October 16 - 22, 2015
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Georgia Today 24 p.
IN THIS WEEK’S ISSUE
The Ne w Silk New Road Chain Is Onl y as Str ong as Only Strong Its Weak est Link P.4 eakest
Thr ea or Geor gia? hrea eatt ffor Georgia?
Tbilisi J azz Jazz Festi val and its estiv Anticipa ted Star s Anticipated Stars The line up this year is better than ever. Find out more P.19 inside.
Azerbaijan seeks answers while Georgian security and energy experts claim potential Gazprom deal is Russia’s attempt at increasing economic and political influence in Georgia. P.2
CERN in Geor gia: R eality Georgia: Reality or J ust Another Dr eam? Just Dream? In an attempt to turn Georgia into the next technological powerhouse, Georgian Dream has initiated a EURO 500 mln joint project with CERN. But could it be nothing more than pre-election PR?
Dec her oint: Decher hertt OnP OnPoint: Sta tus of Business Status Oper ator s in the Opera tors Food/Be ver age ood/Bev era P.8 Sector NDI’ sP oll R eveals NDI’s Poll Re Faults in Local Go ver nments Gov ernments Emergency Services Public Service Halls X Public Transport X Roads X Communication with Local Government
Ne w Nor dic New Nordic Fashion Exhibition Ca pti vates Capti ptiv P.17 Geor gians Georgians
OCTOBER 16 - 22
Gazpr om Deal: Gazprom Na tional Security National Thr ea or Geor gia? hrea eatt ffor Georgia?
Gazprom and Russian flags. Source: www.lngworldnews.com
By Zviad Adzinbaia On October 17, Journal Tabula announced a protest action against Gazprom’s possible entrance into the Georgian energy market. Russia’s energy giant is believed to be attempting to re-enter Georgia and is said by some to be a non-trivial tool for the Russian government to manage political processes on the ground. Gazprom representatives reportedly claimed that meetings between the Georgian side and the company are held on a regular basis and a new meeting is planned for the near future. They added that the main topics to be discussed at the future meeting will become clear later. While Kakha Kaladze, Georgian Energy Minister, says he held talks with Gazprom about the transit of natural gas through Georgia, as well as the import of Russian natural gas for commercial operators, it has become apparent that talks between the Russian company and the Energy Minister are underway regarding supply of natural gas to Georgia as well as increasing the volume of Russian gas supply to Armenia via Georgia. The news came as a surprise for Azerbaijan, currently the major supplier of oil and gas resources to Georgia, who immediately invited the Georgian Prime Minister to Baku to meet the Azerbaijani President on October 10th. It has since been suggested that the President of Azerbaijan, Ilham Aliyev, is set to visit Georgia on November 6th. The Georgian Energy Minister was not included in the delegation- the reason being that this was a private meeting between the PM and his Azeri counterpart. Free Democrats leader, former Minister of Defense Irakli Alasania, criticized the visit of the PM to Azerbaijan. “It’s a shame that the Head of the Government of Georgia has to go to neighboring countries like a little boy in order to correct the things spoiled a few days earlier,” Alasania said. Commenting on Georgia’s non-transparent negotiations with the Russian energy giant Gazprom, Alasania said that “the steps taken by the government in terms of secret talks on energy issues and in particular with Gazprom, would naturally cause confusion and questions with strategic partners.” According to Alasania, “it is a shame that [they] escalated relations with our strategic partner, Azerbaijan.” Alasania believes there is little state interest behind the Gazprom deal, which “focuses on more politicized and expensive Russian gas. Therefore, this is another example of how this government is harming our national security with its
incompetence, imprudence and intended personal interests.” The potential deal with Gazprom has been criticized by Georgian security and energy experts who claim the Russian company represents the government’s proxy organization to increase economic and political influence in Georgia. Georgian media as well as socialmedia active members of the public assume that Georgian billionaire, former PM Bidzina Ivanishvili, who reportedly possesses significant shares in Gazprom, is privately interested in the signing of the deal. Ivanishvili, who is believed to be ruling the country from backstage, has released not official comment on this topic. Energy Minister Kaladze says: “Any developed country thinks of diversification of its energy sources and here I mean not only import of additional volume from Russia. We are actively working with Iran, as we see today that there is a real opportunity for Georgia to become a transit country due to our geopolitical location.” Analysis, Zviad Adzinbaia, Georgia Today: Georgia would do well to remember her exemplary lessons from early relations with Gazprom and her energy overreliance on Russia, when, in the winter of 2006, the Russian company left Georgian citizens without gas. The thenPresident Saakashvili called the Russian action “a political price” and the ruling government found itself in extreme circumstances in finding an alternative source- Iran. Georgia, like many European countries, suddenly realized that immediate diversification of its energy sector was necessary to secure the future of the country. Soon after, Azerbaijan began supplying Georgia with oil and gas. Not only did Azerbaijan prove itself a reliable partner for Georgia, but new energy transit projects have since been initiated and launched by both sides, including construction of the Baku-Tbilisi-Kars railroad, which joins Europe’s central railway chain. Even a nascent expert would conclude that dependence on energy from Russia partly equals conceding Georgia’s security and national interests. In fact, Russia has not only occupied 20 percent of Georgia’s sovereign territory, but also incorporates its economic and energy tools against the country to reverse her from her chosen European course. What should be done? It can at least be assumed that Georgia is under no need of Russian gas resources unless there are some non-transparent political and economic interests from certain parties.
CERN in Geor gia: R eality or J ust Another Dr eam? Georgia: Reality Just Dream? By George Surguladze In an attempt to turn Georgia into the next technological powerhouse, its former Prime Minister and arguably its most powerful man, billionaire Bidzina Ivanishvili, initiated the development of a ˆ500 million joint project together with CERN and other international scientific institutions. The Georgian Government and the Cartu-International Charity Foundation will partner with CERN (the European Organization for Nuclear Research), CNAO (Italy’s National Center of Oncological Hadron Therapy) and INFN (the National Institute of Nuclear Physics), to develop the Science and Education Center for Modern Technology Development, which is to be located in Georgia’s capital city, Tbilisi. The center will be headed by physicist Giorgi Dvali, a professor of physics at New York University and LMU Munich, and the director of the Max Planck Institute for Physics. Prime Minister of Georgia, Irakli Garibashvili said the center would be one of five in the world of this magnitude. “This is truly a revolutionary project. It will be very important for the development of the science sector in Georgia. I would like to emphasize that the project will attract young scientists and researchers, giving them a unique development opportunity,” the Georgian PM said. The ruling political party, Georgian Dream, has been pushing the innovation agenda. Last year they set up the Georgian Innovation and Technology Agency (GITA), which, among others, organized several hack-a-thons, supported the creation of several Fablabs, and is planning the development of a science and technology park. They have also been successful in attracting innovative investors to base their businesses in Georgia, such as the Bitcoin Blockchain infrastructure provider, BitFury. The initial steps towards a Georgian
An interior view of a particle detector on the CMS (Compact Muon Solenoid) experiment at the Large Hadron Collider. CMS/Cern
tech revolution were first taken by former Georgian President, Mikheil Saakashvili, whose vision encompassed the creation of a Georgian Silicon Valley. “The Saakashvili government was brimming with ideas. Some of these ideas were harebrained, but others also proved remarkably successful and even visionary,” said Hans Gutbrod, head of the think tank Transparify. Examples of the United National Movement’s (UNM) innovational drive, are the domestically produced drone by the Ministry of Defense in 2012, the technology university planned in Batumi, and the creation of a whole new city, Lazika, on Georgia’s Black Sea coast. Although the development of the science center would be significant, critics believe it’s nothing more than a publicity stunt to gain the favor of voters for the upcoming elections. A journalist, who wishes to remain anonymous, told Georgia Today: “It sounds like Ivanishvili just invited some scientists over for dinner.” Skeptics doubt that the center will actually be built. Dvali, who will head the new center, is also under fire, as he supposedly decided to become affiliated with Ivanishvili’s project only after failing to
receive tenure at Chicago or Munich Universities. Dvali is also rumored to be connected, through his brother, to Ivanishvili’s attempt to overtake television broadcaster Rustavi 2. However, the current government hopes that this project will improve the current economic situation in the country, and advance its technological capabilities. Ivanishvili, who is said to have introduced the idea, has supported a number of similar initiatives since his resignation as Prime Minister. “I promise that for at least the next twenty years, I will put my energy, knowledge and experience into the service of getting my homeland on its feet. I will support any government which will serve the people,” Ivanishvili said. The project was announced subsequent to a meeting chaired by PM Garibashvili, in which the parties signed a protocol detailing the development of the project. However, critics may be correct in fearing that the project is nothing more than a PR campaign, as none of the partner organizations have any mention of the project on their respective websites. This reporter tried to contact the main financier of the project, Bidzina Ivanishvili’s Cartu International Charity Foundation, for comment. Unfortunately, they could not be reached.
NDI’ sP oll R eveals F aults in Local Go ver nments NDI’s Poll Re Faults Gov ernments By Eka Karsaulidze After two wild scale polls regarding economic, social and political issues, the National Democratic Institute (NDI) in partnership with CRRC Georgia and Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA) presented research related to Georgian’s communication with Local Governments. The poll shows that living conditions have not improving at local level, but people are quite satisfied with the services of public institutions and named roads, water and gas supplies and pollution of environment as the most important infrastructural issues. This is the first survey released by NDI Georgia that focused largely on local government issues. The survey polled 4,448 people across Georgia and included a representative sample for the self-governing cities of Tbilisi, Kutaisi, Batumi, Zugdidi, Gori, Telavi, Akhaltsikhe, Ozurgeti, Mtskheta and of the Gurjaani municipality. According to Laura Thornton, NDI’s senior director in Georgia, they communicated with representatives of Local Governments, Local Councils (Sakrebulos) and City Halls to capture the most relevant information to foster the development of responsive policies and governance. However, the poll’s results show that communication itself between Local Government and citizens is very poor. Only 6% of Georgians report having ever been contacted by Sakrebulo officials, 3% by mayors’ offices, and 1% by governors’ offices. Knowledge of the work of these offices was also low, with approximately 60% of citizens reporting that they knew “nothing at all” and 83% unable to iden-
tify their Sakrebulo majoritarian member. Citizen participation in public events, petitions and rallies is also low. As previous polls have shown, Georgians still believe their living conditions have stayed the same (47%) or worsened (43%) over the last year. More than a half of the population consider themselves as unemployed and the statistics have not really changed since 2010. Despite this fact, about 80% of Georgians think that their city or village is a safe place to live and raise children. They named land farming (51%), tourism (43%) and livestock (41%) as the top three economic development opportunities in the country. People are satisfied with the performances of the emergency medical services (66%) and Public Service Halls (56%), but named roads, water and gas supplies and pollution of the environment as the most important infrastructural issues in Georgia. Tbilisi citizens highlighted the importance of pollution of environment, parks and green spaces and clean streets. NDI’s poll also showed a different picture regarding public transport in Tbilisi and other regions. Georgians in the regions see the only disadvantage of public transport being a lack of adaptability for the disabled, while people who live in the capital add the cost policy, sanitary conditions, space available and safety concerns to their list of dislikes. 68% of Georgians think that it is necessary to introduce technical inspections for cars. For the first time, Tbilisi citizens were asked their opinion about the Panorama Tbilisi Project, where 41% disapproved and 32% approved. Most citizens are against large residential and
business complexes in Vere gorge (72%). In addition, 71% of Georgian think it would be better to bring the Parliament of Georgia back to Tbilisi. “As previous polls have shown, Georgians are concerned about employment, living conditions, and the economic growth of their communities and would like to see improvements in basic infrastructure and a cleaner environment, especially in Tbilisi,” said Laura Thornton, NDI’s senior director in Georgia. “Across the country, there is minimal communication between citizens and their elected representatives but when such interaction takes place, citizens report positively. I think it is an important opportunity and incentive for local government officials to get out and talk to people more about what they are doing and to solicit public input,” she added. The results reflect data collected from August 8 to September 10 through face-to-face interviews with a nationwide representative sample of citizens of Georgia. According to Koba Turmanidze, representative of CRRC Georgia, the average margin of error is +/- 3.01 percent. Soon NDI will be ready to present the results of a poll covering foreign policy and political party support related issues.
OCTOBER 16 - 22
The ISET Policy Institute (ISET-PI, www.iset-pi.ge) is an independent think-tank associated with the International School of Economics at TSU (ISET). Our blog carries economic analysis of current events and policies in Georgia and the South Caucasus region ranging from agriculture, to economic growth, energy, labor markets and the nexus of economics, culture and religion. Thought-provoking and fun to read, our blog posts are written by international faculty teaching at ISET and recent graduates representing the new generation of Georgian, Azerbaijani and Armenian economists.
The New Silk Road Chain Is Only as Strong as Its Weakest Link By Yaroslava Babych, Lasha Labadze, and Eric Livny Speaking at the opening of the Tbilisi Silk Road Forum, Georgia’s new Minister of Foreign Affairs Giorgi Kvirikashvili evoked electric circuitry as a metaphor to describe the future or rail and road connections between Europe and Asia. A graduate of the prestigious math and physics Komarov School, Kvirikashvili explained that that a sequential circuit – a simple chain – crucially depends on each and every one of its links. A parallel circuit, on the other hand, allows to redirect electricity flows (or cargo and passengers) through alternative routes. The vision for the New Silk Road, as expounded by all speakers in the forum, is one of parallel circuitry, creating a healthy competition between alternative providers of transport infrastructure and logistics services along the route. Countries that will do well in this competition, will attract greater volumes of traffic and related investment. Countries that will create bottlenecks along the way, will be bypassed. Georgia is the first country to host the Silk Road Forum outside China, and for a reason. Georgia’s strategic location, the free trade agreements it possesses with Europe, Turkey and the CIS, as well as its open, safe and corruptionfree business environment make it an attractive investment destination for Azeri, Kazakh, or Chinese companies seeking to ship their products to Europe (and vice versa). Yet, to efficiently service increasing volumes of international cargo, Georgia is required to make very significant additional investment in the development (and maintenance) of its transport infrastructure. THE ROADS WE FIX Georgia’s East West Highway (EWH) is a small but significant piece of the New Silk Road initiative, which is crucially important not only for other (landlocked) countries in the region, but also for Georgia itself. It connects
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Georgia’s sea ports and resorts in the west and Georgia’s main population centers, as well as its industry and agriculture in the east. Georgia relies on this road for internal communication, for exports and imports, and for the movement of tourists. According to a series of World Bank feasibility studies, the first one of which was conducted in 2008, the EWH carries over 60 percent of total foreign trade and is a central piece in the Government’s strategy of transforming Georgia into a transport and logistics hub. It runs from the Red Bridge at the Azerbaijani Border to the Poti Port on the Black Sea coast for around 392 kilometers—about 2% of Georgia’s total road length, and slightly less than a quarter of its international road network. At present, it carries about 7,800 vehicles per day; and this figure grows at about 7% per annum. A major reconstruction/rehabilitation effort started in 2006, and has remained a top government priority ever since. Yet, only 30% of the road had been thoroughly upgraded thus far. Progress has been slow because this $2.3bn project is primarily financed by loans from international financial institutions and development banks such as ADB, JICA, WB, and EIB. Instead of working in parallel on the entire length of the road, the Georgian government’s preferred approach was to borrow and build sequentially. While the various feasibility studies estimate the direct economic costs and benefits of this ambitious project, they do not consider the broader social and economic impacts since these are difficult to incorporate in the standard costbenefit analysis framework. Accomplishing this feat was a task ISET-PI was commissioned to do by the World Bank in 2015. THE BENEFITS WE REAP Our estimation focused on the economy-wide effects of investment in EWH. To do so, we constructed a socalled Computable General Equilibrium
(CGE) model, which captures the impact of transport on all other sectors of the economy, be it tourism, manufacturing or agriculture. According to our calculations, once the road is fully upgraded, savings on vehicle operating costs and time during a year would total about $97mln and $194 mln, respectively. These direct benefits alone add up to more than $3.1 bln (at 8% discount rate) or $2.6 bln (at 10% discount rate) over 25 years, which is a reasonable estimate of the new road’s lifespan. In other words, the direct benefits of investment in EWH exceed its cost (about $2.3 bln). Considering the role of transportation in all other sectors of the Georgian economy, the positive spillover effects of investment in EWH translate into much more significant gains over the medium and long-term. In particular, real GDP is assessed to increase by 1.5% in the medium-term and 4.2% over the long-term horizon, contributing to welfare gains for all household categories. Interestingly, on average, rural households are expected to gain more than urban households. Note that these benefits are on top of any direct impacts associated with
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EWH-related construction works, which also contribute to real GDP and employment in the short run. They are also net of many other potential benefits such as decreases in road accidents and environmental impacts. Such gains are likely to be non-trivial as EWH currently accounts for about 43% of all recorded accidents and traffic deaths in Georgia. Thus, what we estimate is the lower bound of the actual benefits due to EWH. What follows from this analysis is that Georgia has no time to lose in upgrading its road infrastructure. Whatever the costs, they are far-far outweighed by the benefits. AND THE SNAGS WE (MAY) HIT While agreeing that the East-West Highway project is likely to be one of the most important infrastructure undertakings in Georgia’s recent history, we should nevertheless be mindful of several serious challenges associated with the project. Maintenance. For the benefits of an upgraded road network to be sustained, one-time road improvements must be followed by a well-planned road maintenance program. According to WB estimates, running through a mountainous terrain and increasingly used by heavy transit trucks, EWH will require about GEL 16.5mln in additional annual maintenance costs (some of these could be recovered through transit fees levied on trucks). In any case, the government should plan to allocate appropriate resources in its future budgets. The “Shrosha challenge”. Since many sections of the new EWH are going to bypass existing settlements, the government should urgently consider alternative models to support those communities whose livelihoods currently depended on EWH. The Shrosha community is a good case in point. Located some 40km west of the Likhi mountpass, the entire community is specialized in the production of handmade clay pottery. For nine years since the beginning of road rehabilitation works, the community does not know what will happen to their business and way of life
in case the Chumateleti-Argveta section of EWH is rerouted. The lack of communication is causing a lot of frustration and prevents residents from taking investment decision or any other steps to reorganize their business. Prioritization. There are still quite a number of stretches along the EWH to complete. A thorough analysis should be conducted to establish priorities, but, at least at first sight, the current state of the Tbilisi bypass road appears to justify an early intervention. Damaged by avalanches and not thoroughly repaired since Soviet Union days, this road is rarely (if ever) frequented by government limousines, while serving the entire East-Way cargo traffic. Alternatives. The parallel electric circuit metaphor applies equally well to the development of national transport infrastructure. While the focus of our study was on Georgia’s EWH, we should not lose sight of alternatives, such as the Georgian Railways. A state-run monopoly, the Georgian Railways is notorious for a lack of efficiency. It is expensive, slow and not sufficiently responsive to business needs. Now, EWH and the Georgian railways are part of a parallel transport circuit. The lack of efficiently on the Georgian railway translates in excessive demand for road transportation, congestion on EWH and, consequently, higher costs for businesses. The government is now discussing ambitious railway modernization plans, including the construction of new tunnels, etc. This is a great long-term initiative. Yet, significant improvement could be achieved already in the nearest term through changes in the management of Georgian railways. Georgia cannot afford leaving it in the hands of government bureaucrats. * * * Investment in transport infrastructure clearly represents the best possible use of Georgian taxpayers’ money. Yet, as often is the case, the devil is in the detail. Failure to tackle these seemingly small issues in a timely manner is likely to backfire, reducing the benefits from an otherwise wonderful undertaking.
OCTOBER 16 - 22
When the Little Guy Sur s to Inter na tional La w Surrrender enders Interna national Law By Zaza Jgharkava The August 2008 war ended in five days but seven years later there still is no full stop to the confrontation. Many international and local commissions were created to investigate; different types of conclusions were made. Heidi Tagliavini’s fact-finding commission’s report alone had 1150 pages. The conclusion of the Parliamentary Commission of Official Tbilisi had 1500 pages, not to say anything about the 98-volume Case of the August War in the Georgian Prosecutor’s Office. Recently, the International Law Prosecutor of the Hague International Criminal Court (ICC), Fatou Bensouda, appealed for the court to start a new investigation into the August War. Whether the judges will satisfy her appeal will be seen in a few days. Before that, the main prosecutor of the ICC will arrive in Tbilisi. In particular, Bensouda is demanding investigation of two episodes of the 2008 Russia-Georgia war – one of them might speak of a possible crime commited by the Georgian armed forces. According to the prosecutor, during the Russia-Georgia war, the so-called South Ossetian and Georgian armed forces committed a military crime which involved attacking peacekeeping mission representatives and their sites. The second episode concerns the alleged ethnic cleansing of Georgians from the Liakhvi Gorge and the fate of 18,500 Internally
Displaced Persons (IDPs). According to Prosecutor Bensouda, there is proof that, although it was carried out by Ossetian units, the crime was committed with the “possible participation of Russian armed forces”. Before Prosecutor Bensouda’s appeal is approved or dismissed, in Tbilisi people have started speaking about the ‘trap’ of the Hague. Georgian press printed opinions that, by initiating the process, Bensouda will finally fulfill the dream of the Kremlin and billionaire Bidzina Ivanishvili to imprison ex-President of Georgia, Mikheil Saakashvili. The GHN agency writes in an analytical article that “when Russian diplomats and lawyers present evidence to the court on how the Georgian troops
bombed the so-called ‘sleeping Tskhinvali’ by salvo fire machines, how the Georgian tanks fired at the base of the so-called ‘Russian peacekeepers’ (where several provocateurs died that were only formally named ‘peacekeepers’), Prosecutor Bensouda will consider this as an international crime, for which the general who gave the order to bomb Tskhinvali from the salvo fire machines and the supreme chief who ordered the army to start military actions should be held responsible.” Indeed, all roads of the first appeal of Prosecutor Bensouda lead to Mikheil Saakashvili. Nevertheless, it will be hard to prove and it will be hard to raise charges. In Tbilisi, at the President’s
Palace, there no doubt sits a document signed by Saakashvili, based on which the Georgian armed forces began to act. It is highly unlikely that said document mentions an attack on the so-called Russian peacekeeper’s base located in Tskhinvali. Therefore, Prosecutor Bensouda’s target will most probably be the Georgian general who made corrections to the artillery fire in August 2008. It should be mentioned right away that the fact of Prosecutor Bensouda’s appeal is no less dangerous than laying charges against exPresident Saakashvili. In particular, the Kremlin and the Georgian Dream government might be happy about the trial of Saakashvili but the case does not concern Saakashvili alone – when extradition of Georgian soldiers, officers and generals is demanded in order to investigate the crime that they allegedly committed – it might become a reason for the state’s destruction and an outbreak of civil war. Unlike Georgian media, the current Governor of Odessa and ex-President of Georgia Mikheil Saakashvili welcomes the initiative of Prosecutor Bensouda and calls for Prime Minister Garibashvili’s cabinet to cooperate as much as possible with the Hague. “…I welcome the decision of the International Law Prosecutor’s Office to start investigating military crimes committed during the August 2008 War on the territory of Georgia. Our government appealed to
the Prosecutor’s Office back in August 2008, providing them with information about rough violations of international law norms, including crimes against humanity (ethnic cleansing) and war crimes. Unfortunately, Russia does not recognize international criminal law and during all this time it had been trying to use the procedures for its own political goals. It is important that the Georgian side provides all available information to the Prosecutor’s Office, including information about ethnic cleansing,” Saakashvili’s statement posted on his official Facebook page reads. The Hague ICC is an international legal structure which was established during the Rome Statute and since 2002 i.e. from the enacting of the Statute the court’s jurisdiction, investigates genocide, military crime and crimes against humanity. The Statute is signed and ratified by 123 states, including Georgia. While all countries of the European Union have ratified the Statute, Russia has not and nor has the United States. Therefore, if proving the blame for ethnic cleansing, it is hard to imagine any of the Russian generals being tried at the Hague court, unlike Georgians. Of course, it raises the feeling of a large legalized injustice, but what can we do? This is how international law and the fate of a small country goes. If you cooperate with the international tribunal, it might be bad for you, but if you do not – it might be worse!
The Georgian View of the Middle East By Dimitri Dolaberidze Today, countries all over the world and especially in our region are focusing on the happenings in the Middle East. In almost in every country studies are made to determine the attitude of people towards the Middle East. Research conducted by the Center of Research for the Study of Georgian Complex Development Issues clearly reveals the views of the Georgian people towards such threats and challenges. Civilians openly support the US and its allies in their military action against the socalled Islamic state and other terrorist organizations. It should be noted that Georgians believe that this action needs thorough coordination from antiterrorist coalitions. They also believe that the civil war in Syria and the fight against terrorism will be a
long process. Considered as the main risk is the increased number of refugees ready to enter Georgia, as well as the threat of spreading terrorism and the growth of Islamic fundamentalism ideology in Georgia. The survey was conducted on 17-25 September in 2015, before the Russian military contingent entered Syria, by the the Center of Research for the Study of Georgian Complex Development Issues of the Ivane Javakhishvili Tbilisi State University. Civilians from Telavi, Gori and Batumi (725 people aged 18 years and older) participated in the survey. The purpose of the study was to learn the attitudes of citizens of Georgia about the process in the Middle East and Syria. The margin of error data from these studies does not exceed 3.4% / 4.1%.
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OCTOBER 16 - 22
Dechert OnPoint: Status of Business Operators in the Food/Beverage Sector Dechert Georgia, through the contribution of partners Archil Giorgadze and Nicola Mariani, joined by senior associates Ruslan Akhalaia and Irakli Sokolovski, as well as Ana Kostava and Ana Kochiashvili, is partnering with Georgia Today on a regular section of the paper which will provide updated information regarding significant legal changes and developments in Georgia. In particular, we will highlight significant issues which may impact businesses operating in Georgia. Dechert’s Tbilisi office combines local service and full corporate, tax and finance support with the global knowledge that comes with being part of a worldwide legal practice. Dechert Georgia is the Tbilisi branch of Dechert LLP, an international Law firm that focuses on core transactional and litigation practices, providing worldclass services to major corporations, financial institutions and private funds worldwide. With more than 900 Lawyers in our global practice groups working in 27 offices across Europe, the CIS, Asia, the Middle East and the United States, Dechert has the resources to deliver seamless, high quality legal services to clients worldwide. For more information, please visit www.dechert.com or contact Nicola Mariani at email@example.com. The status of business operators in the Georgian food/beverage business sector is a relatively recent phenomenon in Georgian legislation. But despite its novelty, a plethora of technical regulations are currently being introduced. The Georgian Food/Feed Safety, Veterinary and Plant Protection Code (the “Code”) defines a business operator as a person whose activities are related to the production, primary production, processing and distribution of food/feed, animals, plants, products of animal and plant origin, veterinary drugs, pesticides, agrochemicals, as well as to the providing of services in the fields of veterinary and plant protection, and who is responsible for the compliance of his/her activities under the requirements defined by the legislation of Georgia (the “Business Operator”). The activities of Business Operators are generally overseen by the LEPL National Food Agency (the “Agency”). This week’s edition of OnPoint aims to provide an overview of the Business Operator status under the Code as well as the secondary legislation adopted pursuant to the Code, with a focus on the obligations of Business Operators in the food/beverage safety sector. REGISTRATION AND RECOGNITION REQUIREMENT Business Operators are only allowed to carry out their activities if they are duly registered as entities/persons holding such status with the LEPL National Agency of Public Registry (“NAPR”). Becoming a registered entity requires filing an application including notably a questionnaire as to the relevant activities the person/entity is engaged in. The registration and changes to the status and activities engaged in are available online, via a special portal available to Business Operators. Some Business Operators must first acquire recognition from the Agency to commence their activities in the sector. Namely, Business Operators whose activities are related to the production (except for primary production) and/or processing of food products of animal origin are subject to this recognition. According to the Government of Georgia (“GoG”) Decree #722 of 26 December
import of GMO products which do not fulfill relevant marking standards, they will be denied entry into the country or confiscated and destroyed by the Revenue Service, which acts as the customs authority.
2014, the Agency shall ensure the recognition of a Business Operator based on the results of state control if the activities of the Business Operator fully comply with the requirements defined by the legislation of Georgia. Any person engaged in activities related to the production, primary production, processing, distribution of food/ feed, animals, plants, products of animal and plant origin, veterinary drugs, pesticides, agrochemicals, as well as to services in the fields of veterinary and plant protection and not registered as a Business Operator with NAPR, is subject to administrative fines under the Code. OBLIGATIONS OF BUSINESS OPERATORS Business Operators, except for those carrying out primary production, shall adhere to food safety procedures introduced in accordance with the principles of the Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (the “HACCP”) system. The Code sets out the details of the system which are to be followed by the Business Operators in detail, including: identification of any hazard, its elimination or reduction to an appropriate level and establishment of critical control points at the stage/stages when control shall be carried out. Additional requirements of compliance with different rules and regulations apply to different types of Business Operators, depending on their exact sphere of activities. They are examined in more detail below. FOOD/FEED BUSINESS OPERATORS Should Business Operators or the Agency have reasonable doubts that the food/feed imported, produced, processed, distributed, or placed on the market by a given Business Operator does not satisfy certain safety requirements for food/feed as defined by the legislation of Georgia, the Business Operator shall, either voluntarily or according to the instructions of the Agency, take immediate measures to prevent the placement of such food/feed on the market or to withdraw from the market the food/feed that has already been placed on the market. If a final consumer has been supplied with such food/feed, the Business Operator shall effectively, in a form understandable to the consumer, provide him/her with full information about the reasons for the withdrawal of the food/feed from the market. If the measures taken to protect health are insufficient, the Business Operator shall recall the food/feed that has been supplied to the consumer.
VETERINARY BUSINESS OPERATORS Business Operators carrying out animal breeding, driving, transportation, sale and/or slaughter shall implement preventive and liquidation measures against epizootic diseases, including vaccinations, diagnostic examinations, treatment and other measures against contagious diseases. They are required to slaughter animals under veterinary supervision for further sale and fulfill the Agency’s instructions for implementing preventive and liquidation activities against epizootic diseases. Their cooperation with the relevant authorities in the implementation of diagnostic, preventive and liquidation measures against animal diseases and of measures for the identification and registration of animals is mandatory. They shall ensure the destruction of animal waste, animal transportation and sale as determined by the legislation of Georgia, and immediately inform the Agency about cases involving infectious diseases and/or mass poisoning of animals. Business Operators carrying out the production, processing and distribution of products of animal origin shall, within the scope of their activities, ensure that the products of animal origin do not pose a risk to the health or life of humans and/or animals. Additionally, from 2020, they will be responsible for ensuring the welfare of animals (including pets). PLANT BREEDERS’ OBLIGATIONS Business Operators carrying out production, processing and/or distribu-
tion of plants and products of plant origin shall protect plants and products of plant origin, as well as the site of production of plants and products of plant origin, from quarantined pests. They are also required to mitigate the harmful effects of used pesticides and agrochemicals on human and animal health and the environment, and to fulfill the Agency’s instructions for preventing the mass spread of particularly dangerous and/or quarantined pests that pose a threat to the health of humans or plants. The specific obligations of cooperation with the relevant authority and prompt provision of all information of note are also listed. NEW GMO RELATED REQUIREMENTS New regulations have been adopted with regards to the circulation and marking of genetically modified (“GMO”) products on the Georgian food/beverage market, via the Law of Georgia on the marking of food/feed and deriving GMO products (the “Law”). The Law provides that each Business Operator be obliged to comply with the rules of marking the GMO products, as set out by the GoG Decree #320 of 7 July 2015. Every placement of GMO products on the retail market shall be accompanied by relevant documentation of the products, providing thorough description of their derivation. In cases of the impossibility of marking a GMO product, the Business Operator shall refrain from placing such products on the market and shall retrieve such products immediately in case of their placement. In case of
DIFFERENT TECHNICAL REGULATIONS RELATED TO THE OPERATION OF THE SECTOR A considerable number of technical regulations have been recently adopted which are mandatory for the Business Operators, e.g.: the technical regulation of bottled natural mineral and source waters (GoG Decree #719 of 29 December 2014), the technical regulation of honey (GoG Decree #714 of 1 July 2015), technical regulation of animalderived food (GoG Decree #55 of 16 February 2015), technical regulation of wheat flour (GoG Decree #376 of 27 July 2015), technical regulation of milk products (GoG Decree #152 of 3 April 2015), etc. More technical regulations are expected to be channeled in view of the harmonization of Georgian Legislation with relevant EU standards, as required by the EU-Georgia Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Agreement. CONCLUSIONS The Code sets out fines for non-fulfillment of the obligations of Business Operators as explained above, with the range of possible fines being between GEL 200 and GEL 2,000. For example, the placement by a Business Operator of harmful food/feed on the market or the failure by a Business Operator to fulfill its obligation to withdraw from the market harmful food/feed that have already been placed on the market or supplied to consumers is subject to a fine in the amount of GEL 1,000, and the slaughter without veterinary supervision of animals intended for sale is fined in the amount of GEL 1,000. With the expectation of an increase in technical regulations in this sphere, the importance of the Code and its practical observance will continue to rise, especially as the Agency has already begun to operate and monitor compliance by Business Operators. In our view, these legislative and regulatory novelties mark a step forward for Georgia’s business sector as it complies with EU product and service standards. *** Note: this article does not constitute legal advice. You are responsible for consulting with your own professional legal advisors concerning specific circumstances for your business.
Seminars by Eurofast: “Which country better suits your business needs?” Eurofast, a regional business advisory organization with offices in 21 cities in the SEE and East Mediterranean region, held seminars “Which country better suits your business needs?” in Baku, Azerbaijan on October 5 and in Tbilisi, Georgia on October 7, 2015. Eurofast experts - Executive Director Mr Christodoulos Damianou, together with the Eurofast country Directors Ms Anna Pushkaryova (Georgia) and Mr Ivan Petrovic (Montenegro), informed participants on alternative investment opportunities in Europe, structuring wealth and business with the use of foreign jurisdictions and investment opportunities in Montenegro, the Adriatic Riviera, as well as the benefits of obtaining citizenship and residency in Dominica, Montenegro, Greece, Cyprus
and Bulgaria. The Seminars were attended by CEOs of top companies operating in various industries in both countries, lawyers, auditors, and representatives of embassies and ministries. The Seminars provided an excellent opportunity for
the exchange of information and ideas regarding the investment opportunities in Europe.
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From P eacek ee per to Hosta ge to Copper smith… Peacek eacekee eeper Hostag Coppersmith… By Tamar Svanidze It was a pleasant evening in early autumn in East Germany’s small city of Halle (Saale), when I met with a German man who had spent around 1,500 days in Georgia as a member of UN peacekeeping missions. Herbert Bauer, a middle-aged man with a big moustache and a very characteristic appearance, is a former Sergeant Major of the Federal Armed Forces of Germany who worked as a medical orderly of the United Nations Observation Mission in Georgia (UNOMIG) in the 1990s, when the country was going through a civil war and being in Georgia was no easy task. Bauer, father of two, served as a soldier in the German Federal Armed Forces for 29 years in Afghanistan and the Caucasus. Since 1994 he has been closely linked with UNOMIG. Following the dissolution of the Soviet Union in Western Georgia, an armed conflict over Abkhazia began when the Abkhazians declared themselves independent, an independence which Georgia does still not recognize. The conflict in Abkhazia, a region strategically located on the Black Sea coast in the north-western region of Georgia, began with social strife and attempts by the local authorities to separate from the Republic. It escalated into a series of armed confrontations in the summer of 1992 when the Government of Georgia deployed 2,000 Georgian troops to Abkhazia. Brutal fighting resulted in some 200 dead and hundreds wounded. The Abkhaz leadership abandoned the Abkhaz capital of Sokhumi and retreated to the town of Gudauta. UNOMIG came in 1993 with 136 military observers from 33 states with a
primary mandate to monitor the established security zone between Georgia and Abkhazia and to create the conditions for the safe and orderly return of war refugees. Bauer describes the situation of that time as an easy game for many criminals in Abkhazia. “The problem was always that Abkhazia couldn’t survive by itself. Everybody was running around with Kalashnikovs and this was considered quite normal. They had three passports. If you saw guy and asked him who he was, he answered that he was a policemen, two days later you met the same person but he was soldier. And Abkhazia had nothing of its own. Even groceries had to be bought from Russia,” Bauer said. Before arriving in Georgia, Bauer’s knowledge about the country went only as far as it being the birthplace of Soviet leader Josef Stalin. But Pitsunda, a resort town of the breakaway Abkhazia, was his first real impression of Georgia. “In Pitsunda was a former KGB hotel, very new in style but already heavily damaged. In Sokhumi, we stopped in the hotel Aytar, near the Black Sea beach. It was an incredibly beautiful place,” Bauer remembered. As a medical orderly in crisis regions one is required not only to keep high standards of competence and team spirit, but also full physical fitness and control in difficult situations. During his mission in Georgia, in 2003, Bauer was taken hostage when patrolling the Kodori Valley, a buffer zone of Georgia which is now controlled by Abkhaz and Russian separatists. The kidnapping took place when a patrol of soldiers from the UN’s peacekeeping force and a group of Russian
Herbert Bauer, former medical orderly of the United Nations Observation Mission in Georgia (UNOMIG) in the 1990s.
soldiers were on a joint patrol in the Kodori valley, at the time the epicenter of clashes in the Georgian-Abkhazian conflict. The kidnapping was conducted by eight masked and armed men. With Bauer there were two employees of the UN Observers Mission in Georgia (UNOMIG) and one Georgian interpreter. They were released after six days following negotiations. Four years after the incident Bauer published a book named “Medicine man on a peace mission: experiences of a German soldier in the Caucasus.” It is very personal piece of writing about his private emotions when he was kidnapped in Kodori Valley. “This is only book I have written and it was more or less a psychological thing. I wrote most of this book in Afghanistan, in 2006, when I was on night shift and had plenty of time. For me this was psychological therapy I gave myself.
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This is about how I prepared myself when I became a hostage. It’s my personal story what I did and how I survived,” Bauer said. Bauer left Georgia in 2009 when, due to a lack of consensus among Security Council members on its mandate extension, the UNOMIG came to an end. Regarding Georgia Bauer has one thing clear: to stay together, Georgians always need a strong leader. “Georgia is very diverse. Every different region in the country has its own style of life. For a Georgian having a leader guarantees things will go smoothly. But if you have five Georgians without a leader nobody will follow you and nothing will get done. Sometimes you have a lot of leaders, but no soldiers. When I asked some guys “What did you do during the socialist period?” everyone replied ‘I was head of this, I was head of that!’.”
Following his many years of military service Bauer decided to dedicate his free time to copper making. Three years ago he opened a workshop near his home where he delivers masterclasses in coppersmithery which includes how to make vessels such as wine and beer mugs, jewellery, buckles and hand forged Medieval-style arrowheads. “It is more than a hobby for me. When I make things I try to make them dynamic, always in movement. When you see Georgian (Soviet) mosaics at the old bus stops and on the walls of buildings, you see people or animals that are always moving somehow: dancing, riding, jumping; nobody stands still like a soldier, everything is moving. In Georgia, and especially in Zugdidi, there are lots of bus stops with mosaics and these mosaics are always moving. Life is a development you know. You have to work on it,” he said.
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Hotels and Preference Hualing Hosts Silk Road Forum Guests at Opening Ceremony By Ana Akhalaia Hotels and Preference Hualing, a new hotel located in a new prestigious district of Tbilisi Sea, welcomed important guests for its official opening ceremony on October 14. In the framework of the Silk Road Forum, the hotel is hosting the Governor of Xinjiang Uyghur, the Governor of the Autonomous Region of the People’s Republic of China, Xuekerat Zakir, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Xinjiang Province, and the Chinese delegation. The red ribbon ceremony was officiated by Irakli Garibashvili, the Prime Minister of Georgia and Xuekerat Zakir, the Governor of Xinjiang, both of whom made speeches addressing the Silk Road Forum and their future mutual cooperation. According to the Chinese authorities, China considers Georgia a reliable partner and the main pillar in the South Caucasus region within the restoration of the historical Silk Road concept. Georgia will be the first country with which China
begins free trade negotiations. Tbilisi will host the annual Silk Road Forum on October 16th-17th. Silk Road is an initiative launched by the Prime Minister of Georgia, Irakli Garibashvili, and is supported by the Government of the People’s Republic of China and the Asian Development Bank. It is expected that around 700 guests from 30 countries will visit Georgia to participate in the Forum. The two-day forum will promote the sharing of ideas, experiences and expertise by business executives and policy makers. Hotels & Preference Hualing management coincided their opening ceremony with the Silk Road Forum, although the hotel has been operating since July and during the Olympics hosted the Olympic Committee. Hotels & Preference Hualing Tbilisi is a 5 star property of the French International hotel chain, presented in Georgia by Hualing International Company. The hotel is a perfect gateway to clean, fresh air, a relaxing atmosphere and an excep-
tional panoramic view of the Tbilisi hills. “15 years ago I founded Hotel and Preference in Paris,’’ said co-founder and General Manager of Hotels & Preference Group, Cyril Vaussard. “I would never have imagined to have the opportunity to inaugurate the opening of the roof of the hotel in such a great international destination as Tbilisi.’’ Hotels and Preference Hualing is working on projects in other cities, such as Kutaisi. Since 2007 the company has invested approximately $500 million in Georgia. “We are opening a modern, international brand of premium-class 5-star ho-
tels. The investment cost of the project is $73 million. 300 local people will be employed only on this object by Hualing,’’ said the Prime Minister of Georgia. The hotel offers a range of facilities to satisfy even a very particular client: 246 contemporary guest rooms which range from 39 to 159 sq.m, the largest ballroom in Tbilisi of 800 sq.m and an exceptional recreation center, including the largest indoor swimming pool among hotels in Georgia, a 3D golf simulator – the first of its kind in Tbilisi - and innovative GYM technologies. The dining experience is a big favou-
rite of clients at Hotels & Preference Hualing Tbilisi: the hotel comprises Be CHIC All-day Dining Restaurant, offering international gourmet cuisine, exquisite local cuisine and Asian specialties. Hotels & Preference Hualing Tbilisi is the only hotel in Georgia to have a unique Chinese Restaurant - Ensemble where you can enjoy authentic Chinese dishes from various areas from around China. The hotel offers a Be COSY Lobby Lounge Bar with a wide array of cocktails, various coffees and soothing music. The hotel’s recreational gym was officially opened on October 12, which will be available for special prices during October. The hotel’s extensive Business Class Recreation Center “Be PURE” is located closely to the Tbilisi Sea shoreline and includes a 25 meter-long indoor swimming pool, Jacuzzi, Gym, studio room for yoga and aerobics, dry sauna and steam room, 3D golf simulator as well as the Be PURE café bar and sports shop.
OCTOBER 16 - 22
Transit Passengers a High Priority for Air Astana By Eka Karsaulidze Air Astana has been successfully operating services from Kazakhstan to Georgia for the past four years, with a steady growth in the number of passengers travelling for business and leisure. Popularity of the flight between Almaty and Tbilisi has resulted in the number of services growing to five a week, with an additional twice weekly summer service being launched from Astana to Tbilisi in June this year. The market responded well to the new Astana service, which will operate all year round from summer 2016 onwards. But now with economic pressures being felt across the region, the high priority for Air Astana on its Georgian routes is to boost the number of passengers that transit through Almaty and Astana for onward flights to destinations in Central Asia, Asia, Europe and the Middle East. Flight connections in Almaty are very convenient, with onward flights usually departing within a couple of hours of arrival from Tbilisi. For connecting flights with longer waiting times, Air Astana Holidays or the airline’s ticketing office can easily arrange city tour packages and hotel accommodation.
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Hotel’s network “Sympatia” “Adding to the existing year one,” said Ms Tomiris Tleubayeva, Air Astana’s new Country Manager for Georgia. “Our aim now is to position Kazakhstan as a transit point, with good flight connections for Tbilisi flights to Beijing, Delhi, Tashkent, Kuala Lumpur, Hong Kong, Bangkok and many other cities.” Ms Tleubayeva added: “With aviation costs largely set in USD, the recent currency adjustment
has regrettably meant that Air Astana has needed to adjust its ticket prices. However, we offer a wide range fares, including special low-fare promotions for early ticket booking and payment. I recommend you keep a regular look out for our special promotions throughout the year.” In closing, Ms Tleubayeva said: “Despite the challenging economic conditions, Georgia has proven to be a very popular destination for Kazakh people
over the last two years, with Air Astana carefully matching aircraft type to demand during different seasons. During the busy summer season, we operate to Georgia using Airbus A320s and in the quieter winter season, the smaller Embraer 190 is operated on the service from Almaty. The deployment of different aircraft types makes sure that we can maintain frequencies throughout the year and best serve the Georgian market.”
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ProCredit Bank and European Investment Bank Sign Credit Line Agreement
General Director of ProCredit Bank, Asmus Rotne, and Vice President of the European Investment Bank, Laszlo Baranyay
By Meri Taliashvili General Director of ProCredit Bank, Asmus Rotne, and Vice
President of the European Investment Bank, László Baranyay, signed a credit line agreement on October 14th that will be
used to finance small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in Georgia. The main target group of Pro-
Credit Bank is small and medium business clients. Accordingly, resources provided by the European Investment Bank will promote the offering of attractive and competitive conditions for business loans from ProCredit Bank that will help advance and develop businesses. The General Director of ProCredit Bank Asmus Rotne told Georgia Today they will continue to finance small and mediumsized business clients: “We believe that contribution to the development of SMEs represents the country’s economic growth and is the best way to create additional jobs. We will actively continue financing small and medium business clients with the resources provided by the European Investment Bank.” In order to raise the competitiveness of the Georgian economy, financial resources should be available for business investment and the European Investment Bank will provide such resources. “The competitiveness of the Georgian economy hinges, among other things, on access to finance for productive investment. The EIB will provide such funding. This will have a positive impact on the diversification of the Georgian economy and on the living standards of the country’s citizens,” stated Vice-President of the European Investment Bank, László Baranyay. ProCredit Bank and the European Investment Bank have been in actively cooperation since 2012. The new credit line is worth EUR 15 million, and one portion of it, EUR 5 million, will be used in the near future.
Tel: (995 32) 2 99 55 88, 2 37 05 90 Tel./Fax: (995 32) 2 37 62 63 www.sympatia.ge E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
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Georgian Post: Step by Step to Success
General Manager of the Georgian Post Levan Chikvaidze
By Rusudan Shelia To what extent does the country’s national post meet European standards and what changes are expected in the company? General Manager of the Georgian Post Levan Chikvaidze explains all. Chikvaidze: For the last 20 years there was practically no Georgian Post. Unfortunately, businesses found their own ways of communication and developed without the postal business. It has become a necessity for companies to identify a staff member to serve as a courier. There is no such precedent in any of the 192 member states of the world postal union. Not to say anything about working conditions at the Georgian Post, the infrastructure was also a complete mess when we arrived– air conditioning in summer and heating in the cold weathers was a luxury for the employees. What’s more, after crossing the Georgian border, partner countries could not track their packages and for this reason a parcel forwarded to Geor-
gia was always considered low priority. Since 2013, management changed and a new strategy was developed, which, along with strategic changes in the company, also meant visual changes. The company’s logo was changed and a swallow became the symbol of the Georgian Post, associated with the happiness and joy of recipients upon receiving their parcels. Investments were made to improve postal services; service centers were renovated; transport was changed and the staff was retrained. Today there are 84 service centers all over Georgia and couriers can deliver parcels to any point in the country. The Georgian Post, with the full service of products, provides tailored service to customers. Recently, a new service- Avia -was introduced which allows customers to send letters and parcels to 200 countries around the world in twothree days. E-commerce Maleo is also in its test phase. Thanks to Maleo, customers will soon be able to buy any item online and have it delivered to any address. Currently, it is possible to use the
Car tel Ag eal Cartel Agrreements: R Real Challeng e ffor or Geor gian Challenge Georgian Competition Ag enc y Agenc ency By Paata Phutkaradze Cartel agreements are considered to be the most serious and harmful violations of the Law on Competition. The European Union Treaty on Functioning of the European Union prohibits cartels and other agreements that could disrupt free competition. Nowadays, with cartel agreements becoming more and more problematic, breaking up this kind of unlawful agreement is a crucial part of the competition policy. A cartel is an explicit agreement among a group of legally and economically independent companies or firms to fix prices, to limit supply, cooperation and competition, to restrict output and to raise prices of the product in order to make a profit 1(see in details). While there are various types of cartel agreement restricting competition, price-fixing agreements are considered to be the most serious violation of competition law. A price-fixing agreement is an illegal agreement between companies in order to maximize or minimize prices to sell or buy goods. It most often leads to high prices to gain profit. This benefits all businesses or individuals that are on the same side of the market, but companies also try to fix the common target price to their own advantage. The Georgian economy still lacks competition. Therefore price fixing agreements should be the main target of the Competition Agency. Georgia was missing free competition in the market, and appropriate institutional
framework, right up until 2012, when European Union (EU) recommendations sped up the introduction of the new Georgian Law on “Free Trade and Competition”. The law set forth basic regulations for competition and was a definite step forward, although improvements were necessary for improving conditions. The Association Agreement with the EU fostered introduction of the Georgian Law on Competition in 2014, after which the agreement on “Free Trade and Competition” was repealed. As the Competition and State Procurement Agency of Georgia was unable to effectively exercise its functions, it seems logical that the Georgian Government decided to create a separate new Legal Entity of Public Law, the “Competition Agency,” last year. Georgia should effectively maintain free and undistorted competition in order to facilitate trade, bring foreign investment to benefit from trading opportunities, and achieve economic growth. Recent case law demonstrates that the Competition Agency has taken steps against harmful practices. In the current development the main challenge for the country and Competition Agency is to ensure adoption and practical implementation of competition legislation in line with EU practice, and to fulfil obligations under Association Agreement. Simon Bishop and Mike Walker, The Economics of EC Competition Law,(University edition, Thomson Reuters Limited, 2010) P 163
service only in Tbilisi and in several other big towns of Georgia. In future, a person from Mestia, for example, will not have to come to Tbilisi to receive a parcel and can instead have it delivered to his/her home in the same amount of time. In 2016, another new service will be established, a novelty from the world postal union, which enables receiving information about the parcel before it reaches the border, allowing an acceleration in customs clearance procedures. At the same time, the information technology department of the Georgian Post have developed a new postal program that the company uses now. The Georgian Post should use the country’s geopolitical location, manage diversification of the network and become a hub. In Azerbaijan, Armenia and Russia, customers try to receive parcels via Georgia. I find one further project, started in 2013 and named IPS, one of the biggest achievements of the Georgian Post. It is an International Search Program which enables partner countries and customers to track the parcels entering Georgia online. The program also gives the opportunity for transfers between partner countries. After introducing this technology, we can boldly say that we have become full-fledged members of the world postal union. In recent years, the number of corporate contractors of the Georgian Post increased by 50 per cent. We have regained public trust, a fact confirmed by a recent survey. According to the survey, conducted at the end of 2014, customer satisfaction has increased by 24 per cent compared to 2013, due to the implemented changes. The success has become visible to other countries as well. Ukraine Post responded to the changes in the Georgian Post and stated that it is observing the ongoing changes with admiration and would like to share experience in the short time period. At this stage we can consider the Georgian
post an organic part of the international postal network. In September 2013, Post Europe experts studied the Georgian Post and offered recommendations. Q: In order to bring the system in line with European standards, the Georgian Post took on several obligations; however, some remain unfulfilled. When do you plan to fully apply the recommendations? A: Of course, we will have to fulfill many obligations. At the beginning of October, experts arrived in Georgia to evaluate completion of the 2013 recommendations. At this stage, the main recommendations have been fulfilled. However, there are some shortcomings that we will be able to resolve stage by stage. For example, due to geographical location it is still not possible to implement international standards in certain service centers, but such cases can also be found in other countries. I do not doubt that we will overcome this barrier; we just need more time. In all big towns across the country we can provide world standard services to customers; however, in some service centers the situation is still hard. In the near future we will start the process of their autom-
atization and equipment with transport. It is noteworthy that the World Postal Union has provided a grant, under which the three-year plan of developing this sector in the Georgian Post, and in the country in general, was compiled. The plan, which was also approved by the Georgian government, consists of four big projects: 1. Market research that we have already completed; 2. Development of the state policy; 3. Strengthening of legislative involvement; 4. Commercialization and reorganization of the national operator. We are already ready to complete the fourth part. Q: You promised restoration of post boxes in residential blocks. How easy is it for customers to communicate by post? A: We still have plans to restore post boxes in apartment blocks but it requires significant financial resources. We located quite compact collection post boxes in all districts. We also have personal boxes in service centers that can be leased. On October 15, 2015, at the plenary assembly of Post Europe, 52 European countries will hear the presentation of the Georgian Post on the ongoing processes.
Leading Aircraft Manufacturer Opens Factory in Georgia By Ana Akhalaia Elbit Systems, an Israel-based international defense electronics company, is set to open a factory in Tbilisi, Georgia. Renowned companies, such as aircraft manufacturers Bombardier, Boeing and Airbus – the world’s most profitable companies in the aerospace industry – will be among its customers. An estimated $85 million is to be invested by the Israeli company in partnership with the Georgian State Investment Fund. The factory will produce civilian aircraft components. Elbit Systems manufactures military and civilian aviation, aerospace and maritime transport systems, management, control, communication, computer and intelligence systems, as well as electrooptical and other tools. Elbit Systems has different kinds of production in several countries, including the United States, France, Italy, Macedonia, Romania, Great Britain and Brazil. Company shares are traded on the Tel Aviv and NASDAQ stock exchanges. In 2014, the turnover of the company was around USD 3 billion. According to Nino Cholokashvili, Georgia’s head of the project, lower salaries, location and a favourable tax environment were key in the decision to start production in Georgia. “In recent years, competition has been increasing in the market for the production of aircraft components. In response, the majority of large manufacturers are seeking alternative countries to move production and reduce costs,” Cholokashvili said. “In order to produce composite
materials, for which at least 40-50% of production cost goes to labor, it is especially important to have a country where labor costs are considerably lower.” Elbit Cyclone, a subsidiary company of Elbit Systems, produces composite materials, in the city of Haifa, Israel. But they needed to create a reserve capacity. The company chose Georgia from a number of alternatives. The average Israeli salary is $2,500, which is about 10 times larger than the Georgian. By locating the factory in Georgia, Elbit hopes to significantly reduce costs. In order to get onto the international market, Georgian production has to first receive ISO and NADCAF certification. Then the quality of the products have to be confirmed by the companies which are choosing to purchase the composite aircraft components. Construction of the factory is planned for completion in 2017. Production should begin in 2018. Approximately 300 Georgians will be employed. However, currently there are no specialists in Georgia. According to the investment agreement, Elbit representatives will train specialists in Georgian universities, after
which they will be employed. The universities where the training will take place have not yet been selected. “The fact that this company is coming back to Georgia means a lot to me personally and to my government,” said the Prime Minister of Georgia, Irakli Garibashvili. “I know it was not fair that the company encountered problems for which the Saakashvili government had to pay compensation. Your return means that the trust that existed before has been restored,” the PM added, speaking at the meeting with the President of Elbit Systems – Cyclone, Bezhalel Machlis. Bezhalel Machlis stated that in addition to the factory building, other projects in Georgia are also under consideration. “This investment is very important for Georgia because aircraft manufacturing is stable. The number of civilian airplanes is expected to double in the next 20 years. This gives us confidence that our products will be sold and create additional income for the country,” said Nino Cholokashvili. “We don’t want to wait for two years until the factory construction is over. We are planning to sign preliminary agreements to sell our products as soon as the factory opens.” Georgia believes the project will attract other corporations as well. Georgia is 15th among 189 countries in the business ratings (World Bank: Doing Business), 1st place among the Eastern European and the Central Asian countries, and 9th among the Western European countries. According to a Forbes study, Georgia takes 4th place in low taxes after Qatar, the United Arab Emirates and Hong Kong.
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Cleaning Up the Globe…Star ting with the Globe…Starting gy Cr ea tion of Bio-fuel Pr oduction Tec hnolo echnolo hnolog Crea eation Production Inter vie w with Gior gi K vesitadz e, Pr esident of the Geor gian Na tional Academ y of Sciences Intervie view Giorgi Kv esitadze President Georgian National Academy By Dimitri Dolaberidze Bio-fuel is newly developed and still developing technology of oxygencontaining solutions, produced from plant biomass, to replace petroleum (oxygen free oil hydrocarbons). This worldwide technology is growing in importance in connection with a visible exhausting supply of oil. The creation of bio-fuel (biodiesel, bio-ethanol) production technology began in Georgia almost two decades ago at the Academy of Sciences of Georgia, Durmishidze Institute of Biochemistry and Biotechnology, under the supervision of Professor G. Kvesitadze. Participation in international projects and conferences and international collaboration with the US, Europe, Japan, and South Korea, have allowed for an accumulation of great experience in the conversion of vegetation biomass into different valuable products. For Georgia the production of bio-fuel has great significance as the most southern/westerly parts of the country, Adjara, Guria, Mengrelia, and Paliastomi lake area, are extremely rich in natural vegetation- good substrates for the bio-fuel production. Georgia Today met with Giorgi Kvesitadze to discuss Georgia’s role in Bio-fuel production. Q: You recently went to Romania. What was the main purpose of your visit? A: First of all, I have to express my deep thanks to Nicolae Dura, Professor of ”Ovidius” University of Constanta, Member of the Academy of Romanian Scientists, who organized my invitation
and was supervisor during my stay in Romania. The main aim of my visit was an attempt to establish collaboration with the Academy of Romanian Scientists and the Ovidius University of Constanta. Romania and Georgia are located on opposite sides of the Black Sea and have many joint interests, including science. Romania has developed a lot in last decade is a part of the EU and close scientific relations with this country are definitely advantageous. While there, I was able to present the National Academy of Sciences of Georgia, its history and current status, after which the idea to write a short communication about the history of Georgian science and its roots arose. Our Romanian colleagues were particularly interested in the fact that, since the 4th century, representatives of the Georgian Orthodox Church had been working in different countries such as Palestine, Serbia, Romania, Bulgaria, Greece and Byzantine. Georgians earned a good reputation were actively engaged in different fields of study including Theology, Philosophy, Astrology, and Math. In the 11th century two academies in Georgia: Gelati located in the west and Ikalto in the east of the country were closely collaborating with the above mentioned countries. The soviet time was also extremely important for the development of Science in Georgia. Now, the National Academy of Sciences of Georgia has inherited and is continuing the traditions of the nation in close collaboration with the Javakhishvili Tbilisi State University. Q: What were the other items of discussion in Romania?
Giorgi Kvesitadze, President of the Georgian National Academy of Sciences
A: We discussed different scientific directions which are significant to both countries, such as the production of a new type of biologically active compound, which has yet to be introduced in the industry. The USA, China and a number of European countries are conducting research to discover the existing biological potential of different organisms for practical realization. Especially interesting is the production of secondary bioactive metabolites due to
biodegradability. Another subject for active discussion was joint participation in the creation of new technologies having worldwide importance. Not long ago, I received a letter from Mr. Al Franken, Senator of Minnesota, in which he proposed possible collaboration between the USA, Ukraine and Georgia in order to develop technology and produce bio-fuel (biooil, bio-ethanol, bio-methanol) from vegetation on an industrial scale. The
creation of bio-fuel (biodiesel, bio-ethanol) production technology started in Georgia almost two decades ago at the Academy of Sciences of Georgia, Durmishidze Institute of Biochemistry and Biotechnology, under my supervision. Recently, several know-how based technologies have been developed. In Romania, I visited the Danube Delta, which is 3,600km 2 . I was amazed to see hundreds of thousands of different kinds of birds. There is also intensive growth of plants, including algae, which can also be effectively used as substrates for the production of bio-fuel. As indicated by the special experimental study recently carried out in Georgia, the algae biomass from the Danube Delta can be effectively converted into nontoxic protein containing biomass. The area of vegetation in the Danube Delta is an extremely rich source for the production of a large quantity of extra food rich in protein and other vitally important compounds. Q: Do you plan to have scientific collaboration with different companies? A: Yes. We have established scientific contacts with American, German, Spanish and Chinese companies. But for me it is a priority to closely cooperate with our neighbors: Russia, Turkey, Armenia and Azerbaijan. For example, the creation of agricultural, ecological and other such projects covering the distance from the Black to the Caspian Sea seems to be economically very promising and effective. No doubt many European and Asian countries will also be interested in participating in such projects.
Ne w Nor dic F ashion Exhibition New Nordic Fashion Ca pti vates Geor gians Capti ptiv Georgians By Meri Taliashvili The captivating artworks of twentyone modern illustrators from Estonia, Denmark, Sweden, Finland and Norway gathered together in Tbilisi last week preceding Tbilisi Fashion Week. The New Nordic Fashion Exhibition was held in Tallinn and Helsinki prior to its arrival in Georgia. The new display offered a comprehensive picture of the creative approach of the brightest Nordic illustrators and a selection of their works of a more commercial nature. This fascinating exhibition was organized by the Estonian, Swedish, Danish and Norwegian embassies in Tbilisi in cooperation with Tbilisi Fashion Week to help First Step Georgia (NGO dedicated to enhancing the quality of life for children with special needs) and Dog Organization Georgia (a dog shelter). The smiling faces and expressions of satisfaction of invited diplomats, Georgian government officials and public figures proved the uniqueness of the event. Estonian Ambassador to Georgia, Priit Turk, took time to speak about the exhibition with Georgia Today: “We Estonians are a part of the Nordic countries and are very happy to show it to our Georgian friends through this kind of corporation. I think the most fascinating aspect of the artwork here is the fact that some of the participant artists have worked for very famous brands like Nike, Coca-Cola, and H&M. We are very privileged to bring such an exhibition to Tbilisi.”
Mads Berg, Danish illustrator, explained the exhibition: “Fashion illustration, including my own work, is a lot about attracting the eye. An attractive piece of work is not about the textile or clothing but more about the display of color and composition.” Fashion Illustration has been around for some 500 years, though not always in such limelight as it is today. Flourishing between the two world wars of the 20th century, its firm position started to dissipate in the 1950s with the pow-
erful emergence of photography and a mercantilist perception of the world. Yet it made a new breakthrough during the optimistic pathos of the sixties, paving the way for new aesthetic approaches. Unfortunately enough, this did not come about without a certain degree of vandalism, with many masterpieces from previous epochs ending up in the trash. Over time fashion illustration has managed to synthesize into its graphic toolkit the presence of many great European masters, from the Renaissance to Pop-Art. Durer, Ingers, Degas, Japanese impulsiveness and minimalism, the décor of art nouveau and art deco, and the psychedelic 1960-70s are only a few examples within the rich variety of illustration techniques and traditions. In modern times, where commercial art is largely based on computer skills, fashion illustration has remained true to pristine manual arts and crafts, even when including a synthesis of techniques for post-processing with the computer. The power of hand, pencil and brush, even when mixed with the multitude of options provided by design software programmers, creates a feeling of uniqueness. In that sense, it is not an overstatement to say that it belongs on the same pedestal as haute couture. “Nordic artists have established a myth of the creator who sees beauty from afar, from the edge of the world, generalizing the temporal and the timeless with a mere line stroke,” says Toomas Volkmann, curator of the exhibition.
Mads Ber g on Illustr ation Berg Illustra and Raising the Bar In the framework of the Nordic Fashion Exhibition, Georgia Today interviewed one of the participant illustrators from Denmark, Mads Berg, about his creativity and achievements. Q: Tell us about yourself. A: Born in Odense, Denmark, in 1975, since 1995 I have been living in Copenhagen. I graduated in 2001 from the Danish Design School. My mother is a textile designer, and my father was a painter, so art and design has always been an important part of life and being able to make a living as an illustrator has always been my goal. Q: What is your favorite style? A: Pencil (HB or 2B) sketching for getting the image’s composition in place, then coloring up with computer software, such as Adobe Illustrator. Q: Can you explain your creative/ working process? A: Attack - doubt - reattack - reward - coffee Q: What helps you be more creative? A: The urge to raise the bar in every image. Inspiration comes naturally when living and working among other creators and non-creators, being part of a big city milieu, I do not feel it necessary to seek inspiration actively. Q: The illustrators you admire? A: My first heroes were the Baroque masters such as Caravaggio and Georges de la Tour. I admired their skills and their approach to contrast and colors. Q: What awards have you received? A: Danish Design Award & Best Danish Children’s Comic Q: What is your dream? A: I hope to be able to continue working together with nice people on
Mads Berg, participant illustrator from Denmark.
nice projects. The personal contact is important for me, whenever possible. Also, I like to maintain the diversity in my commissions, from iconic to complex. I recently did a large mural piece for a Danish IT company, and after that a series of murals for a restaurant in Minneapolis. I am very fond of this field of illustration, and would like to do more of it. My goal is somehow to stay motivated to produce images every day, and never to feel too ‘home free’. Q: What is the best and worst part of your job? A: One of the best parts is being my own motivator and policeman. The most common challenge is to extend and evolve my visual language, when most of my working hours are spent doing illustration the way I usually do, and that clients know works. Q: What do you do besides illustrating? A: I spend time with my family; do a lot of different sports activities, and I travel.
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Tbilisi J azz F esti val and its Anticipa ted Star s Jazz Festi estiv Anticipated Stars By Maka Lomadze Another year of an already-international label – Tbilisi Jazz Festival – is starting. From October 23rd to October 29th, Georgians and all foreigners who live here for different reasons will have a wonderful chance to attend unforgettable concerts. Three of the six will be held at Tbilisi Concert Hall and another three – at the Event Hall, however, the latter has already sold-out. The initial concert belongs to Diana Krall, Canadian jazz pianist and singer, known for her contralto vocals. She has sold more than 6 million albums in the US and over 15 million worldwide. On December 11, Billboard magazine named her the second Jazz artist of 2000-09, establishing her as one of the best-selling artists of her time. Krall is the only jazz singer to have eight albums debuting at the top of the Billboard Jazz Albums. To date, she has won five Grammy Awards and eight Juno Awards. She has also earned nine gold, three platinum, and seven multi-platinum albums. Giorgi Kereselidze, Director of Eastern Promotion, the traditional organizer of all jazz festivals, told Georgia Today: “Diana Krall is the luxury star. As such, it wasn’t an easy job to convince her to come to Georgia [to play on October 23rd]. She has elite contracts, including the hotels. The hotel Four Seasons is not in Georgia. It is hard to imagine for her that there is a country and a capital without this hotel. However, in many post Soviet countries, there are no Four Seasons hotels.” Reportedly, the high reputation of the Tbilisi International Jazz Festival was the main reason Diana Krall decided on us and thus, is to be the opening singer of this
ingly powered by two different people, produce a totally unique, symphonic fullness of sound, a rapid-fire of chords, balance of melodic figures and drive, served with euphoric Latin American rhythms, and the improvisatory freedom of a trained jazz musician… captivating virtuosity, but in no way only virtuosity for its own sake.” – Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung writes. Fourplay, celebrating its 25th anniversary on stage together with an enormous record of success stories both in the artistic and commercial field, is the culmination of Tbilisi Jazz Festival 2015, at Tbilisi Concert Hall. This is a fusion of R&B, pop and a variety of other sounds. In the course of a dozen recordings six have climbed to the top of Billboard’s Contemporary Jazz Album charts. The Fourplay story began in 1990 with keyboardist Bob James, who had already established himself as a formidable figure in keyboard jazz – not just as an instrumentalist but also as a composer and arranger– with solo recordings dating as far back as the mid 1960s. In 1990, James reunited with his old friend, session drummer, producer, composer & recording artist Harvey Mason (Herbie Hancock, Barbra Streisand, Notorious B.I.G.), during the recording of James’ Grand Piano Canyon album. Also involved in the project were guitarist Lee Ritenour (Sergio Mendes) and bassist/vocalist Nathan East (Barry White, Eric Clapton, Phil Collins). Bob James is the author of many Hollywood soundtracks.
year’s most prestigious and large-scale Georgian jazz event. There was another trick that the Eastern Promotion Company took advantage of: Tbilisi Festival coincides with Baku Jazz Festival and in the global crisis, it was irresistible to refuse two such large-scale music events so close to each other. The management of the star chose Radisson Blu Iveria to stay in. Krall will present her new program and a new interpretation of old themes. “They told us that there is going to be a very romantic soiree and they categorically asked us to be on time. So, we cordially ask all the audience not to be late, otherwise, they will not be admitted to the hall,” Krall’s managers announced. The next star will be GRAMMY® award-winning singer-composer-bassist Esperanza (Emily) Spalding, presenting her latest project Emily’s D+Evolution… The young artist holds two Grammies and was nominated for others. Rekindling
her childhood interest in theatre, poetry and movement, this new project delves into a broader concept of performance. “Emily is my middle name, and I’m using this fresh persona as my inner navigator. This project is about going back and reclaiming un-cultivated curiosity, and using it as a compass to move song. There are a lot of juicy themes and stories in the music. We will be staging the songs as much as we play them, using characters, video, and the movement of our bodies.” The organizers promise us that this will be a very original program, different from all her previous projects. The Jeff Ballard trio is the first band that will play on Tbilisi event hall stage within the 2015 festival. “This is a musician who has played with almost all the legendary jazzmen. The prestigious drummer will be playing with Lionel Loueke on guitar and vocal, who visited Georgia in past years, and Chris Cheek, a
very fashionable Saxophonist,” the director of Eastern Promotion revealed to Georgia Today. Trumpeter Avishai Cohen will appear in the Tbilisi Event Hall series on the 27th of October. Voted a Rising Star three years running in the DownBeat Critics Poll, Cohen has earned fame as a musician with an individual sound and a questing spirit, an ever-creative player-composer open to multiple strains of jazz and active internationally as a leader, co-leader and sideman. Another highly anticipated guest is Edmar Castaneda who will be performing on the 28th of October. “I have never witnessed anybody, although I have attended quite a lot of renowned Jazz festivals, playing jazz on a harp. I am thrilled to listen to Edmar Castaneda at Tbilisi Event Hall, as is our whole company,” Giorgi Kereselidze commented. “The Colombian plays the harp like hardly anyone else on earth. His hands, seem-
THEATRE GEORGIAN INTERNATIONAL FESTIVAL OF ARTS ‘GIFT’ IN TBILISI Address: 164 Agmashenebeli Ave. Telephone: 235 0203, 551 17 68 18 www.giftfestival.ge
October 18 AUTUMN OF MY SPRING Rezo Gabriadze Directed by Rezo Gabriadze English Subtitles Start time: 20:00 Ticket price: 10, 15, 20 Lari
MOMA TBILISI ZURAB TSERETELI Address: 27 Rustaveli Ave. Telephone: 298 60 30
MOVEMENT THEATRE Address: 182, Aghmashenebeli Ave., Mushthaid park Telephone: 599 555 260
LEGEND Directed by Brian Helgeland Cast: Tom Hardy, Emily Browning, Taron Egerton Genre: Biography, Crime, Thriller Language: Russian Start time: 16:45 Ticket price: 9.50 – 10.50 Lari
October 18, 19 SONG OF SONGS Directed by Ruslan Kudashov Start time: 20:00 Ticket price: From 20 Lari Venue: Tumanisvili Theatre
October 16 SEASON OPENING GALA CONCERT Participants: Sulkhan Gvelesiani, Makvala Aspanidze, Nino Chachua, Armaz Darashvili, Zaal Khelaia, Khatuna Chokhonelidze, Irine Ratiani, Tea Demurishvili, Elena Putilova, Vano Galuashvili, Otar Jorjikia, Aleksandre khomeriki, Anzor Khidasheli. Gala concert will be accompanied by Tbilisi Z.Paliashvili Opera and Ballet State Theatre orchestra Conductor: Revaz Takidze Start time: 19:00 Ticket price: From 15 Lari Venue: Conservatoire Grand Hall
THE WALK Directed by Robert Zemeckis Cast: Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Charlotte Le Bon, Guillaume Baillargeon Genre: Adventure, Biography, Drama Language: Russian Start time: 12:00, 14:40, 17:20, 20:00 Ticket price: 7.50 – 12.50 Lari
October 9 – November 15 OLEG TIMCHENKO’S EXHIBITION
For more info, please, visit www.tbilisijazz.com or for tickets call (995 32) 2-99-05-99
WHAT'S ON IN TBILISI
October 20, 21 KHANUMA Jazz-comedy after A. Tsagareli’s play Stage-director and choreographer: Alla Silagova Composer: Giya Kancheli Setting and costume designer: G. Aleksi-Meskhishvili Start time: 19:00 Ticket price: From 10 Lari Venue: Griboedov State Russian Drama Theatre October 22 THE NIGHT PORTIER Translated by Irakli Samsonadze Stage-director: Zaza Sikharulidze Start time: 20:00 Ticket price: 10 Lari Venue: Tumanishvili Theatre GABRIADZE THEATRE Address: 13 Shavtelis St. Telephone: 298 65 93 October 16 MARSHAL DE FANTIE’S DIAMOND Rezo Gabriadze Directed by Rezo Gabriadze English Subtitles Start time: 20:00 Ticket price: 10, 15, 20 Lari October 17 RAMONA Rezo Gabriadze Directed by Rezo Gabriadze English Subtitles Start time: 20:00 Ticket price: 10, 15, 20 Lari
October 16, 17, 18 IGI (HE) Directed by Kakha Bakuradze Writer/Adaptation: Jemal Karchkhadze Start time: 21:30 Ticket price: From 10 Lari ALEXANDER GRIBOEDOV STATE RUSSIAN DRAMA THEATRE Address: 2 Rustaveli Ave. Telephone: 293 11 06 www.griboedovtheatre.ge October 16 THE STORM Alexander Ostrovsky Directed by Vakhtang Nikolava Language: Russian Start time: 18:00 Ticket price: 5 Lari October 17 FORTUNE’S FOOL Ivan Turgenev Directed by Nugzar Lordkipanidze Language: Russian Start time: 18:00 Ticket price: 5 Lari October 18 THE SCARLET SAILS Alexander Green Directed by Vakhtang Nikolava Language: Russian Start time: 12:00 Ticket price: 5 Lari TBILISI ZAKARIA PALIASHVILI OPERA AND BALLET THEATRE Address: 25 Rustaveli Ave. Telephone: 299 04 56
CINEMA AMIRANI CINEMA Address: 36 Kostava St. Telephone: 299 99 55 www.kinoafisha.ge
RUSTAVELI CINEMA Address: 5 Rustaveli Ave. Telephone: 255 50 00 www.kinoafisha.ge
October 16-22 CRIMSON PEAK Directed by Guillermo del Toro Cast: Mia Wasikowska, Jessica Chastain, Tom Hiddleston Genre: Drama, Fantasy, Horror Language: English Start time: 19:30 Language: Russian Start time: 19:30, 20:10 Ticket price: 11.50 – 12.50 Lari
THE WALK 3D (Info Above) Start time: 11:45, 14:25, 17:05, 19:45, 22:30 Ticket price: 7.50 – 12.50 Lari
THE MARTIAN 3D Directed by Ridley Scott Cast: Matt Damon, Jessica Chastain, Kristen Wiig Genre: Adventure, Drama, Sci-Fi Language: Russian Start time: 16:45, 22:45 Ticket price: 9.50 – 12.50 Lari PAN 3D Directed by Joe Wright Cast: Levi Miller, Hugh Jackman, Garrett Hedlund Genre: Adventure, Family, Fantasy Language: Russian Start time: 12:15, 14:20 Ticket price: 7.50 – 9.50 Lari
CRIMSON PEAK (Info Above) Start time: 17:00, 19:40, 22:00 Ticket price: 9.50 – 12.50 Lari THE MARTIAN 3D (Info Above) Start time: 12:30, 16:00, 19:40, 22:30 Ticket price: 7.50 – 12.50 Lari PAN 3D (Info Above) Start time: 12:00, 14:20, 16:40, 19:45 Ticket price: 7.50 – 12.50 Lari EVEREST 3D Directed by Baltasar Kormákur Cast: Jason Clarke, Ang Phula Sherpa, Thomas M. Wright Genre: Adventure, Drama, Thriller Language: Russian Start time: 22:30 Ticket price: 11.50 – 12.50 Lari
October 2-18 GUCHA KVARATSKHELIA’S EXHIBITION Our Black and White and Coloured Earthly life
MUSIC INTERNATIONAL MUSIC FESTIVAL “AUTUMN TBILSI” – 2015 Address: Dj. Kakhidze Tbilisi Center for Music and Culture, 125 Agmashenebeli Ave. Telephone: 296 12 43 October 17 THE CONCERT OF JAZZ-VOCAL ENSEMBLES Vocal sextet “QUINTESSENCE” Vocal quartet “FOUR FACES” Vocal sextet “GEORGIAN SIX” The artistic director of the project BUKA KARTOZIA POPULAR JAZZ COMPOSITIONS Start time: 19:30 Ticket price: 10-30 Lari October 18 TBILISI SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA GEORGIAN STATE CHOIR Chief choirmaster – ARCHIL USHVERIDZE Soloists – IRMA GIGANI (Piano) SALOME DJIKIA (Soprano) NANA DZIDZIGURI (Mezzo soprano) ANZOR KHIDASHELI (Tenor) GOCHA DATUSANI (Bass) Conductor – VAKHTANG KAKHIDZE CHOPIN – Concerto for piano and orchestra #2 BEETHOVEN – Mass C-Major Start time: 19:30 Ticket price: 10-30 Lari
SOCIETY By Fergal Hingerty / Tony Hanmer Here, in his own words and images as guest writer and photographer, are the impressions of Svaneti from Fergal, who I introduced in my article for last week’s GT. I flew into Tbilisi on a warm early morning in late September, not knowing what to expect, to see or experience when I would arrive in Mestia and the beautiful region of Svaneti. Then, after a day in Tbilisi arranging and preparing for the climbs ahead, I caught a minibus to Mestia the following day. My host and guide welcomed me into the family home, and, after being fed locally organically grown food over the following few days, I was ready for any climb or hike. The very next day I started by hiking 17 km and ascending 1600 meters on a 9 hour traverse of the Guli pass, with outstanding views over the whole area. We started by climbing the mountain to the Cross ridge at 2450 meters above Mestia: a very steep and challenging start to all the walks. From the Cross it was a descent and than another climb up the Guli pass to the signpost there. Finally, that day I got close to Usbha: so beautiful, so commanding. Than a descent into the village in the next valley and an arranged lift for the 25 km back to Mestia. Ushba from any angle is easily the most beautiful mountain I’ve ever seen. Another five days of hiking followed. The next day I walked from Zhabeshi to Adhishi, which included a walk
OCTOBER 16 - 22
Fergal Hinger ty: Svaneti
through the construction site of the new ski slopes of Tetnuldi (which is 4974 meters high); classically, it is only just when you are practically on top of Adshisi do you see it, a big surprise as it stays hidden most of the walk. Adhisi is a village which has grown from two families to twelve with the recent tourism boom here, which is wonderful really, as this beautiful village would be completely abandoned otherwise. The avalanches in 1987 came close to this beautiful village being abandoned forever; thankfully that did not happen, and now the tourists should help it grow once
again. After staying in a guesthouse there, the next day’s walk was from Adhishi to K’ala. First we had to cross the Adhischala river by horse as the frozen glacier-fed river is considered too hazardous to do barefoot, even if the river water was warm. This was followed by some wonderful views of yet another glacier, the Ashishi Glacier, and an ascent up to the pass at 2728 and a quick hop up to a nearby peak of 1825 meters. A stunning walk down to the valley followed with mist surrounded mountains and multi-colored autumn leaves glowing in the changeable
weather. Then we were picked up at the bar/café/lounge/guesthouse/shop which was the only standing building in K’ala, for a drive along a precarious unpaved exposed mountain road to Ushguli. The following day I went on a walk to the Shkhara glacier from the guesthouse (situated in the highest village in Europe with its end of the world feel). Then in the afternoon a 45 km drive over the same and more unpaved, exposed, single-lane landslide-damaged road/track to Mestia followed. The following day I went on another shortish walk to the Chaladi glacier from Mestia, encountering a baby wild bear on the way; naturally I did not hang around “to meet the parents”! Yet again there was more stunning scenery, but I did notice a few foolish tourists standing at the glacier as rocks tumbled down like the “penny falls” of the arcades I went to in my misspent youth... and then finally the big climb to the Koruldi ridge via the wonderful lakes from Mestia, a 1983 meter ascent from the bottom to 3328 meters and the most amazing views I have ever seen. The highlight of this was looking down on six glaciers from above.
Overall, the warmth, friendliness and wonderful food and scenery of the Svan people and the countryside are truly wonderful. However, on a negative note, there exist two issues which have to be tackled. Firstly, the litter which appears along parts of the hiking routes used both by locals and some hikers, which could turn into a big problem unless dealt with soon. However, by far the biggest problem is the insane driving culture whereby white lines do not exist, and overtaking at high speed on bends, past lorries on narrow roads with mobile phone in one hand and car wheel in the other, is a recipe for disaster. Sometimes fueled with moonshine to boot... And that is without even mentioning the added problem of wandering livestock everywhere. But I do not want to end on too much of a negative note; if someone had told me I would climb a 3328 meter mountain four years ago, when I was recovering from a major nine-hour back operation which had a 20 % chance of putting me in a wheelchair (and a 100% chance of being in a wheelchair if I did not have it) I would not have believed them whatsoever. One thing is for sure: I will return to Svaneti again, with its wonderful people, scenery and food.
Tony Hanmer runs the “SvanetI Renaissance” Facebook group, now with over 1250 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
The Autumn Sonnet
By Bacho Kvirtia Autumn in Tbilisi and other big Georgian towns is distinguished by particular liveliness and activity: Tbilisoba and the other numerous festivals that take place in the capital around this time; Rtveli in Kartli and Kakheti, and plentiful festivals and events held in other large towns around Georgia. Together with these, political life wakes up after its summer holiday nap – the sessions are renewed in Parliament; government, oppositional parties and non-governmental organizations start working at full capacity; lessons kick off in schools, institutions of higher education and kindergartens; people return from their vacations and those with the privilege of having a job continue their work and take up their responsibilities; the streets of the capital begin to burst with the usual cars and the rush hour is continuous. In short, the sound and loath continues... This, in our reality, is the most trivial, worn, and apart from a few exceptions, the most meaningless part describing this season of the year. Yet another, not quite easy period begins in the lives of simple, ordinary people, full of harsh problems, and fear: fear of losing a job, increase of prices on products, increase of tax rates; fear of another governmental crisis which will heavily influence those same ordinary citizens; fear of somebody in the
family becoming ill and lack of money that might be needed for their treatment. Meanwhile the winter is coming, the New Year, and a lot needs to be done in advance. In short, money needs to be earned. The Georgian television channels broadcast boredom, though with changed-format and pavilion-decorations – offering ignorance, tastelessness and impudence; if you gather all Georgian channels together and make a spontaneous compilation of the sounds coming from them, you will hear the following: barking, cursing, crying and weeping with crocodile tears, hysterics, edification in well-fed-imperative voices, laughter and giggles, mumbling and stuttering. These are those voices which can be heard in autumn on Georgian television, or more precisely – heard by simple, ordinary citizens who at the same time are thinking about their future. Autumn might also be a time for separation and meeting; a time when people find each other. Children in the parks and squares, their parents, lovers, or just people who wander in the falling leaves and gather yellow, red and oranges that can be found more rarely in autumn. It’s not that you won’t find them at all; surely, you will see all of them in the squares and parks of the city, but none of them will be wandering through the falling leaves. Continued on p.23
OCTOBER 16 - 22
Ne w Le gend of St Geor ge: The British Geor gian Sc hool New Leg Georg Georgian School Inter vie w with Dr Christopher Gr eenf ield, Headmaster -Ad visor to BGS Intervie view Greenf eenfield, Headmaster-Ad -Advisor BGS.. By Katie Ruth Davies The academic year has begun once again and your children are safely in the school of your choosing, hopefully being educated by top-notch, well-trained and motivated teachers and set for bright futures. Choosing the right school, especially if you are British with halfGeorgian children, like me, can be something of a challenge. One school I’ve got my eye on for my daughter next year is the St George’s British-Georgian school (BGS). British and American-educated Dr Christopher Greenfield brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to the position of Headmaster-Advisor to BGS. Georgia Today met him to discuss the particulars. Q: Christopher, how did you end up as Headmaster at BGS? A: Stephen Nash, who served as the first British Ambassador to Georgia in 1995, made the link for me to come to St George’s British-Georgian School. He’d been helping the school since he served in Tbilisi, and arranged for me to meet most of the Board of Directors in London in 2012. I’d been given a good impression of Georgia by Georgian students I taught in the UK so was delighted to accept the offer of the headship starting in September 2013. Q: Can you tell us a little about your background? A: I’m British, educated at the universities of Leeds, Bristol and Cambridge in the UK and Michigan State in the USA. I taught in the UK, in an American school in Bahrain, and I administered a school in Lebanon. I then served as headmaster of two independent schools in the UK for 27 years until coming to Georgia three years ago. I was vice chairman, then chairman of the British Boarding Schools Association from 2009 to 2011, and I continue to help the British Independent Schools Inspectorate to monitor and maintain standards in British international Continued from p.21 Falling leaves are spread over the ground in autumn, the rest of the leaves fall gradually too, but these leaves are all by themselves, while children, parents, lovers and people are by themselves too...with their noses and heads deep in their cell phones, tablets and lap tops, being entangled like flies in the so called social networks, being checkedin, tagged and liked. I, too, really love autumn. After all, I was born in the last month of autumn. That is why I love the month of November and late autumn. And the winter waiting just behind the door, pouring fog out of a soap-bubble maker instead of bubbles – as if preparing itself for its performance on stage.
Schools around the world. Q: Tell us about BGS. Just how British is it? A: BGS is authorised by the Georgian Ministry of Education, so there are many requirements laid upon us that mean we cannot be, nor do we want to be, an entirely British school. However, we are allowed to add value to our work of educating Georgian boys and girls by offering them the opportunity to gain qualifications that are recognised in the UK and around the world. A British approach to education runs throughout the school, prioritizing interactive, interesting lessons, and procedures that have proved valuable in British schools, such as emphasis on teachers’ professional development, involvement of students and teachers in decision-making, weekly assemblies with each section of the school, whole school projects such as our St George Day Fair, form periods with dedicated form teachers, and much more! Q: What challenges did you face when you arrived at the school? A: The biggest challenges at BGS were raising the standards of teaching and achievement throughout. The school had an excellent reputation for success on the Georgian side, and the British was also good, but there is always room for improvement. We achieved improvements by bringing in experts from the UK and elsewhere, and sending teachers to the UK, as well as making use of resources and experts available in Tbilisi. I also took a direct role in coaching and tutoring the teachers leading the British examination courses. Our results at GCSE this year were record breaking! At GCSE level we had 100% pass, but more importantly 88% of our passes were at the higher levels required in UK to move on to advanced level study. This compares with a higher-grade pass rate of less than 70% in England! I have congratulated the students and teachers involved in this record set of results for
the school. Last year our higher grade passes were in line with the results in England, so to beat the results achieved by British boys and girls at the same age is outstanding! Our results at A level also improved from about 35% last year to 75% this. I am delighted with the progress the school has made. Q: What can you say you have contributed to the school in your time there? A: My British training and background has probably been my biggest contribution to BGS. I have introduced new disciplinary standards, new teacher development targets, a timetable based on the British model, giving students regular breaks during the day and a calendar that includes several short breaks during the school year. We now have new standards of punctuality and appearance for both students and staff... and many more innovations since September 2013! Q: How well have the staff and students (and parents!) reacted and responded to your new standards? A: Parents and students, as well as teachers, want an orderly but relaxed atmosphere where learning can be enjoyable. The new student detention system introduced last year has been accepted and is now rarely used - the reminder that a student might be heading for detention is usually enough! We have
introduced a smarter new uniform, and provide plenty of breaks during the week to allow students to let off steam under gentle supervision. The greater emphasis on punctuality has seen almost all student (and teachers!) arriving on time to ensure the school makes full use of teaching time. Attendance has also improved greatly, indicating that parents and students appreciate the improvements at the school, which will include discipline. Q: How would you describe the standard education system here in Georgia? A: The Georgian system of school education is excellent at training students’ memories and emphasising the importance of factual recall. However, it does not seem to stimulate the interest or engagement of many students, possibly because it does not seem to require students to analyse material, suggest solutions, think critically or research the facts. There does not seem to be much scope for the original thinking or practice that will be necessary for Georgia to compete on equal terms with Western Europeans and Americans in the future. Q: What makes BGS different? A: We believe that BGS is unique. All Georgian students complete the Georgian curriculum, but in addition they can also take British International qualifications as well if they wish, in the same place at the same time, with no additional fee for tuition. The speciality of the school is English language development, which is outstanding. I can talk quite naturally in the English language to students in most grades at BGS, certainly from grade 5 up. The school also aims to keep fees affordable for Georgians. Q: How would you describe the current infrastructure of the school? What are the school’s plans in this direction and how soon do you think these will be achieved?
The Autumn Sonnet I love thinking in autumn. I love going to my village. Early in the morning and during dawn each sound, object, movement gains a special philosophical expression. Watching the man walking down the country lane, until the fog swallows him. And the cow coming out of that same fog, pausing by its gate and calling for its owner. Autumn would have been good everywhere – in the village and in the city, if it had only its poetic sadness and prosaic joy and nothing more. For me, and probably for many other citizens of this country, this one and pre-
Fill in the grid so that every row, every column, and every 3x3 box contains the digits 1 through 9. See answers in the next issue
Answers to previous puzzles
vious autumns have become extremely boring – with their “renewed” TV seasons, political temperature, prices, increased tariffs and the apocalyptic downfall of the national currency, reproached comments of high ranked officials about the issues essentially important to ordinary people; with the grumbling-snarling- barking-howling and the cynical demonstration of high intelligence coefficient of the grievous opposition– implying: ‘hey people, you poor things, so, you did not want the educated morons? Here, have morons again – but ignorant and stupid’; with
the never-ending court trials of former high ranked governmental officials, which has turned into the Franz Kafkian absurd, and thoughts... of people, our thoughts. That it will soon be cold. The trees won’t have leaves any more. Cold winds and rains will start. The day will become shorter and the night longer. At night, we won’t hear the sounds of the crickets from the garden anymore. We will be wearing warm clothes and somewhere nearby, the winter will be waiting with its soap-bubble maker... Entertaining such thoughts, I notice an elderly man. Sitting on the crosswalk
A: BGS has a compact city centre site, near Heroes’ Square. On the campus we have an excellent range of educational and creative facilities, including a science laboratory, library, computers, projectors and smart boards, as well as classrooms and an assembly hall, on three floors. We also have a dining room and doctor’s room in our building. Outside in the school playground we have a basketball court and stadium, an outdoor classroom, and other play equipment. Off campus we use the Tbilisi Arena for swimming and sporting activities. We have added some of these facilities over the last two years, and have plans to add more technological equipment to the school and more play equipment, especially for younger children, in the playground. The school is maintained to a very high standard, and every summer a substantial renovation and improvement programme takes place. Q: What would you like to see in the future for BGS? A: I would like to see BGS widely recognised as a model of pedagogical and academic excellence in Georgia, working in friendly partnership with others. I hope that dozens of young Georgian men and women will be using BGS to gain the qualifications they need to study in English at universities around the Western world, bringing home the skills that Georgia needs for its essential future development.
parapet, he had neatly arranged the yellow, brown and blackish Churchkhelas on an open newspaper next to him; one part wrapped in cloth and the other left open but covered with cellophane to prevent the flies from sitting on it. He was obviously a clean old man. He had brought the Churchkhelas made by his wife and had arranged everything for sale exactly as she had instructed. Soon, the old man hurried to his village, and I to my home, because I had bought all the Churchkhelas from him. I saved the old man from waiting and tiredness, got some amazingly delicious delicacies and hurried to cheer up my boys. Try, at least sometimes, in the autumn, to listen to only the sounds of autumn, to see only autumn, and to taste only autumn.
EDITOR-IN-CHIEF - Katie Ruth Davies
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Oct. 16 - 22, 2015