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Issue no: 1009

• DECEMBER 22 - 25, 2017

• PUBLISHED TWICE WEEKLY

PRICE: GEL 2.50

In this week’s issue... Foreign Minister Janelidze: US is Georgia’s Top Strategic Partner NEWS PAGE 2

Defining Saakashvili POLITICS PAGE 4

Much Ado about… the Memorial POLITICS PAGE 6

The Natakhtari Fund BUSINESS PAGE 9

FOCUS

ON FRENCH-GEORGIAN RELATIONS

Exclusive: The French Ambassador to Georgia on wine, war and language

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European Commission: Georgia Fulfills VisaLib Benchmarks, Improvement Still Needed BY THEA MORRISON

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he European Commission has issued a report on visa-liberalization, saying Georgia continues to fulfill the benchmarks, but action is required in a number of specific areas to preserve their sustainable implementation. The report was released on December 20 and refers to fulfillment of the visa-liberalization benchmarks by the western Balkan countries (Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Montenegro and Serbia) as well as the Eastern Partnership countries (Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine). The report is the first assessment under the new monitoring mechanism for the eight countries that have concluded visa-liberalization dialogues with the EU.

Continued on page 2

Irakli Kobakhidze’s Visit Brings New Level to Georgia-Israel Relations BUSINESS PAGE 10

Regus Unique Services Provide Comfortable Work Environment BUSINESS PAGE 11

Safety First: Mestia, Svaneti SOCIETY PAGE 12

90th Anniversary of Georgian-German Writer Givi Margvelashivili Celebrated in Tbilisi CULTURE PAGE 12

Photo: The European Commission reports on implementation of benchmarks for Western Balkans and Eastern Partnership countries. Photo source: euobserver.com


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NEWS

GEORGIA TODAY

DECEMBER 22 - 25, 2017

Georgian President & Prime Minister Host New Year Reception

Foreign Minister Janelidze: US is Georgia’s Top Strategic Partner BY THEA MORRISON

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BY NINO GUGUNISHVILI

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eorgian President Giorgi Margvelashvili and Prime Minister Giorgi Kvirikashvili hosted representatives of the diplomatic corps, international organizations and Georgian government officials at a New Year reception, along with an exhibition dedicated to 100 years of Georgia’s independence, organized at the President’s Administration on December 19. The President noted that 2017 was an important year in Georgia’s history. “This year, our country made one more step towards major values, European development, and towards the strengthening of our democracy,” he said, stressing that 2017 marks 25 years of Georgia being recognized by the UN. “This year, Georgia made one more important step towards European integration,” he said, emphasizing that it demonstrates the trust had in the country from its international partners on the one hand, and the achievement of the Georgian government on

the other. He went on to talk about the milestones of the country’s development, regaining its independence for a short period of time in 1918, with 2018 celebrating the 100-year anniversary of the first Georgian republic. “Our common goal is our country’s development, and ensuring peace in the world. There are many challenges on that path, and the civilized world stands together in facing those challenges,” Giorgi Kvirikashvili, PM of Georgia said, going on to thank the soldiers participating in international peace missions. The PM then went on to express his gratitude to the diplomatic corps representatives for their 25-year collaboration with Georgia. Summarizing 2017, the PM noted that it was an important year for the country, notably on the subject of visa liberalization, which, as he pointed out, was an “expression of trust in Georgia from the European Union and an important political step with which the European Union welcomed Georgia’s path to European and Euro-Atlantic integration.” “The New Year is full of hope, and I would like to wish all of your countries peace and stability,” Kvirikashvili said.

oreign Minister and Deputy Prime Minister of Georgia Mikheil Janelidze stated that the United States is Georgia’s main strategic partner, adding the government is doing its best to intensify relations with the US. Janelidze made the statement at the joint hearing of the Parliament’s Diaspora, European Integration and Foreign Relations committees on December 20. The minister positively assessed the dynamics of Georgia-US strategic cooperation, adding Georgia's aim is to ensure bi-party support from the United States towards Georgia’s development, democracy consolidation, sovereignty and territorial integrity, and Euro-Atlantic integration. "Deepening cooperation with the United States, our main strategic partner, is a highly important issue for the government and Foreign Ministry," Janelidze said. The Minister explained that through the active efforts of both parties, unprecedented active steps were quickly made with the new US administration and Congress. He said that the regular visits of the Prime Minister, ministers and parliamentarians, and meetings with American colleagues, including his own, have taken place within a very short period. Janelidze spoke about the importance of the visit of US Vice-President Mike Pence to Georgia this summer, adding it was a “clear demonstration of US political support towards Georgia.” The Minister said that in the recent

period, much progress had been made in mutual relations between Georgia and the US, including the decision to submit defensive weapons to Georgia; the agreement on cooperation in secret information protection; the promotion of Georgia's Defense Readiness Program (GDRP); the deepening of cooperation in terms of trade and investment; and the involvement of American companies in large infrastructure projects. “The work will continue with regard to the involvement of American companies in such projects, as well as in raising the interest of American small and medium businesses towards Georgia. Cooperation with US academic circles, NGOs and research organizations and media will continue to be active,” Janelidze announced. The Foreign Minister mentioned the legislative act signed by US President Donald Trump in May, which states that

Georgia’s breakaway regions, Abkhazia and South Ossetia, have been occupied by Russia. The legislative act also imposes restrictions on US funding for any state that does not recognize Georgia's territorial integrity and prohibits US representatives in international financial institutions from supporting programs that violate Georgia's territorial integrity and sovereignty. Janleidze also spoke about the importance of Georgia’s joining NATO, saying this will ensure the strengthening of Georgia’s security and the stable development of the country. “Joining NATO is a crucial objective of Georgia's foreign and security policy,” the Minister said, adding that Georgia will continue its aspirations towards the Alliance through implementation of undertaken obligations and carrying out of important reforms.

European Commission: Georgia Fulfills Visa-Lib Benchmarks, Improvement Still Needed Continued from page 1

The assessment shows that all eight countries have demonstrated strong commitment to meeting the necessary requirements and have undertaken important efforts to implement a number of far-reaching reforms set out under the visa-liberalization process. The report, which focuses on the areas of irregular migration and readmission, fight against corruption and money laundering, as well as public order and security, says that Georgia is fulfilling its benchmarks but further improvement of the implementation is expected. In particular, the Commission gave

Georgia several recommendations, asking it to continue campaigns on the rules of visa-free travel, finalize the migration analytical and risk analysis systems, operationalize the Cooperation Agreement concluded with Europol and conclude a cooperation agreement with Eurojust, to finalize the reform on intelligence-led policing, and to further strengthen cross-border law enforcement and judicial cooperation. The Commission also called on Georgia to adopt amendments to the antidiscrimination law to ensure its implementation is effective. The report reads that between the sec-

ond half of 2016 and mid-2017 the trends for illegal stays and refusal of entry remained stable. The assessment also states that the figures for asylum applications by Georgian nationals in the EU in the given period do not indicate a further increase, adding that refusals of entry decreased by 39% and illegal stays by 3%, while asylum applications increased by 7.2%. “The number of Georgian citizens ordered to leave decreased by 12% from 6,415 in 2015 to 5,635 in 2016, while the return rate increased from 45.13% in 2015 to 55.90% in 2016,” the report reads. The Commission also underlined that

organized criminal groups (OCGs) from Georgia are still reported as one of the most frequently represented non-EU nationalities involved in serious and organized crime in the EU. “Georgian OCGs are highly mobile, are mainly involved in organized property crime (particularly organized burglaries and thefts) and are especially active in France, Greece, Germany, Italy and Spain,” the report reads. The document also stresses that Georgia remains a transit country for various illicit commodities trafficked to the EU, in particular drugs, adding it has been also used to launder illicit proceeds generated by

various OCGs in the EU and outside the EU, and has been emerging as a transit country for laundered criminal proceeds. However, the Commission underlined that Georgia ensured continuous fulfillment and demonstrated serious commitment in preventing and fighting organized crime, adding it has stepped up cooperation at the international level. “While, overall, Georgia has a good track record in implementing anti-corruption reforms, particular attention should be paid to the effective implementation of the verification mechanism of asset declarations introduced in January 2017,” the report reads.


POLITICS

GEORGIA TODAY DECEMBER 22 - 25, 2017

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What the New US National Security Strategy Means for the Caucasus OP-ED BY EMIL AVDALIANI

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n December 18, the US government unveiled the National Security Strategy of the United States. The document enumerates those major problems and challenges facing the US and western institutions. But the document also signals a new development in the US approach to foreign relations. The overall tone of the document purports that Washington has started to realize that the post-Cold War approach to Eurasia brought nothing for ensuring a lasting peace and furthering of American state interests. Indeed, the document quite openly states that “after being dismissed as a phenomenon of an earlier century, the great power competition has returned". It is a striking admission on behalf of the White House, and although in Europe and elsewhere the dominant nature of the new “strategy document” might raise questions, in the South Caucasus people would think that it is more attuned to the geopolitical situation on the ground. Russian military resurgence and economic moves in the former Soviet Union have exacerbated the security situation in the region and potential cooperation with Russia on a number of issues has notably failed. The era of post-Cold War hopes for a lasting cooperation and peace

Photo source: si.wsj.net

officially ended with the announcement of the new strategic document. “It is a strategy of principled realism that is guided by outcomes, not ideology,” the document reads. Scholars of international relations remember well that realism and its German version realpolitik have been several times scaled back by those notions that are built on ideological and ethical premises. This happened following the Congress of

Vienna in 1815 when the European statesmen thought a lasting peace would ensue the Napoleonic wars. But WWI followed. Similar thinking was seen after the Treaty of Versailles, but, again, a purely geopolitical thinking returned in full swing with the rise of totalitarian powers. The third period of expected prosperity and peace was the post-Cold War period, but as said above, the new Trump document essentially means the death

of ethical and moral premises in international relations and the return of geopolitics. Georgians could only rejoice in that as the geopolitical approach to the South Caucasus and the wider region Georgia is located in responds well to the existing challenges the country is facing. Perhaps this thinking is best summarized in the following quote which characterizes increased competitions in

Eurasia: “These competitions require the United States to rethink the policies of the past two decades, policies based on the assumption that engagement with rivals and their inclusion in international institutions and global commerce would turn them into benign actors and trustworthy partners. For the most part, this premise turned out to be false.” The new strategy states that, “the United States will respond to the growing political, economic, and military competitions we face around the world. China and Russia challenge American power, influence, and interests, attempting to erode American security and prosperity. They are determined to make economies less free and less fair, to grow their militaries, and to control information and data to repress their societies and expand their influence.” The nature of the fundamental threat emanating from Russia is also reflected in North Korea and Iran, with their nuclear programs featuring only after China and Russia, as do transnational terrorist groups of various kinds. The return to geopolitics by the US government has not happened overnight, but has rather been a result of constant challenges to the US world order by such powers as Russia. Relations with Russia have been declining over the past decade and it is fair to say that the National Strategy document simply responds to the worsened security situation in Eurasia. What is quite likely to happen is that US-Russia relations will now be more difficult to normalize.


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POLITICS

GEORGIA TODAY

DECEMBER 22 - 25, 2017

Defining Saakashvili

Photo source: ft.com

OP-ED BY NUGZAR B. RUHADZE

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an’t they find a real McCoy Ukrainian in the entire country who will set up a political fight for them? - Putin wondered, seeing instead the Georgian Saakashvili running like crazy up and down the streets of Kyiv. Well, anybody has the right to wonder, including the Russian president and I, what Misha wants from Ukraine, from Georgia, from the world in general, and from his own self in particular. For those who are terribly interested in his life and career, Wiki offers a huge, comprehensive article about Saakashvili: read it and you will know almost everything about him. And yet, I still have an itch to squiggle a couple of personally felt and fathomed words about his per-

sonality, his political animalism, his nonstop drive for power and his unbridled desire to influence the modern world. In Georgia, incidentally, it is not the done thing to speak and write about the émigré third Georgian president, either positively or negatively, depending on what part of Georgian society is listening to or reading your narrative. Whatever else Saakashvili may be, he is a grandmaster of inciting controversial talk about his personality, the deeds he has committed and the wrongs he has perpetrated. To achieve this unsavory but challenging goal of depicting the Georgian ex-president, I delved into both the domestic and the foreign reading matter, and, behold, the domestic endeavor of creating his psychological portrait was much scanter than the foreign one, although, in general, the world does not seem to be overly curious of his life, thoughts and psyche. I’m not going to throw in all those boring

quotes that I have come across; some too boring and some purely undeserving of our attention, but I will use all those epithets I have snatched from the available research into his character, and I will not lie, nor will I exaggerate or make any understatements. None of the following epithets are mine in any way, aside from a couple of harmless journalistic embellishments and flashes: “An impulsive politician with a scale of mistakes under his belt; a genuine cosmopolitan who is unquestionably brilliant, speaking half a dozen languages; has handed Russia a victory it could scarcely have dreamed of; a relentless fighter for his political durability but with no prospect of any meaningful help from his Western allies anymore; loaded with catastrophic blunders in the war-game with Russia; the answers to every question about his political behavior should be found in his own character; passionate and permanently excited; entertaining the patriotic manner of speech, bombastic, impulsive and confrontational, using his suave exterior to hide a burning nationalist pride; having lost his long personal battle with Putin; manifesting the behavior which is utterly narcissistic, paranoid, egocentric and hysterical, showing psychiatric disturbances; nationalist hothead, political ingénue, sometimes naïve, advocating open society, democracy and free market economic; a populist demagogue with a ruthless lust for power whose impetuousness triggered a crisis of Cold War proportions; once Europe's youngest president having once moved his country toward membership of NATO and having embarked on a successful crusade against corruption – at least in

watchful western eyes – and having seen Georgia praised globally as a beacon of democracy; raised in a single-parent family, he grew much attached to his mother; he had difficulties in establishing relations with other people of his age and was often treated as outcast or a loner; prone to suspect others of being unfair, insolent and envious, with intentions to humiliate, insult and entrap him; has a persistent tendency to put himself in opposition with the rest of the society and perceive the world around him as a hostile environment; has a tendency to create super ideas; full of vigor, dynamism, restlessness, disregard for rest and fatigue; his emotional manifestations are expressive, intense and theatrical; harbors internal tension and is defensive, negative and jealous towards people who he recognizes as surpassing him in something; suffers pathological ambition, arrogance, a sense of superiority and high opinion about himself; is irrefutably convinced in his own righteousness and personal importance, intolerant towards any form of criticism; intensely desirous of public attention and admiration; lacks empathy, indifferent towards other people’s needs and feelings, perceives the rest of humanity as a faceless applauding crowd”. This epithetic flow of vocabulary, describing Georgia’s erstwhile leader could be continued endlessly – as it seems his watchers are alert and vigil. And if all this is true, then the question pops up: What makes the throngs of his adherents in Ukraine uphold and follow him. Could they really be a ‘faceless applauding crowd’ or simply desperate to change something about their current life?

A Different Perspective on Russia OP-ED BY EMIL AVDALIANI

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or the past several months, my argument on Russia has been that Vladimir Putin’s government currently faces major challenges both at home and abroad. In terms of foreign policy, Russia experienced several serious failures. In 2014, when the Euromaidan took place and Russia grabbed Crimea and

supported separatists in Donbass, Kiev became unequivocally pro-western in its foreign policy course. In the same year, Moldova, Ukraine, and Georgia all signed EU association agreements and stepped up military cooperation with NATO members and other western states. Moreover, over the past few years of Putin’s rule, it has become clear that Russian influence in the strategically important Central Asian region is receding. It is true that Russia remains a predominant military power with military bases in Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan, but on

Photo source: trbimg.com

the economic front, China has cemented its dominance. China has even made inroads into the security realm by holding exercises with the Tajik and Kyrgyz militaries. Russia is feeling pressure from the US and the EU. It is unlikely that the sanctions imposed on Russia will be lifted anytime soon and Putin’s gamble to revive far-right parties across Europe has largely failed for the moment. I also argued that it is getting more and more difficult for Russians to understand why Putin’s presidency should go on for another six years. Next year, Putin’s rule, which has already lasted 17 years, will become the longest since Stalin’s. There is already an entire generation of young Russians who have known only Putin as the country’s leader. All these arguments sound quite logical, but they do represent a decidedly western perspective. In this piece, I would like to take a slightly different perspective, where Russian ‘stuff’ is seen from a non-conformist perspective as what we lack in our analyses is the aspiration to avoid pure western assumptions which are simply not eligible in Russia. How to deal with the Russian aggression and the Kremlin’s general assertiveness in the former Soviet space? What should be done with Russia’s moves in Syria and how should Europe counter Russian propaganda? A quick look at daily news coverage and subsequent analytical pieces produced across much of the world reveals that a partial answer to the above questions is standard thinking or even a theory that a drop in world oil prices, coupled with Western economic sanctions, will cause enough economic and social unrest in Russia to become a threat to Putin's government. Indeed, the logic is correct and to further support this thinking there are numerous protests happening across Russia by Aleksey Navalny’s followers (particularly youngsters), criticizing the central government, the unresolved attacks on journalists and life-threatening actions taken against human rights defenders. One could find this as a certain indicator how unstable Russia has become and that there will be future negative developments for the Russian government.

I would like to put here a different view on how the Russian government actually responds to problems of people. If in the west sovereign power actually emanates from large masses of the population, in Russia it is different. Russian governments have been more rigid, relying on more coercive measures to control the vast country. Thence comes the Kremlin which worries little about large antigovernment manifestations. Another big misunderstanding is that when we see coordinated demonstrations across the Russian landmass, we often say that something is brewing in the country. In fact, we even think that this is a barometer of discontent. But to tell the truth, even Navalny’s country-wide protests are so minuscule that they do not represent even a quarter of the population. For years, the idea was that western sanctions passed against Russia because of its actions in Ukraine would lead to serious problems inside the country, or even disruption in the elite. True that the number of poor in Russia has risen. In the West, this would lead to mass protests, immediate change of governments, etc. However, priding themselves on how long they suffered under western oppression - under Napoleon, Hitler, even during the Cold War - the Russians have the logic that everyone is against Russia. This actually helps to unite people against external enemies and lay out counter-measures. Sacrifice for the ordinary Russian is something different from what is considered in the West. Throughout history, Russians (and their governments) could have burned their own cities (even spiritual capital Moscow in 1812 when Napoleon entered it), leaving the besieged people for months or longer without any actual aid, and taking lesser care of those public services and democratic institutions which are deemed essential in the West. My point is that even though Putin wants to have rating approval among the populace, his power still does not entirely depend on the population’s liking. On the contrary, strong state structures (such as police, internal affairs troops, or the newly-created National Guard), self-gratify the feeling among Russians that West is against them.


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POLITICS

GEORGIA TODAY

DECEMBER 22 - 25, 2017

Much Ado about…the Memorial BY VAZHA TAVBERIDZE

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herecently-removedmemorial to victims of the Georgia–Abkhazia war in the Scottish town of Kilmarnock will be reinstalled unchanged, reports OC Media, a local news outlet. Kilmarnock authorities have apparently declared that the memorial will remain as it is until “universally acceptable alternative wording and content” can be agreed by all sides. For those not privy to this business, it is the very same memorial, the removal of which was a couple of weeks ago emphatically announced by the Georgian Embassy in London as a diplomatic victory, as the memorial sported the “national” flag of Abkhazia. What transpired further would not look out of place in a script for a new season of the celebrated British political sitcom The Thick of It rather than reallife political narrative. Never to be outdone, the Abkhazians raised quite a ruckus: appalled at the removal of the memorial, they launched an online petition (with direct involvement of their so-called government, no less) to put it back. At the same time, an international group of experts and researchers of the South Caucasus condemned the removal, issuing a joint statement in which they warned against politicizing the matter. “Fragile trust,” the statement intoned, “is easily broken.” Moreover, while the war of words was being waged, in came a statement from the East Ayrshire council that took things to new, dizzying heights of absurdity. It turns out that the removal of the memorial was never on the cards in the first place, and the council had merely had the memorial assessed by a professional stonemason. Blissfully unaware of polit-

ical sensitivities in the distant lands of the South Caucasus, the council contractor removed the memorial to a stonemason’s yard on a temporary basis for assessment. The bizarre saga served yet another reminder of the ever-deepening rift between Abkhazian and Georgian communities, something that the joint statement above was so keen to underline. Among its signatories was none other than Bruno Coppieters, one of the most well-respected authors and celebrated scholars of South Caucasus conflicts, who was kind enough to discuss the matter at length with GEORGIA TODAY and Panorama TV Show. “Whilst the legacy of wars is inherently political, politicizing war memorials does nothing to address the causes of violent conflict or to further the cause of reconciliation…” said the statement from the experts. The age-old question, though: who did it first? The fact that it was the Abkhazians who put a flag on the memorial, thus sending a political message, seems to have somehow escaped the attention of the esteemed community that penned the statement. When pressed about the matter, Coppieters says their main gripe was against the negative consequences of removing a war memorial without prior consultation with all those who have a strong emotional connection to it. “The memorial was there for 20 years without anyone taking much notice. As a result of the Georgian attempt to have the Abkhaz flag removed, the Abkhaz authorities said: ‘We are the victims here. We’re suffering, and the Abkhaz side is not being respected’. It’s clear that uni-

JICA Georgia Office Seeking National Staff (Clerk)

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eadline: December 29, 2017

JICA Georgia office is pleased to announce an opening for the position of National Staff (Clerk) Job description: ** Assisting to make accounting documents and payment; ** Conducting secretarial work for Resident Representative; ** Making document registration, circulation and filing; ** Arranging business trips - reserving tickets, accommodation, etc.; ** Dealing with official letters and distributing received letters; ** Procuring office supplies and disposal of unnecessary items; ** Supporting PR activities, including arrangements for journalists and publishing newsletter; ** Other tasks given by Resident Representative; Skills and requirements: ** University degree; ** Highly proficient in spoken and written Georgian and English (regarding English proficiency, certificate is necessary); ** Knowledge of Russian is preferable; ** Computer literacy (Word, Excel, Power Point, etc) and troubleshooting; ** At least three years’ work experience in a similar field; ** Analytical, open-minded, honest character;

** Excellent communication and interpersonal skills; ** Well-organized; strong sense of responsibility; hard working; ** Willingness to go on field trips. Preferable but not mandatory skills: ** Familiarity with terms related to engineering and finance is preferred; ** Japanese language skill is preferred. Term: From February 1, 2018 until January 31, 2019, with possible extension (Probation period is 1 month. The employer will be able to terminate the contract depending on the performance during the probation period). Salary: US$700-800/month without taxes (actual amount will be adjusted based on the past work experience and will be paid in GEL). Working hours: Monday – Friday, 9:30 – 18:00 (with lunch break from 13:00 – 14:00). Next step: Only shortlisted persons will be notified by email and invited to an interview. Interested candidates are required to send a CV (in English) with the contact information from teo previous workplaces/schools and copies of certificates to: gg_oso_rep@jica.go.jp and w284637@hotmail.com; no later than December 28, 2017.

lateral acts directed at weakening the other side can have negative consequences. If there is something that needs to be changed then all parties should agree to the changes.” The consensus, however, has proven evasive so far. The Georgian side, in its quest to confine the so-called Abkhazian state to the lowest depths of the political world, is unlikely to accept any statehood symbols but that of their own, while Abkhazians are equally adamant on the issue. The solution, for Coppieters, might lie in the creation of a new war memorial that would be acceptable to both sides. Such negotiations would be difficult, of course: “It is something to be achieved in the longer-term,” he says, “and in the meantime, existing war memorials such as the one in Kilmarnock should be left as they are. I think there is too much fear in Georgia about the idea of creeping recognition. It’s obvious that a general recognition of Abkhazia as an independent state is not going to happen anyway.” Fear, however, was not the only sentiment in Georgian society after the news about the memorial broke. Anger, for one, was much more prevalent. True to Coppieters prediction, all things negative poured from those who commented on the issue; neither reconciliation nor finding common ground were on the cards. Abkhazians weren’t the only ones Georgians were upset with – the British took stick too. How would they like it, one particularly inquisitive commenter asked, if we were to build a war memorial dedicated to the victims of the Falkland’s conflict and slap an Argentine flag on it? “I think fear is a terrible guide for creating new solutions,” was Coppieters’ sage advice. “And anger’s not much better either, if not worse. The real question here is whether the removal of a symbol on a memorial brings us closer to reconciliation. My answer is, not at all. One side is venting its anger, claiming an imaginary victory; the other side states that it is a victim once again. It’s simply not constructive.” Beyond the official narrative, the main thesis of Georgia’s staunch non-recognition policy rests on not allowing the Abkhazian state to get even a glimpse of international attention. When asked how successful that policy might be, Coppieters speaks of coins and their double sides. “As regards non-recognition, it’s a successful one. Abkhazia is indeed isolated on the diplomatic level, recognized by very few governments around the globe. But then again, there’s an agreement that

the non-recognition policy should be coupled with an active engagement policy. And it’s exactly that twin of the two that is doing rather poorly. Engagement, regaining the trust of communities, is the key to long-term unification.” Coppieters was among the third-party people who tried to take an initiative to bring the fractured communities closer together. He says the degree of distrust between sides poses an insurmountable obstacle towards any initiative that is taken. Reminiscing, he talks about his own idea of establishing links between universities in Abkhazia and the EU which would on the long-term allow young Abkhazians to meet Georgian students and students from other countries. Instead of having the only option of going to study in Russia, Abkhazians would have alternative options. The Erasmus program, he says, served as an inspiration. But an inspiration was all it ended up being as both Georgia and Abkhazia found it difficult to find enough trust between them to get it going: neither side was willing to make concessions. The Georgian authorities, in particular, seemed to be fearful that there might come too much closeness with EU universities and their Abkhaz counterparts. Professors from the EU were teaching a few courses in Abkhazia, but the project didn’t go beyond its pilot phase, something Coppieters regrets to this day. “We have leaders around Europe who are the product of Erasmus. Why not make creative moves in order to have Abkhaz university students participating?” he asks. “This is possible even without diplomatic recognition. Taiwan is not recognized by any EU member state, but they participate in the Erasmus program. I’m under the impression that when the Georgian authorities talk about engagement, they remain too fearful of criticism by the domestic opposition. Yet taking risks is necessary. Of course, then you will have Abkhaz students in European universities defending points of view which the Georgian authorities would not agree with, but that’s part of freedom of expression. In the long-term, it brings people together.” The Erasmus program, together with the riches and possibilities that the AA and DCFTA agreements have to offer, is among the diplomatic leverage that Georgia tries to use to make itself more attractive for Abkhazians. But such proposals should not be made with the main purpose of making the welfare of the Abkhaz population dependent on decisions in Tbilisi. Coppieters thinks that such an attempt would be counterproductive. “That’s not how people come together. Equality is needed,” he says, “to achieve trust and reconciliation.” “The very idea that Georgia will become attractive to Abkhazians, that one particularly sunny day Abkhazians will switch sides because the Georgian population has more welfare and more benefits to

offer, is not a strategy that will work.” As he so effortlessly steamrolls over the policy that the authorities in Tbilisi have been selling their voters for the last 10 years, Coppieters reveals his own insight on the solutions that would, in the longterm, make re-unification a realistic prospect. Being a federalist, he thinks that, “under the right circumstances,” the federal model might be the key. And not the federalism of the Russian ilk, where the regions are subject to central authority, but a “more democratic one, where the federal authorities and the federated states are equally subject to the Constitution and the rule of law”. “Nationalist movements in South Ossetia, Abkhazia and Georgia have traditionally defended different objectives. However, multinational federations should be able to address such conflicting issues. In Belgium or Spain, you also have several nations that have very different identities. And it is all about equality among nations in creating plurinational statehood.” Be that as it may, there is still a gigantic elephant lurking in the dark room of South Caucasus politics. Or, rather, a bear, to be more stereotypically correct. The factor of Russia cannot be underestimated and it has frequently popped up when discussing that particular federal model Coppieters seems so keen on. With a hierarchy among nations out of the equation, one of the main problems is the creation of a federal state structure that is able to make coherent decisions in the field of foreign policy. In such a situation, Russia risks playing the tune through an Abkhazian flute. This means that effective decision-making structures have to be created which minimalize the negative impact of external intervention. A second problem to be addressed is the relations between national communities in Abkhazia itself. “The tensions among them were a root cause of the Georgian-Abkhaz war and have to be taken into account in designing Abkhaz state institutions,” he says. “This is no less important, and complicated, than designing the relationship between Abkhazia and Georgia within a common federal framework.” As we take a light step into the dreaded realm of geopolitical speculation, by his judgment, any kind of agreement between Georgia and Abkhazia would have to give the Kremlin some degree of control over the security situation. The Abkhaz side will need a guarantor, and this cannot be NATO. This is one of the concessions Georgia would have to accept, and NATO as well, in order to achieve a settlement. “This may create strong fears in Georgia, and this is one of the reasons I don’t see such negotiations happening anytime soon. However, you need a longterm perspective about solutions on reunification. Difficult negotiations will have to take place and Russia will undoubtedly play its part in that context.”


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POLITICS

GEORGIA TODAY

DECEMBER 22 - 25, 2017

French Ambassador on Politics, Wine and the Good & Bad of Georgia EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW BY VAZHA TAVBERIDZE

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ranco-Georgian relations, you can argue, are centuries old, dating all the way back to the semi-legendary Franks at the Didgori battle and SulkhanSaba Orbeliani trying (unsuccessfully) to acquire the French Empire’s diplomatic aid for the Georgian Kingdom, to more modern times, with France sheltering the Georgian government in exile in 1921 and mediating in the 2008 August War. GEORGIA TODAY and the Panorama TV Show, together with the International Black Sea University, hosted and interviewed His Excellence Pascal Meunier, Ambassador of France to Georgia, who was eager to share his insights on the relations between the two countries.

THERE ARE FIVE MAIN AREAS IN WHICH FRANCE IS PROVIDING ASSISTANCE AND EXPERTISE: EDUCATION, MILITARY, INFRASTRUCTURE, ECONOMY AND ENVIRONMENT. TELL US ABOUT THOSE RELATIONS Looking back at the history, I would say France has always been by Georgia’s side when it faced difficulties. Next year, we’ll celebrate the 100th anniversary of the first Georgian Republic. In 1921, when the Bolsheviks invaded Georgia, we welcomed the Georgian government in exile in Leville, near Paris. President Margvelashvili visited Leville last year and the French government and private owners of the manor agreed to return ownership to Georgia. This year, we are celebrating the 25th anniversary since the reestablishment of diplomatic relations. Starting with the political relationship, France is one of the strongest supporters of Georgia’s territorial integrity and sovereignty. As Americans say, we are walking the talk. Eric Fournier (now Ambassador in Budapest) was French Ambassador in Georgia in 2008 when the Russians invaded. He went to Sachkhere, where we had opened a mountain troops school some time earlier, traveling in our diplomatic car with the French flag on. Once there, he raised the French flag and spoke about the sharing military expertise. We are also active in air defense within the NATO program and in the Navy we have committed ourselves to be present in the Black Sea because, while a challenge, the Sea is one of potential prosperity; one that should be focused on trade, not confrontation. Recently, a French frigate visited Batumi port from Toulon; it took them 10 days without having to set foot on the ground, just to show our determination and support to Georgia.

WHAT IS FRANCE’S TAKE ON GEORGIA’S EUROATLANTIC ASPIRATIONS? It’s an ongoing process. The closer Georgia gets to the EU and NATO in terms of standards, behavior, and interoperability, the easier it will be for Georgia, if the window of opportunity is open, to become a member. In terms of military cooperation, we are very happy to have Georgian soldiers with us in the EU Peace Mission in central Africa. They are also in Afghanistan. NATO allies recognize and praise this. Quite recently, together with other ambassadors, I attended a defense conference organized by Minister of Defense, Levan Izoria. He’s been very successful in reforming the ministry, trying to achieve the goals of interoperability with NATO, goals of preparing and acquainting the population with the total defense system concept. His decision to spend 2% of the budget on weapons procurement was a good one.

LET’S TALK ABOUT THE 2008 AUGUST WAR. WERE THE NEGOTIATIONS SUCCESSFUL? All frozen conflicts in countries from the GUAM framework – Georgia, Ukraine, Azerbaijan, Moldova – are a kind of warning and punishment from Russia. We cannot accept this. What is positive in negotiations either in different Minsk Groups or Geneva talks is that at least wars are easing down. It is not completely satisfactory, but it’s better than full-out war. It is important that we remain determined and firm on our position. France has always had specific relations with Russia, but at the same time we should not abandon or ease down on our values just to have the benefits of dialogue. During their first press conference in France as president, Emannuel Macron was quite stern in his statement on Russia in front of Putin. At the same time, Russia has international responsibilities; it’s a big country and we have to talk with them. To answer your question - we are not happy that Russia has not fulfilled all the points in the ceasefire agreement. We think that discussions have to continue.

BACK TO GEORGIA’S EUROATLANTIC FUTURE. WHAT IS YOUR ASSESSMENT OF THE FIRST YEAR OF VISA-FREE REGIME WITH THE EU? Georgia and the Georgian people deserve this. It’s been a long process of negotiation and it’s fair to say that Georgia indirectly had been the victim of the huge migration movement to Europe. I don’t think that Georgia is a threat in terms of migration to Europe, the threat comes from elsewhere. Visa liberalization has been accepted by some countries

who were reluctant, and France was one such country because we had large migration flows and criminals, famous “thievesin-law.” So, the image of Georgia in France was not entirely positive. We decided to tackle the problem by enhancing cooperation with the Georgian MIA, who appointed a police attaché in Paris, and we cooperate with him closely. We are monitoring figures and do not see any worrying figures in France as far as migration from Georgia is concerned.

NOW TO WINE. GEORGIA MIGHT BE THE CRADLE OF WINE, BUT IT’S OBVIOUS THAT FRENCH WINE IS THE CURRENT KING ON THE MARKET. WHAT’S YOUR TAKE ON THE FUTURE OF GEORGIAN WINE? I came here in March 2016. Almost straight away, I was in Telavi, visiting the Georgian Wine Symposium managed by the French people. I got to taste Qvevri wine. So, I was plunged into the cradle of wine for three days – it was a ‘baptism’ of sorts! This country has various ways to develop its wine, with a focus on the top end of the market: with quality wine aiming at a high reputation for Georgia. France is ready to help, even if we are competitors. We decided to create a Franco-Georgian University, which is a cornerstone of our cultural diplomacy. We have two big ambitions. One is agriculture, including wine, and the second is tourism. France has a lot of expertise, as we are the number one tourist destination in the world, and tourism is a field in which Georgia has a lot of potential.

WHAT ABOUT THE FRENCH LANGUAGE IN GEORGIA, NAMELY ITS DIMINISHING USE IN GEORGIA’S EDUCATION SYSTEM? If we look back on our mutual history over the last 30 years, we have two per-

sons who did not necessarily help us. You had Gorbachev who did not help the Georgian wine industry and we had Saakashvili who did not help the French language, although, quite curiously, he is fluent in French. For some reason, he decided that everybody should learn English and that would be sufficient. My position is that he was wrong. If you want to have an international career, you have to speak your own language, Georgian, while I would also encourage people here to speak Russian even if they do not like Putin or English. If you don’t speak the three [Georgian, Russian, English], you can forget an international career. French is the 2nd worldwide spoken language with which you get access to a lot of countries. After learning French, you can easily learn Spanish or Italian. So, it’s a good investment. We decided to reverse the trend in Georgia, and my predecessor, with the help of the Chamber of Commerce and some French companies, worked to subsidize the teaching of French in public schools. There were 6,000 French language teachers in 2011, and now there are 16,000. Interest in France has increased. At university level, we have more than 37 co-op agreements and we doubled the number of students going to France through Erasmus +. Presently, we have 750 Georgian students learning in France. I think it’s a promising development.

WHAT ARE THE THREE THINGS YOU LIKE AND DISLIKE MOST IN GEORGIA AND GEORGIANS? There are many pluses, but I’ll start with minuses. The first is the lack of infrastructure. Georgia wants to be a #1 tourist destination in the world but does not possess good infrastructure. Not enough and not good enough highways,

no good and fast internet, even on the train. And - pollution. I always say it loudly: if you want your country to become not only a cradle of the wine but the jewel of the Caucasus, you have to care about your country. I read somewhere that it is worse to live in Tbilisi than in Beijing. I don’t know how true that is, but pollution remains very high here. Recently, I met Mayor Kaladze, who told me that he is going to address the problem of quality of cars, petrol and parking. Franceand Japan faced the same problems but addressed them in terms of introducing rules on pollution. Forbid access of cars to the city center, focus on public transport. As regards pluses. I will have to start with the hospitality of the people: it must be preserved! Then comes the beauty of the nature. Georgia is a beautiful country and should not be spoiled by plastic strewn across the mountains! I think Georgia should do what the Lithuanians did at a certain stage: announce a National Cleaning Day, with the President and Prime Minister removing litter from certain places on TV. The 3rd is the beauty of Georgian traditions. Georgia is not only known for wine, it’s well-known for traditions like polyphonic songs, national dances, churches, architecture. So, all of these have to be preserved. For me, Georgia has a lot of potential. The message we’re trying to deliver to French people is Come and see Georgia, the country that’s set to become a real bridge between East and West. Georgia has to develop its touristic capacity and France is helping in that.

BUSINESS

PASHA Bank Sponsors Third CEO Lunch Tbilisi and Business Forum ADVERTORIAL

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n December 15, Caspian European Club and Caspian Energy Georgia held the Azerbaijan-Georgia Business Forum, and the third CEO Lunch Tbilisi, with the support of PASHA Bank and the Embassy of the Republic of Azerbaijan to Georgia. Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Republic of Azerbaijan to Georgia, Dursun Hasanov; State Governor of the Kvemo-Kartli region, Grigol Nemsadze; and Governor of the Imereti region, Givi Chichinadze, attended the CEO Lunch Tbilisi as honorary guests. Addressing the forum, Ambassador

Hasanov noted that the third CEO Lunch Tbilisi is a fruitful ground to discuss important problems and issues, as well as toestablish contacts between entrepreneurs of Azerbaijan and Georgia. State Governor Nemsadze thanked Caspian Energy Georgia for the invitation and noted that the format of the GeorgianAzerbaijani business forum plays an important role in business development and strengthening of economic relations between our countries. He told the guests about the Kvemo-Kartli region and highlighted such important areas for investing as agriculture, tourism and energy carriers. Governor Chichinadze welcomed the members of the Caspian European Club and all participating guests and wished further success to the activity of Caspian

Energy Georgia. This was followed by the presentation of prospects of development of Imereti. The Governor provided detailed information about the

region and spoke about the economic and investment opportunities, as well as the tax system, free economic zone, international cooperation and programs

on business support. First Deputy Chairman of the Caspian European Club and Caspian American Club, Telman Aliyev, thanked the Government of Georgia, Ambassador Dursun Hasanov and PASHA Bank for their strong support for the activity of Caspian Energy Georgia. Chairman of the Board of Directors and CEO of PASHA Bank, Shahin Mammadov, welcomed the guests and held a presentation in which he spoke about PASHA Holding and about the financial dynamics of PASHA Bank from its establishment in Georgia to date. CEO Lunch Tbilisi is one of the key tools to establish a dialogue between the public and private sectors of Georgia and Azerbaijan. About 80 businessmen from Azerbaijan and Georgia took part in the event.


BUSINESS

GEORGIA TODAY DECEMBER 22 - 25, 2017

9

Horse & Donkey Meat Found in Food Products

The Natakhtari Fund ADVERTORIAL

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s the Natakhtari Fund 6th wave of fundraising came to an end, a fantastic GEL 43,972 was raised for teenagers lacking care. Natakhari company Director, Nikoloz Khundzakishvili, and Our Home Association – Georgia psychological work/ help leader Manana Omarashvili announced the future pans of the fund, their care systems from the previous years, the results of the campaign and ongoing processes and future plans.

The Natakhtari Fund 6th wave, for Project ‘Take Care of the Future’, kicked off on November 8 and ended on December 8. During this time, each bottle of Natakhtari lemonade sold counted towards the final GEL 43,972 raised. “We will continue to help teenagers in small families in 2018,” said Omarashvili. “There will be 120-150 beneficiaries. We will also work with 30 small family houses, 15 elder teenagers and homes, and with those teenagers who have left the state care system.” “The amount raised will be used to help children with a lack of care and to prepare for an independent and worthy future,” Khundzikashvili added. “For this,

we’ve been doing a legal campaign to support these children, trying to make a synergy between the private and business sector, engaging local self-governance. With this, we can make the care system stronger.” A system of support programs and presentations for youngsters ran in eight regions of Georgia from November 9 to November 18. Gori, Akhaltsikhe, Telavi, Rustavi, Kutaisi, Ozurgeti, Batumi and Zugdidi held meetings “Coalition for kids and teenagers” and Natakhtari Fund prepared and presented a mutual project with local people, self-governing organizations, NGOs, media and business representatives.

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he National Food Agency has reported finding horse and donkey meat inside a number of food products throughout Georgia. Samples were taken from public food facilities and stores and the meat was found to be being sold illegally. The NFA said the guilty companies have all been fined. “We checked 90 samples and found 12

cases of violation. Namely, we found horse and donkey meat in products labeled as pork or beef,” says the National Food Agency. According to the agency, the meat had not only been labelled falsely, but such meat is only allowed to be sold after certain regulations carried out. Most importantly, vaccinations must be administered and proper labelling of meats be done.


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BUSINESS

GEORGIA TODAY

DECEMBER 22 - 25, 2017

Irakli Kobakhidze’s Visit Brings New Level to Georgia-Israel Relations akhidze's visit to Israel saw the decision being made that both countries will develop a general agreement on cooperation in the economic sphere, serving as a form of action plan. The agreement reached during Kobakhidze's visit did not end with his leaving as Israeli House (organized by member of the delegation of the delegation, Akram Hasson), was invited by the Minister of Economic Development of Israel. Akram Khason Knesset's ruling coalition member and his party is a government Economic bloc holding the portfolio. The Minister of Economy, at a meeting of the Israeli MP, reiterated Israel's willingness to reach a qualitatively new stage of cooperation between two countries in this field. The visit of the Chairperson of the Parliament of Georgia to Israel also saw a call for cooperation in the field of education. On the second day of the visit, Knesset members, analysts and media representatives in the delegation held a meeting with heads and students of higher education institutions of Georgia. The delegation welcomed Holocaust Studies in two universities of Georgia. It was noted that the Israeli side is ready to share with Georgia experience in education. One example is that of Karmel, an academic college which envisages implementation of joint programs with Georgian universities, and exchanges of students and joint studies. Work in education will continue in 2018 and includes well-developed areas such as Haitian, medical fields and more. The Georgian side's statement was an important message for the Israelis that MK Hasson Akram Dimitry Kumsishvili, Minister of Economy and Sustainable Development

BY LIZA NADIBAIDZE

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he Georgia-Israel relationship is set to grow in 2018. Despite the fact that the relationship between these two countries was stable for the past 25 years, this year, in October, Georgian Parliament Chairman Irakli Kobakhidze’s official to Israel visit bought new light to both sides. During this visit, work strategies for the upcoming year were planned. In the relations of two countries, special attention is to be paid to education, economic contacts and connections of the capitals.

Kakha Kaladze, Mayor of Tbilisi MK Hasson Akram MK Itzhak Shmuli Ia Chantladze Itsik Moshe, Chairman of Israeli House

Georgia-Israeli economic ties mark almost three decades. The inflow of investments from Israel has never stopped, with the 1990s seeing the launch of the Georgia-Israeli Chamber of Commerce in Georgia, and more than $500 million invested in the country. This at a time when investments from Israel were reduced to other sub-regions, for example in Eastern Europe. The GeorgiaIsraeli Chamber of Commerce works on deepening economic relations and protecting business, and making it faster and more flexible. The Georgian side believes that it is important to deepen economic relations with Israel, because of the fact that the potential is great. For this purpose, Kob-

The visit of the Chairperson of the Parliament of Georgia to Israel also saw a call for cooperation in the field of education

Irakli Kobakhidze, Chairman of the Parliament Nir Barkat, Mayor of Jerusalem Hilik Bar, Deputy Speaker of the Knesset

Georgia does not need additional motivation in relations with Israel. On December 15-17, supervisors from the Israel delegation in Tbilisi, brought messages that reflect the official position of Israel. A member of the Friendship Group of Knesset Georgia, Itzik Shmuli, said that there are no hidden agendas in the relations between the two countries and welcomes the Georgian side's wish that next year be busier and more productive. According to the Israeli parliamentarian, he saw this potential during Kobakhidze’s visit to Israel. It is noteworthy that the Israeli delegation was received by the Chairman of the Parliament. The meeting lasted longer than planned and saw the sides analyzing the results of the delegation's visit to Tbilisi. It is said that in January, another group of the Israeli Knesset is scheduled to come to Georgia. The head of the delegation, and head of Israeli House, Isik Moshe, says that frequent communication between the parties is almost set until the end of 2018. The Israeli House initiative, in conjunction with the traditional directions, is to have in the forefront the topic of mutual approaches to youth. "Communications between Georgian Universities and Israeli Institutes are focused on a new generation that will have independent relations between the two countries," said Moshe. One of the novelties in the latest official visits was a trip to Jerusalem. During his stay, Kobakhidze also invited the Mayor of the capital of Israel to Tbilisi. This visit will be the first seeing a Mayor of Jerusalem visiting Georgia. Tbilisi Mayor Kakha Kaladze, who was accompanied by the Israeli delegation and head of tourism administration of Georgia, Giorgi Chogovadze, attended the launch of construction of a luxury hotel in Tbilisi on December 17. Kaladze welcomed Israeli investment and promised support, while, according to Chogovadze, the growing trend of tourism in the country contributes to the inflow of new investments. 2018 is a jubilee year for Georgia and Israel, seeing both countries marking the date of independence. According to Moshe, both sides will be able to act according to the set plan, and by the end

Hasbara and Future Links 2017

With the active work of Israeli House, we now have fewer intermediaries in the IsraeliGeorgian relationship. We believe that this trend should be the main line of future plans of the year, have a representative delegation visit Tbilisi which will take part in a summit and ceremonial events. “With the active work of Israeli House, we now have fewer intermediaries in the IsraeliGeorgian relationship: the Ministry is in contact with the Ministry, business gets along with business, and the interests of the state is at the first place. The protocol visits are loaded with more content, and the Israeli press is even more interested in Georgia. We believe that this trend should be the main line of future plans,” Moshe added. Israeli House projects not only complement the official diplomatic missions and the general work of the embassies, but also the work on the Hasbara, which makes it even better to show true Israel. Israeli House, together with Knesset members, sees Hasbara products not only in Georgia but also in Eastern Europe. Even here, the relationship with Georgia acquires the format of a model of what kind of links Israel should have with a friend country.


BUSINESS

GEORGIA TODAY DECEMBER 22 - 25, 2017

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Regus Unique Services Provide Comfortable Work Environment ADVERTORIAL

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ervice Offices Provider, International Company ‘Regus’ is in Georgia, offering customers a perfect work environment in Tbilisi’s most prestigious, active and dynamic part of Freedom Square. Regus was founded in 1989 in Brussels, Belgium. The company comprises more than 3,000 business centers located in over 1000 cities of 120 countries. Presented on the London Stock Exchange, Regus offers flexible and easy-to-use A-class offices, flexible and simple conditions of payment, modern and protected IT infrastructure, meeting rooms, common work space, administration services, and access to 3,000 branches around the world: important services needed for the success of small, medium and large businesses. Check out CBW’s interview with Rusudan Chakvetadze, Representative of Regus in Georgia.

to business lounges everywhere, access to business lounges and internet access at the airport, free coffee, tea and other services. Wherever they go, they have a place to work, which is not only convenient but also prestigious.

WHAT ABOUT YOUR PLATINUM CARD? Platinum Card holders in all countries enjoy personal offices unlimited, allowing the owner to have their own office in the world’s most prestigious business centers, such as Trump Tower New York and Dubai Downtown. The owner of this card receives an individual office everywhere and always. The card is personal, but the owner has the opportunity to invite a visitor. The advantage of platinum is the addition of one service – the meeting room.

REGUS HAS OPERATED ON THE WORLD MARKET FOR 30 YEARS. WHAT EXPERIENCE HAS THIS TIME BROUGHT? Our global network is expanding annually. Every business person needs an ideal environment and a favorable location, with flexible and simple payment terms. Regus aims to make their work space more comfortable, without losing time and additional payments. For more than 30 years, we have been trusted by multi-million companies, small and medium businesses, independent consultants and more than two million loyal customers around the world. Among our customers are: Google, Microsoft, Lincoln, Facebook, Samsung, Uber, and Amazon. The years have brought trust, experience and high-quality service. When big companies plan to acquire new markets, they ask whether there is a Regus in the country, because they are aware of our service, and the quality and standards we meet.

AND NOW GEORGIA BOASTS ITS OWN Yes. The Regus service center in Tbilisi is central and surrounded by prestigious hotels, cafes, restaurants and shops: a perfect environment for business people. The Center fully meets the requirements of the Service Office, making it the best solution for foreign business visitors who want to enter the Georgian market without additional administrative procedures and investments, at a simple price and terms of payment. Here, businesses and business people will benefit from Regus’ international standards.

WHAT SERVICES DOES REGUS PROVIDE SPECIFICALLY? AND HOW DID IT ALL START? The service office implies a hotel-type service: fully equipped offices, a busi-

ness lounge and cafe, meeting rooms, co-working space, virtual office, and a video-conference space. Businessman and Regus Founder, Mark Dixon, was traveling around the world for business. In Brussels, he needed an office and couldn’t find one with full service that could be rented temporarily. That’s how the idea of the Service Office was born. A company or a person has the opportunity to take on an office for 1 hour, day, month, year, etc. in any country. It all started with offices, and now Regus has a lot of services for comfort. In our café, clients can order sandwiches, coffee, and various sweets. The Service Office consists of an office administrator, connected telephone, internet, meeting rooms, business lounges, kitchen … all at one price and available in more than 3,000 locations around the world. The office can be rented for any term and with the most flexible conditions of payment.

YOUR MAIN CUSTOMERS ARE BUSINESS PEOPLE ON THE MOVE. WHAT DO YOU OFFER THEM? They own Regus membership cards. ‘Business World’ members, mobile people, have business trips frequently, and while they’re traveling they don’t have to think which hotel or cafe offers fast internet and a quiet working environment: they just find a Regus branch in any of 120 countries, that’s 3,000 comfortable and open work spaces. Our Gold Card gives members access

HOW DID REGUS SIMPLIFY THE OFFICE SEARCH PROCEDURE? The main demands are for a high-class business center, safe, high-quality internet, and an easily-accessible location which should meet the expected standards. We have just a one-page agreement in exchange for a space in the Regus office for as long as you need.

WHAT IS YOUR ‘VIRTUAL OFFICE’? This is a virtual representation in the country. However, this commandment has been further expanded and we have given more tools to our clients. They can have a business and legal address in different countries to register the company, which is possible through virtual offices. One can also use the business lounge and meeting rooms.

WHAT KIND OF MEETINGS CAN BE PLANNED THERE? Meetings rooms are different categories: for just 2-3 people or a wider audience, rented by the hour in any country, including Georgia, and simply booked through the Regus application.

WILL YOU LAUNCH REGUS IN OTHER REGIONS OF GEORGIA? There is a demand for service offices in Georgia. At the end of March, a second business center will be opened on Vazha Pshavela Avenue in Tbilisi. By the end of 2020, there will be at least five locations at different levels and prices in the capital, and 12 overall in the country, including in Kutaisi, Rustavi and Batumi.

10 Galaktion Street

Poland Sees Nord Stream-2 as “Suicidal” for Ukraine BY DIMITRI DOLABERIDZE

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oland's Minister of Finance, Mateusz Moravetsky, became Prime Minister this month following the resignation of former government head Beata Szydlo. The new head of the Polish government has since stated he believes that the implementation of the Nord Stream-2 project is a harmful initiative that threatens the energy security of Central Europe. “In our opinion, Nord Stream-2 is an extremely harmful project that threatens the security of Central Europe, and can be deadly for Ukraine. When Ukraine is excluded from the gas transit process, nothing will prevent its further destabilization,” Moravetsky said, adding that Nord Stream-2 “simultaneously strengthens Germany's ties with Russia” and “Poland again faces the diktat of price from Gazprom and Russia.” Moravetsky believes that Poland needs to support its liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminal in Swinoujscie, where Warsaw expects to receive LNG from the US as well as for negotiations on the construction of the Baltic gas pipeline: a pipeline through Denmark which is to connect Poland with the Norwegian shelf. The OPAL (Ostsee-Pipeline-Anbindungsleitung) is a natural gas pipeline in Germany running along the country’s eastern border. The OPAL pipeline is one of two projected pipelines connecting the Nord Stream to the existing pipeline grid in Middle and Western Europe, the other being the NEL pipeline. Thanks to OPAL, they can now increase the flow of gas through Nord Stream-1, which is not yet being used at full capacity. It is believed that an increase in transmission via OPAL, and therefore through Nord Stream-1, can “satisfy Gazprom so much that it will refuse to build Nord Stream-2,” declared Polish Foreign Minister Witold Vashchikovsky. Earlier, after it became known that Gazprom could go with the OPAL option, Poland declared that it would take "all sorts of legal steps" in connection with the increased access of the Russian gas

holding to the capacity of this gas pipeline, as such would compete with the Polish Swinoujscie LNG terminal and the future supply of “blue fuel” from Norway and the US, which Poland intends to supply to southern Europe. Poland also fears it will cease to play a key role in transporting Russian gas to European countries after the European Commission (EC) allowed Gazprom to use up to 90% of the capacity of the OPAL gas pipeline in Germany. “In addition, thanks to OPAL and Nord Stream-1, Russians will create a path over land and water, bypassing Poland,” declared Vashchikovsky. “If Gazprom gets OPAL, the Yamal gas pipeline, laid through the territory of Poland, will lose its importance. Therefore, we will try to block the transfer of OPAL to the hands of the Russians,” he said, noting Poland's plans to challenge the decision of the EC on OPAL in a judicial procedure. On October 28, the EC approved the expansion of Gazprom's access to the OPAL gas pipeline, which is a continuation of the already-operating Nord Stream-1 gas pipeline which was built with the help of Gazprom. However, the Russian side could not fully use this pipe, since the European Union immediately recalled the so-called Third Energy Package. The European Union's Third Energy Package is a legislative package for an internal gas and electricity market in the EU. Its purpose is to further open up the gas and electricity markets there. The package was proposed by the EC in September 2007, and adopted by the European Parliament and the Council of the European Union in July 2009. It entered into force on 3 September 2009. Ukraine has reacted very painfully to the decision of the EC, according to which Gazprom is allowed to use up to 90% of the OPAL gas pipeline capacity. As a result, Gazprom is given an opportunity to increase gas exports to the EU via this gas pipeline, bypassing Ukraine by more than 9 billion cubic meters per year. In this regard, the Ukrainian Foreign Ministry even said that the EU leadership, before making such a decision, should have first consulted with Kyiv.

Tel: (995 32) 2 45 08 08 E-mail: info@peoplescafe.ge


12

SOCIETY

GEORGIA TODAY

DECEMBER 22 - 25, 2017

Safety First: Mestia, Svaneti BLOG BY TONY HANMER

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everal weeks after my recent jaunt to Gudauri and a weekend of synergy around Sustainable Tourism sponsored by the German Society for International Cooperation, they invited me to another outing, this time involving aspects of guest house training and set in Mestia. I jumped at the chance. Our two days of seminars, all in Georgian, dealt with fire safety, food safety and risk management. All very useful subjects, especially when combined with a number of tests and final certification. Three men, specialists in their fields, were our trainers. All this on the second floor of the wonderful Tetnuldi Hotel, with its massive windows overlooking most of Mestia with its glazed towers, lit by the low winter sun as we started and by glorious uplights after the sun set. As one might notice, the view threatened to distract, but I only allowed it to do so at break times. Participation in more than sixteen hours of Georgian lecturing, stimulating as the topics were, was no mean feat for me. My Georgian learning has been partly by formal lessons many years ago and partly by “osmosis” while immersed in the target language and culture (acquiring a Svan accent along the way, this latter decade in this region; something I don’t mind at all, provincial as it may make me seem). I retain more from reading than from hearing, so the tests, all written and multiple choice, were easier for me than an oral one would have been. My Russian is still superior, but I try to keep it shelved and non-interfering. I made copious notes, asked many questions for clarification or elaboration, considered things to do or buy or change at home to improve our situation safety-wise. There were only five of us studying this time, a disappointingly low number given those who had promised to come more than a week in advance and then cancelled “on the day,” but, their loss! I’ll take the knowledge and its application and certification and make what use of them I can. When such are offered all expenses paid,

best to take full advantage, I feel. We all had unique guest house situations and needs, of course, but our trainers were able to cope with these vast differences and accommodate us all into their work. They had us simulate a set of roles during a possible fire, and then evaluate our performance to reiterate and improve for next time. And we examined our host building inside and out for safety issues and made recommendations for what was good or what might be improved. We also each considered a potential safety issue

(mine was stray dogs) from the angle of risk analysis, threat minimization and response. These we presented to the group for critique. I applaud and thank my sponsors for inviting me to such a useful weekend, my first such all in Georgian. I surprised myself by managing an average mark of 90% across the tests, and came away most grateful for the new relationships, information, practical help and support. I am also encouraged that new organizations in Georgia exist to help with all aspects of occupational health and safety. This kind of bureaucracy we actually need!

Check: buy several fire extinguishers AND find out where they can be refilled closer to us than Tbilisi! Train myself and the wife in their use and in all aspects of fire safety! And more. 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 1800 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

CULTURE

90th Anniversary of GeorgianGerman Writer Givi Margvelashivili Celebrated in Tbilisi BY LIKA CHIGLADZE

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ecember 14 marked the 90th anniversary of renowned writer and philosopher Givi Margvelashivili. In relation to this date, while leading German publications and newspapers dedicated lengthy articles congratulating this giant mind on his birthday, only a very small circle of Georgians had even heard of him. The story of Givi Margvelashivi is a rarity, since the author experienced both Fascist and Communist regimes and managed to survive. He was born to a Georgian emigrant family in Berlin and then expelled to Georgia by the KGB, where he spent most of his years. Because of his vague past, in Germany he is perceived as a Georgian, and in Georgia as a German author. On December 18, Goethe Institute in Tbilisi hosted the celebration of the distinguished writer’s anniversary, gathering his close friends, professors, colleagues and, most importantly, the hero of the evening himself. The jubilee event was led by Professor Aleksandre Kartozia, who spoke about the author’s writings and life. Among the special guests were literature expert and translator Sergo Okropiridze, publicist Eke Maas and distinguished Georgian writer and German language expert Naira Gelashvili. Important excerpts from the writer’s works were read aloud and brought to life by the celebrated Georgian actress Nino Burduli. In 1945, the writer and his father Tite, who had fled to Germany after the Red Army occupied Georgia in 1921, were captured by Soviet KGB agents and taken to East Berlin by force. In 1946, his father was shot, while the son was first sent to a concentration camp by the Soviets and later deported to Georgia at the age of 19.

“When Givi arrived in Tbilisi, his homeland, he did not know even a word of Georgian, so the stranger in his country found shelter in his novels,” Naira Gelashvili, distinguished Georgian writer, said. “All his writings are in German and of various genre; he is the author of a number of novels, tales, plays, and rhymes, as well as philosophical works. Margvelashvili is simultaneously a writer, poet, philosopher and a linguist, who does not have an analogue in today’s world, being equally successful in all these fields. Yet, since no one country stood firmly behind him, he has been somehow put in the shadow. He is the type of writer who should have received the Nobel Prize a long time ago.” And the philosopher was nominated for the Nobel Prize twice. His works are not simply realistic, but rather philosophical, conveying deep meanings and offering new dimensions. His prose is not purely German in style; it represents a combination of rationalism, with Georgian temperament and passion that eventually makes up an incredible phenomenon. Givi’s works are becoming ever more popular among the modern generation with contemporary taste, which shows how progressive his writings were for the time, that they are as relevant to people today. Several of his books have been translated and published in Georgian, such as Mutsal, inspired by the poem of Vazha-Pshavela (a great Georgian writer), ‘Captain Vakush,’ ‘I Am Hero of the Book,’ as well as a number of rhymes and plays. Margvelashvili has also been hailed as an acclaimed specialist of German existentialism. “His books should be translated and promoted in the proper way, so that wider society can get to know him,” Gelashvili told GEORGIA TODAY. “His works are reflectional prose mixed with fantasy that require imagination and considerable knowledge of European literature to be understood and perceived as they should.” Continued on page 13


CULTURE

GEORGIA TODAY DECEMBER 22 - 25, 2017

Rusiko Chikvaidze on Art, Inspiration & Creativity

BY NINO GUGUNISHVILI

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usiko Chikvaidze, one of the most acclaimed artists of the contemporary Georgian art scene, holding a Silver and Gold Medal from UNESCO for promoting culture (2005, 2007), and with works kept in many museums, galleries and private collections worldwide, is now preparing for an upcoming exhibition to be hosted by the Georgian Embassy in the US. The exhibition will open in January in Washington DC. GEORGIA TODAY couldn’t miss a chance to meet with the artist prior to her trip.

TELL US ABOUT THE EXHIBITION It opens in January and there will be 19 of my works on display, ones created this year. I find them interesting for their plot, ideas, and tonal palette, and I’m sure it will be interesting for the viewers. Every year, I find something new while working and I’ll be presenting these new “findings” at the exhibition.

IS THERE A VISIBLE CHANGE IN YOUR NEW WORKS COMPARED TO OLD? I certainly feel a change. In my new works, there’s much more air, new tones and philosophical ideas to be seen. This year, I made a new series of “Colourful Vitamins” and “Colourful Calories”, and

while working on those series I tried to catch “the moment” because everything in our universe changes so fast, I wanted to somehow catch and bring in the new nuances, new palettes and overtones while drawing, because no subject or object is exactly the same; each has unique features and characteristics and, as an artist, you have to see that. In art, you have to look at everything more globally, philosophically even. As individuals, we all need art, because it makes our lives more filled in and much more interesting. As an artist, you’re introducing and displaying so many different realms and universes to the viewers; it doesn’t matter if they’re just seeing it at the exhibitions, or through books and posters - as people are exposed to art, they tend to dream more, to think more, and to explore their inner selves in a way… Imagine no art existing; no music, literature, theatre or opera, how boring our lives would be….

WHAT INSPIRES YOU? A friend of mine told me that I love painting celebrations. I would say I love painting strong, deep impressions. I love opera, with its decorations and monumental sights; it always brings me such joy to see the synthesis of high art and music that opera has. I was once offered work at a theatre, but I refused, thinking it would take all my time. I’m sure my decision was right, but it would definitely be a very interesting experience, possibly influencing my work. I love painting the nuances of human relationships,

and I also like to paint winter. When I travel, which is a huge part of my life, I try to be active, to see as many things as I can, and collect those impressions and transform them into my works afterwards, and although I love to go out with my friends, who also are another very important part of my life, when working, I prefer to be alone. Art is something so vast, and when you create something anew on a white canvas, it brings so many diverse emotions; when, as a viewer, you’re experiencing it: love, dreams, and that’s a mission of art and artist. It certainly needs a great amount of talent, and it’s a very hard work. I can’t tell you everything about the inspiration, not because I’m hiding something, but because these are tiny bits of my world, my realm, my universe. What I can tell you is that I could work more, and the only thing stopping me is myself; I sometimes need to stop and relax for several days. Of course, that’s a very individual thing, but I think it’s very important to have some time off. I work well when I’m in a good mood, that’s when it goes flawlessly. I’m happy to be surrounded with people, my family and friends who greatly support me in what I do, and I also think that life itself, all those different stages of my life, the possibility to live and travel to so many countries, all of that formed me as an artist to a certain extent, and brought me to where I am now and I really consider myself lucky.

HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE THE CURRENT STAGE OF YOUR CAREER? It’s a very interesting one, with lots of plans ahead. With the upcoming exhibition in Washington DC this January, I’ll be staying in US for a month, meeting with gallerists there, so I’ll be pretty busy. Being an artist can be very demanding both physically and emotionally, and at the same time, it’s so rewarding when a viewer understands or sees what you’ve put into your work as a painter.

WHAT DOES TRAVEL BRING YOU AND YOUR ART? Every place gives me an impulse and I collect those colors and tones; it happens naturally, be it New York, Vienna, Paris, or Jurmala, which I visited not so long ago, and which is absolutely stunning in terms of the ecological concept of the city. I think that Tbilisi too can transform into an ecological, green city, where all the cultural sites preserved will form a harmony with the green areas. There are a great many things I like about our city right now, and as the world develops at an extremely high speed, it’s important to choose the right directions in which to move and to develop.

90th Anniversary of Georgian-German Writer Givi Margvelashivili Celebrated in Tbilisi Continued from page 12

Margvelashvili was chosen as an honorable Doctor of Tbilisi State University and was awarded the Goethe Medal. Goethe Institute and DVV International established a prestigious award in his name for special contribution to Georgian-German cultural relations. “His works were first published in the 1990s in Germany,” Professor Aleksandre Kartozia told us. “The playwright is the winner of many prestigious awards, including the Berlin-Brandenburg Academy Award, Berlin Art Prize, Gustav Regler

Prize as well as being the owner of the Federal Cross of Merit of Germany and Italo-Svevo-Preis, a literary prize of Germany. Besides being a great writer, he is one of the leading figures in modern philosophy, who has made an immense contribution to the science of language. Now the time has come for his works to be spotlighted, revived and studied thoroughly again. If his novels had been published at the time when they were written in the 1960s, then today he would be one of the chief representatives of world’s post-modern literature. At Frankfurt Book Fair 2018, where Georgia will be one of the honor-

able guests, Givi Margvelashvili will be one of the central figures of discussion.” At the end of the celebratory event, the hero of the hour, Givi Margvelashvili himself, gave a small speech. “I have been an emigrant from inside my entire life, but with the support of my friends both in Georgia and Germany, I overcame many obstacles. I have devoted my life to literature and my scientific works. Once an emigrant, always an emigrant,” he said. Despite his age, the author still actively writes and is planning to complete his scientific work in language studies.

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CULTURE

GEORGIA TODAY

DECEMBER 22 - 25, 2017

WHAT’S ON IN TBILISI THEATER

TBILISI OPERA AND BALLET THEATER Address: 25 Rustaveli Ave. Telephone: 200 44 66 December 23 * Premiere Pietro Mascagni CAVALLERIA RUSTICANA Starring: Tea Demurishvili (Santuzza), Anzor Khidasheli (Turiddu), Elene Janjalia (Lucia), Sulkhan Gvelesiani (Alfio), Tamar Lebanidze - Intern (Lola). Tbilisi State Opera and Ballet Theater choir and orchestra. Conductor - Zaza Azmaiparashvili Director - Victor Garsia Sierra (Italy) Scenographer - Italo Grassi (Italy) Start time: 20:00 Ticket price: 10-80 GEL December 28 The State Ballet of Georgia presents THE NUTCRACKER Ballet in Two Acts By Pyotr Tchaikovsky Start time: 19:00 Ticket: 10-50 GEL SHALIKASHVILI THEATER Address: 37 Rustaveli Ave. Telephone: 595 50 02 03 December 22 HOST AND GUEST Start time: 20:00 Ticket price: 20 GEL December 23 KRIMANCHULI Start time: 20:00 Ticket price: 20 GEL MOVEMENT THEATER Address: 182, Aghmashenebeli Ave. Telephone: 598 19 29 36 December 22 LABYRINTH Directed by Ioseb Bakuradze Start time: 20:00 Ticket price: 10-15 GEL TBILISI CIRCUS Address: Heroes’ Sq. December 23, 24, 27 NEW YEAR CIRCUS SHOW Start time: 13:00, 17:00 Ticket price: 10-25 GEL

ARENA 2 Address: 2 University Str. December 23 GREAT NEW YEAR PARTY A great new year party with sports games Start time: 13:00, 18:00 Ticket price: 30 GEL CINEMA

AMIRANI CINEMA Address: 36 Kostava Str. Telephone: 2 99 99 55 www.kinoafisha.ge Every Wednesday ticket price: 5 GEL December 22-28 STAR WARS: THE LAST JEDI Directed by Rian Johnson Cast: Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, Tom Hardy, Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher, Adam Driver Genre: Action, Adventure, Fantasy Language: Russian Start time: 16:00, 18:30 Ticket: 12-14 GEL December 26 Event Cinema FOLLIES Directed by Dominic Cooke Cast: Tracie Bennett, Julie Armstrong, Norma Atallah, Josephine Barstow, Jeremy Batt Language: English Start time: 19:30 Ticket: 17 GEL JUMANJI: WELCOME TO THE JUNGLE Directed by Jake Kasdan Cast: Dwayne Johnson, Karen Gillan, Kevin Hart Genre: Action, Adventure, Comedy Language: Russian Start time: 15:45, 22:00 Ticket: 11-14 GEL FERDINAND Directed by Carlos Saldanha Cast: Kate McKinnon, Bobby Cannavale, David Tennant Genre: Animation, Adventure, Comedy Language: Russian Start time: 19:30 Ticket: 12-14 GEL

JUMANJI: WELCOME TO THE JUNGLE (Info Above) Start time: 12:00, 21:55 Ticket: 8-14 GEL

IOSEB GRISHASHVILI TBILISI HISTORY MUSEUM - KARVASLA Address: 8 Sioni St. Telephone: 2 98 22 81

MAKA BATIASHVILI’S SOLO EXHIBITION Of artworks made in different techniques in 2015-17. Black and white sketches and canvases

STAR WARS: THE LAST JEDI (Info Above) Start time: 16:00, 22:15 Ticket: 10-14 GEL

November 28 – January 10, 2018 GNM Tbilisi History Museum Contemporary Art Gallery will host the exhibition STATE OF PLAY: ART IN GEORGIA IN 1985-1999

TBC GALLERY Address: 5 Marjanishvili Str. Telephone: 227 27 27

CAVEA GALLERY Address: 2/4 Rustaveli Ave. Telephone: 200 70 07 December 22-28 FERDINAND (Info Above) Language: English Start time: 14:30 Ticket: 15 GEL JUMANJI: WELCOME TO THE JUNGLE (Info Above) Start time: 17:00, 19:45, 22:30 Ticket: 13-17 GEL STAR WARS: THE LAST JEDI (Info Above) Language: Russian Start time: 19:10 Ticket: 16-17 GEL HAPPY DEATH DAY Directed by Christopher Landon Cast: Jessica Rothe, Israel Broussard, Ruby Modine Genre: Horror, Mystery, Thriller Language: Russian Start time: 17:45 Ticket: 14-15 GEL MUSEUM

GEORGIAN NATIONAL MUSEUM SIMON JANASHIA MUSEUM Address: 4 Rustaveli Ave. Telephone: 2 99 80 22, 2 93 48 21 www.museum.ge Exhibition GEORGIAN COSTUME AND WEAPONRY OF 18TH-20TH CENTURIES

RUSTAVELI CINEMA Address: 5 Rustaveli Ave. Telephone: 2 55 50 00 www.kinoafisha.ge

Georgian National Museum and Korneli Kekelidze National Centrer of Manuscripts present the exhibition MEDIEVAL TREASURY Permanent Exhibition

Every Wednesday ticket: 5 GEL December 22-28

Exhibition NUMISMATIC TREASURY

MUSEUM OF FINE ARTS Address: 1 Gudiashvili Str. Telephone: 2 99 99 09 March 6 – December 31 EXHIBITION MASTERPIECES FROM THE MUSEUM OF FINE ARTS COLLECTION December 14 – March 14 THE ANNIVERSARYRETROSPECTIVE EXHIBITION GIGO GABASHVILI 155 LITERATURE MUSEUM Address: 8 Chanturia Str. November 17 – January 25 (2018) 200TH ANNIVERSARY EXHIBITION OF FAMOUS GEORGIAN POET NIKOLOZ BARATASHVILI GALLERY

DIMITRI SHEVARDNADZE NATIONAL GALLERY Address: 11 Shota Rustaveli Ave. Telephone: 215 73 00 December 15-January 16 GIVI TOIDE’S ANNIVERSARY RETROSPECTIVE EXHIBITION December 20-January 20 EXHIBITION KARLO KACHARAVA TODAY ERTI GALLERY Address: 19 Ingorokva Str./5 9 April Str. Building B. Space 1 December 2 – January 15 Tato Akhalkatsishvili's solo show NEVER SLEEP UPSIDE DOWN A multimedia installation related to the galaxy. PROJECT ARTBEAT Address: 14 Ingorokva Str. November 24 – December 30 Project ArtBeat presents

November 30 - December 17 PETRE OTSKHELI'S 110TH ANNIVERSARY EXHIBITION MUSIC

TBILISI STATE CONSERVATOIRE Address: 8 Griboedov St. Telephone: 2 93 46 24 December 23 PIANO RECITAL EVGENY KISSIN Start time: 19:00 Ticket: 5-25 GEL December 25 BRAVO MAESTRO Dedicated to the 90th birthday anniversary of Sulkhan Nasidze Start time: 19:00 Ticket: 5-20 GEL MZIURI Address: Mziuri Cafe December 25 SAKVIRAO Entertainment program for children Start time: 12:00 TBILISI EVENT HALL Address: 1 Melikishvili Ave. Telephone: 595 79 79 35 December 25 BAND ARA Wylti live + DJ Set Start time: 20:30 Ticket: 15 GEL TBILISI OPERA AND BALLET THEATER Address: 25 Rustaveli Ave. Telephone: 200 44 66 December 27 ANITA RACHVELISHVILI & NIKOLOZ RACHVELI Conductor: Kakhi Solomnishvili Start time: 20:00 Ticket price: 10-75 GEL BIOLI HALL Address: Bioli Medical Wellness Resort, Kojori December 24 The Georgian Philharmonic Orchestra and Nikoloz Rachveli present A new version of the project THE WORLD’S GREATEST SOUNDTRACKS Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 595 GEL The price covers: Festive dinner and wine CONCERT HALL MOZAIKA Address: 61 Agmashenebeli Ave. Telephone: 247 92 20 December 27, 28 Enki-Benki TV and ‘Children's Music Hall’ Presents theatrical play CITY OF DREAMS The miracle, which took place in the City of Dreams on Christmas night. Start time: 19:30 Ticket: 12, 15 GEL ELEKTROWERK Address: 2 Monk Gabriel Salosi, 1st Turn Telephone: 577 78 24 97 December 23 GEORGIAN ROCK BAND DAGDAGANI THE FIRST SOLO SHOW Start time: 19:30 Ticket: 12, 15 GEL FABRIKA Address: 8 Ninoshvili Str. December 24 THE NEW YORK CLARINET Levan Tskhadadze- clarnet, Davit Aladashvili- piano, MIsho Urushadze- DJ set. Start time: 21:00 Ticket: 35 GEL


CULTURE

GEORGIA TODAY DECEMBER 22 - 25, 2017

15

Georgian Actor on the Latest Success & Berlinale 2018 BY LIKA CHIGLADZE

E

uropean Shooting Stars, the annual prestigious selection of 10 young talents to watch, has announced its fresh faces for 2018, among them Georgian fledgling actor Irakli Kvirikadze, famous for playing the lead role in the film Hostages by celebrated Georgian director Rezo Gigineishvili. The selected up-and-coming actors from Europe, including Irakli, will be honored at the Berlin International Film Festival 2018. He is the first Georgian actor to be given this prestigious prize. "Irakli is a fresh talent, having given a truly impressive performance in Hostages, an ensemble drama in which he shines, thanks to the emotional depth he displays,” the Shooting Stars jury stated. “Still young, Irakli's admirable skills as a trained actor

How a Georgian Artist’s Painting Ended up in Björk’s Hands BY LIKA CHIGLADZE

L

egendary Icelandic musician and singer Björk paid a visit to Georgia this summer for the first time and held two concerts at the Tbilisi Concert Hall and Opera in Tbilisi. The popular and one of the most highly-paid singers, in addition to performing in a floral crown designed by a Georgian designer, and enjoying Georgian bean soup lobio, upon departing took a painting by a young Georgian artist with her. The artwork depicts Björk from her video clip for the song Pagan Poetry, which is the second single from the album Vespertine released in 2001. As it turned out, the person behind the portrait of the well-known singer is Nino Paichadze, a young artist and a big fan of Björk’s music, who is best known for creating rare 3D style artworks. Nino Paichadze is 24 years-old and lives in Tbilisi. She studied artistic woodwork and design at the Tbilisi State Academy of Arts. In parallel with creating art, the artist works as a creative director at the Japanese Language & Culture Center. As a true lover of Björk’s music, Nino attended her concert at Tbilisi Opera and Ballet Theater and even managed to make her dream come true and present her artwork to the beloved musician. GEORGIA TODAY contacted her to find out more. “I painted Björk’s portrait in 2013. The main purpose of all my paintings where I portray famous singers and musicians, is that one day they will see my artworks and like them so much that decide to keep them. Even though I didn’t know whether I’d be able to give my artwork to Björk, I quickly got the special border-crossing documentation ready for the painting and took my one-meter wooden piece to the Tbilisi Opera. When I entered the building, I started searching for someone who could help me hand my present to the singer. At first I was told to approach administration, then the coulisses and finally I ended up at the room of the

allow him to express passion, anger and sensibility. He has a natural presence and his overwhelming energy combined with humble eagerness, makes him an undisputed 'one to watch’." For the 21st edition of European Shooting Stars, this year's jury of industry experts selected a list of what they deem to be 2018's 10 most talented, up-and-coming actors from all over Europe, who are ready to step out onto the international film scene. They will be presented to the film industry, public and international press during the 68th Berlin International Film Festival (February 15 – 25, 2018). The group will take part in a dedicated workshop program, rounded off by an awards ceremony at the Berlinale Palast on Monday, February 19, where each actor will be given a European Shooting Stars Award. GEORGIA TODAY spoke to actor Irakli Kvirikadze who is currently based in Los Angeles, and asked him to tell us about his achievement.

ning that this film would receive controversial feedback, because the story on which the movie is based is very private and painful for many people in Georgia. The whole team put a lot of energy and effort into making work.”

organizers of the event. I asked one of the staff members if it was possible to give my painting to the singer. They did not respond instantly and told me to leave my artwork and contact information. One of the organizers left the artwork along with the documentation in the room and told me that Björk’s manager personally saw it and was really impressed. As I was told, the manager had a look at the documentation and when realizing that everything was made in accordance, kept the artwork. The very next day, as agreed, I called the member of the organizational team and, as it turned out, Björk had taken the painting with her. What could be more pleasing than hearing that your favorite musician took your artwork?” Paichadze told us. When artist heard the news, she was so excited that she instantly made it public on her social media account: “Guys, I have very good news. The organizers of the SOU festival informed me that Björk took my painting with her!” Nino’s artworks stand out for their individuality and performing technique called 3D Anaglyph that creates a three-dimensional effect. “In order to see the artwork as a 3D object, one has to look through 3D glasses. These are the types of paintings that are firmly connected with music. Actually, I’m the only one doing it right now in Georgia,” the artist elaborated on her art. The artist explained she has been drawing since she first took a pencil in hand. When she enrolled at the Tbilisi State Academy of Arts, she received 100% scholarship after passing the national exams successfully. After graduating, the artist was accepted by the New York Academy of Arts as a student in the Master of Fine Arts degree program, but unfortunately, she was not able to continue her studies, since she could not get funding in Georgia. “Every human being who uses one’s potential and skills at best is like a god. We have the potential to invent, bring change and create everything from scratch, but because we do not fully realize it, we lose this opportunity and potential,” the young artist told us.

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“I ended up at Shooting Stars through the Georgian National Film Center,” he told us. “Georgia presented my candidacy and I was accepted. I succeeded thanks to the help of many people, in particular, director Rezo Gigineishvili and producer Tamara Tatishvili, who introduced my name to the Georgian Film Center. To be honest, I was not expecting to be selected for the award and I can hardly believe in it even now. It’s a really big achievement and it really means a lot to me.” The world premiere of Hostages, through which the actor earned his fame, was held as part of the 67th Berlin International Film Festival and only afterwards, in April, was it screened in Georgia’s cinemas. The film by Rezo Gigineishvili is based on a tragic story that took place in 1980s Soviet Georgia. A group of friends who wanted to escape the Soviet regime attempted to hijack a plane in Tbilisi airport and flee to the United States, but their plan failed and the result was a tragedy. “Playing this role in the film was extremely interesting and a big responsibility,” Irakli said. “It is a big challenge when you play a person who was known to the entire country. There are many people who knew Gega Kobakhidze very well and had close relations with him. I knew from the begin-

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Issue #1009  
Issue #1009  

December 22 - 25, 2017

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