Page 1 georgiatoday

Issue no: 853

• JUNE 17 - 20, 2016



Georgian Orthodox Church Patriarch Ilia II says his Church will not take part in a planned summit of the world’s Orthodox Churches in July

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In this week’s issue... No Need for MAP, AP, Possible Game Changer for NATO ATO O and Georgia? POLITICS PAGE 4

For Whom the Bell Tolls…the Fight of the Churches, Round 2 POLITICS PAGE 5

Easing Sanctions against Russia for the Sake of EU Unity POLITICS PAGE 7

HRS Extends Operating Area and Services

UN Convention on Rights of Persons with Disabilities Discussed at Conference BY ZVIAD ADZINBAIA


n June 14, The Coalition for Independent Living (CIL), with support from the US Agency for International Development (USAID), marked National Disability Rights Day with a forum on the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD). Radisson Blu Iveria Hotel Tbilisi hosted the forum that

aimed at raising public awareness about disability rights issues in Georgia and beyond and saw such participants as Douglas Ball, USAID Mission Director to Georgia; Davit Narmania, Mayor of Tbilisi; Stephen Stork, Deputy Head of Operations of the Delegation of the European Union to Georgia; Shombi Sharp, Deputy Resident Representative of the United Nations Development Program in Georgia, as well as representatives of various other local and international organizations. Continued on page 2


Waste – Trash or Resource? SOCIETY PAGE 11

People Choose The Most Ecologically Clean Areas To Live In SOCIETY PAGE 16

Rustaveli Theater Hosts Georgian Chanting Foundation Awards Ceremony CULTURE PAGE 19




JUNE 17 - 20, 2016

UN Convention on Rights of Persons with Disabilities Discussed at Conference Continued from page 1

The event brought representatives from disabled people’s organizations from across Georgia together with local, national and international government officials to discuss Georgia’s progress toward ensuring full citizenship for persons with disabilities. The message of the event underscored that “persons with disabilities in Georgia tend to be excluded from mainstream society, unable to realize their political, social, economic, and cultural rights. They are often subject to unequal social treatment and are victims of almost daily discrimination.” Notably, two years ago, the Parliament of Georgia ratified the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, which recognizes that differently abled people require equality, dignity, autonomy, independence, inclusion, and accessibility. Similarly, over 200 participants of the forum reviewed their personal progress and challenges since the ratification and evaluated ongoing reforms. The forum was a joint effort supported by USAID, CIL, Human Rights Secretariat of the Government of Georgia, United Nations Development Program, and the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights and International Labor Organization. As a panel speaker, Minister of Justice of Georgia, Tea Tsulukiani, declared that the government is pushing the process of adaptation of public buildings for the physically disabled. “The government strongly support the principle: equal opportunities for all,” the Minister stated. US Ambassador to Georgia, Ian

C. Kelly, emphasized that persons with disabilities should be enabled to be equal members of their communities and to realize themselves. Kelly expressed his support toward the government’s implementation of the UNCRPD. Giorgi Dzneladze, Chairman of the Coalition for Independent Living (CIL) moderated the conference, describing the UNCRPD as a ‘Bible’ for the disabled and calling on the government and other stakeholders to broaden engagement in the Convention’s execution. Georgia’s Public Defender Ucha Nanuashvili also asked for the government’s greater engagement, criticizing them for ‘insufficient efforts’ in terms of effectively enforcing the existing legislation and incorporating efficient control mechanisms in the process. According to Nanuashvili, there were cases of some Members of Parliament insulting disabled persons publicly. He urged the government to punish such acts in the future. As part of the forum, in order to combat negative attitudes toward persons with disabilities, CIL and Youth Media Union brought together persons with disabilities and their family members, wounded warriors, students, celebrities, and other supporters for a public march from Rose Revolution Square to April 9th Square. In addition, a cultural fair was held on the Square that included a photo exhibition, wheelchair race, dance performance, and the Paralympic sport, Boccia. The event was organized through USAID’s Disability Legal Advocacy Project, which is implemented by Coalition for Independent Living. Tbilisi City Hall, Ministry of Sports and Youth Affairs, the Ministry of Defense, and Zedazeni Company also contributed to the event.

New Chinese-Financed Modern Hospital Opens in Tbilisi



new USD 2.1 million (4.5 million GEL) 100-bed hospital has been opened near Tbilisi Sea, a reservoir in the eastern suburbs of Georgia’s capital, by China’s Hualing Group, the press office of Georgia’s Prime Minister Giorgi Kvirikashvili said in a statement on Wednesday. The new facility is equipped with modern medical technology and about 450 staff members. Kvirikashvili said the hospital would provide residents of the nearby Varketili and Vazisubani districts –

two areas known for their crumbling Soviet-era infrastructure – with modern medical services closer to their homes. “These two districts had no hospital before. It is important to have this type of medical facility close to where people live,” said Kvirikashvili at Wednesday’s opening ceremony. He also noted that Hualing Group, as well as other Chinese investors, are now deeply involved in several economic and social projects in Georgia. “In the near future we are expecting a lot of investments from China. I have several meetings with Chinese business groups that are interested in investing in Georgia’s logistics and transport sectors,” he added.

Money Transfers into Georgia Tumble in May BY EKA KARSAULIDZE


he National Bank of Georgia (NBG) published on Wednesday data that shows money transfers into Georgia amounted to USD 92.9 million (196 million GEL) in May, a significant 4.8 million (10 million GEL) drop from the same period last year. The NBG said that 89.4 percent of the money transferred from abroad came from 11 countries. The overwhelming majority of the total amount came from Russia, which transferred USD 31.1 million (66 million GEL) to Georgia in May. Greece was the second largest transferor of funds to Georgia, having sent USD 10.8 million (23 million GEL) in May. Italy with USD 10.2 million (21.5 million GEL), the United States at USD 9.9 million (21 million GEL), Turkey with USD 7.5 million (16

million GEL) and Israel’s USD 4.5 million (9.5 million GEL) rounded out the top five. The amount of funds transferred out of Georgia during the same period increased to USD 15.8 million (33 million GEL), compared to USD 13.3 million (28 million GEL) in May 2015.


GEORGIA TODAY JUNE 17 - 20, 2016


Rifts Divide Orthodox World Ahead of Historic Summit BY NICHOLAS WALLER


he Georgian Orthodox Church Patriarch, Ilia II, announced Tuesday that his Church would not take part in a planned summit of the world’s Orthodox Churches on the Greek isle of Crete on July 17-26. Known as the Holy and Great Council of Orthodox Patriarchs - the first of its kind since 747 AD – the summit will include 350 clerics from the world’s 14 autocephalous (self-governing) Orthodox Churches. In an open letter addressed to the Patriarch of Constantinople, Bartholomew I, and posted on the patriarchate’s website, Ilia II said, “the unity of the Orthodox Church must first be achieved before holding an event of this scale.” The Georgian Church’s decision to skip the summit mirrored that of the Moscow Patriarchate, which also announced Tuesday that the Russian Orthodox Church would not take part in the historic meeting due to a lack of unity amongst the participating branches of the Church. “In a situation when councils of this level have not gathered for many centuries, more time is required to prepare for such an event,” Russian Orthodox official Vladimir Legoyda said in an interview with state-run television station Rossiya 24.

RIFTS DIVIDE THE ORTHODOX WORLD Though orthodoxy has no central authority in the same vein as the Holy See for the Roman Catholic Church, Bartholomew’s position as ‘the first amongst equals’ stems from the Byzantine tradi-

tion when Constantinople (modern-day Istanbul) was the ecumenical center of Eastern Orthodox Christianity. In accordance with tradition, Bartholomew has the power to convene a panOrthodox Council but cannot order other patriarchs to attend the meeting. Any decision made by the Council must be carried out by consensus, thus the absence of a single branch of the Church undermines the legitimacy of the summit. Several observers have noted that the Russian Orthodox Church is leading an alliance that includes the Georgian, Serbian and Bulgarian patriarchates which aim to curb the traditional influence of Orthodoxy’s Hellenic ecumenical roots in favor of a Church that looks to Moscow for guidance. “The rivalry between the exceedingly powerful Russian Church, which makes up two-thirds of the Orthodox world’s population, and the Patriarchate of Constantinople, with less than 3,000 parishioners in Istanbul but primacy of honor over all of Orthodoxy, has been one of the most serious conflicts in Eastern Christianity in recent years,” journalist and religious scholar, Sandro Magister, wrote in a column for Italian weekly L’espresso earlier this year. Church observers, including Magister, have noted that Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kirill has taken steps to strip Bartholomew of his exclusive status as the symbolic representative of Orthodoxy by capitalizing on growing discontent in the Church. Bartholomew’s friendly overtures to his Western counterparts in the Vatican and the numerous branches of Protestantism has angered many of Orthodoxy’s most powerful players - including the Georgian, Russian and Serbian churches – whose more anti-Western and xeno-

phobic policies are in direct conflict with Bartholomew’s policies of rapprochement with the rest of the Christian world. The Georgian and Serbian churches renounced the pan-Orthodox summit earlier in June after the Council adopted a document signed in January that defined the relation of the Orthodox Church towards the rest of the Christian world. Both the Georgian and Serbian patriarchates vehemently rejected the notion

that the Orthodox Church must define its role in the Christian world or be mentioned in the same context as the Roman Catholic and Protestant churches. In an interview with Italian daily La Stampa last week, Greek Orthodox Metropolitan Chrysostomos Savatos attempted to ease concerns that the Council would fail to meet or take on a far more reactionary tone in order to placate the deeply conservative faction

led by the Russian contingent. The leadership of the Russian Orthodox Church has been swift to read the growing discord as a potentially major blow to the traditionally Greek-oriented views of Bartholomew. The Moscow Patriarchate appears to be positioning itself to gain from the possible collapse of the summit by encouraging its close allies in Tbilisi and Belgrade to boycott the Council altogether.

Summer has come and the yard of Georgian House is filling up with eager customers once more. Without needing to leave the city center, here you can feel at ease in the shade of tall trees and large umbrellas against a background of chirping birds and live music while you enjoy a choice of delicious dishes. Here, the heat is beaten back by a waterfall and a special cooling system. Hanging wooden balconies give the yard the appearance of Old Tbilisi- the perfect place to spend time with your friends. The evening begins with a music program- saxophonist Ucha Kordzaia and his band performing both Georgian and foreign film music. A beautiful environment, sophisticated services and delicious food all is in one place - in Georgian House. During the European Championship matches, from 10 June to 10 July, all the games will be broadcast on every screen of our restaurant. Come and watch and enjoy our “Buy One Get One Free” offer on beer. Book your table in advance and our managers will select the perfect menu to best suit beer and football! Georgian House: we care about your comfort! Come and find YOUR Georgian House.




JUNE 17 - 20, 2016

No Need for MAP, Possible Game Changer for NATO and Georgia? BY NANA SAJAIA, VOICE OF AMERICA GEORGIAN SERVICE


head of the NATO Warsaw summit, a question hangs over us: What can Georgia expect this time? From the looks of it, Georgia will get yet another half-hearted nod and reluctant acknowledgment that the door is still open, though barriers obviously remain. Georgia’s quest for a Membership Action Plan (MAP) has become akin to the sufferings of mythical Tantalus, yet some think that there might be a Gordian Knot-esque (pun intended) solution to the problem. Luke Coffey of the Heritage Foundation certainly seems to share this belief, as demonstrated by his interview with Voice of America Georgian Service. Luke Coffey: “Georgia is a country that has done a lot to prepare for the NATO Summit, it has probably done more than any other NATO member, just because it is a very enthusiastic country, a country that wants to be a part of the Euro Atlantic community; a country that wants to be a member of NATO, and it is doing everything to reach that goal. At the Summit itself, it is very important that the right signals are sent out to the people of Georgia. Georgian people have been very patient over the years, and while Georgia has done a lot to join the Alliance, there is more work to be done. I think NATO should show a true commitment to Georgia, and this can be done by extending the Georgia-NATO meet-

ing at the Heads of State level, or by stating that MAP is not a requirement to join the Alliance. These will send the right signals, not only to the people of Georgia but also to Russia that NATO is committed to bringing Georgia into the Alliance.

WHAT REMAINS FOR GEORGIA TO DO? REFORMS IN THE ARMED FORCES, INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS AND DOMESTIC POLITICS? HUMAN RIGHTS..? I’d say it’s a bit of everything and this is no bad thing. Transformation and reformsthese are a process. Ongoing issues are nothing strange even for countries already in NATO. For Georgia, I would say that the upcoming elections need to be peaceful; there needs to be a peaceful transfer of power- however that might play out. There is the perception that the domestic political scene in Georgia is so fragmented and divided, sometimes aggressive, too, and there are some legitimate concerns in the West as to why this country is having some of these problems. Exacerbating this problem is Russian propaganda, Russia’s financing of domestic groups and NGOs, and this is making the situation so much worse. As such, Georgia is not ready to join the Alliance tomorrow but it certainly will in due course.


nals that the West is committed to Georgia joining the Alliance. We need to help Georgia transform and improve its Armed Forces; transform and improve its economy and rule of law; and it’s in our interests to have a stable and peaceful Georgia in the South Caucasus, and a transatlantic community.


MINISTER KHIDASHELI’S LATEST VISIT AND WHAT VALUE DOES IT BRING TO THE BILATERAL DEFENSE PARTNERSHIP? Without a doubt, Georgia’s number one military partnership is with the United States. So it’s important that the Minister comes and speaks to her counterparts and the policy community. She did a great job here, she is a great advocate for Georgia in Washington and

Europe- Georgian people should be very proud of the job she has done to help promote Georgia goals. Leading up to the NATO summit, what she’s doing is especially important. The US policy community is finally focused on Russia’s aggression and the question of NATO’s enlargement during the Summit- these issues are finally back on the table and she has been a part of these discussions.


GEORGIA TODAY JUNE 17 - 20, 2016


For Whom the Bell Tolls…the Fight of the Churches, Round 2 OP-ED BY ZAZA JGARKAVA


here is great dissension within the Orthodox Christian community around the globe. Four out of fourteen autocephalous churches, and the Georgian among them, have chosen to boycott the Holy Council which will be held in Greece next month. Russia was the last to refuse participation, which has given a more political inclination to the whole process, aside from the spiritual one. Those in the spiritual circles are already openly discussing the fact that the confrontation between the Patriarchs of Constantinople and Russia has been accelerated by the invitation of the Council in Crete. Georgia supported Russia in this matter, and it seems that, like our civil government, the spiritual one is also facing the choice of Russia or the West. On June 10th the Georgian Orthodox Church decided not to participate in the Council at Crete. The minutes of the Holy Synod suggest that several issues up for discussion in the Council were categorically unacceptable for the Georgian Orthodox Church, three of the six, in fact: “the reasons hindering marriage”, “the mission of the Orthodox Church in the modern world” and the third about changing some terminology. Despite the declared reason, the main motive was not declared in the decision of the Synod, which is the occupied territories and the authority of the Georgian Orthodox Church in those regions.

Since the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople engaged in a “Religious War” with the Russian Orthodox Church for spreading its influence in breakway Abkhazia, the relations between the Churches of Georgia and Constantinople have been tense. Bartholomew I of Constantinople supports the religious leaders working on the Mount of Athos, who demand recognition of the autocephaly of the Abkhazian Orthodox Church, unlike the religious leaders working in Sokhumi who believe that the Abkhazian Church is part of the Russian Orthodox Church. The Churches of Russia and Constantinople recognize de jure that the Church of Abkhazia is within the canonical borders of the Georgian Orthodox Church. However, their actions prove the opposite as religious leaders visiting Abkhazia from Tbilisi are refused access. So far, the position of the Georgian Orthodox Church regarding the ecclesiastical status quo in the regions of Abkhazia and Tskhinvali is not quite clear, as these territories are within the Georgian canonical borders but are in reality governed by the Russian Orthodox Church. Before being appointed as the Minister, Paata Zakareishvili believed that if the influence of the Church of Constantinople increased in Abkhazia, this status quo would be infringed and the Georgian Church needed to be ready for it. “The Georgian Orthodox Church should decide what we prefer, who should be exercising priesthood in Abkhazia? The Church of Russia or Constantinople? A temporary authority should be granted considering this issue,” Zakareishvili said.

As the events developing around the Holy Council suggest, the Georgian Orthodox Church has given the first open implication of support to Russia. However, there might be an even bigger deal behind this choice, for example, the recovery of Georgian priesthood in some

of the Abkhazian churches in Gali. Despite this hypothetic development of events, our demarche and such obvious support for the Russian Church might prove a fatal decision for Georgia’s Church. By taking this decision we choose to stand on the side of Russia, practically oppos-

ing the Church of Constantinople. And as an answer to this, if the Church of Constantinople develops the issue of Abkhazian and South Ossetian Churches and grants them autocephaly, Georgia will suffer a big blow, and probably a deserved one.




JUNE 17 - 20, 2016

Tony Blinken: Georgia a Source of Democratic Inspiration to the Entire Region BY EKA JANJGAVA


n official reception to mark the 25th anniversary of the restoration of Georgia’s independence was held in Washington on 8 June 2016. The reception was hosted by the Foreign Minister, Mikheil Janelidze, the Defense Minister, Tinatin Khidasheli, and the Ambassador of Georgia to the United States, Archil Gegeshidze. From the US side, the event was attended by the Deputy Secretary of State, Tony Blinken, the Acting Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs, Elissa Slotkin, and the Administrator of the United States Agency for International Development, Gayle Smith. Mikheil Janelidze and Tony Blinken addressed the attending audience, highlighting many years of strategic and friendly relations between Georgia and the United States of America. “It is very emotional to see over 800 people having assembled here to celebrate the 25th anniversary of restoration of Georgia’s independence,” Janelidze said. “These people from various government agencies have stood by Georgia at different times, for many years. A great tribute to the progress Georgia has made is due to the strategic partnership and co-operation between Georgia and the United States. We highly value these relations and believe that our partnership will become even stronger in the future.” The Deputy Secretary of State, Tony Blinken, congratulated the Georgian people on the Day of Independence and spoke about the long-standing friend-

ship between Georgia and the United States based on common values of democracy and freedom. According to Tony Blinken, Georgia has served as an example of progress and development for the entire region. “Your strategic position at the crossroads between Europe and Asia is a critical component of our new Silk Road Policy. The United States strongly supports Georgia’s regional leadership to create the trans-Caspian corridor connecting the European and Asian markets. Georgia is a key partner in the diversification of the trade process

across Asia. We also know that the inclusive road cannot be sustained without the foundations of freedom, pluralism and the rule of law. Today, Georgia remains a source of democratic inspiration to the entire region. This is especially remarkable considering the fact that Georgia has to tackle Russia’s occupation and borderization. Parliamentary elections this fall will provide another opportunity to show the residents of the occupied territories and the wider neighborhood that democracy, openness and tolerance is the best guaran-

tee towards peace, prosperity and stability. The world is watching. We know that Georgia will rise to the occasion.” Tony Blinken went on to once again reaffirm the United States’ firm support for Georgia’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. “We look forward to the day when Georgia is unified once again, because the citizens of Georgia and no one else should make the decisions about Georgia’s future. We stand by the commitment made in Bucharest that Georgia will become a member of NATO and

we continue to strongly support its aspirations. When called to meet the challenges of the 21st century, Georgia never hesitates. Georgia continues to serve with remarkable honor in Afghanistan as the biggest non-NATO contributor nation to the Resolute Support mission together with the US and Germany. That is extraordinary and Georgia deserves extraordinary credit. I wish to express my gratitude for their role in making our world just a little bit safer,” the US Deputy Secretary of State said. Blinken also highlighted the strong friendship between the US and Georgian people and wished Georgia success on its path towards development. “This year a young woman from Tbilisi became among ten young leaders from around the entire world recognized by the State Department for their extraordinary contributions to their communities. Reviewing the achievements over the past 25 years, I have no doubt that those young people will lead the next 25 years and many, many more,” Blinken said. The reception dedicated to the restoration of Georgia’s independence was organized by the Embassy of Georgia to the US and was attended by more than 900 guests. Within the framework of the reception, the Georgian Foreign Minister, Mikheil Janelidze, awarded Orders of Merit to the Co-chair of the Georgian Caucus, Congressman Ted Poe, the Deputy Secretary at the US Department of Commerce, Bruce Andrews, and the Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), Anthony Fauci, who is one of the initiators of the Hepatitis C Elimination Project in Georgia.


GEORGIA TODAY JUNE 17 - 20, 2016


Easing Sanctions against Russia for the Sake of EU Unity OP-ED BY DIMITRI DOLABERIDZE


t a recent business forum held in Germany, the country’s Vice-Chancellor Sigmar Gabriel called for an end to the EU’s sanctions against Russia and a return to direct negotiations with Moscow. Gabriel was quoted as saying that Moscow is a reliable partner for Europe and demanded a gradual lifting of sanctions. Gabriel is known as one of Germany’s most stridently pro-Russian politicians who publicly disagreed with Chancellor Angela Merkel’s decision to impose sanctions on Moscow for its illegal annexation of Ukraine’s Crimea Peninsula as well as its invasion and support for separatists in Ukraine’s eastern Donbass Region. The most recent call for an end to the on going sanctions is only the latest ins a series of demands by Gabriel to ease pressure on Russia. He has repeatedly clashed with Merkel over her insistence that Russia remain suspended from the G7 format until Moscow fully adheres to a signed peace accord, known as Minsk II, that aims to find a peaceful political solution to the war in Ukraine. Some German officials, including Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier, have called for an easing of the two-yearold round of sanctions once Russia makes a substantive effort to adhere to the Minsk format. “If Russia begins to implement the Minsk agreements fully and tangible progress is made, we can begin to dis-

cuss an easing of the sanctions,” Steinmeier was recently quoted as saying. Steinmeier also supports the idea of returning to the G8 format, with Russia reinstated as a participating member, though Merkel has ruled out any possibility of a Russian return until the Kremlin lives up to its promise to help settle a host of issues in the post-Soviet space. Steinmeier has been quick to note that resistance to the sanctions is growing in Greece, Slovakia, Hungary and Italy – countries with long-established economic ties to Russia and who have endured significant economic losses in the last two years. Steinmeier has also said that maintaining unity amongst the EU’s 28 members is becoming increasingly harder with each passing month as economic growth in Europe remains static and lucrative market in Russia remains closed to the world’s largest trading bloc. As a result, Steinmeier has warned that an extension of the sanctions, due in July, may not be a forgone conclusion. Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi has recently called for a debate over the sanctions’ effectiveness before an extension is implemented. In early June, France’s National Assembly voted for a non-binding resolution that called for a lifting of the sanctions, saying they negatively affect French farmers due to trade restrictions. Those who oppose a lifting of the sanctions warn that backtracking on their stated goal would set a dangerous precedent for future situations. “The sanctions can only be lifted after all of the conditions that Moscow agreed

If Russia begins to implement the Minsk agreements fully and tangible progress is made, we can begin to discuss an easing of the sanctions. Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier to are fulfilled as stated by the agreement. If you alter the provisions of Minsk, before their full implementation, would set a dangerous precedent and be a sign of weakness,” said the US’ ambassador to Germany, John Emerson. Taking the pressure off Moscow has grown far more complicated in the last two years, as the Kremlin has opted to try and exert both its hard and soft power on the international stage. Russia’s questionable role in the fiveyear-old Syrian Civil War has further

Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier Source:

complicated matters. Nine months into its campaign to prop up the Bashar alAssad regime – Moscow’s closest ally in the Middle East – the war continues to grind on with no end in sight. Though the Kremlin would be reluctant to admit that it needs the assistance of Europe and the United States in finding a lasting and favorable resolution in Syria, Moscow will not be able to do so under the current confrontational climate with the West. Opponents of the sanctions also say that the West cannot afford to maintain pressure on Russia if it hopes to find an

end to the turmoil in the Middle East. The Baltic States and Poland remain the strongest proponents of maintaining the sanctions. Their position along Russia’s borders and, in the case of the Baltics, demographic issues that include large numbers of ethnic Russians within their borders make them the most susceptible to Moscow’s recent revanchist policies, as seen in Ukraine. The possibility of a compromise between the pro- and anti-sanction camps remains if NATO agrees to permanently station large numbers of defensive troops in the Baltics and parts of Eastern Europe.




JUNE 17 - 20, 2016

HRS Extends Operating Area and Services BY EKA KARSAULIDZE


fter celebrating its 25th anniversary last year, the company HRS (Hospitality and Retail Systems) is continuing to develop by expanding its range of facilities and services. The company is the leader in the field of IT-solutions for hospitality and retail in the former USSR countries, Baltic States and Mongolia and recently entered a new market being Central and East Europe encompassing the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Bulgaria. Besides the fact that HRS offers an extensive choice of IT-solutions from a leading manufacturer Oracle, it has also created its own SPA, Loyalty, Leisure and Fitness management system TNG. This product has already proved a success in the international arena. At the annual gathering of local clients and partners in Tbilisi on June 9, the company overviewed its achievements over the past year and future plans. HRS operates in 19 countries, although the success of the Georgian office was highlighted in particular. HRS has installed its solutions in 15 new locations across the country in 2015. Furthermore, the total number of HRS consumers in Georgia has exceeded 60 during four years of operation in Georgia. Especially important for the company is the success of its own TNG system, which recently entered the short list of the Oracle preferred spa and leisure management. “It is possible that we could soon be named the preferred SPA-product worldwide,” said Joanne Vaughan, Founder and Chief Executive of HRS. TNG is a unique system specifically created to optimize sales activities and increase revenue while simultaneously increasing customer loyalty to the hotel, restaurant and wellness business. It has a complete solution to cover all areas of SPA and fitness operations, complex resource management to optimize occupancy, calculate salary and commission, as well as full menu management including subscriptions, voucher and gift card sales and redemption. As such, the solution makes business management easy and provides benefits to customers. It can operate in separate SPA and fitness centers, as well as in hotels and restaurants, thanks to its convenient integration possibilities with Property Management and Point-of-Sale Systems. Representatives of HRS emphasize that TNG has been successfully operating in Georgia for over two years. IT-systems are a leading component for any hospitality or retail business. Even with the most outstanding design

and service, no hotel, restaurant or SPA can function without the best IT-services. The company has in its arsenal, apart from TNG, such well-known solutions as OPERA, Fidelio, Simphony and many others which means HRS products are suitable for any type of business.

Although in Georgia HRS cooperates with leading brands and hotels such as the Radisson Blu Hotels, Holiday Inn,

Marriott, Sheraton Hotels etc. the representatives note that the small local hotels and other retail locations are also priority for them. “It is important to understand that we have a very rich choice of products. There are programs that can take over the work of a large hotel complex or chain of restaurants and which would be totally unsuitable for a small hotel. We recognize it requires completely different software. In our solutions portfolio we have systems which will cater to the needs of any specific customer.” said Oleg Kudrin, the Commercial Director of HRS. The representatives of HRS claim that this is especially important given the fact that Georgia has become a leading tourist destination in the world. “We can accurately speak about the tourist boom in the country. There are a lot of new hotels, restaurants, stores, SPA and fitness centers constantly opening in Geor-

gia. Moreover, the country provides a very good level of service in this area,” said Joanne Vaughan. Besides IT- solutions, HRS services include pre-project analysis, hardware and software supply, strategic business consulting, systems implementation and integration, staff training and consultation together with round the clock technical support and service to customers. Furthermore, the company collaborates with several universities throughout Georgia and acquaints students from specialized faculties with the leading IT innovations in the hospitality and retail fields. Success of HRS is due to the special attention paid to the quality of implementation and the support services provided by its strong team of professionals all with industry background. These components have permitted the company to expand and enter the Central European market.


GEORGIA TODAY JUNE 17 - 20, 2016

Georgia Hosts UN Environmental Conference

IFC Helps Emerging Markets Introduce New Policies to Attract Investments PREPARED BY KATIE RUTH DAVIES



or three days, in the framework of the 8th UN Environment for Europe Ministerial Conference, Georgia’s Black Sea coastal city Batumi hosted approximately 600 delegates from 56 countries, ministers of environmental defense and education, representatives of the business sector and business associations, and high-ranking guests from 55 international organizations. Environmental protection in the region and around the world, Green Economy and improving education in these fields were the main topics at the Ministerial on June 8-10, 2016. The Environment for Europe Ministerial Conference is a special format of cooperation between the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe’s member countries, United Nation organizations, governmental organizations, regional environmental centers, nongovernmental organizations, private sectors and other interested parties. It is a platform that facilitates discussion of global environmental issues, providing the opportunity to identify priorities and plan joint activities for sustainable development. During the Ministerial, three main


themes were chosen, amongst which Green Economy (BIG-E) was one of the top priorities. “Today, the Green Economy is regarded as one of the most important instruments for achieving sustainable development. It supports the use of national resources in a sustainable way, reduces negative impacts on the environment, creates new and green jobs and ensures the well-being of our society,” said the Prime Minister of Georgia, Giorgi Kvirikashvili, during his speech at the Ministerial. He added that the Georgian Government supports this direction and aims to create a special environment for green business, encourage the activities of small and medium-sized enterprises in their use of renewable energy, as well as introduce green transport, green buildings and to develop eco-tourism. Improvement of the air quality was also high on the agenda, topped by the adoption of the Batumi Action for Cleaner Air (2016–2021). Nine Georgian cities have already created an action plan for sustainable energy development to reduce CO2 emissions and create healthier environments by 2020. Moreover, by 2017, the standards established for petrol are expected to be in line with Euro 5 criteria. “Clean air is a major factor of human health and life, and one which is directly connected with the development of the country,” said PM Kvirikashvili.

Education was named as the third important direction of the Ministerial since raising awareness about ecology among the population of the country can significantly help to solve many of the current problems. Georgia is a green country with rich natural resources- a large number of mountains, national parks, and protected areas contribute to the environmental development of the country. Georgia aims to renew the National Strategy on Environmental Education, and the National Strategy and Action Plan on Sustainable Development. It was recognized that the main component of environmental well-being is not only the right policy in Georgia, but also in the region and around the world. Therefore, in the framework of the Ministerial, meetings were held between the representatives of participating countries and organizations. “Georgia should aim to become a regional leader in the environmental field,” said Gigla Agulashvili, Minister of Environment and Natural Resources Protection of Georgia. The 8th UN Environment for Europe Ministerial Conference concluded with the adoption of a declaration –‘Cleaner, Greener, Smarter.’ The document includes the results of the conference and recommendations to improve the environmental policy for all participating countries.


FC, a member of the World Bank Group, and Georgia’s Ministry of Economy and Sustainable Development held a two-day peer-topeer learning conference on investment policy and promotion in Batumi, to help leverage reforms to drive economic growth in emerging markets in Europe and Central Asia and Africa. The initiative was part of broader efforts by the World Bank Group to help generate investment to boost private sectorled growth and create jobs. Emerging economies have tremendous potential, but many are held back by a lack of investment, low levels of competitiveness and cumbersome regulations. The conference brought together leading global experts to discuss reform options with policymakers to help attract and retain more quality foreign direct investment. “We are committed to increasing our efforts to make Georgia even more attractive for foreign investments to boost job creation and economic growth. To do this, it’s vital to create an environment that’s conducive to foreign direct investment, with strong regulations, free from unnecessary barriers, “ said Ketevan Bochorishvili, Georgia’s Deputy Minister of Economy and Sustainable Development. “We are delighted to work with experts and colleagues from around the world to further this agenda.” The conference gave a platform for government officials to discuss the role of foreign direct investment in development, modern trends in investment facilitation, and how to promote opportunities in promising sectors. Participants from around 20 states in Europe and Central Asia and Africa focused on how countries can stimulate investment by

removing barriers, leveraging international legal frameworks, and protecting and retaining current investors. “Investments, both by domestic as well as foreign investors, are needed to foster growth, support innovation and entrepreneurship, and help build the skills that are essential for more resilient economies,” said Jan van Bilsen, IFC Regional Manager for the South Caucasus. “Regional and international collaboration on investment policies can open up new opportunities and this conference aims to help achieve this goal.” The initiative is part of the work of the World Bank Group’s Trade and Competitiveness Global Practice, a joint practice of the World Bank and IFC, which helps countries accelerate private sector growth by creating simple, efficient, business-friendly regulations while ensuring public interests are protected. As part of these efforts, the Georgia Investment Climate Project helps the Georgian government improve the investment climate by increasing the efficiency of regulations in three key areas: tax, trade logistics, and investment policy. It is implemented in partnership with the Austrian Federal Ministry of Finance and BP and its Oil and Gas Co-venturers.


IFC, a member of the World Bank Group, is the largest global development institution focused on the private sector in emerging markets. Working with more than 2,000 businesses worldwide, it uses its capital, expertise and influence to create opportunity where it is needed most. In FY15, its long-term investments in developing countries rose to nearly USD 18 billion, helping the private sector play an essential role in the global effort to end extreme poverty and boost shared prosperity. For more information, visit www.




JUNE 17 - 20, 2016

Treepex Named Georgia’s Best Start-up at Seedstars Tbilisi



n March Georgia Today reported on an innovative young company in an article entitled: Treepex: Plant a Tree at the Touch of a Button. “Treepex is an innovative mobile application that will change the idea of purchasing. By buying a product with the Treepex logo, you will automatically be planting trees in Protected Areas of Georgia, thus promoting the growth of Georgian species of trees and improving the ecological background of the country” – the article reported. On June 11, Treepex won the Seedstars Tbilisi competition and will go on to represent the country at the Seedstars Summit in Switzerland to compete for up to USD 1 million in equity investment. Seedstars World, the global seed-stage startup competition for emerging markets and fast-growing startup scenes, brought its Tbilisi round to a successful close during Seedstars Tbilisi. The event took place on Saturday June 11 at Techpark Georgia with sponsorship from Alliance Holding Group in partnership with GITA and with organizational help from GSIP. 12 selected startups were invited to present their ideas in front of an international jury panel. The event attracted interest from over 50 startup applicants and brought together entrepreneurs from Georgia and beyond. The local winner, Treepex, with its Green Loyalty Program, was selected as the best startup in Georgia for its unique approach to combining green incentive programs and CSR. Treepex will be participating in the Seedstars Summit to take place in Switzerland in March 2017, consisting of a weeklong training program with the opportunity to meet the other 60 winners as well as investors and mentors from around the world. Traditionally, the final day of the Summit will be dedicated to pitching in front of an audience of 1000 attendees, with the possibility of winning over USD 500K in prizes and equity investment. Additional prizes for the winning startup at Seedstars Tbilisi included one-month unlimited access to fitness and wellness facilities for the top 3 startups at the New York Prolife Fitness and Spa and access to a co-working space at Generator 9.8. Vere Loft-1 also offered a one-month pass to a co-working space to their favorite startup, Fotorator. Lingwing, a self-learning system for languages designed to serve the annual USD 5 bln e-learning market, came in second place. The 3rd place runner-up, Mosavali, provides farmers in emerging markets with learning, decision-making support

and interaction with the agricultural value chain. The other startups invited to pitch were: Augep, an augmented reality menu and mobile application; Winker, a dating platform to enable people to meet in real life; GoTrip, a web platform to create and share your trip with other travelers; Investco, a banking platform that takes crowdfunding to capital markets; Pandora’s Box, hardware and software to measure drifting performance for drivers and racing competitions; MyStartupHelp, an all-in-one web-platform that offers startups informational, educational, promotional, programming, and consulting resources; Holo, a multifunctional holographic device for dynamic presentations; Fotorator, an interactive device for the photo printing vending industry; and QuickCash, an online capital provider for SMEs in Georgia with an innovative scoring platform and 30 minute processing time. The 12 startups pitched in front of a prestigious jury made up of Aieti Kukava, CEO, JSC Alliance Group Holding; George Kintsurashvili of GITA; Nick Tabatadze, Founder, L79 Ventures; Alexandre Stern, Senior Director and Innovation Man at Lowendalmasai; and Tiffany Obser, Senior Associate at Seedstars World. The event was made possible by the generous sponsorship of the Star Sponsor Alliance Group Holding, Business Information Agency, and Georgia Innovation and Technology Agency. A panel discussion “Building a Robust Tech Investment Climate in Georgia” also took place in the intermission, featuring a host of international and Georgian speakers. Continuing on its world tour of startup scenes in emerging markets and fast-growing startup scenes, Seedstars World’s next stop is Baku, to select the best startup in Azerbaijan. Seedstars World is looking for smart startups that solve regional issues and/or develop profitable products for the global market.


Seedstars ( is a global organization based in Switzerland with activities in more than 50 countries around the world. Its mission is to impact people’s lives in emerging markets through entrepreneurship and technology. The company’s goal is to develop and foster startup ecosystems by connecting, building and investing in driven entrepreneurs. Seedstars connects the best entrepreneurs with investors, corporates and media, and helps them to scale to new markets. They build companies by bringing together resources, talents and growth techniques, and eventually invest in the most promising entrepreneurs. Sharing the values of trust, efficiency and diversity, Seedstars aims to support the whole entrepreneurial ecosystem from entrepreneurs to investors, passing through governments and corporates.



JUNE 17 - 20, 2016

Waste – Trash or Resource? BY BAIA DZAGNIDZE


aste management development is in an active phase in Georgia. The Waste Management Code of Georgia, adopted in 2015, and the EU-Georgia Association Agreement are the two factors significantly contributing to this development. Within the above documents, Georgia made certain commitments to introduce sustainable waste management. However, the country still has a long way to go. The current waste collection service in Georgia is inefficient, especially in the villages. There’s no adequate waste collection tariff system and service tariffs are only administered in large cities. Waste is disposed of in landfills that fail to meet international standards or is dumped by local residents at dumpsites. However, the Solid Waste Management Company has to a certain extent taken care of the landfills and is now planning to construct sanitary landfills. This process has already been started in some regions. Unfortunately, neither waste reduction nor reuse is a wide-spread practice in Georgia. To solve these problems, Georgia has started to seek new investments and build the capacities of the country. Specifically, all the old landfills and dumpsites must be closed on the territory of Georgia and be substituted by regional landfills meeting international standards. According to the plan, waste separation, reuse, recycling and composting are an integral part of the new system. New Materials Recovery Facilities (MRFs) are to be set up at some of the new landfills. The country is going to get a significant economic benefit from waste management sector development in the long run. The introduction and development of a new waste management system will transform the existing reality whereby the fee will cover the cost of service, which is crucial for sector development. This will also ensure provision

of an effective waste collection service to the consumer. The Waste Management Technologies in Regions (WMTR) program has prepared a report on costbenefit analysis of the waste management options using an example of waste management systems in Adjara A.R and Kakheti Region. The key goal of the study is to inform society and decision-makers on the economic potential of alternative waste management strategies. The report has shown that the social costs of waste disposal in Adjara A.R and Kakheti Region are quite high considering waste collection and transportation, disposal in a sanitary landfill and methane emissions. For instance, the average social cost of waste disposal in a landfill using the Purchasing Power Parity exchange rate is USD 169 per ton in Adjara A.R and USD 75 per ton in Kakheti Region. These figures are equal to and in certain cases even exceed the same costs in the US and some regions of Europe. Based on the results of the study, source separation and recycling programs could bring some net economic profit to the country as compared to regular waste disposal. The cost of CO2 emissions depends on the type of recyclable. For instance, each ton of glass makes USD 2, per ton of paper and cardboard of various qualities – USD 14 on average, per ton of plastic – USD 36 on average and per ton of aluminum – USD 131 on average. The main problem the country still faces is optimal integration of the components of the waste management system. The simultaneous functioning of several components could involve both complementary elements and inefficiencies. For example, source separation of wet waste recyclables will improve waste recovery efficiency at mixed waste MRFs, while source separation of paper will improve the quality of commercial fiber materials. Based on the analysis, integration of local composting projects into regional and state programs could be used to obtain credits issued for emissions reductions. These credits will then be passed on to the State and will help it cover the expenses.

UNICEF Statement on the Adoption of the Law on Early and Preschool Education


NICEF has welcomed the adoption of the Law on Early and Preschool Education that was developed with the support of UNICEF. The Law went through a long process of drafting, finalization and public discussion. UNICEF commends the efforts of the Parliament of Georgia and especially the Human Rights and Civil Integration Committee for leading the process of adoption of the Law which will establish a stronger legal basis and provide national standards for inclusive early and preschool education for all children in Georgia. The Law foresees the introduction of a pre-primary year for all five-year-old children to improve school readiness, mechanisms for the prevention of violence against children, increased responsibilities at the central level for developing and monitoring national standards and supporting municipalities to improve governance, quality and access to inclusive pre-school education. The implementation process will be crucial for realizing the main principles of the law in practice. UNICEF is currently advising the respective ministries on the preparation of subsequent regulations

and standards, which will hopefully be adopted soon in order to enable ministries, municipalities and preschool providers to achieve compliance with the new law. In particular, it will be essential to establish a national system for pre- and in-service training of preschool educators and regular monitoring of the implementation of the national standards by respective central government agencies. UNICEF will continue to support the development of an effective early and preschool education system in Georgia. Stay tuned for an EXCLUSIVE interview with Sascha Graumann, UNICEF Representative in Georgia, in next week’s Georgia Today!

Contact: Phone: 599 461908





JUNE 17 - 20, 2016

The 6/13 Disaster: Invitation for Bids Opening Eyes and Minds OP-ED BY NUGZAR B. RUHADZE


eorgia remembers myriad days of hardship and tears suffered in bygone years. Some of them are replicated on calendars and diaries. Some have plunged into oblivion, but all of them carry the historical charge of bitterness and poignancy, and will never be expunged from our national memory because they are embossed with pain, and stained with blood. The 13th of June 2015 in the capital city of Georgia has entered history as one such date- on which a muddy torrential flood and a monstrous landslide of hardly imaginable size and power attacked the sleeping city from its Western hilly vicinity. That night, and many days and nights after, the landscape was ugly and dire in town. The place was mortified and was desperately calling for help: people dead, their houses buried in the thick of the momentarily formed mountains of dirt, debris by the tons, waters furiously pouring, mud oozing like lava from every corner in all directions, the zoo animals at large and many of them gone forever, all of us scared to death and feeling powerless, businesses ruined, roads destroyed, communication crippled, tens of millions in damage, tunnels burst open, bridges collapsed, the government at a loss, the city dwellers in panic, unable to fathom what had happened, morale at the nadir and desperation at the zenith – that was it in a nutshell and on the surface. In broad reality and in the longer run, the situation was much worse. It was simply disastrous. Life seemed to have stopped right there, where the elements had brutally altered the way of life in the country. And then, several hours into our flooded and thus paralyzed life, we all started to come to ourselves, measuring ourselves up to the consequence. We are still under the impression of last year’s uproar of the earth, reflecting back on the catastrophe, counting and recounting the loss, creating documentaries and photo-albums to preserve the deluge as a reminder of God’s will, rethinking the construction methodology, reconsidering Mother nature’s kinks and whims, pondering on better usage of science and technology for guessing any incipient danger that may come from environmental and climatic vicissitudes. In those dark days of mid-June just a

Tbilisi pulls together to clear up after the June 13, 2015 flood. Photo: Zviad Nikolaishvili/GT

year ago, the rumor went around that the effect of the disaster could have been alleviated had Man been better equipped to answer such natural developments and, had we known the construction business better per se (building roads and houses only where they are allowed to be built, according to the rules of both the nature and technology). It seems that Tbilisi has recovered from the calamity but some of the consequences still linger on. Millions are needed to compensate the victims of the flood, to reconstruct completely the damaged infrastructure, to buy and install the necessary sophisticated prognostication equipment, to conduct geological and seismological investigation, to guarantee safety from potential dangers, and to hire the specialists, both local or foreign, who will help us behave in due fashion in the future. On the other hand, bad days like this reveal the character of the people. I have not seen in a long time our citizens so joined together and standing so strong in the face of the plight we all saw that night. I could not believe my eyes at seeing the young boys and girls en mass calmly, selflessly and tirelessly working hand-in-hand to save their beloved town, the dying animals, humans and buried-in mud property from the vicious embrace of raging nature. The heroism of the rescuers was amazing, too. The desperate but often helpless governmental services did not wink for a second before the problems popping up every minute in the days and nights on end following June 13. The entire country, including the youth, stood ready to help with money, labor, skills, clothing, and food. This is all wonderful for boosting our pride, for feeling good and for temporary relief, but the biggest helper in the future

would only be a scientifically corroborated and technologically guaranteed way of life throughout the whole country, not only in its capital. We need to know in exactly what kind of natural conditions we are living. This is, after all, the 21st century, a time of technological and scientific wonders. Georgia possesses a small land with an extremely disparate geographical and climatic patterns, where the frequent weather change is a routine of the day. We have in the past witnessed on our miniature territory numerous strong floods, snows, hailstorms, lightning strikes, landslides, earthquakes, heatwaves, freezes, winds and raging seas. This simply means that we need to be more careful when faced with this type of nature. The night of 13 June this week, I watched breathlessly a newly released documentary on the television, depicting in detail last year’s disaster and marking its first anniversary. All the images and the accompanying anguish came back and struck my heart and mind all over again. And the concluding words of the narrator totally immobilized me: “In the fight between nature and man, man is always defeated.” I am not prepared to deliberate on this philosophy right now but these words brought to my memory the disasters that have recently taken place in other parts of the world and are still fresh in mind. It is true that when disasters happen somewhere else, it seems easier to endure them, but when they happen to us, only then do we start realizing much more acutely the plight and pain of those who succumb to the elements on an almost everyday basis throughout the world. Maybe the realization of those pains works as an incentive for us humans to help each other out, no matter how far away from each other we dwell and breathe.

Date: 16 June, 2016 Loan No.: 3273-GEO: Sustainable Urban and Transport Investment Program – Tranche4 Contract No. and Title: Bidding: P42414-SUTIP4-ICB-01-2016: Construction Works for Batumi Coastal Protection Deadline for Submission of Bids: 29 July, 2016, 15:00 hours (local Georgian time) 1. The Government of Georgia has received financing from the Asian Development Bank (ADB) towards the cost of Sustainable Urban Transport Investment Program –Tranche4. Part of this financing will be used for payments under contract for Construction Works for Batumi Coastal Protection. Bidding is open to Bidders from eligible source countries of the ADB. 2. The Municipal Development Fund of Georgia (MDF) (hereinafter referred to as the “Employer”) invites sealed bids from eligible bidders who can demonstrate that they satisfy defined qualification criteria for the Construction Works for Batumi Coastal Protection. The basic works foreseen for Batumi Coastal Protection shall comprise, but will not be limited to: 1. Construction of a revetment in the southern portion of the littoral, for about 1.8 km, beach accesses overpassing the revetment; 2. Sediment recirculation from North to South; 3. Studies, analyses and monitoring of the Chorockhi river during the work period; 4. Dredging. Estimated implementation period of the contract is: 600 days. 3. International competitive bidding will be conducted in accordance with ADB’s single-stage, two-envelope procedure and is open to all Bidders from eligible source countries. Only eligible bidders with, but not limited to, the following key qualifications should participate in this bidding: a) Average Annual Construction Turnover: Minimum average annual construction turnover of US$ 18.5 million calculated as total certified payments received for contracts in progress or completed, within the last 3 (three) years (in case of Joint Venture: All Partners Combined must meet requirement; Each Partner must meet 25 % of the requirement; One Partner must meet 40% of the requirement); b) Contracts of Similar Size and Nature: Participation in at least one contract, that has been successfully or substantially completed within the last 5 (five) years and that are similar to the proposed works, where the value of the Bidder’s participation exceeds US$ 12.3 million. At least, the bidder’s participation should include construction works for Sea and /or River Coastal Protection. (in case of Joint Venture One Partner must meet the requirement); c) Financial Resources Requirement: The Bidder must demonstrate that it has the financial resources to meet: (a) its current contract commitments, plus (b) the requirements for the Subject Contract of US$ 2,300,000 (in case of Joint Venture: All Partners Combined must meet requirement; Each Partner must meet 25 % of the requirement; One Partner must meet 40% of the requirement). Details are provided in Section 3 of the bidding documents. 4. To obtain further information and inspect the bidding documents, bidders should contact the following from 10:00 to 18:00, working days only: Municipal Development Fund of Georgia Contact Person: Mr. Irakli Paresishvili, Head of Procurement Unit Address: 150 David Agmashenebeli Ave., 0112, Tbilisi, Georgia, Room #409 Tel: (+995 32) 243 70 01; 243 70 02; 243 70 03; 243 70 04 Fax: (+995 32) 243 70 77 E-mail: 5. Bidding Documents (soft copy) can be obtained from the MDF office at the address indicated in paragraph 4 above upon submission of written request, free of charge. The Bidding Documents will be distributed electronically via system. 6. Deliver your bids: • to the address above; • on or before 15:00 hours local Georgian time on 29 July, 2016. Late bids will not be accepted. • together with a bid security in the amount described in the bidding document. Bids will be opened immediately after the deadline in the presence of bidders’ representatives who choose to attend.




JUNE 17 - 20, 2016

Mzemoe! – Tusheti Awaits

Photo: Paata Vardanashvili



idden deep in the Caucasus Mountains, the region’s villages cling to dizzyingly steep slopes that are as picturesque as they are precarious… [You will meet] the most hospitable and fun people in the world. There will be much toasting and playing of accordions. And you will find yourself drinking chacha, the local firewater, out of a ram’s horn - is how CNN described one of Georgia’s and arguably, the world’s, most exotic and unique regions – Tusheti, in their compilationpiece titled “12 best places you have never heard of”. And while the words of praise are music to anyone’s ear, one cannot help but feel a little aggrieved that a place like this finds itself in a “you’ve never heard of” list. It’s a shared consensus among the government, investors and donors that places like these should get as much exposure as possible to reach their full potential as a touristic and industrial driving force. Despite the involvement from all three aforementioned sectors, there is still a lot to do to raise the visibility of the mountainous region. Events highlighting Tusheti’s uniqueness are of crucial importance and this is exactly what the Czech Development Agency and Georgian Agency of Protected Areas set their sights to as they prepare to launch an ambitious annual two day festival at the end of June. Mzemoe is the name and the name has a story behind it. Mze means sun in Georgian and moe is a Tushetian rendering of “come.” Tusheti, as the CNN article helpfully attests, is indeed famed for its hospitality – there is an old saying that tells that for a Tush, a guest knocking on his door was akin to the sun rising up before his very eyes. And that is no small statement, especially when you consider how deeply symbolic the sun is drenched in Tushetian ethnicity and culture. The ancient sun cult was a crucial part of Tushetian pagan society and some aspects of it have been preserved to this day. Another integral symbol for Tusheti, that of sheep, is also closely intertwined with that of the sun, and the trademark dish of Tushetians – the famed khinkali - also owes its shape to the glowing orb in the sky. And finally, mzimoe is what the Tusetians call the equinox period, i.e. from March to September, when it is best to visit Tusheti (unless you fancy riding a horse when it becomes the only possible way). All aforementioned aspects - hospitality management, sheep and shepherding and local cuisine will be integral to the up-coming festival, which is designed to demonstrate the potential of Tusheti’s tourism industry and identify suitable donors and investors. The Tusheti Protected Area, the largest in Europe, is a curious blend of archaic beauty with modern know-how. “First and foremost, we intend to attract more visitors to the Protected Area, so the festival is a sorts of a prelude to the season opening,” muses Lasha Moistsrapishvili, head of the Agency of Protected Areas. “We want to demonstrate the readymade services that are available in Tusheti, and for donors and investors, we want to show the fruits of their investment – the multitude of social pro-

jects that have been carried out in Tusheti in recent years. “ The rapid emergence of numerous guesthouses, many run by local families, as well as quality service development are indicators that the Agency’s strategy is working. This involves the development of guesthouses, staff training, tourist guides and so on. One success story is that of “Tusheti Guide,” an association of Tushetian hotel owners, made possible though grant funding from donors. Another is the construction of a tourist shelter at the Alazani River, near to where the path diverges to Khevsureti, another mountainous region. Construction of special bridges on rivers for those crossing on horseback is another step that will give much relief to the local population and tourists alike. The Agency’s burden is shared by their Czech colleagues, who have contributed numerous projects towards easing life in Tusheti. The ambulance center alone, recently complimented with a jeep adapted for first aid purposes, has alleviated many concerns for Tushetians, who otherwise had to commit themselves to a lengthy journey downwards to Kakheti. Another of their major projects, that of forest inventory, will ensure that Tusheti remains as green as it has been, for years to come. “It is important to remember that the local population spends barely four months here, and it is crucial that they get as much income as possible during this period as this is the money they’ll have to live on for the rest of the year. In this context, our festival is a wonderful chance for them to demonstrate what they can offer and what they could potentially offer with more resources and assistance,” Moistsrapishvili’s says. However, it happens all too often that the wave of modernization takes a toll on the unique features of what is being modernized, losing the appeal in the process. The Agency is well aware of the risks and its head says they want to preserve Tusheti as it is, with all its traditions and breathtaking nature very much intact. The increase in service quality, paramount as its importance is, should not and will not come at the cost of the protected landscape’s integrity. “We need to strike a balance between innovation and protection. Traditions make Tusheti what it is, so we want to get as many people as possible familiar with Tushetian local cuisine, livelihood and general way of life. Take, for example, traditional Tushetian games, which we’ve even published a book about. Naturally, this will also be an integral part of the festival. It all needs to be preserved and restored and it falls on us to do it. So we want to raise awareness among the local population, tourists, investors and donors alike about Tusheti – that this is a beautiful, breathtaking and unique place which should obviously be cherished and protected, and the better we are at it, the more it can give back to us.” Challenges obviously remain, and they aren’t trivial – water supply, sanitation and most importantly, roads are still a problem. Due to the precarious road situation and dangers of snow and landslides, each year the road is only open from May to September, which limits accessibility to the region for potential spring and late autumn tourists. Electricity shortages, despite much-lauded installments of solar panels, are still a concern. Continued on page 15



JUNE 17 - 20, 2016


Bridgewater State University Professors Conduct their First STEM Promo Project in Tbilisi BY MERI TALIASHVILI


r. Polina Sabinin from Bridgewater State University (BSU) near Boston, Massachusetts, USA, travelled to Georgia together with her colleague Dr. Niki Glen – Elementary Science Education and their four students on an Undergraduate Research Abroad grant funded by the Shea Foundation at BSU to conduct a project in engineering and math in two Tbilisi schools - Buckswood School and The First Experimental School. Dr. Sabinin teaches Mathematics Education to future teachers while Dr. Glen teaches Science in elementary schools. Together with Ministry of Education representatives they visited Buckswood International School, Tskneti, and the First Experimental School in Saburtalo, grades 4 and 5 for Engineering and for grad 6 for Math. Dr. Sabinin brought mathematical games and Glen delivered a lesson in engineering. The resources they brought were physical which, as Dr. Sabinin told GEORGIA TODAY, complemented the style of the Georgian teachers who they found to be “generally so imaginative and creative and doing amazing things with little funding.” The funding for this program came from the visitors’ university. Dr. Glen co-created her program with the Boston Museum of Science while Dr. Sabinin curates a Library of Mathematics Games in her department and uses them in classes for current and future teachers

and for seminars. The games she brought and left here are called ‘metaphors’ and are designed for kids to learn logic visually. “When using the games, I don’t need to explain anything to the kids but just hand the games out and watch the kids figure it out on their own. Another game I brought is ‘special reasoning,’ where you get pictures of what you have to build and the kids need to build it. My games develop intuition,” she explained. In addition to this, Dr. Sabinin and Dr. Glen created a blog to connect the Georgian children to American pupils as pen pals. “They send each other messages and the Georgian pupils have a chance

to follow what we do,” Dr. Sabinin said. Next year BSU will be sponsoring a study tour in collaboration with the Ministry of Education of Georgia and US Embassy representatives. The course will be designed for students with a focus, again, on STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) subjects. In the frames of the next project, BSU representatives plan to travel to IDP settlements and Georgia’s other regions where more help is needed. “In the US we live a pretty sheltered life and I want those next fifteen students to experience the world outside,” Dr. Sabinin said.

Mzemoe! – Tusheti Awaits Continued from page 14

These are the obstacles that need to be overcome, as currently the country is exploiting what amounts to barely one fourth of Tusheti’s immense touristic potential. “The interest is there – the visitor statistics prove that in a convincing manner – it’s the capacity that we’re currently lacking. At the moment we can host about 500 people in Tusheti, 500 beds that is, which translates to about 26 hotels and, although in 2006, before the creation of the Tusheti National park, there were just seven hotels, it’s still nowhere near enough. And the roads play a crucial part in this. A major investment is needed to change the situation for the better,” Moistsrapishvili admits. But when it comes to Tusheti, it’s never just about tourism. To bolster the halfdeserted villages of Georgia’s mountainous regions, a major boost to traditional livelihood cultures is needed. That’s why greenhouses and granaries have been popping up with increasing speed in Tusheti, while the another equally vital branch, shepherding and wool-making is being steadily modernized – the outdated ways of sheep shearing, which yielded low quality wool, have been replaced with mechanized methods and equipment imported from Europe’s top sheep cultures, courtesy of Caritas Czech Republic, a Czech NGO operating in Georgia. This will be yet another pitch

for the Mzemoe festival (a demonstration being ten thousand times better than stacks of project reports!) to donors of what has been (and could be) done, and to show investors what can they invest in and profit from. If this wasn’t enough to convince you to pop up there (via transport of your choice) at the end of June to see what Tusheti has to offer, here is the pitch that Mr. Moistsrapishvili made when we asked why a foreigner should come to Tusheti: “First of all, what we are talking about here is 150,000 hectares of protected area – the largest in Europe. Unique becomes a cliché word here – traditions, architecture, landscapes, biodiversity, cuisine – everything is as unique as it gets in Tusheti. This is where, far ahead of Europe I might say, a jury of sorts used to hold a court and pass judgments. This historical ethnicity, untouched, is yours to explore when you get there.” You can’t argue with a pitch like that. And oh, tickets are free. Tusheti awaits you, just as Man waits for the next sunrise. Mzemoe. The Festival will take place on June 25-26 in Tusheti National Park and Kvemo Omalo village. How to get there: Go to village Kvemo Alwani first, best done from Tbilisi from the bus station near Isani subway. From Alwani to Omalo you can get a very reasonably-priced taxi in the center of the village. For more details, please visit the Tusheti National Park facebook page.




JUNE 17 - 20, 2016

People Choose The Most Ecologically Clean Areas To Live In

Trail Blazers BY TONY HANMER




veryone knows that buying real estate is one of the best ways to invest and the Georgian real estate market has significantly improved and increased since the financial crisis of 2008- with new participants appearing regularly in the market with new offers and flexible terms of payment. Such offer have resulted in an increase in the number of consumers with new demands, tastes, behavior tendencies and preferences in relation to purchasing real estate. According to an ACT survey conducted for Marketer magazine, most consumers choose apartments according to location and whether it is placed in an ecologically clean environment and near to offices, schools or trade centers. The study revealed that Saburtalo is the most desired location in which people seek to buy apartments (30% of those surveyed); followed by Didube-Dighomi – 17%; Tbilisi suburbs – 13%, Nadzaladevi – 11%; Vake-Bagebi – 9%, with the remaining respondents choosing other parts of the capital city. It is interesting to note that while Vake was once considered the most prestigious district to live in, it now has fewer votes than Dighomi. As ACT Business Study Analytical Expert, Tinatin Basilashvili, points out, the most prestigious parts of the city have become less popular and people now

show preference for parts where there is less noise, traffic and pollution. According to Mr. Oguz Kaan Karaer, MAQRO Construction’s Chief of Project Development PR, Sales & Marketing Officer, when choosing a place for the construction of a new residential complex, the priority was ecology, greenery and fresh air. In the city centre there is a problem of urbanization, meaning there is not enough space to construct a residential complex with such a diverse infrastructure as that offered in Green Diamond by MAQRO Construction. “We are proud that MAQRO Construction sold 50% of the units within just one week. Choosing Dighomi as one of the most ecologically clean areas in Tbilisi was one of the main reasons for our success!” said Karaer. Another new residential complex will be added to Dighomi in the near futureMAQRO Construction Company Green Diamond project. The construction period includes three stages, the first of which consists of 731 apartments, construction will be finished in May, 2018. Shortly after the project was launched, half of the units were sold - within a week. The unique residential complex Green Diamond is special due to its practical location in Tbilisi’s ecologically clean Dighomi, only 8 miles from the city center. According to the company representatives, the residents will be far from the chaotic city thanks to the complex’s green plants and fresh air. Sport arenas of the Olympic complex

‘New Tbilisi’, trade center Tbilisi Mall, hospitals, hypermarkets and other important objects are all nearby. The US Embassy close by adds to the security aspect of Green Diamond. A Technological University is set to be built next to the residential complex Green Diamond as a mega project, unique in Eastern Europe. On the 70.000 m2 area of the residential complex will be a 23.143 m2 green territory and 23 living blocks with 1772 units offering a unique, brand-new and affordable life in Tbilisi. You will be able to satisfy all your needs in the three swimming pools, four basketball areas, four outdoor fitness areas, four children’s playgrounds, seven pergolas, indoor sport facilities, walking and running tracks, commercial areas, social terraces, kindergarten and school. MAQRO Construction has successfully completed several investment projects: residential complex Green Budapest, 4-star Mercury Tbilisi Old Town Hotel, furniture shop network Belissa and fivestar restaurant Dinehall on Rustaveli Avenue. The company also plans to construct the IBIS Styles hotel, included in the Accor group. MAQRO Construction owns a 20 000 sq. m. land plot on Airport Highway and is planning to construct an immense family and decorative items trade center.

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or all my nearly two decades visiting Svaneti on average three times a year and then just taking the plunge and moving here, I’ve spent relatively very little time off-road. Even my 2007 walk from Etseri to Ushguli and back was all on the main roads. That could, and should, change soon, with good reason. How much am I missing, aside from the odd hike or horse trip I’ve made, much too few and far between? What communities do you think of if I say “Svaneti”? Mestia and Ushguli as a start, likely. Upper Svaneti’s capital, and its highest village (highest in Georgia, and Europe, too). What about Dizi, source of most of the marble and alabaster of the magnificent stations of the Moscow Metro? Etseri, location of the highest of all Svaneti’s watchtowers? Becho, with unparalleled views of Ushba side-on? Mulakhi, Ipari (which one?), Pari (which means “shield” in Georgian), K’ala, Adishi, Nak’ra, Letekhi, Lenjeri, Latali, and more, each with something special to recommend it. Which village has more churches per capita than any other in Georgia? Above which can you get the peaks of Ushba and Elbrus in the same view? How many mineral springs are there here, and where are they exactly? Best church icon collection? A hiking trail is being set up through large parts of Georgia and Armenia, a grand project which will link many national parks and bring new visitors to hitherto unexplored villages. It is being planned and produced by an energetic group of foreigners who have one thing in common: significant time already spent in the region, leading to a deep love of it, going back 15 years (Several of them were also Peace Corps volunteers) and hailing from the USA, Canada, UK and Poland. The Georgian Ministry of Tourism supports the work, too. See for all the details.

Most of the group has recently been touring all over Svaneti, holding village information meetings. Not just to inform the locals, but also to hear their views and get their blessing for the project if they agree with it, which has always been the case. Local people will hopefully be involved as volunteers in making the trail, and it will support their communities’ infrastructure through bringing tourist attention and money. They can host people in their homes, guide them in and around the things which make each village unique, introduce them to local culture and language, and more. After all, Svaneti (for example) is more than just Mestia and Ushguli! And every village here is worth getting to know, for its own special reasons. The entire trail will be mapped, including an online version to which people can add details, such as guest house locations, museums, ancient features and so on. This puts anyone onto the world stage of the Internet, and gives all these communities a chance to shine in their unique ways. The initial project may last some years, as trails need to be made or at least renovated, as well as marked and mapped out accurately using GPS and other tools. Once it is finished, it must then be maintained: kept free of rock-falls and excess vegetation, its guide markings repainted and so on. But the main work will have been done. This summer, the physical work will focus on building the trail connecting Upper Svaneti and Racha, as well as widening and renovating it where it already exists. A fairly large undertaking, perhaps, but with local help and enthusiasm it can be done. This is all for you, Svaneti, Georgia, Armenia, Caucasus! Tony Hanmer runs the “Svaneti Renaissance” Facebook group, now with over 1300 members, at He and his wife also run their own guest house in Etseri:

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GEORGIA TODAY JUNE 17 - 20, 2016


The Blind Painter Who Creates His Works from Memory



n June 14, on the Day of Protection of Persons with Disabilities, under the aegis of the associations ‘The Future Starts Today’ and ‘Woman, Child and Social Environment’ TBC Gallery opened the rare exhibition of blind painter Giorgi Kobelashvili titled ‘A Universe Seen by Eye and Mind.’ Allegedly a unique exhibition for Georgia and rarity on the global scale, you should make sure not to miss the stunning color paintings, mainly on the theme of Old Tbilisi and literary passages, among them a portrait of one celebrity – Jessica Lange. The works of the second stage of the painter’s life, after losing his eyesight, are accomplished in acrylic black and white. Surprisingly enough, they do not lack in topical spectrum or color in an indirect sense of the word – here is a very imposing series of animals from which I would particularly point out ‘Aurochs;’ there are religious motifs, as well as a number of lovely sketches named ‘Woman in the Garden’ and ‘Piano,’ and more. The exhibition is being held with the support of the Ministry of Culture and Monument Protection. “I cannot help but admire these works. I want to thank the artist and all involved parties who gave us possibility to contribute to this exhibition. I want to call on everyone to come and see these paintings. Both the public and private sector should work

to support such exhibitions in future, too,” said Minister of Cukture, Mikheil Giorgadze, Maka Chichua, the First Lady of Georgia, who is a painter by profession, was also an honorary guest. “I have no idea where the painter found the energy to carry on. This is a sign of how strongly he loves his profession. In his early paintings, it can be well seen what a nice painter Giorgi is, however, if one asked me, I would say that the paintings of the second period are more impressive. They are more emotional, energetic and sensitive. This is one of those most wonderful days when we, Georgians, stand together and it should be encouraged!” she said. GEORGIA TODAY talked to Giorgi Kobelashvili, professional painter. “I’m thrilled to have a solo exhibition. All the paintings express my emotions. I believe that an artist must be multicolored and try out different media. The artist is first and foremost seen in pencil and as such, I believe that works done in acryl are impressive, as they are painted in one blow. No one should lose hope, no matter what happens, and God will show him/her the way to self-expression, as all of us have some form of talent.” Tea Lejhava, Manager of Corporate Social Responsibility of TBC Bank, told GEORGIA TODAY: “Considering the fact that TBC has imposed a high level of social responsibility, this is a very important exhibition for us. The author created 20 paintings while he could see and the remaining 40 since he lost his sight. This is his first solo exposition and we have also published his catalogue.”

“It is an internationally recognized practice that after a person loses their eyesight, there is a whole system waiting to help relearn the skills of walking, reading, writing, using a computer, doing housework, etc.,” said Marina Mamulia, Head of the Rehabilitation of Blind People under the Association ‘The Future Starts Today.’ “Our aim is to make blind people independent. The Georgian state authorities cannot provide such services at present but I live in hope that our government will soon allocate the necessary expenses and energy so that the blind are no longer seen as burdens on society. In fact, Georgia is obliged to make the changes, having chosen a European course.” GEORGIA TODAY also talked to Giorgi Markozashvili, painter, co-organizer and Giorgi Kobelashvili’s teacher. “Both of the exhibited periods [from the artist’s life] are important in their own way, but the most recent series of animals come from the fantastical sphere. The painter’s academic background has served him well- he remembers a human being’s form in order to create a portrait, the shape of a bicycle, aurochs, etc, and with the help of memory and inspiration, he has acheived this splendid result.” The event was made even more beautiful by the classical pieces played live on piano, performed by blind girls. The exhibition proves once again that there are no boundaries for anybody, and no disabilities as far as humans are concerned. The exhibition will conclude on Friday, June 17, at TBC Gallery (TBC Bank HQ , Marjanishvili Metro).

National Geographic: Georgia Deserves More Travelers


a t i o n a l G e o g ra p h i c recently named Georgia one of 10 places in the world that deserve more travellers. Along with Georgia, the list includes neighboring Armenia, Uzbekistan, Iran, Kosovo, Nepal, Nicaragua, Albania, Timor-Leste and Tunisia. National Geographic focused on Georgia’s difficult historic past after the collapse of the Soviet Union and highlighted how difficult it was to regain its independence. The magazine noted that now, after

Abanotubani District, Tbilisi. Photo: TASS via GETTY IMAGES/Mikhail Japaridze

years of civil war and post-Soviet chaos, “Tbilisi, its capital, has become one of Eastern Europe’s most innovative cultural capitals.” National Geographic listed eastern Georgia’s wine region, Kakheti, and Tbilisi as the country’s two top destinations. The article noted that the city has retained its old spirit, but new construction projects including the Panorama complex – “the personal pet project of billionaire former Prime Minister Bidzina Ivanishvili – threaten the gritty beauty of Tbilisi’s Old Town.”

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JUNE 17 - 20, 2016


TBILISI ZAKARIA PALIASHVILI OPERA AND BALLET THEATRE Address: 25 Rustaveli Ave. Telephone: 2 99 04 56 June 23 GORDA D. Toradze’s Ballet Choreography by Vakhtang Chabukiani Choreographic version and staging by Nina Ananiashvili Conductor: Revaz Takidze Start time: 19:00 Ticket price: 10-50 GEL GABRIADZE THEATER Address: 13 Shavtelis St. Telephone: 2 98 65 93 June 17 STALINGRAD Directed by Rezo Gabriadze English subtitles Start time: 20:00 Ticket price: 10-30 GEL June 18 MARSHAL DE FANTIE’S DIAMOND Directed by Revaz Gabriadze English subtitles Start time: 20:00 Ticket price: 10-30 GEL June 19 THE AUTUMN OF MY SPRING Directed by Revaz Gabriadze English subtitles Start time: 20:00 Ticket price: 10-30 GEL MOVEMENT THEATER Address: 182, Aghmashenebeli Ave., Mushthaid park Telephone: 599 555 260 June 10, 11, 12 PERFOMANCE LABYRINTH Directed by Kakha Bakuradze Start time: 19:00 Ticket price: 15 GEL June 18 ABRACADABRA Start time: 14:00 Ticket price: 10 GEL June 17 RECITATIVE IN THE CITY Directed by Kakha Bakuradze

Start time: 21:00 Free Entry June 18, 19 PERFOMANCE “SILENCE, REHEARSAL..!” Start time: June 18 - 15:00 June 19 – 19:00 Ticket price: 15 GEL GEORGIAN STATE PANTOMIME THEATER Address: 37 Rustaveli Ave. Telephone: 2 99 63 14 June 17 THE WORLD Directed by Davit Shalikashvili Start time: 19:00 Ticket price: 10 GEL June 18 SONNETS Directed by Davit Shalikashvili Start time: 19:00 Ticket price: 10 GEL CINEMA

AMIRANI CINEMA Address: 36 Kostava St. Telephone: 2 99 99 55 Every Wednesday ticket price: 5 Lari June 17-23 THE NICE GUYS Directed by Shane Black Genre: Action, Comedy, Crime Cast: Russell Crowe, Ryan Gosling, Angourie Rice Language: English Start time: 19:45 Ticket price: 13-14 GEL MONEY MONSTER Directed by Jodie Foster Genre: Crime, Drama, Thriller Cast: George Clooney, Julia Roberts, Jack O’Connell Language: Russian Start time: 17:00 Ticket price: 10-11 GEL NOW YOU SEE ME 2 Directed by Jon M. Chu Genre: Action, Comedy, Thriller Cast: Jesse Eisenberg, Mark Ruffalo, Woody Harrelson Language: Russian Start time: 22:15 Ticket price: 13-14 GEL A BIGGER SPLASH Directed by Luca Guadagnino

Genre: Crime, Drama, Mystery Cast: Tilda Swinton, Matthias Schoenaerts, Ralph Fiennes Language: Russian Start time: 22:00 Ticket price: 13-14 GEL RUSTAVELI CINEMA Address: 5 Rustaveli Ave. Telephone: 2 55 50 00 Every Wednesday ticket price: 5 Lari June 17-23 THE CONJURING 2 Directed by James Wan Genre: Horror Cast: Vera Farmiga, Patrick Wilson, Franka Potente Language: Russian Start time: 17:15, 19:45, 22:35 Ticket price: 13-14 GEL WARCRAFT Directed by Duncan Jones Genre: Action, Adventure, Fantasy Cast: Travis Fimmel, Paula Patton, Callan Mulvey Language: Russian Start time: 22:15 Ticket price: 13-14 GEL THE NICE GUYS (Info Above) Start time: 22:00 Ticket price: 13-14 GEL NOW YOU SEE ME 2 (Info Above) Start time: 16:45, 19:30 Ticket price: 10-14 GEL MONEY MONSTER (Info Above) Start time: 22:15 Ticket price: 13-14 GEL MUSEUM


EXHIBITION OF GEORGIAN WEAPONRY NUMISMATIC TREASURY The exhibition showcases a long history of money circulation on the territory of modern Georgia from the 6th century BC. to 1834. June 12 – July 1 EXHIBITION “I SEE WITH MY FINGERS” The exhibition showcases artworks by the professors and students of the Tbilisi State Academy of Arts and other creative and educational institutions. Artworks were created on the theme of the Poem “The Knight in the Panther’s Skin” and are dedicated to the 850 anniversary of Shota Rustaveli. Among the objects are those made by children and adolescents with sight disorders. These objects are felt with light, motion, sound effects, touch and physical involvement- play and theatrical effects. June 11 – March 11 (2017) The Georgian National Museum and Korneli Kekelidze National Center of Manuscripts present EXHIBITION “MEDIEVAL TREASURY” The exhibition showcases preChristian and Georgian medieval art which reflects the continuity of the cultural traditions that were the basis for the formation of Georgian statehood and national identity. Along with the masterpieces from collections of the Georgian National Museum, the exposition also presents 10th-18th centuries manuscripts preserved at the National Center of Manuscripts. MUSEUM OF SOVIET OCCUPATION Address: 3 Sh. Rustaveli Ave. PERMANENT EXHIBITION Here, visitors can discover the State’s personal files of “subversive” Georgian public figures, orders to shoot or exile, and other artifacts representing Soviet-era cultural and political repression in Georgia. The exhibition hall is equipped with monitors on which visitors can watch documentaries of various historical events.

SHALVA AMIRANASHVILI MUSEUM OF ART Address: 1 Lado Gudiashvili St. Telephone: 2 99 99 09 May 18 – July 18 AVANT-GARDE 1900-1937 The exhibition is opened within the Georgian National Museum week dedicated to International Museum Day. GEORGIAN GIORGI LEONIDZE STATE MUSEUM OF GEORGIAN LITERATURE Address: 8 G. Chanturia St. Telephone: 2 99 86 67, 2 93 28 90 June 8-20 SOPO CHERKEZISHVILI’S EXHIBITION NOT WAITING FOR YOU GALLERY

THE NATIONAL GALLERY Address: 11 Rustaveli Ave. PERMANENT EXHIBITION Niko Pirosmanashvili, David Kakabadze, Lado Gudiashvili and sculptor Iakob Nikoladze May 17 – June 22 KETEVAN MAGALASHVILI – 120 Exhibition is dedicated to the 120th anniversary of Ketevan Magalashvili - remarkable representative of Georgian art. MUSIC

TBILISI OPERA AND BALLET THEATER Address: 25 Rustaveli Ave. Telephone: 2 00 44 66 June 17, 19 FUND IAVNANA’S CHARITY CONCERT FOR LOVE Participants: Nino Surguladze, Nina Ananiashvili Conductor: Carlo Ponti Start time: 19:00 Ticket price: From 60 GEL Charity Fund: 0901 900 999 TBILISI CONCERT HALL Address: 1 Melikishvili St. Telephone: 2 99 00 99 June 21 PEACE TORCH INTERNATIONAL CHOREOGRAFER & FOLKORE FESTIVAL Start time: 18:00 Ticket price: 15 GEL June 23 ROYAL NATIONAL BALLET THE NEW DANCE SENSATION PREMIERE “CIRCLE OF THE WORLD” Start time: 19:15 Ticket price: 10-25 GEL LOUNGE-BAR “FUNICULAR” Address: Mtatsminda Park June 17 TERRACE OPENING PARTY DJ MISHO URUSHADZE GEORGIAN BAND “NIUTONE” Start time: 20:30 Ticket price: 20 GEL MOVEMENT THEATER Address: 182, Aghmashenebeli Ave., Mushthaid park Telephone: 599 555 260 June 21, 23 JAM SESSION WITH THE RESO KIKNADZE QUINTET Start time: 21:00 Free entry June 22 TANGO MILONGA Start time: 20:00 Tango Lesson: 5 GEL


GEORGIA TODAY JUNE 17 - 20, 2016


Rustaveli Theater Hosts Georgian Chanting Foundation Awards Ceremony BY MAKA LOMADZE



he photo exhibition of young Georgian Photographer Tornike Sherazadishvili is being held in Generator 9.8, June 13-20. The main theme of the exhibition is violence. According to Sherazadishvili, violence as a subject is one of the most important and relevant in the modern age. “We face violence from various groups of people in our daily lives. Most of them are in sharp conflict of interest with each other and this stirs violent tendencies further. In addition, society is always getting the wrong signals from authorities, such as politicians, the Church, etc.,” Sherazadishvili said. The photographer noted that he sees a lack of education as the main problem. “I believe that the background to the problem in most cases lies exactly in education. Only education and the spread-

ing of the right messages can get us out. Every Georgian citizen needs to realize that everyone has equal rights, no matter how different our opinions over various issues are,” he said, adding that the problem has been going on for years. “I’ve been working on this project for years,” Sherazadishvili said. “The photos exhibited here I picked from the last few years of my work. The event itself was organized within a week through the intensive work of Generator 9.8 administration.” The artist noted that even though the decision about the theme of next exhibition has yet to be made, he guarantees it will be something relevant to modern life. “I’ve been involved in photography for eight years. I love what I do and I think that photography gives me the chance to speak out about issues that are important, in a creative way. In general I like working on socially active issues and putting a spotlight on the problems by using human emotions,” Sherazadishvili said.



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he 8th of June marked another stellar event in Tbilisi’s music festival calendar. The 4th Annual Gala Concert and Awards Ceremony for the Georgian Chanting Foundation took place at the historic Rustaveli State Theatre. The Georgian Chanting Foundation – created by businessman Vano Chkhartishvili in 2012 – helps support and popularize traditional singing, chanting and Georgian folk art, both domestically and abroad, along with academic research on Georgia’s traditional music. The Foundation has given awards and monetary prizes to those who have made special contributions to the popularization of traditional Georgian culture, music and dance. Two Tbilisi-based ensembles and five from Georgia’s regions received awards at this year’s ceremony for their role in preserving the country’s traditional music and dance culture. In the category of New Generation, the winner became the Keda Girls Choir from Georgia’s western Black Sea Adjara region won the award for best New Generation artist. For their contribution to Georgian folklore, the Kobuleti Ensemble was honored at the awards ceremony. The prize for the best traditional theater music went to the Mzetamze women’s ensemble and the Riho singing group from the mountainous Svaneti region. In the category of Georgian folk dancing, Kutaisi’s Bermukha – made up entirely of elderly performers – was named the top performer of the year. They were also the star of the show as the crowd cheered the group of men, all of whom are over 70, as they danced

Journalists: Tony Hanmer, Tamar Svanidze, Zviad Adzinbaia, Beqa Kirtava, Meri Taliashvili, Eka Karsaulidze, Zaza Jgarkava, Maka Bibilashvili, Karen Tovmasyan, Dimitri Dolaberidze, Maka Lomadze, Tim Ogden, Ana Akhalaia, Robert Isaf, Joseph Larsen, Will Cathcart, Vazha Tavberidze, Nugzar B. Ruhadze

their way through an inspiring routine. The loudest cheers were saved for 93-year-old member Muhammed Iremadze, who closed the group’s performance. The Chanting Choir from Mtskheta’s Svetitskhoveli Cathedral came away with an award for their contributions to traditional acapella singing. Omar Mkheidze, a noted soloist for Georgia’s National Ballet Sukhishvili, received an award for his contributions to dance and honored with a lengthy video montage that highlighted his career and dance partnership with Sukhishvili’s founder, Nino Ramishvili. A distinguished dancer, Mkheidze is known for his individualism, artistic talents and ability to incorporate traditional male dance techniques into modern interpretations of age-old routines. The Catholicos-Patriarch of All Georgia baptized Omar Mkheidze as the best dancer of the 20th century. “Over the last four years, we have tried to make a small contribution to those

Photographer: Zviad Nikolaishvili Layout: Misha Mchedlishvili Webmaster: Sergey Gevenov Circulation Managers: David Kerdikashvili, David Djandjgava

who have dedicated their lives to Georgian folklore, chanting and dancing… We honor you,” Chkhartishvili said in his closing statements. Chkhartishvili added that 3,000 GEL (USD 1,400) grants would be given to the historic Tbilisi State Conservatoire and Tbilisi State University’s musicology department to help promote the preservation of traditional Georgian music. Svanetian group Riho performed regional folk songs following Chkhartishvili’s, which was followed by a rendition of popular folk song Mravaljhamier by all of the ceremony’s participants. Famed Georgian conductor and composer, Vato Kakhidze, one of the presenters said, “The Georgian Chanting Foundation is in the vanguard of those hoping to preserve and study Georgia’s folklore traditions…The Foundation is doing its best to hold this ceremony and opening a first-rate school for chanting.”


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Profile for Georgia Today

Issue #853  

June 17 - 20, 2016

Issue #853  

June 17 - 20, 2016