Page 1 georgiatoday

Issue no: 819

• FEBRUARY 19 - 22, 2016




In this week’s issue... Munich Security Conference an Opportunity for Georgia NEWS PAGE 2

Federico Tarantini on Georgia and the Future of EU Energy POLITICS PAGE 4

FOCUS ON COOKING UP A CULTURAL EXCHANGE The British Georgian Chamber of Commerce invites top British Chef Martin Blunos to inspire young Georgian chefs PAGE

PM Calls on Georgia to Introduce German Model of Education BY EKA KARSAULIDZE


eorgia’s Prime Minister Giorgi Kvirikashvili is calling to make changes in educational reform and fund the most needed professions in order to develop interesting fields for an improved economy in the long-term perspective. Moreover, the educational system itself should be oriented on employment in the labor market. While meeting representatives of the business sector, PM Kvirikashvili said that Germany’s higher education system was the “most effective” model not only in Germany, but in many other countries and announced that Georgia would adopt this model to develop the country’s education sector. Continued on page 2

Fixing the Labor Shortage: Ogden on Education POLITICS PAGE 7


Frontera Addresses Minister of Energy with an Open Letter BUSINESS PAGE 8

We Can All Be Heroes: SuperCyclingMan Peddling to Inspire SOCIETY PAGE 9

Written on the Wall: Great Ukrainian Painter at Fine Arts Museum CULTURE PAGE 13

Music’s Biggest Night – Winners, Performances, Ratings CULTURE PAGE 15

Georgian Quality Prevails in Portugal as Flawless Start Continues SPORTS PAGE 15




FEBRUARY 19 - 22, 2016

Munich Security Conference an Opportunity for Georgia BY ZVIAD ADZINBAIA


he Georgian Prime Minister participated in the 52nd Munich Security Conference held last week. In a thematic panel discussion, ‘Future Path to European Integration,’ PM Giorgi Kvirikashvili delivered a speech underscoring Georgia’s European identity in terms of history and culture. The PM stated that Georgia is in the process of building its European future and the government is doing its best to secure the country’s western path. “We are gradually fulfilling requirements of the Association Agreement agenda and we are ambitious about transforming post-Soviet institutions into European ones, approximation of Georgia’s political standards with those of Europe, free trade with Europe and visa free travel that we strive to and hope to obtain soon.” During his official visit, PM Kvirikashvili held a bilateral meeting with EU Chief Diplomat, Federica Mogherini. He emphasized that the EU is Georgia’s strategic partner and the country is implementing democratic reforms with its support. The conversation touched upon ways of implementating DCFTA and economic and trade cooperation between the EU and Georgia. The Georgian PM also met with the President of Ukraine, Petro Poroshenko. The parties discussed trade and eco-

Georgia’s PM to Introduce German Model of Education Continued from page 1

Prime Minister of Georgia Giorgi Kvirikashvili participates in the panel discussion at the Munich Security Conference

nomic relations between the two countries and emphasized the need for setting up an Intergovernmental Economic Commission, which will be entrusted with discussions concerning trade and economic related issues. The discussion also covered the ‘New Silk Road,’ underlining that the project is of crucial importance for the participating countries. At meetings with the President of Estonia, Toomas Hendrik Ilves, and the President of Slovenia, Borut Pahor, the Georgian leader discussed bilateral cooperation between the states and prospects of deepening partnership. Issues of political and economic partnership, Georgia’s European and EuroAtlantic agenda, as well as topics of international security, were the central topics of a meeting with the President of Bulgaria, Rosen Plevneliev. One of the important side meetings

during the Munich Security Forum was held between the Georgian Prime Minister and the President of Lithuania, Dalia Grybauskaite. The Lithuanian president has been outstanding among the other European leaders in support of Georgia’s European and Euro-Atlantic path. Potential cooperation in the economic area, as well as energy security-related issues, were the main discussion topics at the discussion with the Prime Minister of Norway, Erna Solberg. The Norwegian Government within the frames of Development Cooperation has financed several projects in Georgia. Following his visit to Germany, PM Kvirikashvili told Georgian media that he utilized the opportunity to present the country’s agenda to the world leaders. “The Munich Conference is a platform where leaders of countries meet and

discuss the security situation and this is an opportunity to present the country’s agenda and our goals,” the PM noted. He confirmed that his delegation felt great support from everyone [they] met. The Prime Minister emphasized that the government needs the consolidation of the Georgian population around the European and Euro-Atlantic agenda. Since its foundation in 1963, the Munich Security Conference has become the major global forum for the discussion of security policy. Each February it brings together more than 450 senior decisionmakers from around the world, including heads-of-state, ministers, leading personalities of international and non-governmental organizations, as well as high ranking representatives of industry, media, academia, and civil society, to engage in an intensive debate on current and future security challenges.

“Public resources will be distributed in accordance with the needs that exist in a five-year term. The released resources will be allocated to both public and private institutions in partnership with public and private sectors. I believe that it will changed the current situation in the country, in which we are currently producing potentially unemployed people,” said the PM. He added that priority allocation of student funding will help change the situation in the educational system. “For instance, annually our education institutions produce five times more bankers than what is actually needed. We have the same situation in the legal and foreign policy relations fields,” said PM Kvirikashvili, highlighting that today there are a lack of professionals in the fields of animal farming, food technology, veterinarians and many more. The Prime Minister claims that while businesspersons are carrying out important projects in animal farming, much more can still be done. “The business sector should send staff members to Europe for training using its own funds, leaving the government to spend money helping those who are unable to find a job or need to retrain to find one,” PM Kvirikashvili said.




MFA Reveals Gross Violation of Human Rights in Georgia’s Occupied Territories BY ZVIAD ADZINBAIA


eorgia’s Foreign Ministry (MFA) last week published a recently compiled report detailing gross human rights violations in the country’s breakaway Abkhazia and South Ossetia regions. According to the report, numerous cases of arbitrary detentions, restrictions of movement, infringements on property rights and denying the right to receive education in a language other than Russian or Abkhaz were recorded from October-December 2015. The report pays particular attention to the installation of barbed-wire fences across the contact line, claiming that it further aggravates the already tense situation. It also points to new regulations on the legal status of residents classified as foreigners by the de-facto Abkhaz government. “During the reporting period a new passport regime commenced in Abkhazia. 300,000 new documents, including 250,000 internal passports and 50,000 residence permits, are to be distributed by 1 March,” the document says. Abkhazia’s new set of passport laws deliberately targets the region’s ethnic Georgian population by forcing them to register as foreigners and carry alien residence permits, according to Georgia’s foreign ministry. The rebel government in South Ossetia is implementing a similar passport regime, according to the report. The MFA says in the reporting period,

A Georgian citizen living near the Tskhinvali occupation line surrounded by the barbed wire fence built by Russian soldiers. Photo:

Privatizing Georgian Natural Resources by Letting the People “Invest” BY VAZHA TAVBERIDZE

Nils Muiznieks, the Commissioner for Human Rights of the Council of Europe, visited Georgia. One of the aims of the visit was to monitor the human rights situation in the occupied territories of Georgia on the ground. Despite some efforts, the Commissioner was not allowed to enter the occupied regions of Abkhazia, Georgia and the Tskhinvali region/ South Ossetia. In the ‘Freedom of Movement’ section, the report reads that people are regularly detained by the Russian FSB officers for so called “illegal border crossings” while the operating crossing points along the occupation line allow crossings only to individuals having one of the types of “documents” recognized by the occupying power and based on vague criteria as to the validity of these documents. Numerous cases were reported during the reporting period on violations of the right to freedom of movement. The MFA appeals to the international community, states as well as international intergovernmental and non-governmental organizations to continue recognizing extensively and widely the occupation

of the Georgian territories by Russia. The main foreign structure calls on its international partners to continue calling on the Russian Federation to bear responsibility for human rights violations in the occupied regions and continue calling on the Russian Federation to remove barbed wire fences and other artificial obstacles along the occupation line. The appeal also includes calling on the Russian Federation to allow access of the international human rights monitoring mechanisms to the occupied regions of Georgia, including the EUMM, and including humanitarian organizations. Georgian government forces fought three wars against Russian-backed separatist forces in Abkhazia and South Ossetia between 1991-2008. The wars left thousands dead and led to the ethnic cleansing of a quarter of a million ethnic Georgians. Abkhazia and South Ossetia were recognized as independent states by Moscow following the 2008 war. International law and the United Nations continue to state that the regions remain parts of Georgia.


ast week, the Economic Policy Experts Center of Georgia presented an innovative vision of developmental changes, advocating for transition of state-owned property, including natural resources, to private ownership. Despite the privatization process in the 1990s, and following the Rose Revolution, a significant number of assets are still under state ownership. As studies show more than 65-70% of assets are owned by the State; the remainder are privatized. A significant portion of land parcels (65%), mining sites (100%), buildings, and state companies are not privatized. The Center is proposing to change that, to “do it the other way around,” and soon. According to the new strategy, every person residing in Georgia (including people living in breakaway regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia) will be given unrestricted access to becoming an owner/shareholder of various stateowned natural resources. “The shares we are talking about here might be of miniscule size,” the experts announced,

“but with that, people can become active or passive agricultural agents of economic activity and, as a result, reap the generated economic benefits. Another peculiar characteristic of the plan is that people will not be buying anything with actual money. According to the strategy, they will receive special “money”from the government, and the only thing that they can do with this “money” is to purchase (part of) an asset at auction. The primary goal is for parked assets (natural resources) to become active, which results in public benefits. The Center believes it is possible through the shares to attract finances from the financial markets and to bring the economy out of its stagnation. To back their vision, the Center wiill be presenting a pilot program, centered around a privatized mining site. “And as this site will be privately owned, they will have much more interest in making more long term investment. This will assist development of a capital market, attraction to venture capital and investment in the real economy,” said Ketevan Krialashvili, an expert from the Center. Whether the strategy will ever be put into actual implementation remains to be seen, but it certainly shows things from a new angle.




FEBRUARY 19 - 22, 2016

Federico Tarantini on Georgia and the Future of EU Energy BY VAZHA TAVBERIDZE


n the first week of February, the Institute for Development of Freedom of Information (IDFI) hosted a conference dedicated to the European perspectives of Georgia. The ranks of esteemed guests and speakers boasted some of the heavyweight elites both from Georgia’s expert circles and those from abroad. The European Union weighed in with its own representatives too: alongside the EU ambassador Janos Herman, who delivered an opening speech, one of the speakers at the panel dedicated to EU-Georgia partnerships was Mr. Federico Tarantini, an External Energy Policy Officer at the European Commission’s Energy Directorate General. The EU official highlighted Georgia’s ongoing negotiations regarding the future membership of the Energy Community, an international organization established between the EU and the non-member countries of South East Europe. To find out more about the negotiations, Georgia’s transit potential and the EU’s perspective on Georgia’s ever-present challenges in the energy sector in general, GEORGIA TODAY sat down with Mr. Tarantini for an EXCLUSIVE interview.


adopting and implementing the vast majority of EU legislation regarding the energy sector. We started negotiations with Georgia in 2014 and the talks are going apace, but unlike other members of the community (Moldova and Ukraine were the latest states to join), Georgia doesn’t share a border with any EU member country, which makes things slightly more difficult in the technical sense.

IS IT MORE OF AN IF OR WHEN ISSUE, GEORGIA JOINING? I think it stands decidedly as a WHEN. Georgia is ready and willing to meet the commitments of the community and implement necessary changes. A lot of the legislation features also in the EUGeorgia Association Agreement, so it’s a when issue. But it’s also something that is quite complex and takes more time than usual, which shouldn’t be a cause for alarm.

WHAT IS GEORGIA GOING TO GAIN FROM JOINING THE COMMUNITY? On a political level, it’s another message that Georgia is choosing a European path. Economic policy-wise, it’s a very good opportunity to spur the reforms in the internal energy market that would ultimately bring about a more resilient energy system and make the country more attractive to foreign investors.


The regional idea of the full implementation of the Southern Gas Corridor is in 2019 to supply gas to Turkey and early 2020 supply gas to Europe. In Turkey we are talking about 6 billion cubic meters per year through TANAP, the South Caucasus Pipeline and the TransAdriatic Pipeline. There is considerable willingness from all involved parties to see this gas flowing well ahead of the schedule. Steadfast progress is being made, especially in the case of TANAP.

THE MULLING DOWN OF THE AMBITIOUS NABUCCO PIPELINE PROJECT WAS A MAJOR DISAPPOINTMENT TO GEORGIAN SOCIETY. IS THERE ANY CHANCE OF A PROJECT OF SIMILAR SCALE BEING IMPLEMENTED IN THE FORESEEABLE FUTURE? It’s difficult to make a prediction in this regard, but what I can say is that at least there is still a possibility to supply Caspian gas to South-East Europe upon construction of a Greece- Bulgaria Interconnector and, other than that, we are also working on a ‘post-Nabucco & postSouth Stream’ environment to reinforce the interconnectivity of the region through already existing infrastructure. We are at the very beginning of things in this. For another pipeline, we would need additional volume of supply, an additional source, which has not been fully identified yet.


AT THE INITIAL STAGES OF NABUCCO PLANNING? WHAT IS ITS ROLE NOW? We are definitely still looking at Turkmenistan. Last May, Vice President Maros Sefcovic visited Ashkhabad and a declaration was signed, confirming Turkmenistan’s willingness of gas supply in a Westward direction. The EU, Azerbaijan and Turkmenistan were the signatories, and a working group was established to discuss and analyze the technical challenges of this undertaking. Georgia, as a very important transit country, is also represented in the working group.

WHAT ABOUT POLITICAL CHALLENGES THAT COULD POSSIBLY DERAIL SUCH AN ENTERPRISE? WHAT ABOUT SECURITY ISSUES? FOR INSTANCE, IN TURKEY? All these considerations could play a major role. But then again, the situation was the same when the Southern Gas Corridor initiative was launched, and we managed to pull it off. Of course, there is work to be done and there are also challenges ahead. But getting everybody involved and motivated to achieve the same aim is our best bet for success.

HOW DO YOU, AS A EUROPEAN DIPLOMAT, FEEL ABOUT THE EU’S DEALINGS WITH GAZPROM? I fully understand the concerns of Georgian society regarding Gazprom and Russia, which may be in some cases different with views in Western Europe.

Having said that, we know we are somewhat dependent on Russian gas and we are seeking ways to lessen this dependency.

LAST YEAR, GAZPROM CONSIDERABLY INCREASED ITS EXPORT TO THE EU – 42 % INCREASE TO GERMANY, 170 % INCREASE TO GREAT BRITAIN, 58 % TO POLAND AND TO ITALY – 23 %. HOW DOES IT ALL TRANSLATE INTO “WAYS OF LESSENING THE DEPENDENCY ON RUSSIAN GAS”? First of all it takes time to develop a set of measures and then adopt them. In the energy sector you cannot do things overnight, especially when it comes to gas. But that’s not the whole picture – for instance, in the recent EU-wise Stress Test report, we analyzed the scenario of Russia cutting energy supplies to Europe. And the test showed that even under the worst conditions, Western Europe wouldn’t experience any disruption, only a cost increase. The problem is not increasing the volume- we have established an open and competitive market in Europe and it is up to the buyers to make their own decisions. We, the European Commission, work to develop policies that hamper the market being closed and encourage more competition. And we also have several other objectives in terms of de-carbonization, renewable energy and making energy consumption compatible with climate change effects. All these things are very much interconnected. And these are also ways to diversify energy routes.

Having Your Cake and Eating It BY NUGZAR B. RUHADZE


eorgia’s historical destiny has been tempered and shaped at many different crossroads of social, economic and geopolitical character. The truth-seeking process here has always been extremely painful, and often times has not resulted in anything overly significant for the nation’s good. Even today, opinions differ drastically over whether it was the right decision to ask for the protectorate of the Russian Empire a little over two hundred years ago when Georgia had lost its crucial defensive war against Persia, as a result of which materialized the compelling circumstance pushing Georgia right under the rule of a powerful northern neighbor of the same faith. The royal decision of that time has always been a matter of dispute in this country – research, books, articles, conferences, public commentary and governmental opinions have all been poised to elucidate the issue, but we the people of Georgia are still unclear about it: was it good or bad that Georgia once made that historic step towards palling up with Russia both in a tactical and strategic sense? The discussion is still hot, and hard feelings about the whole thing never go away. This is why Georgia never stops being torn apart between the two dominant political stands. Georgia does not know for sure which direction to take in its future development – to stick to its newly made geostrategic choice of propelling itself into a happy Euro-Atlantic family of nations, thus being baptized as a country of modern Western civilization,

or forever forget the previous injuries and resentments and embrace again its old big brother and tested partner in order to continue the somewhat risky and precarious pattern of survival. Thoughts are alive and churning in our unfortunate heads about both versions of further living, about playing both cards rather wisely and gingerly. The competition between the sides to win Georgia’s heart and mind, as well as its geopolitical disposition, is obvious, and Georgia’s vacillation between the two is also clearly noticeable. That said, a certain amount of latency is felt in the behavior of the fighting big powers like America and Russia and the quivering little subject of dispute like Georgia. Now the dilemma for us is how to stay safe if the clash between the biggies, flanked by their respective smaller satellites, becomes visible. Georgia has already made a formal choice to westernize itself as much as possible at this time, having given full access to its soul and body to caring Euro-Atlantic hands; mastering their means and ways, learning their language, using their money and emulating their behavior. At the same time, Georgia has not completely become unused to soviet-time brotherhood, way of life, economic crutches and socio-cultural exchanges. So the impression is that we want a piece of both cakes. And if we really do, why is it so impossible to have and eat both? Why can’t we say loudly and openly that we are no longer in a position of fighting for our survival and spilling blood to stay alive? Why can’t we reveal our political aspirations and strategic sentiments straightforwardly that we organically want to be part of the Western caboodle because we feel like it, and we have a

simultaneous desire not to give up on Russia for good because there are some old attachments and obligations as well as hopes to resuscitate the broken marriage. To go further with these courageous dreams, we might even play a conciliatory role between the two snarling animals, refusing the position of a miserable bone of contention. Cautiously eschewing the possible image of a geopolitical speculator, Georgia might have a good chance of making an exemplary peaceful haven out of its territory by talking persistently and transparently to each and every member of its closest geopolitical community about mutually beneficial cooperation and fruitful coexistence between all of

10 Galaktion Street

them. Why should this be impossible? Why can’t Russia and Turkey make peace here on this beautiful land – the door is open! Why can’t America and Russia shake hands while sitting at the festive Georgian table? Why can’t the Azeri and Armenians give each other a hug when visiting Tbilisi and having fun together? Is this too romantic a thought? All in our hands at these weird crossroads! Why can’t we reveal our political aspirations- that we want to be part of the Western caboodle because we feel like it, and yet we have a simultaneous desire not to give up on Russia for good because there are hopes to resuscitate the broken marriage? Source:

Tel: (995 32) 2 45 08 08 E-mail:




Georgia’s Pankisi Gorge: More than 25 Years of External Manipulation BY WILL CATHCART


n response to Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s statement last month claiming there were ISIS training camps in Pankisi, the Georgian President and the US Ambassador went to Pankisi Gorge and held a joint press conference there to prove there were no training camps. President Margvelashvili, told those gathered: “I arrived here with ambassadors of the US and EU, as I want to show them a place and a people we are proud of.” US Ambassador Ian Kelly followed with, “We are of course cooperating very closely with Georgia in the fight against terrorism, and I take their words at face value. There are no training camps for terrorists in the Pankisi Gorge.” This small press conference may not have seemed like a big deal, but this was a very positive development indicating that the current Georgian government is taking the situation in Pankisi Gorge seriously and that it has US support in doing so. Moscow is very concerned about socalled Islamic State jihadists returning to its backyard from Syria and Iraq, as it very well should be. But the vast majority of these individuals are Chechens who were radicalized fighting the Russian government and are headed back to Russia’s North Caucasus, not to Georgia’s Pankisi Gorge. A mall group of jihadists hailing from Pankisi did indeed make a name for them-

selves in Syria. The notorious Georgian Abu Omar al-Shishani (Tarkhan Batirashvili) has been “killed” at a rate of once every four months since his appointment as ISIS northern commander. As for the total number of Georgians who have left Pankisi for Syria or Iraq, estimates vary from less than 100 to 200. There are no reports of them coming back. The notion that they are returning to wage war from Georgia or train others in Pankisi appears to be Kremlin propaganda to counter something else. Georgia’s Pankisi Gorge grabbed attention because this little pocket of a tiny Christian country was so quickly and effectively radicalized. There was already

There is one bit of perspective that the Kremlin always omits when painting Georgia as unstable- a Kremlin pastime

Georgian Abu Omar al-Shishani (Tarkhan Batirashvili) has been “killed” at a rate of once every four months since his appointment as ISIS northern commander

a history of Chechen fighters in the area. Then the Saudis arrived with their contagious brand of Wahhabism toward the end of Saakashvili’s rule, when he was focused on Russia. By the time the current government established control it was too late. Pankisi extremism had spiked in a manner which appeared to mirror the rise of the Islamic State. Abu Omar (Batirashvili), who had been trained by US intelligence and Special Forces, was proving extremely effective on the Syrian battlefield. As were a few of Georgia’s seasoned Chechen fighters from Pankisi, like Muslim Abu Walid al Shishani (Murad Margoshvili). There is one bit of perspective that the Kremlin always omits when painting Georgia as unstable—a Kremlin pastime. The bulk of the Pankisi population consists of Chechens who were chased out

of Chechnya by Putin in his rise to power. Pankisi is basically just a riverbed on the Georgian side of the Chechen border where about 10,000 Chechen Kists have gathered over time. It is not unusual that a Chechen population on one side of a valley would behave similar to the Chechens on the other, regardless of what border is between them. Hence, in the 1990s the area was a vast smuggling hub. What is interesting though is that with the arrival of Saakashvili, Pankisi was transformed from that smuggling hub into a population of peaceful Sufi Kists, only then to have yet another younger generation radicalized by a combination of Russian aggression, weak Georgian governance, Saudi Wahhabi venom, and ISIS on the horizon. Today things are a bit different. Videos of young ISIS recruits still appear, but

now it seems that the Georgian government has actively and effectively engaged the Pankisi population. There are a number of new programs designed to quickly create jobs in the Pankisi area. The US ambassador’s recent visit is a bold gesture that should not be underscored. But alarming are reports that the pathways back and forth between Pankisi and Chechnya are still active, despite what the Georgian, Russian and Chechen governments claim. It doesn’t matter what the Georgian government is doing to stop extremism- if even a few Chechen fighters are still able to cross into Georgia and then fly or drive to Turkey, as we know some have done in the past, then the Russian government will use this against Georgia. The same goes for any instance of Georgians crossing over to Chechnya to fight. Still, Pankisi is better off today than it was several years ago, ironically because the extremists from Pankisi joining ISIS forced the Georgians, with US help, to face the problem and try to eliminate factors causing extremism. The same is not true for Chechnya, where an unhinged megalomaniac named Ramzan Kadyrov and his small corrupt posse are the only thing separating the Russian people from the Chechen fighters returning from Syria and Iraq. Yet any progress in the Pankisi Gorge can be undone by the actions of a few more radicals. This means that the people of Pankisi will remain torn between neighboring powers and manipulated by far darker ones, unless they can become masters of their own fate.




FEBRUARY 19 - 22, 2016

The Cracks in the Dam BY ZAZA JGHARKAVA


n the last five days, Energy Minister Kakha Kaladze has made two important announcements. According to the first, the territory of occupied Abkhazia is threatened with full blackout by the end of February. The second suggested that the same occupied territory is no longer threatened by an energy crisis. While political impromptus aren’t new to Minister Kaladze, as the vice-Prime minister is characterized by having contrasting ideas, the issue of Abkhazia’s darkening at first, and then lighting again, is unusual to say the least. On January 25, a “crawling” schedule was announced on the energy supply in Abkhazia. Electricity is now turned off for 4 hours daily in every district. The de facto government declared that this schedule will continue until April 15. However, media cautioned the locals that it might continue after that date as the level of water in the Inguri Dam power station is at a minimum. Later, the chance of a catastrophic shortage was reaffirmed by the representatives of Chernomor Energy, a fact also confirmed by Georgian power specialists. One such specialist, Revaz Arveladze, says that if the level of water in the reservoir drops by another 10 meters, it will cause the units to shut off automatically. Apparently, Minister Kaladze had exactly this fact in mind when talking about darkness falling over Abkhazia, since the energy supply of the occupied territory is completely dependent on the Inguri Dam. “I can say that the energy reserve that is supplied to Abkhazia is enough for about two more weeks, and then

there is a threat that we will not be able to supply electricity to them further,” Minister Kaladze told journalists on February 13th. This was followed by criticism and was evaluated by his opponents as a political statement. The ex-Speaker of Parliament, Nino Burjanadze, seized the opportunity and accused the Minister, and the Georgian Government as a whole, for not prioritizing the issue of territorial integrity. “This is an imprudent, extremely irresponsible decision and the statements made by the management of the Ministry of Energy were even more reckless. If you believe that Abkhazia is an inseparable part of Georgia, if you want to fight for it and to make steps towards returning the trust of the Abkhazian population towards Georgians and the Georgian Government, then yes, you need to turn a blind eye to everything and continue supplying electricity to Abkhazia,” Burjanadze declared. Alongside Burjanadze, other representatives of non-parliamentary opposition accused the Minister of “political myopia” and reminded him of the responsibilities that the Government carries. The Labor leader, Shalva Natelashvili, suggested taking money from the informal ruler of the country, Bidzina Ivanishvili: “Leaving our brothers, Abkhazians, without electricity is another crime by Georgian Dream. Kaladze should do his best to bring additional electricity from wherever he wants; he should pay the money not out of Georgia’s budget, but out of Ivanishvili’s,” Natelashvili told journalists before leaving for the US. Apparently, the political context of Kaladze’s statement worked quickly and already at a briefing held on February 17th, the Energy Minister publicly declared that Tbilisi has already purchased addi-

The energy supply of the occupied territory is completely dependent on the Inguri Dam. Source:

tional volumes of electricity for Abkhazia from Russia and that it will no longer be threatened by energy collapse. “Currently, the territory of Abkhazia does not come under the jurisdiction of the central government. However, Georgia, International Law and the International Community consider the occupied territories of our country as an integral part of our State. Therefore, the political responsibility of our government is to

take care of each of our citizens indiscriminately. This is our free will and solid position,” Kaladze declared at the briefing. It should be noted that Tbilisi and Sokhumi share the electricity generated by Inguri Dam in a 60/40 proportion. As time passes, the agreed 40% seems to be too little for Sokhumi, which every year asks for more. If we take into consideration the fact that the population

of the occupied territory is decreasing from year to year and that industry as such does not exist there, it would be interesting to know what Sokhumi uses the excess volumes of electrical energy for? There is only one likely answer to the question – it sells it to Russia. More on Minister Kaladze and Energy: See the Open Letter to Minister Kaladze from Frontera Resources on page 8.




Fixing the Labor Shortage: Ogden on Education OP-ED BY TIM OGDEN


rime Minister Kvirikashvili has decidedthatwhatGeorgiareally needs is an education system closely modelled on that of Germany. You can see his train of thought; Germany is an economic powerhouse that for all intents and purposes controls the European Union, a country whose very name is associated with strength, efficiency and hard work (and war, but that’s not the point). Germany and its people have demonstrated their astonishing ability to recover from national catastrophe or upheaval three times over (after 1918, 1945 and 1991), and the notion that all Germans are inexorable workaholics is not far from the truth; it’s not hard to see why Germans make such natural soldiers, and I’ve found it easy to imagine many of those I’ve known wearing the uniform of a Panzergrenadier (as their grandparents probably did, I suppose). The only part of the stereotype that I haven’t found to be accurate is their supposed lack of humor, since almost every German I’ve come across has been a jolly soul and boon companion. A fine people, a fine country, though between ourselves I prefer English ales to German beer. I can well understand why the Prime Minister would want to attempt to replicate their success, but I doubt whether the education system alone is responsible for the Germans being the Germans. Barbarossa did not

have a PhD from Heidelberg University. There are such things as national traits and characteristics; globalization has not robbed us of our individuality just yet. The good and the bad stereotypes often have grains of truth to them: the Americans, while friendly, are arrogant; the English, though funny, are cold; the Russians are engaging in conversation, but might occupy part of your country. Criticizing Georgian character traits is a minefield, since Georgians do not react well to criticism, either because they feel the comment is totally unfounded and inaccurate, or because they see themselves or their friends in it and hate it all the more because it might be true. After living in Georgia for six years, I

Georgians graduating with esteemed German-level degrees are hardly going to be rushing to take to the fields

don’t see much in common between the Georgians and the Germans. A Germanstyle education system is not going to transform this country into an Eastern European version of Germany. The way Georgians behave at school and university would probably sink any attempt to remodel the education system here. I have it on the good authority of a number of teachers here (including Georgian ones) that homework is routinely handed in late, and if a student is not graded highly, their parents will intervene (and this at a private school, too). I have also seen firsthand that Master’s degree students complain to their lecturers if their scores are not what they wanted them to be, but rarely show any inclination to try and understand why their work was graded as it was. I can’t speak for Germany, not being a German nor having been educated there, but both of those situations would be unthinkable in England, and I doubt things are different in our Saxon sisternation. Parents would never roar at teachers at a private school for grading their child with a C or a D; indeed, they’d be far more likely to roar at their children for not working hard at a school that they are paying for (I have first-hand experience of this, having been on the deserved receiving end of such a tirade, lazy student that I was). That’s not to say that Georgians can’t succeed in a Western school or university. Many do, of course, if they have the chance to go and study in another country (and a few of these come back with a sense of entitlement and arrogance

that would do credit to Sean Penn). But for now I doubt that the majority of Georgians are ready for the introduction of the high and harsh standards of German education. The Prime Minister also declared that Georgia has too many people qualifying as bankers, lawyers and foreign policy specialists, and not enough aiming for careers in farming and agriculture. Having heard Georgians complain about anything they describe as being ‘village’ (meaning anything located outside of Tbilisi, Batumi or any other major settlement) more times than I can count, it’s not hard to see why many would prefer to qualify as a lawyer or banker than toil in the fields. I don’t blame them – you’ll not catch me with a hoe in my hand, either. Still, I don’t think that this is a problem that German education is likely to solve. If anything it will only make things worse; Georgians graduating with esteemed Germanlevel degrees are hardly going to be rushing to take to the fields. The Prime Minister complained of a ‘labor shortage’, so the solution to me seems obvious: invest more government money in agriculture to attract workers…or just use prisoners as a source of free labor. After all, that historically worked for the Germans, too.

A German-style education system is not going to transform this country into an Eastern European version of Germany rolling-scopes.




FEBRUARY 19 - 22, 2016

Frontera addresses Minister of Energy with an open letter February 15, 2016 Mr. Kakha Kaladze Minister of Energy Ministry of Energy of Georgia 2 Sanapiro Street, Tbilisi, 0105 Georgia Dear Mr. Minister, We are writing today to respectfully correct the public record with regard to incorrect statements that you made in a nationally televised interview on February 5, 2016. This interview was related to the Atlantic Council’s recently published report entitled “Developing A Western Energy Strategy For The Black Sea Region And Beyond”. Your statements were made with regard to the report’s positive reference to Frontera’s announced estimates of significant natural gas resources associated with its ongoing exploration work in the Kakheti region of Georgia. As you are in a ministerial position of great public trust, numerous news agencies and social media have subsequently replicated your recent misstatements in reaction to this report. Because of this, we want to be sure that that you and the Georgian people have the benefit of correct facts associated with our work in Georgia’s growing domestic natural gas sector: • In your recent interview you are quoted to say, “…even Turkmenistan does not have as much volumes as were announced”. This is not correct. For example, the United States government’s Central Intelligence Agency’s World Factbook estimates Turkmenistan’s proved natural gas reserves at 626 trillion cubic feet (17.5 trillion cubic meters). By definition, gas in place would be much larger. The government of Turkmenistan reports an even larger estimate. Both assessments are far greater than our estimate of prospective natural gas resources of as much as 187 trillion cubic feet (5.31 trillion cubic meters) of gas in place related to our work in the Kakheti region. • You also stated that “billions of investments are required to prove” the natural gas resource estimates made by Frontera. This is misleading and simply not correct. Land-based oil and gas exploration works are inherently efficient to develop, especially when they are situated in favorable geographies like that found in eastern Georgia. A great example of this is the highly efficient U.S. domestic onshore natural gas sector that has made the U.S. the world’s largest producer of natural gas in recent years. It would be very difficult to identify a similar onshore project anywhere in the world that requires billions of dollars to “prove” as you have suggested. Such a statement gives the wrong impression for the reality of our ongoing work in the Kakheti region. • In the same interview, you indicated that Frontera’s contract is “a yearly renewable” contract with the government. This is simply not correct. As you should know, our Production Sharing Contract with the State of Georgia is a long-term contract that in no way requires annual renewal. Because of its long-term nature, this contract has been the basis for hundreds of millions of dollars of Frontera’s extensive foreign direct investment that has included acquisition and analysis of thousands of kilometers of 2D and 3D geophysical data, as well as tens of thousands of meters of new drilling data. This work has identified a significant natural gas resource for the country. Moreover, it has solidified our long-term commitment to the country’s oil and gas sector. Whether intentional or not, your interview created confusion and doubt in the arena of public opinion and we hope that this message will serve to set the record straight. Georgia has a bright future related to the development of its natural gas sector and it seems counterproductive to denigrate this fact. Frontera is very proud to be a dedicated corporate citizen of Georgia and works hard to bring the Georgian people the opportunity to benefit from development of their country’s vast natural gas resources. Given Georgia’s NATO and European Union aspirations, it is our hope that the emergence of your country’s natural gas sector will result in enhanced national security by becoming a leader in utilizing its extensive gas resources for not only its domestic needs, but also for European energy security. The Atlantic Council’s recently published report highlights a strategic role for Georgia to play in securing Europe’s energy future and states: “What Georgia needs today is supportive leadership, especially in the Energy Ministry, that enforces government policies to open the country for exploration and production, protect property rights, and facilitate domestic distribution and exports of locally produced gas. The country also needs transparency, good governance, and the rule of law – without these, foreign investment will remain severely constrained.” It is our great hope that this will indeed occur and serve to lift all people in Georgia to a brighter economic future….


Steve C. Nicandros Chairman of the Board of Directors

Zaza Mamulaishvili Board of Directors Member

Chief Executive Officer Frontera Resources Corporation Houston, Texas U.S.A.

President Frontera Resources Corporation Houston, Texas U.S.A.




We Can All Be Heroes: SuperCyclingMan Peddling to Inspire BY MERI TALIASHVILI


ritish former primary school teacher Will Hodson has decided to spend the next 5-years cycling all over the world dressed in a super hero costume and known as “SuperCyclingMan.” He left the UK in May 2015 and is aiming to be the first person to cycle across all seven continents including Antarctica, on a record-breaking journey that will take around five years to complete. Will aims to cycle 100,000km, raise £100,000 for charity, and to inspire 100,000 school children along the way with his message that We Can All Be Heroes. GEORGIA TODAY met Will as he passed through Georgia.

WILL, BEFORE YOU STARTED CYCLING YOU WERE A PRIMARY SCHOOL TEACHER. WHY DID YOU SWITCH TO CYCLING? I’ve loved cycling since I was fifteen years old and I love now combining that to raise money for charity. When I was fifteen I cycled from the west coast of England to the east coast with two friends. I was encouraged to do more. I thought: if you can cycle across one country, why not cycle cross two countries and then the whole continent? That was step one. Step two was reading a kids book about superheroes. The message was that we all have talents and we can all help others. We can

buy tea for someone or give a friendly smile. I like cycling so I made a super hero costume with my superhero name on itSuperCyclingMan. I like diversity, for every day to be different. Life is too short to do things that make you unhappy. I decided to go for my dream and began to cycle around the world. I spent two years planning. I sold my computer, car, bikes and I am still trying to raise money to keep on my journey. Last week I wanted to sell postcards from around the world and almost a hundred people bought them. Sometimes you start a challenge and you find people want to help you. I am also selling SuperCyclingMan bracelets I made for five Lari each on my website. Half the money goes to charity and half goes to feeding myself on my way. My father has Parkinson’s disease and some goes to this charity, some money goes to a charity called PeaceOneDay that is trying to create more peace in the world and prevent fighting. On my Facebook Page and on my website I try and share stories about all the good people I meet around the world. I have cycled from England through Europe, and Georgia is the fifteenth country I’m passing. Nobody has done this before and I find that really exciting. I like doing something that is original. I don’t want my life to be all about just following in someone else’s footsteps.

love the feeling of freedom cycling gives me. I feel like a child when I am cycling and some of my friends have even told me I look younger now than when I was teaching one year ago! I think teaching is harder than cycling around the world. It is a very tough job.



At the moment I’m trying to meet as many school children here in Georgia as possible. So far I’ve visited two international schools in Tbilisi and I want to visit a local Georgian school as well. Next I’m going to Armenia, Iran and Turkmenistan. First I want to visit the sights of Tbilisi and explore Georgia. It is a fascinating place. The people are really interesting, friendly and helpful. I feel really alive here. Georgian police were also amazingly helpful to me. I was near Poti and needed a place to stay. I went to a shop and they told me to go and ask at the police station. Normally, I try to avoid police because I might get problems. These policeman said okay, come and camp in the garden. The next morning they gave me breakfast. When I went to Zestaponi I stayed in the garden of another police station and they looked after my bike and bags for me. I travel around the world and wherever I go, I tell people that the world is not full of people making trouble and terrorists, but is far fuller of kind people.

A whole lot of happiness. Great memories and a whole lot of new friends. I


SCHOOL CHILDREN YOU MEET? I explain what I’m doing cycling around the world in a superhero costume and I want to inspire them with my message that #WeCanAllBeHeroes. I want to inspire them to go for their dreams, not to give up. I also ask them to try to do a small act of kindness every day. Even one a day makes you a hero. Georgia is full of heroes, people here are super kind by nature.

IS CYCLING WHAT YOU WANT TO DO FOR THE REST OF YOUR LIFE? When I’ve finished travelling around the world, I want to write some children’s

books about the adventures of SuperCyclingMan cycling around the world. While I’m on my way, many good ideas are being born that I will eventually write in my books. If you want to follow SuperCyclingMan’s adventures as he peddles around the world, check out his Facebook page: https://www. and his website: You can also meet SuperCyclingMan in Tbilisi during a mass cycle ride through the capital on Friday February 26th and join him on a slow 10km loop of the city starting from Rose Revolution Square at 8pm.




FEBRUARY 19 - 22, 2016

Non-violent Communication Institute on Bullying: Don’t Hurt, Don’t Label BY MERI TALIASHVILI


chool bullying is an acute problem throughout the world. According to the US Health and Social Services Department, bullying is an unwanted and aggressive behavior, present both at school and amongst adults, which includes a repeated real or imagined power imbalance. According to scientific literature, children who witness bullying (“bullying bystanders”) are as much at risk as those directly involved. Negative effects can include depression, anxiety, substance dependence, a high level of vulnerability and even suicide. Victims are singled out due to religious views, gender identity, sexual orientation or for having a different appearance. Georgia is no exception to bullying. Therefore, the Non-violent Communication Institute, with the assistance of the Open Society Georgia Foundation, has launched a bullying prevention program aiming for bullying prevention in schools which involves methodology directed to the reduction of various forms of abuse among peers and for the improvement of the learning environment. Ana Subeliani, Non-violent Communication Institute representative and the program head, spoke to GEORGIA TODAY.

WHEN AND WHY DOES BULLYING HAPPEN? In 2015, a Homophobic Bullying study in public schools showed that during school years, the vast majority of pupils from seventh to ninth grades are participants of bullying. They experience bullying as either initiators, victims or witnesses. Generally, school reflects attitudes widespread in society. Thus, it is natural that those marks become the main cause of oppression of peers in our reality.

DOES A BULLY CHOOSE A VICTIM IN ADVANCE OR DOES HE AIM TO HUMILIATE EVERYONE? A bully chooses a victim deliberately based on certain indicators [as mentioned in the introduction]. There is a real or imagined power imbalance between a bully and a victim. It can be expressed as physical strength, as well as through destabilizing the victim’s emotional state and self-defense capability.

WHAT MEASURES CAN A VICTIM OF BULLYING TAKE IN SELF-DEFENSE? A victim of bullying has to have someone reliable to turn to for help. He or she needs to know that there is a person who will understand them and will not take any kind of action without their

agreement and, ultimately, will help them overcome the problems.

DO SCHOOLS HAVE MECHANISMS TO COMBAT BULLYING? Nowadays, Georgian schools are without a single unified, holistic-based mechanism which is directed to creating a positive educational environment. In later life, only psycho-social rehabilitation centers are available for adult bullying cases, yet this often leaves victims beyond the service and does not work to prevent bullying. Harassed victims have trouble speaking to others about their experiences and try to solve the problems on their own. This can lead to more serious situations. Therefore, it is essential that people exist right within the schools who can identify the problem and earn the trust of those who need to talk. As for private schools, no joint study has been conducted to date. Certain schools carry out special events and campaigns against bullying, though, again, there are no set methodological programs.

IS THE MINISTRY OF EDUCATION INVOLVED? In order to overcome the bullying issue we have been in communication with the Ministry since 2014 and Ministry representatives have often expressed

Ana Subeliani, Non-violent Communication Institute representative and the program head

their readiness to collaborate in this direction. But when push comes to shove, through bureaucratic mechanisms, they ultimately try to prevent us from entering public schools. In 2014-2015 we terminated a 6-7 month negotiation [with them] due to a lack of progress and turned our attention to private schools. The Ministry continues to express its interest in our work but at the same time publically denies the existence of the problem we are trying to solve [Ministry of Education Tamar Sanikidze, in an interview with Tabula TV program Focus, said that bullying does not exist in schools]. We also see the influence of the Patriarchate in the decision-making process within the Ministry. Ultimately, such things negatively impact on our students’ safety and healthy development.


includes carrying out a number of activities based on the research of school culture. On the one hand it means implementing an anti-bullying policy in schools and giving all representatives of the schools a particular role and function in terms of overcoming bullying which will be written in the schools’ internal regulations. Students, teachers, head teachers, school administration staff, among them technical staff, and parents will be provided with trainings. During the trainings, student participants will learn how to accomplish their aims without harming others, how to protect peers from bullying, and so forth. Staff will learn how to identify bullying cases and help those involved. The program is not only focused on victims of bullying but those who do it. The abusers might be victims of violence themselves or need to develop a sense of empathy and are need of certain help. We have to teach teachers and school staff to act with a principle of ‘Don’t Hurt and Don’t Label.’




Open Doors and Inclusive Education at the Georgian National Museum BY EKA KARSAULIDZE


he doors of the Georgian National Museum are open to all. In particular, it allows people with disabilities to not only visit the Museum, but to take part in a special educational program. Pilot project ‘Inclusive Education at the Museum’ is helping around 250-300 Georgian children with disabilities to develop their skills, learn and get inspired at the Museum. The Educational Center of the Georgian National Museum was founded to create a unique platform for children – giving them the chance to learn something new and get acquainted with art on site. The Educational Center has offered excursions, lectures, thematic courses, field trips and summer camps. Recently, the Museum began to conduct lessons in German from the Goethe Institut. Employees of the Institut claim that this project has become so popular that they are planning to launch the same courses in English and French by the British Council and the French Institute respectively. Museum staff recently decided to create a similar platform of education for people with disabilities. General Director of the Georgian National Museum, David Lordkipanidze, said that for a long time, the museum general has been separated from the masses. “It must be understood that our history and these unique relics, which are stored in our museums, are the real wealth of the country. There are no reasons to hope or wait for oil or gas to suddenly flow out of our ground. We need to cherish what we have and make it accessible to everyone. After all, the Museum is a unique place of learning and aesthetic pleasure,” said Lordkipanidze.

Approximately 250-300 children with disabilities will have a chance to visit expositions at the National Gallery

Since its launch, the Museum has been implementing changes and now it has all the technical and intellectual resources necessary to host anyone. The project ‘Inclusive Education at the Museum’ will last nine months and include three stages. At the first stage, the Museum staff, psychologists, experts, social workers, non-governmental organizations like “Children of Sun”, Union “Our Chil-

What the Wind Blew in: Abbotsbury, UK BY TONY HANMER


as it revenge for my pretending to be a salesman of fine Georgian wines over the phone, he not recognizing me at all? Or was it simply innocently inviting me to participate in what he normally does on such weather-disaster days: go out in them? I may never know. I’m too afraid to ask. In any case, I did accompany a couple of my longest-standing friends on a drive and then a “jaunt” from the village of Abbotsbury, on the south-west English coast, to the miles of mysteriously, perfectly graduated-size pebbles of Chesil Beach. In gale-force winds and horizontal rain, to boot. Just for the fun of it, and for the promise of hot coffee in a pub if we survived it. If. A taxi driver had complained that we Brits are feeling an inferiority complex over getting hardly any hurricanes or tornadoes at all, and thus decided to start personalizing our stronger storms, starting with A-names, last autumn. And here we were with Imogen, only a few months later, wreaking her vengeance on the South-West for unspecified insults: winds up to 90 miles an hour and more, rain, snow, sleet, power cuts, falling trees, people getting swept out to sea. Why not go out in that?! I had a choice of either my Svanetigrade winter boots, or some below the ankle leather smart shoes; only a single choice of outerwear in a thick wool coat, but with plenty of layers underneath. I went with the shoes. The wind announced its presence as we opened the car doors in the otherwise wisely abandoned car park, but we felt committed now, and bravely launched out into it. Unable to hear one another over the howl, we stuck close

together for visual reference—at least, when the rain wasn’t shutting our eyes with its pellet-gun emulations. And we all leaned over into the headwind, although it was only 60 mph at the time, so as to move forwards at all. I had to take my flat cap off most of the time to avoid losing it altogether, which would be a shame as it was pure cashmere, picked up for a song in a Mestia second-hand shop, sales lady blissfully unaware. (See how many Svaneti references I can cram into anything? It’s in my blood!) Only a mile, they said. In this? It felt like a marathon through treacle! Arriving eventually at the Beach, we were greeted by 20-foot high waves defying gravity and attempting to reach earth escape velocity. More stinging rain, which could only be worsened if it turned to hail; this would have gone through us instead of merely bruising our exposed faces. Mercifully, no malevolent God of Weather heard my thoughts and decided to act upon them. Because I’m writing this, we did indeed survive. I shot no photos, even on my cell-phone, simply because I could not do justice to the roaring spectacle with a still image. I did, however, shoot about 40 seconds of video, because that could render some understanding of our ordeal for the viewer. By the time you read this, there will be a link to the uploaded video on my guest house Facebook page, see below. The pub coffee soon thawed our numb heads out, enabling us to step back from the hypothermically-induced hibernation to which we were about to surrender. And it gave me time to pause and think: Are only British people this mad (insane, I mean) about their weather? Tony Hanmer runs the “Svaneti Renaissance” Facebook group, now with over 1250 members, at SvanetiRenaissance/ He and his wife also run their own guest house in Etseri: house.svaneti

dren”, “Child, Family, Society”, “Anika” and Rehabilitation and Social Adaptation Center “Aisi” will develop strategies and methods of working with children with disabilities. It is also expected to cooperate with the ministries of Education, Culture, and Health of Georgia. At the second stage, approximately 250-300 children with disabilities will have a chance to visit

expositions at the National Gallery, and participate in different activities and games throughout May and June. After this, at the third stage, a petition will be elaborated which will describe the importance of museums and galleries in the process of developing inclusive education programs and the ability to implement the project on a permanent basis. “This is not a pioneering project. We have carried out events for people with disabilities in the past,” said Lordkipanidze, referring to the exhibition related to problems that people with disabilities face every day and the exhibition for World Down Syndrome Day held at the Museum. “However, the problem is that it should not be a one-day event. Therefore, after this pilot program, when we thoroughly understand all the nuances, we are going to make it permanent and not only for children but for all ages,” he added. Project coordinator Anna Zhvania believes that the project should be successfully implemented in Georgia. She points to the international practice. “There is well-built infrastructure for people with disabilities in some Polish museums where they have audio guides, Braille and an elevator for easy movement. The Louvre has a separate tactile gallery with copies of famous sculptures and everyone can study and touch them. The same practice can be seen in many other countries, for example, in the US and Russia,” she said. In the framework of the ‘Inclusive Education at the Museum’ program, all museum curators and staff will be trained, as special skills are required to work with people with disabilities. Volunteers have already expressed great interest in the project. Since the project is at its first stage, the Museum’s representatives encourage all interested people to join in and contact the Museum.




FEBRUARY 19 - 22, 2016

Benois Ferreux, representative of the Maeght family with Cedric Brochier, President of the Lyon silk factory ‘Brochier Soieres’ and others at the opening of the exhibition

Guela Tsouladze’s Acrobat was chosen for his own scarf



s if anticipating spring, a world-famous collection of silk scarves come direct from France presented itself to Tbilisi last Friday at a crowded event in the Georgian National Museum Dimitri Shevardnadze National Gallery. The special exhibition – “Les Foulards De La Gallerie Maeght” – presents nearly fifty scarves from the collection of the France-based Maeght Gallery, designed by acclaimed modern artists from the world over. Maeght is a colossal name in the world of contemporary art. At least as far back as the 1930s the family, under its patriarch Aime Maeght, was attracting attention as an important patron and collector. Following the death of their son, Marguerite and Aime Maeght acted on the advice of a group of friends – Georges Braques, Jean Miro, and Ferdenand Leger – and transformed their summer home in the south of France, near Nice, into the Maeght Foundation. Today, the entirely private Maeght Foundation is one of the largest and most important collections of contemporary art in Europe, with over 120,000 works and an average of 200,000 visitors a year. The Maeght Gallery in Paris and in Barcelona stands as a complement even to this. The Foundation itself turned 50 two years ago. Almost since the very beginning a tradition has existed, born from the friendly relationship between the elder Maeght and Joseph Brochier, a silk maker from Lyon and owner of the Brochier-Soieries factory, to create silk scarves using Mr. Brochier’s fabric and designs from the sketches of artists in

Silk Scarves Grace Rustaveli Mr. Maeght’s collection. This unusual confluence of private patronage, contemporary art, industry, and fashion has become a story and an attraction in its own right. It is relatively rare for this exceptional art-scarf collection to be displayed. Before Georgia, there had been only two such exhibitions: the first in Lyon in 1984, and the second in Tokyo in 1990. Georgia is lucky, however, to now have hosted the collection twice; it was previously presented in Batumi this last autumn. The responsibility for both initiating and curating the Georgian exhibitions has been borne by renowned Georgian artist Guela Tsouladze. For his own scarf, he chose one of his most famous images: the outline of a man performing an acrobatic one-handed handstand, legs flung back as if in mid-spin, balancing a heart. Eagle eyes can find the same image on walls around Tbilisi. According to Matsatso Tchincharauli, director and organizer of the project in Georgia, the real importance of the exhibition is twofold: first, to draw more attention to the state of the silk industry in Georgia, and, secondly, to highlight the ever-growing cultural and economic relationships between Georgia and Europe. Regarding the Georgian silk industry, what’s important isn’t to celebrate its successes but rather to highlight its failures. As with so many other fields, the silk industry – which had been thriving in Georgia before the ‘90s – collapsed along with the Soviet Union, and has remained stagnant in the nearly three decades since. “Before there was silk trade,” Ms. Tchincharauli lamented, speaking through a translator, “and now there is nothing.” Surprisingly or not, depending on your outlook, the immediate standout speci-

mens in the exhibit are those designed by the blockbuster names of the Maeght Foundation’s first generation of contributors: Miro, Chagal, Braques. Alexander Calder, who is represented by two squares here, comes off especially well. Another early contribution comes from the lesser-known Saul Steinberg, whose design demands longer appraisal than almost anything else in the hall. His stick figure warriors mounted on inkblot steeds gallop, leap, and stand gazing across a simple watercolor wonderland, around its borders and over the elegant pools of cursive handwriting within. Among those present was Djaba Diassarnidze, a professional fashion designer from Georgia now based in Paris. Naturally, he said, he’d heard of the scarves before – although given the rarity with which they’re displayed he’d never seen them. “I think it’s one of the most interesting collections in the world,” he said. “As an artist it’s always very exciting – going to a good exhibition, you’re inspired.” He in particular will be taking inspiration from the exhibit. He explained, “I’m back (in Georgia) because I’m doing my next collection… I’m working on a new collection of scarves with a very important silk producer in Lyon.” Of course, he’s not using the same Brochier-Soieries fabric as the scarves displayed around us. But, he adds, “I will, someday!” The Maeght- Brochier silk scarves exhibition is organized by the Georgian National Museum and supported by the Ministry of Culture of Georgia, the Municipality of Tbilisi, the Embassy of France, the French Institute Georgia, the hotel chain Rooms and Gulf Georgia. The scarves will remain at the Georgian National Museum Dimitri Shevardnadze National Gallery until February 23, 2016.

The English - Speaking Union ინგლისურ ენაზე მოლაპარაკეთა კავშირი Creating global understanding through English Patron: Her Majesty The Queen President: HRH The Princess Anne Invites 16-20 year old young Speakers to take part in the

Public Speaking Competition SPONSORED BY

The theme of the competition is “Integrity has no need of Rules”. Speakers may interpret this theme in any way they see fit, but they should not use the theme as their title. Each speaker will be allocated 5 minutes. The competition will be held in two rounds. The first round, March 14, at the English Language Centre “British Corner” (Vake Park). The second round will be held on 29th of March. The theme of the second round will be announced later. The competition is sponsored by the Bank of Georgia and British Petroleum ESU – Georgia will send the lucky winner to London in May to take part in the finals and organize 5 day stay in England. The deadline for registration is March 11. Contact us: The English Language Centre “British Corner”, Vake Park (entrance from I. Abashidze St.). Tel.: 557 400033, 5 77 477050; 5 55 302512 E mail:;

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Written on the Wall: Great Ukrainian Painter at Fine Arts Museum BY MAKA LOMADZE


e are not indulged by frequent expositions of well-known foreign painters in Georgia. On the 12th of February, Shalva Amiranashvili Museum of Fine Arts under the Georgian National Museum hosted the opening of the exhibition titled ‘Wall, Wall and Others’ by the eminent Ukrainian artist Matvey Vaisberg. The display is organized by the Georgian National Museum, Gallery ‘Vanda’ and the Kiev Art Union ‘Dukat,’ and supported by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine, Embassy of Ukraine in Georgia and Ukraine International Airlines - MAU. The first speaker at the opening was Charge D’Affaires of the Republic of Ukraine, Mr. Georgii Nazarov: “Matvei Vaisberg’s paintings adorn pri-

vate collections in Israel, Sweden, Austria, Greece, the Czech Republic, Japan, Turkey, Canada and many others. His works are successfully being sold in international auctions including Sotherby’s and Philip de Pury. The Georgian audience has a privilege to attend his exhibition first time ever in Tbilisi. I thank the Georgian National Museum. I want to extend special thanks to MAU. Symbolically, the exhibition is being opened in late February. We have overcome one wall and will overcome others too,” Nazarov concluded in an optimistic manner. “I am grateful to all the parties in charge, as well as to these walls of the Museum. Most importantly, I feel not only as a painter coming from abroad, but as a representative of all Ukrainian painters, and that of Maidan. Time will pass and these paintings will eventually be looked at from a mere academic point of view, but now I am sure that, especially for Georgians, these bitter experiences of ours are very clear,” noted Matvei Vaisberg, the distinguished guest and protagonist of the event.

The Georgian National Museum is supporting popularization of the Ukrainian culture in Georgia. This latest exhibition aims to once again deepen cultural relations between the two countries. Sandro Mujiri from the Vanda gallery said: “I am very happy that we’ve been given a chance to host one of the most important faces of the contemporary Ukrainian painting. A lot of amateurs are acquainted with these works and hereafter, Georgians will also see them closely. I want to state that we are working on a big project and, within the coming two years, aim try to present further interesting and eminent Ukrainian painters to the Georgian audience.” The exhibition showcases up to 100 works created by the artist in the last 15 years and united in several artistic series. One of the Series is ‘Wall 28.01. – 08.03.2014,’ was created in 2014, following the events in Maidan in Kiev in which the artist participated. The exhibition also showcases other series by

the artist: ‘Judaean Desert’ (2001). Wall (2011) and ‘Allegories of Virtues and Vices.’ ‘Wall, Wall and Others’ will last until March 6, 2016. Parallel to that, other paintings of Matvei Vaisberg can be seen at Vanda Gallery.

ABOUT THE ARTIST Matvei Vaisberg is a Ukrainian painter, graphic artist, and book designer. In 1990, his first personal exhibition took place in the Historical Museum of Podol, Kiev. More than fifty collective and personal exhibitions have taken place to date, including those in the National Art Museum (Kiev), Kiev National Museum of Russian Art (Kiev), Museum of Contemporary Art in Odessa, Cherkasy Museum of Fine Arts, Berlin Wall Museum, Ukrainian Institute of America (New York), Europe House (London) and the Sejm of the Republic of Poland (Warsaw). His works are kept at various museums and private collections in Kiev, Vilnius, Berlin, Chicago, and Berkley.

Culture from the Kitchen: BGCC Brings Top British Chef to Inspire Young Georgians BY KATIE RUTH DAVIES


he British-Georgian Chamber of Commerce (BGCC), as part of its vision to create professional educational exchanges between the two countries, has invited one of Britain’s greatest chefs to get a taste of Georgia and give an inspiring masterclass at the Georgian Culinary Academy. Of Latvian descent, the blond haired, walrusmoustached Baltic giant, Martin Blunos, warms the room with his energy and humor. He grew up near Bristol (a city in south-west UK which twinned with Tbilisi in 1988) where he has been based since his parents moved to England just after World War Two. Boasting two Michelin stars, which he has held for nearly twenty years, Martin has appeared in the Channel 4 series ‘Iron Chef UK,’ the ITV series ‘Daily Cooks’ and Australia’s most popular show ‘Master Chef Australia.’ He appears regularly on television and radio and was chosen to cook for Her Majesty the Queen during her Jubilee year. It can truly be said that Martin is a culinary representative of his nation, having taken part in the ITV series ‘Taste the Nation’ and demonstrating his craft at major annual food festivals throughout the UK and around the world. GEORGIA TODAY met Martin Blunos over a sumptuous coffee at the Terrace Hotel restaurant; the view over the city and the post-shower rainbow a positive start to a stimulating EXCLUSIVE interview.

COOKING IS NOT MY LIFE “I’ve tried a bit of everything in my cooking careerrestaurants, hotels, even a privately-owned family yacht in Greece,” Martin said. “What I’ve enjoyed most is restaurant work. It’s like a twice-daily performance. You have bad days and good days but the lesson to learn is that you have to offer a seamless show- regardless of how you feel. The audience has paid and it expects a good show! Youngsters I meet say: ‘cooking is my life,’ and I tell them, it can’t be because without the influence of family and friends, if you have nothing but food, you have nothing to draw from.” A sentiment proven when he closed his own restaurant ‘Lettonie’ in 2001 following the birth of his daughter.

NO COULDA WOULDA SHOULDA “Inspiration,” Martin says when I ask what he plans to teach the Georgian Culinary students. “You can’t give experience in an hour, but you can inspire. If they have that small flame in their hearts, you can turn it into a raging fire…if you do that, you can steer them. I’ll tell them to go abroad. When I was 20, I left the UK for a year. I came back stronger, more streetwise, with life skills I wouldn’t have had if I’d stayed at home. Life is about living. Work for two reasons, money and pleasure. Aim for both.”

THE KITCHEN ETHOS “I’m looking forward to seeing the kitchen ethos of the students,” Martin enthuses. “I want to see how they view the great journey they’re on. Go into any kitchen, you can see their heart by what they do or don’t do; how they react to and appreciate even the simplest ingredients; how they question. I’ll show them that even a mundane job, if done well and done fast, can be the first step to something higher and better.”

HEARTY, HONEST: THE REAL KHINKALI “My mom was Latvian. So while my English friends were eating baked beans on toast, I was being cooked pig’s tail soup- wholesome healthy food you tuck in to with chunks of bread and sour cream. My upbringing was Latvian but my culinary education was French classical. My signature dish is a Borsch Taurine- borsch soup with that shin of beef used for stock included, milk-bread dough, sour cream… an otherwise Eastern European dish in a classic French style. I’m already discovering new tastes here in Georgia, learning about the regional variations, tasting the real deal which you can’t get in Georgian restaurants abroad because they just don’t have the right ingredients. Georgian cuisine is inspiring in its simplicity and honesty- it lets all flavors sing.

REAL FOOD FOR REAL PEOPLE The perception of food is changing. What was once considered ‘peasant’s food’ (like Martin’s mom’s soup) is now becoming something of a fashion. The obscure and over-priced Nouveaux Cuisine failed for being unrealistic (chicken with kiwi, was the example Martin gave). “Now we’re seeing what I like- a resurgence of real food for real people,” Martin said. “All food is fine dining. If it tastes good, it’s ‘fine.’ The world’s getting smaller. We (Brits) can go out, find ingredients, take them back and make new combinations.” With plenty of ideas for future collaboration with the BGCC, Martin Blunos will surely be taking regular goody bags of Georgian ingredients and Georgian experiences back to share with the UK. Mako Abashidze, BGCC Founder: “This initiative of ours to bring top chefs and wine connoisseurs to Georgia is a very natural and very suc-

cessful one for promoting the country- they come, taste the real Georgian flavors, and then go away and give honest, open reactions to all that they have seen and tried, reactions which are shared on social media. What’s more, in this instance, Iveria TV under Omega Group, founder members of BGCC, will be making a ‘fly-on-the-wall’ documentary of Martin’s visit and the gala masterclass to spread the word among Georgian viewers.” If you wish to attend the gala dinner and masterclass at the Terrace Hotel on February 20th, with dishes created by Martin Blunos assisted by Head Chef at the Terrace, Tamta Kikaleishvili, do hurry as there are only a few

places left. To book, call +995577437734. The masterclasses and dinner are hosted by the Terrace Hotel and Expo-Georgia and are sponsored by Lagvinari Winery. Lagvinari wines can be found in the famous Hedonism wine shop and in many top-end UK restaurants. The BGCC has a vested interest in encouraging bilateral relations between Britain and Georgia, including in investment, trade, and cultural awareness-raising between the two countries through conferences, trade missions and exhibitions. Its current focus is on food and wine and it is preparing in particular for the Global Wine Forum to be launched in Kakheti, Georgia, this autumn. The BGCC was founded in London by Lord Cromwell and Mako Abashidze in March 2007.




FEBRUARY 19 - 22, 2016


GABRIADZE THEATRE Address: 13 Shavtelis St. Telephone: 2 98 65 93 February 22 MARSHAL DE FANTIE’S DIAMOND Rezo Gabriadze Directed by Rezo Gabriadze English Subtitles Start time: 20:00 Ticket price: 10, 20, 30 Lari February 23 RAMONA Rezo Gabriadze Directed by Rezo Gabriadze English Subtitles Start time: 20:00 Ticket price: 10, 20, 30 Lari February 24 AUTUMN OF MY SPRING Rezo Gabriadze Directed by Rezo Gabriadze English Subtitles Start time: 20:00 Ticket price: 10, 20, 30 Lari GRIBOEDOVI THEATRE Address: 2 Rustaveli Ave. Telephone: 2 93 43 36 February 21 CHIPOLLINO Jianni Rodari Directed by Gogi Todadze Small Stage Language: Russian Start time: 12:00 Ticket price: 5 Lari TBILISI VASO ABASHIDZE MUSIC AND DRAMA STATE THEATRE Address: 182 D.Agmashenebeli Ave. Telephone: 2 34 80 90

February 17 DIVORCE Giorgi Eristavi Directed by Davit Doiashvili Musical Start time: 19:00 Ticket price: From 8 Lari CINEMA

AMIRANI CINEMA Address: 36 Kostava St. Telephone: 2 99 99 55 Every Wednesday ticket price: 5 Lari February 19-25 DEADPOOL Directed by Tim Miller Genre: Action, Adventure, Sci-Fi Cast: Ryan Reynolds, Karan Soni, Ed Skrein Language: English Start time: 19:45 Language: Russian Start time: 17:00 Ticket price: 11-14 Lari BY THE SEA Directed by Angelina Jolie Genre: Drama Cast: Brad Pitt, Angelina Jolie, Mélanie Laurent Language: English Start time: 22:15 Language: Russian Start time: 14:15, 19:30 Ticket price: 9 -14 Lari SPOTLIGHT Directed by Tom McCarthy Cast: Mark Ruffalo, Michael Keaton, Rachel McAdams Genre: Biography, Drama, History Language: Russian Start time: 17:00 Ticket price: 11-12 Lari

ALL ROADS LEAD TO ROME Directed by Ella Lemhagen Cast: Sarah Jessica Parker, Rosie Day, Raoul Bova Genre: Comedy Language: Russian Start time: 17:15 Ticket price: 11-12 Lari

ZOOLANDER 2 (Info Above) Language: Russian Start time: 22:00 Ticket price: 13-14 Lari

ZOOLANDER 2 Directed by Ben Stiller Genre: Comedy Cast: Olivia Munn, Benedict Cumberbatch, Kristen Wiig, Penélope Cruz Language: Russian Start time: 22:00 Ticket price: 13-14 Lari

GEORGIAN NATIONAL MUSEUM SIMON JANASHIA MUSEUM Address: 4 Rustaveli Ave. Telephone: 2 99 80 22, 2 93 48 21

RUSTAVELI CINEMA Address: 5 Rustaveli Ave. Telephone: 2 55 50 00 Every Wednesday ticket price: 5 Lari DIRTY GRANDPA Directed by Dan Mazer Cast: Robert De Niro, Zac Efron, Zoey Deutch Genre: Comedy Language: Russian Start time: 14:45, 17:15 Ticket price: 9-11 Lari THE FINEST HOURS Directed by Craig Gillespie Cast: Chris Pine, Holliday Grainger, Casey Affleck Genre: Action, Drama, History Language: Russian Start time: 12:00 Ticket price: 9-11 Lari PRIDE AND PREJUDICE AND ZOMBIES Directed by Burr Steers Cast: Lily James, Sam Riley, Jack Huston Genre: Action, Horror, Romance Language: Russian Start time: 14:45, 17:15, 19:45, 22:15 Ticket price: 9-14 Lari




February 22-28 EXHIBITION DEDICATED TO THE 40TH ANNIVERSARY OF GEORGIAN ARTIST GIGA DATUASHVILI GALLERY “VANDA” Address: D. Chonkadze str. #14 (Sololaki) Telephone: 2 93 42 86 Gallery works daily, 12:00 – 19:00 February 13-26 UKRAINIAN ARTIST, MATVEY VAISBERG’S SOLO EXHIBITION “BESTIARY” A showcase of his famous series of animalistic paintings MACHABELI 17 Address: 17 Machabeli Str. February 20 – March 5 EREKLE KIPAROIDZE’S ART EXHIBITION THREADS MUSIC

ART-CAFE HOME Address: 13 Betlemi Str. Telephone: 599 70 80 79 February 19 ART-CAFE HOME - TROTSKY Boogie Woogie Pre-Club Bar Gacha Bakradze Start time: 21:00 Ticket price: 5 Lari Face/Age Control February 20 ART-CAFE HOME - GIO SHENGELIA Boogie Woogie Pre-Club Bar Xvicha/Toka Kakabadze, Warm up: Germai Start time: 21:00 Ticket price: 5 Lari Face/Age Control



Music’s Biggest Night – Winners, Performances, Ratings BY BEQA KIRTAVA


issed this year’s Grammys? Well, so did a lot of people, (24.95 million viewers tuned in, which is a 9.4% decline compared to last year and the lowest number since 2009) but do not worry for a second, because we are here to fill you in on all the most important moments of the event. Starting with the winners, Kendrick Lamar tops the list this year with 5 wins (Best Rap Album, Best Rap/Sung Collaboration, Best Rap Song, Best Rap Performance and Best Music Video), followed by Alabama Shakes with 4 (Best Rock Performance, Best Alternative Music Album, Best Rock Song and Best Engineered Album/Non Classical). As for the main categories, Taylor Swift took home the trophy for Album of the Year (for “1989”), becoming the first female artist to be crowned the winner is that category twice. Mark Ronson and Bruno Mars’ “Uptown Funk” was chosen as the Record of the Year, while Ed Sheeran and Amy Wadge were victorious in the Song of the Year category for “Thinking Out Loud”. Lastly, Meghan Trainor, who took the charts by storm with her hit single “All About that Bass,” was named the Best New Artist. Moving on to the show itself, this year’s Grammys featured a live performance from Broadway for the very first time… And it was fantastic! Hamilton Cast lived up to the expectations of both the audience and the critics, becoming one of the most talked-about moments of the evening. Both the B. B. King (Chris Stapleton, Bonnie Raitt and Gary Clark Jr.) and David Bowie (Lady Gaga) tributes also earned high praise, while Taylor Swift’s opening number was called “flawless” by Billboard’s Joe Lynch. Other

Georgian Quality Prevails in Portugal as Flawless Start Continues


highlights included the all-star Lionel Richie (John Legend, Demi Lovato, Meghan Trainor, Luke Bryan, Tyrese & Richie) tribute, Alabama Shakes’ performance of “Alexander Hamilton,” and an Andra Day/Ellie Goulding collaboration, however, none of the aforementioned performances were lauded as much as Kendrick Lamar’s. The 28 year old rapper closed the 58th Grammy Awards



Commercial Director: Iva Merabishvili Marketing Manager: Mako Burduli




Bruno Mars accepting the Grammy award for Record of the Year/© Getty Images


Editor-In-Chief: Katie Ruth Davies

with a spectacular number, which will undoubtedly go down in history. Overall, the 2016 edition of Grammy Awards was met with mildly positive reviews from critics, with praise focused on the performances and the criticism – on the ceremonial part of the telecast. You can check out the full list of winners on

Journalists: Tony Hanmer, Tamar Svanidze, Zviad Adzinbaia, Beqa Kirtava, Meri Taliashvili, Eka Karsaulidze, Zaza Jgharkava, Maka Bibilashvili, Nina Ioseliani, Karen Tovmasyan, Dimitri Dolaberidze, Maka Lomadze, Tim Ogden, Ana Akhalaia, Robert Isaf, Joseph Larsen, Will Cathcart, Vazha Tavberidze, Nugzar B. Ruhadze


eorgia kept up their 100% start to 2016 with a welldeserved 29-3 success over Portugal in lashing rain and strong winds in Lisbon on February 13. The return of full-back Merab Kvirikashvili and center Merab Sharikadze proved influential with both experienced campaigners scoring tries in a more comfortable win than had been expected. Known as tricky opponents, particularly after last year’s clash in Tbilisi where Georgia struggled to a 20-15 victory, the Portuguese were never likely to be underestimated. Indeed, the first half-hour saw Portugal demonstrate their credentials as capable opposition, with Georgia limited to a Merab Kvirikashvili penalty in the 20th minute which was almost immediately cancelled out by the boot of Portuguese wing Nuno Sousa Guedes. However, with the score level at 3-3, some ill-discipline in the scrum from Portugal prop Bruno Rocha yielded a yellow card from Welsh referee Ian Davies in the 32nd minute, which proved a pivotal moment. The Georgians took immediate advantage of their numerical superiority as number eight Lasha Lomidze clutched a lineout allowing Georgia’s ferocious pack to drive tens of meters toward the Portugal line, before Giorgi Tkhilaishvili dropped down for an anxiety-relieving opening score. The TV viewers then got a fuller understanding of the wild weather in which the game was being played as Kvirikashvili’s conversion attempt was swallowed up and spat back out by a

Photographer: Zviad Nikolaishvili Layout: Misha Mchedlishvili Webmaster: Sergey Gevenov Circulation Managers: David Kerdikashvili, David Djandjgava

powerful gale, meters shy of the posts. Undeterred, the full-back would notch a try before half-time after a superb run and dummy from rising star Vasil Lobjanidze. Kvirikashvili got the better of the wind this time, adding the conversion to ensure that Georgia ended the half with a 15-3 lead. Though the opening 30 minutes had been competitive, Georgia’s superior quality had started to show and this continued shortly after the restart as the visitors scored a third try. After lock Giorgi Nemsadze had been denied centimeters short of the Portugal line, he fed Zurab Zhvania who powered his way over to give Georgia a 20-3 advantage. The leading margin was swiftly added to by the boot of Kvirikiashvili, now backed by that fierce wind. Only three minutes of the second-half has passed and the Portuguese would have been entitled to fear a humbling reverse at this point. However, the Lelos would only add one more try to their tally, thereby ensuring a bonus point, as in the 65th minute Sandro Todua embarked on a strong run before setting up the returning Sharikadze to touch down for the try of the game, duly converted by the now composed Kvirikashvili. Georgia is now preparing for the visit of Spain to Tbilisi on February 27, and the Lelos can expect a testing encounter against an improving Spanish side. Spain have lost very narrowly to Russia and Romania in their two matches so far this year, securing two defensive bonus points in the process. The match takes place at Mikheil Meskhi Stadium in Vake, at 5pm on Saturday 27 February. Tickets can be purchased online at or from the ticket booths at the stadium.


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Profile for Georgia Today

Issue #819  

Feb. 19 - 22, 2016

Issue #819  

Feb. 19 - 22, 2016