Issue no: 955
• JUNE 16 - 19, 2017
• PUBLISHED TWICE WEEKLY
PRICE: GEL 2.50
In this week’s issue...
Germany Supports Georgia’s Defense Reforms NEWS PAGE 2
GIP Commentary: What Georgia Can Learn from Montenegro’s NATO Accession POLITICS PAGE 3
FOCUS ON WOMEN IN POLITICS
UNDP study shatters the myths and we interview Senator Barbara Mikulski, the longest serving US female lawmaker PAGE 4&7
Georgia Improves Position in Doing Business Rating BY THEA MORRISON
uropean Chamber (EuCham) has released the list of the European countries which appear to have the best economic environment out of the 46 nations considered in the analysis. In the list of the Best European Countries for Business 2017, Georgia has improved its position and is now ranked the 17th, having earned a score of 68.6. Georgia’s score makes it a leading country among its neighbors in doing business. Armenia came in at 53.3 (54.6 last year) while Azerbaijan was rated at 49 (48.4 last year) and Turkey at 54 (55.6 last year). Based on this study, Nordic countries rank at the top of the list and can be identified as nations in which it is best to do business. Given the variables taken into consideration, it is clear that the EuCham score addresses the overall integrity and ethical issue of doing business, together with its natural financial objective, also reflecting its long-term sustainability goals. Like last year, Denmark tops the ranking with a score of 88, followed by Sweden, Finland, Nor-
Longest Serving US Female Lawmaker on Georgia, it’s Future & the Importance of Women in Politics POLITICS PAGE 7
Animal Migration Route, Bio Security Points & Sheep Dipping in Georgia BUSINESS PAGE 9
In Need of a Financial Hug: Gori Welfare & Development Center SOCIETY PAGE 10
Katy Perry Wears Georgian CULTURE PAGE 15
Rugby & Rehabilitation: UNICEF Announces Upcoming Film on Child Prisoners SPORTS PAGE 15
way and the United Kingdom. Ukraine takes the last (46th) position on the list with a score of 46.5, while Russia is ranked 44th with a score of 51.1 (in 2016 it was in 42nd place with a score of 50). The European Chamber ranks European countries based on their business environment. The ranking, named the EuCham Score, is reflected on a scale from 0 to 100, where 0 represents the
lowest performance and 100 represents the best performance. It results from the average between the DTF (Distance to Frontier) index of World Bank and the CPI (Corruption Perception Index) of Transparency International, since business integrity and transparency play an important role. In particular, the higher the average between these two values, the more favorable the country's business environment is.
JUNE 16 - 19, 2017
The Tbilisi Flood, Two Years On
BY THEA MORRISON
xactly two years have passed since the devastating June 13, 2015 flood in Tbilisi, which took the lives of 21 people and left more than 200 families homeless. Two people are still missing. The deadly flood also damaged homes, businesses and other infrastructure on more than 20 streets in central Tbilisi and killed nearly half the animals in the Tbilisi Zoo. According to the World Bank, the flood caused more than 100 million GEL worth of damage to Tbilisi infrastructure. The Tbilisi Zoo is now fully restored and has added many new animals. Since the disaster, many countries have gifted animals to the zoo. The president of Georgia, Giorgi Margvelashvili, recently issued a statement regarding the disaster. â€œJune 13 will always remind us of irreparable human loss and the destruction of the city center. Today, we pay tribute to the victims of the disaster,â€? he wrote. The president also said that based on this past disaster, any future projects and initiatives should be based on human security standards. The Tbilisi Mayorâ€™s Office also released a statement about the flood, describing their work since the disaster. City Hall said more than 10,000 volunteers at the time got involved in the disaster elimi-
nation works, while donations were made by physical and legal entities, as well as budgetary organizations and banks. With total assistance and donations, more than 26 million GEL was raised,â€? the statement said, adding that 10,250,000 GEL was given by the Cartu Charity Foundation, a fund established and financed by Georgian businessman and former Prime Minister Bidzina Ivanishvili, the founder of the Georgian Dream party. The Mayorâ€™s Office reported that about 35 people who lived in the disaster area received flats, and that some families were paid compensation instead. About 153 people whose vehicles were damaged also received compensation from the State. The statement also said that City Hall has fully rehabilitated damaged infrastructure in the city, which cost 40 million GEL. â€œConstruction of an educational center, sports complex, forest-park, bicycle and pedestrian paths is planned for Vere Gorge and the surrounding areas. Mziuri Park is currently under construction and a new park will be planned [in the gorge],â€? the Mayorâ€™s Office said. The flood hit the capital of Georgia on the evening of June 13, 2015 and continued through the night. A landslide in the nearby village of Akhaldaba accelerated the flood in the Vere Ravine. Tunnels failed to divert the water, and the river damaged the VakeSaburtalo connecting road, as well as Heroesâ€™ Square, the Tbilisi-Tskneti highway and the city center.
Germany Supports Georgiaâ€™s Defense Reforms BY THEA MORRISON
ithin the framework of an official visit to the Federal Republic of Germany, Georgian Defense Minister Levan Izoria met with Ursula von der Leyen, Federal Minister of Defense of Germany. Following the welcoming ceremony, the ministers discussed issues of bilateral cooperation between Georgia and Germany. Georgiaâ€™s Defense Ministry reports that von der Leyen promised maximum support in the implementation of defense reforms in Georgia. The sides also defined future cooperation plans in the defense field. Izoria emphasized that Georgia remains commit-
ted to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) commitments and added that the Georgian military contingent continues to participate in the international mission in Afghanistan under the aegis of NATO. The Georgian Minister thanked his German colleague for her cooperation and support and noted that 2017 is declared as the year of Georgia-Germany, which features various activities and celebrations within the framework of the contacts between the two countries. Izoria also expressed his gratitude to the German side for their contributing to the NATO-Georgia substantial package (SNGP) implementation and pointed out that the initiative of the package, Defense Institutional Building (DIB) school and Joint NATOGeorgia Trainings and Evaluation Centre (JTEC), are examples of successful mutual cooperation.
Georgia, Kazakhstan Discuss Deepening of Economic Cooperation
BY THEA MORRISON
D FIRST BRAND HOTEL IN KUTAISI UNDER BEST WESTERN INTERNATIONAL Within the framework of the Georgian Hotelsâ€™ Regional Network Development Project â€œ12 hotels in 12 regionsâ€? by GHYHORSPHQWFRPSDQ\Âł6LPHWULDÂ´WKHÂżUVWEUDQGKRWHOKDV been opened in Kutaisi under the Best Western International brand. The hotel accommodates 45 guest rooms, including 40 standard rooms and 5 suites. The hotel was designed taking into consideration special conditions and safety for guests with disabilities.
Address: 11 Grishashvili Str., 4600, Kutaisi, Georgia TEL 219 71 00 email@example.com
Three mobile conference halls are available with a total capacity of about 100 persons. (XURSHDQFXLVLQHFDQEHHQMR\HGLQWKHJURXQGĂ€RRUFDIp and a grill-bar menu in the roof top restaurant with panoramic views over the city. The International Hotels Management Company â€œT3 Hospitality Management,â€? providing the hotel management, has 20 yearsâ€™ experience in hotel management in different countries globally.
uring an official visit to Astana on June 13, Georgian representatives, led by President Giorgi Margvelashvili, discussed ways to strengthen economic cooperation between Georgia and Kazakhstan with Kazakh officials. The representatives emphasized that Georgia and Kazakhstan have great potential to develop economic relations and more efforts should be made to realize this potential. Considering other trade agreements that Georgia has signed, Georgia has favorable conditions for further expanding trade with Kazakhstan. The discussion focused in particular on Georgiaâ€™s role as a transit corridor, connecting Europe, the Caucasus, and Asia and emphasized Georgiaâ€™s work to become the logistical center of the region. Georgia has historically played an important role in the Silk Road project and is also involved in numerous other transport projects. Prior to the meeting, Margvelashvili and his Kazakh counterpart, Nursultan Nazarbayev, met, with the Georgian president thanking Nazarvayev for the warm reception and inviting him to Georgia. Margvelashvili said it was symbolic that his visit coincided with the 25th anniversary of the restoration of Georgia-Kazakhstan diplomatic relations and the international exhibition, Expo 2017, at which
Georgia is well represented. â€œWe have always had an extensive relationship with Kazakhstan and currently opportunities exist to further strengthen this cooperation. This includes the development of economic relations in terms of energy carriers and other products," said Margvelashvili at a joint press-conference. Nazarbayev called the visit of the Georgian representatives very timely and necessary and noted that it would motivate the governments of the two countries to carry out specific tasks in order to further strengthen ties. As President Nazarbayev pointed out, Georgia and Kazakhstan are countries with great potential for transit and that it is paramount to make full use of these opportunities. He also emphasized the importance of further strengthening relations in culture and education. â€œWe should exchange students, in order for the next generation to continue our tradition and promote our relationship,â€? the President of Kazakhstan stated. President Margvelashvili and his delegation also participated in Expo-2017 in Astana. They visited the Georgian and Kazakh pavilions and as a part of the exhibition and attend a celebration of the National Day of Georgia. As a part of the official visit, President Margvelashvili also met and the Prime Minister and Chairman of the Parliament and Majlis of the Republic of Kazakhstan.
GEORGIA TODAY JUNE 16 - 19, 2017
GIP Commentary: What Georgia Can Learn from Montenegro’s NATO Accession BY JOSEPH LARSEN AND MARIAM GRIGALASHVILI
ontenegro became the latest member of NATO on June 5. It is the seventh enlargement in the history of the Alliance and the first since April 2009, when Albania and Croatia became full members. For Montenegro, the result has been a long time coming: it received a Membership Action Plan in 2009; the Alliance officially invited it to become a member in 2015; in 2016 the Accession Protocol was signed by the foreign ministers of each NATO member country; and in 2017 it officially became the 29th member of NATO. Just 11 years after becoming an independent state, Montenegro is a full member of the world’s largest military alliance. That has important implications for other aspirant countries, including Georgia.
WHAT GEORGIA CAN LEARN FROM MONTENEGRO’S NATO ACCESSION • NATO’s door remains open. Eight years after its most recent enlargement, NATO opened its door once again. As NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said at Montenegro's Instrument of Accession deposit event in Washington, the move sends a signal to countries undergoing reform that the Alliance is open to accepting new members: “Since NATO’s founding, keeping our door open to new members has been one of our greatest contributions to international peace and security.” • Geography still matters. As Stoltenberg stated, Montenegro's membership is “good for the stability of the western Balkans.” The tiny country doesn’t bring
much military hardware to the table but it gives the Alliance another foothold in the western Balkans, a region in which it has a checkered past. The western Balkans are unquestionably within geographical Europe. Moreover, the region has never been under Russian or Soviet rule, so the Kremlin cannot plausibly claim it as part of the country’s historical sphere of influence. That made bringing Montenegro into the Alliance a relatively low-risk proposition. Unfortunately, those circumstances do not apply to Georgia. • NATO accession criteria are not onesize-fits-all. Montenegro’s membership is perplexing to some, especially in Georgia. The country is not a poster child for reform. It has a high level of corruption and a population almost evenly split between those for and against NATO membership. A December 2016 poll found that 39.5% of the population was “for” membership and 39.7% “against”. Georgia has a stronger record on fighting corruption and a population more firmly in favor of NATO membership. Georgia’s armed forces have contributed enthusiastically to NATO missions abroad. These facts understandably have many in the country wondering why it’s still striving for a Membership Action Plan (MAP) while a less committed country received full membership. The truth is, strategic considerations matter as much if not more than the candidate state’s willingness to reform. • Russia views any enlargement to be a threat to its strategic interests. Montenegro has a population of fewer than 700,000 and an annual military budget of only EUR 58.5 million. Its capital, Podgorica, is nearly 2,000 kilometers from Moscow. Yet, Russia did all it could to make NATO accession costly. Last year, police arrested 20 Serbian and Montenegrin citizens in connection with a plot to
break into the parliament, kill the country’s prime minister Milo Dukanovic, and bring a pro-Russian coalition to power. Russia’s government denied any involvement, but Milivoje Katnic, the country’s chief special prosecutor, believes that “Russian state bodies” were involved. What’s more, Russia’s foreign ministry openly threatened the country on the day it announced it would join NATO: “In the light of the hostile course chosen by the Montenegrin authorities, the Russian side reserves the right to take retaliatory measures on a reciprocal basis. In politics, just as in physics, for every action there is an opposite reaction”. Russia’s actions sent a stern message to
other prospective NATO members. If it’s willing to attempt to subvert a country in the western Balkans, how far would it go to prevent Georgia from joining the Alliance? • NATO members view enlargement through the lens of risk and reward. This conclusion is the sum of all of the above points. A given country (in this case Montenegro) doesn’t receive NATO membership purely through its own efforts. Members of the Alliance must consider the potential benefits to be greater than the potential downside. In this case, Montenegro made the grade. Extending membership allowed the Alliance to expand into a key strategic area
while sending a positive message to other prospective members. And, as mentioned above, the potential downside was small.
The Georgian Institute of Politics was founded in 2011 to strengthen institutions and promote good governance and development through policy research and advocacy in Georgia. It publishes its blog with Georgia Today twice per month. Check out our website in English and Georgian at gip.ge for more blogs, data, and analyses.
Ex-President Urges Czech Living with Rheumatoid Arthritis: Republic to Leave EU When Even the Little Things are Hard BY DIMITRI DOLABERIDZE
zech Ex-President Václav Klaus says that it is time to start preparing the withdrawal of the republic from the European Union. The European Commission (EC) on Tuesday decided to start a procedure that could lead to the imposition of sanctions against the Czech Republic, Poland and Hungary in connection with the violation, by the authorities of these countries, of arrangements for the distribution of refugees in Italy and Greece across the EU. According to the Czech media, following the EC's decision, official notification of violations committed are to be sent to the Czech Republic, Poland and Hungary. If the authorities do not change their position, the entire multi-stage procedure could end at the EU Court and with a monetary fine for each of the countries. "From all this comes the only possible and, at the same time, the only necessary conclusion: it is time to begin to prepare the exit of our country from the European Union. This is the only way to preserve the state that we inherited from our ancestors and which should pass, as an original
identity, to future generations," Klaus announced, going on to claim that the Czech Republic must not be allowed to become a multicultural community consisting of communities that are not adapted for co-existence. "We protest the desire to punish us and force us to obedience," he said. "We reject the argument that we must "be present" in the so-called "solid nucleus" of the EU. Today, we are present in the EU but we do not make the decisions". He claimed that in the EU, the voice of the Czech Republic is ignored. As for grants from European funds, according to Klaus, the Czech Republic does not need, "nor does it want them". In September 2015, at a meeting of the heads of the Ministry of the Interior of the EU countries, the EC majority proposed that 160,000 illegal migrants in Italy and Greece be forcibly distributed to all EU countries. Representatives of the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary and Romania voted against. The Czech Republic, according to quotas, was supposed to host 2.6 thousand refugees, but only 12 migrants were accepted and, as Milan Chovanec, the head of the Czech Ministry of Internal Affairs, said recently, he does not intend to take any more due to the complicated situation in the security sphere.
photo project presentation was organized by The Union of Patients with Rheumatoid Arthritis in New Mziuri, within the framework of an information campaign called Everything is in our Hands. The aim of the event is to raise awareness and spread information about the disease, in order to support early diagnosis and provide adequate treatment on time. Author of the photos, Goga Chanadiri, depicted the daily life of suffering patients, those simple everyday activities which are so difficult for them to do and that often require great effort. “My goal was to support raising awareness of RA,” Goga Chanadiri, photographer and supporter told us. “I used photography as a medium to depict the patients so that only their hands would be visible, I wanted to show the society that they also have the right to cuddle their children and grandchildren, play the piano, water the plants, etc. We can’t sacrifice these people to this diseasewe should give them the joy of life.” Inga Mamuchishvili, the Head of the Union of Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) Patients, the founders Marina Sagaradze and Rusudan Ediberidze and other sup-
porters, addressed the audience and communicated the severity of the disease and accompanying problems. The communicational support of the campaign was conducted by Gepra. The presentation was also attended by healthcare officials, representatives of medical institutions, doctors, patients and other parties. Irakli Pavlenishvili, Chairman the Commission of Health Care and Social Issues of Tbilisi City Assembly: “Rheumatoid Arthritis and joint diseases in general are a very serious problem, widely spread throughout the world. The daily burden of the disease is depicted in these photos. If the treatment is not conducted purposefully, it can lead to deplorable results as the disease can develop into a disability. However, timely treatment gives effective outcomes. Days like today are highly welcomed, since drawing attention to problems brings hope and results. The activity and involvement of society is highly important as it plays a crucial role; of course, government should be and is responsible for supporting the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis, for example, children under 18 are fully financed in Georgia. The disease is progressive and is almost incurable, though
it can be regulated as a result of welltimed medical interference. Today, we have biological medication which is very effective, but very expensive at the same time, thus is poorly available”. It is an issue Tbilisi City Hall has been working on as it gathers data and analyzes potential funding. It is already financing three large projects: breast cancer, with a metastatic Herceptin program; an Autism program, working with up to 700 children, and a program of bone marrow transplantation worth about GEL 10 million. Rheumatoid arthritis is a chronic, progressive, auto-immune disease that causes joint swelling, damage and ultimately leads to the disability of the patient. Statistical data suggests that every hundredth person in the world suffers from the disease. The incidence of disease among women is three times higher than in men. Rheumatoid arthritis may begin at any age but occurs mostly in people aged 35 to 50. Rheumatoid arthritis may damage all joints, but affects mostly that of hands, legs and wrists. The progressive damage is accompanied by a person’s continuously decreasing ability to work and move independently. Continued on page 11
JUNE 16 - 19, 2017
UNDP: Shattering Myths about Women in Georgian Political Parties BY DAVID MONGAZON
hisTuesdaytheUnionNation Development Program unveiled an unprecedented study called “Women in Political Parties: Deconstructing the Myths” commissioned in association with the Government of Sweden and carried out by Georgian NGO “Union Sapari”. The report’s main objective is to highlight major dysfunctions in the process of recruitment inside the political parties that leads to a strong lack of women in Georgian politics. It is the result of 35 interviews with representatives in lower, middle and upper levels of parliamentary political parties in Georgia (Georgian Dream, European Georgia, United National Movement, and the Patriots’ Alliance of Georgia). The discussion about the research findings brought together representatives of political parties, local and international organizations and women’s rights activists. Niels Scott, head of the UNDP in Georgia, started the meeting by saying that there has been huge progress since the democratization of the country but added that “this whole issue of women remains one of the most important inequality issues in Georgia”. Indeed, the overall number of women involved in politics in Georgia has little increased at legislative elections, going from 7% of MPs in 2008 to 16% presently. However, it has yet to reach the standard the UN recognizes: 30% minimum. “There
has been progress, but at the international level, Georgia has regressed,” Scott said. “Georgia is ranked 114th out of 144 in terms of women’s participation in politics according to the 2016 report of the World Economic Forum. “The political participation of women is the key to ensuring gender equality in every area of life, and political parties play a critical role in making this happen,” he concluded. The study proves the underrepresentation of women in Georgian political parties is based on 26 myths which the authors identified after analyzing the conducted interviews. Artificial barriers such as male privilege and power inside political parties, or centralized management and societal misconceptions, are the main reasons for women being less active in Georgian political parties. It suggests that the recruitment standards are made in favor of men, reinforcing male domination; emphasizing conflicts, or the conception of politics as dirty and as such unsuitable for women. However, the study claims it is a misrepresentation of reality, as women nowadays know perfectly what they are getting into when they opt for a political career. This leads to another misrepresentation made by political parties which claims that women succeeding in politics need to be masculine not only in skill but also physically. Femininity, and all that is linked with female issues, such as maternity, is seen as a weakness, which is again not the case, as shown by the research which focuses on younger generations of political women who are perfectly comfortable with such issues.
Source: UKIP Daily
The authors also highlight unrealistic personality characteristics that are usually pinned on women. The stereotype that men are more competent than women is for the authors a way to prevent women from being recruited so as not to reveal the incompetency of men. This is why women are usually recruited for lower levels or to agitate the political scene. This centralization of the parties is seen as a way to reproduce the privileges of men. Another stereotype is the supposed unreliability to women, while, in fact, the research says they are much more faithful and devoted to their parties. To finish, the study points to the fake optimism of
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political parties when they say the world is changing and that this misrepresentation of women will change as well: the truth is that women’s role in Georgia’s political life is growing very slowly, and the goal of the study is to help develop it faster. The study was carried out from March to May 2017 and has been released quickly in order to impact the political parties’ choices in terms of candidacies for the next local elections in autumn. It has been made on point to help political parties change their practices and to open the political scene to more competent women and make sure they are given the same
chances as men. More generally, the report must be seen as a road map for political parties, authors say, which should give guidelines to refining their recruitment standards and introducing internal quotas if necessary. Furthermore, parties should better highlight competent women in order to diminish the image of politics as a “dirty job” that keeps people, and women first, away from political participation. The study proposes the introduction of working groups on the issues related to gender to raise awareness inside the parties. It also says that exclusively feminine groups could be beneficial, in order to create frames of discussion to better understand the problems women face and to raise confidence. The research also supports a draft law addressed to the Parliament to introduce quotas for the number of women, which is already backed by a 37,000-signature petition. However, one point against this proposal is that it can be unconstitutional and create inequality between men and women. The authors of the draft law answer nevertheless that the measure could be temporary, only in order for the parties to adapt more quickly. They take as examples different European countries that have already adopted such measures, like France and Spain. This is not the only comment the authors triggered, which is a sign that they have achieved their goal. The public strongly insisted on the importance of cultural problems in Georgian society and the gap between private life and political engagement, in which the political political class has to be involved to reduce.
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JUNE 16 - 19, 2017
Georgia. A Rebalancing Act BY EMIL AVDALIANI
mmanuel Macron’s election as French president reinvigorated European unity. What seemed a fragile state almost a year ago, with nationalist parties gaining momentum all over the continent, today’s Europe is if not entirely cured, nevertheless with a new momentum for continuity. A year ago the migrant crisis was sparking internal debates on reconstituting border control and keeping a united front (sanctions) against Russia and its actions in Ukraine. Brussels also received a blow from the UK's decision to leave the EU. However, the region in which the EU's problems had a real effect was Eastern Europe and the South Caucasus. Ukraine and Georgia, being major aspirants to joining the Union, were most concerned that the inward-looking Europe would be ever more reluctant to have them as members. Macron’s victory, along with the conservatives’ win in the Netherlands, now leaves fewer chances for nationalist parties to enjoy their previous support. While it does not mean that the threat to European unity is altogether extinct, Germany and France are now more confident in moving Europe towards further integration while standing firm against Russia.
A UNITED FRONT? The reinvigorated Europe is what Georgia and Ukraine need as both countries experience military intervention from Russia through support for proMoscow separatist movements, whether in eastern Ukraine or Abkhazia and South Ossetia. This is not to say that Tbilisi and Kiev are close to becoming EU members. Geopolitical constraints still remain paramount. From Brussels’ perspective, the political situation in the South Caucasus is too unstable. Russian forces almost enclose Tbilisi on three sides – South Ossetia/Samachablo, Abkhazia and Gyumri (Armenia). Moreover, the simmering Nagorno-Karabakh conflict puts further brake on the region’s stability. However, it is in Georgia’s vital interests to keep all options open. While the country maintains its pro-western course, from Tbilisi’s perspective,
maintaining even a semblance of normal relations with Moscow serves the state interests. This could be called a rebalancing act, when the actor tries to keep good relations with all the major powers in the region. Russia has been resurgent over the past decade and despite maintaining a unified front against Moscow, the EU is still in no position to match the Kremlin’s military power in the region.
A REBALANCING ACT? It is in these political circumstances that Georgia finds itself between its EU aspirations and a strong Russia. A reinvigorated EU could ratchet up pressure on Russia by providing further financial support to Tbilisi. NATO could be another tool to influence Moscow’s behavior in the region, although the membership is a far-off perspective. Another way to rebalance resurgent Moscow’s behavior in the region for the Georgian government would be to strengthen its relations with Turkey and Azerbaijan (see my previous article). Yet another actor for balancing out Russian resurgence could be China with its economic role in the region. Beijing has been increasing its influence in the region through investments and trade and considers Georgia, with its Black Sea ports of Batumi and Poti, as a link for its massive ‘One Belt One Road’ initiative. Chinese involvement in the region is surely for the moment limited only to economics, but the deeper Beijing is involved to defend its assets around the world, the bigger the possibility that China will eventually become a security partner in the South Caucasus. True, Russia and Moscow could also cooperate on numerous issues regarding security in the South Caucasus. However, even then Moscow and China’s geopolitical imperatives would be at odds with each other, increasing the possibilities for disagreement. Thus, Georgia being at the crossroads of East and West has again found itself in difficult geopolitical circumstances when numerous regional powers compete with each other to project influence into the South Caucasus. Georgia today pursues what it has historically – rebalancing each of its bigger neighbors with the other. Byzantines against the Iranians, Ottomans against the Persians and nowadays Russians against Turkey, Iran, China and the EU – these are the geopolitical combinations Georgia has for centuries used to its advantage.
Poland Calls on Europe to Wake Up BY DIMITRI DOLABERIDZE
e will not allow any blackmail from the European Union. We will not participate in the madness of the Brussels elite -Polish Prime Minister Beata Szydło said on Wednesday in the Polish Sejm during a discussion on defense and security issues. "We have the courage to ask a question to the political elite in Europe: where are you going? Where are you heading to, Europe? Wake up from your lethargic sleep, otherwise you'll be mourning your children every day!" she said, pointing to mass immigration and the recent terrorist acts in European cities, citing in particular the incident in Manchester, where two Polish citizens were killed by a Salman Abedi bomb. After the European Commission (see page 3) and the European Parliament threatened Poland, Hungary and Austria with sanctions if they continue to reject quotas for refugees, Poland "made it clear that it will not give up." According to the leader of the Conservative Party of Poland "Law and Justice", which has been heading the country since October 2015, the reception of refugees would have become a social catastrophe and would have "radically reduced the level of security" in Poland. Szydło also pointed to the risk to national secu-
rity, which is connected with the arrival of nations that are fundamentally different in terms of culture. The Prime Minister also defended her government's policy of assisting "real refugees" from Syria and neighboring countries, whereas the previous government, headed by Eva Kopach, on the contrary, greatly reduced this assistance, boasting that she agreed to the "generous reception of illegal immigrants" which was imposed by the EU and especially by Germany, which "opened wide" the doors to them in 2015. "Among those coming from the Middle East are many criminals who should be in prison instead of walking around Europe, receiving social benefits," said Leszek Miller, leader of the Social Democratic Party of Poland, going on to call for the closure of radical mosques, expulsion of all radical imams and foreigners suspected of links with terrorist organizations, and elimination of all jihadist cells on the continent.
GEORGIA TODAY JUNE 16 - 19, 2017
A Political Storm OP-ED BY ZAZA JGARKAVA
ife is full of surprises, and especially in Georgia. However, it wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say that what happened last week was truly unexpected even for the most experienced Georgians. First, the government arrested two rappers from the Birja Mafia band, because of one of their latest rap songs; later it accused them of purchase, storage and use of large amounts of illegal drugs and sentenced them to pretrial detention. Only 48 hours after the sentence, the court allowed both of them home on bail. The series of surprising decisions was somehow connected not with the rappers from Birja Mafia though, but with the son of the non-formal leader of the country, Bera Ivanishvili. Bera’s short Facebook status “I am with you boys” turned out to be a completely legit and sufficient argument for the Prosecutor’s Office, Court and the parliamentary majority to change their position – proclaim them innocent and the involved policemen as guilty. “If anyone is found guilty of felony, all will be punished adequately,” threatened Vice Premier Kaladze. Prime Minister Kvirikashvili also tried to protect the rights of the rappers and called on Georgian Dream’s MPs to liberalize the law on drugs. Then came a street protest and suddenly everything turned on its head, with father and son Ivan-
ishvili, and the Prime Minister and Vice Premier taking a stand against the police. The so-called Rappers Case also strangely coincided with staff changes in the Ministry of Interior Affairs, which has raised suspicion that maybe the recent events are a prelude to what will very likely be followed by changes in the government. Some used to joke that the government should be afraid of rappers most of all, and this was way before the Birja Mafia rappers got arrested. And so, it seems that the Rappers Case could become a basis for great political cataclysms. Political analyst Gia Khukhashvili believes that we have entered a stage of “crisis management” and that in this situation, the crisis won’t be solved naturally, but the other way around: the existing crisis or, if you wish “sabotage,” will be overshadowed by another, quite likely an even larger one. He also added, “If this crisis is not extinguished and systematic events are not conducted against it, tomorrow or the day after, the situation will become even more difficult.” Political expert Soso Tsintsadze declared that the most important thing of all is the apparent deficit of trust and that the people no longer believe in the investigation conclusions. For him, the most unacceptable thing is that, although everyone makes mistakes, the government should at least create an illusion of solving them and at the very least make adequate statements. “Instead, the government has appointed the least popular minister, Alexandre Jejelava, as its speaker, who fur-
ther adds fuel to the fire with every statement he makes,” said Tsintsadze. Overall, the month of June is one that seems to be preordained for Georgian Dream. Like in June 2015, the thunderstorm has yet to pass and as thousands protested the policy of police set-ups, the black clouds started to gather over Tbilisi and the rest of Georgia... This time, the rain did not develop into a natural disaster, but definitely did turn into a political storm. The fact that people are nervous means that street protests gain more significance with the approach-
ing local elections. Freeing the rappers was a humane act and we should thank everyone, including Bera, for it. But the thing is that the latter hasn’t solved the core problem. On the contrary, he exhibited it fully and we now clearly realize that we are facing a serious drama here. As for Birja Mafia, those who have a better idea of what’s happening on the Georgian rap scene might know their music is not ever so tasteful and if not for this political scandal many would never have even heard about the band, nor would they have watched that “fatal” video clip that caused the whole drama.
Longest Serving US Female Lawmaker on Georgia, it’s Future & the Importance of Women in Politics GEORGIA TODAY and Panorama TV Show were privileged to a have a blitz-interview with the venerable lawmaker.
IT’S YOUR FIRST VISIT TO GEORGIA - WHAT ARE YOUR IMPRESSIONS?
we’re 20%. The barriers are the same. #1 – culture. People either think that politics is not a job for women or that women can’t do the job. Yet, when we serve in politics, we show that we are often twice as hard and often get twice as much done. And I hope that Georgia will choose a path by
whatever means they determine is in their best interest to improve women’s participation. I think society will benefit from it because the women will work on the big issues but will also work on the kitchen table issues to improve and strengthen families.
First of all, I’m very impressed by the vibrancy of the culture and people. There is such energy, such vitality here. And it seems that there is a deep commitment to continue to make progress for social and economic reforms. Senator Barb: Georgia is going to determine what’s best for Georgia
INTERVIEW BY VAZHA TAVBERIDZE
champion. Normally, you shouldn’t dispense with adjectives like this lightly, but if anybody deserves it, Barbara Mikulski, or Senator Barb, does, and it is in this way the country affectionately called its longest serving female lawmaker, hers being a remarkable success story of gender equality and women taking their rightful place in the world of political decision-making. After calling it a day at the Senate after an impressive 30-year tenure, and being voted the meanest senator twice, Mikulski has now joined the John Hopkins University in an academic capacity. This week, alongside former Secretary of State, Madeleine Albright, she visited Georgia to partake in NDI Georgia’s event – the round-up and graduation of the Future Women Leader’s program whereupon
People think that politics is not a job for women or that women can’t do the job. Yet, when we serve in politics, we show that we are often twice as hard and often get twice as much done
WHAT IS YOUR MESSAGE TO THIS VIBRANT SOCIETY? ESPECIALLY TO THE PART OF SOCIETY THAT STILL HARBORS SYMPATHIES FOR RUSSIA AND TO AN EXTENT, THE SOVIET UNION? You know, I believe in the self-determination of a person and of a nation. I believe that Georgia itself is not just an independent democracy, it is a respected democracy and it is a welcomed democracy among other nations. So many of your rankings have improved, and in such a short time! The degree of government services to people, the anti-corruption campaign, the attempt to bring new jobs here – it’s all very impressive. So, I believe Georgia is going to determine what's best for Georgia and I’m sure you would agree that independence and democracy are the best ways to go.
YOU’VE SERVED AS A SENATOR FOR MORE THAN 30 YEARS. WHAT’S THE PERCEPTION OF GEORGIA IN THE WEST, AND IN THE US PARTICULARLY? I was a child of WWII and its aftermath. My own heritage is Polish. We kept traditions in our family and we saw great people, great nations, fall behind the Iron Curtain. Once the wall came down, once the curtain got lifted, what we saw was Georgia, a country that had so much potential due to creativity, intellectual robustness, and the spirit of the people. And we are ever so glad that since the wall came down, Georgia has moved in even greater and greater democracy.
Messe Frankfurt to Hold International Exhibition Tendence 2017 in Frankfurt, June 24-27, 2017
New, exciting and creative ideas are abound at Tendence. The exhibition hosts over 1000 participants and is home to a wide range of quality products from home furnishings and decoration to gifts, jewelry and accessories. A large selection of mid to upper price segments can be found, representing the latest collections for spring, summer and beyond.
DWV is offering support to Georgian citizens, exhibition members and visitors wishing to organize their attendance at Tendence 2017.
YOU ARE THE LONGEST SERVING WOMAN SENATOR IN US HISTORY AND A GREAT PROPONENT OF WOMEN’S RIGHTS. WHAT CAN YOU SAY ABOUT THE OBSTACLES THAT WOMEN ENCOUNTER ON THEIR PATH TO REALIZING THEMSELVES IN POLITICS? It was very interesting to see the active participation of women in politics here. I know that Georgia is trying to improve its representation and I would wholeheartedly encourage that. We had the same issues in the States. In the US senate there are 100 senators, when I came to the senate over 20 years ago there were only two of us. We were 2%. Now
Don't miss the chance to expand your business network and introduce your products to the world! For more information visit tendence. messefrankfurt.com and contact Zaira Soloeva +995 599 011082 E: firstname.lastname@example.org
JUNE 16 - 19, 2017
China-Georgia Friendship Celebrates the 25th Anniversary of Diplomatic Relations BY MAKA LOMADZE
n June 9, at Rike Park, diplomats celebrated the 25th anniversary of GeorgianChinese bilateral relations. It was organized by international media holding GBTIMES Georgia and the Chinese Embassy in Georgia, and supported by Tbilisi City Hall. All day long visitors to Rike Park had the opportunity to see and purchase Chinese goods, as well as attend masterclasses of traditional martial arts, sample Chinese dishes, see Chinese costumes, as well as shows, exhibitions and concerts. The event included an official ceremony opened by Ji Yanchi, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of People’s Republic of China in Georgia. He thanked all the involved parties for organizing the event. “On this exact day 25 years ago, the ‘Joint Communiqué on the Establishment of Diplomatic Relations’ between the Governments of China and Georgia was signed in Tbilisi. A new era for China-Georgia relations dawned. We support each other on major issues concerning sovereignty and territorial integrity. Our two countries hold respectful and equal attitudes towards each other, and carry out cooperation on a mutually beneficial basis. We have sound cooperation in international affairs and have established an exemplary model of friendly cooperative relations between two countries.” The first Chinese diplomat remarked that the two countries enjoy very fruit-
HOTEL CITY AVENUE
ful outcomes in economic cooperation. In May, the Free Trade Agreement was officially signed between the Chinese and Georgian governments. “It brings new prospects for the expansion of tradeeconomic cooperation. At the beginning of our diplomatic relations, the trade turnover stood at USD 3.68 million whereas, in 2016 it reached USD 717 million, growing 200 times. China is Georgia’s fourth largest trading partner and the second largest exporting market for Georgian wine. Chinese FDI in Georgia stands at 600 million USD”. According to H.E. JI Yanchi, during the past 25 years, interpersonal relations between Chinese people and Georgian people have become increasingly close. “Cultural and artistic groups exchange visits every year. The Confucius Institute at Tbilisi Free University was opened with cooperation between the two countries. Chinese language courses are offered in 26 universities and secondary schools of Georgia. Every year, 25 Georgian students continue their studies at Chinese universities under Chinese Government Scholarship. Every year, 20 Chinese language teachers and volunteers come to Georgia to assist in teaching Chinese language and culture. Georgia already has more than a thousand 1000 Chinese speaking students. In 2016, over 10 thousand Chinese tourists visited Georgia, with the number increased by 46%.” The ambassador also emphasized economic collaboration. “The Khadori hydropower station constructed by the Chinese was the first large-scale foreign investment after Georgia’s independence. Chinese companies have built 82.1 kilometers of roads, 40.6 kilometers of railway, and
Road cooperation based on the principles of mutual discussion, joint construction and shared benefits. We will further enhance political trust, deepen friendship; expand the mutual beneficial cooperation; intensify cultural exchange, strengthen international cooperation. Together, we will write a new chapter of the friendly cooperative relations between China and Georgia”. Giorgi Kvirikashvili then spoke about that friendship and partnership, “based on principles of mutual respect and cooperation”. “Today, the partnership between our countries is stronger than ever, as clearly evidenced by our growing bilateral cooperation, high-level visits to both Georgia and China, and the tangible results of cooperation,” he said, going on to point to China being one of Georgia’s largest trade partners and investors. “The recent historic Free Trade Agreement between Georgia and China, which was signed in Beijing, is poised to advance our trade and economic cooperation to
Another Side of the Coin? – Not All Montenegro is Happy with NATO Membership INTERVIEW BY VAZHA TAVBERIDZE
M otel City Avenue is a premium class boutique hotel located in the center of the old town. Close to business centers and company head offices, it is surrounded by shops, restaurants, theaters and many other entertainment and sightseeing spots. What’s more, D.Agmashenebeli Avenue is one of the most beautiful streets in Tbilisi. The hotel’s modern interior design and classic exterior decor offers you a very special atmosphere and positive aura. The fully equipped rooms and friendly staff will make your holiday both comfortable and unforgettable. The on-site Café features a good choice of Georgian and international food with a relaxing atmosphere and chill-out terrace. Our professional staff is ready to serve with the spirit of Georgian hospitality. The hotel offers a great conference facility with modern technology and convenient services. Hotel City Avenue is a 5-minute walk from Marjanishvili metro station, 5 minutes’ drive from Station Square and 20 minutes’ from the airport.
provided railway modernization technical solutions for Georgia. According to statistics, Chinese companies have created about 5,000 jobs for Georgians. China has also provided USD 60 million of free aid to support the social and economic development of Georgia”. Reportedly, with joint efforts, China and Georgia have achieved a very good start toward building the Silk Road Economic Belt. “China and Georgia made significant progresses in policy coordination, unimpeded trade, facilities connectivity, financial integration, and people-to-people bonds. In May, a delegation from the Georgian government attended the Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation held in Beijing. This visit was very successful.” In the ambassador’s words, currently, the China-Georgia relations face promising prospects. We are ready to work with the government and people of Georgia, to grasp the historical opportunity provided by the Belt and Road Initiatives. We will steadily promote our Belt and
a new qualitative level. Notably, Georgia is the first country in the region to have signed this agreement with China. We welcome Chinese companies launching their business activities in Georgia in steadily growing numbers, with some of them having already gained a foothold in the Georgian market. New directions of economic cooperation are springing up. One such direction involves building joint plants to manufacture Georgian-Chinese products. Georgia’s business community is taking increasingly growing interest in the vast opportunities offered by the Chinese market,” noted the PM. In his words, these achievements are complemented by the One Belt—One Road project of global importance initiated by Chinese leader Xi Jinping. Reportedly, this project creates new prospects of deeper relations between our two countries and enhanced regional cooperation in general. Georgia, as a bridge connecting European and Asian markets, prioritizes its engagement in this initiative. “At the same time, our humanitarian cooperation is developing equally rapidly, and so are people-to-people contacts. We are actively working together with our Chinese partners to deepen our tourism cooperation, so that more Chinese tourists may visit Georgia, and more Georgians may enjoy this country famous for its unique culture and traditions. “I am convinced that our joint efforts will further expand and cement the friendship and business relations between our countries,” Giorgi Kvirikashvili concluded. The event was also attended by the Tbilisi Mayor and other officials.
ontenegro just became the 29th member of NATO – a remarkable feat that still remains unachievable for Georgia, at least in the near future, if we heed what we’re told by various politicians and dealmakers from Brussels, Washington and like. But apparently, not everyone in Montenegro shares the same passion for the EuroAtlantic. A sizeable part of society, mostly of Serbian origin, is voicing its displeasure with the government and the Alliance, in particular. GEORGIA TODAY and Panorama TV Show talked with one such person – A journalist from Podgorica, Igor Damjanovic, who lost no time in telling us that there is, proverbially speaking, no cake and it’s all a big lie.
HOW WILL MONTENEGRO’S NATO MEMBERSHIP CHANGE THE SECURITY SITUATION IN THE BALKANS? Montenegro’s NATO membership will change nothing. If you pay attention to the circumstances in the West, and NATO’s other members, for example, Turkey, the UK, Germany or France over recent years, most terror attacks happened in NATO countries. NATO attracts terrorist groups. NATO membership is nothing positive to stabilize the Balkans, but it could expose us to terrorist groups.
WHY DID MONTENEGRO’S GOVERNMENT NOT HOLD A REFERENDUM ON MEMBERSHIP? The state of Montenegro is ruled not by a government but the NATO junta who stole the last election. 2015 saw the last
survey of public opinion. 81% of the Montenegrin population believed that joining NATO should be put to a referendum. The government did not respect the people’s will and restricted elementary democratic rules. Support from citizens about entering NATO never exceeded 35%.
WHAT’S THE ALTERNATIVE? The alternative to NATO is a neutral military position. Such, as used by Switzerland and Austria, have provided excellent economic possibilities for prosperity for those countries as well as political prosperity. They are perhaps the most stable societies in Europe. For the Balkans, the most reasonable and best way for political stability is neutrality. What’s NATO going to defend us from – each other? Thank you, we can handle that ourselves.
IF WE COMPARE MONTENEGRO AND GEORGIA IN TERMS OF REFORMS, DEMOCRACY, HUMAN RIGHTS AND OTHER PARAMETERS WHICH ARE NECESSARY ONES TO GET INTO NATO, WE ARE NOT LAGGING BEHIND; ARE, IN FACT AHEAD, COMPARED ALSO TO SERBIA. WAS TAKING MONTENEGRO INTO NATO A POLITICAL DECISION? If Georgia becomes a NATO member it will be a disaster for your country because no country which joined NATO within the past 15 years received anything good from NATO. Take Croatia and Albania: nothing positive has happened in the Albanian economy and during the first 4 years of Croatia’s membership in NATO, investments decreased four fold. In addition, look at Bulgaria. NATO blocked the South Stream just because it was in con-
Igor Damjanovic, journalist from Podgorica
flict with the interests of the US and NATO to put pressure on Russia. When you become a NATO member, the national interests of your country are compromised.
ARE YOU BLAMING THE BALKAN GOVERNMENTS’ CORRUPTION ON NATO? AND THEN AGAIN, WHEN IT COMES TO GEORGIA, IT WAS RUSSIA WHICH OCCUPIED MORE THAN 20% OF GEORGIAN TERRITORIES, NOT NATO. ALL GEORGIA WANTS IS A SHIELD
FROM NATO TO DETER FURTHER RUSSIAN OCCUPATION Sorry, but if you’re going to present NATO as paragons of virtue and defenders of the weak and small, I’m going to debate that point. Do you know what happened in 1999? NATO bombed Serbia and Montenegro without permission of the UN SC. They used very toxic weapons. Because of NATO’s use of depleted uranium, thousands of people die each year. Tens of thousands die from cancer, leukemia and genetic diseases. And you want me cheer for my country’s NATO membership? I cannot do that.
GEORGIA TODAY JUNE 16 - 19, 2017
Animal Migration Route, Bio Security Points & Sheep Dipping in Georgia BY NINO GUGUNISHVILI
DITOR"S NOTE: The printed version of this article, as appears in the Friday 16 June issue, differs from the version below and was printed in error. I apologize sincerely for that oversight. The mass annual migration of up to a million head of sheep and cattle on long established routes is perhaps one of the authenticities of Georgia, as is the century old tradition of sheep farming itself. According to a 2013 report produced by the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) and Mercy Corps Alliances Programme, the seasonal transhumance is the most widespread system of sheep farming in Georgia: sheep overwintering in Kakheti then move with the coming of spring to summer pastures in the mountains of Tusheti and Mtianeti and the highlands of Kvemo Kartli and Samtkhe-Javakheti walking over 10km a day. The distance between the summer and winter pastures is over 300 km, with shepherds and sheep covering it twice a year. The sheep movement route (Animal Movement Route) covers four regions of Georgia (13,400 hectares of land, and a total length of 11,874.6 km). Depending on quality and the internal and external market, the price of sheep in Georgia varies from 100 to 200GEL. The major countries for live Georgian sheep export to date have been Azerbaijan, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Qatar, Kuwait, Iraq, Oman and Israel. The market for processed meat is growing with regular export now occurring to Iran. Wool too is a global commodity, the market for which has been recently revived with greasy unprocessed wool being exported to the UK, Ukraine and India. It is a sector with potential to improve the livelihoods of significant rural inhabitants. Since the demise of the Soviet Union, a complexity of such factors as the nonexistence of modern technologies, outdated infrastructure facilities, lack of qualified veterinarians, lack of registration of sheep movement routes, inadequate sanitary conditions, no sheep vaccinations and no regulations existing, had led to increasingly negative affects on the sector. A major component of this was the neglect of the Animal Movement
Route itself, the series of registered byways used by the flocks from winter to summer pastures once maintained with bridges, water points and resting areas for livestock and now badly degraded. “Since the collapse of Soviet Union there has been little maintenance or development of badly degraded infrastructure or the systems surrounding the Animal Movement Route. This has included no systematic health control in a country with serious notifiable diseases e.g. Foot and Mouth, Anthrax”- states the Additional Report on Bio Security Points carried out by Edward Hammer Ltd. Not until 2012, when the Swiss Development Cooperation funded Mercy Corps Georgia, implemented Alliances Lesser Caucasus Programme (now Alliances Caucasus Programme – ALCP) began was the Animal Movement Route issue coherently identified and addressed. Ongoing facilitation with multiple stakeholders, governmental bodies, (Governor’s Office of Kvemo Kartli, Ministry of Agriculture of Georgia, National Food Agency), local governments, Private sector and Shepherds Association led to milestone measures such as the construction of the 4km Tsintskaro village by pass, previously a notorious bottleneck for the migrating livestock and flashpoint for conflict between shepherds and villagers, the first Shepherds Association Conference and the making and release of The Road a documentary film about the route was released bringing the issue to a wider audience. These built the confidence and will of stakeholders to continue investing in solving the complex issue. An international consultant was brought in to help design a national bio security control system for the route resulting in the design of six Bio Security Points (BSPs) (with sheep dipping baths and cattle showers) as part of Animal Route infrastructure management, with proper vaccination ensured, in order to battle and further prevent the spread of deadly diseases. In 2015, a Memorandum of Understanding was signed between the Ministry of Agriculture, The National Food Agency (NFA) and Mercy Corps for joint coinvestment under which two BSPs with water points would be built on the Animal Movement Route in the region of Kvemo Kartli financed by the ALCP, and three BSPs would be built in Kakheti and one
in Kvemo Kartli, financed by the state. In July and September 2015, construction of the first yards and water points began in Kvemo Kartli, Marneuli and Rustavi municipalities, followed by Dedoplistkaro and Sighnaghi, all finalized in 2016. Now four BSPs are fully functioning and a further two BSPs are to be completed in Bolnisi and Telavi by the end of 2017. The service is provided by the National Food Agency free of charge, with shepherds saving about 200 GEL per 1000 heads of livestock- the price of private dips which, despite a decreasing number, still exist throughout the country. Not only are the BSPs a tool against the spread of disease, they have also proven to be a critical instrument for the government to access information on livestock, and to monitor the situation in the sector, something that was impossible to regulate before. In addition, timely vaccination and sheep dipping is directly related to a decreased number of animal deaths enroute, animals which were often left where they fell, scavenged by wildlife and dogs, bringing yet other dangerous health risks for humans while passing rotting carcasses. One of the major benefits of the BSPs is said to be an increased opportunity to facilitate sheep and wool export, which is one of the motivations behind developing the sphere. Also among the most important issues related to BSPs is toxic waste disposal. The toxic insecticides used in sheep dips need to be properly stored and disposed of, yet, with private dips, such processes in the past were unmonitored and unregulated; incorrect disposal of highly toxic insecticides often resulting in dramatic damage to the environment. Following the recommendation given by Edward Hamer LTD, and also according to international best practice, Cypermethrin sheep dip has been replaced with other products acknowledged for use by international veterinary organizations. “It is important for sheep to be dipped before they head to the mountain pastures,” Zurab Ivanishvili, veterinarian at BSP Marneuli told GEORGIA TODAY, noting they can dip almost 10,000 sheep a day at the facility. “We need more employees,” he added, also mentioning that the construction needs some improvements. “The sheep dipping started on
May 10 at Marneuli BSP, all the stock that passed, dipped or not, were identified and registered. At all BSPs in Sighnaghi, Dedoplistskharo, Rustavi and Marneuli, different color notes are issued to categorize that the sheep are dipped,” he said. Although construction of the BSPs on animal movement route can undoubtedly be considered as a milestone, one of the significant challenges the sector faces is the lack of resting areas both for shepherds, sheeps and cattle along the route. Following the collapse of the system , much of the formerly designated land of the route had been sold to private land owners, which is a source of conflict between the shepherds and the owners of the land. At the same time, there’s a considerable lack of watering points along the route.. On the positive side, we’ve been told that the government is now actively working on resolving the issue, negotiating with the land owners to reacquire the land from them, or attain alternate land for use, the next step in the multi stakeholder process that managed to raise the animal movement route infrastructure improvement to the top priorities of the government’s agenda. The ALCP is currently analyzing the benefits brought by the construction of Bio Security Points on the Animal Movement Route, and, according to its preliminary findings, the trend of more and more farmers preferring to use the newly constructed BSPs and sheep dips over privately-owned ones is clear. With the BSPs, farmers no longer need to buy medicine for sheep dipping, since it is provided free at the facilities. The process of sheep dipping is also easier now, the farmers have noted, since all the BSPs are designed with appropriate handling facilities for
large volumes of livestock, are equipped with fences, and no sheep is lost, or as in the case of private dips, stolen. At the same time, qualified vets are on hand to assist and provide guidance on sheep and cattle health issues. Further, perhaps most importantly, the BSPs tend to be financially beneficial for the farmers, as they don’t need to pay for additional personnel to help them with the dipping. Notwithstanding the fact that there are still a number of issues that need to be addressed, the BSP Project initiated and realized by the programme can be seen as a poweful example of successful stateprivate partnership and cooperation, using a systematic approach while identifying problems and showing readiness to solve them effectively. A Bio Security Department has been created at the The National Food Agency and the drafting of a Bio Security Strategy is underway. “The Bio Security Strategy will be a long term plan on what future steps from government should be undertaken. For now we’re working on ensuring that every Bio Security Point is functioning properly, we’re looking on their possible transmission to the private sector in the future”, Lasha Avaliani, Head of Veterinary Department at the National Food Agency told us, as he also pointed that the toxic waste disposal process is fully taken care of already. The number of BSPs (6) is relevant and capable to serve all nomadic farmers using the south & Kakheti part of AMR. The number of BSPs as well as the locations were identified and agreed by the international expert together with the Ministry of Agriculture and Georgian Shepherds Association
Welcome to Georgia! National Tourism Awards 2017- Tourism Conference
n June 14, the Second Tourism and Hospitality Conference, within the Welcome to Georgia! National Tourism Awards 2017, was held at the exhibition center Expo Georgia. The Conference was co-organized with the Georgian National Tourism Administration (GNTA) and was supported by the Ministry of Economy and Sustainable Development of Georgia and Tbilisi City
10 Galaktion Street
Hall. The event was opened with a press conference where the organizer and government representatives, Maryna Chayka, Co-Founder/CEO of Welcome to Georgia! National Tourism Awards; George Chogovadze - Head of the GNTA; Irakli Lekvinadze, Deputy Mayor of Tbilisi; Ivane Zhuzhunashvili, Partner at BDO Georgia; and Giorgi Arveladze, Deputy Director of Small and Medium Business Department at the Bank of Georgia spoke about
the importance of the Awards project within the field and also the development of the tourism industry in Georgia. The latest data of January-May 2017 illustrates that the number of international travelers equaled to 2,329.677 persons, 9.7% more than in the same period of 2016. Following the increase in demand, relevant sectors are also developing in Georgia. More specifically, over 170 new hotels opened during the past two years (an additional 3,223 beds). In 2017-2019,
Tel: (995 32) 2 45 08 08 E-mail: email@example.com
over 160 new tourist facilities are scheduled to be opened with more than 18,000 beds. After the Conference, participants had an opportunity to listen to presentations of the best service providers within the tourism and hospitality sector and find out the latest news within the industry. From June 14 through September 20, any Tourism and Hospitality Industry player from any region of Georgia can register on the Awards official website
(www.awardstourism.com), choosing a maximum of two categories that best reflect their business. The Welcome to Georgia! National Tourism Awards project has been held since 2015, with the main mission of the project being to encourage the tourism and hospitality industry in Georgia and promote awareness of the high-achieving tourism business and brands that create a positive image of the country worldwide.
The Delegation of the European Union to Georgia is searching for a property to be leased or purchased, to be used for office purposes
This property should meet the European Union's requirements, concerning quality of construction, space, security and location. It should comprise a lot with a stand-alone building located at a minimum distance of 15m. (ideally 20m.) from the perimeter of the lot, in particular from neighboring streets and surrounded by a boundary wall. The building's surface area should be between 1 700 and 1 900 m² and should consist of a maximum of 4 floors. The property should be situated within the city limits of Tbilisi. Its location should be easily accessible and consistent with the needs of representation and visibility of an important diplomatic mission. The required office space should be suitable for hosting around 60 members of staff either in individual offices or in shared offices and in open space in different combinations. It should also provide an adequate number of meeting rooms, one multi-purpose conference room of approximately 140 square meters, as well as archive spaces, storage rooms, server room, kitchenette and lavatories. Sufficient natural light is a pre-requisite for the offices; rooms without windows can only be foreseen for archiving, photocopying, etc. Energy-efficient, "green buildings" will be considered with preference. The total 1 700 – 1 900 square meters as indicated above should include corridors, entrance hall, reception area, and internal staircases but not parking spaces and areas entirely dedicated to technical equipment. A minimum 30 parking slots should be available within the perimeter boundary of the compound. The office space must be compliant with all local building standards and regulations, in particular in terms of occupational health & safety, fire prevention and anti-seismic construction codes. Compliance with EU standards or other international standards is a valuable asset. The overall quality of finishing as well as the technical and mechanical equipment facilities should be in line with EU or international standards. The office space should be available for occupation, after construction or fitting-out works completion, on 1 August 2019. Offers may include either: - Proposals from private constructors to develop, sell or lease a bespoke office facility to shelter the European Delegation - Proposals to rent or sell existing suitable buildings, including if in need of refurbishment. In case of rental, the building will stay the property of the owner, while the European Union will enter into a long-term agreement assumed to be for 10 to 20 years minimum, with an option to extend and/or even purchase at a further stage. Submitted proposals should provide: • A full description of the lot and/or the existing building • Spreadsheets of surfaces in square meters • Detailed information on the construction proposal • In case of a construction proposal, information on building company • Information on rental and sale conditions, including rental price per square meter. Proposals must be submitted: a. either by post or by courier not later than 16:00 on 20 June 2017 to the address indicated hereunder. b. or delivered by hand not later than 16.00 on 20 June 2017 to the address indicated hereunder For further information please liaise with the Delegation of the European Union to Georgia at DELEGATION-GEORGIA-HOA@ eeas.europa.eu Address of the Delegation of the European Union to Georgia: 38 Nino Chkheidze Street 0102 Tbilisi - Georgia Tel.: 995 294 37 63
JUNE 16 - 19, 2017
In Need of a Financial Hug: Gori Welfare & Development Center
BY NINO GUGUNISHVILI
hey help each other to enter the dining area, holding the door open, pushing the wheelchairs through, looking at me with interest as they greet me and smile at David Poppick, an American lawyer from New York who got involved in the Gori Welfare and Development Center after he came to Georgia as a Peace Corps volunteer and stayed in Gori. He’s been there for two years and is now moving on. David guides me through the day care center and I try to imagine becoming a part of it and to put into perspective my seemingly meaningless everyday worries. The organization was founded in 2001, first as a club for disabled persons which united 25 people using wheelchairs, then, with financial assistance through grants from Mercy Corps, and the Embassy of Japan in Georgia and the Government of Japan, they moved into a building where the day care center can now be found. The idea for a day center came after the 2008 August War when several refugee families with disabled children were taken in- at the time, the center served almost 200 children. Today they have 75 beneficiaries in Gori and also have a branch in Kareli with 15 children and 10 teachers. “We have various workshop studios where our children can learn professional skills according to their abilities; we have a sewing workshop with equipment bought by the German Embassy in Georgia, within the SIDA project framework, and deaf-mute girls had a chance to learn sewing there,” says a founder of the center, Tina Bregvadze. The Welfare and Development Center has 60 children studying in their organization and four special teachers- four groups of disabled youth from 6 to 18 years, and 15 children from age 18. Psychologists and speech therapists work with these children on a daily basis. “The center in Gori also has ceramic and enamel workshops, though the ceramics one is closed,” Tina tells me, as they don’t have enough financial means to pay the teacher’s salary. As we talk with the center director, I sense a tiny nuance of despair - not in her voice, no, she’s all joyful and energetic and smiling, and yet, as she talks about the many things done, it all appears somewhere in the past tense, like the empty, spacious ceramics workshop we later visit, with
the names of donors written on its walls. “Working with clay is very important, as it helps to develop small motor skills,” Tina says. The maximum number of attendees is 15 and the age limit is 18, meaning after that they are forced to stay at home. “Although there are 22 disabled people employed in the Shida Kartli region, the problem of employment for them remains critical,” Tamar Tavelidze, deputy of the center tells us. “It’s hard for people with disabilities to get an education. We’ve managed to send several of our beneficiaries to a professional college in Gori, but after graduating, they were unable to find employment and came back here to us. These children have no chance of a higher education, simply because, for example, our university in Gori is not adapted for people with special needs. Most of the classes are on the second floor and there are no ramps or adapted toilets. Even at school these children don’t get the education level they need to enter university. Although one of our students, Levan Makhatadze, is taking private classes and plans to do so,” Tamar said, adding that financing from their remaining partners- the Ministry of Health, and the local municipality – totals just 8 GEL per day per child. Specialized teachers get just 140 GEL per month and both Tina and Tamar are concerned that although they have wonderful, trained teachers at the center, it is difficult to attract new teachers for the mentioned sum, especially considering that the work is so challenging. “We’ve addressed the Ministry of Health asking for more funding and a higher quota,” Tina tells me. “Even if the financing of each child went up by just 3 GEL, that would already be something- we could at least afford to pay the bills, and have enough petrol for the buses that bring children to and from the day center. We hope things will change positively: we’re doing everything we can to meet the needs of these children”. Another founder, Zviad Zviadadze, who runs the enamel workshop and also works at the Gori municipality, like Tina Bregvadze is wheelchair-bound. Zviad tells me he’s been teaching small groups of students (seven per group) at the center and is now waiting for a new project to start. “The Welfare & Development Center director has applied for grants from several international organizations and we’re waiting for results,” he says. We asked David Poppick to tell his story. “In 1961, President Kennedy founded Peace Corps, and my brother served in a village in Turkey in late 1960s. Peace Corp is no longer in Turkey, but when I
graduated high school, I went with him to that village to see what it was all about.” Inspired, he later requested a sabbatical, leaving New York and his career in law and coming to Gori, back in 2015, to provide organizational guidance to the center, from how to draft the center’s new policy manual, helping them with grant applications and contractual relations, to providing ethnic tolerance training, and trainings in financial literacy and human rights issues at the Gantiadi college and daycare center. He also conducted trainings in employability skills, and worked as a member of the Peace Corps Georgia Gender Equality Committee for the other Peace Corps volunteers in Georgia. He collaborated with lawyers at Partnership for Human Rights and the Public Defender of Georgia Equality Committee about rights of persons with disabilities and gender equality to help them with their legal work in Georgia about those issues. “In the two years I’ve been here, it’s difficult for me to say I’ve witnessed change, but what I have seen is that there remains a tremendous amount that needs to be done to accommodate people with disabilities. There are thousands of people in Shida Kartli who need education and this organization can accommodate only fifty. Many are deprived from what the laws of this country state should be provided for those with disabilities,” David says. He then names education, employment, and accessibility as the three core principles that are essential to meet the needs of people with disabilities. David says coming to Georgia was no shock for him; on the contrary, he says, he “was well aware of the challenges ahead,” something completely different from what his life was like in the US. Now, returning back to New York, to his family and colleagues, he’ll cherish the memories of the people he met during these two years in Georgia. “The people I became friends with at work, socially, at home in Kareli gave me my favorite memories of Georgia,” David says. As we finalize the interview and my visit, David kindly offers to accompany me to the minibus stop. As we say our goodbyes, a young girl who I last saw in the center, comes up to us and, having been told by Tamar she loves to be hugged, get ready to do just that. But suddenly she dives down and ties up my shoe lace, only giving me a hug once I’m free from the risk of tripping. In the background are the screams and joyful shouts from children in a state school just around the corner. The children there are happy and secure. Their voices are heard. Lucky them.
GEORGIA TODAY JUNE 16 - 19, 2017
Bits & Pieces: Etseri, Svaneti BY TONY HANMER
nd now the News. As I have remarked recently on my personal Facebook page, May was the first month in over six years of both TLG volunteer teaching and writing for Georgia Today that my salary from the latter surpassed that from the former, which is 500 GEL/month. As my heart is much more in the writing than the teaching, this is good news for me as an indication of a career change! And as I already bowed out from TLG last September and wrote a farewell article, I’ll not repeat that. Meanwhile, my writing, usually accompanied by photographs, looks to be taking over as main earner for me, a prospect which I find thrilling. The words don’t stop, neither do the images, so I’ll give them free rein. The photo sums up this change in my life. Yesterday, a former mayor of our village and several other people parked some cars on the road outside our house and appeared to be having discussions about the land above us. I observed this from my position in the barn, in which I have begun a major cleaning operation, on which more later. They walked through our land and back again, greeted me, and moved on. My wife heard the news this morning that Mr Toyota for Georgia, who is from our village and has built himself a new house here and the community a new church, is gathering investors for a ski resort project up there. A similar rumor was responsible for the doubling of our
house price while we were considering it about six years ago, with President Saakashvili heading the experts’ and investors’ group that time. They left with a negative answer; the house price dropped considerably; and we bought. Since then I saw the President for the second time, and was able to ask him face to face if there was still anything in the cards skiing-wise for Etseri. He said yes, there certainly was, and he would see it done. Then he was forced out of his position democratically, left the country, and has not returned since. So, this new stage is intriguing, and we can only hope. It will bring huge change to the village, including the necessity of a great many more people learning English! Also, as the school years ends, I have had the opportunity to look over several higher-grade school students’ shoulders as they did online mock English exams in preparation for the real one. The amount of mistakes in the questions themselves was distressing to me. A 65-question paper copy of one of these mock exams gave up fully 13, or 20%, mistakes in the questions. This prompted me to email the Minister of Science and Education with my findings, and I am now waiting for a response. How can anyone trust that English exam results
are real and true with so many mistakes in the exams themselves! As for the barn… It’s time for the occasion, once every several years, to pry up the floorboards, now squelching over a full accumulation of cow manure runoff. Every morning I scrape and shovel up what is on top, and remove it via the little “glory hole” in the barn wall, to build up and eventually be spread on the field. But this underneath stuff only needs attention when the space it occupies is quite full and the animals’ liquid waste has nowhere to run away out of the barn, sorry to be so graphic. That’s what I was occupied with when the investors’ group came by, so I was in no position smellwise to meet and greet in a formal manner. But the news reached me anyway. And now, for this too, we wait with bated breath for a positive result.
basis and are very expensive. The disease is incurable, and sufferers need them in order not to develop deformations, not to become disabled, or chained to a wheelchair. However, the medication is almost unavailable for ordinary people. Thus, we founded the Union of Patients with Rheumatoid Arthritis and call on every institution which can stand beside us to get involved.” Rusudan Ediberidze, RA patient: “I was diagnosed when I was 23. It started to develop from the upper jaw joint; I believe that stress provoked the disease and I’ve been suffering for 20 years now. The form of RA is quite severe, the destruction, deformation and erosion of joints is developing and I already need surgical intervention. Despite continuous treatment, which hasn’t been interrupted at any stage, the desired results were not achieved. I believe that biomedication and alternative medicine are effective in the battle against the disease and experience has proved this”.
An online petition asking for increased availability of the biological medication for RA patients was published at the end of the event, addressed to the Ministry of Health, Labor and Social Affairs and the Tbilisi Assembly. RA patients wrote their wishes on a special banner displayed at the event. The Union of Patients with Rheumatoid Arthritis was founded in 2016, by which Georgia joined the World Rheumatoid Arthritis Day celebrated annually since 2012. The main goal of the organization is to increase public awareness of the disease; provide adequate treatment for patients resistant to standard therapy (those with particularly serious forms); communicate continuously with the Association of Rheumatology of Georgia, representative of pharmaceutical companies and other medical institutions to share and exchange diseaserelated news, methods and information about the latest medications.
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 1500 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
Living with Rheumatoid Arthritis: When Even the Little Things are Hard Continued from page 3
RA patients are unable to conduct such simple activities as for instance combing their hair, walking up stairs, cooking, etc. In developing countries, more than half of patients lose their job and sources of income just 10 years after diagnosis. RA patients may experience systematic complications like cardiovascular or lung diseases, osteoporosis, anemia etc. RA patients’ life span may decrease by 5-10 years. Early diagnosis and treatment hinders disease progression and prevents irrevocable damage to joints. However, unfortunately in Georgia, most of the diagnosed patients are unable to receive adequate treatment because of lack of financial stability for medication. Inga Mamuchishvili: “I’m a pediatrician and RA patient. I was diagnosed in 2011 and at the time thought my life was over, as even the easiest things seemed very difficult for me. I couldn’t even lift a glass with my hand, walk, or go to work, where about 20-25 children were waiting for me daily. I began treatment which proved completely fruitless. Yet when I started treatment with biological medication, the disease quickly moved into remission. These drugs are needed on a continuous
JUNE 16 - 19, 2017
How Close is Georgia to the West? OP-ED BY NUGZAR B. RUHADZE
est, Western, Westernization ... these phenomena are little by little turning into the ideals that this nation aspires to and cherishes. Why? Because most of the country thinks that being friendly with the West – Europe and America – might be a stronger guarantee for heightening our people’s standard of living, another reason being slightly imaginary – “the historical closeness of our culture and spirituality to Western ideals rather than Eastern” which doesn’t take into account the vividly expressed aloofness between the West and Georgia. Take for instance the faith: we are Christian orthodox, whereas the West is Catholic and Protestant in its majority, this being a huge difference. Based on this considerable difference, we vary in character, values, attitudes, mannerisms, spiritual standing and interpretation of life’s substantial issues in general. The Georgian polyphonic vocal culture has nothing to do with West. They can only envy us and learn from us in this particular respect, richly drawing from our national musical endowment; a Georgian folk song is something acutely outlandish for a Western ear and hardly understandable at first hearing, especially if that hearing takes place at an accidental Georgian table; a Westerner cannot be at home with Georgian folk singing and dancing at first sight – they need time to embrace it and, finally, to take it for granted. Talking about tables and feasts, our insistent hospitality and overdone attention to guests is also bothersome to the
Source: Gringo Tree
Western sense of privacy and individualism. Our habit of loud ensemble talking is also something strange for a person of Western upbringing. The time factor is brazenly ignored in our culture; a Westerner will never understand our proclivity to spend hours on end sitting at the table, eating and drinking interminably, notwithstanding the content of the occasion that brought us together. To comprehend this, one has to catch the impressed look on the face of a West-
erner who was incidentally taken to a funeral feast with hundreds of sitting and voraciously eating men and women at the sacred moment of the God-blessed communion. Pursuing the theme, now I can imagine a guesting-in-Georgia Westerner at our typical cemetery, lavishly loaded with ugly heavy marble slabs with paganish photo-embellished dark headstones, the dead watching the visitor with an inviting gaze. How about the chic country
houses in the vicinity of our capital city, surrounded by thick tall walls like castle enclosures in medieval times? A Western visitor to our parks and other recreational sites with that post-party garbage strewn around is a pathetic sight: a Westerner will never be able to put together our ancient culture and current habit of discarding trash in nature. Nor will they quite get how or why animal waste is to be found on every street corner, waiting for us to step in. This is all crowned with
our lunatic manner of driving – either very fast or very slow; the first question that occurs to an astounded Westerner’s mind is – where are all of them hurrying to so desperately, and even if they are in a hurry, why are they allowed to breach the traffic rules so unabashedly and right in front of the police? We could go endlessly on with the differences between Georgia and West: the purposeless education that has inflicted the entire nation; the full-grown kids living at home forever; female virginity still the subject of public discussion; businesses like those 65 non-remunerative television stations for only half a million stable viewership; the muchheard-of appalling standard of living and the restaurants still packed full of clientele; thousands of hideous unlikely structures in the yards of Tbilisi, constructed without any architectural plan or permit; noise, smog, dirt, impatience, misdemeanor, vain politicking, intolerance, and whatnot in that category. So much for the distance between us! But now for the closeness, if there is any: yes, we try to dress like they do in the West, but the dark color still prevails; yes, we are sort of prone to letting democracy in; we have also started to build some tolerance towards the homosexual model of behavior; Western sexual freedom is also to our liking; shop windows look like they do in the West, though the stores themselves may be devoid of a buyer, so triggering the question – how on earth do they keep running?; the service industry seems to be coming closer to Western standards; discos, modern music, television style, free travel, etc. can also be paralleled. Now the central question: Are we too far from or close enough to the West? We sure know the answer but we will never admit to it!
ASB Runs Earthquake Drill at Day Care Center BY KATIE RUTH DAVIES
n June 15, NGO ArbeiterSamariter-Bund (ASB) and the Emergency Management Department of the Ministry of Internal Affairs conducted an earthquake drill at Aisi Day Care Center for Children & Youth with Disabilities within the framework of the “We are ready! Disability Inclusive Disaster Risk Reduction Education for the Culture of Safety” project which is financed by the DirectorateGeneral for European Civil Protection
and Humanitarian Aid Operations. The main goal of the project is to introduce a learning course in target educational institutes and increase the capacity of DPOs and NGOs working on the problems of people with disabilities to ensure their active participation in disaster risk reduction issues. The program itself aims to increase communities' resilience and reduce their vulnerability. There are 60 young people and 20 staff members at the Aisi Day Care Center for Children & Youth with Disabilities where the earthquake drill was held. Various governmental and nongovernmental organizations were also
Matthias Wohlfeil, ASB Country Director, with Aisi children
in attendance at the event. GEORGIA TODAY heard from Nana Tsartsidze, Director of the Center, following the drill. “This event was all the children were talking about for the past month!” One of the “earthquake victims” during the drill, Dato, who was “evacuated” by the emergency team, is the head of a student self-government and told us
how much he had enjoyed the event. “I saw how happy the kids were and how nice everyone was to them. I’m planning to found my own daycare center just like this one,” he said. "It was a great learning experience to ensure preparedness, first of all, of course, for the teachers and children of the daycare center, and secondly for the rescue teams of the Emergency Man-
agement Agency who got very good practice on how to behave with children who might react differently than they are used to,” said Matthias Wohlfeil, ASB country director. Launched in 1996, the Disaster Preparedness ECHO program (DIPECHO) has been the core element of ECHO's DRR global efforts, in which it has thus far invested €325 million.
GEORGIA TODAY JUNE 16 - 19, 2017
30-Year-Old La Scala Baritone Premieres in Tbilisi INTERVIEW BY MAKA LOMADZE
orn in Zugdidi, Western Georgia, Mikheil Kiria is 30-yearold Baritone who has already conquered many of the world's stages. Georgia is proud of its outstanding voices scattered around the world. Having graduated from Tbilisi State Conservatoire and later La Scala, Mikheil is a follower of the Andghuladze musical family school. On June 14, he sang in Donizzetti’s “L’Elisir D’Amore” at Tbilisi Opera and Ballet Theater, staged on the basis of paintings by legendary figurative artist Fernando Botero. Kiria’s debut in the same musical masterpiece took place very recently, at Deutsche Oper Berlin, where he sang with legendary Roberto Alagna and Aleksandra Kurzak the same part of Dulcamara, for which he recived positive media critique: “Mikheil Kiria deserves a special mention. He performed his part magnificently. His comic talent effectively merges with his ample, deep, rich bass. This unique unity was a real festival for the audience,” wrote Renate Dahms. “There was another sparkling star – Mikheil Kiria – too as a merchant doctor Dulcamara. He presented himself to the listeners not only as a great bass but also by offering an ideal performance due to his perfect means of expressions,” Magdalena Grzybowska wrote. "Mikheil Kiria was a terrific Dulcamara,
mixing clean articulation with a bright, lively baritone," Hugo Shirley wrote on his blog. Besides Berlin Deutsche Oper, he is an invited soloist at the Amsterdam National Opera, Frankfurt Opera, Glyndebourne Festival Opera, Verona Philharmonic Theater, Festival Verdi di Parma, Paris Chatelet Theater, and others. In 2014, at the International Vocal Competition in Brescia, Michele Nocciola conferred him the Maria Callas special prize for best interpretation. GEORGIA TODAY is proud to have him in Tbilisi and took the chance to meet him.
HOW ARE YOU FEELING PRIOR TO YOUR PERFORMANCE IN TBILISI? I've performed a couple of times with the conductor Nika Rachveli, but I'll be singing the whole performance for the first time, in this splendid performance by Botero in Tbilisi. In Milan Gallery, there is a very famous salon on the left, where paintings of different painters are displayed. There is one of Fernando Botero’s paintings that I cannot forget: a plump ballerina, and I thought that I had found my spouse (joking). By saying this, I imply how memorable Botero’s paintings are. The performance itself as interesting as it is dynamic. The opera buffa (comic opera) usually requires a lot of motion, which is very difficult. Besides the physical movement, Donizzetti’s personages are very lively. I would like to extend my gratitude to the administration of Tbilisi State Opera Theater, to everyone who enabled us to
participate in such a marvelous performance in Tbilisi. Special thanks to Badri Maisuradze, the artistic director. We, Georgians are not indulged with such operas, as usually the Georgian audience attends only performances of Opera Seria (serious opera). Therefore, it is a very interesting and I would like to wish the opera authorities a lot of success in this direction. As for my disposition, I can tell you that I hear a lot of my colleagues saying that they are very nervous before performing in Tbilisi. Just the contrary, I feel very positive. I'm sure that my audience will like us because we all do our best. I'm fond of performances rather than concerts, as I like everything that it consists of – make-up, direction, costume, light, stage – all these components give a singer a lot. Plus, it was my dream to perform here as it is my native stage.
YOU MENTIONED BOTERO. HOW IMPORTANT IS THE AESTHETIC SIDE OF THE PERFORMANCE FOR YOU? It really matters. Opera today differs from the opera that existed some 40-50 years ago. In those days, the only thing that mattered was vocal capacity. Nowadays, opera comprises multiple realms of art. Today, directors are much more important. Opera is much more visual than it used to be. It is no longer centered on a singer. Modern performances cheer up the audience. High spirits make opera theaters sell more tickets!
WHAT CAN YOU SAY
Photo by Guram Muradov
ABOUT THE CHARACTER OF DULCAMARA? I first sang it on May 23, at Deutsche Oper Berlin. I sang with Roberto Alagna and Aleksandra Kurzak, a performance that I'll never forget. This was a special day for me – to sing with legend Alagna and his spouse Aleksandra, who is a great singer and a fantastic partner on stage.
TELL US ABOUT THE GEORGIANS YOU'LL BE SINGING WITH ON JUNE 14 Besides the artists leading international careers, there are novices, too. Some of them are even students. The opera theater gives them a lot of opportunities. When I was starting, we were experiencing hard times, as the opera was closed and we were scattered throughout different halls of Tbilisi. I went to La Scala Acad-
emy, having no experience at Tbilisi Opera Theater. That is where my debut took place, in the opera by Richard Strauss “The Woman without Shadow”. Therefore, the performance of June 14 is really important for me. Since my debut, I have sung 29 performances on the La Scala stage. Now, my calendar is full until 2020.
WHAT ARE YOUR PLANS FOR THE FUTURE? On October 15, I'll sing the most important part for me –Verdi’s Falstaf, written on the basis of Shakespeare’s comedy at the Verdi Festival. It is a paramount part for a Baritone. Falstaf requires physical strength as well as corresponding voice and technique. Therefore, I'm happy to be given an opportunity to present myself in Parma in front of a critical but correct audience.
JUNE 16 - 19, 2017
WHAT’S ON IN TBILISI THEATER
TBILISI ZAKARIA PALIASHVILI OPERA AND BALLET THEATER Address: 25 Rustaveli Ave. Telephone: 2 99 04 56 June 17 LIZA BATIASHVILI & NIKOLOZ RACHVELI Lisa Batiashivili (violin), Gautier Capuçon (cello) Georgian Philharmonic Orchestra Conductor- Nikoloz Rachveli Start time: 21:00 Ticket: 15-100 GEL June 21 LAURENCIA Premiere Two-act ballet A. Krein Choreography by V.Chabukiani (Choreographical redaction and staging by Nina Ananiashvili). Soloists on July-21– Lali Kandelaki (State Ballet of Georgia), Lasha Khozashvili (Boston Ballet, USA) Soloists on July 23– Nutsa Chekurashvili, Yonen Takano (State Ballet of Georgia) Soloists on June 25– Nino Samadashvili, Frank Van Tongeren (State Ballet of Georgia) Start time: 19:00 Ticket: 10-70 GEL SHALIKASHVILI THEATER June 17 SHALIKASHVILI FESTIVAL'S OPENING Pantomime Theater Music Band, Anuka Murvanidze body art and Performance, 4 live DJ performances and 2 Dj sets, DJ Live- Justus Kohncke Start time: 21:00 Ticket: 20 GEL Venue: 9th April Park June 18 THE KNIGHT IN THE PANTHER'S SKIN Start time: 21:00 Ticket: 25 GEL Venue: 9th April Park June 19 THE WISHING TREE Start time: 21:00 Ticket: 15 GEL Venue: 9th April Park
June 20 AL VOLTANT Start time: 21:00 Ticket: 15 GEL Venue: 9th April Park MOVEMENT THEATER Address: 182, Aghmashenebeli Ave., Mushthaid park Telephone: 599 555 260 June 16 THE TEMPEST William Shakespeare Directed by Kakha Bakuradze Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 15 GEL June 18 PARADISO Directed by Irakli Khoshtaria Start time: 21:00 Ticket: 10 GEL GABRIADZE THEATER Address: 13 Shavtelis St. Telephone: 2 98 65 93 June 16, 17, 22 MARSHAL DE FANTIE’S DIAMOND Rezo Gabriadze Directed by Rezo Gabriadze English Subtitles Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 10, 15, 20 GEL June 18 STALINGRAD Rezo Gabriadze Directed by Rezo Gabriadze English Subtitles Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 10, 15, 20 GEL CINEMA
AMIRANI CINEMA Address: 36 Kostava Str. Telephone: 2 99 99 55 www.kinoafisha.ge Every Wednesday ticket price: 5 Lari June 16-22 THE MUMMY Directed by Alex Kurtzman Cast: Tom Cruise, Sofia Boutella, Annabelle Wallis Genre: Action, Adventure, Fantasy Language: Russian Start time: 19:30, 22:00 Ticket: 9-14 GEL MANIFESTO Directed by Julian Rosefeldt
Cast: Cate Blanchett, Erika Bauer, Ruby Bustamante Genre: Drama Language: English, Russian Subtitles Start time: 22:10 Ticket: 11-14 GEL WONDER WOMAN Directed by Patty Jenkins Cast: Gal Gadot, David Thewlis, Robin Wright Genre: Action, Adventure, Fantasy Language: Russian Start time: 16:00 Ticket: 10-11 GEL PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: DEAD MEN TELL NO TALES Directed by Joachim Rønning, Espen Sandberg Cast: Johnny Depp, Geoffrey Rush, Javier Bardem Genre: Action, Adventure, Comedy Language: Russian Start time: 13:00, 19:10 Ticket: 9-14 GEL CARS 3 Directed by Brian Fee Cast: Armie Hammer, Nathan Fillion, Kerry Washington Genre: Animation, Adventure, Comedy Language: Russian Start time: 11:45, 14:30, 22:15 Ticket: 8-14 GEL RUSTAVELI CINEMA Address: 5 Rustaveli Ave. Telephone: 2 55 50 00 www.kinoafisha.ge Every Wednesday ticket: 5 GEL June 16-22 CARS 3 (Info Above) Start time: 12:00, 12:4514:35, 17:15 Ticket: 8-14 GEL BAYWATCH Directed by Seth Gordon Cast: Dwayne Johnson, Zac Efron, Alexandra Daddario, Kelly Rohrbach, Priyanka Chopra Genre: Action, Comedy, Drama Language: Russian Start time: 11:45 Ticket: 8-9 GEL THE MUMMY (Info Above) Language: Russian Start time: 22:30 Ticket: 9-14 GEL
WONDER WOMAN (Info Above) Start time: 13:35, 16:35 Ticket: 13-14 GEL PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: DEAD MEN TELL NO TALES (Info Above) Start time: 22:10 Ticket: 9-14 GEL MUSEUM
GEORGIAN NATIONAL MUSEUM SIMON JANASHIA MUSEUM Address: 4 Rustaveli Ave. Telephone: 2 99 80 22, 2 93 48 21 www.museum.ge PERMANENT EXHIBITION: GEORGIAN ARCHAEOLOGY FROM 8TH MILLENNIUM B.C. TO THE 4TH CENTURY A.D EXHIBITION OF GEORGIAN WEAPONRY NUMISMATIC TREASURY The exhibition showcases money circulation on the territory of Georgia from the 6th century BC. to 1834. THE TESTAMENT OF DAVID THE BUILDER AND NEW EXHIBITS OF THE MEDIEVAL TREASURY September 27 (2016) – September 22 (2017) EXHIBITION STONE AGE GEORGIA May 18- November 18 EXHIBITION GEORGIAN COSTUME AND WEAPONRY OF 18TH-20TH CENTURIES MUSEUM OF FINE ARTS Address: 1 Gudiashvili Str. March 6 – August 30 EXHIBITION MASTERPIECES FROM THE MUSEUM OF FINE ARTS COLLECTION The exhibition includes works by Bernardo Daddi, Lucas Cranach (Elder), Guido Reni, Jan Steen, Jacob Van Ruisdael, Auguste Rodin, Pablo Picasso, Vassily Kandinski; Masterpieces by Niko Pirosmanashvili, Lado Gudiashvili and David Kakabadze.
THE NATIONAL GALLERY Address: 11 Rustaveli Ave. www.museum.ge June 8 – September 11 EXHIBITION CONSTELLATION Artworks by Chinese contemporary artists- Ai Weiwei, Hu Xiaoyuan, Li Shurui, Liu Wei, Lu Pingyuan, Lu Shanchuan, Ma Qiusha, Wang Guangle, Wang Sishun, Wang Yuyang, Xie Molin, Xu Qu, Xu Zhen, Yan Xing, Zhang Ding, Zhang Zhenyu, Zhao Yao and Zhao Zhao. MUSIC
TBILISI OPEN AIR 2017 June 16 Main Stage: Anathema, Sevdaliza, Backwarmer, Psychonaut 4, დაგდაგანი Golden Stage/Day: Nino Katamadze & Insight Golden Stage/Night: Ripperton, Bacho, Cobert, Kozmana Zion Garden: Eldario Bhanishta, Space Teriyaki, Dimitree, Marcuss, Tabu, Additivv, Noxiron Start time: 15:00 Ticket: 60 GEL June 17 Main Stage: Leningrad, Soft Eject, LOUDspeakers, Eko & Vinda Folio, არა Golden Stage / Day: Friendly Mosquito, Bedford Falls, Windshield, Newcomer 2017 Golden Stage / Night: Alex.Do, Greenbeam & Leon, Sevda, Iazikzazubami (Live) Zion Garden: Psysex, Go2Sky, Never The Same, Meno, Infest, Kaya Matu. Special Guest Start time: 15:00 Ticket: 60 GEL June 18 Main Stage: Archive, Young Georgian Lolitaz, Kung Fu Junkie, The Black Marrows Golden Stage Day: Moku Moku, SF-X, Sexy Bicycle, Newcomer 2017 Golden Stage Night: Oxia, Vako T, Wiedmak, Newcomer 2017 Zion Garden: Arjun Apu, Amrit Pavan, Dj Goblin, Oogway, Psyrati, Katana, Catdrop Start time: 15:00 Ticket: 60 GEL SOU 2017 SOU 2017 - another sea / სხვა ზღვა SOU stands for Stream of Unconsciousness: music which shifts us from daily conscious to impenetrable sonic field. June 17 ZEENA PARKINS Start time: 22:00 Ticket: 10-50 GEL Venue: Conservatoire, Grand Hall June 21 ROBERT HENKE - LUMIÈRE III Start time: 22:00 Ticket: 10-50 GEL Venue: Tbilisi Concert Hall BILISI STATE CONSERVATOIRE Address: 8 Griboedov St. Telephone: 2 93 46 24 June 16 CLASSICAL MUSIC EVENING International Summer Academy of Music Start time: 19:00 Ticket: 5-15 GEL MTKVARZE Address: N. Baratashvili Left Bank Telephone: 599 19 33 44 June 22 REY & KJAVIK Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 20 GEL
GEORGIA TODAY JUNE 16 - 19, 2017
Katy Perry Wears Georgian
BY NINO GUGUNISHVILI
opular American singer-songwriter Katy Perry was spotted in a silver outfit by the Georgian clothing brand Mach & Mach from their latest fall/winter 2017/2018 collection. Perry wore the bejewelled number during her Witness Tour in Amsterdam. Created by sisters Gvantsa and Nina Macharashvili, Mach & Mach produces footwear, bridal dresses, and clothing.
Source: Kempton Express
Last CineClub Screening of Season: Blind Dates
BY DAVID MONGAZON
A scene from Blind Dates
n the June 26 at 7pm, Amirani cinema is to screen Blind Dates. It is directed by Levan Koguashvili who will attend the screening and remain afterwards to answer your questions.
Released in 2013, the 90-minute film Blind Dates tells the story of 40-year-old Sandro, who works as a history teacher at school. Sandro is unmarried and still lives with his parents. He takes a fancy to Manana, who works at a beauty salon and is the mother of one of Sandro’s pupils. Manana returns his admiration but just as their love affair is about to begin, Sandro finds out that Manana has a husband in prison.
FESTIVALS & AWARDS: Toronto International Film Festival World Premiere Tokyo International Film Festival Palm SPRING International Film Festival Us premiere
Berlinale 2014 European Premiere - section forum. Abu Dhabi International Film Festival Special Jury award Sofia International Film Festival Best Film, Best director, FIPRESCI award. Vilnius IFF Best director Lecce Festival of European Cinema Golden Olive Tree for Best Film
NICEF Georgia this week revealed the production of a movie called ‘Negative Numbers’ about the rehabilitation of teenagers in prison through sport. The shooting is to begin in September at the old Tbilisi state prison and has been financed by the Georgian National Film Center and by French and UK producers. “Negative Numbers” is based on the true story of a juvenile detention center in Tbilisi where two ex-professional rugby players took up the challenge to help these young offenders by bringing rugby into the center. In the film, a young prisoner is instructed by his brother to start a riot inside the center, as it destroys the chances of the young people playing their first rugby match, which would lead to more games outside the prison. This dilemma between loyalty to his brother and rugby, as an allegory for liberty, makes the young Nica change his mentality, because the riot would make it impossible for the team to win the game, the precondition before playing outside. The experience that inspired the movie was set up in 2011 with the initiative of UNICEF together with the Ministry of Corrections and the Georgian Rugby Union. It involved two Georgian professional players, Nodar Andguladze and Lexo Gugava, helping 60 young offenders aged between 14 and 18 years old to reintegrate into society by giving them rugby lessons and sharing experiences. “There can be different solutions for these children. Putting them in prison is one, but it is the worst,” explained Renate Winter, Chair of the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, adding that school can be another solution.
However, a restorative approach by sport enables the teaching of common values like respect and solidarity. Sport puts the children constantly inside a team, where everybody is equally responsible and shares the same values. “A team is like one fist,” said Lexo Gugava, explaining that goals, successes and mistakes are not the responsibility of an individual, but of the whole team. Even if they lose, they have to congratulate the other team. Accepting the rules can be difficult for children that have long been outside the law. “Sport, and especially rugby, is a very powerful vector for them to understand responsibility and respect, because it emphasizes the importance of others,” explains Nodar Andguladze. Besides, Rugby has a special place in Georgian society and many of the children continued playing rugby after they left the establishment. What the organizers of the program insist on is that these children were not wrong at all, that they were talented people who simply needed help to get back on the right track. Too long neglected by adults, this ignorance crushed them somehow while traveling their life path. Within this experience they had the possibility to express and share their problems, which was also lived as a deep human experience for the two professional players. It is this experience UNICEF wants to promote in the movie they are supporting. Indeed, many children in Georgia would benefit from such alternative solutions and the organization hopes the film will inspire the government and NGOs to set up experiences in the same design. Beside this, UNICEF still strongly supports a revision to the legislation to bring children’s rights in line with international standards, offering an improved environment for children in the justice system, the development of specialized justice professionals and the education of children in conflict with the law.
Screenplay: Boris Fruminin, Levan Koguashvili DOP: Tato Kotetishvili Producer: Levan Koguashvili, Suliko Tsulikidze, Olena Yrshova Cast: Andro Sakvarelidze, Archil Kikodze, Ia Sukhitasvhili, Marika Antadze, Vakho Chachanidze, Kakhi Kavsadze, Marina Kartsivadze Production: Kino Iberika, Millimeter Film
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Rugby & Rehabilitation: UNICEF Announces Upcoming Film on Child Prisoners
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