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Issue no: 1127



In this week’s issue... EU to Help Build & Upgrade 100 km of EastWest Highway NEWS PAGE 2

Georgian Patriarch Receives Moscow-Subordinated Representatives of Ukrainian Church



ON TEACHING SUCCESS Vladimer Apkhazava makes Top 10 for $1mln Global Teacher Prize

Monument Building POLITICS PAGE 6


Mamuka Khazaradze Leaves TBC Bank


USAID WMTR II Program on Waste Management System in Georgia



he Chairman of the Supervisory Board of TBC Bank, Mamuka Khazaradze, is leaving TBC Bank. Khazaradze announced his decision through a statement posted on his official Facebook page Thursday morning. “I have made the decision to leave TBC Bank where I spent 27 years of my life,” reads the statement. Khazaradze addressed the public and briefly explained the reasons which catalyzed his decision. He wrote that the Bank has been under attack for the past few weeks, which resulted in huge losses for the shareholders, amounting to $200 million in one month. He also noted that the reputation of the Bank has been put into question. “Without any investigation or court decision, they seriously stained our reputation by accusing us of money laundering, the non-existence of which has been internationally recognized,” he stated in the post, going on to highlght the manner in which civil servants and government bodies had dragged their feet regarding the case. Finally, Khazaradze stated that he had decided to leave the Bank. “Accordingly, I made the decision to leave the bank where I spent 27 years of my life, the bank

Sensational, Exceptional, Original – Ambiente 2019!


Mirian Khukhunishvili: The Maestro of Tbilisi Youth Orchestra

Image source: cbw.ge. Transcript source: IPN

that I turned from $500 into the largest player in the region." Here is the full transcript of his post: "Dear friends, my Tbilisi team! First of all, I want to thank you for your friendship, support and the job we did together for 27 years. There are stages in life when we have to make important decisions. I have been through such stages and I am at another right now.

I will not repeat what kind of attack our bank is facing. As a result, our international shareholders suffered a loss of $200 million in one month, so our country has been seriously damaged. Without any investigation or court decision, they seriously stained our reputation by accusing us of money laundering, the non-existence of which has been internationally recognized. Continued on page 2





FEBRUARY 22 - 25, 2019

EU to Help Build & Upgrade 100 km of East-West Highway BY SAMANTHA GUTHRIE


his Tuesday, February 19, the European Investment Bank (EIB) and other EU institutions signed a new deal with the Georgian government committing funds to help build and upgrade transport infrastructure in the country. The EIB will lend the Georgian government €250 million, fully covered by the EU’s Comprehensive Guarantee, to finance an extended upgrade of Georgia’s East-West Highway. The East-West Highway runs from Tbilisi to the Black Sea Coast, and it is one of the country’s main thoroughfares. It is a direct part of Europe’s TEN-T (Trans-European Network – Transport) infrastructure. The EIB has financed €250 million worth of projects related to the East-West Highway since 2012. The new agreement is the largest so far. EIB Vice-President Vazil Hudák commented, “With this new loan the EIB is consolidating its position as a top financier of infrastructure in Georgia. We will contribute to improving mobility, a prerequisite for productivity growth, and road safety along a major segment of the East-West Highway. EU engagement will thus bring more tangible benefits to the Georgian people.”

Image source: European Union

The project is expected to increase Georgia’s connectivity to Europe by improving road safety and travel conditions, lowering travel times and reducing vehicle operating and maintenance costs, while enhancing mobility and access to social services and economic activities for the Georgian population. Dozens of temporary jobs will also be created by the road works. “The development and advancement of strategic transport infrastructure in the country is particularly important for

the increased competitiveness of Georgia and enhanced transport functionality,” said Prime Minister Mamuka Bakhtadze. EU Ambassador to Georgia Carl Hartzell added, “Improved road networks, especially key ones such as Georgia’s East-West Highway are crucial for economic development, connecting people and facilitating trade and transit within Georgia and with the wider region.” The construction of the high-speed East-West Highway began in March 2006,

and was originally called the “TbilisiSenaki-Leselidze.” It was envisioned to run north to Salkhino, Abkhazia, but construction plans on that section were halted after the 2008 War and the subsequent occupation of Georgia’s Abkhazia region. Currently, the East-West Highway is a complex of new and old road infrastructure, including the E-60 (Poti-Tbilisi-Red Bridge) and the E-70 (Poti-Batumi-Sarpi) highways. The total length of the East-West high-speed highway is 390 km.

Last May, Factcheck.ge evaluated government promises that the road would be completed by 2020, in accordance with the government’s Four Point Plan. “To finish the work by 2020, approximately 66.6 km of road have to be built each year whereas only approximately 18 km of road have been built annually since Georgian Dream’s coming to power. Of importance is that the remaining portions of the high-speed highway are the ones which are the most difficult to build,” explained Factcheck. As of May 2018, just 190 km of the highway were paved, and a 167 km-long stretch was open to traffic. At that time, the Roads Department of Georgia planned for the sections of road between Chumateleti – Khevi – Ubisa – Shorapani – Argveta to be completed between November 2021 and December 2022, completing the East-West Highway. In October 2018, the Georgian government signed an agreement with the Asian Development Bank to finance the "EastWest Express Highway Improvement Project.” The €255 million project is designed to build 12 km of four-lane road between Khevi and Ubisa, and to support the development of the East-West Highway railroad. Due to complex geological conditions, the project includes the construction of 35 bridges, with a total length of 8.3 km, and 20 tunnels stretching 9.4 km. The project is expected to be completed by June 2024.

US 2019 Budget Bill Increases Financial Aid to Georgia BY KETEVAN KVARATSKHELIYA


he financial aid for Georgia has been increased in the 2019 Fiscal Budget of the US (FY19 Consolidated Appropriations Act) and now amounts to $127 025 000 in total. This is $22 million more in comparison with the last year. The given finances have been allocated in order to carry out major foreign projects and related programs.

On February 20, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Georgia reported that the document contained a number of significant passages regarding the de-occupation and non-recognition of the occupied territories of Georgia. The draft bill states that no country will be able to benefit of the financial aid if the US Secretary of State determines that the country recognized the independence of Abkhazia and Tskhinvali regions, occupied by Russia, and established diplomatic relations with these regions. The Consolidated Appropriations Act

also addresses the US Treasury with the initiative to release instructions to the international financial institutions not to assist any program which violates or puts under question the territorial integrity and the state sovereignty of Georgia. $275 million is to be allocated within the scope of the ‘Fund against Russia’s Influence’. The financial aid will be distributed to different European and Asian countries, including Georgia, which aims to advance the collaboration with the EU and NATO and ameliorate the law enforcement and security forces.

Image source: MFA of Georgia

Mamuka Khazaradze Leaves TBC Bank Continued from page 1 Unfortunately, none of the state civil servants, nor the PM nor ministers have expressed a desire to personally meet us and get information about a case that is very important both for our team and our country, despite the fact that I personally wrote to some of them and sent

relevant documents. Instead, I heard their comments only in the public space. I realized that the goal was to discredit me, I realized that they are fighting against our success, I realized that the company's growth was to be limited in Georgia. Such an attack on me directly affects our bank's reputation. The Bank cannot be in a long court

dispute with its regulator, especially if the latter is not free in its decisions, despite the high degree of independence granted by the law. Today, the Bank's Supervisory Board took a decision to terminate the legal dispute with the National Bank in the interests of the Bank, its shareholders and depositors.

Accordingly, I made a decision to leave the Bank where I spent 27 years of my life, the Bank that I turned from $500 into the largest player in the region. Hopefully, this decision will positively affect the Bank’s development in a stable and calm environment. I will dedicate my energy to our country’s very important project - the Anaklia project. Hope-

fully, I will be allowed to complete it. On Tuesday, as I promised Parliament and society, I will attend a hearing of the Parliamentary Committee to quietly discuss the case in detail. At the same time, I will continue to legally defend my rights as a private person in Georgia and abroad", reads the statement.

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Vladimer Apkhazava Makes Top 10 for $1mln Global Teacher Prize BY SAMANTHA GUTHRIE


ladimer “Lado” Apkhazava is one of Georgia’s most remarkable teachers. His innovative and creative teaching methods have impressed parents and students all over the country and this year caught the eye of the Varkey Foundation, which awards the Global Teacher Prize under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, UAE Vice President and Prime Minister of the United Arab Emirates and Ruler of Dubai. The Prize, as the Varkey Foundation explains it, “serves to underline the importance of educators and the fact that, throughout the world, their efforts deserve to be recognized and celebrated. It seeks to acknowledge the impacts of the very best teachers – not only on their students but on the communities around them”. The winner will be announced on March 24, 2019 at Dubai's Global Education and Skills Forum. The top prize is $1 million. In 2018, there were over 30,000 applications and nominations for the Global Teacher Prize, including Apkhazava. This morning, the top 10 finalists for the 2019 Prize were announced by Australian actor Hugh Jackman, and Apkhazava’s name was among them. “The real superheroes are teachers; they are the ones

who change the world,” said Jackman. He shares his personal experience with impactful teachers, and notes “All of us go through insecurity, and doubt, trepidation, along this journey of life. And those teachers that see the best in us, and are patient enough to allow us to grow into them, they are like gold.” Apkhazava teaches civics at Chibati Public School in the impoverished village of Chibati in the Lanchkhuti Municipality of western Georgia’s Guria region. His work is made even more impressive in the context of the Georgian education environment, where teachers have little to no resources, and have not to date been encouraged to innovate. His biography on the top-50 finalist webpage explains that many of his students’ parents have left Georgia to find work abroad, sending remittances home. His students frequently come to school without having eaten – occasionally a child’s hunger is so severe that the school will call an ambulance to treat them. Child labor is another problem in the region. Many of Chibati’s students drop out of school before graduation, moving to Turkey in search of seasonal work. Apkhazava responded to these challenges in his region with activism. Despite initial opposition, even from the government, he has drawn attention to these issues, forcing those in power to confront them. He also uses the region’s harsh reality as a learning tool for his students, getting them involved in lobbying their local government and local activism

projects. The authorities eventually came around to support Apkhazava, and in 2017, he was awarded the inaugural Georgian National Teacher Prize. He is known for his emphasis on inclusion: widening school events to be accessible to all pupils, not only the highest achievers, and starting a “Democratic Revolution” after school club that works to make running the school an analogue of state administration processes. The project was popular among both teachers and students and Apkhazava, expanded to 14 other schools. He has raised funds from private enterprises and companies, and won grants to finance educational resources and spots in summer camps for the most vulnerable students. Apkhazava is also currently fostering eight teenage boys who fled their homes due to domestic violence. If awarded the Global Teacher Prize, Vladimer says he would use the money to help schools in other regions of Georgia to purchase modern technology or foreign language textbooks. He has also discussed adding cafeterias and a lunch option at schools, equipping 26 school yards with greenhouse farming equipment. GEORGIA TODAY contacted Apkhazava to get his impressions on this incredible success.

“We watched the announcement on TV earlier this morning and I can barely express how it felt to hear my name. My family were absolutely thrilled. It took a while to sink in and then we went to school, where everyone was just as excited," he told us. "I'm unconditionally happy to be even a tiny part of Georgia's success. I like that I can somehow help my school, my community and my homeland and present them to the rest of the world”. He shares the finalist stage with some of the world’s best teachers, from nine countries: the UK, the Netherlands, Brazil, Japan, Argentina, the United States, Kenya, India, and Australia. The final winner will be decided by the Prize Committee, considering the criteria: • Use of effective pedagogy, that is practically useful and scalable to influence the quality of education globally. • The use of innovative teaching practices aimed at school, community or nationwide, and the use of which gives sufficient reasoning to suggest that this practice will be effective in resolving such challenges. • Reaching demonstrated results of teaching in the classroom. • Exposure to the community beyond the classroom that provides unique and

exceptional models of special advancement in learning to the teacher's profession and others. • Helping students become global citizens and to provide education based on higher moral principles that enable them to work with the world where they can potentially live and work with many different nationalities, cultures and religions. • Improve the teaching professions through the level of teaching, sharing best practices and helping colleagues overcome any challenge that they may face at school. • Recognition of teachers by governments, local teaching organizations, school principals, colleagues, community members and students. The prize money will be disbursed to the winner on an annual basis for ten years, along with financial advisory services. With minimum disruptions to their work in the classroom, the winner becomes a Global Ambassador for the Varkey Foundation, attending public events and delivering speeches at the public forums dedicated to improving the prestige of the teaching profession worldwide. For more information, visit www.globalteacherprize.org.

Zurabishvili, Frank-Walter Steinmeier Discuss Georgia-Germany Bilateral Relations ical framework. We are trying to renew contact and improve relations with the population living on the occupied territories in order to move the frozen situation into a different phase. Germany’s role in Russia-Georgia relations is crucial,” she stressed. In his address, Steinmeier highlighted that Georgia and Germany, aside from economic and cultural ties, also share bilateral political relations. The German President added that considering GeorImage source: President’s Administration



eorgian President Salome Zurabishvili had a meeting with her German counterpart Frank-Walter Steinmeier in Berlin. During the face-to-face meeting, the sides discussed Georgia-Germany bilateral relations and Georgia’s European aspirations. The special role of Germany, being the EU leader country whose attitude toward Georgia is crucial, was highlighted in Georgia’s EU integration process. Zurabishvili underlined that it is extremely important for Georgia to have a loyal friend such as Germany in the heart of Europe. She added that Germany and France are those countries that will support Georgia to become a full-fledged member of the European family. She expressed hope that after her visit to Germany, Georgia-Germany relations will be further advanced. During a special press-conference, Zurabishvili thanked her colleague for the political support that Germany has shown Georgia over the years. “Bilateral economic and cultural rela-

tions with Germany are of key importance. By promoting the Georgian culture, we want Georgia to join the European culture and the whole of Europe to see that Georgia belongs to the European family and that our path towards Europe should develop in this direction. To achieve this goal, we have hope in Germany,” she said. The Georgian President also thanked Germany for the economic ties and support. “Since the very first day, Germany has been the second largest donor in terms of financial aid for Georgia. This financial support continues to date. We hope that our economic ties will be further strengthened – more German companies will penetrate the Georgian market, more investments will be made. Our goal is not merely attracting investments, but strengthening cooperation and connections,” she said. Zurabishvili also noted that the role of Germany in Georgia’s relations with Russia is very important. “The Georgian government continues promoting the non-recognition policy of Georgia’s occupied territories that is also supported by our friend Germany. We hope that it will be possible to solve this issue in a new, more advanced polit-

gia’s ambitious aspirations toward the European Union, closer ties with the EU structures and participation in infrastructural projects could bring benefits for the country. He expressed hope that the environment will be stabilized and political actors, in accordance with a democratic process, will cooperate, enabling the country to carry out the planned reforms. Steinmeier noted that Georgia is now an exemplary country in terms of eco-

nomic reforms through which the country has demonstrated “impressive progress”. After meeting the German President, Zurabishvili also met with Chancellor Angela Merkel to discuss Georgia-Russia relations, adding the friendly states of Georgia should influence Russia and make it change its positions. Zurabishvili arrived in Germany after completing her official visit to France on February 17-19.




FEBRUARY 22 - 25, 2019



eorgia matters to the Free World. As long as the latter feels the need to uphold the system of values it defended throughout the Second World War and its long and cold aftermath of overt small wars, military stand-offs, covert subversions and innumerable kinds of crises, Georgia matters. Indeed, the country’s importance is increasing as the global ‘order’ continues to drift towards an ever more ‘disorganized order’ marked by growing competition between major powers, all trying to ‘confiscate’ the rules and maxims of international law and interpret them according to their own view of how things should play out beyond their borders. As we have said before, the trend is once again for a system of international relationships in which authority is based upon physical strength and presence rather than moral rectitude. This new competition, however, is no different from its Cold War predecessor, when the superpowers challenged each other not by direct means (although the Berlin Crisis came close) but instead by engaging in proxy wars or ideological struggles, using their allies and satellites to chip away at each other. Similarly, again, the fate of the so-called peripheries or ‘grey areas’ will continue to be decided by the struggle between the world’s major powers; we are but another tool in the box, lying alongside other more typical forms of competition ranging from nuclear disarmament to trade and currency wars. Considering this point, Georgia can undoubtedly expect to face some strong headwinds as it continues to sail towards its goal of becoming a fully-fledged member of the free world (as we knew it, and whose essential lines we wish to maintain).

RETRENCHMENT AND ITS CONSEQUENCES Recoiling from the salutary mission of seeking to maintain liberal values and freedoms by adopting a policy of retrenchment will have severe repercussions for the overall system of entertaining international relations in a civilized manner, particularly in regions bordering upon revisionist states. Retrenchment could, in various instances, lead to dire consequences that will be difficult to reverse. Should the West abandon its capacity and willingness to be present wherever its values could make a difference, this will embolden revisionism and strike a deadly blow to the linchpins of democratic regimes. The dire consequences of retrenchment are already visible in regions that various Western scholars and politicians continue to qualify as ‘peripheral’—both in geographical terms as well as relative to upholding and defending their interests. The same is true when revisionist or ‘rogue’ regimes increasingly alternate between exercising the soft and hard powers at their disposal, thereby undermining the equilibrium of power in peripheral regions to the extent that, when the alarm is sounded for the free world to intervene,

Georgia’s capacity to resist is the joint responsibility of the country and her allies

Image source: wikiwand.com

its response is deprived of the unity it requires to be decisive. In practical terms, this process of erosion sometimes results in an ‘ideological war of attrition’, in the course of which major external actors try to persuade the populations of countries in transition that other ideologies are weak, corrupt and unsustainable, and incapable of ensure their well-being. The results of numerous surveys and polls clearly reveal the ongoing practice of psychological warfare, employing the most modern technology and subtle methods of ‘brainwashing’. In this regard, we must point out that policies similar to ‘America First’ risk amplifying the magnitude of attacks by non-democratic and revisionist regimes, and unwittingly place ‘peripheral’ countries such as Georgia at a disadvantage. And in addition to all these consequences, today’s policies of retrenchment are speeding the tragic demise of the world that we, as a country, belong to, and have been striving to reunite with since regaining our independence from the Soviet Union.

WE MATTER SINCE DEMOCRACY MATTERS Ensuring stability and democracy in countries that the West formally terms ‘peripheral’ ranks among the key factors for preserving democracy in the West itself. Recognizing this interconnection in terms of a ‘spill-over’ effect implies more concentrated efforts to solidify institutional governance and the rule of law in ‘peripheries’ that matter, and that are rightly seen as fitting into the Western political, security and cultural context, to which Georgia clearly belongs. But the different efforts that Georgia's partners undertake to support governments and help political actors to resist the subversive effects of revisionist and intrusive policies are not just concerned with supporting democracy on the ground: they also send a message to other ‘peripheries’ deemed to be on the right track in terms of development that they are not alone. Additionally, these efforts are also a clear signal to the free world itself, demonstrating that the rumour of its irretrievable demise is similar to the story in the ‘Chronicle of a Death Foretold’. Yet maintaining and emboldening

the West in Georgia is not to be measured by military hardware or the number of troops as such, but instead by the alignment of strategic interests through the prism of partnership. Such an alignment of interests has the power to prevent the country from falling under the control of a revisionist power whose interests and values are alien to those of the West and to raise Georgia above the rest.

WE MATTER SINCE SECURITY MATTERS Georgia’s ability to defend herself needs to be built up to a level where the country can handle most situations and fight a delaying action if a major crisis or aggression occurs. All in all, increasing Georgia’s capacity to resist is the joint responsibility of the country and her allies. A limited number of countries of the Eurasian periphery, and notably Georgia, require special treatment by NATO despite not being members of the Alliance (for the foreseeable future); this is particularly true for countries in the ‘grey areas’ around illiberal and revisionist states. It is also essential to note that strengthening Georgia’s security and defence capabilities, as a ‘checkpoint’ on the border between the free and unfree worlds, equates to strengthening those of Warsaw, Berlin, London, Paris or Brussels. Stating that Georgia continues to be ‘an important ally in regional stability and defence co-operation’ is very encouraging, but such statements need to be translated into official, concrete actions— and the sooner, the better. There can also be no distinction between the security of ‘rank and file’ countries and that of more important ones: such a political error would only play into the hands of the opposition. The logic of competition between different states is upsetting, but simple: power respects power. Weakening or abandoning efforts to promote the values of the free world in ‘grey areas’ and submitting to the provocative bluff of revisionist regimes diminishes the real significance of these values and makes it easier for these regimes to absorb ‘grey areas’ into their sphere of influence. Moreover, we believe that, as was the case during the Cold War, mutual

respect based upon a balance of opposing powers continues to be one of the main deterrents to all-out war.

WE MATTER SINCE ECONOMIC SUCCESS MATTERS The Marshall Plan was among the greatest achievements following the end of the Second World War. Firstly, it countered the spread of communism across Western Europe, and secondly it gave birth to the unique alliances that are the EU and NATO. But it would be a mistake to believe that the Marshall plan cannot and should not be repeated; on the contrary: it can and should be repeated in the right places, and Georgia is clearly one of these. Dramatically boosting the Georgian economy would send a signal that the West stands shoulder to shoulder with pro-democratic governments and forces in Russia’s neighbourhood; such overt support would also render democratic political competition on the ground irreversible, since economic aid would of course be tied to far-reaching reforms guaranteeing strong institutions, the rule of law, media pluralism and an independent judiciary. Besides, a new ‘Marshall Plan for Georgia’ that would support the establishment of a new order in the former Soviet area—i.e. along the borders of revisionist Russia—through the provision of a financial and security package would underscore the renewed presence of Western political and military alliances in key regions of Eurasia. The recent annexation of Crimea was clear proof that the ‘grey areas’ described by various Western scholars and politicians cannot be ignored without grave consequences for stability and the overall balance of power. Georgia’s Western partners need to act boldly in these areas if they are to effectively rein in the forces that threaten this stability and balance.

WHAT MUST (AND MUST NOT) FOLLOW There has clearly been some progress in the way in which Georgia has sought to meet the challenges that she faces. The way we think, act and react has undoubtedly improved—but in our rapidly changing world, this is still not enough, especially in the long run. There

is clearly a need for a more strategic and united approach, and this in turn requires greater expertise and soundness when defining priorities and attempting to achieving them through different actions and transactions. Our policies sometimes appear somewhat chaotic and improvised, and our attempts to build a fully professional, autonomous and politically independent civil service so far seem to have failed. This needs to change, and Georgian politics need to start providing the country with the means it requires to follow a larger-scale foreign policy. Equally, however, the West needs to improve the way in which it understands and meets its commitments: the clear message should be that any erosion of Western interests in ‘peripheral areas’ will undermine the very premise of Western civilization itself. In this regard, it is critical to remember that the security and inviolability of what we have become used to calling the liberal order— i.e. the order of the free world—is organically entwined with the stability and security of countries mistakenly treated as ‘peripheral’ to that order. Should the West not stand up for Georgia as and when required, avoiding real action in order to evade trouble, it will inevitably later find itself in even greater trouble when the time comes to deal with a nowoverpowering threat. The difference between acting now and acting later is measured in a diminishing ability to act and reduced levels of credibility and trust. It is truly striking that many of the free world’s current problems are the result of its inability to act sufficiently decisively—a failing for which the oftstated desire to avoid risk can be no excuse. Global developments in general, and particularly those related to Eurasia, dictate the need for the West to define and adopt coherent long-term policies vis-à-vis the continent’s ‘peripheral areas’ on the borders of revisionist states. Such policies should focus upon ‘good’ states that overwhelmingly share the West’s values and contribute to regional stability and defence co-operation (even if they do not always go along with everything). It is time for all of us to reject bigotry and to unite for a greater common strength.




Georgian Patriarch Receives Moscow-Subordinated Representatives of Ukrainian Church BY THEA MORRISON


he Catholicos-Patriarch of Georgia, Ilia II, hosted the representatives of the Ukrainian Church which is subordinated to Russia. The Georgian Patriarchate said the sides discussed the issue of the autocephaly of Ukraine, obtained by the country in early January. The delegation was led by the Head of the Foreign Department of the Moscowsubordinated Ukrainian Church, Metropolitan of Borispol and Brovarsky Anton. From the Georgian side, the meeting was attended by the Patriarch, his locumtenens Metropolitan Shio, archbishops and other clergy. The Patriarchate says the meeting was unofficial and the purpose of the visit was to provide the Georgian side with information on the developments in Ukraine and its Church. “It was said that after the transfer of the Tomos in various churches and regions, there is often a conflict between believers, which leads to great controversy in the parish and the clergy,” the statement reads. The Georgian Church reports that Ilia II "thanked the guests and once again expressed his concern about the situation." “He also called on the guests to intensify prayer in order to solve the problem

Image source: Patriarchate of Georgia

and keep the unity of the Orthodox people,” the Patriarchate added. In late January, the Georgian Patriarch also received a delegation from the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople. French Mitropolitan Emmanuel, a representative of the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople, stated after the

meeting that it was a ‘friendly meeting between friend churches,’ where the main topic was the recent developments in the Ukrainian Church. Mitropolitan Emmanuel said that the purpose of the meeting was not to put pressure or to influence but rather it was of an informative nature and talks focused

on various common issues concerning the Orthodox churches. The Georgian Patriarchate reported that the initiator of the visit was Constantinople, adding the Georgian Patriarch is in no hurry to make a decision about the Ukrainian Church as the issue is so sensitive.

“The sides agreed that everyone should take care of the Orthodox people, and rushing on the topic of Ukraine will not bring happiness,” the Georgian Patriarchate stated. Ukraine’s Church gained independence from Russia when World Patriarch Bartholomew signed the Tomos on autocephaly of the Ukrainian Church on January 5. The Ukrainian Church had been under Moscow’s jurisdiction since 1686, when, under pressure from Russia, it abandoned allegiance to Constantinople, the historical seat of the Eastern Orthodox Church, now known as Istanbul. The Tomos declares that the Metropolitan of Kiev and all Ukraine, representing the Holy Synod of Ukrainian bishops, should turn to the Patriarchate of Constantinople for all decisions in future. A group of Georgian citizens, part of the opposition parties and some clerics called on the Patriarchate of Georgia to recognize the independence of the Ukrainian Church from Moscow and to congratulate the friend-state on its important achievement. In mid-February, Ukraine’s Foreign Minister, Pavlo Klimkin, stated that Georgia's recognition of the Ukrainian Church autocephaly is just "a matter of time." “We believe we will gradually gain recognition from all Orthodox Churches...I am 100% convinced that we will get recognition and of course the Georgian Church is among them,” he said.




FEBRUARY 22 - 25, 2019

Monument Building OP-ED BY ZAZA JGARKAVA


his week we witnessed three consecutive events that are linked with the unexpectedly “discovered” “historic brotherhood” between the two breakaway regions of Georgia. It is planned to erect an Armenian cross, the so-called Khkachkari, in occupied Tskhinvali. Although this is a religious monument by form, its importance goes far beyond that and is a political move, as the

Image source: japantimes.co.jp

monument will remind the Tskhinvalians and visitors about the “historic brotherhood” of the Armenian and Ossetian peoples. Apart from this, the de facto leader of occupied Tskhinvali got some guarantees from his colleagues from Karabakh on the issue of international recognition. The global Armenian diaspora will start working on the issue of recognition together with the Kremlin, they agreed; the hosts were quick to pay this kindness forward and announced the masterpiece of Georgian religious architecture from the 9th century – The Ksani Armazi Church of St. George – would become a cul-

tural monument of Armenia, and further stated that they would welcome pilgrimages from Karabakh. On January 20, a month prior to the opening of the Armenian Cross in occupied Tskhinvali, the bust of Mikheil Avakian, who participated in the War of Karabakh, was erected in Bugasheni village of the Akhalkalaki region; this date is symbolic, as it is the National Mourning Day in Azerbaijan dedicated to the bloody tragedy of Karabakh that took place in the 1990. Just as in case of Tskhinvali, the bust in Akhalkalaki is also presented under the veil of patriotism, but it is quite clearly political, serving, at the very least, the purpose of deteriorating relations between Georgia and Armenia. The main figure in this monument building series is the separatist Karabakh and a period coinciding with the change of government in Yerevan, as, after Nikol Pashinyan came to power, the hope for regulating the conflict of Karabakh, thus bringing about the longawaited peace in the South Caucasus, became real. The meeting of Pashinyan and Ilham Aliyev during the World Economic Forum in Davos was another move in this direction. The information that spread after this meeting suggested that the world could witnessed an unprecedented breakthrough of this 10-year-old conflict. It was after these events that the issue of monuments became more popular in Caucasian politics: one in Tskhinvali, another in Akhalkalaki, and all this crowned with tenser relations between Yerevan-Tbilisi and Baku. It shouldn’t be hard to guess who is supporting and financing

all of this, who would want to see the bust of a soldier in Akhalkalaki and the so-called friendship cross. It is harder to believe that it is in the interests of official Yerevan, which has a great influence on Akhalkalaki to this day and fully controls the mountainous Karabakh, to have poorer relations with Tbilisi. From the very moment Nikol Pashinyan came to government, he clearly stated that “The interests of large states should be ruled out from the relations of Armenia and Georgia; hence, the mutual relations between these two countries should be directed in a way that is in the interests and on the agenda of these two states, without any global political contexts”. Normalizing the relations between Georgia and Armenia is a step towards de-isolation of Armenia, and today the strategic partnership with Georgia is as important for Armenia as ever. Obviously, this

fact is far from pleasant for Moscow: more confrontations in the Caucasus equates to better chances for Russia to defend and fulfill its political agenda. Thus, all this is another provocation from Moscow in an attempt to destabilize the relationship between Georgia and Armenia. Time has proven that everything new is actually well-forgotten old. The storm of monuments within the inner politics of the Caucasus isn’t new either- you may remember the incident of 2017, when visitors from Vladikavkaz came to Kobi village to visit the graves of their ancestors. At the time, these Russian citizens were not allowed onto the Georgian territory, which was followed by a statement from the Ossetian party in Geneva accusing Georgia of violating human rights and demanding the recognition of the grave stones in Kobi as the cultural heritage of Ossetia.




TMI Director Helene Lloyd on the 2019 B2B Luxury & MICE Workshop



ooms Hotel Tbilisi this year hosted the third edition of the prestigious professional luxury travel event B2B Luxury & MICE Workshop. As an established specialist travel industry event, the B2B Luxury & MICE Workshop brings together a variety of luxury hospitality and destination travel products in Georgia, Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan, and introduces them to new markets, where travel and specifically Luxury travel is emerging. The Workshop focused on luxury and up-market travel products including luxury hotels and resorts, destination management companies and travel destinations such as national and regional tourism boards and allowed local Georgian travel companies to have one-to-one meetings with top international exhibitors. This year’s B2B Luxury & MICE Workshop brought prestigious new destinations to the Georgian market for the first time, including the tourism boards of Catalonia and Tenerife, and saw the return of the Slovenian tourism board. There were also some new hospitality participants including international hospitality brands such as the Intercontinental - Vienna Hotel from Austria, one of Greece’s most prestigious Hotel Brands, Grecotel and most importantly, the participation of S7, Russia’s 2nd largest and most dynamic airline. Turkish Airlines also participated for the 2nd year running. There was also a number of hotel and DMC representatives from Slovenia and Croatia, as well as travel products from other European countries.

Slovenia and its potential were put into the spotlight in a presentation delivered by Slovenian Tourism Board representative Anja Bezgovsek, followed by B2B meetings and, that evening, by a cocktail gala at Tiflis Veranda, where the international participants were introduced to a Georgian hospitality experience. GEORGIA TODAY grabbed a chance to meet and speak with Helene Lloyd, the Director of TMI, a British travel marketing and communication company which is part of Travel Consul global Alliance www.Travelconsul.com. In Georgia TMI works in partnership with Brandor Consulting to organize the professional travel industry Workshop. “We are organizing B2B Luxury & MICE Workshop in Tbilisi for the 3rd year running, but in fact it’s quite an established event. It was first launched in Almaty, Kazakhstan 89 years ago and then expanded into Baku and finally came to Tbilisi for the first time in 2017. The key aim of the event is to introduce international participants from different countries and introduce them to different potential partners in Georgia, so the focus is on outbound travel and the B2B workshop is one way to open up the market. It accentuates the importance of networking and helps the companies to share their experience and ameliorate a number of skills which are necessary in this industry, including sales and product promotion”, she said. The Head of TMI also shared her future plans regarding Georgia, announcing that another project is scheduled to be carried out in Georgia in October this year. “We’re planning another event in Georgia in Mid-October, 2019. This will include meetings between different professional industry players, in a workshop

format, but the focus will also be on the promotion of Georgia. Instead of deskbased meetings we will organize different Georgian experiences for the international and local participants to experience together. This will be more fun and help to establish more relationships between the different business partners. We will bring together international buyers from Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan, Armenia as well as MICE agents from Russia. The workshop will provide all participant with a taste of Georgia and to show case the destinations unique features including for eg how to cook a traditional Georgian dish or how to sing a polyphonic song”. We believe that this more interactive approach, will help tourism professionals to fall in love with the destination and realize its huge potential in the tourism sphere. Helene Lloyd also share her thoughts about Georgia as a tourist destination, describing it as a colorful, historical and interesting country, with very high potential for development to become a mustvisit place in the future. “Georgia is very authentic and that is key and it is vital that it is maintained. It has the potential to give individual experiences to every kind of visitor. The future of travel is about personalized experience and Georgia can really excel in this sphere, but it is important that tourism in Georgia is

carefully planned and not over exploited, as this can ruin a destinations reputation and, in the long-run result in a mass tourism destination differentiated only by price, this does not benefit anyone and can destroy the main attraction of the destination.,” she told us. As to why Georgia was chosen to host

such an important event, the TMI Director said the decision was made as a result of the high demand of the clientele of her company and the great attractiveness of Georgia as both an inbound and outbound tourism market. The removal of the Schengen visa restrictions was another catalyst for the decision.




FEBRUARY 22 - 25, 2019

Sensational, Exceptional, Original – Ambiente 2019! painting a huge EUR 8000 vase.


NUDE 20 different international designers work for the Turkish brand Nude – the third biggest glasswork company in the world, whose identity is Simple is Beautiful. Their glass works aim to simplify consumers lives, with simple forms but with life within when you touch them. Nude glass work includes many different items, among them transparent vases with original forms that you can combine for an optical illusion. The designers’ inspiration comes from Iris Apfel (97), an iconic figure in fashion and lifestyle.


here is no better place in the world to discover unique products from 4,451 exhibitors from 92 countries and connect with more than 136,000 buyers from 166 countries. There is no better place to explore new trends, to feel the futuristic ambience, to initiate new business connections, increase knowledge and exchange information. 41% of the exhibitors are self-employed entrepreneurs. Ambiente gives you the opportunity to see and know how professionals care about their brand identity and at the same time how they manage to stay ahead and integrate into the modern world, how their products tell stories that inspire you, how important it is to stay connected in a digital world. As Messe Frankfurt has a great location and is easily accessible by any transport, it is not difficult to find, occupying total of 400,237 sq.m of hall area, 59,506 sq.m of outdoor areas and more than 90 congress and conference halls. The Frankfurt exhibition grounds are a “city within a city” with first-aid stations, a 24-hour Operation & Security centre, more than 1,000 WiFi Access Points, restaurants, bars, cafés and food stands. Ambiente’s super professional team takes care of everything - easy accessible corridors, hall to hall connection signs, informative materials, stunning decorations, beautiful music, a wide choice of cafes and relaxation points, convenient services, interactive performances, digital brochures and most importantly – well organized exclusive guided tours! This last offers in-depth glimpses into Ambiente trends and gives you the chance to meet in person the representatives of global brands, entrepreneurs and artisans, to see how their opinions vary and what their story is. The press guided tour of the special exhibition “From Point of Sale to Point of Experience” with Wolfgang Gruschwitz was truly an inspiration. The tour started with Gruschwitz sharing his professional views and experiences how his company (Waketo Marketing Consulting) helps each retailer to successfully sell their products and interact with buyers. “You need to go deeper because you are not only a seller, but a consultant. This should be the main point in your mind when you sell. Digitalization in stores is the same, now retailers can make a whole performance in front of buyers such as cooking masterclasses, beauty trials and so on. So, they are not only deliverers of goods, but also advisors. You are not selling products, you are selling your advice. They can find any product through the internet, anywhere in the world, so you need to offer them special approaches, interaction, connection,” Gruschwitz told us. “In future, very soon, from two to five years, cash desks will vanish, people will go fully digital in payments, so you need to stay connected with buyers. Make a theme, make a story, and you will sell your product. The only real wealth in the world is not money but human relationships. We have to be connected, even in retail business”. GEORGIA TODAY explored the world of future trends on three platforms: dining, living and giving at Ambiente 2019. Check out our top picks from Messe Frankfurt below. After browsing through thenumerous pavilions, you can already predict some of the future inspirational trends, such as minimalism in design, warm color palettes, objects without function, interactive goods that allows consumers to create their own stories. However, each

Messe Frankfurt Exhibition GmbH by Jean-Luc Valentin

SKAZA The Slovenian brand presented their innovative product at Ambiente – a beautiful and efficient kitchen composter of the next generation, the Bokashi Organko 2. With this composter, your kitchen becomes a place of green thinking. Using powdered compost accelerator with beneficial microorganisms, the composter will transform biological waste into a: a) quality compost for your plants b) fermentation liquid for plants c) a biological cleaner for drains. Due to the wonderful design, instead of hiding it, you might well want to place the composter in the center of your kitchen.

AMY MACKLE Messe Frankfurt Exhibition GmbH by Pietro Sutera

This young designer from Germany creates artworks from objects that are otherwise seen as trash. You can’t tell what material has been used until you touch it, but each piece is inspired by something and that alone is an inspiration.

STYLE OF JAPAN A new brand based in Obama city, Japan, is known for its varieties of chopsticks. They presented an intercultural dining set which includes the whole set of chopsticks and spoons for all courses. Normally, Japanese eat their food with only one chopstick and they don’t use different kinds for different courses, therefore this dining culture is revolutionary for Japan, too.


topics discussed at the WFTO press conference during the fair, the artworks by refugees from all over the world introduced at the MADE51 conference, even the topic of speed dating with an ethical style: everything said clearly that there is a story behind each product. Recycled products, waste issues, products made by refugees and people who connect them with local artisans, social enterprises, brand “good&mojo’s” motto: you buy light, you give light to people in need, the topics chosen by Prof. Mark Braun on the designers’ guided tours about keeping DNA and brand identities – all these together showed without doubt that Ambiente is far more than just a fair. Over the last few years, eight partner countries have successfully showcased themselves at Ambiente. As India was the partner country at Ambiente this year, you could see lots of beautiful wooden handcrafted items, textiles, lamps and lighting, ceramics, the fascinating Bollywood style and even Bollywood stars too, as guests. More than 500 Indian companies participated in the show, including eco-friendly “Made in India” bamboo craft. For the first time in 2020, the Dining area will be expanded to include a dedicated hall for exhibitors from the hotel, restaurant and catering industry (HoReCa). In this way, the world’s leading trade fair for consumer goods will underline its position as an important international HoReCa trading platform for everything that matters in the hospitality industry. Moreover, in 2020, it will give this segment more space in the form of the new HoReCa Forum in Hall 6.0. In 2020, we can also look forward to the exciting subject of “The world comes to Ambiente”, as the world’s leading trade fair will be presenting a program in a new look and exceptional design. The next Ambiente will be held from 7 to 11 February 2020. The expectations are truly promising.


Messe Frankfurt Exhibition Gmbh by Petra Welzel

A welcome return! In the late 18th century in Ronneby, Sweden, the Kockums family started to manufacture pots, buckets and hospital utensils. In 1893, the company launched a whole new product line – enamelled cookware in several different colors, though it was the soft yellow with the dark green edge the Swedish people fell in love with. But then the 1960s brought Tupperware and production at KockumsJernverk had to stop. Today’s turn-around sees a phasing out of plastic wares in Swedish households, making room for quality. Kockums has updated its color palette and reintroduced the brand with a new collection where traditional perfectly meets new. The things seen at Ambiente 2019,

For further information please contact: Zaira Soloeva Senior Project Manager Official Representative of Messe Frankfurt Exhibition GmbH in Georgia and Armenia Deutsche Wirtschaftsvereinigung (DWV) zaira.soloeva@georgien.ahk.de

Or visit the following website: http://www.georgien.ahk.de

Messe Frankfurt Exhibition GmbH by Jean-Luc Valentin

retailer has their own concept and each of their products has a story. Here are some of the highlights:

ROYAL DELFT Inspired by the Dutch Golden Age theme year and driven by the desire to give the iconic Delft Blue by Royal Delft, in production since 1653, a contemporary look and feel, Royal Delft presents ‘Proud Mary,’ named after Mary Stuart II, the wife of Stadholder William III. Mary II was a great admirer and collector of Delft Blue in the Dutch Golden Age. The name Proud Mary is not a coincidence, it is the company’s wish that Proud Mary become a modern-day col-

lector’s item, a contemporary icon of the Delft Blue by Royal Delft. Proud Mary is composed of four different elements: the skirt, body, the collar and the head. She is available in both the hand painted collection and the transfer collection. Blue and white ceramics is the identity of the Dutch: they were proud to have them in the 17th century. Buyers can create their own identity; choosing from the various elements and creating a Proud Mary that best suit his/her taste. Most of the ornaments on the skirt are from the 17thcentury. Visitors had the opportunity to see the artist of Royal Delft at Ambiente and the process of

Messe Frankfurt Exhibition GmbH by Jean-Luc Valentin






here is a wide range of major achievements the modern world is proud of, including huge accomplishments in the sphere of technologies and the development of infrastructure. However, even though life has in many cases been made much easier and more comfortable for people nowadays, progress is also followed by particular drawbacks. Escalation of the amount of waste is one of the biggest challenges faced by the globe today. Waste disposal sites, covering huge areas worldwide, represent a serious threat to the environment, intensifying the risk of the spread of numerous diseases. Waste management is one of the best solutions for the given problem, adopted by a number of countries and contributing to the preservation of nature and urban environs in the very best way. Georgia is also supporting this initiative and is developing multiple projects supporting its waste management system, including the launch of separation sites for waste disposals. GEORGIA TODAY met with Nana Janashia, the Executive Director of CENN, a non-governmental organization working to protect the environment and combat climate change by fostering sustainable development throughout the South Caucasus, to speak about the importance of waste management in Georgia, and the present and upcoming projects in this sphere.

HOW SUCCESSFUL HAVE THE CARRIED-OUT PROJECTS PROVEN TO BE SO FAR? Integrated waste management is a serious challenge for the modern world. Modern waste management consists of the followings stages: reduce, reuse, recycle, energy recovery and landfilling, the latter being the least desirable stage of waste management in the waste management hierarchy. Piloting the separated waste collection project is both necessary and challenging at the same time. We are pleased that CENN has established waste separation corners at 25 locations in Tbilisi with the support of USAID, in cooperation with Tbilisi City Hall and the Waste Management Association (WMA). Residents can now dispose of their separated waste - PET plastic, paper, glass and aluminum cans – at the separation corner located closest to them. A WMA member company, Clean World Ltd., collects the separated waste, processes

Public interest is high [but] awareness about modern waste management approaches is quite low

it and then delivers it to recycling companies in Georgia and abroad. Paper and glass are delivered to local companies, while plastic and aluminum are exported abroad to other countries, including Turkey and Ukraine. We believe that this project is a good example of fruitful cooperation between governmental, non-governmental and private sectors. We understand that, currently, the number of separation corners is not sufficient for the entire population of Tbilisi, but we expect to install more corners in the near future in order to cater to more people. It is important that the private sector is actively involved in this process via the WMA, in the terms of its waste collection member companies. The WMA was established within the Waste Management Technology in Regions (WMTR) program implemented by CENN with the support of USAID. It is important to provide information to the population about where the separated waste goes and how they can contribute to this process by participating in waste separation and protecting the environment in general. The public should be made aware why they should spend time and energy separating their waste and the benefits of doing so (e.g., saving natural resources, creating jobs, promoting a green economy and sustaining a healthy environment). I think such pilot projects are important for largescale changes.

HOW HIGH IS THE PUBLIC AWARENESS REGARDING WASTE MANAGEMENT IN GEORGIA? Public awareness is currently one of the major challenges facing the waste man-

agement sector. Not only is infrastructure needed for the introduction of modern waste management approaches, but it is also necessary to equip the public with relevant knowledge and skills in order for them to play an effective and decisive role in the decision-making process. Our organization periodically assesses the public’s opinion on waste managementrelated issues in the program’s target regions. The results of the survey indicate that public interest is high concerning the issue, especially the topic of littering. On the other hand, public awareness about modern waste management approaches is quite low. There is still a lot of work to be done in order to make the population aware of refusing single-use items and substituting those items with multi-use items, for example. In fact, reducing waste is the most important factor in the modern waste management approach. It is crucial that the population is actively involved and properly informed concerning waste separation rules. For example, before a PET bottle is placed in its appropriate bin in the waste separation stand, it should be emptied completely and have no liquid inside. Strictly following the waste separation rules is important in order to make further recycling possible. In terms of public awareness, it is imperative to work with open-minded and innovative youth. As a result, the USAID-WMTR program is actively and consistently working with schools and enthusiastic students via various campaigns.




After signing the Association Agreement with the EU, the sector is progressively and actively being developed. The legislative basis of waste management has been developed, and in particular, the Waste Management Code, the National Waste Management Strategy for 20162030 and the National Waste Management Action Plan for 2016-2020 was developed in recent years. A number of legislative acts have been developed that are necessary to enforce the aforementioned documents. A number of landfills that did not comply with standards have been closed and many other steps have been taken to modernize the waste management sector in the country. The WMTR program is actively working with the government throughout this process. At this stage, the most important step is executing and monitoring the requirements set out and defined in the legislative documents. Society can play a very active and constructive role throughout the monitoring process.

The waste management sector is at an early stage of development in Georgia, but it is developing slowly but surely! The introduction of modern waste management principles has just begun and, therefore, implementing separated waste collection is still quite a big challenge for the country. According to legislation, separated waste collection should have been required to begin started February 1, 2019 and introduced gradually. In addition, it is important to develop an accurate waste tariff policy in order to obtain financial resources to develop modern waste management approaches in the country. Furthermore, as mentioned before, it is a considerable challenge to raise the awareness of the population concerning modern waste management principles, but we expect that will change as time goes on and perspectives are modernized. After all, times are changing and it’s important to keep up with the times!

WHAT ARE THE CHALLENGES FACED BY YOUR ORGANIZATION IN IMPLEMENTING THE WASTE MANAGEMENT PROCESS IN GEORGIA? Our challenges are mainly related to public awareness. It is necessary to work actively with the population to ensure the effective introduction of modern waste management approaches. In addition, frequent governmental changes at local and national levels stifles progress and makes it difficult to hold people accountable.


WHAT ARE YOUR FUTURE PLANS REGARDING THE DEVELOPMENT OF WASTE MANAGEMENT IN GEORGIA? With the support of USAID, within the WMTR program, we are planning to actively continue working with the general public, especially youth. We also plan to collaborate with universities in order to integrate waste management issues into their curricula. Furthermore, we plan to support the regions in introducing local separated waste collection systems.




FEBRUARY 22 - 25, 2019

Civic Education for Youth & Other Steps Forward in the Georgian Education System BY KATIE RUTH DAVIES


rom 2018 to 2020, the Civic Education program ‘Momavlis Taoba’ (MT - Future Generation) is providing assistance to 230 new schools in Georgia, improving the quality of school-based Civic Education and its practical applications, promoting informed and responsible citizenship among young people and thus enhancing civil society’s role in promoting transparent and accountable governance. The project has been ongoing in various volunteer schools since 2010, run by PH International within the framework of the USAID-funded Applied Civic Education and Teacher Training Program. It has so far covered 30% of schools in Georgia, with noticeable results. It is designed to complement and build on the State’s civics ed curriculum, a program which is also “being stepped up this year,” says the Ministry of Education. So how does it work? MT partner organizations in 10 regions of Georgia facilitate the creation and development of school-based Civic Clubs and support students in the implementation of local community initiatives generated through the work of Civic Clubs or in the civics ed classroom, that respond to community and school needs. Through such projects, students address topics such as the prevention of bullying among youth, the promotion of healthy lifestyles, and the installation of speed bumps near schools to protect student safety. The projects are identified by the students based on their interests and the community’s needs. Successful schools and civic education teachers are recognized for the delivery of quality civic education in schools through various contests. But how can they afford to do it when municipal budgets are so limited? Through the mini-grants online portal www.initiatives.ge, students and teachers have an opportunity to apply for up to $450 to support their applied learning initiatives. One of the criteria of a minigrant award is to demonstrate increased partnership and engagement with local government, media, private sector, government and/or non-governmental organizations. Examples of such projects include the participation of students in the renovation of their school library,

The Civic Club of the Salibauri No2 Public School with their goals for the future.

improvement of the school gym or stadium, installation of a ramp for peers with special needs at the school entrance, an analysis and panel presentation of the negative results of early marriage, greening of the landslide zones in villages, other initiatives to protect the environment, and other issues that are of interest to the students. “People- we- were sitting and waiting for someone to come and fix our problems for us,” a Kobuleti No6 Public School pupil said. “Now we know that if we want something done, we have to be proactive and reach out to those who can help us. And now we know how to do that.” Indeed, by applying the training provided to the teachers and using the information given in the free MT textbooks, and by reaching out to local governance and the police, the students at Kobuleti 6 got a new zebra crossing painted near their school and road safety training given to the school pupils. But where the Ministry and school children might see a Civic Education as an opportunity, how to persuade the “old-school” teachers to change their ways? The first thought is higher salaries- and the Ministry has made moves to address this very important issue by

Educational Resources: MT partner schools, including Armenian and Azerbaijani language schools, are given civics supplemental textbooks free of charge which cover such topics as: ‘How Can I Become an Active Citizen?’; ‘Cooperation for Community Benefit’; ‘Participation in School Self-Governance’ and ‘Cooperation with Local Government and the Media’. Schools also receive additional resources in the form of toolboxes, containing instructions for teachers to guide them through the process of planning the work of school-based civics clubs and implementing civics classroom projects. Civic Education Teacher Training: The training course ‘Teaching Democratic Citizenship’ is provided to all civics teachers in partner schools. Teachers are also trained in the use of the provided educational materials (see above). Professional Development of Civics Teachers: Regional Roundtables, Model Lessons and Professional Learning Community meetings are regularly organized in all regions of Georgia for the professional development of civics teachers. Each year, awards for the best civics teachers in each region are presented at the Annual National Conference of Civics Teachers organized by the Civics Teachers Forum, a professional organization of civics teachers. Supporting the Ministry of Education: The program supports the Ministry to increase the quality of school-based civics education in Georgian schools. Civic Education Web Portal: civics.ge is a bi-lingual web portal offering a wide variety of resources and information for teachers, school administrators, students and parents about civic education. The portal features daily news about the different civics activities taking place in the program and provides an opportunity for students to share information and increase their engagement in civic initiatives.

promising that in 2019-2021, salaries will increase in stages. By 2022, the average teacher's salary will be 1800 GEL, and higher-level teachers will receive an average of 2000 GEL. With many teachers in their sixties, a new generation is needed, but without the financial motivation encouraging that generation to choose teaching as a viable career, Georgia was finding itself heading towards a crisis. The higher salaries and teacher training go some way to prevent such an eventuality. And teachers are not the only challenges the program has faced. “The Saakashvili government feared civic education might be used as a political tool, at a time when state schooling itself was being used as that very tool,” PH International Country Director Berdia Natsvlishvili told us. “But with time, monitoring and reassurance, the government came to see its fears were unfounded”. Another opponent to civic education was the Church, which even now has issues with some of the modules, such as gender studies, which, it says, are eroding the traditional Georgian values and women’s “necessary” role in society. The positive progress is tangible, though, and the Georgian Ministry of Education itself is very much invested in developing civics ed. In September, the textbook ‘Me and My Society’ was introduced to 3rd and 4th graders in public schools as an integrated component to be used in the teaching of history, or any other subject in which the teacher feels a connection can be made and covering such topics as road safety and community awareness. Grades 5 and 6 have the next stages, also integrated, in a book named ‘My Georgia’ which has a strong focus on the meaning of citizenship and which fits particularly well into the subject of history. From September 2019, grade 7 will also have its own civic education textbook, while grade 8, and perhaps even the lower grades, will have to wait until 2020. Grades 9 and up will continue with civics ed as a separate subject encompassing such elements as Financial Literacy (with training for teachers to be provided by the National Bank of Georgia). The Ministry cooperates with international organizations such as PH International in the implementation of its civics ed program and runs nationwide competitions to encourage active par-

ticipation. In future, they plan to add more topics and expand the program further, all the while with the intention to maintain the sustainability of the project when the international help is eventually phased out. We spoke to Mariam Chikobava, Head of the Department of Preschool and General Education at the Ministry of Education regarding the recently abolished national school leaving exams and the much-touted “New Modal”. “The canceled exams have allowed us to lighten the situation for teachers, pupils and parents,” she said, reasoning that by taking the focus away from rotelearning, they are giving each teacher and each school room to be creative and competitive. “Georgian teachers being creative?” we wonder. Then she tells us about the New Modal. From this semester, 50 schools, followed by 100 more in the next semester, 200 thereafter, and then every public school in Georgia, within the next five years will see their teachers taught how to teach creatively. The system was first successfully implemented in School 150 in Tbilisi at the end of last year. “It took three months for our in-school experts to convince the teachers of the need to change, then to implement the necessary changes: to change how they teach, change how they respond to students and how they embrace the workings of their job,” Chikobava noted. “Gone are the days when the Ministry provided the script and the teachers followed it word-for-word, cramming facts into the pupils’ heads and presuming the ability to analyse, critique and debate would follow thereafter. Now the education system is being built on building teacher creativity: supplying them with the basic requirements and the tools to create their own school, and personal, curriculums”. Of course, success requires motivation and imagination. But teachers who have been through the training have apparently come out enlightened, seeing the difference in the eyes and abilities of their students. “The teachers are being prepared by teams that make the schools their home for the entire semester, working handin-hand with the teachers to implement the changes. We show them how to analyse the needs of their own students and

adapt and build on the basic material provided in the textbooks,” Chikobava says, noting that a computer-based diagnostic assessment of the results of 4th, 6th and 9th grade students of the first 50 schools will be conducted after a year to see how the program is progressing. The Momavlis Taoba team, headed by Marina Ushveridze, took GEORGIA TODAY and other Georgian media representatives to a school just outside Batumi which has been one year out of the MT program already, the Salibauri No2 Public School. Clean, freshly renovated and boasting plentiful infrastructure, and represented by smartly-dressed and proactive pupils, “This is an example of what we’re aiming for in infrastructure and mentality,” Ushveridze told us. The pupils presented their Civic Club activities, demonstrating that even without MT by their sides, they were still active in their school and community lives- pushing for change and the betterment of their surroundings, engaging adult help in teachers, politicians, legal representatives, media and more to forward their goals. Having further spoken to students of other MT beneficiaries, the Gurian schools of Tskaltsmina and Kviriketi and the Ajaran Achkvi and Kobuleti public schools, it seems the biggest takeaway for the youth involved is the empowering knowledge that they can make a difference in their own lives, the lives of their peers and community and in wider society as a whole. Some would say it’s all changing too slowly. But when you are fighting a mentality brought so low as it was by Soviet pressure and the following civil breakdown, the effects of which are still seen in every street and the eyes of many, one has to realize that change takes time, but it is happening, and for that we must be grateful and everso supportive. The Momavlis Taoba Program, funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), is being implemented in Georgia by PH International (formerly Project Harmony). The Momavlis Taoba Program is supported by the Ministry of Education and Science of Georgia. The program is implemented in collaboration with the Civics Teachers Forum and regional Georgian non-governmental organizations.



Hot from the Kiln: Etseri, Svaneti



ur pottery-teaching guest was planning to use her second week with us to help her school-age pupils paint their work, which they had spent her first week most enthusiastically hand-building and even throwing on her potter’s wheel. But, unfired, it would be so fragile! This is clay at its most delicate, “bone dry” but before the relatively low-temperature bisque, or first, firing has driven off all its chemical water and left it non-soluble in water. I decided to try a small experiment. I found the broken off handle from someone’s cup, and put it into the oven of our monster Svan stove, then started the stove with wood as usual and let it reach its normal working temperature of about 150 degrees C. Once I had let it burn down, as we do each night, and cool, the next morning showed me a transformed sample. Its color was now much redder instead of the gray it had been. Most importantly, it was now nonwater-soluble! So… the humble Svan stove has found a new use, at least for earthenware, which our clay seems to be, as opposed to stoneware or porcelain, which both need higher temperatures for first and second firings. We checked with the man who sold my guest her clay in Tbilisi, and he said that 12-14 hours at 970-1000 degrees C or so was the temperature for this clay’s necessary second firing. Well beyond what my stove could, or should, put out, not even being insulated. But 150-250 degrees for the first firing, for two or three hours (using my chimney-mounted thermometer)? That we could do! From then on it was simply a matter of packing the oven as tightly as we safely could, nothing touching each other or the oven walls, firing it up, and keeping it going. We learned that the redder color was an essential guide to a piece’s really being bisqued, and that if it stayed gray it wasn’t ready. A few pieces broke, a couple even exploded, due to uneven

wall thickness causing more uneven expansion than the piece’s intrinsic strength could handle, or possibly due to an air pocket needing release as it superheated. But, generally, we were getting proper bisque-fired earthenware, which the children could then color without fear of it dissolving with the water-based paints we had (glazes that you fire on the piece are beyond us at this stage, but hey, one step at a time.) This was the first time I had ever been in a position even to try firing clay in my own wood-burning stove, so it was most gratifying to see how successful it could be. Now, building a kiln for higher-temperature firings into the 1400s of degrees or so is another matter. It must be well insulated to keep all that heat in and not waste it, using specially made fire-bricks. And will you use electricity, gas or wood to fire it? Each has its advantages and drawbacks. Will the kiln atmosphere be oxidizing, to give your porcelains a good pure white finish, or reducing, which grays them but is fine for stonewares and earthenwares? A whole education in itself. You then go on to clays, glazes, firing times, special processes such as salt

glazes, very slow-cooling crystalline glazes, or the very exciting Japaneseoriginated Raku method. In this, pieces are removed red-hot from the kiln with tongs, already glazed, and plunged into a bin of combustible material like dry grass, which bursts into flame, then lidded. The quiet ongoing burn deposits metallic salts on the piece’s surface, and it comes our iridescent, gold or silver; but there is quite a higher percentage of losses from breakage due to the suddenness of the temperature changes. I left behind the world of ceramic art more than 30 years ago when I began travelling the world, but now, suddenly, it has caught up to me in my own home. I wonder what our next step together might be? 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





FEBRUARY 22 - 25, 2019

Grand Voyage Head on Realizing Your Ambition through Your Own Business From the beginning, this was my goal - to create tours that are not copy-paste. We offer people places that are not well known, but which are very interesting to visit in order for them to discover existing traditions, culture, history. We make sure they come away with as much as possible from their experience with us, regardless of the length of their trip.

WHAT SHOULD TOURISM COMPANIES FOCUS ON? Based on my experience, the products that we sell must be of quality. No matter what you sell, even if it’s travel insurance, a ticket or a budget tour. All our customers are very valuable to us.

WHAT IS GRAND VOYAGE’S VALUE POLICY? Any business is primarily focused on sales, of course, and so are we. However, our prices are affordable because we try to minimize costs. Despite there being a lot of competition, I still risked this policy to please customers. I seek customer satisfaction in everything I do.



rand Voyage is a tourist company that offers customers tours worldwide. At present, the founder of the company guides the company on her own, however, as she says, she neutralizes her heavy schedule with a love of what she does. We met that founder, Nutsa Durglishvili, to find out how to start a tourism business, how to manage the competi-

tion on the tourism market and how to become successful.



As our business is a field of service, quality is important, as it is in every business. Our company offers quality to customers, a crucial fact for me as the founder. We fulfill all customer requirements maximally.

Our company was officially launched on December 15, 2017, with the main direction of outgoing tourism - we take tours abroad anywhere in the world. It gives us a chance to realize our ideas, opportunities and ambitions. It’s no easy task starting your own business from zero, but by analyzing the successes and risks correctly, results are possible, and these results depend entirely on hard work, skills and knowledge.

WHAT SERVICES DOES GRAND VOYAGE OFFER? We offer customers tours in any direction and aim to make our tours special. We try to make the journey maximally more intuitive and interesting to users.

WHAT DID YOU PAY ATTENTION TO AS A CUSTOMER BEFORE FOUNDING A TOURIST COMPANY? For me, as a customer, communication had great importance, so I make sure to implement that in my own work, readily exchanging information with customers and staying up-to-date.

HOW MANY PEOPLE ARE EMPLOYED IN GRAND VOYAGE? There are only 5-6 people in the company, but at this point I have to do everything- touring, advertising, service

delivery, communication, and more. Of course, it's pretty hard work, but loving my job is very helpful. I enjoy the hard work and seeing the results.

HOW CAN GRAND VOYAGE BEAT THE COMPETITION? We all know what how competitive the tourist sphere is. But our prices are affordable, so we beat the competition with low prices and high quality.

ONE OF THE MOST IMPORTANT FEATURES FOR ANY TOURIST COMPANY IS LOCATION AND STRONG SOCIAL NETWORKS. Currently, we are located in King David's common work space KD4US. I’m in a very comfortable and positive environment, working in an area with other amazing teams. I don’t feel I need a separate office: this space is absolutely enough and ideal for work.

DO YOU SELL YOUR PRODUCTS REMOTELY? Of course, social networks are exactly for this, and we use them to notify customers regularly about our tours and services. There are people whom I’ve never met and yet have sold so much to, remotely. This is a comfortable service: we have the opportunity to provide customers with any service without their visiting the office.

WHAT ABOUT YOUR FUTURE PLANS FOR GRAND VOYAGE? At this stage, we’re in the process of development and plan to add a lot more interesting tours, offering customers more interesting places- something we’re working on every day. We may well add to our team, too, as more hands are needed in our operations.

Tobacco Control Law Appears Effective Following First 10 Months of Implementation BY MARIAM MERABISHVILI


he execution of the Tobacco Control Law is successfully ongoing in Georgia, with results recognized both in the legislative body and the executive authority. Society seems to have adapted and tobacco consumption has reduced. According to the National Center for Disease Control and Public Health, there are very high morbidity and mortality rates of non-infectious diseases in Georgia, with tobacco the main risk factor for these diseases, and that is why it is so important to see the effective and complete implementation of tobacco legislation nowadays. Today, for the world’s 1.1 billion smokers, tobacco consumption represents one of the leading causes of death. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), over 7 million people die

In the 20th century, tobacco caused 100 million deaths

every year worldwide as a result of smoking. In six seconds, on average, one per-

son dies from causes related to tobacco consumption. Of the eight major causes

of death, six are associated with tobacco consumption. Globally, 40% of smokers

are males and 9% women. In the 20th century, tobacco caused 100 million deaths. In the 21st century, with the current trend, 1 billion people will die as a result of tobacco consumption. "Tobacco is an important risk factor for coronary heart disease, infarction and peripheral vascular disease, cancer, lung chronic obstructive disease and diabetes,” says Amiran Gamkrelidze, Head of the National Center for Disease Control and Public Health. “In addition, cardiovascular diseases are the number one killer in Georgia as well as worldwide. These diseases are associated with about 60% of deaths worldwide, 85% in Europe and 94% in Georgia. The Law on Tobacco Control, which was adopted in 2017 and entered into force on May 1, 2018, is one of the most effective steps towards protecting the health and lives of our citizens. I think the execution of the Tobacco Control Law after 10 months is going well. Fortunately, society understood”. On May 17, 2017, the Parliament of Georgia confirmed the amendments to the Law on Tobacco Control and on July 26 of last year, adopted the new edition of this Law. Tobacco Control Law in Georgia was launched on May 1, 2018, under which smoking is prohibited in buildings, public transport, educational establishments, cafes and bars, with exceptions. It became mandatory to place the rules connected to prohibition / restriction of smoking tobacco at all entrances and other visible places of a building’s territory, with the relevant message and a sign on the ban on tobacco smoking.




Unprecedented Music Therapy Conference Happening in Tbilisi EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW BY GABRIELLE COLCHEN


he first Georgian Music therapy Conference will be held on the March 1 and 2 to coincide with World Music Therapy Day). Music therapy is already helping disabled adults and children in Georgia, thanks to Teona Kacheishvili, Director of the first Georgian Music Therapy Center. This center works in partnership with the charity Music as Therapy International, created and directed by Alexia Quin. Today, Quin helps us to understand what Music Therapy is and what amazing work it is already doing in Georgia, themes that will be further developed at the March Conference. She explains that before the official creation of the Music Therapy Center, the first music therapy initiatives in Tbilisi were made in Public school n°200 and Public School n°198. Her charity initially responded to a local request for introductory training in the first school in 2011. “We received a request from the school because they had a real commitment to the therapeutic activities they offered to the children who attended their school. But Music Therapy was not yet available in Georgia, so they had to look internationally […] it is really important for them to be able to show that it is recognized in other countries”. Indeed, Music Therapy is already recognized “by the UK National Health Service,” for example. Her organization works in eight different countries to help develop Music Therapy in places where it is not recognized and therefore, where there are no funds to secure the survival of music sessions for disabled people. “The children we have been working

with [in Georgia] are children with disabilities who need extra support and specialist interventions to fulfil their potential. […] Our approach to Music Therapy is very much focused on finding ways that children or adults can make music themselves.” She explains that it is not about teaching people how to play music, but rather a way to create communication and relationships with these people. “You might use music to create a simple conversation […] to establish contact with a child or an adult who is very difficult to reach, maybe someone who is very withdrawn will find the opportunity to make music […], maybe they will find that motivating and it will draw them out of the world they are locked into. Maybe also the fact that they are being given the opportunity to use a medium that doesn’t require words might help people who find language difficult, to express themselves in a different way. (…) [music] gives you that feeling of being understood, which can boost your self confidence and your willingness to develop relationships.” Music Therapy especially helps children developing new skills and focusing their attention. The therapy is “about drawing [people] into a meaningful relationship within which they can try new things and broaden their experiences and develop new skills. Developing attention, listening (…) social skills. […] For some children who are very active, for who focus or concentration is difficult, a therapy session can provide a real focus for that energy, a real channel for that energy, you can plays drums incredibly loudly […] and use that energy […]: it is constructive and creative and I think this has a very positive impact on people who have a lot of energy”. However, it is not without challenges that the Georgian Music Therapy Center runs, the first challenge being the need

Photo Source: School n°200

for funds. “Every year she [Teona Kacheishvili] has to raise about 34,000 GEL to run [the center] to offer Music Therapy sessions to children and families who are having difficulties or have disabilities. […] The fact that she was so motivated to set up such a ground-breaking service in Georgia […] is a real symbol of the power of music to make the most of people’s potential.” It is not difficult to find professors who are interested in being trained to become therapists “but finding the money to pay for the training is more difficult. Just to organize this conference, Teona needs to raise just under 4,000 GEL […] that is something that she urgently needs help with, she urgently needs to find people who believe in the power of music and who might become sponsors of the Music Therapy Center so that children from families who don’t have money to pay can benefit from music therapy.” The potential of Music Therapy is also

limited by the fact that it lacks recognition in Georgia. Teona has been having “discussions with the authorities to have music therapy recognized […] because if it is not recognized by the Georgian authorities, it cannot be in a school curriculum and it is very difficult then for a teacher to have time to be allowed to offer music therapy”. Quin insists that the conference will play a major role in promoting Music Therapy and in making people who could benefit from it aware of its existence in Georgia. “This conference is very important […] and I understand that a representative from the Ministry of Education will be coming. The Ministry is committed to understanding more about Music Therapy and they have said they would like to make space for it within the recognized activities”. “Teona and all the partners we have in Georgia really deserve recognition

for their work and this conference is a fantastic opportunity to find out more about the work they’ve been doing, whether you work in a school and you want to know about training yourself, whether you have a child with a disability and you want to know how music could help or whether you are somebody with influence or somebody with a business who is interested in music and might be able to find a way to support either the conference costs or the Music Therapy Center in the future.” Music Therapy Center website: http://mtc. ge/ Donations can be made directly through this link and will be redirected for the conference: https://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/donationweb/charity?charityId=1002743&stop_ mobi=yes You can also directly contact Alexia Quin and Teona Kacheishvili for questions or donations: alexiaquin@musicastherapy.org, teonakacheishvili@yahoo.com




FEBRUARY 22 - 25, 2019


TBILISI ZAKARIA PALIASHVILI OPERA AND BALLET THEATER 25 Rustaveli Ave. TEL (+995 32) 2 99 04 56 February 23, 24 * Premiere DON CARLO Giusepe Verdi Conductor: Zaza Azmaiparashvili Directed by Cesare Lievi Set and Costume Designer: Maurizio Balo Start time: 19:00 Ticket: 10-200 GEL February 27 LAURENCIA Alexander Krein The performance is dedicated to Vakhtang Chabukiani's 109th birth anniversary Ballet in Two Acts Based on Lope de Vega's novel Fuente Ovejuna Choreography- Vakhtang Chabukiani Libretto, new choreographic version and Staging by Nina Ananiashvili Conductor: David Mukeria Start time: 19:00 Ticket: 10-100 GEL ROYAL DISTRICT THEATER 10 Abesadze Str. February 23, 24 FOLIA Contemporary Ballet is staged to music by Antonio Vivaldi, Francesco Geminiani, Andrea Falconieri, George Frideric Handel Project idea and initiator of performance: Tbilisi State Chamber Orchestra ‘Georgian Sinfonietta’ Original idea of the ballet and choreography by Mariam Aleksidze Company Artistic Director: Mariam Aleksidze Artistic Director: Giorgi Kerelashvili Mikheil Abramishvili (countertenor) Francesco Olivero (theorbo, baroque guitar, Italy) Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 7-15 GEL GABRIADZE THEATER 14 Shavteli Str. February 22 Animated documentary film REZO Directed by Leo Gabriadze Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 15 GEL

February 23, 24 RAMONA Revaz Gabriadze Directed by Revaz Gabriadze English Subtitles Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 20, 30 GEL MOVEMENT THEATER 182 Aghmashenebeli Ave. TEL (+995 32) 598 19 29 36 February 23 THE TEMPEST Based on the work of William Shakespeare Directed by Ioseb Bakuradze Composer: Sandro Nikoladze Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 10-15 GEL February 28 LABYRINTH Directed by Kakha Bakuradze Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 10-15 GEL SHALIKASHVILI THEATER 37 Rustaveli Ave. February 22, 23 * Premiere AUGUST 8 A story of the wars in Abkhazia and South Ossetia. Directed by Davit Shalikashvili Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 15 GEL MUSIC & DRAMA STATE THEATER 182 Agmashenebeli Ave. March 26 WELCOME TO GEORGIA The Musical A musical, theatrical play and romantic comedy telling a story about Georgia and its people by combining song, dance, culture, traditions, history, national costumes and local cuisine. Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 50-80 GEL CINEMA

AMIRANI CINEMA 36 Kostava St. TEL (+995 32) 2 99 99 55 www.kinoafisha.ge Every Wednesday ticket: 5 GEL February 22-18 VAN GOGH Directed by Julian Schnabel

Cast: Willem Dafoe, Rupert Friend, Oscar Isaac Genre: Biography, Drama Language: Russian Start time: 22:15 Ticket: 15 GEL


VICE Directed by Adam McKay Cast: Christian Bale, Amy Adams, Steve Carell Genre: Biography, Comedy, Drama Language: Russian Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 13-14 GEL

Until February 28 In the framework of the celebrations of the European Year of Cultural Heritage in Georgia the Georgian National Museum presents the exhibition WISDOM TRANSFORMED INTO GOLD

CAVEA GALLERY 2/4 Rustaveli Ave. Every Wednesday ticket: 8 GEL February 22-18 VICE (Info Above) Language: English Start time: 22:30 Ticket: 16-19 GEL ALITA: BATTLE ANGEL (Info Above) Language: English Start time: 17:00, 19:45 Language: Russian Start time: 14:30, 22:30 Ticket: 11-19 GEL BOHEMIAN RHAPSODY Directed by Bryan Singer Cast: Rami Malek, Joseph Mazzello, Mike Myers Genre: Biography, Drama, Music Language: English Start time: 14:00 Ticket: 16-19 GEL HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON: THE HIDDEN WORLD Directed by Dean DeBlois Cast: Jay Baruchel, America Ferrera, F. Murray Abraham Genre: Animation, Action, Adventure Language: English Start time: 12:00, 17:15 Ticket: 10-19 GEL MUSEUM

GEORGIAN NATIONAL MUSEUM SIMON JANASHIA MUSEUM 3 Rustaveli Ave. TEL (+995 32) 299 80 22, 293 48 21 www.museum.ge Exhibitions: GEORGIAN COSTUME AND WEAPONRY OF THE 18TH-20TH CENTURIES

MUSEUM OF SOVIET OCCUPATION 3 Rustaveli Ave. TEL (+995 32) 2 99 80 22, 2 93 48 21 www.museum.ge December 11 – March 1 Exhibition RED TERROR AND GEORGIAN ARTISTS A showcase of artworks by Dimitri Shevardnadze, Petre Otskheli, Henryk Hryniewski, Richard Sommer, Kiril Zdanevich, Vasily Shukhaev, Elene Akhvlediani, Lado Gudiashvili, David Kakabadze, Ucha Japharidze, Aleksandre BajbeukMelikov, Korneli Sanadze and more. The exposition also showcases documentary footage depicting the 1920-30s repressions. GALLERY

THE NATIONAL GALLERY 11 Rustaveli Ave. TEL (+995 32) 215 73 00 Untill October 5 EXHIBITION MASTERS OF GEORGIAN ART Paintings of Kirill Zdanevich, Shalva Kikodze, Ketevan Magalashvili and Elene Akhvlediani together with Lado Gudiashvili's and David Kakabadze, giving a comprehensive picture of the diversity and aesthetics of Georgian Art. Until February 24 FELIX VARLAMISHVILI (VARLA) SOLO EXHIBITION For the first time, enjoy more than 60 artworks by the author from the Georgian National Museum and private collections. IART GALLERY 13 Uznadze Str.

February 14-26 OLEG TIMCHENKO’S EXHIBITION POSTCARD ERTI GALLERY 19 Ingorokva Str. February 15 - May 5 THE VELVET SUN Tato Akhalkatsishvili’s solo show Curator: Domenico De Chirico February 20-24 EXHIBITION OPENING: STOICHEÎON㔠ᫍBY LEVAN SONGULASHVILI The exhibition of two monumental video installations and a selection of Japanese ink paintings by Georgian-born and New York-based artist Levan Songulashvili, who is currently a resident artist at Instinc. MUSIC

TBILISI CONCERT HALL 1 Melikishvili St. TEL (+995 32) 2 99 00 99 February 28 CHARITY CONCERT KETILSOFELI With the participation of Georgian stars Donations will made to the building of ‘The House of Good’ in Batumi for homeless families Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 10-20 GEL TBILISI STATE CONSERVATOIRE 8 Griboedov St. TEL (+995 32) 2 93 46 24 February 22 CLASSICAL MUSIC COGNITIVE PROGRAM ‘Walking and drums’ Leader- Irakli Evstapishvili Start time: 16:00 Ticket: 10-50 GEL Febriary 28 TBILISI BIG-BAND FEATURING NEW JAZZ GENERATION Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 10-20 GEL COLLECTIVE K7B67 Monk Gabriel Salosi I Turn 2 February 23 COLLECTIVE K7B67 OPENING NIGHT French producer and DJ- AIROD, Georgian producer- DREAD Georgian Techno pioneerA.Tabukashvili Start time: 00:00 Ticket: 20-30 GEL ART HOUSE 18 Gudiashvili Str. February 22 ARTISTS FOR AN ARTIST 21-year-old Ani Chincharauli needs our help Partisipants: Toasters, SALIO, Frani, Elene Kalandadze, Salome Bakuradze, Nodiko Tatishvili, Mariko Lezhava, Tika Jamburia, Nini Badurashvili, Ia Tomash, Oto Berishvili, Tamta Chelidze. Start time: 19:00 Ticket: 20 GEL DJ. KAKHIDZE TBILISI CENTER FOR & CULTURE 125/127 D. Agmashenebeli Ave. February 23 CONCERT OF ORGAN MUSIC ALEXANDER VASADZE Program: Johan Sebastian Bach, David German, Healy Willan and Andrew Lloyd Webber. Start time: 29:30 Ticket: 10-23 GEL CAFÉ MZIURI Mziuri park February 24 SAKVIARO FOR CHILDREN Start time: From 12:00 Ticket: 13 GEL




Vakhtang Chabukiani's Laurencia at Tbilisi Opera to Mark the Great Ballet Dancer’s Jubilee

2011, they graduated the Vakhtang Chabukiani Ballet Art State School and the same year were accepted into the Tbilisi Z. Paliashvili Opera and Ballet Professional State Theater ballet company. In January 2014, both dancers became soloists. Samadashvili won the Grand Prix Prize and first place at Rigas Pavasaris 2013, an international ballet competition in Riga. Chekurashvili has participated in company tours in Italy, Spain, Portugal, Japan, Estonia, Finland and Belarus. “We are devoting this performance to the famed Georgian choreographer Vakhtang Chabukiani’s jubilee,” Nino Samadashvili tells us. “We’ve had it as part of the general repertoire of the opera since 2017. This is a very distinctive role for me- I’ll be performing in Laurencia for the third time. I watch old video recordings of Vera Tsignadze, who was an incred-

ible performer and who partnered Chabukiani in this ballet, to mimic her movements. Our coaches used to dance this ballet and were trained by Mr Chabukiani himself, so it enables us to both enliven the performance and preserve the original as it was staged in the beginning. This performance is important in terms of detail: the hand movements are very sophisticated, so we do our best to imitate all the movements but at the same time add our individuality”. Nino Samadashvili will also be taking part in the Ballet Gala on March 9-10 where pas de deux will be performed from different ballets. As reported, worldrenowned stars will also feature in the Gala Concert. The leading soloist will be performing in Romeo and Juliet as well as in Sleeping Beauty among the upcoming ballets in Tbilisi. “These are truly distinguished performances and it is a dream of all ballerinas to dance in these ballets. Our profession is very difficult and requires great commitment and hard work. You might hurt during the rehearsals, but you are still happy to perform before an audience. I went to ballet school, where we had a very busy schedule, sometimes students had to stay from 9 am until 9 pm. With such a regime and pressure, I generated important skills that are necessary for a dancer: I became a hard worker and developed a sense of responsibility toward my job. I did not give up and overcame many obstacles to merit this title and position

at the theater,” she tells us. “Apart from Laurencia, our ballet program includes Gorda also staged by Mr Chabukiani,” Nuca Chekurashvili notes. “This is our second performance of Laurencia and I feel I’ve gone deeper into my role. I’ll be dancing at the premier with my partner Yonen Takano, who performs the title role extremely well. I’ll be performing on February 27 and March 3,” the soloist elaborated. We also asked her her impressions of the Kiev tour, which the state ballet ensemble recently returned from and where they danced: Jirí Kylián’s Petite Mort, Sechs Tänze and Falling Angels, and Medhi Walerski’s Petite Cérémonie. “We presented two plays in Kiev and both were met very well and by large audiences,” Chekurashvili says. “Not all ballet troupes are allowed to perform Jirí Kyliá’s works and we are proud that, through the help of Nino Ananiashvili, we were given permission to dance this ballet, giving the Ukrainian audience the chance to see it for the first time. From the positive reviews, I expect we’ll be invited to Ukraine again. In Tbilisi, I will be involved in many plays, including the Ballet Gala, and in summer with Yonen Takano, I will pay visit to Italy and take part in a Gala Concert performing the Black Swan”. The Laurencia performances are scheduled to take place on February 27 and March 2 and 3 at the Tbilisi Opera and Ballet State Theater.

purchase of instruments, and basically said, let’s do this! She really helped us, she fought for us.” A youth orchestra is especially important as it enables the most talented students to gain practical performance experience in Georgia. Mirian decided to set a loose age limit to help musicians: “I think that everyone should have the chance to gain experience in an orchestra. We have one guy who’s 36. He only just started to learn the bassoon so, when he came to the audition, I took him on,” he grins. Many talented Georgian musicians move to Europe to gain musical experience. “There is a lack of professional musicians in Georgia,” Mirian tells us. “Many of the best musicians go and stay in Europe to study and work full-time. Europe is a cradle for classical music.

The salary and level of professional orchestras are higher than here.” Members of the Youth Orchestra are offered a part-time job with half the salary of a professional orchestra, in order to encourage them to stay in Georgia. “They can do what they love, and also study at the same time,” says Mirian. Mirian is a star example of finding success in Georgia. He tells us of one of the proudest moments of his career was performing alongside Georgian pianist Eliso Virsaladze, the “Queen of Pianists.” “I never dreamed of performing with her. She’s 74 and I was too young. I thought by the time I possibly developed my career, she would already have finished hers.” Luck was on his side as he was asked to conduct a rehearsal for Telavi International Music Festival in 2015 after

the chief conductor was unable to attend. “They couldn’t find a replacement, so they invited me the day before,” says Mirian. “I had just one night. I said to myself I have one chance. I was studying the scores all night,” he laughs. The following year, organizers invited him back to conduct the festival’s closing concert with Virsaladze. Mirian’s passion for music in Georgia and beyond is tangible, both in his work as a conductor and on projects such as the Tbilisi Youth Orchestra. Now, he plans to split his time between Georgia and Krakow as he finishes his PhD this autumn. But will he stay in Georgia? “I love my country,” he says, “when I see that I can do something here and if I see I can change something in a good direction, I’m ready for it.”



n February 27, the Tbilisi Opera and Ballet State Theater will present the historic ballet Laurencia, using it to mark the 109th anniversary of the greatest Georgian ballet dancer and one of the most influential male dancers, the world-renowned Vakhtang Chabukiani. The leading roles will be performed by soloists of the State Ballet of Georgia, Nino Samadashvili and Nuca Chekurashvili, together with their partners Yonen Takano and Philip Fedulov. Based on a score by Soviet composer Alexander Krein, Laurencia, originally choreographed by Vakhtang Chabukiani, premiered in 1939 at the Kirov Theater in Leningrad (St Petersburg) and in Tbilisi in 1948. The decorations and costumes of the premier were designed by Solomon Virsaladze and the title roles were performed by Chabukiani himself and Natalia Dudinskaya, while in Tbilisi he paired with Vera Tsignadze. The play unveils the story of a peasant revolution that was an ideal theme in the era of Soviet ballet. The choreography was an innovative blend of classical and folk dance which featured the virile and heroic male dancing that Chabukiani personified.

The performance was last time restored by State Ballet of Georgia Artistic Director Nina Ananiashvili in 2007, with choreography by N. Magalashvili. In 2014, Ananiashvili staged and performed a new choreographic version of Laurencia at the National Opera and Theater of Belarus. This version was made through consultations with artists who had danced and worked with Chabukiani, hence it is the closest version to the original. In 2017, the reduction of Laurencia was staged at Tbilisi Opera. After decades away, it is now back in full at the Tbilisi Opera and awaited by theater and ballet enthusiasts alike. GEORGIA TODAY talked to the leading soloists of the State Ballet about the upcoming premiere and the preparation needed for such a grand concert. Both Nino Samadashvili and Nuca Chekurashvili are ballet company soloists. In

Mirian Khukhunishvili: The Maestro of the Tbilisi Youth Orchestra EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW BY AMY JONES


irian Khukhunishvili is a well-known conductor on the Georgian classical music scene. Since performing his first concert in 2012 with Georgian jazz musician Zaza Marjanishvili, his career has grown rapidly. He has conducted at Telavi International Music Festival alongside pianist Eliso Virsaladze and has worked with the Georgian National Philharmonic Orchestra, Tbilisi Symphony Orchestra, Georgian Sinfonietta, and the National Choir, among others. He has also participated in prestigious international competitions. GEORGIA TODAY sat down with him to discuss his life, music, and the beginning of the Tbilisi Youth Orchestra. Originally from Tbilisi, music has been part of Mirian’s life since a young age. “My father was an amateur singer. He took me to the children’s choir Martve in Tbilisi. First, I sang folk music and studied piano,” says Mirian. “Later, I went to music school.” Despite encouragement from his family, especially his mother and sisters, they were surprised by his choice to study music into his adult life: “Everyone thought I was crazy when I decided to study at the conservatoire.” He smiles. “They expected me to become an architect and I chose to study music.” Mirian was inspired to become a conductor whilst performing in concerts in

Switzerland aged 10. “I liked the guy who was conducting, he was full of energy, and funny. From that moment, I wanted to become an orchestral conductor,” he says. “I love choir, I love singing. All the time I sing in different choirs. But orchestral conducting was my dream.” He went on to study music to a Master’s level at the Krakow Music Acadamy in Poland after being awarded a scholarship. He also received a Master’s degree in choral conducting from Tbilisi State Conservatoire. Since returning to Georgia, he’s turned his attention to a new project - establishing a Tbilisi Youth Orchestra together with his partner Mikheil Mdinaradze. Last month, he received the contract to begin a youth orchestra from the Tbilisi National Youth Palace. It was a long and difficult process to receive approval and funding. “I was waiting two years for this project and an answer from the government,” he says. “Finally, we have the budget, and our home is the Tbilisi National Youth Palace on Rustavelli. We started on Monday.” The Tbilisi Youth Orchestra is the first of its kind to be established since 1989. “Not only me, but many musicians and orchestral conductors wanted to establish a Tbilisi Youth Orchestra in the past,” Mirian tells us. Mirian and Mikheil worked hard to gain the necessary resources. It was only possible with the support of the Vice-Mayor of Tbilisi, Sophio Khuntsaria, and the Director of Tbilisi National Youth Palace, Tika Rukhadze. “She said come and make an orchestra here. She offered us use of the concert hall whenever we need it, the



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Profile for Georgia Today

Issue #1127  

February 22 - 25, 2019

Issue #1127  

February 22 - 25, 2019