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Issue no: 1049

• MAY 18 - 21, 2018



In this week’s issue... Georgian President’s 'Wish' to Meet Putin Gets Mixed Reaction in Tbilisi


Positive Outlook for Georgia in The South Caucasus Security Forum POLITICS PAGE 7

Ecological, Healthy Living with “SEU Development”



The Church parade for Family Purity Day goes ahead, while the LGBT community goes virtual


Anaklia Deep Sea Port & Chinese Port Lianyungang Sign Memorandum of Cooperation


Europa Nostra Awards Cultural Heritage Prize to 'Textile from Georgia'


he winners of the 2018 EU Prize for Cultural Heritage / Europa Nostra Awards, Europe’s top honor in the “Cultural heritage in all its different forms,” were announced by the European Commission and Europa Nostra, the leading European heritage network. The 29 laureates from 17 countries were recognized for their impressive accomplishments in conservation, research, dedicated service, and education, training and awareness-raising. The research project Textile from Georgia is among this year’s winners. As a contribution to the European Year of Cultural Heritage, this year’s Awards put special emphasis on the European added value of the selected heritage achievements. The winners will be honored at a high-profile award ceremony on 22 June in Berlin, during the first ever European Cultural Heritage Summit. Citizens from around Europe and the rest of the world can now vote online for the Public Choice Award and mobilize support for the winning achievement(s) from their own or another European country. Continued on page 13


Conference Call: Mestia, Svaneti SOCIETY PAGE 12

Belgian Photographer Documents Soviet Spas in Georgia CULTURE PAGE 13

Tbilisi Int'l Festival of Literature Held for 4th Time





MAY 18 - 21, 2018

New Bill Will Allow Court Georgian Church Launches Annual to Ban Creative Works March on Family Purity Day BY THEA MORRISON


he ruling Georgian Dream (GD) lawmakers, Eka Beselia and Levan Gogichaishvili, have written up a bill which gives power to the court to ban some creative works, including writings. In particular, the bill envisages making amendments to the Law of Georgia on "Culture" and "Civil Procedure Code," which allows a judge to prohibit creative works that stir national, ethnic, religious and racial hatred, preaches war and violence, or propagates pornography. “Prohibition of the dissemination of a creative work is allowed only on a court decision,” the bill reads. According to the draft law, the amendment will take effect right after the upcoming presidential elections, when the president-elect takes oath at the inaugural ceremony. According to NGO Georgian Young Lawyers Association (GYLA) lawyer Giorgi Gotsiridze, this prohibition is not a novelty because the Law on Culture, which was adopted in 1997, has a similar record. However, he says the difference is that the bill introduces a specific mechanism for executing this prohibition - the court. Georgia-based NGOs believe the draft creates threats to freedom of expression. Transparency International Georgia says the draft law, in its current form, contradicts the fundamental principles of human rights and threatens the freedom of expression and creativity, especially works of art and literature. “We call on Parliament not to support

the proposed draft law and to refine the existing similar record in conformity with the Constitution. For Georgia, which is a young democratic country, the main aim of which is EU integration, freedom of expression is one of the most important values. Each legislative amendment which threatens the restriction of freedom of expression poses a danger to the country's democratic development,” the NGO stated. Meanwhile, writer Lasha Bughadze assessed the draft as a return to a “totalitarian past.” "Any interference in the art space means censorship, restriction of freedom of speech and freedom of expression. This is a very dangerous bill that is aimed at controlling people,” he stressed. The draft author, Eka Beselia, says the amendments do not impose any censorship, adding this record is not new. “The process of harmonization of the Constitution is underway, which means that amendments will be made to hundreds of laws in the near future. One of them is this bill. The Constitution states that censorship is not allowed in creative work. If the Court does not say that this right may be restricted, no one can prohibit any creative works,” she explained.

Photo source: sideshare.net



eorgian clerics, their supporters and parish had their annual march dedicated to Family Purity Day. The demonstrators gathered at the Tbilisi Concert Hall (Philarmony) and on Rose Revolution Square. They then moved to Kashueti Church on Rustaveli Avenue, where an outdoor service was held. Afterwards, the participants of the march went to the Holy Trinity Cathedral, where, in the afternoon, the Patriarch of Georgia blessed the gathered people and their families. Mass wedding ceremonies were also planned city- and country-wide on May 17. As reported by the Patriarchate, around 400 couples got married in various churches throughout Tbilisi. The Orthodox Church of Georgia announced May 17 as the Family Purity Day in 2014, a year after the parish and anti-LGBT activists attacked the rally of anti-homophobia groups. The Patriarchate has held demonstrations annually on May 17 since 2014. The neo-fascist group Georgian National Unity members were also with the demonstrators on Rustaveli Avenue and gave Nazi salutes as they passed tourists. The day also marked the International Day against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia, but the LGBT community cancelled their planned demonstration outside the governmental administration. Co-organizer of the demonstration, Non-Governmental Organization (NGO)

Equality Movement, which protects the rights of the LGBT community, made a statement saying the rally had been cancelled in order “to avoid civil confrontation” and unrest in the capital as the ultra-nationalist groups had threatened to prevent any demonstration of the LGBT community. However, several activists said they would still go there and protest alone. Gia Korkotashvili, one of the leaders of the far-right group Georgian Idea stated he and its supporters would rally outside the old parliament building, in case the LGBT group activists appear there. Londa Toloraia, Director of the Human Rights Department in the Ministry of

Internal Affairs, says the Ministry is committed to protecting any citizen, regardless of his/her race, skin color, language, sex, religion, political or other opinions. Despite this, the LGBT community members said they did not feel safe and prefered to stay indoors. The community held an online rally instead, creating a Facebook page 'Georgia’s Holy Parliament,' calling on their supporters to tag themselves by checking in at the Parliament of Georgia at 19:00. “No matter where you are at that time, you can join us,” the post advertising the virtual rally read.


GEORGIA TODAY MAY 18 - 21, 2018


Tbilisi Art Fair 2018 ishvili Street and Nika Kutateladze’s site-specific installation in a Soviet studio apartment on Pavlov Street.



bilisi has an evolving food, club and fashion scene, making it a must-see destination of late, but the Georgian capital’s renaissance has now reached the realm of contemporary art. As proof, this weekend it is to host its first contemporary art fair, Tbilisi Art Fair (TAF’18), with 35 galleries to meet in the Modernist convention center, Expo Georgia. "A steep rise in foreign investment in the country of up to $2bn in 2017, and

steady economic growth, has prompted a “new generation of art buyers,” says Eric Schlosser, the fair’s artistic director. TAF’18’s gallery roster has a broad European scope, from Berlin’s Galerie Kornfeld, Paris’s Galerie Bernard Jordan, and Barcelona’s Galería Valid Foto BCN, even dealers from the Caucasus and Baltic region, including 11.12 Gallery and Totibadze Gallery from Moscow, Vilnius’s Rooster Gallery and Baku’s Yarat. In the same week as TAF’18, a nonprofit initiative led by the curators Irena Popiashvili and Lika Chkuaseli will also be launched. The Kunsthalle, which has no fixed location at present, with two solo shows on 18 May: Angelica Mesiti’s video installation in a winery on Melik-

TBILISI ART FAIR EXPO GEORGIA (Tsereteli Avenue) GALLERIES AND EXHIBITORS May 17-20 Pavilion 11 This section will host up to 30 exhibitors, established and young Galleries from Georgia, Caucasian region, Eastern and Western Europe. The list of exhibitors includes: Kornfeld (Germany), Project Art Beat (Georgia), NK (Belgium), ERTI (Georgia), 11.12 (Russia), Kultur Dialog (Armenia), Regina (Russia), Window Project (Georgia), Valid Foto (Spain), Totibadze (Russia), Rooster (Lithuania), Yarat (Azerbaijan), Dawid Radziszewski, Raster, Czulosc (Poland), Mojdeh (Iran), Baia (Georgia), Chardin (Georgia), NivetCarzon, Bernard Jordan (France), Vernissage (Georgia), TBC Gallery (Georgia), Stephan Stoyanov (Bulgaria), Nectar (Georgia), Art Rooms (Turkey) and more. ▪ THE HIVE May 17-20 Pavilion 5 The special format of the Hive will showcase up to 40 independently represented international artists and collectives, working exclusively in contemporary visual arts, selected by TAF through an open call. Some of the artists selected are Nino Chubinishvili, Levan Abramishvili, Jeff Bliumis (USA), Shirin Shahroudi (Iran), Mamuka Tsetskhladze, Salome Dumbadze, Qeu Meparishvili, Sandro Sulaberidze, Dimitri Bogachuk (Ukraine), Christina Starzer (Austria), Csilla Szabo (Hungary), Del-

phine Wibaux (France), Vladimir Mishukov (Russia), Alex Kiessling (Austria), Maka Batiashvili, Nino Zirakashvili, Masha Demianova (Russia), Kamilya Kuspanova (Kazakhstan), Christina Abdeeva (Russia), Ekaterina Bazhenova-Yamazaki (Russia), Vakho Bugadze, Maia Baratashvili and more.

▪ TAF EXHIBITIONS ▪ Tbilisi Photo Festival - May 17-20, Pavilion 6 In and Out of Reality: Three Centuries of Photographic Image in Georgia ▪ Twelve Women Gone Missing

Photo by Renis Fischer

State Silk Museum, May 18th, 18:00; Writers' House of Georgia, May 19th, 20:00. ▪ War On Hold / Under Construction Pavilion 9 ▪ OFF THE WALL Delphine Wibaux - Installation; Bertrand Gadenne - Installation; Kestutis Svirnelis - Installation; ▪ TAF Workshop ▪ TAF Forum ▪ TAF Talks ▪ TAF Performances For more information, see here.




MAY 18 - 21, 2018

Georgian President’s 'Wish' to Meet Putin Gets Mixed Reaction in Tbilisi BY THEA MORRISON


eorgian President Giorgi Margvelashvili’s recent statement that he would meet the Russian leader to start a dialogue has been met with confusion by Georgian politicians. Just six months ahead of the presidential elections, Margvelashvili stated at the event dedicated to the 100th anniversary of the First Republic of Georgia, that he dreams of “having a rational dialogue with the Russian leader based on the interests of people and not on those individuals who run the country.” “I dream about the day I can speak with the Russian leader not because of his current position, but based on the peoples’ interests,” Margvelashvili stated. The President added that this would only be possible if Georgia got back the Russian-occupied territories, Abkhazia and South Ossetia. "Look at the Russian propaganda against us: they say they will defeat us and we should put up with the existing reality and deny our occupied territories…But an economically and militarily strong America and Europe are on our side today, and let’s see who wins,” he added. He also assessed the Georgian government’s policy towards Russia as rational, stating that it is “the right approach.” Zurab Abashidze, the Prime Minister's Special Representative for Relations with Russia, stated it is good that the President of Georgia agrees with the pragmatic policy of the government in relation to Russia, but it is not clear why he started talking about a meeting with the Russian President now, at the end of his presidential term. "Our government has a pragmatic policy in relation to Russia, which is fully supported by our

western partners…The President has had many opportunities to support the Prime Minister and government’s initiatives in this regard, but he did not express interest then,” Abashidze said. The Chairperson of the Parliament’s Defense and Security Committee, Irakli Sesiashvili, says Margvelashvili’s interests coincide with Russiaaffiliated parliamentary opposition party the Alliance of Patriots of Georgia (APG). “The APG was the only party which praised the President when he was delivering his annual speech at the Parliament in early May,” he said.

Meanwhile, the APG members welcome the statement of the President regarding dialogue with Russia.

Health Ministry Participates in Drug Policy Talks BY BENJAMIN MUSIC


rug experts from the Ministry of Labor, Health, and Social Affairs of Georgia have joined the Internal Affairs Ministry (MIA) to support the drafting of a new drug policy. In light of the protests on the weekend and the police raid of thriving nightclubs Bassiani and Café Gallery, demonstrators demanded a more humane drug policy. From Monday, representatives of the NGO White Noise Movement, the main mouthpiece of drug liberalization efforts, have been meeting with officials of the MiIA to discuss their demands. The partici-


“I do not know if this initiative can bring any positive results but in general, dialogue with Russia is good,” APG MP Giorgi Lomia stated. Nino Burjanadze, the leader of the Democratic Movement, often considered as Russia’s lobbyist opposition party, says dialogue with Russia is necessary, but added that Margvelashvili’s statement is “ridiculous.” Burjanadze explains that when Margvelashvili was elected in 2013, Putin wanted to meet him. She opined that the president had “wasted his chance” when he refused. “Margvelashvili’s proposal is late by least for four years and now it only sounds ridiculous,” she said. The United National Movement (UNM) believes that Russia will use Margvelashvili’s statement for their interests. “I predict the Russian Foreign Ministry or the Deputy Foreign Minister Grigory Karasin will make a statement, saying that Georgia is ready to recognize the ‘new reality’ in the South Caucasus region,” said Grigol Vashadze, UNM member. Member of the European Georgia party stated they believe Georgia alone cannot normalize relations with Russia. “The relationship with Russia can only be improved with the involvement of our western partners, sanctions against Russia and maximum usage of international formats,” Davit Bakradze, one of the leaders of the European Georgia, stated.

pation of the health ministry marks a new point as experts evaluate the potential risks as well as side effects, which may ultimately even improve the overall health condition of drug users. The community often demands the legalization of mariujana for medicinal purposes. "We will talk about this together with the officials of the MIA and the representatives of White Noise. We will be involved and have been involved with our expertise in the past. We will discuss and decide within the competencies of our Ministry," Zaza Bokhua, Deputy Minister of Labor, Health, and Social Affairs, told the public in a statement announcing their participation. White Noise Movement announced their deteminiation to organize new rallies if the meetings fail to be fruitful.

EU Special Representative for Human Rights Arrives in Georgia

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fter the UN Special Envoy for Human Rights for elderly people published a report in April to improve the pension system for the older people in Georgian society, the European Union's Special Representative for Human Rights, Stavros Lambrinidis, has come to Tbilisi to tackle different human rights issues in the country. Yesterday, he held a meeting with top state functionaries of the Foreign Ministry to get a first-hand understanding of the situation in Georgia. Organized by the EU Good Human Rights Stories initiative, which aims to address human rights globally

to denounce violations and support governments, it was Lambrinidis first meeting in the capital. “A special 15-country list was elaborated within the initiative, composed of countries which have achieved significant progress for human rights protection and are now exemplary for other nations. Georgia is on that list,” a statement by the Foreign Ministry underscored. Lambrinidi’s visit comes at a very delicate time for Georgia, having experienced major demonstrations by drug liberalization groups and ultra-right activists over the weekend. Small demonstrations were also organized on Monday and Tuesday, prior to May 17, during which both groups are expected to rally their supporters as the world celebrates the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia.




MAY 18 - 21, 2018

Reading the Smoke Signals OP-ED BY NUGZAR B. RUHADZE


eople around the world do drugs because they like to. In Georgia, people, especially youth, also do drugs because they like to. In the matter of drug use and abuse, myriad questions pop up, some of them perpetually left without answer. For instance, are there ‘good’ drugs like marijuana and ‘bad’ drugs like coke and heroin, or are all of them harmful and debilitating in some way? Marijuana has lately been the subject of wide discussion in Georgia, the main issue being the its decriminalization and usage liberalization. Marijuana is a dope like any other drug, and dope is dope! How could decriminalization of marijuana help, if it helps at all? If marijuana is a drug, then it is a killer, because drugs kill in general. If marijuana is not a drug, then science should say so and it has to be equated with alcohol and tobacco and legally marketed as any other regular commodity. This will at least cripple the black market that generates huge income at the expense of human lives. Oftentimes, doctors and other specialists thereof qualify marijuana as a mild drug which should be decriminalized, but there is

no final competitive medical word that renders marijuana a legally marketable commodity. Until that final word comes, the legalization of any drug will go against the grain in any country. The same here in Georgia: we cannot legalize anything that is not legally a subject of legalization. If we do, we will create a precedent for further legalization of other drugs. So, drug addiction and distribution

have to be punishable offenses. Another question is how punishable. Sending a drug dealer to prison is certainly predictable but sending a drug user to prison would burden the state more. Why should we a give the pleasure of relaxation in a penitentiary to a drug user? This might be too benign a punishment for them. The most optimal penalty would be community service, and the heavier the crime, the harder

the labor. Just imagine a solid bunch of drug lovers compelled to clean recreational areas all over Georgia that are strewn with garbage! In a couple of days, the whole territory of the country would be as clean as ever. Plus, imagine the lessons that will be learned! In liberal democracies like Georgia, where liberalism is gathering even greater momentum, drug addiction is taken much more lightly than it is in

autocratic regimes. Nobody needs or wishes to have authoritarian rule back, but a rigorous policy against drug trafficking as well as stronger educational efforts, based on societal vigilance, might tear through the notorious Consumer-Supplier-Protector operative triangle, and do the job that we all need to see done. Something drastic and effective needs to be done, but it is clear that radicalism in handling such issues of national importance and magnitude is no helper. Some of our youth want to spend a lot of time in dark, smoky clubs where, allegedly, hashish is not a very unbeknown commodity; others of the same generation are uninterested in the night life and abhor drug consumption of any kind. Therefore, the street brawl between those two varying ‘islands’ in our society has become a serious conceptual clash. On top of everything, we cannot let simple marijuana ruin the nation by drugging young people and creating a social conflict possibly conducive to an unexpected catastrophic end. Is there a way out? Yes and no, but the answer is surely to be found in thoughtful, complex, methodical reasoning over the issue, taking the problem to an optimal legal solution, which is no guarantee anyway that one particular solution, even the wisest one, can suddenly make all of us happy.

Georgian President Receives Letter from Joe Biden



ormer Vice President of the United States, Joe Biden, has sent a letter to the President of Georgia, Giorgi Margvelashvili. Michael Carpenter, non-resident senior fellow with the Atlantic Council’s Eurasia Center, handed the letter to Margvelashvili on Tuesday while paying a visit to Tbilisi. The Secretary of the National Security Council of Georgia, Davit Rakviashvili, told media that Joe Biden is closely monitoring the ongoing events in Georgia and this letter is a clear illustration of his support. The Presidential Administration reports that Margvelashvili and Car-

penter discussed prospects for developing bilateral relations between Georgia and the United States. The conversation also touched on Georgia’s growing support from the new US Administration, President Margvelashvili’s initiative on the Georgia Support Act, the security environment in the region and the situation in the occupied territories of Georgia. According to Rakviashvili, Carpenter, who knows this region well, shared his views on how to strengthen support for Georgia in the US think tanks in order for Congress to adopt the Georgia Support Act. “We have assessed that right now the US support for Georgia is very strong under this Administration, which is a continuation, thankfully, from the previous Administration. But of course,

now, with all the global issues with Iran, North Korea, etc. it is important to keep focus on this part of the world because with so many competing crises, sometimes attention is shifted and we need to make sure that at least within the American public, Congress and new Administration, there is awareness of how important this region is to EastWest relations to have security in Europe,” Carpenter stated. Just had a great conversation with @ MargvelashviliG about #Georgia and the wider South Caucasus region (helps to have this view when discussing geopolitics). Georgia is a crucial frontier of democracy, and the US must continue to be involved and invested in its success. pic.twitter.com/lRq5ks53Sp — Michael Carpenter (@mikercarpenter) May 15, 2018


GEORGIA TODAY MAY 18 - 21, 2018


Positive Outlook for Georgia in the South Caucasus Security Forum BY EMIL AVDALIANI


he Fifth South Caucasus Security Forum 2018 held in Tbilisi this week was in many ways an interesting event. Interesting ideas were propounded, while the fifth anniversary of the forum itself corresponded with a number of important dates for the history of Georgia. 2018 Marks the 10th anniversary of the milestone Bucharest Summit when Georgia was promised to be granted Membership Action Plan (MAP). 2018 also marked the 10th anniversary of the effective recognition of Kosovo by many countries around the globe, which set the tone for what later in 2008 became the Russia-Georgia war. The Russians used the pretext of the Kosovo recognition as an explanation for their actions in Abkhazia and Samachablo (South Ossetia). Thus, 2018 also marks the 10 yearanniversary of the Russia-Georgia war which set the scene for increased competition between the West and Russia for the former Soviet space over the following decade. Among other interesting statements made by various of speakers was that the EU wants a bigger role to play in the conflict-resolution processes in its neighborhood. Moreover, the EU is willing to generally take on a larger role in world politics. On Georgia’s NATO/EU accession

chances, the speakers were generally positive, but some also pointed to the fact that Georgia needs to be better and much more often presented in European media. Some voiced an interesting opinion that since Georgia’s accession to NATO and the EU is pretty much “improbably in the near future,” the Georgian govern-

ment should be working on numerous practical issues inside the country which will further move the state towards the Western orbit. One of them is a new military training center in Vaziani. Regarding NATO, it was also suggested that the western allies are now working on supporting Georgia and its military potential/NATO bid,

bilaterally bypassing central NATO bureaucracy. The Georgian army is being transformed and the general trend is of the Georgian army being evolved into numerous small battalions rather than having large army groups. The supply of various arms and other military technologies will be given to Georgia based on state-to-state agreements.

Several of the panel speakers at this year’s Security Forum pointed out that considering how problematic Tbilisi’s western ambitions are, Georgia and Ukraine’s NATO bids should be separated from each other. This will allow NATO to consider various specifics of the two countries rather than force one scenario on the two rather different theaters of competition. At the forum, it was also often mentioned that Georgia has fulfilled all the aspects which are necessary for NATO membership. Despite this, Georgia has often fallen short of the MAP. The speakers suggested that one of the reasons for Georgia’s non-membership could be geography. It was even proposed that Russia might not be so much worried about Tbilisi’s NATO aspiration as about Georgia’s steps towards the EU. The Russians are worried that the EU’s economy and cultural peculiarities, along with the general soft power, might in the long-run fundamentally undermine Russian influence in the country and the region. In a number of recent articles for GT, I pointed out how Russian influence is being shattered in the former Soviet space primarily because of European strength, and that this European onslaught against Russia is more foundational than any other European projects. Overall, the forum can be characterized as full of positive speculations on Georgia’s NATO/EU membership: a good sign as we move out of the geopolitically gloomy 10 years that have passed since 2008.




MAY 18 - 21, 2018

#Becauseisayso Ecological, Healthy Living Raising Awareness with 'SEU Development' of Hypertension



n connection with the International Day of Hypertension, the French pharmaceutical company ‘Servier’ organized a press conference in Georgia as part of the global social project "Talk about the Pressure." Director of the Georgian pharmaceutical company ‘Servier,’ Maia Khetsuriani; the Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of France to Georgia, Pascal Meunier; and Director of the Cardiology Center, Head of the Department of Internal Medicine of TSU, President of Society of Hypertension Studies of Georgia, Professor Bezhan Tsinamdzgvrishvili, addressed attendees at the conference. “French pharmaceutical company ‘Servier’ is running the campaign

#Becauseisayso as a social campaign of utmost importance to introducing to a large number of people what hypertension is and the problems related to the condition,” said Khetsuriani. “This disease is now manageable, but it is very important to have information about it and timely diagnosis- easy to do, starting with measuring your blood pressure. This is the main slogan of the campaign.” Doctors, patients, goodwill ambassadors involved in the project, and media partners were invited to the event. Today, society lacks information on hypertension and its complexities. Some people know about the disease but don’t take it seriously; others have blood pressure but don’t control it. Continued on page 9

e are a quality oriented company and spend a lot of time on building materials to ensure comfort and a healthy living environment. This is our priority. Today, the construction market is very active and this is primarily positively reflected on apartment purchases. The new regulations and additional state monitoring systems will further contribute to the development of this business. And many of the topics that depend only on the well-being of the developer will be regulated according to relevant regulations. Working to our good conscience and justifying customer trust is the basic value of our company. In 2013, we saw educational and infrastructural projects introduce, and we invested more than $20 million in this direction. The general construction experience and team professionalism in 2014 lead to our decision to develop in a new direction. We started the first residential project - "Green Yard". Today, people don’t just want an apartment; they want flexible infrastructure, a healthy environment, calm and fresh air. Therefore, we selected an area in the central part of the city in a calm and ecologically clean environment on Politkovskaya Street, N32. The total area of the project is 25,000 square meters and the recreational area is up to 1500 square meters. The complex includes a children's playground, a 24-hour fitness center, lobby, commercial and office zones, and a four-story underground and above-ground car park. We left untouched the surrounding greenery which we found in the area of the project. Since all of our construction was financed as soon as we started, we have

a guarantee that the project will be completed without delay. In general, 2017 was a year of great challenges for 'SEU Development'. In May, we started selling Green Yard and sold all available apartments in around four months. In November, thanks to the sales, we gained our first international recognition in a successful sales nomination at the East European Real Estate Forum - EEA Real Estate Forum & Project awards in Ukraine. This award is very important for us. If we take into consideration the prestige of this forum and the number of participating development companies, this recognition adds double responsibility. In 2017, we made the decision to launch a second project near "Green Yard", as the infrastructure is developed in this

district and there is also a new metro station. The area boasts schools, playgrounds, an indoor public pool and several higher educational institutions. The new complex will be located at Jikia 7 and will be divided into five, eight and twelve-storey buildings. It will also have commercial and office spaces; a recreation zone and a children's playground. Sales opened late December and 52% of the apartments were sold within a month. Our goal is to provide our customers with a stable income on the purchase of their apartment. In the process of purchasing the apartment, one of the crucial topics is about payment for the buyer. We are continuously working on development of it. 2018 will be full of activities. In the near future, we will begin one of our most ambitious and important projects, which will be located in old Tbilisi across one hectare of land. This project is the result of careful planning by one of the best experts in the field. In around a year, we will present a premium class mixeduse residential complex which includes: housing, a premium class 4-5 star hotel, as well as commercial spaces and an office center. This project is going to be our company’s business card. 'SEU Development' has the goal to create such projects which will be valuable for the city and define its development.


GEORGIA TODAY MAY 18 - 21, 2018


SAVE THE DATE! 3rd Tourism & Hospitality Conference within Welcome to Georgia! National Tourism Awards


n June 4, the 3rd Tourism and Hospitality Conference within the Welcome to Georgia! National Tourism Awards will take place at the Biltmore Hotel Tbilisi. The Third Tourism and Hospitality Conference within the Welcome to Georgia! National Tourism Awards project is a unique business platform for

representatives of the industry and is the best way to exchange information, communicate and to catch up with the latest trends and challenges in the Tourism and Hospitality sphere and Georgian Business industry in general. The 3rd Tourism and Hospitality Conference aims to consolidate more than 350 representatives of the respective industry, government officials, interna-

tional and local experts and media, and will include: • Panel discussions about Challenges and Opportunities in Tourism and Hospitality Industry; • Interesting presentations from the top market suppliers and field experts; • B2B Meetings with all the key representatives of industry; • And all the upcoming news within the Welcome

to Georgia! National Tourism Awards project, including a new Jury Expert Board, new categories and much more news about the 2018 competition. Don’t miss this chance to get breaking news about the Georgian Tourism and Hospitality Industry! For Registration and for the detailed agenda, please visit the Project’s social media page and/or website www.awards-tourism.com

#Becauseisayso Raising Awareness of Hypertension Continued from page 8

"Arterial hypertension can lead to vascular disease,” notes Bezhan Tsinamdzgvrishvili. “Hypertension often presents with no symptoms but it is important to diagnose it quickly. Five people die every day from hypertension. Hypertension is the main cause of complications such as stroke and heart attack." The press conference announced on May 17 that all the activities of the campaign "Measure your blood pressure - #Becauseisayso" aim to alert people to the need to check their blood pressure and to inform them of the complications resulting from the condition. At the end of the press conference, a video presentation was given, the main participants being Duta Skhirtladze, Nika Tsulukidze, Ana Chiradze, Lela Meburishvili, Giorgi Kekelidze, and Ruska Makashvili, who joined the project as goodwill ambassadors to encourage their parents, friends, relatives and community to look after their health and to control their blood pressure. "I have high blood pressure, I don’t need to control it because I have high pressure constantly,” said renowned actor Duta Skhirtladze. “I’ve had it since I was a child and it’s a form of heart disease.

We call on our society to "measure your blood pressure!" The French Ambassador says he is glad Georgia is actively involved in the campaign. "It is important that the global movement "Because I Say So" works to inform people about hypertension. The aim of the campaign is to increase public awareness of hypertension, introduce a regular measurement of pressure and challenge the involvement of the state. It is also important that this campaign is underway with the support of French pharmaceutical company ‘Servier’. The International Day of Hypertension is celebrated annually on May 17. The 2018 campaign #Becauseisayso is a social and global project to promote prevention and management of cardiovascular diseases (including hypertension) both in Georgia and throughout the world. According to the latest data, about 1.2 billion people worldwide are fighting hypertension and this rate is constantly growing. The current campaign aims to draw attention to hypertension and raise public awareness about this disease. The encouragement of young people will motivate their parents and relatives to check their pressure indicators and better monitor the disease. Informing the public about hypertension is a prerequisite for fighting this disease.

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Address: Queen Tamar Avenue #24 Website: www.citycenter.ge Email: info@citycenter.ge




MAY 18 - 21, 2018

Charge d’ Affairs Elizabeth Rood on the Anaklia Projects as one of the Milestones of US Georgian Strategic Partnership


ecently, US Embassy Chargé d’Affairs Elizabeth Rood, along with representatives from other US organizations such as USAID, MCC and Peace Corps Georgia, visited the construction works of Anaklia Deep Sea Port. We caught up with her to find out what she thought.

WHAT WERE YOUR FIRST IMPRESSIONS? My first impression was surprise at how much work is already being done. That work is well underway. I was also impressed by the scale of the project and what is still to come.

WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ABOUT ANAKLIA PORT, ANAKLIA CITY, THE SPECIAL ECONOMIC ZONE, AND THE PROJECTS THAT INFLUENCE THE REGION AND PARTNER COUNTRIES? When we talk about Anaklia, we use terms like “visionary” and “transformational” – and for good reason. The port and special economic zone (SEZ) have the potential to completely change the economic landscape in western Georgia by creating jobs and serving as an anchor

for US and other quality investment. Anaklia can also be a catalyst for change and economic growth beyond Georgia, in the Caucasus and Central Asia. Every country that lies in the east-west corridor linking Asia and Europe stands to benefit. The importance of the project can be also seen as other US agencies are involved in the development of the project. USAID, Peace Corps Georgia, and MCC, whose representatives also visited the port with me, are partnering ADC.

as well as workforce and infrastructure development targeting communities along the Administrative Boundary Line

[ABL] with Abkhazia. The partnership will increase the resiliency of populations along the ABL and will also help Anaklia by building social buy-in into the port project while creating a generation of job-ready workers able to take advantage of the economic opportunities presented by the port construction and operations. MCC and MCA-Georgia are entering into an MoU with ADC now around internships and jobs for students and graduates from San Diego State University – Georgia, and intend to do the same later this summer for students and graduates from 27 new, relevant Technical and Vocation Educational Training programs that MCC has funded in five leading institutions. Our Peace Corps staff has coordinated with ADC leadership to create an action plan that will support adult English language learning in Anaklia and Zugdidi, as well as specialized support in areas such as employability training, social and corporate responsibility, and wom-

en’s empowerment.

ANAKLIA PORT ALREADY HOLDS INVESTMENTS FROM TWO MAJOR US COMPANIES - CONTI GROUP AND SSA MARINE. DO YOU SEE IT AS AN OPPORTUNITY FOR GEORGIA TO BECOME AN ATTRACTIVE BUSINESS ENVIRONMENT FOR LEADING US COMPANIES? It could absolutely attract a variety of US companies that could provide services to the development of the port or establish a base in or near the SEZ. However, the investment potential of Georgia is still unknown to many US companies. As the country’s economy continues to grow, and as this project unfolds, it will create more and more interest in what Georgia and the east-west transit corridor offers. It is part of our role as the Embassy to make sure that US companies are able to take advantage of new opportunities, and we will certainly do whatever we can to make that happen.

TELL US MORE ABOUT THAT. WHY IS THE ANAKLIA PORT PROJECT OF INTEREST TO THE US AND HOW IS IT AN OPPORTUNITY? This project is not just about cargo; the SEZ aims to bring a host of services that will connect east and west. We also want to help the region surrounding the SEZ take advantage of these opportunities. To do that, we are involving several different agencies to develop skills training and language skills. USAID’s Zrda project is developing a Memorandum of Understanding with ADC to leverage $1 million in matching funds from ADC to support micro-, small-, and medium-sized enterprises,

Anaklia Deep Sea Port & Chinese Port Lianyungang Sign Memorandum of Cooperation


he Anaklia Development Consortium (ADC) hosted representatives of one of the most important Chinese ports, Lianyungang. They also met with management of the multinational corporation ‘Cosco Shipping Lines.’ Representatives of the "Cosco Shipping Lines" visited Anaklia, where they are acquainted with the port area and the works performed in detail. ADC and Lienungung Ports signed a Memorandum of Cooperation. The document was signed by the Director General of the Consortium, Levan Akhvlediani, and the President of Lianyungang Port Holdings Group , Zhu Xiangyang. The Lianyungang Port is located in East China and is one of the largest trade and industrial centers in the country. By 2020, the Lianyungang Port is expected to increase container cargo by 120 million tons. "Anaklia will play an important role in increasing the cargo throughout the

region,” said Zhu Xiangyang, President of Lianyungang Port Holdings Group. “It will be an important partner for Lianyungang. We decided to set up a working group of representatives of both parties, which are capable of negotiating future partnership opportunities between the two ports. Lianyungang is also to moni-

tor the development of the free economic zone in Anaklia.” ADC introduced the details of the project and held talks with the management team of Cosco Shipping Lines, headed by Consortium Director Levan Akhvlediani in the Port of Anaklia. Cosco Shipping Lines, whose head office is

located in Shanghai, specializes in container transportation and related services. In 2017, the company's services covered 355 routes and 267 ports and its capacity was 1 800 000 TEU. Dimitry Kumsishvili, Minister of Economy and Sustainable Development of Georgia hosted the delegation visiting

Georgia from the People's Republic of China and introduced the country's infrastructure and economic potential in detail. At the meeting, the Minister emphasized the importance of Anaklia Deep Sea Port for the development of the Middle Corridor.


GEORGIA TODAY MAY 18 - 21, 2018


MAC Fundraiser-Exhibition Presents ‘Shuki Movida’ Stories in Photos



ast week, the McLain Association for Children (MAC) held an exhibition on the ground floor of Rooms Hotel Tbilisi, with the support of the hotel’s founding company Adjara Group, to fundraise and to celebrate 1000 stories published on its website. 25 photographic portraits graced the walls, showing those of lesser ability, including mentally challenged and wheelchair-bound individuals, who had shared their story with the Shuki Movida team. each accompanied by a bilingual mini-autobiography from the subjects themselves: a thought, an experience, or a brief account of their lives. The messages were overwhelmingly about the journey from difficulty to success; despair to acceptance and even contentment. The photos were taken by Natela Grigalashvili, who has been working in the project for two years. She also founded KontakPhotos, a collaboration of photographers working in the realm of social issues. Shuki Movida (“The Light Has Come”) is an online organization which aims to get some of the most touching stories in Georgia told, most of which highlight pressing social issues well-deserving of our collective attention. The idea, organizers say, comes from ‘Humans of New York.’ Stories of triumph, stories of difficulty, stories of the every day. Each captures a person with disabilities (or someone that cares for

10 Galaktion Street

them) on film and then shares a glimpse of their story. “Our first post was on September 14, 2016,” Jeremy Gaskill, a former US Peace Corps Volunteer in Georgia, and current McLain Association for Children (MAC) Chief Executive Officer, told GEORGIA TODAY in an interview last year. “It was started by MAC with the simple idea of raising awareness by letting individuals tell their own story. The stories come from a variety of places. Some are people we've worked with, others are people that were recommended to us. As the page has grown in popularity, people are now contacting us, asking us to come and interview them.” The Shuki Movida team, made up of three amazing people- Nika Zibzibadze, Karen Gaskill and Natela Grigalashviliposts 1-2 stories per week with photos, each giving a peek into what it's like living with a disability in Georgia. “We've been really amazed to see the impact,” Jeremy says. “Each week, we watch as the new stories get shared around various parents’ groups in Georgia. Likes often climb into the 1000s and on a couple of occasions, we've seen shares climb over that. We also get lots of comments, many from people wanting to know how they can help.” Executive Director of Adjara Group and MAC Board Member, Valeri Chekheria, who was recently named the 2018 Young World Leader by the World Economic Forum, praised the work of the Shuki Movida team and went on to tell those gathered of the other projects run by MAC. “We are working on wheelchair pro-

vision for children in need and for wheelchair adaptation around Georgia. We organized a parents’ conference in

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

Tbilisi which saw parents of children with disabilities coming from throughout Georgia. We also have a training program for caregivers, teachers, and professionals who work with children with disabilities – the workshops help to increase their knowledge and skills. Your support is appreciated, as are donations,” he concluded. “You can see how much we’ve grown and the wonderful work we’re doing,” says Cathy McLain, an educational psychologist and MAC founder. “But I realize, being here tonight and listening to the conversations, that we need to be doing a lot more. This is only the beginning of what MAC does and can do, and we’re open to ideas if you have them as to how we can go about supporting those with disabilities in Georgia.” Her husband, Roy Southworth, also a founder-member, recalls when Cathy would drive off into the wilds of Georgia for days, weeks or months at a time, in a Lada. In those early days of the organization, she and her team evaluated up to 227 children living in villages around Zestaphoni and Terjola. “She did the leg-work and I got to sit

back and enjoy the warmth, love and positivity that comes from the work that the MAC and Shuki Movida team puts into the project.” “I always say that that the biggest success of the project is that it gives people a platform to start speaking up for their children, their rights and, in general, for their life which is full of both challenges and successes,” Jeremy tells us. “What I love most in this project is that Shuki Movida brings happiness to the families. We visit the families with empty hands: there are no expectations from their side of any help, but they still look forward to meeting us and telling their life story.” One story presented in a video format gave viewers the chance to see the world from 40-year-old Shorena Kravelidze’s perspective. We see her discussing her difficulties and expressing her positive outlook as she drives her car. As a child, she was reluctant to leave the house and so missed out on the essential schooling she needed to find a job. After eight years running a newspaper stand, and after having posted her story on Shuki Movida and training in management, she now works in Marneuli Town Hall. She says she’s determined not to be treated any differently from her colleagues. It is only when she leaves he car that you see her deformed legs, but the way she then confidently cycles herself up the street to her office, coupled with Natia’s portrait of her with her young daughter, shows the determination with which she has made a success of her life. GEORGIA TODAY spoke to Shorena during the exhibition. “Shuki Movida gave me hope,” she tells us. “The stories I read there inspired me. I want to inspire others with my own experiences. Such projects show that we are normal people who want to be active and valued members of the society in which we live.” We also spoke to Tea Bolkvadze, a 42-year-old from Tbilisi, a former doctor and now well-known Paralympic Para-Archer, who fell from a broken balcony in 2014 and was left wheelchairbound. “Regardless of our individual problems, we will make things better for our future generations. Our stories highlight the need for a society adapted to us, that accepts us as we are; sees us as human, as existing members of society. A lot still needs to be done but this is what we are fighting for: to make society better for the generations to come.” “Our hope is that these stories will help connect people,” Jeremy notes. “That hearing these stories will reduce the feeling of isolation, of stigma, and that they will begin to speak up more. We want them to get more involvedwith each other, within the local government; in the lives of their children. We hope that the stories of success will resonate and inspire individuals, families and communities.” Check out the new Shuki Movida facebook page and their website to read the inspiring and heart-warming stories of Georgia’s lesserabled (though sometimes actually more “abled”!) community. MAC came into existence in 2008 to combat a twofold problem: that children with disabilities in rural Georgia did not have access to services and that the parents and families of these children did not even know what services to expect. The founders were Cathy McLain, an educational psychologist, Roy Southworth, then Georgia Country Director for the World Bank, and Rezo Chinchaladze, an educational specialist. MAC now has a staff of seventeen and hires educated professionals from Georgia and abroad. The McLain Association for Children is always on the lookout for volunteers. If you are interested in getting involved, or want to find out more, go to their website macgeorgia.org or contact them on facebook.




MAY 18 - 21, 2018

Conference Call: Mestia, Svaneti



y wife and I were recently invited to participate in a Saturday educational event held in the auditorium of Mestia Museum. Teachers, pupils, education professionals and others came together to discuss the state of school learning in Georgia, both acknowledging its shortcomings and looking at real possibilities. We also went through the United Nations’ 17 Sustainable Development Goals for the planet, and were spurred on by a number of guest speakers, including one Mr Lado Abkhazava of Lanchkhuti, Guria, who was recently awarded the title of Teacher of the Year in Georgia. This man went through some of his numerous school and community projects, and demonstrated admirably, if humbly, why he deserves the title. Thousands of plants and tree seedlings were planted and cared for in his province by schoolchildren, various schools and other institutions competing for numbers in the “By My Own Hands” project. He has worked, using specific projects, to better integrate non-Georgian brides into Gurian society- women from Azerbajiani, Armenian, Russian, and other backgrounds who were simply not being invited to participate in their communities’ social life. He strives to lessen

Muslim-Orthodox tensions and interracial hatred, starting at the school level. Some of Lado’s other projects include “My own Pet,” in which pupils were encouraged to bring a pet of theirs to school and talk about it. There was “Democratic Revolution,” an experiment in school politics, complete with campaigning and voting, along with the necessity of then carrying out one’s campaign promises if elected. “Eat Vegetables and not Your Classmates” dealt with stressful school issues such as bullying. “Debates in the Village Yard” involved talking about and against violence in the community. “Lessons Outdoors” aimed to be just that, taking advantage of extra-classroom spaces to learn in whole new ways. He also tackled local garbage issues, and more, and more. Being a Gurian means that he is at the other end of the scale of speaking speed from Rachans, who are regarded as speaking the slowest, with Gurians the fastest, of the Georgian speakers. But he made himself quite understood on this, the occasion of his first visit to Svaneti. And his boundless energy and enthusiasm shone through, inspiring all of us just to think of the possibilities for action, change and growth in our own villages. The Sustainable Development Goals look like a very worthwhile set of targets at which to aim to improve society around the world. One thing I did, however, feel like standing up and asking about was official, national support for

the status, protection and growth of the Svan language, spoken by less than 1% of the population of this country. I get accused of being a separatist when I raise this question, and two Ministers of Science and Education with whom I have discussed it have soon thereafter lost their jobs… So maybe this conference was not the right time and place. But the question still burns for me: how to SUSTAIN this magnificent and very ancient language? My wife’s school production of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs in English was also invited to be shown at the event, but was later postponed until Intellect Day, which is June 1, along with some other local schools’ dramas. We’ve already had the first public performance, at our own Etseri School, but this will be a bigger venue and audience. If such conferences continue, and have the desired effects, education’s future is looking brighter than we have thought for some time now. https://www.un.org/sustainabledevelopment/sustainable-development-goals/ Tony Hanmer has lived in Georgia since 1999, in Svaneti since 2007, and been a weekly writer for GT since early 2011. He runs the “Svaneti Renaissance” Facebook group, now with over 1850 members, at www.facebook.com/groups/SvanetiRenaissance/ He and his wife also run their own guest house in Etseri: www.facebook.com/hanmer.house.svaneti

Get Ready for James Blunt, The Parlotones, Young Georgian Lolitaz & LoudSpeakers


amous British singer James Blunt, in the framework of his world ‘Afterlove Tour,’ is set to visit Tbilisi on 26 May, the Independence Day of Georgia. The concert will be held at the Locomotiv Stadium in Tbilisi and will see the singer performing his famous hits “You’re Beautiful” and “Goodbye my lover” for Georgian fans. The Parlotones, a rock band from Johannesburg (South Africa), is also invited to perform songs created about love and everyday life, while the event will be hosted by energetic and strong rock groups such as the Young Georgian Lolitaz and Loudspeakers. “James Blunt is very popular in South Africa. We have never taken part in a concert with him and are looking forward to May 26,” said The Parltone’s vocalist, Kahn Morbee. “We have great expectations, and we are happy to see him personally,” he added. “We'll all be getting the audience up dancing and singing! We’ll be playing some 15-20 songs, including our best known hits: Push Me to the Floor, I'll be There, Stars Fall Down, Colorful, Over-

our repertoire,” says The Young Georgian Lolitaz’s main vocalist and guitarist, Nika Kocharov. “We’ll have a mix of an audience- some who know us, some who don’t. It gives us the chance to show off our best, especially when participating in a concert with a world class musician.” "May 26 is one of the most important dates in the history of Georgia,” said LoudSpeakers soloist Levan Lodadze. “It’s an honor to be playing at James Blunt’s concert. We’ve got a new repertoire, a lot of new melodies, as well as our traditional hits. This is going to be a great experience for us.” James Blunt will sing in Georgia on May 26, the first international star invited by Black Pearl Live. Fans will be able to listen to all their favorite hits. Tickets can be purchased on tkt.ge. exposed, and Giant Mistake.” The Parlotones have accompanied concerts by Snow Patrol, Coldplay, Blue October, Starsailor and Ash and have participated in a variety of festivals, including Skrillex, Kings of Leon, Metallica, Good Charlotte and others. "It is a great honor to participate in the event dedicated to May 26 and perform

The international promotion company Black Pearl Live is based in Georgia and cooperates with the world's top performers. The company has ambitious goals in the Georgian market, aiming to organize large-scale festivals, concerts and shows in order to make Georgia one of the world's cultural events host countries.


GEORGIA TODAY MAY 18 - 21, 2018

Europa Nostra Awards Cultural Heritage Prize to 'Textile from Georgia'

Continued from page 1

Among the outstanding European heritage “success stories” awarded in 2018 are: the rehabilitation of a Byzantine church in Greece, with its unique series of frescoes dating from the 8th - 9th century, made possible thanks to a fruitful cooperation between Greek and Swiss organisations; the development of a new method to conserve the heritage of Europe’s historic houses, the result of a joint venture between five institutions based in France, Italy and Poland; the dedication of an international network of NGOs committed to the protection of Venice for over 30 years; and the establishment of a public educational program that gives all children and young people in Finland the chance to engage with their cultural heritage and which can serve as inspiration for similar initiatives across Europe. “I warmly congratulate this year’s 'heritage champions' who have been selected as winners of the EU Prize for Cultural Heritage / Europa Nostra Awards," said Plácido Domingo, the renowned opera singer and President of Europa Nostra. "We are deeply impressed by the exceptional skills, creativity, commitment and generosity of so many heritage professionals, volunteers and supporters from all over Europe. They deserve every praise and further support. Our award winners are living proof that our cultural heritage is far more than the memory of our past; it is key to understanding our present and a resource for our future. We must therefore use the European Year of Cultural Heritage to recognise the value of our shared cultural heritage for the future of Europe!" “Cultural heritage in all its different forms is one of Europe’s most precious assets," noted Tibor Navracsics, European Commissioner for Education, Culture, Youth and Sport. "It builds bridges between people and communities as well as between the past and the future. It is central to our identity as Europeans and also has a vital role in driving social and economic development. I congratulate the winners of the 2018 EU Prize for Cultural Her-

itage / Europa Nostra Awards and their teams for their exceptional and innovative work. Thanks to their talent and commitment, numerous European cultural heritage treasures have been safeguarded and revitalised. And importantly, their work enables people from all backgrounds to discover, explore and engage with our rich cultural heritage, fully in the spirit of the European Year of Cultural Heritage that we are celebrating in 2018." Independent Juries of experts examined a total of 160 applications, submitted by organizations and individuals from 31 countries across Europe, and selected the winners. The winners will be celebrated at the European Heritage Awards Ceremony,co-hosted by European Commissioner Tibor Navracsics and Maestro Plácido Domingo, on the evening of 22 June at the Berlin Congress Center. Seven Grand Prix laureates (each of whom will receive €10,000) and the Public Choice Award winner, chosen from among this year’s winning projects, will be announced during the Ceremony. The European Heritage Awards Ceremony will be honored by the participation of Dr. Frank-Walter Steinmeier, President of the Federal Republic of Germany, in his capacity as the Patron of the European Year of Cultural Heritage in Germany. The Ceremony will be attended by 1,000 people, ranging from high-level officials from EU Institutions and Member States to leading representatives of heritage organisations from all over Europe. The winners will present their heritage accomplishments at the Excellence Fair on 21 June at the Allianz Forum. They will also contribute to various other events of the European Cultural Heritage Summit“Sharing Heritage - Sharing Values” from 18-24 June in Berlin. Co-hosted by Europa Nostra, the German Cultural Heritage Committee (DNK) and the Prussian Cultural Heritage Foundation (SPK), the Summit aims to promote an ambitious European Agenda and Action Plan for Cultural Heritage as a lasting legacy of the European Year of Cultural Heritage.

Belgian Photographer Documents Soviet Spas in Georgia BY BENJAMIN MUSIC


elgian empty-space photographer Reginald Van de Velde travelled through Georgia to document the Soviet vacation towns, such as Tskaltubo, in its current state, abandoned and ready to renovated for future tourist groups. His photography captures in an eerie and spooky way the remains of a town considered to be at the heart of Soviet vacation policies. During communist times, citizens weren’t just workers, but a valuable means of labor, meaning they were in need of regular rest and recuperation. Tskaltubo grew out of its rich natural resources, which enabled direct access to thermal water. The Mediterranean climate in the summer drove hordes of Soviets to choose this town for their vacation, often even being assigned the town by their manager. Van de Velde, whose photographic passion lies

in decaying and empty spaces, took on the task to look inside many former spas. Today, a vast number of these old buildings are used as homes by refuges of the 1990s Abkhazian War. A new renovation program places the Tskaltubo at the heart of recent tourism promotion campaigns. One of the most famous tourists in Tskaltubo was Joseph Stalin, whose bath house is one of the few renovated and operational today. The recent increases in tourism figures in Georgia hitting the 7 million mark this year generates momentum for many places to scale up their infrastructure in hopes of getting a piece of the tourism pie. Other places, such as Sokhumi or Gagra, both located on the Black Sea, also have ruined spa houses scattered throughout. Often well concealed by fauna covering them in a green blanket, Van de Velde photographed them in their natural vegetating metamorphosis. Van de Velde’s photography will remain a reminder of a period when spas and thermal baths were briefly taken over by nature, before being reused for 21st century tourism purposes.





MAY 18 - 21, 2018


TBILISI OPERA AND BALLET THEATER Address: 25 Rustaveli Ave. Telephone: 2 00 44 66 May 18, 19, 20 SLEEPING BEAUTY By Pyotr Tchaikovsky Ballet in three acts. The performance is dedicated to Marius Petipa’s 200th anniversary Choreography- Marius Petipa, Staging by Nina Ananiashvili and Alexey Fadeechev Staging Conductor: Alevtina Ioffe Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 25-50 GEL TBILISI VASO ABASHIDZE MUSIC AND DRAMA STATE THEATER Address: 182 D.Agmashenebeli Ave. Telephone: 2 34 80 90 www.musictheatre.ge May 20 WELCOME TO GEORGIA A musical, theatrical play and romantic comedy telling a story about Georgia and its people by combining song, dance, culture, traditions, history, national costumes and local cuisine. Musical Language: English, some Georgian (with English subtitles) Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 60-80 GEL MOVEMENT THEATER Address: 182, Aghmashenebeli Ave. Telephone: 598 19 29 36 May 19 SIMBIOSIS Director and Choreographer: George Ghonghadze One-act choreographic sketch Start time: 20:00 Ticket price: 10-15 GEL May 20 DON JUAN Directed by Kakha Bakuradze Start time: 20:00 Ticket price: 115 GEL GABRIADZE THEATER Address: 13 Shavtelis St. Telephone: 2 98 65 93

May 20, 21, 24 An animated documentary film REZO Directed by Leo Gabriadze Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 15 GEL May 18, 19, 22, 23 STALINGRAD Rezo Gabriadze Directed by Rezo Gabriadze English Subtitles Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 20, 30 GEL SHALIKASHVILI PANTOMIME THEATER Address: 37 Sh. Rustaveli Ave. Telephone: 595 50 02 03 May 19 LULLABY Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 15 GEL CINEMA

CAVEA GALLERY Address: 2/4 Rustaveli Ave. Telephone: 200 70 07 Every Wednesday ticket: 8 GEL May 18 - 24 DEADPOOL 2 Directed by David Leitch Cast: Morena Baccarin, Josh Brolin, Bill Skarsgård, Ryan Reynolds Genre: Action, Adventure, Comedy Language: English Start time: 14:00, 19:45, 22:15 Language: Russian Start time: 12:45, 15:50, 19:30, 22:30 Ticket: 11-19 GEL AVENGERS: INFINITY WAR Directed by Anthony Russo, Joe Russo Cast: Karen Gillan, Josh Brolin, Letitia Wright, Chris Evans Genre: Action, Adventure, Fantasy Language: English Start time: 22:30 Language: Russian Start time: 13:00, 16:15, 19:40 Ticket: 13-19 GEL ANON Directed by Andrew Niccol Cast: Clive Owen, Amanda Seyfried, Colm Feore Genre: Sci-Fi, Thriller Language: Russian Start time: 22:30 Ticket: 19 GEL


GEORGIAN NATIONAL MUSEUM SIMON JANASHIA MUSEUM Address: 4 Rustaveli Ave. Telephone: 2 99 80 22, 2 93 48 21 www.museum.ge GEORGIAN COSTUME AND WEAPONRY OF 18TH-20TH CENTURIES NUMISMATIC TREASURY Exhibition showcasing a long history of money circulation on the territory of modern Georgia from the 6th century BC. to 1834. EXHIBITION STONE AGE GEORGIA ARCHEOLOGICAL TREASURE NEW LIFE TO THE ORIENTAL COLLECTIONS April 26 – September 1 UNKNOWN COLLECTIONS OF GEORGIAN NATIONAL MUSEUM– INDIA, CHINA, JAPAN The exhibition showcases up to 500 artworks - paintings, sculptures and samples of applied art, chronological range of which is certainly wide and many more. MUSEUM OF SOVIET OCCUPATION Address: 4 Rustaveli Ave. Telephone: 2 99 80 22, 2 93 48 21 www.museum.ge PERMANENT EXHIBITION Discover the State's personal files of "subversive" Georgian public figures, orders to shoot or exile, and other artifacts representing Sovietera cultural and political repression in Georgia. SIGHNAGHI MUSEUM Address: 8 Rustaveli Alley, Sighnaghi Telephone: 223 24 48 April 21 – May 31 EXHIBITION DOLLS OF JAPAN The exposition showcases traditional Japanese dolls - among them Hina Ningyo (girls' festival dolls) and Gogatsu Ningyo (boys'

festival dolls) originating from ancient Japanese traditions and customs. GALLERY

THE NATIONAL GALLERY Address: 11 Rustaveli Ave. www.museum.ge May 15 – August 5 For International Museum Day, GNM presents the Georgian National Museum festival, dedicated to the 100th anniversary of the Democratic Republic of Georgia. Exhibition TITIAN - MASTER OF COLOR: THE VIRGIN AND CHILD TBILISI ART FAIR Address: Tbilisi Expo Georgia, 118 A. Tsereteli Ave. OPEN: May 17- 18:00-21:00, May 18, 19- 12:00-19:30, May 10- 12:00-18:00 May 17-20 Events: GALLERIES Venue: Pavilion 11. THE HIVE (independent artists) Venue: Pavilion 5. TAF EXHIBITIONS IN AND OUT OF REALITY: 3 CENTURIES OF PHOTOGRAPHIC IMAGE IN GEORGIA Venue: Pavilion 6. May 17- 30 WAR ON HOLD / UNDER CONSTRUCTION Venue: Pavilion 9. KOLGA TBILISI PHOTO 2018 Program: May 5 - June 3 Address: Tbilisi History Museum (Karvasla), 8 Sioni Str. THOMAS DAHMEN I Have Seen the Light MEINRAD SCHADE Unresolved JAN GRARUP And Then There Was Silence VANESSA WINSHIP She Dances on Jackson


TBILISI CONCERT HALL Address: 1 Melikishvili St. Telephone: 2 99 00 99 May 20 LELA TSURTSUMIA AND GOOFY LAND PERFORM 5TH LIVE CONCERT OF GEORGIAN TOURNEY Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 10-80 GEL TBILISI STATE CONSERVATOIRE Address: 8 Griboedov St. Telephone: 2 93 46 24 May 21 CENTRAL MUSIC SCHOOL FOR GIFTED CHILDREN Participants: Revaz Khaindrava, Tatia Abashishvili, Ana Pantskhava, Dea Abakelia-Gverdtsiteli, Nino Khocholava, Nana Goliadze, Sandro Tsikhoridze, Ana Tchania, Rusudan Sabadze, Irina Rostomashvili, Giorgi Grdzelidze Conductor- Revaz Takidze Start time: 19:00 Ticket: 5-20 GEL May 23 WOMAN AND MUSIC ‘FISH’S LETTERS’ Tamar Putkaradze Chamber opera Conductor: Giorgi Papiashvili Soloist: Ketevan Abuladze Contemporary Music Ensemble “Georgia Modern” II Contemporary woman composers’ chamber music Concert. Maka Virsaladze “Pray” Aziza Sadikova “Dream” Nana Kobaladze “Memory” Dina Lentsner “Tender Buttons” Sophia Sagaradze “Piece” Eka Chabashvili “Sonata with shining bow” Start time: 17:00 Tickets: 5 GEL May 24 CENTRAL MUSIC SCHOOL FOR GIFTED CHILDREN Participants: Lazare Matskhonashvili, Giorgi Gurgenadze, Tsotne Sidamonidze, Mariam Mindorashvili, Anastasia Agladze, Luka Totadze… Conductor: Revaz Takidze Start time: 17:00 Tickets: 5-15 GEL LISI WONDERLAND Address: Near Lisi lake May 19 Among the Moss and Zion Audio Present MOSS SPREE LINE UP: Oogway (Zion Audio)– GE Katana (Zion Audio)– GE Ellarge– GE Eldario Bhanishta Ganesh Puri– RU Acidwave (Treebal)– GE Kaya Matu (Agaraki)– GE Tabu (Agaraki)– GE Start time: 12:00 Ticket: 15 GEL BLACK SEA ARENA Address: Village Natanebi (Shekvetili), Ozurgeti May 19 ENNIO MORRICONE Maestro Ennio Morricone featuring Rome Symphony Orchestra and Tbilisi Opera Choir Maestro performs his most prominent music scores at the concert. The show will be held as a part of Maestro Morricone’s “60 Years of Music Tour” Start time: 20:30 Ticket: 120-200 GEL


GEORGIA TODAY MAY 18 - 21, 2018


Tbilisi Int'l Festival of Literature Held for 4th Time BY LIKA CHIGALDZE


iterature has no boundaries, and the notion has one again been proved this year. The Tbilisi International Festival of Literature counts four years of existence and annually takes place in Georgia’s capital, bringing together celebrated contemporary authors from different corners of the world. Symbolically, the festival takes place in the historic building of Writers’ House, originally constructed by famous philanthropist and founder of Georgian brandy, Davit Sarajishvili, in 1905. The festival was opened on May 14 with the Italian poets’ evening and will last until May 19. This year, the festival is hosting 24 writers from 21 countries. Among the participants of the festival are renowned poets, prose writers, children’s book writers from the USA, Italy, Germany, Austria, Spain, Brazil, Norway, Russia, Ukraine, and Israel. The festival gives literature enthusiasts, Georgian writers and readers an opportunity to attend inspiring evenings of literature and to listen to works by their favorite writes read aloud by the authors themselves. Beside Writers’ House, the evenings have been scheduled to be held at several locations at Caucasian House, Ilia State University, Royal District Theater, and Austrian Library. As the organizer of the festival, Nuka Gambashidze, told GEORGIA TODAY, the festival was established under the initiative of Natalia Lomauri, Winters’ House Director, and Shota Iatashvili, who is a wellknown writer, editor, translator and publisher of magazine Akhali Sounje (New Treasure). "The framework of the project has been upgraded, and now, besides writers’ evenings and movie screenings, the program includes workshops, discussions with authors and various performances. This year we are honored to have children’s author Arne Svingen from Norway. We are able to benefit from the space even more since Winters’ House has more capacity and can host bigger audiences," Gambashidze said, adding that in summer 2017, the festival launched a residency project that enables five writers to stay in the historic building during the festival. Georgian writers and representatives of contemporary literature are also involved in the series of events carried out within the frames of the festival. “Throughout the history of the festival, Georgian authors were always part of it," Gambashidze said. "We have held presentations of contemporary Georgian authors’ books as well as given space to fledgling writers. This year, instead of organizing an evening dedicated to a particular Georgian writer, we gave the stage to Georgian Poetry Leagues such as Jet Engine Poetry, Chronophags – Anomalous Poetry, Old Poets’ Order, Laboratory, and Pink Bus. These leagues incorporate a number of Georgian poets from 90s up until today, yet this year we present even more Georgian authors than we had before. The poetry leagues deliver different kinds of performances and share their works with the public. Zurab Rtvelishvili, Shota Iatashvili, Paata Shamugia, Zaza Koshkadze: these are some of the most well-known representatives of contemporary Georgian poetry who are involved in the festival." The core aim of the festival is to promote literature and to help establish cultural bridges between different authors from various countries. Yet, apart from establishing relations between writers from around the world, the festival also aims to introduce Georgia and its vibrant culture to the international community, taking

into consideration the fact that most of the participants of the festival are leaders of the field in their countries and are socially active figures. “We create memorable experiences for them, give insight into the diverse Georgian culture, and showcase the city from different perspectives. Additionally, the festival organizes special tours for them, that help the participants to get a broader view of Georgia”, the organizer noted. The Tbilisi International Festival of Literature also actively cooperates with printing houses. This year, another notable guest is Victor Erofeyev, whose books has been translated into Georgian and presented by publishing house Intelekti as part of the festival. The presentation of the Georgiantranslated book by Arne Svingen also took place at the festival. Yet another important feature of the festival is the program Living Books within the frames of which Italian authors paid a visit to Svaneti, Georgia’s mountainous region, and over a few days had an opportunity work together with Georgian writers and translators. Both Italian and Georgian colleagues got acquainted with and translated one another’s’ poetry. The exchange project is mutual, so later three Georgian poets Shota Italashvili, Giorgi Lobzhanidze and Nika Jorjaneli will attend the Literary Festival of Genoa in Italy. One of the biggest achievements of Tbilisi International Festival of Literature 2018 is hosting internationally acclaimed American author Charles Bernstein, who is just as popular in Georgia as in his home country. He came together with his wife to be part of the festival and represents one of the leading figures in contemporary literature as well as being recognized as a pioneer in many subgenres of poetry. He is the founder and a member of the L=A=N=G=U=A=G=E poets avant garde group. An evening dedicated particularly to him was one of the most anticipated and most heavily attended during the festival. As the renowned writer elaborated in an interview with GEORGIA TODAY, the festival allows not only a deeper exchange, but raises consciousness and awareness about the country. We asked him about his famous poem and generally the role of poetry. He answered that he is interested in the role of poetry being understood in terms of esthetics, sensation, ambiguity and contradiction, but not programmatically and not as a message. "I don’t think poetry functions at its best when it conveys an ambiguous political message or even expresses some particular emotion. I think it is an exploration of a metaphor of nature of how we perceive reality by questioning how we perceive reality and resisting the habitual formations language creates for us about what is real and what’s not; what is good or what is bad. For me the social function of poetry is the research and investigation into the way in which language creates our frames of reference and the way we see things, and to unwrap those things rather than just reinforce the already dominant codes and meaning. So I resist the idea that there is a single message in a poem and you are communicating it, because it allows other kinds of meanings to emerge that are not apparent. Bringing into meaning things that are discounted as meaningless is the function that poetry can serve and it often serves by doing things that a lot of people would perceive as violations of norms and standards. Poetry is not something that is the same as the way one lives everyday life or the way one conducts politics, but it allows a kind of leap of thought.” Zurab Rtveliashvili, a famous writer from Sweden with Georgian origins, described the festival as one of the major events and a



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best gift for Georgian culture. “The festival is an important occasion in Georgian culture that should have happened many years ago. This is the first such large scale festival in the region that takes place in Tbilisi. So it requires more support and attention. I think that this festival should become a trademark of Georgian culture

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and literature. The writers from around the world who come to Georgia represent ambassadors of their countries who spread information about Georgian culture and poetry when they get back and in this way promote Georgia at the international level.” More info about the festival here.


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Profile for Georgia Today

Issue #1049  

May 18 - 21, 2018

Issue #1049  

May 18 - 21, 2018