Page 1 georgiatoday

Issue no: 795

• NOVEMBER 20 - 23, 2015



IN FOCUS From Brussels to the back yard of the Presidential Palace



In this week’s issue... Georgian Politics Threaten its Democracy POLITICS PAGE 6

Most Significant Investor On Georgian Market BUSINESS PAGE 8

Culinarium A Culinary Chameleon SOCIETY PAGE 11

Rusiko Chikvaidze: “Art Makes People Kinder” CULTURE PAGE 13

End of Tskhadadze’s Honeymoon Period SPORTS PAGE 15

Paris Attack: the European 9/11 BY ZVIAD ADZINBAIA


aris became a target of terrorists for its third time within the year of 2015. The night of 13 November is now being described as the European 9/11 as Paris, one of the European centers, was attacked by radical Islamists belonging to the so-called Islamic State (IS) terrorist group. Several bomb blasts and shootings at different venues in Paris overnight left more than 130 citizens dead, hundreds wounded and around 100 in a critical condition. The French President Francois Hol-

The Eiffel Tower in Paris is illuminated in the French national colors in support of the French people after the terrorist attack on 13 November. Source:

lande described the event as an “act of war” organized by the Islamic State militant group. The first of three explosions occurred outside the ‘Stade de France’ stadium on the northern fringes of Paris where France were playing Germany in an international football friendly. French President Francois Hollande was in attendance at the soccer match which was being broadcast on TV. The BBC reported that a man wearing a suicide belt was reportedly prevented from entering the stadium after a routine security check detected the explosives. According to the Wall Street Journal, the man backed away from security guards and detonated the explosives, killing himself and a passer-by.

Sujin Jang, a South Korean business school Professor living in Paris told Georgia Today: “I’ve gone from feeling sad and shocked to feeling angry and determined. Obviously, the sadness and fear were overwhelming as I followed what was happening as it unfolded in real time,’ she said. ‘After that there was this sense of anger about the injustice of it all,” said Jang, adding, “but then over the weekend I visited one of the sites of the shootingsthe restaurant La Belle Equipe. There I saw people from different cultures, ethnicities, religions, all crying, leaving flowers, lighting candles.... It was so sad and beautiful to see.” Continued on page 3




NOVEMBER 20 - 23, 2015

Constitutional Court Rules for the Survival of Georgian Democracy

Tony Blair Visits Georgia


eorgian Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili hosted the former Prime Minister of Great Britain, Tony Blair. The government’s press service stated that Blair visited Tbilisi yesterday evening to meet with Garibashvili. The main topics discussed were democratic reforms in Georgia, as well

BY ZVIAD ADZINBAIA as the current situation in the world and the region. Blair and Garibashvili visited the Tbilisi Funicular and enjoyed the views of the city, after which Blair left Georgia.

Zurab Abashidze and Grigory Karasin to Meet in Prague


he Georgian Prime Minister’s Special Envoy for Russia, Zurab Abashidze, and Russia’s Deputy Foreign Minister, Grigory Karasin, met on 19th November in Prague. Abashidze told InterpressNews (IPN) that the agreed agenda of the meeting includes discussing issues of trade-economic relations, transport communications, and humanitarian problems. According to the Georgian representative, Karasin elaborated on the allegations of simplifying the visa regime for Georgian civilians, as the

Grigory Karasin and Zurab Abashidze. Source:

Russian side has made comments about the topic. The Georgian delegation consisted of representatives of the Foreign and Economic ministries.

Greece Ratifies EU-Georgia Deal


he Parliament of Greece has ratified the Association Agreement (AA) signed in July between Georgia and the European Union (EU). According to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Georgia, the document was ratified at the first reading through simplified procedures, without amendments on November 19th. “It should be noted that the new Parliament of the Hellenic Republic was convened on October 3rd, and on Novem-

ber 9th, in the shortest period of time, the National Defense and Foreign Relations Committee chose to support the EU-Georgia Association Agreement,” the statement read. The Association Agreement between the EU and Georgia, which was signed on June 27th, in Brussels, must be ratified by 28 EU states. Following France ratifying the GeorgiaEU agreement on October 29th, Greece became the 26th country to ratify the agreement.


n November 11, the Tbilisi City Court gave Nika Gvaramia, Rustavi 2 Chief, the right to rule the TV Company again after initially calling for him to be replaced. Gvaramia said the decision is “part of [Judge] Tamaz Urtmelidze’s pseudo judiciary,” questioning the urgency of the decision “when the Constitutional Court is considering the appeal.” The following day, on November 12th, in accordance with the Constitutional Court and Judge Tamaz Urtmelidze’s decision, the authority of temporary manager of Rustavi 2 Revaz Sakevarishvili was suspended and that of Davit Dvali abolished. The Court ruled in favor of restoring the powers to Nika Gvaramia and Kakha Damenia, Rustavi 2 Financial Director. The issue of Rustavi 2, Georgia’s largest TV Company, was discussed during the meeting of the US-Georgia Strategic Partnership Commission (SPC) Democracy and Governance Working Group on November 12th in Washington DC. The Georgian Foreign Ministry (MFA) said that the Georgian and US sides agreed on the importance of a fair, level, and competitive playing field for political parties and candidates in the lead-up to the October 2016 parliamentary elections, as well as an open, pluralistic, and independent space for political, media, and civil society voices. The MFA said the United States appreciated the government’s efforts to move forward with the Rustavi2 court appeals and preserve media pluralism in Georgia.

Rustavi 2 journalists with microphones as symbols of freedom of speech and expression. Source: Rustavi 2 facebook

After the Constitutional Court ruled against the initial judgement of the Tbilisi City Court’s Urtmelidze, who is accused of being a puppet of the government, Georgian civil society representatives rejoiced that the Constitutional Court has survived [the experience] as an example of the country’s democratic future. Rustavi 2 continues to be an active supporter of Georgia’s Euro-Atlantic integration process and democratization. The TV company has long been exasperating the government, having investigated a number of governmental scandals and revealed certain cases of nepotism not to mention reporting

repeatedly on the mass unemployment, increased crime and economic decline. Moreover, the TV company does not hide its ideological affiliation with Georgia’s key oppositional party United National Movement, the main issue of the government’s concern in qualifying the media source as a UNM-proxy. The Chief of the Company, who held a number of leading positions in the exgovernment, denies any direct involvement of the UNM in the activities of Rustavi 2, claiming freedom of speech as Rustavi 2’s goal to contributing to Georgia’s Euro-Atlantic integration and the very foundations the TV company stands for.




OIE Raise Awareness Paris Attack the European 9/11 of Antibiotics Continued from page 1



orld Organization for Animal Health (OIE) during one week make publicly available its internet portal, along with new posters and infographics, to enable national authorities, veterinarians, breeders and animal owners to take a more effective role in counteracting the major threat to public health posed by antimicrobial resistance. The responsible and prudent use of antibiotics, in both people and animals, is crucial, which is why OIE chose to launch the first World Antibiotic Awareness Week from 16 to 22 November 2015. The purpose of this week is to raise awareness of best practice for using antibiotics to reduce the risks of bacteria becoming resistant to antibiotics and to prolong their effectiveness. With the knowledge that 60% of human pathogens came originally from animals, it is clear that bacteria that are resistant to antibiotics pose a serious threat to the treatment of both animal and human diseases throughout the world. “Ensuring the responsible and prudent use of antibiotics for animals is essential to protect their effectiveness, not only for animal health and animal welfare but also for human health. This is why we need better controls on the production, registration, importation, distribution and use of antibiotics, as well as good legislation, qualified veterinarians and a well-organized veterinary profession to oversee their use in animals,” said Dr

OIE: The responsible and prudent use of antibiotics, in both people and animals, is crucial

Bernard Vallat, Director General of the OIE. For more than ten years, the OIE has actively worked to promote the appropriate use of antibiotics in animals and published intergovernmental standards in this field in May 2015 which have been adopted by all of the OIE’s 180 Member Countries (including Georgia), which have undertaken to implement them in their own territories. In the framework of World Antibiotic Awareness Week, OIE highlighted the main points of these standards and made clear infographics for policy makers, veterinarians and farmers, as the repre-

sentatives of all these structures have to be involved. OIE focused on misuse of antibiotics, hygiene methods, vaccination strategies, buying antibiotics from authorized sources, preventing infections, and more. These topics, infographics and posters are available on the OIE portal from this week. They were designed in conjunction with WHO and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), under the framework of WHO’s ‘Handle Antibiotics with Care’ campaign. Further information is available at

Jang, who has close ties with Georgia, is convinced that the way to fight [this] is by uniting across the “obvious” boundaries that so often divide us. “By building bridges across the boundaries of race and religion and nationalities. I’m determined to contribute to that in any way I can; as a teacher, as a researcher, and as a citizen of Paris and the world,” Jang told Georgia Today. Georgian student Luka Kurdgelia, who was attending the football match in Paris on the day of the attack with friends, told the Georgian Observer that after the explosion there was chaos; people had no idea what was happening outside. “No one could think that the sound of the blast was a real one, we thought it was drums. Suddenly panic broke out, we saw people running for the exits from the stadium and we followed the masses. I walked outside and found complete chaos. No one knew where they were running. We could hear crying and shouting.” The Georgian Ambassador to France, Eka Siradze-Delone, explained that no Georgian citizens were reported among the victims of the terrorist attack. In addition, the Georgian Embassy in Paris opened an emergency line for Georgian citizens in any need of assistance during and after the occurrence. As the roots of the terrorist attack has been a topic of wider discussion worldwide, Georgia Today asked Mamuka Kudava, former Georgian Ambassador to France to provide his perspective on the matter. As Kudava explained, the

war haseorgia no connection with the ‘clash of two Christian and Muslim civilizations” as it is frequently misinterpreted, “This is the war within the Islamic religion,” he said, adding, “relatively, there is no need to rail against all Muslims.” Kudava offers several reasons to answer the question ‘Why Paris?’ “First, before Paris, there was London and Madrid. Second, the former French colonies of Syria and Lebanon have robust diaspora in France, which enable them to recruit some ‘Francophone” fanatics.” At the same time, the diplomat cited, “France is involved in the airstrike campaign against the IS and some terrorist groups appear to have strengthened in France.” An initiative group held a protest in Tbilisi on Wednesday titled ‘Islam is Not Terrorism.’ Grigol Gegelia, Georgian political expert, told GT that the key message of the protest is that no religion should be interpreted as terrorism, thus Islam is not terrorism. “We have our Muslim brothers and sisters in Georgia and the problems existing stem not from the particular religion, but from radical terrorists. We Georgians should do everything to build a multicultural society,” Gegelia emphasized. The Prime Minister of Georgia on Wednesday convened a Security and Crisis Management Council to discuss Georgia’s security environment. As the ministers of security structures declared after the meeting, Georgia is one of the world’s leading countries in terms of security and [they] will increase control in almost every aspect to limit any attempt of terrorists to enter or utilize Georgia as a corridor.



EU Names Georgia an Eastern Partnership Frontrunner BY STEVEN JONES


eorgian Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili visited Brussels to attend the second meeting of the EUGeorgia Association Council, where the Georgian side presented its report. The Association Council is the highest formal body established under the EUGeorgia Association Agreement in order to supervise the implementation of the Agreement. Following the event, the two sides released a joint press release saying “the Council began by strongly condemning the terrorist attacks in Paris on November 13th. Countering violent extremism is an important part of our common agenda and we are determined to defend our common freedoms and values as set out in the Association Agreement. The Association Council positively assessed the significant progress in EU-


NOVEMBER 20 - 23, 2015

The Modest Charm of the Bourgeoisie OP-ED BY ZAZA JGARKAVA


Georgian Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili addressing the EE-Georgia Council Meeting in Brussels. Source: Prime Minister’s fb page

Georgia relations since the last meeting of the Association Council back in November 2014. “Both sides reaffirmed their continuing commitment to Georgia’s political association and economic integration with the EU and acknowledged Georgia’s European aspirations, its European choice and the common objective to promote building a democratic, stable and prosperous country.” The Association Council assessed Georgia as one of the front-runners of the Eastern Partnership. At the same time, the issue of the forthcoming 2016 elections was underlined. “Both sides agreed on the need to maintain democratic momentum in light of the October 2016 parliamentary elections in Georgia. The EU called on all political actors in Georgia to guarantee a free and pluralistic media environment, as well as political pluralism, as a prerequisite for the conduct of democratic elections while refraining from any steps or statements that could increase tension and foster polarization.” Georgia’s strategic role in the field of

energy and transport connectivity was highlighted, noting that the accession of Georgia to the Energy Community Treaty was key to implementing the energy dimension of the Association Agreement. The EU reiterated its firm support for the territorial integrity of Georgia within its internationally recognized borders. The Association Council expressed concern regarding the developments in the Georgian regions of Abkhazia and Tskhinvali/ South Ossetia, including Russia’s implementation of so-called treaties with the separatist governments. The council was chaired by Georgian PM Irakli Garibashvili. The High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Frederica Mogherini, led the EU delegation. Johannes Hahn, the European Commissioner for Neighborhood Policy and Enlargement negotiations also participated on behalf of the EU. Giorgi Kvirikashvili, the Vice Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs and other members of the Georgian Government were also present.

s time passes, Georgian politics has come to resemble a surrealistic plot from the films of Spanish director Luis Buñuel, where absurd becomes reality and reality becomes absurd. A private individual threatens to evict the President from the presidential palace and is confident in his victory. This plot indeed resembles absurd, nevertheless, this is the reality of Georgian politics today and what’s more important this reality carries the meaning of to be or not to be. Following on from broadcasting company Rustavi 2, the ex-premier (Bidzina Ivanishvili) opened another line on the front. This time President Margvelashvili was the object of elimination. The billionaire says that the reign of President Margvelashvili in the presidential residence will soon come to an end and the head of the country will be evicted from the building through the power of law. Does Ivanishvili have any kind of legal leverage to achieve this, when the president is categorically against leaving the Avlabari Residence? Does the billionaire have any kind of resources other than his money to achieve this goal and what’s more important, how do the goals of the ex-premier fit into the political and legal setting? Let us start with the legal side. Despite the fact that, according to the law in force, the government has the competency to allocate a building for the work of state, according to the Constitution, the President is granted the right to determine the nature of his work and the place he works, himself. As President Margvelashvili decided himself that the Avlabari residence is the place for his work, any kind of legal way to evict him

is unimaginable unless Margvelashvili himself agrees to change the location for carrying out his work. However, the President is categorically against leaving the Avlabari Residence and moving to the former USA Embassy building on Atoneli Street, exactly the building that Ivanishvili has chosen as the place for the President’s dislocation. Specialists in Constitutional Justice believe that the only way to move the President and his Administration out of the Avlabari Palace is through the Court, however, who the claimant will be in this case, be it citizen Ivanishvili or Prime Minister Garibashvili, is yet unknown. If we judge by the words of the active Prime Minister, then he does not plan on publishing any kind of governmental normative act about the eviction of the President. On the contrary, Garibashvili thinks that even talking about this is insulting and that the President himself should decide whether to stay in the “half-a-billion value Palace” built by Mikheil Saakashvili or not. “If I were in his place, I would move to the Atoneli Residence, which was prepared especially for the President,” PM Garibashvili told journalists. The PM faces difficult negotiations with Ivanishvili, during which he needs to convince his idol to leave the case of eviction of President Margvelashvili alone. Especially after Ivanishvili’s statement in which he advertised the eviction of Margvelashvili in advance. It is truly difficult to forecast how these events surrounding Margvelashvili will develop and it is yet unknown what the government will think of next in order to satisfy Ivanishvili’s ambitions. It is clear that Garibashvili’s Office has quite a lot to think about, however, and if we follow the controversy theory, this issue is more in the competency of a removal company than of the government.




NOVEMBER 20 - 23, 2015

Fear and Loathing in Tbilisi: Georgian Politics Threaten its Democracy BY CHARLES JOHNSON AND NINO LORTKIPANIDZE


ow might be a good time for Caucasus-watchers to pop some popcorn, because the run-up to Georgia’s 2016 election cycle is quickly turning to the same vitriolic political rhetoric that characterized the campaign season before its last elections in 2012. Once again, Georgia is getting to watch a new episode of the rising drama play out on the nightly news, as their leaders turn to personal attacks months before the 2016 elections, all at the expense of the country’s progress on reform and rule of law. The ruling Georgian Dream (GD) coalition, and its shadow-director, billionaire Bidzina Ivanishvili, are enacting more pointed political attacks at their chief rivals, the United National Movement (UNM) – the party previously led by Rose Revolution architect Mikheil Saakashvili. These events come on the heels of a recent opinion poll conducted by the National Democratic Institute (NDI) which showed the United National Movement has higher approval numbers for the first time since before the 2012 elections when Ivanishvili’s coalition lead the first peaceful transition of power in modern Georgian history. While unfair to causally link the polling to these events, the timing is quite suspect. Even the top brass of Georgia’s government have made some defensive statements. Speaking of the poll, the Prime Minister questioned the validity of the polling instead of directly addressing his party’s dropping numbers by stating: “There have been lots of question marks

for quite a long time. It’s not towards NDI itself – and I want to reaffirm my respect to this institute – but those people, who have been working there for years and were personally involved in carrying out the polling, are directly linked with the [United] National Movement. Therefore, this is not interesting for our population, the population is interested in what the government is promising and what the government is doing. And all this is reflected on the overall situation of the population.” What the Georgian Dream coalition has done in its tenure is fall short of the ambitious plan that brought it to power in 2012, laid out in a series of speeches early in the previous campaign. It has spent more time trying to bring former officials to court than it has enacting the structures necessary to deliver on previous promises such as $1 billion in agriculture investment, increase of pensions by up to 250-300 Georgian Lari, and to restore the “Dignity of Georgian Media.” Now that elections are closing in, Georgian politics are conveniently remembering what puts people on the streets, and how to obfuscate the harsh socioeconomic realities of many of its citizens. So far this year, Georgia has seen a sharp depreciation of its currency causing many citizens to lose a lot of money due to the rate of dollarization in Georgian lending whereby 70% of public debt in Georgia is in dollars, and losing people lots of money as the value of the Lari continues to fall. But threats to Georgian stability come from more than just the economy. This summer, Russian and Ossetian forces in South Ossetia moved the administrative border further into Georgia, another move in what many have come to call “creeping annexation”

of Georgia proper. Meanwhile, to follow the advice of the Prime Minister, let’s look at what the government has actually been doing in recent months… A new series of video records, showing the torture and sexual violence at the Georgian prisons, were leaked online through different web portals. Although Government representatives made public statements that the source of the leak should be carefully investigated, there was no hesitation to conduct public screenings, organized by government sympathizers of the graphic videos in Tbilisi and Zugdidi, most likely to remind citizens of what happened under the previous regime. The Mayor of Zugdidi, Irakli Gogokhia (GD), stated that, “society should be aware of what was going on and where are we coming from and what we are trying to build.” It was the timely release of similar videos that arguably resulted in the defeat of UNM and their ousting from power in 2012. Political drama, Round 2, centers on the latest ownership battle over Rustavi 2, the most watched channel in the country. The government has intervened in the dispute and handed the station back to its previous owner, Kibar Khalvashi who is sympathetic to their party, conveniently taking shares from the hands of a UNM sympathetic owner Nika Gvaramia. The move caused Tbilisi embassies to once again pull out their canned statements of “great concern.” Both parties were quick to jump at the opportunity to put their supporters on the street, and new records of a phone conversation between the UNM leaders and Ex-president Saakashvili caused some to accuse the opposition of taking advantage of the situation to spur violence and even launch a potential coup

The “personal hatred” model of Georgian politics. Source: Wikimedia commons

planned by Saakashvili. Rustavi 2 typified the virtues of an independent media in Georgia regardless of its ownership, but the current election cycle has caused even this independent voice to succumb to Georgian politics’ personal squabbles. After observing the latest events happening in Georgia, it remains unclear if this drama is simply a clash of political parties trying to get elected or if it is actually a form of power distribution between two major rivals. The United National Movement does not feel it can run a successful campaign without a charismatic leader like Saakashvili. By shaking the foundations of the Georgian Dream and its hold on power, it remains a possibility that the UNM can eventually sue for peace and political placements in the post-election government for reasons no more complex than personal hubris, and enjoying the comfort of a government desk chair. What then is there to say about the state of Georgian politics? In the greater postSoviet context, things look relatively good. Its currency is actually one of the most stable among the 15 former Soviet republics. It actually has free and fair elections – despite what people continue to think. Georgia also has a strong partnership with NATO and the European Union, without enduring what Ukraine has had to go through for aspiring to do the same. Why then do Georgian politics remain so vitriolic? It is because of Georgian politicians’ fear and loathing. They fear that they will lose their position of power in the next election and they loathe to think of a hit to their hubris that would

come from losing their fancy titles and big desks. Georgian culture is one that is extremely personality-driven. Maintenance of one’s image and reputation is often placed before actually governing. We find it to be no coincidence that these moves of questionable legality come on the heels of dropping poll numbers of the Georgian Dream coalition. But, unfortunately, the political alternatives only spit back the same spite. Politics are a painful derivative of democracy, but necessary to its proper functioning. The problem is that we rarely see circumstances where hubris is not outweighing the drive for better distribution of public goods in Georgia. Politics are nasty and complicated everywhere but Georgia can do much more to elevate its political conversations to the issues at hand, rather than produce another episode of some poorly-produced reality show. The fact of the matter is that, just as Georgia is geographically thrust between large geopolitical powers and pays a heavy price for it, the Georgian people are thrust between two political alternatives, none of whom seem too interested in responsible public policy, but rather strive to be king of the mountain for four years, meanwhile spending their time and resources preparing for the next season of vitriol. Georgia deserves a better class of public officials. This article originally appeared on

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Thoughts on Representing Georgian Youth to the United Nations BY MARIAM SIKHARULIDZE


n real life, the United Nations headquarters in New-York is more magnificent than in any photograph I have ever seen. The 39-floor massive construction completed in 1952 in the Turtle Bay neighborhood of Manhattan mesmerized and filled me with eclectic feelings of triviality mixed with pride and a sense of importance to be able to have a say at the UN General Assembly, as a Georgian UN Youth Delegate at the age of 24: I don’t intend to brag, rather, I was frightened and overwhelmed with the opportunity. This October, around 35 Youth Delegates from around the world arrived in New-York with a primary mission to deliver official statements to the Third Committee of the UN General Assembly at its 70th session on behalf of youth from their home countries. Apart from delivering statements, there were meetings scheduled with the United Nations Secretary-General, Ban Ki-Moon, and the Secretary-General’s Envoy on Youth, Ahmad Alhendawi, as well as a number of high-level side-events on the agenda. Everyone tried to appear composed, but in fact all of us felt nervous with what was happening. As expected, the issues raised by the young delegates in their statements varied depending on the country of origin: unlike Georgia, for instance, the representatives of Belgium, Germany and Switzerland didn’t touch upon questions regarding territorial integrity or foreign occupation, but talked about scholarship opportunities for higher education, gender equality, global perspectives on the refugee crisis and more. During the allocated time for the speech, I presented a number of challenges faced by Georgian

35 Youth Delegates delivered official statements to the Third Committee of the UN General Assembly at its 70th session on behalf of youth from their home countries

youth, including national security and necessity to protect the rights of Internally Displaced Persons. It is impossible to neglect the fact that among 400,000 internally displaced people in Georgia, youth among them are especially vulnerable, with some being prevented from exercising their right to education in their own native language, which is guaranteed by the UN Convention on Rights of a Child. The importance of social integration of persons with disabilities, as well as support of youth who have left foster care were also among the priority areas. “…Sometimes statements of regret and condemnation are not enough. We, the youth of Georgia, need international support in the face of foreign military occupation, because these are not merely violent actions against one specific

country, but rather deliberate efforts to undermine the universal principles of sovereignty and territorial integrity. I would like to welcome and commend the commitment of all young people to cooperate for the attaining of sustainable peace and development. Our young people are not only the future, but also the present and we stand ready to engage in every initiative and action aimed at implementation of post-2015 Development Agenda, especially in the context of promotion and empowerment of youth around the globe.” Our meeting with the UN SecretaryGeneral, Ban Ki-Moon was motivating and inspiring: “Never be afraid to aim high,” he told us. The Secretary-General strongly encouraged advocating for investing in youth empowerment to achieve sustainable future development.

He sincerely believed in the boundless capacities of the upcoming generation, seeing young people as key partners and main agents for change. Ban Ki-Moon has made working with and for young people one of his top priorities in his five-year Action Agenda adopted in 2012 and was the first Secretary General to appoint an Envoy on Youth, the position assumed by a young activist from Jordan, Ahmad Alhendawi, back in 2013. Ahmad, a vigorous young man fully committed to youth development across the globe, shared with us some of his upcoming plans for creating global youth platforms for enhanced advocacy efforts and discussed the opportunities and barriers precluding full realization of youth potential: “Almost half the world’s population is now under the age of 25 and, despite


this, young people are often disengaged from the world’s political processes, face unemployment and are treated as mere beneficiaries of charity by the older establishment. But this is changing and they are going to be partners in implementation of SDGs and they will also hold governments accountable to the promises they make.” In partnership with Bulgarian and Dutch Youth Delegates, I also organized a side event in the UN Headquarters on “The Role of Youth in Sustainable Peace and Security,” inviting guest speakers from academia, UN and the United Network of Young Peacebuilders. At the end of the meeting, all the participants came to a common conclusion that the best outcomes are reached when an authentic youth-adult partnership is established, because any subtle change is delusional unless young and elders equally participate in the processes which determine their future. Along with its perks, being a Georgian UN Youth Delegate is a mandate full of responsibilities – a one-year position which is open to all young citizens of Georgia every year. The program is fully funded by the Ministry of Sport and Youth Affairs in partnership with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Georgia. The visit to the UN headquarters in New-York left me with lifetime impressions and I wish all young people within and outside of my country to never step back from trying to realize their sincere goals which aim to make our world a better place.

Georgia’s Historic Monuments Now Available on Google Maps

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eorgia’s most important, ancient and historic monuments are now available on Google Maps, the world’s largest mapping

service. More than 200 monuments which are of great interest to tourists are now easily searchable on Google Maps. Using this service, people can check distances between two objects, particular places, or get an up-close look by using the zoom feature. The detailing of Georgian monuments on Google Maps has been supported by the National Agency for Cultural Heritage Preservation of Georgia since 2012. The project aims to promote Georgia’s unique monuments for tourists, and increase global awareness. According to the National Agency of Cultural Heritage, the placement of Cultural Heritage Listed monuments will continue in the future. Currently, Georgia’s Public Register is the regional administrator of Google Maps. The Public Register has been collecting geographical data and providing it to Google for 4 years, so information about Georgia can be properly presented on the world’s largest search engine. In addition to the cultural monuments, information about Georgia’s capital city Tbilisi, including buildings, streets, roads, railways, mountains and rivers, are already available on Google Maps.




NOVEMBER 20 - 23, 2015

Most Significant Investor On Georgian Market BY RUSA SHAMUGIA


nternational holding MAQRO Construction entered the Georgian market with a number of large projects, the largest of which is residential complex Green Budapest, having a unique concept and attitude towards its customers. The company continues to invest in the Georgian market and has ambitious plans for the near future. One of the largest investors in Georgia International since 2013, as well as Green Budapest, holding MAQRO Construction also brought international 4 Star Hotel Mercure Tbilisi Old Town, furniture factory Bellissa and more. Today the company boasts 400 employees, with that number increasing with each new project. Georgia Today met Mr. Oguz Kaan Karaer, Deputy General Director in Project Development, Marketing, PR and Sales. “Due to the fact that in Georgia there is a healthy and stable investment environment, we realize the need of quality construction on the Georgian market. Therefore, we decided to share our own experience and entered the market in 2013, since which time we have invested more than 70 million dollars. The residential complex Green Budapest was a 45 million dollar investment of international holding MAQRO Construction, which, based on the preliminary information pub-

lished by the National Statistics Office of Georgia (NSOG), belongs to the ten largest investments according to the amount of direct foreign investments made to the country- with two projects: Green Budapest (45 million dollar investment) and Hotel Mercure Tbilisi Old Town (16 million dollar investment). The key to our success at MAQRO Construction has been a responsive approach to business, quality control and the management team’s ability to recognize changes in the marketplace and adapt to them,” he said.

EVERYTHING UNDER ONE ROOF “Green Budapest is not just a residential complex, it’s a lifestyle!” Mr. Oguz Kaan Karaer went on. “Purchasing a new apartment usually means the improvement of living conditions and the change of life for the better, however comfort in the flat tenfold increases when the construction company takes care of the household requirements of its residents. Green Budapest is located in the center of the city but it is surrounded by a recreation area, which guarantees the comfort and health of its inhabitants in ecological surroundings. The construction is carried out with the use of the latest ecologically safe and high quality materials. The multiprofile infrastructure, which includes a green area, where you even can find squirrels (we call them our first, honorable, inhabitants), basketball court, skate-

board ramp, child center, fitness center, running track, outdoor and indoor parking lots, etc. are the main advantages of our complex. The rush of city life makes each wasted minute important in the provision of elementary services to residents. The tenants of Green Budapest will be provided different kinds of services assigned to them with total safety. The opportunity is given to them by the company MAQRO Construction, the main principle of which is the creation of maximal comfort for people. The residential complex Green Budapest built on the territory of 11700 m2, suggests 351 fully renovated apartments. Green Budapest creates full living comfort. That was the reason our company decided to pass not black or white frame, but fully renovated apartments according to European standards, bath with full headset, built-in kitchen and appliances. The only issue residents should take care of is furniture and large equipment. Also, it should be noted that during one year after completion of construction, security of the territory, cleaning, and landscape works will be performed free of charge. The commercial part of the buildings is assigned to a fitness center, day care and kindergarden, market, restaurants and other significant objects according to the customers’ needs; residents will have all comfort they need within the territory of the complex,” Mr. Karaer said.

70% OF THE TOTAL SALES REACHED “We started sales in September 2014 and we have now reached 70% of the total sales. These are not just numbers for our Company, as we have a very sensitive approach to our customers and take into the consideration their needs and interests. Approximately 30% of the apartments are bought for investment and 70% for living purposes. People 35 to 55 years of age, with a busy lifestyle, who want to have a very stable investment, purchase an apartment in Green Budapest, as they find it very beneficial to invest in real estate and especially in our complex, as to them it has a very favorable location and concept. Additionally, families who are willing to change their surroundings, because of the green area (as this is a real problem in Tbilisi), healthy environment, comfortable setting, perfect location, and quality construction are our current customers as well.”

Mr. Oguz Kaan Karaer, the Deputy General Director of MAQRO Construction

believe? But it’s true. You can make your dream come true very easily without any down payment. You can distribute the amount within 5 years with just 7% interest rate. This campaign will end at the end of December. So, don’t miss this opportunity, you have a realistic chance to start a new life!” Mr. Karaer advised.

FUTURE PLANS MAQRO Construction has high responsibility approach towards its obligations and its activity is carried out of a prior consideration

of customers’ interests. MAQRO Construction builds not only high quality buildings on a Georgian market, but provides trust and reliability to the Georgian people. “MAQRO Construction continues to invest in the Georgian economy. The company has already purchased 70 000 sq. meter of land for a new residential district, spending 160 million USD. It will be a totally unique concept and an innovative project on the Georgian market. Live happily! We will take care of the rest!”

4 MONTHS PRIOR TO DEADLINE “Green Budapest Construction is being carried out at a rapid rate and will be completed 4 months early, which means that residents will be able to move into their apartments in May instead of September 2016. This is especially good news for the customers who bought the apartment as an investment, as they can rent the apartment from May 2016 while the completion date for the payment terms stays the same (September),” Mr. Karaer told Georgia Today.

315 fully renovated apartments

Bath with full headset, built-in kitchen and appliances


Total territory - 11700 m2, recreation zone – 3500 m2

“Residential complex Green Budapest, by MAQRO Construction, launched its last campaign in 2015. MAQRO Construction took into account the current economic circumstances in the country and offered unprecedented payment terms, affordable for those who are willing not only to live in a new apartment, but to have a new way of living, as Green Budapest is not only a residential complex, but a lifestyle! At the end of the December people will have an opportunity to see the green area of the complex. The façade and planting work will be finished, and only after that, customers will be able actually evaluate our complex’s main advantage. It will be a completely different complex in Tbilisi. “Within the campaign it’s possible to select the terms from various conditions. In case of full payment, a customer can get 15% discount, or the balcony or parking space for free. There is a second option – 5 years internal credit without interest. Yes, you can purchase an apartment, with only 30% down payment and distribute the rest through 5 years without any interest. The third option is a 0 % down payment. Difficult to

According to European standards

Multi-profile infrastructure, such as green area, basketball court, skateboard ramp, child center, fitness center, running track, outdoor and indoor parking lots, etc.



Director of Metro Atlas Georgia Sales Group Extols Virtues of MetroCity


irector of Metro Atlas Georgia sales group, Mrs Guliz Candemir, described the unique MetroCity project for us: “It will integrate a five star hotel, residences with private swimming pools, panoramic terrace restaurants, casino, spa, a shopping center including 100 brand stores, sports club, a la carte restaurants, cinema, a bowling center, a playground for children, a golden sandy beach and the biggest conference hall in Transcaucasia for 1500 guests.” MetroCity can be found just 2 km from Batumi International Airport and 500m from the city center. The complex, the

construction of which was begun in February 2015, will be successfully completed in July 2016. “All of our apartments come with the following as standard: services such as telephone, wake-up call services, visitor monitoring, a common area, 24/7 Safety and Security, Shopping Assistance, Concierge, 24/7 Technical Service Assistance, Housekeeping and cleaning service. “MetroCity apartments are spacious; a real home away from home for our foreign customers. Living in MetroCity, residents are within walking distance to all infrastructures. Metro City represents various apartments including penthouses.

Prices are defined according to the floor and sea view,” noted Mrs Guliz Candemir.

Working Towards the “Georgian Village of the Future” in Lagodekhi BY ROBERT ISAF


owards the end of last Thursday’s presentation of the new, EU-funded Rural Development Pilot Project underway in Lagodekhi, a short video was shown featuring citizens and government officials from around the country already involved with the project. “What we are building,” one of the film’s talking heads effused, “is the Georgian village of the future.” Ambitious words, to be sure, but taken with a grain of salt they might have some truth to them, at least if the local and international drivers behind ENPARD – the European Neighborhood Program for Rural and Agricultural Development, under whose auspices Lagodekhi’s Rural Development Pilot Project is being conducted – have their way. The long-tested European LEADER method on which the pilot project is modeled allows local citizens and businesses in rural areas to benefit from national and international government funding, while creating a form of local self-governance to oversee those funds known as the Local Action Group (LAG). The proposed “Georgian Village of the Future,” therefore, would be one where individuals, community organizations, and local business cooperate to make their homes more economically viable, more attractive to outsiders, and overall more livable. After lunch, while a room packed full of Lagodekhi’s most concerned began a two-day workshop strategic planning and leadership exercises at the Protected Area’s administration center, the visiting delegates who had come to Lagodekhi for the project’s presentation left for an afternoon of site visits to organizations that have already become involved with the fledging LAG process. It began only a short walk from the Protected Area’s main gate, where Victor Kervalishvili and Natalia Kalandadze, owners of the Hotel Bio-Yard, conducted an extensive tour of the property that they’ve spent the last three years devel-

oping. Seven-generation Tbiliselebi, both professional academics, the couple changed direction after deciding to buy a summer house in Kakheti. They started buying more parcels adjacent to their house, and before long had begun farming. “We thought, in a few years this biofarm will be very much needed,” Ms. Kalandadze explained. “The first year was very difficult, because we had no experience and we had a lot of things to learn. When you make one circle then you know what is what. Now we know what to leave, what to kill and make food, what to sell, how to treat it.” The couple’s philosophy of all-organic conduct led them naturally, she says, to explore the idea of selling their food to guests rather than to supermarkets, hence the natural evolution of two cityslummers’ summer house into a hotel with attached organic farm. Just down the road, Guesthouse Gardenia was found with its doors wide open, its effulgent owner, Lia Natsarashvili, scurrying the delegates inside. Translators helped explain to delegates from Estonia and Spain the state of the family’s outstanding loans, their plans for an expanded terrace and wine cellar, and the ins and outs of online booking services. Before anyone notices the owner is gone, she reappears, beaming, bearing a cast iron pot bubbled over with red palouzes. The next stop on the tour – a brightly painted string of rooms on the second floor of an old kindergarten building, now serving as the free-to-attend LELI adult education center, which boasts 100 participants and its own beehives – has to be delayed. Wine in hand, his colleagues and fellow observers eating homemade cheese

and pickles and making churchkhela while Ms. Natsarashvili watches, Kaido Sirel, Head of Operations of the EU to Georgia, smiled. “I’m seeing here great, great potential,” he told Georgia Today. “So far we’ve been dealing mainly with state authorities at the capital level. Of course the pilot projects (in Lagodekhi, Borjomi, and Kazbegi) are quite similar, but finally it’s the local people who decide what direction it will take. Some places are focusing on agriculture, some more on tourism, some on other industries. We need to brainstorm with ideas.” Irakli Sulabaridze, one of the coordinators for the day, helped explain what some of those ideas might look like. “In Georgia, lots of people have land to survive. But the EU says you don’t have to survive, you have the chance to make a business.” The purpose of the pilot project, he continued, is to allow local businesses like Ms. Natsarashvili’s guesthouse, community organizations like LELI, and agricultural cooperatives such as those represented at the twoday workshop, to organize and cooperate more effectively, to create better rural-tourism opportunities and agricultural products for domestic sale and export. In short, he says, this EU-funded project is about “creating a European standard product.” “I think Georgia might not be ready for this yet,” he admits, “to buy high quality at high prices. But you can say this; There are families that are looking for quality and don’t care about price. But of course there are poor families that are just looking for food.” Ms. Kalandadze agreed. Attitudes towards the aim of agriculture, she says, could, and should, change.

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NOVEMBER 20 - 23, 2015

Inspiring Georgian Healthcare: German Nurse Nominated for Obama Award BY KATIE RUTH DAVIES


t the beginning of November, 22-year-old German Delia Jakubek was invited by the jury of the Act Now Youth Awards, organized by the Sauti Kuu Foundation of Auma Obama, to attend the annual grand gala which this year boasted nearly 2,000 attendees. Delia had been nominated by ASB Bonn / Rhein-Sieg / Eifel in the Inspiration category of the Awards for her outstanding work with disabled children in Georgia. Klaus Meine of the Scorpions presented Delia’s project in Georgia on November 2 in the Berlin Friedrichstadt-Palast. Delia was accompanied at the gala by ASB CEO Jana Schwindt-Bohn, Head of the ASB Training Center, Susanne Hartmann and Irina Kldiashvili, Executive Director of the Georgian Samaritan Association (SSK). Georgia Today sat down with Irina Kldiashvili to talk about Delia’s contribution to Georgian healthcare. “Delia Jakubek came to Georgia in 2013 as a volunteer of the program ‘weltwärts,’ a development volunteer service founded in 2008 by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Develop-

ment (BMZ). She planned to stay for 12 months to work within an SSK project in Children’s New Clinic, Tbilisi, named ‘Psychosocial assistance for long-term hospitalized children.’” Children who are hospitalized often face stressful medical procedures while being in an environment which is unfamiliar to them. In order to support them during this process, SSK, together with its coalition partner the ‘Georgian Association for the Care of Children’s Health’ has introduced a psychological and psychosocial support service for hospitalized children and their parents. Counseling and playful activities not only help them to reduce their fear and worries but also helps lead to fewer medical complications. “As a trained and experienced nurse, Delia was extremely helpful in the project. She cared not only for the patients of the psycho-social service, but also for the patients of the palliative unit, which was newly opened in the Clinic. Delia had working experience in a children’s clinic in Germany and she saw the necessity of improving the service here immediately. But there was a long way to go. Together with SSK colleagues, and here I want to highlight the great support of Nadin Saxer who worked for SSK in 2014-15 as a program manager in the frames of a dual career, Delia wrote

22-year-old German Delia Jakubek introducing European standards to the Children’s New Clinic Palliative Care Unit

the project “Second Home.” This included introducing European standards to the Children’s New Clinic Palliative Care Unit and maintaining that system for two years. Although financial issues still exist, the Clinic hopes to keep up with the intended improvements. Training sessions have been and will be organized for nurses, doctors and hospital management in the handling and holistic care and treatment of the children, organized by Delia. To encourage the targeted children, and allow them an alternative to being constantly bed-ridden, appropriate child-friendly spaces are being set up (a medically-adapted bathing room and a therapy room) which are suited to their needs and will allow better nursing and therapy by psychologists, physiotherapists and occupational therapists. Finally, the project aims to improve communication between doctors and nurses.”

As Georgia Today reported 12 nurses took part in the ten-day training given by Delia, and the 29th of May 2015 marked the successful completion of the first training course, with all the nurses becoming officially certified. The next training is expected to take place in 2016. “Delia organized trainings for the nurses of the hospital, found sponsorship and extended her originally planned one year stay by six months. Then she stayed even longer. She is now supervising the project from Germany and in October 2015 she returned to visit Georgia in order to check on progress.” Delia now lives and studies in Berlin, working 3-4 times a week as a nurse on night shift. She also volunteers to help the many new refugees. Managing Director of ASB-Bohn, Jana Schwindt-Bohn: “We are proud of Delia Jakubek who has driven this project with

a lot of self-initiative, something quite unusual for a young woman! It shows how much difference a 22-year-old can make in other country.” “I love Georgia, it is my second home and my work in Georgia gave me the feeling I can handle everything that life throws at me,” Delia told Georgia Today of her experience here. The Act Now Youth Award is awarded by the Sauti Kuu Foundation for the volunteer work of young people in social, humanitarian and environmental projects. It is intended as a motivation for young people to make the world a better place. The Sauti Kuu Foundation has set itself the objective of supporting disadvantaged children and young people throughout the world. The young people nominated for the Act Now Youth Inspiration Award are people who distinguish themselves as role models in a very special way.



Culinarium A Culinary Chameleon BY LEA HARRIS


hat looks like an interesting place. These were the words from my husband as our car sped through the wet, dark Tbilisi fall evening; lights reflecting in murky puddles as I craned my neck to see what he was talking about. Little did I know this was Culinarium, and the restaurant was busy because it was their launch party. The grapevine had been buzzing for a couple of weeks about the refurbishment of Tekuna Gachechiladze’s restaurant and with a visit from chef, Ben Ford (Harrison Ford’s son), I was more than intrigued to give it a try. Homework done, menu downloaded, this is not your typical Georgian food, but influences from several cultures, a bit like Georgia herself. Six courses featuring: catfish cerviche, green salad with pear and blue cheese, ravioli with burnt butter, lemon rind and walnut sauce, wild mushrooms sporting a quince and citrus sauce. I was sold even before I got to the main of roast pork with crispy skin on prune purée and pomegranate seeds. The crowning glory (apart from a great selection of wines) was the roast chestnut ice cream. All of which I wanted to eat. Culinarium is an airy space with a real European/Scandinavian feel; a communal table dominates the room and the kitchen is open, so nowhere to hide! All the staff speak good English and explained that in order for the tasting menu to be

served, the restaurant needed to fill the central table of sixteen covers. I took a gamble, with luck, I’d be eating some of the dishes featured. Failing that, it would be the Dim Sum Sunday Menu. Either way, I was game. We arrived at 7pm and unfortunately, the bookings were a bit shy - dim sum it was. Sommelier, Brian Stapleton took us under his wing. Having flown in from San Francisco the week before, his first few days were spent at the Pheasant’s Tears vineyard (who are involved in several restaurants in Georgia including Culinarium); he was comfortable with his surroundings, knew his Georgian wines and was affable company. As with the nature of the beast and new openings, there are bound to be a few gremlins in the works. A steamer problem meant no dumpling, a shame, but not a deal breaker. We jumped at the suckling Beijing pig and, as for the rest, we left that up to the kitchen, and Brian’s discretion regarding what we drank. While we waited for our food, Brian talked through the wine list. I expressed interest in amber wine, and no sooner had I opened my mouth, a glass was poured for us to try. From the color, one would expect it to be viscous, sticky, rich and sweet. Complete opposite! Bone dry, full of tannins - it was either love at first sip or hate. Not a huge fan of tannins, I adored it! A perfect foil for our first dish of wok-fried vegetables and duck. This was definitely an umami dish - wellcooked duck, a deeply savory sauce with a hint of sweetness and vegetables that retained some crunch. Next up was the suckling pig, served with pancakes, scal-

lions and cucumber, I could’ve eaten the whole piglet. Succulent flesh, veneer thin, über crispy skin all wrapped up in its own little pancake blanket. As we licked the remnants of sauce from our fingers, panko-crusted prawns appeared, and were polished off just as quickly, along with a glass of Atenuri white. Up next, udon noodles with chicken, accompanied by a glass of fig black Saperavi. The meat in its glossy sauce wasn’t swamped by the wine; again accomplished cooking and great drink choices. Before jumping in for dessert, Brian suggested that we let the sous chef have free range with our final savory course. Another duck dish, this time without the Asian influences. Cooked the bloody side of pink, it came with quince puree. The smile on the chef’s face as the plate was placed in front of us was mirrored by our own grins. The fruit cut through and complemented the duck perfectly. We just about managed dessert - buffalo yoghurt panna cotta. Creamy and unctuous but not quite set enough for my taste; I like this pudding with a gentle wobble. Chef Tekuna Gachechiladze’s ability to switch from one cooking style to another like a culinary chameleon is what Culinarium is about - innovative, polished and accomplished, willing to push the boundaries. Certainly not typical Georgian food, but just as delicious! 1/17 Lermontov Street Tbilisi 0105 Georgia Tel: +995 32 2 43 01 03 Open: Wed-Sun from 13:00-23:30


Swedish Adventurer Addresses Packed Auditorium at the National Museum BY ROBERT ISAF


early 300 people crammed themselves into the auditorium of Tbilisi’s Simon Janashia National Museum of Georgia Wednesday evening, lined shoulder to shoulder against the walls, sitting on the wooden steps, and even overflowing out into the atrium, to see and hear a man named Johan Ernst Nilson. Now in his 40s, Mr. Nilson, a native of Stockholm, was brought here by the National Geographic Society of Georgia; over twenty years ago he embarked, on a dare, on a bike ride that would lead to him becoming an unlikely world explorer and the face of, and force behind, numerous international charities and environmental advocacy projects. Looking worlds away from the battered explorer seen in his photographs, Mr. Nilson took the stage in a bright orange patterned scarf, clean-shaven and with a practiced, movie-star smile. His hourand-a-half long talk led the audience along in his growth from a shy, nervous child who would hide behind the pommel horse to avoid getting picked for football to a practiced adventurer who has lived with cannibals and swum in the Arctic. His theme for the evening, and the theme that he brings to his lectures around the world, was simple: Nothing is Impossible. “Failure”, he says, “is only delayed success.” His life became before

our eyes both a drawn-out adventure story and a motivational speech. The most recent adventure, during which he traveled on his own power, on foot and by bike, from the north to the south pole, provided a centerpiece for the evening, but easily the most crowd-pleasing story came from earlier in his career, when he successfully piloted a makeshift aircraft, constructed apparently of a hang-glider and a rubber boat, from Stockholm to Gibraltar. Of all the images he showed, none more strikingly encapsulated his message that “Nothing is Impossible” (only difficult) than the sight of a grey rubber dinghy flying above a squadron of Danish fighter jets. Mr. Nilson has become further wellknown for his various charity endeavors, especially those related to climate change. He passed on his fears to the audience, while discussing his fight across the Arctic ice from the North Pole to Canada, that we may be the last generation to see the great ice shelf there at all. Nevertheless, in conversation after the lecture, it wasn’t his environmental work that he focused on. “I feel most proud of the work I’m doing with kids,” he told Georgia Today. “The reason for that is that I see a difference. With climate change I don’t see a difference in time. With kids I hear mothers and fathers calling me up and saying that my kid, my child is actually making a change in school because of your lecture, because of your program. So they are choosing things that they didn’t dare before, that they are doing now. Those things I’m proud of.”




NOVEMBER 20 - 23, 2015

Powerless: Etseri, Svaneti BY TONY HANMER


fter last week’s list of some of What it Takes to live up here in these beautiful but severe surroundings, winter has begun with a vengeance; or perhaps with a view to testing our mettle. Well, we had a very mild and beautiful autumn, and I actually feel like my household is fairly ready for the long snowy season. We have lots of firewood—logs, cut or split stove-lengths—with a lot of the latter stacked, dry and under cover in our nicely roofed garage. Food aplenty, water running, insulation better than we’ve had it before, especially in the newly renovated upstairs. The electricity, though, is something mostly outside our control. And it’s been worryingly erratic, since the heavy snowfalls began a few days ago. We try to be ready for the times of lack, with laptop and phone batteries charged, wood for heating when it’s the only choice, and

so on. One fridge-freezer and another huge freezer are in cooler parts of the house, so they won’t defrost in a hurry if they’re not running. The main fridge-freezer is in the warmest room in the house, though, the kitchenliving room adjoining the shop and our bedroom, where our massive workhorse, the famous Svan wood stove, sits doing its marvelous job. So if we found ourselves without power for more than a day, we’d have to think about what to do. We do have a generator, a little Honda one which I’ve used exactly once here: for power to drill our hole into the village’s main steel water pipe about 150 meters up and away from electricity, when we began renovating our newly bought, decade-abandoned house. We used the generator for about ten seconds and its job was done. So we could be much worse off in the absence of village electricity. But I’m deathly lazy to use the thing at home, and would only do so for the sake of the fridges after a couple of powerless days. It’s never yet come to that. May it never! The on-again, off-again

situation we’re in now does play on the nerves rather a lot, as it’s completely without a schedule. I first experienced this during my two winters in Ushguli, from 2007 to 2009. At the moment, Becho, where I now spend half of my English teaching days, seems to be worse off electrically than Etseri is. It must get more tourists, having that fabulous view of Ushba at its top end to attract them in; and it’s part-way through a main road widening and asphalting program now too. But less electricity than ours? I shudder at the thought. It’s not just the not having: so much of the world’s population lives without any electricity at all and is fine. It is, of course, the losing what you’re used to, what you rely on and have built your lifestyle around. At least we’re not hooked on the Indian, Turkish or Korean soaps currently raging across the Georgian TV channels! No loss there for my wife and me... With so much snow suddenly arriving so soon, and more coming down as I write this, I think of the disastrous winter in the late 1980s when about 70 peo-

ple, most of them children, were killed by avalanches in Ushguli. Houses were snowed in all over Svaneti up to the second floor, and people had to escape as best they could. Ushguli came within a hair’s breadth of being abandoned altogether by its population, which would have turned Europe’s highest village into a memory, a ghost town. No one wants to see a repeat of such a disaster. That was very late in its winter, however, during the traditional time for such excesses, while we’re just at the beginning now. And in between snowfalls, we’ve had mild sunny weather, which has at least allowed a lot of the rooftop snow either to evaporate or to slide off. (A single normal winter of snow on a roof can bring it down, if it doesn’t either slide or get shoveled off.) My plea—may it reach the right audience!—is: don’t abandon us, local government! Svaneti’s winter tourism season is becoming much more important than it has been for decades. YOU did this. Don’t let us suffer with such uncertain electricity when you (or your competitors in government...) have channeled

such investment into renewing our infrastructure! You can’t have been caught unawares, as sudden as the snowfall is now: it’s late, not early; not a matter of if but of when. If the whole electrical system of Upper Svaneti needs working on; do it! We’re not interested in excuses or silence, we depend on results to survive up here in this altitude and isolation, so far from your “tbili” (warm) halls and corridors. We can’t allow things to go backwards to the terrifying, dangerous, bandit-ridden, chaotic times of Svaneti a decade ago (I remember them well, though I was only visiting the province then, not living here). Do you want me to start keeping a diary of power outage times? Don’t let it come to that, please! Tony Hanmer runs the “Svaneti Renaissance” Facebook group, now with over 1250 members, at He and his wife also run their own guest house in Etseri:



High Ranking Georgian Artist Rusiko Chikvaidze: “Art Makes People Kinder” BY ANA AKHALAIA


usiko Chikvaidze is a famous Georgian painter presented in the world’s best artists list. Her works are kept in MMOMA, displayed in various galleries with many more in private collections of many influential and well-known people, Georgian and foreign, including the President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev, who recently met her during his official visit to Georgia. She has been awarded with gold and silver medals for her contributions to world culture and has a high category in the international edition of famous artist ‘Ranking’. The artist founded gallery Art Academy which now has branches in Tbilisi and Batumi. Recently, the gallery and company Hennessy, with its official representative GD Alco, held an exhibition celebrating the 250 year anniversary of the brand Hennessy at Tbilisi Marriott. The exhibition presented famous Georgian painters including Rusiko Chikvaidze. Georgia Today met with Rusiko to discuss her achievements and work.

WHERE HAS YOUR WORK FEATURED SO FAR? I’ve had several personal exhibitions in Tbilisi, Paris and Moscow. I always take part in group exhibitions. My works are in a lot of private collections of famous people including several state leaders and presidents, Ilham Aliyev has my 3 paintings. About 10 paintings are in MMOMA.

WHAT ARE YOUR IMPORTANT ACHIEVEMENTS? I am in the international album of world famous artists. International ranking means a lot because it means that your works are investments. I founded Art Academy five years ago for my paintings. Then I thought to bring some of my really talented friends there, too. Always the best works of the best artists are displayed in the gallery and they change regularly. Our main goal is quality. Art Academy has branches in several places in Tbilisi and in Holiday Inn in Batumi. We are planning to open new ones.


National Museum and TBC Gallery recently. I’m planning personal exhibitions in Tbilisi and Baku. My gallery is in the process of negotiating to hold exhibitions in London and other cities, too. We’ve been collaborating with Hennessy for several years. They asked our gallery to hold an exhibition in celebration of Hennessy’s 250-year anniversary. The exhibition lasted two days and took place in Writer’s House of Georgia, and Tbilisi Marriott. It is almost winter now and I’m working on fairy tale themed paintings. I started a series of paintings in the summer called NOW in which I express what is happening ‘now’ in our world at this very moment. I haven’t presented these paintings yet but I already have a few of them.

WHEN DID YOU START PAINTING? I’ve been painting all my life. My family have always supported me. My mom is a doctor and her patient then was Lado Gudiashvili (famous Georgian painter). She brought my works to him and asked for advice. He told her a very simple but very clever thing which I absolutely agree with. He said not to take me to teachers and not

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


Bravo Records Organizes Vladimir Cosma Evening BY BEQA KIRTAVA

to prepare me too much in order to maintain my individuality. And we did exactly that. Before I entered Tbilisi State Academy of Arts, my teacher was one of the most talented painters, Tazo Khutsishvili.

WHAT ARE YOUR PAINTINGS ABOUT AND WHAT IS YOUR INSPIRATION? My paintings are about global problems, ecology, human relationships, love, values, philosophy and a positive outlook. Maybe I don’t do it intentionally but I am told and it is written that my works are mostly positive and I agree with that. I don’t like aggression. The world is so full of aggression that humans need to get something positive in their lives; to relax a little bit, to become a little kinder. My slogan is that Art Makes People Kinder. Everything interesting influences me; books, music, cities, being around interesting people and in an interesting environment; even delicious food. And I paint what I love. Each painting is very important for an artist, because each painting holds an event which took place in the artist’s life. Painting is not only a work of art, it is also history.


lthough French movies are still extremely popular in Georgia, they enjoyed even more attention back in the 60s-90s. Starring worldfamous actors like Jean-Paul Belmondo, Pierre Richard, Sophie Marceau and others, le cinéma français was the cynosure of all eyes. The score for the majority of the aforementioned films was composed by the Romanian-born French composer, conductor and violinist – Vladimir Cosma. For the first time in Georgian history, Bravo Records has reached a deal with LARGHETTO MUSIC, which owns the works of Vladimir Cosma, gaining the official live performance scores and notes for the Georgian State Symphony Orchestra. On December 5, 2015, Tbilisi Concert Hall will host a special concert organized by Bravo Records – “Vladimir Cosma’s French Cinema Music Masterpieces”. The star-studded line-up includes: Georgian State Symphony Orchestra led by Janluka Marchiani, Keti Orjonikidze, Nina Sublatti, Aleko Berdzenishvili, Tamta Tskhvitava, Ana Doiashvili, Giorgi Nakashidze, Levan Maspindzelashvili, Anano Ghibradze, Sophie Somkhishvili, Mariam Roinishvili, Luka Sakariadze and many others. The concert is presented by Bank Republic Société Générale Group, TS Fund, Tbilisi City Hall’s Cultural Events Center and the French Institute of Georgia.




NOVEMBER 20 - 23, 2015

The Georgian International Festival of Art – Looking Back BY EKA KARSAULIDZE


he 18th Georgian International Festival of Art (GIFT) in honor of Mikheil Tumanishvili was closed with one of the most extravagant performances of ‘Carmen’ in modern interpretation by South African dancer and choreographer Dada Masilo. The closing ceremony was held on November 17 and, for your reading pleasure, Georgia Today has collected the best moments of the Festival. During the Festival around ten theater productions were shown from around the world, some of which were based on original works, and some which were quite unique; invented and written by the directors. However, there is one thing that united all of them: modern interpretation and inclination to experiment. Carmen is one of the most well-known characters in literature, the image somehow already formed for each person, but Dada Masilo decided to show the public a totally new Carmen, adding choreography items of African folk along with classical and modern dance. “Carmen is a very free woman, and I made her incredibly attractive and sexy yet this image of her is acceptable to the public,” said Masilo. “I changed the ending as well. With her death would have died everything for which people loved her. So I left her alive, but I killed all her personality traits,” she said. In the framework of GIFT it was the second modern dance theatre after Sasha Waltz’s ‘Travelogue 1- Twenty to Eight’, which, in contrast with Masilo, showed the modern life of modern people, but the storyline of these heroes intersected with ‘Carmen’ – it is all about love, potion and relationships. Director Dmitry Krimov also showed his vision

of modern life, of modern Russian life in his original play ‘Russian Blues. In Search of Mushrooms’ during the Festival. According to the director, searching for mushrooms is not just a campaign to find them, but something magic that unites Russian people. ‘Russian Blues’ is a theatrical metaphor – twelve completely different scenes from ordinary people’s lives, where mushrooms are a unifying symbol. In addition, throughout the action of the play the audience uses earphones. “I found it interesting, for the viewer will see one thing and hear something completely different. The narrator in the earphones tells the story in his own way, focusing on the other elements, thus confusing the viewer,” explained Krimov. It is worth noting that Dmitri Krymov displayed the world premiere of his performance in the framework of GIFT not for the first time. The Vakhtangov State Academic Theatre of Russia also became a loyal friend of the Festival, for the second year bringing its best performance: Eugene Onegin – one of the most significant works of Russian literature. Eugene Onegin was one of the most anticipated performances at the GIFT festival and earned critical acclaim. In fact, each of the three days of the performance, the theatre boasted a full house and no standing room. This is thanks to the fact that Lithuanian director Rimas Tuminas did a nearly impossible thing- making Eugene Onegin, which is more intended for theatrical readings or opera, into a true theatrical, very moving and insightful play. The Georgian International Festival of Art as a whole can claim to have been very filling, interesting and varied – in addition to theatrical performances, there were several exhibitions and festival talks. Nevertheless, the organizers promise even more theatrical ‘gifts’ for Georgian audiences next year.


Address: 13 Shavtelis St. Telephone: 2 98 65 93 November 20 RAMONA Rezo Gabriadze Directed by Rezo Gabriadze English Subtitles Start time: 20:00 Ticket price: 10, 15, 20 Lari November 21 AUTUMN OF MY SPRING Rezo Gabriadze Directed by Rezo Gabriadze English Subtitles Start time: 20:00 Ticket price: 10, 15, 20 Lari November 22 MARSHAL DE FANTIE’S DIAMOND Rezo Gabriadze Directed by Rezo Gabriadze English Subtitles Start time: 20:00 Ticket price: 10, 15, 20 Lari GRIBOEDOVI THEATRE Address: 2 Rustaveli Ave. Telephone: 2 93 43 36 November 21 CASTING Nika Kvijinadze Directed by Nika Kvijinadze Small Stage Language: Russian Start time: 18:00 Ticket price: 5 Lari November 21 YELLOW ANGEL Directed by Avtandil Varsimashvili Small Stage Language: Russian Start time: 18:00 Ticket price: 5 Lari

MOVEMENT THEATRE Address: 182, Aghmashenebeli Ave., Mushthaid park Telephone: 599 555 260 November 20, 21, 22 INTRO Directed by Kakha Bakuradze Start time: 20:00 Ticket price: From 10 Lari ILIAUNI THEATRE Address: 32 a Chavchavadze Ave. Telephone: 2 29 47 15 November 21 CEZAR AND DRANA Directed by Rusudan Kobiashvili Language: Georgian English subtitles Start time: 20:00 Ticket price: From 5 Lari November 22 SCAPIN’S TRICKS Molier Directed by Goga Kachibaia Language: Georgian English subtitles Start time: 20:00 Ticket price: From 5 Lari TBILISI ZAKARIA PALIASHVILI OPERA AND BALLET THEATRE Address: 25 Rustaveli Ave. Telephone: 2 99 04 56 November 21, 22 DON QUIXOTE Ballet in three acts By Ludwig Minkus Paticipants: Lali Kandelaki, Yonen Takano, Nutsa Chekurashvili, Frank Van Tongeren Start time: November 21 – 19:00, November 22 – 15:00 Ticket price: From 5 Lari Venue: Griboedov Theatre


Address: 1 The Heroes Sq. Telephone: 2 98 58 61 November 21, 22 CLOWN ASSEMBLY Start time: 15:00 Ticket price: From 10 Lari CINEMA AMIRANI CINEMA

Address: 36 Kostava St. Telephone: 2 99 99 55 November 20-23 THE HUNGER GAMES: MOCKINGJAY – PART 2 Directed by Francis Lawrence Cast: Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Liam Hemsworth Genre: Adventure, Sci-Fi Language: English Start time: 19:45 Language: Russian Start time: 12:15, 16:45, 19:45, 22:45 Ticket price: 7.50 – 12.50 Lari SPECTRE Directed by Sam Mendes Cast: Daniel Craig, Christoph Waltz, Léa Seydoux Genre: Action, Adventure, Thriller Language: Russian Start time: 16:30, 22:30 Ticket price: 9.50 – 12.50 Lari BURNT Directed by John Wells Cast: Bradley Cooper, Sienna Miller, Daniel Brühl Genre: Comedy, Drama Language: Russian Start time: 15:15, 17:30 Ticket price: 8.50 – 10.50 Lari SECRET IN THEIR EYES Directed by Billy Ray

Cast: Chiwetel Ejiofor, Nicole Kidman, Julia Roberts Genre: Mystery, Thriller Language: Russian Start time: 22:35 Ticket price: 11.50 – 12.50 Lari CAVEA IMAX

Address: East Point, 2 Tvalchrelidze Str. Telephone: 2 00 70 07 SECRET IN THEIR EYES (Info Above) Language: English Start time: 20:20 Ticket price: 10 – 11 Lari THE HUNGER GAMES: MOCKINGJAY – PART 2 (Info Above) Language: English Start time: 20:00 Ticket price: 11 – 12 Lari SPECTRE (Info Above) Language: English Start time: 12:00 Ticket price: 6-7 Lari MUSEUM


Address: 11 Rustaveli Ave. November 7 – December 6 THE EXHIBITION OF SCENOGRAPHY by three Georgian artists – Oleg Kochakidze, Alexander Slovinsky, Yuri Chikvaidze.


Address: 2 Tvalchrelidze Str. November 16-22 In the frameworks of ‘Artisterium’, Project ArtBeat will be presenting ‘ECHOES 2’ at it’s Moving Gallery, an exhibition by Nino Chubinishvili aka Chubika sponsored by East Point. TIFLIS BRANCH

Address: 4 K. Abkhazi Str. Telephone: 2 99 65 66 November 13-22 IRAKLI AVALISHVILI AND NUGZAR NATENADZE EXHIBITION MUSIC

TBILISI BAROQUE FESTIVAL www. November 22 ABKHAZIAN MIXED CHOIR CHAMBER CHORUS OF THE MASTER’S DEGREE STUDENTS OF TBILISI STATE Conservatoire Special Guest - George Kobulashvili Start time: 19:30 Venue: Rustaveli Theatre MTKVARZE

Address: 2 Agladze Str. Telephone: 599 19 33 44 November 20 Main Room: 23:00 - 01:30 - TROTSKY 01:30 - 02:30 - SO INAGAWA Live 02:30 - 05:30 - DJ MASDA 05:30 – End - TROTSKY Visuals by MASTERSKEY Small Room: A.TABUKASHVILI Entry price: 15 Lari November 22 Main Room: TASKER (WHITIES), ASH, GACHA SMALL ROOM: BERO Entry price: 15 Lari Start time: 23:00




Last Minute Tirana Collapse Signals End of Tskhadadze’s Honeymoon Period BY ALASTAIR WATT


henKakhaTskhadadze took over the Georgian national football team at the beginning of the year, his immediate remit was to stop a deepening rot. His predecessor Temur Kestbaia left Georgia floundering well outside the world’s top 100, and already out of contention for Euro 2016 after only four qualifiers. For a new head coach, entering such a bleak landscape can be viewed as both a curse and a blessing. On one hand, you inherit a poorly performing squad bereft of confidence but on the other hand, expectations are modest and, from a position so low, the only way is up. The Rustavi-born 47-year-old could, indeed, point to steady improvement from his first months in charge, competing well twice against world champions Germany, pushing eventual qualifiers Ireland close in Dublin and of course shipwrecking Scotland’s Euro hopes with a 1-0 victory in early September. In particular, the defensive solidity which characterized the relatively successful early days of the Ketsbaia reign appeared to have returned with the deployment of a five-man defence. Central defenders Guram Kashia, Saba Kverkvelia and Aleksandr Amisulashvili had been the foundation of Tskhadadze’s gradual progress. However, a humbling 3-0 defeat in Estonia on November 11 and the surrendering of a two-goal lead in the final minutes of a 2-2 draw in Albania five days later mean that Tskhadadze’s Georgia end the year with as many questions as answers. Kverkvelia was absent for the friendly


double header, which could account for some of the sudden defensive fragility. His replacement Gia Grigalava, now at Cypriot club Paphos, is primarily viewed as a left-back and his performances reaffirmed that assertion. The decision not to call up young central defender Lasha Dvali, who coped capably against Germany in Tbilisi in March, raised some eyebrows. Dvali instead took part for Georgia’s under-21s whose defeats to Spain and Sweden render their qualification for the European Championships more or less extinguished. Another issue brewing for Tskhadadze’s Georgia is the goalkeeping position. The undisputed property of the towering Giorgi Loria for years, the number one jersey no longer has a fixed tenant. Loria’s ill-fated summer move to Greek giants Olympiakos and subsequent release saw him relinquish his first-team place for Georgia’s match with Scotland on September 4. Replacement Nukri Revishvili, though barely tested by the Scots, kept a clean sheet and held on to his position for the remainder of the campaign. That was until the visit to Tallinn to play Estonia last week where Loria was unexpectedly given a reprieve. Loria, now at Russian side Krylya Sovetov, could scarcely be blamed for any of Estonia’s three goals but was nonetheless dropped for the Albania match five days later. The reinstated Revishvili produced some fine saves in game a largely dominated by Albania but one which Georgia ought to have won. Amisulashvili’s softly struck volley crept past Albanian keeper Eltrit Berisha after less than 90 seconds to give Georgia a surprise lead, with Dusiburg attacker Giorgi Chanturia the supplier. And Chanturia’s evening improved immeasurably shortly after half-time

when a zipping shot from 20 meters doubled Georgia’s lead. Ranked 75 places above Georgia and having already qualified automatically for the European Championships, Albania away represented a potentially noteworthy scalp for Tskhadadze regardless of the match being a friendly. Victory certainly would have made amends for the sobering loss to Estonia, a nation that dropped points against San Marino in their limp Euro 2016 qualifying bid. However, such a reprieve was denied in the closing stages as first Migjen Basha capitalized on a half-hearted clearance to drive past Revishvili from the edge of the box to halve Albania’s arrears before a spectacular volley by Sokol Cikalleshi in the fourth minute of stoppage time salvaged a draw for the hosts. A 2-2 draw in Tirana would have been a perfectly palatable result for Georgia at kick-off, but the way in which it was achieved leaves Tskhadadze’s revival under some pressure. There was some good news for Georgian football this week though as the under-19s reached the elite round of qualifying for the 2016 European Championships, as a 0-0 draw with Austria proved sufficient in the final qualification match in Tbilisi. They follow the under-17s who have also made the elite round, keeping up Georgia’s recent commendable record at youth level. At the top level though, there remains a mountain of work to be done ahead of Georgia’s World Cup 2018 qualification campaign which kicks off next September against Austria in Tbilisi. In a group also containing Wales, Ireland, Serbia and Moldova, Tskhadadze has earmarked third place as his target, an ambition which felt slightly more fathomable a fortnight ago than it does now.

Batumi State Drama Theatre Opens British-Georgian Coproduction

The Winter’s Tale - a Play about Staging a Play


he British Council and the Ministry of Education, Culture and Sports of Adjara Autonomous Republic have jointly implemented a number of significant projects as part of the Performing Arts Support Program. These projects and initiatives serve to encourage the development of the performing arts sector and improvement of audience engagement in Adjara. On 21 November 2015 The Winter’s Tale, a British-Georgian coproduction, opens at the Batumi State Drama Theatre- the first partnership work of the Batumi State Drama Theatre and London’s Unicorn Theatre. Tarek Iskander, the British director recommended by the Unicorn, has been working on the play all summer. The play by Ignace Cornelissen is about staging a play by Shakespeare. The show demonstrates staging the Shakespeare’s

play in the theatre and how personal relationships develop during the work. This is the second collaboration jointly supported by the British Council and the Ministry of Education, Culture and Sports of Adjara between the British and Georgian theatres. Theatre lovers in Batumi will probably remember the Georgian re-staging of The Zero Hour, an amazing, innovative screening theatre from Britain. This was the first coproduction supported as a part of the Performing Arts Support Program. The Winter’s Tale is yet another example of the success of cooperation aimed at the exchange of creative ideas and development of the capacity of the theatres in Georgia, specifically in Adjara. Venue: Batumi State Drama Theatre, 18 Ahmed Melashvili Street Opening on 21 November 2015 Beginning: 19:00



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Profile for Georgia Today

Issue #795  

Nov. 20 - 23, 2015

Issue #795  

Nov. 20 - 23, 2015