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Issue no: 1160/185

• JUNE 18 - 20, 2019




In this week’s issue...

Temperatures on the rise as Pride Week kicks off for the first time in Tbilisi

Weekly Entrepreneurial News @entrepreneur.ge




Real Estate Market: Jan-Mar 2019 Market Highlights ISET PAGE 4

Ministry of Economy Officials Meet with Women Business Leaders BUSINESS PAGE 5

Microfinanza Rates MFO Crystal ‘A-’ BUSINESS PAGE 6 Image source: Tbilisi Pride Facebook page

Is Georgia Ready for its First Female Lifeguards? BY THEA MORRISON


HUAWEI Continues as Member of the SD Association, Bluetooth and Wi-Fi Alliance


or the first time in the history of the country, Georgia has new female lifeguards, who started work at the Black Sea coastal city Batumi on Saturday, joining a maledominated rescue corps for the holiday

season. 20 female students of Batumi Naval Academy were selected for the role in the first instance, but as the academy and the Georgian Interior Ministry says, the number will increase as other female students have also expressed a desire to take on the job. 160 lifeguards are already patrolling Georgia’s Black Sea coast, and their number will increase to 250 in the coming days alongside the increase in the number of holidaymakers. Continued on page 12

The Swiss Embassy in Georgia for Racha’s Sustainable Development


Circular Economy Bachelors Course to Be Offered for the First Time in Georgia Image source: iregions.ge

SOCIETY PAGE 14 Prepared for Georgia Today Business by

Markets Asof14ͲJunͲ2019







































COMMODITIES CrudeOil,Brent(US$/bbl) GoldSpot(US$/OZ)



























































































































@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:


JUNE 18 - 20, 2019

Russia Concerned by Possible Accelerated Membership of Georgia in NATO

The first totally unique Georgian electric motorbicycle came about thanks to self-taught constructor Beka Januashvili. Beka launched the first mini chopper in 2015. He has produced nearly 10 exclusive models since and has been working on the electric bicycle for five months. The first sample has already been presented at an exhibition and won gold at an event in Belarus, for best idea and design. Claiming that the ecofriendly transport will be in great demand, Januashvili plans to develop the line. Getting married? Do it in Racha! Garemo is a hostel near Ambrolauri launched by twin sisters Mirandukht and Tamar Davituliani, which offers a wonderful stay and incredible landscapes, and which is able to host such important events as weddings. 400 meters from the quiet airport, its sees Georgians and foreigners as frequent guests. Designed in the minimalist style, featuring an outdoor swimming pool, hammock and table, Garemo represents a year-round go-to destination. Love of travel was the main catalyst for launching the hostel. The initiative was carried out with a grant (12,500 GEL) from the Produce in Georgia project, and private resources. Tourists from Israel, the USA and even Australia have already stayed at Garemo. The success of the founders of Singular, Akaki Meladze and Giorgi Shamugia, began at school, when they won almost all the international IT competitions. 20% of Singular was recently purchased by a venture fund for EUR 5 million, making it the largest IT company in Georgia. Launched in 2010, it has so far been introduced in Malta, Macedonia and Estonia. The company also sees potential in African countries. The investment, as well as the knowledge and contacts obtained through the venture fund, have opened a new, Asian market for Singular. 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



ussia's Deputy Foreign Minister Grigory Karasin and Special Representative of the Georgian Prime Minister for Relations with Russia Zurab Abashidze met in Prague on June 13. The sides discussed various issues related mainly with trade, economy, humanitarian and cultural aspects of bilateral relations. Grigori Karasin said before the meet-

ing that Russia is concerned about the possible accelerated membership of Georgia in NATO. According to him, it will affect the country’s relations with Russia. “US Secretary of State Mike Pompey has openly stated that Georgia’s NATO membership should be accelerated. To our mind, this will have catastrophic effects on our relationship," the Deputy Foreign Minister of Russia stated. The Prime Minister's Special Representative for Relations with Russia Zurab Abashidze responded to the statement made by Karasin about Geor-

gia's NATO membership. “Russia should not talk about NATOGeorgia relations in a threatening tone," he said. Abashidze believes that NATO-Georgia relations are the country’s sovereign choice and no one has rights to dictate or change its diplomatic course. “Our relations with NATO and other international organizations, this is our sovereign right, sovereign choice. This is totally unacceptable for us when Russia’s representatives make some statements in a threatening tone,” Zurab Abashidze stated.


GEORGIA TODAY JUNE 18 - 20, 2019


Levan Vasadze Vows to Create “People’s Army” Against Tbilisi Pride BY AMY JONES


usinessman Levan Vasadze released a video address on June 16 calling for “real” men to stop Tbilisi Pride from taking place and meet in Vera Park to discuss an action plan on Sunday even-

ing. Vasadze, who is known for his extreme hate speech and pro-Russian beliefs, announced that he would create a “People’s Army” of tens of thousands of men, inviting sportsmen and military to join and women and children to stay at home. “I am inviting men,” said Vasadze. “What needs to be done, needs to be done by men.” He said they will create self-organized groups that will patrol Tbilisi for a week: “We will divide the city, patrol the city quietly, quietly, we will not have any weapon, except for one – we will bind their hands with belts and take them away,” threatened Vasadze. He also insisted that Tbilisi Pride would not be allowed to happen, saying his men would break through any police cordon during the event. “We will not allow the LGBT activists to hold any public action, wherever this happens in movie theaters, in parks, in the streets, in the mountains or at the lakes,” he said in his video address on June 15. “We will come to you everywhere, we will break through any cordon and we will overwhelm you.” Members of hate groups gathered in Vera Park on Sunday evening to begin recording “squads”. Vasadze’s video address follows events in Tbilisi on Friday night when far-right protestors violently confronted peaceful LGBTQI protesters. LGBTQI activists gathered in front of the Parliament building in response to a statement from the Church saying that Tbilisi Pride is “absolutely unacceptable” and urging the government to prevent it. Police detained 28 people for physically and ver-

Image source: tabula

bally assaulting the peaceful activists and attempting to break through the police cordon. In a statement released by Tbilisi Pride on Sunday evening, they called on the Ministry of Internal Affairs to launch an investigation into Levan Vasadze’s video: “Levan Vasadze is threatening to violate law and order and commit violence against people and policemen for the second time.” The Ministry of Internal Affairs confirmed they are investigating Levan Vasadze in a statement published on Monday morning. He is accused of breaching Article 223 for creating, managing, arranging and/or partcipating in an illegal formation, which carries a sentence of 6-12 years. “The provision of public order in the country is

Average Salary Rises to 1092 GEL

Photo source - Currency Exchange



n the first quarter (Q1), the average salary in Georgia increased by 33.5 Lari (GEL) year on year, rising to 1,092 GEL, according to data released by the National Statistics Office of Georgia (Geostat).

The finance and insurance, science, technology, and information and communication sectors saw the highest salaries, earning 1894 GEL (+17.8%), 1799 GEL (+3.2%) and 1751 GEL (+3.9%) respectively. Men earned on average 1294 GEL per month, whilst women only earned 876 GEL. However, women saw their average monthly earnings increase more per month – 58 GEL compared to 22.4 GEL.

the duty of the Ministry of Internal Affairs and therefore any attempt to execute the duties of the police and other state agencies will be immediately prevented,” reads the statement. They assured that they will protect the right to freedom of assembly and freedom of expression of every person during Pride events regardless of “his/ her political views, beliefs, sexual orientation, etc.” In a press conference on Monday morning, Deputy Interior Minister Natia Mezvrishvili confirmed that no-one is immune from the law and that the Ministry of Internal Affairs will respond adequately to any violations. LGBTQI groups are frequently oppressed in Georgia. Far-right, pro-Russian hate groups and

the Church believe that Pride is an attack on traditional values. “Liberal forces must realize this is too much when they try to impose something that is unacceptable for our nation,” said Archbishop Jakob, during his Sunday sermon. “There may be various kinds of rules in different parts of the world, but it is not necessary that the same be introduced in our country.” On 17 May 2013, thousands of counter-demonstrators violently clashed with LGBTQI protestors who held a small rally for the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia. The first ever Tbilisi Pride will take place from 18 - 23 June to raise awareness for LGBTQI issues in Georgia.




JUNE 18 - 20, 2019

Real Estate Market: Jan-Mar 2019 Market Highlights


n Q1 2019, the SPI for residential properties experienced an increase of 1.4% (QoQ), while the RPI declined by 7.2% (QoQ). During this quarter, the ASP varied between 873 USD and 888 USD per m2 (monthly average), and the ARP was between 6.5 USD and 7.0 USD per m2 (monthly average). The quarterly average is 881 USD for ASP and 6.7 USD for ARP. For Q1 2019, the ASP increased (YoY) in all Tbilisi districts, except Vake (-0.6%). The highest increases can be observed in Samgori (+15.4%), followed by Krtsanisi (+7.9%) and Chughureti (+7.2%). The ARP decreased (YoY) in all districts, aside from Isani (+12.1%). The greatest reductions were in Nadzaladevi and Gldani, by -14.2% (YoY) and -14.5% (YoY), respectively. In Q1 2019, the comparative most and least expensive districts by ASP were: Mtatsminda (1,079 USD) and Gldani (585 USD); and by ARP: Mtatsminda (7.8 USD) and Gldani (3.8 USD).

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

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

COMMERCIAL PROPERTY PRICES The SPI for commercial properties increased by 14.4% (QoQ) in Q1 2019, reaching 0.979 index points. While RPI declined by 5.4% (QoQ) and concluded at 0.874 index points. Over Q1 2019, the ASP varied between 889 and 1,079 USD per m2, and the ARP between 7.99 and 9.92 USD per m2. The ASP for commercial properties decreased by -14.3% (YoY) and reached 979 USD per m2. The ARP also decreased, by 4.6% (YoY), and ended at 8.89 USD per m2.

Graph #2. Quarterly Dynamic of Average Sale and Rent Prices for Commercial Property in GEL and USD

BATUMI & KUTAISI RESIDENTIAL PROPERTY The SPI for residential property in Batumi in Q1 2019 increased (8.4%, QoQ), reaching 1.210 index points. The SPI in Kutaisi also grew, by 13.8% (QoQ), and held 1.097 index points. The ASP of residential property in the Batumi decreased by 1.8%, whereas it increased in Kutaisi by 4.5% (QoQ), by 827 and 417 USD per m2, respectively.

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GEORGIA TODAY JUNE 18 - 20, 2019


Ministry of Economy Officials Meet with Women Business Leaders BY SAMANTHA GUTHRIE


ast week, the ‘Women for Tomorrow – Business Leaders Federation,’ held a meeting with several top government officials. The main purpose of the meeting was to review opportunities for cooperation and perspectives for the government to offer support for the development of Georgia’s businesswomen. Women for Tomorrow is an association of women business leaders, primarily in the small and medium-sized enterprise sector. The organization aims “to strengthen the role of women in the process of economic development by creating an empowering network of women business leaders and employing the synergy of collaboration of its members,” reads its mission statement. The June 10 event was attended by

We plan to provide access to finances and to promote local Georgian production, Minister Turnava

Image source: Women for Tomorrow

Women are one of the driving forces of the economic development of Georgia

Minister of Economy and Sustainable Development Natia Turnava, Deputy Minister of Economy and Sustainable Development Ekaterine Mikabadze, the Head of the National Tourism Administration Mariam Kvrivishvili and the Deputy Director of the Enterprise Georgia Agency Tornike Zirakishvili – both agencies are part of the Ministry of Economy and Sustainable Development. The officials presented their respective entities’ policies related to small business development and answered audience questions. The meeting was centered on the pri-

orities of the Ministry of Economy, and touched on ongoing and planned reforms and business support programs. Meeting attendees, who were primarily members of the Women for Tomorrow – Business Leaders Federation, showed particular interest in the Ministry of Economy’s proactive investment policy, reports the Ministry. The policy includes a ‘single window’ concept, offering all services for investors at one location, likely a Business House, proposed by the Ministry – a parallel to the existing Justice House which is a one-stop-shop for all legal and administrative services.

During the meeting, reports the Ministry of Economy, “Turnava highlighted the importance of continued communication with such business organizations as the Women for Tomorrow, which brings together companies’ owners and senior management, as well as women employed in small and medium businesses.” She said, “Women are one of the driving forces of the economic development of Georgia. Today, we discussed many issues, including the challenges that the business [sector] is facing today. We also talked about new initiatives, including our plans to provide access to

finances and to promote local Georgian production.” Turnava, herself a member of the Board of Directors of Women for Tomorrow, also pledged to continue participating in such meetings in the future. Women for Tomorrow – Business Leaders Federation strives to achieve its mission through several activities: Providing education, development and mentoring for female entrepreneurs and business representatives at every level of leadership; advocating for equal opportunities, effective participation, and advancement of female leaders in business; empowering women of the region in their business endeavors and supporting them in the development of their careers; and promoting the idea of women as business leaders and supporting innovative approach in business. They are dedicated to the principles of equality, advocacy, and innovation.




JUNE 18 - 20, 2019

Microfinanza Rates MFO Crystal ‘A-’


icrofinanza (MFR), a Global Rating Agency specialized in inclusive finance, and its Social Rating Committee has assigned to Georgia’s leading non-bank financial institution Crystal the Grade: A-, with AA being considered the highest Grade in MicroFinanza Rating. The decision was made after a thorough review of Crystal’s documents following a week-long visit to Crystal’s Headquarters and branches in Georgia. The Executive Summary of Crystal’s Social Rating says that: “Crystal’s governance shows commitment to the institution’s triple bottom line (People, Planet, Profit). It’s social strategy is well-formalized with annually approved social targets; social responsibility towards staff is good due to the well-balanced gender composition of staff, there is low staff turnover, competitive remuneration and systematic trainings offered to employees; the client protection principles are properly implemented; and the

context risk is medium with adequate infrastructure to prevent over-indebtedness.“ According to Archil Bakuradze, Founder and Chairman of the Supervisory Board of Crystal, such an assessment from a global rating agency is a great honor and a sign of recognition for the whole team of the Georgian microfinancial organization. He also positively appraised MFR’s activities while making conclusions. “We are delighted to have been assigned the Social Rating A-, as a mark of recognition of Crystal’s social and environmental performance management. MFR was vigorous and punctilious in their process. We are grateful to the team for helping us to identify potential future improvements. This leap in social performance is obviously a collective achievement of all Crystalians, the Board, our investors, lenders and supporters. Crystal remains fully committed to the desired outcomes described by 3P: Planet, People, Profit,” he noted. Chiara Pescatori, MFR Inclusive Finance

Director, also commented on the global rating agency’s assessment of the Georgian financial institution. She described the process of collaborating with Crystal as an “absolute pleasure” and noted that she’s glad to see the progress and improvements achieved by the company over the last years. “It has been an absolute pleasure to work with Crystal and witness the significant improvements the company has made over the past years. At MFR, we would like to thank the Crystal team for the great business relationship with MFR and we wish them great success in the implementation of social performance and client protection practices,” she said. Crystal is a distinguished and trustworthy financial organization in Georgia, which manages a $100 million loan portfolio, employs more than 1,000 professionals, operates through 62 regional branches and serves more than 100,000 unique clients countrywide. Crystal acts as a platform for economic development of thousands of customers, providing them with innovative financial products and services

tailored to their specific needs. Crystal is the first Fitch-rated non-bank financial institution in the region to be assigned a ‘B’ Rating with a Stable Outlook. The company was also recently awarded

with the prestigious CSR Award for the best practices of gender equality principles – UN SDG #5, and the nation’s Responsible Business Award of 2018 as the Most Responsible Company of the Year 2018.



I think like in many other places, we are looking at certain indicators here: poverty, hunger, gender inequality… All the countries have to work towards these goals actually. It’s very ambitious of the UN to have these goals and have a deadline for meeting them, which is 2030. So, over the next decade, we have some hard work to do, not only in Georgia but around the world too. We need a world where everyone has equal opportunities.


r. Sabine Machl is the newly appointed UN Head in Georgia, having moved here just a few weeks ago. In an interview with GEORGIA TODAY, Dr. Machl discusses the recent Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) Festival, the reasons she joined the UN, and her thoughts about Georgia.

TELL US ABOUT THE SDG FESTIVAL THAT TOOK PLACE IN AMBROLAURI, RACHA. I was happy to be a part of this festival because I arrived in Georgia just recently. A great group of organizers worked to make this event happen. There was one a year ago in Rustavi and this year we were in Racha in a beautiful environment. I think it’s really fantastic that Georgia is reaching out and trying to meet the sustainable goals. In this regard, showcasing a few programs that are a part of the UNDP attracted more people. One of my favorite projects within the scope of the festival was the book reading of Once There Was a Girl – a collection of tales and stories about historical

The festival showed how far we have come and how far we have yet to go, while showing that everybody can and should take part in meeting the SDG goals

Image source: UNDP

Georgian women. I think that will play a big role in women's empowerment and gender equality, one of the 17 of the SDGs. The festival showed how far we have come and how far we have yet to go, while showing that everybody can and should take part in meeting these goals. The SDG festival was also fun in the way that it allowed a socializing with the locals of Ambrolauri – I think that was interesting for both sides.

WHY DID YOU CHOOSE TO WORK WITH THE UN? I joined the UN about eight years ago. Before, I worked in a number of international organizations. I chose to work for the UN because I really believe in the mandates that we have, which is supporting countries around the globe on issues concerning law, human rights, gender equality and on peace in particular. I think it’s really important to see all these different angles working together. I worked for the UN in Kyrgyzstan, Palestine and Indonesia and now in Georgia. It’s interesting because I got to see that no matter where you are in the world, there are still at least a few areas and concepts that we need to work on to move towards. It’s important to reach out to people and the UN is all about that! I’m really happy to see countries meet the Sustainable Goals. These are some of the main reasons I joined the UN.

WHAT DO YOU THINK ABOUT GEORGIA? HOW DID YOU FEEL WHEN YOU HEARD YOU WOULD BE WORKING HERE? I was super excited. I’d visited Georgia but never lived here before. I’d also worked on Georgia from different parts of the world in my previous jobs. It was

very funny too, because where I was working before, in Chakrata, a number of my coworkers were Georgians. So I was not very foreign to Georgian culture. Now that I’m here, I’m even more excited. I can’t yet speak about the experience of living in Georgia since I haven’t been here long and I’ve been staying in hotels. I like Tbilisi and coming out into the regions for the first time, in Racha, was a beautiful experience. What can I say? I love it so far!

WHAT’S GEORGIA’S POTENTIAL IN THIS FIELD – WHAT IS THE PROGRESS WE CAN HOPE FOR? I think we can be very hopeful. I really think there’s a lot of progress already that has been pointed out in a number of reports. I believe Georgia has made a lot of reforms towards progress. It’s really important to keep the momentum and get the whole population involved in this way of development. Really reaching everyone in society is the key. This is the spirit of the corporation that we have

Georgia has made a lot of reforms and it’s important to keep the momentum and get the whole population involved in Georgia, too. This means the government, the people, the media, the private sector, and academia and all the rest. It’s about all people working for all the people. If we keep up the work, together we can attain a better society, a better environment and a better world.


GEORGIA TODAY JUNE 18 - 20, 2019


12th Annual WinExpo Georgia BY SAMANTHA GUTHRIE


rom June 13 – 15, the 2019 International Wine and Spirts Fair, WinExpo, was held at Expo Georgia in Tbilisi. The annual event is organized by ExpoGeorgia, an exhibition center and fairground, and supported by the Ministry of Environmental Protection and Agriculture of Georgia and the National Wine Agency of Georgia. WinExpo is “the only international Wine and Spirits Fair in Georgia and the whole Caucasus Region, presenting [the] full range of [the] wine industry, products and services.” They call themselves a “hybrid project between an exhibition, competition and a business forum with the focus on increasing profit through wine sales in a warm and welcoming environment.” The exhibition promotes itself as an opportunity for wine producers to increase sales, reach new markets, and build business partnerships with other wine-related businesses and service providers. The 2019 WinExpo, in its 12th year, featured approximately 160 companies, 110 of which were wine producers. Wine makers from 12 countries were represented. In addition to winemakers, other components of wine and alcohol production presented their products – viti-

culture and winemaking machinery, fertilizers, grape vine saplings, bottling and labeling materials, accessories, and a wide range of other services. Nearly 4000 visitors attended the exhibition. Minister of Environmental Protection and Agriculture of Georgia, Levan Davitashvili, opened the exhibition on Thursday. Within the framework of the WinExpo, the 11th International Wine Competition was held. This year, out of a total of 300 wines presented by 81 companies, 26 wines were awarded gold medals, 52 won silver medals, and 133 wines took home bronze. Competitors included both large international factories and small familyrun wineries. For the first time, the Embassy of France to Georgia and representatives of Inno’Vin, a French wine innovation cluster, attended the exhibition. A special presentation was also made by Tatianna Mann, a British wine expert, on market specifications in the UK and regulations for potential exporters. The top wines were presented their awards by Deputy Minister of Environment Protection and Agriculture Khatia Tsilosani, Chairman of National Wine Agency Levan Mekhuzla, and members of the competition’s jury. Among the outstanding wines, there were five that the jury gave special distinction to. The jury included somme-

Image source: WinExpo

liers, oenologists and international experts and professionals in the wine industry. The chairperson of the jury for the 11th International Wine Competition was Tim Atkin, a British Master of Wine and award-winning wine journalist, broadcaster and commentator. Atkin judged alongside other international

wine specialists – Master of Wine Kenichi Ohashi (Japan), Master of Wine Alistair Cooper (UK), wine expert Marcelo Retamal (Chile), master sommelier Matthew Robert Wilkin (UK), oenologist Mikheil Meskhi (Georgia), wine expert Giorgi Dakishvili (Georgia) and wine expert Nika Aghdgomelashvili (Georgia).

The National Wine Agency reported that the members of the jury, particularly those from abroad, “made positive assessments about the fact that a high number of young winemakers were present in the competition this year, and also welcomed the activity of female winemakers.”

Did You Know the Tbilisi McDonald’s McCafe Was the First in the South Caucasus? isfy major economic, social and environmental standards, including the amelioration of the health and working environ of employees, as well as healthy soil, protected irrigation systems, appropriate waste recycling, and preservation of the surrounding flora and fauna. Along with traditional Cappuccino, Latte and Americano, you will also discover a tasty Macchiato and the real favorite of coffee-lovers – PlayTwite. Aside from coffee, at McCafe you can also enjoy wonderful desserts, from starting a day with fresh-baked, hot and moist croissants to a melt-in-the-mouth strawberry cheesecake. The sweets represented at McCafe are baked in Austria and Germany, giving you the chance to taste a real European dessert and premium coffee in the heart of Tbilisi. Here, the vast majority of guests uses the so-called Screen Ordering and Table Service, which is a very simple process. At the screen, the customer chooses the product and quantity on the display, and after making a payment moves to the



ost of us agree that McDonalds represents one of our favorite restaurants, with its distinguished environ and mouthwatering menu. On top of that, the company regularly spoils its clientele with special offers. Now, for Tbilisi, they have introduced a novelty for those

who consider sweets and a cup of coffee an inseparable part of the successful daily routine. The new branch of McDonald’s was opened at 3 Arakishvili Street, Vake, which integrates McDonald’s and McCafe in one space. It is the first restaurant of this concept in the South Caucasus. Thecompanyisalwayscustomer-oriented and aims to be an innovator. The first McCafe in the South Caucasus is just the beginning, as you will soon be seeing more McCafes at other locations in Tbilisi. The McCafe menu differs entirely from

the McDonald’s menu. Along with delicious burgers, you can also enjoy highquality cakes and coffee! The restaurant is spread over three floors designed by the Austrian company SCHLOFFER and comes equipped with the devices of the Swiss company FRANKE. The infrastructure is completely adapted for disabled individuals and all the materials used in the restaurant are eco-friendly. The concept of the café-restaurant is certainly unique: a traditional McDonald’s awaits you on the right of the entrance, while the McCafe is located opposite the entrance, meeting customers with an energetic and smiling barista and an irresistible selection of delicious snacks. The McCafe coffee is one of the best of the city, and the words “the beans are of premium-quality,” are not just words. The coffee you taste at McCafe, harvested in Central or South America, is semi-roasted and freshly-ground 100% Arabica. McDonald’s only collaborates with those companies which are certified by the world-renowned Rainforest Alliance Organization. This certificate is only obtained by coffee producers which sat-

table, where he/she will be delivered the order by a staff member. You may have heard that the “Georgian McDonald’s is certainly different,” well this is because McDonald’s has been offering innovative and customer-oriented services on the Georgian market for years, and this year, McDonald’s Georgia won important recognition in Europe with the Best Overall Performance award. At the award ceremony, which took place in Athens and was attended by the management of McDonald’s Global, McDonald’s Georgia won a distinguished prize among the European countries. The total investment of the restaurant amounts to 5,490.000 GEL. There are nearly 1000 youngsters employed at the Georgian chain of McDonald’s, of an average age between 20 and 22. GEL 89,922.448 was transferred to the budget of Georgia by the company since its launch. McDonald’s always tries to offer novelties to its customers, as the interest of the clientele is of vital importance to the company.




JUNE 18 - 20, 2019

Standing Together Or Falling Apart BY ERIC LIVNY


llegal and anti-social behavior by an SUV belonging to Georgia Supreme Court, February 15, 2019. The vehicle is parked in a manner blocking Belinski street, just above the Rooms hotel. The yellow bus and all the cars behind had to wait for more than 30 minutes for the road to be unblocked. I remember the very first day I entered Tbilisi State University’s 1st Building (‘Corpusi’). ISET’s only class was located on the second floor, at the end of a long and angled corridor. Strolling along, I heard the sound of music (which was still very new to my ears) coming from beyond the corner. And when I finally got around the corner, I saw a whole bunch of them, Jege Sakhokia, Gaga Abashidze, Levan Karsaulidze and a few other ISET guys, standing in a semicircle, hugging each other, and singing. This image of togetherness and friendship stuck with me for many years to come, symbolizing, as it does, Georgia’s unique history, the ability of its people to survive through the many centuries of division, conquest and submission to much larger foreign powers.

SPACES, PRIVATE AND PUBLIC: A SHARP DIVIDE. The year was 2007, Ania and I had just moved to Tbilisi with our two little kids, and before anything else we had to find a place to live, an apartment. The real estate agent we hired recommended we look in Vake, close to the park. And so, a few days after landing, we started schlepping ourselves from one ugly postSoviet apartment block to another. Stuck like giant wedges between red brick buildings of the previous eras, some of these monstrosities had a peculiar inverted pyramid shape. Rising from a relatively narrow base (limited by the amount of land available for construction), they expanded upwards, defying (selectively enforced) construction regulations, and ominously hanging over passers-by. Smelly and poorly-lit entryways were totally uninviting, but we took our chances to inspect what was on offer in Tbilisi’s bustling real estate market of 2007. The inside of the private apartments we were shown sharply contrasted with the filthy and dark entryways, staircases and other public spaces of the buildings. Though not always furnished to our taste, most apartments sported enormous living rooms, often featuring grand pianos (I vividly remember a white one), crystal chandeliers, and antique-style seating.

Nowhere else have I seen the private-public border drawn right at the doorstep of one’s house

And – lo and behold! – they were extremely well taken care of: freshly painted, clean, and beautifully lit. * * * It is quite natural for people to distinguish between their private habitat – the space in their immediate environment (which they often own and control), and the public space outside. Yet, the borderline between the private and public spheres may be characterized by very different gradients. In most cultures I am familiar with, people would not toss cigarette butts in the public space just outside their houses. Shopkeepers and neighbors would venture at least a little outside their private territory when shoveling snow or sweeping the street. Nowhere have I seen as sharp a divide between what is ‘my territory’ and what is ‘no man’s land’ as in these Georgian apartment blocks. Nowhere have I seen the private-public border drawn right at the doorstep of one’s house. Nowhere have I seen such a contrast between the luxury inside and the filth just one step outside one’s abode.

THE CHALLENGE OF GOING UP. Another paradoxical aspect of living in a 2007 Georgian apartment block concerned the operation of elevators. In many of the buildings we visited, elevators were equipped with ironclad slot machines operated by 10 Tetri coins. To our astonishment, to go up we had to drop a coin (going down was free!) As explained to us, these slot machines were in fact proof of the market’s ingenuity in addressing people’s failure to cooperate. With the disappearance of government in the early years of independence, Georgian citizens had to start managing their own affairs, which until then have been paternalistically taken care of by the Soviet authorities. Unfortunately, but understandably, self-government – even at the level of a single apartment block – turned out to be extremely difficult to organize. Cooperation broke down

because those living on the lower floors did not want to pay as much as the guys above them (or not at all). As a result, people ensconced in their private spaces, letting everything public get into a state of decay and disrepair. The market resolved the elevator maintenance problem. Popping up in response to ‘latent’ demand for their services, private sector companies offered an innovative and economically efficient solution: the slot machine. Just like toll roads, paid elevators offer you a choice: pay to save time and effort or sweat all the way up. Many other common governance issues are still awaiting their resolution.

POLITICS STARTS AT THE GRASSROOTS LEVEL. Politics (democratic or not) start at the grassroots. We got used to thinking that grassroots democracy is about the strength of (donor-financed) civil society organizations. But politics and collective governance starts right inside the buildings we share with our neighbors. Every time we have to drop a coin in the elevator’s slot machine, we are exposed to a political governance problem. Yes, a coin-operated elevator performs its function (unless you run out of your 10 Tetri coin supply), but a far more civilized solution, one that is implemented all over the world, is to have all tenants contribute to a common pool of money that can be used for all common needs: cleaning, lighting, greening, minor repairs, and … elevator maintenance. For Georgians, coming to an agreement on how much each family should contribute to this common pool of money remains an elusive dream. Metaphorically speaking, those living on the lower floors of Georgian society don’t want to pay for elevator maintenance or fixing a leaking roof. Those belonging in the top drawer find their own ways to freeride on their neighbors. As a result, we all live in dirty, dark and energy-inefficient buildings, with elevators operated by coins. A classical tragedy of the commons.

Georgians are not genetically programmed to live in dirty buildings, poorly lit or littered streets: they simply have to get better organized and make better collective choices Governing cooperation, which is what politics is all about, is a difficult endeavor, at all levels. When freeriding is not punished, people tend to shirk from their social duties, and cooperation breaks down, leading to chaos and social turmoil. To survive over the centuries, communities all over the world developed social norms, religious rites and formal laws to allow for collective governance and enforce fragile cooperative arrangements. • “You shall not covet your neighbor's house” (or his wife) is probably one of the earliest examples of a religious “commandment” designed to contain antisocial behavior among community members. • Georgia is rich in its own collective governance traditions. In high mountainous regions, such as Tusheti, villagers established sacred forest zones above their settlements to prevent deforestation and landslides. For similar reasons, high mountain communities adopted

unwritten laws to allocate pasture (at different altitudes) to different types of animals. Finally, Georgian supra and musical traditions are all about harmony and cooperation. • Finally, modern day legal systems are all about enforcing cooperative behavior: keeping one’s word and contractual obligations, driving within acceptable speed limits, or not using violence in one’s dealings with others. Norms and laws are there to nudge (or force) people into pro-social behavior and cooperation, be it about homeowners’ association rules, traffic regulations, criminal and civil codes. Now, if Georgians fail to cooperate and behave in a pro-social manner, it is not because they are genetically programmed egoists. Georgian citizens fail to cooperate because there is no legal framework to underpin their cooperation. This is why Georgians continue littering in common areas (and the common ‘environment’) and do not contribute enough to common causes. By the same token, the fact that a vehicle belonging to Georgia’s Supreme Court can get away with blocking traffic on a busy street has nothing to with the country’s ancient traditions or culture. It is a consequence of a weak legal and institutional framework governing today’s Georgian politics and justice system. Historically, communities that failed to develop and enforce pro-social norms simply perished. They fell prey to betterorganized enemies, overgrazing, floods and deforestation. The Georgian people are not genetically programmed to live in dirty condominiums, poorly lit or littered streets: they simply have to get better organized and make better collective choices. Easier said than done, of course.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Eric Livny is Founder and President at Tbilinomics Policy Advisors and Chair of Economic Policy Committee at the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC Georgia).


GEORGIA TODAY JUNE 18 - 20, 2019

Maqro Construction Marks Construction Completion of the 2nd Stage of Green Diamond



n June 14, Maqro Construction, one of the largest and most successful developers on the Georgian market, held an event devoted to the construction completion of the second phase of the Green Diamond project. Prior to discussing the official ceremony, which we’ll come back to in a moment, it is certainly worth describing the Green Diamond project itself. Located close to the Olympic Complex in the Dighomi district of the Georgian capital, Green Diamond is among those outstanding residential complexes having been designed and carried out in accordance with the highest European standards, offering clientele all the best facilities for a pleasant and cozy stay. The vital importance of ecology was very much in mind of the founders of the project, and so the location of the complex was purposefully chosen to ensure an ecologically clean environ, as well as a peaceful atmosphere at a distance from the overloaded and noisy city center, ideal for families with minors. Along with Green Diamond, the Olympic Complex, Digmis Chalebi and Technological University are other initiatives that are to be carried out on the territory of Dighomi. Sopho Tsamalashvili, the Head of the Maqro Sales Department, states that these projects are to contribute to the development of the district and increase its importance. “This territory represents a place which, through the announced and ongoing projects, is set to develop very soon,” she says. “Therefore, the residential complexes of this type are of vital importance for Tbilisi. First, the complex boasts an area of 7 hectares, with well-developed infrastructure. One third of the project is allocated for recreational zones. By this, we continue the Green Budapest line, which envisages creation of as much green areas as possible across the city.” Designed for three stages of construction, sprawled on an area of 70,000 sq.m and integrating 1,770 apartments in total, the Maqro Construction company has allocated $112 million to meet the needs

of potential customers and all the criteria necessary for a comfortable and secure lifestyle. Residential apartments, a lot of greenery, children’s playgrounds, three outdoor swimming pools, modernly-equipped sport zones, recreational and commercial areas, walking and running tracks, as well as a kindergarten and school: Green Diamond has it all. In addition, a third of the total territory is covered by a multiplicity of plants and trees. The hard work of the professional team of the company has already demonstrated fruitful outcomes, in the completion of the first stage of construction of the Green Diamond complex ahead of the scheduled date, on May 28, 2016. The reception on June 14, marked the completion of the construction of the second stage of the largest-scale project of the company. The guests of the event were hosted on the territory adjacent to one of the outdoor swimming pools at Green Diamond, where they were hosted by the dancing waiters offering them a variety of refreshments. A number of entertaining activities and raffles where among other pleasant surprises awaiting guests. Besik Liluashvili, Chief PR Office of Maqro Group states that Green Diamond creates more than 1,770 apartments where the residents will be able to benefit from all the services without leaving the territory. “The complex has been launched in accordance with the demands and requirements of the clientele. Everything is integrated in one, green area,” claims Liluashvili. “The project has been designed with all that very much in mind.” The third stage of construction is set to kick off in September. Maqro Construction is one of the sub-brands of Macro Group, a company which has been allocating impressive investments in Georgia since 2013, and implementing a number of large-scale and important projects countrywide, including Mercure Tbilisi Old Town Hotel, Dinehall, Ibis Styles Hotel, and more. Prior to Green Diamond, Macro Group had another residential complex named Green Budapest, boasting investments worth $48 million. The total investment of Maqro Group in Georgia exceeds $270 million. The address of the Green Diamond residential complex: 32 Bob Walsh Street. (Olympic Village), Dighomi, Tbilisi.





JUNE 18 - 20, 2019

The Swiss Embassy in Georgia for Racha’s Sustainable Development



acha,themountainousregion located in the north-western part of Georgia, is one of the most beautiful things about the Pearl of the Caucasus. Georgia is often compared to Switzerland in its beauty, landscapes, climate and agricultural potential. However, in terms of development, Georgia still has a long way to go to reach the heights of Switzerland. That is one of the reasons the Swiss Embassy in Georgia has supported sustainable develop-

Bee keeping is a fascinating job. I started teaching it at school and was happily surprised when kids showed an interest too

ment in mountainous regions of Georgia for years already. GEORGIA TODAY had a chance to interview Patric Franzen, the Ambassador of Switzerland to Georgia, who talked briefly about Racha, Georgia, Switzerland, the friendship between the two, and regional development. “For us, regional development is extremely important: there’s also a huge potential for the development of tourism in the region [of Racha]. We put a great emphasis on women empowerment here as well as on climate adaptation. In the area of climate change adaptation, we have the same challenges in Switzerland; our two countries are very similar and we have a lot to share.” Production of wine, honey, dairy and meat products is expanding by the day in Racha, thanks in large part to the project implemented by the UNDP with the support of Swiss Government. The project takes the responsibility of supporting, funding and training locals interested in being entrepreneurs in different specialties. The berry growing culture is also becoming more and more common in Racha. Guliza Chikviladze, participant of the project, grows four varieties of berry on her 1500 m2 land plot. “This program has given me a great opportunity,” she told us. “While I was being trained to grow berries organically and get involved in this business, I realized the value of staying here in Racha, working on the land I love and getting paid in return.”

Honey producing and bee keeping is another specialty of agriculture that’s developing more and more as days go by and which is also part of the abovementioned project. Giorgi Beruchashvili, a participant of the program, was trained in bee keeping and honey making and is now a student trainer himself. Giorgi said; “I’m grateful for this project. Bee keeping and honey making is a fascinating, beautiful job. I started teaching it at school and was happily surprised when kids showed an interest in it. I think the field will find great development here in Racha.” Producing meat and its products in a clean, equipped environment is also becoming big in Racha. The company Blauenstein is producing meat products such as dried ham, and works on improving the quality of livestock by crossing local varieties with Swiss ones. The company is equipped with a modern laboratory and a slaughterhouse. Blauenstein Georgia is also one of the 27 companies that implements Switzerland’s 'work-based learning’ component of the VET project which aims to give real-life

experience on farms to students of agricultural colleges. As a part of the project, a mobile vet clinic was provided for the factory. It was on the territory of LTD. Blauenstein Georgia that the Ambassador of Switzerland to Georgia, Patrick Franzen said, that “when I’m standing here in Racha, I think I’m on the lands of Switzerland.” Blauenstein Georgia also has a shop in Tbilisi. If there’s anything Racha is wellknown for, it’s the region’s wine. You can never know how a taste can be described as “beautiful” until you taste Rachvelian wine Khvanchkara. The UNDP project is well aware of this and made sure to include Rachvelian wine in its project. Sulkhan Gonadze is the Head of Association ‘Khvanchkara’ and a participant of the wine agriculture development project. He and two other entrepreneurs grow vineyards on 25 hectares and produce wine organically. “I’m happy about this project and hope that wine culture can be further developed here,” Gonadze told us. “Racha is a motherland to this particular wine of Khvanchkara, it was first produced

While I was being trained in the berry-growing business, I realized the value of staying here in Racha in the village of Chorjo, 10 kilometers from here, almost 200 years ago. It’s important to carry on this tradition. Now that we’re learning how to grow grapes organically and are slowly getting more and more equipped to do so, I’m starting to have a hope for the future, after all.”


GEORGIA TODAY JUNE 18 - 20, 2019


HUAWEI Continues as Member of the SD Association, Bluetooth & Wi-Fi Alliance TRANSLATED BY KETEVAN KVARATSKHELIYA


Following negotiations SD Association let HUAWEI return to the SD Association list

oogle has returned the HUAWEI Mate 20 Pro to the Android Q Beta program. In addition, HUAWEI remains on the lists of SD Association, Bluetooth and Wi-Fi Alliance. The membership of the SD Association was not been cancelled but changed temporarily in order to confirm its accordance with the US Trade Department. Following the negotiations with the company, the Association took the decision back, thus enabling HUAWEI to regain its own place on the SD Association list. Despite the problems and a multiplicity

The HUAWEI Mate 20 Pro was one of the first devices to try the Android Q Beta system

of misinformation, HUAWEI has had to face recently, experts expect the situation to stabilize soon. They also claim that HUAWEI’s return to the list of Android Q Beta means that the phone will be able to download and update the Beta version of the new Android generation. At the conference (I/O 2019), held by Google for developers in May, Huawei ConsumerBusinessGroup(BG)announced a global Android Q Developer Recruitment drive for beta testers, Developers

are invited to try out the latest Android test build on HUAWEI Mate 20 Pro and contribute to optimizing and improving device compatibility of Android Q. Android Q is the tenth major version of the smartphone platform, offering stronger protection and user privacy. The latest Android version introduces new security mechanisms and offers more granular controls over how data is shared between the operating system and apps.

During the presentation, the HUAWEI Mate 20 Pro was listed as one of the initial devices to support the Android Q Beta. Following the beta testing period, the full HUAWEI Mate 20 Series will also be among the first to receive the new Android version once it is released HUAWEI has been actively collaborating with Google, sharing its experience in system security and performance optimization, to contribute to the improvement of the Android platform.

The feedback HUAWEI is to receive from developers participating in the Android Q Beta testing will also be delivered to Google to accelerate software development. HUAWEI products and services are available in more than 170 countries and are used by a third of the world's population. There are 16 research and development centers operating worldwide in the USA, Germany, Sweden, Russia, India and China. HUAWEI Consumer BG is one of three business units of HUAWEI, mainly focusing on the production of smartphones, personal computers, tablets and cloud services. The HUAWEI Global Network is based on 20 years of experience in the telecommunications business and serves to the production of innovative technologies to customers around the world.

Tbilisi to Host Regional Conference on Population Dynamics & Policies


his yearmarks a double anniversary to commemorate 25 years of the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) and to celebrate UNFPA’s 50th anniversary. In 2019, the UNFPA Country Office in Georgia also celebrates 20 years of support to the country’s development. The UNFPA Country Office in Georgia, in close collaboration with the UNFPA Regional Office for Eastern Europe and Central Asia, ran a regional conference to mark these important anniversaries by reinvigorating the regional dialogue on population dynamics and evidence-based population policies in the countries of the region. The Regional Conference hosted the “What’s Changed?” conversation as part of a series of thought-leadership conversations on ICPD, organized by UNFPA globally, leading to the Nairobi Summit in November, 2019. This conversation aimed at generating a unique knowledge base drawing on the insights of leading ICPD experts and people at the community level delivering the ICPD agenda, as well as creating a new understanding of how ICPD commitments must be fully realized and also adapted to current realities. The conversation was shaped around key thematic areas of the ICPD Program of Action and gains

made in the realization of sexual and reproductive rights. The objective of the conference was to support enhanced understanding of the current population dynamics and trends in the region, including ageing, and of the status of policies and initiatives addressing these dynamics in the

countries of the region. It is expected that through exchange of scientific evidence and good practices the evidencebased and people-centered policy making on population and development issues will be strengthened in the countries of the region. The one-day conference was co-organ-

ized by the UNFPA Country Office in Georgia, the UNFPA Regional Office for Eastern Europe and Central Asia and the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) in partnership with the Administration of the Government of Georgia. Participants of the conference were

representatives of relevant government entities, academia, civil society organizations, international organizations from the countries of Eastern Europe and Central Asia Region; representatives of UNFPA Regional and Country Offices; invited international experts.




JUNE 18 - 20, 2019

Joint Press Conference of Welcome to Georgia! National Tourism Awards & BOG



n June 14, within the scope of Welcome to Georgia! National Tourism Awards, the Bank of Georgia hosted the press conference, dedicated to the 4th Tourism & Hospitality Conference, which will take place on Tuesday, June 18. The results of the project were summarized at the event. In addition, new nominations for the upcoming 5th anniversary ceremony were announced. The press conference was attended by Maryna Chayka, Founder of the Welcome to Georgia! National Tourism Awards; Zurab Masurashvili, Head of Retail Business Banking Department of Bank of

Georgia; Medea Janiashvili, Deputy Head of the Georgian National Tourism Administration; Nino Maghradze, Head of the Municipal Department of Economic Development of Tbilisi City Hall; Maia Khachidze, BDO-partner, Head of Corporate Finance Direction and Nino Kvariani, Head of Public Relations Department at JSC Partnership Fund. The significance of the Welcome to Georgia! Project was accentuated at the press conference, focusing on the fact that the initiative contributes to the development of the field of tourism, motivation of the representatives of this sector and increasing the number of tourist inflow in Georgia. The organizers of the project spoke about the importance of launching the initiatives of this type. Over 400 representatives of public and private sectors, as well as international and local experts

and media reps will attend the 4th Tourism & Hospitality Conference. In addition, Maryna Chayka, Founder of Welcome to Georgia! National Tourism Awards Project announced the new nominations of 2019 as follows: The Best Airline Company The Best Niche Tourism The Best Small Winery Award The Best Newcomer Hotel H2Otel Water Saving Award; Best Traditional Craft Award; Best Rural Tourism Award; The project has been held for 5 years with the co-organization of the Ministry of Economy and Sustainable Development of Georgia and National Tourism Administration. Official supporters of the event are Tbilisi City Hall and the Partnership Fund. The co-organizer of the project is Bank of Georgia. The Independent audit – BDO Georgia.

Is Georgia Ready for its First Female Lifeguards? Continued from page 1 All lifeguards have undergone specialized training and a first aid course as per the agreement signed between the Emergency Management Service of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Georgia and the Batumi Naval Academy. Although the appearance of the female lifeguards was a huge step forward for gender equality in the country, they face an uphill battle for recognition. The published images of several aspiring female lifeguards undergoing training shared online last week were followed by sexist and discriminatory statements, with males criticizing their looks, questioning their fitness, or drawing unflattering comparisons with the

1990s US TV series ‘Baywatch.’ Some comments say that “women cannot save lives,” or “They might be good at mouth-to-mouth” or they “did not expect to see female lifeguards” at all. Women's rights advocate from the non-governmental organization, Women for a Common Future, Ida Bakhturidze, said that the comments written on social networks about female lifeguards once again showed that there is a consensual attitude towards women's bodies and appearance. “A lifeguard is a person who has to save the life or health of people and their looks have nothing to do with their ability to do so. However, in our country, certain professions have a gender

and male society believes they should fit the “standards,” being waitresses, flight attendants, etc.,” she stressed. Bakhturidze explains that such an attitude is humiliation and that it is pure discrimination to judge professionalism. She said that male and female lifeguards have similar uniforms but with men, no-one ever raised the issue of looks or mentioned the ‘Baywatch’ lifeguards. “Everything goes to sexual consumption and such comments show the stereotypes of misogynic and sexist fantasies about women,” she said. Bakhturidze believes that if women appear more often in male-dominated fields, such discriminatory attitudes

towards them will slowly weaken. Batumi City Council member Nodar Dumbadze was the author of the comment on Facebook saying the female lifeguards “might be good at artificial breathing.” When asked for an explanation, Dumbadze said he didn’t consider his comment discriminatory or sexist. "Be it a woman or man, the lifeguard has a great responsibility – saving lives. They must be prepared psychologically and physically. I have doubts that these girls are well-prepared. However, I do not exclude that in future they might become really good lifeguards,” he said. Dumbadze said his concern is not about the fact that females were tasked to do this job, but that they are students

of the Naval Academy. “Students should not be given such important tasks as saving lives,” he said. Tamar Chugoshvili, Deputy Chairperson of the Parliament of Georgia, stated it is sad and shameful to see the comments of some members of society following the appearance of the first Georgian woman lifeguards on the Batumi coast. She stressed this attitude once again emphasizes the gravity of stereotypical approaches in society and the unacceptable attitude towards novelty, especially when women are involved. “I want to thank the girls for taking on this very responsible job and wish them every success! You are very tough!” Chugoshvili said.


GEORGIA TODAY JUNE 18 - 20, 2019


Russia’s Economic Offensive in Africa BY EMIL AVDALIANI


ver the past couple of years, as the world has watched how Russia successfully propped up its position in Syria, Venezuela, etc.. Yet, less attention has been paid to Moscow’s ambitions in the vast African continent. Russia recently won over the strategically placed Central African Republic (CAR). The country is strategically important as it is located between the Muslim north and Christian South. Beyond geography, the country also has a sizeable amount of oil, diamonds, gold and uranium resources. The Russian offensive in CAR comes following a period of inattention to the country from the US. Moscow’s efforts, however, are not limited to CAR as there are signs that Russia’s involvement in the continent is set to widen beyond its existing boundaries. Indeed, it was reported that later this year, in October, Putin and Egyptian President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi will convene 50 African leaders at the first-ever Russian-African Summit in Sochi. There have also been reports in the media that Russia intends to increase its presence in at least 13 African countries. Moreover, Russia increasingly steps in with trade and business agreements, military sales and cooperation, and political and paramilitary support. Russia deployed private military contractors to the Central African Republic to deliver arms, train government forces and provide personal protection to the president. Similar steps were taken in Libya, while in Sudan, Russian advisers supported al Bashir. Moreover, in May,

Russia announced plans to deploy technical experts to the Republic of the Congo to train local forces to use Russian military equipment. For Moscow, the African continent is also an emerging nuclear energy market as well as a growing agricultural export ground for Russian wheat. On a larger level, despite Moscow’s partial failures in Sudan and even South Africa, its moves are generally quite successful and come amid a geopolitical vacuum in Africa created by Europe and US declining interest in the continent. Russia also needs the influence in Africa, as the continent is poised to have 25% of the world’s working age population by 2050 and the greatest store of rare earth materials outside of China. Further, Africa’s 54 countries make up the most important voting bloc in the United Nations, which will give Moscow additional leverage. Hence, Russian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Sergei Lavrov, is a frequent visitor to the African states. Russian interests in the continent can be characterized as imperial in the economic sense. Geopolitical support for various states and their, at times, embattled leaders gives Moscow in exchange a vast opportunity to gain a rich raw resource base. Not to demonize the Russians, this is not entirely different from what European countries, the US or China have done across the continent. Africa is large, rich, but militarily and economically unstable, making it a breeding ground for large geopolitical opportunities. Russia may well be utilizing ideological concepts of Pan-Africanism and African nationalism to generate deep connections between African postcolonial activists and Moscow's internationalist agenda. One might think that Russian interests in Africa are related mostly

Russian President Vladimir Putin, right, shakes hands with Central African Republic President Faustin-Archange Touadera, in St. Petersburg, Russia, May 23, 2018. AP

to the tradition which was established in the Cold War period when Moscow expanded its influence there through military sales, economic incentives and the export of the Communist ideology. Beyond this, there is a grand geopolitical shift in Russia’s position. Since Russia's 2014 annexation of Crimea distanced

it from the West, Russia geopolitical thrust has moved to other places to leverage its failing position on the Ukrainian front. Intervention in Syria was one of those cases when Moscow hoped to force the West drop its support for Ukraine in exchange for concessions from the Russians in Syria.

The same plays out in Venezuela, and Russia’s African economic and diplomatic offensive might be a part of the same strategy of gaining influence in the regions important to the West in order to have a more balanced geopolitical position against Washington and other western countries.


Georgia Launches Information Campaign Against Child Marriage BY ANA DUMBADZE


eputy Minister of Internal Affairs of Georgia Natia Mezvrishvili announced the Ministry has launched an information campaign: “Do not deprive the children of childhood" against child marriage. The opening of the campaign was held at Rooms Hotel Tbilisi on Monday. The campaign is to last a symbolic 18 days. The Human Rights Protection Department of the Ministry of Internal Affairs presented the statistics about early marriage, noting investigations have been launched into 180 facts of early marriages. “In most cases, law enforcement agencies are informed about these facts several months later, which makes it difficult to make an effective response. In this regard, the main challenge is the lack of public awareness. The campaign aims to raise public awareness about forced marriage and the crimes that usually accompany the forced marriage: sexual violence and domestic violence. The victims are often minors, and as a rule,

Investigations have been launched into 180 facts of early marriage

The campaign aims to raise public awareness about forced marriage and the sexual and domestic crimes that usually accompany it the offense is committed by family members. Although people call the police for domestic violence cases more frequently, it still remains a challenge. Through this campaign, we would like to call on society, everyone who has any kind of information on this issue, to inform the police immediately,” Mezvrishvili said, adding that the Ministry will do its maximum to inform society that child marriage is a crime and that it needs to be reported immediately. “Our public order officers will go from door to door, deliver information brochures and booklets and inform society that child marriage is a crime and they should inform police about it,” she stated. The information campaign is being implemented with the support of the UN population, under the UN Joint Program for Gender Equality.




JUNE 18 - 20, 2019

Circular Economy Bachelors Course to Be Offered for the First Time in Georgia omy is expanding and deepening. The need for action is evident and is further exacerbated by the impacts of climate change globally and locally. Many governments across the globe, including in Georgia, are increasingly realizing the need for proactive policies to green the economy and deal with severe impacts of climate change through mainstreaming adaptation and mitigation agenda in their national policies. Joint actions by policy-makers, business, civil society and citizens are required to soften the environmental footprint and use every opportunity towards efficient use of the country’s (and global) resources. Equipping the next generation of young professionals and future policy-makers with the right knowledge and skillset is an important part of this critical global and national agenda. ISET has had integrated Environmental Economics in its Masters in Econom-


lobal society is at an environmental breaking point. Modern production and consumption practices have severely degraded our water, air, and soil resources, and our rate of fossil fuel extraction and emission puts society on track for catastrophic climate change. It has been projected that at our current rate of plastic consumption, by 2050 there will be more plastic in the ocean than fish (by weight). To help mitigate these environmental problems, some are calling for a redesign of the system that lies at their root, the linear economy, in favor of a more circular alternative. Under the linear consumption economy, also referred to as the “take, make, waste” system, products are only designed for a limited lifespan and then disposed of. This applies to not only single-use products, like plastic straws and paper towels, but also to more expensive goods like clothing, smartphones, and furniture. A circular economy aims to eliminate material and energy waste by prioritizing systems of reuse, repair, and recycling. Starting September 2019, students at the International School of Economics at Tbilisi State University (ISET) will have the opportunity to explore the principles of the circular economy and learn how business can put this framework into action. This material will be offered in a new course, “Circular Economy”, developed by International Expert Hans Wiesmeth in partnership with the USAID-funded Waste Management Technologies in the Regions (WMTR II) program implemented by CENN and ISET. The course will be launched shortly and be taught in the third year of the BA program for the duration of one academic semester. To learn more about the circular economy concept, GEORGIA TODAY spoke with economist Dr. Hans Wiesmeth, a professor at the Technical University of Dresden, who helped develop the curriculum for the “Circular Economy” course at ISET, the Executive Director of CENN, Nana Janashia, and the Director of ISET, Dr. Tamar Sulukhia. Linear Economy

ing the use of environmental resources across the value chain of production helps to better understand how to reduce (R) the environmental footprint, reuse (R) the resources already utilized for production and recycle (R) the products that can create precious resources. This summarizes the principle of the three Rs, that are the cornerstone of the circular economy. The course will equip students interested in environmental policy with knowledge of economic instruments for resource management and help them more easily identify costs and benefits associated with decisions. These skills are currently lacking both in Georgian public service and among civil society organizations, thus this knowledge will equip students with very much needed skills for interesting and highly impactful job opportunities. For more entrepreneurially-minded students, the course will go through the value chain of different resource uses and help them identify possible business opportunities that can arise from the approach of environmental protection.


WHAT IS THE CIRCULAR ECONOMY AND HOW DOES IT DIFFER FROM THE LINEAR ECONOMY? Hans: The Ellen MacArthur Foundation provides one of the most prominent definitions of a circular economy: “A circular economy is an industrial system that is restorative or regenerative by intention and design. It replaces the ‘endof-life’ concept with restoration, shifts towards the use of renewable energy, eliminates the use of toxic chemicals, which impair reuse, and aims for the elimination of waste through the superior design of materials, products, systems, and, within this, business models”. In particular, a circular economy aims to prevent waste, as “products are designed and optimized for a cycle of disassembly and reuse”. Consequently – and very importantly – a circular economy requires a “new thinking” in all parts of a society. This is in contrast to the traditional linear economy, which is characterized as a “throughput economy”, a take, make Circular Economy

and dispose economy based on the use of fossil fuels.

WHY IS THE CIRCULAR ECONOMY CONCEPT IMPORTANT? Hans: Because of the gradually changing framework conditions for our economic and social systems, it’s becoming increasingly important to switch from a linear economy to a circular one. Otherwise, we risk depleting life supporting environmental resources with possibly disastrous consequences for the life of many people on earth.

WHAT WAS YOUR ROLE WORKING IN GEORGIA WITH CENN AND ISET? Hans: I have been teaching “Environmental Economics and Policy” at ISET since 2008. I am happy that I got in contact with CENN in recent years. CENN provided support for discussing issues in waste management with important people from the public administration of Georgia, in particular the Ministry for the Environment. Moreover, I was able to develop a textbook on the circular economy to be used for teaching this important field in Georgian universities. Consequently, both institutions are very helpful for disseminating the concept of a circular economy in the countries of the South Caucasus.

WHY AND HOW DID ISET BECOME INTERESTED IN THE CIRCULAR ECONOMY CONCEPT? Source: https://www.government.nl/topics/circular-economy/from-a-linear-to-acircular-economy

Tamar: With the high pace of urbanization and economic growth, the environmental footprint of Georgia’s econ-

ics program curriculum since 2009 and it is taught by the visiting professor from Technical University Dresden (Germany) Dr. Hans Wiesmeth. A number of ISET alumni who have taken the course are employed by the Ministry of Environment and Agriculture, other public institutions and NGOs involved in design and implementation of environmental policies. In 2017, USAID Waste Management Technologies in the Regions (WMTR) Project implemented by CENN hired Professor Wiesmeth to assist the Government of Georgia in designing and implementing the policy on extended producer responsibility (EPR). Professor Wiesmeth was closely collaborating with ISET Policy Institute researchers in delivering on this important task. This created a fruitful partnership and strong bonds between ISET and CENN. Through close collaboration and synergies with CENN on the circularity in the economics of environmental resources, CENN and ISET recently agreed to work with professor Wiesmeth further in expanding learning opportunities and strengthening skillsets for future economists in Georgia and beyond.

WHAT PURPOSE DOES THE COURSE SERVE? WHAT KIND OF QUALIFICATIONS OR PROFESSIONAL DIRECTIONS CAN THIS LEAD THE STUDENTS TO? Tamar: The aim of the course is to teach students how to use tools of economic theory to analyze the use of environmental resources from the viewpoint of efficiency and sustainability. Study-

Nana: We realized that in Georgia, there was a substantial deficit in specialization and professional workforce in circular economy, whether in practice or theory. For us, the most important goal is to make sure we can establish a system that doesn’t compromise the environment and our health, and above all, that can be sustained. Therefore, investing in education and creating a platform to support professions and workforce development was absolutely essential. We decided to start working with educational institutions and support them in introducing a circular economy course into their curricula. We are working with the education sector intensively via various thematic seminars, trainings, competitions, camps, etc. CENN, through its USAID WMTR II program, decided to take advantage of the country’s willingness to introduce circular economy approaches. It is essential to have specialists with a sufficient background in circular economy that can support the country in transitioning from a linear economy to a circular. These experts will provide their knowledge and support at the decisionmaking level as well as at the implementation level.

HOW WAS THE SYLLABUS DEVELOPED? Nana: We decided to introduce a circular economy course in the curricula of educational institutions and involve international expertise in this process. The USAID WMTR II program involved an international expert from Dresden University to develop syllabus along with relevant textbooks on the circular economy concept and, in addition, to conduct a training for the university lecturers. In March 2019, an intensive training was conducted on this topic and shortly afterwards the USAID WMTR II program worked intensively with ISET to support them in incorporating the circular economy course into their curriculum. We are very happy that this cooperation was possible and starting September 2019, ISET will offer this new course to its students. With the support of USAID WMTR II program, Hans Wiesmeth will be teaching the course during its first phase.


GEORGIA TODAY JUNE 18 - 20, 2019


37% of Georgian Students at British Universities Are Studying for Business Degrees BY ELLA WOREHEAD


f the total 215 Georgian students enrolled in UK universities as of 2017/18, 70 of them, or 37%, are studying for Business degrees, according to Studying-in-UK. org. Latest enrollment statistics collected from 183 recognized higher education providers show that as of 2017/18 there were 215 students from Georgia in the UK. Although this number represented a slight decrease compared to the previous academic year, when UK universities counted 225 students, the UK still remains a very popular study destination for Georgian students abroad. Annual statistics also provide insights as per what subjects most of these students are studying. Among a wide variety of study programs offered at UK universities, Business is clearly the most popular choice for Georgians. Based on statistics during the 2017/18 academic year, 75 students from Georgia were attending university courses in Business and Administration. Statistically, it meant that they accounted for 37% of the total Georgian students in

UK universities. This is surely something to be expected taking into account the reputation of British business schools. It is a wellknown fact that they rank among global leaders consistently making it onto the list of the best universities in the world. The numerical gap between postgraduate and undergraduate students from Georgia was narrow. Of the total 215 students from Georgia, there were 115 postgraduate students and 100 undergraduate students. There are also variations as to which British country attracts most students from Georgia. According to statistics, England is clearly the most popular study destination. In the 2017/18 academic year, 180 students were enrolled in English universities, while 25 were attending university in Scotland, only five in Wales and none in Northern Ireland. The UK boasts a large number of universities, but regarding enrollment data, the following universities turn to be particularly sought-after: • The University of Westminster • The University of Oxford • University College London • Queen Mary University London • London School of Economics and Political Sciences • King’s College London

Image by Ian Forsythe/FT

• The University of Glasgow • City, University of London An education of the abovementioned global standards, excellent future prospects and opportunities for a unique

study experience are some of the reasons that make the UK such a popular study destination for Georgian students. At a time when the UK authorities are working to enhance their international edu-

cation strategy to welcome still more international students, the prospect of seeing a higher number of students from Georgia heading toward British universities is significantly high.

Which Are the Most Proactively Open Public Institutions of 2019? BY THEA MORRISON


he Ministry of Education, Science, Culture and Sports and the Ministry of Internal Affairs are the state institutions which most proactively publish information about their activities while the lowest indicator among central public institutions was received by the Administration of the Government of Georgia. The information was released by the non-governmental organization Institute for Development of Freedom of Information (IDFI), which published the results of its monitoring of proactive online disclosure of information by Georgian public institutions in 2019. The monitoring covered official websites of 100 public institutions, including the Parliament of Georgia, Administration of the Government of Georgia, 11 ministries / State Minister's Offices and 86 subordinated LEPLs and subagencies. Regarding the disclosure of public information by the Ministries and state agencies, the list is as follows: • Ministry of Education, Science, Culture and Sports – 96% of information disclosed publically • Ministry of Internal Affairs – 96% • Georgian Parliament – 91% • Justice Ministry – 89% • Ministry of IDPs from occupied Ter-

Image source: Elsevier.com

ritories, Labor, Health and Social Affairs – 87% • Ministry of Regional Development and Infrastructure of Georgia – 86% • Ministry of Defense – 84% • Ministry of Finance – 75% • Office of the State Minister for Reconciliation and Civic Equality – 66% • Ministry of Foreign Affairs – 47% • Ministry of Environment Protection and Agriculture – 42%



Commercial Director: Iva Merabishvili Marketing Manager: Sesili Tikaradze



Editor-In-Chief: Katie Ruth Davies

• Administration of the Government of Georgia – 39% The data shows that in 2019 the average rate of proactive discloser of public information is 53%, which is 18% lower than in 2014. “Compared to 2014, nine out of 13 central public institutions have shown less proactive publication of public information,” said IDFI. In general, monitoring of state websites

Journalists: Tony Hanmer, Zaza Jgarkava, Maka Bibilashvili, Dimitri Dolaberidze, Vazha Tavberidze, Nugzar B. Ruhadze, Samantha Guthrie, Amy Jones, Thea Morrison, Ana Dumbadze, Ketevan Kvaratskheliya Photographer: Irakli Dolidze

showed that public information is present and contains some information in 85% of cases. No public information is present on 6% of websites and 8% of state agencies do not have a website at all. 1% of the agencies have their information present on the websites of other agencies. Overall rates of proactive disclosure of information show that ministries have 76% of information present while LEPLS have 47%.

Website Manager/Editor: Katie Ruth Davies Layout: Misha Mchedlishvili Webmaster: Sergey Gevenov Circulation Managers: David Kerdikashvili, David Djandjgava

Proactive disclosure of information by thematic groups is as follows: • General Information – 69% • Public Information section – 59% • Personnel – 52% • Public procurement – 38% • Funding and reporting – 38% • Legislative acts – 74% • Other – 65% The NGO stressed that the Governmental Administration has not published any information on procurement and finances since 2014, while approximately 40% of public institutions under the ministries have less than 30% of public information proactively published on their website. The Organization also says that as of May 2019, no public institution had fully complied with the requirement to proactively publish information (100%) on its website, adding 15 institutions do not have a website at all or do not have a separate public information section on their website. The monitoring showed that the most problematic issue for public institutions was publishing information related to state budget usage/expenses, including: received (22.2%) and issued (23%) grants, funding received from budgetary funds – 24.4%, property disposal – 27.4%, advertising expenses – 34.1%, etc. However, public institutions showed the best results in proactively publishing legal acts and general information, including contact details (91.3%), charter (89.3%), normative acts (85.7%), and organizational structure (82.1%).


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Profile for Georgia Today

Issue #1160 Business  

June 18 - 20, 2019

Issue #1160 Business  

June 18 - 20, 2019