in addition, they

wrote Georgian-themed articles for German-language newspapers in Europe. In 1877, the couple moved to Zugdidi, where Ekaterina’s daughter Salomé had set up home with her husband, Achille Murat, grandson of Napoleon’s General Murat Artur von Suttner took up estate management, assisting both Achille and also Ekaterina’s son Niko with their properties, including installing “horse-thiefproof stalls.” Then, after Princess Ekaterina’s death in 1882, the couple moved to Tbilisi, where Artur’s attempt to start a timber business proved unsuccessful. All in all, Bertha and Artur made the best of a challenging but enjoyable decade in Georgia, throwing themselves into every sort of practical work but also remaining avid autodidacts, immersing themselves in the books of Darwin, Haeckel, Spencer, Whewell Buckle and other scientific worthies of the period, both European and Georgian. Then in 1885, Artur’s reconciliation with his parents permitted the couple to repatriate themselves back to his family’s castle in Harmannsdorf in Lower Austria. Though almost entirely unknown today, the couple’s journalistic writings on Georgia certainly deserve re-examination; both were much published writers of tested skills. But also of great interest is Artur’s literary work. In a chapter of her biography that covered 1877, Bertha states “My husband’s Caucasian stories and novels were meeting with great success, and my Inventarium einer Seele . . . and belles-lettres were equally in demand.” Artur published at least eight “lost” novels or narratives on Caucasian and Georgian themes, among them: Daredjan: Mingrelisches Sittenbild (1886); Ein Aznaour: kaukasischer roman (1886); Der Battono (1886); Kinder der Kaukasus (1890); Die Adjaren (1890); Schamyl (1891); Ein Dämon (1895); and Die Tscherkessen: roman (2 vols); 1896-98). (The English-language titles would be: Daredjan: A Portrayal of Mingrelian Customs (1886); An Aznaour: A Caucasian Novel (1886); The Prince (1888); The Children of the Caucasus (1890); The Ajarans (1890); Shamyl (1891); A Demon (1895); and The Circasssians: a novel (1896-98). (As the publication dates

of all these works fall after the von Suttners’ return to Austria, it is likely that at least the earlier books were first serialized in Austrian and German magazines or newspapers during the couple’s sojourn in Georgia, and that book-form publication came later.) Intriguingly, in 1890 a novel by Artur von Suttner titled Djambek the Georgian was published in English in New York – it is likely to be a translation of Die Ajaren, 1890. In it von Suttner presents the adventures of Djambek, a resident of Ajara (a Georgian province held by the Turks until 1878). The anonymous reviewer of The Critic, Vol. 16. May 1890, states: DJAMBEK THE GEORGIAN is called a ‘Tale of Modern Turkey,’ but it is Asiatic Turkey that the author means, for the hero only leaves his native province for the neighboring Russian (sic) territory to return to it with a Russian army. Djambek, a young Georgian landed proprietor, falls in love with the grand-niece of his Pasha – a bewitching damsel, who had been educated at the French school in Trebizond, and has quite modern and Western notions of women’s rights. His love is returned, but he loses the Pasha’s favor by insisting on reforms the latter is too indolent to carry out. He plans on elopement but is caught and clapped in a prison. The extortions of the subordinate Turkish officials drive his countrymen to revolt. They release Djambek, who aids in maintaining a guerilla warfare on the borders, until the outbreak of the Russo-Turkish war brings him a commission and an opportunity to regain the charming Tamar, and to pay off old scores. Having had the pleasure of reading the

book (ordered on-line), I certainly agree with the reviewer’s final comment – “There is plenty of stirring adventure and picturesque description [in it],” and would add that the story moves rapidly and that it also presents incisive analyses of power structures, local conditions and Turkish and Georgian daily life. What then of Artur’s other Caucasian works? None appear to have been translated into English; all exist in only a handful of copies housed in no-loanspermitted European national or university libraries. Ein Aznaour is the rarest title; only one copy is listed. Can we hope that Georgian literary scholars will meet with their German and Austrian counterparts who specialize on Georgia and together examine Artur’s novels and Bertha’s journalism? Can we hope for any translations into English of Artur’s colorful and vivid works on Georgia or Bertha’s commentaries on daily life? The titles of the novels indicate a great variety of time periods, regions, and protagonists, and we could certainly expect accurate and perceptive work; Artur and Bertha kept in continuing touch with a wide range of European and Georgian scholars, and their work received much praise. Both were avid students of Georgian history and literature – even completing an unpublished German language-version of The Knight in the Panther Skin. Artur and Bertha’s works – books and journalism – are a buried treasure, a huge and long-unopened album capturing a vast range of Georgian scenes. The urgent challenge of rediscovery must be seen as a great opportunity to present colorful Georgian history and life to new generations of readers. (1497)

Gábor Markovics Exhibition at IArt Gallery to Celebrate National Hungarian Day



n October 23, Hungary celebrated their National Holiday. To emphasize once more the diplomatic and friendly ties between the two countries, Georgia marked the date on the calendar as well. On Thursday, October 24, IArt Gallery presented an exhibition titled Staring IntoThe Well from young Hungarian painter Gábor Markovics.

By joint efforts of the Hungarian Embassy to Georgia and the IArt Gallery, for the first time, the works of Gabor Markovics were introduced to the Georgian public. Dr. Anikó Farkas of the Hungarian Embassy to Georgia, told GEORGIA TODAY that it was no accident that they chose specifically Markovics’ works for the exhibition. “He’s a very popular painter in his native country of Hungary. It was important for us to show how contemporary artists from Hungary and Georgia connect in the expression of their art.”



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Ia Bokuchava, the owner of the gallery and the curator of the exhibition added that “though Markovics is very unique with his style, in his works one can see the crossovers with the Georgian conception of the world.” Around thirty paintings showcased in IArt Gallery were chosen from private collections, but three of them were created especially for the exhibition, preceded by the artist’s journey through Georgia during which time he familiarized himself with different aspects of Georgian culture and history, common village people as well as their character. “He made these works for the IArt exhibition but they are not works made out of mere responsibility to do so,” Bokuchava tells us. “There lays great fascination in these pictures: the artist opens the door to the psychology of the characters.” True to her words, the Hungarian artist’s paintings are floating conceptions,

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beginnings of stories that will continue to live on with you from the moment you look at them. You are left to wonder, for example, what the backgrounds and futures are of the sleeping little girl, boy with a butterfly on him, and man spitting seeds into a bowl. The Hungarian painter also met with his Georgian counterparts. “Markovics met important Georgian contemporary painters. They bonded and I’m sure their connections will keep them in touch,” the curator of the exhibition told us. Showing signs of an outstanding imagination from his early years, Markovics’ first painting showed an owl butterfly, with which he won the National Drawing competition when he was just 14 years old. Works by Gabor Markovics are distinguished for their rich color, sophisticated composition and deep philosophical stance towards reality.

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The exposition was opened by Ms. H.E. Dr. Viktória Horváth, Ambassador of Hungary to Georgia, and attended by the artist himself. It was open to the public through November 6. As reported by the organizers, around 1000 visitors came to the gallery to see the paintings of the Hungarian painter. “We couldn’t be happier with how the exhibition turned out,” the Hungarian Embassy stated. The National day of Hungary, October 23 historically dates back to the Hungarian Revolution of 1956. The Hungarian Revolution of 1956 (a.k.a. Hungarian Uprising of 1956) was a spontaneous nationwide revolt against the government of the People’s Republic of Hungary and its Soviet-imposed policies, lasting from 23 October until 10 November 1956. At the inauguration of the Third Hungarian Republic in 1989, 23 October was declared a national holiday.


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Profile for Georgia Today

Issue #1203  

November 15 - 18, 2019

Issue #1203  

November 15 - 18, 2019