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Issue no: 1213

• DECEMBER 20 - 23, 2019 • PUBLISHED TWICE WEEKLY

PRICE: GEL 2.50

In this week’s issue... Trump - the Third President in American History to be Impeached by the House

POLITICS PAGE 5

FOCUS

ON A TEEN'S SUICIDE

Luka Siradze's death rocks society and the Georgian justice system

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Energy, Agriculture, Industry & Waste the Main Sources of Greenhouse Gas Emissions in Georgia

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nergy tops the list of polluters in Georgia, accounting for more than half of the national greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Agriculture, industry and waste hold the next three positions on the list with their contributions having increased gradually in recent years. Following the collapse of Soviet-legacy industries, Georgia currently produces three times less greenhouse gas emissions than in 1990. However, a slight increase has been observed in the last decade. These findings are included in Georgia’s Second Biennial Update Report to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), prepared with the assistance from the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) and the Global Environment Facility (GEF) and unveiled by the Government of Georgia on December 18. “Reporting to the UN Convention on Climate Change is an important national exercise,” said Deputy Minister of Environmental Protection and Agriculture, Nino Tandilashvili. “Georgia’s recent report reveals the trends in domestic emissions over a 25-year period, identifies the needs and gaps, and helps the country move towards a climate-resilient society.” Continued on page 2

Cristina Doros to Lead Visa Business in the Caucasus BUSINESS PAGE 6

Rooms Hotels – the Face of Modern Georgia BUSINESS PAGE 7

First Ever Waste Expo Held in Georgia with the Support of the USAID/CENN WMTR II Program BUSINESS PAGE 8

Heritage Hotel and Suites – Hotel Beyond Expectation BUSINESS PAGE 9

Embassy of the State of Qatar to Georgia Celebrates its Country’s National Day SOCIETY PAGE 12

The Making of a Star: George Ergemlidze CULTURE PAGE 15

The report was presented at Radisson Blu Iveria Hotel Tbilisi on December 18. Photo by Vladimir Valishvili/UNDP

Georgia’s Art Palace among European Museum of the Year Award Nominees CULTURE PAGE 15


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NEWS

Energy, Agriculture, Industry & Waste the Main Sources of Greenhouse Gas Emissions in Georgia Continued from page 1 “2019 is a crucial year for the implementation of the Paris Agreement, when all countries are updating their commitments to reduce greenhouse gas emissions,” said UNDP Deputy Head Anna Chernyshova. “The UNDP will continue supporting Georgia in its efforts to set more ambitious goals and make further steps to a greener and more sustainable economy.” Georgia has been submitting biennial reports to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) since 2016, aiming to capture the major national trends in GHG emissions and describe the mitigation measures undertaken in different sectors of economy. The recent Report developed in 20172019 includes an updated GHGs Inventory and information on the implemented, ongoing and planned mitigation policies and measures. It also describes a national framework for measurement, reporting and verification (MRV) to track GHG emissions, climate finance and the impact of mitigation actions. Among the challenges faced by Georgia in climate action, the Report points out fragmented legislation and institutional framework, insufficient domestic finance and lack of quality research and climate-friendly technologies. As a solution, it suggests establishing of a Climate Change Committee to co-ordinate the climate-related activities. Georgia’s Second Biennial Update Report is a joint effort of a wide range of stakeholders: government agencies, civil society, academic and educational institutions and international partners. Submitted in June 2019, the Report received positive feedback from the UNFCCC Secretariat. The Report is available on the UNDP website.

GEORGIA TODAY

DECEMBER 20 - 23, 2019

88 Re-auctions Announced within Project '100 Investment Offers to Business' state has mobilized about 41 million GEL. The 100 investment has objects available in the following locations: in Sighnaghi an estimated value 281,763 GEL (13,000 sq m); in Bakhmaro an estimated value of 2,537.400 GEL (12,588 sq.m.), in Tbilisi, at 14 Gotua Street an estimated value 6,595.721 GEL (6 796 sq.m.). The National Agency of State Property Management says that new facilities will be added gradually to the privatization list. The project envisages holding of 100 parallel auctions and privatization of the property through simplified procedures.

BY ANA DUMBADZE

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8 re-auctions were announced in the framework of the government’s project “100 Investment Offers to Business”. Bids will end on January 8. On November 29, the Ministry of Economy and the National Agency of State Property presented the list of 100 state-owned buildings the government is offering local and international businesses for privatization. Since then, 26 have been sold and the

EIB Approves EUR 15 mln Loan to JSC Liberty Bank

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n December 17, the European Investment Bank (EIB) and JSC Liberty Bank signed a Loan Agreement within the framework of the EU4Business Initiative. Funds under this facility will be used to finance Small and Medium Enterprises operating in Georgia. Following the change of ownership in Liberty Bank in 2017, the new management have embarked on an aggressive business transformation strategy. Key pillars of Liberty Bank’s new targets include: • Investing in the training of people to provide the best possible client services; • Promoting a customer focused business model to improve retail, MSME and Corporate customer needs; • Building strong international partnerships to promote best business practices in Georgia. The new management believes that Liberty Bank is well positioned to promote financial inclusion across the country, given its unparalleled coverage of Georgia that extends to even the most remote locations of the country. EIB Loan should enable Liberty to continue

lending to Georgian SME’s on significantly better terms by, among other things, transferring the financial advantage afforded to Liberty within the framework of EIB facility. Liberty will also receive technical assistance to improve its SME lending practices and product offers under the Eastern Partnership Technical Assistance Trust Fund. “This is yet another major milestone in the development of Liberty Bank and a very strong incentive for the management team to deliver on our stated business objectives,” said Tkhelidze, Deputy General Director of Liberty Bank. Liberty Bank is uniquely qualified to promote SME lending and EIB loan will deepen our ties with entrepreneurs throughout the country.” “I am confident that this partnership will help the Bank in achieving one its key stated business objective, which is to solidify its position in this very dynamic and important segment of the Georgian Economy,” noted Irakli Rukhadze, Chairman of the Board of Liberty Bank. “Support to economic development and smart, sustainable and inclusive growth are a key priority of the EU’s work with Georgia,” Lilyana Pavlova, EIB Vice-Pres-

ident commented. “As the EU bank, we are committed to supporting small and medium-sized businesses – but we need the help of local partners to do so. I am happy that we are extending our cooperation with a strong existing partner of

the EIB and that we reach out to new institutions as well. SMEs play a significant role in Georgia’s economy and our transactions will pave the way for better business prospects of those companies and the country in general.”


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NEWS

GEORGIA TODAY

DECEMBER 20 - 23, 2019

Luka Siradze’s Suicide Rocks Georgian Society & the Juvenile Justice System BY TEA MARIAMIDZE

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uka Siradze, 15, who tried to commit suicide after alleged pressure from police officers, died on December 17 in Iashvili Children’s Central Hos-

pital. The family of the minor claims the juvenile was threatened at the Tbilisi police station in the presence of his mother and forced to confess to the crime of vandalizing his former school, Green School, by spray-painting “F**k this life” on a wall there. Georgia’s Interior Ministry confirmed that the minor spent only “3-4 minutes alone” with one of the police officers before the beginning of the interrogation as the minor “had a conflict with his mother and the police officer wanted to defuse the situation.” However, the Ministry excluded any psychological pressure from the officer, saying that the boy was interrogated twice “in the presence of his mother” at the police station on December 10-11. Following the death of the minor, police investigator Mariana Choloiani was detained for placing psychological pressure on Luka which allegedly led to him taking a jump off the ninth floor of his apartment building just hours later. The authority of two other police officers has also been suspended. Londa Toloraia, the First State Inspector of Georgia, said the case is being investigated and a total of 70 witnesses have been questioned since December 12. Meanwhile, demonstrations are underway in Georgia's capital. The participants of the protests are demanding the resignation of Interior Minister Vakhtang Gomelauri, insisting that he is responsible for the death of the 15-year-old boy, The demonstrators claim that Luka Siradze is “yet another victim of the ugly and unfair system” and that it is the fault of society that he died. School students are also involved in the rallies and protesters have been spray-painting “F**k the Law!” and “F**k this Life!” on walls and roads at various locations throughout the capital. Public Defender Nino Lomjaria sent her condolences to the minor’s family,

calling the incident “a tragedy for society because we again failed to protect a child’s life.” Lomjaria said her office is studying the case from the very beginning and will continue to monitor the ongoing investigation. Non-governmental Organization Georgian Young Lawyers’ Association (GYLA) is protecting the interests of the minor’s family. GYLA claims that the juvenile attempted suicide because of alleged psychological abuse committed by the staff of the investigative body. “The juvenile was forced to confess to the crime by means of psychological abuse from the staff members of the investigative body who were investigating the crime. They threatened him and his brother and said that he would have to spend a long time in prison. The psychological abuse and intimidation from the police officers were so intense and real that the juvenile fell ill during the interview and requested medical attention. This assistance was not provided. The juvenile's mother was also present throughout the interrogation process, although he was left alone with the police officers at some point,” the NGO explains. On December 12, the GYLA applied to the Investigative Service of the State Inspectorate with the purpose of launching an investigation. The investigation was launched on the basis of Article 335 of the Criminal Code, which means coercion of a person by deception, blackmail or other unlawful act to get a testimony. The NGO called on the Investigation Service of the State Inspectorate to timely conduct an effective, objective and impartial investigation on the fact of unlawful conduct towards a juvenile at the police station and to the Prosecutor's Office of Georgia to subject the case of incitement to suicide for investigation to the State Inspectorate Service. GYLA lawyer Revaz Ajaridze noted that the detention of investigator Mariana Choloiani is not enough, adding there are more people involved in the intimidation of the deceased juvenile. Ajaridze claims there were around 3-4 policemen during the questioning of the minor and it is for the investigation to reveal all the perpetrators. “It is necessary to determine who was communicating directly with the minor via texts and threats. The mere fact that

Image source: Accent News

Choloiani is accused at this stage is not enough in our view. Hopefully, other people will soon be identified,” the lawyer said, adding that the investigation is adequately underway at this stage. The director of the Green School, Kakha Davituri, who was the one to call the Patrol Police after discovering the text written on the wall, said he would not have called the police if he had known about the possible consequences of doing so. The school administration also released a statement on the case. “We feel extremely sad about the death of Luka Siradze. It is impossible to find words to express the gravity of this difficult time. We are sending our condolences to family, friends, and relatives of the minor...We are mourning his death.” It also says that studies will be suspended at the school until Monday. Georgian President Salome Zurabishvili also responded to the case. According to her, the death of the 15-year-old boy is a grave tragedy for the whole state. “I share the family's pain and wish them strength at this very difficult time,” Zurabishvili wrote. UNICEF Georgia (United Nations Children's Emergency Fund) was quick to call on the authorities to ensure children’s rights in the juvenile justice system more competently. “The Convention on the Rights of the Child obliges the state to ensure that no child be com-pelled to give testimony or to confess guilt and be subjected to

torture or other cruel, inhu-mane or degrading treatment or punishment,” reads the UNICEF statement. “The Juvenile Justice Code of Georgia establishes a child-friendly approach and demands all professionals to deal with individual children’s cases with special diligence. Inasmuch as the police are the first contact with the justice system, it is vital that they have the right motivation, knowledge and skills to be sensitive towards children’s issues.” UNICEF put forward the following recommendations for the betterment of the Georgian juve-nile justice system: • Create special units or designate specialized professionals who will work only on children’s cases in the police system and in all agencies involved in the administration of juvenile justice • Specialized professionals should be selected carefully and monitored regularly • Familiarize and sensitize mid-level management on child rights • Provide all child witnesses of crime with legal assistance at any stage of contact with the justice system. UNICEF noted that it will continue to assist the Georgian government in carrying out reforms designed to implement a child-friendly juvenile justice system pursuant to international standards. Georgian Prime Minister, Giorgi Gakharia, vowed that all perpetrators will be severely punished. He conveyed his “deep sorrow” over the death of Siradze, saying there must be no question marks

over the issue or the transparency of the investigation. Gakharia specified that “important steps” have been taken with regards the juvenile justice system, and major developments have been made in the education and healthcare fields. “However, we still face accumulated problems and challenges. We all, Georgian society, stand responsible before Luka and his family to reduce the systemic problems, which have accumulated over the years, to a minimum,” the PM said. The PM then ordered the Interior Ministry to take all actions to ensure the investigative environment be suited to minors. He also said that the Georgian government will take full responsibility to carry out the reforms in a timely manner, transparently and with the backing of international associates. He stated that using this tragedy for political purposes is “absolutely unacceptable.” Unverified information released on social media reads that Luka’s father is dead and he has a mother and a brother. As the tuition fee is high in Green School, his mother allegedly could not afford to continue Luka’s education there and moved him to a state school, which came as a shock to the minor as he had had a lot of friends and a girlfriend in his old school. This was said to be the reason why he allegedly broke into the school building and left there spray-painted drawings and the words “F**k this life!”

POLITICS

Too Much Politics & Too Little Business OP-ED BY NUGZAR B. RUHADZE

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ven a pavement in the street is politicized in Georgia: no other country in the world has seen this much political water flowing over its curbstones than this politically inundated nation, water which is often tossed up by political billows and swept away by political tsunamis once in a while. No, I am not trying to stipulate with precision whether this is good or bad. I am just saying that we are drowning in a lifethreatening political flood, and need to use, without delay, the right lifejacket to get out of it and dry ourselves in the warmth of economic progress. In other words, we need to be doing something that generates money. Why does the entire nation want to talk rather than use the sweat of the eyebrow for survival? Why are so many young men and women trying to pin down their functionality in politics rather than in science and craft? Why is the political pain in the neck not ending for Georgia to start taking pains to hold up

the economy by investing time and energy in business rather than in politics? I wonder what would happen to us if the currently functioning political class left the arena to let life roll in a natural tempo,

based on economic laws and rules, thus promoting business and pushing politics into the rank of a second-rate commodity of the day. We are living in an era of loudly talk-

ing radical political figures and figurines, dominating not only the public sphere but our privacy too. This is the moment when our political old-timers have firmly dug in with their antiquated ideas and rusty endeavors. Meanwhile, those who are still in their salad years are trying to upstage their fossilized political predecessors, although with lesser experience, knowledge and qualification. A colleague recently called it a generational change which is maturing right in front of our eyes but which has had a barely noticeable effect on the political reality in the country so far. The generational change is logical and natural. But what we most need to do is make a cultural change in politics which will induce the present-time densely populated political class to acutely feel and clearly see the subtle line between politics and economy, ideology and standard of living, education of masses and opportunity to do business. Our people are gradually losing faith in those politicians who have the intention to arbitrarily determine the parameters of our social, political and economic existence, unceremoniously dictating to us what to do, when and why- especially

when they are moving from a governmental position to an oppositional platform. Being overwhelmed and, I would say, infatuated with the idea of coming back to squeeze themselves into a lawenforcing status, many of them would go to any extent to reach the goal. What they are not aware of is the fact that political parties always lose touch with the core of their constituencies when their members are overly carried away with the ideological fight, forgetting the most burning issues that our people suffer on a daily basis. Actually, many of them become political narcissists, totally devoid of any desire to take care of the needs of their electors. Politicians often forget that politics is a money spender, not a money maker, like business. Doing too much politics and too little business serves us no good, and this must be true in any culture around the globe. One of the greatest Americans of all time, Henry Ford, once noted that politics in the true sense has to do with the prosperity, peace and security of the people. Certainly, to find a golden median between politics and business is not an easy thing to do, but shouldn’t we at least really try to go for it?


POLITICS

GEORGIA TODAY DECEMBER 20 - 23, 2019

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Trump - the Third President in American History to be Impeached by the House BY NINI DAKHUNDARIDZE

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n Wednesday, December 18, the US House approved two articles of impeachment against President Trump, making him the third president in history to face removal by the Senate. The first article of impeachment that charged Trump with abuse of power passed on a party-line vote, 230–197, with only two democrats opposing it. The first article accused Donald Trump of corruptly using the levers of government to solicit election assistance from Ukraine. The Democratic-led House, with three opposing from the party, then passed the second article 229 to 198, charging Trump with obstruction of Congress for his refusal to cooperate with the oversight investigation. Not a single Republican voted for any of the articles to pass. Although divided on the subject of the President’s impeachment, the Republicans and Democrats still agreed on one thing: that it was a sad day for America. The Democrats coordinated to dress in black to show their sorrow, while the Republicans reported that the impeachment of President Trump was “unfair”, “dangerous”, and “harmful to the country” (Ohio Republican Jim Jordan). The top Republican on the House Judiciary Committee, Doug Collins, additionally told ‘Fox & Friends’ that the Democrats wanted only to impeach Trump to prevent him from doing his “amazing” work. When the process was over and articles had already passed, Nancy Pelosi, the

Image source: Global News

Speaker of the House from the Democratic Party said that it was “a very sad day for the Constitution of the United States,” the New Yorker reported. Republicans, and Trump himself, denied that he had done anything wrong. Trump was at a "Merry Christmas" campaign

rally in Battle Creek, Michigan, when the vote was conducted. "After three years of sinister witch hunts, hoaxes and scams, the House Democrats are trying to nullify the ballots of tens of millions of patriotic Americans," Trump said, delaying his appear-

ance to watch the vote. Trump has shown no remorse for his actions. And it is interesting that although he is now trying to play it cool, he has spoken about the horrors of it in the past. During the first term of Barack Obama’s presidency from 2009 to 2017, there were

attempts to impeach him. Now-in-office President Trump was one of those who spoke out against the stains of impeachment. CNN's Kfile unearthed a 2014 Fox News appearance in which he was shown saying: "He would be a mess. He would be thinking about nothing but. It would be a horror show for him. It would be an absolute embarrassment. It would go down on his record permanently," Trump said. Trump is the third President in American history to be impeached by the House. The first was Andrew Johnson in March of 1868. The House formally adopted the articles of impeachment and forwarded them to the United States Senate for adjudication. In 1998, on December 19, President Clinton was impeached by the House for lying under oath about an extramarital affair, which hurt his family and all of America. Both of the Presidents were later acquitted by the Senate. The fight about whether President Trump should be made to leave the office or not now heads to the Senate, where, as the New Yorker writes “the Republican majority is expected to offer another all but unanimous G.O.P. vote to acquit Trump, following a trial that has little prospect of featuring a single witness.” But Pelosi is not going to send the case over to the Senate just yet, she said on Wednesday night. The House Speaker said that “we’ll see,” if the Republicans in the other chamber are prepared for a fair trial. For now, American society remains as divided as the political parties of the country.

GD Member Dismissed from City Council Majority after Insulting Post on Detained Georgian Doctor BY TEA MARIAMIDZE

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uling Georgian Dream (GD) member in Tbilisi City Council (Sakrebulo), Erekle Kukhianidze has been dismissed from the GD City Council majority following an insulting Facebook post about the Georgian Doctor Vazha Gaprindashvili, who is in custody in occupied South Ossetia. The decision to expel Kukhianidze from the ruling party majority in the City Council was made by the party on December 18. Beka Davituliani, Chairman of the GD fraction, said Kukhianidze will also be dismissed from the post of Chairman of the Sakrebulo Environmental Commission but will retain his MP's mandate, as he can be deprived of the mandate only after making a personal decision to leave. “We cannot force him to quit his mandate unless he chooses to do so,” Davituliani explained, adding that each member of the majority has “strongly and clearly” confirmed that they are distancing themselves from Kukhianidze's statement on Dr Vazha Gaprindashvili and his family. “The decision was made unanimously and each majority member signed it. According to the procedure, a majority meeting must be convened within the scheduled dates,” he added. Dr Gaprindashvili was detained by the Russian-occupied South Ossetia regime mid-November for “illegally crossing the border” under Article 322 of the Criminal Code of Russia, claiming “it was established that the Georgian citizen deliberately violated the state

Image source: netgazeti.ge

border of the Republic.” The Court in Akhalgori district ruled to keep him in two-months of custody on December 13. Following the announcement of the decision, the family and friends of the doctor held a protest rally at the line of Russian occupation, near village Odzisi, adjacent to occupied Tskhinvali region, demanding his release. The demonstrators gathered near the Republic Square in central Tbilisi and went to the village of Odzisi close to the occupation line. Gaprindashvili’s wife, Tamila Lapanashvili, thanked the protesters, which included members of the ruling Georgian Dream party and opposition, as well as civic activists, for their support.

“I would like to ask the Ossetian people who have lived together with us… I want to believe that those misunderstandings and problems that we had will be resolved through tolerance,” Lapanashvili stated. She added that her husband before all serves the health and protection of people, and it is unbelievable that he be detained in his homeland because of his "humane mission". Lapanashvili said their rally was “humane, nonpolitical and nonviolent” and that it was an appeal to Ossetian doctors to let Vazha Gaprindashvili fulfil his duties. After the demonstration, Kukhianidze took to Facebook to comment on the

case, calling the doctor a “provocateur” and his family “stupid.” “This case smells like rotten provocation! I am saying directly- when you know there is an occupant but you still go there deliberately and you know your country has no power to oppose the occupant and your family confronts the state, you, the whole family, are either provocateurs or idiots. F**k you!” the post of the GD member Kukhianidze reads. Following his post, Kukhianidze was strongly criticized by the ruling party and the opposition members and he apologized, saying the criticism towards him was “too harsh.” “I believe that we should all apologize

to each other,” he told TV Pirveli, adding that he is sorry for his “incorrect expressions.” “The family of Dr Gaprindashvili has a positive attitude and is trying to release the doctor from custody as soon as possible,” he said, but emphasized his belief that Gaprindashvili knew the risks of visiting the occupied region. Kukhianidze went on to say he will not quit his mandate in the City Council, and will continue working as an independent member. “They [the GD majority] made the decision they wanted. They believe that my actions harmed the team...I will do everything to defuse the situation,” he said.


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POLITICS

GEORGIA TODAY

DECEMBER 20 - 23, 2019

Georgia: Geopolitical Forecast for 2020 OP-ED BY EMIL AVDALIANI

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he year 2020 will be important for Georgia in many ways. Parliamentary elections will be a defining moment for the country's internal and foreign policy development. No political power in the past three decades of Georgia's independence ever managed to remain in power for a third consecutive term and yet there are chances that the current government might do so, making it the longest serving government in Georgia's recent history. In Georgia, election years tend to be politically tense, full of incriminations and demonstrations in major Georgian cities. 2020 will be no different. But though many argue that a change of government will happen, many trends indicate that the current government will

remain in power. That said, even if there are government changes in 2020, the country's foreign policy is unlikely to change. Georgia will continue finding itself between its EU aspirations and a geopolitically hostile Russia. It will be important for Tbilisi to see a reinvigorated EU. The EU is likely to ratchet up pressure on Russia by providing further financial support to Tbilisi, keeping the existing sanctions on Russia. NATO could be another tool to influence Moscow’s behavior in the region, although membership for Georgia will remain a far-off perspective. Tbilisi will strive to rebalance Moscow’s pressure by strengthening its relations with Turkey and Azerbaijan within the trilateral format. Yet another actor for balancing out Russian geopolitical pressure will be China, with its economic role in the region. Tbilisi and Beijing in 2020 will strive to build deeper economic relations

perhaps through investments and trade. All trends show that China will continue seeing Georgia, with its Black Sea ports of Batumi and Poti, as a link for its massive ‘Belt and Road’ initiative. However, it is also important to note that the Chinese involvement in the region will surely continue to be limited only to economics. 2020 will still be early to say that the deeper Beijing involves itself in defending its assets around the world, the greater the possibility that China will eventually become a security partner in the South Caucasus. There will be some issues where China will avoid causing Moscow's concerns and some where it may cooperate. For Georgia in 2020, EU and NATO aspirations will stay at the heart of the country's foreign policy. Though there are claims that Tbilisi's foreign policy is experiencing changes, trends on a regional and global level show that Georgia will remain firmly in the pro-Western camp.

Thus, Georgia, being at the crossroads of East and West, has again found itself in difficult geopolitical circumstances when numerous regional powers compete with each other to project influence into the South Caucasus. Georgia today pursues what it has historically: the rebalancing of each of its bigger neighbors with the other- Byzantines against the Iranians, Ottomans against the Per-

sians and Russians against Turkey, Iran, China and the EU – these are the geopolitical combinations Georgia has for centuries used to its advantage. Overall, 2020 will be tense, but as many analysts seem to believe, it is unlikely that there will be a dramatic change internally. And as argued above, possibilities for changes to foreign policy too are minimal.

BUSINESS

Cristina Doros to Lead Visa Business in the Caucasus and partners and to strengthen our presence in the market, shaping the future of payments and driving innovations across the region.”- Cristina Doros said.

WHAT IS YOUR VIEW OF GEORGIA’S POTENTIAL IN BECOMING THE REGIONAL HUB ELECTRONIC PAYMENTS? EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW BY BEKA ALEXISHVILI

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isaappointedCristinaDoros as its new Regional Manager for the Caucasus region. In her new role, Ms. Cristina Doros will focus on driving electronic payments in the Caucasus region by increasing Visa’s footprint in these marketplaces, and enhancing Visa value proposition for banks, merchants, and cardholders. “We are excited to announce the appointment of Cristina Doros to the position of Regional Manager for the Caucasus. With proven management and leadership skills, an in-depth knowledge of payments and a strong understanding of the regional business, I am confident that Cristina will lead the business to greater heights reflecting the importance we place on the countries of the Caucasus region,” said Vira Platonova, SVP, Group Country Manager for Visa CISSEE. Cristina Doros has more than 20 years of experience in retail banking, information technology, innovations, cards and mobile payments. Cristina joined Visa in 2016 to lead the regional Core Products team. Later Cristina has been acting as a Vice-President, head of Solutions, Visa CISSEE since 2019, overseeing Core products (Debit, Credit and Premium), Loyalty platform development, Digital Solutions and Push Payments, all foundational for the electronic payments development. Outstanding milestones of Cristina’s professional successes include enhancement of Premium benefits, launch of Loyalty program in Ukraine and Belarus, contribution to launching Tap to Phone SME technology, etc. “After my fascinating experience as a head of Visa CISSEE Products team, I am thrilled to lead Visa business in the Caucasus region. This is an exciting and challenging opportunity to bring more innovations and benefits to our clients

First of all, I don’t think it would be surprising for anyone to see our headquarters for the Caucasus located in Georgia. If you look back at the history of card payment development, Georgia has been at the front and center of many regional milestones in cashless. Starting from 2009, when we first launched contactless payments in the region, here in Georgia up to tokenization and Pays and many other amazing innovations, Georgia has always been displaying impressive results. And here we come to several factors which contributed to these results, one of them being the user’s readiness to embrace innovation. People in Georgia are very open to innovation. In some markets you might get push-back, people can be reluctant or hesitant, but we don’t see this here. When the question came where the hub would be for a cluster, of course Georgia’s leadership in innovation and technology were among the factors that determined our choice. Being here allows us to be in the middle of the technology development and close to our long-standing partners and new ones - like Space, merchants, fintechs etc. More importantly from Tbilisi we can effectively manage other markets in the Caucasus.

WHAT IS THE BIGGEST CHALLENGE FOR OPENING AN OFFICE AND LEADING A TEAM HERE IN GEORGIA, REPRESENTING THE WHOLE CAUCASUS REGION? Frankly, we don’t see many challenges in it because we have had a local presence here for quite some time already, with a team on the spot, though quite a small team. Now we are growing the team significantly and that is a great result. As in any other new set ups, opening hub here requests a thoughtful approach, understanding where resources can be most useful, how to effectively serve the clients in Armenia and Azerbaijan from here etc. Of course, we carefully analyzed which location would be the most useful for our resources and services. With opening a hub office in

Tbilisi, we will be much closer to our clients, will be able to react much faster and will shorten go to-market time. Overall, we believe that Tbilisi is the best place for us, from each and every standpoint. We really enjoy being here for many reasons: people’s warmth, hospitality, the nature, history etc. and as I mentioned, being here allows us to be in the middle of the technology development.

WHAT INNOVATIONS DOES VISA PLAN IN THE REGION? Visa does have some specifics in innovations development across the regions. However, I would say that the innovative approach of the company is the same worldwide: we are innovators by nature. I would like to highlight a few things to support this point of view. We have several dimensions while discussing innovations, the first would be – brining new solutions to the market, the second is convenience and finally yet importantly - rethinking us as the company. As an example of the last, in 2016, Visa opened up worldwide its networks through the API’s (Application Programming Interface); we developed a Visa platform and allowed any type of player to enter and integrate through the service. It is literally opening up our networks and allowing our partners to use these services. Georgia is maintaining its position as an innovation leader, something that this country and us can be extremely proud of: Georgia is now #1 globally by contactless penetration in domestic transactions with over 95% contactless penetration. Here in Georgia we will continue to support Georgian partners to roll out the most innovative, the most advanced, safe and convenient payment solutions in the country.

APPLE PAY WAS RECENTLY LAUNCHED IN GEORGIA, HOW HAS IT AFFECTED CASHLESS PAYMENTS SO FAR? Launching Apple Pay in the market was a big thing of course and the impact we see is indeed impressive. Since its launch in September, domestic tokenized transactions in face to face (at physical merchants) grew 7 times, just in three months. In addition, I would like to mention that overall mobile payments is not something new to Georgia. Several Georgian banks have offered mobile wallets to their consumers prior to the launch

of Apple Pay, although they were available only for Android users. During certain time, where Android-based users were literally able to pay with their phones, Apple consumers could not enjoy the convenience of mobile payments. Considering that penetration of Apple in the region is quite high, bringing this new opportunity to the market was a big deal. The power of Apple Pay is in two things: the first is the strength of the brand, the second is that IOS is a closed operating system - you cannot install bank applications on it and this is a certain limitation. In terms of pure technology and convenience, I would say they are almost the same - Apple Pay or banks’ mobile wallet applications.

COULD YOU ELABORATE ON THE PARTNERSHIP BETWEEN VISA AND SPACE NEOBANK? We are excited to have an awesome partnership here with Space. It was a venture for us in a way, but the partnership has shown huge results. Space uses a neobank approach, which is a progressive and very different banking experience. It demonstrates the transformation from something difficult-to-understand into something really simple, useful, convenient and fun. While big banks are reluctant going into these areas, the neobanks don’t shy away from such endeavors, and show affection and love towards their consumers.

ONE OF VISA’S MAIN PROMISES IS SECURITY AGAINST FINANCIAL FRAUD AND CYBERSECURITY, HOW DOES VISA APPROACH SECURITY IN THE REGION? I would emphasize that the company’s strategy and the technologies we use against fraud attacks will not be specific to any region. It is an overarching approach and concept that we have at Visa. Security has always been our highest priority, and in the tradeoff between innovation and security, we always choose the latter. Our motto at the company is, ‘responsible innovation’. In terms of security, we have layers and layers of all types of protection you can think of. Our approach today is grounded and not limited to the several pillars and I will highlight two of them. First is devaluing data: Visa has deployed technologies like EMV chip and tokenization that transform sensitive account data into a

form that cannot be used by criminals for fraud. Visa Token Service replaces sensitive account information, such as the 16-digit account number, with a unique digital identifier called a token. The token allows payments to be processed without exposing actual account details that could be potentially compromised. And second will be harnessing data: Visa’s network — VisaNet — is a powerful tool in the fight against fraud. Visa’s Cyber Fusion Center brings together the latest innovations to coordinate cyber defense operations and enable rapid response and information sharing. The Cyber Fusion Center harnesses petabytes of data to develop threat detection models and help data scientists better visualize and respond to threats. Our approach to security and fraud protection is paramount to us, we did that, and we will always do that.

WHAT ARE YOUR PLANS FOR GEORGIA FOR 2020? Our strategy in Georgia is specifically focused around three key pillars. The first is innovations, bringing new, convenient and secure payment tools and experience. This is where we see huge potential, supporting Georgia as a market to transform it into a cashless economy. There are studies in this field which clearly show the positive impact for the national economy when we move from cash to cashless. That remains our #1 priority. The second pillar of our strategy is what we call ‘everyday spend’, meaning that we want to help people to get used to electronic payments in everyday life. We will continue helping people to better understand payment tools, to see the advantages and incentivize them to start paying cashless more. Another pillar is premium products. Premium customers are affluent consumers bringing much of business for banks. That is why we are developing premium products and focusing our attention on that as well. We want to make payments not only easy, secure and convenient but also rewarding for the users. Now I can proudly say that Visa Premium Products are the best of its class. So, these are the three key areas we are focusing on. The overarching theme for all of these pillars is the local presence. As I have mentioned earlier, we truly believe that ‘Global Visa is proudly Georgian’.


BUSINESS

GEORGIA TODAY DECEMBER 20 - 23, 2019

7

Interview with Lela Salakaia, P&O and Admin Director, Veon Georgia In English, our function is called ‘People and Organization;’ in Georgian it is a little difficult to translate this term. It is different from traditional HRM as we try not to manage HR but to identify and manage the factors that contribute to the full engagement of employees as individuals. As you know, modern trends are no longer just about motivating employees, but about engaging them, which is quite complex. The actively involved employee: 1. talks positively about the company; 2. links his/her future to this company; and 3. is motivated to use additional efforts for the company.

BY ANA DUMBADZE

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ffective Human Resources Management, or HRM, is a vital area of business strategy and key to improving organizational performance. Exploring areas of employee engagement and motivation, organizational development and labor relations is one of the main factors of any company’s success. One of the obvious examples of introducing innovative and effective methods of HRM in Georgia is Veon Georgia (Beeline), the policy of which is fully tailored to the needs of employees and is aimed at their constant development through various trainings and learning platforms. GEORGIA TODAY spoke with Lela Salakaia, People and Organization Chief Officer of Veon Georgia, who elaborated on the novelties offered by the Beeline team in 2019, the employment policy of the company, its approach to employees and the innovative HR management methods it has introduced.

TELL US ABOUT THE NOVELTIES VEON GEORGIA INTRODUCED IN 2019. I would like to emphasize the SaVvy Academy, since the learning platform CrossKnowledge is a group wide product, while SaVvy was introduced specifically by our team as a guide and support to each employee during many exciting and adventurous journeys of online learning. Communication with SaVvy is very easy, and it has answers

TELL US ABOUT THE UPCOMING EMPLOYEE TRENDS FOR 2020. Very interesting trends were introduced by Korn Ferry at our recent meeting in our headquarters in Amsterdam. Different age groups’ approaches to work, and their motivators, vary and therefore the efforts of companies will be focused on developing specific approaches to different age groups and researching and creating important components of work for these groups. to any question.

WHAT KIND OF AN EMPLOYER IS ‘VEON GEORGIA’? WHAT DOES IT OFFER FUTURE APPLICANTS? First, the environment and the team. A person who comes here to work does not feel at all uncomfortable, as he or she is met by an employee, a “buddy” on the day of arrival with a box full of gifts that are very useful in the everyday

work environment. I would also highlight the competitive salary and very good benefits package, within it probably one of the most important tools for continuous development: both online and offline training and work projects. Just over a week ago, we ran a survey among new employees about the "welcome kit" - what do they like, what they won’t use or what they would add. We got some really good and constructive feedback, but one of the new employees'

MKD Law Promotes Diverse Partner Class

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KD Law, carrying on the enduring legacy of the Mgaloblishvili Kipiani Dzidziguri (MKD) Law Firm, tracking its history back to the mid-90s and praised as one of the pioneers of the Georgian legal market, is proud to announce the election of five new partners, two of them women. Tamar Tkeshelashvili and Mariam Antia come from extremely strong corporate law and banking and finance backgrounds, with experience of serving as inhouse counsels to state-owned corporations; David Metskhovrishvili and Sandro Samadbegishvili are the firm’s top litigators, well versed, respectively, in construction law and PPP and infrastructure projects, whereas Mikheil Gogeshvili’s expertise in M&A, contracts and commercial law is top-notch. The promotion of the newly-minted partners is an important milestone for MKD Law. It is the largest promotion not of individual, but, indeed, the class of partners since the founding of the firm, and highlights MKD Law’s commitment to strategic development, growth and breaking of the glass ceiling, so particuliar to the law firm practice in Georgia. None of the newly promoted partners are lateral hires; they have been with the firm for over ten years, and have dem-

onstrated not only the highest levels of professional accomplishment, but alignment with the firm’s core values, ability to build meaningful relationships with clients, a distinctive set of entrepreneurial skills, and strong business acumen. According to Victor Kipiani, Senior Partner, “MKD Law is a dynamic, constantly evolving firm, eager to accept the challenges that the future brings to the legal profession. The newly promoted partners will be the driving force behind introducing an innovative approach to the delivery of high quality legal services to our existing and potential clients, ensuring that the firm stays ahead of the curve. MKD Law is extremely happy and proud to have created an environment of growth for our colleagues.” The new chapter in the firm’s life will also be marked with a revamped corporate identity, including a rebranded logo and website relaunch, clearly communicating the MKD Law brand and reflecting its dynamic and innovative essence.

comments: “even my grandma doesn’t meet me so warmly when I visit her,” really strengthened our opinion that Onboarding is very important in employee adaptation.

THE GROUP CALLS YOUR FUNCTION ‘PEOPLE AND ORGANIZATION.’ WHAT DOES THIS MEAN? HOW IS IT DIFFERENT FROM TRADITIONAL HRM?

WHAT NOVELTIES ARE YOU PLANNING TO INTRODUCE NEXT YEAR AT VEON GEORGIA? We will continue to focus on developing both new training and work projects. We also want to change and improve our existing skills development program. And, most importantly, we will have the results of our 2019 Employee Engagement Survey, which will tell us exactly where we need to strengthen our efforts.

Rooms Hotels – the Face of Modern Georgia

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djara Group has announced the opening of a new Rooms Hotel in the picturesque mountainous Kokhta-Mitarbi resort, which will start operating from 27 December. The ski in-ski out concept hotel includes 95 rooms, a farm to table restaurant, conference halls, as well as a soon to come swimming pool and gym. Rooms Hotel Kokhta is the perfect place for mountain lovers and travelers who are looking for local experiences, cultural exchanges and design-centric spaces. Adjara Group has revolutionized the hospitality industry in Georgia by creating a unique lifestyle brand. In 2012, Rooms Hotel Kazbegi became an instant success both among locals and international visitors. Later, in 2014, Rooms Hotel Tbilisi welcomed its first guests and generated new ecosystems, transforming the previously numbed part of the historic Vera neighborhood. As such, the brand has become the face of contemporary Georgia while proudly embracing the country’s historical roots. Adjara Group’s hospitality concept, which integrates the country’s design, gastronomy, and culture, has made the experience of Rooms Hotels passionately authentic. The composition of color, textures, artwork, furnishings, music and light results in a unique signature design. Specific details, such as the hand-woven rugs and salvaged, locally sourced oak, have been incorporated into the design of Rooms Hotels. Proud of the country’s cultural heritage, Adjara Group is a firm supporter of local artists and creatives. In addition to owning and displaying an extensive collection of Georgian paintings, Rooms Hotels have become hubs for important cultural events, including exhibitions, art fairs, and festivals. Rooms Hotel Kokhta is a new page in the development of the brand. With its wooden façade, metal balconies, and the “wild minimalist” interior, the building takes inspiration from the local culture and nature surrounding it. The spatial experience that the establishment creates is a continuation of

Adjara Group’s unique vision of hospitality. Rooms Hotel Kokhta’s “farm to table” restaurant with floor-to-ceiling windows and an extensive terrace displays the grandeur of the mountainous landscape of Kokhta-Mitarbi. The culinary journey is developed by the company’s Executive Chef Irakli Asatiani, who is behind Adjara Group’s most acclaimed establishments, among them Café Stamba, Lolita and the Kitchen. The restaurant at Rooms Kokhta is set to elevate the gastronomic experience of the region by serving fresh produce from local farmers and Georgian dishes with a modern twist. Poised for expansion throughout the country and perhaps even beyond, Adjara Group is continuously developing Georgian regions into sustainable destinations. By 2021, the company is to open a new Rooms Hotel in the historic resort of Abastumani. The iconic building of an old sanatorium, initially built in 1924, will be transformed into a new hotel under the brand. Furthermore, Adjara Group has turned towards the Black Sea coast and is working on Rooms Hotel Batumi. Cobblestone roads and art deco architecture will surround the new hotel, while its open courtyard will be directly connected to the old city.


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BUSINESS

GEORGIA TODAY

DECEMBER 20 - 23, 2019

First Ever Waste Expo Held in Georgia with the Support of the USAID/CENN WMTR II Program

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n December 13, with the support of USAID/CENN WMTR II program, Sector 3 and the Prodemos Foundation, the first ever Waste Expo was held in Georgia at the Expo Georgia exhibition space. The members of the Georgian Waste Management Association (GWMA) and the work of these companies, the main players in the recycling sector, were presented. Attendees had the opportunity to find out detailed information about recycling technologies in Georgia, production lines of the companies and collection services across the country. The event was opened with welcoming remarks of representatives from the Ministry of Environment Protection and Agriculture of Georgia, Tbilisi City Hall, CENN’s Executive Director, Nana Janashia, and the President of the Geor-

gian Waste Management Association, Giorgi Guliashvili. The following companies participated in the exhibition: • Ltd. ‘Zugo’, the only plastic bags processing company in the Caucasus, which also produces biodegradable bags; • Ltd. ‘Clean World,’ a company collecting plastic, glass, paper and aluminum waste separately; • Ltd. ‘Kriala,’ a paper waste collector and processing company that produces hygienic paper with recycled paper; • Ltd. ‘Kere,’ a glass waste collector and processing company; • Ltd. ‘TRC,’ a tire recycling company that produces rubber granules that are used to build playground infrastructure; •Ltd. ‘Eco Geo Pet,’ which collects and recycles plastic bottles; • Social enterprise ‘Green Gift,’ which collects paper waste and produces var-

ious stationery with recycled paper; • Ltd. ‘Geo Mulch,’ which produces organic mulch by recycling green waste, used both in agriculture and in the city's landscape architecture; • Ltd. ‘Sanitary,’ which manages hazardous waste in accordance with Euro standards; • Ltd. ‘Biodiesel Georgia,’ which collects and processes oil waste from food, using it to make biodiesel; • Ltd. ‘Polyvim,’ which is currently in the process of constructing a used plastic bottle processing plant; • Ltd. ‘Oilillo’, which collects and exports cooking oil; • Ltd. ‘EnviroServe Georgia,’ which collects and exports electronic waste; • Ltd. ‘Caucaspack,’ which produces recycled plastic raw materials; • Ltd. ‘Neoprint,’ which collects and processes paper waste.

GEORGIA TODAY interviewed the Executive Director of CENN and the President of the Georgian Waste Management Association to find out the main reasons for such an exhibition in Georgia and its importance and role in terms of the Georgian waste management system and environmental protection. “The Waste Management program, supported by USAID, is implemented by CENN,” Nana Janashia told us. “The purpose of the program is to support the modernization of the waste management sector. One of the key objectives of the program is to support the private recycling sector. It is very important for the program to support companies working in the waste recycling sector. The Waste Expo 2019 was a good tool for raising public awareness about the Georgian waste recycling sector. “The main purpose of the exhibition was to show the public that a waste management sector exists in the country and that there are companies that separately collect and recycle different types of waste (paper / cardboard, plastics, glass, aluminum, tires, oils, sanitary and electronic waste),” she said. “With this purpose, the companies presented their products to the attendees, showing intermediate and final waste processing products and giving them the chance to discover the main players of the waste recycling sector and the processing technologies available in the country.” Nana Janashia noted that the Waste Expo 2019 was also a good opportunity to meet and talk directly with the representatives of the waste management sector. “Due to the format of the exhibition, we wanted to devote more time to direct communication with companies than to formal presentations. The representatives of the Ministry of Environmental Protection and Agriculture and the Tbilisi City Hall welcomed the audience at the event. I also had the opportunity to welcome guests on behalf of CENN and the USAID Waste Management Program. Giorgi Guliashvili, President of the Association, addressed the audience on behalf of the Waste Management Association and provided brief information about the Association and its 26 member companies, who collect and recycle different types of waste.” Nana Janashia stated that the Waste Management Association is a good plat-

form for lobbying the interests of companies operating in the waste management sector as it acts as a facilitator between the sector and various stakeholders, including state agencies. “As for organizing such an exhibition in the coming years, we are definitely planning on giving Waste Expo a regular format,” Mrs. Janashia says. “We believe that it will be interesting if this event occurs regularly, as we will have the opportunity to see how the waste management sector is developing in Georgia and, most importantly, this will be motivation for the companies to progress. On behalf of CENN and the USAID / CENN WMTR program, I can say that we will continue to work to strengthen the Association and its members, as this sector really needs both technical and financial support.” “The exhibition was held successfully, and I would like to thank our friends and partners – USAID / CENN Waste Management Program, Sector 3 and the Prodemos Foundation,” Giorgi Guliashvili told GEORGIA TODAY. “The aim of the Waste Expo 2019 was to present the activities of its members, waste recycling companies, to the wider public. Paper, plastic, glass, tires, used cooking oils, hazardous, electronic and wood waste collecting and processing companies were presented at the exhibition. They featured videos showing their activities, the visual side of recycling processes, and intermediate and final products obtained through recycling different types of waste, as well as the services they are offering to customers. This kind of exhibition was held for the first time in Georgia and we think an interesting and important tradition has been founded. We hope that more companies will be showcased at future exhibitions and that the capacity of the processing sector will be increased and diversified.” Mr. Guliashvili went on to point out that a number of new waste management regulations will come into force and the role of the processing sector has becoming more and more important in light of these planned regulations. He noted, though, that “awareness is still low.” The Waste Expo served to raise awareness of the Georgian Waste Management Association and companies operating in the sector. “As for future plans, the Waste Management Association of Georgia will continue its active work in promoting processing companies, increasing their capacity and awareness,” he told us. “We intend to actively engage in collaboration with all stakeholders - central and local government, NGOs, international organizations and the private sector. The Association intends to increase its membership and seek to strengthen the processing sector by lobbying the interests of companies operating in the sector. The Association will continue to be actively involved in the process of drafting and reviewing legislation and regulations on waste management.” The Georgian Waste Management Association was founded with the support of the USAID/CENN Waste Management Technologies in Regions (WMTR) Program in 2015. The mission of the Georgian Waste Management Association is to develop the waste management sector and support the introduction of modern principles of waste management in the country, which will facilitate the sustainable economic development of the country and contribute to the creation of a safe and healthy environment.


BUSINESS

GEORGIA TODAY DECEMBER 20 - 23, 2019

9

Heritage Hotel and Suites – Hotel Beyond Expectation

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laced in a handsome 120-year-old building, Heritage Hotel & Suites boutique hotel is one of Tbilisi’s most anticipated openings of 2020. The glittering Opening Ceremony held on December 13 hosted a multitude of guests who, pampered with Ala Beridze’s charming music and scrumptious stand-up buffet, received numerous prizes. Giorgi Keniashvili, the founder of HotelX, says his hotel management company has earnestly participated in the creative process of designing and administering Heritage. “From the outset we aimed to create something special and memorable, something that would surpass all expectation. We offer our guests elegant rooms, furniture and a myriad of surplus facilities that are essential for the hotel,” Giorgi says. Medea Janiashvili, deputy head of the Georgian National Tourism Administration, says the char-

acter of the venue perfectly suits its name, offering a unique symbiosis of the Old Tbilisi architecture and modern minimalist design. “Heritage is not only a place to spend a night at. Guests arriving here get a chance to touch the Old Tbilisi culture. A truly fantastic concept,” she says. Actress Eka Chkheidze recalls her deep-rooted love for the street since she attended a school in the neighborhood now home to Heritage. “The building is 120 years old and can be seen as a cultural heritage monument. One can see lots of old buildings across the street. What makes the hotel unique is the bold fusion of old and new styles,” she says. Heritage is designed to ‘connect the centuries’ through a seamless blend of contemporary minimalist design with the more traditional Georgian touches. Designed by the best architect of the time, Heritage is a veritable oasis of luxury and comfort at the gateway to the age-old Aghmashenebeli Avenue. The hotel’s central location facilitates immediate contact with the most enthralling aspects of the city, ranging from the vital historical monuments to the most famous Abanotubani (an ancient district known for its sulphuric baths). The Heritage hotel is in the middle of the action: within walking distance from the venue are numerous shopping malls, local and foreign restaurants, the metro station Marjanishvili, theatres and the best spots of nightlife, to name a few. The location is convenient for both business and leisure travelers. It takes just 10 minutes to drive from the hotel to Freedom Square and Rustaveli Avenue. Experiencing Tbilisi is an important part of the hotel's ethos. Agmashenebeli Avenue is one of the longest and most alluring streets of the city. Here you can find gorgeous historic buildings, painted entryways and distinctive architectural ornaments. Built in the 19th and early 20th centuries, most of the buildings have

Austrian Embassy Invites Applications for Position of Executive Assistant to the Ambassador

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he Austrian Embassy in Tbilisi invites applications for the position of Executive Assistant to the Ambassador. The position requires a self-starter, able to work independently and with a high level of intuition, initiative, energy, judgement and discretion. The successful candidate must have strong organisational and communication skills, including the ability to liaise effectively with a wide range of people, and good writing and research skills. Above all, the applicant must be able to work well under pressure as part of a small and dynamic team. Fluency in German and English is essential. Fluency in Russian is desirable.

TASKS AND FUNCTIONS • Manage the Ambassador’s office (including coordinate and distribute all classified and unclassified material in and out of the office, screen phone calls and visitors), determine priorities and provide timely and responsive administrative support. • Manage documentation and inform the Ambassador of matters requiring attention. Research and prepare correspondence in German & English, speech notes, travel programs, quarterly and annual reports and diplomatic cables as required. • Liaise on behalf of the Ambassador for contact/ appointments. Liaise with staff of all agencies in the Embassy on behalf of the Ambassador. Manage Ambassador’s diary and program of appointments. • Official event management; Assist with public diplomacy events; Manage Embassy protocol issues; Undertake research tasks and translation exercises

SELECTION CRITERIA FOR THE POSITION • Masters Degree in Law, Economics, Finance or Business Administration (or other related fields); • Demonstrated experience as an Executive Assistant or similar experience in diplomatic or international environment (5+ years); • Proven ability to take initiative, work under pressure and prioritise workloads in order to meet tight deadlines. Demonstrated flexibility and ability to adapt to different work environments; • Strong verbal and written communication skills including ability to build productive working relationships; professional manner and ability to liaise

effectively with senior members of the Diplomatic community, government officials and members of the civil society.

DESIRED PERSONAL QUALITIES AND SKILLS: • ability to foster productive and supportive working relationships • ability to prioritise competing tasks and to meet deadlines • ability to work independently and to take initiative • ability to travel • enthusiasm, adaptability and ability to work in a small team • a high level of professionalism and an exemplary standard of personal conduct • excellent computer/IT (including Power point, Access and Excel) and writing skills

REMUNERATION & START DATE A salary and benefits package will be offered under contract in accordance with current staff conditions of service. Austrian Federal Ministry of Europe, Integration and Foreign Affairs is equal opportunity employer. An initial appointment will be made on a fixed-term employment contract, after an initial probationary period. Start date preferably: 1 February 2020

APPLICATIONS Applications should include a cover letter or succinct statement addressing the four selection criteria outlined above. Please include your CV and the name and contact details of two referees and send your application to tiflis-ob@bmeia.gv.at no later than 31 December 2019. Only short-listed candidates will be contacted and invited for a hearing / an interview.

the official status of cultural heritage monuments. The Apollo cinema, the Choreography School, the Art Palace and Marjanishvili Theatre are a few among Tbilisi’s cultural treasures, each of them with its own unique history. Chavchanidze’s House attracts viewers for its unique entrance painted by Florentine artists, and its refined ceiling décor. The hotel boasts 23 chic rooms with / without balconies, fully equipped with the finest amenities. All rooms feature private bathrooms, extra free toiletries, Smart TV, complimentary coffee/tea set,

air conditioning, free WI-FI access, working space, mini-bar and an in-room safe box. After taking it all in, head to the fancy relaxation area with steam room and sauna for further enchantment. After a long and busy day, you will definitely need this little bit of heaven to ensure a pleasant sleep. Or else, you can begin your day here, to feel refreshed from morning on. The venue has been smartened up a with a stylish Patrimony Restaurant with a show-kitchen, offering an abundance of healthy European cuisine.


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BUSINESS

GEORGIA TODAY

DECEMBER 20 - 23, 2019

Simetria Park- Harmony Inside and Out

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imetria Park is a human-centered neighborhood in Tbilisi, near Mtatsminda Park in Okrokana, spread over 20,000 sq/m and comprising 39 apartments and 31 individual townhouses. To create something distinctive, observation is not enough; one must be part of the ecosystem. The accumulated problems in the environment should concern one personally; the perpetual eagerness to try and solve these issues is essential. The concept behind Simetria Park is based on the idea of "inside and out harmony", which implies a closed residential neighborhood tailored to the needs of modern urbanization. Indoor and outdoor spaces have equal importance here: project planning and design deserve as much attention as human relationships and socializing. When thinking about the project, the most vital aim for the company was picking the right location. Sharing no similarity with a regular village settlement, Simetria Park was conceived as a daily residential district; an inalienable part of the city and at the same time a move away from its turmoil. Ultimately, an area was selected that is a mere 8-minute-

drive from the heart of Tbilisi, close to the city's largest park and the city's most prominent recreational area. What’s more, Simetria Park is to pamper its residents with the finest infrastructure and service to create a safe and enjoyable atmosphere for living and leisure. These include a gym, spa, multipurpose playground, square, bike lane, hiking trails, and co-working, recreational and commercial spaces. “Simetria Park is primarily an idea, a way of life,” says Tariel Gabunia, CEO of the company. “The design of the project is based on proper research and accurate environmental analysis. Simetria Park's main asset is that it is thoroughly conceived, cherishing every detail. The project’s aim is to create a balanced environment for living. All the conditions here are designed to enable a modern person, who is part of a bustling, busy city, to move to a more relaxed environment without having to leave town.” Simetria Park is a project of the Simetria Real Estate Development Company, which is a member of the Capitol Investment Group. The Capitol Investment Group was founded in 2006; it has come to unite a multitude of business sectors.

The group operates mainly in the realm of attracting and managing investments. The company Simetria Real Estate Development operates in residential complexes, as well as hotels and business and shopping centers. Its work ethic involves managing and taking responsibility for the project all the way from its inception

to its completion. In each individual case, the Simetria team creates a well-thoughtout business plan, develops an investment project based on thorough research, and in the end ensures that the project is attractive and well-implemented. There is a pressing need to address the urgent challenges in our declining eco-

system. The Simetria neighborhood is an eco-friendly jewel in the crown of the city. There should be more projects like Simetria. Link to the video: https://www.facebook. com/105098424212155/posts/15700 7415687922?vh=e&d=n&sfns=mo


SOCIETY

GEORGIA TODAY DECEMBER 20 - 23, 2019

Water Whoa: Etseri, Svaneti BLOG BY TONY HANMER

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t’s starting to feel like, all things being equal, our winter water setup is slowly moving towards stability and success, the goal being NOT TO FREEZE. Because if it does freeze, there are hours of misery ahead, if not days, of hard, dirty, cold, wet work getting it running again. Earlier this year, we hired three men from Zugdidi, gave them a break from the 3-story hotel they’re building in Mestia, and had them work on said water system. We removed the 1000-L water tank from the garage, installed an electric pump which we can use or not, added a filter with replacements to change as necessary. Most important, we set it up so that the hose through which water can run without stopping is turned on or off, up or down, inside the house. All vast improvements, complete with insulation everywhere the men worked. However… we were called away to Kakheti on urgent family business for a few days. Of course we left the water running, to minimize chances of its freezing, knowing full well the risks when outside it’s dropping to -10 degrees C at night, only a few degrees above freezing during the day. The ground is moving towards being frozen as well; and the sun’s warming effect is being lessened maximally by the reflective effect of all that white snow, which has indeed started to fall. AND… during our time away, someone had the bright idea to turn off the water to our part of the village to work on it, with the worst possible timing. Things were no longer all equal. Keeping one’s own water running can only work if there IS water to run! If you stop its flow, it will freeze somewhere where there’s a

dip in the pipes and it sits, unavoidable given our topology. So it did indeed freeze in our absence. Everyone else was there at home to take emergency measures and restore flow; we were not. We came back to silent pipes and dread, quite angry. I spent a whole day finding out where the water was still liquid in our pipes, from below which it was frozen. How to get the frozen part thawed? The warming trend, softening snow, melting ice all mocked me; the ground remained hard. I boiled and salted one 3L bottle after another, disconnected the frozen pipes, and started funneling the hot brine into them, for a few hours. To no avail: the frozen part was too long for this to thaw it in the few hours of daylight I had left. So I uncoiled a new pipe we had (careful, don’t let it kink!) and connected this to the part from where water was still running; then sealed the several joins with wire so they can’t separate. By sundown we had water in the house again, luxury indeed after a day of collecting it in buck-

ets from 50 m or so below the house. I now have to beg the mayor to try to see that such interferences are not allowed to happen again when someone is not home to be involved; they might be necessary for one household, I get that, but for others they are crushingly damaging. All it takes is a few phone calls to the potentially affected people! This type of thoughtless action only serves to set villagers one against another, justifying themselves and blaming each other. Unless they’re TRYING for harm and demoralization, in which case, have at it and we’ll see who outlasts whom. 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

GeoStat Publishes Earnings Statistics

BY ANA DUMBADZE

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n Q3 2019, the average monthly earnings in Georgia increased by 91.6 GEL compared to the second quarter of the previous year and amounted to 1 217.1 GEL, the National Statistics Office of Georgia reports. In Q3 2019, the majority of sectors indi-

cated an increase in the average monthly earnings compared to the same quarter of the previous year. According to the economic activity the highest monthly earnings were observed in the following fields: • Construction – 2 008.4 GEL (annual growth – 16.4%) • Information and communication – 1 958.7 GEL (annual growth – 9.7%) • Professional, scientific and technical activities – 1 936.2 GEL (annual growth

– 3.7%) • Financial and insurance activities – 1 898.6 GEL (annual growth – 19.4%) As for average monthly earnings by sex, in Q3 2019, the average earnings equaled 924.1 GEL for women, 1,475.7 GEL for men and the annual growth of earnings amounted to 72.2 and 115.2 GEL, respectively. In the majority of sectors of the economy, the average monthly earnings of men were higher compared to those of women.

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12

SOCIETY

GEORGIA TODAY

DECEMBER 20 - 23, 2019

Embassy of the State of Qatar to Georgia Celebrates its Country’s National Day

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he Embassy of the State of Qatar to Georgia celebrated the National Day of the State of Qatar, which marked the Accession of His Highness Sheikh Jassim Bin Mohammad Bin Thani, the Founder of the State of Qatar, to the throne, and commemorated the inception of the modern state of Qatar in 1878. On this occasion, H.E. Mubarak Bin Nasser Al-Khalifa, Ambassador of the State of Qatar to Georgia, hosted a reception on December 18 in Courtyard Marriott Tbilisi. All guests at the event, including the representatives of government bodies, diplomatic corps and the media sector, as well as members of the Qatar Embassy to Tbilisi, were welcomed by the Ambassador of the State of Qatar. The Ambassador delivered a speech congratulating the invitees on the remarkable date and thanking them for their attendance. He outlined the role of the former and present leaders of the State of Qatar for the development and modernization of the country. While addressing the audience, His Excellency noted the numerous achievements and projects implemented by the State of Qatar: “The State of Qatar, through its correct position and wise leadership, has been able to increase the energies and potential of the Qatari people, resulting in GDP growth of around 15% in 2018 and hydrocarbon GDP of about 9%. The country is steadily moving towards the goals of the Qatar National Vision 2030. “It has recently provided $500 million in support to the core resources of the United Nations, making the State of Qatar one of the largest partners supporting the United Nations in various fields. The State of Qatar has signed a partnership agreement with the United Nations Office for Combating Terrorism, and provided $75 million to strengthen the capacity of the Office.” The Ambassador concluded his speech by focusing on the friendly relations between Georgia and the State of Qatar in different areas, stating: “The QatariGeorgian relations are developing continuously; we have seen this through increasing the number of high-level visits of officials of the two countries, as well as the holding of the second round of political consultations between the Ministries of Foreign Affairs of the State of Qatar and Georgia in the capital, Tbilisi, last November. A number of agreements and memorandums of cooperation are underway to serve the interests of our peoples.” The Minister of Foreign Affairs of Georgia, David Zalkaliani, also addressed the audience at the event, where he, on the behalf of the Georgian nation, congratulated the Ambassador and other representatives of the State of Qatar on the celebration of the national Day. He strongly emphasized the significance of the close partnership of Georgia and Qatar and noted that the State of Qatar was the first country among the Arab states to launch an Embassy in Georgia in 2013. Zalkaliani expressed hopes for continued and enhanced friendly relations between Georgia and the State of Qatar. The celebration was followed by a cake-cutting ceremony accompanied by music and a marvelous reception with various dishes.


CULTURE

GEORGIA TODAY DECEMBER 20 - 23, 2019

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Lenny Kravitz to Perform in Georgia BY NINI DAKHUNDARIDZE

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uch like the lyrics to his song Are You Gonna Go My Way, Lenny Kravitz is coming to Georgia to “save the day and won't leave until he’s done.” Presented by the Bank of Georgia and SOLO, the American musician, who is a living legend at the age of 55, will hold a concert in the Georgian capital for the first time within the frames of his “Here to Love” World Tour. The musician’s 2020 Europe tour will kick off from Georgia. The four-time Grammy Award-winning artist will perform for the Georgian audience at the Mikheil Meskhi Stadium on May 31. Kravitz is known for creating an unforgettable atmosphere at his energetic live performances, and Georgia expects nothing less. Over the course of a 20-year musical career, Lenny Kravitz has won four consecutive Grammy® Awards as well as set a record for the most wins in the Best Male Rock Vocal Performance category. In addition to his ten studio albums, which sold 40 million copies worldwide, Lenny Kravitz elevated the union of rock ‘n’ roll, funk, blues, and soul raising the bar for music once again. The only child of actress Roxie Roker and Hollywood producer Sy Kravitz, Lenny was born in 1964 in Manhattan, New York City. Influenced by his parents' love of R&B, jazz, classical, opera and blues, Kravitz showed his fascination with music from the age of five, learning to play different instruments. In the late 1980s, he started pursuing his music career in NYC and on the way met Lisa Bonet- the two quickly became a star couple. His first album came out in 1989 and was titled ‘Let Love Rule’.’

Just like Prince, who was one of his major early influences, Kravitz played nearly all the instruments on the album. The musician broke through with his second album, ‘Mama Said,’ which came two years after his debut album. His third album ‘Are You Gonna Go My Way,’ released in 1994, earned a BRIT award for best international male artist. He won the Grammy Award for Best Male Rock Vocal

British DJ Jamz Supernova Live Set Completes UK/ Georgia 2019 Season

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s part of the UK/Georgia 2019 season on 13 December, British Council Georgia, in collaboration with Tempo RadioLab and Khidi/G2 Club, presented a workshop hosted by the versatile British musician, DJ and Radio Selector presenter Jamz Supernova. The workshop shared the DJ’s experience with local musicians. On December 15, Jamz Supernova performed at Khidi/G2. Jamz Supernova is one of the leading nextgeneration DJs in the UK. A keen agent for change, Jamz created DIY Generation – a spotlight on amazing young people building and

owning their own careers, highlighting women and people of color. The UK/Georgia 2019 season was a specially curated program of more than 60 events jointly presented by the British Embassy in Tbilisi and British Council in Georgia, which ran from September to December 2019. UK/Georgia 2019 included events in Tbilisi, Batumi, Kutaisi and other locations across Georgia and showcased the best that modern, diverse, global Britain has to offer in culture, sport, education and business. It drew on the shared values of both the UK and Georgia to deliver a program with a specific focus on diversity and inclusion.

Performance four years in a row from 1999 to 2002, breaking the record for most wins in that category as well as setting the record for most consecutive wins in one category by a male. Additionally, Kravitz has starred in movies, including the Hunger Games, and has co-written and produced material for various artists, including Madonna, Vanessa Paradis, and Steven Tyler as

well as performing on tracks for Michael Jackson, Mick Jagger, David Bowie and Jay-Z. Tickets are already available for his Georgia concert. Music lovers can find them online on tkt.ge. Note that until December 26, they are only open to SOLO clients/ WM Customers, after which they will open to the general public. Going Lenny Kravitz’s Way will cost you from 95 to 550 GEL.


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CULTURE

GEORGIA TODAY

DECEMBER 20 - 23, 2019

WHAT’S ON IN TBILISI THEATER

TBILISI OPERA AND BALLET THEATER 25 Rustaveli Ave.

Language: Non-verbal Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 10, 15 GEL

December 26 OTAR TAKTAKISHVILI 95 Participants of the concert: Tbilisi Opera and Ballet Theater soloists, Choir and Orchestra. Conductor- Zaza Azmaiparashvili Start time: 19:00 Ticket: 10-100 GEL

December 22 TAMADA IN MANHATTAN Georgian-American Premiere Washington Theater Company E and Movement Theater co-stage a performance in the format of a Broadway musical Directed by Paul Gordon Author: Paul Gordon, Ioseb Bakuradze, Choreographer: Robbie Priore, Abby Leithart, Vanessa Owen, Gavin Strewart, Lasha Robakidze Genre: Musical Language: Non-verbal Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 25 GEL

GABRIADZE THEATER 14 Shavteli Str.

SHALIKASHVILI THEATER 37 Rustaveli Ave.

December 20 RAMONA Revaz Gabriadze Directed by Revaz Gabriadze English Subtitles Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 20, 30 GEL

December 20, 21 LIKE THIS Comedy novels based on Georgian national motives Language: Non-verbal Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 15 GEL

December 21, 22 MACBETH Premiere Giuseppe Verdi's opera Start time: 19:00 Ticket: 10-300 GEL

December 21 STALINGRAD Revaz Gabriadze Directed by Revaz Gabriadze English Subtitles Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 20, 30 GEL December 22 THE AUTUMN OF MY SPRINGTIME Revaz Gabriadze Directed by Revaz Gabriadze English Subtitles Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 20, 30 GEL December 26 REZO Animated documentary film Directed by Leo Gabriadze English Subtitles Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 15 GEL MOVEMENT THEATER 182 Agmashenebli Ave. December 21 INTRO Directed by Kakha Bakuradze Music: Sandro Nikoladze

MUSEUM

GEORGIAN NATIONAL MUSEUM SIMON JANASHIA MUSEUM 3 Rustaveli Ave. TEL (+995 32) 299 80 22, 293 48 21 www.museum.ge

IOSEB GRISHASHVILI TBILISI HISTORY MUSEUM - KARVASLA 8 Sioni St. TEL (+995 32) 2 98 22 81 Until January 19 Project "Contemporary Art Gallery" presents the exhibition "How to Catch up with a Dead Hare" by Georgian contemporary artist ILIKO ZAUTASHVILI 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. Until January 20 Exhibition SVANETI-KHALDE REVOLT 18751876 Introducing the history of the uprising for the first time, the exhibition is based on archival documentation, ethnographic and photo-video materials, telling the story of the determination and selfsacrifice of the inhabitants of small mountainous village Khalde, the freedom-fighters who confronted the Russian imperial power. MUSEUM OF ILLUSIONS 10 Betlemi Str.

Exhibitions: GEORGIAN COSTUME AND WEAPONRY OF THE 18TH-20TH CENTURIES NUMISMATIC TREASURY EXHIBITION STONE AGE GEORGIA ARCHEOLOGICAL TREASURE NEW LIFE TO THE ORIENTAL COLLECTIONS

Discover the Museum of Illusions Be brave and jump into an illusion created by the Vortex, deform the image of yourself in the Mirror Room, free yourself in the Infinity Room, resist the laws of gravity and size, and take selfies in every possible pose. Enjoy the collection of holograms and discover optical illusions.

Until February 1 Exhibition NEANDERTHALS IN THE SOUTH CAUCASUS – TSUTSKVATI CAVE, OLD AND NEW DISCOVERIES The exhibition displays the latest findings of archeological and paleontological excavations discovered by Georgian National Museum's Tsutskvati Cave Archaeological Expedition.

THE BOOK MUSEUM 5 Gudiashvili Str., National Parlamentary Library +995 32 297 16 40 The Book Museum holds a unique collection of items, including private libraries of Ilia Chavchavadze, Dimitri Bakradze, Giorgi Chubinashvili, the recently recovered book collections of Grand Duke Michael

Nikolaevich Romanov and Brothers Zubalashvili, as well as books with signatures of Ilia Chavchavadze, Ivane Machabeli, Victor Hugo, Dmitri Mendeleev and AntoineAugustin Renouard, etc. GALLERY

THE NATIONAL GALLERY 11 Rustaveli Ave. TEL (+995 32) 215 73 00 GRAND MASTERS FROM THE GEORGIAN NATIONAL MUSEUM COLLECTION XIX – XX CENTURY Until February 29 The Georgian National Museum and the Embassy of Italy in Georgia present the exhibition ROMA AETERNA. MASTERPIECES OF ROMAN SCULPTURE FROM THE DINO AND ERNESTA SANTARELLI FOUNDATION The National Gallery features 33 sculptures depicting the stages of artistic or stylistic evolution from the Roman Republic to the Neoclassical era. TBILISI DIGITAL SPACE Tbilisi Mall The first museum of digital art in Tbilisi, where you will meet three different spaces: Vazha-Pshavela's "Dried beech", the world of torches, and a digital space decorated with various graphic and visuals effects. In the main hall decorated with video projections and mirrors you will discover that there is no boundary between Man and nature. Ticket: 10-30 GEL MUSIC

TBILISI CONCERT HALL 1 Melikishvili Ave. December 20 IUMORINA 2020 Cast: Bidzina Makharadze, Teimuraz Tsiklauri, Nugzar Kvashali, Vakhtang Tatishvili, "Parody Theater": Beso Berulashvili, Merab Gegechkori, Levan Shengelia, Mamuka Lomashvili, David Bekoshvili, Roman Kerkadze, Chorus Mkhleveli, "Street Musicians" - Dito Sakandelidze,

Gia Davitiani, Guja Mardaleishvili, Dato Mchedlishvili, Ilia Sabadze, Tengo Gumberidze, Alexa Dre Japaridze and others. Presenters: Ninaka Gelashvili and Guram Jashi Author and Director: Jemal Bagashvili Musical Director: Gia Bagashvili Start time: 16:00 Ticket: 15-30 GEL THE BILTMORE HOTEL TBILISI 29 Rustaveli Ave. December 20 VOCAL ACADEMY CHRISTMAS EVE Participants age category: 5-18 years Start time: 19:00 Ticket: 10 GEL SPORTS PALACE 26 May Sq. December 20 A MESSAGE TO THE YOUTH An Art Performer, Bus's first largescale concert featuring art-show elements. Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 10-30 GEL MONOHALL 2 D. Bakradze Str. December 20 EKO & VINDA FOLIO New Album Start time: 23:00 Ticket: 20 GEL December 21 DCBL: KANGDING RAY DASHA RUSH, SIGHA, GEORGE EFFE Start time: 22:00 Ticket: 20 GEL SPACEHALL 2 A. Tsereteli Ave. December 21 GREEN ROOM Start time: 21:30 Ticket: 32-40 GEL ART HALL 26 Ts. Dadiani Ave. December 21 THE ORGANISM DYNAMIC MUSIC/DISCO HALAL Start time: 23:00 Ticket: 25 GEL December 23 POTSKHISHVILI CHOREOGRAPHICAL DYNASTY REPRESENTS A NEW CHOREOGRAPHICAL BALLET CHOREOGRAPHIC RHAPSODY Start time: 22:00 Ticket: 10-15 GEL REPUBLIC 1st Republic Sq. December 21 PARIS CITY JAZZ Famous Parisian musician and DJ Bellaire Start time: 23:00 Ticket: 30-80 GEL ELEKTROWERK 2 Beri Gabriel Salosi I turn December 21 ONE STORY All guests will receive a New Year's gift Start time: 23:00 Ticket:15 GEL MOVEMENT THEATER 182 Agmashenebli Ave. December 24 JAMM SESSIONImprov played by different Georgian and foreign musicians and instrumentalists. Musical art director- Sandro Nikoladze Start time: 21:00 Ticket: 5 GEL


CULTURE

GEORGIA TODAY DECEMBER 20 - 23, 2019

15

The Making of a Star: George Ergemlidze BY TAMZIN WHITEWOOD

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t’s fair to say that Georgia has seen something of a revitalization of its music scene in recent years. While its traditional folk music will never be forgotten, there are some particularly talented singers and songwriters who could rival those of any western country. Tbilisi-based George Ergemlidze has been climbing his way up the music ladder for years now, and GEORGIA TODAY met with him to find out how he managed it.

TELL US HOW YOU FIRST GOT INTO MUSIC. Music has been a part of my life since I can remember. I was always playing the piano as a child. I vividly remember watching Queen perform at Live Aid and thinking to myself “wow, I want to be just like him.” I think I was 10 at the time, and that was when my musical taste and style really began to form. When I was 13, I learnt how to arrange and produce music myself on my laptop, and everything went from there.

BEFORE YOU WENT SOLO, YOU WERE IN A BAND. HOW DID THAT COME ABOUT? When I was 20, my friend and I created

a band. I had a few songs written already, and he really liked them, so we decided to give it a shot. We became quite popular, but I felt we reached a stage creatively where it has hard to move forward together. I think, as a band, music was our hobby, whereas for me personally, it was my life, my passion, which is why I decided to continue as a solo artist. Was there a defining moment when you realised you had become successful? Popularity in Georgia can be short-lived. One day, you’re famous, the next, people are like “what’s your name again?” I was in Star Academy at the age of 20, which offered me my first taste of fame. But on that show, they told me I didn’t have enough talent to be successful. Nine years later, I released my song ‘Violet Star’. I remember sending the song to the ‘New Retro Wave’ YouTube channel, at which time they had 300,000 subscribers. The next day, the owner of the channel told me it was amazing and, within two hours of it being released, it got 20,000 hits around the world! Proving Star Academy wrong is among the highlights of my career. I’d imagine that’s a defining moment for any artist, knowing you’ve become popular outside of your home country. So yes, I think that’s probably the moment my career really took off.

WHAT DO YOU THINK SETS YOU APART FROM

OTHER MUSICIANS ON THE SCENE IN GEORGIA? I try to think outside the box. When you live in a country like Georgia, it’s hard to go against the grain and create something different. I don’t believe in limitations. Sometimes music can be rushed, and somewhere along the way, something gets overlooked and the music lacks the key element it needs to make it a hit.

WHY DO YOU ONLY SING IN ENGLISH? There is something of an expectation for Georgian artists to sing in Georgian - but why? There are some Georgian music critics who have openly said that local singers should only sing in Georgian. I don’t want to mention any names, but suffice to say, they know who they are. I personally think that this narrowmindedness is a tragedy. When you start to dictate to an artist what to do, you take away part of their individuality. English is a universal language that is spoken and understood by millions of people. I want to be able to reach as many people as possible with my music. So what’s next for George Ergemlidze? To continue making music! I’m working on some great new songs at the moment that I’m hoping people will love. I also want to become even more experimental with my music, and cater to more tastes.

Georgia’s Art Palace among European Museum of the Year Award Nominees BY ELENE DZEBISASHVILI

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heEuropeanMuseumForum (EMF), which has been awarding the most prestigious European Museum Award (EMYA) every year since 1977 for outstanding, courageous and innovative exhibition concepts, has shortlisted the Tbilisi-based Art Palace as one of the nominees for the year 2020. The Art Palace museum is one of Tbilisi’s stand-out venues due to its Gothic architecture and splendid styling. The museum, commissioned by the German Prince in the late 19th century as a present to his Georgian lover, was picked for the nominee list that involves new or recently renovated venues, including the Hexenmuseum Museum in Switzerland, the Museum of Secret Surveillance in Albania and the Pentala Archipelago Museum in Finland. EMYA has brought to center-stage a myriad of small museums with distinguished cutting-edge content, which otherwise would not have received recognition at the European level. Within the EMYA scheme, all museums are equal whether public or private, small or large. “EMF works within an overall frame-

work of a commitment to citizenship, democracy and human rights, to bridging cultures and social and political borders, and to sustainability. The different awards within the EMYA scheme reflect, represent, and emphasise different aspects and dimensions of these values”, reads the EMYA website. Art Palace qualified for the EMYA nomination through its major renovation in 2014, which saw the venue's individual, themed halls revitalized along with wall paintings restored with historical accuracy. The museum houses exhibits ranging from 16th century Persian miniatures, French engravings, the works by 20th century Georgian painters to costumes from cinema and stage productions. This vital depository of Georgian cultural heritage is home for more than 300,000 objects that provide comprehensive information on the unfolding of Georgian theater, cinema, circus, folklore, opera and ballet. Included in the museum’s exhibition are works by 20th Century modernist painter Petre Otskheli (1907-1937), whose modernist style and constant experimentation in painting earned him a lasting legacy in Georgian theater design. The EMYA awarding ceremony will be hosted by the National Museum Wales in Cardiff, from 29 April to 2 May 2020.

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Profile for Georgia Today

Issue #1213  

December 20 - 23, 2019

Issue #1213  

December 20 - 23, 2019

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