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Issue no: 1212/211

• DECEMBER 17 - 19, 2019



In this week’s issue... Weekly Entrepreneurial News @entrepreneur.ge NEWS PAGE 2

Bidzina Ivanishvili on Georgia's European Choice NEWS PAGE 2

FOCUS ON M|GROUP Discover the many projects of this renowned company


Why the Georgian Monetary Policy Was Tightened

PACE Monitors Disappointed by Lifetime Appointment of 14 Judges in Georgia NEWS PAGE 4

EU4Digital: eSkills Network Workshop in Tbilisi BUSINESS PAGE 7

20,000 People to Benefit from a New Community Center in Kachagani BUSINESS PAGE 8

EU & US Should Support GUAM. The Georgian Perspective



he President of the National Bank of Georgia (NBG), Koba Gvenetadze, who arrived in Parliament on December 13 to attend the approval of the document on monetary and credit policy, explained why the monetary policy was being tightened. On December 11, the NBG tightened its monetary policy by 0.5%, from 8.5 to 9% which is the highest refinancing rate since 2008. Gvenetadze said that in response to rising inflation of up to 7%, the NBG decided the rate on refinancing loans had to be raised. He explained that refinancing loans is a key operating tool of the monetary policy, by which the National Bank delivers the amount of money the system needs at any given point in time. He noted the supply of liquidity means its total sup-


Georgia, Ukraine Discuss Deepening Economic Cooperation POLITICS PAGE 11 Image source: Imedinews.ge

ply, not just refinancing loans. In addition to refinancing loans, Gvenetadze said that liquidity in the system can be reduced or increased by other channels, such as government operations, foreign exchange operations, open market operations, and more. The NBG balances liquidity fluctuations caused from other sources through the refinancing rate. “The National Bank delivers liquidity and money on demand at a given interest rate. To sum up, the NBG, like other central banks, is supplying money on a cost-based rather than quantitative basis, i.e. by changing interest rates. The operational framework used by the National Bank in conducting monetary policy is in full compliance with the best practices of leading central banks of small open economies,” he said. The head of the NBG also noted that since March this year, annual inflation has been above 3%, and in November it stood at 7.0%. Continued on page 5

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DECEMBER 17 - 19, 2019

The New York Times on the Rally Held in Support of Abducted Georgian Doctor @entrepreneur.ge Gamarjoba! I’m the Editor-in-Chief of the Georgian edition of Entrepreneur magazine and I’m here to share the top weekly Entrepreneurial news with you: Mariam Ninikashvili has been creating diverse enamel jewelry for nine years. Mariam works the full cycle with enamel – from processing the metal to fitting the enamel. She learned from her goldsmith father, getting involved in the process of metalwork when she was just 10, so she knows every small detail. Mariam had her first individual exhibition at Vache Gallery in 2016. Her next personal exhibition was held in Prague in 2017. Since last year, Mariam has shared her techniques with others, teaching them the secrets of enamel. You can find and get Mariam’s beautiful work in numerous locations: Caucasus Decoroom, Form, Art Line Gallery, and EthnoDesign. In 2016, The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) added the Georgian alphabet to its list of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. The painter-designers Nino Slepchenko and Levan Vateishvili now present the Georgian alphabet with a new look, using a geometric system. Porcelain dishes, jewelry, lights, different items of interior design, decorative mirrors, and many other beautiful objects, all made by Saini, are unique in their design, shape, and context. The creators of Saini have come up with ornaments for each Georgian letter, up to 2000 unique works. In 2018, the brand won the main prize at the Creative Business Cup Georgia. The winner in its motherland, Saini presented itself on the international platform, becoming one of the winning 53 international start-up companies. K PAX GROUP, founded two years ago by Teona Altunashvili and Irakli Tskitishvili, imports promo accessories from all around the world. The team stays up to date with the world news and trends, visits various countries and does their work accordingly to the international demands and standards. The company stands out for its innovations – K PAX GROUP was the first to offer the Georgian market PopSockets. Hundreds of Georgian and international firms are clients of the company, using its service and promo accessories. The K PAX GROUP vows to strengthen consumer trust and to continue the development and progress by staying innovative and energetic. Follow the Entrepreneur Georgia Instagram page to get the latest updates from Georgian Entrepreneurs. For doing business with Georgian Entrepreneurs, write us on business@entrepreneur.ge



he New York Times has published an article on the rally in support of Georgian doctor Vazha Gaprindashvili held on December 15, a month after he was sent to two-month pretrial detention “for deliberately crossing the border” of the occupied Tskhinvali region. The demonstrators gathered near the Republic Square in central Tbilisi and went to the village of Odzisi close to the occupation line. As the participants of the rally explained, one of the main purposes of the demonstration was the Ossetian people to hear their voices and demands. “Hundreds of Georgians rallied on the boundary with breakaway South Ossetia on Sunday to demand the release of a prominent doctor who was detained after crossing into the region, controlled by Russia since a 2008 war," reads the

article written by Margarita Antidze, titled 'Hundreds of Georgians Demand Release of Doctor Detained in Separatist South Ossetia.' "Vazha Gaprindashvili, president of Georgia's Association of Orthopaedists and Traumatologists, was taken to South Ossetia's regional center Tskhinvali on Nov. 9 and given two months of pretrial custody by separatist authorities, who said the doctor had crossed illegally into the territory. "Hundreds of people including Gaprin-

dashvili's relatives, colleagues, politicians and civic activists gathered on Sunday at the administrative boundary line in the village of Odzisi demanding Gaprindashvili's release. "Some held posters saying 'Freedom for Doctor Vazha!' and 'Love for the Motherland is not a crime.'" The Georgian Foreign Ministry said last month the doctor's detention "highlights the alarming situation of human rights violations in the occupied territories.”

Bidzina Ivanishvili on Georgia's European Choice


solemn event on the occasion of taking over the Presidency of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe by Georgia was held on Liberty Square in Tbilisi this weekend, organized by the youth wing of the Georgian Dream. Bidzina Ivanishvili, the Chairman of the Georgian Dream party, Prime Minister Giorgi Gakharia, party leaders, ministers and lawmakers attended the event. As majority MPs of the Ruling Party claimed, “this day emphasized our European choice.” The leader of Georgian Dream deliv-

ered speech at the event, emphasizing its importance for the future of the country and the relations between Georgia and Europe. ''The young people, my brothers-inarms, and all of Georgia! Seven years have passed since the most unprecedentedly populous gathering in the history of Georgia, when half a million citizens gathered here, on this very square! On this square, which bears the name of freedom. Seven years ago on this square, we – practically the entire country – came together precisely to restore freedom and dignity! And today, we are once again united

at the same place by our unconditional commitment to the European choice!" Ivanishvili said. "What does Europe mean to us?" he asked. "Europe primarily is the democracy that was conceived in ancient Greece, 'righteous justice,' and a Christian soul; Europe is tolerance and diversity. "We, the nation that organically shares these values and possesses a continuous culture that spans numerous centuries, boldly and proudly declare that we are Europeans, and we will not return to the great family of Europe empty-handed," he said. Continued on page 10




DECEMBER 17 - 19, 2019

EU Ambassador to Georgia Carl Hartzell Comments on Recent Political Developments BY BEKA ALEXISHVILI


arl Hartzell, the EU ambassador to Georgia, displayed concerns about Sunday's talks between the opposition and the authorities, which, he said, were "difficult." But the Ambassador expressed optimism and expectation that a fourth round of negotiations would take place. “Yesterday's talks were quite difficult. Most importantly, all parties are eager to continue seeking agreement to identify the areas that can be discussed. We, as mediators, are trying to find ways to continue it and then to advise the parties to hold another round of talks," Hartzell told journalists. The EU Ambassador also spoke about the approval of the Supreme Court judges. He said there were some questions and concerns about the process of appointment. “We welcome that the selection procedures have been set up, and open and transparent hearings held in parliament. This is a positive fact, as it is a precedent for the future. We have some questions and concerns about the process of naming the candidates. We, of course, mention the success that has been achieved, however, there are some things to be

done in the future. The recommendations of OSCE / ODIHR and other observers, including civil society, should be taken into consideration,” he said. The third meeting between the ruling Georgian Dream party and opposition regarding the electoral changes ended without significant results. The opponents met in the Georgian capital of Tbilisi on December 15 to discuss the possibility of moving to a multimandate system from 2020. Justice Minister Tea Tsulukiani, who is also the Vice Prime Minister, said after the meeting that the system proposed by the opposition cannot be acceptable for Georgia. Opposition European Georgia MP Giga Bokeria said the ruling party asked for additional time to think over the so-called 'German model,' adding that the ruling party now allegedly needs time to consult with their chairman Bidzina Ivanishvili. The meetings, mediated by diplomatic corps, followed the rejection of the GDproposed election bill on November 14, which aimed to move to a fully proportional electoral system starting from 2020 instead of 2024. The opposition is now demanding a mixed electoral system for the 2020 elections based on the German model, which distributes seats in parliament based on votes received in proportional elections.

PACE Monitors Disappointed by Lifetime Appointment of 14 Judges in Georgia



he co-rapporteurs of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) for the monitoring of Georgia have expressed their “regret and disappointment” over the recent appointment of 14 Supreme Court judges.

“During our visit in September, we expressed our serious concerns about the opaque and deficient selection process of candidates for the Supreme Court by the High Council of Justice. At that time we expressed our expectation that the parliament would rectify the shortcomings in the selection process, including by appointing only the minimum number of judges needed to ensure the proper functioning of the Supreme Court, in line with the recommendations of the

Venice Commission,” said the co-rapporteurs. “We now see that the parliament has appointed 14 out of 19 candidates, without proper reasoning and reportedly including persons who have not demonstrated during the selection process that they have the legal knowledge and independence required for such an important position. This can only be deplored.” The co-rapporteurs emphasized that it was now important to take swift measures to ensure the required public trust in the justice system and the independence of the judiciary. “To avoid repetition of the current situation, it is important that the Venice Commission recommendations for the selection process, including the use of uniform criteria, well-reasoned decisions and the abolition of secret voting, are adopted promptly, not only for the selection of Supreme Court judges but for judicial appointments in general,” they added. In light of this development, the corapporteurs said they intended to make a monitoring visit to the country early next year. The Assembly brings together 324 members from the national parliaments of the 47 member states. President: Liliane Maury Pasquier (Switzerland, SOC) - Secretary General of the Assembly: Wojciech Sawicki. Political groups: EPP/ CD (Group of the European People's Party); SOC (Socialists, Democrats and Greens Group); EC/DA (European Conservatives Group & Democratic Alliance); ALDE (Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe); UEL (Group of the Unified European Left).

AGHMASHENELI AVENUE 178; 0112 TBILISI — GEORGIA; T +995 (32) 222 10 35; F +995 (32) 222 10 73; EMAIL: HA1L2@ACCOR.COM




M|group – Prominent Representative of Georgian Hospitality Industry Managing Six Different Projects Khinkali in Tbilisi. This is a “Sakhinkle” restaurant with timely and abundant service. The exotic energy of Imereti can be felt in the eclectic interior of the restaurant. The tastiest family dishes and a long-preserved tradition of Georgian hospitability will inspire you to visit Maspindzelo! again and again. Maspindzelo!, just like Bread House, is located in Old Tbilisi, at 7 Vakhtang Gorgasali Street. There are 100 seats in the restaurant. Its door are open for guests 24/7, so they can visit the facility any time to enjoy the hospitable environment and extremely delicious dishes.



he tourism and hospitality industry plays a significant role in the economic development of the country, a process which is essential for Georgia, where tourism represents an increasingly important component of the country's economy. There are several companies operating in this field in Georgia, contributing to its economic growth and creating a decent image among international travelers, boasting many years’ experience, and JSC Hotels and Restaurants Management Group – m|group is distinguished among them for its diverse and trustworthy service. Founded in 2005, JSC m|group is considered as one of the front-runners in the hospitality industry in Georgia. Over 14 years of experience and hard work, the company has gained the trust of its consumers. Currently, it manages 6 projects with various concepts and price policies in Tbilisi and Kakheti (Kvareli). As a leader in the Georgian HoReCa sector, m|group was the first among CIS countries to obtain the ISO9001:2008 certificate in quality management system under the HACCP concept in 2008, and then the ISO 22000:2005 certificate in 2017. GEORGIA TODAY spoke to the representatives of m|group, Ana Bokeria, Deputy General Director in PR, Marketing, Sales and Business Development, and Natia Metreveli, the Head of the Sales and Marketing Department, to find out more about the company’s service and its contribution to encouraging the tourism sector in the country. Ana: JSC Hotels and Restaurants Management Group – m|group already boasts 15 years’ experience in the hospitality industry. The company is distinguished with its commitment and loyalty to quality standards. Our team is always focused on maintaining and improving the standards we’ve achieved throughout years.


the Georgian traditional restaurant Bread House is noteworthy, characterized by a distinctive and authentic interior and consisting of three halls called ‘Satone’, ‘Salonuri’ and ‘Satavado.’ The restaurant amazes its guests with delightful national cuisine- one can taste the unique local dishes and delicious bread bakes. Most importantly, Bread House cares for preserving the local traditions and introducing them to travelers from all over the world. Once you enter Bread House, you will find yourself in the ‘Satone,’ a hall with a Georgian bakery. Long Kakhetian Shoti (traditional Georgian bread with an unforgettable flavor and taste) is baked in front of the guests directly, in a traditional deep clay oven called ‘Tone’. Most importantly, if you have never baked Georgian bread at least once in your life, any interested guest is welcome to take part in the process, which is especially attractive and exciting for foreign visitors of the restaurant. Live Georgian music can be heard in the halls every evening. In summer, you can chill outside on the terrace, enjoy Georgian wine and the beautiful view of Old Tbilisi. Guests have the rare opportunity to taste the ‘Treasure of the Georgian Feast’ dishes. This is m|group’s project, launched in 2010, which involved searching for indigenous Georgian dishes, recipes and rules of preparation, in order to save them from oblivion and to preserve these traditions for future generations. As the result of those expeditions, up to 150 rules of preparation of traditional Georgian dishes, the recipes of which were preserved among the elderly of the regions, were restored. Guests can taste up to 30 of those dishes only in m|group’s chain of restaurants. Georgia has the oldest and most unique winemaking traditions. At Bread House, guests have an opportunity to taste a small selection of local wines in the wine cellar that is located within the venue. Bread House is located in the beautiful district of Old Tbilisi, at 7 Gorgasali Street. There are 145 seats in the restaurant. It works every day, from 12:00 to 01:00.


Currently, the company manages 5 facilities in Tbilisi and one in Kvareli, a town in the Kakheti region of Georgia.




Among the facilities located in Tbilisi,

Natia: One of the most distinguished facilities of m|group is Otium, a restaurant located near Turtle Lake, at the edge of a forest. The venue becomes even more attractive in summer and spring, when it is surrounded with abundant greenery. This is a place where you can breathe fresh air, enjoy the evening with live music or attend a concert of various Georgian and foreign musicians. The concerts and performances of resident DJs and bands are held every weekend and most weekends, so Otium is perfect destination for youth to have an unforgettable time with friends. The modern interior of the restaurant, equipped with all essential technical gear and a big, beautiful garden yard near the forest make Otium an ideal venue for carrying out a wide range of activities, from weddings, birthday celebrations, and business meetings to art exhibitions and individual or corporate events, since it can easily adapt to any taste or desire. It offers a wide variety of special Georgian and European dishes, prepared by highly qualified chefs. Otium has a terrace offering beautiful views over Tbilisi, where guests can enjoy famous Georgian barbeque, Mtsvadi, and special Shoti bread in summer. They can also watch the process of preparing these dishes in the open kitchen showroom. There are up to 300 seats in the restaurant. In addition, it has quite a big garden, so that the entire space of these two venues can be united and used for relatively large-scale events. For instance, we recently celebrated the 5th birthday of SPAR, the supermarket chain, at Otium, and hosted about 500 people. So, the space is big enough and it perfectly fits any customer demand. Every year, we have a special guest at Otium – the Embassy of Switzerland. They have been celebrating their National Day at Otium for three years now. The events of various embassies, corporate parties, and weddings are often held at the restaurant. It is the perfect place for a romantic and beautiful wedding. We also welcome any type of exhibition and conference at our venue. Otium is located on Turtle Lake Alley and receives guests daily from 12:00 until the last guest leaves.

Metekhi is also one of the special venues of our company, distinguished by its historic concept. Its interior is based on the play with the same name, ‘In the Shadow of Metekhi’. Accordingly, here, the entire atmosphere and interior reflect the theater. It offers a cozy ambience along with wonders of local cuisine, which makes the venue the perfect place to take your foreign guests and allow them to discover the authentic Georgian soul. From the windows of the restaurant and vast veranda, one can enjoy the breathtaking view of Old Tbilisi and River Mtkvari. Due to its location, the restaurant is quite popular among foreigners, who want to explore the old part of the city and enjoy its wonderful sights. Here, visitors are welcome to enjoy Georgian national songs and dances on a daily basis. There are 5 individual thematic rooms of different concept in the restaurant, which represent the different parts of ancient Georgia: ‘Papakhiani’ (man with traditional hat) with the concept of 18th19th century Georgia; ‘Monadire’ (hunter), where a stone fireplace, historic wine vessels and other details create an ancient Georgian mood; ‘Old Tbilisi’ - interior of 19th-20th century Tbilisi; while the ‘Kasabi’ (butcher) and ‘Asian’ rooms are for guests with any taste and interest. In the Shadow of Metekhi is the only restaurant in Georgia with the HACCP Concept Certificate and ISO Certificate 22000:2005. This year, the restaurant received the online magazine Lux Life’s Global Hospitality prestigious award in the category ‘Most Authentic Georgian Restaurant.’ The restaurant is located in the historic district of Tbilisi, Avlabari, at 29 Ketevan Tsamebuli Avenue. It can serve up to 200 guests. The working hours are 12:00 – 01:00. Natia: Restaurant Ubani is the newly established facility of m|group. It was opened in September 2019 to meet customer needs and demand. Open 24/7, guests can come late at night, after having fun at night clubs, to relax and taste delicious Georgian cuisine. Here, we offer our guests national dish Khinkali, various kinds of soups, shared plates, etc. The design of the restaurant was developed in accordance with its name, ‘Ubani’ (‘Neighborhood’). The entire atmosphere and interior will definitely make you feel like you’re in one of the old districts of the city and will bring you closer to the authentic spirit of a Tbilisian neighborhood. The design of the restaurant was created by the prominent Georgian designer Tina Dzirkvadze, while the entrance was painted and decorated by street artist Luka Manjgaladze. Thanks to their work, even minor details here will bring you back to a beloved and warm environment. The location itself is very convenient for both tourists and local visitors, as it is in the central part of the city, on the road to/from the airport, so that one can bring their foreign guests here directly from the airport at any time. The exact address of the venue is 29a Queen Ketevan Avenue. The restaurant has 80 seats. As already mentioned, it works 24/7, which is one of the main superiorities of Ubani.

Next to Bread House, yet another distinctive facility of m|group, restaurant Maspindzelo!, is located, where food enthusiasts can sample the tastiest

The restaurant In the Shadow of

Catering is yet another important direction of the company’s activities. It is one of m|group’s core services, while 10 years of operation counts over 1,000

events and projects. In 2017, as part of the rebranding, the m|catering menu and assortment was completely renewed with sophisticated flavors and improved visual features. Moreover, the company produced a special line for children - m|kids, which is created with kids’ favorite products. Our slogan is ‘No Event is too Small or too Large,’ which means that our service can fit any customer demand and events of any scale, not only in Tbilisi but in the regions as well. For instance, we hosted Ennio Morricone’s concert at the Black Sea Arena and other important events in urban areas. Another important division of m|catering is industrial catering, with a capacity of up to 1,000 persons served per day; one of the recent examples of which was catering for the “Fast and Furious 9” shooting crew. Our company has a lot of experience in this field. The office is located in Tbilisi, at 40 Chantladze Street.

Ana: Apart from restaurants, m|group also manages the Hotel ‘Kvareli Lake Resort’ in the heart of Kakheti, one of the most beautiful regions of Georgia. To the east of the small town of Kvareli, beneath the southern slope of the Great Caucasus Mountains, Kvareli Lake Resort spreads over 300 hectares of beautiful natural landscape. In addition to the original 20-room Building A, in September 2019, the resort opened Building B. It has 41 comfortable rooms offering amazing views of Kakheti. It is also noteworthy that the new hotel is adapted to persons with disabilities. Building B was designed by the Architectural company Dmark, while the interior of the lobby belongs to the wellknown Georgian artist Nino Chubinishvili, aka Chubika, so the beauty of both interior and exterior of the resort perfectly matches. The virgin forest surrounding the resort, the lake in front, the vast Alazani valley behind and large hotel rooms, each equipped with small terrace and beautiful panoramic views, make Kvareli Lake Resort a unique place to stay. In addition to high quality service, amazing views and a restaurant with a Georgian menu, the hotel offers a wellequipped conference room for 120 people, with the opportunity of simultaneous interpretation, which makes it a perfect place for business events. Kvareli Lake Resort contributes to promoting a healthy lifestyle. The resort offers holidaymakers various activities for relaxation and entertainment, including boat trips, fishing, and cycling. So it makes the perfect destination to have an unforgettable time in a calm environment with your loved ones. Of course, our activities are aimed at promoting the tourism sector and contributing to the economic development of Georgia; however, we are equally focused on foreign and local customers, not only on tourists. Each customer’s opinion and needs, regardless of their nationality, is of utmost importance for our team. Creating a pleasant and warm environment and gifting them memorable, happy moments in life is our main goal. As for the future plans of the m|group, the company representatives prefer it to be a surprise for customers; however, they claim that there are many pleasant novelties and projects planned for 2020, and the entire team of the company will spare no effort to implement them successfully. +995 032 2 30 30 30 info@mgroup.ge www.mgroup.ge




DECEMBER 17 - 19, 2019

Borjomi & Bakuriani May Host 2025 European Olympic Winter Festival



orjomi and Bakuriani have been nominated as candidate host cities for the 2025 European Youth Olympic Winter Festival. The President of the European Olympic Committee (EOC), Janez Kocijancic, together with the secretary general Raffaele Pagnozzi, sent a letter to the President of the National Olympic Committee of Georgias (GNOC), Leri Khabelov, officially confirming the candidate status for Georgian resorts. The festival’s evaluation commission will pay an official visit to Borjomi and Bakuriani in February 2020. GNOC must provide EOC with all essential information on festival hosting by July 31, 2020. The winning candidate is set to be revealed at a general assembly of the EOC in November 2020. The nomination is a further boost to Bakuriani,

15 M. Kostava str. (+995) 322 30 03 05

the winter resort in the high Caucasus that already dominates the scene for sports enthusiasts. Recent news from Bakuriani include the planning of a joint French-Georgian restoration of a track for biathlon, the Olympic sport combining skiing and rifle shooting, making this option available for the first time in 30 years in the country. This is a move to further improve winter sports facilities with a bold view towards future Olympics hosting. Borjomi, one of Georgia’s most unique resort localities, has been the subject of a 2018-announced state project that envisages to transform it into a network of historical attractions. Under the initiative, the monuments and sites are being subject to the restoration and development project titled Borjomi - a Museum City. Beside the historical sites and buildings from the Tsarist era, including 19th century residential houses for Russian Imperial nobility, the town also features a vintage narrowgauge railway passing over its picturesque natural landscapes, connecting it to Bakuriani.

Georgia and the US State of Georgia Mark 25 Years of Military Partnership BY BEKA ALEXISHVILI


he Republic of Georgia and the US state of Georgia National Guard are celebrating the 25th anniversary of military cooperation. The partnership between the two states cultivates interoperability amongst the US and Georgia and further endorses peace and security, the US Embassy to Georgia reports. US Major General Thomas Carden was in Tbilisi to attend the 25th anniversary of the state partnership program “to commemorate the enduring relationship between the country of Georgia and the US state of Georgia,” the US Embassy stated. Georgian Defense Minister Irakli Garibashvili celebrated the US-Georgia “strong and exemplary partnership” during the 25th-anniversary event last

week and stated that the partnership is “of the highest importance” for Georgia. “We are further developing our relations with the US, taking steps to further strengthen democratic institutions in the country and are striving toward NATO integration,” Garibashvili said. Acting US Ambassador to Georgia Elisabeth Rood, as well as officials from the US and Georgia, attended the event held at the Georgian Defense Ministry Army Hall.

Why the Georgian Monetary Policy Was Tightened Continued from page 1 Gvenetadze noted that inflation was affected by single factors at the beginning of the year: excise taxes on tobacco products increased significantly, as well as rising food prices, which are less dependent on the National Bank's monetary policy. “Central banks do not usually respond to such factors, as they are almost impossible to neutralize with monetary instruments. Inflation has accelerated since September, largely due to the depreciation of the GEL nominal effective exchange rate and the long-term maintenance of the impaired benchmark,” he added. He then highlighted that Russia's July decision to halt flights with Georgia and the spread of other formal and informal trade sanctions raised expectations of an exchange rate devaluation. According to him, even before the actual decline in foreign exchange inflows, foreign exchange supply declined in the market, and demand increased, leading to a more rapid depreciation of the exchange rate than expected.

“We estimate that the country received $300 million less in tourism revenue due to airline transactions. This was followed by the political tensions, which contributed to the further devaluation of the national currency.” The Head of the National Bank explained that as the depreciation rate shifted to inflationary expectations and inflation increased, the NBG began tightening the monetary policy and increasing the refinancing rate gradually, by 2.5 percentage points to 9.0%. “Such an increase will reduce overall spending in the country, which will eventually slow the pace of rising consumer prices. At the same time, the increase in interest rates makes national currency savings more attractive and encourages investors to use GEL securities, thereby helping to increase demand and strengthening the GEL. In addition, the National Bank also used other tools at its disposal, namely interventions and reducing foreign exchange reserve requirements. However, the most effective leverage is the monetary policy rate,” he stated.




EU4Digital: eSkills Network Workshop in Tbilisi BY NINI DAKHUNDARIDZE


his Tuesday and Wednesday, December 17-18, the capital of Georgia will host an eSkills network workshop. The main goal of the seminar, which is being organized by EU4Digital, is to enable the Eastern Partner countries of the EU to exchange insights and latest developments in the field of digital skills and discuss the current baseline in the partner countries regarding the measurement of digital skills indicators. The mentioned Eastern Partner countries (EaP) in this EU Program are: Georgia, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Republic of Moldova, and Ukraine. The organizers report that the “main outcome of the network workshop will be the validation of the results of the EU4Digital Questionnaire for gathering relevant information and data on the existing situation (baseline) for measuring and forecasting of digital skills in the EaP countries.” Additionally, within the frames of the workshop, the development methodology of a competence framework for SMEs and microbusinesses and Digital Skills and Jobs Coalition status in individual EaP countries will be presented and discussed with the country representatives. Under the EU4Digital initiative, the eSkills network focuses on formulating and implementing national digital skills

strategies in the EaP partner countries, notably by establishing national coalitions for digital jobs, taking into account the EU’s ‘digital skills and jobs coalition’. The overall objective of the EU4Digital program is to eliminate existing obstacles and barriers for pan-European online services for citizens, public administrations and businesses, including

through the harmonization of the digital environments among the EaP partner countries and with the EU. To analyze the above in more detail, this program aims to extend the benefits of the European Union's Digital Single Market to the Eastern Partner states, supporting them in reducing roaming tariffs, developing high-speed broadband

to boost economies and expand e-services. The organization hopes that the program will amount to harmonizing digital frameworks across society in areas ranging from logistics to health, building cyber security, developing skills, and creating more jobs in the digital industry. The program was implemented in 2019

and is planned to achieve its objectives by the year 2022 with a budget of EUR 11 million. EU4Digital focuses its support across six key policy areas: Telecom rules: the program aims to achieve a common roaming space among EaP countries by 2020, to strengthen the independence of National Regulatory Authorities, while developing coordinated strategies for frequency distribution. Trust & Security: EU4Digital supports the development of trust services in the digital economy and cyber-security to strengthen cross-border eServices in the Eastern Partnership region. eTrade: the program supports trade facilitation and harmonization among Eastern Partner countries and with the EU by promoting common frameworks for eCommerce, eCustoms and eLogistics, and working towards Digital Transport Corridors. ICT Innovation: EU4Digital supports reforms and actions to favor the development of ICT research, start-ups and innovation ecosystems across the Eastern Partnership region, drawing from EU experience and best practices. eHealth: the program supports the development of harmonized national frameworks for eHealth, both among EaP partner countries and with the EU. eSkills: EU4Digital supports the implementation of digital skills strategies in the Eastern Partnership countries, acting to establish national coalitions for digital jobs and a competence framework for small businesses.




DECEMBER 17 - 19, 2019

20,000 People to Benefit from a New Community Center in Kachagani BY NINI DAKHUNDARIDZE


he United Nation Development Program (UNDP) continues to support the expansion of access to different services for people in the rural areas. This time, Kachagani in the Marneuli Municipality of the Kvemo Kartli region, is in focus. On December 13, a new community center opened in the village of Kachagani, expanding access to over 200 public and private services for 20,000 residents. The community center houses the office of a local self-government representative, aiming to ease citizen engagement in decision-making, and provides access to a modern library. Additionally, the center includes well-equipped conference facilities. The Minister of Justice, the Ambassador of Austria, the Minister of Justice Thea Tsulukiani and the UNDP Deputy Head, among others, attended the opening ceremony of the new center in Kachagani on Friday. “We are proud to open the 74th community center in Georgia fully tailored to the needs of people in towns and villages,” said Minister Tsulukiani. “Community centers give people easy access to public services, such as obtaining birth certificates, ID cards and property registration. Additionally, local residents can get services from the banks, access internet and library, meet representatives of local self-government and engage in projects for the benefit of their communities.”

Image source: UNDP Georgia

“Access to services and engagement in decision-making are a foundation of local development,” said Ambassador of Austria Arad Benkö. “We support community

centers in the remote rural regions to expand opportunities available for citizens and ensure that quality services are available in every village of Georgia.”

“Better access to services means more opportunities, a better social environment and the greater engagement of people in the decisions that define their

future,” noted UNDP Deputy Head Anna Chernyshova. “It is especially important in the rural areas where people need more information about the tools they can use to participate in local governance and become the owners of development,” she underlined. The new community center was established by the Public Service Development Agency (PSDA) of the Ministry of Justice of Georgia with the support from the UNDP, the EU and the governments of Switzerland and Austria. Kachagani is the first of two villages where community centers were constructed with the support of the UNDP and Swiss and Austrian states. The second community center is to open in 2020, in Chrebalo, a remote village in mountainous Racha. Tailored for the needs of people living in the national minority regions and the remote mountain communities, the centers will provide crucially important services to thousands of local residents. Aiming to aid reforms in local selfgovernance and encourage regional development, assistance to community centers is a part of the wider effort of the UNDP’s mission, implemented with funds from the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) and the Austrian Development Cooperation (ADC). The UNDP is the leading development organization in Georgia. Since 1993, the program has been part of the country’s success in many fields, including its democratic reforms, inclusive growth, conflict transformation, green solutions and the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals.




Berlin 2020 - RAW WINE T he world’s largest community of low- intervention, organic, biodynamic and natural wines, their growers and makers and those who love drinking them united in Berlin at the Raw Wine Fair on December 1-2.

Georgian Qvevri wine and the winemaking tradition are gaining recognition worldwide, with the help of the LEPL National Wine Agency and with the support of the world’s Master of Wine and founder of the Raw Wine Fair, Isabelle Legeron, MW.

159 artisans were participants of Raw Wine in Berlin, among them 13 Georgian wine cellars, some of them having also been present at the Raw Wine fairs in London, New York, Montreal and Los Angeles. The Georgian wineries that were presented at the Berlin Fair were: from Kakheti – Alexander’s Wine Cellar; Akhmeta Wine House; Artana Wines; Chateau Khashmi; Chona’s Marani; Papari Valley; Tanini; Our Wine; Vellino; from Imereti – Baia’s Wine; Dimis Ferdobi: Kartli – Do Re Mi; and from Meskheti – Natenadze’s Wine Cellar. By participating in such the exhibitions, Georgians

are able to introduce their country and winemaking history and tradition to the international market in order to attract foreigners’ interest in the country and its customs. The fair has proved itself a window for new bio wine cellars to boost the popularity of Georgian wine abroad. Dozens of visitors were in attendance at the exhibition, including leading wine specialists, wine importers, distributors of wine and media representatives from around the world. Raw Wine is the celebration of some of the wine talent in the world. The

participants produce natural, organic and biodynamic wines. Raw Wine is leading the charge for transparency, as they believe that in an ideal wine world, any processing and additives will be clearly communicated to the drinker “so that you know exactly what is in your glass”. Raw wine is a first step in this direction. It is about truth, authenticity and frank wine talking, but most of all it’s about showcasing really good wine. The concept is wine’s “poetry”, its artistry or romanticism or its exceptionality as a product.




DECEMBER 17 - 19, 2019

Bidzina Ivanishvili on Georgia's European Choice

Continued from page 2 "Georgia is the civilization of The Knight in the Panther's Skin, where the acceptance of that which is foreign and the coexistence of different cultures is a part of our identity, rather than something that has been established through declarations. Christianity was brought to us by Nino of Cappadocia, who was joined by the Armenian Shushanik, the Arab Abo, and the Persian Eustathius. "Georgia is the homeland of wine and, most likely, of wheat as well, since it was precisely us that Greece, the first European civilization, named as 'Georgia,' or the country of agriculture; it is precisely a Kartvelian tribe, the Chalybes, that are linked with the first production of iron; it is precisely in our country and nowhere else that Jason arrived in order to obtain the Golden Fleece, or the sacred knowledge of the Georgians. Among us, 'the cub was equal to the lion' from the outset and this is what made us Europeans in the first place," Ivanishvili told the crowd. "As early as in the 12th century, we were first in Europe to make a woman king, we conceived the first signs of parliamentarianism, and it was precisely in Georgia that Shota Rustaveli rocked the cradle of European humanism for the first time. Powerful regional centers of European education such as the academies of Gelati and Ikalto emerged here, on our land, from the roots of the Kolkheti Academy. "Later, historical whirlwinds separated us from our common family; however, just as a well-raised person retains his or her dignity in any environment, so our nation has been able to retain its European culture and values. And even when there was no hope to be found, Sulkhan-Saba was still stubbornly yearning westward, while creating Europe in Georgia with his Sitkvis Kona. He was yearning not because he could not understand geopolitical realities but because he could not do otherwise, since his Georgian nature was European. "Precisely this Georgian nature gave birth to Vazha-Pshavela, a thinker and humanist of European scale, in a small village in eastern Mtianeti, and precisely this Georgian nature gave Aghaza the right to mourn Zviadauri. It is precisely this nature, these values that make each and every Georgian European, and Georgia a natural part of Europe! Therefore, let no one think that we are returning to Europe empty-handed. We have always made our own, important contributions to the European civilization. "Our homeland – it is a European culture," the party Chairman claimed. "However, the state, which differs from the homeland like the kvevri differs from wine, has not always been of a European type. Now, the time has come to pour the Georgian, European wine – European culture – into a similarly European type of state. Georgia should not simply return to Europe formally but rather it must attain its rightful, brilliant place in the constellation of Europe. I have faith in this and I believe in it strongly! I believe, because I can see that the Georgian people, the Georgian state and the church of Georgia – the entire nation is united and steadfast in this choice! I believe, because I know and I can see what the European civilization is founded on! "Democracy, the rule of law, equality, and tolerance – these are the values that serve as the foundation for Europe and the values that are so deeply rooted in the Georgian spirit. Precisely this nature, these values make Georgia a natural part of Europe! To be the son of multiethnic, multi-confessional Georgia, that is, to be a Georgian, means to sing

the Mravalzhamieri, to create polyphony, to dance the Khorumi, and to write The Knight in the Panther's Skin; To be a Georgian means to lead the Georgian feast and to carry Vazha-Pshavela in your head; Therefore, do not be afraid of anything, pain will not beat us and no enemy will ever defeat us! Because Georgia is immortal! Immortal is its culture, its restless soul, which has always yearned and still yearns toward its European family. "And today, at a time when we, who stand at the roots of great history, have obtained freedom; at a time when some recall my words concerning the creation of an amazing democracy with irony – in fact, in many ways we are already living in a European democracy, which we were able to achieve on the basis of our values, rather than through violence or by imposing something foreign on the people," he said. "It is with precisely such an approach that we achieved association with Europe and the signing of the Free Trade Agreement; it is with precisely such an approach that the Georgian citizen was granted the right of visa-free travel within the European Union; It was precisely our commitment to the European choice that brought us the unprecedented, bipartisan support of our strategic partner, the leader of the free world, the United States of America! "I'm sure that the day will come when we will celebrate Georgia's accession to the European Union at the same location, at this symbolic place on Freedom Square, and we will all say that historic justice has been restored and that we have achieved our goal! Let us not forget, however, that first of all, Europe is moderation – the ideal balance, the ideal intersection of freedom and responsibility. Unfortunately, we have to return to European space from a low benchmark because we failed to fully realize our responsibility while being dazed by the scent of freedom at the dawn of independence, and we practically destroyed our country. Our political team, the Georgian Dream, received a legacy that was doubly difficult. In addition to rampant poverty, our inheritance from the previous authorities included occupation, authoritarianism, and state institutions that were seized by one small group and used to repress free thought and free people. "And the cynicism of today lies in the fact that those who signed off on the occupation are precisely those who assumed the mantle of patriotism and blame us for the occupation; Those who trampled fundamental human rights, tortured and massacred their brethren in the streets, seized businesses and the media, practically abolished free speech, abolished the street – you may remember that coming out into the street was forbidden – it is precisely they that accuse us of lacking democracy, while addressing us from televisions haphazardly opened using money obtained from looting; "The person who has virtually become the paragon of bribery over the last 30 years is talking to us about corruption from the rostrum of Parliament and wants to be presented as the standard-bearer of a fair judiciary. The temptation to respond to them in the manner that they deserve is great. However, I and our political team, the Georgian Dream, remain committed to the ideals of 2012 and even now, we will treat them not in the manner that they deserve but rather in the manner that our people and our great culture deserves.We will overcome all difficulties; we will reunify our country and revive our economy! And, most importantly, we will continue to walk on this path in a way that will retainthe human being as the most important value, and very soon we will put even our aggressive opponents in service of the country – once they themselves have become convinced of the futility of a policy that is based on lies and violence. Because this is what they sign in the Georgian Mravalzhamieri: "Love has rebuilt what animosity has destroyed!" "And finally, as Ilia Chavchavadze used to say: 'Our country needs European experience, science, and education. This must be its weapon.' Precisely this is our way! This is Ilia's way, this is the European way! We follow this star because we know for certain that in the modern world, the way to salvation lies through education. For this reason, we allowed ourselves to make the largest and most ambitious investment in the future of the country – in its education! Not many countries, even those with economies superior to ours, would have dared to spend 25 percent of the budget on education. And meanwhile, we dared to do so, and we did it! The unprecedented education reform that was launched this year is simultaneously the crown of our country's sevenyear peaceful and democratic development, as well as an ambitious statement regarding our inevitable future success! May God aid us on this honorable path! Long live our beloved homeland, long live Georgia! Thank you very much," Ivanishvili concluded.




Georgia, Ukraine Discuss Deepening Economic Cooperation BY TEA MARIAMIDZE


eorgian Prime Minister Giorgi Gakharia has stated that Georgia and Ukraine can achieve more in trade, transport, development sectors and investments toward various directions. "We stand ready to work hard every single day to make the economic cooperation between Ukraine and Georgia more fruitful for our citizens,” the PM said when meeting his Ukrainian counterpart, Oleksiy Honcharuk, in Kiyv this weekend. Gakharia also said that the mutual cooperation, based on economy, strategic partnership and security, predominantly aims to ensure the well-being of the citizens of Georgia and Ukraine and to help both countries remain within the European space. He also expressed gratitude to his Ukrainian colleague for the support demonstrated towards the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Georgia, in turn noting that the Government of Georgia always supports the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Ukraine, both in bilateral and multilateral formats. During the meeting, Gakharia also underlined the most significant result coming from his official visit to Ukraine: the signing of an agreement on 'The Establishment of a High-Level Strategic Council' after a meeting with Volodymyr Zelensky, President of Ukraine, on December 13. "It will become the most effective platform for our governments, ministries and institutions in various sectors of

economy, security, international relations and culture to cooperate and achieve results even more effectively and efficiently,” he noted. Moreover, the PM focused on the significance of the Euro-Atlantic integration of Georgia and Ukraine, noting that cooperation toward this end should become more effective. "The Government of Georgia is ready to work to make sure that the strategic partnership and friendship between our two countries brings more tangible results for our citizens,” he added. On his part, PM Honcharuk noted that Georgia is a strategic partner for Ukraine and the visit of its Prime Minister will serve as a basis for deepening and developing the bilateral relations further. According to him, Ukraine will do its best to increase the trade and flow of visitors between the two countries and to deepen and develop economic relations. "We propose to kick off active work on the development of the freight transportation system using the direct international ferry connection between Ukraine and Georgia, as well as the liberalization of railway ferry services between the ports of Ukraine and Georgia. The project we are working on, which will be equally interesting to Georgia, is the transport corridor Baltic Sea - Black Sea - Caspian Sea. We count on Georgia's active participation in this project," he said. Before meeting the PM Prime Minister, Gakharia met President Zelensky, with whom he signed an Agreement on the Establishment of the High Level Strategic Council of Georgia and Ukraine. It is aimed at covering four key directions: political, trade-economic, defense-secu-

Image source: gov.ge

rity and cultural-humanitarian interaction. Work-groups created for each of them will be led by respective ministers, thus ensuring a comprehensive bilateral dialogue at a high level. The leaders of both countries noted that in signing such agreements at the highest level, the countries manifest their readiness towards advancing relations. When summing up his visit to Ukraine, Gakharia said that Ukraine is Georgia’s strategic partner and also evidence that both countries can better fight challenges together. The PM underlined that both sides see the importance of effective cooperation and strategic partnership between

Ukraine and Georgia. “We can develop faster together towards European integration and more effectively protect our territorial integrity. This support is based on our cooperation, economy, transport corridors and trade of course,” he added. Georgian – Ukrainian relations are based on traditional partnership and close cooperation. As Georgia’s Foreign Ministry reports, the existing legal framework consists of 105 bilateral and multilateral agreements, which practically regulates all spheres of relations between the two countries. Ukraine is one of Georgia’s biggest and most important trade partners, seeing a

free trade regime which is legally regulated in both the bilateral and multilateral formats. An important part of cooperation is experience-sharing successfully implemented reforms. Collaboration is also actively developed in the fields of agriculture, public health, sports and youth. Direct scientific–educational ties have already been established between major universities of the two countries. Cooperation in the field of tourism is one the main priorities of the mutual ties. Georgia is one of the most important destinations for Ukrainian tourists and that number is increasing by the year.

EU & US Should Support GUAM. The Georgian Perspective OP-ED BY EMIL AVDALIANI


n December 12, the Heads of Governments of GUAM (an organization for democracy and economic development) member states Georgia, Ukraine, Azerbaijan and Moldova, met in Kiyv. During the talks, Georgia was represented by PM, Giorgi Gakharia. The Prime Ministers of Ukraine, Georgia and Moldova, Oleksiy Honcharuk, Giorgi Gakharia, Ion Chicu, as well as the Vice PM of Azerbaijan, Ali Akhmedov, discussed issues pertaining to the increase of regional cooperation. According to the joint statement, the countries agreed to expand cooperation with their partner countries and international organizations to carry out regional projects and multilateral programs of cooperation. More specifically, the states expressed the need for the use of blockchain technologies in verifying certificates of goods’ origin transported across the GUAM Member States, and the mutual recognition of Authorized Economic Operators was signed between the customs administrations. Ukraine’s PM Honcharuk said that “two docu-

ments have been signed; these are protocols of intentions in regards to the functioning of customs agencies in our countries. Enacting these two documents by our customs agencies will significantly simplify trade between us”. This gathering might be a turning point for GUAM (initially called GUUAM). Established in 1997 following the collapse of the Soviet Union, small states near the Black Sea strove to develop cooperation to lessen dependence on Russia. It also served as one of the first regional models which linked the Black and Caspian seas, and it had a primarily economic role. At one point, even Uzbekistan was a member, which potentially allowed the GUUAM (abbreviation of the participant states: Georgia, Ukraine, Uzbekistan, Azerbaijan, and Moldova) to extend to the heart of the Central Asian region. This was a time when Russia was relatively weak, the West seemed powerful and various visions were propounded, among them the reinvigoration of ancient silk roads. If working effectively, the grouping might be turned into a powerful geopolitical player. For example, Ukraine controls most of the Northern Black Sea and Azerbaijan plays a powerful role as a starting point of crucial trade and a



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resource corridor. In between them is the Georgian bridge. Further afield, through Azerbaijan, it would be possible to reach out to the Central Asia region, even though Uzbekistan pulled out. The GUAM grouping, though short of establishing a veritable alliance, nevertheless shares one common aim: limiting Moscow’s geopolitical influence by being able to dispose of/export their own resources to world markets circumventing Russian territory. In the late 1990s and early 2000s, the project failed to

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turn into a serious economic body. Russian influence gradually regained its lost positions and quite naturally the countries were unwilling to cause Moscow’s anger. Moreover, GUUAM, later GUAM, members were also dependent on Russian economic, military and, generally, political benevolence. Back then, Russia played well to prevent major western-led projects that could circumvent its territory and pull gas and oil from the South Caucasus and Central Asia. Uzbekistan withdrew from

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the project in 2005 and Azerbaijan, Georgia, Ukraine and Moldova, with all their economic and military weaknesses, were unable to keep up the prospects of GUAM. Distrust towards was Russia not enough to coordinate foreign policy moves. The Russians, quite rightly, fear that such initially loose economic projects, and among them GUAM itself, could eventually evolve into firmer entities. As the recent summit Kyiv showed, the GUAM initiative might still be weak, but it is far from dead. Perhaps foreign support could be a defining moment. For example, for the EU and the US, which both confront Russia’s moves across the Eurasian landmass, GUAM might be a good basis for creating an interregional economic space. This year marks the 22nd year of the grouping’s existence and it could be argued that many a geopolitical development in the Black Sea region points to a coalescing of interests among Georgia, Moldova, Ukraine and Azerbaijan. Primary among those interests is economic cooperation. A great number of infrastructural projects have been carried out which would enable these countries to establish firmer economic contacts. Another incentive is that all the member states, except for Azerbaijan, share difficult relations with Russia.


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Profile for Georgia Today

Issue #1212 Business  

December 17 - 19, 2019

Issue #1212 Business  

December 17 - 19, 2019