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Issue no: 1228/219



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

Real Estate Market Oct-Dec 2019 Market Highlights ISET PAGE 4

FOCUS ON EURONEWS GEORGIA Check out our exclusive interview with Euronews CEO, Michael Peters


Georgia Ranks 18th among Best European Countries for Business 2020 BY TEA MARIAMIDZE

Re|Bank – New Retail Banking Service in Georgia aimed at Maximum Customer Comfort BUSINESS PAGE 5

CENN Launches Green Scholarship for Young Climate Activists BUSINESS PAGE 9

Registered Crime up 9.8% in Georgia BUSINESS PAGE 11

Georgian PM Summarizes Munich Security Conference POLITICS PAGE 14

Premiere of Gaetano Donizetti’s L'Elisir d'Amore – a Co-production of 3 European Theaters


eorgia has taken 18th place in the list of the best European Countries for Doing Business in 2020, the latest report of the European Chamber (EuCham) reads. The annual report includes 46 countries and is based on the average of two indicators: the Ease of Doing Business (EoDB) score of the World Bank (WB) and the Corruption Perception Index score of Transparency International (TI).

CULTURE PAGE 15 Prepared for Georgia Today Business by


Image source: expat.com

Despite the position in the Top 20 countries with the best business opportunities, Georgia’s score this year, 70, is a worsened indicator compared to the 2019 ranking, where Georgia had 71 points and was in 16th place. However, Georgia has kept its position as leader in the region with its economic environment. According to the report, Armenia takes 33rd place with 58 points, followed by Turkey in 35rd place and 58 points. Azerbaijan is ranked 41st with 53 points, and Russia showed the lowest rank in the region at 43rd with 53 points in total. Georgia left behind such countries as Portugal (19th place), Latvia (21st), Poland (67th), Italy (63rd), Belarus (29th), Hungary (31st), Greece (34th), Kazakhstan (39th) and Ukraine (50th). Continued on page 5


STOCKS BankofGeorgia(BGEOLN) GeorgiaCapital(CGEOLN) GHG(GHGLN)



GBP17.93 +11,5%











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@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:


FEBRUARY 18 - 20, 2020

Acclaimed Filmmaker Giorgi Shengelaia Dies Aged 82 BY ELENE DZEBISASHVILI

Emocia is a brand that offers beautiful accessories made from natural stone, wood and leather for women, men and children. Founder Tamar Abuladze recalls that when she decided to start up her own business, she spent nights making accessories. Emocia has been online for five months now, but because of the increasing demand and Tamar’s wish to develop her business, the team behind Emocia is planning to go beyond the online platform. HOUSER is a legal expertise center offering consulting services to those looking to become property owners. The founder of the company is Tazo Chakhunashvili. Clients tell the company’s qualified personnel which property they are interested in and an active investigation is begun into the background of the building, its safety architecturally and its legal status. Alerting clients to any risks, and giving out recommendations and advice, is what HOUSER is there for. Women in Wine Expo (WIWE) works to unite winemaking women worldwide, aiming to break through the gender stereotypes in the industry. Women from different continents will meet at Lopota Lake in May to help create a future in which gender difference won’t play a role in the winemaking industry. Many more will join via the web. In Georgia, the biggest speaker will be Karen MacNeil, author of the book “The Wine Bible.” WIWE is the first initiative of its kind in Europe, with participants from the USA, Canada, the UK, France, Spain, Italy, Hungary, Greece, Turkey, Armenia, Lebanon, South Africa, Nigeria, and Georgia. 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


eorgia’s cherished film director and Rustaveli Prize Laureate Giorgi Shengelaia has passed away at the age of 82. Born on May 11, 1937, Shengelaia graduated from the Directing Faculty of the Union

Cinematography Institute. From 1962 he worked at the Georgian Film Studio. Shengelaia comes from a family of filmmakers. His older brother Eldar Shengelaia directed some of the best classics of Georgian comedy; their father, Nikoloz Shengelaia, was the father of Georgian silent film; their mother, Nato Vachnadze, performed leading roles in many of Nikoloz’s films. Shengelaia’s film ‘The Journey of A

Young Composer’ took part in the 36th Berlin International Film Festival, winning the Silver Bear for Best Director. Shengelaia has left us with some very distinctive works- His first film ‘Alaverdoba’ (1963) is an art drama that takes as its subject matter the novel of the same name by Guram Rcheulishvili; Shengelaia’s ‘Pirosmani’ (1969) is a biographical art-drama film about cherished Georgian primitivist painter Niko Pirosmani.

Former Georgian President Returns to Active Politics BY ANA DUMBADZE


ormer Georgian President Giorgi Margvelashvili has decided to return to active politics. "By choosing authoritarianism, Georgian Dream crossed red lines. No democracy, no national unity, no western path,” he wrote on Twitter, adding that he “will serve the mission of Georgia’s western choice with his friends and the Georgian people.” As he has claimed recently, he "had no moral right to watch the recent developments remotely anymore, as his former team members, the ruling party Georgian Dream representatives, created an unprecedented danger for the country."

The former president explained that "Georgia is currently under threat of losing the support of Western partners and being governed by Russian authorities." Margvelashvili, who became President of Georgia with the support of GD, also added that he is not interested in the reactions of his former team members regarding his return to active politics, as "it does not matter what moves they make, they can't stop me." Georgian academic and politician Giorgi Margvelashvili was the fourth President of Georgia, in office from 17 November 2013 to 16 December 2018. In October 2012, he became a member of the newly formed cabinet of Bidzina Ivanishvili, the leader of the Georgian Dream party. Margvelashvili was named by the GD coalition as its presidential

candidate in May 2013 and he won the October 2013 presidential election with 62% of votes. With Margvelashvili's election, a new constitution came into effect, significantly curtailing the president's powers in favor of the Prime Minister and the Parliament. Shortly thereafter, Margvelashvili's relations with Ivanishvili and the ruling Georgian Dream party leadership significantly spoiled. During his tenure, Margvelashvili was critical of the Georgian Dream's consolidation of power. He was the first president in Georgia's history not to seek reelection for a second term. As Bidzina Ivanishvili claimed, the former president "showed different characteristics and attitudes," which allegedly laid the foundation for the confrontation and disagreement between them.




Mike Pompeo: Russia Has Seized Crimea, Parts of Eastern Ukraine, Georgia BY ANA DUMBADZE


uring his speech at the Munich Security Conference, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo spotlighted the Russian occupation of Georgia along with other important issues. "More than 30 years since the fall of the wall, countries that don’t respect sovereignty still threaten us. Some nations still desire empire. Let’s talk about territorial integrity, or rather, those nations that have contempt for it. Russia has seized Crimea and parts of Eastern Ukraine and Georgia," he stated. Georgian Foreign Minister David Zalkaliani, who participated in the Conference along with Prime Minister Giorgi Gakharia, Vice Prime Minister Tea Tsulukiani and Defense Minister Irakli Garibashvili, thanked Pompeo for his support on Twitter. "I value the US contribution to security in the region and to strong relations with

Economy Minister on Georgia Being ITB Berlin Host Country BY ANA DUMBADZE

G its allies like Georgia. Grateful for having Mike Pompeo standing by Georgia to stop Russia’s occupation and disinformation campaign aimed at undermining Georgia's pro-Western integration processes," Zalkaliani tweeted. The Georgian delegation, led by Prime

Verbal Confrontation in Georgian Parliament



pposition lawmakers Elene Khoshtaria and Tina Bokuchava arrived at the session of the Legal Affairs Committee in Georgian Parliament with the masks of ruling party Georgian Dream leader Bidzina Ivanishvili on their faces while the candidate for the position of Prosecutor General, Irakli Shotadze, was delivering a speech. Opposition members called Shotadze “Ivanishvili’s slave.” They claimed that members of the Georgian Dream are Bidzina Ivanishvili's slaves and that is why they wore masks with his face printed on it. In addition, opposition representatives handed over posters of former Minister of Defense Irakli Okruashvili and leader of European Georgia party Gigi Ugulava to majority lawmakers to express their opinion that they are both political prisoners of the current regime. Earlier in the morning, clashes occurred

between protesters and police at the entrance to the Parliament building. Tensions rose at the rally organized by the 'Lelo for Georgia' political union and civil activists after the protesters tried to hang trainers on the iron fences. They explained that it was a form of protest against the fact that former Prosecutor General Shotadze was again nominated for the post by the Prosecutorial Council. Ex-Prosecutor General, lawyer Irakli Shotadze, resigned on May 31, 2018, amid protests over the high-profile “Khorava Street” murder case involving teenagers. Recently, he was again nominated for the vacant position of Prosecutor General of Georgia by the LEPL Georgian Technical University. The Prosecutorial Council selected his candidacy for the position of the Prosecutor General with 11 out of a total 12 votes and submitted the candidate to the Parliament for approval. In order to be elected as a Prosecutor General, 76 MPs of a total of 150 should vote for him. Parliament elects Prosecutor Generals for a six-year term.

Minister Giorgi Gakharia, held high-level meetings within the framework of the Munich Security Conference 2020, which was held on February 14-16. More on the Munich Security Conference on page 14

eorgia has been named the host country of the ITB Berlin exhibition-fair 2022, which is a great event for both our tourism industry and for the entire country, - said Natia Turnava, Minister of Economy and Sustainable Development, at a presentation held by the National Tourism Administration. "Obtaining the status of a host of ITB Berlin is first and foremost a recognition that Georgia is one of the safest, fastestgrowing, exciting, attractive, modern

and at the same time very old-fashioned tourist markets, where we have reached and exceeded 9,300,000 visitors in last few years, which is three times more than the population of the country. "Of course, it is also a recognition of your efforts, as our tourism industry and private companies meet the highest international standards and most importantly, you are a great patriot of the country and open to all new ideas,” Turnava told attendees at the event. Georgia has received an official confirmation from the ITB Berlin, according to which in 2022, the country will be presented in Germany as the host of the largest exhibition-fair in the tourism industry.



Real Estate Market Oct-Dec 2019 Market Highlights


FEBRUARY 18 - 20, 2020


n comparison to Q3 2019, the Georgian real property market expanded by 4.7% in Q4 2019 (from 33,051 units sold in Q3 to 34,602 in Q4) while the annual increase was observed at 3.0% (YoY) compared to Q4 2018. Tbilisi dominated the real property market with a 40.7% share in total sales in Q4 2019. The Tbilisi market was followed by Adjara and Kakheti, with a respective 12.4% and 12.2% of GEO sales.


Graph #1. Quarterly Dynamic of Average Sale and Rent Prices for Residential Property in GEL and USD

In Q4 2019, the Sale Price Index (SPI) for residential properties experienced a decrease of 4.4% (QoQ), while the Rent Price Index (RPI) increased by 1.2% (QoQ). During this quarter, the Average Sale Price (ASP) varied between 861 USD and 989 USD per m2 (monthly average), and the Average Rent Price (ARP) was between 7.2 USD and 7.5 USD per m2 (monthly average). The quarterly average is 934 USD for ASP and 7.3 USD for ARP. For Q4 2019, the ASP in USD increased (YoY) in all districts of Tbilisi, excluding Isani (-0.9%). The greatest increases are observable in Nadzaladevi (+26.7%), followed by Samgori (+12.2%), and Krtsanisi (+11.4%). The ARP in USD decreased (YoY) in Vake (-5.1%), Mtatsminda (-3.2%), and Saburtalo (-2.6%), and increased in the remaining districts, with the highest increase found in Nadzaladevi (16.7%). In Q4 2019, comparatively the most and least expensive districts by ASP were: Mtatsminda (1,170 USD) and Gldani (579 USD); and by ARP: Mtatsminda (8.4 USD) and Gldani (4.5 USD). For Q4 2019, the TOP 3 regions by unit sales were:

Graph #2. Average Sale and Rent Prices by District in USD

Tbilisi (14,084 units, 40.7%) Adjara (4,288 units, 12.4%) Kakheti (4,238 units, 12.2%) For Q4 2019, the TOP 3 Tbilisi districts by unit sales were: Saburtalo (3,591 units, 25.5%) Vake (2,375 units, 16.9%) Gldani (1,609 units, 11.4%)


Graph #3. Quarterly Dynamic of Average Sale and Rent Prices for Commercial Property in GEL and USD

The SPI for commercial properties increased by 12.8% (QoQ) in Q4 2019, reaching 0.95 index points (index equals 1 in base period, Q3 2015). The RPI increased by 12.6% (QoQ) and settled at 1.04 index points. Throughout Q4 2019, the ASP varied between 1,135 and 1,437 USD per m2, and the ARP between 8.66 and 9.96 USD per m2. In Q4, the ASP for commercial properties increased by 16.0% (YoY) and reached 1,248 USD per m2. While the ARP decreased by 6.1% (YoY), and reached 9.14 USD per m2.


Graph #4. Quarterly Dynamic of Average Sales Price for Residential Property in Batumi and Kutaisi, GEL and USD

In Batumi, the SPI for residential property in Q4 2019 decreased by 4.5% (QoQ), dropping to 1.12 index points. Whereas, the SPI for residential property in Kutaisi grew significantly, by 29.6% (QoQ), and reached its highest in three years at 1.39 index points. The ASP of residential property in Batumi decreased by 1.8%, although it increased in Kutaisi by 7.7% (QoQ), and amounted to 768 and 509 USD per m2, respectively.




Re|Bank – New Retail Banking Service in Georgia aimed at Maximum Customer Comfort


he Re|Bank, an innovative service aimed at simplifying banking services in the retail sector, was introduced in Georgia in 2019. Since then, it has significantly contributed to increasing customer satisfaction in terms of using banking services throughout the country. Re|Bank represents a sub-brand of PASHA Bank, a Baku-based financial institution operating in Azerbaijan, Georgia and Turkey, providing corporate and investment banking services to large, medium and small enterprises, aimed at gifting users totally new and convenient retail banking experience. The main idea of launching the Re|Bank service in Georgia was to provide maximum comfort and fast service to customers, and it is working well. The main benefit users get from it is that Re|Bank gives them the chance to save time and energy, which is especially important given the fast pace of our lives nowadays. The representatives of Re|Bank note that through this service, they strive to offer people mutually beneficial financial solutions without any hidden charges, improving their banking habits and making their everyday lives easier. Currently, Re|Bank offers three main products: Top|Card, Maxi|Deposit and Blitz|Loan.

TOP|CARD Top|Card is a 0% installment card (effective rate from 0%). With Top|Card, shopping fun is guaranteed! It helps customers reduce and manage their monthly expenses in a better way: by using 0% installment payments for everyday purchases, they will have money let for other needs. Top|Card gives users an opportunity to enjoy shopping for the up to 12 month installment period at partner companies and pay only the price of the purchased item. In addition, new owners of the card can benefit from a welcome bonus: six months’ interest-free first installment at any of Re|Bank merchants. The above applies to the partner merchants where installment duration is up to six months. Top|Card users don’t pay any additional cost for

deposit is 10 units of the selected deposit currency. Accumulative Maxi|Deposit: Accumulative Deposits are the best way for you to collect money for any purpose. You can open an accumulative deposit for a certain term and are free to add funds to it at any time. Opening an accumulative deposit is free. You will accrue interest on your deposit whether or not you periodically add funds. The minimum amount needed to open an accumulative deposit is 10 units in the selected deposit currency.


items or services purchased though installments. In the case of shopping within partner companies of Re|Bank, the commission fee will be covered by the respective partner. Your Top|Card will have a pre-approved installment limit for an amount of 250 – 5000 GEL, which you can utilize multiple times while paying at your desired companies. Top|Card users are allowed to add their own funds and, while shopping at non-partner companies, they can choose to pay from their own funds or pay from an installment limit. Those interested can order a card online at rebank. ge, can call the contact center: (+995 32) 222 25 25 | * 2525, or can head to any Re|Bank branch or pop up desk in shopping malls. Additional information about Top|Card partner organizations and hot offers is also available on the website rebank.ge. Other products offered by Re|Bank: Maxi|Deposit and Blitz|Loan, also boast competitive rates and simple application procedures. Maxi|Deposit is a rare opportunity to select your

desired account type and start saving money for a better future. By using this service, you get unlimited access to funds according to your needs.

MAXI|DEPOSITS Term Maxi|Deposit: Term deposits have the highest interest rates, as the initial deposit funds are locked for a fixed period. You can receive the interest rates on opening day, every month, or at the end of the term. Opening a term deposit is free. The deposit amount and term must be defined in advance and are not eligible to be changed. The minimum amount needed to open a term deposit is 100 units in the selected deposit currency. Demand Maxi|Deposit: Demand deposits allow you unlimited access to your funds according to your needs. Amounts can be deposited, withdrawn, or transferred between your accounts any time you like. Opening a demand deposit is free. You can open a demand deposit in GEL, USD, or EUR. The minimum amount needed to open a demand

Blitz|Loan is yet another fast and comfortable service of Re|Bank. By taking out a Blitz|Loan, you can fulfil any desire easily and quickly. It is even possible order a loan directly through the Re|Bank website, without visiting a branch, with 0% distribution fee. The procedure is quite simple: you can ask the loan by entering a phone number, or pushing the “get loan” button on the website. In addition, you can apply for a Blitz|Loan by calling the contact center. The credit limit is min. 250 GEL and max. 50,000 GEL. Interest Rate - from 6% - effective from 16%. The loan period is 3-48 months. The Refinancing Loan offered by Re|Bank gives its customers an opportunity to unite loans. The credit limit is min. 2,000 GEL and max. 50,000 GEL. Interest rate - effective from 16%. The loan period is 3-48 months. The procedures for applying for the Refinancing Loan are the same as when taking a Blitz|Loan. Re|Bank, with the aim to provide more customers with innovative, fast and comfortable service, is expanding its network. The first branch of the Bank opened its doors to customers in Tbilisi in 2019. Currently, it is represented in Georgia with three branches in Tbilisi: at 15 Omar Khizanishvili St., 75 Javakheti St., and 19 Pekini Ave.; in Batumi, at 53 Ilia Chavchavadze St.; in Kutaisi at 5 Akaki Tsereteli St.; in Gori at 3 Stalin Avenue; and in Zugdidi, at 54 Merab Kostava Street. In addition, a new branch will soon open in Telavi. You can also find desks at almost all big shopping centers in Tbilisi: East Point, Tbilisi Mall, Galleria.

Georgia Ranks 18th among Best European Countries for Business 2020 Continued from page 1 An economy’s score in the report is reflected on a scale of 0 to 100, where 0 represents the lowest performance and 100 represents the best. The EuCham score also measures the overall business context constituted by corporate environment, legislation, government policies, social climate, and conditions which enable or prevent private sector activities from starting, operating and expanding, both in the short and long term. The score used for the ranking is the average of the EoDB and the CPI scores (50% weight each). A high score indicates the country is favorable to do business in, while low scores refer to the least favorable countries for business. The EoDB score by the World Bank measures the gap between the country’s own economic policies and regulations, and the best practice on each indicator across all economies. The difference is shown on a scale from 0, representing the lowest possible performance, to 100, the highest currently attainable result according to the standards set out in the 2015 edition of the Doing Business report. The CPI from Transparency International is used to determine how corrupt each country’s public sector is perceived to be, on a scale from 0 (highly corrupt) to 100 (very clean). A low score can be an indication of widespread bribery, lack of punishment for corruption, or a government not responding to social needs. Denmark tops the 2020 ranking with a score of 86, followed by Sweden, Norway, Finland, and Switzerland, while Moldova, Russia, Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Ukraine showed the worst results. EuCham says that, like in previous years, the

Nordic countries are still dominant at the top of the Best European Countries for Business 2020. It noted that this year Armenia stands out with its whopping 6 positions up, and with Spain, Montenegro, and Azerbaijan, it moved the most, while North Macedonia slipped down the most, by 5 positions. “Regarding the score, the highest level of improvement is shown by Armenia and Kazakhstan. France, North Macedonia, and Albania have the most significant negative variation,” the report reads. The European Chamber is an independent, nongovernmental, privately-organized institution representing the interests of national and international companies doing business in Europe, improving the business environment they are active in. To note, the Corruption Perception Index score of Transparency International 2019 reads that Georgia received a score of 56 and shares 44th place with Costa Rica, the Czech Republic, and Latvia. Last year, Georgia had two points more in the rating, where 100 points indicate the lowest level of perceived corruption while 0 – its highest level. The index states that a two-point change is considered statistically insignificant and that Georgia still ranks top in the Eastern Europe and Central Asia region. As for the WB rating, in the Doing Business (DB) 2020 report, Georgia took 7th place out of 190 countries, raking among the world’s top countries. Although, compared to the same report of last year, its score has worsened by one position, the overall score has improved. In the WB report, Georgia has 83.7 points while in the 2019 report it had 83.28. In the ranking, Georgia is ahead of such countries as Great Britain, Norway, Sweden, Germany, and Lithuania.

Located in one of the oldest and most picturesque districts of Tbilisi, Mtatsminda and distinguished for its fairytale architecture, restaurant Funicular opened its doors to guests for the first time eight decades ago in 1938 and since then has hosted several honorable guests, from Margaret Thatcher to Indira Gandhi and Fidel Castro. If you are looking for authentic experience of Tbilisi, served with mouth-watering gourmet food and a memorable evening in an atmosphere that lets you travel back in time and experience best of what the city could offer, then Restaurant Funicular is a definite must visit place during your visit to Georgia. +995 032 2 98 00 00 +995 577 74 44 00 info@funicular.ge




FEBRUARY 18 - 20, 2020

Ambiente 2020: Bringing the Consumer Goods Industry to a New Level

Photo: Messe Frankfurt Exhibition GmbH / Pietro Sutera



he world’s largest consumer goods trade fair took place from 7 to 11 February 2020 in Frankfurt. Ambiente, a place where the future becomes the present, with a focus on international business and trends, covered 310,240 sq.m. and has grown to 4,635 exhibitors from 93 countries. Buyers from approximately 160 countries, in total 108,000 visitors, most of whom came from countries outside Germany, had plenty of things to see, people to meet and inspiration to get. The exceptionally ordered environment conditioned mutually beneficial deals. Despite the huge challenges that Ambiente faced this year due to Storm Ciara

hotel, restaurant and catering industry. The 2020 HORECA hall 6.0 was a unique place for national and international decision-makers in the hospitality industry. Exhibitors presented their latest collections and innovative services. Also, top international speakers delivered speeches and shared their experience in the industry at the Horeca Academy, where attendees had the opportunity to listen to product presentations, interact, and learn more about the future opportunities and trends in the hospitality segment. The top speakers at the Horeca Academy included a mix of celebrities, from hospitality designers to chefs and restaurateurs, among whom Jozef Youssef’s masterclass about multisensory gastronomy was one of the most impressive and informative. Youssef is a top chef and TED Talks speaker, who founded “Kitchen Theory” in 2010, a

Photo: Messe Frankfurt Exhibition GmbH / Pietro Sutera

in the region and the fear of travelling because of the coronavirus, in all, a large number of orders were placed and even the visitor number growth was evident from such countries as Japan, Estonia, Turkey, Romania, Jordan and Colombia. The top ten visiting nations were Germany, Italy, France, the Netherlands, Spain, UK, Turkey, US, Russia, Japan and China. Ambiente traditionally covers three areas: Dining, Living and Giving. From this year onwards, the dining area has been expanded to include its HORECA hall, adding a separate platform for the

design studio and multi-award-winning “Chef’s Table” in London. He uses his findings, about how people’s five senses change their feedback with dishes, how their senses detect light, color, scents and a wide variety of consistencies, for his scientific research. More than 400 companies presented their products and services in Horeca Hall and each of them were talking how the fair exceeded their expectations. They were all happy with the quality of visitors and a large number of relevant customers from around the globe. “Measuring the success of this trade

Photo: Messe Frankfurt Exhibition GmbH / Pietro Sutera

fair, we can clearly give it 10 out of 10,” said Mayda Pérez, Executive Vice President of ‘Front of the House’. “We’re a new exhibitor, a US company founded in 2002 with a clear focus on HoReCa channels of distribution, and we produce and design all our products ourselves. Ambiente’s clear focus on front-of-house business has greatly helped us to have a successful trade fair, so that we can grow both smartly and sustainably. Our expectations of the new HoReCa hall were more than exceeded. It really was a magnificent show for us”. The Ambiente team always takes really good and creative care of the companies celebrating their anniversaries at the fair, and this year was no exception, making a surprise visit at their stands and handing them a special anniversary cake with their company theme. Eight exhibitors celebrated their corporate anniversaries with the Ambiente team this year, including Royal Crown Derby - 270 years, Spode Portmeirion - 250 years, and others. “Sometimes it’s good to take time and look back in pride at the things you’ve achieved. So we’re very pleased that several of our exhibitors with anniversaries are celebrating at Ambiente this year. It’s an opportunity for us to say thank you,” says Nicolette Naumann, Vice President of Ambiente. Ambiente also provided a new special presentation Focus on Design Brazil. A panel discussion with Mark Kwami was very interesting in terms of Brazil’s new trends, and experiences were shared by the young designers. During the panel they spoke about the latest tendencies and the challenges in the modern world. Brazilian furniture designer Rodrigo Almeida spoke about the trendy functional objects they design, which need to have something to communicate. “When you design on paper, it gives the object a soul; when you do a design on computer, yes it is beautiful, amazing but still it misses something,” Kwami said. Speakers also spoke about the challenges they face related to the growth of online market. “People don’t want to go out anymore and prefer to buy everything online, so we need to be adapted to the digital world”. The positive side of the field in Brazil, according to the designers, is that manufacturers are no longer scared of designers and they have started understanding that the partnership is very important between them, otherwise there will be no innovation. They also mentioned that design education is becoming more and more popular among the new generation. Ambiente invites journalists and bloggers from around the world annually and the dedicated tours make for a great experience for both parties – journalists and exhibitors and so are worth mentioning separately. Prof. Mark Braun’s design tour was focused on the topic “what’s behind the curtain when relevance meets beauty”. During the guided tour, journalists had the chance to meet German young entrepreneurs, graduates, who are very much supported by the Messe. Sophie Stanitzek was one of them, who created a new biodegradable material that gives nutrition to the earth. Jonna Breitenhuber’s major topic in her work is reducing plastic and she presented packaging that can be used as soap after use as a container. Anna Badur, a gradute from Berlin working with ceramics, is driven by natural movement. The ornaments on her works are not specially painted but are colored during the process, therefore the resulting patterns are fully open to interpretation. Be they like the sea, wind or mountains. Another guided designers’ tour by Ineke Hans into the dining area included several topics, such as: “Bigger brands and the new highstreet”. Streetfood and eating on the move was not so much of an issue 20 years ago. Cities change, shops are found online and physical shops turn

Photo: Messe Frankfurt Exhibition GmbH / Pietro Sutera

into coffee bars, barber shops, nail studios and other places that sell what you simply cannot buy online. Another topic introduced by the guide was a combination of truly new and a true tradition, for example, Melitta, a brand making coffee filters and machines; Bornn enamelware from Turkey; Heim&Sohne spoons of all shapes and color made of acrylics, for products that you cannot touch with metal, such as caviar.

says the managing partner of Gone Rural, Swaziland, member of WFTO. During the panel on sustainability with MADE51/UNHCR, Kara Hook from social enterprise “women craft” answered the question ‘Why do they do it?’ with the woman refugee’s face on the presentation monitor holding her work in her hands and smiling – “Look at that lady’s face, that’s why!” she said.

Photo: Messe Frankfurt Exhibition GmbH / Jean-Luc Valentin

During the fair, one of the most interesting events and presentations was held by the Ambiente’s long-standing co-operative ventures with the World Fair Trade Organization (WFTO) and MADE51, a project of the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR). This development was also reflected in the Ethical Style Guide, a curated directory that lists environmentally and socially responsible manufacturers exhibiting at Ambiente. WFTO and MADE51 are the major organizations working on social mission, establishing women’s role and engaging refugees in a working process and active life. “All the products that women design have personal stories,”

The next Ambiente will take place from 19 to 23 February 2021.

For further information please contact: Zaira Soloeva, Senior Project Manager, Official Representative of Messe Frankfurt Exhibition GmbH in Georgia and Armenia, Deutsche Wirtschaftsvereinigung (DWV). Zaira.soloeva@dwv.ge Or visit the following website: www.dwv.ge

Photo: Messe Frankfurt Exhibition GmbH / Jean-Luc Valentin




The Wedding Stars Awards- The Most Professional Wedding Award Ceremony Arina Krasnikova; Best Wedding Video to Gio Jobava ("Wedding Guy"); the Best Videographer to Alexey Chizhkov; and the Best Wedding project to the project by ‘Mandarini Wedding.’ Awards were likewise granted to the following contestants: Restaurant ‘Funicular’, ‘Chateau Mukhrani’, Salon of Wedding Dresses ‘Marigold’, Hotel ‘The



n February 6, Tbilisi’s Hotel Biltmore hosted the Wedding Stars Awards ceremony designed for rewarding professionals for their outstanding contributions to the wedding industry. A diverse community of professionals came together under one roof and awards were granted in 17 nominations. Wedding Stars Awards is the first professional award for companies and pro-

Biltmore Tbilisi’, Resort Hotel ‘Kvareli Eden’, Alexandra Belaya and Sergo Safarian. It is important that the nominees support the award initiative in Georgia, getting the country ready for market development and healthy competition in the industry. The event was supported by loyal part-

ners and sponsors: General Sponsor: Wedding Agency ‘Ori Wedding’, Official Sponsor: Wedding Portal ‘Wedder.ge’, Technical Sponsor: ‘Geo Voice’, Sponsor: ‘Mandarini Wedding’. Media partners were OK! Georgia, Georgia Today and Radio NRJ’; nonmedia partners were ‘The Biltmore Tbilisi Hotel’ and ‘Badagoni Company.’

fessionals working in the field of wedding services throughout Georgia. The goal of the organizers is to create new quality standards on the local wedding market, to showcase the best achievements of the wedding industry and to create a professional wedding community. The jury team was composed of specialists in different fields, including Natela Potskhveria, Irma Sharikadze, Natalie Barnabishvili, Enzo Neri, and others. Six contestants won the competition. ‘Rosenbloom Tbilisi’ was awarded the title Best Wedding Florist; Best Wedding Report Photographer went to Achi Korgalidze; Best Wedding Photographer to

Certain Significant Imperatives OP-ED BY NUGZAR B. RUHADZE


ow that we know the difference between econ o m i c g row t h a n d degrowth, bestowing indisputable preference to growth as such in Georgia, we should never forget that growth depends on various economic forces, especially the population, capital and ideas; all those variables working in concert to promote general productivity: growth of population supplies the economy with a workforce, ideas unite labor with capital to create new products, and capital investment raises productivity, giving impetus to further economic accomplishments. The world knows a new powerful class of investors and pace-setting modernizers to invigorate our economy, certainly at some risk, with their financial and intellectual resources, if we need and want to receive this kind of help. There is readiness in the world to move around and introduce those resources wherever there is demand for them. The only thing we need to do is to look around with wide-open eyes and search for capital and knowhow assistance. The governments that operate with integrity, wisdom and responsibility, and the reliable laws that function effectively in the country, will encourage the successful implementation of this international human potential to the benefit of their citizenry. The most valuable investment of capital in Georgia might very well be investment in education, which makes it possible to first produce new ideas and then employ them in our slowly but still developing economy, thus creating an opportunity for the birth of not only new products but whole new industries, attracting both money and labor force, and gradually refusing to maintain the ones that have turned into no-win

white elephants. As a matter of fact, progress might be impossible without an undelayed revitalizing and energizing of our economy with refreshing new ideas, pregnant with novel projects and innovative ventures,

including joint ones with our partner nations. There are many entrepreneurs in Georgia who have adopted the western ways of doing business and introduced their experience into our local business processes. One of the best

examples of this is grafting in the Georgian megapolis the purely American sales culture of big malls, with their huge multifunctional premises, garages, eateries, staff-training style, and routine trade operations. This is all perfect, but

it is also time for us to enrich ourselves, and the world too, with our own new economic ideas, which is impossible without the relevant education and experience thereof. The business process is a complicated, sensitive and live course of commercial action and it cannot thrive based only on borrowed ideas and practices. New ideas usually beget new products and the new products are the movers of economy. This said, the promoters of Georgia’s economic progress should always keep in mind that we have to put into internal and international markets some new products, the more the better, if we want to make a difference, and do this to our greatest benefit. There is one more thing that is crucial to productivity: human capital in the form of education and training. We can bring in the most modern hi-tech equipment, let’s say on borrowed money, but even the state-of-the-art tools are of no use if the valuable gear finds itself in the hands of workers, engineers and technologists who don’t understand the new equipment. Here, the only solution is to enhance old skills and acquire new ones via teaching and guidance, based on a new instructive endeavor called lifelong learning. Next is rule of law. No investor will lift a finger if there is no guarantee that the money spent today will yield bigger capital tomorrow, guaranteed only if the country entertains unbiased and independent courts, a law system that is crystal-clear, and of course the right and protection to private property. And democracy? Yes, democracy might help but it is not the only thing we need to operate with to achieve economic progress. Democracy, plus umpteen various other ingredients! We have to let the market work in a free and logical fashion, and the market will productively work in Georgia only if all the abovementioned imperatives are observed and faithfully maintained.




FEBRUARY 18 - 20, 2020

Fourth NEW YORKER Store Opens in Tbilisi



n February 15, 2020, the international young fashion company NEW YORKER celebrated a grand opening party in the SC Saburtalo City Mall at 1 Kavtaradze Street. The new store in Saburtalo District will operate every day, from Monday through Sunday, from 10:00 to 22:00. It’s the fourth NEW YORKER store in Georgia’s capital. Currently, the world-

wide popular brand is represented in Georgia with five stores: four in Tbilisi and one in the seaside city of Batumi. After the grand opening party on Saturday, the new NEW YORKER will offer its customers exclusive quality and affordable clothes and accessories spread over 950 m² of sales space.The new store differs from other branches in that its interior is arranged in a loft style. NEW YORKER offers a wide range of the latest trends and fashion highlights for women, men and teenagers. The products showcased in the store can freely meet and satisfy the needs of peo-

ple of any age and taste. The fact that there is a high level of interest and demand for the brand’s products was confirmed by the number of customers who gathered in front of the Saburtalo City Mall early morning before the opening, all impatiently waiting for the doors to open, especially so as the brand had announced surprises and gifts for its first customers. And they did get a truly wonderful presents! After the ribbon cutting, the customers entered the new store and started shopping, the first 150 customers got special gifts, 50 NEW YORKER gift cards and 100 NEW YORKER bags (1st customer – Gift Card of 250 GEL, 2nd customer – Gift Card of 200 GEL, 3rd customer – Gift Card of 150GEL, the next 20 customers– Gift Cards of 50 GEL, the next 30 customers– Gift Cards of 30 GEL and the next 100 customers– a NEW YORKER bag). The first visitors to the new branch were very pleased with their special presents, and all claimed unanimously, they will be back tothe store in Saburtalo City Mall to buymoreexclusive quality and trendy clothes and accessories. GEORGIA TODAYsingled out some of those happy customers, standing with gifts and purchases in hand and smiles on their faces, to find out their impressions of the opening event. “I came here quite early this morning, as I wanted to be the first customer into the new branch of NEW YORKER. It was not possible due to number of people gathered here, however, I still got a Gift Card of 50 GEL, which was quite exciting for me. I am very glad and thankful and, of course, I will visit this store often in the future, as the clothes and accessories here totally suit my taste,” said one. “It was a fun and exciting day. I came here with my family early morning and we received wonderful gifts from NEW YORKER- I got a 30 GEL Gift Card and a NEW YORKER Bag. We used to visit their store in Tbilisi City Mall, which is far from where we live. We’re glad that a new store has opened in Saburtalo, which is a more convenient location, and we will be regular visitors in the future. Everything is very affordable here, which is very important for customers like me. And the quality is excellent,” said another happy customer. The latest collection of clothes by NEW YORKER was also showcased at the store's opening ceremony. Models presented the latest trends offered by the brand directly in the store, while DJ Anna

Suerocked the audience with energetic music. During the event, GT also spoke to some of the NEW YORKER employees. “NEW YORKER has been operating in the Georgian market for eight years. During this time, the German brand with distinguished quality became quite popular among Georgian customers,” said Diana Sukiasova, Manager at East Point. “The concept of the new store we opened today is innovative. It offers a distinctive and modern design and affordable high quality products, all in one space. All details here are arranged to provide maximum comfort for customers. People of any taste, from the age of 12, can find clothes and accessories tailored to their needs here. Today, we gifted our first visitors memorable presents. We are going to continue this trend in the future and make them happy with various offers. The demand for NEW YORKER products is high and they were waiting for this opening in Tbilisi impatiently. We will do our best to fully meet their expectations.” “We had a great start today, our customers were very satisfied,” said Mariam Tsiklauri, consultant at NEW YORKER. “We saw a huge number of people waiting for the opening ceremony from

morning, which means that there is a high demand for our products and we are very pleased to see it. I would like to thank our visitors for being with us today. The surprises they received during the opening ceremony was just the beginning. We promised them many offers and sales in the future. At NEW YORKER, high quality service, a wide range of clothes and accessories and a friendly atmosphere always awaits them. Our staff is always ready to meet them with smiling faces and warm hearts. Of course, a friendly and warm attitude towards customers is especially important. We look forward to welcoming them to our new store.” Since 2012, the German brand NEW YORKER, with stores operating in 40 countries worldwide, has been represented in Georgia by the Company ISOLA-G. "Currently, NEW YORKER’s stores operate in Tbilisi Mall, Galleria Tbilisi, East Point, and in Metro Mall in Batumi. I would like to thank the loyal customers for their choice and trust. We constantly strive to offer them a wide selection of clothes and accessories and a high standard of European service,"David Mchedlidze, CEO of ISOLA-G, told GEORGIA TODAY.




CENN Launches Green Scholarship for Young Climate Activists


n Georgia, CENN, a non-governmental organization working to protect the environment, has been implementing various activities to motivate and inspire society, especially youth, to think and do more to maintain natural resources and promote sustainable development. Most importantly, the organization rightfully appreciates the contribution of those who care about nature. In this regard, from 2020, CENN will be awarding young climate activists with green scholarships, which will further encourage them to continue to advocate more actively in their communities and change the environment for the better. The future leaders in terms of environment protection will be awarded with scholarships in four categories, with one winner in each nomination. The green scholarship for 2020 will be awarded in the following nominations: 1) CENN Green Scholarship for Contribution to Sustainable Waste Management, Circular Economics, and Consumer Behavior Change; 2) CENN Green Scholarship for Contribution to Sustainable Forest Management, Promoting Ecotourism and Biodiversity Protection; 3) CENN Green Scholarship for Contribution to Climate Change Awareness and Reducing Environmental Impact at the Local Level; 4) CENN Green Scholarship for Contribution to High Social Responsibility in Green Entrepreneurship and / or Business.

In order to receive the CENN green scholarship, a candidate must nominate himself / herself through an application form, in which they must describe their contribution to protecting the environment, implemented activities in this regard and explain how the award will help them in achieving future plans. The age of the participants is limited to 10-26. Their activities in terms of environment protection should have been implemented during 2017-2019. 2019 was an important year, with more young people thinking about the importance of the environment around the world. For years, CENN has been one of the leading organizations in terms of youth environmental engagement. For more than 10 years, its Green Camps have enabled more than 1,500 young people across Georgia to learn more about environmental and sustainable development, meet interesting people and return to their communities with innovative ideas. Since 2015, CENN has run nominations for the Niko Ketskhoveli Prize for School Environmental Competition, which has united 350 eco-clubs across Georgia around sustainable development goals. “Starting from 2020, CENN is pleased to launch a green scholarship for young climate activists that will motivate future leaders to continue to fight for environment protection more actively and to change the current conditions for the better,� noted CENN representatives. The total amount of a scholarship per nomination is GEL 1,000, which will be distributed over 5 months.

The application deadline is March 1, 2020. After revealing the finalists in each nomination, in March 2020, the winners will be announced at the CENN Green Scholarship Award Ceremony. The award itself will have a positive impact on their motivation in general. Winning a green scholarship not only

allows young activists to implement their projects and ideas, but also encourages them to continue their activities in the field of environment protection. CENN continues to create new possibilities for future leaders and, at the same time, expressing gratitude for their work - it is quite likely that the green

scholarships will become a tradition which will contribute to increasing the involvement of Georgian youth in the global fight against environmental issues. CENN is open to partnership with interested NGOs, businesses and development donors, within the Green Scholarship program.




FEBRUARY 18 - 20, 2020

With USAID Support, Georgian Agriculture is Going Nuts ment bodies to effectively combat the brown marmorated stink bug, a pest that has caused approximately $200 million in damage to the hazelnut sector since 2015. This assistance has helped the Government of Georgia and local farmers to mitigate the damage posed by pests in the future, putting the hazelnut sector on stronger footing. Over the next five years, USAID will support the hazelnut sector to become self-sustaining, and no longer require foreign assistance. To reach this goal, USAID will: assist the two hazelnut industry associations -- GHGA and HEPA

-- to become financially independent and effectively serve the needs of their members; catalyze investments in hazelnut processing infrastructure and related technical expertise; establish a hazelnut traceability system; and pilot a warehouse receipts system that will expand smallholders’ access to finance. With this support, Georgia’s hazelnut sector will deliver high-quality products to the world market, generate higher incomes for Georgia’s smallholders and microenterprises, drive economic growth and rural development, and serve as a model for other high-potential agricultural sectors in Georgia.

Supporting local farmers to protect their crops from pests


hen USAID first started supporting hazelnut production in Georgia in 2011, the sector was known for disorganization and inefficiency. Despite Georgia being the world’s sixth-largest producer of in-shell hazelnuts, its farmers and processors lacked commercial viability. Most production came from small-scale farmers producing less than one ton of hazelnuts annually. Demand was unstable, with most of the product being sold to market speculators at low prices. Quality varied tremendously and uncertainty was the norm. As one farmer put it, “the only thing you can trust is the price.” Inadequate transportation and storage were significant barriers to the sector’s development. In many cases,

by the time the nuts reached processors, they had already been damaged and lost a lot of their value. Despite these problems, USAID recognized a sector with untapped potential: with greater efficiency and higher-quality yields, hazelnuts could drive economic growth and generate exports. Given that hazelnut production sustains more than 50,000 smallholders and microenterprises, most of whom are located near the Administrative Boundary Line with Abkhazia, developing the sector could also help build resilience in vulnerable communities. Since 2011, USAID has partnered with AgriGeorgia/Ferrero and the Government of Georgia to leverage more than $5 million in investment from the private sector and $2 million from the Govern-

ment of Georgia to build long-term capacity. USAID support has led to larger, higherquality harvests, a modern network of processing facilities, and a grading system that ensures that hazelnut prices reflect their quality. USAID has also helped build the capacity of the Georgian Hazelnut Growers Association (GHGA) and the Hazelnut Exporters and Processors Association (HEPA), two industry associations which play critical roles supporting the sector’s commercial sustainability. USAID support has also helped farmers build resilience against pests. Over the past three years, USAID has partnered with the Ministry of Environmental Protection and Agriculture, the National Food Agency, and local govern-

A USAID-supported hazelnut processing facility near the Administrative Boundary Line with Abkhazia

Georgian Cuisine Masterclass Held in Tallinn, Estonia the typical cuisine of five different regions of Georgia: Adjara, Racha, Guria, Samegrelo and Kakheti. What made the masterclass even more interesting to the Estonian journalists was that they could participate in the process of making the Georgian dishes, and, of course, as the event wrapped up, they all got to taste what they had cooked. Ambassador of Georgia to Estonia, Archil Karaulashvili, welcomed the guests, informing them about the tourism poten-



n event titled ‘Georgian Cuisine: Tradition and Innovation,’ was held in Tallinn on February 11, and, on the initiative of the Embassy of Georgia to Estonia, a masterclass in Georgian cuisine was organized for journalists working in the field of cuisine and tourism. The two main aims of the event were delivered successfully: the Georgian cuisine masterclass promoted the country’s cuisine as much as it raised awareness of Georgia’s gastronomic potential.

The masterclass was organized with the support of the Department of Tourism and Resorts of the Autonomous Republic of Adjara, as well as the legendary ‘Funicular’ restaurant in Tbilisi. The “masters” for the event were Nikoloz Borashvili, professional Chef at Restaurant Funicular, and Mamukel Gorelashvili, the Georgian Chef from ‘Georgian Tavern Tbilisi’ in Tallinn. It was Chef Borashvili who demonstrated how to prepare traditional Georgian dishes, adding interesting modern twists to his recipes. Meanwhile, Chef Gorelashvili taught the participants techniques of preparation of traditional Khachapuri from the Adjara region. Since the cuisine of Georgia is diverse, the event featured

tial of Georgia. More particularly, the participants had the opportunity to learn about the tourism potential of Adjara, as well as receive the information about the seasonal charter flights planned between Tallinn and Batumi in summer 2020. The Georgian delegation was also presented at the annual 29th international travel trade fair “TOUREST 2020” which took place in Tallinn from February 2 to 9. TOUREST is the oldest and largest international travel trade fair in the Bal-

Image source: The Embassy of Georgia to the Republic of Estonia, Facebook

tic region, organized by the Estonian Travel & Tourism Association. Up to 500 companies from 32 countries participated in the fair this year. The Ambassador of Georgia to Estonia attended the opening of the event, and the Department of Tourism and Resorts of the Georgian region of Adjara actively participated in the fair. Restaurant Funicular’s Chef Borashvili was also invited to TOUREST 2020, a few days later following up with the masterclass.




Registered Crime up 9.8% in Georgia BY TEA MARIAMIDZE


fficial statistics of the Ministry of Internal Affairs (MIA) of Georgia read that last year crime went up by 9.8%, however, the number of opened cases also increased compared to 2018. Non-governmental organization Institute for the Development of Freedom of Information (IDFI) released a report on crime statistics, saying that, according to statistics published on the website of the Ministry of Internal Affairs, in 2019, 64,123 crimes were registered, which is about 10% more than in 2018. “The number of crimes registered in 2019 is almost twice as high as in 2017, and the number of open cases is about 20% lower,” the NGO said. IDFI says that since 2018, the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Georgia has been proactively publishing crime statistics every month. Also, since 2018, the Ministry has clarified that the crime reporting system has improved significantly, which is one of the main reasons for the sharp increase in the number of registered crimes. The MIA statistics read that during 2019, compared to the previous year, traffic crimes decreased by 6.09% and crimes related to state officials by 1.55%, while crimes against health and public morality went down by 15.14%. The number of drug offenses increased by about 51% compared to the previous year, largely due to 1056 cases of repeated drug use. In addition, the number of cases of drug plant cultivation increased by 108% compared to the previous year, and by 24% in drug purchase, storage or sale. “The increase in the category of drug offenses to some extent can be linked to a tightening of drug policy,” IDFI said. In 2019, the number of crimes commit-

ted against life declined by 9.19% compared to the previous year. The number of premeditated murders decreased by 49% (37 cases less), but at the same time the number of premeditated murders in aggregated circumstances increased by 56% (14 cases more). Also, the rate of attempted murder increased by 31.7%. Moreover, in 2019, seven women died as a result of domestic violence and 4564 persons were charged with domestic violence and domestic crimes. The MIA statistics read that 10,266

restraining orders were issued to protect victims of domestic violence, which is 34% more than in 2018. The ministry says the order was violated by 376 individuals, which is a decrease compared to the previous year. Also, the number of people convicted for driving a family member to suicide has increased. The number of crimes against property increased by 2% (516 cases) in 2019, largely due to 358 cases of theft. However, there is a significant decrease, 19.8% (53 cases), in the number of burglaries.

In general, the largest share of registered crime comes to theft. Consequently, this type of crime has the biggest impact on the overall rate. According to statistics for 2019, the rate of monthly theft registered in January-July increased from 14% to 35% compared to the same month of the previous year. In August, it decreased slightly (-4.22%), and the trend of theft registered after September changed radically and decreased from 20% to 30% compared to the same month of the previous year.

Other crimes that saw an increase in 2019 were rape (+24%, +23 cases), carrying a cold weapon (+31.5% +119 cases), threatening (+23.12%, +413 cases) crimes against the enforcement of judicial acts (+55.39%, +534 cases), production of false documents (+25.2%, +449 cases), and computer crime (+42.43%, +538 cases). However, compared to 2018, last year the number of opened cases increased by 1%, which is a positive trend, according to IDFI.




FEBRUARY 18 - 20, 2020

GNTA Head: Tourism Revenues up by 20% in January 2020 BY ANA DUMBADZE


his year, we have a good tendency in the tourism industry, said Mariam Kvrivishvili, Head of the Georgian National Tourism Administration, when commenting on the tourist flows entering Georgia in the wake of the worldwide spread of a new coronavirus. “At this stage, we have a good tendency in the tourism industry. January 2020 began with impressive growth rates, equal to 19-20%. In addition, tourism revenue has increased by 20%. We have nothing alarming at this stage, on the contrary, as the numbers show, our country has already started this year very

successfully,” she elaborated. A record number of 633,201 international travelers visited Georgia in January 2020. The increase is +19.8% compared to the same period last year. Most international visits came from Azerbaijan (+34.9%), Armenia (+17.5%), Russia (+1.1%) and Turkey (+16.6%). Georgia’s tourism sector saw a significant visitor boost from the following countries: Israel +57.3%, Saudi Arabia +49.8%, Kazakhstan +44.8%, Kuwait +44.6%. Visits also increased from EU countries,among them Italy +133.1%, Poland +82.9%, France +46.8%, and Lietua +43.7%. The information was provided by the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Georgia to the National Tourism Administration of the Ministry of Economy and Sustainable Development.

Meet the Man behind the Tserti Store INTERVIEW BY NINI DAKHUNDARIDZE


serti is a store of fresh agriculture products and meat, recently opened in Tbilisi. GEORGIA TODAY sat down with the one of the two founding brothers, Bidzina Gonashvili, who talked to us about the company, its future plans, the problems in the industry, and much more.

TELL US ABOUT YOUR FIRST STEPS IN THIS INDUSTRY. This is my first experience of retailing. Because our family produces a lot of agriculture products, I decided to unite them in one place, called Tserti. Why Tserti? Tserti is a history which needs to be carried on. In old Georgian language, this word meant a specific place where consumers could buy agriculture products. All we did was modernize this concept.

HOW DID YOU GET THE FINANCES TO START UP THE BUSINESS? To start the business, we took out a bank loan. My brother and I have a business which also directly connects to agriculture, and the Bank of Georgia, which has been our partner for many years, financed our project.

HOW DO YOUR PRODUCTS DIFFER FROM OTHERS ON THE MARKET? Our production differs from others because we ourselves are farmers and are actively involved in the process of growing many of the products that we offer. This gives us an additional opportunity to further adapt to the demands of the market, and deliver the highest quality. We believe we can live up to the expectations of our consumers, who now, in the 21st century, are looking for healthy, high-quality products. The concept of Tserti is that when you enter our store, you will see what we are all about: everything is transparent and clients can see each step of the process of Tseri production.

WHERE IS YOUR FARM LOCATED? IS IT EQUIPPED WITH MODERN TECHNOLOGIES? Our farm is in Kiziki, Dedoplistkaro. I would say the model of our farm is a new statement in Georgian agriculture and it perfectly repeats the standards and approaches that are popular and approved in Europe and America.

THE DAIRY AND MEAT MARKET IS ESPECIALLY COMPETITIVE IN GEORGIA. WHAT CHALLENGES HAVE YOU EXPERIENCED? Although we realized the competitiveness of the market, I’ll honestly say that we were not afraid one bit. Because our experience, which we have gained throughout

our years working in agriculture, guaranteed the stability of our production, as well as that it would be among the best. The risks now are mostly connected to external factors, like milk falsification, which causes prices to plummet, and so on.

TSERTI IS MORE THAN JUST A STORE FOR DAIRY AND MEAT PRODUCTS. WHAT OTHER PRODUCTION DO YOU OFFER? Tserti, as I mentioned earlier, is a modernized version of the traditional agriculture store. In Tserti, up to 30 semiprocessed goods are made on the spot, including khinkali, pelmeni, etc. What’s more we offer tasty bread, also baked on the spot, which adds to our advantage on the market. The full variety of our products and their quality has over 500 people walking into our store every day, and this is just the beginning.

ARE YOU THINKING ABOUT DIVERSIFYING YOUR GOODS FURTHER AND MAYBE OPENING OTHER STORES IN TBILISI AND/OR THE REGIONS? We are planning on widening our output, in size and variety. Basically, the everyday task of our management is to improve quality and implement novelties. About opening other stores, first, we believe, we need to pass the full business cycle, and above all, educate and improve the members of our staff, so that every future

Tserti is even more adapted to the demands of our clients.

YOU HAVE A LOT OF EXPERIENCE IN THIS FIELD. DO YOU SEE ANY FLAWS IN PRODUCT QUALITY CONTROL ON THE MARKET? I believe the National Food Agency is one of the most important state agencies in the country. I also believe that the health of our country’s goods is quite well-protected at this point. Honestly, business operators in Europe have lower demands than [there are] in Georgia, and we can only praise that fact.

TELL US ABOUT YOUR PARTNERS, THE ONES WHO SUPPLY YOU AND THE ONES YOU SUPPLY. The starting idea of Tserti was to connect producers with consumers. We have a few farms which supply us with dairy goods, and they make outstanding products from high-quality milk, like Matsoni, that will truly take you back in time with its traditional taste. We always have our partner farmers’ backs, and are always ready to help improve their production. On our end, we supply about 12 restaurants, including the HoReCa segment, daily. This is one of the most important

directions for our business. Other than our high-quality production, we offer them documents detailing the full background of our products, proving their healthiness, which makes their business easier.

TSERTI’S PRODUCTION INCLUDES VEGAN GOODS, TOO. DO YOU PLAN ON DIVERSIFYING THIS SEGMENT? Although the size and variety of our produced vegan goods is quite limited right now, because of the demand, I do not rule out offering more diverse vegan goods.

WHAT WOULD BE YOUR ADVICE TO ENTREPRENEURS JUST STARTING OUT? I would advise them to be different and try to compete only in quality and service improvement and not falsification of products. This way, they will, for sure, get their deserved place on the market. We started with a unique concept from the start, even though it seemed like the industry we stepped into was fully supplied if not oversupplied. We try every day to be the leaders in the field by implementing novelties, improving our services, and I think that with our great team, we do a pretty good job, and we will continue to become even better, and for this, I’d like to thank them very much.




Looking forward to the Challenge: We Interview the CEO of Euronews



uronews is opening its third franchise here in Georgia, which will be launched in the summer of 2020. Before Georgia, Euronews opened franchises in Serbia and Albania. GEORGIA TODAY sat down with Michael Peters, the CEO of Euronews , who is from Lyon, France. Last year, in September he and Giorgi Ramishvili, the Chairman of Silknet’s Supervisory Board , signed a partnership agreement between Euronews and Silknet to officially launch the European mammoth organization here in Tbilisi – Euronews Georgia.

WHAT WAS THE PURPOSE OF YOUR VISIT TO GEORGIA? To meet up with my partners here in Silknet, and to sum up the status about where we are standing at the moment. We met with the local media, to explain to everyone at what stage we are and where is the process of recruitment and how we are with technology, methods, and additionally to explain when we will launch. The idea is to launch before the end of July, and the idea is to be ready before the elections in October.

YOU APPOINTED A HEAD OF NEWS DURING YOUR VISIT. TELL US ABOUT HIM. AND WHAT ARE YOUR FUTURE PLANS FOR EURONEWS GEORGIA? Everything is going well, our partners are working very well, particularly Silknet. The place is chosen already where the headquarters will be located, close to Republic. The process is underway and soon Euronews will be on air. The objective is to launch before the end of July. The biggest step for us was the recruitment of the Chief of News. We announced the Head of News, Vasilis Bitsis, a Greek journalist and the director of Euronews Greek Service. When we launched the project, we

received hundreds of applications for a number of positions. In this country, it’s true that TV media are very positioned. When I first came, I told my peers that this was not our point. I respect every TV and Media, but I want Euronews to be unbiased, and we had to find a person who shared this value 100 percent, which is Vaisilis Bitsis. He has operated and set up Euronews in Greece, so he is very skilled and knows Euronews by heart. We are also counting on Georgia. One of Vasilis’ missions is to identify, recruit and train someone who will become, in 6, 9 or 12 months, our new Editor in Chief, who will unquestionably be Georgian. This shows that we will never move away from what we say, we will never compromise on these kinds of things.

GEORGIA BEING A FIRMLY PRO-EUROPEAN COUNTRY, WHAT CONTRIBUTION WILL EURONEWS MAKE IN SOLIDIFYING THE POLITICAL VECTOR OF EUROPEAN INTEGRATION? I think in this case, I answer with a lot humility, because it’s hard for me to consider myself as a flagship for the EU cause. I strongly believe that the role of the media is not to be the flagship of any cause; the role of the media is to empower people, to help them to make their own opinion, and to give them all news, all views (the slogan of Euronews). There is no precise mission of Euronews more than this. We don’t come here to teach people about Europe, but as it is in our DNA, when we are here, Euronews Georgia will use a lot of material coming from Europe. Our agency will take the European content and adapt it to the Georgian audience. We will not only take content and translate into Georgian; we will give Georgia a much better flavor of what Europe and European culture are. When we treat the news from the country, or from the region, we will treat in a more European way. We will make it more balanced and quieter.


HAVE A EURONEWS OFFICE. WHAT MADE GEORGIA SO APPEALING FOR THE EURONEWS HEADS? To make it clear, there are other Euronews ‘nationals’ as you mentioned, in these countries. We have Euronews Turkish, but we don’t have Euronews Turkey. We could have had Euronews Georgian, which would just be transcription of Euronews in Georgian. So indeed, to return to your point, Georgia is the first in the region to have franchise – Euronews Georgia. There are two criteria we always keep in mind. The first is the interest of the country itself. You know better than me, the geopolitical situation in your country makes your nation extremely interesting and sensitive for us, and furthermore, challenging. That’s why we are happy to be here and to tackle these issues. The second criteria is that once you choose a country, you have to find the right partner. What we do here is quite risky, because we give, in a sense,

our brand to a local partner, who will then use it in a good or a bad way. So, it’s important to find the right partner, in which you have trust, and which shares the values you have. This is what happened: we found the right country and the right partner Silknet, thus we are happy.

EURONEWS GEORGIA WILL HAVE A HYBRID STRUCTURE COMBINING LOCAL AND GLOBAL STORIES AND NEWS. HOW WILL THE NEWS AGENCY BE ABLE TO MERGE “GLOCAL” NEWS INTO ONE? AND WHAT LESSONS CAN THIS INTERNATIONAL FRANCHISE GIVE TO LOCAL GEORGIAN NEWS STATIONS? It’s what we are doing already in all our different editions. For example, that’s what we are doing in Albania. Euronews Albania was launched a few weeks ago. First of all, there will be a lot of content made by Euronews that will be adapted

to the market. The good thing is that it’s not the Euronews HQ in Lyon that will decide to produce the content: it’s the local news here that will have total freedom to take whatever they want. It will be for the people here, with their Georgian perspective, to ‘echo’ the news from Europe to Georgia and vice-versa. The local content that we produce will be produced from an international perspective: we are not here to make purely national news. The local content we will tackle will always be factual and adhere to the editorial values of our network. Of course, when there is a big issue in Georgia, we will speak about it, if it’s purely national. Although we will watch how this will have an impact on surrounding countries. Thus, we will bring Europe to Georgia as well as take Georgia to Europe . Something that is very interesting for you, and in the interests of your country thoroughly, is that this system will pragmatically work the other way. When something very important happens here, we will unquestionably use it for Euronews World. Euronews World will be in a much better position to cover events happening in Georgia, because we will already have a base here. Especially for the upcoming elections, the workings will become practical, as Georgian journalists will be covering the events, reporters from Germany, France and other EU countries will cover it in different languages, engaging the European audience in the internal political or cultural affairs of Georgia.

THE ARRIVAL OF EUROENEWS IN GEORGIA IS EXPECTED TO HAVE A VERY POSITIVE EFFECT ON THE MEDIA SYSTEM HERE. EURONEWS WILL OFFER AN OBJECTIVE OVERVIEW OF INTERNAL POLITICS AND WILL OBJECTIVELY COVER INTERPARTY RELATIONS. It’s good that you say this endeavor will be positive. But you will see it’s much more challenging than you think. As I said before, this approach is more of an intellectual approach, and less of a ‘show off’. To make things quiet, although as humans we like ‘spicy’ things, our main mission is to get viewers open-minded and to try give both sides of the story. Many people are stuck in a bubble of opinion, and to get them out of this biased living is not easy and is quite a challenge.




FEBRUARY 18 - 20, 2020

Georgian PM Summarizes Munich Security Conference BY ANA DUMBADZE


he 2020 Munich Security Conference. The Georgian delegation led by Prime Minister Giorgi Gakharia and consisting of Vice PM Tea Tsulukiani, Foreign Minister David Zalkaliani and Defense Minister Irakli Garibashvili, held high-level meetings within the framework of the Munich Security Conference (MSC) 2020, which was held on February 14-16. The Georgian PM summarized their participation in the MSC with journalists, highlighting that Georgia's growing role in the European security architecture and Black Sea security context was well demonstrated at the event. “We all had our timetables and each of these three days was used very actively by each member of the government,” Gakharia said. “In his opening remarks, Wolfgang Ischinger, the Chairman of the Munich Security Conference, emphasized Georgia’s important role and said that the European security architecture is unimaginable without the security of Georgia and Ukraine. This is important narrative and is a topic that we also brought up on the sidelines of the conference". The head of the government noted that the most important meeting was held with US Secretary of Defense Mark Esper, seeing a detailed discussion of the bilateral cooperation in the field of security and joint projects in the field of defense. “In November 2019, the programs we are implementing in cooperation with the US were upgraded. We also discussed Georgia's contribution to Afghanistan and international security. It was a key meeting in order to discuss cooperation plans in the

Ischinger said the European security architecture is unimaginable without the security of Georgia and Ukraine

Georgia's growing role in the context of Black Sea security and cybersecurity is already evident coming years in terms of security and defense,” the PM noted. Gakharia added that other important bilateral meetings were also held within the MSC, which mainly focused on Georgia's role in European security architecture. “Georgia's growing role in the context of Black Sea security and cybersecurity is already evident. These are areas where our responsibility is growing and Georgia must be a reliable and stable partner,” he stressed. The Prime Minister also spoke about his meeting with ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda which is held annually at the Munich Security Conference. He said he reiterated at the meeting that it was of utmost importance for the Georgian side to investigate the facts of ethnic cleansing of Georgians during the 2008 war and catastrophic humanitarian violations against civilians as quickly as possible. "We noted at the meeting that it is of the utmost importance for us to investigate these catastrophic violations as quickly as possible, confirmed by the Hague Court, and said that Georgia will spare no effort to be a responsible partner in this regard," the Prime Minister said. "We were honored to participate in the Munich Security Conference, the world’s leading forum for international security, to strengthen our direct communications with our partners and discuss the security challenges of the 21st century," he concluded. In his separate meetings with his counterparts from Poland, Liechtenstein, Slovenia, Spain, Czech Republic and Croatia, FM Zalkaliani spoke of deepening bilateral ties. On his part, Defense Minister Garibashvili met with his US, Canadian, Montenegrin, Latvian, Swiss and Greek counterparts.




GPLG Opens Small Libraries in Akhalkalaki Schools BY ELENE DZEBISASHVILI


he novel educational mission initiated by the National Library of Georgia (GPLG) to set up small libraries in the schools of relatively deprived Georgian towns and villages continues its mission in Akhalkalaki. "The great educational movement continues - in Akhalkalaki, which has invited us to true Javakheti weather - minus 20 degrees, clouded by snow and wind. We visited 12 villages, and this time we set up small libraries in three schools in Burnasheti and Baraleti (Georgian and Armenian)”, reads the Facebook post by the General Director of the National Parliamentary Library of Georgia, Giorgi Kekelidze. Following his appointment as Director in 2012, Kekelidze has gained due respect as the initiator

of a myriad of reforms directed at the library’s sustainment and advancement. Georgian libraries have been opened in Istanbul, Kiev, and Vienna. He has created a library based on e-learning, uniting several regional libraries. As a result of Kekelidze’s activities in 2012, the National Library was awarded with the name of Tolerance of the Year. In 2017, on Kekelidze's initiative, the biggest Book Museum in Georgia was founded, aimed at providing space for various educational meetings and seminars. In 2020, some of the most vital advancements pioneered by Kekelidze include the opening of a Georgian Library within the University of Qatar; the opening of The Folklore Hall in Building 2 of the National Parliamentary Library of Georgia, as part of a joint mission to support and promote the Georgian chant tradition and other forms of Georgian folklore; collaboration with the France’s Bibiliotèque Mazarine, to name just a few.

Premiere of Gaetano Donizetti’s L'Elisir d'Amore – a Co-production of 3 European Theaters


n February 26, 27, 29 and March 1, the Tbilisi Opera and Ballet State Theatre presents a premiere of Gaetano Donizetti’s L'Elisir d'Amore, a co-production of the Tbilisi Opera and Ballet State Theater, Auditorio de Tenerife and Teatro Comunale di Bologna. The production is realized within the project Opera(e)Studio,cofunded by the Creative Europe Program of the European Union. The project is supported by the Creative Georgia and Embassy of Italy to Georgia. Opera(e) Studio is a formative project aimed at young emerging opera singers under the age of 32, selected from international auditions held in 4 European cities. Through auditions held in Bologna, Tbilisi, Madrid and Tenerife in February 2019, 10 young singers from 7 countries have been selected for participation in the project. A total of 181 singers from 33 countries took part in the auditions. The auditions were conducted by the Artistic Board of the project: Giulio Zappa, Director of the Opera(e)Studio Academy; José Luis Rivero, Artistic Director, Auditorio de Tenerife; Alejandro Abrante, Opera Intendant, Opera de Tenerife; Badri Maisuradze, Artistic Director, Tbilisi Opera and Ballet State Theater and Fulvio Macciardi, Super-

intendant, Teatro Comunale di Bologna. During the two-month residency in Tenerife, the 10selected singers received intensive masterclasses from top-level international opera professionals to improve their artistic quality, covering voice techniques, repertoire, dramatic interpretation, diction, performance practice and study of specific roles, as well as specific career-building workshops and tools to learn how to manage their professional career and image on social networks. Project activities also included small-format recitals offered at local universities, as young audience development is also an essential priority of the project. On February 18, a commented recital will be held at the Shota Rustaveli Theater and Film Georgia State University. On February 26, 27, 29 and March 1, L'Elisir d'Amore will be performed at the Tbilisi Opera House, after which the production will depart for Bologna. Badri Maisuradze, Artistic Director of the Tbilisi Opera and Ballet State Theater, says that Pablo Maritano, Stage Director, was inspired by the golden age of cinema; a fantasy world that has been created through different Hollywood film sets of that era Giulio Zappa, Director of the Opera (e) StudioAcademy, says “The desire was actually to build a project which allowed young singers coming, for instance, from academies or from conservatoires, to face the professional world. Another aim was to bring different nationalities to the opera; different schools, different ideas.” Rusudan Matsaberidze, Project Manager in Georgia, underlines the importance of this joint project as it “involves close collaboration and cultural exchange between three theatres aiming at the professional development of young singers and at the same time attracting a young audience”. Conductors - Kakhi Solomnishvili and Levan Jagaev; Scenographer - Serena Rocco; Costume Designer - Lorena Marin; Lighting Designer - Virginio Levrio.



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Profile for Georgia Today

Issue #1228 Business  

February 18 - 20, 2020

Issue #1228 Business  

February 18 - 20, 2020