Issue no: 973
• AUGUST 18 - 21, 2017
• PUBLISHED TWICE WEEKLY
PRICE: GEL 2.50
In this week’s issue... Head of National Tourism Administration Denies Resignation Rumors after GEM Fest ‘Fail’ NEWS PAGE 2
Georgia’s Fateful Geography POLITICS PAGE 4
FOCUS ON THE PRIVILEGE OF THE CHURCH A US State Dept' report suggests the Georgian Orthodox Church should be distanced from the State by concordat
The Enemy Within & the Hopes of the Tbilisi Mayoral Candidates POLITICS PAGE 5
Deliveries of Turkmen Crude Oil to Iran Put on Hold BUSINESS PAGE 6
The Sky’s the Limit: The Amazing Quest of Fergal Hingerty EXCLUSIVE BY NINO GUGUNISHVILI
ack in 2001, Irishman Fergal Hingerty was diagnosed with chronic sciatica caused by spinal deterioration from an old back injury. The prognoses were not particularly hopeful, not to say dreadful, leaving him with the chance he might spend the rest of his life in a wheelchair. Yet he not only managed to recover, but found his passion in hiking and mountain climbing and, having climbed almost all the highest mountains in the UK, he has come to Georgia to continue his quest in Georgia’s Svaneti and Tusheti regions and plans to climb Mount Kazbegi this month. “I was training for my last season of football when I discovered my right leg was pulling my left… Sciatica is a very common problem, and I unfortunately got a chronic version of it and, to compensate the pain in my back, I was gradually twisting my whole back,” Fergal tells GEORGIA TODAY. “My walking time was limited to 100 meters and my standing time was limited to two or three minutes”. Continued on page 8
Fergal Hingerty at the summit of Rysy
Ministerial: Mestia, Svaneti SOCIETY PAGE 9
WHERE to Go, Stay, Eat, Drink & Buy, Late Summer SOCIETY PAGE 10
Mako Saparova: A Story from a Photo Album CULTURE PAGE 12
AUGUST 18 - 21, 2017
Opposition Accepts GD Proposal to Start Dialogue on Constitution
Head of National Tourism Administration Denies Resignation Rumors after GEM Fest â€˜Failâ€™ BY NINO GUGUNISHVILI
eorge Chogovadze, Head of the Georgian National Tourism Administration (GNTA), has denied rumors circulating in the media about his leaving his post, allegedly in relation to Anaklia's electronic music festival GEM Fest, which was financed from the state budget and failed to recuperate costs. â€œI am not resigning; our team continues the job we started several years ago that will result in more than seven million visitors coming to Georgia. There is to be even more success in the future and our team continues its work,â€? he said.
â€œRumors about George Chogovadze leaving his post are simply not true,â€? the statement from the Ministry of Economy and Sustainable Development of Georgia said. â€œItâ€™s absurd to connect him with the flaws of the GEM Fest. This festival has its own responsible people, and George Chogovadze is surely not among themâ€?. â€œGeorge Chogovadze has been the head of the National Tourism Administration for almost three years now, during which time Georgia has achieved significant success in the tourism sector, both on an international level, and also while developing local tourism directions, to which various organizations from the state tourism sector, private sector and of course National Tourism Administration have greatly contributed,â€? the statement concluded.
BY THEA MORRISON
he majority of qualified opposition parties have accepted the proposal of the ruling Georgian Dream (GD) party to start a dialogue on the controversial constitution changes. However, the opposition parties say that the ruling team should take into account their main demands, which were rejected by the GD before: to move to a fully proportional election system in 2020, to proportionally distribute mandates and to maintain the direct rule of Presidential elections. Eight qualified opposition parties released a letter on Wednesday citing their list of main demands from GD. The opposition parties say they are ready to restart discussions over the election threshold and election blocks, but underline that they will not change their position regarding the proportional election system and the rule of Presidential elections. â€œBy 2020, the majoritarian election system has to be substituted by a proportional one. We should also agree on a direct election system for the president,â€? said Irakli Abesadze from the parliamentary minority European Georgia. The United National Movement (UNM) also agreed to take part in the dialogue, having the same demands as the other political parties. â€œThe main problem is that GD should keep in mind that consensus does not mean only agreeing on some issues within the party, but making an agreement with the other political parties as well,â€? Tinatin Bokuchava, a UNM MP, said. Former Chairperson of Parliament and leader of the Democratic Movement, Nino Burjanadze,
believes the offer of the majority to start a dialogue is not necessary and the government is trying to mislead society. â€œThe offer of the ruling party is not serious. GD understands that they are in a very awkward position but do not want to compromiseâ€Ś Our only requirement is to conduct elections in a democratic and fair manner,â€? she added. The meeting between the GD majority and qualified opposition parties is scheduled for Friday at 17:00 in the old building of parliament. The dialogue between the majority and opposition over constitution amendments became necessary after the Venice Commission expressed readiness to organize a meeting in Strasburg on September 6, in order to facilitate dialogue between the Georgian ruling party and the opposition. GD adopted the proposed changes to the countryâ€™s main law, the Constitution, with its second reading in late June. Parliament will return to discuss the draft law after three months, as three readings are mandatory for the final adoption of a law in Parliament. The amendments, among many important changes, include a delay to the full move to a proportional election system, as well as indirect presidential elections in 2018. GD promised a move to a proportional system prior to the 2016 parliamentary elections. This year, following consultations with the opposition parties, NGOs and the Venice Commission, they stated that the changes would take place before the 2020 parliamentary elections. However, according to the adopted changes, this will now happen no earlier than 2024. Georgia has a mixed electoral system, with 77 lawmakers elected through proportional elections and the remaining 73 via a majoritarian race.
2017 State Budget Figures Published BY NINO GUGUNISHVILI
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rakli Kovzanadze, Chairman of the Parliamentary Budget and Finance Committee, stated that the 2017 national budget fulfilment is not under question when he published the statistics for the first half of the 2017 state budget performance. According to Kovzanadze, the revenue plan was met with an excess of GEL 103.1 million, while the tax revenue plan was met with a staggering GEL 207.8 million GEL (105.1 percent). The expenditure plan has reached 95.1 percent. As the chairman of the parliamentary Budget and Finance committee noted, some disappointment was seen in the expenditure figures at the beginning of the year, but â€œnevertheless, today, the adoption of the budget by the Ministry of Regional Development and Infrastructure of Georgia, Ministry of Internal Affairs, Ministry of Labour, Health and Social Affairs of Georgia and Ministry of Agriculture of Georgia has actually reached 100 percentâ€?.
GEORGIA TODAY AUGUST 18 - 21, 2017
Civil Activist Detained World Bank by De Facto Tskhinvali Approves $50 mln Released Financing to Georgia
BY THEA MORRISON
edia reports say that civil activist Tamar Mearakishvili, who was illegally detained in Akhalgori by the de facto Prosecutor’s Office of Georgia’s occupied South Ossetia (Tskhinvali) on Wednesday evening, has been released. Mearakishvili’s family reports that she was notified only at the de facto Prosecutor's Office that she was accused of spreading defamatory information about Spartak Dreyev, a member of de facto president Bibilov's party. They also claim that, following on from The agreement signed by First Vice Premier Dimitry Kumsishvili and Mercy Tembon, World Bank’s Regional Director for the South Caucasus
BY NINO GUGUNISHVILI
he Government of Georgia and the World Bank signed an agreement according to which the World Bank has approved $50 million in financing to Georgia for the Second Programmatic Private Sector Competitiveness Development Policy Operation (DPO), following the decision from the World Bank’s Board of Executive Directors on July 31. “The aim of this operation is to support the Government of Georgia in its efforts to enhance the country’s competitiveness in order to spur inclusive
economic growth,” the statement from the World Bank reads. It is said to be the second in a series of DPOs focused to attain “more inclusive economic growth through policies to stimulate private sector productivity, foster long-term savings and investment, strengthen financial and social safety nets, and create a fair business environment that enables the growth of small and medium enterprises (SMEs) and new firms”. “The Government of Georgia carries out numerous important reforms which the World Bank supports,” said Dimitry Kumsishvili, First Vice Premier, Minister of Finance of Georgia. He thanked the World Bank for their support and went on to underline the active assistance the World Bank provides for private sector com-
petitiveness growth and business environment support in the country, “which will further enhance the growth and stable development of the economy in Georgia, improving living conditions and encouraging different economy sectors”. Following the agreement signing by First Vice Premier Dimitry Kumsishvili and Mercy Tembon, World Bank’s Regional Director for the South Caucasus, Georgia is to receive a EUR 44.6 million IBRD loan, with the program objective “to increase private sector competitiveness through second generation business environment reforms, establishing enabling conditions for financial sector deepening and diversification, and increasing firms’ capacity to innovate and export”.
the transfer of Tamar Mearakishvili to Tskhinvali, de facto South Ossetian law enforcers searched their house and addressed them “impolitely”. Despite the fact that Merarakishvili is now back at home, her family says the de facto Prosecutor’s Office has not closed the investigation against her and she has been summoned to their office at 9.30 am on August 18. Following the detention of the activist, Georgia’s Public Defender, Ucha Nanuashvili, released a statement and called on the de facto authorities for her immediate release. The family claims that the actions against Mearakishvili are targeted to make her permanently leave the occupied Akhalgori area.
International Tourism Conference to Be Held in Batumi BY THEA MORRISON
n September 8-9, Georgia’s Black Sea city Batumi will host the international rural tourism conference "International Tourism Standards and Trends of Village Tourism.” Within the framework of the conference, Georgian and foreign experts will discuss important issues such as general standards of rural tourism, state tourism development programs, wine tourism
standards, attracting tourists and maintaining village authenticity in parallel with innovative services and activities. The conference will offer presentations, reports, seminars and discussions. Introductory practical visits will be arranged on tourist routes of the Adjara region. The conference is being organized by the Tourism Products Development Agency of Adjara Tourism Department. The event will be attended by the representatives of family guest houses, tourist agencies, village and ecotourism, as well as governmental and non-governmental organizations.
US Department of State Report Says Orthodox Church Is Privileged in Georgia BY THEA MORRISON
he International Religious Freedom Report for 2016, released on Tuesday by the United States (US) Department of State, reads that the Orthodox Church is privileged in Georgia. The report says that the Constitution of Georgia provides for “complete freedom of religion,” separation of Church and State, equality for all regardless of religion and also prohibits persecution on the basis of religion. However, it says that “laws and policies grant the Georgian Orthodox Church (GOC) privileges not accorded to any other religious group, including legal immunity for the GOC Patriarch and a consultative role in education.” The report reads that the Constitution recognizes the special role of the GOC in the country’s history, but stipulates the GOC should be independent from the State and relations between the GOC and the State should be governed by a constitutional agreement (also called a concordat). It also says that besides the legal immu-
nity for the GOC Patriarch, the concordat provides exemption of GOC clergy from military service, and a consultative role in government, especially in terms of education. “The tax code considers religious activities not to be economic activities, and grants registered religious groups’ partial tax exemptions for donations. Religious groups other than the GOC pay profit tax on the sale of religious products, value added taxes on the provision or importation of religious products, and taxes on all activities related to the construction, restoration, and maintenance of religious buildings,” the US Department of State says. Moreover, the report shows that the GOC is privileged in Georgia in terms of funding from the state budget. “The government distributed GEL 25 million ($9.4 million) to the GOC in compensation for ‘the material and moral damages’ inflicted upon it during the Soviet period. In accordance with a 2014 resolution by parliament allowing the government to compensate Islamic, Jewish, Roman Catholic, and Armenian Apostolic religious organizations registered as LEPLs, the State Agency on Religious Issues (SARI) disbursed compensation funds totaling GEL 4.5 million
($1.7 million) to those four religious groups,” the report says. The report reads that during the year, the government investigated 19 cases involving alleged crimes committed on the basis of religious intolerance, adding that Non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and the Public Defender’s Office (PDO) reported that a lack of effective investigations into crimes motivated by religious hatred remain a major problem. “Some NGOs and the PDO said the government inadequately addressed acts of religious intolerance and discrimination, favoring the GOC in public schools,” the document says. The US Department of State adds that despite the fact that the government opened the first mosque for members of the armed forces, only the GOC continues to have chapels in prisons. The report also says that restrictions continue
on religious activities in the regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, which remain outside the control of the central government. The document reads that, according to SARI, de facto government authorities in the Gali district of Abkhazia reportedly did not permit GOC clergy to conduct religious services in any of the four GOC churches, and ethnic Georgians were unable to attend services in their own language. The situation is the same in occupied South Ossetia. In three of the four districts of South Ossetia (Tskhinvali, Znauri, and Java), GOC churches have reportedly broken away from the GOC and merged with the Greek Orthodox Church. “Individuals living outside Abkhazia and South Ossetia reported continued diff iculties crossing into these territories, including for
the purpose of visiting the gravesites of family members,” the report says. The US Department of State says that the US Ambassador to Georgia regularly holds meetings with officials from the Georgian government, including SARI, the Prime Minister’s Adviser on Human Rights and Gender Equality, and the Georgian President’s Adviser on National Minorities, to encourage dialogue between the government and religious minorities. The US Ambassador and embassy officers also meet the representatives of all religious groups, in order to show equal support. The Georgian population is around 3.719 million according to the 2016 estimate. The 2014 census reads that Georgian Orthodox Christians constitute 83.4 percent of the population, followed by Muslims at 10.7 percent and members of the Armenian Apostolic Church (AAC) at 2.9 percent. According to the census, Roman Catholics, Kurdish Yezidis, Greek Orthodox, Jews, growing numbers of “non-traditional” religious groups such as Baptists, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Pentecostals, and the International Society of Krishna Consciousness (ISKON), and people who profess no religious preference, constitute the remaining 3 percent of the Georgian population.
AUGUST 18 - 21, 2017
Georgia’s Fateful Geography OP-ED BY EMIL AVDALIANI
ations rise and fall, as have both empires and states throughout recorded history. Great leaders are followed by lesser and economic development always varies. A constant, though, behind all of that, is geography: the physical geography of rarely changing features such as rivers, mountains, deserts, large forests, and seas. Just how geography influences the thinking of people living in a certain territory is a difficult subject to discuss. For instance, for Russia, its large swathes of lands from the Far East to Moscow are a subject of national pride. However, those territories, commonly known as steppes and taiga, also infinitely influence Russian people’s mentality as it was from there that the powerful Mongol and other invaders came. The choice of invasion routes is generally conditioned by geographic features. Another example from Russia: the country’s western frontier is a part of the large North European plain connecting Russia with both eastern and western Europe. No wonder Moscow is now very much obsessed with the NATO/EU advance from that direction. The Russians remember well that
The Caucasus Mountains- a historical defense from invaders
Charles XII, Hitler and Napoleon all came via this North European plain. Geography also influences the economic and technological development of a country. For instance, the very fact
that Israel’s location does not procure much water has led to the country developing state-of-the-art technologies to filter and generate it. Surprisingly, a lack of resources could
at times be a powerful impetus for development. Europe’s centuries-old successes in technologies have been largely conditioned by a lack of resources. And we should not forget that new territorial discoveries made by Columbus, Magellan and others were primarily a result of a need for more resources. Yet another example is how geography affects a country’s military stance. In the case of Russia, with its indefensible frontiers, the Kremlin has to keep more than a million soldiers, while in the US, the country needs to uphold its economic dominance through its military might in the oceans. The Battle with Fate Yet, while in some cases geography is a boost to a country’s historical development, it can be a damning fate, too. A trip across Georgia helps us understand why the country stands where does at the moment. There are numerous features which can be considered advantageous, for instance, rivers,
On both western and eastern sides, you have the Black and Caspian seas, which have served Georgia well. To the north, there are the Caucasus Mountains, through which it is extremely difficult to enter. Thus, the only natural invasion route into Georgia has traditionally been to the south
mountains, gorges and forests (however small the latter are), all making it virtually impossible for an invader to occupy and keep the country for an extended period. Indeed, this would explain why, historically, so many invasions of Georgia have taken place, but very few, if any, proved long-lasting. Imagine, Tamerlane, that Central Asian invader, carried out eight expeditions to Georgia. Yes, Arabs and Mongols were in Georgia for centuries, but they did not deploy armies to control it. In other words, they were not “physically” in the country. This explains why the centuries-old Arab and Mongol “conquests” were not that harmful to Georgia. Looking at Georgia’s position from a larger, regional perspective, one could think that the country is pretty much defended by large geographic features. On both western and eastern sides, you have the Black and Caspian seas (although Georgia does not border the latter), which have served Georgia well, as no foreign invader ever came by sea (well, except for the legendary Greeks searching for that golden fleece). To the north, there are the Caucasus Mountains, through which it is extremely difficult to enter. Thus, the only natural invasion route into Georgia has been to the south, where the Lesser Caucasus Mountains lie but do not represent an insurmountable geographic feature. This might suggest to the reader that Georgia’s position is actually enviable, but the reality is different. Although no one came from the Black and Caspian seas, the two have been essentially closed to larger transoceanic trade. This did not create a need on the Georgian side to ever create a trade fleet (the defense of which might have later resulted in the creation of a military fleet) and as such, Georgia has historically remained cut off from European naval developments. The seas and mountains also diminished the ability of the Georgians to gain more territories, as there was simply no land to expand to except for a rugged southern flank. It is also true that geographic features cannot entirely explain a country’s present and future. Even in Georgia’s case, although the country has the impregnable Caucasus Mountains to the north, the country now experiences an ongoing threat from Russia there. Indeed, the Russians have done what was once unimaginable to the Georgian mind – crossed the mountains and established itself for the long-term on Georgian soil. This would explain why Tbilisi has been struggling to react to the Russian threat, simply because noone as powerful as the Russians has ever come from that flank.
GEORGIA TODAY AUGUST 18 - 21, 2017
The Enemy Within & the Hopes of the Tbilisi Mayoral Candidates OP-ED BY ZAZA JGARKAVA
enerally, summer is regarded as a “dead season” in politics and this summer has been no different, with the exception of the visit of the Vice President of the United States, who woke up the dozing Georgian politicians. Despite the two-day awakening, everything quickly returned to the same summer slumber. The political elite has vanished behind the scenes and is starting to prepare for the forthcoming autumn marathon. Local elections will take place on October 22, a day of expected political drama, melodrama and comedy. Although the summer idyll is still dominant and the scent of the upcoming elections can’t quite be felt yet, Tbilisi is still an exception in this sense. Candidates for City Mayor have already started their election campaigns. One former footballer, two former journalists and one NGOist are the current options for Tbilisians. A study from NDI looked at the ratings of the four which suggests that the former footballer from the governmental party (Kakha Kaladze) is leading with 30 percent of voters favoring him; former journalist and independent candidate Alexander Elisashvili holds the second position with 19 per-
cent. The second ex-journalist, Zaal Udumashvili, is just one percent behind the former while the candidate who left the United National Movement for the European Georgia party, former NGOist Elene Khoshtaria, has only four percent. The data shows that the UNM firmly holds its electorate and their former or present members stand at 22 percent altogether. This closely resembles the results of last year’s parliamentary elections. The autumn marathon could end in a real drama for the governmental party candidate, proven by the results of 30 percent which can’t ensure his victory. Kaladze’s situation is heavy and what might have been his political triumph may end up nothing more than a dramatic finale. It is not only important for him to gain a victory over his rivals, but also for his fellow party members, who apparently don’t want to have another informal leader in their team. Especially when their formal leader is the active Prime Minister Giorgi Kvirikashvili. The very first hints of controversy can be seen, as the members of Team Kaladze and Team Kvirikashvili openly oppose each other in Parliament. Leader of the majority, Archil Talakvadze, and the Chairperson of the Georgian Dream fraction, Mamuka Mdinaradze, who are regarded as members of Kvirikashvili’s “team” have been opposed by the Majoritarian MPs from Kaladze’s quota and accused of an alliance with the United National Movement. In order to win, Kaladze will
Are Russia and NATO on a Collision Course around the Black Sea Region?
OP-ED BY EUGENE KOGAN
here is a feeling of disharmony as well as opposing views between NATO member states Bulgaria, Romania and Turkey about NATO’s military engagement in the region. Bucharest has advocated and continues to advocate a NATO Black Sea presence since early 2016, but the Romanian position has been met with opposition in a Bulgaria that did not want to be seen to be provoking Russia. Back in February 2017, a spokesperson for the Bulgarian Ministry of Defense (MoD) confirmed that “Bulgaria had made no commitment to participate in a permanent Black Sea naval force.” However, she added that the navy will participate in several training exercises in the Black Sea, jointly with other NATO countries. And that, despite last year’s promise that Bulgaria agreed to send 400 soldiers to the multinational naval brigade in Romania. At the same time, Turkey remains both reserved and cautious regarding its naval force participation. Yes, Turkey supports a limited and scaled-up NATO reinforcement of the Black Sea region, but as long as it doesn’t impact its interpretation of the Montreux Convention signed in 1936. Turkey may close its eyes to the extensive Russian militarization of the annexed Crimean Peninsula, yet it has stated that it does not recognize said annexation. The three NATO littoral are also wary of each other’s military presence in the Black Sea, since they continue to have disputes over fishing rights and other issues. The aforementioned states remind us of famous Ivan Krylov’s fable “Swan, Pike and Crawfish”. In other words, when leaders of the three NATO countries cannot agree on a joint policy line and perceive Russia not as a spoiler but as one of the littoral state participants, they may be pushed to agree to a joint policy line if Russia provokes one or all of them. Can, for instance, Russia stage a cyberattack as a prelude to a potential military operation against them? Is such a scenario possible? The cyberattack may be seen as a rather innocuous operation that would give Russian leadership a clear answer whether or not they should go further and, for example, disrupt NATO naval operations in the Black Sea. At first glance, it is not expected that Russian leadership would be so short-sighted as to provoke NATO. However, at the same time, it can be said that all scenarios are feasible and nothing should be excluded.
It should be remembered and emphasized that Russian politicians do not speak in terms of red lines and surprises like their counterparts in the West, but simply cross these lines and stage surprises after making their move. In response to the increased NATO presence in the Black Sea, Alexander Grushko, Russian Envoy to NATO, said back in July 2016 that “the decision to increase NATO’s naval presence in the Black Sea is, in any case, yet another step towards escalating tensions in the regions of vital importance for Russia” and that Russia “reserved a right to respond accordingly”. Seven months later, Admiral Igor Kasatonov, former commander of the Black Sea Fleet, said in an article published in Izvestia on 21 February 2017: “Russia has all the necessary resources, both material and moral, to maintain supremacy on the Black Sea. Our fleet has enough force to oppose the NATO force in the Black Sea; the Black Sea Fleet dominates in the region.” Clearly, it has no intention of giving up its dominancy. And it only gets worse: according to the findings of a multi-national WIN/ Gallup International poll published in February, Bulgaria, Greece, Slovenia and Turkey (NATO member states) chose Russia for their go-to-defense partner. As a result, the leaders of said countries wish to remain neutral. Thus, it can be said that Russia achieved its first tactical success in two of three NATO littoral states without shooting a bullet: by neutralizing them. Russian calculations in terms of changing the balance of power in its favor and maintaining an upper hand in the Black Sea region differ from those of NATO. Russia is willing to dominate the Black Sea region, and not for nothing does it consider the region “of vital importance for Russia,” while NATO may be interested in maintaining a status quo in the region that may no longer be sustainable. Further militarization of the Black Sea region, which Bulgaria and Turkey in particular do not approve of, does not absolve a Russia that is currently militarizing its presence there. Furthermore, Russian willingness to deploy forces to settle international disputes and thus achieve its strategic goals, plus the Russian military power disbalance, could lead Russia and NATO to the brink of a potential conflict. The worst-case scenario sees a cyberattack on the three NATO littoral states accompanied by propaganda or a disinformation campaign broad in scope. Both campaigns are likely to be accompanied by a variety of economic sanctions, from impairing countries’ income from tourism, barring agriculture products, hacking banking institutions and perhaps to also undermining the national currencies in the three NATO littoral states. If Putin’s administration decides on a collision course, the military operations put in motion would be swift, since planning for such operations has undoubtedly been done well in advance.
Kakha Kaladze, candidate for future Mayor of Tbilisi
have to spend a lot of money and energy. He should fear most his own internal enemies. A number of groups are against him in government and these people will skillfully try to weaken his ambitions and at the very least work on a second round of elections being necessary. It is also important to consider for whom the chair of the directly-elected President is being prepared for the next six years. If we analyze the recent actions, Kvirikashvili is trying not to allow there to be an alternative for the post. Bidzina Ivanishvili likes respected but subordinate and positive people. In this sense, the Premier can only be compared to the Head of Parliament. Former MP Valeri Gelbakhiani spoke of the controversy between Kaladze and Kvirikashvili, announcing that who has more supporters in the Parliament “is being investigated”. “For now, all MPs are subordinate to Bidzina Ivanishvili and afterwards to Kvirikashvili or Kaladze. When Ivanishvili failed to attend the announcement of Kaladze as the candidate for Major, there was total confusion among these MPs. If they become assured that Ivanishvili is no longer inter-
ested in Georgian Dream, the re-grouping will begin. The battle between Kaladze and Kvirikashvili is exactly for that moment,” Gelbakhiani said in an interview with newspaper Alia. Why is Kakha Kaladze slow to start a full-fledged election campaign and to win the hearts of his “team members” and their supporters for good? As mentioned before, apparently the “dead season” is to blame. Most Tbilisians are in the regions or on the coast in August, therefore, this is the best period to work on the election program, the team and the lists. As for September and October – this is when Kaladze’s serious campaign will begin, when he’d have to prove that he is the best not only to the opposition but also to the members of his own party. Victory over the opposition in the first round will give him a big advantage for the year 2020. Although the government will do everything to keep Tbilisi, many from the governmental party would be happy to demonstrate that Kaladze’s success largely depends of his team rather than his personal authority or money.
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AUGUST 18 - 21, 2017
Arabic-Jewish Competition on the Georgian Market, Increasing Investments & Partnership Opportunities BY GEORGE BERNSTEIN
ere days have passed since the Chamber of Business announced the increasing interest of businessmen from the world’s Jewish community in Georgia’s hotel sector, and now a real estate agency has added to the great news by claiming that the data of recent years shows a much larger volume of investment is also coming from Arabic countries (UAE, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Kuwait, etc.), as well as from Arabs living in Israel. Arabic investments are made in Tbilisi and Georgian regions for the construction of fashionable villas. Thus, representatives of large investment groups are visiting Georgia on a weekly basis. Notably, hotel Millennium Biltmore was an investment of $140 million. Owner of the hotel, Sheikh Nahyan bin Mubarak Al Nahyan of the UAE, said that he has already invested $250 million in the Georgian economy. Under his ownership is the largest Arabic investment company Dabi Group, which also owns Terra Bank in Georgia. Ras al-Khaimah Emirate has made a $70 million investment in one of Tbilisi’s hotel attractions, the five star hotel Sheraton Metekhi Palace, where an additional of $25 million worth of reconstruction is underway. The Georgian government declared that there is growing interest not only in hotel investment, but in tourism as well, which is proved by the increased
number of flights. Moreover, Turkish investments in construction and hotel management are also notable, among them famous brands like Rixos Borjomi and Rixos Tbilisi. Itsik Moshe, President of the IsraelGeorgia Chamber of Business, stated last week that Jewish investments in Georgia are worth approximately $500 million and are mainly concentrated in the real estate business and tourism. Apart from investments, Jews were the first to introduce modern technologies, management and many other innovations, which Georgian companies are implementing successfully to this day. Of late, the focus has shifted towards three-star and high level boutique hotels, for example the one constructed on Gergeti Street in Tbilisi. Moshe also pointed to the fact that businessmen and Sheikhs from Arabic countries, as well as other regions and countries, coming to Georgia is a positive trend, which proves Georgia to be a “democratic, developed and highpotential country which is becoming more attractive on the international arena”. It is the prerogative of the Georgian side to ensure equal openness of the market to investors from all backgrounds. The Chamber Head further highlights that, based on the Jewish practice and attitude of the local Jews, according to his information, Jewish businessmen do not exclude partnership with representatives of pro-European Arabic countries working in the hotel field in Georgia. Moshe remembers that at a meeting of the Peace Commission of Knesett,,
where he was present as an invited member, he came out with the initiative to get Arab Sheikhs and leading Jewish companies to begin joint investment projects in Gaza in order to increase trust. He also believes the Israeli –Arabic conflict will be peacefully regulated and that in many fields, including tourism, healthy competitiveness will arise. Led by Israeli House, an international press conference is planned to be held in Georgia about the issue of regulating the
Israeli-Arabic conflict. Joint companies can play a major role in this process. Businessman Gidon Hackmi, who worked in Europe for years, stated that representatives of Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Jews in Europe have successful partnerships in the technology and business fields. For example, the Jewish Sapra Bank has high trustworthiness among Sheikhs from the Persian Gulf who have their bank accounts there. Former General Manager of the inter-
national Turkish network of Rixos Hotels, Gokhan Sarper, has wide experience in working in Persian Gulf countries and has managed Rixos in the said region, where it became one of the most successful brands. He believes that there are many examples of successful partnerships between local companies and Jewish investors in Turkey and he sees enormous potential in this sense in Georgia. Notably, it is thanks to Gokhan Sarper that Rixos entered the Georgian market.
Deliveries of Turkmen Crude Oil to Iran Put on Hold SOURCE: PIA
ragon Oil and ENOC have put on hold deliveries of Turkmen crude oil to Iran. Earlier this month, Russian-flag vessels VF Tanker-20 and VF Tanker-13 delivered to Iranian port Neka three cargoes of Cheleken crude oil (around 6000 MT each). As it turned out, these liftings were arranged without official authorization from Turkmenistan authorities, as shipping documents had been issued for transit of the cargo to Europe through Baku Port.
Since August 11, both vessels are staying on port Aladja roads, waiting for further instructions. Most likely, this delay is a result of Dragon Oil’s attempt to receive official authorization from Turkmenistan authorities to deliver cargoes to the southern destination. However, this attempt may take too much time or even completely fail. On August 8, the President of Turkmenistan, Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedow, made an official visit to Baku and held a meeting with the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev, during which the Declaration on Strategic Cooperation between the countries, as well as a number of other cooperation
agreements, including in the energy and transport spheres, were signed. Within the given context, the attempts of Dragon Oil and ENOC to deliver Turkmen crude oil to Iran, bypassing Baku, defy the spirit of the agreements reached between Azerbaijan and Turkmenistan at the top level. It is also not excluded that Dragon Oil put the deliveries to Neka on hold due to existing US sanctions against Iran. Despite the fact that a number of “secondary sanctions” against Iran were lifted, many restrictions continue to be in force. The consequences for companies that violate the sanctions regime could be quite serious. For instance, Dragon Oil risks spoiling the relationship with financial institutes, many of which have US offices (e.g. Emirates NBD, ABN AMRO, DBS Bank Ltd, Gulf International Bank, Citibank, Standard Chartered Bank and BBK B.S.C), and with US oilfield service contractors (Schlumberger, Halliburton, Wetherford, etc), as well as risking being blacklisted by OFAC. It became known that the Iranian project is mainly promoted by the following senior officials of Dragon Oil and ENOC: Tayeeb Al Mulla from ENOC Group, Moiz Saleem from ENOC Singapore, and Faisal Rabee Al Awadhi and Ahmad Assadi from Dragon Oil. The active participation of the latter caused particular surprise due to his US citizenship. At the same time, due to the seriousness of the possible consequences of violation of sanctions and huge commercial risks, the management of Dragon Oil and ENOC themselves should have doubts about the rationality of supplying Turkmen crude oil to Iran. This article was printed at the request of PIA.
AUGUST 18 - 21, 2017
The Sky’s the Limit: The Amazing Quest of Fergal Hingerty Continued from page 1
It affected him badly both physically and socially, as, after 13 MRI scans and after trying numerous treatments both in the UK and abroad, nothing was helping. Eventually, his back reached Stage One Spinal Degeneration. He was offered an operation which had a 20% chance of leaving him wheelchair-bound “but 100% chance of being stuck in a wheelchair if I didn’t have it”. That radical, emergency surgery to have five spinal disks cut and the spine slightly shaved was the only option left, seeing him go through a 9.5-hour operation and spend two weeks in hospital at the start of a long recovery. “For me, the biggest moment in my life was in March 2011, when I was handed a Zimmerframe to see if I could walk again,” he says. Not long after, he decided to start climbing mountains. “I’ve climbed 2,275 hills and mountains in England and Ireland since the operation, not to count smaller hills and mountains in Europe, making that over two and a half thousand,” Fergal tells us, adding that he regularly checks the Peak Bagging sites for information on the mountains he plans to climb, exploring the lists and conditions. When he walks on his own, he plans the route and tracks very carefully, paying particular attention to safety measures. For his latest challenge, climbing Kazbegi Mountain in Georgia, he said he even bought special and expensive climbing boots, because “Kazbegi is a real mountain and I have to buy something special for this one”. “Once you get to climb to the high mountain, safety is the most important thing. Altitude sickness, avalanches,
He was offered an operation which had a 20% chance of leaving him wheelchairbound but 100% chance of being stuck in a wheelchair if he didn’t have it
10 Galaktion Street
I’ve climbed 2,275 hills and mountains in England and Ireland since the operation, [as well as] smaller hills and mountains in Europe When asked about his aim after after Kazbegi Mountain, he says: “Normally, I’d just say, the sky’s the limit. There’s no question Kazbegi will be challenging, and I know there will be many more challenges ahead, of that I have no doubt.” At the summit of Heron Pike (Rydal)
storms, glaciers; a lot of problems can come up. There’s an old saying: Just because I love the mountains, it doesn’t mean the mountains love me,” he says, giving as an example of the risks the fact that in Poland, Slovakia and Georgia, he met baby bears while hiking. Fergal came to Georgia for the first time six years ago for a football match and he recounts he had such severe back pain, he had to be carried onto the pitch. When he returned to the country, his back was fixed and he was able to walk around and appreciate Georgia more, including its people, its great food and the mountains. Two years ago, he started extensive hiking and climbing in the Svaneti region (see his article on georgiatoday.ge). Last year, he went to Tusheti and this year he chose Kazbegi as his climbing destination. “I have seen three of the most famous mountain areas in Georgia, but I’m well aware there are more places to see and explore. I’ve grown to like Georgia and its culture and food, and I think I’ll be back, whether I climb to the top of Kazbegi or not. Georgia has a special place in people’s hearts, the warmth of the people; It’s so much like Ireland in some ways,” he says. Sustainable tourism is an issue Fergal thinks about a lot. “It’s a difficult bal-
ance,” he tells us. “The more tourists you get, the more mess you make. How do you keep the uniqueness of the culture? People have to respect the countryside and the nature, because its nature that produces the food that feeds people. If you can carry a full bottle of water up the mountain, surely you can carry an empty bottle down,” he said. When asked about his motivation and the personal message he wants to deliver as someone with an extraordinary story of resistance, Fergal says he dedicates it to the people who helped him along the way. “When my back was bad, people helped me with words of encouragement. I know people with far worse conditions than me and quite simply they helped me to push along.” One of the articles about me in the Sunday Times is now framed on the wall of the hospital [where I had my operation] and whenever someone says he can’t make it, the nurse responds, “he was worse than you,” so the message is quite simple: If I can do it, you can do it and never ever give up hope. I spent 10 years with this injury and in some ways it nearly broke me, yet somehow I survived. People helped me during that period and without their help, I wouldn’t be doing what I’m doing now,” he tells us.
Tel: (995 32) 2 45 08 08 E-mail: email@example.com
Fergal Hingerty at Monte Pedido National Park (3356 Metres)
GEORGIA TODAY AUGUST 18 - 21, 2017
Ministerial: Mestia, Svaneti lenged by apparently superior information then and there in the classroom; accept the challenge, and almost always lose; or accommodate it, because it’s not going to go away. Of course, he recommends the last choice. Education is clearly changing. Another statistic: annually Georgia graduates about 3000 university students in the field of International Relations, but there are only jobs for about a tenth of these per year. Career re-think, anyone? Moreover, hardly any of these graduates, a mere handful, can boast proficiency in a foreign language as part of completing their diploma in a subject which implicitly demands it! Further: of 2,085 Georgian schools, about 1,800 have less than 200 pupils. (I have yet to teach in a school of over 120 in Svaneti; one was just under this, and three were in the 50-70 range.) And… about 4.5 billion GEL would be needed to set all Georgian schools on their feet as far as proper renovation goes. Such a sum is not available in full. This is a sore point up here, where winters are six months or so of the year, heating pitiful, outhouses monstrous, many schoolyards (except Becho’s wonderfully huge treed grassland) not worth spending any time in at all in any season or weather. Then followed some questions and answers, by rather poorly amplifying microphone, allowing a few of us to express thanks and vent what was burning on our minds. Tsiuri Gabliani was nominated and seconded as the group’s Teacher of the Year, well deserved for her decades of excellent service, and we surged out of the room. Here, I had a moment to address privately my own hot potato: official protection of the Svan language in the form of optional lessons on and in it, as offered by the former holder of Mr Jejelava’s post, Dimitri Shaskhin. It seems that further discussions on this delicate point are forthcoming.
BLOG BY TONY HANMER
have now met two Ministers of Science and Education a “then” and future Georgian president; one of each was the same person, in the former role, later ascending to the latter. Recently it was the current Minister of Education, Aleksandre Jejelava, visiting Mestia to talk to local teachers. About 200 of us assembled in the large hall of School No. 2 for the occasion, and chatted with each other while we waited his pleasure. It was a good time for me to realize how far-flung my contacts with teachers are in Svaneti. I have taught English in the main or only schools of Ushguli, Mestia, Etseri, Becho and Kartvani, in that order; my wife adds Lenjeri to this list. My glowing recommendation letter from Ushguli school as I applied for a post with Teach and Learn with Georgia in 2010 remains one of the proud highlights of correspondence in my life. Mr Jejelava talked to us for about an hour about school and teachers, and left a much more favorable impression in person on all I talked to (my Etseri former colleagues) than TV or journalism had. He had the facts and figures at his fingertips, which gave a smooth confidence to his speech. There are currently about 66,000 primary and/or secondary teachers in Georgia. One assurance the Minister offered us was that failure to take or pass the exams for teachers, at the moment, is not the main or even any criterion for having to exit one’s career. Rather, tacit agreement with a set of conditions for the nature of one’s teaching is, he said, more the deciding factor. In the same vein, he went on, age should not force one to retire if one can still do one’s job to standard; whatever one’s age, young or old, capability should and will determine suitability for the post or not. As for a teacher’s relationship to what he calls “Google Teacher,” the instant, though not always a hundred percentaccurate,answer-giver,heofferedthreechoices: Flee, fight or fraternize. That is, give up when chal-
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 1500 members, at www.facebook. com/groups/SvanetiRenaissance/
Georgian Language Added to Google Speech App BY NINO GUGUNISHVILI
oogle announced this week that during the recent update to Google’s speech recognition, the Georgian language has been added to voice typing along with 30 other newlyadded languages from around the world, covering more than a billion people. “With this update, Google’s speech recognition supports 119 language varieties in Gboard on Android,” said Daan van Esch, Technical Program Manager. He added that speech recognition will support ancient languages such as Georgian, alongside adding Swahili, Amharic, and many Indian languages “on our quest to make the Internet more inclusive”. “To incorporate 30 new language varieties, we worked with native speakers to collect speech samples, asking them to read common phrases. This process trained our machine learning models to understand the sounds and words of the new languages and to improve their accuracy when exposed to more examples over time,” van Esch said. The newly-added languages are also available on Cloud Speech API and will soon be available with other Google apps and products with the Translate app included.
AUGUST 18 - 21, 2017
Georgian Whisky Jimsher Wins Silver Medals at World Whisky Masters 2017 BY NINO GUGUNISHVILI
eorgian whisky Jimsher won several silver medals at the World Whisky Masters 2017 competition held in London. “The first round of the competition, Europe-Blended Standard, produced two silver medalists hailing from Georgia: ‘easy drinking’ Jimsher from Georgian Brandy Casks and ‘waxy, fruity’ Jimsher from Tsinandali Casks. Moving into the Europe-Blended Premium round, Jimsher’s success continued, with Jimsher from Saperavi Casks securing a further silver for its ‘gorgeous nose’,” noted Amy Hopkins, the author of an article on The World Whisky Masters 2017 results. Matured whisky, undergoing a one-year aging process from the Georgian wines Tsinandali and Saperavi, as well as the Georgian Brandy casks, Jimsher Whisky, which as a brand appeared on the Georgian market not so long ago, claims to be prepared with the “best traditions” with its second stage of aging in casks, where traditional Georgian Brandy was previously kept, a method which is said to bring a unique aroma and taste, allowing you to “re-discover whisky with a Georgian accent.”
For Jimsher Chkhaidze, the owner and founder of the brand, winning several silver medals at the prestigious World
Whisky Masters means that Jimsher Whisky will hold an honorary place among Georgian export produce.
WHERE to Go, Stay, Eat, Drink & Buy, Late Summer
he latest issue of Where. ge is out! Packed full of the usual recommendations, tips and travel stories, it’s a guide you should not be without- even if you’ve lived here a while! If you’ve already explored Georgia’s most popular tourist destinations, like Kakheti, Kazbegi and Borjomi, why not give Chiatura a try? The town is famous for its ‘Made in the USSR’ cable cars, little-changed and still rumbling up and down the steep mountains, delivering miners to the mines and curious travelers to the best view of the town and surrounding countryside. While there, be sure to check out the star of many a promotional ‘Travel to Georgia’ video – the mysterious barely-accessible 41-meter rock column with a monastery on top, known as the Katskhi Pillar. Vardzia is another must-see for travelers with a special interest in Georgia’s history and cultural heritage. The 12th century cave city, former residence of King Tamar, originally consisted of 3,000
apartments and was able to house more than 50,000 people. Be inspired by the spirit of old Georgia… Svaneti-based reporter Tony Hanmer this issue guides you to another exotic mountain region, Khevsureti, famous for its extraordinary towers and impressive
panorama views of the Caucasus mountains close to the Russian border. Tony also has his usual special offering from his beloved Svaneti mountains. Get acquainted with the littleknown gastronomic heritage from the region- so much more than Svan Salt and K’ubdari, a mouth-wateringly delicious Svan version of Georgian Khachapuri, but with the cheese replaced with meat, spices and onions. As the beach season in Georgia lasts till early October, the Where.ge editorial team, headed by British editor Katie Ruth Davies, decided to give you the full picture of the best beach hotels on the Black Sea coast. Check it out in the WHERE to Stay section and make the best choice for your late summer/early autumn vacation in Georgia’s wonderful seaside resorts. Not enough? Save the dates of most interesting festivals, exhibitions and concerts in your summer calendar- use the Where.ge event calendar to do it, with suggestions for every taste. Enjoy summer in beautiful Georgia! Find out how and where with Where.ge magazine!
AUGUST 18 - 21, 2017
Mako Saparova: A Story from a Photo Album BY MAKA LOMADZE
ako Saparova was passionate about the stage and dreamed of becoming an actress from childhood. Born into a poor family in Telavi, her grandmother, who was the second wife of Solomon Chavchavadze, influential nobleman of The photo album of the 19th century the Kakheti region, decided to bring her Georgian Intelligentsia kept at the Art Palace museum up in Tbilisi. Mako is one of many intellectuals whose The majority of the photos belongs to photo resides in the splendid new album- the museum, while the remainder were masterpiece exhibit at the Art Palace of brought together from private collecGeorgia. Let’s find out more about her. tions. Akaki Tsereteli and Rapiel Eristavi “This is an album of public figures,” were in rapture of Mako’s artistic talent Giorgi Kalandia, director of Art Palace and suggested she become an actress. tells GEORGIA TODAY. “Despite GeorHowever, her grandmother was categor- gia enjoying a long and rich history of ically against it, as it was seen as a shame photography, we did not have such an for a maiden in those days, who would album which comprised 19th century become “unmarriable” once having photos until today. This is a collection appeared on stage. However, in 1879, of almost all the representatives of the Mako Saparova did become an actress- Intelligentsia of those times.” of the Georgian theater renovated by Ilia The photographers, too, are famous, Chavchavadze and Akaki Tsereteli. On among them Alexander Roinashvili, the receiving a storm of applause at her suc- first Georgian photographer. cessful debut, she became desperately The photo-album itself has a strange ‘addicted’ to the stage. “She is an actress story behind it. “We set out with the aim who will become the main beauty of our of creating a national collection,” Kalantheater,” wrote Ilia Chavchavadze in his dia tells us. “Although there are many newspaper, Iveria, also praising her museums in Georgia, they can’t afford Georgian accent together with her other to purchase collections on a systematic merits, claiming that “such Georgian is basis. The function of a museum is not already rare”. only to conserve antiquities but also to As for that “unmarriable” aspect…enter buy new objects and enrich the national Vaso Abashidze, the first Georgian actor collections, something we struggle to to be conferred the title of Republic’s do,” he confessed. Public Artist. By the end of his life, he That is why, together with the Davit had around 500 stage characters to his Bejuashvili Education Fund, the Art Palcredit. At 25, he became a stage-partner ace set up the experimental project of 19-year-old Mako. At first, he mocked named ‘Create a National Cashbox’. her, calling her a child, however, with “Historically speaking, Georgia had such time, that irony was substituted by a a tradition,” Kalandia says. “Nobility deeper feeling. In return, Mako was Bank used to assist the Society for the compassionate, but strictly refused to Spreading of Literacy, both led by Ilia marry him. Chavchavadze. We wanted to continue One day, during a theatrical tour in this tradition. Since March, every month, Gori, and not for the first time, Vaso financed by Davit Bejuashvili Education proposed and was once again rejected. Fund, we purchase one exhibit. After He directed himself to the Mtkvari River, one year, we will exhibit this new coleither with the purpose of frightening lection. This photo-album was purchased the lady, or with the intention to truly in this way,” he notes. drown himself. Mako rejected him no The album itself is a real masterpiece, more. After wedding her, Vaso struggled adorned with ivory in the gothic style to support his new family, but the Geor- and decorated with metal ornaments gian nation soon began to appreciate his demonstrating the fighting of knights. great comic talent. He is now buried in Visitors will have the pleasure of seeing the prestigious Mtatsminda Pantheon the photographs of the 19th century next to Akaki Tsereteli, and the Music intellectuals, and also the album itself, and Drama State Theater bears his name. in March 2018 as part of the exhibits of Mako Saparova lived a further 14 years the new collection, purchased with the after his death. She was always indulged financial support of Davit Bejuashvili with a lot of suitors, however, if she Education Fund. accepted anyone after her husband, it is unknown. Their daughter, Tasso WHERE: Art Palace, Kargareteli Str. 6 Abashidze, also became an actress. Mako translated Russian and French plays into Georgian and, in 1925, was conferred the title of Public Artist of Georgia. Many consider Mako Saparova the best actress of her time, especially in the roles of Shakespeare’s female characters. An interesting fact is that while incarnating one of them, she suddenly lost her hearing, which essentially saw the end of her acting career. She died in 1940. Aside from Mako Saparova and Vaso Abashidze, Iakob Gogebashvili, Rapiel Eristavi, Lado Alexi-Meskhishvili, Ekaterine Gabashvili, Vano Sarajishvili, Shalva Dadiani, Dimitri Kipiani, Alexander Akhmeteli, Shio Mghvimeli, and others whom our society is less acquainted with, are included in the new album of Art Palace (State Museum of Theater, Music, Film and Choreography). Photos provided by Art Palace
GEORGIA TODAY AUGUST 18 - 21, 2017
BIAFF 2017 Announces Competition for Bloggers
A Sip of Tea in the Caucasus BY MAKA LOMADZE
ea represents a significant segment of the Turkish culture. On August 16, in Rike Park, an exhibition of the Turkish tea brand ‘Caykur’ took place under the slogan ‘A Sip of Tea in the Caucasus’. The Ambassador of Turkey to Georgia, H.E. Zeki Levent Gumrukcu, and the representatives of various companies attended. “Turkish tea is an indispensable part of Turkish culture and life,” said the Ambassador. “Everything starts with tea and ends with tea. Nobody can count how many cups we have each day. Georgians also love tea. The best tea for Turkey comes from the Black Sea Rize and Trabzon areas. [In the past], our neighbors introduced tea to us. Now, we have Caykur, a state institution, producing, selling and implementing tea in Turkey.
They also have a tradition of taking tea to neighboring friendly countries in order to promote the brand. That’s why they are not only providing hot tea free of charge today, but also cold tea, ice tea, and flavored tea as well”. “This is the 10th country we are visiting,” Hikmet Eren, Chairman of the Board of Eurasia Economic Relations Association told GEORGIA TODAY. “It symbolizes the unity and relations between Georgia and Turkey. Represented here is the most natural tea, which occupies first place in Turkey. We will visit Azerbaijan next: we, Georgians, Turks and Azeris, are friends and we want tea to also be a connection between us.” As a culmination of the event and a demonstration of friendship, Georgian and Turkish dances were performed. The exhibition went from Tbilisi to Marneuli, a region inhabited predominantly by Azeris. The Caykur team have visited the Balkan countries of Bulgaria and Macedonia.
he Batumi International FilmFestivalhasannounced a competition for web bloggers to cover the festival. The annual festival will be held in Batumi from September 17-24 and aims to present the best collection of Art House movies. Choosing the films is an on-going process throughout the year and the final menu includes films from international film festivals and those recommended by various international advisors. The festival is set to entertain not only film-lovers but to cater to those in the film-making industry, seeing organizers invited from abroad to give masterclasses in production and marketing in both public and closed training sessions. “We’ve been developing the Industry Platform with producers from Tbilisi,” Festival Founder and Manager Zviad Eliziani told GEORGIA TODAY. “The 2016 BIAFF Industry Platform focused on low-budget projects, with 9 Georgian projects selected. We had filmmakers, scriptwriters and producers for a 4-day intensive program of workshops, trainings, coaching and one-on-one meetings.” What the 2017 edition will include has yet to be fully revealed, and for the coverage, bloggers can check out the competition requirements below: Registered bloggers participating in the competition must have an active blog and some experience of blogging in general; Bloggers should be in Batumi
during the festival and attend the event themselves; Bloggers must include the link to the film festival site on their blog; Bloggers must publish a blog post before the Film Festival; Bloggers must share the latest news on social networks regarding the Film Festival. Bloggers will be given free attendance to any screening at the festival, access to all press conferences and master classes at the festival and access to both the opening and closing ceremonies which are otherwise limited and by invite only. The top three bloggers offering the
most captivating and interesting coverage of the festival will have their accommodation and expenses in Batumi covered. BIAFF will also finance attendance at the Istanbul Film Festival for winners within the following fields: First place - Accreditation, Air Ticket + Accommodation (5 nights); Second place accreditation, ticket (one way) + accommodation; Third place – accreditation and accommodation. Other prizes will be also awarded. Stay up-to-date with the latest on BIAFF with Georgia Today.
AUGUST 18 - 21, 2017
WHAT’S ON IN TBILISI CINEMA
AMIRANI CINEMA Address: 36 Kostava Str. Telephone: 2 99 99 55 www.kinoafisha.ge Every Wednesday ticket price: 5 GEL August 18-24 THE DARK TOWER Directed by Nikolaj Arcel Cast: Katheryn Winnick, Matthew McConaughey, Idris Elba Genre: Action, Adventure, Fantasy Language: Russian Start time: 16:45 Ticket: 10-11 GEL VALERIAN AND THE CITY OF A THOUSAND PLANETS Directed by Luc Besson Cast: Dane DeHaan, Cara Delevingne, Clive Owen Genre: Action, Adventure, Sci-Fi Language: Russian Start time: 18:30, 21:15 Ticket: 13-14 GEL WIND RIVER Directed by Taylor Sheridan Cast: Elizabeth Olsen, Jon Bernthal, Jeremy Renner Genre: Action, Crime, Mystery Language: Russian Start time: 21:30 Ticket: 13-14 GEL RUSTAVELI CINEMA Address: 5 Rustaveli Ave. Telephone: 2 55 50 00 www.kinoafisha.ge Every Wednesday ticket: 5 GEL August 18-24 THE HITMAN’S BODYGUARD Directed by Patrick Hughes Cast: Gary Oldman, Ryan Reynolds, Samuel L. Jackson Genre: Action, Comedy Language: Russian Start time: 14:30, 17:00, 17:30, 19:30 Ticket: 9-14 GEL
ANNABELLE: CREATION Directed by David F. Sandberg Cast: Alicia Vela-Bailey, Miranda Otto, Stephanie Sigman Genre: Horror, Mystery, Thriller Language: Russian Start time: 20:00, 22:00 Ticket: 13-14 GEL DUNKIRK Directed by Christopher Nolan Cast: Tom Hardy, Cillian Murphy, Kenneth Branagh Genre: Action, Drama, History Language: Russian Start time: 16:45 Ticket: 10-11 GEL THE DARK TOWER (Info Above) Start time: 20:00, 22:00 Ticket: 13-14 GEL MUSEUM
GEORGIAN NATIONAL MUSEUM SIMON JANASHIA MUSEUM Address: 4 Rustaveli Ave. Telephone: 2 99 80 22, 2 93 48 21 www.museum.ge PERMANENT EXHIBITION: GEORGIAN ARCHAEOLOGY FROM 8TH MILLENNIUM B.C. TO THE 4TH CENTURY A.D NUMISMATIC TREASURY The exhibition showcases money circulation on the territory of Georgia from the 6th century BC. to 1834. THE TESTAMENT OF DAVID THE BUILDER AND NEW EXHIBITS OF THE MEDIEVAL TREASURY September 27 (2016) – September 22 (2017) EXHIBITION STONE AGE GEORGIA May 18- November 18 EXHIBITION GEORGIAN COSTUME AND WEAPONRY OF 18TH-20TH CENTURIES
MUSEUM OF FINE ARTS Address: 1 Gudiashvili Str. Telephone: 299 99 09 March 6 – August 30 EXHIBITION MASTERPIECES FROM THE MUSEUM OF FINE ARTS COLLECTION The exhibition includes works by Bernardo Daddi, Lucas Cranach (Elder), Guido Reni, Jan Steen, Jacob Van Ruisdael, Auguste Rodin, Pablo Picasso, Vassily Kandinski; Masterpieces by Niko Pirosmanashvili, Lado Gudiashvili and David Kakabadze. August 10 – September 20 EXHIBITION EDEN BY ROGER VON GUNTEN "Edén" is a visual journey through the production of the artist, a member of "La Ruptura" ("The rupture") - a group of artists reflecting the transition from modernism to postmodernism in Mexico. The exhibition is dedicated to the 25th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Georgia and Mexico. The exhibition is implemented on the initiative of the Embassy of Georgia to the United States of Mexico and is organized by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Georgia and the Ministry of Culture and Monument Protection of Georgia. IOSEB GRISHASHVILI TBILISI HISTORY MUSEUM - KARVASLA Address: 8 Sioni St. Telephone: 2 98 22 81 July 5 - September 11 EXHIBITION OF DAVID SULAKAURI'S ARTWORKS The exhibition features up to 100 works by David Sulakauri and a catalog of his artworks. This is the first wide-scale exhibition of the author dedicated to his 65th anniversary.
July 11 – August 20 EXHIBITION FIELD OF FLOWERS The name "Field of Flowers" came from the eponymous poem Campo di Fiori by Czesław Miłosz, an honorary citizen of Kedainiai. He wrote it in 1943 in Warsaw during the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising. The exhibition showcases artworks by 14 artists from different countries: Sergey Bratkov (Ukraine), Valery Orlov, The Blue Noses Group, Yury Vassiliev, Alexandra Mitlyanskaya Oleg Kostyuk, Evgeny Umansky (Russia), Hubert Czerepok (Poland), Elisha Flotser (Israel), Mikhail Gulin (Belorussia), Carl Michael von Hausswoldd (Sweden), Ana Riaboshenko (Georgia), Jacob Kirkegaard (Denmark), Ram Katzir (Israel, Netherlands). MUSEUM OF SOVIET OCCUPATION Address: 4 Rustaveli Ave. Telephone: 2 99 80 22, 2 93 48 21 www.museum.ge PERMANENT EXHIBITION Discover the State's personal files of "subversive" Georgian public figures, orders to shoot or exile, and other artifacts representing Sovietera cultural and political repression in Georgia. SVANETI MUSEUM OF HISTORY AND ETHNOGRAPHY Address: 7 A. Ioseliani Str., Mestia July 30 – September 10 Georgian National Museum and Project ArtBeat present HERE A solo exhibition of New York based Georgian artist LEVAN MINDIASHVILI GALLERY
THE NATIONAL GALLERY Address: 11 Rustaveli Ave. www.museum.ge Telephone: 215 73 00
June 8 – September 11 EXHIBITION CONSTELLATION Artworks by Chinese contemporary artists- Ai Weiwei, Hu Xiaoyuan, Li Shurui, Liu Wei, Lu Pingyuan, Lu Shanchuan, Ma Qiusha, Wang Guangle, Wang Sishun, Wang Yuyang, Xie Molin, Xu Qu, Xu Zhen, Yan Xing, Zhang Ding, Zhang Zhenyu, Zhao Yao and Zhao Zhao. MUSIC
BLACK SEA ARENA Address: Tsikhisdziri, Adjara August 18 Black Sea Arena and Check in Georgia presents: THE LEGENDARY GIPSY KING CONCERT Tonino Ballardo and Nicolas Reyes Start time: 19:00 Ticket: From 15 GEL August 21 Black Sea Arena, within the Check in Georgia project, offers A SOLO CONCERT BY NINO KATAMADZE The concert is musically accompanied by the National Symphony Orchestra led by Nikoloz Rachveli, Patriarchate Choir of Sameba Cathedral Start time: 19:00 Ticket: From 10 GEL August 22 Berikoni Promotion Presents Live concert of the legendary musician And singer of Georgian origin, World music Award winner GRIGORY LEPS AND HIS BAND Start time: 20:00 Ticket: From 40 GEL BATUMI PIAZZA Address: Batumi, Piazza August 23 ANITA RACHVELISHVILI Mezzo Soprano Conductor- Nikoloz Rachveli Georgian Philharmonic Orchestra PROFUSION (Italy) Start time: 20:30 Ticket: From 55 GEL BATUMI STATE MUSIC CENTER Address: 1 O. Dimitriadi Str. August 18 BUBA KIKABIDZE CONCERT Start time: 22:00 Ticket: 30 GEL SECTOR 26 Address: Batumi Boulevard August 20 SAKHE Concert Start time: 22:00 Ticket: 30 GEL MUSIC FESTIVAL SAIRME 2017 Address: Resort Sairme August 19 DAVIT NOZADZE AND NEKA SEBISKVERADZE Start time: 17:00 Ticket: From 20 GEL August 20 ROMA RTSKHILADZE AND PAUL RIMPLE Start time: 17:00 Ticket: From 20 GEL
GEORGIA TODAY AUGUST 18 - 21, 2017
Roger von Gunten in Tbilisi two countries, are quite far apart, geographically speaking. Culture is one of the ways to approximate the two nations. We also have good political ties, and try to build economic ties, too, but culture is the sphere in which both of these countries has a lot to offer the other”. In his words, there is a great interest towards Georgian opera in Mexico on which the Georgian embassy in Mexico is working. ‘Two beauties and a bird’, ‘Nude full of fruits and mushrooms,’ ‘The sea and the forest’, ‘Scenery with sea and nut,’ ‘Nude with mirror,’ etc, set on a pleasant journey to faraway Mexico, offering its phantasmagorical rendition in the form of Gunten’s magical-figurative world. Since 1992, when Georgian-Mexican diplomatic relations were established, a number of cultural activities have taken place in both countries, including exhibitions and a gastronomic festival. September 1-6 will see one such gastronomic festival of Mexico being hosted by seaside town Kobuleti. A contemporary Georgian literature book has already been published in Spanish in Mexico and the Spanish reproduction of a Georgian history book is underway. The exhibition ‘Eden’ is implemented on the initiative of the Embassy of Georgia to the United States of Mexico and is organized by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Georgia and the Ministry of Culture and Monument Protection of Georgia. WHERE: Sh. Amiranashvili Museum of Fine Arts, 1 Gudiashvili Str., Tbilisi WHEN: August 10 - September 20 Georgian National Museum
REVIEW BY MAKA LOMADZE
he Georgian National Museum opened the exhibition ‘Eden’ by Roger von Gunten at the Shalva Amiranashvili Museum of Fine Arts on August 10. ‘Eden’ is made up of artworks created in various media which provide a visual journey through the production of the artist. 84-year-old Roger von Gunten is a member of ‘La Ruptura’ (‘The rupture’) - a group of artists reflecting the transition from modernism to postmodernism in Mexico. He is a naturalized citizen of Mexico, who originates from Zurich, Switzerland. “This collection is called ‘Eden’ because it shows the nature of Mexico,” Jose Cardenas, Cultural Attaché of the Embassy of Mexico in Turkey, covering Georgia, told GEORGIA TODAY. “It features the paradise of our country as seen by the artist.” “Von Gunten's artworks are distinguished with
chromatics, expressionism and informality; its theme reminding us of a comic,” said Lela Tsitsuashvili, art-historian and curator of the exhibition. “His creations represent a protest, expressed in intense color and distinctive contours. He expresses his attitude to inner and outer universe by merging colors and shapes, being in search of new artistic language. Each piece is in itself a paradox of postmodern knowledge, where the image supplies the content and the viewer resorts to the memory to facilitate the plastic reconstruction of that image. We could say that the work of Roger von Gunten is the recreation of a fiction, through another fiction, whose original narrative is re-conceptualized by the new reading of the beholder,” she said, adding that it is an honor for the Georgian National Museum to be able to present the art tendencies of different parts of the world. “I would like to congratulate all my Mexican colleagues on the accomplishment of such a successful project,” said Zurab Eristavi, Ambassador of Georgia to Mexico. “It is dedicated to the 25th anniversary of bilateral diplomatic relations. We,
90s Group Sakhe to Return to Batumi Stage
BY TAMZIN WHITEWOOD
sk any Georgian and they’ll remember the first line of Sakhe's 90s hit Rogor Minda Mogepero (Dges shen ra lamazi xar...ahhh). Known as the go-to band for nostalgic karaoke sing-alongs, Sakhe unfailingly reignites memories from our youth.
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During the past couple of years, and after a substantial break in performing, the band, formed of singers Dato Khuzhadze, Dato Porchkhidze and Goga Khachidze, have performed a very small number of concerts, hugely popular with both younger and older generations alike. On August 20, Sakhe are set to 'dance in the rain' for the second time this year at Batumi's Sector 26 club. Tickets are 30 GEL each and are available on tkt.ge. The concert kicks off at 10pm local time.
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