Issue no: 1007
• DECEMBER 15 - 18, 2017
• PUBLISHED TWICE WEEKLY
PRICE: GEL 2.50
In this week’s issue... Transport & Infrastructure the Top Priorities of Tbilisi Budget 2018 NEWS PAGE 2
On the ECHR Merabishvili Ruling POLITICS PAGE 4
Georgia & the Trans-Caspian Pipeline POLITICS PAGE 6
ON ENPARD A look at the results achieved in Georgia's agricultural sector
New Year Celebrations to Start from December 15 in Tbilisi BY NINO GUGUNISHVILI
ew Year celebrations will start from December 15 in Tbilisi, the major events planned to take place in: Gldani, Varketili and Old Tbilisi, with three stages to be installed for New Year concerts. The New Year light-up is planned for December 15, including a giant tree of lights on Freedom Square and a tree outside Old Parliament on Rustaveli decorated with toys and Georgian ornaments. Tbilisi City Hall announced there will be an ice-skating rink in the area, free of charge for anyone interested. Gori Women’s Choir are expected to perform at the New Year light up event, followed by a children’s performance from one of Gori’s music schools. Deda Ena garden is to be transformed into a New Year town with various events to take place, and yet another skating rink organized, alongside an open-air movie theater. There will be sports areas, numerous attractions, and concerts for electronic music fans held every evening from
Developments of the Georgian Church, 20 Years On POLITICS PAGE 6
New Old Abanotubani – Another Israeli Investment In Hospitality
BUSINESS PAGE 9
La Bohème: The Best of Contemporary Mediterranean Cuisine Brought to Tbilisi SOCIETY PAGE 12
New Georgian Talents Revealed by Tsinandali Award 2017 CULTURE PAGE 13
9PM to midnight, except December 32. Concerts for children are also planned at Deda Ena garden. Tbilisi City Hall also announced that private companies will also be involved in decorating
squares and parks in the city, with up to 70 startups set to organize various celebrations on the new Agmashenebeli Avenue. Further good news is that Tbilisi Metro will work free of charge on the night of December 31.
DECEMBER 15 - 18, 2017
Cutting the Jams: Night-time Trash Collection to Begin in Tbilisi BY TOM DAY
bilisi Mayor Kakha Kaladze today introduced a pilot scheme in which bins are to be emptied during night hours on a number of streets in Georgia’s capital. This is one of his many action plans to improve the city, saying that with garbage trucks operating after dark will help ease traffic con-
gestion in the city. Kaladze asked Deputy Mayor Maia Bitadze to introduce the plan at today’s governmental meeting which saw the presentation of the Mayor’s work from the last two weeks. “At the end of the week, we’ll have a list of specific streets on which to implement this pilot project," said Maia Bitadze. According to the Mayor, if the project is a success, then it will be launched citywide.
Didveli Ski Pistes in Bakuriani Open for the Season
eorgian Mountain Resort Development Company has officially opened Bakuriani’s Didveli area for skiers, who’ll now be able to enjoy skiing on the 2000-meter slope named after Georgian sportsman Nodar Kumaritashvili. Didveli has four different types of ski lifts. In Bakuriani, there are seven ski trails of 14 kilometers in length, tailored for all types of skiers. The ski lifts at Did-
veli will operate from 10 am to 5 pm, and for those ready to experience skiing by night, there are led lights installed on the trails. As in Gudauri, Bakuriani also has mountain patrol teams to ensure skier safety.
Transport & Infrastructure the Top Priorities of Tbilisi Budget 2018 BY THEA MORRISON
ext year, Georgia’s capital Tbilisi will have a budget of GEL 861 million ($334 million), with the top priorities transport and infra-
structure. The discussions of the draft budget made up by the former Mayor Davit Narmania and adjusted by the newlyelected Kakha Kaladze, were launched in Tbilisi City Council (Sakrebulo) on December 13 and the document will likely be adopted by the end of the week. Irakli Khmaladze, the Deputy Mayor of Tbilisi, says that next year GEL 41 million more will be allocated from the city budget to improve transport infrastructure and the implementation of infrastructural projects. “The most important direction in next year's budget will be the rehabilitation of historical places,” he said, adding that the rehabilitation of Orbeliani and Gudiashvili squares is planned. The Deputy Mayor also said that in 2018, up to 11 metro stations will be rehabilitated, namely, the modernization of the metro and purchase of new equipment. The opposition is also taking part in the discussions, however, as they have already stated, they will not support the
draft budget as they “do not believe Kaladze's team will be able to solve the acute problems in the capital city through the 2018 budget.” The opposition focuses its arguments on traffic jams, and social and employment issues and says Kaladze’s plans are not far different from the former mayor’s proposals, adding corruption risks still remain high. The Mayor says his team will show real results in around three months, claiming that all his pre-election promises will gradually be fulfilled and the city will be changed for the better. "The population of the capital supported me with the program I presented
before the election. Accordingly, I am obliged to fulfill my promises. The budget presented by us provides for all those projects and programs we talked about in our election campaign: they will definitely be implemented," Kaladze said. He also touched upon the issue of increasing the budget in the social direction and said it was important to create jobs for Tbilisi residents. “The main thing is to create jobs, as this is the biggest problem the country faces today," Kaladze said. A final draft of the proposed budget will be sent to the Georgian Parliament for approval in the coming days.
GEORGIA TODAY DECEMBER 15 - 18, 2017
Prime Minister Attends ENPARD 1st Phase Summarizing Conference
New Eco-Friendly Buses to be Introduced in Tbilisi BY TOM DAY
BY NINO GUGUNISHVILI
he EU and Government of Georgia summarized the results of the first phase of the European Neighborhood Program for Agriculture and Rural Development (ENPARD) in Georgia, and announced further EU funding for agriculture, at a conference entitled “Improving Rural Lives.” The conference was attended by the Prime Minister of Georgia Giorgi Kvirikashvili, Ambassador of the EU to Georgia Janos Herman, Minister of Agriculture of Georgia Levan Davitashvili, members of the Georgian government, EU partners and local and international organizations implementing the ENPARD program. “I would like to express our deepest gratitude to the EU for the success it has provided our country; and the assistance within the agriculture and rural sector has to be especially noted, which we of course consider as trust from our partners, and at the same time a confirmation to the fact that the reforms in our country are developing in the right direction,” PM Kvirikashvili said. He also noted that the EUR 77.5 million released for the third phase of the ENPARD, with an overall financing for all three phases of the program of EUR 180 million, is of crucial importance for Georgia, as the development of agriculture and improving rural lives is one of the priorities of the Georgian government. “We have made significant progress in the sector today, and this is thanks to the effective and coordinated work of the government, international donor organizations, partner countries and the pri-
vate sector. Signing the Association Agreement with EU opened new possibilities for Georgia, and of course these possibilities entail the very important reforms that we’re implementing,” Kvirikashvili noted. “The goal of our government is to support the development of a business oriented agricultural sector and assist Georgia to become an exporter of these products” the Prime Minister emphasized. 280 cooperatives have received EU financing and technical assistance through the program, while over 1,000 cooperatives received grants. In 2015, the EU launched pilot projects for rural development in Lagodekhi, Borjomi and Kazbegi. According to Kvirikashvili, over 120 initiatives were financed in the areas of agriculture, tourism, social services, and environmental protection. Within the framework of this initiative, over 700 families were given employment opportunities, and over 8,000 people living in rural areas had a chance to improve their living conditions. “I hope that ENPARD’s third phase will bring as many tangible results as the two previous phases of the program,” Kvirikashvili said. “ENPARD is the EU’s response to challenges. We’re now closing the first phase
of the program, and we’re already implementing the second phase. Then the third phase will come into play, and I hope very much that we’ll build on the achievements of these different phases. What we built is a very logical, long term process that in time will deliver more and more,” Herman said. “We very much appreciate the fantastic cooperation we’ve with the Georgian government, which developed agricultural strategy, a strategy for rural development and now the strategy for the expansion centers,” he concluded. “ENPARD really is a flagship program for Georgia, and I hope it will also be a flagship program for the European Union, as it continues to build on the achievements we have made” he stated. The first phase of ENPARD ran from 2014-2017, with a budget of €52 million (over 150 million GEL). The program was based on three key pillars: (1) Helping modernize and professionalize the Ministry of Agriculture and related institutions so they could better assist farmers; (2) Promoting and developing the cooperative model of farming in Georgia; and (3) Introducing the notion of rural development in Georgia, which means moving beyond only agriculture to create other employment opportunities in rural areas.
his week, Tbilisi City Hall declared that they intend to purchase new ecofriendly buses for use in Tbilisi. Tbilisi Transport Company’s new Director, Mamuka Kobakhidze, informed reporters that up to 200 buses are expected to be bought for the first stage of the upgrade, and added that the complete turnaround of vehicles would take 3-4 years. The news follows Tbilisi Mayor Kakha Kaladze’s electoral campaign promise to reduce the capital’s carbon footprint. As well as this, he talked about easing traffic in the city, with these new buses set to help. The new buses should help improve the public transport network for both locals and tourists by offering improved reliability, safety and increased comfort. As Tbilisi has experienced a sharp rise in the number of tourists over the last few years, the bus network has been under a lot of strain. GEORGIA TODAY asked the opinions of some foreigners on the issue.
“One bad thing about Tbilisi is the public transportation. It is slowly improving, and you see some modern buses with air-conditioning etc., but it’s way too slow,” said Shahnoza Muminova from Uzbekistan. “Tbilisi is a very stressful city, especially when it comes to public transport. I end up walking a lot of the time,” said Anya V. from the Russian Federation. These are not the first upgrades to Tbilisi’s bus network. Last September, the capital saw new blue buses equipped according to European standards. These buses, which operate on natural gas, cause less pollution as opposed to the previous ones. It’s not just Tbilisi that has seen new modern public transportation, as Georgia’s Black Sea coastal city of Batumi has followed in the footsteps of Tbilisi, with 30 eco-friendly buses. As well as the envisioned upgrade, an improved network of routes is being discussed. “We’re also considering adding certain bus routes,” Kobakhidze remarked. “Tbilisi City Hall is currently working on an ordered project that envisages passenger monitoring. The number of passengers as well as directions is being observed.”
Galleria Tbilisi Sees First Apple 'iSpace' Store in Georgia
n December 8, in Galleria Tbilisi, was the opening of first Apple Premium Reseller store “iSpace”. Apple took part in everything regarding the opening of the store, including design and prices. All official products are sold in the store, with an official guarantee. Most importantly, authorized professional staff
(salesmen) will assist clients and offer any advice. iSpace already has future plans that involve the opening of two other stores in the city. The second store will open in 6 months, as told by the representative of the store. The store has also offered special prices (the cheapest) for the grand opening, for iPhone 7,8, MacBook pro and iPad).
DECEMBER 15 - 18, 2017
State Audit Office Presents 2018-2022 Development Strategy
BY THEA MORRISON
he State Audit Office (SAO) of Georgia, which is responsible for performing audits, held the presentation of 2018-2022 Development Strategy on December 12. The document was presented to the Prime Minister, Speaker of Parliament, Members of the Government, MPs, Diplomatic Corps, international organizations, NGOs and other invited guests by the Auditor General Irakli Mekvabishvili, who officially took his position in September. The strategy envisages enhancing the independence and institutional strengthening of the SAO, increasing its role by the high-quality audit activities and more involvement of the Parliament, the government and society in the public finance management sphere, as well as the introduction of the management system and professional development of employees. The Auditor General stated that the main challenge was to get a high-quality audit office within 5 years, whose reports will improve the quality of
public finance management. “Our strategic goal is to offer institutions resultoriented recommendations that will help them to effectively manage their activities. Our aim is to increase the progress of the implementation of recommendations with the active involvement of parliament,” Mekvabishvili stated. Georgian Prime Minister Giorgi Kvirikashvili then highlighted the high professionalism and reputation of the Head of the State Audit Office. “I welcome this strategy as it will enable us to improve the quality of governance in the country, making it more transparent. It will also be very important in terms of stronger parliamentary control,” he added. Kvirikashvili thanked the donors supporting the State Audit Office in the implementation of its important institutional development project, involving the office's development strategy. Said donors include the European Union, GIZ, the World Bank, and USAID. The SAO aims to: promote efficient and effective public spending, protect national wealth and the property of state of autonomous republics and local (municipal) entities, and improve management of public finances.
On the ECHR Merabishvili Ruling INTERVIEW BY VAZHA TAVEBERIDZE
ith last week’s ECHR judgment on ex-PM and Interior Minister Merabishvili only adding to already existing convolution on his alleged “kidnapping case”, one of the most popular demands in Georgian society was for an explanation and interpretation in a simplified language. For this difficult task, and with the blessing and recommendation of the Council of Europe, GEORGIA TODAY and Panorama Talk Show approached Kantsantsin Dzehtsiarou, Professor at the University of Liverpool.
HOW WOULD YOU SUM UP THE ECHR JUDGMENT?
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Basically, what the court wanted to determine is whether the arrest of Mr Merabishvili was legal from the point of view of the European Convention on Human Rights [hereafter, the Convention]. In the end, the court decided that at least some of his imprisonment and pre-trail detention was in compliance with the convention. However, the later part of his pre-trail detention was not. So, the court needed to explain why this later part was a violation, by which I mean the incident when Merabishvili was allegedly taken from his cell during the night and asked about events related to the death of late PM Zurab Zhvania and details pertaining to the bank accounts of Ex-President Saakashvili. This part of his detention was illegal from the point of view of the Convention because it violated Article 18, which says that if you arrest or put someone in pre-trial detention because he committed a crime, the main purpose of this imprisonment should be to investigate this crime, not to wrangle out information from other aspects of his political career or on his other involvement in political areas.
THE ECHR DOES NOT THINK THAT THE INITIAL DETENTION OF MERABISHVILI WAS AGAINST THE LAW? No.
DOES THE ECHR CONSIDER HIM A POLITICAL PRISONER? The court did not discuss that question as such. The court cannot declare any person a political prisoner or otherwise. The only question the court decides on is whether the imprisonment is in compliance with the convention on HR, particularly with Article 5 and Article 18. And then we decide for ourselves, based on this judgment, whether the court considered a particular person a political prisoner.
SO, WHILE THE INITIAL DETENTION WAS NOT IN VIOLATION OF THE LAW, THE SECOND PART, INCLUDING THE PROLONGATION OF HIS PRETRIAL DETENTION, WAS?
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Correct. The ECHR found that at a later stages reasons behind Merabishvili’s initial detention somehow changed. And the ECHR found a violation of Article 5 in that respect. On top of that, the court found violation of Article 5 in conjunction with Article 18.
DOES THAT JUDGMENT GIVES ME, A REGULAR CITIZEN, ENOUGH
EVIDENCE TO ASSUME THAT THE ECHR CONSIDERS MERABISHVILI UNLAWFULLY DETAINED NOW? Again that is not straightforward from the judgment of the ECHR. We are talking about Georgia, not Azerbaijan here. If we compare this judgement to the cases of Azerbaijan when the court clearly stated that the only way to sort out this problem is to release the prisoners, the ECHR does not say that in relation to Merabishvili. Moreover, it did not discuss his present imprisonment. He is already imprisoned as a result of a Georgian court decision for crimes he allegedly committed.
TWO MAIN POLITICAL PARTIES EACH CLAIM A POLITICAL VICTORY BASED ON THIS ECHR JUDGEMENT It’s not the first decision of the ECHR where different parties claim that they have won something out of it. We have quite different examples in the past. Here, the court tried to be balanced. Naturally, a political party against Merabishvili thinking he was rightly arrested got something when the ECHR stated that the whole detention was not political. The court said it was not for political purposes right from the beginning. They dismissed the part of the judgment that says that that some the detention was problematic and that is clearly a victory for Merabishvili and his party partners. And then there are their opponents who claim that the whole process should be considered political if the predominant aim of this was his removal from the political scenery rather than in order to prosecute him for alleged crimes he committed. So, the court did not say that is political in general but said that some part of his detention was for an improper purpose.
CONSIDERING THAT THERE IS A TOP FINE OF EUR 4000 FOR VIOLATION OF ARTICLE 18, AND WE ARE TALKING ABOUT A TOP GOV’T OFFICIAL, HOW GRAVE A VIOLATION ARE WE TALKING HERE? In this particular judgement the court was not unanimous. Some thought the court did not go far enough, some thought that they went way too far and there was no actual violation of Article 18. You rightly refer to relatively low compensation for this violation. Perhaps the court took into account the whole process and defined that as the initial violation was not a violation of Article 5, it decided to award as much as it deemed necessary. But I would not focus on money: it is less important in these circumstances. Interpretation of the convention and resulting violations are more important. The message the ECHR sent the Georgian government was that these sorts of action in such high-profile cases are illegal and should not be done. People should not be taken from their cells during the night. If you investigate someone for a particular crime that should be the sole focus.
IF YOU WERE TO PUT ON A POLITICAL ANALYST MANTLE FOR A SECOND, WOULD YOU SAY THE APPELLATION OF THIS CASE BY THE STATE BACKFIRED? I don’t think it backfired. The court clearly thought it an important case and had to clarify the case law on Article 18 because there was clearly a discrepancy. If I were to advise the Georgian government, I would say it definitely needed to go ahead and refer this case to the grand chamber.
DECEMBER 15 - 18, 2017
Imagning a Neutral Georgia OP-ED BY NUGZAR B. RUHADZE
he United States’ recent controversial announcement about relocating the American Embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem instigated almost universal condemnation: a surfeit of comments on the issue in global media that sounded utterly contradictory, as if the world does not have anything else to do except talk about the best venue in which to execute the American diplomacy in the Promised Land. Why did the current American administration want to do this? Are they earnestly trying to perpetuate the American political values around the globe or are they just distracting the world’s attention from hotter issues, the urgency of which is really a bother to us all; like hunger, pollution, poverty, disease, conflict, crime, violence, weapons of mass destruction, education, human rights, discrimination and what not. Whatever the overblown blah-blah is all about, the world community still feels obligated to react, and they do. As a Georgian, I envy Israel: they always have something in store about themselves to have the world talk and quarrel about, thus staying in the focus of the world’s attention on a ceaseless basis. I wish Georgia were the subject of the world’s discussion as often as Israel. On the other hand, this envy of mine is a kind-hearted
sentiment, without even a vestige of wicked jealousy. I love Israel and I appreciate its friendship and cooperation with Georgia. I also love and appreciate America, which is vigorously developing its outstanding multifaceted relationship with Georgia. I love our great neighbor Turkey too, notwithstanding our historical disagreements on various issues, and I truly appreciate our strategic partnership. I’m also looking forward to regenerating peaceful and fruitful Russian-Georgian cooperation that might turn out mutually beneficial some day in the future. I value Georgia’s friendship with the nations of the world, both those who persistently support the recent American move about Jerusalem and those ardently against the plan. And squeezed right in between those two radically differing attitudes, I feel embarrassed about making a statement thereupon. This is exactly when it occurred to me that the only way to rid ourselves of that irksome pain in our politically overstrained neck is Georgia’s international neutrality. And it makes no sense to start throwing stones at me for this: I’m just dreaming! Imagine a neutral Georgia! Even the former soviet Turkmenistan has managed to find itself in this happily relaxed category. Why not us?! Just imagine how much better off we could be if we were part of the nonaligned movement: we could dissolve our cute little army and save a lot of money, time and youthful energy; we
could stay away from the awkwardness of international statements that push us to take sides; we could save our friendships with other nations and maintain our valuable strategic partnerships; we could regain the benevolence of some of our powerful neighbors; we could open our doors a little wider to foreign investments; we could sleep calmer nights and live brighter days; and we could even receive an unexpected chance to reinstate our lost territories! I know that the neutrality of a country is no easy thing to achieve, and that it
cannot be done without a certain international consensus. It is also difficult to compare Georgia with Switzerland, which has been neutral since the beginning of the 19th century and whose neutrality is strengthened and adamantly supported by universal international recognition. How about other countries whose neutrality is comparably fresher? Liechtenstein, The Vatican, Costa Rica, Panama! I envy them even more than I envy Israel. Once, I raised this question with considerably mature and believable political scientists, experts and commentators, and frankly speaking, I was looked down
on and even laughed at. What I heard from them was that Georgia’s neutrality is practically impossible and the dream has no perspective. I cannot say that I will understand them only because they have more political knowledge and experience than I do. I simply want to continue this controversy in favor of this nation. Why should it be impossible to give a better chance to Georgia? I insist, although naively and hopelessly for the time being, that Georgia could be one of the best and most optimal candidates for the enviable status of international neutrality.
Georgia & the Trans-Caspian Pipeline OP-ED BY EMIL AVDALIANI
Developments of the Georgian Church, 20 Years On OP-ED BY ZAZA JGARKAVA
he closer we get to December 25, the more we ponder the question of how things will develop within the Georgian Church. 40 years ago, in the Svetitskhoveli Cathedral, His Holiness Ilia II was elected as the Catholicos-Patriarch of All Georgia. Rumors suggest that now, 40 years later, the Patriarch will resign and hand his power to Metropolitan Shio Mujiri. Experts think that if this doesn’t happen, then appointing Shio as his locum tenens will lose all sense. However, only one thing is for sure today, which is that the era that started on December 25, 1977 is coming to an end. But as they like to say here, only God knows what will happen. What we’ve seen so far is that when Patriarch Ilia II publicly named Shio as his locum tenens during the St George liturgy on November 23, the Holy Synod quickly started the process of regrouping. One member of the high-ranking church leaders travelled to Washington, others visited Moscow, while the rest decided to stay in their homeland. These moves might help us predict what could happen
on December 25th, if the Patriarch resigns. The statute adopted in 1945 suggests that Metropolitan Shio would have to summon a meeting of the Georgian Church, where they will cast a secret ballot and the new Patriarch will be appointed. Prior to the meeting, the locum tenens also calls the meeting of the Holy Synod to select three possible patriarchal candidates, who will be presented at the upcoming church meeting. For now, it is hard to predict whether Metropolitan Shio will be one of the candidates, even though he obviously owns the starting privilege against all other alleged candidates. For sure, he will have at least one guaranteed vote from the Patriarch himself during the secret vote; plus, he has other obvious advantages too. Considering the authority of Patriarch Ilia II, it is almost unimaginable to think that any church official would oppose his idea, while he is still alive. And here, we are not talking about just one or two church officials, not even a few of them, but a total of 24 priests of the Holy Synod. If this happens though and priests vote for another candidate, it will surely be perceived by the parish as neglect of the Patriarch’s will, thus disrespect towards 40 years of his work. Continued on page 8
he Caspian region is important as it possesses huge amounts of unexplored oil and gas. The territory is also important the South Caucasus as it, through Azerbaijan, adjoins the Caspian Sea itself. For geopolitical reasons, cooperation on maritime issues in the Caspian basin would logically free up potential to build the Trans-Caspian Pipeline (TCP), which would go from Turkmenistan to Azerbaijan and then to Georgia onwards. Georgia could become host to yet another transnational project. Therefore, it is important the Georgian policymakers pay closer attention to the developments in this hydrocarbon-rich waters. But is it as easy as it seems? Last week, following a meeting of foreign ministers from the Caspian Sea littoral states (Kazakhstan, Russia, Iran, Turkmenistan, Azerbaijan), the Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov unexpectedly said after more than 20 years of talks, an agreement on the legal status of the Caspian was "practically ready" for signing. Lavrov’s statement was the last in a series of high ranking officials’ sayings over a year or so that the agreement on the Caspian was coming to fruition. The basics of the ruling misunderstanding between the five Caspian states has been the issue as to whether the Caspian is a sea or a lake. The designation matters since, if the Caspian is designated a lake, an entirely new approach will have to be taken. The so called "condominium" approach would divide the Caspian wealth equally (20% each) among the five littoral states. However, such a designation and division of the Caspian waters is detrimental to Kazakhstan. The country currently has the largest sector of the Caspian Sea and so far the largest amount of oil and natural gas. Iran, which has the smallest section on the Caspian, would reap largest benefits
from a “condominium” division of the Caspian Sea. The country has just about 13% of the Caspian and so far it seems that Iran’s section has the least amount of oil and gas. The “Iranian section” also has the highest salt content in the water. This creates additional problems as the extrication of oil and gas would require more expensive technology to work with. If the Caspian is designated a sea, all the littoral countries will be able to exploit the sea resources on separate agreements with one another, as Kazakhstan has so far done with Russia. Yet this could also cause problems as there are numerous oil and gas sites which cause disagreements between the Caspian states. Nevertheless, the designation of the Caspian as a sea would benefit Iran, again because of its small portion, and will allow the country to have up to 20% of the Caspian seabed.
A BIT OF GEOPOLITICS The contentious nature of the Caspian problem is also rooted in the regional geopolitics. Russia, and perhaps even Iran, have been against allowing large amounts of oil and gas from Turkmenistan to be shipped to Europe. Moscow considers Europe its own near-monopoly market, while Iran aspires to get a share of it. The Turkmen gas/oil through the Caspian Sea and the South Caucasus would quite naturally cause their fears.
Photo source: Stampsy
Thus, it quite naturally brings to question why Russia has been so eager to push the agreement on the Caspian. The details are as yet unclear and if there is a real agreement, then Russia might have already had Turkmenistan agree to something else instead of trying to ship its gas to Europe via the Caspian Sea and the South Caucasus. Indeed, there were some hints that Russia and Turkmenistan began working on gas exploration, cemented by the two countries’ seeming rapprochement in relations after Putin’s visit to Ashgabat this summer. Moscow could have offered alternative routes to Ashgabat, such as Russian pipelines for transporting gas/oil to Europe. In fact, Turkmenistan could think that, in light of the economic problems it has been experiencing, it would be much more beneficial to use an already existent pipeline network rather than wait years for the TCP to be built. Apart from that, Russia has also increased its military capabilities in the Caspian. Russia bombed Syria from its ships located in the Caspian Sea, and this, too, could be a tool for Russia to forestall any infrastructure projects disadvantageous to itself. Still, while there are more questions than answers at present, they nevertheless require thorough thought and analysis on the part of the Georgian government.
DECEMBER 15 - 18, 2017
Iran’s Growing Role in the Middle East OP-ED BY EMIL AVDALIANI
n the early 620s AD, the period just before the Arab invasions of the Middle East, the Sasanian Shah, Khusro II, with his large armies, besieged Constantinople, Byzantium's capital, having already occupied Egypt, Syria, Palestine and other former Byzantine lands. This was a momentous event in world history as the Iranians had not reached the Mediterranean Sea since the end of the Achaemenid Empire in 330 BC. However, Iranian success proved to be short-lived, and for the next 1,400 years, the Iranian ambitions were checked, until reports and various hints emerged recently that Iran-backed forces had moved to control the Syria-Iraq border. This is an exceptional moment, as Iran would again be able to have a contiguous land bridge from its proper territory through north Iraq and Syria, right to the Mediterranean coast. From now on, the Iranians will be able to link-up with their closest allies in Lebanon, Hezbollah. If that scenario is correct then, after 12 years of conflict in Iraq and another conflict in Syria, Iran is steadily transforming into a more powerful geopolitical player whose influence will be projected over hundreds and maybe thousands of kilometers beyond its borders. However, that is not the full story, as the route is quite complex as it weaves across Arab Iraq, via Iraq’s Kurdish north, into Kurdish north-eastern Syria and
through the battlefields north of Aleppo, where Russia, Iran and their allies won an important battle earlier this year. Putting the Iranian Corridor into Context To start, geography is a key to understanding the Iranian grand strategy and its ambitions. A look at the map shows that Iran's major population centers are surrounded by almost impregnable mountains and deserts, as well as water barriers. To the west and north-west are the Zagros Mountains, essentially separating Iran from the resource-rich and fertile Iraq. To the north the Elburz Mountains and Armenia's mountainous lands have always served as a defensive shield. The Caspian Sea in the north and the Arabian Sea in the south are yet more impregnable barriers. To the east and north-east, the harsh climate of Afghanistan and Pakistan, alongside Turkmenistan's semi-barren steppe lands, have kept Iran's provinces more or less safe (except for occasional attacks by nomadic peoples). This advantageous mountainous and desert geography has, however, also limited the projection of Iranian power abroad. Due to poor geographic conditions, there has been no economic or military reason to project Iranian power into Central Asia, or Afghanistan and Pakistan. Thus, strategically, the most advantageous territory for Iran to project its power to has been the western frontier, or modern-day Iraq (Mesopotamia): always rich in population and natural resources and therefore worth controlling. This could at least partially explain Iran’s ambitious ‘corridor’ to the Mediterranean.
Developments of the Georgian Church, 20 Years On Continued from page 6
This would completely destruct the already shattered reputation and power of the church, and especially that of the candidate who could allegedly “defeat” the Metropolitan Shio. The moment Patriarch named Shio as his locum tenens, some of the Synod members flew to the USA. This group mainly consisted of those priests, who some 4 years ago, attacked LGBTQ protestors with chairs. Also, these are the people who have been blaming the US and the West in infringing on Georgian traditions. Apparently, the Patriarch’s decision has changed many things. Today, these priests started making completely different statements. For example, Bishop Iakob, who is considered as one of the candidates for the post of the Patriarch, said that during his visit to America he saw things in a completely new light. “The USA is a country that has not betrayed us. For years, Russia has been openly leading a war against us. Therefore, the support from America is very important for us, they also saw that we, the Church, are not planning to compromise with our rivals. Nothing is worth the sale
of freedom,” said the Bishop to the press. The same message was communicated by the rest of the priests, when they answered questions about the USA and Georgia relations. Shio wasn’t among the priests who travelled to Moscow. Apparently, he did not want this to be added to the already existing pro-Russian accusations against him. After the Patriarch named Metropolitan Shio as his locum tenens, people started talking about his tight connections with the Russian Church. His most obvious weakness is his friend Levan Vasadze, who is considered as the main sponsor and ideologist of the anti-Western movement in the country. As we don’t know whether Metropolitan Shio regards his friend’s pro-Russianist views as a sin, doubts and accusations continue. Elites in all countries and nations have one valuable trait, which is compromise. The last 25 years have shown that local secular and political elites don’t have this quality. But let’s hope that in that very decisive moment, at least our religious elites will prove this skill, and won’t push their country off the cliff just like their secular brothers did.
Indeed, history shows how crucial Iraq has been in Iran's calculus. Take as an example the Achaemenid Empire, followed by Parthia and the Sasanian State: they all hung to Mesopotamia and even had their capital Ctesiphon located along the Euphrates River near modern-day Baghdad. Iranians have been always worried about not allowing a foreign presence in the territories surrounding the Iranian plateau. Any foreign influence close to
the heart of Iran would be a strategic weakening of the Iranian State. This could also explain Iran's modern behavior and why Tehran is so interested in Iraq. True, beyond geographic reasons explaining the need to dominate Iraq and Syria and have an outlet to the Mediterranean, there are also pure historical precedents. Within the Achaemenid Empire, the borders reached the Mediterranean. And the last time Iranians
were at the sea was the historic moment which I mentioned in the introduction – Khusro II’s near complete devastation of the Byzantines in the 620s. Emil Avdaliani teaches history and international relations at Tbilisi State University and Ilia State University. He has worked for various international consulting companies and currently publishes articles focused on military and political developments across the former Soviet space and the Middle East.
Georgian Journalists Visit Bulgaria, Upcoming President Country of EU Council BY MAKA LOMADZE
n December 5-8, the Bulgarian Embassy to Georgia organized a tour for Georgian journalists in Sofia, Bulgaria, the aim of which was to introduce them to the country’s preparations as it gets ready to become the President Country of the Council of Europe from January 1 to June 30, 2018. ‘United We Stand Strong’ is the motto of the Bulgarian presidency, while its main goals are to achieve “real results,” following the principles of transparency and accountability. Purportedly, the Bulgarian Presidency will be an honest broker and will seek “consensus, compromise and understanding” among EU member States to take decisions and adopt legislation. It will also encourage partnerships on all levels through unity and mutual cooperation. The Bulgarian Presidency will work strongly in the field of youth and security, taking into consideration the complex nature of the challenges the EU faces. The specific focus will be on the European perspective and connectivity of the Western Balkans. Bulgaria
10 Galaktion Street
believes that it will achieve these goals through consensus, competitiveness and cohesion. In short, the Bulgarians are confident that Europe needs more stability, security and solidarity. One of the most interesting meetings happened at the Atlantic Club, where the subject of Georgia entering NATO was raised. Elena Poptodorova, Director for Euro-Atlantic Affairs in the Atlantic Club of Bulgaria, former Ambassador of Bulgaria to the US, answered: “The brief answer to this question will be yes. Maybe NATO would not like to take a country with such internal division because the issue will become the problem of the organization itself. But that’s the principle. It can be seen in Macedonia. Most important is to see consensus in the government; after that, keep on at Brussels to let you in! Constantine Popov, Chairman of the Defense Committee, met the Georgian journalists to talk about the constitutional and legal powers of the Defense Committee of the National Assembly of the Republic of Bulgaria. Plamen Bonchev, Director General for Global Affairs of MFA, former Ambassador of Bulgaria to Georgia, talked about the Bulgarian Development Cooperation Policy and
Bulgarian Human Rights Policy. The Georgian correspondents were also taken to the Military Medical Academy and Ministry of the Bulgarian Presidency of the Council of EU. “There are very deep historical ties between Bulgaria and Georgia, which represent a good basis for the current bilateral relations in all directions,” Georgi Panayotov, Head of Caucasus and Central Asia Department of MFA, noted. Journalists from Georgia also visited the Information Center to the Ministry of Defense of Bulgaria, and listened to the criteria on training disciplines on military contribution to EU Disaster Response, Humanitarian Assistance and Civil Protection. As an informal part of the visit, the organizers took the Georgian media representatives to the National Gallery, which was a thorough excursion into the Bulgarian history of art as well as into other cultures related to and assimilated inside the country.
Tel: (995 32) 2 45 08 08 E-mail: email@example.com
GEORGIA TODAY DECEMBER 15 - 18, 2017
New Old Abanotubani – Another Israeli Investment In Hospitality ADVERTORIAL
he Israel-Georgia Chamber of Business and “Israel House” organized a visit to Tbilisi for a delegation from Israel, including members of the Knesset and Israel-Georgia Parliamentary friendship group, representatives of business circles, analysts and leading Israeli journalists. The visit aims to popularize and encourage Georgian-Israeli bilateral connections. A number of delegation members will attend the opening of a construction of a 63-room modern hotel being built through Israeli investment, in Tbilisi, on Mirza Shapi Street. The Mayor of Tbilisi Kakhi Kaladze and the head National Tourism Administration of Georgia will participate in opening ceremony. The hotel is to include an art gallery and cafes, and the main beauty of the hotel will be the façade, which is designed in the style of Georgian ornamental carpet. The net worth of said construction project is $12 million and through it Tbilisi will have a high-class hotel in a historical district. This is the largest project of recent years by Israel-Georgia Chamber of Business. The special emphasis on Georgia’s investment potential have been made during the visit of Irakli Kobakhidze, Chairman of the Parliament of Georgia,
to Israel, which took place in October. “Israeli House” Founder and Chairman, Itsik Moshe, says that Israel businessmen are becoming more and more interested in Georgia, aided through the help of is business-friendly environment and high number of tourists visiting from Israel. The Israel-Georgia Chamber of Business is focused on broadening GeorgiaIsrael economical connections. “We are working to attract more people from Israel. The project on Mirza Shapi Street
is also part of this plan. I hope the [Georgian] government will do more, so that already successful existent projects will become an example for other businesses,” Moshe said.
DECEMBER 15 - 18, 2017
STS Hospitality Georgia ADVERTORIAL BY NINO GUGUNISHVILI
ounded by Michael Kerschbaumer, a man with an extensive career in hospitality management worldwide, STS Hospitality is a consultancy company recently established in Georgia, led by a team of a highly experienced and locally-based international experts as consultants and advisors, offering their services to companies in the hospitality man-
Int'l travelers and customers are getting more demanding and are expecting more from their hotels, apartments, and restaurants, so the infrastructure around these is more important than ever before
agement sphere on the Georgian market. With the company’s motto: “STS stands for satisfaction that sells,” STS Hospitality Service Georgia aims to provide their clients with ideas tailormade for more success and more growth opportunities through developing long-term planning and by establishing strategies that will suit their needs, making them more successful in the fast-growing hospitality management market in Georgia. STS Hospitality has already started to partner with colleges and academies to drive talent development, and to hold master-classes focused on personal development, guest satisfaction, and improving awareness and techniques to become a successful part of the hospitality industry in the near future. With its consultancy services, STS Hospitality Georgia sees one of the company’s goals in assisting investors to build approaches that better answer the demands of the ever growing, competitive hospitality sphere, helping them to better understand the strategies and build a long-term plan in order to optimize opportunities to grow their business, and to better understand the evolving trends and demands, ranging from increasing guest satisfaction, to staying profitable, knowing precisely the target group of clients and to developing a hospitality management team that allows them to know the depth of the existing competition. STS Hospitality Georgia provides the full spectrum of marketing research and analysis essential for decision-making. Within the range of its service, it offers macro and micro factors analysis, target audience research, market size estimation, competition intelligence, mystery shopping, internal analysis of business with SWOT analyses. In addition, STS Hospitality Georgia offers business strat-
egy development, brand implementation and positioning, and education and training services (service excellence trainings, corporate and personal brand development trainings, team leadership, marketing
We need to build up the base in the hotel industry, working with the government to make sure that their efforts are materializing
strategies and sales and trainings in the digital marketing). STS Hospitality Georgia provides support in preopening and opening activities, recruitment support, brand culture development and well-being activities, support in marketing and sales consulting and digital and social media marketing support dealing with such sites as Booking.com, Airbnb. com and more. It also assists in web site development and promotion. As Michael Kerschbaumer, the founder of STS Hospitality Georgia states: “The biggest advantage of our company is that our international experts are based locally: that is why they are much more affordable in terms of time and money. We really passionately seek development of the whole hospitality market in Georgia that is why we make sure that the cost of our consultancy is paid back.”
Future Lab to Unite 6 Countries for Startup Development BY LIZA NADIBAIDZE
uture Laboratory came up with an initiative, at the Global Entrepreneur’s Forum, to unite six countries for mutual start up ecosystem development. The initiative was supported by representatives of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Azerbaijan. This ecosystem will provide 80 million users the chance to easily join the foreign market within these six countries. ‘Start up Eurasia Unite’ is now working to get other countries and organizations interested and involved in the project. Locally, it will be an opportunity for Georgian startupers to join the foreign markets of neighboring countries.
GEORGIA TODAY DECEMBER 15 - 18, 2017
King David Complex Launches New Year’s Special Offer “Unordinary 2018”
heck out the wonderful news at King David! Their New Year’s special offer “Unordinary 2018” has begun, with residences at King David now able to be purchased through 20-months of interest-free instalment payments, with only 1% down payment and 8% discount. Upon purchasing the apartments, residents can start renovation works and can move in even before full payment of the apartment. King David apartments have already been approved, and will welcome the first residents this winter.
King David is the first premium class multifunctional complex to have created a precedent of building skyscrapers in Tbilisi. This is a hotel-type complex which offers the best panoramic views of Tbilisi. The unique full-service condominium project introduces a new way of living in Tbilisi, merging comfort and convenience to balance the demands of today’s active lifestyles. Residents can spend their days working, relaxing and socializing throughout their own building. Over 40% of the project is made up by infrastructure. The project unites two independent buildings, one of the towers has 32 and another 19 floors. The tallest tower is the King David Residences and this is where the apartments are located, the lower tower is the King David Business Center.
Natakhtari Fund Closes 6th Wave with almost GEL 44,000 BY LIZA NADIBAIDZE
Winter Checklist: Etseri, Svaneti BLOG BY TONY HANMER
ought dried corn for the chickens, as there’s nothing else for them to eat until April aside from kitchen scraps. Scythed, dried, raked, stacked, loaded, sledded, and barned hay for the cows (not in our case: no cows remain). Dug, size-sorted, sacked, sold or stored potatoes, usually in the barn where the bovines’ warmth will keep them from freezing (again not for us, as we didn’t plant anything major this year. We’re taking potatoes and sulguni cheese as payment off people’s shop debts, though, a brilliant idea of my wife’s! Storing them in the house). Checked and winterized all water lines to make sure they won’t freeze; started leaving a tap running on low all night for the same reason, because frozen pipes are a calamity, especially ironic when you’re surrounded by megatons of snow. Put away summer clothes, dug out winter ones, head to foot; doubling up on long underwear, as layers are the key to warmth; bought new items as necessary to replace the old: my heels go through socks like there’s no tomorrow. Cut, trimmed, sledded, chain-sawed, split and stacked firewood ages ago to dry for at least six months (we buy the trimmed logs as we don’t have logging rights to a piece of forest, and have them delivered by oxen and sled, just another way of bolstering the local economy). Checked over the massive Svan stove, pipes, chimney and all; cleaned out creosote. Bagged all wood chips from log-splitting, a valuable source of kindling. Laid up a small supply of diesel to start the stove with: this chore should be as easy as possible on cold mornings! Doing it every morning for half the year or so turns it into an art where the starter, usually being me, knows his instrument and materials close to perfectly. Put a blanket, shovel and tire chains in the car
for those snowy or icy roads, along with the usual essential all-season emergency gear. I don’t use winter tires yet, just all-season ones, but am considering this change, expensive and bothersome though it is, for the best winter driving in the long cold season, mild though it is so far this year. Extricated Christmas decorations, music, ingredients and recipes: we will fight off the winter blues! Made a few liqueurs with late fall or early winter fruit, including Cointreau from mandarin skins; sea buckthorn (jam from this too); and feijoa. They’ll all be ready for Easter, along with lime and ginger ones! Looked over other winter preserves: pickles, jams, compotes, cheeses, etc., to make sure they’re adequate. Of course, we do have access to other foods too, but these are for the season. Practiced a Christmas song in English with schoolchildren for the imminent concert. Considered and planned a winter school break holiday, usually with the in-laws in Kakheti. Shoveled sled-loads (or, in my case, wheelbarrowloads) of cow manure and took it to the potato field to lie there all winter and be spread in the spring, before plowing; this can also be done then instead of now, which we will do with the last of our manure. Found and checked over toboggans, Svan skis, western skis and any other seasonal sports equipment. Just a randomly ordered list, but it shows the necessary winter preparations in the mountain villages. Don’t dare be caught short! 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 1800 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
Georgian Mountains Wine Company
n December 14, the Natakhtari Fund hosted a press conference to summarize the 6th wave project ‘Take Care of Future.’ During the press conference, where Nikoloz Khundzakishbili, Corporate Director of Natakhtari Company, and Manana Omarashvili, Psychological Supervisor of the ‘Our Home - Georgia’ Association, celebrated the fact that GEL 43,972 had been raised.
The 6th wave of raising money for the Natakhtari Fund began on November 8 and ended on December 8 seeing money made for the Fund from each bottle of Natakhtari lemonade purchased. During the conference, the representatives of the Natakhtari Fund also spoke about their earlier achievements, such as their 'take care' systems for young adults/children in several Georgian regions. In Gori, Akhaltsikhe, Telavi, Rustavi, Kutaisi, Ozurgeti, Batumi and Zugdidi regions, the ‘Coalition for Children and Youth’ and ‘Natakhtari Fund’ presented a joint program for locals.
Specially for New Year’s eve! Limited edition delicious RN sweet red wine TEL: 514 12 22 99, 597 12 22 77 | Facebook: @georgianmountainswinecompany | E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Ask at leading wine stores in Tbilisi
DECEMBER 15 - 18, 2017
La Bohème: The Best of Contemporary Mediterranean Cuisine Brought to Tbilisi I would probably be a little more patient with people, with the results, with my expectations. Sometimes, we fail to follow the advice we give to others. In hindsight, everything seems clearer and less complicated. If you look at the most successful and inspirational people in any industry, they are usually stubborn with the results, but flexible with the approach. If I could do it all again, I would be more flexible with our approach.
INTERVIEW BY NINO GUGUNISHVILI
dgar Hyder grew up in Australia and spent much of his working career in Dubai. Residing now in Georgia, he is the co-founder of La Bohème, a multi-functional restaurant and lounge on Abashidze Street, in Tbilisi’s central Vake district. Offering Mediterranean cuisine with a touch of Italy, Greece, France and Lebanon, represented by acclaimed Italian chef Enzo Neri. In addition, La Bohème also boasts cocktails made by award-winning world class mixologist Igor Boriskin, guaranteed to make this one of the new “must go” to places in town. GEORGIA TODAY met with Edgar to find out what drew him to starting a business in Georgia and what his experiences were along the way.
DO YOU THINK YOU’VE ACHIEVED WHAT YOU INITIALLY PLANNED? Ask me again in three months! On a serious note, I feel that we’re well under way to achieving what we set out to. We wanted to do something unique and creative and that we ourselves could be proud of. Put La Bohème in any international food city or metropolis and I think it will stand against some of the best. The feedback has been extremely positive and we have been humbled with much of what our guests have told us. We are very proud of how far we’ve come and grown as a team.
HOW DID YOU END UP LIVING IN TBILISI? I grew up in Sydney, Australia, where we were very lucky to have amazing produce and seafood, with very little technique required to produce great food. I came into the hospitality industry in a “Baptism by Fire” approach. My brotherin-law bought into a 10.000 square foot nightclub and shortly after I was tasked with running it. That’s when I was sure as to what I wanted to do with my life. Soon after, we moved to Dubai where I was exposed to Hotel & Restaurant Development on a massive scale. After almost 10 years, and more than 20 projects, I feel blessed to have had a very successful career, having setup some multi-award winning concepts that are almost all still operating today.
WHAT’S THE STORY BEHIND LA BOHÈME RESTAURANT? We feel that La Bohème was born from a love story. My brother Eli came here in late 2016 to get married and fell in love with Georgia. What started out as a two-week wedding trip became a permanent scenario. With such a diverse offering almost all year round, Georgia is becoming a primary holiday destination and slowly establishing itself as a serious player in the international tourism scene. This is what prompted us to develop a concept here. We feel that Georgia is still in its infant years and will keep growing from strength to strength.
FROM THE BUSINESS POINT OF VIEW, HOW PREPARED WERE YOU TO RUN A RESTAURANT IN TBILISI, WHERE THE DINING AND GASTRONOMY SCENE IS ALREADY BOOMING?
The beauty of our business is that it can cross borders and cultures with little adjustment required. Having set up concepts in Australia, Europe, America, Asia and the Middle East, our management team has a wealth of international experience. One constant is that you must be respectful and sensitive to the local customs wherever you are. It’s also vital to seek advice from those who have local knowledge. It’s a very exciting time on the culinary front here as the scene is growing rapidly with new and innovative concepts coming on the market on an almost weekly basis. With more on offer, the local consumer is quickly becoming more savvy and demanding.
WHAT CHALLENGES HAVE YOU ENCOUNTERED ALONG THE WAY? The language barrier was probably our biggest initial obstacle. It affected us greatly in the beginning with the construction phase of the project and was the cause of much of our frustration. This became less and less of an issue as our team grew and we were lucky enough to have great people working alongside us. From an operations point of view, we battle with availability and consistency of ingredients. As a restaurant, we live and die by how good our produce is and it’s very difficult to try and push the envelope and offer something unique and innovative if you’re constantly missing key and core ingredients.
WHO DO YOU CONSIDER
THE PRIMARY CONSUMER SEGMENT OF LA BOHÈME? We’re a Georgian-born concept and our primary target is and always will be well travelled Georgians. Their first love will always be Georgian cuisine but they understand and crave other cuisines. Our secondary market is the expat community living in Georgia. We like to think that we produce food and drinks on a level to which they are accustomed. We won’t really go after the tourist segment per se. We feel that it’s much more important to give the locals something that they can be proud of. The tourists will always seek out where it’s cool and where the locals go.
TELL US ABOUT THE LA BOHÈME MENU Growing up in Sydney, where the food culture is a melting pot of immigrant communities all coming together to form a very complex food scene, coupled with my Lebanese heritage, means we know Mediterranean food very well. The La Bohème menu is really the brainchild of our Executive Chef Enzo Neri. Hailing from Umbria, Italy, he has a very simple food philosophy where he lets the ingredients shine. He really is a master technician at extracting flavour. For him, it’s more than cooking; it’s a form of self expression. The Mediterranean diet has long been proven to be one of the healthiest in the world with very little use of unsaturated fats. With a total of 21 countries, the cuisine is diverse and broad. We wanted to cook food that we grew up eating but put a fresh and modern twist on it. We’ve been open only a few weeks and already more than 15 dishes have come on and off the menu. We pride ourselves on giving our guests the very best and freshest ingredients and when you’re dealing with a natural resource, it’s never perfect or uniform. You need to be ready and willing to constantly adapt and evolve. Our food is not fusion as we are not cross mixing flavours. We have a fresh and light approach with contemporary presentation. Which ever country a dish originates from, we try and transport you to that country with that dish. Whatever we do here is done with love and care.
TELL US ABOUT THE FAMOUS LA BOHÈME COCKTAILS
Our cocktails are the handy work of our Master Elixir composer Igor Boriskin. A dear friend and an award-winning mixologist, he is a wealth of knowledge and experience in all things beverage. Igor has created a very unique list of signature cocktails whereby he uses house made tinctures and infusions. Every cocktail combines at least two fresh fruits or vegetables. With some new and interesting creations as well as our own playful take on the classics, such as our Bohemian Grove which is a variation on the classic Mojito with Tequila as the base spirit instead of traditional rum, it truly is a taste sensation.
WHAT DISTINGUISHES LA BOHÈME FROM OTHER RESTAURANTS IN TBILISI? At the risk of sounding cliche, we feel that our people are our biggest asset. Sure we have great food and drinks, but what sets us apart from the rest is our service. When recruiting our pre-opening team, we opted to go for attitude over experience. It made things a little more difficult, whereby we held “classroom” type training for more than four weeks… and that has paid off massive dividends. Almost on a daily basis, we have new guests who take the time to point out how truly wonderful our team is.
BASED ON YOUR EXPERIENCE AND REFLECTING ON IT NOW, WHAT WOULD YOU DO DIFFERENTLY IN THE RUNNING OF LA BOHÈME?
WHAT WOULD YOU PERSONALLY RECOMMEND FROM THE LA BOHÈME MENU? There are so many to choose from, it’s really very difficult. It’s like asking a parent to choose which child they love more. Each dish, depending on which country it represents, has been carefully developed. My personal favourites are the Baba Ganoush with its smoky flavour. Enzo’s Caesar with Zaatar crusted chicken and parmesan crisps is truly a work of art. The beef short rib is a tender piece of meat that falls off the bone and is packed with flavour. Our classic carbonara uses fresh eggs instead of cream as per the authentic recipe and is something very special for the true pasta connoisseur. When it comes to the desserts, I really can’t choose as they are all so good. Most of our desserts don’t use any sugar and we try and use the natural sweetness of the ingredients to give a subtle and balanced flavour that won’t leave you feeling overwhelmed afterwards.
ANY PLANS ON EXPANDING THE RESTAURANT IN FUTURE? We have some very ambitious plans for the future. Our next venture will be to open an Italian Trattoria with a Langosteria bar to capitalise on Enzo’s (and Georgians’) love affair with Italian cuisine. The EDM underground scene is very advanced here and rivals any in the top cities around the world. What we feel is missing is also a good club that plays songs you can maybe sing along to. We hope to fill that gap in the near future.
GEORGIA TODAY DECEMBER 15 - 18, 2017
New Georgian Talents Revealed by Tsinandali Award 2017
BY LIKA CHIGLADZE
ore and more gifted youth and professionals are emerging in Georgia annually, and the Tsinandali Award has proven it over the recent years. It is a prestigious award that reveals talented Georgians, 18 to 30 years of age, with substantial achievements in different spheres. The jury selects winners in eight fields based on their projects carried out throughout the year in the following fields: theatrical art, cinema art, literary fiction (prose), literary fiction (poetry), music, visual arts, natural sciences and humanitarian sciences. The Tsinandali Award was established in 1998 under the auspices of the late chairman of the Parliament of Georgia, Zurab Zhvania, and the first award ceremony was held in 1999. Sadly, the competition was suspended for over a decade and was only restored in 2014 on the initiative of President of Georgia Giorgi Margvelashvili. Currently the annual ceremony is carried out under the President’s patronage and Zurab Zhvania Foundation jointly. This year’s Tsinandali Award ceremony and gala concert was hosted by the grand hall of Tbilisi State Conservatoire. The winners of the 2016 Tsinandali Award were invited to attend the ceremony and hand out the prizes to their successors. The ceremony was opened by President Margvelashvili, who emphasized the importance of such competitions in the development of the country. The Literary Fiction Award for Prose was claimed by Tsotne Tskhvediani, a historian, for his novel The Mayakovsky Theater. Giorgi Kekelidze, the winner of the 2016 award and General Director of the National Library of Georgia, handed the prize to the winner. The Literary Fiction Award for Poetry was given to Roin Abuselidze for his collection of rhymes ‘Chorokhi.’ In the nomination of Natural Sciences,
the winner was announced as Eka Gurgenashvili, a young female astrophysicist, for her project North-south asymmetry in Rieger-type periodicity during solar cycles 19-23. “This survey is very important for us as the sun has a significant influence on our planet. Since the sun is considered the closest star to the earth, we should know as many things as possible about it. I worked on this project for over a year and visited different countries together with my supervisors,” she told GEORGIA TODAY. The event involved a gala concert of distinguished musicians and bands including the Georgian Sinfonietta, violinist Giorgi Zagareli , DJ Alexandre Kordzaia and Strings and Sophie Villy. Conductor Kakhi Solomnishvili won the Music Award for performing Symphony No. 5 by Shostakovich and Director Guram Matskhonashvili was granted the Theatrical Art Award for staging his signature performance Gatvla. The Humanitarian Sciences Award was given to Shota Matitashvili. “My work is about the history of the Georgian Church, in particular, the life of Georgian monks in the 4th-5th centuries. My project focuses on the early period of the monks’ life and its development, barely studied before now. I hope that my study will be fruitful and that more interesting details will be discovered in the near future. I have been working on this topic for 5 years now,”
the historian told us. Each winner received diplomas and GEL 4,000 as a prize. In addition, the winners were gifted a selection of wines from Badagoni. Aside from the eight nominations, the wine company revealed its favorite in the nomination of Visual Arts as Giorgi Vardiashvili, and gifted him GEL 2,000. “We organized this increasingly important ceremony for the fourth time. Through this competition we discover bright talents who contribute to the development of different fields in Georgia. These people, who represent the world of art, have less interest in materialism, so they need our support and motivation,” Nino Kadagidze , the wife of late Georgian Prime Minister Zurab Zhvania and one of the organizers of the event, told GEORGIA TODAY. Young director Bakar Cherkezishvili was named winner of Cinema Art Award for his film Apollo Javakheti and the Visual Arts Award was claimed by artist Gvantsa Jishkariani for her installation Savanna Savage. “This award and my victory mean a lot to me, since now I’m entering a new stage of my life. This prize was really timely since it will assist me greatly to fulfill my plans. I presented an installation that was set up in Batumi this year, made with printed images taken accidently with a damaged camera, imitating a constant flow of events,” the young artist said of her work.
DECEMBER 15 - 18, 2017
WHAT’S ON IN TBILISI THEATER
TBILISI ZAKARIA PALIASHVILI OPERA AND BALLET THEATER Address: 25 Rustaveli Ave. Telephone: 2 99 04 56 December 19 * Premiere Pietro Mascagni CAVALLERIA RUSTICANA Starring: Nino Surguladze (Santuzza), Mikheil Sheshaberidze (Turiddu), Elene Janjalia (Lucia), Sulkhan Gvelesiani (Alfio), Irina Aleksidze (Lola). Tbilisi State Opera and Ballet Theater chorus and orchestra. Conductor- Zaza Azmaiparashvili, Director- Victor Garsia Sierra (Italy), Scenographer- Italo Grassi (Italy) Start time: 20:00 Ticket price: 10-120 GEL
Fisher, Adam Driver Genre: Action, Adventure, Fantasy Language: English Start time: 21:45 Language: Russian Start time: 13:00, 15:30, 18:45, 21:30 Ticket: 9-14 GEL BREATHE Directed by Andy Serkis Cast: Andrew Garfield, Claire Foy, Hugh Bonneville Genre: Biography, Drama, Romance Language: Russian Start time: 16:30 Ticket: 12 GEL ALL I SEE IS YOU Directed by Marc Forster Cast: Blake Lively, Jason Clarke, Ahna O'Reilly Genre: Drama, Mystery Language: Russian Start time: 19:00 Ticket: 17 GEL
SHALIKASHVILI THEATER Address: 37 Rustaveli Ave. Telephone: 595 50 02 03
RUSTAVELI CINEMA Address: 5 Rustaveli Ave. Telephone: 2 55 50 00 www.kinoafisha.ge
December 15, 16 LULLABY Start time: 20:00 Ticket price: 15 GEL
Every Wednesday ticket: 5 GEL December 15-21
MOVEMENT THEATER Address: 182, Aghmashenebeli Ave. Telephone: 598 19 29 36 December 16 DON JUAN Directed by Kakha Bakuradze Start time: 20:00 Ticket price: 15 GEL December 21 THE TEMPEST Directed by Ioseb Bakuradze Start time: 20:00 Ticket price: 15 GEL CINEMA
AMIRANI CINEMA Address: 36 Kostava Str. Telephone: 2 99 99 55 www.kinoafisha.ge Every Wednesday ticket price: 5 GEL December 15-21 STAR WARS: THE LAST JEDI Directed by Rian Johnson Cast: Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, Tom Hardy, Mark Hamill, Carrie
STAR WARS: THE LAST JEDI (Info Above) Start time: 13:15, 15:30, 19:00, 22:20 Ticket: 9-14 GEL BREATHE (Info Above) Start time: 16:45 Ticket: 10-11 GEL CAVEA GALLERY Address: 2/4 Rustaveli Ave. Telephone: 200 70 07 December 15-21 STAR WARS: THE LAST JEDI (Info Above) Language: English Start time: 16:15, 19:15 Language: Russian Start time: 12:30, 16:00, 19:00, 21:15, 22:30 Ticket: 10-19 GEL HAPPY DEATH DAY Directed by Christopher Landon Cast: Jessica Rothe, Israel Broussard, Ruby Modine Genre: Horror, Mystery, Thriller Language: Russian Start time: 22:00 Ticket: 16-19 GEL
THE LITTLE VAMPIRE 3D Directed by Richard Claus, Karsten Kiilerich Cast: Jim Carter, Rasmus Hardiker, Alice Krige Genre: Animation, Adventure, Comedy Language: Russian Start time: 12:00 Ticket: 10-15 GEL JUSTICE LEAGUE Directed by Zack Snyder Cast: Ben Affleck, Gal Gadot, Jason Momoa, Robin Wright, Connie Nielsen, Amy Adamsem Genre: Action, Adventure, Fantasy Language: Russian Start time: 16:45, 19:45 Ticket: 13-19 GEL MUSEUM
GEORGIAN NATIONAL MUSEUM SIMON JANASHIA MUSEUM Address: 4 Rustaveli Ave. Telephone: 2 99 80 22, 2 93 48 21 www.museum.ge Exhibition GEORGIAN COSTUME AND WEAPONRY OF 18TH-20TH CENTURIES Georgian National Museum and Korneli Kekelidze National Centrer of Manuscripts present the exhibition MEDIEVAL TREASURY Permanent Exhibition Exhibition NUMISMATIC TREASURY IOSEB GRISHASHVILI TBILISI HISTORY MUSEUM - KARVASLA Address: 8 Sioni St. Telephone: 2 98 22 81 November 28 – January 10, 2018 GNM Tbilisi History Museum Contemporary Art Gallery will host the exhibition STATE OF PLAY: ART IN GEORGIA IN 1985-1999 The exhibition will present works by 24 Georgian artists from the 1980-90s, among them:: Gia Edzgveradze, Guram Tsibakhashvili, Iliko Zautashvili, Karlo Kacharava, Koka Ramishvili, Kote Sulaberidze, Keti Kapanadze,
Kote Jincharadze, Levan Chogoshvili, Lia Shvelidze, Luka Lasareishvili, Maia Naveriani, Maia Tsetskhladze, Malkhaz Datukishvili, Mamuka Japaridze, Mamuka Tsetskhladze, Misha Gogrichiani, Murtaz Shvelidze, Niko Tsetskhladze, Oleg Timchenko, Tea Gvetadze, Temo Javakhishvili, Vakho Bugadze and Ushangi Khumarashvili.
RETROSPECTIVE EXHIBITION Givi Toidze belongs to the generation of artists that actively appeared in the 1960s. He was educated in the workshop of his grandfather, outstanding Georgian artist Mose Toidze.
The exhibition will also showcase photo documents depicting 8090s Georgia created by Guram Tsibakhashvili.
December 2 – January 15 Tato Akhalkatsishvili's solo show NEVER SLEEP UPSIDE DOWN A multimedia installation related to the galaxy.
MUSEUM OF FINE ARTS Address: 1 Gudiashvili Str. Telephone: 2 99 99 09 March 6 – December 31 EXHIBITION MASTERPIECES FROM THE MUSEUM OF FINE ARTS COLLECTION Exhibition CROSSROAD RELIGIOUS AND ETHNIC DIVERSITY OF GEORGIA Dedicated to the International Day for Tolerance. The exposition showcases up to 100 artifacts preserved in Georgian National Museum collections, among them paintings by artists working in 19th-20th century Georgia: Shalom Koboshvili, Davit Gvelesiani, Max Tilke, Vano Khojabegov, Oskar Shmerling, Richard Sommer, Ilya Zankovsky, Boris Romanovsky, Alexander Bazhbeuk-Melikov, Vasily Shukhaev and more. LITERATURE MUSEUM Address: 8 Chanturia Str. November 17 – January 25 (2018) 200TH ANNIVERSARY EXHIBITION OF FAMOUS GEORGIAN POET NIKOLOZ BARATASHVILI GALLERY
DIMITRI SHEVARDNADZE NATIONAL GALLERY Address: 11 Shota Rustaveli Ave. Telephone: 215 73 00 December 15-January 16 GIVI TOIDE’S ANNIVERSARY
ERTI GALLERY Address: 19 Ingorokva Str./5 9 April Str. Building B. Space 1
PROJECT ARTBEAT Address: 14 Ingorokva Str. November 24 – December 30 Project ArtBeat presents MAKA BATIASHVILI’S SOLO EXHIBITION Of artworks made in different techniques in 2015-17. Black and white sketches and canvases TBC GALLERY Address: 5 Marjanishvili Str. Telephone: 227 27 27 November 30 - December 17 PETRE OTSKHELI'S 110TH ANNIVERSARY EXHIBITION MUSIC
TBILISI STATE CONSERVATOIRE Address: 8 Griboedov St. Telephone: 2 93 46 24 December 16 VIOLIN MUSIC EVENING GIDON KREMER Start time: 19:00 Ticket: 5-25 GEL December 18 ORGAN MUSIC CONCERT RUDOLF LUTZ Start time: 19:00 Ticket: 5-25 GEL December 21 CHAMBER MUSIC EVENING Start time: 19:00 Ticket: 5-30 GEL MZIURI Address: Mziuri Cafe December 17 SAKVIRAO Entertainment program for children Start time: 12:00 TBILISI CONCERT HALL Address: 1 Melikishvili Ave. December 16, 17 The legendary Turkish show FIRE OF ANATOLIA Twice recorded in the Guinness Book of Records, it will take place in Tbilisi related to the 25th anniversary of diplomatic relations between Georgia and Turkey. Start time: 19:30 Ticket: 30-185 GEL December 20, 21 NEW YEARS CONCERTS 2018 WITH THE VANO’S SHOW, COMEDY SHOW AND QERIS UBANI 2018 Start time: December 20- 18:00, 21:00, December 21- 15:00, 18:00, 21:00 Ticket: 20 GEL TBILISI EVENT HALL Address: 1 Melikishvili Ave. December 16 JAM! Events Presents DIARY OF DREAMS Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 15-30 GEL
GEORGIA TODAY DECEMBER 15 - 18, 2017
Popular Fairytale Transformed into Modern Play on Batumi Stage inated show in the UK, so it got a lot of praise in the press and it turned out a great success,” said Cressida Brown. “This is why I decided to bring it to Georgia and introduce the story to the local audience from a different perspective. In the play there’s lot of fun, joy and action. Cinderella is a very modern girl and instead of crystal shoes, she wears sparkling golden boots. She is definitely a real hero and Prince Charming actually follows her!” Brown is the artistic director of the Offstage Theater (2006-present) and the winner of the UK Kevin Spacey Foundation’s UK Artist of Choice 2015. Additionally, the director was nominated for 10 Offies including Best Production twice, Best Director. Cressida says she enjoyed working with the Georgian cast and that it was not difficult at all for her to cooperate with them. “I think Cinderella is quite an old fairytale but it needs updating,” she adds. “This version is about real love: the characters fall in love because they like each other’s personalities and not only appearances. It serves as a wonderful example of how love can overcome greed. The play runs for just three days, but I hope it will be included in the theater repertoire.”
It serves as a wonderful example of how love can overcome greed It’s a colorful and extremely fun play full of sweets, fights and toys: in a word, everything that kids like, bringing the real Christmas spirit to spectators and leaving smiles on the faces of all. The play and entire project was implemented jointly by the British Council-Georgia and the Ministry of Education, Culture and Sports of Adjara Autonomous Republic, as part of the Performing Arts Support Program that is aimed at developing the performing arts sector and improving audience engagement in Adjara.
BY LIKA CHIGLADZE
he Adjaran city of Batumi hosted the premier of a play based on a wellknown and beloved fairytale, Cinderella, on December 12. The contemporary version of the popular story, named “Cinderella: a fairy tale” by Sally Cookson and Adam Peck, was staged by Cressida Brown, a renowned British theater director, at the Batumi State Drama Theater. The actors of the theater were actively involved in the project and collaborated with the foreign director and performed with great enthusiasm for the local audience. The play brought new life to an old classic, and presented it in a creative and modern way. The authors of the play say the new Cinderella touches upon such issues as parental love, parental cruelty, sibling rivalry, jealousy, isolation, revenge, survival,
The modern Cinderella is an Olivier Award nominated show in theUK falling in love and addresses fundamental questions about what it is to be human. The performance perfectly depicts the issues of the contemporary world, since the events take place in a modern setting. So, aside from being fun, children get more to think about! “The modern Cinderella is an Olivier Award nom-
Charity Exhibition to be Launched in Tbilisi, Focusing on Environmental Issues
he Zurab Tsereteli Modern Museum of Arts and public union IDEA, along with partner Socar Energy Georgia presented a charity exhibition project “LIVE LIFE” on December 10, and January 3, 2018. The idea of the project is to alert people to environmental problems. During 2016-2017, the project was presented in London, Berlin, Paris and Moscow, and this year, the exhibition will take place in Tbilisi. The base of the exposition consists of the works of IDEA founder, Leyla Aliyeva, whose paintings are highly artistic and romantic, on which folklore and rare animals and birds are represented, meant as a metaphor to show the viewers how vulnerable and undefended nature can be. In addition, there will be 11 works by talented Azerbaijani and Georgian painters, who are also very keen on the issue of protecting the environment: Oleg Timchenko, David Aleksidze, Giga Kobidze, David “Dante” Mchedlishvili, Mariam Alakbarl, Rakhim Chopurov, Ailal Heidarova, Timur Ozdamirov, Naila Sultan and Fidan Novruzova. The varied style of the pieces creates a real diversity to the exposition. The aim of the project is to make us pay attention to global problems in ecology.
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December 15 - 18, 2017