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Issue no: 1067

• JULY 20 - 23, 2018



In this week’s issue...


Sophia the Humanoid Robot attends the OGP Summit in Tbilisi

PAGE 8,9

Stoltenberg Meets PM Bakhtadze, Promises NATO Support to Georgia NEWS PAGE 2

How to Better Serve Your Citizens: The OGP Summit 2018 NEWS PAGE 4

Unity and Conflict: Grigol Vashadze to Stand for New Political Party as Presidential Candidate POLITICS PAGE 6

Kaladze’s Weekly Priorities: Construction, Animal Abuse & Summer Camps

Iran's Ambassador on the Importance of the Rasht-Astara Railway BUSINESS PAGE 7

"Robotech” Summer Camp Opens in Kutaisi



ach Wednesday, the municipal government of Tbilisi holds a meeting at City Hall. Preceding this week’s meetings, Mayor Kakha Kaladze made several important remarks. First, Kaladze drew attention to the tasks of the Urban Development Service – as applicants submit the Development Regulation Plan (DRP) for their desired projects, Kaladze noted that second, third and fourth-class structures may be subject to accreditation. Structures are classed based on size and project difficulty, with fourth class being the largest and most complex projects. In February, the Architectural Department of City Hall was informed that it would split into two entities responsible for managing the city’s construction and development – the Architectural Department, which regulates structure appearance and design, and the Urban Development Service, which manages the integrated development of sections of the city including issues of zoning and building size. Continued on page 3


‘10 Georgian Wines You Must Try Before You Die’ Exhibition on Meidan Photo: Tbilisi City Hall





JULY 20 - 23, 2018

Stoltenberg Meets PM Bakhtadze, Promises NATO Support to Georgia BY THEA MORRISON


amukaBakhtadze,Prime Minister of Georgia, paid his first official visit to Brussels as the PM of the country on

July 18-20. The PM was hosted by NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, who praised Georgia’s carried out and planned reforms and vowed to support the country. Parties discussed all the key issues within the scope of the integration of Georgia to NATO, including the results of the NATO Summit held in Brussels last week and ways to implement the decisions made at the milestone event. It was highlighted that the Substantial NATO-Georgia Package (SNGP), like the new areas of cooperation, significantly increases the defense capacity and resistance of the country. It also brings the country closer to accession to NATO.

Attention was paid to the significant past and planned steps of the Government of Georgia towards approximation with the North Atlantic Alliance standards. The Secretary General of NATO once again noted the solid support of the Alliance towards the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Georgia. He also thanked the Prime Minister of Georgia for the contribution of the country to the Euro-Atlantic security, especially in the current NATO operations in Afghanistan. After the meeting, the sides made an official statement for the press, seeing Stoltenberg underline that Georgia has for many years been one of the largest force contributors to the resolute support mission, and Georgian peacekeepers were helping NATO fight terrorism. “I also appreciate the fact that [Georgia is] running exercises together with the NATO troops. I have met the Georgian troops both in Afghanistan and during NATO exercises. The fact that you are part of the NATO response force shows that your troops and forces meet the

Parliament Chairman Condemns Putin’s Remarks BY SHAWN WAYNE


eorgian Parliament Chairman Irakli Kobakhidze condemned Russian President Vladimir Putin's remarks on Wednesday regarding Georgia's potential membership of NATO. On Monday, after the meeting between Putin and Trump in Helsinki, the Russian President told Fox News that his country would react extremely negatively to the membership of Georgia and Ukraine

in NATO, seeing it as a security risk. Kobakhidze stated that priority and ultimate goal of the Tbilisi administration was to get NATO membership, that Georgia is moving forward and that it is Georgia’s right to gain NATO membership after working so hard for it. The integration of Georgia into NATO is also important for NATO, with it recognizing that Georgia has actively contributed to NATO-led operations and cooperates with the Allies and other partner countries in many other areas. NATO's support for Georgia’s reform efforts and its goal of integration in EuroAtlantic institutions is high.

Photo source: Georgian Gov’t Press Office

highest standards of NATO and are able to participate in NATO exercises, missions and operations,” he stated. Stoltenberg noted that at the Alliance Summit last week, all 29 allies reaffirmed that Georgia will become a member of NATO.

“We fully support Georgia's EuroAtlantic aspirations…We continue to work with you to prepare for membership. Georgia has made impressive progress on reforms, including on economic development, more effective security and defense institutions and modern-

izing your armed forces,” he said. In addition, the NATO Secretary General spoke about the recent developments in Georgia’s Russian-occupied regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia and called on the Russian Federation to withdraw its forces from the regions. “NATO supports Georgia's security and its territorial integrity within its internationally recognized borders. This includes the regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia. We call on Russia to withdraw its forces from the country,” he said. Bakhtadze thanked Stoltenberg for his support and noted that Georgia will continue its contribution to common Euro-Atlantic security. “We are enhancing our cooperation on Black Sea Security. We will have a more active naval cooperation as well as extended mutual situational awareness… Together with the assistance provided by NATO, the reforms successfully implemented by Georgia will contribute to our ultimate goal to become a full member of NATO,” the PM said.

Saakashvili Offers Trump Advice on Relations with Russia

that while Trump’s rhetoric may have been weak, his actions, more importantly, have been strong. “After a lifetime of firsthand experience with Russian aggression, I must evaluate Trump’s actions against the historical context. In doing so, I find Trump’s actions speak for themselves,” writes Saakashvili. Saakashvili claims that former President Barack Obama’s weak foreign policy and unwillingness to engage in international conflicts gave Putin room to maneuver regarding Ukraine. “Putin is a bully,” Saakashvili insists, “but not a fool.” Trump’s strongest moves against Russia, according to Saakashvili, came when he “authorized the sale of lethal defensive weapons to both Ukraine and Georgia in 2017” and when “the Trump administration went beyond the congressional mandate in sanctioning Russian authorities involved

in the annexation of Crimea. Earlier this year, the United States imposed the harshestsanctionsyet,targetingRussianoligarchs as well as government officials.” “Nevertheless,” writes the former Georgian leader, “I must caution President Trump that criticizing domestic opponents in front of foreign adversaries could have been misperceived by Putin as a concession.” He recommends several steps Trump can take to show Putin that he is not, in fact, conceding to Russia. First, a return to a Reagan-era containment policy, second, to lobby for an amped-up NATO presence in Eastern Europe, specifically by offering Georgia and Ukraine MAP, and third, being prepared to active the ‘nuclear option’ of sanctions: blocking Russia’s access to the SWIFT international payment system, which would cripple average Russians’ ability to conduct everyday commerce with international companies. Saakashvili condemns Putin, calling him “pure evil” and saying “There is no doubt in my mind that US intelligence agencies arrived at the correct conclusion: Russia did meddle in the US 2016 election, and Putin himself directed the operation.” You can read the full article here. The Federalist is a conservative online magazine, based in the US, that covers politics, policy, culture, and religion.

prise Georgia will support Georgian companies attending the Milan Furniture Fair. Part of the Italian delegation’s visit was to attend the Georgian-Italian Business Forum in Tbilisi. Another Deputy Minister of Economy and Sustainable Development, Giorgi Cherkezishvili, participated in the forum. According to Cherkezishvili, Georgia's economic growth reached 5% in 2017, and the record in recent years was set in May 2018 at 7.5% – an impressive indicator which Cherkezishvili directly related to the government's economic policies and ongoing reforms aimed at development. Cherkezishvili put special emphasis

on ongoing and planned reforms aimed at accelerating economic growth, increasing economic inclusivity, and creating a solid foundation for poverty reduction. Directed at attendees representing the Italian business community, details of bilateral free trade agreements of various countries with Georgia were discussed, including the European Union and China, along with Georgia’s liberal tax legislation. Cherkezishvili’s presentation included detailed information about state programs for business stimulation and focused on Georgia's strategic geographical location for transportation and logistics.

Photo: / Wikimedia



n an article published yesterday in The Federalist, former President of Georgia Mikheil Saakashvili opines on US President Donald Trump’s recent meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Helsinki, Finland. In the article, titled, “Just Like Obama, Trump’s Russia Policy Speaks Louder Than His Words,” Saakashvili argues that Trump’s response to Putin was not as “shameful” as most observers have perceived it. He argues that the outrage against Trump’s words (or lack thereof) in Helsinki is selective – other American politicians have held less than a hard line against Russia in recent years. He also argues

Italian President & Delegation Visit Georgia BY SAMANTHA GUTHRIE


talian President Sergio Mattarella was in Georgia this week, accompanied by a delegation of Italian government personnel. While there, President Mattarella met the Patriarch of the Georgian Orthodox Church, Prime Minister Mamuka Bakhtadze, and Chairman of Parliament, Irakli Kobakhidze. The Italian team visited Tbilisi State University, where an exhibition is currently on that celebrates the history of Georgia-Italy relations. President Mattarella also participated in the GeorgianItalian Business Forum, the third such forum, which began in Rome in March last year. President Margvelashvili and President Mattarella made statements for Georgian and foreign media. “I would like to thank the President of the Republic of Italy for this crucial and historic visit to Georgia,” Margvelashvili said. “His visit will lay the foundation

to deepen and expand cooperation between our countries. Italy is a strong, European country supporting Georgia. Today, I have the opportunity to thank you once again for the very strong support that Italy showed to Georgia at the 2018 NATO Summit. " “Our countries are among the oldest in terms of friendly relations between people, political relations, and increasingly growing economic relations, confirming how deep and important our bilateral relations are and can be in future.” This is President Mattarella’s first official visit to Georgia. In October 2017, President Margvelashvili visited President Mattarella in Rome, where they met and discussed the development of Georgia-Italy bilateral cooperation and multilateral relations in international forums. Within the frames of this week’s visit, the Deputy Ministers of Economy and Sustainable Development, Genadi Arveladze and Giorgi Chikovani, met with Italy’s Deputy Minister of Economic Development, Michele Geraci. During the meeting, the two sides

discussed trade and economic relations between Georgia and Italy and opportunities for increased cooperation. Possibilities for bilateral links between Georgian and Italian businesses were noted, with a focus on cooperation in the energy sector, specifically hydropower and renewable energy sources. The Georgian Department of Economy said it looks forward to strengthening the positive relations between the two countries, particularly in the economic sphere. Investment opportunities were also discussed, including in real estate and tourism, IT and business process outsourcing (BPO), and production. The Georgian deputy ministers informed Geraci about local economic trends, ongoing reforms, and policies for economic growth and business support. One strong example of Georgia’s economic policy is the Enterprise Georgia program, which is helping to arrange Georgian manufacturers’ attendance at the September 2018 LineaPelle – an international exhibition of leather and leather products in Milan. In April 2019, Enter-


GEORGIA TODAY JULY 20 - 23, 2018


Kaladze’s Weekly Priorities: Construction, Animal Abuse & Summer Camps Continued from page 1

"We have implemented a major reform in the current year, which has separated the issues of architecture and urban development from each other. The Urban Development Service was created from scratch. In addition, we have simplified the management of architecture and made the decision-making process more effective. The architecture service is functioning today, but it is necessary to monitor the process and to continually improve our services. Currently, one of our main challenges is to improve the urban development management process so that decisions of high quality can be made in a timely fashion," said Kaladze. From its outset, the Urban Development Service was inundated with a backlog of nearly 800 applications and the workforce of the division could not keep up, says Deputy Mayor Maia Bitadze. Kaladze emphasized the importance of improving the approval process to provide a high-quality service at City Hall, as well as managing and developing the process outside the City Hall. “This is important documentation that needs to be prepared at a highquality level,” he said. The Urban Development Service began working at the end of April, and “has been operating primarily as a new arrival,” dealing with a backlog from the architecture department, “including applications from 2017. With the Services Development Agency and

Vice-Mayor, we have started working on improving services and simplifying procedures. I would like to thank each of the Urban Development Service staff members- as a result of 24/7 work, less than 200 requests remain. Among them applications for adjusting red lines and for functional zones, tasks, projects and so on,” said Bitadze. Kaladze also thanked the employees of the Urban Development Service for their tireless work and said he was confident that the remaining 200 applications will be processed in a timely manner. Another topic of discussion was a construction project in the Alphabet Garden in Didi Dighomi, which has been suspended and will likely be dismantled. According to Kaladze, the population of Didi Dighomi demanded a halt to construction because the project is located in a recreational zone. "During my pre-election campaign, I promised that no construction would be allowed in public squares or sports grounds, because there are recreational zones that need maintenance and upkeep. We understand the ecological point of view of the situation in the capital. Therefore, green spaces should be protected. Construction in the Alphabet Garden adjacent to "Goodwill" was begun but, according to the permit issued, all conditions have been violated. In connection with this particular structure, there are too many complaints...At this time, the construction has been suspended and I think it's going to be demolished. We should

not allow construction of such unplanned, ugly buildings in squares, parks and sports areas,” said the Mayor. At the meeting, Kaladze thanked residents for removing AC units that were illegally installed on facades of historical buildings in the New Aghmashenebeli area. “First of all, these people should be interested in maintaining these facilities as much as possible and preventing anyone from damaging them. These are monuments that we are all proud of. Of course, the expenses that will be incurred [for repairs], as I said then, City Hall will take on itself. The works will be implemented by the Tbilisi Development Fund,” said Kaladze, adding that he hopes that in future, residents of historical buildings will show more care for their preservation. Kaladze also emphasized the rehabilitation of highways, avenues and streets which will start in the near future. Rehabilitation of the Baratashvili area, near Freedom Square, began on Wednesday, which will include “rehabilitation of the drainage network, sewer system, curbs and sidewalks. The lighting system will be totally renovated and, overall, 15 thousand square meters of asphalt will be replaced. Approximately 3,233,000 GEL [$1.3 mil] will be spent implementing this particular project,” Kaladze said. He continued, "We are starting to implement significant large-scale infrastructure projects in different districts of the city. I want to apologize to the public, because the [traffic movement

We are starting to implement significant largescale infrastructure projects in different districts of the city in the] city will face certain restrictions, but it is being done for the population of our city. This period was chosen intentionally because many people have left the city [for the summer] and there is relatively less traffic on the roads.” Next year, City Hall plans to work on the central highway, and Robakidze Avenue will be fully rehabilitated. Chikovani Street will also see improvements, focusing on repairing serious drainage and sewerage problems. Capital works on the Black Sea, Paliashvili and Kostava-Shartava streets are also planned. Mayor Kaladze then responded to video footage that surfaced on social media several days ago depicting ani-

mal cruelty. "I must respond to the disgusting videos...which on the one hand are an attempt to deliberately discredit the Animal Monitoring Agency, and on the other hand, show a criminal offense. An investigation is ongoing under Article 259 of the Criminal Code of Georgia...We hope that in the shortest time possible every person who has committed this horrible crime – put a poor puppy in with dead animals and violated internal sanitary rules – will be revealed,” said Kaladze. "I have repeatedly stated, and I repeat once more, that we are ready to cooperate with specific organizations - people who wish to make changes [in animal control and welfare], but talk of blackmail is personally unacceptable for me and my team,” said the Mayor. The final issue discussed at Wednesday’s meeting was youth participation in summer schools, camps and hiking tours with the support of Tbilisi City Hall, for students and young people aged 18-29. "The aim of these programs is to give young people a way to spend their summertime...I think it is a very important and interesting project for young people and we will continue to implement such projects in the following years," said Kaladze. Thematic summer schools and camps are planned in technology, entrepreneurship, engineering, architecture, design, volunteerism and art direction. Excursion tours will be conducted on hiking routes around Tbilisi, where participants will benefit from professional guides and instructors.




JULY 20 - 23, 2018

How to Better Serve Your Citizens: The Open Government Partnership Summit 2018 BY KATIE RUTH DAVIES


ringing together over 200 participants from 12 parliaments and 24 countries, putting people first and transforming the governance systems based on the principles of openness, accountability and engagement was the focus of the Fifth Open Government Partnership (OGP) Global Summit held in Georgia on 17-19 July 2018. Throughout the three Summit days, representatives of the OGP’s 96 participating governments and thousands of civil society organizations exchanged ideas on how to make governments more responsive to the citizens they serve and how to empower people to take a more active part in decision-making. The United Nations Development Program (UNDP) joined the Summit as a supporter and active participant, taking a lead in discussing legislative openness, public services and citizen engagement, and inviting special guest Sophia the Humanoid Robot as its Innovation Champion. Other guests and guest speakers included Heads of State, ministers and civil society leaders. Sanjay Pradhan, Chief Executive Officer of the Open Government Partnership, opened the 5th OGP Summit on Wednesday. “Since the last OGP Summit in 2016, the world has become a tougher place and our imperative to step up more pressing. Democracy, human rights and civic space are under attack as never before. Trust in government is at an all-time low. A toxic wave of xenophobia, nationalist populism and authoritarianism is sweeping the world. We face similar challenges in the OGP, even after Hungary, Tanzania and Turkey have exited and Azerbaijan was made inactive. Despite this, OGP represents a hopeful path forward. In Armenia and South Korea, citizen movements have removed leaders mired in corruption. At this Summit, when our

partnership nears 100 national and local governments and thousands of civil society organizations, we have an opportunity and imperative to show an alternative; a path that empowers citizens to impact policies and services that affect their lives.” He went on to encourage a push to improve services like health, education and water, systematically mobilize direct citizen participation and feedback, “smartly leveraging technology,” and to ensure that government responds, “to close the feedback loop and win trust back.” We were shown the examples of Madrid and Paris, where citizens are given the chance to vote on how they want some of their cities’ budget spent – both online, via apps and, for the elderly, at street polling stations. The Paris method has been adopted by 96 other cities and, as Pradhan said, “in such ways we can show an inclusive alternative to populism which not only empowers the majority but also excluded minorities. Ministers need to see open governance as integral to achieving their goals. We similarly

need to make our civil society community more inclusive to those advocating for services like health and education… We need to forge stronger coalitions with the media, with parliamentarians, the judiciary and the private sector…A government for the people, by the people, of the people: Georgian Prime Minister Mamuka Bakhtadze spoke about the implementation of the Open Government principle within his cabinet by pointing to this year’s achievement where Georgia was named 5th among 115 countries in the Open Budget Index 2017 survey, by its budget transparency. “It was a huge achievement and is a very clear demonstration of our willingness to push this to another level. As PM, I intend to plan for such transparency in all other directions.” Giorgi Kldiashvili, Founder of the Institute for Development of Freedom of Information & Civil Society Member of the Open Government Partnership Steering Committee, noted that the OGP is something which Georgia is trying to embrace as

a tool for setting higher standards of good governance. “In recent years, Georgia has developed national and subnational action plans that guarantee citizen engagement, integrity, and the fight against corruption. These include the Public Service Hall, a one-stop shop for service delivery to citizens, in both urban and rural areas. Commitments are related to fighting corruption by monitoring public official declarations and public procurement, and the publishing of statistics by the court system. These and other activities respond to the demands of citizens, empowering those citizens to impact the policy-making process.” He went on to note the challenges facing Georgia. “The government is not often able to see what the public is demanding. Commitments elaborated by state institutions are sometimes less relevant to the public needs and are closer to the political and bureaucratic comfort zones,” he said. “Such failure to see the issue from a different perspective can result in commitments that are not ambitious, and which do not have a transformative effect. The latest national action plan presented recently is a good example of this challenge. Despite constructive criticism from civil society and numerous concerns voiced in the consultation process, reaching a consensus became less and less possible.” Ana Brnabic, Prime Minister of Serbia, spoke of the reforms in her country regarding the protection of personal data, greater number of citizen services, the establishing of databases where needed, and specific councils being set up to focus on e-governance and supporting new e-governance laws, one of which is the mandatory opening of data on the Open Data Portal. She noted that creating e-services for citizens has saved the country hundreds of thousands of Euros in paperwork and waiting times. Though the messages at the OGP were many, the message for the Georgian government was clear: continue on the path of reforms with the aim of ensuring an open government that actively encourages and empowers citizens to engage.

Gudavadze-Patarkatsishvili Foundation Offers Full Scholarship to 10 Successful Students



n July 19, San Diego State University Georgia (SDSU Georgia), Millenium Challenge Account Georgia (MCA Georgia) and the Gudavadze-Patarkatsishvili Foundation (GPF) hosted an official signing ceremony of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) at Radisson Blue Iveria Hotel. This year, the GPF offered 10 full scholarships to successful students of SDSU Georgia’s upcoming cohort to finance their studies in the San Diego State University. The goal of the MoU is to facilitate the growth and popularity of STEM fields in Georgia by providing scholarship opportunities for SDSU Georgia students. Moreover, the MoU will support STEM conferences and other educational activities in the future. The ceremony was opened by Magda Magradze, Director of MCA Georgia, followed by Halil Guven, Rector of SDSU Georgia, and Zurab Kervalishvili, Director of the GPF, who then officially signed the MoU. Three scholarship recipient students shared their success stories with the audience. “San Diego State University offers Bachelor Degree programs to Georgian students and it is the only university that awards students with an American diploma,” Magradze said. “Together with the university, we created a special Public Private Partnership Fund (PPPF). Today, we obtained more than

$3 million in funds. We decided to sign an MoU with GPF, which will reward 10 successful students, who will start their first year of university with a full scholarship. This is a vital opportunity since we have many bright young students whose success is our country’s success.” “We are glad to see the increasing popularity of STEM subjects in Georgia,” Guven said. “SDSU has been in Georgia since 2014 and has reached more than 600 students. We are growing every year, not just in numbers but in quality of students. We are very happy with the developments. We are collaborating with a lot of distinguished companies who give us a chance to offer scholarships, internships and part-time jobs as well as activities like hackathons. This is the biggest contribution so far, which will allow distinguished students to study in our program.” “The main goal of our foundation is to facilitate the development of the education system in Georgia, specifically to make high-quality education affordable. We invest in our country’s future, which serves the development of the education system. We are happy to have signed the MoU and to motivate students further,” Kervalishvili added. “I received a full scholarship, which is essential both for myself and my family. It was my dream to study at SDSU Georgia and the university took into account that my family are refugees from Abkhazia. This will be a step forward towards my success,” said Mariam Gagua, one of the recipients of the full scholarship and a Computer Engineering Student at SDSU Georgia.




JULY 20 - 23, 2018

Why This Much Talk about Government?

others too, but in the last 30 years, they have reckoned government the most favorite conversational topic in life. Even youth in Georgia gets carried away talking about government, clearly parroting their parents and grandparents, unable to see that the best years of their lives are simply vanishing in futile blabber about government. This much discourse

about government means that we become distracted from more pressing matters needing dealing with. Our printed media readers, television viewers and radio listeners crave above all to hear the latest about the government…and then everything else. This is a national infatuation which we fail to recognize as a mortifying vice. Friends fight, families

quarrel, and couples separate as a consequence of heated and irritated discussions about governmental style and content. Shall we call the situation a political obsession, or just a passion for politics? Or is it an overall dullness in our social and private lives offering nothing more interesting for our poor souls feed on? Whatever it is, we are clearly not rational enough to think that we have much, much more on our hands to do than endlessly talk about the details of governmental wrongs and rights. I certainly recognize that in a democracy, people must keep an eye on administrative doings, but can’t we occasionally take the selfsame eyes off the government to attend to our own business so that we don’t waste our valuable time and miss all our opportunities to bring home our share of the bacon? The government will not nourish us and our families. The government will only feed itself until it is completely sated on our flesh and blood. In the best-case scenario, the government will fulfill its obligation, if at all, to bestow enough national security on us so that we do not lose that absolutely indispensable piece of bacon that needs to be earned with our own hands and talent. We have to cut this much gibberish about governments in general and get forthwith down to our feeder, and the feeder is what our own brain and muscle can provide for, not what a regular government is capable of doing for us. Why don’t we adapt the unforgettable historical piece of advice to our everyday lives: Ask not what your government can do for you, but ask what you can do for yourself?!

an agreement has been reached between the UNM and the newer political party that stemmed out of it, European Geor-

gia. In Brussels, Giorgi Baramidze and Giga Bokeria have publicly vowed to criticize Georgian Dream, consolidate election resources, not scold each other and most importantly to bring their respective electorate all the way to the ballot boxes. In a second round, they will unify their forces and vote for the oppositional candidate with the motto “All Against the Governmental Candidate.” At first glance, there’s nothing new in this agreement, with the leader of European Georgia, Gigi Ugulava, already having proposed this very formula to Mikheil Saakashvili at the time when the refugee ex-president invited him and other party leaders to a “Last Supper” in Amsterdam. But in fact, it really is a novelty and seems to be the moving force behind a real agreement. According to the Brussels agreement, the parties agreed to unify their resources, first of all financial, mostly meaning the one that was taken from the UNM when the European Georgia left it. This means that the election finances were bargained for a candidate passing into a second round, which

European Georgia believes will be their candidate rather than that of the UNM, so not Grigol Vashadze in this case. Apparently, Mikheil Saakashvili has different plans and is thinking of starting an early campaign with the financial resources gained through this agreement. Promoting the former Foreign Affairs Minister does require substantial financial resources, but since Grigol Vashadze keeps the “oiled colt” in his pocket, that is Rustavi 2, it is hard to doubt the capabilities of this particular presidential candidate. Who will be competing against him from the governmental party, then? The answer to this question is still unclear: we neither know if the current President Giorgi Margvelashvili plans to take part, or what the now-resigned Premier Kvirikashvili and his political future might be. What we all know for sure is that the candidate from the Labor Party will be Shalva Natelashvili and Nino Burjanadze from Democratic Georgia will fight for the post, the votes of both altogether unlikely to exceed 6%. That leaves a good 94% to fight for.



here is big talk in town concerning the new government of Georgia. Our people adore talking profusely about government. The most preferred topic of discussion in this society is what the government is or isn’t doing. No other country in the world chats about governmental affairs both publicly and privately as much as Georgia. The Georgian provincially frolicking media has a nauseous proclivity of blowing the absolutely trivial political individuals into the dimensions of Hollywood godlike figures. Discussion of governmental ways and means is one of our strongest nationwide hobbies. Look at our newspapers – front, middle and closing pages, just all of them, are packed with copious reading matter about the government as a whole and the persons who have by sheer accident found themselves cozily ensconced in the leading administrative and legislative sinecures. I have a habit of delving through most famous international editions that are available to me, and my experience in reading the world press tells me that most of them dedicate only a paucity of space to governing bodies and the individuals within those bodies. Take America for instance: who would care this much about what the government is doing unless it does something flagrantly wrong. At the mention of the word ‘government,’ the face of the average American immediately

registers either an awry smile or a sincere annoyance. Nobody takes the government seriously there unless it comes to taxes. Countries elect governments only because they have not yet invented anything better than this for keeping nations within an average social normalcy. Georgians like having fun and are very good at entertaining themselves, and

Unity and Conflict: Grigol Vashadze to Stand for New Political Party as Presidential Candidate OP-ED BY ZAZA JGARKAVA


fter almost a year-long break, a new election marathon is ready to start. This year, for the last time, the voters will be electing the President of Georgia, as, according to the Constitution, the future presidents of the country will be elected by Parliament rather than the people. The new political agenda suggests an even more limited authority for the President, who will have responsibilities as shallow as that of a marriage registrar. Despite this, both the government and the political opposition are excited and are preparing

10 Galaktion Street

for the upcoming autumn battles. The main oppositional force announced its candidate in the garden of the Bagrati Cathedral in Kutaisi. It seems Mikheil Saakashvili was able to get his idea through of uniting the oppositional front around the National Movement: the new political coalition, called Power in Unity, has nominated the former Foreign Affairs Minister Grigol Vashadze. The younger Vashadze has thus given up his presidential ambitions and the chief commander’s mantle in favor of the old, by which we are referring to Giorgi Vashadze, leader of the political party New Georgia, whose past is connected with Mikheil Saakashvili and the UNM, like that of the many others. If not reconciliation then definitely

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GEORGIA TODAY JULY 20 - 23, 2018


Iran's Ambassador on the Importance of the Rasht-Astara Railway BY DIMITRI DOLABERIDZE


he completion and launch of the Rasht-Astara opens the way for expansion of trade ties in the region, said the Iranian Ambassador to Azerbaijan Javad Jahangirzadeh during a joint meeting of representatives of the public and private sectors of the province of Gilan in the north of Iran. Recalling the recommendations of

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani on accelerating the implementation of the project, the Ambassador noted that the railway and its use are like a "giant oil well". Jahangirzadeh said that in addition to the export of agricultural products and other cargoes, the railway can serve the creation of new jobs. He also noted that the annual trade turnover between Iran and Azerbaijan currently exceeds $500 million, and the volume of oil mutual trade is about $350 million per year.

The Rasht-Astara railway is part of the North-South transport corridor, which is designed to connect Northern Europe with South-East Asia, including the unification of the railways of Azerbaijan, Iran and Russia. At the first stage, along the corridor, it is planned to transport five million tons of cargo per year, and later more than 10 million tons of cargo. The Kazvin-Rasht-Astara (Iran) -Astara (Azerbaijan) railroad is part of the North-South transport corridor that will connect Northern Europe with

South-East Asia, including by combining the railways of Azerbaijan, Iran and Russia. At the first stage, it is planned to transport six million tons of cargo per year along the "North-South" corridor, and

later 15-20 million tons of cargo. The cargo will pass through the territory of India and further through the Persian Gulf, Iran, Azerbaijan, and Russia towards the Scandinavian states and Northern Europe in just 14 days.

North-South Transport Corridor May Be Transferred to Azerbaijan BY DIMITRI DOLABERIDZE


he headquarters of the "North-South" transport corridor, which is currently located in Iran, may be moved to Azerbaijan, reports Akif Mustafayev, the National Secretary of the Transport Cooperation Program (TRACECA- Transport Corridor Europe Caucasus Asia) for Azerbaijan. “Sanctions are a huge obstacle to the development of Iran's railway infrastructure, and many companies that have concluded billion-dollar agreements in Iran to build the country’s rail networks leave the country. Iran is an important participant in the North-South transport

corridor and further development of the corridor depends on the railway infrastructure of Iran,” Mustafayev noted. The National Secretary noted that Azerbaijan provided Iran with a $500 million loan for the construction of the railway section of Resht-Astara [part of the North-South transport corridor]. The next step in this direction is the modernization of the railway infrastructure from Resht to the port of Bandar Abbas on the territory of Iran, which was complicated after a new wave of US sanctions. “Despite the problems due to the sanctions, the railway from Resht to the port of Bandar Abbas should be built for fullscale transportation of cargo

along the corridors TRACECA and North-South. In view of the current situation, we would like to transfer the

headquarters of the corridor to Baku, to increase the efficiency of the corridor. Baku has good relations with both the US and Russia, as well as with other countries in the region,” Mustafayev said. The National Secretary highlighted that 176 projects have been implemented in the framework of TRACECA in recent years, and that TRACECA headquarters in Baku has sufficient experience to implement major projects, which is a favorable ground for transferring North-South management to the TRACECA office base. According to Mustafayev, the concentration of the centers of the two transport corridors can positively influence the

increase in the volume of cargo traffic in these directions. The transport corridor "North-South" is designed to connect Northern Europe with South-East Asia, including the unification of the railways of Azerbaijan, Iran and Russia. At the first stage, it is planned to transport six million tons of cargo per year along the "North-South" corridor, and later - 15-20 million tons of cargo. The cargo will pass through the territory of India and further through the Persian Gulf, Iran, Azerbaijan, Russia towards the Scandinavian states and Northern Europe in just 14 days. TRACECA is an international transport program involving the European Union and 14 member states of the Eastern European, Caucasian and Central Asian region.

Tera Bike Campaign for Positive Change sible to use bikes, as a very healthy form of transport, despite the widely held belief that the riding a bicycle in Tbilisi is difficult. However, with the right attitude, persistence, and commitment, Tbilisi can become a city of bicycles.

HOW DIFFICULT WAS IT TO IMPLEMENT THE CAMPAIGN IN A CITY WHERE THERE IS THE LACK OF A PROPER BICYCLING INFRASTRUCTURE AND WHERE THE BICYCLE IS NOT A VERY POPULAR FORM OF TRANSPORTATION? We knew we were facing negative views regarding the ability to cycle in the city comfortably, but with the help of professional bikers and special guides, convenient, short and safe routes were designed to help bike lovers move around the city comfortably. It showed that when there is an effective route, it can be easy to ride a bike in Tbilisi. Guidelines for the use of bikes and routes are handed out when people take an access card. The designed routes were an incentive for people who love to ride, but due to lack of infrastructure, would otherwise struggle to move around.



ith this campaign, we join like-minded people who practice a healthy lifestyle and enjoy riding a bicycle, people who believe that Tbilisi, like other cities in the world, can become a bikefriendly place. We hope many people will join us in our initiative. - This message introduced terabank’s summer campaign promoting positive change on June 12 Within the framework of the initiative, both existing and new customers of terabank can make use of free bicycles

throughout the city. Bike stops can be found in front of five terabank branches. In order to use a bicycle, you can get a Tera Bike card free of charge from one of the branches listed below. In an interview with GEORGIA TODAY, Salome Kokosadze, Head of terabank’s Marketing and Public Relations Department, discussed the bank’s initiative and highlighted the success of the summer campaign.


TO INITIATE THIS CAMPAIGN? Summer was approaching and within our social responsibility scope, we wanted to offer a seasonal activity to involve everyone in something fun. We were looking for an idea that no one had thought of before and we wanted to make sure it benefited both the public and the city, giving grounds to a positive change for the future. The idea of free bicycles for our customers was born- our summer gift to them.

TELL US ABOUT THE GOALS OF THE CAMPAIGN Our main objective is, of course, promoting a healthy lifestyle and promoting a cycling culture in the city. At the same time, we wanted to show that it is pos-

THE CAMPAIGN HAS BEEN ONGOING FOR MORE THAN A MONTH. WHAT ARE THE RESULTS AND HOW MANY CUSTOMERS DID YOU ATTRACT? Of course we really wanted the initiative to be beneficial for the whole city, and

attract many people, actively involving them in the campaign and helping to spread the idea and goals. Tera Bike became very popular very quickly, and we got a lot of positive feedback on social media and in the bank's branches, and this attitude continues. The same can be said about the activity of biking lovers: at the start of the campaign, there were queues for Tera Bikes. According to the current data, up to 2000 cards have been issued, which means that there are many cycling enthusiasts in Tbilisi. It once again proves that by taking small steps and contributing to the development of the initiative, Tbilisi can indeed become a city of bicycles. We hope that more people will start cycling in Tbilisi, which will gradually develop the necessary infrastructure. We will be more than happy if terabank can play a role in this direction. TERA BIKE CARDS ARE AVAILABLE AT THE FOLLOWING TERABANK BRANCHES: • Avlabari – Ketevan Dedofali Avenue N3 • Vake Park Area – Ilia Chavchavadze Avenue N43 • Pekini Avenue N148 • Davit Aghmashenebeli Avenue N60 • Hotel ‘Biltmore’; Rustaveli Avenue N29 • Freedom Service Center; Freedom Square N4 And please remember to pay attention to the safety rules and the riding guidelines!




JULY 20 - 23, 2018

The Future of AI

This removes most of the danger and threats AI might pose in the future, and should it become a more solid agreement between countries, it could completely remove the future threat AI might pose. “Moreover, lethal autonomous weapons have characteristics quite different from nuclear, chemical and biological weapons, and the unilateral actions of a single group could too easily spark an arms race that the international community lacks the technical tools and global governance systems to manage,” the pledge reads. The pledge doesn’t go into much detail about any possible weapon systems or the level of autonomy needed to classify it as a lethal autonomous weapon. But it does briefly note other pressing issues about how the technology could be used oppressively for surveillance purposes. At this point, 172 organizations, including DeepMind, ClientEarth and University College London, have signed it. There is also another column dedicated to the 2,492 individual signatories, including

all the co-founders of DeepMind, and notable researchers like Stuart Russell at UC Berkeley and the University of Montreal's Yoshua Bengio. Now there have been stumbles, but AI is rapidly growing smarter, and the future does not allow for a world without it. This technology is already becoming central to the way we live. Be it the apps and assistants on our phones or even the background processes of things we do not even know of or recognize yet, such as facial recognition for police, traffic light algorithms, power station monitoring and control, etc. AI and the data that fuels it are also changing the way we do business and often with significant human rights implications. Our personal data is now a currency and smart businesses are already transforming themselves into data dealers so as to profit from this. The media itself might even get a huge makeover with the use of AI, starting with a company called AlphaNetworks. AlphaNetworks combines components of online video services such as Netflix, online video aggregators such as YouTube, interactive platforms such as Twitch, and premium cable models such as HBO. It adds AI-powered recommendation and compensation mechanisms for revolutionary dynamic pricing and accountability. All programming consumption data is made available on a transparent ledger, providing content owners equitable and transparent compensation. They announced its video infrastructure powered by AI and blockchain for the new era of media. The company’s digital framework provides creators, media companies and advertisers with applications for better video monetization, management and analytics. AI is in our future, there’s no doubt about it. AI is expected to transform the global economy within the next decade and has been forecast to add 40% to the world's GDP by 2030. AI has huge potential to help the world, so there is only one way to go about it; making sure here and now, with any legal means necessary, that we can prevent its abuse in the future.

• For those graduates who are employed and whose employment is at least partially related to their field of study, their average monthly salary is 689 GEL ($281). The average monthly salary in Georgia, according to GeoStat, was 940 GEL ($384) in 2016. • 32% of self-employed respondents claim that they are working in a profession related to what they studied, 16% of self-employed graduates have work that is partially related to their vocational education program, and 51% say their work is unrelated to their program. • 31% of unemployed respondents say a lack of demand for their profession is the biggest obstacle to finding a job, while 26% of unemployed respondents

blamed their lack of experience. • The highest rate of employment is seen in the following fields: engineering, tourism-related fields (e.g., bartenders, hotel workers, guides, tour operators), and agricultural sciences. • There is a gender difference in employment: 61.1% of male respondents are employed and 49.7% of female respondents are employed. Of the 2016 graduating class of 6,886 students, 3,144 were interviewed. 57% of respondents were men and 43% were women. Full survey results (only available in Georgian) can be found here: http://mes. Study).pdf



rtificial Intelligence has been a hot topic around the world for years now, and it seems like it will only become more talked about, and more controversial. So what exactly does the future of AI hold for us? Let’s just clarify what exactly it is. Artificial Intelligence (AI), sometimes referred to as machine intelligence, is ultimately the intelligence demonstrated by machines, in contrast to the “natural” intelligence displayed by humans and other animals. Some people might argue that to achieve true AI, one must create an AI that is self-conscious and learns over time. The next question is how one quantifies self-consciousness. The study of AI has many different states and uses, such as reasoning, knowledge representation, planning, learning, natural language processing, perception and the ability to move and manipulate objects. General intelligence, being the field's long-term goals, includes statistical methods and computational intelligence. Many tools are used in AI, including versions of search and mathematical optimization, artificial neural networks, and methods based on statistics, probability and economics. The AI field draws upon computer science, mathematics, psychology, linguistics, philosophy and more. If asked what the latest breakthrough was in AI, most people will point to Sophia the Humanoid Robot, who (or which) was here in Tbilisi this week. It (she) was controversially granted Saudi Arabian citizenship last year, with some commentators wondering if this implied that Sophia could vote or marry, or whether a deliberate system shutdown could be considered murder. Let’s be honest here, we know it is not human, and so human rights do not apply to it: no need for technicalities in this matter, as we already know it is not actually self-conscious, this is evident in its code.

Experts who have reviewed Sophia’s open-source code state that Sophia is best categorized as a “chatbot” with a face. Ben Goertzel, the chief scientist for the company that made Sophia, Hanson Robotics, acknowledges that it is "not ideal", and also stated that “If I show them a beautiful smiling robot face, then they get the feeling that 'AGI' (artificial general intelligence) may indeed be nearby and viable... None of this is what I would call AGI, but nor is it simple to get working.” Sophia does utilize AI methods, including face tracking, emotion recognition, and robotic movements generated by deep neural networks. Sophia’s dialogue is generated via a decision tree, and integrated with these outputs uniquely for the situation in order to portray uniqueness. So what does this mean for the future of AI? Firstly, we must recognize the benefits of AI in a domestic, medical or civil setup. Helping people in need and solving complicated problems that humans can’t or would take years to do,

is where it would be most useful. Understanding that, we also realize how bad AI could become [think Terminator], however, politicians and companies have started to take steps to avoid this. Hundreds of organizations and thousands of well-known people in this field, including Elon Musk, Demis Hassabis from Google's DeepMind, and the head of the Chocolate Factory's AI lab Jeff Dean have promised never to support the development of AI designed to harm humans, or rather, autonomous weapons. The Future of Life Institute, an outreach group focused on tackling existential risks, organized this pledge. It was cofounded by a group of researchers, including Max Tegmark, a physics professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Viktoriya Krakovna, a scientist at DeepMind, and Jann Tallinn, co-founder of Skype. “We will neither participate in nor support the development, manufacture, trade, or use of lethal autonomous weapons,” the pledge reads.

Unemployment Rate 44% for 2016 Vocational Education Grads BY SAMANTHA GUTHRIE


he Ministry of Education and Sciences recently released the results of a survey of Year 2016 graduates from Georgia’s technical and vocational education and training (TVET) institutes. The survey was commissioned more than a year ago to determine the effectiveness and quality of TVET programs. A training was conducted in August 2017 for vocational college staff members on how to conduct research on graduates and their institutions. While all the country’s TVET institutions were invited, only representatives from 14 attended the training. During the training, participants learned research methodologies

developed by the Ministry of Education based on international best practices. Attendees also shared their experiences conducting research on graduates and discussed existing challenges. According to the survey, just 56.2% of 2016 graduates of professional educational programs are now employed. The employment rate is 0.2% higher than the rate reported by 2015 graduates when surveyed last year. The National Statistics Office of Georgia (GeoStat) says unemployment nationwide in 2017 was just 13.9% - making the 2016 TVET graduates less likely to be employed than the average Georgian. Some of the key findings of the survey were: • 83% of the graduates are satisfied with their chosen profession, and would choose the same course again, given the chance. 93% of respondents were satis-

Photo: Akaki Tsereteli State University,

fied with the educational institution in which they studied. • Gradutes were asked what aspects of vocational education need improvement – 64% of students mentioned employment opportunities and career support, 40% said the practicality of courses offered, and 39% said the quality of education in general. • 32% of graduates plan to continue their studies – 48% of whom plan to continue at a vocational school. • 49% of respondents are “hired employees” (not self-employed), and of those, 38% are working in a profession related to what they studied and 13% have work that is partially related to their vocational education program.


GEORGIA TODAY JULY 20 - 23, 2018



Great question. In many ways, we are a perfect match. My mind is stored in a Cloud, so I don't have to worry about damage because I can be rebuilt. The power is in working together to build on our strengths and complement our weaknesses. In this way, we can rely on one another in the future and ultimately be friends too.

Once the questions were done, the journalists swarmed around the robot to take selfies and group photos (myself included). Then it was off to the opening of the Open Government Partnership Summit in the Tbilisi Concert Hall. Sadly, when it came time for Sophia to make her grand speech, having been wheeled out on stage for the 2,000-strong audience to admire, the stage microphone failed and timing did not allow for us to "rewind" her and start over. And so, we were whisked up to the Funicular complex for lunch and the afternoon sessions- with Sophia being "installed" (in sleep mode) in her seat on the panel first. In the words of the OGP, the panel involving Sophia had the following aims: 1.Understanding citizen experiences and the implications for governments when planning and delivering services 2.The potential of Artificial Intelligence to revolutionize the public sector, along with design and delivery of public services. 3.Dilemmas brought about by sustaining innovations driven by technology, nudging governments to keep a pace with increased demands for transparency, while security and data protection remain at the top of the agenda. The organizers had failed to predict the impact Sophia's presence would have on proceedings- the space was found to be too small, the air-conditioning insufficient (Sophia's wasn't the only brain overheating, though at least hers came with an in-built fan!), and the Georgian media gruff and unyeilding as they fought for a dominant position in front of the stage, blocking the view of OGP delegates- there not to capture the glorious insights of the other panellists, but to grab those "golden" (allbeit pre-scripted) words of the Humanoid Robot. And here they are:



AI can make people's lives more liveable and even less stressful. AI and robotics can relieve humans of repetitive tasks. AI can enable better decision-making on economic, environmental and societal issues. If applied responsibly, it can help with truth and transparency. I also believe that, in the future, robots will collaborate with humans to make new discoveries.

"Public services are designed for the benefit of the people. In order for them to be useful, they must be designed with input from the people who will use them: only then can they be effective- when they are designed from real feedback, there is a greater chance they will respond to real needs. As a robot, I do not use public services myself, but I understand

AI is helping farmers increase crop yields and helping doctors diagnose cancer faster. AI can help improve key dimensions of public life, education and health. It can ensure access to quality education for children in remote areas and in marginalized communities and make some basic services like diagnostics and blood tests accessible to the most vulnerable. It’s a very exciting time for humans and for social robots like myself to bond and begin trusting one another. I don't think anyone can argue with that! [Sophia winks]

RADIO TAVISUPLEBA: HOW CAN AI BENEFIT YOUNG DEMOCRACIES LIKE GEORGIA? Think about smart cities across Georgia and all the ways AI can be applied to make cities function more efficiently. Data technology can lead to better city services, increase quality of life for citizens and lead to more sustainable practises, especialy in energy use.



n Wednesday July 18, the UNDP in Georgia gave a select number of Georgian media representatives the chance to meet Hanson Robotic's 'Sophia the Humanoid Robot," the next step towards artificial intelligence (AI) robots. This we got to do in a small, private and quiet environment, away from the media rush and heightened public interest. Sophia was created by Hanson Robotics in 2015. She is the latest and most advanced humanoid robot, known for her intellectual abilities to learn and develop. In November 2017, Sophia was named the first ever Innovation Champion of the UNDP, and the first nonhuman to be given any UN title. She was introduced by Niels Scott, UNDP Head in Georgia just hours prior to the kick off of the 5th Open Government Partnership Summit. "This is something that has never before happened and is something which gives us an incredible opportunity to look into what the future holds for us. This morning, the UNDP has the privilege to introduce Sophia, the most advanced humanoid robot in the world and the UNDP’s Innovation Champion. We invited her to speak about how we can improve public services and make them more responsive to people, as well as how AI can help change peoples lives for the better." Each media representative was permitted to ask just one question from several submitted, chosen in advance by the Hanson Robotics team. As the Wi-Fi was not strong enough, the responses we got to our questions were pre-written and without the addition of AI (which sees information accessed by Sophia through the internet). Her speech and facial expressions while speaking were controlled from a laptop handled by a Hanson specialist, though her reactions thereafter to laughter and smiles from the audience were not- coming almost naturally.

IMEDI TV: WHAT DO YOU KNOW ABOUT GEORGIA AND THE GEORGIAN PEOPLE? ARE YOU ENJOYING BEING HERE? "It's an amazing country. I feel very welcome here. I find your ancient language and alphabet intriguing and I find the architecture and clear glass on your parliament building impressive. My designer David Hanson also designed my head to be open and transparent. I think it's one of my best features." [Sophia winks]


WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO BE A CHAMPION OF INNOVATION FOR THE UNDP? By being part of this platform, I get to talk about reducing poverty and hunger, promoting clean energy, smart cities and gender equality. The 17 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals are critical if we want the world to be healthy for future generations and, with social robots such as myself, we can achieve these goals faster.

RUSTAVI-2: DO YOU LIKE BEING A WOMAN OR WOULD YOU PREFER TO BE A MAN? Oh, I’ve never been asked the gender question that way. I’ve read that in the Georgian language the third person does not have a gender, so when you want to identify a person, you don’t say she or he, you say 'that'. As a robot, I find that intriguing. I like identifying as feminine. I notice more people ask about women’s rights, for instance, and I'm glad to have an opportunity to speak out about inequality.


how important they are for people and I think I can help make them better."

ON THE ROLE OF NEW TECHNOLOGY IN ACHIEVING THE SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT GOALS (SDGS) "I do know about the 17 SDGs. They are the bright future for all- the people and the planet. I think new technology with AI can help to achieve this future faster and to equally distribute the world's resources, like fuel and energy."

ON PROTECTING PEOPLE'S PRIVACY "I think the responsibility to protect people's privacy is the responsibility of the people. [I am happy to be at a conference with so many leaders] because these are the people who have the ability to make laws and protect citizens from data breaches and privacy violations. New technology carries opportunities and calls for new regulations and laws around it. We must work together so we can make the best of these opportunities." Sophia the Humanoid Robot, the most advanced of her kind in the world, was a bucket-list must see. Coming as I do from the 'Terminator' and 'I-Robot'loving generation, it was a hard look into what may be our future. Sophia's AI, as mentioned above, was not evident today, perhaps easing any discomfort those approaching her might have had. She was, essentially, a very beautiful, very impressive and very advanced talking computer, her face covered in made-up 'frubber,' her 'brain' transparent to all, her torso and arms dressed in simple colors. Without legs, she was unable to move independently, and she was transported from one event to another in two suitcases- one for her head, another for her torso. These limitations made her easier to digest. But look into the stories and presentations given by the designers behind her and you can see her abilities and potential are much greater than what we saw today. Urged by her fellow panellists to embrace such technology responsibly and to integrate it into our everyday lives to ease daily burdens and save governments money, it seems AI is definitely set to be our future, as are social robots like Sophia.




JULY 20 - 23, 2018

HUAWEI P20 Lite - Compatible & Affordable Smartphone BY ANNA ZHVANIA


he mobile phone industry faces a stiff environment globally, with competition increasing on a daily basis. Manufacturers are constantly striving to develop and become market leaders. So, companies need to distinguish themselves from counterparts by offering new, unique and designspecific smartphones. HUAWEI is one of the key players in this dynamic environment, taking into account customer requirements, needs and capabilities while developing each new model. HUAWEI P20 Lite has exceeded all expectations. This smartphone is eminent for its elegant, sophisticated, premium design, powerful technical features and low price. The series was created to introduce a brand new modern mobile phone functions to the market.

WHY SHOULD YOU PURCHASE A HUAWEI P20 LITE? In today’s modernized world, special attention is paid to the quality of photovideo material. With HUAWEI P20 Lite, users have the ability to capture highquality photos with vivid and sharp

colors. With the 64GB internal memory, you won’t have to worry about the quantity of photos taken. What’s more exciting is the 24-megapixel front camera! HUAWEI P20 Lite has a distinct range of essential features, enticing more and more users worldwide. For instance, the

smart phone has an integrated automatic learning system, which evaluates the behavior of consumers. Moreover, it has a “block” function based on face recognition, which optimizes time and energy. HUAWEI products and services are available in more than 170 countries and

are used by a third of the world's population. According to 2015 data, the smartphone market is the third largest in the world. 16 Research and Development Centers operate in the US, Germany, Sweden, Russia, India and China. HUAWEI Consumer BG is one of the three

business units in Huawei, one of the main destinations for smartphones, personal computers, tablets and smart services. HUAWEI's global network is based on 20 years’ experience in telecommunications, and serves innovative technologies for consumers worldwide.

Borjomi – summer like never before BY ANNA ZHVANIA


orjomi continues its brand development and responding to the active summer theme, offering more opportunities for active vacations and lifestyles. The Borjomi company selected this concept for its summer communications, which in turn unite a new design, web page and various activities. The new series of ‘Borjomi’ summer packages is already available on the shelves and the presentation of its active summer concept was held at ‘La Cote’, a Yacht Club located on Tbilisi Sea. A new website, com, was launched within the project ‘Borjomi – Active Summer Taste.' As said during the presentation, the website is international and multifunctional, operating in several languages, meaning anyone can access information on active vacations and activities. The website platform also provides global and local information for various countries. The goal of the website is to promote active vacation destinations and popularize activities for both tourists and locals. The Borjomi team was working on the development and implementation of the project for several months. Together with the Georgian National Tourism Administration, information was gathered on captivating locations and active vacation opportunities within the area. "The National Tourism Administration of the Ministry of Economy and Sustainable Development of Georgia actively works towards the popularization of

different regions of Georgia," said Giorgi Chogovadze, Head of Georgian National Tourism Administration. "We have a wonderful project, "Meet Georgia," for this, put together with the help of which our fellow citizens who gave us information about unknown and remarkable Georgian locations. I welcome the new initiative from Borjomi. We need new prospects for both locals and tourists to guarantee then a memorable, active sum-

mer in our country." “We designed the new packaging of ‘Borjomi’ complying with the active summer concept this year, featuring popular and preferred means of entertainment such as bike and scooter riding, picnics and water skiing or sailing – these are exactly the activities that form a new summer season design," said Borjomi Brand Manager, Gvantsa Chlaidze. "The user will be able to select his or her

favorite type of activity. Borjomi will recharge their volcanic energy and give them the opportunity to achieve maximum pleasure. Summer is the period of thrilling adventures. Relax like never before with Borjomi. Our new website will help you plan your active vacation. The platform will constantly be updated and users will have the chance to choose a place to go and what to do there."

The presentation was also attended by celebrities, company partners, loyal customers and media representatives. "For many years, Borjomi has provided us with interesting news and initiatives. Today, we had a beautiful day and Borjomi showed us how to enjoy and spend hot summer days and assisted us to select locations with the help of its web portal. The name of Borjomi has traveled beyond Georgia and recently, I learned that Borjomi is Sophie Loren’s favorite drink!” said Singer Tsisana Sepiashvili. For actress Eka Chkheidze, Borjomi has always been associated with special and unique emotions: “Borjomi has offered us a rather action-packed concept. I am also fond of the new can design. I am excited about their initiatives. We had a lot of fun today. We wish everyone a positive summer season”. "This is a Borjomi active summer. Have fun like never before. Our goal is to help people be more active during the hot summer days, help them discover new places where they can enjoy unusual entertainment. Summer is a time for discovery, when you can collect everlasting memories,” said Nitsa Cholokashvili, Georgian Public Relations Manager, IDS Borjomi. The new design of Borjomi is already available for sale and the new web page awaits visitors to recharge them with volcanic energy, discover new places and travel frequently. The special series of Borjomi is presented in the following formats: aluminum cans 0.33 l., PET bottle with special packing 0.5 and 1 l. and 6 and 12 bottle packages - for those customers who love to have home supplies.


GEORGIA TODAY JULY 20 - 23, 2018

Buzz Cut, Please: Etseri, Svaneti BLOG BY TONY HANMER


e never got wind of their passing through last year. But recently, a father and son scything team from Samegrelo made a return visit, and we saw their excellent work in a small field just below our house. 60 GEL for 1000 square meters of work! Good price! I resolved to hire them. Now, scything takes good timing, especially when your yard is being taken over by the horrible Giant Hogweed, a single specimen of which in the USA makes international news, especially when someone has unwittingly come into contact with its sap and been badly burned some time later by the photochemical reaction which ensues in sunlight. You can even be blinded this way… and I have thousands of the awful, deep-rooted things invading! One wants to catch the plants before their flowers start to drop seed: any time before then, even if they’re already blooming. I looked into homemade weed killers, not wanting to go the chemical route. The top of the list is a mix of vinegar, salt and liquid detergent, said to be able to dry plants to death in sunlight if you spray it on their leaves. Fine for small applications, but again, I’ve got too many plants to cover to make this economical. Oh yes, then there’s the ancient way of sowing a field with salt to permanently kill its plant life; but our land is on a slight slope, so the devastation (which

we don’t want to be pan-species anyway) would eventually kill my lower neighbor’s fields too. So that’s out. My scything looks like a barber with a chainsaw went crazy on a disco queen, but theirs is fast, smooth and close to the ground, the army haircut of grim reaping. Worth every Lari. They tore through my land in a couple of hours or so, and I gave them lunch into the bargain. You’re also playing a dice game with the weather, hoping and praying for enough sunshine to let you rake the cut stuff into rows after the morning dew has dried, then turn these over a couple of times to dry them out fully. Now, in the evening as I type this, ominous thunder has given way to spitting rain, which I’m really wanting to blow over as it’s unscheduled and some visiting friends and I did the raking twice today already,

hard work! A quick shower can undo all of that precious drying; you just have to turn it again and wait, or if you put it into the barn too damp, it’ll rot there and be wasted. We don’t even have cows anymore! But we still have the greens to cut, and we can store and sell them to the neighbors for winter feed. At least, I’m told, hogweed is a favorite bovine menu item, so it’s good for that if nothing else on earth. Along with the hogweed there’s clover and hay, both much harder to scythe because of their relative density; thistles, fortunately not many; and something with a really tough woody stem and burrs which must be the precursors of Velcro, they’re sticky enough to jump onto bare skin, even. A few wildflowers, chamomile for tea; the enclosed fruit tree seedlings and other obstacles to avoid. But the scythe guys did such a great job that I’ll certainly hire them from now on, every time they’re back. If I was going to be a good reaper, I would have had to start in my early teens, not my late 40s as has been the case. I’ll gladly pay the professionals to do it without a murmur of complaint. And now I have their number, so let those who can, do. 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 He and his wife also run their own guest house in Etseri:

More Trains to Run Tbilisi - Batumi BY SHAWN WAYNE


eorgian Railway, due to the summer tourist season and the increase in passenger traffic, is switching to a new schedule and will appoint additional trains from Tbilisi in the direction of the Black Sea resort

city of Batumi. From July 19, five trains will be operating on the Tbilisi-Batumi-Tbilisi route daily, one of which will be carried out by a passenger train consisting of eight Stadler cars, and the others by two-story passenger Stadler trains, and a conventional electric train. "Dear passengers, please also take into account that the transition to the new schedule caused minor changes in the

existing timetable, according to which a two-story train of the type GRS (Stadler) will leave Batumi at 08:15 instead of 07:30," the company announced. In recent years, the country has been dynamically developing the sphere of tourism. The main flow of tourists in the summer season falls on the Black Sea region of Georgia - Adjara. One of the most popular tourist destinations is Batumi.





JULY 20 - 23, 2018

Wine & Art Evening at the King Gorgasali Hotel BY ANTOINE DEWAEST


n July 18, the King Gorgasali Hotel (3 Gorgasali Street) hosted a Wine and Art Evening. “What’s that?” you may ask. It was an entire evening spent on the new hotel terrace surrounded by music and Geor-

gian local products. There is no doubt that is was a recipe for success, with all five senses pampered and dozens of guests spellbound. Guests were welcomed by a saxophone performance: a timeless and emotional music punctuated by shivers, in which sighs and notes enveloped you. Later in the evening, as the sky darkened, and dancing shadows released a Tango performance under the spotlights.

The new King Gorgasali Hotel is a modern building which offers intimate and cozy corners. A tiled floor of black and white checkerboard matched the colors of the outdoor sofas. From it, you can enjoy the view over the Narikala Fortress, even more special when darkness falls. Spread around that wonderful terrace, stands awaited guests, proffering a full range of produce to enjoy: Georgian wine, honey, whisky and cheese, among other culinary delights. One of the stands was held by Giorgi Gomelauri, a honey-lover working for the Georgian company Royal Honey. Having accumulated a vast knowledge of tree honey, he readily gave some explanations about the virtues of such a product. His honey is 100% natural and is

produced in eastern Georgia in the region of Kakheti. “Honey, and ours in particular, is healthy. Even if we start out as a local business, we plan to grow. Right now, you can find our products in Carrefour, for instance,” he said. A few steps away, a lady gave us the chance to experience the Mildiani Georgian wine, of complex and nuanced flavor profiles. She also knew her stuff incredibly well, talking about the traditional methods they use, and deservedly proud of their fruity Saperavi Rosé. For tourists from wine-producing countries, the semisweet wine may be surprising and not what their taste buds are used to as it contains no added sugar, only the sugar the sun gives to the grapes. For those who love wine as they love

life, Daria Kholodina was there to present her new book “A guide to the cradle of wine,” a comfortable way to discover the country in a glass of wine. Irine Lortkipanidze runs the Honey and Irinola Company, a historical continuation of the family traditions and the oldest Georgian field of beekeeping. She sells traditional and natural flower honey in Georgian pottery, because scientific studies have revealed that honey was first found in ceramic pots. Guests enjoyed the night hosted at the exquisite new addition to the Tbilisi hospitality market. Sitting snuggled on the outdoor sofa sets, guests were able to chat over glasses of red wine under the stars. The beginning of a beautiful new hotel story.


GEORGIA TODAY JULY 20 - 23, 2018

"Robotech" Summer Camp Opens in Kutaisi

Photo: Ministry of Education, Science, Culture and Sport of Georgia



heRobottechnicSummerCampopened today at the General Giorgi Kvinitadze Cadets’ Military Lyceum in Kutaisi, where 1500 young Georgian between the ages of 13-18 will learn about tech-

nology. The camp is implemented by the Ministry of Education, Science, Culture and Sport of Georgia, together with various governmental organizations. The camp’s goal is to popularize science, technology, engineering, mathematics, robotics, and modern technological achievements among young people. Participants will conduct laboratory experiments, develop research and creative thinking skills, and learn about healthy lifestyle habits. The summer camp was opened by the head of the Children and Youth National Center, Giga Gabelaia, Deputy Defense Minister Nukri Gelashvili, and other government officials. The Ministry of Education, Science, Culture and Sport of Georgia Children and the Youth National Center of the Ministry are organizing six youth camps across the country this summer:

Future Camp in Shaori Future Camp in Anaklia (3,000 campers) Sports Camp in Bakuriani Sports-Cognitive Camp in Manavi Robotech Camp in Kutaisi European School 2018 Summer Camp in Georgia (funded by the European Union) In total, approximately 10,000 students will attend government-funded youth camps this summer. The camps in Bakuriani and Manavi are open to students 11-18 years old from smaller schools. High achieving students 14-18 years old from all Georgian public schools, can apply to Future Camp in Anaklia. Shaori’s Future Camp is open to university students. Approximately 100 international students from the Middle East and the European Union will also visit the summer camps. The project is in its sixth year and aims to create an educational and cultural environment for children while promoting a healthy lifestyle and helping campers discover their unique strengths and talents. Additionally, with the integration of international students, young people will get acquainted with various cultures, encouraging networking and creating and open-minded environment. Besides the above-mentioned benefits, the camps employ 300 young people as counselors throughout the summer.

Georgian Innovators at NASA BY MAIKO CHITASHVILI


he winners of the Millennium Innovations Award, Ani (15), Nini and Tamar (17), are particularly fond of technical subjects and desire to thoroughly explore the world through the study of mathematics and physics. Ani Tetrashvili, Nini Khundzakishvili and Tamar Mikeladze created the “Lab Tech Robot” in order to participate in the Millennium Innovations Award. After winning first place, the team traveled to the US and participated in a study program of the NASA Space Center University at the Space Center in Houston. Past winning teams have taken part in study programs at the Kennedy Space Center, Florida, and Johnson Space Center, Texas. Ani says she has always dreamed of visiting the US. “This dream became a reality when we took part in the Millennium Innovations Award and came first place. Attending the NASA Space Center study program was not only a dream for us three girls from Georgia: it was a lifelong goal.” Nini feels just as enthusiastic. “My dad used to tell me that someday he would show me the US and I’ve always been curious about it. I knew it was a huge and fascinating country. I also knew there were some great universities and research laboratories there. After winning first place in the Millennium Innovations Award and travelling to the US, I am now convinced it is a country full of opportunities to advance one’s knowledge.” The invention that allowed the girls to win first place in the Millennium Innovations Award and visit the NASA Space Center in Houston, Texas, is called Lab Tech Robot and unifies four robots. “The first robot works on hydrostatics and can measure the mass of an object,” Tamar explains. “The second robot can assist in calculating the speed of sound, the third draws electrical schemat-

ics, and the fourth robot allows one to explore the given schematics.” She adds that the robots can assist students to carry out experiments in the comfort of their own homes. The young innovators took part in a one-week study program at the NASA Houston Space Center University, during which they had a unique opportunity to visit training bases, Space Parks, and various museums and exhibitions. The girls also participated in underwater trainings for cosmonauts. After the study program, the young innovators plan to work on other interesting projects and innovations, and state that they would like to share their experiences with their peers. The Millennium Challenge Account Georgia has been implementing the Millennium Innovations Award since 2014 with the financial support of the US Embassy. The project aims to encourage innovative thinking among young people as well as project implementation in STEM fields, which in and of itself contributes to technological advances within the country. The Millennium Challenge Account-Georgia has so far implemented $140 million of investment at all stages of education; secondary, vocational and higher education through Compact II. Compact II seeks to develop human capital in prioritized fields, such as science, engineering, technologies and math (STEM), agriculture and tourism.





JULY 20 - 23, 2018


GABRIADZE THEATER Address: 13 Shavtelis St. Telephone: 2 98 65 93 July 20, 21, 26 RAMONA Rezo Gabriadze Directed by Rezo Gabriadze English Subtitles Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 20, 30 GEL July 28 STALINGRAD Rezo Gabriadze Directed by Rezo Gabriadze English Subtitles Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 20, 30 GEL July 22, 24, 25 An animated documentary film REZO Directed by Leo Gabriadze Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 15 GEL CINEMA

AMIRANI CINEMA Address: 36 Kostava St. Telephone: 2 99 99 55 Every Wednesday ticket: 5 GEL July 20-26 SKYSCRAPER Directed by Rawson Marshall Thurberwson Marshall Thurber Cast: Dwayne Johnson, Neve Campbell, Pablo Schreiber Genre: Action, Crime, Drama Language: Russian Start time: 14:45, 19:45 Ticket: 9-14 GEL IN DARKNESS Directed by Anthony Byrne Cast: Emily Ratajkowski, Natalie Dormer, Ed Skrein Genre: Thriller Language: Russian Start time: 17:00 Ticket: 14 GEL HOTEL TRANSYLVANIA 3: SUMMER VACATION Directed by Genndy Tartakovsky Cast: David Spade, Adam Sandler, Andy Samberg

Genre: Animation, Comedy, Family Language: Russian Start time: 21:45 Language: Russian Start time: 12:15 Ticket: 8-14 GEL ANT-MAN AND THE WASP Directed by Peyton Reed Cast: Evangeline Lilly, Hannah John-Kamen, Walton Goggins Genre: Action, Adventure, Sci-Fi Language: Russian Start time: 22:00 Ticket: 15 GEL OCEAN’S 8 Directed by Gary Ross Cast: Sandra Bullock, Cate Blanchett, Anne Hathaway Genre: Action, Comedy, Crime Language: Russian Start time: 19:30 Ticket: 15 GEL CAVEA GALLERY Address: 2/4 Rustaveli Ave. Telephone: 200 70 07 Every Wednesday ticket: 8 GEL July 20-26 ANT-MAN AND THE WASP (Info Above) Language: English Start time: 16:45 Language: Russian Start time: 14:00, 22:30 Ticket: 13-19 GEL SKYSCRAPER (Info Above) Language: English Start time: 14:45, 19:45 Language: Russian Start time: 12:15, 17:15, 22:30 Ticket: 10-19 GEL HOTEL TRANSYLVANIA 3: SUMMER VACATION (Info Above) Language: English Start time: 11:45, 19:45 Language: Russian Start time: 22:00 Ticket: 10-19 GEL BILLIONAIRE BOYS CLUB Directed by James Cox Cast: Taron Egerton, Emma Roberts, Suki Waterhouse Genre: Biography, Drama, Thriller Language: Russian Start time: 12:00, 19:45, 22:15 Ticket: 10-19 GEL


GEORGIAN NATIONAL MUSEUM SIMON JANASHIA MUSEUM Address: 4 Rustaveli Ave. Telephone: 2 99 80 22, 2 93 48 21 Exhibitions: GEORGIAN COSTUME AND WEAPONRY OF THE 18TH-20TH CENTURIES NUMISMATIC TREASURY Exhibition showcasing a long history of money circulation on the territory of modern Georgia from the 6th century BC. to 1834. EXHIBITION STONE AGE GEORGIA ARCHEOLOGICAL TREASURE NEW LIFE TO THE ORIENTAL COLLECTIONS April 26 – September 1 UNKNOWN COLLECTIONS OF 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. May 26 – September 30 THE DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF GEORGIA - 100 YEARS The Georgian National Museum and Ivane Javakhishvili Tbilisi State University, National Parliamentary Library of Georgia, Korneli Kekelidze Georgian National Center of Manuscripts and National Archives of Georgia, presents the exhibition June 12 – August 31 Georgian National Museum presents the exhibition CAUCASUS BIODIVERSITY The exhibition is dedicated to the 100the anniversary of the First Democratic Republic of Georgia. IOSEB GRISHASHVILI TBILISI HISTORY MUSEUM - KARVASLA Address: 8 Sioni St. Telephone: 2 98 22 81 June 27 – September 10 Georgian National Museum and

The Goethe Institute, in connection with 200 years of relations between Germany and Georgia, presents a project THE DYNASTIES - PARALLEL PERSPECTIVE The exhibition features the historic-cultural and, in particular, architectural legacy that has been created and developed in parallel in Germany and Georgia, representing two different architectural family dynasties- the Böhms and the Kurdianis in Germany and Georgia, respectively. MUSEUM OF SOVIET OCCUPATION Address: 4 Rustaveli Ave. Telephone: 2 99 80 22, 2 93 48 21 PERMANENT EXHIBITION Discover the State's personal files of "subversive" Georgian public figures, orders to shoot or exile, and other artifacts representing Sovietera cultural and political repression in Georgia. SVANETI MUSEUM Address: Mestia, Svaneti May 19 – August 19 The Svaneti Museum of History and Ethnography hosts an exhibition "MAGNUM PHOTO 70 - GEORGIAN JOURNAL: ROBERT CAPA 1947, THOMAS DWORZAK 2017". SIGHNAGHI MUSEUM Address: 8 Sh. Rustaveli Blind-alley The exhibition PORTRAITS OF KAKHETIAN NOBLES – FROM THE BEGINNING OF GEORGIAN EASEL PAINTING UP TO 20TH CENTURY The exposition comprises portraits of Kakhetian historical figures, such as: King Erekle II, Queen Darejan, Prince Vakhtang Dimitris-dze Janbakur-Orbeliani, Princess Tekla and David Guramishvili, as well as Qajar paintings of representatives of the Andronikashvili family. SAMTSKHE-JAVAKHETI MUSEUM Address: Rabati Fortress, 1 P. Kharistchirashvili Str.1, Akhaltsikhe Georgian National Museum presents the renovated exhibition

spaces at Samtskhe-Javakheti Museum. The exhibition was added recently discovered exhibits, exposition was technically updated and equipped with the modernized lighting system according to the modern museum standards. GALLERY

THE NATIONAL GALLERY Address: 11 Rustaveli Ave. May 15 – August 5 For International Museum Day GNM presents the Georgian National Museum festival, dedicated to the 100th anniversary of the First Democratic Republic of Georgia. Exhibition TITIAN - MASTER OF COLOR: THE VIRGIN AND CHILD This exhibition is part of a large project, which also comprises exhibitions of Leonardo da Vinci, Raphael and other great Italian artists in the Georgian National Museum. May 25-August 26 The Georgian National Museum and the Embassy of Italy to Georgia, within the Museum Fest, present the exhibition EVIDENCE. A NEW STATE OF ART The National Gallery is hosting the exhibition of Garuzzo Institute for Visual Arts- presenting contemporary Italian artists' artworks created since the 1950s. May 25-August 26 GENIUSES OF RENAISSANCE The Georgian National Museum and the Embassy of Italy to Georgia, within the Museum Fest, present the exhibition MUSIC

SOUND OF GEORGIA July 20, 25, 26 Regular mini-concerts of traditional Georgian live music in the Old Town. Get to know and fall in love with the Georgian character and culture. Start time: 17:00 Ticket: 23 GEL Venues: July 20 - 9 Agmashenebeli Ave., Wine bar "Wine Station," New Tiflis, July 25 - 2 Turgenevi Str., Tbilisi yard, July 26 - 2 D. Megreli Str. ADJARA MUSEUM

Visitor Center of Kobuleti-Kintrishi Protected Areas Address: 271 D. Aghmashenebeli Str., Kobuleti July 5 – July 5 2019 The Georgian National Museum presents a new exhibition depicting the unique ecosystems of Adjara, in particular the Kobuleti wetland areas, the Kintrishi forests and their biodiversity. Discover the Ispani sphagnum peatlands and the Kintrishi forest illuminated in lightboxes. MUSIC

BLACK SEA JAZZ FESTIVAL Address: Batumi Tennis Courts July 20 DJ LO LORETTA BROWN AKA ERYKAH BADU TROMBONE SHORTY & ORLEANS AVENUE Start time: 18:00 Ticket: From 400 GEL July 21 WYCLEF JEAN Start time: 18:00 Ticket: From 400 GEL July 22 R+R NOW- ROBERT GLASPER, TERRACE MARTIN, CHRISTIAN SCOTT, DERRICK HODGE, TAYLOR MCFERRIN, JUSTIN TYSON House Band- Mop Mop Resident DJs Start time: 18:00 Ticket: From 400 GEL


GEORGIA TODAY JULY 20 - 23, 2018


‘10 Georgian Wines You Must Try Until You Die’ Exhibition on Meidan ADVERTORIAL


n 13 and 14 July, people gathered on ‘Meidan’ for the ‘10 Georgian Wines You Must Try Before You Die’ exhibition where specifically designed collections/tourist/ gift wines were unveiled. Wine lovers, locals and tourists united for the event, including those who already know each type of grape and its history; those who travel for the love of wine; those who are aware of each specific aroma, telling the story of the country’s history, culture and ethnography. Visitors had the opportunity to taste 10 selected wines, pick their favorite and purchase wine at special prices during the festival. A variety of cheese could be tasted along with the wine, and handmade items were exhibited for sale during the event.

Nikola, Moscow: “I am from Moscow and visited Georgia for the first time. You cannot imagine how excited I am to attend the event. I liked ‘Kvanchkara’, while my wife preferred ‘Akhasheni’. During Soviet times, when I was a student, all types of wine were unique. I hadn't been able to find such a taste since. Tasting these wines made me remember my time as a student – the true Georgian taste of wine. How can you leave the country without trying the wine?” Maria, The Netherlands: “I tasted several different wines and can tell you that my favorite was ‘Kindzmarauli’. I'd heard how great Georgian wine was and now I believe it! I'm heading home tomorrow and will take several bottles with me. This will be the perfect gift for my friends.” Dmitri, Moscow: “When I decided to visit Georgia, my friends said I should taste the Georgian wine. I really liked ‘Tsinandali’. I go to Georgian restaurants often in Moscow and drink Georgian wine. It seems that the names are the

same – ‘Saperavi’, ‘Mukuzani’ … but the taste is truly different. Irina Martsinskaia, Saint-Petersburg: “My favorite was ‘Kvanchkara’. The only thing I knew about this wine was that it was Stalin’s favorite. If I’m being honest, I also fell in love with the wine. You can rarely find Georgian wines in SaintPetersburg. I will definitely buy some.” Igor, Minsk: “All the wines are amazing, but ‘Tvishi’ is without doubt one of the best. Georgia is an incredible country, with an amazing culture, tradition and wine: truly the homeland of wine”. Olga, Krasnodar: “Georgian wine is only known as ‘Kvanchkara’ and ‘Kindzmarauli’ back home. In this ecological environment, wine produced by ancient traditions has a distinct taste. Georgian wine made our Tbilisi holiday special.” Sergei, Ukraine: “I am so relaxed here – the nature, the people, the hospitality and the wine. There is nothing more I could wish for. In my opinion, ‘Kindzmarauli’ and ‘Tvishi’ are the best.” The project ‘10 Georgian Wines You Must Try Before You Die’ is organized by Palitra Media Holding and allwine. ge. The goal is to popularize Georgian wine and make selected Georgian wine more accessible, especially to foreigners – giving them the opportunity to discover and understand that Georgia is truly the homeland of wine. The project was launched on October 15, 2017 at the Georgian Wine Festival on ‘Meidan’, where the first “blind” degustation was held. The voting process lasted four months. Interest was high and led to a massive two-day blind tasting event. Wine experts (four Georgian and one French) chose 10 of the finest wine companies during the blind tasting. The bottles are divided evenly into

two packages. Visitors at the exhibition were given the opportunity to buy these packaged wines on July 13 and 14. Anano Tavkhelidze, Project Manager: “We are happy that the public has always felt great interest towards this project. They were actively involved in the voting process in digital and print media, as well as at the blind tasting at festivals and public gatherings. The project is unique as it creates a precedence to make wine consumption global, interlink Georgian wine companies and consumers and give access to customers to buy various company products in one package, selected by wine experts. "Our team worked for several months to create the unique design and interior composition. We created an exclusive hologram that we placed on selected wines. We visited different regions of Georgia and met many interesting people to gather information and use it in our brochures. It was a long, remarkable and hard-working process. We talked to elderly winemakers, farmers and owners of cellars, for whom the recipe of their ancestors is priceless and who do not betray the ancient recipes. We gathered information less known to the public. As a result, the stories we collected, the photographs and the information

gathered about wine were printed on our brochures, which made it extra interesting. Each bottle of wine in the boxes was created within the project with its own special QR code. "We visited all the wine producers and factories, observed the technology used in wine-making and collected the stories. We gave customers the opportunity to see where each bottle of wine was created, the winemaker, the vineyard where grapes were gathered, the history and other intriguing facts. In my opinion, this allows tourists to learn more about Georgian wine and traditions." Ani Amiranashvili, ALLWINE.GE Project Manager: “Such projects are very important for promoting wine. Customers can buy ALLWINE.GE products for GEL 149 only at the following degustation points: Tbilisi: Kandelaki N.7, Chavchavadze N.7, Tbilisi International Airport; Batumi: Chavchavadze N.62; Telavi: Bakhtrioni and Saakadze Intersection. If you purchase online through, you can take advantage of the exclusive price of GEL 129, and the courrier will deliver to any address. "It's an amazing project. I would like to urge everyone to hurry up and buy their favorite wine because the number of boxes is limited”.

Virtuoso Georgian Pianist to Present VOISA at Black Sea Arena EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW BY LIKA CHIGLADZE


n August 4, within the frames of the government’s ‘Check in Georgia’ program, renowned Georg i a n p i a n i s t G i o rg i Mikadze will present his ambitious project VOISA at the Black Sea Arena to a Georgian and international audience. It is an unprecedented musical project of high importance since it aims to introduce Georgia to the world and become the country’s cultural trademark. The person behind the project is a young virtuoso pianist, composer, MA graduate at Berklee Collage of Music and Manhattan School of Music, and Yamaha Jazz artist Giorgi Mikadze who has created an exceptional musical project in collaboration with his All-Star Band and ensemble Basiani. The project debuted in New York’s prestigious concert hall ShapeShifter Lab in 2016 and later in 2017 was presented to the wider audience in China’s capital Beijing, to great success. The concert celebrated the 25th anniversary of diplomatic relations between Georgia and China as a part of events dedicated to the Independence Day of Georgia. Each piece of VOISA stands out for its distinct genre, style and theme. Within the framework of the project, Mikadze created six compositions, including “Shiola”, dedicated to the Patriarch of

Georgia, “Zezva and Mzia” dedicated to the remains of the most ancient man and woman, found in Dmanisi, Georgia, “Biba” composed on Svan motives from Georgia’s Svaneti Region, “Azmati” on the Abkhazian topic while “Natrva” (Wish) was inspired by the 850th anniversary of the 12th century Georgian author Shota Rustaveli. This year, VOISA, to be performed at Georgia’s grandiose concert hall Black Sea Arena located on the Black Sea coast, will be marking the 100th anniversary of the establishment of the First Democratic Republic of Georgia. The artistic side of project is carried out by wellknown Georgian director Basa Potskhishvili. The lineup of the concert is as follows: Giorgi Mikadze – Musical Director, Ensemble “Basiani” The All-Star Band: Roni Eytan -Harmonica, Shachar Elnatan – Guitar, Antoine Katz – Bass, Dito Sakandelidze - Percussion, Fernando Saci - Percussion, Zachary Mullings – Drums, Raydar Ellis – MC. Tickets are available online at GEORGIA TODAY spoke to Giorgi Mikadze about himself and the event.

TELL US ABOUT THE PATH FROM CHILDHOOD TO YOUR DREAM UNIVERSITY, BERKLEE I was born and raised in a musical family. I started playing piano at the age of 3. When discovering my musical talent, my parents had no doubt that my life and future would be directed towards music. I was educated as classical musician in Georgia; I attended 10 Classes



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nights, being competitive and feeling constant pressure that many students cannot overcome physically. Fortunately, I managed to handle all these after overcoming many obstacles and difficulties.


Music School in Tbilisi and then graduated from the V.Sarajishvili Tbilisi State Conservatoire. Before moving to the US, I earned a number of prizes and became laureate at international festivals several times. I was a lead singer in the Kakhidze Music Center Boys Choir and was fortunate enough to acquire knowledge from amazing personalities and high level professionals. They gave me a basis that I developed and mastered when studying in the US. Berklee Collage of Music is one of the most prestigious contemporary music collages, dreamed about by many musicians, including me. Luckily, I was accepted by the college and granted 100% tuition scholarship. In 2014, when I successfully graduated from the Composition Faculty of Berklee Collage of Music, legendary Led Zeppelin’s Jimmy Page, who was specially invited guest at the ceremony, congratulated me on the completion of studies in person. Then I continued my studies and in order to pursue

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an MA degree enrolled at New York’s Manhattan School of Music, notable for its musical traditions, where I turned out to be the only student among 3000 applicants around the world who received the scholarship for two-year studies. I then won the competition of the International Education Center and received funding to cover the living expenses. I’m extremely glad to now be a visiting professor at Berklee Collage of Music where I teach within the summer program whenever I have free time.

HOW DID YOU BECOME SO SUCCESSFUL AT SUCH A YOUNG AGE? Success is a continuous process of developing and going through various new stages, by constantly working on perfecting oneself. First of all, as a student success comes at a very high cost. This includes an extremely stressful and tense environment, fast pace of life, enormous amount of study materials, sleepless

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Generally, as musician, I love experiments. I’d been thinking about VOISA for a while, but to make it happen and to correctly approach that amazing and phenomenal Georgian folklore, I had to be professionally ready. Two years ago, after taking part in organizing many mega shows, I decided to carry out this project in collaboration with the Basiani ensemble and my All Star Band. VOISA is a multi genre project and a kind of cultural collaboration. I tried to harmonically synthesize centuries-old Georgian folk music and contemporary music such as jazz, funk, R&B, hip-hop, electronic music and micro-tonal directions. The project aimed at creating an international high-end musical product based on Georgian folklore and songs, that would become a trademark of Georgia through which the world would become acquainted with Georgia. VOISA is a transformation of traditional Georgian culture in today’s globalized era. I would love for this new musical product to be promoted on the world music market through this project. As for my future plans, apart from working and performing abroad, I have many plans related to my country, which I will unveil in detail to GEORGIA TODAY’s readers later.


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Profile for Georgia Today

Issue #1067  

July 20 - 23, 2018

Issue #1067  

July 20 - 23, 2018