Issue no: 1075
• AUGUST 17 - 20, 2018
• PUBLISHED TWICE WEEKLY
PRICE: GEL 2.50
In this week’s issue...
De Facto Ex-PM of Breakaway Abkhazia: Georgians Are Not Our Enemies NEWS PAGE 2
Presidential Candidate Apologizes for Unethical Address to Reporters
ON CAUSE & EFFECT Exclusive interview with Saakashvili's former adviser
What Will the Fallout of the Sanctions Be for Georgia?
Kaladze’s Weekly Priorities: 179 Unfinished Buildings in Tbilisi BY SAMANTHA GUTHRIE
POLITICS PAGE 7
Why International Law Will Never Recognize South Ossetia or Catalonia
ach week, the municipal government of Tbilisi holds a meeting at City Hall. Preceding this week’s meetings, Mayor Kakha Kaladze made several important remarks. It was noted that, in addition to continued availability online and at district governments, taxi drivers will be able to go to the Justice House for assistance with the registration process from August 21. “I want to thank [Justice Minister] Tea Tsulukiani for her support and cooperation,” said the Mayor. “So far, just 244 drivers have registered for taxi licenses. From October 1, those who do not have a license will not be able to provide [taxi] services. Therefore, it is time to start registration," Kaladze urged. Kaladze also drew attention to Shartava Street, which is undergoing complete rehabilitation, implemented by City Hall’s Municipal Infra-
POLITICS PAGE 4
POLITICS PAGE 10
HUAWEI: A Leading Brand in the Smartphone World SOCIETY PAGE 11
structure Development Service, to bring it in line with modern standards. Several "large-scale projects are being imple-
mented in different districts of the capital. We started the complete rehabilitation of Shartava Street. Continued on page 2
Renowned German Conceptual Artist Incorporates Images of Georgian Migrants in Vienna Exhibition CULTURE PAGE 15
AUGUST 17 - 20, 2018
De Facto Ex-PM of Breakaway Abkhazia: Georgians Are Not Our Enemies BY THEA MORRISON
ormer “Prime Minister’ of Georgia’s Russian-Backed breakaway region of Abkhazia, Sergey Shamba says Georgians are not his enemies and he has many friends in Georgia. Shamba told Echo Moskvi that he was the leader in the fight against Georgia but now thinks that the breakaway leadership of occupied Abkhazia should launch dialogue with the Georgian side. “We need to think about a joint future because we are neighboring countries… I mean not only Georgia among the
neighboring countries. There were conflicts among European states too. They were fighting each other. But there is always time to settle the relationship. I think now this kind of dialogue with Georgia can be started," he noted. The politician believes the only way to start the dialogue is within the frames of the Geneva International Discussions. “We should not miss the opportunity. We should start talks,” he added. Shamba spoke about the events in 19921993 and recalled talks with Georgia, which eventually ended without consensus. The Abkhaz politician said that they were hoping to negotiate with Georgia during the Abkhaz War. "We hoped that we would reach at least
Photo source: 1TV
some form of agreement. We were committed to federal relations too. Then there were talks about the confederation
agreement. However, Georgia rejected all of these suggestions. We were very close to consensus. However, in the end
it turned out that the Georgian side did not accept any proposal," Shamba stated. Shamba is a senior politician who currently is a member of the so called People's Assembly of Abkhazia, and Chairman of “United Abkhazia.” He was so called Prime Minister of breakaway Abkhazia under de facto President Sergei Bagapsh from 13 February 2010 until 27 September 2011. Between 1997 and 2010, he was de facto Minister for Foreign Affairs under both Bagapsh and his predecessor Vladislav Ardzinba, with only a half-year interruption in 2004. Shamba has twice unsuccessfully participated in so called presidential elections of the breakaway region, in 2004 and 2011.
Georgian President & Administration Criticized for Spending GEL 13 mln in 2017 BY THEA MORRISON
Photo source: 1TV
eorgian President Giorgi Margvelashvili and his administration fell under sharp criticism from the ruling Georgian Dream (GD) and opposition parties after the release of the State Audit Office (SAO) report, which reads that the Presidential Administration spent GEL 13 million in 2017. The SAO says that up to GEL 2 million of the total expenditures were spent on bonuses, and notes that giving bonuses to employees was of a systematic character at the Presidential Administration last year. The Audit Office gave recommendations and remarks regarding the New Year event held at the President’s resi-
dence in Avlabari on which the Administration spent almost half a million GEL and ordered only one company to organize the event. “The Administration must pay more attention to budget planning to avoid large expenditures of funds,” the SAO says, adding that bonuses were given to
employees every month, without a reason being indicated. According to the report, in the year 2017, the President's Administration spent 4,622,445 GEL on Labor remuneration out of which 2,649,852 GEL was spent on salaries, and the rest on bonuses. The number of approved staff in 2017 was 140.
The SAO also stated that some events were financed from the President’s Reserve Fund which should have been financed from the budget. Parliament Vice-Speaker Gia Volsky says the President spent the money irrationally. “I am not surprised that the President spent 2 million GEL on bonuses. During his term, he lived only for himself and spent money as he wanted,” Volsky claimed. Akaki Zoidze, Chairman of the Committee on Healthcare and Social Issues, believes that while the country cannot get a concrete result from some visits, the President should refrain from such expenses. “I understand that it is important to decently represent our country at the international level, including the President, but money belonging to thousands of pensioners is being spent during such
visits…the Presidential Administration spent more money on vacations than all 150 MPs together,” Zoidze stated. According to the opposition, every institution should pay particular attention to the rational spending of budgetary funds. Parliamentary minority European Georgia says that when the poverty is so high in the country, it is unacceptable to spend so much money. “It is not correct that the people's money is spent on officials and not on the people's well-being," one of the leaders of the party, Zurab Chiaberasvili, noted. Meanwhile, the United National Movement (UNM) says the issue might be of a political character. Roman Gotsiridze says that State agencies and ministries issue twice more bonuses but no one studies their activities or asks why they were spent. The Presidential Administration has yet to respond to the SAO report.
GEORGIA TODAY AUGUST 17 - 20, 2018
Kaladze’s Weekly Priorities: 179 Unfinished Buildings in Tbilisi Continued from page 1
In the framework of the project, the road surface will be updated with an asphalt-concrete double layer, a new drainage system will be installed, sidewalks on both sides of the road will also be constructed or repaired as needed, and underground communication lines will be replaced. Additionally, underground passages will be adapted for people with disabilities, as in developed countries,” explained Kaladze. The completed street will connect to Kostava Street and Pekini Avenue, creating a full circle of high quality infrastructure. “Lampposts will be replaced, new LEDs will be installed, and cables will be put underground. Georgian Water and Power is spending 800,000 GEL ($310,000) on repairing the underground communications networks,” said the Mayor. Kaladze also discussed the proposed hotel on Tsereteli Avenue in the Didube district. The project was initially approved by City Hall, but recently canceled after public protests. The Mayor shared photos showing the proposed site for the construction of the hotel. "A four-story hotel was to be constructed in the middle of the 12-13-15 blocks in the Didube district, on Tsereteli Avenue, on a closed and restricted territory. It's a pity that this permission was issued by us – it should not have been issued. We were new arrivals [at City Hall] ...We accept this criticism and the permission has been revoked. We were negotiating with a private owner and have agreed on a replacement project. I want to thank
him for his cooperation because it would have been impossible to implement the project in this particular location,” explained Kaladze. The head of Didube district, Irma Zavradashvili, has been ordered to build a public square on the location instead. Kaladze said, “people living there will have a green space, a very nice square. If our help is needed, we are ready to take part in the process,” Kaladze said. The Tbilisi City Hall Supervision Service was called to the area near Eliava market. "The Supervision Service was obliged to regulate the situation on Khobiashvili, Agladze and Giorgadze streets near Eliava market in the Didube district. We all know what the situation was like there - building materials and tires displayed on the sidewalk making it impossible to walk and also a serious problem in terms of traffic disruption. Instead of sidewalks, people were walking on the road, disrupting motor vehicles and causing accidents...Today, the sidewalks are clear,” he said. The Mayor ordered the Vice-Mayor Irakli Khmaladze to take similar measures in other districts of Tbilisi where such problems exist. Kaladze then presented the candidacy of Aleksandre Togonidze as head of the Urban Development Department of Tbilisi City Hall at yesterday’s session. He thanked the former head of the service, Rusudan Mirzikashvili, for her work. "It can be said that this division was created by Rusudan Mirzikashvili. Today this service is working properly, due to her efforts,” Kaladze said.
Going forward, Mirzikashvili will lead the process to elaborate Framework Plans for specific areas around the city. She will also work on further developing the concept of cultural heritage protection and development. There are 11 areas selected in the city where Framework Plans will be developed. At the end his remarks, Kaladze called on construction companies to submit proposals regarding the unfinished buildings in Tbilisi, claiming that there are 179 unfinished buildings in the capital. "We talked about the unfortunately unfinished constructions, of which there are approximately 179. I spoke to the Prime Minister about the situation. Consequently, the central government will work to resolve the problem. Irakli Khmaladze and Ilia Eloshvili will work on this topic. Also, I appeal to developers, construction companies and architects to come and see us and bring your suggestions. We will help you solve these problems as quickly as possible until we have no more unfinished buildings in the city,” said the Mayor. He further elaborated on the issue, saying, "It is very bad when we see such buildings, especially on the central streets of the city, in various districts – one of the best examples appears next to City Hall. Nobody likes how it looks and there are lots of people who have already paid and have been waiting for their apartment for years. I think it will be a great source of comfort for them too. Therefore, my request is to provide support to development companies for these buildings to be completed as soon as possible. I believe we can manage it.”
Multinational Military Drills Noble Partner 2018 Concluded
BY THEA MORRISON
he US-led, multinational annual military drills in Georgia, Noble Partner, were concluded at the 11th shooting range in Vaziani with a live-fire demonstrational exercise on August 15. Georgia’s Ministry of Defense reports that the multinational division conducted a combined live-fire exercise, in which the objective of the unit was regional defense by elimination of a fictious enemy in the region of operation and giving the division the chance to counterattack. The Minister of Defense of Georgia Levan Izoria, Chief of General Staff, Major-General Vladimer Chachibaia and Director of the Joint Staff for the Georgia National Guard, USA, Brigadier General Reginald Neal, as well as the representatives of Georgia’s legislative officials, foreign defense attachés and Substantial NATO-Georgia Package core
team experts attended the event. This year, the drills involved 1300 Georgians and 1170 US soldiers as well as 500 soldiers from 13 other countries: Georgia, USA, UK, Germany, Estonia, France, Lithuania, Poland, Norway, Turkey, Ukraine, Azerbaijan, and Armenia. The Georgian MOD reports that the goal of the multinational military exercise is to improve skills in stability, defensive and offensive operations, increase interoperability between the armed forces of participating countries and contribute to the security of the Black Sea region. The motto of the military exercise is “Strength in Partnership.” The exercise is complex, and its scenario involves command and staff and field exercises with live fire, coordination of the maneuver and combat support elements in defensive and offensive operations. This year, Georgian military personnel for the first time used the FGM-148 Javelin anti-tank missile system. The exercise also involved the US AH-64 Apache helicopters.
AUGUST 17 - 20, 2018
Presidential Candidate Apologizes for Unethical Address to Reporters
Photo source: Netgazeti
BY THEA MORRISON
alome Zurabishvili, an independent Presidential Candidate and former Foreign Minister of Georgia, has apologized for her unethical address to reporters which was followed by criticism from the media. Zurabishvili, who will reportedly be supported by the ruling Georgian Dream (GD) party during the elections on October 28, told reporters to “shake their brains” (“wake up”) when one of them asked her a question about the presidential residence and her views about the issue. The candidate said she had already made a comment about the issue the previous week and stated the “journalists should also wake up” and look into her previous comments. “I already said that for me the Presidential Palace in Avlabari is not suitable. I think the Orbeliani Palace suits me better. But as I said before, I will live in my house and this will be the new platform for the presidential institution in Georgia,” she stated. The Georgian Charter of Journalistic Ethics has responded to Zurabishvili’s comment. They say making such remarks to representatives of the media is unacceptable. Charter Director Nata Dzvelishvili stated that
if such acts are repeated, the Charter will publish a proper statement. “There is a high public interest towards the presidential candidates, so they are obliged to respond to all the questions of journalists, regardless of whether they are boring, unacceptable, uncomfortable, etc. Such address is unacceptable from a person who is an acting MP,” she said. Dzvelishvili noted the media should always react to such cases, adding it reveals how politicians carry out their roles and communication responsibilities with the media. Parliament Vice-Speaker and GD member Tamar Chugoshvili says she does not share Zurabishvili’s view. “On the contrary, I confirm my respect for media. However, GD need only make comments on her statements if we are supporting her during the elections. We have not made such a decision yet,” she added. After the wave of criticism, Zurabishvili apologized, saying her statement was a joke and not all of her comments should be taken seriously by the media. “I apologize to those who took my statement seriously,” she said. The France-born Georgian politician visited Georgia for the first time in 1986 during a break from her job at the French Embassy in Washington. In 2001-2003, she was Head of the Division of International and Strategic Issues of National Defense General Secretariat of France and in 2003 she was appointed the Ambassador of France to Georgia. Ex-President Mikheil Saakashvili appointed her to the post of Foreign Minister on 18 March 2004. Over a year later, then Prime Minister Zurab Nogaideli sacked her after some disputes with MPs. Right after this she set up the Salome Zurabishvili Movement. In January 2006, she announced the establishment of a new political party Georgian Way. Five years later, she gave up her party and moved abroad and started a job as a coordinator of the UN panel of experts on Iran. Zurabishvili, 66, was an independent candidate in the 2016 parliamentary elections and the GD decided to withdraw their candidate in Mtatsminda region to help her win a seat in the legislative body.
AUGUST 17 - 20, 2018
The EUMM in Georgia: the Pen is Our Weapon
EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW BY ANTOINE DEWAEST
n August 2008, an Iron Curtain split Georgia after it lost the war against Russia. As a result of its defeat, Georgia lost control over Abkhazia and Tsinkhvali regions and barbed-wire delineated new “borders.” People were forced to flee, among them 18,700 ethnic Georgians from “South Ossetia.” However, for years, security and stability have been gaining ground in these areas thanks to the European Union Monitoring Mission (EUMM) which has been actively patrolling day and night along the Administrative Boundary Line (ABL) since 2008. For
the 10th anniversary of the August 2008 War, GEORGIA TODAY met with Erik Høeg, the head of the Mission. Erik Høeg, a Danish career diplomat, has been working in Georgia for three years, first as Deputy Head of EUMM Georgia, then, since 2017, as Head of the Mission.
CAN YOU BRIEFLY DEFINE THE EUMM AND ITS MISSION? The European Union Monitoring Mission in Georgia (EUMM) is an unarmed civilian monitoring mission established by the European Union in 2008. Our key task is to ensure stability and security, not least in the areas adjacent to the socalled Administrative Boundary Lines of the breakaway regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia. We work to avoid any
return to hostilities. We are facilitating the resumption of a safe and normal life for local people, the men, women and children most affected by the aftermath of the war. The Mission makes a difference by observing the situation, reporting incidents and contributing with accurate information and updates that serve policymakers. We don’t have an executive mandate so it is through our observation s, our reporting and by building communication channels between security actors on both sides that we contribute to peace.
WHAT ABOUT THE STRUCTURE? Today, we have more than 320 people, one third of whom are Georgian nationals, working in support of peace and security. We have colleagues from 23 EU member states (to be 25 in the coming months) of various backgrounds. As a rule, about one third have a military background, one third are policemen, and one third are from other civilian professions. Fortunately, we receive many applications and can select qualified staff. This shows that EU countries are committed to regional stability and also that the Mission is seen as a good place to work. Much of our work is patrolling. We have three kinds of teams in the field offices that work on behalf of the EUMM:
the ABL Team, the Human Security Team which deals with the social, economic and the human rights situation, and the Compliance Team which monitors military and police activities. We try to be as close as possible to the ABL to be able to observe and react quickly if something happens. Therefore, the EU Monitoring Mission has its headquarters in Tbilisi, and offices in Zugdidi, Gori and Mtskheta. All in all, the EU invests €20.000.000 per year in our budget for regional security.
WHO ARE YOUR COLLABORATORS AND WHAT PROJECTS DO YOU HAVE IN THE PIPELINE? We work with all security actors in the part of Georgia under central government control and those active in the breakaways - Georgia, Russia, and with the de facto authorities. Overall, communication and response are efficient through the established mechanisms.
which limits our field of work. We compensate by using technology. Security can also be a challenge. We have to make sure our staff are safe and we take measures to ensure they are properly updated, equipped and trained. On some occasions, it can also be a challenge that not everybody understands our mandate. That can create frustration among people who expect more. We are a monitoring mission and cannot carry out development projects ourselves to help people at the ABLs. But we can, and do, provide information to other civil society organizations and donors, helping them to target their projects.
WHAT WOULD YOU SAY TO PEOPLE WHO THINK THE EUMM IS “USELESS”?
There is no doubt that the most penalizing aspect of the work we do is the restrictions imposed on our movement across the ABL. Unfortunately, we do not have access to the breakaway regions,
Good question. I’d say it’s fair to doubt, but take a step back, look at the ABL and ask yourself what the situation would have been like 10 years after the war if there had not been 200 EU monitors on the ground. Ask yourself if there might have been uncontrolled incidents or an escalation in violence, or further restrictions to people’s rights. Stability does not appear automatically, it needs effort. And we have been a key part in the international effort to maintain that stability during the last decade.
sion on the inadmissibility of the presence in the Caspian of the armed forces of third countries. "At all stages of the negotiation process, the initiating role of Azerbaijan was sig-
nificant. This convention was much needed. There is no doubt that compliance with this convention will bring peace and prosperity to the peoples of the Caspian countries,” Khalilov said.
WHAT ARE THE MAIN CHALLENGES YOU FACE?
The Caspian Declaration in Detail BY DIMITRI DOLABERIDZE
n the Kazakh city of Aktau on August 12, a historic event took place which will undoubtedly determine the prospects for development and cooperation of the Caspian countries. In Aktau, at the 5th Caspian Summit, after 22 years of negotiations, the Convention on the status of the Caspian Sea was signed, likened to a "Constitution of the Caspian." The convention was signed on behalf of the Caspian countries by the presidents: of Azerbaijan - Ilham Aliyev, Iran - Hasan Ruhani, Kazakhstan - Nursultan Nazarbayev, Russia - Vladimir Putin, and Turkmenistan - Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov. Jalil Khalilov, Ph.D. in Philosophy, Colonel, Deputy Chairman of the Organization of Veterans of War, Labor and Armed Forces of Azerbaijan, noted that the way to the final text of the convention was not easy. “In 1996, when an international
expert group was established to coordinate the interests and wishes of the Caspian countries, the original requirements were so contradictory that it seemed the development of an agreed text was an unrealistic task,” he said. “It became necessary to justify and adopt a number of fundamental, extraordinary solutions.” “The required geographic assessment of the Caspian Sea was complicated by the fact that oil and gas resources in the Caspian Sea are unevenly distributed. According to the adopted convention, the area of the water surface of the Caspian Sea remains in the common use of the parties, and the bottom and subsoil are divided by neighboring states into plots by agreement between them on the basis of international law,” said Khalilov. All parties agreed that the extraction of oil and gas, their transportation, in whatever part of the Caspian Sea they occur, should be transparent and ensure environmental safety, and that the navigation, fishing, and laying of pipelines should be carried out in accordance with rules
agreed with the neighboring country. Consideration of geopolitical and military issues was also of great importance. One of the main points of the adopted convention can be considered a provi-
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GEORGIA TODAY AUGUST 17 - 20, 2018
What Will the Fallout of the Sanctions Be for Georgia? OP-ED BY NUGZAR B. RUHADZE
t seems even in light of the collapse of the USSR, Russia and America find themselves incapable of working together. They hate and reject each other. They are clearly both natural and cultural antipodes. They always fight and, in the exchange of those belligerent blows, they both hurt. Why do they do this? They say the justification is in the exigency of keeping up their national interests. If this is true, then the suffering of Georgia will never end because Georgia has made its historical choice to follow the western way of development, which for Russia is like a red muleta for a bull. Hard to believe but the Russian-Georgian geopolitical deadend is one of the multiple reasons for the Russian-American squabble: Russia is Georgia’s declared enemy and America is its friend, whereas America is Russia’s longstanding rival, so the consequential picture looks sourly disagreeable for Georgia. Hence an average angry-withRussia Georgian might be celebrating the recent aggravation of American sanctions against Russia, but the story of sanctions becomes so dubious that it might not be good enough a cause to settle the dangerously swollen and fossilized Russian-Georgian scores. Rumor has it that sanctions are hurting the Russian economy and the politically valuable Russian oligarchic elite to a certain extent, but we also hear that Russia could easily retaliate against the United States without even hurting its own sources of wealth. America has threatened that it will soon impose a new wave of even stricter sanctions on Russia because it wants to punish Moscow for its international misdemeanor and insists that more draconian measures could follow. When one sees the
Russian and American presidents hug and pat each other on the shoulder, one might start taking those much-talkedabout sanctions as a joke, though the US administration is almost certain that the Russian people will soon feel what an American-style economic punishment really means. The first fruits of the American sanctionomania are visibly at hand – the already weak Russian Ruble has further staggered against the powerful American Dollar, which has also instigated the fall of the Georgian currency. This means that no sanction is a one-sided punitive financial measure. Georgians might think that the American economic sanctions are teaching the Russians a good lesson, but it may well hurt the Georgian economy too, thus further deteriorating the standard of living in general. So, celebrating the American sanctions against Russia might not be so smart for the geopolitically heartbroken and economically impaired Georgia. The sanctions are broken up into two stages: the first is comparably mild and going into force from the end of August, and the next is more severe, to be imposed in three months if Russia does not comply with the demands of the first stage. The details of those sanctions are unclear and there is much online discourse on the topic. But what will those sanctions might mean to Georgia, and if they do at all, how bad could it get? Against the background of growing tensions between Russia and America, the hopeful presumption is that the current Russian government is smart enough not to allow any selfdamage and that it will take the American sanctions seriously, which sounds like a prerequisite for peace in the world and a chance for Georgia to avoid any fearsome confusions in the vague Russian-Georgian-American triangle. It has been proven that it is not very easy to break Russia with sanctions
Image source: AFP Photo/Vano Shlamov
and isolate her internationally, but if Russia plays a stubborn toughie when faced with the sanctions, the diplomatic relations between the world’s strongest players might be severed, and Geor-
gia may find itself totally on the side of Russia’s worst enemy. Meanwhile, Georgia should not forget that Russia is not completely alone in the international arena, and garnering American
support for itself might trigger the loss of some useful current partnerships in the long run. It looks like Georgia has got more than it can consume and digest on its plate...
Russia as the “Third Rome” for Orthodoxy? OP-ED BY ZAZA JGARKAVA
he confrontation within the Orthodox world is reaching a peak. The battle between Athens and Moscow has moved from the pulpit to the diplomatic offices. It started when two Russian diplomats were expelled from Athens and two others were banned from entering the country. This wasn’t enough for Official Athens, which stopped granting visas to high priests from the Russian Orthodox Church. Although Official Moscow was forced to respond by expelling two Greek diplomats, it was unable to do much on the church frontier, as Russia is not found on the pilgrim map and so the Kremlin couldn’t ban Greek high priests from entering Russia. The church conflict between the two countries hasn’t evolved beyond the diplomatic phase yet, but the development of events implies that the smell of incense is souring. The relationships intensified when Russia boycotted the landmark meeting
of the world's Orthodox Christian churches held on the Greek island of Crete and even incited other churches, including the Georgian, against it. After the political return of “Derzhava” to the international arena, the Kremlin has found time to focus on religious issues and began working on its “Third Rome” project. In Moscow, they firmly believe that after the collapse of Constantinople, it is Moscow and the Russian Church that should undertake the function of the world Orthodox center. It was within the “framework” of this doctrine that the Kremlin started to act when it decided to bribe the Greek high church officials in order to increase Russian influence and plan a conspiracy against the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew. The Kremlin picked on the Patriarch after the Ukrainian Orthodox Church demanded autocephaly and independence from the Russian Church. This triggered the boycott of the Russian Church and Georgia joined, which was more of a forced step in light of the “Cyanide Case” rather than the decision of the Georgian Church. The fact that Russia has an influence on the Georgian
Orthodox Church was exposed during the battle for the inheritance of the throne of Ilia II, where the pro-Russian and pro-Greek groups are confronting each other. The Cyanide Case and the Greek chants are an obvious manifestation of this conflict. Local and large-scale religious conflict between Athens and Moscow further escalated when the Greek Church agreed to grant autocephaly to Ukraine, and the Greek government agreed to the membership of Macedonia to NATO. This was followed by the reaction from the Kremlin and the referendum in Macedonia about the new naming of the country. Macedonians and Greeks did not act as Putin would have hoped, hence his financial aid granted to the country has been “wasted”. The example of Greece revealed that neither faith nor state interests can be sold for money. Putin thought that the financial assistance would result in a responsibility for Greece to lead pro-Russian interests in both politics and religion, but alas. Hopefully, Georgia will follow suit and act only in the interests of its country and faith.
AUGUST 17 - 20, 2018
“The Day Russia Stopped the Expansion of NATO” – As Told by the James Bond of the Baltics EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW BY VAZHA TAVBERIDZE
or those hard of hearing, Vladimir Putin made his intentions clear when speaking to then-French President Nicolas Sarkozy on August 15, 2008: “I am going to hang Saakashvili by the balls!” Saakashvili in the end, as he often boasts, retained a hold on both of his cojones and Georgia (for another four years). The five-day August War between Georgia and Russia, however, was a major geopolitical occasion which largely announced the blueprint of what to expect from Putin’s Russia. Many think it was a lesson the West disregarded, only to come to regret. One who does is Eerik-Niiles Kross, Saakashvili’s Estonian National Security Adviser during and after the war. The Georgian President was and still is a colorful character and he chose his entourage accordingly. Kross, now a member of the Estonian Parliament, is
“Had the West reacted forcefully, the war in 2008 could have been avoided”
remind people that in August 1939, two weeks before WWII started, the British and French diplomats urged Poland not to mobilize forces; why? Because it might provoke Hitler. That “don’t provoke Putin” narrative is of the same caliber.
a man wanted in Russia (for hijacking a ship, no less), is barred entry in the US and was named among Politico’s 28 Most Influential Politicians this year, with the outlet dubbing him the Baltic James Bond. In true Bondesque fashion, it was in South America that we tracked him down to share his perspective on the August War 10 years on.
WHO DO YOU THINK PROVOKED WHOM IN AUGUST 2008?
AT THE BUCHAREST SUMMIT IN 2008, GEORGIA WAS PROMISED EVENTUAL NATO MEMBERSHIP. WHAT ROLE DID THIS PROMISE PLAY IN WHAT HAPPENED NEXT? The 2008 Bucharest Summit was a decisive moment and maybe even a turning point. Georgia and friends of Georgia in Europe and the US were lobbying hard for Georgia and Ukraine. The orange government in Ukraine was also trying to get closer to NATO. At that time, President George Bush was personally calling the leaders of different countries, trying to convince them that MAP was a good idea. One can say it was the first time in NATO history the US president lobbied for somebody and didn’t get what he wanted. The Russians were lobbying hard against it, making many NATO countries nervous, particularly the Germans and French. The result was a compromise and it was a bad compromise in many regards because it didn’t give MAP to Georgia and Ukraine, a clear victory for Russia showing it could influence NATO decisions. Yet NATO did give a vague promise of membership, even though it was an empty promise: no timeline, no map, nothing to support it. The Russians took it badly and it was probably then they decided to act. You could say Russia stopped the expansion of NATO in summer 2008.
THEN-NATO SEC GEN, JAAP DE HOOP SCHEFFER, RECENTLY ARGUED THAT RUSSIA’S ACTIONS WERE “UNDERSTANDABLE” AND “THE WEST MUST RESPECT THE RUSSIAN RED LINE”. IS IT HINDSIGHT OR CHANGE OF HEART? It’s a very sad statement. It’s always been NATO policy that every country can and should define its own security arrangements. There’s no outside force that can determine it. So to give Russians any rights to decide on that is unacceptable.
ON PAPER, THE WESTERN NARRATIVE GOES THAT NATO EXPANSION DOES NOT POSE A THREAT TO RUSSIA. BUT WHEN THE KREMLIN IS MAKING COMMENTS THAT NOT ONLY
NATO MEMBERSHIP BUT ALSO INSTALLMENT OF AN ANTIMISSILE DEFENSE SYSTEM IN GEORGIA WILL SOLICIT SOME KIND OF RESPONSE FROM MOSCOW - HOW MUCH USE IS IT SAYING THAT IT’S NOT A THREAT TO RUSSIA? Of course, Russia says it’s a threat, that they are surrounded by hostile liberal democratic western empires wishing to conquer it; unfortunately, that’s one of the narratives they tell their own people. It doesn’t make it more real. The Russians think Ukraine is not really a country; they also think that they liberated Europe, they entertain many an interesting thought. If you really look at the western policy, it’s obvious that we’ve let the Russians get away with a lot of aggressive deeds that might actually cost us dearly in the future. I always
It’s a classical situation where strategically and tactically is a kind of mix up. It’s true that tactically the Russians did provoke Georgia and tried to get some kind of reaction out of the Georgian government; but any country needs to react when it’s being attacked; how long will you let someone shoot your village? It’s part of an aggressive plan. Strategically, the mere existence of pro-NATO democratic countries next to Russia is a provocation to Russians. Successful Georgia and Ukraine by itself is a provocation. Successful Baltic states are not liked in Moscow for that reason. One has to be independent, pro-western next to Russia and then your existence is a threat to Russia. And this will inevitably result in countermeasures from Russia. How far will they go? That depends on a multitude of factors. Had the West reacted forcefully, the war could have been avoided. At the same time, nobody saw what was going to happen; we knew the Russians were probably planning something, Georgia had been telling the West for months, but nobody in the West imagined a full scale military attack; even after we had all the red flags on the map, everyone was still surprised when the war actually broke out. Continued on page 9
GEORGIA TODAY AUGUST 17 - 20, 2018
“The Day Russia Stopped the Expansion of NATO” – As Told by the James Bond of the Baltics
Continued from page 8
DO YOU THINK THE FACT PRESIDENT BUSH PERSONALLY WARNED PUTIN, AND WARNED SAAKASHVILI AND GEORGIA NOT TO ACCEPT PROVOCATIONS, ACTUALLY GAVE RUSSIA A GREEN LIGHT?
OPIC Executive Vice President meets with the Anaklia Port Management
xecutive Vice President of the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC), David Bohigian, and representatives of OPIC met with the top-management of Georgian-American consortium, ADC, to discuss investing into construction of Anaklia Deap Sea Port. Deputy Minister of Economy and Sustainable Development of Georgia, Giorgi Cherkezishvili, and other representatives of the Ministry also attended the meeting. “I had an opportunity to talk to the developers of the port of Anaklia who are part of that connectivity plan to be able to develop the Black Sea as a global and regional hub and I was very impressed by their plans… We are in discussions right now with the port developers. They have very impressive plans to be able to create the port that would create hundreds of jobs throughout region, as well as make Georgia an even more important transit hub for logistics, for manufactured goods, here and throughout Eurasian continent,” said Executive Vice President of the Overseas Private Investment Cor-
poration, David Bohigian. The U.S. Government agency, OPIC, commenced cooperating with Anaklia Development Consortium about funding the Anaklia Port few months ago. The financial institution might invest about 100 million USD in the project. Meanwhile, 5 leading international financial institutions are also involved in the process of financing the Anaklia Deep Sea Port. The representatives of international banks already visited Anaklia Dee Sea Port area in July 2018 and explored the area, as well as held workshops with the representatives of Anaklia Development Consortium. OPIC is a self-sustaining U.S. Government agency that helps American businesses invest in emerging markets. OPIC services are available to new and expanding businesses planning to invest in more than 160 countries worldwide. Anaklia Deep Sea Port consrtuction has already moved into the maritime construction works stage. Modern heavy equipment is being mobilized in the area to kick off the large-scale maritime construction operation.
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I would not exclude that. Don’t bug Putin. He wanted to prove that President Bush was wrong. Putin is very good at reading the overall situation; he usually takes steps when he knows he can get away with it; he didn’t take Crimea thinking someone would take it back from him; he also didn’t invade Georgia thinking there would be retaliation; but he also didn’t go to Tbilisi, because he knew he wouldn't get away with it. There was diplomatic pressure and collectively they were stopped, but still, whatever the West did diplomatically was not enough to prevent the war.
WHAT SHOULD THE WEST HAVE DONE BETTER BEFORE AND AFTER? The question really is whether the West was prepared to fight for Georgia. At that time, no, it wasn’t. There was no treaty obligation. Realpolitik is what it is. President Bush was not ready to go to war. What the West did after the war is even worse – it was doing business with Russia three months after the war as if nothing had happened. Putin’s methods were correct; he went as far as he thought he could get away with.
2008 ALSO SAW RUSSIA EMPLOY CYBER-ATTACKS FOR THE FIRST TIME, ANOTHER DIMENSION OF THE HYBRID WARFARE RUSSIA CONTINUES TO WAGE. WHAT’S YOUR ACCOUNT OF WHAT HAPPENED THEN?
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The cyber-attacks started earlier. Russians at that time were not as sophisticated as they are now; then again, Georgia of course was not that prepared either, but at the same time Georgia’s infrastructure was not that dependent on cyber. What Russia tried to do more was to discredit, hack web pages, take down some of the communications; they were able to jam Georgian military communications, to intercept, to confuse the command lines by making it unclear who was giving the order. I’m sure all the emails and calls from Tbilisi were intercepted.
“It was the first time in NATO history the US President lobbied for somebody and didn’t get what he wanted”
AS AN ADVISER TO SAAKASHVILI, WHAT WAS YOUR ADVICE TO COUNTER THE RUSSIAN PROPAGANDA THAT EMERGED AFTER THE WAR?
it wasn’t discussed with me while it was being made and was probably Saakashvili’s idea. A good Hollywood film can be a very powerful tool; think of Braveheart – a Georgian Braveheart would have been a good film. Of course, Braveheart was made by Mel Gibson and this film by Renne Harlin, but the theory still holds true.
My advice was that we didn’t need any propaganda, just to give western media full access; to give them as much information as we could. An international press center was opened in the Tbilisi Marriott hotel, so they got as many briefings as as possible. The Russians tried to control the narrative; they fabricated many stories; they tried to sell their package to the western media; it worked at first but then western media arrived in Georgia and got to report freely and that changed the attitude.
ONE OF THE MOST ENDURING IMAGES OF THE WAR WAS SAAKASHVILI CHEWING HIS TIE. AND THEN THERE WAS THE HOLLYWOOD FILM THAT THE GOVERNMENT COMMISSIONED - 5 DAYS OF AUGUST. HOW DID THESE VISUALS DAMAGE OR AID CONVEYING THE GEORGIAN PERSPECTIVE? The Russian spreading of the tie photo was a typical maneuver and I don’t see it did much damage. I haven’t actually seen the film, though I hear it’s very bad;
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THE CURRENT GEORGIAN GOVERNMENT TRIES TO PIN ALL THE BLAME FOR 2008 ON SAAKASHVILI. WHAT DO YOU THINK OF THIS APPROACH? In the Baltic states, you have political forces that try to blame Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania for being occupied by Russians in 1940. Those domestic political games are not constructive; it doesn’t serve the interests of the country and it’s not smart politics. We all know that Saakashvili made mistakes but he didn’t invade his own country.
10 YEARS ON - WHAT IS THE LEGACY OF THE AUGUST WAR? It’s sad to say but the West learned a lot and many European countries enhanced their defenses for the blood price paid by Georgians; it was the beginning of a new period in European history- this struggle is not over.
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AUGUST 17 - 20, 2018
Why International Law Will Never Recognize South Ossetia or Catalonia BY ANTOINE DEWAEST
fter the USSR started collapsing in 1989, the Georgian people asked for independence, including the Abkhazian and South Ossetian (Tskhinvali region) territories. Abkhazians feared a “Georgianization” and the loss of autonomy. As a result, they claimed their independence in July 1992. Few states have recognized the breakaway Abkhazia or “South Ossetia” as independent and sovereign countries. Among them is Russia, which did so following the August war in 2008. But still now international law considers these de facto republics a part of Georgia, creating a conundrum regarding the law; states which do not exist. In fact, Abkhazia and “South Ossetia” are not the only grey zones of this kind. Kosovo, Transnistria, republic of Crimea, republics of Eastern Ukraine and also Palestine are facing the same situation. While separatism is gaining ground in Europe, the question is: Can unilateral European separatism lead to something positive for the breakaway regions? The answer seems to be no. Economically, an unrecognized state will be held back in its development. In the case of Catalonia, which wants to be independent, the risk is custodies and embargos, which could mean less tourism when tourism makes up more than 12% of its GDP. Regarding the Transnistria, Abkhazia and South Ossetia de facto republics, more than a half the GDP comes from Russia. That means that for decade(s), the “states” have not been economically viable. Independence can be the best way to affirm its culture, language and any other differences, all the more if the country in which the region was a part of was strongly opposed to diversity. It is seen that through independency, activists get to apply the right to self-determination. The use of the term “European Separatism” is not innocuous. In international law, in particular the New York Pact introduction, or the United Nation Charter 1st Article state that, “All peoples have the right of self-determination.” Breakaway regions and separatist movements rely on it. But, and there is a “but,” in international law, territories are “considered occupied when [they are] actually placed under the authority of a hostile army,” for instance, colonial powers can be supported and recognized in their reach for independence. But Catalonia is not occupied and nor are Abkhazia or “South Ossetia.” The OSCE, the EU, and the UN argue that Abkhazia, like “South Ossetia,” is under the rule of Georgia and therefore they support self-determination, i.e. a vote on independence BUT supervised by Georgia AND only when Georgian refugees are allowed back to their homes in the regions. Why? Because according to international law,
Image source: Photo: United Nations
Abkhazia is still a part of Georgia. That is the reason, if we take a look at Kosovo, “South Ossetia”, Abkhazia, and Karabakh, or more recently Crimea and the de facto Donetsk and Luhansk republics, these entities, at first sight. gather the three criteria of a State generally recognized by international law: A people, a territory, a government. Transnistria even uses its own currency. Furtherm o r e, a p p ly i n g t h e r i g h t t o self-determination, in 1991, a referendum with 78% of voters resulted in 97.7% in favor of independence there. But Transnistria still is a State which does not exist. Theses de facto states are mostly unrecognized by international law for their lack of independency regarding Russia or Armenia and/or due to the unilaterality of the independence. However, while international law does not recognize them, some countries do. “South Ossetia” has been recognized by the Russian Federation, Nicaragua, Venezuala, Syria and Nauru. Additionally, Russia signed a Friendship Agreement with the two de facto republics on Georgian territory. Such legal acts are strong, and blur the situation. According to the Encyclopedia of Public International Law, 2000, “A treaty is a consensual agreement between two or more subjects of international law intended to be and considered by the parties as binding and containing rules of conduct under international law for at least one (normally for all) of the parties.” So, in the case of agreements between Abkhazia and Russia, the agreement is not valid regarding the law, but both partners apply it correctly. In the case of Crimea, Russia is a UN-member, has administratively integrated Crimea to the Federation but is considered an annexation not valid in international law. Even international organizations blur the situation and avoid the law. Kosovo is recognized by 116 UNmember states (in 2017, former Georgian Prime Minister Giorgi Kvirikashvili said that Georgia maintains the position not to recognize the unilaterally declared
independence of Kosovo), and is an observer, like Palestine, in the United Nations … which is a form of recognition. But Kosovo and Palestine are particular due to the context of their independence, war inside the country, and an old conundrum in the Middle East. In 2009, the EU Independent International Fact-Finding Mission on the Conflict in Georgia reported that Abkhazia was a “state-like entity” while “South Ossetia” had nearly reached statehood but was still too close to Russia. At the end of the day, the secession of “South Ossetia” and Abkhazia was not related to a colonial situation or foreign domination, even if the Georgian military actions lead by Georgian forces against Tskhinvali in 2008 were considered illegal in the eyes of international law and human rights. Therefore, international law will never recognize their sovereignty, at least as long as few countries recognize them as states. Actually, two cases are officially grey zones, but partially recognized in fact by international organizations: Kosovo, and Palestine. Kosovo is recognized by 116 UN-members, Palestine by 135. In the meantime, Transnistria is recognized by no-one, the de facto Abkhazian government by 7, the de facto South Ossetia republic by 5, Crimea by 5 and the de facto Eastern Ukraine republics by no one. Here is the difference. Alejandro Dorado Najera, a freelance international relations consultant, said that Carles Puigdemont, the leader of the Catalan independence, and other independentists use the right to self-determination incorrectly. “If they were right in their interpretation of the law (any territory with a different history, tongue, and culture should be authorized to claim independence by the Right to Self-determination), “South Ossetia,” Abkhazia and Crimea would be recognized by international organizations, but they are not!” he said. Catalonia should take a leaf out of the Georgian book to understand that they misinterpreted international law.
GEORGIA TODAY AUGUST 17 - 20, 2018
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AUGUST 17 - 20, 2018
LGBTQ Still Have No Place in the Caucasus BY ANTOINE DEWAEST
n August 3, nine gay-right activists were beaten up in Armenia by dozens of people, according to the Pink Armenia activist organization. Two victims were reportedly hospitalized. Evlira, one of the victims, explains that the assault was preceded by homophobic slurs and threats. This kind of assault is not an isolated example. Worse, all Caucasian countries seem to face it periodically. Let’s take a look at the situation in each country.
GEORGIA In Georgia, the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) community enjoy acceptance at the legislative level. Indeed, homosexuality has been decriminalized since 2000. At the age of 16, teenagers are permitted to have sexual relations, no matter what the sexual orientation. However, the LGBTQ rights stop there. The Georgian Civil Code states that marriage must be between a male and a female. Furthermore, and as a result, adopting a child is forbidden by same-sex couples. In professional terms, the law does not contain any non-discrimination clause for the workplace and employers are not required to justify their choice of workforce. Regarding mentalities, a huge leap remains to be taken before LGBTQ acceptance becomes widespread. More than 80% of the population are Orthodox and listen to their Church when it names homosexuality an abnormality, a disease, and a slur to tradition. On August 1, the National Democratic
Institute (NDI) and the Caucasus Research Resource Center of Georgia (CRRC Georgia) released their latest poll results. Only 23% of respondents thought that sexual minorities needed protecting and 44% said it is not necessary at all to protect them. Five years ago, in 2013, 93% said they would be against living with homosexual neighbors. There have been cases of assault against homosexuals, in particular during the Anti-Homophobia Day parade in 2013 in the streets of Tbilisi.
AZERBAIJAN In September 2017, a vicious crackdown from the authorities proved that the country remains the ‘Worst of 49 European Countries in which to be Gay,’ as a survey released in 2016 stated. According to the study, there is a near total absence of legal protection for LGBTQ individuals. Over ten days last year, dozens of gay people and transsexuals were arrested. Lawyer S. Rahimli said that “Crackdowns on the LGBT community [have become] systematic and widespread.” In Azerbaijan, same-sex couples are not legally recognized. According to the Pew Research center, 92% of the population believes that homosexuality is morally wrong,
ARMENIA In this South Caucasus country, 97.5% of the population are against homosexuals kissing in public, and 94% do not want to see gay couples holding hands in public places. LGBT people living in the Armenian countryside have to hide their sexual identity to survive socially. In the capital, the situation is better, but gay people can still expect to face hurtful comments or hostile looks.
Image source: Seaway Valley Community Healthcare
CHECHNYA Maybe the worst place to be in the Caucasus as an LGBT or Q. Last year, Chechnya was high in the media focus and agendas regarding LGBTQ persecutions. Novaïa Gazeta revealed that Ramzan
Kadyrov, who rules Chechnya, a Muslim territory which is part of the Russian Federation, was carrying out a witchhunt against homosexuals. Hundreds of people were tortured and put in “concentration camps.” Survivors speak about
electrocution and food deprivation. One, named Lapunov, told the NewYork Times “they accused me of being gay and beat me with nightsticks (…) They beat and kicked me. When I left Chechnya, I was literally crawling.”
GEORGIA TODAY AUGUST 17 - 20, 2018
Plaster Diary, 3: Etseri, Svaneti BLOG BY TONY HANMER
couple more observations as we finish the house exterior after six years living here, continued from the last two weeks: 6) Realize that things will get messy before they are finished. The process of hurling trowels of cement at the walls causes spatters aplenty to rain down around and below (cover the windows!); all the woodcutting for the scaffolds and smaller pieces will leave scraps, which go into the “fire-starting wood” sacks for winter; sand will get tracked inside and scattered in the yard. Live with it, keeping the goal of a beautifully finished and weather-protected exterior firmly in mind. That last point is useful too: this is not just for esthetics, but more importantly for shielding the house from the ravages of snow, freeze, thaw and sun in their cycles, which can wreak havoc on the integrity of your walls’ cement blocks: real, dangerous structural damage! And even, as we found out last spring, an excess of snow sitting against the walls can penetrate right through the blocks’ thickness and begin to spoil the plaster work on those walls’ interior surfaces, with mold gathering… Always something to consider, this home ownership thing. Slowly, the house is moving towards its final completed state. Still to come, in our dreams: some decks; a big gazebo taking the place of balconies; an exterior staircase to the 2nd floor, this and the 1st-floor doorways to be better covered from snowfall off
the roof; a sauna; good landscaping all ‘round. One step at a time. 7) Not only is there cleanup during the work, ongoing, but after it as well, because craftsmen here don’t clean up after themselves, as a rule, expecting their hosts to do it. As long as everybody knows this, there are no disappointments! Once they remove the scaffolding, there will be holes in the ground to fill from the tall posts. Plastic sheeting from the covered windows. Cut off bits of foam from installing the windows some years ago. Bottles, bags… and so on. It’s part of the process. Day 10: Those vertical cement ribs which they make up the walls before filling in the spaces around them into a smoother plane? Those are to guide the wood planks which they use to scrape up the walls and keep everything to that plane. So they’re key, and installed with care using plumb-lines and levels, foundational as they are. And then, purpose fulfilled, they disappear under the surrounding material as it fills in around them. The final cement finish over all this is smoother still, filling in all holes and drying before the final finish layer of “brizgi”, as it’s called, plaster and colorant applied with a spinning handheld apparatus. We plan a darker layer going from the ground to between the two floors, with a lighter one above that, to break things up a bit. Day 16: After two days away getting a car tune-up and some much-needed repairs in Kobuleti’s convenient Toyota Center, I came back to find that they had begun applying the final, textured plaster, layer to the front face of the house, to show me what to expect. It’s on the top half, and cream colored; the
lower level will be darker, a sharp line between the two, for a two-tone finish on all sides. Looks very good, and we’re looking forward to seeing the whole thing finished in a week or so. The house and we have waited a long time for this beautifying and weather-protecting process, one of the longest in
actual work time required and most expensive single things we have done to this place, in both materials and labor. It’s all worth it. The time to celebrate approaches! Tony Hanmer has lived in Georgia since 1999, in Svaneti since 2007, and been
a weekly writer for GT since early 2011. He runs the “Svaneti Renaissance” Facebook group, now with over 1900 members, at www.facebook.com/groups/ SvanetiRenaissance/ He and his wife also run their own guest house in Etseri: w.facebook.com/hanmer.house.svaneti
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AUGUST 17 - 20, 2018
WHAT’S ON IN TBILISI CINEMA
AMIRANI CINEMA Address: 36 Kostava St. Telephone: 2 99 99 55 www.kinoafisha.ge Every Wednesday ticket: 5 GEL August 17-23 MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE FALLOUT Directed by Christopher McQuarrieMarshall Thurber Cast: Tom Cruise, Rebecca Ferguson, Henry Cavill Genre: Action, Adventure, Thriller Language: English Start time: 22:30 Ticket: 15 GEL MAMMA MIA! HERE WE GO AGAIN Directed by Ol ParkerThurber Cast: Lily James, Amanda Seyfried, Meryl Streep, Dominic Cooper, Pierce Brosnan, Stellan Skarsgard Genre: Comedy, Musical Language: English Start time: 19:45 Ticket: 13-14 GEL SLENDER MAN Directed by Sylvain Whiteurber Cast: Joey King, Javier Botet, Julia Goldani Telles Genre: Horror Language: Russian Start time: 19:45, 22:10 Ticket: 15 GEL
Genre: Action, Horror, Sci-Fi Language: Russian Start time: 14:00 Ticket: 11-15 GEL THE MEG Directed by Jon Turteltaub Cast: Ruby Rose, Jason Statham, Rainn Wilson Genre: Action, Horror, Sci-Fi Language: English Start time: 13:45 Language: Russian Start time: 16:30, 19:00, 22:15 Ticket: 11-19 GEL THE SPY WHO DUMPED ME Directed by Susanna Fogel Cast: Mila Kunis, Kate McKinnon, Justin Theroux, Blanka Györfi-Tóth, Vilma Szécsi Genre: Action, Comedy Language: English Start time: 11:45 Ticket: 11-15 GEL MUSEUM
GEORGIAN NATIONAL MUSEUM SIMON JANASHIA MUSEUM Address: 4 Rustaveli Ave. Telephone: 2 99 80 22, 2 93 48 21 www.museum.ge Exhibitions: GEORGIAN COSTUME AND WEAPONRY OF THE 18TH-20TH CENTURIES
CAVEA GALLERY Address: 2/4 Rustaveli Ave. Telephone: 200 70 07
NUMISMATIC TREASURY Exhibition showcasing a long history of money circulation on the territory of modern Georgia from the 6th century BC. to 1834.
Every Wednesday ticket: 8 GEL August 17-23
EXHIBITION STONE AGE GEORGIA
MAMMA MIA! HERE WE GO AGAIN (Info Above) Language: English Start time: 22:15 Language: Russian Start time: 14:00, 16:45, 19:30 Ticket: 14-19 GEL
ARCHEOLOGICAL TREASURE NEW LIFE TO THE ORIENTAL COLLECTIONS
SLENDER MAN (Info Above) Language: Russian Start time: 18:00, 20:15, 22:30 Ticket: 15 GEL THE FIRST PURGE Directed by Gerard McMurray Cast: Y'lan Noel, Lex Scott Davis, Joivan Wade
April 26 – September 1 UNKNOWN COLLECTIONS OF GEORGIAN NATIONAL MUSEUM– INDIA, CHINA, JAPAN The exhibition showcases up to 500 artworks - paintings, sculptures and samples of applied art, the chronological range of which is wide. May 26 – September 30 THE DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF GEORGIA - 100 YEARS June 12 – August 31
Georgian National Museum presents the exhibition CAUCASUS BIODIVERSITY Animal and plant life throughout the Caucasus. IOSEB GRISHASHVILI TBILISI HISTORY MUSEUM - KARVASLA Address: 8 Sioni St. Telephone: 2 98 22 81 June 27 – September 10 Georgian National Museum and The Goethe Institute, in connection with 200 years of relations between Germany and Georgia, presents a project THE DYNASTIES - PARALLEL PERSPECTIVE MUSEUM OF SOVIET OCCUPATION Address: 4 Rustaveli Ave. Telephone: 2 99 80 22, 2 93 48 21 www.museum.ge PERMANENT EXHIBITION Discover the State's personal files of "subversive" Georgian public figures, orders to shoot or exile, and other artifacts representing Sovietera cultural and political repression in Georgia. SVANETI MUSEUM Address: Mestia, Svaneti May 19 – August 19 The Svaneti Museum of History and Ethnography hosts an exhibition "MAGNUM PHOTO 70 - GEORGIAN JOURNAL: ROBERT CAPA 1947, THOMAS DWORZAK 2017". SIGHNAGHI MUSEUM Address: 8 Sh. Rustaveli Blind-alley Exhibition PORTRAITS OF KAKHETIAN NOBLES – FROM THE BEGINNING OF GEORGIAN EASEL PAINTING UP TO 20TH CENTURY SAMTSKHE-JAVAKHETI MUSEUM Address: Rabati Fortress, 1 P. Kharistchirashvili Str.1, Akhaltsikhe The Georgian National Museum presents the renovated exhibition spaces at the Samtskhe-Javakheti Museum, which see the addition of recently discovered exhibits, and technical updates according to modern museum standards.
VISITOR CENTER OF KOBULETI-KINTRISHI PROTECTED AREAS Address: 271 D. Aghmashenebeli Str., Kobuleti July 5 20018 – July 5 2019 Georgian National Museum presents new exhibition. The exposition depicts the unique ecosystems of Adjara, in particular the Kobuleti wetland areas, the Kintrishi forests and their biodiversity. The most interesting parts of the exhibition are the Ispani sphagnum peatlands and the Kintrishi forest illuminated lightboxes. GALLERY
THE NATIONAL GALLERY Address: 11 Rustaveli Ave. www.museum.ge May 25-August 26 The Georgian National Museum and the Embassy of Italy to Georgia, within the Museum Fest, present the exhibition EVIDENCE. A NEW STATE OF ART The National Gallery is hosting the exhibition of Garuzzo Institute for Visual Arts- presenting contemporary Italian artists' artworks created since the 1950s. GENIUSES OF RENAISSANCE The Georgian National Museum and the Embassy of Italy to Georgia, within the Museum Fest, present the exhibition LADO GUDIASHVILI ART GALLERY Address: Gudiashvili Atr. Telephone: 293 23 05 Tickets: General - 5 GEL, Ages 6-18 - 3 Gel, Students and Pensioners - 3 GEL, Free admission for orphan groups and children under 6 EXHIBITION OF PREVIOUSLY UNKNOWN ART PIECES CREATED BY LEGENDARY ARTIST LADO GUDIASHVILI: 1 + 70 UNKNOWN ADJARA MUSIC BATUMI GEMI Near Batumi port August 17 MZESUMZIRA SHOWCASE AT GEMI Line up: Vasil, RATI, Gabunia, Audio Space, Ako Von Unten Start time: 17:00 Ticket: 70 GEL BATUMI STATE MUSICAL CENTER Address: 1 O. Dimitriadis Str. Telephone: 0422 22 15 06 August 18, 19 THE 80 YEARS OF JUBILEE CONCERTS OF VAKHTANG KIKABIDZE Participants: Nani Bregvadze, Tamar Gverdtsiteli, Valeri Meladze, Eka Mamaladze, Liza Bagrationi. Special guest: the actress playing Larisa Ivanovna, Elena Proklova. Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 80-160 GEL UP2YOU Address: Batumi Beach Club Telephone: 577 43 39 39
August 18 TEONA KONTRIDZE AND BAND Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 50 GEL August 19 DATO EVGENIDZE AND BAND Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 30 GEL August 21 GRAMOPHONEDZIE Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 30 GEL SECTOR26 Address: Batumi Beach August 17 UTSNOBI Start time: 22:00 Ticket: 30 GEL August 18 YOUNG MIC & ZAZA TEVTIDZE Start time: 22:00 Ticket: 10 GEL SOHO BATUMI Address: Old Boulevard August 17 DATO GOMARTELI Start time: 22:00 Ticket: 20 GEL August 19 STEPHANE Start time: 22:00 Ticket: 30 GEL August 21 NINO KATAMADZE & INSIGHT Start time: 22:00 Ticket: 30 GEL GALLERY Visitor Center of Kobuleti-Kintrishi Protected Areas Address: 271 D. Aghmashenebeli Str., Kobuleti July 5 20018 – July 5 2019 Georgian National Museum presents new exhibition. The exposition depicts the unique ecosystems of Adjara, in particular the Kobuleti wetland areas, the Kintrishi forests and their biodiversity. The most interesting and spectacular parts of the exhibition are the Ispani sphagnum peatlands and the Kintrishi forest illuminated light-boxes. ANAKLIA MUSIC MUSIC FESTIVAL- ECHOWAVES POWERED BY EXIT Day Pass: 60 GEL, Season Ticket: 150 GEL, Camp (tent for 2 person): 250 GEL. August 23-26 There will be several stages with diverse music genres – Main Stage, KHIDI Stage, EYE Stage, Taiyo stage and Aqua stage, that will host 150 international and local artists, including: Die Antwoord, Tricky, Solomun, Ben Klock, Marcel Dettmann, Juan Atkins, Function, Kayakata, NU, Woo York, Henrik Schwarz, Antigoe, DJ TENNIS, Greenbeam & Leon, and more. Top Artists Line Up: August 23 Day 1: Juan Atkins feat Dzijan Emin & Orchestra, Henrik Schwarz live, Foals dj set, Francesco Tristano & Guti present Another Paradise, Henry Saiz & Band, Dominik Eulberg, Claro Intelecto live, Jonas Kopp, Lehar, Musumeci, Lucy, Fabrizio Lapiana + many more.
GEORGIA TODAY AUGUST 17 - 20, 2018
Renowned German Conceptual Artist Incorporates Images of Georgian Migrants in Vienna Exhibition
Installation view: Olaf Nicolai. There Is No Place Before Arrival, Kunsthalle Wien 2018, © Olaf Nicolai & Bildrecht, 2018, Photo: Stephan Wyckoff
EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW BY LIKA CHIGLADZE
laf Nicolai, one of Germany’s leading artists, notable for conceptual works that are both highly complex and poetic, has come up with yet another impressive show in Vienna (13/7 – 7/10 2018). As a part of his multilayered exhibition named There Is No Place Before Arrival, the artist has used the images of Georgian migrants and transferred them onto the floor. At Kunsthalle Wien, Nicolai commissioned several street and theater painters to paint onto the floor a pool of 22 images of different kinds selected from his personal archive of newspaper clippings. “A key aspect of Nicolai’s methodological approach is the way he engages with the context in which his work is presented. In order to reflect on this context and call it into question, the exhibition extends itself outside of the institutional space and develops in the form of interdisciplinary projects, thereby multiplying the references and interactions the works make with one another and to their environment,” reads the review about Kunsthalle Wien.
In cooperation with the museum-in-progress, the exhibition will find an extension within media, digital space and Instagram under a project titled ‘Media Loop’ (#medialoop). By publishing photographs of the painted images included in the installation in international newspapers and magazines, the imagery will be exposed to a contextual feedback loop. Considered one of Germany’s leading artists, Olaf Nicolai takes on a range of conceptual themes, from political and cultural critiques to inquiries into human perception. A recurring subject is the aesthetic appropriation of nature by human culture and design, explored through mixed-media sculptures and images. The conceptual artist is most notable for his works: Memorial for the Victims of Nazi Military Justice, 2014; Monument for a Forgotten Future, Gelsenkirchen 2010; Pavillons at Insel Schütt, Nürnberg, 2006. On October 24, 2014, Austria's president Heinz Fischer delivered a speech at the opening of Nicolai's Memorial for the Victims of Nazi Military Justice at Viennas Ballhausplatz. Two years earlier, the artist was awarded the first prize at the Memorial Competition implemented by the City Council of Vienna. Olaf Nicolai (born in 1962) lives and works in Berlin. He studied German language and literature at the Universities of Leipzig, Budapest and Vienna, and has worked as a visual artist since 1990. In addition to participating in solo and group exhibitions, he has shown at Documenta X (1997) and Documenta 14 (2017), at the 49th and 51st Venice Biennale (2001 and 2005). For his work ‘In The Woods There Is A Bird…,’ commissioned by Documenta 14, Nicolai was awarded the Karl-SczukaPrize 2017 for works of radio art.
WHY DID YOU CHOOSE GEORGIAN MIGRANT WORKERS FOR YOUR SHOW IN KUNSTHALLE VIENNA? I found the image interesting because of the composition of the image, the style it was taken in. The photos were much more like classical portraits than reportage images. They presented each person in a strong way as an individual, as a group as well, but at first as an individuals with dignity. These photos are more than 10 years old, but in the current discussion about immigration and refugees, they have a strong impact.
WHICH EXHIBITIONS AND PROJECTS WOULD YOU SINGLE OUT IN YOUR CAREER AND WHY? They are two pieces I see as very special. One is “Welcome to the Tears of St. Lawrence” which was presented at the Venice Biennale 2005. It is a simple instruction, published as a poster. If you follow
the instruction and if you have a clear sky, you will see a falling star. I did nothing else than an advertisement for the Perseids, a meteor shower in August. It is a piece playing with the economy of attention. The Perseids are there anyhow, but without my instruction you might not pay attention to them. So what is the piece? I don't know. But the piece is in a private collection and on display in a museum in Switzerland, where each August stargazing meetings are organized. The other piece is a simple postcard from the 1970s. The postcard shows the piazza in front of the Royal Palace in Naples which at that time was used as a parking lot. Today, it is a nice and empty pedestrian area. I re-published the postcard but wrote on the back “Free Parking coming soon!” And I distributed the postcard, walking around for two days in Naples. After one month, a friend sent me an image, showing the piazza full of cars. Neapolitanian taxis filled the piazza exactly like on the postcard during a big strike.
WHAT ARE YOUR FUTURE PLANS? I am currently working on an exhibition about my artist´s books of the last 20 years, which will be presented next year. The next book will be a small artist book about Tbilisi. This project is organized by the ICA and the Goethe Institute of Tbilisi and will be presented at the Frankfurt Book Fair in October.
GEORGIA TODAY spoke to Olaf Nicolai about the exhibition in Vienna and his works.
WHAT IS THE MAIN TOPIC AND MESSAGE OF THE EXHIBITION? When we communicate today, beside words we use a lot of images. They accompany messages as well as being the messages themselves. For years I’ve been collecting images which are published in news papers. Not so much because I am interested in the articles they are published with- more because the images “hit” me. Something made me look at them. In the show in Vienna, I selected 22 images from this archive and asked street and theater painters to paint the images on the floor of the exhibition space so you can walk over them, look at them out of context, take photos of yourself with them and post them. In a booklet which each visitor gets, you find not only the sources and the original context of each image, you also get a very personal index of texts. This montage creates a
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mental space, a narration full of associations related to the image. And there are performers invited to use the space of the images to play with these narrations and create their own “message.” It is about what an image is, how is it produced, how we use it, what we make out of it, how it attracts us and what it does to us- more than what we do with itlike a never-ending play. As the title of the show says: There is no place before arrival.
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