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Issue no: 1093

• OCTOBER 19 - 22, 2018

• PUBLISHED TWICE WEEKLY

In this week’s issue...

FOCUS

Georgian Products to be Exhibited in Paris

ON FRANKFURT

We look at the success of Georgia in Germany

PRICE: GEL 2.50

NEWS PAGE 3

The Monroe Doctrine: Modernity in Multiple Idioms

PAGE 16

POLITICS PAGE 4

Rising Tensions: PM Unhappy with President Attending Gov’t Meeting POLITICS PAGE 5

Japan-Georgia Business Conference Promotes Business Cooperation

Georgia Improves Position in Global Competitiveness Report 2018 BY THEA MORRISON

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eorgia has advanced its position by one point and is ranked 66th among the world’s 140 economies assessed in the Global Competitiveness Report 2018, an annual report published by the World Economic Forum. The report maps the competitiveness of 140 economies through 98 indicators organized into 12 pillars. For each indicator, using a scale from 0 to 100, it indicates how close an economy is to the ideal state or frontier of competitiveness. When combining these factors, Georgia has 60.9 points, improving its position by one point and preceding such countries as Ukraine, Moldova, Croatia, Albania and Montenegro. Of the regional states, Georgia is ahead of Azerbaijan (60 points) and Armenia (59.9) but comes after Turkey (61.6) and the Russian Federation (65.6 points). According to authors of the research, Georgia is the leader in the Eurasia region with respect to transparency. As for the best ten economies, the United States is the closest economy to the frontier of obtaining the perfect score on every component of the

Image source: The Guardian

index. With a competitiveness score of 85.6, it is 14 points away from the frontier mark of 100, implying that even the top-ranked economy among the 140 has room for improvement. It is followed by Singapore (83.5) and Germany (82.8). Switzerland (82.6) comes in at 4th place, followed by Japan (82.5), Netherlands (82.4), and Hong Kong SAR (82.3). The United Kingdom (82.0), Sweden (81.7) and Denmark (80.6) round out the top ten countries listed in the report.

Ekaterine Mikabadze, Deputy Minister of Economy and Sustainable Development of Georgia, says while creating a Global Competitiveness Index, the World Economic Forum uses business survey methodology. Therefore, it is important that the report relies not only on information about beginning and operating a business... but also on the right to privacy and safety. She noted significant improvements were observed in the 2018 ranking, in particular the 12 ratings Georgia has improved scores in, in eight directions. “It is noteworthy that Georgia has one of the highest ratings in terms of safety and it is on the 29th position among the 140 countries with 86.3 points. This direction comprises four components and Georgia's scores have improved in all four directions,” she said. Business Ombudsman Irakli Lekvinadze said that Georgia's advanced position in the rating indicates the country's growth in competitiveness. “The main priority that Georgia has in comparison with the other regional states is low bureaucracy and low taxes. Free trade agreements with the European Union, China and other countries give Georgia a significant advantage in the doing business process,” he said.

BUSINESS PAGE 9

MenCare Georgia Presented at Frankfurt International Book Fair SOCIETY PAGE 11

GIFT Festival Opens in Tbilisi

CULTURE PAGE 19


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NEWS

GEORGIA TODAY

OCTOBER 19 - 22, 2018

Amendments to Be Made to Tobacco Control Law BY THEA MORRISON

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he Health and Social Affairs Committee of the Parliament of Georgia is discussing amendments to the Law on Tobacco Control. The changes were presented by the Head of the Committee, Akaki Zoidze and envisage softening strict regulations on the territories of higher education, professional, medical and pharmaceutical institutions. However, the bill envisages creation of special smoking spots on such territories which should not exceed three. Within the changes, smoking will be possible during performances in theaters, when an actor is performing the role of a smoker. According to the draft law, Article 10 will be added a new sub-paragraph, to which srmoking will also be allowed in the salons of gambling establishments that pay the permit fee for arrangement of no less than GEL 200,000. Zoidze says the amendments do not change the principles of the law and the introduction of soft norms is not planned in future. "This is the last change of this law, which will ease certain approaches. The future changes will only be tougher and we hope society will support us in this regard,� he said.

Smoking of tobacco, including electronic cigarettes and hookah, has beenprohibited since May 1, 2018 in all enclosed areas, with the exception of houses, psychiatric clinics, penitentiary facilities and casinos. Smoking of cigars is only allowed in

cigar-bars where food products are not sold. A special license is necessary to open such a bar. In the first instance of violation, institutions are being fined GEL 500. In case of repeated violation, the fine goes up to GEL 1000. Individuals who break the

law can expect a GEL 50 fine and, in case of repeated violation, the fine will be doubled. Smoking in air, sea or land public transport also carries a penalty. The driver of the transport is to be fined 500 GEL, and if repeated, this will be doubled. How-

ever, if an individual person smokes on land public transport, the violator is to be fined 100 GEL. For violation of rules in air or rail transport, the violator is to be fined 50 GEL, which will be doubled in case of repeat violation.


NEWS

GEORGIA TODAY OCTOBER 19 - 22, 2018

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Georgian Products to be Exhibited in Paris

Buses May Be White or Green BY THEA MORRISON

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bilisi Mayor Kakha Kaladze says that society will be able to choose the color of new buses which will be brought into the capital by the end of the year. As Kaladze noted in late August, the new transport policy of the capital envisages increasing the number of new buses to 220 by the end of this year. He also vowed that by the end of 2019, Tbilisi will have around 550 new blue buses.

"I think that because the government’s green policy and ecology are one of the most important issues, public transport should be green. Maybe two colors, green and white. The involvement of society in this regard is very important,” he said. The Mayor explained that on October 19 he leaves for Munich, where he will choose the new design of buses. “Our city and the population deserve to chose the color of the buses we buy," Kaladze said from the MAN factory in Tbilisi. At present there are 143 new blue buses in Tbilisi. The remainder are old yellow

buses which need to be replaced due to the failure of the exhaust system. Using such buses is not allowed by Georgian legislation. Mamuka Mumladze, Head of Transport Department of Tbilisi City Hall stated at a press conference on October 18, that up to 200 minibuses and about 100 buses are not running due to a failure to undergo technical inspection. He says at present there are 105 lines for buses and 190 minibus lines in the capital for 1800 minibuses and 540 buses, and noted the number of minibuses might be reduced when more new, MAN buses are brought to Tbilisi.

BY ANNA ZHVANIA

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ith the support of the Ministry of Economy and Sustainable Development’s Agency Enterprise Georgia, and with the help of the UN International Trade Center, 18 Georgian companies will be able to exhibit food and drinks at SIAL Paris 2018.

SIAL Paris 2018, held on 21-25 October, is the largest food trade fair in Europe. With over 150,000 annual visitors, it gathers more than 7,000 food and beverage producers worldwide, across 109 countries. Companies will be able to exhibit a wide variety of fruit and vegetable juices, lemonade, beef, tea and nuts. In 2016, the exhibition was successful for Georgian companies, where 12 producers signed contracts amounting to more than $2 mln.


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POLITICS

GEORGIA TODAY

OCTOBER 19 - 22, 2018

The Monroe Doctrine: Modernity in Multiple Idioms BY VICTOR KIPIANI

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mong the thousands and thousands of well-written books about the undying fallacy of man’s fight to rule, subjugate and dominate, Peter Frankopan’s The Silk Roads: A New History of the World is another brilliant account of bloodshed, suffering, famine and destruction driven by the quest to conquer and dominate lands and people—initially through inter-tribal warfare, and later through international politics, commerce and culture. The first conclusion of a close examination of books such as this is that, although our era seems to be replete with rocket science and high-tech innovation, we continue to be driven by our basic instincts to extend our influence over new regions beyond our national borders, anchoring all-embracing interests and scrutinizing matters by ‘looking from outside world to the inside’. This global urge to further national interests by wielding various unilateral (and frequently blunt) tools in ‘hard’ and ‘soft’ exercises of power has always been cloaked in a variety of fancy geopolitical concepts—but very few of these have been applied as persistently and irresistibly throughout the history of humanity as those that focus upon geography-driven consequences. The basic instincts of ‘making the world to go round’ therefore remain as powerful as ever. This brings us to re-examine the Monroe Doctrine, heavily marked as it is by the urge to delineate, by force or persuasion, lands that ‘belong to us’ and that may not be crossed by others without our approval.

THE MONROE DOCTRINE: REHEARSING FOR THE SAKE OF ORDER In very basic terms, the Monroe Doctrine is about using all the political, economic and military capabilities at one’s disposal to create a favourable security environment in a given territory and to drive unwelcome powers out and keep them away. Essentially, the doctrine and its iterations are aimed at accepting someone's hegemony over a specific territory. Yet besides the ‘benevolent’ nature of such hegemony, which is now widely criticized by those in favour of revising international law, a less critical view of ‘drawing lines in the sand’ holds that, if anything, it helps to reign in rivalry in contested areas of the world, to avoid armed conflict and to preserve a semblance of order. The modern Monroe Doctrine can easily be attributed to the repeated aftershocks of the post-Cold War era and to profound shifts in the global security system. The fact that the doctrine’s facade is constantly renovated is also due to the fact that international law is unable to effectively address the challenges and answer the clamours of our deeply fragmented world. The origins of the doctrine, whose advocates called for the international system to be updated in order to reflect new geopolitical realities, were already discernible at the outbreak of the War of 1812 that opposed the United States and the United Kingdom, but the doctrine itself only took shape in 1832, when U.S. President James Monroe declared during an annual message to Congress that the American continents were off-limits for foreign colonisation. Practically speaking, however, the doctrine warned European powers not to attempt to influence the balance of power in the countries of the vast area surrounding the United States, and not to resist ‘the divinely ordained spread of principles of liberty’ therein. This theory of hegemony and zones of influence has undergone a series of transformations. Some of these (e.g. the Roosevelt Corollary in support of ‘inter-

Image source: sites.google.com/site/delpriorenow

vening pre-emptively’ when needed, or Woodrow Wilson’s notion of ‘America as the World's Conscience’) were the result of policies adopted by various American governments, whereas others were dictated by the devastating effects of the two world wars, the enduring legacy of the Cold War and the great ambivalence of our current ‘World Order 2.0’. The latter issue is perhaps the most pressing, as it is steadily upending the equilibrium we all knew and tilting the balance of power towards chaos and conflict. More interestingly, this process is usually driven in one way or another by the powerful combination of policy-making and territorial gain or geographical dominance—and all this, in turn, forces us to reinterpret the Monroe Doctrine according to different circumstances and priorities. To rephrase Theodore Roosevelt's proverb, let us focus a bit on how various states are currently using this approach to ‘speak softly’ (does it?) while ‘carrying a big stick’ in different regions of the globe.

MODERN "MONROEANS" (IN A SENSE) In our era, too, the Monroe Doctrine continues to be popular—under different names and policy concepts, of course. Its longevity and renewed impetus are, however, largely due to the ‘moment of truth’ in global politics in terms of who will set the rules of the global order in this century. The number of actors claiming to contribute (mostly on a regional scale) is limited, but the ones buckling themselves into the front seats of the new global ‘coming soon’ security logarithm are undoubtedly the U.S. and China. Both are currently engaged in a blossoming trade war (luckily just ‘trade’ for the time being), but China’s assertive revisionism is beginning to chip away at America’s historically preordained hegemonic geography, knocking off small pieces here and there but also some relatively big chunks. The Annual Report to Congress on Military and Security Developments Involving the PRC in 2018 characterises China's policies in the initial two decades of the 21st century as a ‘period of strategic opportunity’ leading to the expansion of Beijing’s ‘comprehensive national power’. Currently, this comprehensiveness is arguably uncontested (or still insufficiently deterred) in China’s regional maritime outposts in the Spratly Islands, but those in favour of increasing Chinese clout within the framework of a national Monroe Doctrine are extending their claims to the South China Sea and maintaining the

country’s presence in the Senkaku Islands. June 2017 saw a heightened military standoff between China and India over plans to extend a road in territory disputed with Bhutan near the Indian border, not to mention the constant tension with Taiwan which is one of the conceptual premises of President Xi's ‘dream of national rejuvenation’. All in all, the Chinese Communist Party does not shy away from using coercive measures (both military and non-military) to further its interests in the region and weaken opposition from other countries—an approach which clearly corresponds to the gist of the Monroe Doctrine, albeit with a Chinese accent—and Beijing’s increasing assertiveness is even stronger in regions far beyond the borders of mainland China. That said, one should not draw too many parallels between the policies China pursues vis-à-vis her littoral neighbours and those she pursues within the framework of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI): the latter is quite a different scenario in which China's aim is to leverage her growing dominance by aligning the interests of BRI countries with her own and mitigating confrontation or criticism of her approach to a variety of sensitive issues. The BRI’s various policies may not, however, appear as soothing to various critics in the West or Russia—which is hardly surprising when one considers the fact that the ‘comprehensiveness’ of Chinese national power along the BRI’s path is not due to the economic dependence of various countries, but instead to Beijing potentially requiring access to selected foreign ports in order to pre-position logistical facilities and support. Such logistics are vital to China’s ability to perform longrange naval operations in order to safeguard the routes along which she imports her energy. In August 2017, for example, China officially opened her first overseas military base in Djibouti. Regardless of official statements on entrenchment being the lodestar of U.S. foreign policy under Obama, and on the extreme selectiveness of U.S. engagement abroad under Trump (‘America First’), there is no doubt that America, as Stephen M. Walt shrewdly pointed out, is still ‘the 800-pound gorilla in the international system’. We quite agree, but would also add that Washington will most likely enjoy this unique position for decades to come thanks to America’s potent economic and military resources, as well as to the legacy of Woodrow Wilson’s liberal interpretation of the Monroe Doctrine— intervening whenever necessary to ‘make

the world safe for democracy’ while having neither ‘selfish ends to serve’ nor the desire to conquer and dominate (‘we are but one of the champions of the rights of mankind’). This new diplomacy was further deepened during the Second World War and its aftermath, making it much harder for the current administration (and subsequent ones) to successfully disentangle the country from acting as ‘the world's policeman’. And besides, even if America’s military and diplomatic retreat is maintained (which is hardly achievable and contradicted by many examples, even under the Trump presidency), there is a further element of the existing world order which is impossible to discard: U.S. dominance of the global economy. Even if Washington abandons its status of an ‘indispensable nation’ and continues to pursue the goal of ‘offshore balancing’ (i.e. relying on local allies and using its own forces as a last resort), the fractures this would cause to the global security architecture would be compensated to varying degrees and limits. We have already extensively discussed Russia’s stance, acting at loggerheads with her rivals, in some previous articles. Briefly, Moscow draws the lines of its own ‘benevolent hegemony’ first and foremost in Eurasia, a vast area in which Russia's zero-sum game is driven by a plethora of standalone or combined options—from direct and undisguised military coercion (Abkhazia, South Ossetia, Crimea) to ‘collective’ political (e.g. CIS) and security (e.g. CSTO) initiatives, even unto hybrid wars (Donbass). Russia’s ‘Monroean’ strategy is naturally more vivid close to her borders (the Kremlin’s ‘near neighbourhood’) than in regions further afield (e.g. Syria), where interventions mainly serve to demonstrate or acquire ‘influence’ over world affairs. Yet when speaking of such influence, it is also worth remembering that merely possessing it without knowing how to wield it is not always necessarily a force for good. Intervention is often no more than a means of seeking ‘recognition’. Given Russia’s economic and demographic problems, the country can be no more than a ‘near peer’ to the West—but being a ‘peer’ requires achieving a state of normalcy, a notion which Moscow finds hard to grasp internally. In any case, while the U.S. still have allies, Russia and the like merely have clients and scared neighbours, and Russian Monroe-style policies, although broad in statement, are (thankfully) restricted to adjacent territories in practice. As we mentioned, the scope of this

short article is restricted to those states that are writing the global rulebook. This does not mean that others do not contribute to the process, but their input is largely limited to a purely regional context (e.g. Japan and China in the East China Sea, or Saudi Arabia vs. Iran in the Gulf) or acts as a conduit for the interests of their allies (e.g. India and the US vs. China), and only major international shifts could give their voices a truly global significance.

GEORGIA VS. THE RISE OF GREAT RIVALRIES Georgia has unquestionably held its course tenaciously over the past two decades. This course essentially reflects our stated foreign policy priorities and efforts to increase the transparency and accountability of our domestic political system, which is in turn based upon a truly open, competitive and inclusive economy. Grand global rivalries are on the rise nowadays, and there are no signs that this trend will abate any time soon. This poses a critical question in terms of Georgia's positioning within the expanding network of modern Monroe admirers: in a nutshell, how can the country make sure it is in the right place, ensuring it is at the confluence of favourable circumstances and will not be ‘run over’? This requires greater security. What is becoming obvious (although may still be disputed by some) is that strategic complacency and an appearance of idleness are detrimental to national security. Georgia must capitalize upon developments in the region and beyond—particularly given the advances made by certain major powers fuelled by expansionist and revisionist polices. One of these major developments is NATO’s shift towards the Black Sea region, as expressed in the Brussels Summit Declaration and the NATO-Georgia Commission Declaration referring to various instruments for closer co-operation. Another possible arena in which Georgia’s rapprochement with the Alliance could be accelerated is the Middle East, a region in which the country could play a much more important role: compared to its neighbours, whose foreign policies have been hard to comprehend over the past few years, Tbilisi offers its allies a much more reliable anchor in the neighbourhood. All things considered, the way the international winds and gales are blowing makes it hard to foresee the future chapters of our world, but it is Georgia’s duty to ensure that the country maintains its presence on the international stage.


POLITICS

GEORGIA TODAY OCTOBER 19 - 22, 2018

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Rising Tensions: PM Unhappy with President Attending Gov’t Meeting BY THEA MORRISON

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eorgian President Giorgi Margvelashvili’s address to the PM to hold the governmental meeting and discuss the most important issues of the country with his participation has led to a disagreement between the two institutions, following an accusation that the human rights situation has worsened under this government. “We are ready for the meeting, but the topics for the government meetings are specifically regulated. The administration of the Government of Georgia will release a statement about this,” Bakhtadze said, adding it is categorically unacceptable for the President to compare the human rights situation under the current and the previous governments. The President’s Parliamentary Secretary Ana Natsvlishvili stated that she sent a relevant letter to the administration of the Government of Georgia, requesting the President’s participation in the upcoming government meeting. Natia Mikeladze, the Parliamentary Secretary of the Government, said the Prime Minister is ready to convene a meeting of the Cabinet of Ministers if the President personally addresses him and not the President’s Parliamentary Secretary. “The Governmental Administration has not refused to allow the President to attend the meeting. If Margvelashvili sends the letter to us himself, we will discuss the issue,” Mikeladze stated. The President’s Parliamentary Secretary says the reply of the PM’s Admin-

istration is “irresponsible” as it makes no difference whether the President addresses the PM himself or through his secretary. “The answer we got from the Governmental Administration means they do not want to discuss the grave situation which our country is in at present,” Natsvlishvili stressed. She said not allowing the President to attend the cabinet session is a violation of the Georgian Constitution. Presidential candidates claim the action of the Governmental Administration is a breach of the Georgian Constitution Article 78, which allows the President to attend governmental sittings if necessary. The United Opposition’s presidential candidate, Grigol Vashadze, believes that snap elections in the country are necessary to “get rid of a government that violates the country’s constitution.” Candidate of the parliamentary minority European Georgia, David Bakradze, also has the same position. “The PM does not realize how serious the situation in the country is. He rejects dialogue and refuses to discuss the issues which are at the center of society’s attention,” Bakradze noted. Former Parliament Speaker and presidential candidate David Bakradze says the pre-election environment in the country resembles “fighting without rules.” “I call on the government to accept the President’s offer and hold the meeting. They should discuss the issue of early parliamentary elections, which is the only way out of the existing political crisis,” he stressed. Analysts and constitutionalists say if the government does not give access for

Photo Source: Georgian Journal

Margvelashvili to attend the sitting, it will be a gross violation of the Constitution and may serve as ground for the PM’s impeachment.

“At the next session of the cabinet, the PM should put the President’s issue on the agenda and let him participate in the meeting. If he does not do so, he will

violate the Constitution, which might serve as a reason for his impeachment,” Vakhushti Menabde, Constitution Specialist stated.


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POLITICS

GEORGIA TODAY

OCTOBER 19 - 22, 2018

Georgia’s Western Path is Unlikely to Change OP-ED BY EMIL AVDALIANI

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eorgia’s geographic position makes it one of the focal points in the struggle over the borderland region between Russia and the West. Georgia’s history and especially the country’s foreign policy over the past 25 years or so has been intricately related to this struggle, where NATO/EU aspirations are central. The strategic change came to Georgia after the 2003 "Rose revolution" when the Georgian government became openly pro-Western by declaring its course on Euro-Atlantic integration. Close partnership was forged with the United States. Military as well as economic support gradually increased, culminating in 2009 when Georgia and the US signed a Charter on Strategic Partnership. Although Georgia's bid to get a Membership Action Plan was rejected in April 2008 at the Bucharest NATO summit, the Alliance declared that Georgia, along with Ukraine, would eventually become members of NATO. Russia was nervously watching Georgia’s progress, while, at the same time, Ukraine too experienced upheaval: the Orange Revolution. Moscow had to act and chose to move by ratcheting up tensions in Samachablo (so-called South Ossetia), one of Georgia regions which claims independence from Tbilisi. This resulted in the war of 2008 between Russia and Georgia and subsequent recognition of the independence of Abkhazia and so-called South Ossetia, followed by the deployment of military bases there. After the 2008 war with Russia, the NATO-Georgia Commission was established, and Annual National Programs were developed under the auspices of the Commission. At the NATO Wales summit, leaders endorsed the Substantial NATO-Georgia Package to help Georgia in its efforts to improve its defense capabilities. Thus, relations with Russia within the existing geopolitical frame, with Georgia moving towards Western institutions, remained strained. The new government of Georgia which came into power after the October 2012 Parliamentary elections, has also made efforts to further increase its NATO/EU bids. However, what has been different this time is the willingness to build better relations with Russia. The Russian

government also made some steps towards normalization. In 2013, Georgian wines were allowed to reenter the Russian market, and in May 2014, Russia opened its market for Georgian fruits and vegetables. In November 2012, the Georgian Prime Minister appointed a special envoy for relations with Russia. Bilateral consultations with the Russian deputy foreign minister were launched to discuss problematic issues. Nevertheless, beyond these initial diplomatic and commercial steps, there was no willingness on either side to concede their respective geopolitical agendas. Moscow refused to loosen its grip on the breakaway territories, while Georgia only strengthened its pro-western aspirations.

GEORGIA AND THE WEST: THE RUSSIAN VIEW Georgia’s western drive is very much a part of current Georgian-Russian relations. Indeed, over the past several years, there have been plenty of discussions going on in analytical and political circles in Georgia on how far normalization could go between Russia and Georgia. Many believed that economic activity could be perceived as an initial step towards gradual rapprochement. However, when compared with the geopolitical constraints hindering any improvement, it is clear that Moscow and Tbilisi share some fundamental differences in foreign policy. Georgia’s intention to integrate into the EU and NATO goes against Russian interests. I have written before that for Russia, Georgia’s NATO aspirations are problematic, but integration into the EU is far more crucial and long-term for Russian decision-makers. Russians fear that there is a definite shift among the Georgians towards the benefits of the European economy, education and military capabilities. Tbilisi and Moscow might sincerely wish to improve bilateral relations, and there are reasons for this. The resolution of

security issues in light of terrorist activities in the region would benefit both countries. Economic prospects, as noted in the beginning, too might drive the countries to work more closely. Russia’s geographic proximity to Georgia forces the latter into economic relations. Moreover, the non-existence of diplomatic relations as well as fundamental differences regarding Abkhazia and Samachablo does not stop the Georgian government from creating closer economic contacts with Russian businesses. However, beyond that, it gets difficult to ascertain any additional factors for potential cooperation. Russia’s military strategy does not have any room for Georgia’s NATO/EU integration. Moscow wants Tbilisi to reverse the course of its foreign policy, a nearly impossible task for any Georgian government as it would result in a public backlash, strong European and US reactions and wider geopolitical ramification in the region such as undermining of the natural gas corridor running from Azerbaijan to Turkey. Russia’s foreign policy in the South Caucasus is based on clear geopolitical imperatives. We deal not necessarily with the anti-Georgian government of Vladimir Putin, but rather a well-thought out strategy on the Russian part as to

how to effectively project its military power into the region. This would also mean that any new government in Moscow would very unlikely to cause a change in Russian foreign policy towards the South Caucasus. It is in Russia’s vital interests to keep Georgia at least unstable. On the opposite side, the loss of Georgia to the West would mean a rapid decrease of Russian power, with much wider ramifications for the entire former Soviet space. “Russia-free” Georgia is a nightmare for Moscow, as the Kremlin would then be less able to pressure Azerbaijan on export routes. Moreover, the Caspian energy corridor would again see its relevance and Central Asian gas could reach Europe. On a much larger geopolitical scale, it could be argued that Georgia is pursuing a clever strategy of positioning itself not as an anti-Russian state, but also not abandoning its pro-western course. The ideal scenario for Tbilisi would be when all the neighboring countries have a stake in the security of Georgia. Large players, such as China with its Belt and Road Initiative, the EU, Russia, the US and others involved in the economics of the country might create a certain geopolitical balance in the region.

Overall, it could be argued that Georgia is pursuing a clever strategy of positioning itself not as an entirely antiRussian state, but at the same time also not abandoning its pro-western course. From a historical perspective, the Georgians nowadays are doing what they were accustomed to doing in earlier centuries: playing one big state against a powerful neighbor. For the Georgian mind, the geopolitical challenges emanating from Russia are similar to what was seen with the Byzantines, Sasanians or later on Ottomans and Persians. Back then, the Georgians played one against the other. Tbilisi’s strategy has worked so far, as nowadays, although militarily strong, Russia is constrained in its actions by the US and European influence in Georgia. At the same time, when pondering the future of Russo-Georgian relations, one might think that whatever limited cooperation Russia and Georgia have, it will not mean a rosy picture for the future of Russia-Georgia relations. Moscow is very unlikely to give up on its policy towards Samachablo and Abkhazia, while Tbilisi will remain principled towards its territorial integrity.

Fascist Greeting Given in Court BY SHAWN WAYNE

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Photo: Palitra News

embers of the NeoNazi group National Unity of Georgia and their leader, Giorgi Chelidze, greeted each other in the hall of the Tbilisi City Court with a show of their right arm, as was done in Nazi Germany. Chelidze was detained on September 1 on charges of illegally acquiring, storing and carrying firearms. When Chelidze entered the hall he shouted “Victory” loudly several times, raising

his right hand, and his colleagues in the hall stood up raisied their hands, and answered: “Glory!” Chelidze then sat peacefully in the dock and listened to the judge. On Wednesday, Chelidze also claimed that a team of 16 lawyers will defend him, stating that he believes he was illegally detained. Chelidze was detained after the publication on Facebook of two videos called “Fascist Sunday”. On one of them it was shown how members of the fascist movement conditionally sweep buildings, and on the second they demonstrate the basics of automatic firing.


POLITICS

GEORGIA TODAY OCTOBER 19 - 22, 2018

7

Ambassador Fournier on the August War, Part II EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW BY VAZHA TAVBERIDZE

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ric Fournier, former French Ambassador to Georgia, was, as he himself admits, an unconventional diplomat in some ways. GEORGIA TODAY and Realpolitik Talk Show spoke to him in an exclusive interview that went viral in Georgian media. “When the August 7 attack took place, I was in France, and I was immediately called back by the Ministry for an urgent meeting with Bernard Kouchner in Paris; and that’s when we decided to react, first of all because France had the presidency of the EU, and secondly because my minister and myself thought that we could not do nothing while this conflict was ongoing. I went back to Georgia to help prepare the first draft for a ceasefire waiting for Kouchner’s arrival. He came on August 10 with the OSCE president, Alexander Stubb, from Finland. We presented our ceasefire agreement to President Saakashvili on the evening of August 10.”

TELL US ABOUT THAT CEASEFIRE PLAN. There was a proposal on the table, and President Saakashvili roughly accepted the document that we decided to send to President Sarkozy, who was preparing his trip to Moscow for the next morning on the 11th. Kouchner and myself took my car to Gori see what was going on. We were very affected by what we saw: there was a burning building with ladies crying in front of it, and a lot of tension in the city. It was a very intense moment, and the security of President Saakashvili were nervous because they said there were indications there could be new air strikes, but along with Minister Kouchner we decided to stay. We visited the hospital, where there were many injured people, civilians and soldiers alike, and we spent around half an hour there talking to doctors and injured people.

HOW SUCCESSFUL DO YOU THINK THE CEASEFIRE PLAN WAS? IT STOPPED THE IMMEDIATE HOSTILITIES, BUT HOW SUCCESSFUL WAS IT ON A GRAND SCALE CONSIDERING THE CRITICISM IT RECEIVED? Well, if you can quote any ceasefire plan in world

history which was a success for both sides I would be glad to know; to my knowledge as a diplomat, every ceasefire, every diplomatic document, is a compromise between a bad and an even worse solution. You can take the Versailles Treaty of 1920, you can take any ceasefire: it has always generated frustration. The question is how high the level of frustration you can accept is. In this case, to get such a result after five days is something that can be considered as exceptional, because we stopped the war in five days. Sometimes matters drag on for years, four years in Yugoslavia, 14 years in Afghanistan, and it's still not over, and I can bring up many other wars which were not stopped in a satisfactory fashion. With the Georgian conflict there was no more shooting; of course it's not a perfect agreement because the consequence of this attack pushed the Abkhazian local authorities and the South Ossetians to request some kind of stronger protection from Russia, and then this protection was given to them in the form of Russia recognizing their independence.

RUSSIAN FORCES REMAIN, AND THEIR POSITIONS HAVE SINCE ADVANCED. THEY DID NOT RETURN TO THE ORIGINAL PRE-WAR POSITION AS PER THE AGREEMENT, RESULTING IN THE LOSS OF ADDITIONAL LAND. THIS WAS NOT FORESEEN BY THE CEASEFIRE PLAN Yes, that’s true. The independence given to South Ossetia and Abkhazia by Russia at that time was followed by a bilateral agreement made after August 26. The loss of control on those territories is a serious setback for international law.

DO YOU THINK THERE WAS ANYTHING FRANCE COULD HAVE DONE TO EXERT MORE PRESSURE ON RUSSIA TO STICK TO THE POINTS AGREED IN THE CEASEFIRE AGREEMENT? I can feel the frustration in your question, but let me remind you that on August 12, when there was an agreement for a ceasefire, there was a feeling of relief, not only in Georgia but all over the world. People were glad the war had ended, that refugees could get financial support, that the European Commission had decided to dedicate an extremely large amount of money to build solid housing for those refugees – this was a relief for everyone; so yes we

can always say France did not do enough, but I don't hear many people criticizing us for what we did; on the contrary, I think it is largely considered a successful negotiation.

THERE WAS A HUGE DEBATE ABOUT THE SALE OF MISTRALS TO RUSSIA. IN 2011 PRESIDENT SARKOZY SAID THAT THIS WOULD NOT CAUSE A DANGER TO GEORGIA BECAUSE HE AND MEDVEDEV HAD AN AGREEMENT TO THAT EFFECT Those discussions took place after I left Georgia, in the framework of bilateral discussions between France and Russia. I also think that speculation about the possible use of these boats against Georgia was exaggerated because Russian troops did not really need such a boat to come to Tskhinvali, of course, and Sokhumi even, because they were already there.

THERE ARE STILL MANY WESTERN SCHOLARS WHO SEE THE CORRELATION BETWEEN WHAT HAPPENED IN GEORGIA AND UKRAINE. DO YOU SEE THOSE LINKS? Not really, to be frank. If you look at the situation in Ukraine in 2013, we have to remember that the population of Ukraine was demonstrating against the way Mr. Yanukovych was ruling his country. It was a demonstration against corruption. So, you cannot really compare the two situations: the roots of the two conflicts are very different. Of course, you can relate them to the EU situation; their aspirations to the EU were also at stake, but from my point of view the main issue was political fatigue mong the Ukrainian population. You cannot say that about Georgia at that time; the protests in Georgia against Saakashvili started in 2007, and not for the same reasons. JOURNALIST NOTE: At the 2008 Bucharest Summit, Georgia was given a vague promise of NATO membership. The Ambassador said at the time, regarding the support of Georgia's Membership Action Plan, “it was a careful and reasonable position, and based on what happened in 2008, it was justified”. We asked him if he now thought that making a different decision at the Bucharest Summit could have prevented the war. “I cannot change a word of what I said before because it was the position of almost the whole Alliance, which was carefully considering the advantages and risks of such a decision: there’s nothing to change to my statement,” he answered. “In Bucharest, Georgia was supposed to make a move to NATO and vice versa, but it was completely unexpected that Ukraine would come into the discussion as well, and we might wonder why some people and some states decided to push Ukraine in this direction; it was absolutely not on the agenda to discuss the integration of Ukraine into NATO, and I think unfortunately this provoked Russia in a different way, and the reaction from Moscow was probably a strong reaction of irritation to Ukraine trying to join NATO.” We also offered Ambassador Fournier another of his quotes, given in an interview to a local magazine in which he was talking about the reasons the August War happened. He went as far back as the times of the First Democratic Republic and said, “we should find the reasons for the conflict back then when there were massacres against Ossetians during the first republic.” We asked him for clarification. “Simple: I happen to like history, and I read books about the history of Georgia, and I was just quoting a book, I don't remember who was the writer, but it was a Georgian historian who was describing the wars between the Ossetians and Georgians in the early 19th century, and so documented the fact that a very famous Georgian military commander did horrible things to the Ossetians and there were massacres,” he told us. “There were problems on both sides, there were fights between all the people of the Caucasus; it is well documented. I was just quoting a historian.” We pointed out that the famous commander he had mentioned was Valiko Jugheli, but to tie this to what happened in the 19one90s or in 2008 would be out of context because what happened back then was Bolshevik-initiated, and they supported and

inspired the Ossetians to fight, because they did not have any land and were fighting for a place to live, and were encouraged and supported by the rising Bolshevik forces. We also noted that the use of the term ‘massacres’ is unproven, as is the use of violence by both sides. Many mistakes were made, we told him, but what was missing from his interviews was the role of the third party that was very instrumental in this: there was no mention of the Bolsheviks, without whom there’s a huge chance that fighting would never have happened at all. “Yes you're very right, and thank you for giving the audience more details about that, but you know when you speak, you don't give a lecture on history, especially in my case; my point was just to remember, to remind them that there had been problems in the past between those two people and that it was not something completely new; of course I could have gone and said the Bolsheviks were there manipulating the local population but I was not giving a lecture on the history of Georgia.”

WOULD YOU SAY IT WAS THE JOB OF THE JOURNALIST TO PROVIDE THAT CONTEXT FOR YOUR ANSWER? No, I just wonder why this man who wrote this very critical appreciation of my comment made a big fuss about it; it was just a point en passant as we say in French, and it was not a controversial thing to say; it was just a way to recall the context of 100 years ago, and when we speak about any moment of history, we can sometimes make a reference to something which took place 200 years ago; that is not distorting history, that is making a link between things which are old and complex; there was no intention to be critical.

THE COUNTRY TOOK IT BADLY BECAUSE YOU ARE A REPRESENTATIVE OF YOUR COUNTRY AND THEY THOUGHT YOUR WORDS REPRESENTED FRANCE’S POSITION; THAT WE WERE BEING ACCUSED OF ETHNIC CLEANSING AGAINST THE OSSETIANS I don't see how anyone in Georgia could suspect me of lacking respect for your country and its people; I am probably one of the few ambassadors who demonstrated by his actions the true love he has for this country and I don't think this journalist represents the whole of Georgia.

WAS THIS AROUND THE TIME YOU BECAME SOMEWHAT MORE CRITICAL OF WHAT THE GOVERNMENT WAS DOING IN THE COUNTRY? Well, a diplomat is not critical or admiring when he serves abroad: he just analyzes the facts and reports them in full to his own government, so I had no reason to be critical or appreciative of what was going on. I was reporting the facts and at that time it's no secret there were many problems in the democratic life of Georgia: some opponents were facing problems, there was some manipulation of the facts, there was also sometimes pressure on journalists. It was a time when people were frustrated and I don't remember expressing that publicly, but sometimes yes I might have said we are concerned about some developments taking place in Georgia. This is the role of any observer of the political life of another country.

FROM TOASTING YOU AT A SUPRA AND GIVING YOU A MEDAL OF HONOR, SAAKASHVILI WENT ON TO VOICE SOME SERIOUS ALLEGATIONS AGAINST YOU. HE RECENTLY NAMED YOU “AN AMBASSADOR FOR HIRE” AND SAID YOU GAVE FORMER-PM IVANISHVILI FRENCH CITIZENSHIP AS A GIFT AND LOBBIED FOR HIM. DO THOSE ALLEGATIONS HOLD ANY TRUTH? I cannot comment on the words of an ex-president living in exile from his own country.

AND FOR MEMBERS OF GEORGIAN SOCIETY WHO WANT TO KNOW? I trust the judgment of the Georgian people.


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BUSINESS

GEORGIA TODAY

OCTOBER 19 - 22, 2018

EBRD Presents New “Trade Ready” Initiative BY SAMANTHA GUTHRIE

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n Tuesday, October 16, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) in Georgia presented a new initiative called Trade Ready. Opening the presentation at the Courtyard Marriott Hotel in Tbilisi, remarks were made by EBRD Director in the South Caucasus Bruno Balvanera, Department of Foreign Trade Policy, Ministry of Economy and Sustainable Development Mariam Gabunia, and Private Sector Development Program Officer, EU Delegation to Georgia Dominic Papenheim. Severian Gvinepadze, EBRD’s Principal Manager on Advice for Small Businesses in Georgia presented the Trade Ready initiative to attendees on Tuesday. Following the presentation, a moderated panel discussed whether Georgian SMEs are “ready for Trade Ready.” The panel featured Zviad Kvlividze, Deputy Director of Export Development at the governmental Produce in Georgia program, Koba Kharkheli, Chief Financial Officer of Khatetian Traditional Winemaking, Ana Kavtaradze, Director of the Trade Finance Department at the Bank of Georgia, Giorgi Basiladze, Managing Partner at GTEX, and Ines Rocha, Director for

Photo: EBRD

Financial Products, SME Finance and Development at the EBRD. The EBRD describes Trade Ready as a new initiative that will support small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) by increasing the availability of trade financing and business consultation opportunities. As Georgian companies grow and increasingly participate in the international trade landscape, the EBRD identifies a lack of trade financing and business consultation as the Georgian economy’s

two main challenges. The concept underlying Trade Ready is the idea that with increased access to trade financing the business consultation services will boost Georgian companies, facilitating their further development and enhance their competitiveness on international markets. The Trade Ready initiative in Georgia follows its launch in Serbia earlier this month, and EBRD plans to expand the initiative to further countries. “For Georgian companies,” says the EBRD,

“improving their competitiveness is key to win a permanent presence in international markets...The initiative offers trade finance training and traderelated business advice for SMEs, networking opportunities with local banks, as well as policy dialogue to facilitate improvements in the regulatory environment. While banks can expect to attract new clients with the introduction of new trade finance products, businesses will benefit from better access to finance and the chance to

expand to international markets.” Trade Ready is associated with the EBRD’s Trade Facilitation Programme (TFP), operating since 1999, and its Small Business Initiative. The TFP was developed to promote and facilitate international trade to, from and within the EBRD regions. In Georgia, the programs have facilitated more than 2,000 foreign trade transactions amounting to more than 1.2 billion Euros. The Trade Ready Project is funded by the European Union within the "EU4Business" program. The EU4Business website explains the program as supporting “the government's ambitious plan to reform and improve the business environment” and boosting “SME growth by improving their access to finance and new markets as well as targeting women entrepreneurs and projects in green energy.” SMEs account for over 40% of employment in Georgia, according to EU4Business, which offers SMEs assistance in getting the most out of Georgia’s Free Trade Agreement with the European Union, including financial and technical help to adapt production to EU quality and hygiene standards and to move into foreign markets. From 2009-2017, EU4Business boasts that it contribution 69 million Euros directly, triggered 882 million Euros in loans to companies, supported 37,800 enterprises with loans, trainings, and advice, and created 10,300 new jobs in the country.

Welcome Challenge Global Forum BY SAMANTHA GUTHRIE

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he inaugural Welcome Challenge, an annual Global Forum for Hospitality and Travel Industry Innovations, will be held in Georgia on October 24-26. The event will host 20-25 of the world’s best startups in the hospitality industry and include the most interesting innovative initiatives in this sector. The forum is a Georgian initiative. It will include a start-up competition that allows real, live feedback on product and business ideas and offers ambitious business people the opportunity to pitch their ideas to serious investors. Forum speakers will include venture capitalists and senior industry executives from the United States, Estonia, Denmark and Japan: Richard McAniff (former Microsoft Executive Vice President), Yrjo Ojasaar (Change Ventures), Jan Rosenbom (Keystones) and Kei Hareyama (Rock Climbing Partners), Dawn Drew (former Executive VP of National Geographic). On Wednesday, October 17, The Welcome Challenge officially announced the opening of the first annual World Forum for Innovation and Start-Ups in the hospitality field under the patronage of the Ministry of Economy and Sustainable Development of Georgia and the Georgian National Tourism Administration. “Remember the three guys that had an idea to rent out their mattresses to guests? Today they have a multi-billion-dollar company called AirBnB,” says Saba Kiknadze, co-founder of the Welcome Challenge Forum. The motto of the forum is “We Are Looking for the Disrupters of Tomorrow.” It creates a space for start-up cre-

Photo: Georgian National Tourism Administration

ators to interact with speakers and venture capitalists, promoting informal networking opportunities and the formation of more formal mentorship connections. Creators will benefit from professional, high-level feedback on their ideas. "Some countries promote cheap labor, others their prowess in IT or digital economy. For Georgia, it’s the rapidly emerging start-up scene and an impressive growth in the hospitality and creative sector,” says Gela Suli, co-founder of the Welcome Challenge and frequent jury member in

international start-up competitions. The Global Forum presents itself as “the annual highlight of a series of regional start-up events in the hospitality and tourism field which take place all over the world.” The forum brings together winners of regional start-up competitions from around the world and puts them in front of an international jury, comprised of American, Estonian, Danish, and Georgian business people, who will also serve as mentors in consultation sessions with participating teams. Earlier this summer, CBC Georgia and

Georgia’s Innovations and Technology Agency successfully hosted a Caucasus and Central Asia Regional start-up event for the hospitality industry in Georgia’s emerging Black Sea resort town of Anaklia. In June, Dimitry Kumsishvili, First Deputy Prime Minister and the Minister of Economy and Sustainable Development of Georgia, and the organizers of “Welcome Challenge” announced the dates for the event. They highlighted the growing dynamics of Georgia as a tourism destination. Georgia was chosen as

host country due to its popularity among tourists and the continually accelerating growth of that popularity. The winners at the Global Forum will receive grants of up to 15,000 Euros and sign contract agreements with potential investors. Ahead of the forum, Boot Camps were held in Zugdidi and Anaklia, where several start-ups were selected to attend the Global Forum and participate in the competition. The event will be held within the scope of Check in Georgia with support from UNWTO.


BUSINESS

GEORGIA TODAY OCTOBER 19 - 22, 2018

9

Japan-Georgia Business Conference Promotes Business Cooperation

BY KATIE RUTH DAVIES

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n October 11, a full-service law firm Mgaloblishvili Kipiani Dzidziguri (MKD) hosted a Japan-Georgia Business Conference organized by the Japanese Embassy to Georgia, the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) and the Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO). The conference brought together prominent Japanese and Georgian companies such as the Mitsubishi Corporation, Ricoh, Toshiba, JTI, Panasonic and Toyota Caucasus, JSC Anaklia City, Georgian Airways Ltd, Basalt Fibers Ltd and others, as well as representatives of the Embassy of Japan, JICA and Jetro. The attendees of the business conference learned about the Georgian business climate and particular opportunities for doing business in Georgia in the fields of construction and infrastructure, transportation, insurance, real estate, hospitality, agriculture and more. Those present at the conference shared their experiences of the practical aspects of doing business in Georgia as well as their opinion of the untapped investment potential that Georgia offers. Given the success of the event, the organizers pledged to meet in a similar format on a regular basis, expressing hopes of giving the conference an institutional frame. The speakers’ panel brought together His Excellency, Mr Tadaharu Uehara, Japan’s Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary to Georgia, Mr Mikheil

Janelidze, former Minister of Economy of Georgia, Ms Keti Bochorishvili, the CEO of ‘Anaklia City’ and Mr Victor Kipiani, partner of Mgaloblishvili Kipiani Dzidziguri (MKD) law firm. The speakers welcomed the conference’s participants and stressed the importance of the need to develop economic ties between Japan and Georgia, showcasing the latter as a favorable destination for Japanese investments. Speaking of the conference opportunities, His Excellency Tadaharu Uehara emphasized the importance of the future collaboration between the two countries: “I am very happy that 19 Japanese companies are represented at today’s business conference,” he noted. “Today’s event hosted by MKD Law Firm is very important for both countries because the number of Japanese companies operating here is very limited. However, I am very positive this situation will develop in the next few years, because many Japanese companies are keenly interested in Georgia. So, I would like to promote and encourage the dialogue platform between the companies of two countries.” When asked about the prospects of future collaboration between two countries and Georgia’s attractiveness for Japanese companies as a business partner, the Ambassador stated: “I have spent enough time in Georgia and I have already become very confident about doing business here. The steps Japanese companies are making are a little bit slow, so I need to ask patience from the Georgian side, because I think that we have a big opportunity between the two countries for

developing private business, too.” The organizers of the conference introduced major stakeholders to the tools,

partnerships and resources that will help them advance their business in Georgia and the region. According to Victor Kipiani of MKD, the Georgian side must be patient and disciplined to achieve the successful development of business relations between Japan and Georgia. “Today’s event was not just a typical business conference,” he said. “As many speakers noted, increasing the number of the foreign investments is not our main goal: the quality of those investments is much more important. Taking into consideration the transparency, working culture and wellness characteristic for Japanese business, we see that attracting investors and establishing businesses from such countries is especially important. Considering that we have relations with such a very specific business culture, maximum patience and discipline are necessary from our side to merit the trust and high reputation and become their partners in the longterm perspective,” he explained. When asked about the fields in which the collaboration between two countries could be the most successful, Kipiani said: “At today’s business conference, a few directions in which our country is operating as a regional hub were highlighted. These spheres include trade industry, related to the free trade zones,

transport communications, infrastructure in general, etc. We must make a significant breakthrough in these spheres with the help of Japanese business. First of all, we are an interesting country for foreign partners due to our free political and economic environment. Our democracy and safe business environment compared to other regions are the main things that make Georgia an attractive and trustworthy partner.” To support the conference’s interactive stream, the event was followed by a networking reception at the residence of Ambassador of Japan where Japanese participants had an opportunity to meet Georgian company representatives and discuss future opportunities of cooperation. Mgaloblishvili Kipiani Dzidziguri (MKD) law firm has been at the forefront of the Georgian legal market for more than two decades. Through the years of extensive experience, MKD has emerged as a strong, highly competitive, well respected and pre-eminent Georgian law firm that provides a full range of legal services to its global clients. The firm has gained external recognition through client assessments in a range of international research-based guides for the legal profession, which regularly list MKD amongst the top performing law firms in Georgia.

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10

SOCIETY

GEORGIA TODAY

OCTOBER 19 - 22, 2018

Introducing Rixos Saadiyat Island: Abu Dhabi’s First Ever All-Inclusive, All-Exclusive Resort Pushing the boundaries of luxury on Abu Dhabi’s ultra-chic Saadiyat Island, Rixos Hotels announces its fourth UAE opening and its first fully integrated resort in the region

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he award-winning Turkishgrown hospitality brand Rixos Hotels opened the first all-inclusive, all exclusive resort in Abu Dhabi. Opening its stylish doors on 15th October, Rixos Saadiyat Island invites guests to experience pure luxury in an opulent setting inspired by the palace of the Ottoman Empire. Situated on the pristine white sands of Saadiyat Island, what really sets it apart is its unique positioning as the most successful fully integrated resort in the Emirates. With panoramic views overlooking a sprawling private beach and out into the endless blue of the Arabian Gulf, the 378-key resort comprises 366 faultlessly designed rooms and suites, plus 12 three and four-bedroom villas with private pools and direct access to the beach. Conveniently located less than 30 minutes away from all of Abu Dhabi’s most thrilling attractions, guests can indulge in the feeling of hiding away in an exclusive island enclave while having close proximity to city highlights including the Louvre Abu Dhabi, Sheikh Zayed Mosque, Ferrari World Abu Dhabi, and Abu Dhabi International Airport. Ensuring that guests are taken on a true culinary journey, Rixos Saadiyat Island has a total of ten restaurants and bars delivering flavours from across the globe. Highlight culinary offerings include authentic Turkish cuisine at Turquoise, the hotel’s signature all-day dining restaurant, haute seafood dining and exquisite coastal views at Mermaid and comforting Italian classics at L’Olivo. Guests can also head to the far east for Teppanyaki and sushi at Japanese restaurant Aja, step back in time to true Rixos heritage with the tastes of Oriental Turkish

ting any limitations on themselves. We are extremely proud of our new resort and of the team, and are happy to welcome the firsts guests to Rixos Saadiyat Island,” comments Fettah Tamince, Founder and Chairman of Rixos Hotels. For bookings or more information please visit www.rixossaadiyatisland. com

ABOUT RIXOS HOTELS

cuisine at Orient or eat-on-the-go from one of many Food Carts dotted around the resort. A series of beach bars, tea and shisha lounges and the Club House – an exclusive restaurant reserved for villa guests – complete the offering. Giving guests another reason to stay on the island, the resort also boasts a water park complete with wave pool for all ages and children’s aqua park. Nestled away within the resort’s verdant gardens, Rixos Saadiyat’s Spa is inspired by the age-old wellness customs of Turkey, with the dramatic Ottoman architecture. A series of signature arches leading to

spectacular tiled treatment rooms and a traditional Turkish Hammam create a true sanctuary, with expert therapists on hand to restore balance for mind, body and soul. A state-of-the-art gym and Rixy Kids Club, plus a wide range of in-resort activities – from sunset paddle boarding to yoga on the sand – will keep every guest happy, from adrenaline junkies to budding sports fans. Boasting a heavenly island venue ideal for picture-perfect celebrations, Rixos Saadiyat Island makes an ideal spot for weddings and events. Masterminded by a dedicated events team and tailored to

any occasion, the resort can host up to a staggering 1,000 guests – with a stunning ballroom and expansive beach draped with lush palm trees and flanked by azure water. “We are thrilled to be expanding Rixos Hotels into Abu Dhabi, showcasing our first all-inclusive, all-exclusive resort in the capital. This concept means that having paid once for the staying, guests receive unlimited excess to all hotel services including food & beverages available 24 hours a day. Thus, our guests can fully focus on relaxation and rest in the atmosphere of ultra-luxury, without put-

Established in 2000, Rixos is one of the world’s fastest growing luxury hotel chains. Dedicated to providing unmatched hospitality amid luxurious surroundings, the international hotel employees over 8,000 members of staff worldwide, each dedicated to providing the best in hospitality whilst offering innovative guest experiences that perfectly blend the best of old and new. At the heart of every Rixos hotel and resort is a revitalising wellness spa with an authentic Turkish Hammam, renowned for its unique selection of spa experiences. Each hotel offers a distinctive selection of restaurants and bars, an exciting entertainment schedule and a diverse range of opulently appointed rooms and suites. Celebrated for its incredible hospitality, attentive personalised service and fine cuisine, the award-winning Rixos Hotels have received global recognition from distinguished professional bodies including the American Five Star Diamond Award, Conde Nast, World Travel Awards, Trip Advisor and Great Hotels of the World. Rixos Hotels currently operates four hotels in the United Arab Emirates: Rixos Premium Dubai, Rixos The Palm Dubai, Rixos Bab Al Bahr-Ras Al Khaimah and Rixos Saadiyat Island.

Tbilisi will host Charles Landry, British author, speaker and international adviser on the future of creative cities On October 23, within the International Art Festival GIFT, Tbilisi will host Charles Landry, British author, speaker and international adviser on the future of creative cities. He is well known for popularizing the Creative City concept. His book "Creative City" is considered a reference and guideline for urban innovators and has become the inspiration for a new approach to city planning, management and development. Let's use this foreign experience to make Tbilisi a modern and creative city!

Language of masterclass: English Event organizer: Entrepreneur Georgia Main supporters: Ministry of Education, Science, Culture and Sport of Georgia, Tbilisi City Hall, National Administration of Tourism. When: 23 October, 16:00 - 18:00 Where: Amirani Cinema, 36 Kostava, str. Tickets:


SOCIETY

GEORGIA TODAY OCTOBER 19 - 22, 2018

11

The Mencare Georgia Presented at Frankfurt International Book Fair

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he Mencare Georgia Campaign, having won Emerging Europe Award in 2018 as the best Equality-Friendly Initiative of the Year in Europe, was presented at the Frankfurt International Book Fair, where Georgia was a Guest of Honor this year. Three events were held in Frankfurt on Oct. 10-14, under the auspices of the campaign in cooperation with the UNFPA Georgia Country Office, Georgian National Book Center, and the organization LitCam. The celebrities involved in the campaign, as well as its organizers highlighted the different aspects of the campaign during these events. On October 10th, KarlKulessa, UNFPA Representative in Turkey, Country Director for Georgia and Lela Bakradze, UNFPA Georgia Country Office Assistant Representative talked about the significance of gender equality, the necessity of fathers’ involvement in caregiving and the achievements attained as a result of the campaign. Joe Messi, head of the German NGO StiftungLesen also participated in the discussion. The Panel members reflected on gender equality from the perspective of two countries. On October 12th, Mariam Bandzeladze,

gender portfolio manager at the UNFPA Georgia Country Office and Alexander Lortkipanidze, an activist of the Mencare Campaign, TV-presenter and writer discussed the development of the campaign throughout the years, major initiatives implemented within this period, and the future plans of Mencare Georgia. The book “Lullaby for Lily”, by Alexander Lortkipanidze (illustrations by SopoKirtadze), was also presented at the same panel. On October 13th, Levan Kobiashvili, President of the Georgian Football Federation deliberated on the partnership of Mencare Campaign and the Georgian Foorball Federation at the LitCam stage. ClaudemirJerônimoBarreto (Cacau), a famous, Brazilian football player also participate in the panel discussion. The speakers discussed the social responsibility of football and role of football players’ as the allies for attaining gender equality. Mencare Campaign in Georgia has been implemented since 2016 by the UNFPA Georgia Country Office in partnership with the NGO We Care within the framework of the UN Joint Programme for Gender Equality funded by the Government of Sweden. Mencare Campaign aims at promoting men’s involvement as equitable, nonviolent

fathers, partners and caregivers in order to achieve better health and family well-being and to encourage men to

support gender equality and social and economic participation of women and thus contribute to harmonious devel-

opment of thesociety. Mencare campaign is open to all men, who share the idea and principles of the Campaign.

The State of World Population 2018

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he power to choose the number, timingand spacing of children can bolster economic and social development a new UNFPA report

shows. The global trend towards smaller families is a reflection of people making reproductive choices to have as few or as many children as they want, when they want. When people lack choice, it can have a long-term impact on fertility rates, often making them higher or lower than what most people desire, according to The State of World Population 2018, published today by UNFPA, the United Nations sexual and reproductive health agency. Family size is closely linked with reproductive rights, which, in turn, are tied to many other rights, including the right to adequate health, education, and jobs. Where people can exercise their rights, they tend to thrive. Where these rights are stifled, people often fail to achieve their full potential, impeding economic and social progress, according to the new report, entitled, “The Power of Choice: Reproductive Rights and the Demographic Transition.” “Choice can change the world,” UNFPA Executive Director Dr. Natalia Kanem writes in the report’s foreword. “It can rapidly improve the well-being of women and girls, transform families, and accelerate global development.” When a woman has the power and means to prevent or delay a pregnancy, for example, she has more control over her health and can enter or stay in the paid labour force and realize her full economic potential. The report found that no country can claim that all of its citizens enjoy reproductive rights at all times. Most couples cannot have the number of children they want because they either lack economic

and social support to achieve their preferred family size, or the means to control their fertility. The unmet need for modern contraception prevents hundreds of millions of women from choosing smaller families. Since the 1994 International Conference on Population and Development, reproductive health and rights have substantially improved around the world. People have more information about their reproductive rights and choices, and a greater capacity to claim their rights. “The historic transition to lower fertility,” says the report, “has emerged through people claiming their right to make choices about their reproductive lives, and to have as few, or as many, children as they want, when they want.” The report classifies all countries in the world by the current dynamics of their populations’ fertility. It makes specific recommendations for policies and programmes that would help each country increase reproductive choices. To makefreedom of choice a reality, says the report, countries can prioritize universal access to quality reproductive health care, including modern contraceptives; ensure better education, including age-appropriate sexuality education; advocate for a change in men’s attitudes to be supportive of the rights and aspirations of women and girls; and make it easier for couples to have more children, if they want them, by enabling greater work-life balance through measures such as affordable child care. “The way forward is the full realization of reproductive rights, for every individual and couple, no matter where or how they live, or how much they earn,” says the Dr. Kanem. “This includes dismantling all the barriers—whether economic, social or institutional—that inhibit free and informed choice.”


12

SOCIETY

GEORGIA TODAY

OCTOBER 19 - 22, 2018

Borjomi Heroes Identified within the Project #BorjomiNatureFans

BY MARIAM MERABISHVILI

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he forest restoration process continues in Borjomi, with autumn planting carried out on the plateau on October 13. Within the initiative of mineral water brand Borjomi, 1,850 saplings were planted. In addition, the award ceremony of the “Heroes of Borjomi” took place, seeing special prizes awarded to those who have fought to put

out forest blazes. IDS Borjomi, Georgian Public Relation Department Manager Nitsa Cholokashvili noted that the ‘Borjomi Heroes’ event won’t be the last and will continue. “IDS Borjomi is the initiator of the nomination of ‘Borjomi Heroes,’ which will be held annually. This year those people, journalists, volunteers, my colleagues and servicemen were awarded in honor: people who helped in extinguishing forest fires.” The title of ‘Borjomi Hero’ was granted to Forest Ranger Ivane Kupradze, who died during a fire

when a burning tree fell on him on September 5 this year. IDS Borjomi delivered the award to his family with a gift of 5,000 GEL. "It is precisely for the environment, the protection of nature, the preservation of each tree that my husband was serving, and I am truly honored by his contributions and that people respect his memory. I would like to thank the company Borjomi for this. This reward will always remind me that my husband served his own country. He loved what he was doing right down to his soul and heart, and suffered for each tree,” said Natia Mumladze, wife of the late Ranger. Awards were also given to the Ministry of Internal Affairs, 112, Emergency Management Service, Ministry of Environment Protection and Agriculture of Georgia, National Forestry Agency, Ministry of Defense of Georgia, Ministry of Health and Social Affairs of Georgia, The Prime Minister's Office, Samtskhe-Javakheti Regional Administration and Borjomi municipality board. Volunteers awarded included Davit Abramishvili and Tengiz Kikacheishvili, employees of IDS Borjomi, photographer George Kakulia.

TV station information services were awarded, as well as their journalists and operators: Rustavi 2, Imedi, Public Broadcaster, Maestro TV, TV Pirveli, Iberia, Akhaltsikhe 9th Channel and Borjomi TV. “We were witnessing very hard facts and tried to do our best to provide our audience with objective and quick information about what was going on at that time in Borjomi,” said journalist of First Channel, Salome Qoqiashvili. In Borjomi, people working in the disaster zone unanimously declared that they were doing their professional duties at that moment without thinking about life and safety. 2018 Borjomi Hero Temo Gelashvili was the youngest among the awardwinners. He did not have safety gear during last year's fires but nonetheless battled with bare hands. The Borjomi Forest Restoration Campaign under the auspices of the mineral water brand’s Corporate Social Responsibility Project #BorjomiNatureFans has been implemented since 2015. During this period, three hectares of forest was restored and 7,500 trees were planted.


SOCIETY

GEORGIA TODAY OCTOBER 19 - 22, 2018

Kaladze Presents New Municipal Inspectorate

Photo: Tbilisi City Hall

BY SAMANTHA GUTHRIE

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n Tuesday, Tbilisi Mayor Kakha Kaladze presented the new Municipal Inspectorate, formerly called the Municipal Department for Supervision, which is responsible for monitoring the city for administrative violations. During the presentation of the new Inspectorate, Kaladze recognized the challenges and problems facing the city, and the necessity of regulatory enforcement to maintain order. The Municipal Inspectorate, said Kaladze, is one of the strongest avenues through which Tbilisi will continue to evolve into a modern, well-organized European city. The functions and obligations of the

rebranded service include: controlling ongoing construction projects and unauthorized construction on buildings with cultural heritage status; detecting violations of permit conditions; protecting safety norms; ensuring the proper permits are obtained for construction, supervising construction facilities, and building technical supervision; identifying and eliminating unauthorized street trade and cleaning rules; ensuring that no trees are cut down without the proper permits, and monitoring for noise violations. "All this in general is necessary to regulate the look of the capital, to solve ecological problems, to secure safety and other standards. Citizens often report vandalism of or littering on city property, violations of cultural heritage monuments, and violations of norms established for construction. Our involvement gives us a 24-hour stimulus, and also

obliges us not to abandon our hopes and to protect the city – every district, street, yard and family,” said Kaladze. He continued, "When I was elected mayor, this department consisted of about 147 employees, had outdated vehicles and technical equipment. Now we are presenting the Municipal Inspectorate of Tbilisi City Hall, with increased power and functionality, equipped with new technical capabilities, and with twice the number of employees. This service is on the frontlines of colossal work and their effectiveness depends on the support of Tbilisi.” Kaladze also mentioned the legislative amendments that were implemented to strengthen the Inspectorate’s functions. He thanked the Parliament of Georgia and the City Council for supporting the amendments initiated by Tbilisi City Hall. Before the new amendments, he said, “the number of offenses was quite high. The penalties were so low, that people would rather pay the fine than avoid the offense.” Fines for construction violations and relating to safety rules, street trade, outdoor advertising, and vandalism have now been increased. In the past year, nearly 1,000 fines have been issued, amounting to 10 million GEL. Mayor Kaladze wished the Municipal Inspectorate staff success in their future activities. The new Municipal Inspectorate service is headed by Giorgi Bagrationi. “Our employees continue to work around the clock to answer the important challenges that the city faces today. The service will continue to be updated in the future as needed to achieve important functions, increase human resources, and add equipment,” said Bagrationi.

Adjara Tourism Potential Presented at National Geographic Conference BY SAMANTHA GUTHRIE

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t a National Geographic Conference in Poland, representatives of the Adjara Department of Tourism presented the region's tourism potential to attendees. The conference, "National Geographic Traveler," brought together international tourism agencies and organizations, TV-radio journalists, bloggers, and other people interested in tourism. Attendees were introduced to new tourist destinations. Representatives from Adjara presented mountain and sea tourism locations and travel routes, and shared the rich cuisine and folklore of the region. Poland is one of the most interesting tourist markets for Adjara, where the region is advertised through various marketing and PR activities. National Geographic Traveler online has dedicated many interesting articles to the region over the last year. "For Adjara and in general, the interest towards our country is great in Poland.

Photo: National Geographic

Such conferences are an additional platform for us to bring Adjara's tourism opportunities to the target audience, what we can offer and why you should travel to our country and region. National Geographic is very important for us and we are interested in continuing relevant activities in this regard. We are promoting contacts with National Geographic's other offices to popularize our tourism

opportunities. With regard to Poland, the number of international travelers in this region is growing. In the region and it has increased by 7,6% in nine months. I think that the planned and already implemented promotional activities in Poland will increase the interest from the country and the region," said Sulkhan Ghlonti, chairman of the Tourism Department of Adjara.

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SOCIETY

GEORGIA TODAY

OCTOBER 19 - 22, 2018

A New Start: Kakheti BLOG BY TONY HANMER

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fter a year or more of supporting an Indiegogo crowdfunding campaign for a tiny new weather station, having it delivered to Tbilisi and returned from there twice due to Svaneti addressing uncertainties, the device was finally in my hands. Its titanium case fits on a keyring. I unscrew it from that and plug it into a smartphone’s audio jack, which powers it to read UV, barometric pressure, wind speed and air temperature. From these the $50

wonder produces a weather forecast, anywhere in the world, no internet connection needed. Very useful for a guest house owner wanting precise readings at his exact location! I tested it first on the only smartphone I had, but there are lists of phones with which the device will and will not work. Not, in this case. So I bought a new Samsung model, a reasonably small and cheap one as I’m not interested in talking through a tablet-sized monstrosity. We tested the weather station on it before I committed myself, of course, because workability was the whole point of getting the thing. This was a go. Now I find myself visiting my parents-

in-law in Kakheti, and also responding to the firm invitation to visit our house’s stucco guys from the same village in the Lagodekhi region. These three men had delivered quality results on the guest house exterior, didn’t drink more than usual in Georgia, and stuck to their word on prices. As a result, the friendship remains, and now I have crossed the country and am about to go fishing with them. The new phone? I quickly realized that it can do so much more than “read the weather”, of course. It can take 2 sim cards, so both my Magti and Geocell numbers now reside in it. It’s my local wi-fi station. It can read the night sky and tell me what stars and other objects are out there. I can watch films, listen to music, read e-books on it. A separate attachment would let me shoot infrared images for heat sensing. A caveat: it can’t shoot RAW photographic images, only jpegs, somewhat a disappointment because the former have so much more exposure information in them that’s there’s no comparison. But the images it does offer are quite impressive nonetheless. HDR (high dynamic range, capturing all the shadow and highlight detail I could want)? Yes. Stitched panoramas? Those too. Phones have become THE portable device, to which other software or hardware peripherals can be added almost ad infinitum to make them into… telescopes, microscopes, video projectors, molecular composition sensors, scanners, translators, flashlights, you name it. I knew all this already, of course, but to have one in my hands is a different matter. The last phone I had for shooting video I bought before making a walk through much of Svaneti in 2007. It cost 600 GEL, and the video wasn’t even high-definition. The photos and video coming out of this new one are practically miraculous—full HD size, plenty enough for now. It’s about as big a revelation to me as switching from 35mm film to a digital SLR was in 2008; I never went back to film after that. Yes, I bought a dedicated scanner and digitized most of the best of my 11000odd 35mm frames for posterity, shot from ages 11 to 41, at 20 mega-pixels. But the cleanup of dust and scratches in PhotoShop was such a drag! I tend to switch to a new technology once it has settled down a bit, some of

the bugs have been ironed out, and it doesn’t cost the earth, which I can’t afford. The new phone is another case in point. I won’t be upgrading soon, because my budget and pride don’t need me to. This will do. I have a tendency to push the technology I have to its limits and beyond anyway, so I think that this model will do me fine for some years to come. Will you notice the difference in my photos, dear reader? I doubt it.

Tony Hanmer has lived in Georgia since 1999, in Svaneti since 2007, and been a weekly writer for GT since early 2011. He runs the “Svaneti Renaissance” Facebook group, now with over 1900 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

Land Mine Issues Discussed at Regional Meeting in Tbilisi

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he problem of land mines and unexploded ordinance in the South Caucasus was the theme of a round table meeting held in Tbilisi on Tuesday, 16 October 2018. Representative of the Armenian Centre for Humanitarian Demining and Expertise (ACHDE), Mr Reuben Arakelian; representative of the Azerbaijan National Agency for Mine Action (ANAMA) Mr Elnur Qasimov and representative of the State Ministry for Reconciliation and Civic Equality of Georgia Ms Tamuna Kochoradze made presentations at the meeting, which was also attended by representatives of international organisations including the EU and the UN, military attaches and diplomats based in Tbilisi, and NGO representatives and experts engaged with the issue. The event was hosted by LINKS (Dialogue, Analysis and Research) which has been working in the South Caucasus on issues related to conflict and confidence-

building measures and regional co-operation since 1997. LINKS' current work on the issue of land mines and unexploded ordinance is in the framework of EPNK, a European Union peacebuilding initiative that has been on-going since 2010. Addressing the meeting the Director of LINKS (DAR), Dennis Sammut said that thousands of people have been killed or injured as a result of land mines and unexploded ordinance in the South Caucasus in the last thirty years. Great work has been done by national demining agencies such as ACHDE and ANAMA, and by international NGOs such as The HALO Trust. He hailed the hundreds of employees of these organisations who risk their life every day in an effort to clean the region of this dangerous hazard. The problem is more acute in the areas affected by the unresolved conflicts, where the political context is also challenging. He added that Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia have not signed the Ottawa con-

Source: commonspace.eu Photo: from l to r Elnur Qasimov (ANAMA Azerbaijan), Dennis Sammut (LINKS), Reuben Arakelian (ACHDE, Armenia) and Tamuna Kocoradze (Georgian State Ministry for Civil Integration, at the round table on Land Mines and Unexploded Ordinance issues in Tbilisi on 16 October 2018.

vention on demining despite the fact that all other European countries, except Russia, have done so, and he urged the international community to work with the three countries to explore the possibility that they may do so simultaneously sometime in the near future. Dennis Sammut said there should be increased awareness of this serious humanitarian problem, both in the region and beyond, and the meeting positively assessed the idea of holding a region wide "International day of awareness of the problem of land mines and unexploded ordinance in the South Caucasus" to be held across the region in April 2019. Participants at the meeting commended the efforts being made to eradicate the problem of land mines and unexploded ordinance in the South Caucasus. A number of practical suggestions about how to improve the flow of information on this topic were also discussed. LINKS will convene another meeting in this format in early 2019.


SOCIETY

GEORGIA TODAY OCTOBER 19 - 22, 2018

Georgian Airways Celebrates 25th Anniversary

BY ANA DUMBADZE

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n October 16, Georgian Airways celebrated its 25th anniversary. The airline held a grand jubilee event in the celebration hall of Wellness Resort ‘Bioli.’ The anniversary evening was attended by members of the government, Diplomatic Corps, international partners of Georgian Airways and representatives of various companies, including Embraer, Lufthansa Technik, Boeing, Airbus, IATA, Air Lease Corporation, Nordic Aviation Capital, and SMBC Aviatio, who arrived in Georgia especially to celebrate the anniversary of the airline. During the event, Givi Davitashvili, Director General of Georgian Airways, summed up the 25-year service of the airline. “This year, Georgian Airways celebrates its 25th anniversary. This is a very important jubilee for us, as there are only a few airlines in the Post-Soviet space that have been operating for so long, especially when this airline is already such a well-known and safe brand and always offers customers innovations and new developments. The airline started operating in 1993 under the name of Airzena. In 2004, we rebranded and since then, the airline has continued operating as Georgian Airways. During this period, the airline had to face a lot of obstacles and challenges, but there were a lot of victories as well. Now, more than 20 direct flights are carried out worldwide by Georgian Airways and to almost all European countries,” he told the audience. When asked about the biggest achievements of the company during its 25 years, he stated that being a safe and trustworthy airline is the most important thing for Georgian Airways. “The company’s main achievement is that today it is a widely known brand and has already gained a high reputation among customers around the globe. Most importantly, it is known as a safe airline and safety is our main priority,” he said. As for the future plans of the airline, Davitashvili noted that Georgian Airways is collaborating with

internationally acclaimed brands and is going to bring new aircraft from them. Moreover, the company is planning to add new directions to its flights. “The company is constantly upgrading. This year, we added two modern airplanes to our service. In November, we are going to renovate the aviation park with new Boeings. We have already signed a contract on delivering five modern aircraft with our partner company Boeing, and from the next year, we are going to add a few new directions to our flights, mostly to Europe, and offer our customers an even more diverse service,“ he said. Martin A. Bentrott, Senior Vice President of the airline’s partner company Boeing, congratulated Georgian Airways on its anniversary and stressed the importance of their collaboration. “We are proud to be here today to celebrate the 25th anniversary of Georgian Airways. The Boeing Company has been a partner of Georgian Airways since 2000, so, for 18 years, Boeing has played a role in the successful operation of the airline. We hope that this partnership will continue for many years with the additional Boeing aircrafts, and we wish the airline great success in the future,” he said. Eckart Gwilids, sales manager of Lufthansa Technik, which is also a long-time partner of Georgian Airways, also ccongratulated the airline on this important date. “Our partnership started almost 20 years ago, in 1999. We congratulate them as our reliable partner on this anniversary and wish them a successful operation in future,” he said. Georgian Airways created the history of Georgian aviation. The airline was founded in 1993 as Airzena. Initially, only charter flights were performed. Airzena became the national airline of Georgia in 1999. In 2004, Airzena continued operation under the name Georgian Airways. 18 direct flights are carried out worldwide by Georgian Airways. It is the leader in the region as a charter flight operator (having performed more than 250 charter flights over the years). The airline owns 14% of Georgia's aviation market with a 1-2% annual growth. At present, the Georgian Airways airbase has three Boeing 737-700 / 800s, three Embraer 190s one Embraer 195, and one Bombardier CRJ.

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CULTURE

GEORGIA TODAY

OCTOBER 19 - 22, 2018

Frankfurt Book Fair: Georgia in Focus REVIEW BY LIKA CHIGLADZE

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rankfurt Book Fair, among the world’s most important cultural events, with a tradition spanning more than 500 years, concluded with Georgia, as Guest of Honor, handing over this important title to Norway. The major international book event opened on October 10 and lasted until October 14 and brought together publishing experts, writers and cultural enthusiasts from all over the world. The five-day festival was attended by 285,024 visitors whilst the fair hosted 7,503 exhibitions and incorporated 4,000 events. The Georgian National Stand exhibited books of approximately 40 Georgian publishers and gave them the opportunity to introduce themselves and make partners with foreign publishers. As a Guest of Honor, Georgia’s special pavilion was opened at the festival, showcased in the theme of the unique Georgian alphabet that was added to UNESCO’s Intangible Cultural heritage list in 2016. “Nothing suits Georgian words and Georgian moods so well as the Georgian alphabet does, and nothing is so Georgian as the Georgian alphabet,” said Aka Morchiladze, one of the most celebrated Georgian writers, currently based in London, describing Georgian writing. ‘Georgia – Made by Characters’ was the motto chosen by Georgia and the concept of the stand was made based on this theme, adorned with fascinating sculptures of Georgian letters aimed at introducing the country’s culture, history and art through 33 characters of its alphabet. Over the course of the guest country year, more than 150 new books have been published in the German-speaking market, and 70 German-language publishing houses have titles from or about Georgia in their programs. A total of 200 books have been translated from Georgian into

German since the founding of the Georgian National Book Center (2014) and the launch of the translation support program (2011). Mamuka Bakhtadze, the Prime Minister of Georgia, opened the Frankfurt Book Fair together with Federica Mogherini, High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and Jurgen Boos, Director of the Frankfurt Book Fair. Bakhtadze noted in his speech it is symbolic that Georgia was showcasing its literature and culture on the 100th Anniversary of the First Democratic Georgian Republic. “It is our great honor to showcase Georgia in Germany, a country which was among the first to recognize the Democratic Republic of Georgia 100 years ago,” he said, adding that Germany has been supporting Georgia at every stage of its development. Giorgi Kekelidze, General Director of the National Library of Georgia, writer and founder of first Georgian digital library, lib.ge, who attended the fair, stressed the importance of the festival and the hope that this would give the basis for Georgia’s cultural reintegration into world literature and better representation of its rich culture. “I think it is the beginning of a cultural dialogue between us and Europe, and it really turned out fascinating thanks to the substantial work carried out in this direction,” Kekelidze told GEORGIA TODAY. “Yet this was only the opening of the door, and rather difficult, routine and serious work lies ahead, but I hope that we will manage to fulfill it. The Georgian pavilion was at the center of attention at the fair. With regards interest toward Georgian books, we will see in the following months particularly which directions of literature have grabbed publishers the most. I saw huge interest toward both classic and contemporary Georgian writers at the fair. The platform gave us an opportunity to send

important messages, like about the 20% of Georgia being occupied by Russia. The event was really of high importance to our country,” he said. With the official status of the Guest of Honor of this year’s fair, the Georgians brought 70 authors from the country to introduce to the international audience, including such acclaimed writers as Aka Morchiladze, who was also speaker at the Opening Ceremony, Rati Amaglobeli, Salome Benidze, Lasha Bugadze, Guram Dochanashvili, Naira Gelashvili, Giorgi Kekelidze, and Nino Haratischwili who writes in German. The authors made public appearances, presented their books in person and interacted with the audience. Besides contemporary writers and literature, old classics were also introduced at the fair. Within the festival, Georgia had an opportunity to once again reintroduce great Georgian 12th century writer as Shota Rustaveli, author of national epic The Knight in the Panther’s Skin to the international audience. “At the fair, within the program of Guest of Honor, my novel City on Water was

presented as well my documentary book named sHEROes,” Salome Benidze, author, journalist and winner of the 2012 SABA Literature Award and 2016 Tsinandali Award told GEORGIA TODAY. “I worked on it with photographer Dina Oganova. It unveils stories told by 60 different women who went through the August Russia-Georgia War 2008. The presentation of this book in front of an audience was quite a big responsibility for both of us, and emotional, being a part of this historic occasion. At Frankfurt Book Fair something happened that generations have been dreaming of, fighting for, working hard and writing over the centuries to achieve: Georgia finally returned to its European family.” Georgia was presented through a diverse program, and apart from book presentations, music events, art shows and performances were held at the site. The events ranged from Georgian Philharmonic Orchestra, Shukhishvili National Ballet and Gori Women’s Choir to the well-known Georgian club Bassiani Djs’ live performances. Such world-renowned

Georgian musicians as Georgian pianist Khatia Buniatishvili and jazz pianist Beka Gochiashvili delivered concerts. Lovers of contemporary art could enjoy the screening ‘All is fair in Dreams and War’ by Andro Wekua, one of Georgia’s most popular contemporary artists, and the first solo exhibition dedicated to Thea Djordjadze, one of Georgia’s most highprofile artists. A Georgian corner was available at the venue giving the attendees the chance to sample delicious Georgian food and wine and discover Georgian culinary traditions. The closing day of the festival culminated with Georgian National Book Center Director Medea Metreveli handing the Guest of Honor title to the Norwegian representation, followed by an amazing and touching surprise from the organizers of the fair where popular Georgian song Suliko, based on renowned Georgian poet Akaki Tsereteli’s work, was sung by the hosts for the first time at the fair. The performance left the Georgian delegation as well as attendees speechless whilst the video went viral online, accumulating thousands of views, shares and positive feedback in response. “Georgia's participation as Guest of Honor at the Frankfurter Buchmesse has proved to be a great opportunity for the Georgian National Book Center,” Metreveli noted in her speech. “We believe that, we, together with Georgian writers, were better and more precisely able to tell the story of our country, and the rest of the world was able to hear our voice better from here. And this is exactly what we need today ... We have a lot to say and a lot to share. The linguistic barrier has already been overcome and Georgian literature is starting a genuine journey into various countries around the world, first and foremost in Germany.” “Georgia was in focus for the five days of the book fair. All the events and activities carried out by Georgian authors ended with waves of applause,” she told GEORGIA TODAY. “The German publishers said all the Georgian books and translated literature published by them sold out and now they are planning to publish additional issues. German book shops met this project with great enthusiasm and even devoted their windows to Georgian literature. This is a significant achievement for Georgian literature. I’ve been attending the Frankfurt Book Fair for 10 years now and I’ve seen the presentations of many countries. I would like to say from my own experience that German media has never been as positive and active as it was this year. No day passed without Georgia being covered by leading German media outlets or featured in TV reportages. It was really unexpected and extremely pleasant to see!”


CULTURE

GEORGIA TODAY OCTOBER 19 - 22, 2018

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Introducing Georgian Artists to Iserlohn BY GEORGE LALIASHVILI

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n exhibition of works by four Georgian artists has opened recently in the German city of Iserlohn. “The King is Female” is the name of this exhibition by a group of female artists, which brings together around forty works by Natela Iankoshvili, Tamara Kvesitadze, Rusudan Khizanishvili and Natela Grigalashvili. The Villa Wessel Museum, where this exhibition of Georgian painters is being held, is located in the former home of the prominent German artist Wilhelm Wessel which he bequeathed to his home town. Since the artist’s death in 1971, the house has been home to both a museum and a gallery space. This exhibition of Georgian artists will remain in Villa Wessel until 11 November, which will allow the people of Iserlohn, who already enjoy access to plenty of high quality art, to gain some insight into Georgian artistic culture, with its distinct form and aesthetic. Georgia’s presence as a guest country at the Frankfurt Book Fair has unequivocally re-awakened German interest in Georgia – something which has since been noticed across the entire country. The present exhibition at Villa Wessel is a response to this trend, although it is worth pointing out that Michael Otto, a businessman and modern art collector from Iserlohn, has a decade-long association with Georgia. Michael and his wife Nicole first came up with the idea of approaching the management of their local museum with the possibility of starting some sort of project related to the country. As soon as Michael and Nicole Otto achieved the approval of Villa Wessel, they immediately contacted Gallery Kornfeld in Berlin, whose owner, Alfred Kornfeld, is a connoisseur and admirer of Georgian art. There are also Georgian artists working in this gallery, and they advised him as to how he should go about presenting Georgian art in Iserlohn. They suggested to Kornfeld an exhibition of

female artists and he put them in touch with Nina Mdivani, who has experience in working on such projects. She has even prepared a book entitled “The King is Female”, which is being published in Berlin and will be presented in October at the Frankfurt Book Fair. The Iserlohn museum were impressed with Nana Mdivani’s concept and she was charged with curating the exhibition together with Joachim Stracke from Villa Wessel. Two of the artists represented at the Iserlohn exhibition - Natela Iankoshvili and Tamara Kvesitadze are Gallery Kornfeld artists and for years now, the gallery has been working on bringing their art to broader audiences, both in Germany and abroad. In the last few years, they have presented pictures by Natela Iankoshvili – a classical Georgian artist - at several famous art forums, where her monumental and original talent has been widely recognized. This year, during the artist’s centenary, the artistic director of Gallery Kornfeld, Mamuka Bliadze, prepared a biographical book dedicated to Iankoshvili, which was published in both German and English It’s also worth pointing out here, that last year the gallery sent one of its own artists – Christopher Lehmpfuhl – to Georgia, where he stayed for several weeks, leading to the creation of dozens of landscape paintings inspired by scenes of Tbilisi, Mtskheta, Sighnaghi and Kazbegi. After returning to Berlin the same year, Lehmpfuhl presented this Georgian series to German audiences. Together with his paintings, he also presented the viewing public with a book-album based on his impressions of Georgia. Additionally, when Lehmpfuhl was offered the opportunity to create a 2018 calendar of his paintings, he also included some of his selected canvases that featured landscapes of Tbilisi and Sighnaghi. Although Natela Iankoshvili is only represented by five paintings at the Iserlohn museum, “Portrait of Lily”, “Enigma”, “Springtime”, “Tinatin (an Illustration for the Knight in the Panther’s Skin)” and “Island in a River” are distinguished by the sort of artistic perfection that will stop any well-versed and knowledgeable viewer in their tracks. Mysterious rays

Main photo: Natela Iankoshvili - Autumn. 1979

of light play on these unusual lines and colors, in which it’s difficult to discern whether it is night or day. This intuition is derived from the “sun-drenched night” of Shota Rustaveli’s poetics and should be considered as a painted version of the same. Iankoshvili’s individuality makes her noteworthy in the history of art, and time will prove her brilliance. She is already enjoying increased recognition and this is in large part due to the efforts of Germans in the art world. Although this is extremely commendable, in the first instance, it is the task of Georgian art critics and the country itself to broaden the audience of the Iankoshvili phenomenon and to fully appreciate the selflessness with which this genius served her art. Tamara Kvesitadze has already been working successfully with Gallery Kornfeld for the last six years. Thanks to her

creativity, she quickly earned a reputation as a thoughtful and tasteful artist. She has a broad audience of admirers, who continue to follow the artist’s progress and the development of her talent with great attention. Her works are always in high demand and for this reason we often find them in museum and private collections. In Villa Wessel, audiences have been acquainted with her sculptures, “Man and Woman” and “Ne Me Quitte Pas”, with her large murals “Any Direction” and “Cave Tellers”, as well as her watercolor paintings on paper, which generally depict human figures and faces. Here she achieves impressive results with the use of stains and marks. Visually, her paintings call to mind the watercolor works of Auguste Rodin and Marlene Dumas, but if one looks closely at the lines dripping vertically or horizon-

tally – or over each other - from these figures and faces, they attain a deeper significance – as if they are created from physical pain, tears and blood. Rusudan Khizanishvili is presented to the audience through a series of collages, which the artist has called “Every Day I’m Writing a Diary”. These works, executed using a mix of techniques, draw attention to themselves through their lively palette of colors, which is created from various media and is startlingly effective. It’s almost as if we hear the voices of everyday life ringing out from these collages. One can perceive the artist’s boundless love for people and for life itself – an artist who has an innate sense for color and composition and yet relishes the opportunity to experiment. It’s this enviable trait that makes the artist so vivacious and awakens an interest in the viewer to see more and more. Natela Grigalashvili is one of the most important photographers in Georgia, and she is represented at the Iserlohn exhibition by several pictures from two former series: “Book of My Mother” and “Village of the Mice”. These photos tell the story of human beings, their feelings and their emotions and - twenty years later – the artist is telling these same stories to a new audience. These photos, imprinted with human warmth and normality, speak to the modern viewer of moments captured, never to be returned and somehow fill the soul with warmth. It’s completely natural that a photographer with such insight into the human soul as Natela Grigalashvili should emerge from the country of Revaz Inanishvili, Goderdzi Chokheli and Tengiz Mirzashvili. With her own camera, she faithfully follows in their footsteps and is herself constantly moved by human joy and sorrow. The exhibition that is ongoing at Villa Wessel Museum in Iserlohn, which was made possible by the initiative and endless assistance of German colleagues, will, over the next two months, give even more people a taste of Georgian contemporary art. I hope that this will give birth to further links and projects that will further strengthen and diversify this important relationship.

Anything, but Poesy is Not Dying in Georgia REPORTED AND TRANSLATED BY NUGZAR B. RUHADZE

T

he recent Frankfurt Book Fair was a true celebration of Georgia’s intellectual and publishing competence, but good things are happening here in Georgia proper too. Last Saturday evening, the Writers House in Tbilisi hosted the launching event of Badri Kutateladze’s new book of poetry, titled ‘Time would not allow’. Frankly, I thought I was being invited to a standard presentation of another new edition in print, where friends and acquaintances habit-

ually reunite to trivially lavish reciprocated wishes and felicitations on one another. Instead, I found myself at a genuine reintroduction of the Georgian culture, its force and spirit, its heart and mind, its vitality and significance, where a truly unadulterated exchange of words and emotions reigned true. The place exuberated vintage talent in aged bodies, although the age was not an issue at all. The bona fide ladies and gentlemen of the nation were voraciously listening to one other, culminating each appearance with reserved but still exalted applause. Kutateladze would modestly insert his verses in-between the brief but evocative and enthusiastic speeches, each and every one of them having an epochal sound, saying volumes not only about the poet’s individuality and creative work but reflecting the intricacies of our complicated times of cultural transition. One of the speechmakers unobtrusively, but very much up to the point, wondered if it were imaginable to witness in Georgia’s social reality the astute congregation of this gravity and magnitude in about 30 years from now. At hearing this quizzical question, most of the faces in attendance registered uncertainty. The event went on, during which it was also emphasized that today’s materialistically overwhelmed world, concerned and tired with the problems of survival, has seized our little Georgia to forge it into something heartbreakingly inconsequential and banal, but poets like Badri Kutateladze would not let it sink into oblivion. His plain and transparent style, loaded with his life experience and

keen eye for detail, as well as compassion and goodwill towards is fellow humans, shines with transparency and unfeigned sincerity – poignant and cheerful at the same time. The vocabulary of his lovely poems is amazingly moving and penetrating, and his creative attitude is inquisitive and searching. The audience had a deep perception of the poet’s philosophy, enlivened in the masterful rhymes of his poetry, and took it straight to the heart. It seemed we were not going to tire of listening to Badri’s pleasurable declamation of his own verse, which was so well adorned with his calm and soothing baritone. In a word, the entire event was marked with something uncannily nostalgic which kept us feeling thirsty for that momentary glance back, but as the poet himself put it, time no longer allows for the good things we chronically miss. The main protagonist of the wonderful poetic spectacle presented his book to the members of a congregation of Georgia’s white-haired intellectuals from various walks of life. He also presented them with his famous bulky photographic album of Tbilisi Sculpture, laconically but very expressively epigraphed by the author – ‘Poesy in Stone’. On top of his poetic talent, Kutateladze is a skillful essayist and TV anchor, serving on the board of Writers Union of the country, and also working as the director of the well-known Didube Pantheon of Writers and Public Figures. The winner of numerous prizes and awards, Badri Kutateladze faithfully serves the poetic muse of his beloved Georgia in the best tradition of the Geor-

gian classic literature, enjoying the unmitigated love of his people, his wonderful personality being the best guarantee of mutual understanding between him and the adherents of his poetic sounds. In principle, poetry in Georgia has always mattered and it will matter in the future too. Poesy will never die here! Just read these lines by poet Badri Kutateladze and you will know it.

*** Time would not allow Watching your lovely face, Delight is null and void, Having left no trace; Envy is overwhelming, Coveting our lives, Let me share my memory, The only asset of mine!


18

CULTURE

GEORGIA TODAY

OCTOBER 19 - 22, 2018

WHAT’S ON IN TBILISI THEATER

GIFT - GEORGIAN INT’L FESTIVAL OF ARTS IN TBILISI October 19 YOKAI /REMEDY FOR DESPAIR Cast: Jo Even Bjørke, Louisa Hollway, Vanessa Mecke, Oda Kirkebø Nyfløtt, Léna Rondé, David Tholander and Vincent Vernerie. Pantomime Theater, Norway Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 20 GEL Venue: Royal District Theater October 20 ASTIGMATISTS Movement Theater, Georgia Directed by Ioseb Bakuradze Composer: Sandro Nikoladze Cast: Ana Talakhvadze, Lekso Chemia, Michel Zakhaidze, Mariam Balakhadze, Ucha Mjavia Start time: 20:00 Venue: Movement Theater SILK FACTORY STUDIO Address: 59 M. Kostava Ave. October 19, 20, 21 METAMORPHOSES Contemporary ballet Joint project of Giorgi Aleksidze Tbilisi Contemporary Ballet and Silk Factory Studio Music by Johann Sebastian Bach Original music by Nika Machaidze Original idea and choreography by Mariam Aleksidze Cast: Giorgi Aleksidze Tbilisi Contemporary Ballet Company Artistic Director– Mariam Aleksidze Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 10-25 GEL MUSIC AND DRAMA STATE THEATER Address: 182 Agmashenebeli Ave. Telephone: 234 80 90 October 23 WELCOME TO GEORGIA A musical, theatrical play and romantic comedy telling a story about Georgia and its people by combining song, dance, culture, traditions, history, national costumes and local cuisine. Musical Language: English, some Georgian (with English subtitles) Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 50-80 GEL

SHALIKASHVILI THEATER Address: 37 Shota Rustaveli Ave. Telephone: 595 50 02 03 October 19 HOST AND GUEST Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 20 GEL October 20 LULLABY Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 15 GEL GABRIADZE THEATER Address: 14 Shavteli Str. Telephone: 2 98 65 93 October 20 STALINGRAD Revaz Gabriadze Directed by Revaz Gabriadze English Subtitles Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 20, 30 GEL

BAD TIMES AT THE EL ROYALE Directed by Drew Goddard Cast: Chris Hemsworth, Dakota Johnson, Jon Hamm Genre: Mystery, Thriller Language: English Start time: 19:30 Language: Russian Start time: 16:15 Ticket: 10-11 GEL BLACKKKLANSMAN Directed by Spike Lee Cast: John David Washington, Adam Driver, Laura Harrier Genre: Biography, Comedy, Crime Language: Russian Start time: 13:15 Ticket: 12 GEL CAVEA GALLERY Address: 2/4 Rustaveli Ave. Telephone: 200 70 07 Every Wednesday ticket: 8 GEL October 19-25

October 27 MARSHAL DE FANTE’S DIAMOND Revaz Gabriadze Directed by Revaz Gabriadze English Subtitles Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 20, 30 GEL

FIRST MAN Directed by Damien Chazelle Genre: Biography, Drama, History Language: English Start time: 22:30 Language: Russian Start time: 13:00, 16:00, 19:45, 22:15 Ticket: 11-19 GEL

October 24, 25 Animated documentary film REZO Directed by Leo Gabriadze Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 15 GEL

BAD TIMES AT THE EL ROYALE (Info Above) Language: Russian Start time: 22:00 Ticket: 16-19 GEL

CINEMA

AMIRANI CINEMA Address: 36 Kostava St. Telephone: 2 99 99 55 www.kinoafisha.ge Every Wednesday ticket: 5 GEL October 19-25 VENOM Directed by Ruben Fleischer Cast: Tom Hardy, Michelle Williams, Woody Harrelson Genre: Action, Horror, Sci-Fi Language: English Start time: 14:30 Ticket: 9-10 GEL CLIMAX Directed by Gaspar Noé Cast: Sofia Boutella, Romain Guillermic, Souheila Yacoub Genre: Drama, Horror, Musical Language: Russian Start time: 22:00 Ticket: 10-11 GEL

A STAR IS BORN Directed by Bradley Cooper Cast: Lady Gaga, Bradley Cooper, Sam Elliott Genre: Drama, Musical Language: English Start time: 16:30 Language: Russian Start time: 22:30 Ticket: 13-19 GEL VENOM (Info Above) Language: English Start time: 19:45 Language: Russian Start time: 11:45, 14:15, 17:00, 22:30 Ticket: 10-19 GEL MUSEUM

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

Exhibitions: GEORGIAN COSTUME AND WEAPONRY OF THE 18TH-20TH CENTURIES

MUSIC

TBILISI CONCERT HALL Telephone: 2 99 05 99 www.tbilisijazz.com

NUMISMATIC TREASURY STONE AGE GEORGIA ARCHEOLOGICAL TREASURE NEW LIFE TO THE ORIENTAL COLLECTIONS UNKNOWN COLLECTIONS OF THE GEORGIAN NATIONAL MUSEUM– INDIA, CHINA, JAPAN The exhibition showcases up to 500 artworks - paintings, sculptures and samples of applied art, the chronological range of which is wide. MUSEUM OF SOVIET OCCUPATION Address: 4 Rustaveli Ave. Telephone: 2 99 80 22, 2 93 48 21 www.museum.ge PERMANENT EXHIBITION GALLERY

THE NATIONAL GALLERY Address: 11 Rustaveli Ave. Telephone: 215 73 00 September 11 – November 25 EXHIBITION BERNINI'S SCHOOL AND THE ROMAN BAROQUE After the works of Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo, Raphael, Botticelli, Titian and other great Italian artists, the Georgian National Museum and the Embassy of Italy in Georgia present the exhibition October 9 – January 17 (2019) NIKO PIROSMANI’S RENEWED EXHIBITION October 10 – October 5 (2019) THE EXHIBITION MASTERS OF GEORGIAN ART Displaying paintings of Kirill Zdanevich, Shalva Kikodze, Ketevan Magalashvili and Elene Akhvlediani together with Lado Gudiashvili's and David Kakabadze's artworks, showing the comprehensive picture of diversity and aesthetics of Georgian Art.

October 21 Concert Famous Turkish singer RAFET EL ROMAN Start time: 17:00 Ticket: 20-65 GEL October 25 ANITA RACHVELISHVILI & NIKOLOZ RACHVELI Gala Concert supporting musician Vato Magradze Start time: 22:00 Ticket: 20-65 GEL TBILISI EVENT HALL Address: 1 Melikishvili St. Telephone: 2 99 00 99 October 20 SEEYA SeeYa was a South Korean female group originally made up of Kim Yeonji, Lee Bo-ram, and Nam Gyuri. When the group debuted in 2006, they were marketed as the female version of SG Wannabe. Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 50-100 GEL TBILISI STATE CONSERVATOIRE Address: 8 Griboedov St. Telephone: 2 93 46 24 October 19 Classical music cognitive program VOCAL ART LEADERMEGI CHIKHRADZE Start time: 16:00 Ticket: 10-50 GEL MTKVARZE Address: N. Baratashvili Left Bank October 19 FANTASTIC MAN / HATSVALI / SUMO NICOLE / BERIKA Start time: 23:00 Ticket: 20 GEL October 20 MTKVARZE 6TH BIRTHDAY W CHAOS IN THE CBD / ZURKIN / YVES / BERO Start time: 23:00 Ticket: 20 GEL BASSIANI Address: 2 A. Tsereteli Ave. October 19 BASSIANI / HOROOM: DADUB / KANCHELI HONEY SOUNDSYSTEM / MERCURRIO Start time: 23:00 Ticket: 20-30 GEL October 20 MUZAME: LEBANON HANOVER Start time: 23:00 Ticket: 25-35 GEL ART-CAFE HOME Address: 13 Betlemi Str. October 19 AKO VON UNTEN Start time: 23:00 Ticket: 10 GEL BAQANI Address: 4 Tamar Mefe Road, Batumi October 19 BAQANI / Vako T / Lasha Maruashvili Start time: 23:00 Ticket: 20 GEL October 20 BAQANI / GIORGI DEVADZE GREENBEAM & LEON Start time: 23:00 Ticket: 20 GEL CANUDOS LOUNGE & CLUB Address: 1 Lech and Maria Kaczynski Str., Batumi October 19 VAKOLA GROUPNiaz Diasamidze & 33a Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 20-50 GEL


CULTURE

GEORGIA TODAY OCTOBER 19 - 22, 2018

19

Gurjaani Hosts Wine Festival 2018 BY ANA DUMBADZE

G

urjaani, a town in Georgia’s main wine region Kakheti, hosted the International Wine Festival on October 13. The Festival was held in the beautiful park of Akhtala Resort, a famous mud resort in Gurjaani. The autumn colors and amazingly beautiful nature gave the festival an inimitable appearance. 100 Different varieties of wines were presented at the event, including Qvevri wine and Chacha for tasting, and the attendees had the chance to taste the best wines from Kakheti and other corners of Georgia and buy them at affordable prices. Within the framework of Gurjaani Wine Festival, the delegations of several foreign countries visited the city of wine, among them the delegations of France, Spain, Lithuania, Belarus and Azerbaijan, and diplomatic corps of China, Slovakia and Bulgaria. Foreign and local visitors participated in handmade, creative and thematic exhibitions and ethnographic sales expositions, saw the historic and culinary pavilions designed specifically for autumn, heard unusual Mravalzhamieri and other Georgian polyphonic songs, participated in competitions and won special prizes from the organizers of the Gurjaani Wine Festival 2018, experienced wine-making, grape-pressing and the "Tataraoba " – the making of traditional Georgian candy churchkhela.

Performances of traditional Georgian dances made the event even more charming and attractive. The program of the festival also included fun activities for children, such as carrousels, sports competitions, magic show and animators. Within the scope of the festival, Georgian folkrock band 33a also performed its popular hits for the crowd. At the end of the day, the film "Georgia - the Homeland of Wine" was screened for the guests of the festival. Gurjaani Wine Festival 2018 was held for the second time within the framework of Georgian Wine Week and was supported by the Ministry of Environment Protection and Agriculture, National Tourism Administration, National Wine Agency and implemented by the patrol of Gurjaani majoritarian MP Davit Songulashvili. The Festival was aimed at promoting wine tour-

ism development and introducting wine culture and Georgian traditions to foreign and Georgian society. According to the organizer of the event, Gurjaani majoritarian MP Davit Songulashvili, this year was especially fruitful for the residents of Gurjaani. “This year was special for the Gurjaani locals. Peach export reached 20 Million GEL and we harvested a record-breaking amount of grapes, which in total brought more than 200 million GEL income to the local families. That is the reason this year's Wine Festival was so distinctive. In the city of winemaking, more than 150 companies have gathered, including more than 100 large and small cellars and wine factories. I would like to express my gratitude to M2 for being a General Sponsor of the Festival, and to the Ministry of Environment Protection and Agriculture of Georgia, National Tourism Administration and National Wine Agency for their support,” he said.

This year’s festival was also distinguished by the making of the world's largest (4-meter-long!) churchkhela, a project thought up by travel company Grand Travel Group. The attendees of the festival also participated in the process of dipping the nuts in the grape jelly, and when it was hard, they got to eat it. “The Wine Festival was held for the second time in Gurjaani. This year, the Festival was different and innovative. In the city of wine, we made the world's largest churchkhela. It was a lot of fun and after we got to it eat- and it was very delicious,” the founders of Grand Travel Group noted. “Seeing so many kind and happy faces gave us the motivation to implement such projects again in future and bring people more joy and pleasure. Our company is oriented to boosting tourism in Georgia. We want to promote the places of Georgia which have not been seen before; to make them more appreciated, because right now there are many beautiful sights hidden in our country and only a few people know about them. Hopefully, we can improve this situation.” Kakheti is considered a winemaking hub. It is a charming place that might make you recall an Italian province due to its vast vineyards full of history, beautiful sights and, of course, delicious wine. The wine is an important part of the culture and history there and sharing a glass with hospitable locals is the best opportunity to experience the real Georgian spirit.

GIFT Festival Opens in Tbilisi

Photo: Tbilisi City Hall

BY SAMANTHA GUTHRIE

T

he 21st annual GIFT Festival (Georgian International Festival of Arts in Tbilisi) in honor of Mikheil Tumanishvili opens today. On Wednesday, a press conference was held by Tbilisi Deputy Mayor Sopio Khuntsaria, Artistic Director of the Festival Keti Dolidze, General Manager Sopo Tortladze, Norwegian Theater Company KRAMPLE, and representatives from the Italian Embassy. "Tbilisi loves traditions and has maintained the 'gift' of the city. The festival has been held for 21 years, and today it is as urgent and modern as it was in the beginning. The first year since independence, when the festival was created, was really a holiday for Tbilisi. This year's program is quite diverse. The lectures and master classes that are presented as part of the festival are important for Tbilisi City Hall, as informal education is one of the priorities of the city," said Khuntsaria. This year's GIFT marks the first year that Scandivanian countries have brought their art to share in Georgia. Audiences will be able to see groundbreaking Norwegian choreography, design, music and modern artistic aesthetics. Norwegian National Opera and Ballet Choreographer, Alan Lucien Øyen, presents "Simulacrum," a historic meeting of Argentine dancer Daniel Proietoo and 78-year-old Japanese

Flamenco legend Shoji Kojima. In addition, the "Summer Days of Sardinia" will be held in Georgia, for which Rustaveli Theater will host the Georgian premiere of "Macbettu," the Sardinia National Theater's interpretation of William Shakespeare's Macbeth. During the festival, director Gianfranco Cabiddu will present his film "La Stoffa dei Sogni," which won the David Di Donatello prize from the Italian Film Academy. Additionally, the National Parliamentary Library will host a lecture by Sardinian writer Marcello Fois on modern Italian literature. Fois will also present his new book and meet with Georgian peers. Within the framework of the festival, a GeorgianSardinian concert will be held on November 4 in Old Tbilisi. The day before the concert, there will be an open workshop at Rustaveli Theater. One of the festival's featured performances is Dimitry Krymov's "Without a Dowry." The play offers a modern interpretation of classical literature analyzing contemporary Russian life, . The show received 2 grant prizes at International Theater Festival Kontakt, Poland for THE BEST DIRECTOR and THE BEST ACTRESS. It is also a laureate for the best theatre production of 2018, at the only independent Audience Choice Awards in Russia. Norwegian and Japanese productions open the festival tonight and tomorrow. For a full list of festival activities, see the GIFT Facebook page. The festival will run until November 16. Tickets: www.biletebi.ge

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Issue #1093  

October 19 - 22, 2018

Issue #1093  

October 19 - 22, 2018

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