Issue no: 1187
• SEPTEMBER 20 - 23, 2019 • PUBLISHED TWICE WEEKLY
PRICE: GEL 2.50
In this week’s issue... NDI: 68% of Respondents Think Government Used Excessive Force on June 20 NEWS PAGE 2
POLITICS PAGE 4
Conference and Exhibition Halls at the Museum of Fine Arts & the Art House BUSINESS PAGE 5
ON EDUCATION Cartu Fund presents the future of Kutaisi International University, financed by Bidzina Ivanishvili
Huawei CEO Ren Zhengfei's Interview with The Economist, Part 2 BUSINESS PAGE 6
Ruling Party Not to Support European Georgia’s Initiative on Sanctions against Russia BY THEA MORRISON
The Growing Cooperation between Switzerland & Georgia: Mario Gattiker Visits Georgia
he ruling Georgian Dream (GD) party says they will not support the initiative of the parliamentary opposition European Georgia party on imposing sanctions against Russia and pushing the occupation of Georgian territories in the international agenda. “The executive branch of Georgia does not need to be dictated how and in what way to ensure the protection of our national interests,” Vice Parliament Speaker Gia Volsky said. Volsky noted that the aim of the ruling team is Georgia’s Euro-Atlantic integration, adding that this position will not be changed. “Consequently, we will not support the malicious initiative of European Georgia which will place our citizens living abroad in a bad situation,” he added, going on to underline that any country that recognizes the violation of Georgia's territorial integrity, that recognizes breakaway Abkhazia and Tskhinvali regions, is subject to economic sanctions from the United States. “Additional moves and sanctions in this direction mean that Russia may impose economic sanctions on us and it certainly has the resources
SOCIETY PAGE 8
Image source: 112 International
to do so… This will lead to a real response from Russia- a disaster for Georgian wine and citrus exporters,” Volsky stated. Sophio Katsarava, Chairman of the Parliamentary Committee on Foreign Relations, also commented on the draft resolution of European Georgia. According to her, the resolution potentially creates a precondition for Russian sanctions against Georgia.
“To put it simply, it will cause economic harm to thousands of Georgians. Our aim is to reduce economic dependence on Russia, and we are doing so but all this takes time and a higher standard of production to compete with the very diverse and very high standard products of the EU market,” she said. Continued on page 4
Urban Makeover: Tbilisi is Next in Line CULTURE PAGE 11
SEPTEMBER 20 - 23, 2019
NDI: 68% of Respondents Think Government Used Excessive Force on June 20 on June 20 in reaction to the visit of three Russian MPs to Georgia within the framework of a session of the Inter-parliamentary Assembly on Orthodoxy held at the Parliament building, mostly due to the fact that Russian MP Sergei Gavrilov sat in the parliamentary Speaker’s chair, speaking in Russian, which many Georgians saw as the unwelcome reminder of the Russian occupation of the country's breakaway regions of Abkhazia and Tskhinvali (South Ossetia). The protest turned into clashes with police after protesters tried to enter the parliament building. The so-called Gavrilov Night protest was dispersed by riot police with the use of tear gas, rubber bullets and water cannon. 240 individuals, including 32 journalists and 80 law enforcers, were injured during a clash on Rustaveli Avenue on June 20-21.
BY ANA DUMBADZE
ixty-eightpercentoftherespondents believe the government used excessive force against protesters during the dispersal of a rally in Tbilisi on June 20-21, the results of the public opinion survey conducted by the US National Democratic Institute (NDI) show. 22% of the interviewed respondents believe that the force used against the protesters was “relevant,” 4% disagree with both opinions, while 4% dochose not to answer. The NDI survey was conducted on July 13-29 and a total of 2132 people were interviewed. The average margin of error is 1.7%. Protests on Rustaveli Avenue started
Georgia’s Success at ATWS BY KETEVAN KVARATSKHELIYA
eorgia has yet again succeeded in the sphere of tourism. A video clip about the country entitled "One Blood: Georgia", introducing its stunning landscapes and sights through the story of one young man, Alex Iskandarov, has come out on top at the Adventure Tourism World Summit (ATWS), taking place in Sweden. Mariam Kvrivishvili, Head of the Georgian National Tourism Administration
Image source: Mariam Kvrivishvili's Facebook
of the Ministry of Economy and Sustainable Development, reported on this success through her Facebook page. “Georgia has won! A video clip about Georgia has obtained victory with the majority of votes at the Adventure Tourism World Summit!!!” reads her post. She congratulated Georgia on this win, noting that this is a huge accomplishment for the country.
US Funds Construction of New Pediatric HematologyOncology Center in Tbilisi BY KETEVAN KVARATSKHELIYA
he US Government has offered support to Georgia by allocating $700,000 for the construction of a new Pediatric HematologyOncology Center in the Georgian capital. “No child should ever get sick, but
sadly, they sometimes do. In order to help Georgia develop a state-of-the-art center for comprehensive cancer treatment, the US Government awarded Global Healing and the Jo Ann Medical Center $700,000 to establish a new Pediatric Hematology-Oncology Center in
Tbilisi,” reads the statement of the Embassy. The brand new medical center in Tbilisi is to be launched on the basis of Jo Ann Medical Center under the patronage of President of Georgia Salome Zurabishvili.
GEORGIA TODAY SEPTEMBER 20 - 23, 2019
Bidzina Ivanishvili to Invest 1 Billion Euros in Construction of Kutaisi International University
BY ANA DUMBADZE
n September 18, “Cartu Foundation” (Cartu Fund) and Kutaisi International University held a presentation of the new educational space at the Sheraton Grand Metekhi Palace hotel. This is one of the most important and largestscale projects in the modern history of Georgia in the field of education, as, following the restoration of the country’s independence, for the first time, a new state university is being founded. The presentation was attended by President of Georgia Salome Zurabishvili, donor to the Cartu Fund Bidzina Ivanishvili, Founder of the Kutaisi International University and Cartu Fund Chairman Nikoloz Chkhetiani, the Advisor to the Prime Minister for Education Issues Mikheil Chkhenkeli, the Principal of the Kutaisi International University, Professor Aleksandre Tevzadze, President of the Technical University of Munich, Professor Dr. Wolfgang Hermann, Director of the Institute of Neuroscience and Medicine of the Jülich Research Center, Professor Dr. Bernd Neumaier, Executive Vice President of IBA Group, Serge Lamisse, and the representatives of legislative authorities, international organizations and diplomatic corps, educational circles and the public. As announced during the event, phase one of development will see the construction of buildings with a total area of 170,000 square meters. This includes three academic buildings, three student dormitories, a residential building for faculty members, a central library, and a dining hall. Two additional academic buildings, a Hadron Therapy Center, a university clinic, laboratories, and other scientific research facilities will be constructed during the next stages of development. The honorary President of the Kutaisi University will be prominent scientist and President of the Technical University of Munich, Professor Dr. Wolfgang Hermann. “This day marks the beginning of new academic relations between Georgia and Germany. I am proud to be here today and contribute to the establishment of a new university, Kutaisi International
University. I would like to emphasize that the university must be international as well as interdisciplinary, in order to be attractive to young people throughout the world, especially to the youth of this region,” he stated. Bidzina Ivanishvili, the Former Prime Minister and the Founder of the Georgian Dream party, who is the only donor to the Cartu Foundation, will invest 1 billion Euros in the construction of Kutaisi University. “According to the decision of Bidzina Ivanishvili, a total of one billion Euros will be allocated for the Kutaisi International University project. This is an unprecedented amount of investment in education, which has never happened in Georgia before,” said the Principal of the Kutaisi International University, adding that the University will be an educational space equipped with modern infrastructure and technologies, which will ensure accessibility to high quality higher education for Georgian and foreign students in the country. In turn, Ivanishvili spoke about the ongoing construction of Kutaisi International University. He is the author of the idea to grant Kutaisi the function of a university city, having voiced his opinion on the technical institute and medical research center project in 2012, at meetings with the public. “In 2012, I promised Georgian society that we would construct the University in Kutaisi and that we would bring back the educational function of the city. Today, we all see that the first phase of the construction is being completed, and the educational space will be ready to receive the first wave of students in September 2020. Of course, this is important, but today we need not just yet another university, but one where the quality of education is in accordance with international standards and one that is recognized internationally. That is why, together with the best specialists in this field, we have been actively working for several years and have achieved significant results,” he stated. “I would also like to emphasize that Cartu Fund will remain a private sponsor and not the owner of the university complex. It will not be someone’s property, but will be a state university and the property of the entire country," he noted, adding that Kutaisi University complex includes an international research technology center of EU stand-
ards and international health center, which today have no analogs in Georgia. He concluded that Kutaisi International University will be “our country's guide in the era of technological explosion." ‘’This is an unprecedented fact of philanthropy that has never been observed in the history of Georgia, and I think it is one of the most prominent examples in the world. Construction is underway. In 2020 we will receive the first wave of students, however, after that the development will continue.
The university will expand and new educational programs will be added. This is a ‘business card’ not only for our foundation, but for the whole country,” said the Cartu Fund Chairman. As part of the presentation, a memorandum of collaboration was signed between the Kutaisi International University and the Jülich Research Center (Germany), one of the largest interdisciplinary research centers in Europe, within the framework of which the sides will implement mutual goals for the development of the education field. After the signing ceremony, the Panel Discussions “Educational and Scientific Research Collaboration” and “Hadron Therapy Center” were also held. The Advisor of Prime Minister for education issues stated during the presentation that the new educational space will be ready to receive the first wave of students on 1st September 2020, adding that youth will have the opportunity to select educational programs in mathematics, computer science, and management. Kutaisi International University will employ Georgian and foreign academic personnel. It is expected to become the international hub of science and technology in the region. “It will be a leading provider of scientific and educational services for the entire Caucasus region and a vital component in the positioning of Georgia in the international educational arena,” the presenters noted during the event. It is also noteworthy that the university’s management system, educational directions, and regulations governing the selection of researchers and lecturers will correspond to the management system of the Technical University of Munich, with which Kutaisi International University has been cooperating since 2017. Moreover, Kutaisi International University is cooperating with leading educational and scientific centers in the field of science. The Kutaisi International University project was officially presented on 8 September 2016. The construction of Kutaisi International University is the biggest and largest-scale construction project in Georgia.
SEPTEMBER 20 - 23, 2019
Wounded Georgia OP-ED BY NUGZAR B. RUHADZE
enerations are fading away, daydreaming of a better country, better government, better life, better future, better everything, but it happened so that Georgia’s national, and even individual, happiness came to depend on something that has proved to be almost unachievable: the country’s territorial integrity. Expectations persevere and hope is not yet dead that the land pieces that have been sliced off the motherland’s body in the aftermath of the stupidest ever wars, will someday be brought back by a miraculous change or divine providence fermenting somewhere in the mysteriously unbeknown space and circumstance. Those pieces of earth, painfully separated from the mainland, are currently in the hands of Russia, nominally called de facto independent states, drilling through the mind of every living Georgian, but escaping the national memory little by little. The wounded Georgia needs security and help, which it has always sought elsewhere, beyond its boundaries, the old haven having been Russia, the country now branded with the new appellation of ‘occupant’. Georgia is truly in need of security, and it has decided to embrace NATO, the most powerful military alliance in the world, to serve that cherished purpose. The attempt to legalize its predisposition for becoming a member of the western family of nations via NATO and the EU, has been crippled a couple of times in the past. And now comes the informal invitation from one of our European well-wishers to join the Alliance regardless of the hugely detrimental loss of territories, by excluding from Articles Five of the alliance’s agreement Georgia’s lost lands. Wow! Finally, there is twinkling of some light at the end of the tunnel, but the tunnel itself hides the dangers of Georgia’s doing so, considering the current state of its geopolitical affairs. Give
Image source: Georgia's State Construction Company
me one political scientist in the country, even the most intelligent, experienced and educated, which is capable of predicting, with reasonable precision, what might happen if Georgia is forcefully and hurriedly stuck into the safe NATO fortresses. I am more than sure that the North Atlantic Treaty Organization is a nice place for Georgia to be stay safe and sound…for a while. But what about the consequential developments in the longer run? Is NATO an absolute guarantee for Georgia’s stable and lasting security against Russia in the coming
years of happy existence, if a happy existence is possible at all in the situation Georgia has generally found itself in? If consulting the entire population of the country makes any sense when it comes to the issue of NATO or no NATO, then we have to go plebiscite and make it clear who says yay and who says nay to the hot question. Rumor has it that half the country is pro-NATO and half of it pro-Russian. No idea how true this statement could be! A number of politicians and analysts predict that Georgia’s genuine security lies in the
western realm where we might feel freer and richer, whereas the refreshed Russian-Georgian marriage under the dilapidated wings of the Empire could end up in hunger and poverty. Other experts insist that the mindboggling problem of Georgia’s territorial integrity will never be solved. This is a sorrowful description of the crossroad at which we are now standing, looking in different directions with fearful eyes to find the way out from the dire geopolitical quagmire we have been stuck in for the last thirty years. Nothing seems
to be a realistic helper. It is just talk, nothing else! And the worst thing is that there can’t be anything else but talk. Georgia is at the mercy of talk, and if we are lucky enough to turn the ocean of words into some viable deeds, then the morale might soar. And a high morale has the amazing quality of raising the productivity of the nation. This is why I am asking both the West and the North: don’t you guys want to see a productive Georgia, contributing to the world much, much more than now? If yes, then do something substantial!
Ruling Party Not to Support European Georgia’s Initiative on Sanctions against Russia Continued from page 1 The draft resolution prepared by European Georgia members Sergi Kapanadze and Giorgi Kandelaki reads that Russia continues the occupation of the Georgian territory and urges the Georgian government to carry out necessary diplomatic and political moves against the illegal borderization.
In particular, through this resolution, the opposition party urges the government to: • Demand the withdrawal of Russian troops from the Georgian territory, in accordance with the 2008 ceasefire agreement. • To ask for the US and EU sanctions to include the Otkhozoria and Tatunashvili List, which includes those
accused of or convicted in absentia for ‘the murder, kidnapping, torture, and inhumane treatment’ of Georgian citizens in breakaway Abkhazia and South Ossetia. • Ask the EU and the US to impose sanctions against all foreign companies which are implementing illegal economic activities on the occupied territories of Georgia, for instance, renting
out the properties of the victims of ethnic cleansing there. Swiss Ambassador to Georgia Patric Franzen told media he believes that all sanctions have consequences. “The minority, as well as any force in Parliament, has the right to introduce any initiative, while the majority can approve or disapprove that initiative, and if the majority does not support
any initiative, the people should respect its decision,” he said. “I cannot comment on the sanctions, though all sanctions have consequences. The consequences that these sanctions can have for Georgia should be taken into consideration.” The draft resolution has been registered in Parliament and the lawmakers will discuss it next week.
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GEORGIA TODAY SEPTEMBER 20 - 23, 2019
PM Gakharia on Pardoning of Prisoners BY NINI DAKHUNDARIDZE
M Gakharia commented on the recent issue of the President’s pardoning of prisoners, noting the responsibility that comes with pardoning prisoners arrested for murders, and told the press that there should be legislative changes to the mechanism. “The power to pardon is at the discretion of the President, but pardoning of murderers of police officers or any murderer, for that matter, is absolutely unac-
ceptable for me. Of course, legislative changes are needed. The step taken by the President – the declaration of a moratorium, is proof of that. There should be a discussion together with Parliament and, of course, some filters in this mechanism should be put in place so that those convicted of serious crimes, especially murderers, are not pardoned in such a way,” said PM Gakharia. President Salome Zurabishvili declared a moratorium on the pardoning of convicts on September 18. The President caused public outrage after pardoning convicts imprisoned for murdering a police officer and a youth.
Euronews Georgia to Start Broadcasting BY KETEVAN KVARATSKHELIYA
uronews Georgia has officially been established and is to start broadcasting, with an agreement signed by Michael Peters, CEO of Euronews and George Ramishvili, Chairman of Supervisory Board of Silknet. The event was attended by Salome Zurabishvili, President of Georgia, and Carl Hartzell, Ambassador of the European Union to Georgia. Peters noted that “After only a few months of negotiations, I am very pleased that we reached an agreement to launch
Euronews Georgia." He added that the Georgian branch of Euronews will be an independent media platform, delivering unbiased information to the public. Ramishvili also expressed his excitement at introducing Euronews Georgia and stated the channel will contribute to the development of this field in Georgia. The editorial board of Euronews will be tasked with determining the strategic directions of operation and regulations for balanced broadcasting, fully corresponding with the fundamental values and principles of media, including independence of editorial policy, freedom of expression and impartiality. The recruitment process is to start in the near future, for nearly 50 workplaces.
Conference and Exhibition Halls at the Museum of Fine Arts & the Art House BY KETEVAN KVARATSKHELIYA
rt House – The Place to Meet, which is an extension of the Georgian Museum of Fine Arts, is a multifunctional complex in the heart of the Tbilisi, integrating cafés, restaurant, fit club and conference hall in the same area. The conference hall of Art House, distinguished for its cozy environment is set to be a great discovery for business clients. It makes a perfect venue for official meetings, as well as semi-formal events. A mouthwatering buffet with a selection of fine food can also be provided on site. The exhibition hall is also ready to serve for corporate and exclusive events, award ceremonies and exhibitions. The two venues of the Art House have already successfully hosted events of important establishments, including embassies and international organizations. The venue also hosted Mercedes Benz Fashion Week twice. Georgian Museum of Fine Arts & Art House even provides an opportunity to hold private museum tours for corporations seeking to run teambuilding activities, while gourmands can benefit from the gastronomic tour which begins in the museum and closes with tasting of fine wines in the Kharcho restaurant. #foryourfirsttimeingeorgia Address: L. Gudiashvili St. 18 Sh. Rustaveli St. 7 Tel: 544 44 45 44 Art House - The Place to Meet @arthouse_georgia
SEPTEMBER 20 - 23, 2019
Huawei CEO Ren Zhengfei's Interview with The Economist, Part 2 INTERVIEW BY THE ECONOMIST TEAM
art of Huawei’s job is to try to rebuild trust. We asked Huawei CEO Ren Zhengfei whether there some radical options open to the company in this regard. For example, welcoming a foreign investor or perhaps even selling parts of the 5G business operated outside of China. “It's unlikely that we will consider introducing external investors, because they often focus on profit,” he told us. “For Huawei, we put our aspiration above profit. Would we license our technologies to Western countries? Yes. We would even be open to licensing all of our technologies. Our aspiration is to "serve humanity and achieve the pinnacle of science". Collaboration is consistent with our values, so we are willing to license our equipment to Western countries.”
WOULD THIS BE A SALE OF THE BUSINESS, PERHAPS THE 5G BUSINESS, IN SOME GEOGRAPHIES, OR LICENSING THE TECHNOLOGY TO OTHER MANUFACTURERS? IF SO, HOW WOULD IT AFFECT EMPLOYEES? We can license technologies and production techniques. Whoever gets the technologies can develop new things based on them. We would most certainly not transfer our employees. It would just be the technological know-how.
WHO DO YOU THINK WOULD BE THE PARTNERS? WHAT KIND OF COMPANIES IN AMERICA, FOR EXAMPLE, MIGHT BE COUNTERPARTS? I haven't had any of this kind of discussion with anyone else yet, so I have no idea.
AMERICANS ARE THINKING: WHY WOULD WE LET A CHINESE COMPANY BUILD SOMETHING AS SENSITIVE AS 5G? HOW BIG A SOLUTION ARE YOU THINKING ABOUT TO SOLVE THIS PROBLEM? HOW RADICAL IS A TRANSFER TO 5G TECHNOLOGY? If we transfer all our technologies to the US, then they can modify the code themselves. Neither Huawei nor anyone else in the world will be able to access these technologies anymore. The US will have independent 5G. Security won't be an issue as long as the US can properly manage its own companies. Then it will not be about us selling 5G in the US, but rather about US companies selling their own 5G in the US.
CAN YOU ENVISAGE HUAWEI COMPETING WITH THIS HYPOTHETICAL NEW ENTITY IN 5G TECHNOLOGIES, OUTSIDE OF CHINA, OBVIOUSLY NOT INSIDE THE UNITED STATES, BUT IN AFRICA OR PARTS OF EUROPE? Huawei can compete with new entities in those markets as well.
POLITICALLY, WOULD IT BE BETTER TO HAVE AN AMERICAN PARTNER FOR 5G, OR A EUROPEAN OR JAPANESE PARTNER? It depends on how big a market the potential partner would be able to carve out. If they could only capture a little market share through the purchase of our technologies, then that wouldn't be worthwhile. Such a deal is only feasible when they can anticipate a large market share using our technologies. This is an evaluation process our potential partners will have to go through.
WHAT WOULD BE THE TIME HORIZON FOR A RADICAL PROJECT LIKE THIS? Pretty quickly.
THE CHINESE POLITICAL SYSTEM IS A ONE-PARTY SYSTEM, WHERE STUDENTS CANNOT SEE EVERYTHING ON THE INTERNET AND CANNOT READ ANY BOOK THEY WANT. DOES THAT IMPOSE ANY LIMIT ON CHINESE INNOVATION OR CREATIVITY? IS THERE AN ADVANTAGE TO BEING A DEMOCRATIC COUNTRY IN THE FIELD OF INNOVATION? Academic freedom is the foundation of innovation. The freedom to have different academic ideas and to study whatever you want is very important. Undoubtedly, the US has the world's most innovation-friendly environment. Thanks to the Internet, people have easier access to information. Science and engineering papers have nothing to do with ideology, so they can be published and shared all over the world. For example, the very source of 5G technology is a mathematical paper written in 2007 by Erdal Arikan, a Turkish mathematics professor. Two months after he published the paper, we read it. Then we put a lot of work into researching the paper and turned it into today's 5G standard. China still has an inclusive environment when it comes to science and technology. On top of that, Huawei has a large number of non-Chinese scientists. We are doing our best to take in the nutrients of the times we are in, so we can move forward faster.
DO YOU MAKE SURE THAT YOUR DESIGNERS AND YOUR RESEARCHERS HAVE VPNS SO THAT THEY CAN SEE FOREIGN NEWS OR FOREIGN POLITICS TO LOOK AT BIG IMPORTANT QUESTIONS THAT ARE NOT AVAILABLE TO CHINESE PEOPLE? If our engineers became politicians, Huawei would collapse. Engineers should focus on developing good products. They don't need to read about politics. What's the point of them caring about political issues? If our engineers are all out protesting, who is going to pay them? AUTHOR: There was a famous speech that Deng Xiaoping gave in March 1978 about science in China, and he said exactly that it was time to allow scientists to do science and not to ask them
to read too many political essays or to study politics. When we talk to professors at Chinese universities, they complain that the pressure now is to study Xi Jinping's thoughts and to study a lot of politics, and they feel that the time to think is being limited. Huawei is a private company. We asked Mr Ren if he felt pressured to have his scientists studying politics, or if he protects them, like Deng Xiaoping said, from studying politics to let them focus? “I was there when Deng Xiaoping made those remarks at a national science conference,” he told us. “I was one of the 6,000 representatives, and I burst into tears when hearing his speech. Deng said we should spend five days at work and one day for political studies. Back then, Chinese people worked six days a week, and too much time was spent on political studies. We were very happy that we could spend five days a week at work. I have always believed that politics should be done by politicians, and engineers should focus on technology. Engineers who don't understand technology aren't worth their wages.” Mr Ren is a Party member, and party members now have an app for studying Xi Jinping's thoughts on their phones. We wondered if they worry that some people in the Chinese Communist Party are forgetting the wisdom of that speech in 1978, and whether they now want engineers and busy people like Mr Ren to spend maybe an hour or two every day studying politics. “President Xi's speeches cover a lot of areas, such as agriculture, healthcare, and rural development,” he answered. “These topics are not strongly related to us. As we are a technology company, we mainly study his speeches about science and technology development. Of course, those who work for the Party or government or those who want to become party or country leaders may need to spend more time learning about all those areas. “I listen to President Xi's speeches. In his speech at the Boao Forum for Asia, he spoke about China further opening up to foreign investment. When it came to his speech at the China International Import Expo in Shanghai, he talked about reducing tariffs for vehicles. These speeches contain his instructions, and we are pleased that our country continues to develop under these instructions. The tax for small and medium-sized enterprises in Shenzhen has been significantly reduced, and low-income workers such as taxi drivers no longer need to pay income tax. This is a lesson learned from Hong Kong. China Central
Television broadcasted lessons learned from Hong Kong. Caring about poor people's lives is one such lesson. We should provide poor people with accommodation. If their lives are up to a certain standard, there is a much lower chance they will cause problems. Even if a small number of people do stir up trouble, they will have few supporters. These points are also part of President Xi's thoughts, which I saw on TV.” Private company Cathay Pacific Airways was forced to change its senior leaders and some employees for reasons that are 100% political and related to the protests in Hong Kong. We asked Mr Ren if, when he sees the Chinese central government using its strength to make a private company take political decisions, it makes life more difficult for every private company in China, when they want to tell foreigners that they are not controlled by politics? “The issue in Hong Kong was caused by extreme capitalism,” he said. “Large capitalist institutions have made enormous amounts of money, and they even control many newsstands, underground garages, and coffee shops in Hong Kong. They have gained a lot of benefits, but the general public don't have much money, and many have fairly low living standards. “I saw the notice issued by Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) in relation to Cathay Pacific. This notice said that some pilots and cabin crew members who worked for Cathay Pacific had been involved in questionable activities related to the Hong Kong protests. So CAAC had concerns about these pilots. That's why CAAC asked Cathay Pacific to regulate and control its flights to the Chinese mainland. I think CAAC's action makes sense, because it was taken to ensure aviation security. In addition, there have been no such limitations to Cathay Pacific's flights to other places. “I personally believe the Chinese central government has acted sensibly in dealing with Hong Kong. China adheres to the "one country, two systems" principle. The system in the Chinese mainland and the system in Hong Kong are different. Demonstrations, protests, and shouting slogans are allowed in Hong Kong, but I do not think violence is appropriate. “The Chinese central government still hasn't taken any action in Hong Kong. If the current situation in Hong Kong continues, business, finance, and tourism in Hong Kong will be affected, and it will be more difficult to address the issues with the poor there.
“A lesson we are learning from the current situation in Hong Kong is that the divide between the rich and the poor shouldn't be too large, and extreme poverty should be eliminated. “The Chinese central government has made great efforts to eliminate poverty. In recent years, I have personally travelled through several provinces along the Chinese border, such as Xinjiang, Tibet, and Yunnan, places previously known for being very poor. From what I saw, the living standards of the people there have improved a lot, especially in Tibet. Tibet has improved faster than Xinjiang, and both places seem to be enjoying much stability. I didn't know the real situation there until I had gone there and seen how people's lives had improved with my own eyes. “I think more foreign journalists should also be able to visit these places. I have been to some of the most poverty-stricken areas in Yunnan, Guizhou, Tibet, Xinjiang, and other regions, and I don't think a color revolution will happen in China.” Huawei is one of the biggest infrastructure companies in the world. And over the last 20 years, it has become larger and larger, and has been the target of intelligence agencies. We asked Mr Ren to tell us how Huawei approaches operational security and how much it spends on counter intelligence. “First of all, at Huawei, cyber security and privacy protection are the company's top priorities,” he noted. “Huawei resolutely incorporates requirements of the EU's General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) into all of our business processes. We are now investing heavily to upgrade existing networks and build new networks. “Second, for more than 30 years, Huawei has provided network services to over 1,500 carriers in more than 170 countries and regions, serving approximately three billion users. We have maintained a proven track record in security. In fact, we have never had any major security incidents. “Besides, we are more than willing to submit ourselves to strict oversight in countries where we operate. At present, the UK has conducted the most stringent oversight of Huawei. Why is the UK determined to continue using our equipment? Because they still trust us despite the few problems and flaws they have found with our equipment. They may even trust us more than other suppliers because we have been more rigorously reviewed.” Don’t miss out on the continuation in Tuesday’s issue of GT.
GEORGIA TODAY SEPTEMBER 20 - 23, 2019
Ad Black Sea 2019 Kicks Off in Batumi
s part of the Check in Georgia campaign, Batumi is hosting the international advertising festival Ad Black Sea 2019 on 19-21 September. Successful people from various countries working in the advertising industry are once again gathering in the seaside city for a period of three days. The festival is celebrating its 5th anniversary this year, and the organizers have been preparing for it with particular enthusiasm. The first edition of Ad Black Sea took place in 2015 and received acclaim both domestically and regionally. The festival is growing annually, with a record number of guests expected this year. Individuals interested in marketing and advertising will have the opportunity to attend internationallevel seminars and workshops at the Ad Black Sea festival. They can learn about the latest trends in the advertising industry, expand their professional circle and get to know professionals working in their field. To mark the festival’s fifth anniversary, organizers have invited up to 20 well-known speakers, while the jury panel, which will evaluate works in different categories, will consist of around 30 professionals. In short, we can expect to see a multitude of stars in Batumi this year. The list of honorary guests includes the founder of the Berlin School of Creative Leadership Michael Conrad, the Brazilian legend Marcelo Serpa, CoChief Creative Officer of the Hakuhodo agency in Japan Kentaro Kimura, the Head of Creative Shop at Facebook in Greater China Kitty Lun, Chacho Puebla and Miguel Simoes of leading Spanish agencies, Lorna Hawtin of TBWA Manchester, Hermann Vaske with his renowned film Why Are We Creative, co-founder of the prestigious Miami Ad School Niklas Frings-Rupp, and others.
International experience is vital for the development of the Georgian advertising industry. At the same time, young people will be able to establish communication with persons of interest. As always, there are special offers for students. Along with the educational component, competition is an integral part of the festival. The international jury panel, which will be divided into four groups, will evaluate works in the categories of Film, Film & Craft, Print & Publishing, Out of Home, Radio, Design & Branding, Digital & Mobile, Advertising Campaigns, Media, and Branding Content & Visual Storytelling. An additional category will be added to the program this year in the form of Creative Effectiveness, which will measure the companies’ results and effectiveness. This particular category has been added to the festival based on recommendations from the British firm WARC. The international panel will select the best works in different categories. The winners will receive gold, silver and bronze medals. Winners will also be chosen among the best agencies in various areas. Participants will include agencies from Georgia and 17 other countries from across the world. The organizers have decided to place the outline of a map of Georgia on the Ad Black Sea 2019 prizes this year, thereby displaying the country’s territorial integrity. Participants at this year’s edition of the festival represent advertising agencies from more than 20 countries across the world. The aim of Ad Black Sea 2019 is to promote the advertising industry in Georgia, increase advertising product quality and to position Georgia on the world map as a rising star of the creative industry and a country with great potential. The three-day Ad Black Sea 2019 festival will conclude with a gala awards ceremony and return the following year.
SEPTEMBER 20 - 23, 2019
In Your Face, Part I: Becho, Svaneti BLOG BY TONY HANMER
nough of guest house and shop for a few hours. I shut it up a few mornings ago, put a sign on the door saying I’d be back at noon, and drove off to friends in Mazeri, one of the upper villages of Becho. Marta and Gigla run their own guest house, https://www.facebook.com/martasguesthouse/, which faces stiff competition from the high number of places to stay all along the length of Becho. They also have a good shop, like us. Gigla was free to accompany me to one of the relatively rare features of Svaneti: a small lake he’d told me about, not far from famous Mt. Ushba. We took my Toyota 4x4 up, on a road apparently financed by a village project fund. About halfway through, I asked him to take the wheel as a large, deep rut, mostly but not exclusively in the middle of this road, was making life interesting for me. On we drove, higher and higher. The road is about 5 km from Marta’s
Guest House, and above the rutted section there begins another with quite sharp slate rocks everywhere. But we got through unscathed, tires intact, driving nice and slowly in four-wheel drive. This road would be quite slippery when wet, but it’s been quite a while since rains, so the grip at least was good. Ushba came into and went from view as we twisted and turned, but beckoned us on. And there it was. Too small to call a lake, really a pond, only 5 or 6 m across. It must be spring-fed, as there is no stream running into or out of it. Apparently, there are fish in it, although how it doesn’t freeze solid in the winter I don’t know. For me, the photographer, there was enough water to get reflections of Ushba in, complete with a bit of cloud to one side for drama and the threat of worse weather to come, at least more cloud, which occurs often as the day wears on. Morning seems to be the best time to expect Ushba to be revealed, the earlier the better, in fact. It can also be weeks between appearances, but this time we were lucky. Becho offers views of the mountain for
its entire length, something you can only get glimpses of in Etseri from certain vantage points, so this really is one of the village’s best draws for tourists. Although far from the highest in the Caucasus, it retains the infamy of being the hardest to climb, not too rarely killing those who try, its weather changing fast, making planning quite a challenge. I prefer not to dangle from ropes anchored with pitons, though, and am free from the obsession which I think must drive true mountaineers. Whatever
I can tackle with feet and occasionally hands is enough for me, although I must admit that Ushba is one of my muses and I look for opportunities to photograph it from all angles. Google Earth would likely show me what area I need to be in to get it along with the highest peak in the Caucasus, Elbrus in Russia, together in the same shot. Local people tell me this is doable above Nakra, and it remains a thing to try for on my list. Above me, I could see a far but not too challenging set of hills in the direction of
Ushba, so I told Gigla I had to walk higher. Next week: the conclusion. 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 nearly 2000 members, at www.facebook.com/groups/SvanetiRenaissance/ He and his wife also run their own guest house in Etseri: www.facebook.com/hanmer.house.svaneti
The Growing Cooperation between Switzerland & Georgia: Mario Gattiker Visits Georgia
BY NINI DAKHUNDARIDZE
eorgia and Switzerland marked 27 years of diplomatic relations this August. Now the two countries are boosting their cooperation in the field of migration, aiming to tackle irregular migration. Within the frames of his visit in Georgia, State Secretary of Switzerland Mario Gattiker and Georgian Minister of Internal Affairs Vakhtang Gomelauri signed a joint declaration on the subject in Tbilisi on September 16. Since 2018, Georgia has been 5th on the list of countries whose citizens apply for asylum in Switzerland, and third place on the list of countries the nationals of which recently applied for asylum. However, the lives of Georgian nationals are certainly better than they make out in their applications and so they have almost no chance of being granted asylum in
Switzerland. To resolve the challenge of unfounded asylum applications, Switzerland and Georgia have implemented different measures and are closely collaborating in the field. In August , Switzerland decided to include Georgia on its list of safe countries from October 1. On the one hand, this decision will pave the way for the repatriation of asylum seekers whose applications have been turned down. On the other, it has raised the bar of Georgia in the eyes of the West, emphasizing that Georgia has earned visa-liberalization in the EU countries. On Monday, 16 September, State Secretary Mario Gattiker and Interior Minister Vakhtang Gomelauri signed a joint declaration, a document aiming to strengthen cooperation between the two countries in tackling irregular migration. As of 2017, Georgian citizens are no longer required to apply for a visa to enter the Schengen Area. Since then, the Swiss State has noted a sharp increase in unfounded asylum applications from
Georgia - up 87% in 2018 compared to 2016. With the raised percentage of asylum applications presented, it is also crucial to note that the refugee status recognition rate is 0%. Moreover, certain persons lodging applications for asylum suffer from severe medical issues requiring urgent care, which complicates the return process. Since the visa liberalization, Switzerland has called on Georgia to take appropriate measures. On its side, Switzerland pursues a swift and consistent policy of return to the country of origin, taking care of the costs itself. On September 17, Mario Gattiker and Swiss Ambassador to Georgia Patric Franzen received media representatives at the Swiss Residence in Tbilisi. The officials spoke about the issue of illegal migration, the importance of solving this problem both for Switzerland and Georgia, and answered questions from the press. “We signed a declaration with Vakhtang Gomelauri yesterday, since the number of asylum seekers from Georgia has increased and this is a problem for us,” Gattiker said. The State Secretary noted that though it is not the Swiss State’s role to advise the Government of Georgia on what terms to deal with the problem, the cooperation between the two countries has been effective and is growing swiftly. Gattiker also expressed the Swiss State’s support of Georgia. “Georgia deserves visa liberalization and its citizens should travel to the Schengen Area without a visa: we have supported this from the very beginning. That said, measures have been taken to ensure that all Georgians who are considered asylum seekers in Switzerland
and appeal to us, get rejected and are made to return to Georgia. This is what helps Georgia maintain its visa-free regime with the EU,” Gattiker noted. The State Secretary’s two-day-visit in Georgia included a visit to a hospital. After meeting up with the Ministry of Health of Georgia, Gattiker visited an intensive care oncology unit at a Tbilisi hospital to see for himself the level of care taken in treating cancer patients. Switzerland and Georgia are committed to tightening border controls. The Swiss Embassy in Georgia reported that in June, Switzerland seconded an official to the airport at Kutaisi (the country’s second largest city) for a month to support the local authorities in their tasks and to provide additional technical assistance on border controls at departure within the framework of Frontex, the European Border and Coast Guard Agency. Gattiker’s visit to Georgia was rounded off with talks with the Minister of Jus-
tice, Tea Tsulukiani. Another meeting was held with the Minister of Foreign Affairs, David Zalkaliani. This is not the first time that the partner countries held discussions and put mechanisms to work to minimize illegal migration. In 2018, when the number of Georgian nationals applying for asylum rocketed, Switzerland strengthened protection at its external borders and imposed entry bans in cases where the asylum claim was clearly unfounded. Georgia in turn strengthened its own border controls and conducted information campaigns on the rights and obligations of visa-liberalization and visa-travel in the Schengen Area to raise awareness in society and minimize such illegal acts. Georgia also tightened its criminal code to combat irregular migration. As of 1 October 2019, Georgia will join the list of countries to which the return of asylum seekers whose applications have been denied is considered reasonable.
GEORGIA TODAY SEPTEMBER 20 - 23, 2019
Premiere of "Shindisi" in Georgian Cinemas on September 27
Image source: Georgian National Film Center
BY MARIAM MERABISHVILI
he premiere of the Georgian movie "Shindisi" presented at the Oscars will be held in Georgian cinemas on September 27. It is symbolic that the premiere was chosen as the anniversary day of the fall of Sokhumi. The screening will give Georgian viewers the opportunity to evaluate the film
themselves and to remember the events of 2008 again. Georgia's candidate film for the international full-length film nomination of the American Film Academy was revealed on July 31 by a special Jury. The movie will also soon premiere in Los Angeles and New York. “Shindisi,” directed by Dito Cincadze and produced by Edmond Minashvili. tells of the 2008 Russia-Georgia war and the heroes of Shindisi (a village located in the vicinity of the Russia-occupied
Tskhinvali region, Georgia). The script, which is based on real events, was written by Irakli Solomanashvili. The project author and film producer is Edmond Abashidze-Minashvili, composer Gia Kancheli, and Cameraman KonstantineMindia Esadze. The main characters of the film are Georgian soldiers who sacrificed their lives for the defense of their homeland, 17 of whom died during the Shindisi battle. The cast includes Georgian actors as well as real Georgian soldiers with combat equipment.
Russia in focus at the Tbilisi Photo Festival BY LORRAINE VANEY
n September 19, the 2019 Tbilisi Photo Festival presented its second central theme: “Information War: Focus on Russia”. The screening was followed by a panel discussion on fact-checking and the challenges of reporting stories in Russia, Ukraine and Georgia, since disinformation became part of the Kremlin’s strategy of destabilization in the neighboring countries. The panel united Beth Flynn, Deputy Photo-Editor for the New York Times; Yevhen Fedchenko, Director of the Mohyla School of Journalism in Kiev and founder of StopFake in Ukraine, an investigative journalism website that specializes in fact-checking and open source investigation; Anna Shpakova, former Director of Photography at Ogoniok and RIA Novosti; and Georgian
open source analyst Eto Buziashvili, from the Atlantic Council, who presented the Open Source Investigation on Georgian Occupation. The event is co-organized by the City
Department of Culture, Education, Sport and Youth Affairs. More information is available on the website of the Tbilisi Photo Festival: http://www.tbilisiphotofestival.com/en/
SEPTEMBER 20 - 23, 2019
WHAT’S ON IN TBILISI THEATER
TBILISI ZAKARIA PALIASHVILI OPERA AND BALLET THEATER 25 Rustaveli Ave. TEL (+995 32) 2 99 04 56 September 21 168 Season Opening "ABESALOM AND ETERI" Zakaria Paliashvili Starring: Choir, Ballet and Orchestra of the Tbilisi Z. Paliashvili Opera and Ballet State Theater, Georgian National Ballet Sukhishvilebi, Gocha Datusani (King Abio), Giorgi Sturua (Abesalom), Irina Aleksidze (Natela), Marika Machitidze (Marikh), Khatuna Tchokhonelidze (Eteri), Vakhtang Jashiashvili (Murman)… Conductor: Zaza Azmaiparashvili, Director: Gizo Jordania, Set, Costume and Lighting Designer: George AlexiMeskhishvili, Choreographer: Iliko Sukhishvili Start time: 19:00 Ticket: 20, 120 GEL September 24 VALETIANO GAMGEBELI 60TH ANNIVERSARY Participants: Marika Machitidze, Irma Berdzenishvili, Irine Ratiani, Makvala Aspanidze, Tea Demurishvili, Tbilisi Opera and Ballet State Theater Orchestra. Conductor: Zaza Azmaiparashvili Program: Arias and duets from Bellini, Donizetti, Massenet, Verdi, Mascagni, Puccini, Giordano, Bizet operas. Start time: 19:00 Ticket: 10-150 GEL SILK THEATER 59 M. Kostava Str. September 20, 21, 22 Physical Theater “Synthesis“ presents PROJECT “VOYAGER’ One-act play Director and choreographer- Giorgi Ghonghadze Painter- Anina Lebanidze Music editing- Jino Dollini Director’s assistants: Medea Nemsadze, Elene Macharashvili Cast: Martin Matevosyan, Medea Nemsadze, Elene Macharashvili,
Ani Liparteliani, Anastasia Fedorova… Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 15, 20 GEL MUSIC AND DRAMA STATE THEATER 182 Agmashenebeli Ave. September 20 WELCOME TO GEORGIA The Musical A musical, theatrical play and romantic comedy telling a story about Georgia and its people by combining song, dance, culture, traditions, history, national costumes and local cuisine. Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 50-80 GEL MOVEMENT THEATER 182 Agmashenebli Ave. September 20 THE STORY OF A MURDERER Directed by Kakha Bakuradze Music: Sandro Nikoladze, Davit Kakulia Language: Non-verbal Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 10, 15 GEL September 21 IGGI Story By Jemal Karchkhadze Directed by Ioseb Bakuradze Composer: Sandro Nikoladze Language: Non-verbal Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 10, 15 GEL September 26 DIVINE COMEDY After Dante Aligieri Directed by Ioseb Bakuradze Music: Sandro Nikoladze Language: Non-verbal Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 10, 15 GEL SHALIKASHVILI THEATER 37 Rustaveli Ave. TEL 595 50 02 03 September 20, 21, 25, 26 STOP AIDS Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 7. 5, 15 GEL MUSEUM
GEORGIAN NATIONAL MUSEUM SIMON JANASHIA MUSEUM 3 Rustaveli Ave. TEL (+995 32) 299 80 22, 293 48 21 www.museum.ge
Exhibitions: GEORGIAN COSTUME AND WEAPONRY OF THE 18TH-20TH CENTURIES NUMISMATIC TREASURY EXHIBITION STONE AGE GEORGIA ARCHEOLOGICAL TREASURE NEW LIFE TO THE ORIENTAL COLLECTIONS Until November 30 Exhibition ‘WISDOM TRANSFORMED INTO GOLD' Supported by the EU With ancient archaeological finds, the exhibition presents for the first time gold jewelry of Late Antiquity (2nd-4th century AD), goldsmiths' tools from the Museum's ethnographic collection, and items made from gold and precious metals. Until September 29 Multimedia technology exhibitionIMMAGICA. A JOURNEY INTO BEAUTY With the help of the screen projection, visitors have a chance to take a look at the following artists’ artworks: Giotto– “Ognissanti Madonna” and the “Scrovegni Chapel”, Leonardo da Vinci– “Annunciation”, Botticelli– “The Birth of Venus” and “Spring”, Raffaello– “The Madonna of the Goldfinch, Bellotto– “Piazza San Marco”, “Castello Sforzesco”, Canaletto– “The Chapel of Eton College”, Canova– “Amor e Psyche” and “The Graces”. MUSEUM OF SOVIET OCCUPATION 4 Rustaveli Ave. TEL (+995 32) 2 99 80 22, 2 93 48 21 www.museum.ge The exhibition hall is equipped with monitors, where visitors can see documentaries of various historical events. MUSEUM OF ILLUSIONS 10 Betlemi Str. Discover the Museum of Illusions Be brave enough to jump into an illusion created by the Vortex, deform the image of yourself in a Mirror Room, be free in the Infinity room, resist the laws of gravity and size ratio, and take selfies in every possible pose. Enjoy the collection of holograms, and discover optical illusions. GALLERY
THE NATIONAL GALLERY 11 Rustaveli Ave. TEL (+995 32) 215 73 00
GRAND MASTERS FROM THE GEORGIAN NATIONAL MUSEUM COLLECTION XIX – XX CENTURY Discover the cultural heritage of artists who founded 20th century fine art in Georgia: Gigo Gabashvili, Mose Toidze, Valerian SidamonEristavi, Alexander Tsimakuridze, Aleksandre Bazbeuk-Melikov, Dimitri Shevardnadze, Sergo Kobuladze, Irina Shtenberg, Mikheil Bilanishvili, Felix Varlamishvili and Tamar Abakelia. MUSIC
“LATVIAN VOICES” The repertoire of Latvian Voices is vast- from a wealth of Latvian folksongs to contemporary commissions. Start time: 19:30 Ticket: 10-30 GEL TSINANDALI CLASSICAL MUSIC FESTIVAL Tsinandali, Kakheti September 21 MENDELSSOHN, GRIEG, GERSHWIN Start time: 12:00 Ticket: 25-180 GEL
LISI LOUNG Lisi Lake September 21 VODKAST 4TH ANNIVERSARY PARTY Start time: 15:00 Ticket: 20-35 GEL TURTLE LAKE Tuttle Lake September 21 DECODER: SEASON CLOSING Start time: 18:00 Ticket: 20-40 GEL TBILISI STATE CONSERVATOIRE 8 Griboedov St. TEL (+995 32) 2 93 46 24 September 21 NONCONFORMISTIC MUSIC Mikheil Shughliashvili Largo e Presto (epitaph) for three pianos; Pastoral for three pianos, Exersis Natela Svanidze Circle for piano Heart Drops a monodrama for piano, tape and bass drums Start time: 19:00 Ticket: 5-10 GEL ARMAZIS KHEOBA 1 Armazi Str., Mtskheta September 21 FREEDOM FESTIVAL Start time: 16:00 Ticket: 20-40 GEL Movement Theater September 24 JAM SESSIONImprov played by different Georgian and foreign musicians and instrumentalists. Musical art director- Sandro Nikoladze Start time: 21:00 Ticket: 5 GEL FOLK SHOW 10 Rustaveli Ave. September 20, 22, 24 FOLK SHOW The first full and systematic folk show made for tourists Start time: 19:00 Ticket: 25-55 GEL DJANSUG KAKHIDZE TBILISI CENTER FOR MUSIC & CULTURE 123a D. Agmashenebeli Ave. International Music Festival “Autumn Tbilisi” September 22 FOLK ENSEMBLE “DIDGORI” 15th anniversary Start time: 19:30 Ticket: 10-30 GEL September 25 Concert of vocal ensemble from Latvia
September 21 Georgian State Academic Ensemble RUSTAVI Start time: 19:00 Ticket: 25-300 GEL September 22 BACH, KUWAHARA, SAULI, SOLLIMA, BRUCE Start time: 12:00 Ticket: 25-180 GEL September 22 RACHMANINOFF, SHOSTAKOVICH, BRAHMS Start time: 19:00 Ticket: 25-300 GEL TELAVI MUSIC FESTIVAL Telavi Vazha-Pshavela State Drama Theater September 21 OPENNING The Festival Orchestra Ariel Zuckermann, Conductor KoljaBlacher, Violin Program: Dvorak- Symphony #7 in D minor. Op.70 Britten- Violin Concert Op. 15 Start time: 19:00 Ticket: 20-35 GEL September 22 CONCERT OF CHORAL MUSIC Dedicated to the 80th anniversary of composer Ioseb Kechakmadze, Prize winner of International Chamber Choir Competitions The Gori Women's Choir Start time: 19:00 Ticket: 20-35 GEL September 25 PIANO MUSIC CONCERT Nicolas Namoradze Georgian pianist and composer, winner of the Honens International Piano Competition (Calgary, Canada) Program: Bach -Partita No. 6 in E minor BWV 830 Scriabin- Eight Etudes Op. 42 Namoradze- Etudes I-VI Start time: 17:00 Ticket: 35 GEL Venue: A. Chavchavadze Museum in Tsinandali September 26 CHAMBER MUSIC CONCERT Dedicated to the memory of Konstantine Vardeli Eliso Virsaladze, piano David Oistrakh Quartet Program: Haydn- String quartet No. 2 op. 33 in E-flat major Mozart- Piano quartet No. 2 in E-flat major Dvorák- Piano quintet No. 2 op. 81 in A-major Start time: 19:00 Ticket: 20-35 GEL
GEORGIA TODAY SEPTEMBER 20 - 23, 2019
Urban Makeover: Tbilisi is Next in line BY LORRAINE VANEY
t was just a matter of time before Tbilisi City Hall got involved in the first large-scale street art festival. From September 17 - 25, the Tbilisi Mural Fest is inviting local, German and Dutch artists to transform 10 of the most exposed walls in different neighborhoods into monumental paintings. Street art is indeed an important part of the urban identity of capital cities and of their attractiveness: in Georgia, Batumi got on board first, with the Batumi Grafikart Festival organized each year between 2013 and 2017. Initiated by the gallery L’Attrape Rêve and Dotcomma, the festival annually welcomed 15 artists from Europe and Georgia to cover different walls across the city. The festival was supported by the Ministry of Education, Culture and Sport of Ajara and Batumi City Hall. The development of Georgian street art festivals reached the capital afterwards, in 2015, thanks to Fabrika, which soon became the hotspot for giant artworks. It turned the sewing factory into a picture-ready art space. Afterwards, street artworks flourished all over the capital in a rather spontaneous manner, decorating the underground walkways and some of the walls around the city. The Tbilisi Mural Fest is the first event to involve Tbilisi City Hall so closely. Using their Berlin experiences and con-
Image Source: Tbilisi Mural Fest Facebook
tacts, the organizers had no difficulties convincing City Hall to join in and promote the project. Dudana Mazmanishvili is a pianist and former cultural attaché at the Georgian Embassy to Berlin and her husband Besik Mazmanishvili is an artist himself. Thanks to their artistic synergy, they successfully gathered an impressive list of public and private sponsors for the event. They worked with City Hall to select the murals. The aim is to include as many
neighborhoods as possible and each edition of the festival will have new target areas. Berlin is surely the most vibrant example of how street art can participate in the city’s urban development and bring more tourists. Real estate agencies are now more interested in the German capital, as artworks can raise the housing market value. Georgia is not there yet but it has certainly understood the potential of street art to built its artistic
reputation. Interviewed by GEORGIA TODAY in 2016, Natia Sirabidze, Deputy Minister of Education, Culture and Sport of Ajara says, “All these paintings become a tourist destination. It creates novelty and embellishes the streets of Batumi, attracting locals and guests to take pictures in front of them. Our aim is to convert cultural products into tourism products. The more people coming to see the paintings, the more people promoting
it on social media, the more popular the place becomes and the greater the economical benefit the region has.” Indeed, bloggers, influencers and specialized websites are increasingly referencing and mapping the Georgian street art. So what can visitors expect from the Tbilisi Mural Fest? The final artworks will surely be surprising. The organizers themselves are not totally certain of the end result. Like for the Batumi Graffiti Festival, artists of the Tbilisi Mural Fest have no guidelines or limitations. “Some of the artists are more spontaneous than others. When you’re an artist, you may have a sketch, but you also work with the space, the environment and the vibe of the city, so your initial idea can change completely when you are on site,” Dudana Mazmanishvili told us. "The urban jungle of Tbilisi, made up of intriguing contrasts between ancient, soviet, and new buildings together, has clear potential to inspire the artists. But set aside the surprise effect, street art has always been a platform for protest, with artists often bringing social issues into the public space. For this edition of the Tbilisi Mural Fest, environmental issues may get some spotlight," Daduna adds. As LAMB, who is perhaps the most well-known and productive street artist in town put it: “Street art without criticism is simply painting.” Politically engaged artworks are already covering the walls of Tbilisi, and more will come during the festival and at its margin.
King David’s Legendary Coin Exhibited in Georgia BY NINI DAKHUNDARIDZE
legendary and unique coin from the time of Georgian King David the Builder has left the territory of the United Kingdom for the first time in over 150 years. The coin was minted during the spectacular Georgian ruler’s reign and is currently on loan to its home country from the British Museum. The British Council and the British Embassy in Tbilisi opened the exhibition of the remarkable 11th century coin at the Georgian National Museum. The copper coin, which is housed in the British Museum, counts as the most important among the coins minted in the time of King David IV of Georgia. Dr. Vesta Curtis, Curator of Middle Eastern Coins at the British Museum, talked to GEORGIA TODAY about the importance and uniqueness of the medieval coin. “It shows the Georgian identity,” she said. “There is no coin like it from the period of King David the Builder in the world. This copper coin represents a priceless historical record. A part of its uniqueness lies in Kind David IV being presented on the coin dressed in Byzantine imperial attire, wearing stemma, and holding a Globus cruciger. On the back of the coin is an invocation in Georgian surrounding a cross listing the extent of David's kingdom: 'Lord, aid David, king of the Abkhazians, Kartvelians, Rans, Kakhs, Armenians.' So it gives a lot of messages: religious, political, and of the Georgian identity. It was only right that it should at some point
come here so that Georgian people who view King David as one of the best and most important rulers of the country are able to see his coin up close and really appreciate it. It has been a pleasure working on this project, and it has seen wonderful cooperation between the British Museum, the National Museum of Georgia, the British Council and the British Embassy. We have all worked together to make it possible for this coin to be here in Georgia,” Dr. Curtis told us. On September 16, a day after the coin was introduced to a select part of Georgian society, Dr. Curtis gave a lecture titled “What Ancient Coins Can Tell Us”. The fascinating lecture was a part of the exhibition project. The Georgian National Museum, in the framework of the "Science and Innovation Festival", is delivering a series of workshops, educational programs and public lectures related to coins and other artefacts from the time of King David's reign, as well as on the past, present and future of the UK-Georgia cultural relations. The opening of the exhibition “King David the Builder’s Coin” took place on September 15 for invited guests at the Simon Janashia Museum. The British Ambassador to Georgia, Mr. Justin McKenzie Smith, welcomed the guests with a speech. “Before I came to Georgia as the British Ambassador, I was there at the museum and I remember my reaction when I first saw this unique coin. My first thought was that I had to find a way to bring this priceless, unique coin here to the Georgian people. And now, the coin is in Georgia. Great Britain is ready to give heart for heart,” the Ambassador said, speaking in both English, and Georgian.
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Images Source: British Embassy Tbilisi
The exhibition is on within the frames of the three-month UK Season 2019, a specially curated program of more than 60 events jointly presented by the British Council in Georgia and the British Embassy in Tbilisi. The UK/Georgia season aims to show Georgia the culture of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. At the opening ceremony, it was noted
Journalists: Tony Hanmer, Zaza Jgarkava, Maka Bibilashvili, Vazha Tavberidze, Nugzar B. Ruhadze, Amy Jones, Thea Morrison, Ana Dumbadze, Nini Dakhundaridze, Ketevan Kvaratskheliya Photographer: Irakli Dolidze
that the United Kingdom will be hosting a 'Georgian Season' in 2020. Those interested in the historically and culturally remarkable coin, can see it at the Simon Janashia Museum of Georgia from September 17, and online, using the new digital platform. The digital option also offers the historical background of the coin, refreshing one’s knowledge of
Website Manager/Editor: Katie Ruth Davies Layout: Misha Mchedlishvili Webmaster: Sergey Gevenov Circulation Managers: David Kerdikashvili, David Djandjgava
the era the coin was minted. The exhibition of the coin with the image of King David the Builder is supported by the Shota Rustaveli National Science Foundation of Georgia, Ministry of Education, Science, Culture and Sport of Georgia and Georgian Airways. The coin will be visiting its ‘motherland’ until December 15, 2019.
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September 20 - 23, 2019