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September 18 - 24, 2015

WEEKLY

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Georgia Today 22 p.

ISSUE No.784

The Sour Gr apes of Gra BUSINESS HEADLINES

Geor gia Toda y Georgia oday Meets the GM of East P oint Mall Point

Georgian Dream IN THIS WEEK’S ISSUE

P.9

Confidence Ma tter s! Matter tters! Georgian consumer confidence suffered a major blow at the end of 2014, in the wake of the sharp Lari P.4 depreciation.

To free or not to free? The government weighs the ex-Mayor's constitutional rights against popular public opinion. P.12

Russian ‘Inf opr om’ ‘Infopr oprom’ Ne w Thr ea New hrea eatt for Geor gia Georgia and the EU Excerpts and analysis of the recently published article by Linas Linkevicius, the Foreign Minister of Lithuania. P.2

FLIGHT SCHEDULE

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China: New Economic Potential ffor or Geor gia? Georgia? Georgian delegation visits China to promote Silk Road P.11 collaboration.

Inter vie w: Intervie view: Fatbo y Slim tboy Smiles High a att Global thering Ga Gathering gia Geor Georgia P.15


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POLITICS

SEPTEMBER 18 - 24

ARMENIA: R uling P ar ty Ruling Par arty Disc loses Sar gsy an an’’s Plans Plans,, Discloses Sargsy gsyan Opposition says “NO”

Russian ‘Inf opr om’ Ne w Thr ea ‘Infopr oprom’ New hrea eatt for Geor gia and the EU Georgia By Zviad Adzinbaia

By Karen Tovmasyan For the second consecutive day, Armenian Parliament is talking over the details of the new constitutional project suggested by the President, according to which Armenia will change its semipresidential status and become a Parliamentary Republic, with the Speaker of Parliament standing as the Head of State. The project is being strongly criticized by the main opposition forces in the country. On 12th September around three dozen non-government organizations, civic initiatives and parties, such as Armenian National Congress (the main opposition party in the country lead by the first president of Armenia, Levon TerPetrosian and Heritage party lead by Sargsyan’s main rival during the 2013 presidential elections Raffi Hovhannisian), signed a declaration to form a coalition, the so-called ‘NO Front,’ to oppose the constitutional change which they call a ‘constitutional coup’. ‘NO Front’ representatives say the aim of forming a coalition is to fight Sargsyan’s plan to establish an everlasting dictatorship in the country by organizing rallies all over Armenia to disrupt the referendum against the state and constitution. Sargsyan, whose second presidential term is to end in April 2018, is currently constitutionally unable to run for a third presidential term. The opponents of Sargsyan are sure the planned change of constitution is aimed at avoiding this limitation and enabling him to rule the country through the position of Speaker of Parliament, who, according to the suggested project, will be de jure leader of the state with no constitutional limitations. No article in the current draft regulates how the Speaker of Parliament can be removed from his/her post while the

ones concerning the President and the Prime Minister remain in place. The Opposition’s arguments against Sargsyan were submitted by his ruling Republican party representatives in Parliament, Margarit Yesayan and Ruben Hovsepian, who announced that Sargsyan can’t go home after the last presidential term expires in 2008. Yesayan went further, disclosing Sargsyan’s plans to stay in power even after his last presidential term. “Look at his biography. Why should a politician and statesman with such a rich background stay at home after the end of his tenure?” said Republican party representative Margarit Yesayan during the parliamentary debate yesterday, adding that “Sargsyan’s presence in the government is essential for the country.” While the representative of opposition Heritage party in the parliament Zaruhi Postanjyan announced: “Sargsyan should be sent to prison in a manner defined by law, instead of having an opportunity to prolonging his rule.” Postanjyan’s ally in ‘NO Front,’ Levon Zurabian, head of the parliament’s biggest opposition party announced that by saying “No” in the referendum, the citizen’s will say “NO” to the regime. The debates in Parliament are set to continue over the next few days, but the decision about the national referendum will be accepted at a later date. The leader of the ruling Republican faction of the parliament, Vahram Baghdasaryan, said that he expects the referendum to take place in December 2015.

Linas Linkevicius, the Foreign Minister of Lithuania, has published an article on euobserver.com concerning Russia’s informational propaganda in Europe and the possible threats. The publication starts with a revelation highlighting a certain national day during which “in one EU country which he [the minister] won’t name, Russian uniforms marched alongside others in the celebration.” “It was the same uniform which is currently taking part in aggression against Ukraine. Did it look good? Was it picked up by European media as being a bit strange? No. You never heard of it,” Linkevicius says. He cites there is a tendency to consider propaganda an exotic bug which only affects the lives of “people far away - in Ukraine, Georgia, Russia.” “But the carefully-packaged lies are finding their ways to audiences all over Europe. It is the result of a systematic and heavily-funded campaign, and saying that the West is immune because we have a plethora of media outlets isn’t true” – the article reads. Linkevicius believes large, Russianspeaking portions of the EU audience, whether in the Baltic States or London, get the Kremlin’s view first and foremost. “It’s the result of language limitations or old media habits. In this sphere, media plurality means plural TV channels all manipulated by one (Russian) authority.” Gazprom, the Russian energy giant, is also discussed in the publication in which Linkevicius says: “We had the courage to confront Gazprom’s monopoly in Europe. Now it’s time to confront Russia’s ‘infoprom’, which has weaponized information in the same way the Kremlin weaponized energy supplies.” The Foreign Minister calls on some

Linas Linkevicius, Foreign Minister of Lithuania.Source:eu2013.lt (euobserver.com)

urgent measures to be taken by the European Union. “We need to start thinking not just what we can do for themreferring to non-EU eastern European states- but also what can we do to protect ourselves?” Linkevicius believes there is more to it than allocating money from foreign relations budgets. “It’s equally important to ensure the transparency of funding and ownership of media outlets which operate in the EU.” According to the article, the ‘Kremlin mouthpieces’ know how to register in [our] cities. “They put on a “Made in the EU” label, then they begin to quietly incite hatred, hoping no one will question what they’re doing because of the holy cow of free speech.” Georgia Today’s Zviad Adzinbaia: Recently, Salome Samadashvili, former Georgian Ambassador to the European Union, through the Brusselsbased Martens Centre, published a study entitled Muzzling the Bear, referring to Russia’s information propaganda and

Hybrid Warfare in the region, in general. The author implies that the Russian side, through state-backed information sources, disseminates propaganda in Georgia and Europe, working against the states and their sovereignty. How can Georgia cope with this problem? What actions are needed? It has long been obvious for the Georgian Government that Russian information propaganda robustly endeavors to undermine Georgian sovereignty and mislead society through creating a negative icon of the EU and NATO in the country. It has been believed that setting certain restraints for those Russian stateaffiliated media means operating in Georgia would not mean any censorship, as the Lithuanian Foreign Minister remarks above; but the opposite, Georgian experts, think tanks or non-governmental organizations support the notion that it is essential for the government to limit Russian media in the country to protect its sovereignty and political stability.

Geor gian Go ver nment R epor ts Georgian Gov ernment Re ports Ac hie vements and Futur e Plans Achie hiev Future By Steven Jones On September 12, the Georgian Government presented a report to Parliament reviewing the government’s achievements and plans for the near future. “The government has been actively working in terms of all priorities, such as strengthening Georgia’s security and sovereignty; de-occupation and restoration of territorial integrity; Euro-Atlantic integration; deepening strategic cooperation with the United States,” – the report says. According to the document, the nonrecognition policy of Georgia has been successful: ‘no countries have [so far] recognized the independence of Abkhazia and Tskhinvali region in 2015’. Moreover, the government emphasizes its continued discussion of the situation of occupied regions as well as the violation of the ceasefire agreement by Russia within the framework of the Geneva international negotiations and other partner-states. The report underscores that, thanks to Georgian diplomatic efforts, the number of supporters of the Resolution on

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Refugees has increased by six within the framework of the United Nations. At the same time, ‘‘the government of Georgia continues working in order to restore confidence between the populations separated by the war.’ European and Euro-Atlantic integration, considered one of the top priorities for Georgia throughout recent years, was particularly emphasized in the report, with a highlighted 24 countries having already ratified the Georgia-EU Association Agreement. Along with other issues, the implementation of the NATO-Georgia substantial package [received at the NATO Wales Summit in September 2014], also got a mention: “as a result, the NATOGeorgia joint training and assessment center has been opened.” Likewise, the service of Georgian troops in international peace operations carried out under the NATO guidance is also included in the document which concludes that Georgia will continue fighting against international terrorism and organized crime.

The Ministers’ Cabinet. Source: FB page of the Government of Georgia.

Importantly, the development of close political-economic relationships with Azerbaijan, Turkey and Armenia as well as Black and Caspian Sea regional and central Asian countries, are considered among the key priorities for Georgia which underlines the import of strategic partnership with the United States. At the same time, while normalization of relations with the Russian Federation for de-occupation are considered a priority, recognition of the withdrawal of the occupied territories, facts of installation of barbed wires and permanent relocation of the so-called border demarcation signposts are not forgotten. It is notable that the Georgian Government, after facing a stern reaction from the citizens of Georgia over the economic shock created in the country, has launched intensive negotiations with China to attract more investments. The planned Silk Road Forum of Tbilisi in October this year is expected to stimulate new initiatives and deepen cooperation with China in terms of transport, energy, trade and human relations.


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ECONOMY

SEPTEMBER 18 - 24

The ISET Policy Institute (ISET-PI, www.iset-pi.ge) is an independent think-tank associated with the International School of Economics at TSU (ISET). Our blog carries economic analysis of current events and policies in Georgia and the South Caucasus region ranging from agriculture, to economic growth, energy, labor markets and the nexus of economics, culture and religion. Thought-provoking and fun to read, our blog posts are written by international faculty teaching at ISET and recent graduates representing the new generation of Georgian, Azerbaijani and Armenian economists.

Confidence Matters! By Eric Livny, Maya Grigolia and Levan Pavlenishvili LOCAL GOVERNMENT ELECTIONS Georgian consumer confidence suffered a major blow at the end of 2014, in the wake of the sharp Lari depreciation. Around February 2015, the Index found some support at the very low level of -35-30 points, and has been slightly improving since then. In July 2015, this mildly positive trend was reversed, and in August, the Index dropped another 4.1 points to reach a new historical minimum of -38.4 points. Interestingly, this entire drop was driven by older respondents, those aged over 35. We will come back to this point later in the article. At the same time, Georgian business companies also appear be rattled by the Lari depreciation. Coming with a lag, after seven months during which consumer demand and sales have been declining, Georgian Business Confidence Index (BCI) took a major hit in the second quarter of 2015. The BCI dropped a whopping 24.5 points to an all-time low of 3.6 on a scale of [-100; 100] points. Conducted in April 2015, the survey, which included 168 firms, suggested that business confidence declined on all measures, across all sectors, and for all firm sizes. Moreover, a deep sense of pessimism was reflected in business perceptions concerning current performance as well as expectations concerning the future. The third quarter business confidence data drew a much rosier picture. About one half of all 211 surveyed firms reported going through some difficulties in Q2 (reflected in low sales, turnover or production numbers), confirming what we have already known from our previous survey. Yet, businesses are once again quite a bit more optimistic when it comes to the future. Business expectations went up by 30 index points, almost fully compensating for the loss of confidence in Q2 2015. What can we learn from the recent ups and downs in the consumer and business confidence indices? And, more importantly, what shall we (as well as Georgia’s policymakers and politicians) do about them?

SHALL WE BUCKLE UP AND ENJOY THE ROLLER COASTER RIDE? First, we should clarify that “confidence” measures, such consumer and business indices, are not a matter of purely academic interest. People’s perceptions are shaped by their past and current experiences. Yet, – and this is an absolutely crucial point – perceptions also matter greatly for individual and business decisions that affect the future. One’s degree of optimism (or pessimism) affects both “microeconomic” behavior (to take a mortgage and buy an apartment, or wait another few years; to invest today or tomorrow, and how much) and aggregage “macroeconomic” performance. Economists have long recognized that economic decisions (and outcomes) are not independent of perceptions. Too much cautiousness on the part of, say, bankers can either deepen a downturn, or put a break on economic growth. For this reason, consumer and business confidence are part and parcel of various business cycle theories in economics. Business confidence is considered a supply side factor, affecting investment, production and pricing decisions. Likewise, consumer confidence is a demand factor, affecting people’s spending. (In Georgia, domestic consumers make up about 86% of total demand faced by Georgian producers, hence their importance for the economy.) By affecting both supply and demand conditions, business and consumer confidence ultimately impact all macroeconomic variables: the level of income, prices, and employment, among others. Given that changes in perceptions, as measured by confidence surveys, are both a cause and effect of real economic developments, the academic literature abounds with conflicting empirical evidence on whether it is confidence that drives the business cycles or the other way around. Some authors, such as Salmond (2009) argue that confidence measures are over-rated as a causal factor, and tend to over-estimate the impact of politics and media (major drivers of public perceptions). Others, such as

Leduc and Still (2010) argue to the opposite. Academic researchers may remain forever divided on the relative strength of the causal mechanisms underlying business cycles. Yet, there is no arguing that public perceptions and expectations have at least some power in shaping economic developments. A case in point is the short-lived recession afflicting the US economy after Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait in the third quarter of 1990 (a textbook example in Olivier Blanchard’s Macroeconomics). Worried that the United States might get involved in a prolonged and costly war, consumers cut down on expenditures well before the Gulf War had actually started, bringing the economy into an unexpected twoquarter recession. Now, if expectations and public opinion matter, more attention should be paid to those who shape them: policymakers, politicians and media. POLITICS, MEDIA, AND THE REAL ECONOMY Our expectations are shaped by our personal experiences (e.g. our sales performance and the treatment we get at the hands of the local tax inspector) as well as by what we hear about other developments in the economy, developments of which we have no first-hand knowledge. Few Georgians have an intimate understanding of the mandate and procedures used by the National Bank of Georgia, or see any direct benefits related to, say, Georgia’s Association Agreement with the European Union. Likewise, few Georgian consumers are fully informed about (or see any immediate benefits in) the continuous improvement of Georgia’s sea, air, rail and road transport instfastructure. Here is where the media (mostly TV, but, increasingly, social networks and online news portals) come into play. The media are in the business of filtering, repackaging and amplifying political messages. They (and their owners and editors) can choose how much air time should be devoted to positive as oppposed to negative news, and how to present information to the public. The political process in any system

10 Galaktion Street

is very much about control of media. Unlike oligarchies and totalitarian regimes, a democratic polity presupposes not only competitive elections but also competitive and diverse media, allowing people sufficient choice of (biased) information sources. Just how competitive are Georgian media is a matter for scrutiny by Georgian media experts, not economists. What we do observe in our data, however, is that Georgian consumers’ perceptions vary quite sharply depending on the type of media to which they are exposed. Whereas all Georgian consumers (and businesses) were equally affected by the sharp Lari devaluation in late 2014, over the past 6 months, we observe a slow but steady improvement in the confidence of younger consumers. In August 2015, the CCI for the younger population (below 35) climbed to -30.3 points (up 1.2 points). The opposite movement was recorded for those above 35, bringing the gap in consumer confidence between these two age groups to

14 points. There may be many reasons for this divergence in perceptions. At least one of them, however, is likely be related to the much higher TV-dependence of older Georgians. It is quite likely that the older generation is more affected by the televised hysteria surrounding the ups and downs of the Lari and the supposed “failure” of the National Bank of Georgia to maintain exchange rate stability. As Georgia enters an important elections year, we are likely to see more and more political bickering and mutual accusations that do little to improve anybody’s confidence in Georgian statehood, its economy and politics. What could help the Georgian economy at a time like that is sober economic analysis, open and professional discussion of available options, and dialog among the various parties. Unfortunately, little of this will happen in the coming 11 months, limiting the chances for a quick recovery in expectations and, consequently, economics growth.

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


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ECONOMY

SEPTEMBER 18 - 24

The Galt & Taggart Research team comprises Georgian and Azerbaijani finance and economic experts who have broad experience of covering the macro and corporate sectors of the two countries. Our current product offering includes Georgian and Azerbaijan macroeconomic research, Georgian sector research, and fixed income corporate research. For free access to Galt & Taggart Research, please visit gtresearch.ge or contact us at gt@gt.ge.

FDI: Impor tant Sour ce of Gr owth Financing Important Source Gro By Alim Hasanov Georgia continues to attract FDI despite the uncertainties in emerging markets. FDI surged in 2014 to US$ 1.8bn, a record high since 2007, boosted by investments in transport and communication (US$ 433.7mn, up 209.5%), construction (US$ 316.6mn, up 535.1%), and manufacturing (US$ 205.4mn, up 105.9%). The upward trend has persisted into 2015, with total FDI increasing 4.8% y/y in 1H15. FDI is considered an important source of growth financing in countries with inadequate domestic savings. It was one of the main factors supporting the 6.3% average annual growth rate in Georgia from 2003 to 2014. More importantly, this growth was driven mainly by productivity gains. According to the World Bank calculations, which cover the period from 1999 to 2012, productivity gains accounted for 66% of growth. FDI was likely a key element in efficiency improvement as it brings not only financial resources, but also essential know how. At the same time, FDI has been driving imports, contributing significantly to the current account deficit. As FDI increased in 2014, the current account deficit widened to 9.7% of GDP from 5.7% in 2013. A significant share of FDI is directed towards the acquisition of

value added in tourism, likely contributing significantly to the necessary capacity expansion for hosting the increasing number of tourists. Investments in transport and communication are also far above average, resulting in a significant increase in the country’s transit capacity. Transit accounted for 65% of crossborder road and rail shipments and 95% of pipeline shipments in 2014. Moreover, Georgia has already become a regional energy transit corridor with approximately 1.6% of the world’s oil production and diversified gas supply passing through the country. The attractiveness of these sectors for FDI over the

capital goods, which are, in turn, imported. FDI that drives capital goods imports can be considered more beneficial. Foreign investors can buy existing enterprises or build new ones. The latter requires additional capital goods and naturally expands the output capacity of the country, laying solid ground for future growth. As long as FDI is expanding the economic output capacity of the country, the associated external deficit is not a threat since (1) a drop in FDI immediately results in a corresponding reduction in the deficit, ruling out concerns for external financing needs; and (2) expansion of

POLITICS

Russian Dele gation to Deleg liamentar y Attend OSCE P ar Par arliamentar liamentary Assemb Assemblly in Tbilisi

Sergey Narishkin, the Russian Parliamentary Speaker, has said Russia plans to send a delegation to participate in an OSCE Parliamentary Assembly session in Tbilisi in summer 2016. While meeting with the head of the OSCE, Narishkin confirmed that the Russian delegation plans to be actively involved in the Parliamentary Assembly’s session in Vienna and, subse-

quently, in Tbilisi. According to the speaker, the Parliamentary Assembly can considerably contribute to resolving the socio-political crisis in Ukraine. The 25 th Parliamentary Assembly session from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) will be held in Tbilisi in summer 2016.

years has validated the soundness of positioning the country as a regional hub. It is crucial that further efforts are invested in this direction to keep FDI flowing. While FDI was among the major sources of growth financing in Georgia, buildup of the nation’s non-tangible assets, such as ease of doing business and institutional development, has been indispensable in attracting FDI. Pursuing further development in that direction is key to attracting new investors, further improving productivity, and increasing the domestic capacity of export-generating sectors.

output is laying ground for enhanced export potential (both in goods and services) in the future. Service exports hold great promise for Georgia, which has been positioning itself as a regional hub for tourism, transport, communication, and financial intermediation, among other services. In terms of tourism, Georgia has already reached new heights with the number of foreign arrivals increasing from 560,000 in 2005 to 5.5 million in 2014. Past data can shed light on FDI’s potential role in this achievement. While FDI to GDP was on average 12.7% from 2007 to 2009, FDI in tourism was 66.9% of the

Ne wF or eign Minister New For oreign Minister:: We Cannot For get Abashidz e-K ar asin F or ma arasin For orma matt org Abashidze-K e-Kar Georgia’s new Foreign Minister, Giorgi Kvirikashvili, has said the restoration of Georgian territorial integrity will be his main goal as the leader of the structure. Kvirikashvili believes in standing against the ongoing occupation of Georgia’s territory. He also believes that achieving a dialogue between Georgia and Russia is necessary. He has stated, however, that this dialogue cannot be expanded past mere dialogue,. “For a country with violated territorial integrity and invasion problems, the foreign policy will never be of second-

ary importance,” the new Minister stated. According to Kvirikashvili, humanitarian and economic issues have been discussed within the Abashidze-Karasin format. He said “from my point of view, it is impossible to expand the format as there are political issues beyond it. The Geneva format is for political discussions, which need to be maintained as effectively as possible.” The Minister believes communication with Georgia’s most powerful opponent is more important than leaving it alone, stating: “Therefore, I cannot accept the criticism that the Abashidze-

Karasin format should be abolished.” The dialogue format set up after the 2012 elections had the Georgian Prime Minister’s special representative, Zurab Abashidze, meet with Russia’s Deputy Foreign Minister, Gregory Karasin. The format received heavy criticism from the Georgian public for apparently conceding Georgian interests, as Russia currently occupies 20% of Georgian sovereign territory. At time of print, Russian forces continue their creeping occupation in the Shida Kartli region, where a number of Georgian citizens have been kidnapped by occupation forces.


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SEPTEMBER 18 - 24

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Partnership Fund Launches Construction Works for Nenskra HPP

Interview with Professor Yongjun Huang

P.10

P.11

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Georgia Today Meets the GM of East Point Mall By Meri Taliashvili The 85, 000 m square international standard shopping mall, East Point, opened on the outskirts of Tbilisi this week, making it the largest shopping and entertainment center in the city. You’ll find your favorite food venues McDonalds and Dunkin Donuts alongside a cinema hall, the first IMAX cinema in Georgia, 12 professional bowling lanes with attached café and restaurant, the biggest Massimo Dutti, Zara, Mango, Stradivarius and Bershka stores, and the first Do It Yourself (DIY) hypermarket, Domino, offering everything you need for home repairs. Brands De Facto, Gloria Jean’s, and Inglot are expected to

Oleg Pavlov, East Point GM.

open at East Point shortly and by the end of the year Carrefour hypermarket and unique children’s entertainment center Focus-Mocus will join the list. Georgia Today met Oleg Pavlov, the top manager of East Point, to interview him about the center and his expectations. Q: Mr. Oleg, what should the Georgians expect from the center? A: The Georgian people should expect it to be a destination that works for all the family. You wake up in the morning, you come here: you have breakfast here, a cup of coffee somewhere in coffee shops, you can shop in clothing shops, children can entertain themselves in the children’s center, young people can do all kinds of activities downstairs, the whole family can go and watch a movie, then you can have dinner at a restaurant. You can spend the whole day here. There’s something for everyone. That was our idea. And over time we will make sure that there is more and more for people to experience in this center. What opened today is just half what it is going be in four or five months. Q: Is the Georgian economic picture favorable for you? A: When we came here five years ago, there was nothing. I think that with this center the whole of Tbilisi will come alive. It will be a tourist destination, people will fly from different places just to see this area. That will be beneficial in every respect. This is the biggest mall not only in the country but also in the region. This project in is worth over one

hundred million USD and we have acquired additional land around it to allow us to continue building as needed. We’ll continue to reinvest in this place. Three thousand people are employed here at present and in the near future we’ll be creating even more employment as we generate more demand. Every retailer that invests in this will expand together with us. I think we will be a good example of what can be done. We are very impressed with the Georgian government for supporting us so professionally. Q: How will you manage to compete with the other shopping mall

(Tbilisi Mall? Is East Point truly so unique? A: Firstly, the only modern shopping mall (Tbilisi Mall) is in Digomi and so we are accommodating different districts. Secondly, what we have here is something nobody has today. Even after years it will still be incomparable. A combination of shopping and fashion is just here. Our IMAX is unique. Carrefour is going to be the largest supermarket and it is also will reflect on our image. The cinema is the largest in the city… everything is unique. Our growth depends on the growth of Georgian economy in general. The better the econ-

Dunkin’ Donuts Continues to Expand By Beqa Kirtava The very first Dunkin’ Donuts (DD) restaurant was opened in Tbilisi on January 13, 2015 and turned out be such an

overnight success that the customers ate the products out of stock within 7 days of the launch. Eight months later, the company seems to show no signs of slowing down as Wissol Group contin-

ues to bring more and more restaurants to different parts of the country. On September 15, 2015 a brand new DD location was opened in the trade center of “Smart” in the 2nd micro dis-

Irakli Lekvinadze, Soso Phkhakadze and John Rollo opening the new location of Dunkin’ Donuts

trict of Vazisubani. This marks as the brands 13th restaurant in Georgia and Wissol Group is set to bring 7 more by the end of the year, employing over 200 people. The opening ceremony was attended by the Vice-Mayor of Tbilisi, Irakli Lekvinadze, the President of Wissol Group, Soso Phkhakadze and the International Business Development Manager of Dunkin’ Donuts, John Rollo. “It’s a huge honor for Wissol Group that after three years of negotiations we have managed to reach an agreement with one of the biggest and truly legendary brands of the US – Dunkin’ Donuts. These restaurants have become everybody’s favorite gathering places in an extremely short period of time and we are very happy that the residents of Vazisubani will now have the chance to taste both the deserts and the sandwiches of the brand,” said Soso Phkhakadze. The “Smart” trade center, opened back in 2011, covers an area of more than 2000 m2 and includes numerous types of shops, alongside a pharmacy and a bank, to ensure a maximally comfortable environment for customers. Wissol Group hopes that the opening of Dunkin’ Donuts will attract event more people to the place.

omy does, the better we will do. Countries neighboring Georgia don’t have a good economy, yet such centers seems to function very well. Nobody can predict the future but this is a modern city and more retail opportunities are appearing weekly. The biggest difficulty from the beginning was to make people believe in what we were saying we’d do. There were so many failed projects here- including several big developments, some of whom had promised but then failed to deliver on their promises. We faced a lot of skepticism but we have done what we promised.

Pr oCr edit Bank Of s ProCr oCredit Offfer ers est R ates on Interest Ra Higher Inter Lari Ter m De posits erm Deposits In order to support and promote savings in the national currency, we have increased the interest rate on term deposits. From September 9, for any term deposit opened in GEL, our customers will receive 1.5% more interest. This applies to both private individuals and legal entities. We have increased the interest rate on term deposits up to a maximum of 9.25%. At the opening of a Savings Plan for the maximum term, 8.75% will accrue on it. ProCredit Bank is also offering improved conditions for its young savers with the maximum interest rate on Child Deposits now 9.25%. ProCredit Bank has been promoting the development of a savings culture in Georgia for many years. We are actively working to communicate the importance and benefits of savings to the public. The bank hopes that the increased interest rates on term deposits will be an incentive for customers to save and earn more interest on their savings. More detailed information about new interest rates on deposits is available on our website: www.procreditbank.ge.


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SEPTEMBER 18 - 24

BUSINESS

Partnership Fund Launches Construction Works for Nenskra HPP

Hotel Sympatia

4, V. Daraselia Str. Tbilisi, Georgia

Hotel’s network “Sympatia”

The Partnership Fund, together with Korean K-Water, has launched construction works for a Nenskra Hydro Power Plant (HPP) in Svaneti, Georgia’s mountainous region. Before construction starts, Salini Impregilo, an Italian company is to begin preparation works. The preparatory works envision rehabilitation of the road leading to the construction site as well as delivery of the construction vehicles. Construction works will be launched by company Salini Impregilo in 2016, however the construction permit will be issued by the end of October, 2015.

The ground-breaking foundation ceremony in Svaneti was attended by Irakli Gharibashvili, Prime Minister of Georgia, as well as Kakhi Kaladze, Vice-Premier and Energy Minister of Georgia, Government Officials, Ambassadors of Korean Republic and Italy, and top management from K-Water and Salini Impregilo. According to Irakli Kovzanadze, Executive Director of the Partnership Fund, Nenskra HPP will be the largest HPP constructed since Georgia gained independence. He highlighted that that the success comes after a long and hard period of negotiations. “One

of the most important issues about implementation of this USD 1 bln cost project is that after 35 years of operation, the HPP will be handed over to Georgia free of charge and without any terms,” Kovzanadze said. Gyewoon Choi, President of K-Water, who came to Georgia specifically for the foundation ceremony, said that his company will do its best to make the project a success. “I expect that Korea and Georgia can develop the mutual relation of economic cooperation through completing the construction and operation of this project successfully,” he said.

The 280 MW Nenskra HPP project will be implemented by the Partnership Fund and K-Water on the river Enguri in upper Svaneti. The HPP’s potential capacity will be 1.2 b kwt/h. The plant is expected to begin producing electricity in 2019 while the project will be completed by 2021. The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), Asian Development Bank (ADB) and Korea Eximbank are also involved in this USD 1 billion project and will provide financing for it. The Fund’s advisor is International Financial Corporation (IFC).

Tel: (995 32) 2 99 55 88, 2 37 05 90 Tel./Fax: (995 32) 2 37 62 63 www.sympatia.ge E-mail: contact@sympatia.ge

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Kakheti to Grow Pistachio Nuts Iormuganlo village in Kkaheti region started to cultivate pistachio saplings, reported BPI, an informational-analytical portal, adding that revitalization of the pistachio is very important as its price on the international market exceeds the price of walnuts, hazelnuts and other nuts. Moreover, its market is more stable and the price rarely falls.

Pistachio production could bring considerable economic profits to Georgia – it is the perfect plant for erosion control in drought areas meaning it can help prevent erosion in problematic regions of the country. Moreover, its fruit has great properties for health, pharmaceutical, and homeopathy purposes.

Mercedes-Benz Viano – 2004

Chinese Company Considers Construction of New Highway in Georgia One of the largest Chinese construction companies, Zhuhai Da Heng Qin Company Limited, may start a new highway project in Georgia, with an estimated $1 billion investment. The top ten construction companies will work on the project with the China Development

Bank, which finances the majority of China’s infrastructural constructions. During his visit to china, PM Irakli Garibashvili discussed bringing a group of specialists to Georgia in order to discuss further collaboration with the Administration of the Government, and representatives of the

Georgian Prime Minister Garibashvili on his recent visit to China.

Ministry of Infrastructure and Ministry of Economy and Sustainable Development. According to Garibashvili, the project is of strategic importance and ensured the company of his full support once the details are specified. He also spoke about strengthening Georgia’s

relations with China and noted that the country strives to be China’s main partner in the region. The delegation also discussed the Anaklia Port project, as the China Development Bank has expressed interest in participating in the construction of the port.

Toyota RAV 4 – 2000, 4X4, AT


ECONOMY

China: New Economic Potential for Georgia?

Prime Minister Garibashvili holds meetings in China. Facebook/PM

By Steven Jones Earlier this week a Georgian delegation led by Prime Minister of Georgia, Irakli Garibashvili, visited China to meet with high-ranking officials and discuss potential close ties between the two countries. The core goal of the visit was to boost the idea of the historical Silk Road which

is expected to be able to considerably increase trade between China and Georgia. Moreover, the project can assist Georgia, which enjoys a key geographic location between the west and east, by allowing it to make use of its trade corridor potential. The governmental administration has said Georgia will be the first country in the region to try deepening its relation-

ship with China, one of the largest economies in the world. Intensifying relations between the two countries has been broadly discussed in the past. Both sides referred to the importance of the “Tbilisi Silk Road Forum,” established following the Georgian Prime Minister’s new initiative. According to sources, high-ranking Chinese officials will be visiting Tbilisi in October. Notably, trade flow between the two countries increased by 28% in 2014, making China one of the closest economic partners for Georgia. Giorgi Kvirikashvili Georgia’s Foreign Minister stated the Georgian delegation’s visit to China was very successful. “The Chinese side expressed readiness to carry out large investments in Georgia. The PM put an emphasis on the significance of the region within the framework of the new project, which implies regeneration of the Silk Road,” Kvirikashvili said, adding that China will support Chinese companies wishing to take part in the project. The Georgian Government Administration also announced that a Memorandum of Cooperation was signed in Dalian, China, where PM Garibashvili met with representatives of the Dalian Locomotive & Rolling Stock Co., Ltd. CRRC Group, the largest Chinese company in the field of locomotive industry, expressing hope that the cooperation will further develop in the future. The Memorandum is aimed at establishing a joint enterprise in Georgia, which will produce locomotive engines, diesel generators, subway trains, electric trains, etc. and will be oriented to post-Soviet countries, including Iran, Turkey and Europe in a broader scope. It seems that China in terms of export potential for Georgia as well as a considerable investment opportunity can positively add to Georgia’s recessing economy, which has fallen prey to the complex international economic context and local instabilities.

SEPTEMBER 18 - 24

11

Interview with Professor Yongjun Huang By Katie Ruth Davies Georgia Today met Professor Yongjun Huang, CEO of Chinese President Xi Jin-Ping’s Thought and Study Center, who came to Georgia last week to promote a mutual publishing project between Georgia and China. We met him in the cozy reception of Rooms hotel, Tbilisi. The interview was conducted with the help of his assistant and translator. Q: What kind of collaboration have you come here to achieve? A: We established Georgian Culture Press Ltd, dedicated to the publishing of culturally interesting material between Georgia and China. We want to translate Georgian and Chinese literature- fiction, non-fiction, prestigious works, official papers, speeches... Q: Did you decide on this project as your own inititative? A: Actually, the Chinese Prime Minister asked me to come as part of the works to renew Silk Road trade. The Silk Road covers land and sea and Georgia is a very important part of that transit line. The President of China announced his wish to renew the fellowship of Silk Road collaboration with 50 more countries along the traditional Silk Road. Q: How well do the Chinese people know Georgia and its culture? A: The majority know it as ‘Stalin’s country’. Yet they know nothing of the Stalin Museum in Gori. We expect to encourage many Chinese to visit Geor-

gia with this cultural exchange publishing initiative. People in China don’t know about Gori Stalin hometownvaguely associate Georgia with it. We expect many will come. Particularly from south china. The climate here will be more comfortable for them that some European countries, particularly those from southern China. Q: What trade potential do you see other than publishing? A: Natural resources. The China National Development Bank is interested in mining and exploring Georgia’s many natural resources. Q: Has your visit here been successful? A: When I return, I’ll be meeting with the senior officials of the Culture Department to discuss mutual translations of Georgian and Chinese. With an exchange in literature two people can understand each other more closely and quickly. This is good. Profile: PROF. YONGJUN HUANG, CEO of Chinese President Xi JinPing’s Thought and Study Center, has been presented with the Grassroot Diplomat “Certificate of Excellence” for his work with the President of China and academic excellence in international culture and diplomacy. Professor Huang is an ambassador for the vision and future focus of President Xi Jin-Ping’s thoughts for governing China, and to bring change for a better world.

What Higher US Interest Rates Mean for the Lari By Joseph Larsen On September 16-17 the Federal Open Markets Committee (FOMC) – the key decision-making body within the US Federal Reserve Bank – convened in Washington DC for its sixth meeting of the year. The FOMC has met every five to eight weeks for years, but this instance holds special significance. The key item on the agenda is the question of raising interest rates, something the FOMC hasn’t done since 2006. The Federal Reserve has the dual mandate of maintaining price stability and full employment (in practice that usually means inflation of around 2 percent and an unemployment rate under 4 percent). Following the 2008 financial meltdown and subsequent recession, the Fed decided that high unemployment was a much greater threat than rampant inflation, and turned to an “easy money” policy. The Fed flooded financial markets with cash in two ways. The first, keeping interest rates near zero, was meant to encourage lending by making it less profitable for banks to hold reserves. The second, “quantitative easing” (fancy talk for printing money to buy bonds from private investors), was intended to encourage borrowing by increasing the amount of cash banks had to lend. The Fed ended the quantitative easing program in October 2014, and now it’s debating doing away with the other half of the easy money policy. The “lifting-off” of interest rates is controversial

among economists. Some argue that the US economy is growing quickly enough that inflation now poses a larger threat than unemployment. The unemployment rate in August 2015 stood at 5.1 percent, its lowest since 2008. Timothy Kane, an economist at the right-of-center Hoover Institution, is in favor of higher rates. “We’re so overstimulating when the U.S. economy is strengthening,” he said. “I’m afraid if they don’t hike rates now, they’ll find themselves in a bind of overheating territory for the labor market.” Many others, however, argue that

high inflation is still a distant threat. Year-on-year inflation stood at only 1.8 percent at the end of July. Furthermore, uncertainty in the global economy means that an interest rate hike could create a host of problems. The Euro, Ruble and Chinese Renminbi have each fallen against the Dollar during the past year. Raising interest rates could push these currencies down even more, because higher rates make it more profitable for international investors to put their money in the US economy. More investors buying Dollars means fewer buying Euros, Rubles,

Renminbi, and even Laris. Former US Treasury Secretary Larry Summers warned of the risk of raising rates in an op-ed last month. “At this moment of fragility, raising rates risks will tip some part of the financial system into crisis, with unpredictable and dangerous results,” he wrote. WHAT THIS MEANS FOR THE LARI As the world’s most commonly used and traded currency, a small change in the value of the US Dollar can cause major changes in the values of smaller

currencies, with an example being the Lari. Georgia’s currency has already had a rough year, falling from GEL1.75/ USD1 to GEL2.43/USD1 since November 2014. If the outcome of this week’s FOMC meeting is higher interest rates and a stronger Dollar, could we see the Lari drop even further? A small drop in the Lari’s value against the Dollar would be difficult to avoid. However, the change in value may not be particularly large. As ISET demonstrated in a blog post last week, the performance of the Lari is more dependent on the Euro and Ruble than the Dollar. Because the EU and Russia are Georgia’s two largest trading partners and main sources of remittances, a weaker Euro and Ruble mean less foreign currency is flowing into Georgia, pushing the Lari’s value downward. This leads us to believe that the Lari’s performance doesn’t have much to do with Federal Reserve policy – unless a rate hike puts the global economy into a tailspin, as some economists are warning. However, many Georgian households will be negatively effected, even if the Dollar gains only a few percentage points on the Lari. That’s because of “Dollarization” in the Georgian economy. Roughly 60 percent of bank loans in Georgia are denominated in USD. For that reason, all of us who get paid in Lari but hold debts in USD watched this weeks’s FOMC meeting closely.


12

POLITICS

SEPTEMBER 18 - 24

OP-ED

The Sour Grapes of Georgian Dream By Zaza Jgharkava In Batumi, tomatoes and eggs were thrown at the house of the Head of the Constitutional Court as people protested against the decision of the Constitutional Court with regards to the release of exTbilisi mayor, Gigi Ugulava. So far, this is how the government reacts to the verdict of the country’s highest judicial body. However, sooner or later it will have to take a more serious decision. So, what should the government do with the decision of the Constitutional Court to release the former Mayor of Tbilisi from initial imprisonment? As people in Georgia would say, the Georgian Dream is currently in a situation when execution and non-execution of the court decision can both lead to headaches. Add to this the so-called ‘rebranding’ within the Georgian Dream, not to say anything about the wine-makers in Gurjaani shaking the economical vines with their Grape Revolution. In brief, the government is surrounded by a number of problems, but as the development of events shows, the issue of former mayor Ugulava is still the most important. On the un-concealed hatred scale of Georgian Dream, the former mayor

Gigi Ugulava, former Tbilisi Mayor, not forgotten. The government must decide whether to allow his release from prison or not.

Ugulava stands on a lower rung than political prisoners, former defense minister Bachi Akhalaia and former interior minister Vano Merabishvili. The ‘Dreamers’ are certain that both Akhalaia and Merabishvili were ‘eating the flesh of innocent prisoners’ for nine years whereas Gigi Ugulava is ‘only involved’ in ‘corruption’. Based on this reality, the government could not achieve public

discretization of Ugulava. His achievement during the mayor’s term only added to it. During his term, Tbilisi turned from a provincial city into the most modern megapolis in the region. The confused government is facing this dilemma today: release the highly-rated opponent and have problems on the political front or put him back in prison and have problems on the diplomatic

front. Now everything depends on the “taste” of the government. The views of the government supporters are shared on social networks, with comments indicating early “joy” and the expectation that the government will not release Gigi Ugulava. “Do not worry; they will not release him. Ugulava will spend several more years in prison! It is already decided and no one can change the decision,” – writes journalist Bondo Mdzinarashvili, pro-governmental party Patriotic Alliance figure. Former opponent of the United National Movement and current political expert, Valeri Gelbakhiani, says that the government has no other choice but to release Gigi Ugulava from prison. “Otherwise, it will result in violence and a violation of the Constitution. Violation of the Constitution gives grounds for impeachment and in that the United National Movement (UNM) will have the support of the international community,” Gelbakhiani says. He adds that the UNM has achieved discretization of the government, i.e. made it clear that the government is violating said Constitution. It is clear from comments how big a dilemma the government is facing. UNM supporters fear that Ugulava will be re-

leased but then will quickly be sent back to prison. Mamuka Gamkrelidze, former Ambassador of Georgia to China writes on his Facebook page that the government will not be able to release Ugulava. “Releasing him and leaving him outside prison means digging their own grave. The only way out is releasing him and then putting him back on the grounds of final sentencing. But the final sentence needs a proven crime, which currently cannot be proved,” Gamkrelidze writes. Putting people to prison on ungrounded charges is not a new practice for the government. This is why this assumption of Gamkrelidze is not pointless. Before the government decides whether to release Ugulava or not, the phrase of the former interior minister Vano Merabishvili said two years before at a court hearing becomes very topical: “A wan period is starting in Georgia…” Of course, the key word is ‘wan’ here. However, today we can directly say that the ‘wan’ period is ‘jamahery’, ‘jamahery’ of the Georgian Dream. Although ‘jamahery’ means the rule of the masses, in fact we all remember what it meant and whose rule it meant in the recent past. We should also remember how its initiator ended his political career.

ECONOMY

Dec her oint: R ecent De velopments in R ela tion to Geor gia-EU F Decher hertt OnP OnPoint: Recent Dev Rela elation Georgia-EU Frree Trade Dechert Georgia, through the contribution of partners Archil Giorgadze and Nicola Mariani, joined by senior associates Ruslan Akhalaia and Irakli Sokolovski, as well as Ana Kostava and Ana Kochiashvili, is partnering with Georgia Today on a regular section of the paper to provide updated information regarding significant legal changes and developments in Georgia. In particular, we will highlight significant issues which may impact businesses operating in Georgia. Dechert’s Tbilisi office combines local service and full corporate, tax and finance support with the global knowledge that comes with being part of a worldwide legal practice. Dechert Georgia is the Tbilisi branch of Dechert LLP, an international law firm that focuses on core transactional and litigation practices, providing worldclass services to major corporations, financial institutions and private funds worldwide. With more than 900 Lawyers in our global practice groups working in 27 offices across Europe, the CIS, Asia, the Middle East and the United States, Dechert has the resources to deliver seamless, high quality legal services to clients worldwide. For more information, please visit www.dechert.com or contact Nicola Mariani at nicola.mariani@dechert.com. GENERAL OVERVIEW Over the course of the past ten years liberal trade regimes have helped foster growth in the Georgian economy. Following this trend the Agreement on Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area (the “DCFTA”) – as part of the Association Agreement signed between the European Union and Georgia (the “AA”) signed on

27 June 2014 – has the potential to increase bilateral trade turnover in a significant fashion. In the first six months following the signing of the DCFTA, Georgian exports to the EU increased by 12% and the export of certain Georgian products doubled or even tripled. This week’s edition of Dechert OnPoint provides an overview of the DCFTA and its implications for Georgian businesses. The DCFTA introduced a preferential trade regime granting bilateral parties special advantages above those enjoyed by other trade partners. The Free Trade Area (the “FTA”) is expected to decrease trade barriers for Georgian products and augment their competitiveness in the EU market. In contrast to other free trade agreements, the DCFTA envisages liberalization not only of the market for goods but also of the market for services. The DCFTA includes a wide range of spheres (competition policy, intellectual property, financial services and others) and allows Georgia to take advantage of three of the four freedoms of the EU single market: free movement of goods, services and capital (the free movement of persons being excluded but there is a plan for a liberalized visa regime currently being developed). TARIFF BARRIERS The DCFTA removes all customs duties on the import and export of goods. Goods originating in Georgia will enter the EU market with a zero customs duty provided that specified non-tariff requirements are met. The DCFTA envisages limitations on certain types of products: · Twenty-eight species of agricultural products will remain subject to import duties (the so called “Entry Price”; ex-

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to be granted the fulfillment of several criteria might be requested. The Certificate of Origin is issued by the customs department of the Georgian Revenue Service.

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amples of goods subject to the Entry Price include tomatoes, cucumbers, sweet oranges, tangerines, table grapes and apples, among others) with the exception of the ad valorem component. The exporter will only be responsible to pay the entry price if the invoice price of the exported goods exceeds the price determined by the EU; · The anti-circumvention mechanism is another restriction set out by the DCFTA for 237 Georgian products (examples include frozen lamb, frozen boneless turkey cuts, egg yolks, meslin flour and maple sugar, among others). The DCFTA provides a fixed quantity of certain products to be exported. The anticircumvention mechanism is not a quota but a limitation which can be extended based on the Government of Georgia’s prior request; and · The duty-free tariff rate quota is fully lifted under the DCFTA with the exception of the import of garlic from the EU to Georgia. PRODUCT ORIGIN The DCFTA offers Georgian products free trade access to the markets of EU Member States. In order for products to qualify for the favorable free trade regime with the EU they shall be granted a certificate issued by the competent Georgian authorities (the “Certificate of Origin”) to receive the status of a Georgia-originated product.

Protocol 1 of the AA (the “EU Origin Rules”) sets out the relevant provisions concerning the granting of the certificate of origin. According to the EU Origin Rules the following products are considered to originate in Georgia under the DCFTA: · Products wholly obtained in Georgia – products obtained in Georgia mean vegetables and fruits harvested in Georgia, live animals born and raised in Georgia and natural minerals mined in Georgia. Any product produced from the above mentioned will be considered to have originated in Georgia. · Products obtained in Georgia but incorporating materials which have not been wholly obtained in Georgia, provided that such materials have undergone sufficient work or processing. The following criteria are taken into account when determining the product origin: · Change of Harmonized System Code - processing carried out on the territory of Georgia which changes the first-four digits of the Harmonized System Code compared to the initial product; · Criterion of ad valorem share - determines the share of imported goods in the final product; and · Criterion of necessary conditions, manufacture and technological operations – technological operations have to be carried out during the process of reproduction. In order for the Certificate of Origin

NON-TARIFF BARRIERS The elimination of non-tariff barriers is also an important component of the DCFTA. Examples of non-tariff barriers include the following: technical regulations; standards; conformity assessment procedures; and sanitary and phytosanitary measures, etc. Under the DCFTA, the parties undertake to avoid unnecessary divergence of technical barriers to trade. Sanitary and phytosanitary measures aim to facilitate bilateral trade in animals and plants as well as products of animal and plant origin, while ensuring that standards for health protection are maintained. Implementation of sanitary and phytosanitary measures will allow Georgia to improve its animal welfare situation as well as protect the country from unhealthy organisms and increase the quality of Georgian products on the European market. Products imported from Georgia to the EU shall undergo a conformity assessment. The conformity assessment is conducted by specially-accredited agencies in Georgia. The Unified National Body of Accreditation – Accreditation Center carries out accreditation in accordance with the Code on Safety and Free Movement of Products. The product shall fulfill all of the requirements stipulated under the relevant legislation before it enters the market, in particular with regard to the health and safety of consumers. In order to fully lift non-tariff barriers Georgia must bring its domestic legislation in line with that of the EU. As a result of convergence in regulatory standards the Georgian authorities will ultimately be responsible for authorizing export to the EU. The DCFTA and Georgia’s continued adoption of EU regulatory standards provide more reason to be optimistic about the country’s import and export industries. *** Note: this article does not constitute legal advice. You are responsible for consulting with your own professional legal advisors concerning specific circumstances for your business.


SOCIETY

SEPTEMBER 18 - 24

13

Georgian Constitutional Court Trains Journalists By Meri Taliashvili The Georgian Constitutional Court (CCG) carried out three-days of training seminars for journalists from Tbilisi and other regions which aimed to educate them about the CCG and its method of working. On the very first day of the seminar, the journalists were hosted by the Chairman of the CCG, George Papuashvili, in the CCG Building while the seminars were held at the Hilton hotel in Batumi. Georgian Democracy Initiative representative Giorgi Mshvenieradze and Open Society Georgia Foundation representative Giorgi Chitidze introduced: The Constitutional Court and the General Courts Practical Aspects; The Constitutional Court and the European Court of Human Rights; Implementation of the decisions of the Constitutional Court and the accompanying processes; The Constitutional Court as the protector of rights, and The Constitutional Tribunal: rules of composition, powers, and the rules of consideration. According to Papuashvili, the communicator between CCG and society is the media and so it is vital to equip that media with all the necessary information about this body in order to make it easier for journalists to better inform citizens. “The Constitutional Court is a particular type of institution. Correspondingly, it has limited communication with the public. Generally, the body’s decision is overloaded with complex legal jargo and most journalist don’t have a specific education in legal issues; therefore, we decided to conduct seminars about our activities. It is important that media be a communicator between the institution and society and to report in a comprehension language what kind of decisions are made, what the functions of the body are, who can turn

to it and what types of rights are protected by the Constitutional Court. Of course if there is public interest and when there is public interest, in such cases the media is active,” Papuashvili told Georgia Today. Nino Khozrevanidze, the Interpressnews correspondent of the Adjara region noted the importance of the training and how it helped the journalists to understand how this genuinely complex institution performs. “This training was important and necessary.

Revenue Service Launches Electronic Resource for Disabled By Eka Karsaulidze The Revenue Service of Georgia has created a special version of its official website for the visually impaired. The site is very easy to use and people with disabilities are able to use it independently in order to find out the latest news. Related electronic resources will soon be available for smartphones. The innovative program is an invention of Georgian specialists. Lado Urdulashvili, employee of the Revenue Service and one of creators of this program, is himself visually impaired, so first of all he created the program for himself, but later the Revenue Service asked him to share, and from this week it is available at voice.rs.ge According to Urdulashvili, the site is simple, with each movement taking place to the accompaniment of an electronic voice that reads out all your steps and the necessary information. “You can control the site by mouse or keyboard – you just need to press Tab, Enter and Backspace. Even people who have never used a computer, with only a few buttons can find all the information needed,” he explained. On the main page, the program immediately allows you the chance to find out how to work on the site. Voice.rs.ge duplicates the official website of Revenue Service, so you just need to choose the desired information, and the program is ready to read it out. The creators claim that the program is designed not only for people with a complete lack of vision, but also for those who are partially able to see. For this purpose, the font size can be increased and decreased, and you can choose a black or white background. Urdulashvili emphasizes that for non-disabled people, this program can also be comfortable to use. “There is a certain category of people who learn through hearing. They may see and read well, but absorb information much better by hearing,” said

Lado Urdulashvili, creator of voice.rs.ge

Urdulashvili. In addition, many people suffer from the problem of visual impairment, and eye irritation and fatigue, so replacing reading with audio material can greatly facilitate their experience. Minister of Finance of Georgia, Nodar Khaduri, praised the achievement of Urdulashvili and colleagues. “The Ministry of Finance has always paid attention to people with disabilities; the entire Ministry has convenient infrastructure for their movement. People with disabilities work for us as well, mostly in call-centers, where residents receive qualified information from them,” said Khaduri. “The creation of the electronic resource voice.rs.ge is definitely a great achievement and I hope that our colleagues from other ministries will take note of this,” he added. Khaduri also noted that he is going to meet Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili in the near future and nominate Lado Urdulashvili for a state prize.

Here, we come across Georgian language in different terms and standards. Therefore, for journalists it is important to understand it first themselves what it is about and then report it in a common language. We learned how an appeal is made, how the court decision is made and implemented and other related processes. During these three days, we, journalist working in this field, got acquainted with these procedures. The trainings helped us move one step ahead,” Khozrevanidze said while speaking with Georgia Today.

The training was conducted in the framework of the project Support to the Constitutional Court of Georgia that is carried out by HUMAN DYNAMICS with the financial assistance of the European Council. The project aims to establish and strengthen the rule of law and protect human rights in Georgia, specifically to strengthen the Constitutional Court of Georgia. In the framework of the project it is planned to refine legislative basis, strengthen the institutional capacity of the CCG and raise the awareness of the CCG.

Invitation to Participate in the Sales Procedures Announced by the Embassy of the Republic of France in Georgia on the Sale of 3933 sq/m Land Plot Located in the Center of Tbilisi The Embassy of the Republic of France in Georgia has announced a Sales Procedures on the sale of land plot located adjacent to the Rustaveli Avenue at 4 Khazina St., Tbilisi, Georgia. The land plot has the following characteristics: cadastral code – 01.15.04.007.010; total area of the land plot - 3933 sq/ m. The land plot qualifies as type 2 recreational zone with the following coefficients: K1= [0,2], K2=[undefined] and K3=[Undefined]. Please, take into account that the Sales Procedures n will be conducted in accordance with the Rules for Submission of Offers available on the web-page of the Embassy: ambafrancege.org, or by e-mail request at contact.tbilissiamba@diplomatie.gouv.fr. The interested Parties shall submit their Expression of Interest in a form and to the addressee(s) envisaged in the Rules for Submission of Offers. In case of additional questions, please, contact [the consul or hes representative] at the following e-mail [contact.tbilissiamba@diplomatie.gouv.fr] or call at [(00 995 32) 272 14 90] from Monday to Friday from 9:30 AM till 12:30 PM. The Expression of Interest shall be submitted to the Contact Person indicated above no later than 15th of October 2015.


CULTURE

Belar us to Host Belarus Geor gian Georgian Har vest F esti val Harv Festi estiv

The capital of Belarus, and one of its biggest cities, Minsk, is to host a Georgian harvest festival at the end of September. Mayor of Minsk, Andrei Shorets, told journalists of the arrangement after meeting with Mayor of Tbilisi, Davit Narmania. Shorets said representatives of the Georgian community in Belarus asked Minsk City Hall to hold a similar event to the Belarusian harvest festival, called Dazhynki, in Minsk on 26th September. “We decided to support this idea. I think that Minsk residents should get better acquainted with Georgia, its customs and traditions. I am sure that the event will be a huge celebration,” Shorets said.

Dazhynki is a traditional Eastern European celebration of the completion of the harvest season and has been celebrated since 1942. Thanksgiving and Harvest Festival can be regarded as the western equivalent to the Belarusian celebration. During his visit to Belarus, the Tbilisi and Minsk mayors signed a Twinning agreement on September 11th. The agreement is expected to foster economic and cultural ties between the two cities. It is hoped to also strengthen bilateral cooperation in science, technology, investment, innovations, healthcare, education, sports and allow the cities to exchange data on urban development and local self-government.

SEPTEMBER 18 - 24

15

Inter vie w: F atbo y Slim Smiles Intervie view: Fa tboy High a thering Geor gia att Global Ga Gathering Georgia By Katie Ruth Davies I’m still recovering from last Friday. I considered the headline: Mother of Three Survives Global Gathering Georgia, but couldn’t fairly take the limelight from the true star of the show- 51 yearold British DJ Fatboy Slim who bounced around and shook his hips in a way my half-his-age (or so!) body could only remember! But then, this is what he does for a living. And does he do it well? I’ll let the crowd he wowed on Friday answer for that: (Overheard conversation): “Wasn’t it awesome?” “Beyond awesome!” Bravo Records is responsible for organizing the September 11th wowzer that took place at the Rustavi Racecourse, inviting such greats as headliner Fatboy Slim (Norman Cook) to play alongside Kryder and Godskitchen resident Paul Thomas, amongst many others- including some up-and-coming Georgian DJs- from 6pm to around 8am. Young Georgians came in dribs-anddrabs, transported to Rustavi from the capital on free buses provided by the organizers; smiling, giggling, excited and unsure what to expect. Such music and such festivals are a new thing here- many festival-goers were only just recovering from the August GEM Fest, many were unable to even go to GEM because of the distance (it was held at the beach resort of Anaklia- in the top-most northwestern corner of the country) and the cost of the tickets. Global Gathering, present in Georgia for the first time, however, offered free tickets to all. The racecourse, with its two constantly-busy stages, thrummed with an energy that all there seemed to feel in abundance. Fatboy Slim, coming on just after midnight and introduced by a round of fireworks, shook the stage with his enthusiasm. I had used my press band and sharp elbows to make sure I was centre floor to enjoy the show, having last seen him back in 2000 in a club in Barcelona. He teased his fans with tantalising shots of his well-loved 90s tracks- which immediately got people singing/shouting along, though he predominantly stuck to his latest electronic material, with a creative screen-show

Fatboy Slim on stage at Global Gathering Georgia.

rolling non-stop behind him crowned by his well-known Smile High Club logo which we saw not only on screen but on the huge bouncy balls he launched into the crowd halfway through the show. Undoubtedly, it was a more subdued Global Gathering festival than one might experience in other locations, particularly Europe. But this can, I’m sure, be attributed to Georgia’s inexperience in the field. Certainly, I could see (and hear) that the Georgians are ready for more! Georgia Today managed to speak to the world-famous British DJ prior to his arrival in Georgia. Q: FatBoy Slim is one of the biggest names in the history of electronic music! What do you think is the secret of your success? A: I think it is equal parts tenacity, luck and a genuine love of what I do. I guess my enthusiasm is infectious! Q: You’ve had huge success with both making your own studio albums and playing anthemic tracks as a superstar DJ. Which do you enjoy the most? A: Right now I am driven by DJ-ing rather than production. There has never been a better time to be a DJ and I don’t have a passion for the studio right now. This of course could change at any moment but as thing stands it’s a life on the road for me.... Q: What’s the last music project you worked on? A: A one-off tune called ‘Eat Sleep Rave Repeat’ (and compiling a couple of compilation albums)

Q: You said in an interview that you ‘feel like you’ve lived through a golden age of club culture and electronic dance music.’ Tell us more. A: I’ve been lucky enough to be part of a scene that has been growing and developing from underground clubs to the huge festivals, commercial success and worldwide acclaim. I’ve seen life from the most rudimentary belt drive turntables and primitive drum machines to the finest digital technology and free access to our music through the internet. It’s been an incredible journey! Q: How does inspiration come to you? What do you do when you get that inspiration? A: From the thousands of hours I’ve spent watching people digesting music on the dancefloor. I get the best view in the house of what turns people on whilst they party. Q: What do you value most in life? A: My family, health, musical career and a couple of really serious Japanese chef’s knives... Q: What’s your biggest career moment and what are your plans for the future? A: Biggest career moments have been the 5 Big Beach Boutiques in my home town of Brighton. Triumphant celebrations of my relationship with the city and dance culture. Future plans include another event in Brighton celebrating more of the same... Q: What would you advise young Georgian DJs? A: Remember it’s all about entertaining the audience. It’s not about you!

Geor gian- Ukr ainian Exhibition Pr esented in Kie v GeorgianUkrainian Presented Kiev

An Ex clusi ve Eden in Exc lusiv Kvar eli this Week end areli eekend

By Katie Ruth Davies Bravo Records and Hotel Kvareli Eden are offering a special exclusive package event this weekend with the special guest appearance of famous jazz musician Frank McComb. Beginning at 12pm on Saturday Sep-

tember 19th, guests will be able to absorb the true harvest culture of Kakheti with the opportunity to try their hands (and feet!) at wine-making, churchkhela-dipping, tone bread baking and mtsvadi (BBQ) tasting! Frank McComb- known to have played with such greats as Marcus Miller, Stevie Wonder and George Duke -will be playing live in the evening following a giant screen showing of the Georgia-Tonga rugby game. The hotel + event packages for two persons include entrance to the exclusive cultural experience in the courtyard of Kvareli Eden hotel, a lunch of natural local products, the chance to watch the rugby game on a big screen and a jazz and wine evening with Frank McComb. Hotel stays (with a choice from the Kvareli Eden to hotels located in nearby Kvareli village- transport provided) include breakfast or full board. The packages range in price from 150500 GEL. To get those last minute tickets, contact Iako Tchalaganidze at: +995 599 323201 or iako@bravorecords.ge

Supported by the Ministry of Culture and Monument Protection of Georgia, from 8 September to November 1st, three Georgian artists: Anna Chaduneli, Uta Beqaia and Tamar Chabashvili will participate in the second International festival Biennial 2015 in Kiev, Ukraine. The theme this year is ‘School of Kiev’ and contains 26 exhibitions and several social spaces where the artists’ works will be exhibited. The places where the works will be displayed are the House of Painters, the ‘Scientific Institute of Modern Art, the National Art Academy of Kiev and others. More than 100 Ukrainian and foreign artists are involved and several schools are presented within the program: · The School of Realism · The School of the Lonesome · The School of Landscape · The School of Image and Evidence · The School of the Displaced · The School of Abducted Europe The project was created and organized by curators Hedwig Saxenhuber and George Schoellhammer whose series and institutions are represented in Europe. The Georgian-Ukrainian exhibition will be presented within the Biennial and continues until 1 November. Find the festival schedule at: www.theschoolofkyiv.org

FOR RENT Apartment in Vake (behind the Vake Swimming Pool) in an ecologically clean environment with beautiful views. The 120 sq. m. duplex apartment on the 10th floor, newly renovated, with a new kitchen, fireplace, balconies.

Price: 1100 USD Tel: 577521020 Tekla (English) 597000109 Dato (Georgian)


CULTURE

Geor gian Film ‘Moir a’ Chosen Georgian ‘Moira’ for Oscar Submission

By Nina Ioseliani Georgian film “Moira” has been nominated as an Oscar candidate in the Best Foreign Language Movie category. The film, directed by Levan Tutberidze tells the story of Moira which is not the name of the goddess of fate but rather a fishing rod owned by two brothers living by the sea. The film was chosen by a special commission on September 12th. Among the commission were: Deputy Minister of the

Ministry of Culture and Monument Protection of Georgia, Kakha Kandelaki, Director of the National Film Center, Nana Janelidze, film directors Nana Jorjadze, Zaza Urushadze, Giorgi Ovashvili, actress Nato Murvanidze, scriptwriter Vazha Gigashvili, film expert Lela Ochiauri and producer Noshre Chkhaidze. Due for its world premiere late this month at the 63rd edition of the San Sebastian Film Festival, the 95 minute feature – Tutberidze’s sixth feature – will also be screened in October at the

Warsaw Film Festival. Tutberidze, who began his movie career in 1989 as an actor, has a filmography covering 12 works, including documentaries, TV films and features that include ‘I’ll Die Without You’ (2010) and The Village (2015). He also participated in anthology film ‘Tbilisi I Love you’ in 2013. On September 23rd the world premiere will be held at the San Sebastian Film Festival, and after the festivals the film will be shown to the public.

Start time: 20:50, 22:20 Ticket price: 11.50 – 12.50 Lari

ARCHAEOLOGICAL TREASURE

SEPTEMBER 18 - 24

17

Ar alace Hosts P ar jiani Gospel Artt P Palace Par arjiani By Meri Taliashvili If you haven’t seen it yet, you have two days left! The Art Palace (Georgian State Museum of Theatre, Cinema, Music and Choreography on Kargereteli Str. 6), is hosting the personal exhibition of renowned Georgian artist Irakli Parjiani- the Gospel of Mark and John. The manuscript book Gospel of Mark and John was created during the 1980s and presents an important example of contemporary Georgian art and a XX century unique monument of cultural heritage. Work on the book took place during Soviet times and thus was linked to a number of risks and threats. The presentation of the completed work was almost impossible at that time. The exhibition is held for the first time with the assistance of the Ministry of Culture and Monument Protection of

Georgia and the Baia Gallery on the initiative of Parjiani family. The paintings will be exhibited at the Art Palace from September 5th to September 20th. Sopo Parjiani, daughter of the artist: “This is a very special day because this year my father would have turned 65. Therefore, in connection to this date, we decided to display his handwritten Gospel of John and Mark exhibition and then have it printed.” The painter intended to rewrite the four chapters of the gospel but was not able due to his untimely death. The painter, poet, and laureate of the National Award and Pirosmani Prize was born in 1950 Mestia, Svaneti, and died at age forty-one in 1991. The Minister of Culture and Monument Protection of Georgia, Mikheil Giorgadze, gave special thanks to the Parjiani family and the Art Palace for this unique exhibition.

WHAT'S ON IN TBILISI THEATRE GABRIADZE THEATRE Address: 13 Shavtelis St. Telephone: 2 98 65 93 September 18 MARSHAL DE FANTIE’S DIAMOND Rezo Gabriadze Directed by Rezo Gabriadze English Subtitles Start time: 20:00 Ticket price: 10, 15, 20 Lari September 19 AUTUMN OF MY SPRING Rezo Gabriadze Directed by Rezo Gabriadze English Subtitles Start time: 20:00 Ticket price: 10, 15, 20 Lari September 20 RAMONA Rezo Gabriadze Directed by Rezo Gabriadze English Subtitles Start time: 20:00 Ticket price: 10, 15, 20 Lari CINEMA AMIRANI CINEMA Address: 36 Kostava St. Telephone: 299 99 55 www.kinoafisha.ge MAZE RUNNER: SCORCH TRIALS Directed by Wes Ball Cast: Dylan O’Brien, Kaya Scodelario, Thomas Brodie-Sangster Genre: Action, Sci-Fi, Thriller Language: English Start time: 19:55 Language: Russian Start time: 12:30, 15:30, 17:10, 19:40, 22:30 Ticket price: 7.50 – 12.50 Lari THE TRANSPORTER REFUELED Directed by Camille Delamarre Cast: Ed Skrein, Loan Chabanol, Ray Stevenson Genre: Action, Crime, Thriller Language: Russian

TRAINWRECK Directed by Judd Apatow Cast: Amy Schumer, Bill Hader, Brie Larson Genre: Comedy, Romance Language: Russian Start time: 14:50, 22:40 Ticket price: 8.50 – 12.50 Lari VACATION Directed by John Francis Daley, Jonathan M. Goldstein Cast: Ed Helms, Christina Applegate, Skyler Gisondo Genre: Adventure, Comedy Language: Russian Start time: 14:50 Ticket price: 8.50 – 9.50 Lari RUSTAVELI CINEMA Address: 5 Rustaveli Ave. Telephone: 255 50 00 www.kinoafisha.ge MAZE RUNNER: SCORCH TRIALS (info Above) Language: Russian Start time: 11:30, 14:15, 17:00, 19:50, 22:40 Ticket price: 7.50 – 12.50 Lari PIXELS 3D Directed by Chris Columbus Cast: Adam Sandler, Kevin James, Michelle Monaghan Genre: Action, Comedy, Sci-Fi Language: Russian Start time: 12:15 Ticket price: 7.50 – 8.50 Lari VACATION (Info Above) Language: Russian Start time: 17:50, 22:10 Ticket price: 9.50 – 12.50 Lari MUSEUM SIMON JANASHIA MUSEUM OF GEORGIA Address: 3 Rustaveli Ave. Telephone: 2 99 80 22

June 27 – October 31 “GEORGIANS IN WORLD WAR II” IS AN EXHIBITION DEDICATED TO THE 70TH ANNIVERSARY OF THE VICTORY OVER FASCISM. ART PALACE Address: 6 Kargareteli st. Telephone: 295 35 63 September 5-20 ART PALACE AND BAIA GALLERY PRESENT THE EXHIBITION OF Irakli Parjiani’s 65th Jubilee Year The Gospels of St. Mark and St. John First show MOMA TBILISI ZURAB TSERETELI Address: 27 Rustaveli Ave. Tel.: 298 60 30 September 10-27 TILDA GEORGE MARE 2.0 Tilda George, a Georgian photographer from Germany, is bringing her first solo exhibition to Tbilisi. IOSEB GRISHASHVILI TBILISI HISTORY MUSEUM - KARVASLA Address: 8 Sioni St. Telephone: 2 98 22 81 September 18-29 EXHIBITION “UNINTENDED SMILE” BY GIORGI SHALIKASHVILI WHICH AIMS TO DELIVER A VISUAL UNDERSTANDING OF HUMAN LANGUAGE. EACH PICTURE, SHAPE AND OBJECT REPRESENTS ONE COHESIVE INSTALLATION. LITERATURE MUSEUM Address: 8 Chanturia Str. September 19 – October 10 EXHIBITION DEDICATED TO

WELL-KNOWN GEORGIAN WRITER AKAKI TSERETELI’S 175 YEAR ANNIVERSARY AND 100 YEAR ANNIVERSARY SINCE HIS DEATH. GALLERY THE NATIONAL GALLERY Address: 11 Rustaveli Ave. www.museum.ge PIROSMANI’S 150TH September 10 – October 9 VAKHO BUGADZE’S PERSONAL EXHIBITION “SUBURB” GALLERI NECTAR Address: 16 Aghmashenebli St. Telephone: 295 00 21 www.gallerynectar.ge September 10 – October 10 UNTITLED (IN THE MOOD) Nic Bezemer ART CAFE PUNCTUM Address: 4 Machabeli Str. Telephone: 568 23 24 30 September 18-24 AVTANDIL GAKHOKIDZE ART Exhibiiton-Sale MUSIC TBILISI PROG FEST 2015 Address: Club ElektroWerk, Cholokashvili 3rd Alley #4 September 19 LOCOMOTIVE PROMOTION PRESENTS Tbilisi Prog Fest 2015 Line up: Leprous (Norway) Progressive metal, progressive rock, avant-garde metal Artsruni Progressive Music Act (Armenia)) Progressive Rock The Light Year (Georgia)

Progressive rock The Mins (Georgia) New Progressive Rock, Alternative Rock, Post Rock InnerHiss (Georgia) Progressive Rock, Experimental Start time: 19:00 Ticket price: 20 Lari CLUB 33A Address: Vake Park September 18 LIVE FOR SPACEBOY – CHARITY CONCERT TO SAVE LEVAN CHIKHRADZE Pariticipants: Tserili (The Letter), Loudspeakers, Lady Heroine, Backwarmer, Nika Kocharovi, Reefer Band, Gravity, Seva, The Black Marrows. Start time: 19:00 Ticket price: 10 Lari INTERNATIONAL MUSIC FESTIVAL “AUTUMN TBILSI” – 2015 Address: Djansug Kakhidze Tbilisi Center for Music and Culture, 125 Agmashenebeli Ave. Tel.: 296 12 43, 296 22 07 September 20 TBILISI SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA Soloist: ALEXANDER TORADZE (piano, USA) Conductor: VAKHTANG KAKHIDZE STRAVINSKY: Symphony No.1 PROKOFIEV: Concerto for piano and orchestra No.2 Start time: 19:30 Ticket price: 10-30 Lari September 23 CONCERT DEDICATED TO THE 90 YEAR ANNIVERSARY OF SULKHAN TSINTSADZE String quartet “IBERI” S.TSINTSADZE – String quartet No.8 S.TSINTSADZE – String quartet No.12 Start time: 19:30 Ticket price: 4-20 Lari


SOCIETY

SEPTEMBER 18 - 24

19

ReWoven and Beyond By Tony Hanmer This week... it gives me great pleasure to interview Ryan Smith, the founder of reWoven, an amazing project to revitalize Azeri carpet-weaving traditions based in Marneuli, Georgia. First, an announcement: “reWoven is proud to announce an upcoming exhibition in Tbilisi on Tuesday, September 22 at 19:00 at the Europe House (1 Freedom Square, on the corner of Leselidze St.). Many people have expressed interest in our project, and this will be a great opportunity for you to view our rugs in person. (Please see www.rewoven.net for more of the story). We will have several newly completed rugs that have not yet been posted on our website. Additionally, we are inviting all of our weavers to attend. Please come along and help us honor these amazing artists.” Q: Do you have a favorite overall design, element or set of colors in what your people have produced so far? A: I honestly love every single rug that our ladies have woven. The beauty of each rug is not limited to its final appearance, but includes the story of the woman who wove it and its creation process. I have the pleasure of choosing which designs we will revive from this region’s collection of antique rugs. I choose the

A skilled reWoven rug-maker at work.

rugs that catch my eye because of their unique beauty, and that I hope will catch the eye of others. One of my favorites so far is what we call the “Early Chelaberd”. It dates to the 18th century

with only a few surviving original examples. It has a bold flower, sunburst medallion in the center of the rug that radiates life and beauty. Its rich red field looks absolutely regal.

I select from designs that were woven locally, but generations ago. There is very little recognition of these designs within the current generation. I show the designs to the weavers, and sometimes I let them choose which design they want to weave. And I always encourage the weavers to use the design as a guideline, to add their own creative ideas. And they always do! They switch colors and add their own little unique elements. At the same time, rug weaving has never been an art form of pure personal expression. It has always been deeply rooted in tradition and repetition. That is why there are numerous examples of the same antique designs. Women wove what they saw on their own floors from generations past. It is rare, if not impossible, to find an antique rug that does not have another example that looks extremely similar to it. Q: What would be your dream success story for this endeavor, either in the life of one weaver or overall? Will there come a time when you “work yourself out of a job”, i.e. leave it to them? What might that look like? A: Not to sound cliché, but this project has very much been a journey. It is impossible to predict what its final destination will be. Ideally, it would be a sustainable project with local weavers, managers, and sales. But this ideal may only remain a dream. In the early stages, there were many times that I thought for sure it would fail. Honestly, I never could have hoped that we’d reach the level of success we are at today. You have to remember that this art is one final breath away from being extinct in this region. This includes not only the expertise to weave rugs, but also to acquire the necessary materials to produce them. The economic and cultural forces that have contributed to this craft’s demise are formidable. Weaving a rug is naturally a very time consuming process, much less all the other material, transportation, marketing, design, and washing expenses involved. The sale price of the rug needs to be significant enough to exceed all of these expenses. In addition to the economic challenges, there is surprising cultural resistance within the community. While the broader Azerbaijani and global community value the beauty of this woven art, young women in the village are not interested in continuing the tradition. They see rug weaving as something only for the older generation, not for a modern, young woman. Plus, there is the exten-

sive effort that is required to weave a rug. Both of these factors are significant obstacles to motivating the younger generation to continue the craft. I would love to work myself out of a job, but it does not look possible in the immediate future. I learned about rug weaving when I lived in Azerbaijan 10 years ago. While I do not weave our rugs, I am involved in every other step of the process. I procure the yarn, select and draw the designs from historic sources, interact with the weavers, and oversee the finishing process of the rugs, never mind all of the marketing and sales. Because of my extensive experience in rug culture, I have a unique skill set to offer this project that is not immediately transferable. Again, only time will tell the future form this project will take. But we are all enjoying the journey. Each completed rug is another success. It is one more beautiful representation of the women and their community, and the benefit that it brought to them. We will continue to enjoy each woven creation, whether it is our last, or there are hundreds to follow. Q: How has the project impacted the weavers’ lives or those of their families, communities, etc? What examples do you have of this? A: First and foremost, the weavers are making more money for their weaving than they ever have before. Hence they are able to provide more for their family through this craft. Additionally, there are more women weaving than when we started the project. Several of our weavers had not woven for ten or fifteen years before they wove a rug for reWoven. So the weaving culture has taken small steps toward revitalization. These steps also have an impact on the broader community. When they first see our rugs, they assume they are antiques. They immediately recognize that the designs and colors are not the synthetic examples of decades past, but represent the natural dyes and intricate designs of centuries past. They take pride in seeing this art revived and promoted to the world. Additionally, we have just committed funds from the proceeds of the project to remodel a school in one of the villages where our rugs are woven. Kids will return to school on September 15th to a school with fresh paint and new windows and doors. It’s our absolute pleasure to give back to the community beyond the preservation of rug weaving. Q: What might come next for YOU after this, if you can see that far—further growth in the same area, or something entirely different? A: I honestly have no idea. I’m happy to continue with this project for years to come and see what form it will take. I will enjoy every step along the way and all of the amazing people with whom I get to work alongside. My family would be happy to live in Georgia for years to come, and specifically in Marneuli. This region has a strong agriculture and livestock sector. If I wasn’t involved in rug weaving, I’d likely see what role I could play in that sector. Q: Are there other areas of culture, the arts, etc. which could be supported and encouraged in similar ways? A: I think every form of art and culture is immensely valuable and worthy of support. I am a big advocate of finding financially sustainable ways to accomplish this. It is important for a tangible art form to establish a market for it artisans. This is a big step towards insuring the preservation and development of the art. www. reWoven.net for more details.

Tony Hanmer runs the “Svaneti Renaissance” Facebook group, now with over 1200 members, at www.facebook.com/groups/SvanetiRenaissance/ He and his wife also run their own guest house in Etseri: www.facebook.com/hanmer.house.svaneti


SPORTS

SEPTEMBER 18 - 24

21

Haig’ s Lelos Can Be Histor y-Mak er sa ugb y Wor ld Cup Haig’s History-Mak y-Maker ers att R Rugb ugby orld By Alastair Watt As Georgia finish off their preparations for a fourth appearance at a Rugby World Cup, the Lelos’ New Zealander head coach Milton Haig is satisfied that the country’s national rugby team has never been better drilled for rugby’s showpiece event. “This is the best preparation that Georgia has ever had,” said Haig ahead of Georgia’s opening match against Tonga in Gloucester on September 19. Haig was not in charge for Georgia’s last World Cup appearance in 2011 where Scotsman Richie Dixon guided the Lelos to victory against Romania and credible performances in defeats to England, Scotland and Argentina. Georgia turned a few heads that time in New Zealand and, having beaten the likes of Samoa and Japan in test matches since then, they arrive in England slightly less of an unknown quantity. Indeed, it was the World Cup prior to the last, in France 2007, where Georgia really caught the attention of the rugby world, running Ireland to within a whisker of a dramatic defeat as the Irish escaped with a 14-10 win in Bordeaux. That year Georgia did however record their first ever victory at a World Cup, overcoming Namibia 30-0 in Lens. Georgia have won one game at each of their last two World Cups and the mission now is to record two victories at the group stage, a not insurmountable feat that would also see them qualify automatically for Japan 2019. Their chances of reaching the quarter-final, something that could be se-

cured by the aforementioned two victories mission, are slim according to the seldom wrong bookmakers who are offering a price of 50/1 on Georgia to make the last 8. For those who abstain from gambling, simply put this means that if you bet 1 Lari on Georgia to reach the quarter-finals, you would win 50 Lari if they did so. Nevertheless, Georgia are being written about with respect, particularly in the Guardian’s preview which forecasts the Lelos upsetting Tonga, and possibly even Argentina. It is the opener against Tonga that appears pivotal to Georgia’s tournament though. The Georgians dropped three places to 16th in the recently announced world rankings, five places below Tonga who won 23-9 in Tbilisi last November. At the time, head coach Haig admitted the match had not gone as planned but insisted that the game and result would have no bearing on the now imminent World Cup clash, a sentiment echoed by his Tongan counterpart. Indeed, the Tongans may have more World Cup experience but they too have never sampled the knockout stage. Georgia may have lost all three of their warm-up matches against Falcons, Canada and Japan, but Haig is adamant that preparations have been ideal. Following the Tonga clash, Georgia, again in Gloucester, face a familiar World Cup foe in the shape of Argentina on September 25. Los Pumas know only too well the threat Georgia pose, as this will be their third World Cup meeting, with the latest encounter particularly nervy for the Argentines.

They emerged with a 29-18 win having been trailing at half-time in 2011. Argentina are favorites to land second place in this group with a formidable recent pedigree in the tournament, reaching the semis in 2007 and the quarters four years ago. The giants of Pool C are New Zealand who are expected to make light work of every team in the group, and are overwhelming favorites to retain

their crown as world champions, something that has never been done since the Rugby World Cup’s inception in 1987. It will be “a dream come true” according to Haig, to lead out Georgia against his native All Blacks in Cardiff on October 2. While upsets are possible in the opening two matches, against New Zealand if Georgia can score a try or two and keep their illustrious opponents to within 25 points, it would go down as a

relatively successful exercise. The final group game takes place in Exeter in southwest England, where Namibia will be the opponents on October 7. Victory here is all but assumed although the significance of the match will depend on earlier results in the Pool, especially against Tonga and Argentina. The tournament lasts over six weeks, with the final on October 31 at Twickenham in London.

Geor gia Mak es its Mar ka oBask et 2015 Georgia Makes Mark att Eur EuroBask oBasket By Alastair Watt It may have ended in glorious failure, but there is little doubt that Georgia left an irremovable mark on this month’s European Basketball Championships (EuroBasket). On September 13, Georgia pushed Lithuania, finalists in the 2013 edition and one of the tournament favorites, all the way in a thrilling last 16 encounter in Lille, France. With the Georgians leading by a point at half-time, an advantage that ought to have been greater given their first-half dominance, their Baltic opponents squirmed their way to a 85-81 victory, denying the Georgians an historic place in the quarter-finals. Indeed, Georgia led going into the final quarter with NBA star and captain Zaza Pachulia spearheading the attack with 23 points. His impressive efforts were overshadowed though by Lithuania’s Jonas

Maciulis who netted 34 points to steer the much-fancied Lithuanians to a nerve-jangling triumph. Despite Georgia’s defeat, the team led by Serbian coach Igor Kokoskov was praised on the official EuroBasket 2015 website for its “fine progress”. Indeed, Georgia’s existence at the tournament was Lazarus-like with elimination appearing an inevitability after losing their first three matches in the group stage held in the Croatian capital of Zagreb. A shock loss in the opener to Netherlands on September 5 appeared to derail any hopes of knockout stage qualification, a gloomy forecast that was only made bleaker by subsequent defeats to Slovenia and Greece. That left the Georgians with a door-die clash against Macedonia on September 9, in front of a sparsely populated Arena Zagreb. As has often bene the case in Georgia’s history, not only in sport, they reacted

Fill in the grid so that every row, every column, and every 3x3 box contains the digits 1 through 9. See answers in the next issue

www.sudoku.com

Answers to previous puzzles

strongly to an unpromising situation and ran out comfortable victors, sweeping aside the Macedonians with a 90-75 success. Pachulia, as ever, was instrumental with 23 points and 14 rebounds while Giorgi Tsintsadze contributed six assists to the suddenly revived Georgians. That essential victory was followed by one of the most sensational results in the group stage as Georgia comfortably defeated group hosts Croatia 71-58 in front of their own fans with cult hero Viktor Sanikidze the top performer for the heroic Georgians with 12 points and five rebounds. That sensational result, even though Croatia had already qualified, goes down as one of Georgia’s finest in its three appearances at European finals. Tornike Shengelia also enjoyed an impressive tournament, registering Georgia’s highest average score. This year’s final takes place on Sunday 20 September.


GENERAL MANAGER - George Sharashidze BUSINESS MANAGER - Iva Merabishvili

EDITOR-IN-CHIEF - Katie Ruth Davies COPY EDITOR - Alastair Watt JOURNALISTS: Alastair Watt, Tony Hanmer, Tamar Svanidze, Joseph Alexander Smith, Zviad Adzinbaia, Joseph Larsen, Beqa Kirtava, Meri Taliashvili, Eka Karsaulidze, Baia Dzagnidze, Zaza Jgharkava, Teona Surmava, Ana Lomtadze, Maka Bibilashvili, Nino Melikishvili, Nina Ioseliani, Tatia Megeneishvili, Karen Tovmasyan, Nino Gegidze, Dimitri Dolaberidze, Nino Japarashvili, Maka Lomadze, George Abashvili PHOTOGRAPHER: Zviad Nikolaishvili TECHNICAL SUPPORT: Misha Mchedlishvili CIRCULATION MANAGERS: David Kerdikashvili, David Djandjgava

Address: 1 Melikishvili Str. Tbilisi, 0179, Georgia Tel.: (995 32) 229 59 19, 294 55 24 Advertising, Subscription: 597 970444; 597 955565 E-mail: marketing@georgiatoday.ge MARKETING MANAGER: Mako Burduli

Reproducing material, photos and advertisements without prior editorial permission is strictly forbidden. The author is responsible for all material. Rights of authors are preserved. The newspaper is registered in Mtatsminda district court. Reg. # 06/4-309

Issue #784  

Sep. 18 - 24, 2015

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