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Issue no: 905

• DECEMBER 16 - 19, 2016


FOCUS ON DISCUSSIONS Top political bodies met in Tbilisi to discuss regional security & NATO accession PAGE


In this week’s issue... Zurab Pololikashvili Nominated for Secretary General of UN World Tourism



The EU’s Visa Suspension Mechanism Explained POLITICS PAGE 4

Hudin Reveals Georgia's Wine Secrets BUSINESS PAGE 8

Tainted Love: Ogden on Domestic Violence SOCIETY PAGE 10

Ex-president of Latvia, Valdis Zatlers and Georgia’s President, Giorgi Margvelashvili

MEP: Georgians Will Enjoy Visa-Free Travel from April BY THEA MORRISON


Christmas Fairy Tale at Vanda Gallery CULTURE PAGE 17


ember of European Parliament (MEP) and co-rapporteur of Georgia’s visa liberalization Andrejs Mamikins told Georgian journalists that Georgians will enjoy visa-free travel with the European Union (EU) from April, 2017. He said the European Council had suggested the second half of April as the final date for Georgia’s visa waiver. Mamkins underlines the process is nearly over and only technical issues remain. “Apparently, the agreed text on Georgia will be approved on April 7, while on April 15 the decision may be published in the official publication of the European Union. In late April, the citizens of Georgia will be able to travel visa-free with biometric passports,” Mamkins stated. The MEP believes that the voting on Georgia’s visa liberalization will be held in January or February 2017. “After that, the adopted text must be translated into 24 languages, which is expected to require

Fritz Musser’s Family: It’s through Brokenness that We Hurt Others

Baseball and Softball in Georgia SPORTS PAGE 19

Member of European Parliament (MEP) Andrejs Mamikins. Source: mamkins.lv

eight weeks," said Andrejs Mamikins. Mariya Gabriel, European Parliament Member and a rapporteur of Georgia’s visa liberalization, believes the process will be completed before April. She said resolution of technical issues does not

need several weeks and underlined that Georgia had fulfilled all obligations undertaken under Visa Liberalization Action Plan (VLAP) and it was up to the EU now to deliver on its promise. Continued on page 3




DECEMBER 16 - 19, 2016

New Information Center for Persons with Visual Impairment Opens in Tbilisi

The Geneva International Talks were established following the August War between Georgia and Russia in 2008

38th Round of Geneva Talks Ends without Consensus BY THEA MORRISON Opening Ceremony



he Mirza Gelovani Library is now to house an internet - information center equipped with the latest technological advances especially for people with visual impairments. The new venue will have Braille script keypads and other necessary equipment on hand to help them search for any information they need, and forming a better platform for social integration. The USD 224.463 project was financed by the Republic of Korea. Suh Byung-Jo, President of the National Information Society Agency (NIA) Korea, attended the opening ceremony together

with Giorgi Gakharia, Minister of Economy and Sustainable Development of Georgia and Kim In-Hwan, Charge d’Affairs of the Tbilisi Office of the Embassy of the Republic of Korea. The center was opened within the framework of the memorandum signed by the Ministry of Science, ICT and Future Planning of Republic of Korea and the Ministry of Economy of Georgia, and a memorandum between NIA Korea and Georgia’s Innovation and Technology Agency. “It’s a very important day today and we plan to open more centers in Georgia for people who are visually impaired, all equipped with modern technologies, giving people with disabilities easy access to information resources and helping them to be a better part of our society,” Giorgi Gakharia said at the opening.


eorgia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) reports that the 38th round of the International Talks of Geneva, established since the August War between Georgia and Russia in 2008, concluded as usual without any consensus. The talks were co-chaired by representatives from the European Union (EU), United Nations (UN) and the Organization for Security and Co-Operation in Europe (OSCE), as well as delegates from Georgia, Russia and the United States (US), and authorities from de facto Abkhazia and Tskhinvali (South Ossetia) regions. The December 13-14 talks were held within a two meeting-group format. At one meeting the sides discussed security and stability issues in Georgia’s breaka-

way Abkhazia and Tskhinvali regions, while the second meeting concerned the safe return of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) and refugees to their homes. The MFA reports that the Georgian delegation reviewed the security situation in the occupied regions of Georgia and condemned the ratification of a military deal between Russia and Georgia’s occupied Abkhazia. Moreover, the Georgian side raised several issues related to Russia’s ongoing occupation of Georgia, including the installation of barbed wire fences and new border signs, the kidnapping of Georgian citizens and depriving the local youth of an education in their mother tongue. The reduction of so called "checkpoints" at the Administrative Boundary Line (ABL) of Abkhazia was also condemned by Georgian representatives. During the talks, the Khurcha incident was raised by the Georgian side, where an unarmed 31 year-old citizen of Geor-

gia, Giga Otkhozoria, was gunned down by Russian border guards on Georgiancontrolled territory in the village of Khurcha, close to the Nabakevi Crossing Point at the ABL on May 19. The participants also discussed the issue of protection of cultural heritage in Georgia’s occupied regions. Furthermore, the Georgian Delegation raised the issue of IDPs and their safe return to their homes in the occupied regions of Georgia. During the discussions, the representatives of the Russian Federation left the discussions in protest. “By this step, the Russian Delegation reiterated their unconstructive attitude towards the negotiation process,” Georgia’s MFA said. The Ministry underlines that all the meeting participants, except Russia and the de facto representatives, fully shared the position of Georgia. The next round of Geneva Talks has been scheduled for March 28-29, 2017.



MEP: Georgians Will Enjoy Visa-Free Travel from April

Continued from page 1

"April is a long time for the citizens of Georgia, as Georgia has already fulfilled its obligations, and now the EU has to fulfill its promise. Resolution of technical issues does not require eight weeks. We are doing our best to speed up the process," Gabriel said. The political agreement over Georgia’s visa- liberalization issue came after the trialogue of the European Parliament, European Council and European Commission on Tuesday in Brussels, Belgium. This was the first tripartite meeting on Georgia’s visa liberalization involving all the European Union (EU) structures. The Georgia-EU visa-free travel will now be discussed in the Council of Europe by the Committee of Permanent Representatives of the Governments of Member States to the EU (Coreper) and at the Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs (LIBE). After this, the issue will be returned to the European Parliament, which will make the final decision. The visa-free regime between Georgia and the EU will go into force as soon as the suspension mechanism is activated. When the process is completed, Georgian citizens will be able to enter the EU visa-free for 90 days in any 180-day period.


Zurab Pololikashvili Nominated for Secretary General of UN World Tourism


n event dedicated to the nomination of Georgia’s candidate, Zurab Pololikashvili, for Secretary General of the UN World Tourism was held in Madrid this week. The event was attended by Georgian Foreign Minister Mikheil Janelidze and Secretary General of the UN World Tourism Organization, Taleb Rifai. The Georgian Foreign Minister appeared before the participants of the meeting. In his speech he spoke about the UN World Tourism Organization’s role in advancing tourism as one of the

world’s leading sectors. The Minister also highlighted the priority importance of tourism in Georgia, which plays a leading role in the economic development of the country. According to Mikheil Janelidze, it is the first case when Georgia has a candidate to such a high position within the UN. Janelidze expressed his confidence that Pololikashvili will successfully tackle all tasks on the agenda of the World Tourism Organization. “Tourism is one of the most important sectors in Georgia in terms of developing the country, and promoting and building its positive image abroad. Nom-

inating Georgia’s candidate for Secretary General of the UN World Tourism is yet more proof that our government attaches priority importance to tourism,” said the Minister. He also spoke about Zurab Pololikashvili’s professional background and his experience in promoting economic development and tourism in Georgia. Appearing before the audience attending the ceremony of nomination of Pololikashvili, the Secretary General of the World Tourism Organization Taleb Rifai thanked the Georgian Foreign Minister for his participation in the event.

“I am about to start my final year as secretary general – the position which I have been privileged to hold for almost 7 years, and now I am confident that this position will be taken over by the best candidate, one who will reinforce the country’s position in this area,” Taleb Rifai said. The nomination was attended by representatives of the diplomatic corps, as well as political cultural and business communities of Spain. The Head of the Georgian National Tourism Administration Giorgi Chogovadze also took part in the ceremony.

Heavy Rain Damages Gelati Frescoes BY NATIA LIPARTELIANI


ue to heavy rain that lasted several days, a number of the well-known historic frescoes at Georgia’s 12th Century Gelati Monastery were damaged when water leaked through the roof of the monastery. Restorers called to analyse the scene say that while it seems the frescoes haven’t been destroyed, it is possible that

they will lose their original appearance. The Gelati Monastery is a medieval monastic complex near Kutaisi, in the Source: Sticky Green Imereti region of Leaves - WordPress.com western Georgia. Founded by King David IV 'The Builder' in 1106 in the period known as the Georgian Golden Age, Gelati is one of the most important cultural landmarks in

Georgia and is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in Danger. UNESCO describes the monastery as "a well-preserved complex, with wonderful mosaics and wall paintings, representing the flowering of medieval architecture in Georgia.” Since 2013, the United States Embassy to Georgia has been funding the architectural rehabilitation of the Church. The money was meant to conserve the church's mosaics. The project involved several phases and full rehabilitation was expected to end in 2017.

The New Year is round the corner and we at restaurant Georgian House have already decorated he halls Christmas garlands. We are preparing our New Year's show program and are ready and waiting for all those who want to create a preChristmas festive mood for loved ones, to reserve tables in the halls of the Georgian House, to share our delicious food and Georgian delicacies. Throughout the New Year holidays, restaurant Georgian House will be offering various innovations to its customers. The musical program is dominated by our customers’ favorite Christmas and New Year songs and the halls which form a pleasant background to the decorated halls, exquisite service, beautifully presented dishes and high-quality beverages. There is also a great demand for the Georgian House delivery service. Using our site you can browse the menu, choose your desired dish and call us. The dishes will be brought to your door in special containers, arriving warm and fresh. We want you to have the tasty dishes of Georgian House by your side even when you are busy and cannot come to us. Beautify your evenings, treat you beloved ones with tasty and healthy products from the kitchen of Georgian House. Call us, use our services and you will see that you have found your Georgian House.






DECEMBER 16 - 19, 2016



ROJECT ASSISTANT AT GIP On December 7, the European Council and European Parliament reached agreement on the visa liberalization suspension mechanism, clearing the largest obstacle remaining to granting visa-free travel to citizens of Georgia and Ukraine. The suspension mechanism will allow EU members to temporarily cancel their visa-free arrangements with non-member countries such as Georgia under special circumstances: a sudden increase in bogus asylum applications, a national security emergency, and several others specified below. The suspension mechanism can be applied for a period of nine months, during which time the visaexempt country is expected to work with the EU to resolve the emergency situation. Any EU member country will need to get approval from the European Commission before using the suspension mechanism. The mechanism wasn’t part

When Georgian citizens discuss visa liberalization, they often joke about mass migration to Europe, using phrases such as “don’t forget to switch off the electricity at the airport when the last citizen leaves the country”

The suspension mechanism can be applied for nine months, during which time the visaexempt country is expected to work with the EU to resolve the emergency situation

Source: REUTERS Georgia

of Georgia’s original Visa Liberalization Action Plan, so its potential impact on Georgia is worth careful consideration. The suspension mechanism first entered the equation on December 11, 2013 with the European Parliament and European Council’s adoption of Regulation 1289/2013, which introduced the possibility of such a mechanism for the first time. The mechanism’s purpose is political: due to high rates of migration into the EU and the rise of xenophobic political parties, nationalist sentiments have grown and EU institutions felt pressure to allow member states the possibility to re-impose visa requirements in a fast, efficient manner. Under the new draft law, each member state, as well as the European Commission itself, has the right to trigger the suspension mechanism. According to the December 7, 2016 agreement, the mechanism can be applied to any non-EU country that has a visafree arrangement (not only for Georgia and Ukraine) in one or more of the following cases: • A substantial increase in the number of the non-EU country’s nationals have been refused entry or are irregularly staying in an EU member state; • A substantial increase in unfounded asylum applications; • A lack of cooperation on readmissions (the return of migrants to their home country); and

• Threats to public policy or internal security related to the nationals of the non-EU country. According to an EU Parliament report, the main body with control over the suspension mechanism is the European Commission. The Commission will be able to monitor the process and apply to the Parliament and Council with concerns about whether visa-exempt countries are still cooperating with the EU and adhering to its values. If the answers are negative, the mechanism can be applied. Each member state will also have the right to request triggering of the suspension mechanism. In such case, the member state shall apply to the Commission, which has one month to decide whether to suspend the visa waiver for a period of nine months. After cooperation with the visa-exempt country, the Commission will have the right to prolong the suspension period for an additional 18 months. In total, the visa-exempt country will have a maximum of 27 months to settle the claims against it.

COULD THE SUSPENSION MECHANISM CREATE PROBLEMS FOR GEORGIA? There is very small chance that the mechanism will ever be applied to Georgia, but the possibility must be considered. When Georgian citizens discuss visa liberalization they often make jokes

about mass migration to Europe, using phrases such as “don’t forget to switch off the electricity at the airport when the last citizen leaves the country.” These jokes express a very real perspective with which many Georgians perceive the visa liberalization process. In fact, the visa-free regime will increase opportunities for all Georgians who intend to visit the EU for a specific purpose for up to 90 days during any 180-day period. However, the visa exemption does not provide for the right to work in the EU.

HOW IMPORTANT IS A VISAFREE REGIME FOR GEORGIA? We can specify several important benefits that Georgia will gain after implementation of a visa-free regime: 1. Visa free travel; 2. Georgia’s deeper integration with the EU; 3. The ability to offer residents of Abkhazia and Tskhinvali the opportunity to travel to Europe with a Georgian passport (which could have a positive effect on Georgia’s relations with the breakaway regions); and 4. An effective instrument for blunting the effectiveness of Russian propaganda in Georgia. The visa liberalization process is proceeding in a positive direction. Only technical issues now stand in the way of Georgians traveling to Europe on a visafree basis. No precise timetable has been

put forward, but many expect the EU to grant visa liberalization to Georgia and Ukraine at the beginning of 2017. Following agreement on the suspension mechanism between the EU Parliament and the European Council, which occurred on December 7, 2016, both bodies will take a final vote on visa liberalization, and both must vote in favor of approval. “The Council votes on visa issues by qualified majority, which means that a proposal must garner 228 out of 309 votes. The normal number of votes in the Council is 345, but the UK and Ireland are not voting on visa policy. The number of votes per country corresponds to its population” (The EU decisionmaking process, 20 March 2009, updated 1 March 2010). The final step, after the Council’s vote, is publication of an adopted act in the Official Journal of the European Union (publication of this act usually takes roughly three weeks from its adoption). The visa-free regime will officially enter into force on the 20th day following the date of that publication. The Georgian Institute of Politics was founded in 2011 to strengthen institutions and promote good governance and development through policy research and advocacy in Georgia. It publishes its blog with Georgia Today twice per month. Check out our website in English and Georgian at gip.ge for more blogs, data, and analyses.




DECEMBER 16 - 19, 2016

Tbilisi International Discussions Hit on Hot Topics of Integration & Regional Security BY THEA MORRISON


eorgia’s integration with the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), Georgia’s role in the security and stability of the Black Sea region and challenges facing EuroAtlantic area were the top issues of the Tbilisi International Discussions, held in the capital of Georgia on December 15. The Discussions were held on the initiative of Georgia’s President Giorgi Margvelashvili and the National Security Council of Georgia, at the Presidential Administration. The event gathered around 100 Geor-

gian and international experts, including several high-rank politicians: ex-president of Latvia, Valdis Zatlers; former Foreign Minister of Estonia, Marina Kaljurand; National Security Council staffs of Romania, Slovakia, Czech Republic, and Bulgaria; and heads of NATO diplomatic missions. During the discussions the participants expressed their opinions, and set priorities and recommendations about the security of Georgia and the region as a whole. The event was opened by President Margvelashvili who spoke about the choice of Georgians, the importance of Georgia’s European and Euro-Atlantic integration and he country’s geopolitical role in the region.

The President underlined that Georgian society has clearly chosen the path to democracy, adding that Georgia’s wish was to become a NATO member and to be part of the group of countries which had common values. “Georgia’s joining NATO means peace, security and stability in the region. It will promote regional and transcontinental cooperation projects which are vital for the Black Sea region countries,” he noted. Moreover, Margvelashvili said that

Georgia’s cooperation with NATO and participation in various international peacekeeping missions, in order to ensure global security, was part of Georgia’s Euro-integration process. “We are looking for the “window of opportunities” that will enable Georgia to become a NATO member… In this direction, the opinions and recommendations of our partners are welcome. A stable, strong, democratic and developed Georgia will guarantee peace and stabil-

Walking the ‘Other’ Road: Squabbles for Leadership

ity in the region,” Georgia’s President stated. He also stressed that joint efforts are necessary to deal with the existing challenges facing Georgia, young democracies and the whole Alliance. The President hoped that in the frames of the Tbilisi Strategic Discussions 2016, the government, parliament, presidential administration and experts would hold in-depth, frank and result-oriented discussions.

Opposition Leader Burchuladze Quits Politics, Returns to Opera




ollowing a year-long reconciliation, the Prime Minister and the President had a fight. Again. This time the reason is much more serious than the one a year ago with former Prime Minister Garibashvili. At that time the argument was not about any particularly significant political concepts but rather who would give a formal speech in the UN and who in the Council of Europe; and who would sign this or that international document…No, this time the issue is much more complicated, seeing PM Kvirikashvili and President Margvelashvili confronting each other over announced changes that are planned to be made to the country’s supreme law. The issue on the table? Who will the lead the committee which will make these changes to the Constitution. In his first announcement following the victory of Georgian Dream in the elections held on October 8, PM Kvirikashvili addressed the upcoming constitutional reform, not economic or

judicial, but constitutional, about the rules of presidential election. Other “faces” of the party supported him, saying that this constitutional reform should be such that nobody should ever be able to “cut and sew” the supreme document in future. And by “such reform” they mean the rule of presidential election in the first place. Everyone, from the Speaker of Parliament to an ordinary MP from the ruling party, assures society that it will be much better if the successor of President Margvelashvili is chosen by parliament instead of being elected through elections. Apparently, the election rules are much more essential for the Georgian Dream than the notorious “same sex marriage” issue or moving parliament from Kutaisi to the capital. On the initiative of the Prime Minister, the Chairman of Parliament Irakli Kobakhidze will also head a 60-member Constitutional Commission of reforms. However, President Margvelashvili believes that this committee should be established under the President rather than parliament and should be headed by the President himself, as the presidential institution is the one that balances the various branches of the government.

Events developed so rapidly that the creation of the Constitutional Commission wasn’t hindered even by the drastic devaluation of the national currency nor the economic crisis in the country. The Committee was created and is headed by Kobakhidze. Now, we can easily imagine the verdict that it will dictate. The President will have no chance of running for presidency. To be more precise, he will have an opportunity to announce his candidacy, but according to the future reform, the Parliamentary majority consisting of the Georgian Dream will simply not choose him. And apparently the President and his Administration refused to join the Parliamentary Constitutional Commission exactly because of that prospect. Although legislation does not forbid him from creating a Constitutional Committee of his own, in the end, according to the law, the project will have to be presented to parliament anyway. So all roads lead to the Georgian Dream, which has the majority of MPs and where Margvelashvili will be forced to face a big “No”. Perhaps that is why the President chose to concentrate on other activities. As Lenin used to say, he decided to walk

the other road. Margvelashvili’s supporters are no longer hiding that Margvelashvili will announce the creation of his own party; even the leaders of the new party are allegedly known to be the former Speaker of the Parliament Davit Usupashvili and the group that left the Republican Party with him; the exDefense Minister’s party – Free Democrats; and Giga Bokeria’s group that left the United National Movement. The fact that President Margvelashvili has started political activities was further proved by his meeting with the Free Democrats, who were seen by the media leaving his summer house in Dusheti. Moreover, before that Margvelashvili met Giga Bokeria in his Presidential Palace. As for Usupashvili and his supporters, they have yet to meet Margvelashvili. One of the leaders of the group, Vakhtang Khmaladze, said that first they need to choose whether or not to join the Parliamentary Constitutional Commission. Apparently, the former Republicans plan to function as the Trojan Horse once again, but where they will be this time- with the president in the opposition or with the committee with the parliament -has yet to be decided.

ormer opera singer-turnedpolitician Paata Burchuladze, who left his successful singer career in May to form a political party State for People and participate in the October parliamentary elections, announced that he is quitting politics and returning to the stage. The announcement was made at the State for People party congress on Wednesday. Burchuladze said he decided to go abroad and resume his international singing career, while the party would be left to the young generation. State for People will have a new Chair, Nika Machutadze, 24, a researcher of political sciences, historian and constitutional expert, who has been beside Paata Burchuladze since the day the party was founded. Burchuladze originally hinted at ending his 35 year opera career for a life in politics in early 2015 when he cancelled several scheduled concerts at Milan’s La Scala, London’s Covent Garden and New York’s Met to launch the Georgian Development Foundation, which he described at the time as an attempt “to finish the era of fear and unprofessionalism in the country.” In early May, 2016 he announced that he would run in the October 8 parliamentary elections under his own State for the People Party. In August, he formed a coalition with three other opposition parties to form the State for the People Movement. The bloc included the New Political Center Girchi, New Rights Party and New Georgia, all of whom made the decision after the four parties decided to create a broader union of “pro-Western political forces”. Although in pre-election political surveys Burchuladze polled third with 12 percent support from potential voters, his coalition failed to pass the 5 percent election threshold and was left without any seats in parliament.




Buying Business Travel Awards Names Georgia Best MICE Destination

Hudin Reveals Georgia's Wine Secrets


n the December issue of Meininger's Wine Business International, wine journalist, Miquel Hudin has written an article entitled, "Who's Who in Georgia". A regular feature in their bimonthly magazine, this article works to explain the inner workings of Georgian wine to those in the trade and acts as an industry reference to the multiple layers that make up the current Georgian wine sector by delving into the large, "wine factory" production as well as the "boutique" qvevri producers. Miquel was selected to write the article after traveling extensively throughout the entire country during 2016 for his new Georgian wine guide. As the first independent guide to the wines, wineries, and history of Georgian wine, the book is set for release in Spring of 2017 with global availability.



eorgia has been named the best place for arranging international Meetings, Incentives, Conferences, and Events (MICE) due to the fact that the country offers top conditions for foreign visitors to combine business trips and leisure. On December 13 in Moscow, Russia, the Buying Business Travel Awards 2016 awarded the Conventions and Exhibition Bureau of the Georgian National Tourism Administration (GNTA) with the title.

“This award is very important for Georgia as it shows the country successfully continues diversification of its offers to tourists. I would like to thank all companies and organizations which are involved in developing MICE tourism in Georgia,� said the head of the GNTA, Giorgi Chogovadze. The Conventions and Exhibition Bureau of the GNTA was founded in February 2016 and aims at fostering the development of business tourism in Georgia, seeking to make it a hub for international meetings, exhibitions, conferences, tours and various other events. The Bureau also focuses on promoting the business tourism potential of Georgia abroad.




DECEMBER 16 - 19, 2016

The Embassy of the State of Qatar to Georgia Celebrates the National Day of the State of Qatar


he Embassy of the State of Qatar to Georgia celebrated the National Day of the State of Qatar which marks the Accession of His Highness Sheikh Jassim Bin Mohammad Al Thani, the Founder of the State of Qatar, to the throne, and commemorates the inception of the modern state of Qatar in 1878. On this occasion, H.E. Mubarak Bin Nasser Al-Khalifa, Ambassador of the State of Qatar to Georgia, hosted a reception on the 14th of December in Courtyard Marriott Tbilisi.




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PROJECT SUPPORT: • The project is financed by the Bank • The exclusive broker for the complex is Colliers International Georgia • The complex is being built by company ‘Anagi’. • The construction of the project will end in 2017.



Touristic Venues with the Best Services to Be Named in Adjara BY NINO GUGUNISHVILI


he Tourism Department of Adjara is to award touristic venues for Best Services at ‘Magnolia 2016,’ on December 22. Magnolia is an annual award-giving event taking place for the second time this year, with winners chosen based on customer and tourism sphere surveys. In order to name hotels, restaurants, tourist attractions, museums, tour guides, tourism agencies and touristic routes for the best services provided, the Tourism Department of Adjara set up an online customer opinion survey from September 2016, and asked for customer reviews through Facebook, Booking.com and TripAdvisor. The survey ran until December 10, both in the regional tourism information offices, touristic sites, and online, and saw 1200 tourists and customers participating. While naming the best service providers in the industry, apart from considering the results of the customer surveys, the Tourism Department of Adjara will also rely on reviews and assessments from the transport companies, tourism agencies, hotels, restaurants and tour guides. The results of the “Recommended by Tourism Department of Adjara” project will also be taken into consideration. The criteria used in choosing the best service providers are:

FOR HOTELS: Customer Surveys -70% Social Media - 20% Booking.com - 10% TripAdvisor - 5% Facebook.com - 5% Involvement in “Recommended by Tourism Department of Adjara project - 10%

FOR RESTAURANTS: Customer Surveys -70% Social Media - 20% Tripadvisor – 15%

Facebook.com – 5% Involvement in “Recommended by Tourism Department of Adjara project - 10%

FOR GUESTHOUSES: Customer Surveys 70% Tourism Agency Surveys 30% Inner Infrastructure Yard Proximity to tourist attractions Diversity of the Menu, taste Motivation


DECEMBER 16 - 19, 2016

Tainted Love: Ogden on Domestic Violence

FOR TOURISTIC ATTRACTIONS/ MUSEUMS: Customer Surveys -70% Touristic Agency Surveys - 30 Accessibility Quality of the Tour Guide Content Motivation

FOR TOURISM AGENCIES: Customer Surveys -20% Hotels/Restaurants/ Transport Companies Surveys - 30% Social Media -50% Facebook.com - 20% Web Page - 30%

FOR TOURISTIC PLACE/ROUTE: Customer Survey - 60% Tourism Agencies - 20% Tour Guide Survey - 20%

FOR BEST TOUR GUIDE: Tourism Agencies surveys - 50% Tour Guide surveys - 50% Competency Skills

FOR NEW TOURISTIC PRODUCT: Naming the new Touristic Product Reviews from Tourists


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s angry and horrified as I was by the recent death of a woman in Telavi, killed by her ex-husband, I cannot claim to be particularly surprised. Incidents of violence against women are hardly uncommon here, a sad fact which I am loathe to record, since I like Georgia and take no satisfaction in dragging it down to the level of Turkey or Pakistan. It is, however, hardly my fault. Another incident earlier this year took place in Samegrelo, when a man murdered his young wife after “discovering” that she was not a virgin after their wedding. Exactly how he was so sure in his conviction was never disclosed, but seeing as the bulk of experience for most Georgian males comes from prostitutes, I would hardly be confident in his diagnosis. More importantly, however, is the fact that virginity at marriage is little more than a pathetic expectation from men who in truth have little self-confidence; for a people who like to boast that they are the best lovers in the former Soviet Union and the dream of every Russian and Ukrainian girl, they seem to harbor a great fear over their women being with other men. Such great lovers should surely not worry about such a thing if they truly believed in their prowess. Anybody reading so far might be under the impression that these attacks are limited to Georgia's regions, but just last year a lecturer was murdered in the middle of her lecture by her ex-husband in Tbilisi. An ex-girlfriend of mine still receives death threats from her Georgian ex-husband (despite the fact that she

divorced him after a very brief marriage over three years ago), and my friend is regularly threatened with violence from her husband if he suspects she is talking to other men, even colleagues. He does not even allow her to travel to her office much, and when she does, he will call her phone constantly. I'm sure I have written elsewhere that I can hardly claim to be anti-violence, since I have boxed since I was 12 and served a brief stint in the Army, but I do like to see violence directed against people who have a chance to fight back. For my part, I took no satisfaction in boxing a stranger and finding that he was overmatched; victory lost its sweetness when the opponent was just not good enough. To the uninitiated, a hard fought fight with broken lips, bleeding noses, ringing ears, black eyes and bruised torsos may not sound appealing at all, but it is infinitely preferable over battering an overwhelmed opponent who simply cannot fight back. What satisfaction Georgian men can take in battering a smaller man with the help of three friends (as happened to my brother-in-law; he still bears the scars), women or gay people (who, as much as I respect them for who they are, are not famous for their fighting prowess), I really cannot imagine. A related phenomenon I have encountered is an unusual consequence of jealousy. All men are jealous, whether they are Georgian or Western, but it is where envy and anger are directed that separate the East from the West. Jealousy-inspired relationship violence is probably far more common in Britain than Georgia, but the fighting is between two men; in Georgia, it is usually a man attacking a woman. During my earlier years in Georgia (when I did not keep quite so agreeable company as I have done for the last

three years), I asked a number of men what they would do if a man was looking at his wife or girlfriend. To do them justice, not all of them were inclined to belt her around the head or break her ribs, being comfortable enough in their powers to verbally intimidate her (so help me, it's the truth), but the belief in where fault lay was unanimous; the man was only doing what came naturally to him, it was the girl's fault for attracting his attention. The deep, dark pit underneath that particular mentality must be excavated another time. As my wife often reminds me, the fault does not lie with Georgian men alone, but also with women; with the mothers who raise their sons in the belief that they are perfect, and the women who, on being told they cannot wear certain clothes or shoes, tell their men where to stick their jealousy. In the latter category's defense, I am sure it would not be easy to be so confident without support mechanisms, or even help from family; one Georgian woman told me recently she simply cannot leave her abusive husband because her family will think her tainted. Hers is not the only story of this kind I have heard, nor will it be the last. The word count has crept up on me again. I shall conclude by saying that last week, I wrote about education reform and how Georgians could be directed towards leading more productive lives with better education, but I think this issue is even more pressing. The EU, an institution that runs the risk of losing its credibility, should increase its involvement, perhaps even threaten to suspend the much vaunted visa liberalization for Georgia until this issue is properly tackled. And why not? A severe penalty for a severe crime; surely the very definition of justice.




DECEMBER 16 - 19, 2016

Down to a Trickle: Etseri, Svaneti it wasn't there to do in last winter's freeze-up), the cold soon to return might not kill the water this time, if we're careful to leave it running, as wasteful as that seems! The alternative is far worse, and much more trouble. The house is slowly warming up, the chill in its bones thawing from the inside out with all the heating and stove fire we have going now, maybe enough to reverse some or all of the pipe-freezes which we do have, maybe even to the upstairs. Another small mercy: those frozen pipes don't actually burst, being plastic. That, too, would be so much worse than what we have. The other place where the exact same battle between incoming frost and outpushing warmth is taking place is... my own heart. As I write this, electricity has been off again for half an hour or so, though this is nothing new in winter; snowfall off the roof has accumulated a foot or so past the top steps of the house doorways and to the bottoms of the windows, with more bucketing down. I'm aware of the potential for crippling discouragement, and of the need to fight it off by staying positive. Otherwise, it's kill the livestock, pack our bags and head off to the Big City for the winter if not for good. Which I so don't want to do.



rom the luxuries of Canada back to... Svan reality, like a slap in the face with an ice brick. Ice, because although the place we left behind was quite a bit colder than where we returned to, the effect of the latter was much more severe. The unnamed person who neglected to leave the house heating on at least left the water running, which meant that it didn't freeze. If it HAD frozen, I would have had to drag out 150 m of plastic pipe, connect it to our entry point on the main village pipe, join the other end to the house, patch up leaks, and hope for the best. So that was something. But the cold indoors had allowed all standing water to freeze partly or fully. So... upstairs, no water. A sink left running up there had spat out its tap filter and bizarrely frozen the stream into place, as if in a flash, the filter still stuck in the still column. Downstairs, a big piece broke off the toilet pedestal, and some water leaked out of that, although a few days later we discovered that the toilet still may be useable, albeit needing to be flushed by bucket. But that's better than trips to the outhouse, no? Snow had blanketed everything and, in the absence of internal heating, had built up on the roof of the house instead of doing what it usually does and sliding right off the unpainted metal by its own weight after a few inches' accumulation. It's only now starting to come down. (All around us the poor people with painted roofs are shoveling it off...) And the hot water tank downstairs also

refuses to run, so the only non-icy water we have is what we heat on the wood stove or in the kettle. Electricity? It was there when we arrived, then vanished, but just in our house, so, not a neighborhood thing. But the house circuit box seemed to be in order, all switches up and on. Early in the morning the power did come

back, but very weakly, and only some hours after that did it return in full force, where it's been ever since. I got up a couple of times during that first night to stoke the stove, as it was at the time our only source of heat in the whole big place. Jet lag meant that I was awake anyway, so why not be useful? In short, quite a discouraging return,

although it could have been much worse. No fire emergency or collapsed roofs, some water actually running, electricity eventually stable, heating able to be turned on. We also missed the season's worst colds to date. Now it's warmer, only a few degrees below freezing, and with as much snow as we have insulating the water pipe (which

Tony Hanmer has lived in Georgia since 1999, in Svaneti since 2007, and been a weekly writer for GT since early 2011. He runs the “Svaneti Renaissance� Facebook group, now with over 1350 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



DECEMBER 16 - 19, 2016


Borjomi's Return to Status of Leading Tourist Destination BY LUKAS MÄDER


t was the fresh air together with the smell of pine trees which grabbed me. In the forest up on the hill above Borjomi, lumbermen had been cutting trees and now I was surrounded by the strong smell of wood. The weather was mild with the occasional ray of sunshine peeking through the clouds on the late autumn day. The cable car up to the hill was still working, and two young Russian tourists eagerly took a ride. But it was obvious that the season was drawing to a close. The ferris wheel had stopped turning, the restaurant was locked. “High season in Borjomi is during the summer. In July and August it can be hard to find a room,” says Keti Berozashvili, Head of Tourism at the Municipality of Borjomi. “A lot of families come for the air in the summer and stay in the town proper or in the surrounding villages for one or two weeks- it’s still reviving since tourism stopped in the 1990s.” Borjomi also usually experiences some tourist flow after the first snowfall- with visitors coming to take the ice-cold forest air and a cup or two of mineral water on their way to or from the nearby Bakuriani ski resort. The town has been famous for its mineral spring since the 19th century. And even today Borjomi is a well-known brand still sold in many former Soviet countries. This is probably the reason Borjomi attracts a lot of tourists from Ukraine, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan and, despite political tensions, also from Russia. Such guests tend to go for the classic spa hotels or sanatoriums, with baths, massage,

and mineral water treatments – just like they did in Soviet times. Walking through the main street of Borjomi, you can still catch a hint of those Soviet times: Socialist architecture, run-down houses and former hotels, sometimes unused- it certainly doesn't have the splendor of some European mountain resorts. Nonetheless, you can feel the effort Borjomi is putting in to become a leading tourist destination in the region again – and to attract western tourists. To this aim, Borjomi is focusing on ecotourism and agrotourism. Berozashvili sees huge potential in this field, especially regarding European tourists. “Already the region is offering activities like hiking, biking and horse riding in cooperation with the local people in the villages. And the Municipality wants to expand this sector,” she says. “The problem is it's not always easy to convince the local population of the value of ecotourism.” Borjomi has a big advantage over other tourist destinations: it is located next to the National Borjomi-Kharagauli Park, the largest National Park in Georgia. The Park Administration started in 2003 to create the first hiking trail. “Now there are different trails of up to four days long and shelters for overnight stays (tourists can rent sleeping bags and tents). And recently the Park Administration invested in better marking for the trails following visitor feedback,” says Park director, Levan Tabunidze. And it seems the tourists do appreciate this effort. The number of visitors is increasing rapidly, in the current year by 15 percent so far. And for those tourists looking for pure nature, it's probably a plus that Borjomi doesn't have the splendor of Western mountain resorts just yet.

Annual St Lucia Reception Lights the Way for Christmas BY KATIE RUTH DAVIES


he Swedish Embassy in Tbilisi, with partners and sponsors Geocell, Oriflame and Ericsson, welcomed a variety of guests to their 4th annual St Lucia reception at the Funicular this week. Children were welcomed by special guest Pepper, Geocell’s robot buddy, who danced and winked at the excited youngsters around him, and a magician, who kept them busy while the adults tucked in to the sumptuous Swedish-European buffet and spiced wine. “The Lucia tradition is very old,” explained the Ambassador of Sweden, H.E. Martina Quick. “It has survived through many centuries in shapes and forms changing and developing together with our society. And I think that shows how much Swedes love and need this special holiday. It takes place during the darkest and coldest time of the year. And it brings us light, warmth and goodness. Lucia herself stems from a pre-Christian goddess of light who fights and conquers the evil powers of darkness on the longest night of the year. She reminds us that darkness will not last forever and that light

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will return. Now, as we approach the end of this year which has in many respects been a dark year, with many fleeing war and disasters and terrorism, I think Lucia is even more welcome.” Then came the traditional St Lucia Procession with both children and adults dressed in white with fir wreaths on their heads and candles in their hands. Together, they sang Swedish Christmas carols for the guests which, together with the giant tree, positive, loving atmosphere and the chocolate treats given to the children by the sponsoring companies, made for a very festive pre-Christmas treat indeed.

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DECEMBER 16 - 19, 2016

Fritz Musser’s Family: It’s through Brokenness that We Hurt Others EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW BY KATIE RUTH DAVIES


ebekah Friesen is a day program co-ordinator within a L’Arche community in Canada. In L'Arche, people who have intellectual disabilities and those who come to assist them share life and daytime activities together in family-like settings that are integrated into local neighborhoods. Rebekah is a calm, well-educated and well-spoken lady, with a deep understanding of the inherent good in people and the necessity of kindness and education to make the world a better place. But Rebekah is here in Tbilisi to witness the trial of her husband’s murderer. She also came to collect her husband’s belongings and to see what made Georgia, and the Caucasus, the place her husband had dreamed of exploring for the past 11 years. Fritz Musser died on August 12, stabbed to death on a village road as he hiked alone to the Tusheti region as part of his top-to-tail Caucasus Mountain trail. The murderer was a 20 year old Georgian man who’d had a little too much to drink that fateful evening which ultimately ended in Fritz’s death. The young man, brought up by his grandparents in a small village, was quickly picked up by local police and confessed to the murder, aware that he could face the next 15 years in prison. The trial last week took just one hour and the offender was sentenced to 11 years in a prison system which is young in its experience of rehabilitation. And Fritz’s widow sympathizes. “I came not knowing what to expect. We’d been told that for a victim’s family to seek some sort of reconciliation with the accused and his family is very exceptional in Georgia, so we’d been told not to get our hopes up. When we arrived in the courtroom, we saw the offender’s grandparents and sibling were there. We exchanged smiles and I sat beside the grandmother the whole trial. There were a lot of tears on both sides. The grandparents had raised the boy and his sibling. They lost a son as I had lost my partner and Fritz’s family a son, brother, and uncle. We were humans sitting beside each other that day.” The offender, Rebekah says, sat through most of the trial with his head in his hands. “He was emotional, his body language

clearly saying: I can’t face the world. But I had the opportunity to speak to him, which they say is unprecedented in Georgia, and he expressed gratitude that we’d come and had been advocating on there not being a harsh prison sentence- rather that he’d have the chance to be out of prison and making positive changes in his life.” “When Fritz went on these long trips, he often spent a lot of time ruminating on a topic or idea. This time he was thinking about what he could do when he returned to North America to make life better for people in prisons,” she says. “I've known Fritz for 9 years and as long as I've known him, he has been concerned with the well-being of incarcerated individuals. He believed humans are naturally good and don't want to hurt others, unless we have been wounded in spirit or not given the opportunities we need to live our lives well. Fritz felt prisons should be humane and respectful. They should reduce the chances that people would commit another crime, and they should

Fritz felt prisons should be humane and respectful. They should reduce the chances that people would commit another crime, and they should give people the opportunity to reform their lives and heal their minds and spirits

Fritz Musser: murdered in Kakheti on August 12, 2016

give people the opportunity to reform their lives and heal their minds and spirits.” In recent years, the Georgian government- the Ministry of Corrections, closely cooperating with various state institutions, non-governmental and international organizations, as well as the Ombudsman of Georgia, has taken significant steps to initiate reforms in the area of offender rights and restorative justice. It’s a work in process and it’s not clear how this young offender will benefit from it, which Fritz’s forgiving family clearly feels he should. With tears in her eyes, Rebekah says she and Fritz’s other family members never felt angry about his murder - just sad, and very aware of their great loss. “We’ve been confused, sad, devastated, but not angry.” Rebekah describes Fritz as a warm, caring, sensitive man, quick to respond emotionally to a video he saw or story he read. “And he was a gentle man- he’d walk by a playground and kids would run out asking him to play.”

She also describes him as insatiably curious and keenly intelligent. “I’ve never met anyone who had as many questions about everything as Fritz- he really wanted to learn about people and places and why they were the way they were. His mother says what an incredible gift he was because of how much he wanted to learn.” Undoubtedly, it was that curiosity that lead him, after a long bout of unemployment and a short and sweet money-earner in Data-Entry and Research, to throw caution to the wind and pack his bag to fulfil an 11-year dream: to hike the length of the Caucasus Mountains. “It was Georgia or bust. He’d spent four years living in Moscow and had travelled in the region. And he really fell in love with Georgia and its people. He even tried to recreate Georgian cuisine in the kitchen at home. He started his journey at the beginning of June in Azerbaijan- his feet in the Caspian Sea.” A full-time job and people depending on her in the L’Arche community meant Rebekah was unable to join Fritz on his adventure, though it wasn’t through lack of desire to do so. “I’ve been wanting to come to Georgia for years because of his interest. As a friend of mine said ironically the day before I was flying out, ‘I bet Fritz never thought he’d get you to do it so soon!’” Her impressions since she arrived have been positive with regards both place and people. I ask how positive her experience had been with those involved in the murder investigation and she claims the authorities were “very caring,” even showing concern on a personal level that this had happened. The process of investigation and getting Fritz’s body home went faster than expected, and his family and friends were able to hold a memorial service to celebrate his life within three weeks of his passing. Some of his highschool friends began an online fundraising campaign with the aim of covering the costs of bringing Fritz’s body home and holding a memorial service. His family is still looking for ways to keep his story alive. “Fritz was an incredible photographer and I’d really love to see an exhibition and maybe even a book published of his work,” Rebekah says. “He made some remarkable trips prior to this one- his photos were stunning, but he was quite private about things like that and didn’t

publicize them. He had this most incredible selection of portraits of people he’d met on his travels around the world- just looking at those photos is a good descriptor of how people viewed Fritz because there was such incredible openness in their eyes as they looked into his camera.” After the trial, realizing justice had been served in a punitive way, Fritz’s mother quite rightly wondered, “And what about me? I’m one of people most affected by the loss of Fritz; what about me?” In Canada, for a crime of this level, Rebekah tells me restorative justice is not used, but for lower-grade crimes “Diversion from Prison” programs are in the developmental stage. “It’s about getting the victim, offender, and community together to support both sides. Then the victim and those affected (on an individual level) get a say what restitution is applied to the case. Some may see that as more punitive than having a judge, who is separate from the case, pronounce a judgement, but when you’re face-to-face with someone, it’s much harder not to view them as human.” What she says next strikes a chord: “We need to realise that it’s out of brokenness that we hurt others. And so having the opportunity to sit with them allows you to work together towards healing some of that brokenness. This thought from Desmond Tutu has really sustained Fritz’s mom during this journey”. She has high hopes this is a system that will kick off in Georgia- and she and some of Fritz’s family members want to reach out to the offender through the prison social workers to “have really open dialogue with him about what needs to change, what he can change, what assistance he needs in order to change, and where we can help him find that assistance.” “From what we’ve heard of similar cases, an 11-year sentence was about average, so we were grateful,” Rebekah says of the final verdict. The young man could have received up to 15 years but it was the family’s express desire that the sentence not be unduly harsh and that the offender not be made an example of for killing an American. “Fritz felt that all humans, regardless of where they come from and what their situation is, or what they are economically or socially able to contribute to the world, should all be treated as equals,” Rebekah says.



DECEMBER 16 - 19, 2016


On a Timer: Preparing Georgia's Presentation for the 2018 Frankfurt Book Fair BY LUKAS MÄDER


he countdown is on for Medea Metreveli and her team at the Georgian National Book Center. On October 10, 2018, the Frankfurt Book Fair will open – and the Guest of Honor will be Georgia. As head of the Georgian National Book Center (GNBC), Medea Metreveli is the key person in preparing Georgia for the big event and although she appears calm, she admits: “I'm a little bit nervous.” To be Guest of Honor is a great opportunity for Georgian literature, and the Frankfurt Book Fair is already the most important event for publishers worldwide. But it's a chance not only for literature. “This is a unique platform for Georgia to present itself,” says Metreveli. “The focus of the media and the audience will be on Georgia as a whole.” The country will have the possibility to promote its cultural heritage, its tourism offers and even its potential for economic investments. Therefore, the GNBC is not organizing this huge event alone, as representatives of the ministries of Economy, Agriculture and Foreign Affairs are also involved. The event in Frankfurt is so important that even now, two years ahead of time, it is already impacting on Georgia's image. In February 2014 the then-minister of culture Guram Odisharia, a writer himself, signed the agreement with the Frankfurt Book Fair. At the time Georgia was still terra incognita. “The foreign publishers asked for our catalogues only because they liked the exotic Georgian

The country will have the chance to promote its cultural heritage, tourism offers and even its potential for economic investments alphabet,” says Tina Mamulashvili, coowner of Bakur Sulakauri- the largest independent publishing house in Georgia, which has been present at the Frankfurt Book Fair for years already. But this has now changed and the days are gone when foreign publishers didn't even know where Georgia was. “Now they have a real interest in our literature when they visit our stand,” Mamulashvili says. One reason is the media trips to Georgia which the GNBC organizes and finances especially for foreign journalists and publishers every year. These journeys are popular – and interesting not only for the Book Center. Publications about Georgian literature and culture are also a good promotion of the country itself. That's why, from 2017, the National Tourism Administration is to

Medea Metreveli is positive about the plans and financing for Georgia's big show at the Frankfurt Book Fair 2018

participate in organizing such trips. Despite the growing interest in Georgia, one problem remains: the lack of good literary translators. “There aren't many good translators for Georgian,” Mamulashvili confirms. In the best case, the person translates from Georgian into his native language, for example into German, meaning it should be a foreigner who learned Georgian or a Georgian who has lived abroad at least since his childhood. There aren't so many people with this profile – and, additionally, with experience in translating. Medea Metreveli is fully aware of this

problem: “We’ve been holding workshops for translators for a few years now.” In cooperation with the Goethe Institute from Germany, the Embassy of the United Kingdom and other institutions, they trained about 30 translators– the last took place at the end of November in Germany where eight translators participated in a five-day workshop. That's why Metreveli is optimistic about reaching her goal: to have 150 Georgian books available in German edition when the Frankfurt Book Fair 2018 kicks off. To get there, the GNBC is supporting the translations financially

– with a growing budget every year. “We have enough money for our activities and especially for the Frankfurt Book Fair,” she affirms. Some critics might say the Georgian government rushed into being Guest of Honor in Frankfurt, 2018 – that it is too early because there aren't enough translations published yet. But it's not only about literature; the event has a positive effect on promoting the country – tourism and culture will benefit from it, and maybe even the economy through attracting foreign investments. The best is yet to come!




DECEMBER 16 - 19, 2016

Meet Temo Gotsadze, Painter & Former Gallery Director INTERVIEW BY NINO GUGUNISHVILI

Enema with Vitamins of Talent: Gudiashvili’s Unknown Satirical Drawings BY MAKA LOMADZE


he Lado Gudiashvili Fund Exhibition Hall is hosting the fourth and last exhibition “1+70 Unknown” dedicated to his 120th anniversary. With the support of the Georgian Ministry of Culture and Monument Protection and Tbilisi Municipality City Hall, art lovers have had a wonderful chance to witness four indelible expositions. This very exhibition is distinguished by a series of completely unknown graphic works from private collections. “The artistic images of graphic series and situations, by means of the painter’s rich fantasy, embody the fallacious sides of his strict reality, such as falseness, foolishness, vanity, pseudo-erudition, wickedness, violence, greediness; all those that were spreading fear and killing love and frankness between people,” writes Irina Arsenishvili, art-historian. “We can say that none of the historical documents of those times have such a strong influence as the visual expressions of Lado Gudiashvili. The whole second floor is dedicated to graphic works saturated with allegory and satire which show how crucial those days were and how beauty, peace and kindness was threatened. One of them is ‘Enema with Vitamins of Talent,’ another the almost identical portraits of a lion and a man, making it dubious which one is the wilder. “I like to paint beautiful people,” Gudiashvili, one of the founders of Georgian modern art, once said. It is impossible not to agree when ascending to the third floor and seeing his unbelievable, totally captivating paintings: famous ‘In Cafe Rotonda,’ ‘Neli Oneli,’ so incredibly transparent and subtle, ‘Picasso and his Model,’ ‘Beauties’ and more. In 1919, together with Davit Kakabadze and Shalva Kikodze, Gudiashvili was sent to Paris as a result of special selection where famous female painters Elene Akhvlediani and Ketevan Maghalashvili lived. Gudiashvili began studying in the Free Academy and attended lectures at the Academy of Fine Arts, participating in exhibitions in Paris, Rome, Venice, India, Brussels, and Amsterdam. In 1922, Lado Gudiashvili’s first solo exposition was arranged at La Licorne Gallery of Paris. Andre Salmon, famous French art



critic, said: “Gudiashvili admits as his vocation to be first and foremost, an artist. However, you know well what it means after Delacroix, Courbet, Cezanne and Seurat. Thanks to his own mysterious nature and racial instincts, he splendidly well managed to stay a poet, for which he will always be loved. I cannot compare him to anybody else… Maybe, Gudiashvili is the forefather of the art that the young nation that was oppressed in the past should create tomorrow… I believe that my adolescent painter from Tbilisi has a sparkling future in store.” In the same year, the monograph of the well-known art critic Maurice Raynal was published in France under the title ‘Lado Gudiashvili’. It read: “Lado Gudiashvili’s exposition for us became a discovery which represented an extremely original painter. He thinks in such a complicated, or maybe, in such a simple way as his compatriots who are the descendants of an ancient civilization. Even in the tempting diversity of Parisian taste, he has managed to fully maintain his national characteristics, has stayed a pure Georgian even after he has seen and learned the expressive modes of the world-acclaimed painters.” Lado Gudiashvili was a real aesthete, liked to be dressed neatly and he always wore a scarf. He fell in love with Nino, an extremely educated woman from Guria region, who worked in Tbilisi. After some years, a friend of hers reminded Nino: “Do you remember what you said when we attended Gudiashvili’s exposition for the first time? You told us: ‘Oh, how I wish I could live in the house where such paintings are displayed and poets read verses.’” How could Nino imagine then that after many years, this almost unreal wish would come true? They had one only daughter whos own daughter now heads the Lado Gudiashvili fund. Lado Gudiashvili was the very painter who in that totalitarian regime decorated Kashueti Church with Saint Mary, Baby Christ, the Apostles and Archangel Gabriel. His national taste is very well felt here – Saint Mary resembles a Georgian woman in all aspects. The masterpiece performed in captivating colors, was restored and reborn in 2014, so, everyone can see it now in its full splendor. This unique exposition of our great master will last for several months. Where: Lado Gudiashvili Street 11, near Kashueti Church


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s part of a continued collaboration between BI Auction and GEORGIA TODAY to bring readers a series of interviews with famous Georgian painters, in this issue our guest is Temo Gotsadze, famous Georgian painter and former director of the National Art Gallery whose works are kept in museums and galleries both in Georgia and abroad, including in France, Germany, Russia, USA, Great Britain, Turkey, Italy, Mexico, and Canada.

WHAT INFLUENCED YOU TO BECOME A PAINTER? Temo Gotsadze: It probably started in my early childhood. My school teacher… It wasn’t a painting class, but the stories she told us and the information I absorbed kind of influenced me and formed me. My father also painted very well, although he was a surgeoninitially he was an anatomic pathologist, but when he returned home from World War II he began working as a surgeon. He even wrote a medical thesis and illustrated it with his own drawings of the human anatomy. I remember staying at home as a kid, drawing images of village life or something else, a little like a game with unfinished images as hints given, from which I had to make a story in painting. It was how, unconsciously, I learned how to make a composition. In the middle of the 50s, a new generation of Georgian artists entered the scene. I was in sixth or seventh grade then, when a different aesthetics in the art of painting emerged, with different colors, themes. Socialrealism was fading away. As my school teacher often said, we had to have an eye on everything; try to remember every single detail and reproduce it afterwards, so I often went to museums memorized the paintings and made copies back home. When Galaktion Tabidze (famous Georgian poet) died, I went to the memorial service held in the Writer’s House and made a number of sketches, childish impressions of course, but I remember it very clearly as some starting point…

WHY DO YOU THINK THE 1950S AND 60S SAW GEORGIAN ART THRIVING? It was a new generation of artists, coming after the Second World War, trying to rediscover themselves; searching for the base on which Georgian genetics, traditions, thoughts and values were grounded, not only in painting but also in literature. They had something new to say. It’s a continuous process… I’m sure in 10-20 years another generation of artists will come along to change the situation, building it on the existing experience and on the things the previous generations created.

Temo Gotsadze with his wife, actress Marina Janashia

IS THE CREATIVE PROCESS ITSELF LIKE AN IMPULSE FOR YOU, OR IS IT MORE OF A BREWING, PREPARING, STORING? Studying at the Tbilisi Academy of Art was a time of learning and absorbing… I guess it sort of accumulated in me over the six years I was there. When I graduated, my first painting was Blue Stallions (one of his most famous artworks) and off it went all through my career. Sometimes you work every day, routinely, for several hours, or just make sketches to continue on another day; there are times when you feel you need an impulse which can come from anything- you may fall in love and it’ll be your inspiration to create, just as I had with Marina (Marina Janashia, his spouse, famous Georgian actress.) You never know or can’t guess when exactly that inspiration will come… I try to remember my impressions, to fix them through notes, because you can’t of course bring all of them into color instantly, and when I look through my notes it brings a spark… I always did that, fixating the associations that came to me.

HAVE YOU CHANGED AS AN ARTIST? I think I changed three times through my career. I had a period that can be called naïve, at the beginning, then came a more professional one with large paintings, followed by contemporary abstractions… Now, I’m having a break and I feel like I have to find out what I’ll be working on next, as I don’t want to repeat what I’ve already done.

IN ONE OF YOUR INTERVIEWS, YOU SAY YOU LOVE PARADOXES AND FINDING BEAUTY IN UGLY THINGS… I think that creativity and art in general are an individual’s pursuit of beauty, it has to be the reason, otherwise it makes no sense.

WHAT WOULD YOU RECOMMEND YOUNG ARTISTS WHO’RE JUST ABOUT TO START? I would suggest they rebel, as it will help them find their way, their niche, their own style…

EVERYDAY TK 380 TK 393 TK 392


10 Galaktion Street

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



DECEMBER 16 - 19, 2016


Christmas Fairy Tale at Vanda Gallery BY MAKA LOMADZE


everal days ago, the dreamlike solo exhibition of the Georgian female painter Nino Peradze was opened at Vanda Gallery under the title ‘Angels in Town’. For those who love Christmas and New Year and believe that something new and beautiful awaits them in these magical weeks, and also for those wishing to raise their spirit for the forthcoming parties, this exhibition was a real Christmas treat! Azure-blue clarity, so appropriate to the transparency of Christmas Day, is continued by the mysteriousness of velvet-lilac tints and flamboyance, hope and courage of red, which is the color of the rooster, symbolizing the astrological master of the forthcoming year. It is said the painter always has some surprises for her visitors and this time it was a display of multicolored jewelcases and Christmas tree decorations. Visitors can stroll through the imaginary world of the towns of Europe that Nino Peradze has visited, represented as the reflection of reminiscences in her own abstract way… Baltic cities, Spain, the Netherlands, and more… They are the fruits of her ceaseless traveling experience later transformed into creative inspirations. In this dream world, angels rest on the rooftops of the houses in different corners of the world, thus indicating that the bliss of Christmas will be spread all around the globe for everyone’s happiness. Some angels are driving bicycles, too – the climax of phantasmagoria at this exhibition. “This is already Nino’s fifth solo exhibition at our gallery,” Vanda

Mujiri, founder of the gallery, told GEORGIA TODAY. “This is her third exhibition on the Christmas theme alone. She is a very creative, cheerful and positive person.” And she is clearly fond of the Christmas theme- her respective exhibitions are always wonderful. “It’s in our interest to give

her a room in our gallery that somehow guarantees a joyful mood,” Mujiri says. “Besides being a painter, Nino is also an illustrator and cartoon artist, so she is very multifaceted.” Nino Peradze represents the generation of Georgian painters who emerged in the 1980s, and is considered to be one of the most interesting graphic artistsshe often leaves Georgia to work in various ateliers in the west: she is one of the pioneers of silk screen in Georgia,

always distinguished by her individual signature, thus managing to be popular among all generations. “In my opinion, every person who is more or less talented passes through a period of influences,” the painter tells us. “By the age of 40, all these impressions are gone and filtered by one’s own self and taste. It was like that in my case. You become much more honest and do what you want you become free. I do not fear the critics, though I read them by all means, and take note of the good remarks.” She is considered to be full of romantic vision, aestheticism, high professional skills and taste. Even her surname (“peri” in Georgian) stands for color, justifying her colorful world. Apart from being so romantic in her vision and colors, paradoxically enough, Nino Peradze acknowledges herself as a very realistic person. “I do not share the opinion that art should be a mirror of reality. When I look back to the 1990s, my paintings were so dark that I fear them now. If we cannot change the reality, we can at least change our disposition. It is necessary to wear rosetinted glasses sometimes, and if we did, we wouldn’t be so aggressive.” The painter confides that she is fond of life and if one well realizes that we only live once, she/he will probably try her/his best to grasp the best moments. Some part of this memorable, idealistic exposition that lets us forget about harsh reality and find oblivion in romantic colors and shapes will stay at the premises of the gallery and the guests will have a chance to see them even after the exhibition on the ground floor of the gallery. Nino Peradze promises the audience many more picturesque exhibitions, including one specifically dedicated to her traveling series. WHERE: Chonkadze Str. 14 WHEN: Until Dec 19, from 12pm to 7pm




DECEMBER 16 - 19, 2016


TBILISI ZAKARIA PALIASHVILI OPERA AND BALLET THEATRE Address: 25 Rustaveli Ave. Telephone: 2 99 04 56 December 20 KATIE MELUA WITH THE GORI WOMEN'S CHOIR Culmination concert of the European Tour Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 30 - 150 GEL

December 18, 22 THE AUTUMN OF MY SPRING Rezo Gabriadze Directed by Rezo Gabriadze English Subtitles Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 10, 15, 20 GEL MOVEMENT THEATER Address: 182, Aghmashenebeli Ave., Mushthaid park Telephone: 599 555 260

GEORGIAN STATE PANTOMIME THEATRE Address: 37 Rustaveli Ave. Telephone: 2 99 63 14

December 16, 17, 18 Performance IGGY Directed by Kakha Bakuradze Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 15 GEL

December 16 KRIMANCHULI Directed by Amiran Shalikashvili Start time: 19:00 Ticket: 10 GEL

December 16 RECITATIVE IN THE CITY Start time: 20:00 Free Admission

December 17 HOST AND GUEST Directed by Amiran Shalikashvili Start time: 19:00 Ticket: 10 GEL

December 20 PERFORMANCE THE DECAMERON Directed by Otar Egadze Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 10 GEL

GRIBOEDOVI THEATRE Address: 2 Rustaveli Ave. Telephone: 2 93 43 36 December 18 CHIPOLLINO Jianni Rodari Directed by Gogi Todadze Language: Russian Small Stage Start time: 12:00 Ticket: 5 GEL GABRIADZE THEATRE Address: 13 Shavtelis St. Telephone: 2 98 65 93

TBILISI VASO ABASHIDZE MUSIC AND DRAMA STATE THEATRE Address: 182 D.Agmashenebeli Ave. Telephone: 2 34 80 90 www.musictheatre.ge December 22 MARY POPPINS Directed by Davit Doiashvili Musical Start time: 19:00 Ticket: From 8 GEL

December 17 RAMONA Rezo Gabriadze Directed by Rezo Gabriadze English Subtitles Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 10, 15, 20 GEL

December 17, 18 ONCE UPON A TIME Christmas Tale Directed by Davit Doiashvili Musical Start time: 19:00 Ticket: From 8 GEL

December 16 MARSHAL DE FANTIE’S DIAMOND Rezo Gabriadze Directed by Rezo Gabriadze English Subtitles Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 10, 15, 20 GEL

December 21 DIVORCE Davit Eristavi Directed by Davit Doiashvili Musical Start time: 19:00 Ticket: From 8 GEL


AMIRANI CINEMA Address: 36 Kostava St. Telephone: 2 99 99 55 www.kinoafisha.ge Every Wednesday ticket price: 5 Lari December 16-22 ROGUE ONE: A STAR WARS STORY Directed by Gareth Edwards Cast: Felicity Jones, Mads Mikkelsen, Alan Tudyk Genre: Action, Adventure, Sci-Fi Language: English Start time: 19:30 Language: Russian Start time: 16:30, 19:30, 22:00 Ticket: 9-14 GEL ALLIED Directed by Robert Zemeckis Cast: Brad Pitt, Marion Cotillard, Jared Harris Genre: Action, Drama, Romance Language: Russian Start time: 19:40, 22:15 Ticket: 13-14 GEL NOCTURNAL ANIMALS Directed by Tom Ford Cast: Amy Adams, Jake Gyllenhaal, Michael Shannon Genre: Drama, Thriller Language: Russian Start time: 14:00, 22:10 Ticket: 9-14 GEL RUSTAVELI CINEMA Address: 5 Rustaveli Ave. Telephone: 2 55 50 00 www.kinoafisha.ge Every Wednesday ticket: 5 GEL December 16-22 ALLIED (Info Above) Start time: 14:130 Ticket: 9-14 GEL ROGUE ONE: A STAR WARS STORY (Info Above) Start time: 12:00, 14:15, 17:15, 19:30, 22:30 Ticket: 9-14 GEL OFFICE CHRISTMAS PARTY Directed by Josh Gordon, Will Speck Cast: Jason Bateman, Olivia Munn, T.J. Miller Genre: Comedy Language: Russian Start time: 12:00 Ticket: 8-9 GEL

COLLATERAL BEAUTY Directed by David Frankel Cast: Will Smith, Edward Norton, Kate Winslet Genre: Drama Language: Russian Start time: 14:55, 17:30, 20:00, 22:30 Ticket: 9-14 GEL MUSEUM



December 6-31 SOLO EXHIBITION BY LEILA SHELIA FABRIKA Address: 8 E. Ninoshvili Str. November 18 – December 18 BRIAN GRIFFIN EXHIBITION 'MOTHER GEORGIA' FOR COMME DES GARCONS VERNISSAGE GALLERY Address: 49 Kote Apkhazi Str. Telephone: 299 88 08 December 16-30 GURAM KHETSURIANI’S SOLO EXHIBITION BAIA GALLERY Address: 10 Chardin Str Telephone: 2 75 45 10 December 13-20 TUTU KILADZE’S EXHIBITION LOVE 10X10 ESTIA Address: 60 Tsinamzgvrishvili Str. ANETA BASISHVILI’S EXHIBITION MUSIC

TBILISI STATE CONSERVATOIRE Address: 8 Griboedov St. Telephone: 2 93 46 24 December 16 NEW MUSIC EVENING KOKA NIKOLADZE (GEORGIA) Start time: 19:30 Ticket: 5-20 GEL December 19 JAZZ EVENING KAREL BOEHLEE TRIO Start time: 19:30 Ticket: 10-100 GEL December 20 DEBUT FOLK MUSIC CONCERT Start time: 19:30 Ticket: 5-20 GEL December 21 ORGAN MUSIC CONCERT Start time: 19:30 Ticket: 5-25 GEL TBILISI CONCERT HALL Address: 1 Melikishvili St. Telephone: 2 99 00 99 December 17, 18 COMEDY SHOW, VANO’S SHOW, KERIS UBANI’S NEW YEAR SHOW PROGRAM Start time: December 17 – 18:00, 20:30, December 18 – 15:00, 18:00, 20:30 MOVEMENT THEATER Address: 182, Aghmashenebeli Ave., Mushthaid park Telephone: 599 555 260 December 20, 22 JAM SESSION Reso Kiknaze Quintet Start time: 21:00 Entry: Free December 21 TANGO EVENING MILONGA, LA CUMPARSITA Argentine Tango Dance Night Start time: 21:00 Ticket: 5 GEL




Baseball and Softball in Georgia



hen we talk about Georgia’s western political orientation, we should in the first place load this ideological stance with related content. And the most relevant content of this nation’s political orientation is our westernization in every possible respect and direction. Knowledge of the English language is foremost among the merits that make us sound western, but it is not everything, although we are doing quite well in terms of our linguistic qualification. The adoption of the most characteristic western manners and the most well-known western traditions would be helpful too, including the sporting ones. For instance, playing cricket would make us look very British and playing baseball and softball would have us feel like real McCoy Americans. As a matter of fact, this is one of the ways the nations of the world are getting to know each other more closely. Georgians have already tasted both baseball and softball. We even have a federation of these sports which is trying its very best to give our people a sensation of being into this outstanding American pastime. I remember like yesterday something which happened back in 1989 when I was in America on one of my journalistic stints, working as correspondent for the NBC affiliate television channel in Atlanta, Georgia, called 11-Alive. The station once gave me an assignment to create a story about my first ever baseball match. Incidentally, that day I signed more than 200 baseballs for the fans. The feeling was absolutely unique, especially because I then started dreaming of having it transplanted onto

our soil. What a delight that it eventually happened thanks to the efforts and enthusiasm of Gela Chikhradze and Ramaz Goglidze – the two Georgian gentlemen who managed to bring the wonderful baseball seed to our Georgia from the American Georgia. The seed was sowed and it bore fruit although it still needs a lot of nurturing yet for it flourish into a real healthy and full-grown baseball tree. Last Saturday, the Congress of the Georgian Baseball and Softball Federation was held, with a very impressive turnout, to elect a new president and to introduce certain necessary changes in rules and regulations. The event was a real success, especially because, for the first time in history, a genuine baseball player was elected President of the Federation – unanimously! Davit Khrikadze, a famous baseball player of recent times,

The sports are elegant and enticing; one needs to possess all the following features together to perform well: physical strength, talent and smarts. On top of all that, the baseball-softball combination is unisex, meaning the whole country can play it



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one of the best in the USSR, used to play for the national team of the Soviet Union. He is currently a well-known businessman and public figure who promised Congress participants he would breathe new life into baseball and softball in Georgia. I am more than sure he will do his utmost to keep his word. The annual report which was presented to the Congress by the Secretary General of the Federation, Giorgi Datunashvili, reflected all the highlights of Georgian baseball and softball that deserved attention. The Georgian baseball and softball teams have successfully played in Europe and America, all thanks to talent and enthusiasm because of the paucity of funding. But nobody wants to be pessimistic among the brave players and their fans. Well-known coaches Gia Kemoklidze and Nugzar Kapanadze are always poised and ready to give more impetus to the new-born sports in Georgia, doing this with love and with their weathered professionalism. It is so fortunate that American ambassadors in Georgia are great fans of Georgian baseball and softball: they never miss the opportunity to attend a match, especially the already traditional spring and autumn friendlies between the American Marines and the Georgian national team. Somebody might ask– why baseball and softball? These sports are elegant and enticing; one needs to possess all the following features taken together to perform well – physical strength, talent and smarts. On top of all that, the baseball-softball combination is unisex meaning the whole country can play it. To cut it short, Georgians fit perfectly in both these sports and vice versa, both fit well in our sporting life. As the new Federation President Khrikadze noted, baseball and softball are actual Georgian sports. Don’t laugh at this – he is right!

Journalists: Tony Hanmer, Zaza Jgarkava, Maka Bibilashvili, Karen Tovmasyan, Dimitri Dolaberidze, Maka Lomadze, Tim Ogden, Joseph Larsen, Vazha Tavberidze, Nugzar B. Ruhadze, Nino Gugunishvili, Thea Morrison, Natia Liparteliani

Photographer: Irakli Dolidze Layout: Misha Mchedlishvili Webmaster: Sergey Gevenov Circulation Managers: David Kerdikashvili, David Djandjgava


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Profile for Georgia Today

Issue #905  

December 16 - 19, 2016

Issue #905  

December 16 - 19, 2016