Issue no: 1025
• FEBRUARY 23 - 26, 2018
• PUBLISHED TWICE WEEKLY
PRICE: GEL 2.50
In this week’s issue...
10-Year-Old Runs Away from Khashuri to See Tbilisi Zoo NEWS PAGE 2
Ghosts & Illusions in Abkhazia (Part 2 of the Adventure) POLITICS PAGE 5
Niels Scott on the Challenges Georgia Faces
ON AN ANNIVERSARY Celebrating 7 years of blogs from Tony in Svaneti!
POLITICS PAGE 6
Audit Office: a 3rd of Trees Planted in Tbilisi in 2015-2016 Dried Up BY THEA MORRISON
ne-third of the trees planted in Tbilisi in 2015-2016 have dried up, the report of Georgia’s State Audit Office (SAO) reads. The SAO added that Tbilisi City Hall spent the budgetary money allocated for tree-planting inefficiently: GEL 24,730,300 on planting around 398,000 trees. The report reads that according to the 2015 project of Tbilisi Mayor’s Office, they were to plant 400,000 trees: 200,000 in spring and 200,000 in autumn. Yet the SAO says in spring 2015 only 72,043 trees were planted and in autumn City Hall purchased 326,100 trees, in total planting 398,143 trees in 2015 instead of the agreed 400,000. Moreover, in 2016, Tbilisi City Hall planted
only 13,000 instead of the agreed 20,000. SAO says Tbilisi City Hall could not fulfill the undertaken responsibilities properly, which resulted in unproductive spending of the capital’s budgetary funds. The report also listed other shortcomings, adding that Tbilisi City Hall did not select appropriate areas for planting trees in. The audit also revealed that City Hall purchased greenery activities through simplified procurements instead of competitive tender, which would have saved budgetary money. SAO added that the contract made with the company responsible for the works was ineffective as it did not envisage replacement of dried trees with new ones. “The majority of planted trees near the Oncology Center have dried up or no longer exist. The spending of the Mayor's Office in this regard was ineffective,” the report of the State Audit Office reads.
GD Majority Overrides President’s Veto on Broadcasting Law Amendments POLITICS PAGE 8
Shavi Lomi: The First Georgian Food Revolution SOCIETY PAGE 10
Korean Peace Marathoner on his Experience in Georgia CULTURE PAGE 13
Contemporary Georgian Sculptor’s Works Displayed on Google Arts & Culture CULTURE PAGE 15
FEBRUARY 23 - 26, 2018
10-Year-Old Runs Away from Khashuri to See Tbilisi Zoo
Photo source: ambebi.ge
BY THEA MORRISON
iorgi Nozadze, a 10year-old boy who went missing from his hometown Khashuri, in Shida Kartli region, was found by police patrol officers in the capital city of Tbilisi on Wednesday.
As reported, the boy had never seen Tbilisi Zoo and decided to come himself, travelling from Khashuri to Tbilisi by train. Giorgi lost his way and was unable to find the zoo, and while he was walking along Aghmashenebeli Avenue, patrol police officers noticed him and, on questioning him, discovered he had run away from home. Police found and contacted Giorgi’s parents and his father came to Tbilisi to take his son home.
Iberia TV Accuses Gov’t of Pressure BY THEA MORRISON
he journalists of Georgia’s local and private broadcaster, Iberia TV, have accused the government of pressure. The statement from staff was released by the Head of the news service, Vakho Khuzmiashvili, who called on the government to stop “illegal actions” against Omega Group, the main financer of the TV channel. Khuzmiashvili noted that Omega, the main donor to Iberia TV, and its companies, are suffering financial hardship. “Omega Group is a victim of dumping, which creates serious financial problems for Iberia TV. The journalists working for the channel suspect this is a deliberate attempt to force the channel to stop broadcasting with free editorial policies,” the statement says. Earlier, Archil Gamzardia, Iberia TV journalist, had spoken out about the pressure on free media. "There is an assumption that the government is trying to block the financing source of Iberia TV by affecting its main donor company,” he said. Georgia’s most opposition-minded broadcaster, Rustavi 2, reports that the Omega Group suffered a $100 million loss after multinational company British American Tobacco “violated the laws on competition and tobacco control.” Omega Group General Manager Levan Aghdgomelashvili told Rustavi 2 that Tbilisi City Court had ruled in their favor;
Photo source: Iberia TV
however, the Appeals and Supreme courts did not uphold this decision. Aghdgomelashvili claims that local and international business operators deliberately brought Omega Group to a crisis, and is calling on the authorities to investigate the case. Eliso Kiladze, Editor-in-Chief of the newspaper Qrionika Plus, says this is another attempt by the government to cut financing of the private television channel in order to silence it. Kiladze says the upper instance courts ruled in favor of Prime Minister Giorgi Kvirikashvili’s business partner British American Tobacco, adding that Omega Group was refused their compensation of $100 million. Business Ombudsman Irakli Lekvinadze says he is well aware of Omega’s disputes but says no discussions have yet been held regaridng the claims of Iberia TV. British American Tobacco Corporate Manager, Zviad Skhvitaridze rejects the accusations of Omega Group. “The total income of all tobacco companies on the Georgian market during the last 10-11 years does not amount to $100 million, so the claims from Omega Group that they had such a huge loss is
absurd,” he stated. The statement of TV company Iberia was followed by a sharp response from Prime Minister Giorgi Kvirikashvili, who named the broadcaster’s claims “nonsense.” “I reiterate that it is beyond the bounds of possibility. The government, which has ensured that new TV stations can register and commence broadcasting in a matter of days, cannot accept these accusations. No one can compromise the achievement of ‘media freedom’ under our government. I say with full responsibility that things like this cannot possibly be happening,” the PM stressed. On February 21, the journalists of Iberia TV held a meeting with Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) and provided them with detailed information about the recent developments. The Executive Director of the Georgian Journalists’ Charter, Natia Aghdgomelashvili, stated after the meeting that they are watching the process carefully, adding that Iberia is not the only TV accusing the government of undue pressure. “We know that Rustavi 2 and TV Pirveli had the same claims as Iberia TV, which underlines that the media, as a strong business, does not exist in Georgia,” she stated.
GEORGIA TODAY FEBRUARY 23 - 26, 2018
Shiny & Clean: The Future We Hope Georgian Irakli for in Georgian Taxi Services Kvirikadze among
Europe's 10 Emerging Young Actors
OP-ED BY TIM OGDEN
ike life itself, taxis in Georgia are a box of chocolates: you never know what you’re going to get. Your driver might be one of the many in the city who smells as though he and water have never met (it’s a sort of stale sweat meets cigarettes and eye-wateringly bad breath sort of odor), whose car looks like it survived the war of 2008, with an engine that runs on gas of some description, and sounds as though it may explode at any moment. But you may also find yourself, as I once did, being driven by a young man who studied at Chester University – “Don’t look at me like that,” he told me in flawless English as my jaw punched a hole in the floor: Chester is a good university, or used to be, but the mad bugger told me he absolutely enjoyed driving his taxi and so didn’t want to apply for any other job; I bet his parents were less than happy. The cars from taxi companies are generally the best, since there’s less chance of the driver trying it on with their female passengers; if I had a Lari for every time my wife has told me taxi drivers have played the usual Georgian flirting card of ‘You are so beautiful’ and then expressed angry disappointment when she reveals she’s married to a foreigner, I’d be as rich as Croesus. The standard of driving might also be marginally better, but any longer distance journeys outside of the capital generally mean one has to roll the dice of getting transport which is nothing more than a Georgian man with a cheap
‘TAXI’ sign on the roof of his ageing car. This is really one of the main reasons why I want to see taxi services regulated in Georgia, and why I hope the introduction of regulated ‘official’ cars at Tbilisi International Airport spreads throughout the land. I was very nearly killed last year by a reckless taxi driver trying to show off to my wife and our friend (an incident I recounted on these pages over a year ago), and have been frequently frightened by many others with no other outlet for their testosterone. In the long-run, entirely regulated taxi services will be good for the country, but their introduction at the airport will see some short-term benefits too. There is nothing more frustrating or embarrassing than meeting friends and family new to the country at the airport and then escorting them through the mass of shouting, unwashed and unkempt men wanting to overcharge them for a
relatively short journey; you can see them wondering where the hell they’ve come to. One of them even had the impudence to grab my brother’s arm when he visited the country two years ago, and he’s a shy sort of chap: the good impression thermometer reached an absolute zero from the start for him, and I doubt he’s alone. One concern consistently raised over regulating taxi services is that it will put many people out of work when they fail to pass the re-vamped driving test or when their vehicles are declared unsafe and unsuitable for use in a service industry. That’s a matter for the government to deal with, I’d say – as awful as it might be for a horde of ageing Georgian men to suddenly be unemployed, I’d rather reach my destination in one piece – and if Georgia wants to impress as a tourist destination, then the taxis around the country had better become as shiny, efficient and clean as those sitting outside the airport.
oung Georgian actor Irakli Kvirikadze, best known for his leading role in “Hostages”, received a European Shooting Stars Award at the 68th Berlinale International Film Festival. Irakli was named among Europe’s most talented and promising actors who have already gained popularity in their own countries and are ready to be introduced to the international film industry. The European Shooting Stars is one of the most successful programs of the
European Film Promotion (EFP), which promotes European Film and advocates European actors worldwide. This program has put a spotlight on once aspiring actors such as Carey Mulligan, Alicia Vikander, Pilou Asbaek. Irakli Kvirikadze, along with the other ‘Shooting Stars,’ took part in a workshop program where the actors were introduced to the press, casting directors, producers and other influential people attending Berlinale 2018. The program was topped off with a grand ceremony at the Berlinale Palast.
Georgia’s Ranking Worsens in Corruption Perception Index 2017
FEBRUARY 23 - 26, 2018
Russia & Israel in Syria
BY THEA MORRISON
lobal anti-corruption organization Transparency International (TI), released its annual Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) 2017 on February 21, which shows that Georgia is ranked 46th among 180 countries with a score of 56 points. In CPI 2016, Georgia’s score was 57 and it was ranked 44th among 176 countries. In the Corruption Perception Index 2012, Georgia had 52 points (51st place), in 2013 - 49 points (55th place), in 2014 - 52 points (50th place), in 2015 - 52 points (48th place). In the ranking, 100 points indicate the lowest level of perceived corruption while 0 – its highest level. “The stability of Georgia’s position in the CPI over the past several years (and its worsening in 2017) indicates that, after Georgia made certain progress, its government needs to step up its anticorruption efforts,” the report reads. This year, New Zealand and Denmark rank highest with scores of 89 and 88 respectively. Syria, South Sudan and Somalia rank lowest with scores of 14, 12 and 9 respectively. The best perform-
Photo source: longwarjournal.org
The gov't needs to step up its anticorruption efforts ing region is Western Europe with an average score of 66. The worst performing regions are Sub-Saharan Africa (average score 32) and Eastern Europe and Central Asia (average score 34). The Corruption Perceptions Index was established in 1995 as a composite indicator used to measure perceptions of corruption in the public sector in different countries around the world. The Corruption Perceptions Index aggregates data from a number of different sources that provide perceptions of business people and country experts of the level of corruption in the public sector.
OP-ED BY EMIL AVDALIANI
ussia retains an important place on the Syrian battlefield. However, it is often c h a l l e n ge d by m a ny regional powers which are also interested in the developments in Syria. Iran, Turkey and others are good examples, but recently yet another country, Israel, is set to gradually increase its position there. The most recent example of Israeli activities is a good reflection of Russian problems: the February 11 launching of multiple air strikes on Syrian-Iranian targets in Syria. Russian politicians so far have been surprisingly mute on the Israeli airstrikes. There has been just one official statement from the Russian Foreign Ministry which urged all sides involved to show restraint and avoid actions that could lead to complicating the situation further. However, the lack of comments from the Russian politicians does not hide
the fact the Kremlin is in an increasingly difficult position as it tries to maintain good relations with both Iran and Israel, both of which share deep differences. A number of political commentators believe that there is nothing new as Israel had always vowed to destroy military build-ups near its borders and the action was quite foreseeable considering Netanyahu’s comments during his last visit to Moscow late January. At the same time, Russians are wondering to what extent the Kremlin will go in allowing Israel to carry out targeted actions on Syrian soil. With these latest airstrikes, it has become clear the Israeli military engagement could in fact evolve into something more serious, out of Russian control. And the Russians are keen to keep the balance in Syria. Indeed, on a much wider lever, the Israeli airstrikes also show how ineffective the Russian efforts to maintain a dominant position in the Syrian battlefield have become. With the Turkish operation in Afrin, north Syria, it has become clear that Moscow is unable to forestall the increase of Ankara’s influence. Similar problems already existed with Iranian moves before, but now pro-Iranian forces are close to the Israeli border. More recently, Russia effectively failed to make something serious out of the Sochi conference in late January. Comments in the Russian media hint that, strategically speaking, Russia would not want yet another powerful player such as Israel to enter an already overcrowded Syrian battlefield. This is particularly true as Moscow is currently aiming to solidify its positions following the important military victories. Deep Israeli involvement could, therefore, be regarded as something which can potentially unravel the dominant role of Russia in Syria. At the same time, some hints in the Russian media over the past several days point to an interesting scenario whereby the Israeli involvement in Syria could force Russia to be more open in pro-Iranian strategy, while so far Moscow has always tried, at least officially, to maintain cooperation with both countries. Some Russian pundits, however, suggest that since Moscow has been wary that its major ally, Iran, might eventually, through its proxies, seize the strategic opportunity and increase its clout in Syria: the country could be interested
Russian leaders would not be entirely able to forestall future Israeli involvement in Syria if not in Israel’s total engagement in Syria, then at least in some actions which could limit Iran’s power. In fact, days before the Israeli strikes in Syria, at a January 30 meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow, Netanyahu said that "[t]he most important thing is to make sure that we understand each other and that we don't shoot down each other's planes.” Indeed, the question as to whether or not the Israeli involvement in the Syrian conflict will be confined to solely maintaining its own security along the borders was raised by some analysts in Russia over the past two days. Overall, the tone of the Russian media towards Israel was neutral at the time, with no particular anti-Iranian stance. Considering Israel’s security imperatives, it could be argued that Israeli intervention was well expected. Iran is gaining most out of the Syrian chaos and it is highly likely that Israel will have to respond to that in the future even if the Golan Heights are not directly threatened. Since we do not have any other official statements from the Russian officials, nor direct government leaks in leading Russian dailies such as Kommersant, Izvestia and others, the Russian position will be important to watch. Like most other players in Syria, Moscow would not welcome any additional actors in the country. However, as seen in numerous analytical comments from Russia, the Russian leaders would not be entirely able to forestall future Israeli involvement in Syria, which is likely to remain active.
GEORGIA TODAY FEBRUARY 23 - 26, 2018
Ghosts & Illusions in Abkhazia (Part 2 of the Adventure) BY TOM DAY
e really got the feeling we were being watched during our time there; from men in cars who seemed a little out of place, to one sitting at the other end of the restaurant to us with no food at any time while we were there, looking in our direction, but not daring to catch our eye. There was an atmosphere in Abkhazia which echoed the not-so-distant Soviet times. People seemed to be ever so slightly afraid, and it was as if they had been told not to talk to tourists about anything to do with the Georgian conflict. The convenient gap in memory was apparent in everyone we talked to. The first man we talked to was a taxi driver. We asked him to tell us what happened in the 2008. He pretended to have no recollection of Russian-backed troops murdering and forcing out hundreds of thousands of Georgians. It was as if it was just a normal day. One man, a Government Official, took a liking to our female Lithuanian friend. He took us out a few times and kept trying to get me and my Hungarian friend away so he could have her to himself. We felt like bodyguards. She tried to squeeze something out of him (not in that way), but even her powers of female persuasion couldn’t break the secrecy. But I think that it was he who was try-
ing to get information out of us. We must’ve aroused suspicion when my Hungarian friend and I spoke English in front of him, naively assuming he couldn’t understand us. We used such words as ‘journalist’ and ‘article,’ with ‘Abkhazia’ and ‘Georgia’ in the same sentences. The next day he took us to visit a church, where we met a ‘Priest’. He spoke English surprisingly well, and with his friendly charm, lured us into a sense of relaxation. Out of nowhere, he looked invasively into my eyes, freezing me in place as if he were physically holding me there, and asked “are you a journalist?” I have only ever experienced this look in someone’s eyes once before in my life, when I crossed the border into Russia and was questioned in a taxi by, what I am certain was an undercover FBS agent. It was overwhelming and the shock of being asked such a question, which I could tell he had been previously informed about, caught me off-guard, and I think I gave away that he was right. I don’t know if we succeeded in convincing him otherwise, or whether he just didn’t see us as a threat, but we managed to avoid further questioning during our time in Abkhazia. It’s no wonder we attracted attention, because we weren’t behaving like ordinary tourists. Stepping inside the burntout government building on ‘Freedom Square’, we felt like we were entering the set of a zombie film; we half-anxiously entered each room, worrying about what could jump out from the corner. Ivy and other plant life had claimed the structure, just as the Abkhaz and Russian
forces had done to the region. Underground, we found what we believed to be a Soviet interrogation room. It was ever-so-slightly too small and contained a basic table and a chair with two back legs missing. If you believe in ghosts, then there were definitely some in there with us; the temperature dropped, and the air got heavy as we explored the lower floors. The eerie
silence seemed to allow cries of the past to be heard. One final thing we had to do before leaving was get the “visa.” To do this, we had to go to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Sukhumi with our invitation letter, wait 15 minutes while they pretended to do something in the office, and pay the equivalent to 10 GEL each. We were handed a piece of paper which was so
cheaply-produced that some of the words were slightly slanted. It looked like someone had gone to the effort of forging an official document but had done so poorly. We laughed about it and slipped them into our passports to keep as a souvenir, but they wouldn’t let us cross the border back with them, making it feel like more of a ticket to an amusement park than permission to visit a country.
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FEBRUARY 23 - 26, 2018
Niels Scott on the Challenges Georgia Faces EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW BY SOFO JAVAKHISHVILI
EORGIA TODAY interviewed UN Resident Coordinator and UNDP Resident Representative and UNFPA Representative in Georgia, Niels Scott, on Georgia and the challenges it is facing.
HOW WOULD YOU ASSESS GEORGIA’S CONTRIBUTION TO INTERNATIONAL PEACEKEEPING MISSIONS? Georgia is one of the leading troop contribution countries, with two peacekeeping missions currently in very sensitive areas, including Afghanistan, keeping stability in the region. Considering the fact that the country is facing many challenges of its own, it’s fantastic how Georgians go on peacebuilding missions. I was astounded when I saw the figures and the tremendous effort made by Georgians over more than two decades.
WHAT DO YOU SEE AS GEORGIA’S MAIN CHALLENGE IN ADVANCING BETTER LIVING CONDITIONS? We have a number of impressive reforms taking place in Georgia. Public administration is improved and, in fact, it’s a role model for other countries. We have decentralization; government is being pushed towards communities where decisions are being made. You have a lot of people in Georgia living in remote areas, and I think it very important to encourage rural and mountainous areas; to encourage developing and retaining their populations. They have been living
for generations and love their places, and the worst scenario would be if they had to leave. There are amazing success stories in every region, with people making small or medium enterprises in rural areas. Economic growth in Georgia has been steady compared with neighboring regions, and Georgia has succeeded in a number of ways, such as ease of making business, and this is not an insignificant achievement. The number of tourists visiting Georgia is also growing rapidly. But there needs to be balance between economic growth and social development, meaning that there might be economical growth, but the entire population should benefit from it. Education is an investment, particularly preschool education, which of course forms the individual. Primary and Secondary educations are also important: having teachers with appropriate qualifications and retaining and promoting good teachers. Economic growth needs to be supported by education. Vocational education also needs to be promoted to increase the ability to bring relevant skills to the labor market. In various surveys, businesses reply that finding well-trained staff is a challenge. Parents [in Georgia] sometimes think that their children should go to university to study science, law or medicine but the result may be a surplus of doctors and lawyers. There are really good examples of countries worldwide where it is actually very popular to choose vocational education, allowing students to get a job faster than some people in more specialized fields.
HOW HAS GEORGIA MET THE SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT GOALS? Georgia is taking the SDG [Sustainable Development Goals] very seriously.
Georgian Diplomats Discuss Visa-Liberalization Challenges
These are the 17 goals and 169 targets that all UN countries agreed on. In terms of what we call nationalization, Georgia actually chose to make some of the targets tougher than the global ones. For example, reducing poverty. The level of poverty in Georgia is high, with a lot of people in agriculture where there is not overall high productivity yet. So people are for now trapped in a lowincome situation. Agriculture is an important priority for the government: and that’s why the SDGs are so useful in helping to make sure that people working in these lower income areas are not left behind and to create harmony between economic growth and social equity.
eorgia’s Vice-Premier and Foreign Minister, Mikheil Janelidze, had a meeting with Georgian diplomats late on Tuesday to discuss preventive measures for the increased number of Georgian asylum seekers arriving in European Union countries. The diplomats also discussed ways of avoiding the activation of the suspension mechanism from the EU structures, which will suspend Georgia’s main successful achievement of the last year – the visafree regime with the European Union. This issue became acute after the three countries - Germany, France and Sweden, expressed concern over the significant increase of asylum seekers from Georgia, adding that crime committed by them has also increased. Georgia’s Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary to Belgium and Luxembourg, Permanent Representative in
the European Union, Natalie Sabanadze, also attended the meeting. According to her, at present there is no threat of suspension of the legislation. “We talked about the ways and measures to improve the situation. There are two main ways - cooperation with the EU law enforcement agencies and carrying out a large-scale campaign in the country,” she added. The statistical information of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Georgia reads that 226,655 Georgians enjoyed visa-free travel to the Schengen zone during the period from the launch of the visa-free travel (March 28, 2017) to February 10, 2018. The Ministry added 767 citizens were refused entry to the Schengen zone. Statistical data published by the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Germany says that in September 2017, 238 citizens of Georgia demanded asylum in Germany, adding this number significantly increased in the following months. In October, the number of asylum seekers was 355, in November - 444, in December - 522 and in January - 745.
Education is the backbone of economic growth; we have seen numerous examples in other countries, where an investment in education pays off. Education benefits not only economic development, it also has a social impact. Education also means encouraging them to take the initiative and to improve their situation and contribute to their communities. This is an important way in which progress can be achieved.
BASED ON YOUR EXPERIENCE, WHAT IS THE SOLUTION TO THE DOMESTIC VIOLENCE ISSUE? There were some recent surveys conducted
and through them, you can see slowly shifting attitudes. Previously, tolerance towards domestic violence was far too high: people would say domestic violence is a private matter and I think this is intrinsically wrong. As Dostoyevsky once said: ‘Everybody is responsible for everything and to everyone.’ But many people are starting to feel that domestic violence is no longer tolerable and would be more likely to report incidents. In addition, police have been trained, and we now have more specialist policewomen which helps with the reporting of incidents. Overall, we can say that there are improvements but the number of incidents of domestic violence and the number of incidents which are not reported are still way too high.
Oddities in the Georgian Presidency OP-ED BY NUGZAR B. RUHADZE
BY THEA MORRISON
WHAT AREAS IN GEORGIA MOST NEED TO BE IMPROVED?
ears ago, when the incumbent Georgian President was campaigning for office, being promoted and propped up by the most influential political forces of the country, my curiosity found itself on the verge of an angry outburst: why him, and not somebody else who would fit into the job description just as well or even better? Or, why not me, for instance – a gentleman of suitable count of years, with solid experience in foreign and domestic servitude, fluent in three languages and with a smattering of several others, with high-level diplomatic education, a grandmaster of protocol, equipped with a strong aptitude to handle the royal court intrigues, and simply a nice guy with enough white on the crown, suffering no kinks and not having to brave the eccentricities of his character. Funny, isn’t it? One might think that I have run amok, but let the doubters rest assured that I am in an enviable cerebral shape. I just wanted to know – why him? Although the question has, in time, turned into a trivial generic query, it might still merit a couple of answers, approximated to affordable truth: impressive physicals, agile mind, notable eloquence, linguistic aptitude, excellent education, years of administrative experience under the belt, and sincerely loved by his powerful promoters. What else could one desire in a out-of-theblue presidential nomination, especially
if the wannabe head of state is never to be a decision-maker according to the currently functioning Constitution? So, the candidacy choice was more than acceptable and optimal! What happened after? What happened after is that a couple of totally unexpected features were accidentally added to the innocuous list of the presidential candidate’s characteristics after the candidate had stepped into presidential office: political ambition, personal pride and desire to play a real part in the nation’s business. Why not, if this is endorsed by the Constitution! If not, then the President, though elected by the people’s direct vote, tends to trigger an actual diarchy in managing the country because in a parliamentary republic, like ours today, it is the Prime Minister who is sitting under the Sword of Damocles, not the President!
It is odd that Georgia is being ruled by five branches of power, not by three, as is commonplace in most countries. Georgia does not need that many levers of management. This is a sheer waste of national energy, which is depleted, as it is even without this deplorable extravagancy! Excessive administrative efforts and infatuation with a big government is conducive to myriad inconveniences and blunders, and on top of that, we don’t look solid enough in the eyes of the friendly western world which would never put up with our irrationality in ruling the nation. So much for the political side of the current Georgian presidency... On a purely human, let’s call it man-to-man, the weird presidential activity and works thereof have instigated a huge amount of frustration in those unpleasantly surprised strongmen, without whose sincere trust and leading upper hand the guy would never have resided on the enviable throne of the Republic, although visibly symbolic and clearly protocol-oriented. Hence, the onset of a crippled relationship with the ruling party and nonspeaking terms with the present government! Did this exceedingly lucky but not completely appreciative man need this uninvited nauseous headache? Probably not. So, why can’t we go back to the real presidential model of ruling this nation, so that the future Georgian presidents are real again? I mean Presidents, not Kings and Queens and Emperors, and certainly, not those regular dictators with the annoying desire to remain cozily ensconced on the top forever.
FEBRUARY 23 - 26, 2018
GD Majority Overrides President’s Veto on Broadcasting Law Amendments
million GEL. In 2018, the funding of the GPB has been increased by 5.695 million GEL, amounting to 52.100 million GEL. President Margvelashvili vetoed the bill last month. He attached motivated remarks to the bill and returned it to
Parliament for re-consideration. He had two main complaints, which referred to the GPB right of commercial advertising and the issue of state procurements. Georgia’s Parliament Speaker, Irakli Kobakhidze, stated that the aim of the
amendments was to avoid embezzlement of tens of millions of GEL from the budget. Kobakhidze said the GPB has zero rating and claimed that the money spent so far on its financing had been embezzled. “The amendments adopted by Parliament aim at changing the situation,” the Speaker added. Giorgi Abashishvili, Head of the Presidential Administration, slammed the ruling party for overcoming the veto, saying their main aim was not the issue itself but confronting the President. “Overriding the presidential vetoes has become the tradition of the ruling team. By adopting this law, corruption risks are created and the different media outlets are put in unequal conditions. It is unfortunate that the government does not understand this,” Abashishvili stressed. The opposition, private media outlets and NGOs disapproved the changes to the Law on Broadcasting from the beginning, saying granting advertising rights to the GPB will harm the media environment in the country, and the broadcaster should no longer receive funding from the state budget following the amendments. In late January, 37 Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) operating in Georgia called on Parliament not to override the veto, while a few days ago, up to 60 media organizations urged MPs not to support the amendments to the Law on Broadcasting.
In response to Orban’s incendiary speech, Luxembourg’s Foreign Minister Jean Asselborn compared the fire-brand Hungarian PM to a dictator. Head of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Hungary, Peter Siyarto, called his Luxembourg colleague Jean Asselborn an
"idiot" with insane ideas. Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban recently said his government would oppose the efforts of the EU and the UN to expand migration around the world, as "Islam will soon knock on the doors of Central Europe."
The European Commission is preparing a decision on a lawsuit against Hungary, Poland and the Czech Republic in the European Court for failure to comply with the decision of 2015 on the resettlement of refugees from Greece and Italy on the EU quota.
BY THEA MORRISON
uling Georgian Dream (GD) MPs have overruled Georgian President Giorgi Margvelashvili’s veto on amendments to the Broadcasting Law, which gives the state-financed Georgian Public Broadcaster (GPB) more independency and power as well as the right of commercial advertising. At the parliament session on February 21, 83 MPs voted to overthrow the veto, while 13 lawmakers, mainly from the opposition parties, were against. The parliamentary majority has overruled all vetoes of President Margvelashvili so far, as they have 116 MPs in a 150-member legislative body and form the supermajority. In order to overcome a presidential veto, the votes of at least 76 MPs are needed. According to the amendments, the GPB will no longer have to announce public procurement calls when purchasing media products or services, as it has been lifted from its obligation to observe the Law on Public Procurement. Furthermore, as a result of the amendments, the powers of the nine-member Board of Trustees have been reduced: now they will need the Director General’s consent to carry out reforms. The GPB, whose financing increases proportionally to the state budget, will no longer have to return unused funds
to the state budget. It has also been given the right to finance start-ups and innovative television, radio and online products. Last year, the broadcaster received around 46.4 million GEL from the state, while in 2016, it was financed with 44.5
Hungary’s Policy Could Cost her Membership in the EU BY DIMITRI DOLABERIDZE
inister of Foreign Affairs of Luxembourg Jean Asselborn believes that the policy of the Hungarian government could cost Budapest membership in the European Union. He stated this in a telephone interview with the Hungarian edition of Magyar Nemzet, a major Hungarian newspaper. Earlier, in an interview with the German edition of Der Tagesspiegel, Asselborn criticized the Hungarian legislative initiative ‘Stop Soros’ and urged the European Commission to initiate a sanction procedure against Hungary. “I do not hate Hungary. Peter Siyarto [note: a Hungarian politician who has been Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade since September 2014] or Victor Orban [a Hungarian politician and jurist, current Prime Minister of Hungary, in office since 2010]. We’re not talking about individuals, but about basic principles, values, laws and respect for human dignity in every EU member state,” Asselborn said. “We can’t punish non-governmental organizations that help asylum seek-
ers. Such methods are used only by authoritarian regimes, unworthy of a democratic European Union,” the Luxembourg Minister added. Asselborn noted that he had a perfectly normal relationship with his Hungarian colleague Siyarto. “I have no anger that could affect our relations; as I said, it's about principles and values: Hungarian politics defies the principles of the European Union.” The Luxembourg Minister noted that he could not understand the thinking of the Hungarian government and warned that his policy could cost Budapest dearly. “The Hungarian people should understand that if they have a government which does this, it might cost them membership in the EU. I would be very sad if that happened,” Asselborn said. During his state-of-the-union speech at the weekend, Hungarian Prime Minister Victor Orban doubled-down on his objection to Muslim refugees entering the EU and reiterated his claim to be the protector of European culture and Christianity. His speech referred to “dark clouds” over Europe as he warned that the continued flow of Muslim refugees would result in an “occupied Europe” that would lead to the eventual collapse of the West.
10 Galaktion Street
Tel: (995 32) 2 45 08 08 E-mail: email@example.com
GEORGIA TODAY FEBRUARY 23 - 26, 2018
Georgian Startup Chosen from 7000 to Pitch to Investors in California BY TOM DAY
eorgian Startup VRex Immersive Inc. has been selected, along with 50 others, out of 7000 worldwide startups to pitch their ambition to investors of Silicon Valley in California. On 14 February, Vrex was accompanied by 49 other startups, and given one minute to pitch to investors. This is a great achievement for them, and for Startup Grind in Tbilisi. VRex has been an active participant in the Tbilisi Startup Grind chapter and received some seed funding from the Georgian Innovation and Technology Association (GITA). They are expected to expand greatly in the coming year, and GITA are working with them closely. VRex Immersive Inc. currently uses its state-ofthe-art virtual reality technology for tourism development and has a lot of virtual-reality experiences created for Georgian destinations. At a recent international travel show in Madrid, the Georgian National Tourism Association had VRexâ€™s technology on show. It outdid every other VR platform there, and had people forming long lines in anticipation of experiencing it. The Minister of Economy attended and suggested that all tourism centers in Georgia should use their technology to promote destinations. GEORGIA TODAY caught up with Startup Grindâ€™s Colin Donohue and Vrex CEO Nikoloz Gogochuri for an interview, before they set off to the event.
COLIN, PLEASE START BY TELLING US ABOUT STARTUP GRIND AND WHY YOU LAUNCHED IT HERE IN TBILISI Iâ€™m a digital marketer with clients in the US and I figured I would do something useful in the startup community, so I started the Startup Grind. The government's doing a lot of great things here, there are a lot of programs, but at the heart of the entrepreneurial process is a community of entrepreneurs. The idea of a startup was very new when we began; nobody had even heard the word back then! I think we began very successfully, hosting a couple of events which led to some good connections and relationships between people. Recently, we ran a retreat to bring together some of the key startups and some support providers to look at where Georgia has been developing over the last few years. The driving force we came away with was to get some success stories, so I focused a lot of my energy on the process of developing a number of lead startups, showing them ways they could connect with the people they need to. It became very clear that it's important to connect with resources outside of Georgia because nobody has really grown big technology companies or startups here, so weâ€™re interested in connecting with mentors, which is why we set up a mentor residence program: They come to Georgia, have a nice time, and spend a couple of weeks advising startups.
EVENTS HELPED STARTUPS TO ENGAGE GLOBALLY, PARTICULARLY VREX IMMERSIVE INC.? The biggest thing has been being part of the Startup Grind community. We have a local chapter here, which we started as a full chapter in the global system, with chapter directors being invited to Global Conferences. So really, by doing good work and building a local community, I was able to participate with the global community of millions of others worldwide. It's a system based on merit - it's not really who you know: if what you're doing is meaningful and of quality, then you will get support. VRex are now on the lead of travel marketing VR; nobody else has a better platform that I'm aware of. At the travel show in Madrid, all sorts of people saw it and said they had the best exhibition VR of any other country. Even Israel, who are very technologically savvy, were far behind. The one that Israel had had three stations where you walk between face sets, you look at one place, and then you move to the next one. With Vrexâ€™s, they have different waypoints, and if you look at a spot for about 5 seconds you are transported to another part.
WHAT WAS THE CRITERIA AND SELECTION PROCESS FOR THE CALIFORNIA EVENT?
We always have several different experiments working at the same time; itâ€™s what you do â€“ you find out what youâ€™re passionate about and you filter it down to â€˜something which is useful.â€™ Technology changes so frequently, but our long-term vision is
to change the travel industry with virtual reality. We want anybody to be able to use virtual reality to make decisions about where to go, and for people to be able to actually share their experiences in an immersive way. In five years, or three years, or in one year, or even tomorrow, we want to find ourselves connecting people to places through virtual reality. That's what we want, and hopefully we'll be making some money, too!
They took a look firstly at the team, which has been together for a long time, and through a lot of challenges, so they fit that criteria very well. Next was technology â€“ technology-wise, they are ahead of all other VR platforms, as I already mentioned. Traction was the third and mass markets was the final criteria, which they definitely appeal to, working to incorporate VR in the tourism sector.
NIKOLOZ, WHY DID YOU CHOOSE GEORGIA AS THE SUBJECT OF YOUR VR CONTENT? Not only are we Georgian and love the country, but it's one of the most diverse places culturally and visually in the region. We could have done the same in Turkey, but it wouldnâ€™t have been as good. Operating in this ecosystem is quite cheap; if we decided to do the same thing in, say, France, I don't know if we could have done it with the money we had. It's easy to do business, it's cheap, and the quality of life is great. It's very relaxed, too.
WHAT FEEDBACK HAVE YOU HAD FROM PEOPLE, PARTICULARLY IN THE TOURISM INDUSTRY, WHO HAVE USED YOUR TECHNOLOGY?
Most of the startups that are working with us right now were started by Georgians who grew up here and live here, so to move to another country to start a company is very difficult. Also, Georgia is a nice place to test the market; word-of-mouth has a lot of power here, and it's very cheap. Then there are some people who are starting companies here from other countries; one of the reasons is it's inexpensive and the policy environment is very supportive of business in general, and also people just like it here; there are a lot of cheap countries that are really dangerous or not as interesting, not as beautiful, so this combination of being an amazing, wonderful place with a lot of things going on and being safe and having a good business environment is a winning combination. I think if more people knew Georgia existed, then more would come.
At the show in Madrid, the Minister of Economy came and saw we were the best in the show, out of all the other countries, and he saw potential for Georgia to become best in the world for the VR tourism market. He saw the real effect of how virtual reality can impress people and how it can affect their decision-making. He witnessed several of the users saying â€˜hey, I want to go there now. Show me how much it costs!â€™ To date, we've been to international events in the travel industry and weâ€™ve probably shown our technology to between 5-10 thousand people. Quite honestly, I have a hard time remembering any negative feedback about the experience. Sometimes people come and say they don't like this virtual reality stuff, and they don't want to give it a go, but that's because they've had a bad experience with other VR platforms. Our technology is further ahead than that, and the best feeling for me is when they don't want to give it a go, but they go for it anyway, and as soon as they turn their head, they smile. That's really does it for me. The real feedback for me is when somebody says â€˜ok, how can I book to go there?â€™ That happens a lot during the travel shows, especially with the general public. In Madrid, most of the people said that they now wanted to go skiing in Gudauri, and that they hadnâ€™t known it existed before. There were a very select few who say it makes them feel dizzy.
HOW HAVE MOVES FROM LOCAL
TECHNOLOGY IS ADVANCING QUICKER
WHY ARE COMPANIES CHOOSING TO MAKE STARTUPS IN GEORGIA?
THAN EVER, AS ARE POSSIBILITIES FOR COMPANIES SUCH AS YOURS. HOW DO YOU SEE VREX IMMERSIVE 12 MONTHS FROM NOW?
FIRST BRAND HOTEL IN KUTAISI UNDER BEST WESTERN INTERNATIONAL Within the framework of the Georgian Hotelsâ€™ Regional Network Development Project â€œ12 hotels in 12 regionsâ€? by GHYHORSPHQWFRPSDQ\Âł6LPHWULDÂ´WKHÂżUVWEUDQGKRWHOKDV been opened in Kutaisi under the Best Western International brand. The hotel accommodates 45 guest rooms, including 40 standard rooms and 5 suites. The hotel was designed taking into consideration special conditions and safety for guests with disabilities.
Address: 11 Grishashvili Str., 4600, Kutaisi, Georgia TEL 219 71 00 firstname.lastname@example.org
Three mobile conference halls are available with a total capacity of about 100 persons. (XURSHDQFXLVLQHFDQEHHQMR\HGLQWKHJURXQGĂ€RRUFDIp and a grill-bar menu in the roof top restaurant with panoramic views over the city. The International Hotels Management Company â€œT3 Hospitality Management,â€? providing the hotel management, has 20 yearsâ€™ experience in hotel management in different countries globally.
FEBRUARY 23 - 26, 2018
Shavi Lomi: The First Georgian Food Revolution do, and not just us but chefs across Georgia, is to bring back a lot of traditional dishes that were lost during communist times. By “lost,” I mean that people stopped cooking them as the culture of borsht and cutleti took over. We lost a lot of different kinds of cheeses and grapes, amongst other things. Today, a lot of us chefs are trying to find the old recipes and bring them back into everyday life. There’s a lot of work left until we achieve collective success in this goal, but we’re definitely getting there slowly but surely.
INTERVIEW BY MATE FOLDI
he foodie revolution in Tbilisi started in 2011, when young Georgian chef Meriko Gubeladze opened her fusion restaurant Shavi
Lomi. “We wanted our restaurant to be original: Georgian cuisine with a twist. The same taste but different ingredients. Our goal was to evoke some kind of emotion from customers once they’d opened the menu: surprise, disappointment, anger — anything. So, we began to look for a chef but struggled to find anyone qualified. Back then, the industry was way behind what it is now; my time in the States allowed me to learn things that put my skills ahead of the people I hired at the time. So, despite my plans to the contrary, I returned to the kitchen as chef myself, and Black Lion was born. It was a huge success. Indeed, back in the day, the pioneers of Georgia’s culinary scene were focusing more on filling the vacuum of European-style cooking and introducing that culture; but no-one was focusing on revolutionizing Georgian food. So, in that sense, we were definitely the first to do so.” So began our discussion with the revolutionary Ms Gubeladze, owner of Shavi Lomi.
SO, HOW ARE YOU REVOLUTIONIZING GEORGIAN CUISINE? What we started was not so much an alteration of the tastes, but of the smaller details. Take the example of the serving of the food. Traditionally, Georgian tables are communal, with food being shared. Instead of, say, giving you ghomi on one plate and kharcho on the other, we tried to combine. We made ghomi green, which disappointed many and surprised others. A dish that has been very successful with our guests is our ‘gobi,’ a wooden plate filled with a mix of Georgian starters: cheese, cornbread, pkhali and walnuts. The name forms the base of the Georgian word for friendship, megobroba, because friends would share food from gobi, so it has a nice history to it. Even though it’s not on our menu, everyone is always asking for it!
HOW HAVE YOU SEEN
THE WINING AND DINING CULTURE DEVELOP SINCE YOU GOT BACK FROM THE US? Oh, it’s changed a lot. As I said, back then it was pretty much static. Now, and this is probably a result of the opening up of the country and the great influx of tourism, Georgians have realized that it’s time to change. As the need to keep to the same traditions as our great-greatgrandfathers waned, people began to appreciate the possibility to be creative with our cuisine. The opening of the Culinary Academy was also a big deal as it facilitated the rise in this profession’s prestige among the younger generation. During the communist era, being a chef was not looked at as something prestigious, but now it is. The last 3 or 4 years have seen the industry develop exponentially, and I believe that it will continue on this trajectory for a while yet. The impact of tourism had a lot to do with this change. The youngsters are bringing more and more creativity into the field and pushing for a loosening of traditions. Of course, there is an old vanguard still fighting them, so to speak, trying to keep everything the same as how their greatgrandmothers served it.
WHAT DO YOU MEAN BY “TRADITIONAL”? Presentation and flavors. Look at the traditional Georgian chicken soup, chikhirtma. As long as you can recognize the taste as chikhirtma, I don’t understand why anyone should protest the kind of ingredient, i.e. mint, terragon, whatever, used in the cooking process. But the older generation are relentless in their complaining.
SO ARE THESE THE KINDS OF CHANGES THAT YOU BRING INTO YOUR COOKING: USING DIFFERENT HERBS TO CREATE THE SAME TRADITIONAL FLAVORS? Indeed. What I mean is that if you call something “kharcho,” you should recognise it as that, and cook it in a manner that ensures the signature taste remains. How you get there, be it through combination X, Y, or Z of ingredients, is what makes things interesting. That process is what holds the key to the individuality of each restaurant: it shouldn't be the hostage of tradition. Another thing that we are trying to
ON THAT NOTE, WHILE IN THE US DID YOU DRAW ANY INSPIRATION FROM ANY PARTICULAR CHEF OR STYLE OF COOKING? I was at a very authentic and upscale Mexican restaurant for a while. That was a very different and unique experience for me: I was very blown away with the food there! It was definitely a source of inspiration for me. Though, to be honest, New York’s food culture in its entirety left a huge lasting impression on me. Everything, the different presentations, the cooking styles, the richness and sheer variety of flavors, was simply amazing.
THROUGHOUT MY TRAVELS IN GEORGIA, I’VE NOTICED THE DIFFERENCES, AT TIMES SUBTLE, AT TIMES EXPLICIT, IN THE FLAVOR AND PRESENTATION OF POPULAR DISHES LIKE KHINKALI AND KHACHAPURI. IS THERE A PARTICULAR REGION OF GEORGIA THAT YOU BASE YOUR COOKING ON? I grew up in Imereti, so I’ve definitely taken a lot of inspiration from there; Megrulian cuisine is another of my favorites, so that too has definitely influenced my cooking. As for things like khinkali and khachapuri, while today they are authentic parts of our cuisine, they are not necessarily unique to Georgia. Lots of other countries have them but in different shapes and form. To that end, I believe that Imeretian and Megrulian food is a lot more authentic and unique to Georgia. For example, I haven’t seen any ‘relatives’ of dishes like pkhali, gepshalia anywhere outside the country. Kakheti is also very interesting food-wise, with chakhapuli and chanakhi, but they also draw a lot of inspiration and influence from Persian and Eastern cuisine.
SO ON THE WHOLE, WHILE GEORGIAN CUISINE DOES OFFER SOME UNIQUE DISHES, ITS MORE AN AMALGAMATION OF FUSION OF A VARIETY OF STYLES? Definitely. There’s a lot of influence from around the world on our cuisine. It makes perfect sense if you look at the history books. We were invaded by Turks, Arabs, to name but two examples, so of course
we have been influenced by them.
YOU MENTIONED THAT YOUR ORIGINAL PLAN WAS TO RUN A RESTAURANT WITHOUT HAVING TO COOK YOURSELF. WE KNOW THE RESTAURANT INDUSTRY IS A VERY DEMANDING ONE. HOW DO YOU BALANCE IT OUT SO YOU DON’T FALL OUT LOVE WITH YOUR PASSION? I think I was lucky. At the age I got into this industry here, I couldn’t imagine myself on my feet cooking for 18 hours a day. So what I was doing was designing dishes with my staff members, never being the one doing the cooking myself, which allowed me to limit the amount of stress and enjoy my job. Cooking is definitely a profession that comes with a lot of stress and physical pressure, so my best advice would be to get into it while you’re young and still full of energy, and not wait until your thirties to get things going.
WITH REGARDS TO THE FOOD THAT YOU SERVE, DO YOU PRODUCE ANY OF THE INGREDIENTS? We started making our own cheese during the summer. It’s a long process, though, so I’d rather buy. It’s a completely separate process that requires a different set of experts, so I’d rather go out and buy it directly from producers I trust. However, lately it has been so hard to find a local, natural cheese. They say that communism killed a lot of the gourmet cheese culture, keeping only the fresh types like sulguni. I don’t know if the people got lazy, or the quantities produced are super minute, but it’s becoming increasingly difficult to find decent quality produce. I’m not talking about fruits and vegetables as, when they are in season the quality is usually sublime, but about meat and dairy products. Slowly, the industry is catching up and moving forward, but it’s definitely taking its time.
I’VE BEEN TOLD THERE COULD BE A HUGE MARKET FOR GEORGIAN AGRICULTURAL PRODUCTS GIVEN THEIR HIGH QUALITY, BUT THERE’S A LACK OF INFRASTRUCTURE TO MEET THE DEMAND. WHAT SOLUTIONS DO YOU SEE FOR THIS SITUATION? I think that this should be a government goal. They should encourage farmers, providing them with loans and grants; a lot of money and effort needs to poured into this industry, but unfortunately, they are not doing this at the moment. There are some surface-level changes going on but it’s not enough. However, I’ve noticed a large influx of foreigners with greater know-how, entering the agriculture market and producing high quality goods like aged cheeses, bread, vegetables: it’s a great source of education for the locals. I also noticed
small quantities of city boys and girls moving to the villages to produce their own cheeses and vegetables. So there’s definitely a lot of potential, but we need the right investment and direction to ensure we get there.
ARE THERE ANY SIGNIFICANT CHALLENGES THAT YOU’VE FACED SINCE STARTING YOUR ADVENTURE IN THE LOCAL CULINARY SCENE? No. I think the industry has developed enough to accept and expect change. Whereas as in the beginning there may have been some resistance, today it’s fine. The most significant challenges that we faced have to do with produce, and I think that’s something every restauranteur has to deal with. So while we have a basic (and very popular) menu available to our guests, we try to introduce seasonal specials that make use of the relevant produce.
WHAT ARE SOME OF YOUR PROUDEST ACCOMPLISHMENTS? I’m proud of this restaurant. We’ve managed to create a brand that’s retained its popularity amongst our customers. Our previous location in Sololaki was once a very unpopular place for restaurants, but we successfully kept our tables full, even hosting the President at one point. The same story with our current location: it’s terrible for restaurants, but we still find the reservations piling up. I’m very proud of my team for being able to create a household name. Of course, I was also very proud when both The New York Times and The Guardian featured us: I’d never have expected that to happen ! I’m extremely proud of the fact that we have managed to acquire a large Georgian clientele too, in addition to the foreigners and tourists. Our popularity amongst locals offers a great sense of self-validation, as it shows that the public has become receptive to our efforts in revolutionizing Georgian cuisine.
WHAT ARE YOU GOALS FOR THE FUTURE? I’d like to open another restaurant, one that is very food oriented: a food lab with an open kitchen. The main focus would be just on food, not on the interior design or anything like that. We’ll see if it works, but that is the next project; to make sure that we are continuously innovating, and never bored.
WHAT WOULD YOU LIKE YOUR LEGACY TO BE? I haven’t really put much thought to that, but I guess that doing my share for the continued promotion of this industry in Georgia would be it. As I told you before, when we first started, everything was static. Today, it’s a lot more dynamic and ever-changing, and I would like to keep on contributing to the greatest of my abilities to ensure that the spectrum for growth and innovation doesn’t stall.
Germany Deports 65 Georgians for Violating Visa-Free Rules BY THEA MORRISON
ermany has deported 65 Georgians who violated visa-free rules and stayed in the country longer than permitted (90 days in any 180-day period), said Georgia’s consulate in Germany. Citizens of Georgia who asked for asylum in Germany were also expelled. “65 citizens of Georgia who violated the visa-regime of being in the EU territory, were deported from the Federal Republic of Germany yesterday,” the consulate informs.
The information was also confirmed by several Georgians living in Germany who wrote in Facebook that citizens of Georgia who were subjected to readmission, had been living in North RhineWestphalia and Baden-Bürttemberg. According to the Facebook messages, "there are plenty of cases in the administrative court and all the cases were resolved quickly." Georgian media reports that among the deported are those living in Germany for years who had been waiting for asylum. The official reason of this “mass” deportation is an agreement between Germany and Georgia which means deportation of Georgians who violate the visa-free regime.
Photo source: Kviris Palitra
The General Consul of Georgia in Frankfurt, Ioseb Chkhikvishvili, responded to the deportation of Georgian citizens from Germany by saying that among the 65 expelled were Georgians from other countries, including Iceland, which had also refused to give asylum. The Consul general added that the next wave of deportation from Germany will take place on March 21. “We do not know exactly who is on the list, because the German side is not obliged to inform us who they are going to expel,” he added. According to Chkhikvishvili, no violations of citizens' rights were reported to the Consulate.
GEORGIA TODAY FEBRUARY 23 - 26, 2018
Tbilisi Hosts Scientific Conference on Modern Multiple Sclerosis Management BY SOPIO JAVAKHISHVILI
otel Radisson Blu Iveria hosted a scientific conference on "Modern Principles of Multiple Sclerosis Management". The conference was organized under the aegis of the pharmaceutical company Roche Georgia and is connected to the introduction of the innovative drug Ocrevus (Ocrelizumab) onto the Georgian pharmaceutical market. Professor Ludwig Kappos, Head Physician of the Department of Neurology and Outpatient Clinic at the University Hospital of Basel, was invited from Switzerland to participate in the conference. The conference was also be attended by representatives of the medical field, and media. Ocrevus is the first and only therapy approved for both primary progressive and relapsing forms of multiple sclerosis. “The approval of Ocrevus in Georgia is a significant moment for the Georgian patients with Multiple Sclerosis,” explains Nino Ganugrava, Medical Director of Roche Georgia. According to her, despite available therapies, some patients with relapsing forms of Multiple Sclerosis continue to experience disease activity and disability progression and require modification of treatment. “Ocrevus is a new choice for them. And patients with primary progressive multiple sclerosis, who have never had an approved treatment, will have the opportunity to be treated with this therapy. Ocrevus has the
potential to transform the treatment of both relapsing forms of MS and primary progressive MS.” The goal of the Scientific Conference is to launch Ocrevus for multiple sclerosis treatment, as a “modern medicine achievement for Georgian patients.” Multiple sclerosis is a chronic, progressive neu-
Gender Equality: Key to Sustainable Development
he Georgian Government, international agencies, civil society and the private sector have united to promote gender equality as one of the key aspects of the sustainable development agenda. The Policy Dialogue on February 21 focused on the Sustainable Development Goal on Gender Equality – SDG5, aiming to set the ways of achieving meaningful progress in political and economic empowerment of women in Georgia by 2030. “Important work has been done by Georgia to ensure that all SDGs have gender-sensitive indicators,” said Mariam Jajanidze, Secretary of the InterAgency Commission on Gender Equality, Violence against Women, and Domestic Violence, stressed that SDG5 relates to all national policies. “Following the National Agenda 2030, the country will take effective steps to increase women’s economic participation, promote equal economic opportunities for women and men, advance gender balance in decision-making, and end violence against women and girls.” Sascha Gabizon, Executive Director of the organization ‘Women Engage for a Common Future’
Illustration source: linkedin.com
(WECF), noted the role of gender equality in the process of democratic transformation. “Real socialeconomic transformation requires the achievement of the SDGs by 2030 in Georgia, and the key lever is gender-equality,” she said. “The sustainable development agenda provides Georgia with a unique opportunity to make a major step forward and eliminate gender inequalities in all aspects of life,” said Gigi Bregadze, Democratic Governance Team Leader of the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) in Georgia, which is focused on cooperation and partnership for the SDGs. “This, however, requires the collective effort of all members of Georgian society, the coordinated work of the government, non-governmental and private sectors, and the media, supported by Georgia’s international partners,” he added. The discussions at the meeting covered a range issues, including the low access of Georgian women to economic resources, the pay gap, unequal distribution of labor, and low representation of women in decision-making. The participants heard from Helena Sancho, Deputy Head of Development Co-operation at the Embassy of Sweden in Georgia; Levan Avalishvili, Programs Director of the Institute for Development of Freedom of Information (IDFI), representatives of the Gender Equality Council of the Parliament of Georgia, gender experts and researchers from We Research and International Republican Institute (IRI). The meeting was organized by IDFI, WECF, UNDP, Embassy of Sweden in Georgia and the Administration of the Government of Georgia.
rological disease that affects an estimated 2.3 million people worldwide. The first symptoms occur between 20 and 40 years, and that is why multiple sclerosis is the main cause of non-traumatic disability in younger patients. There are several forms of disease: • Relapsing-remitting MS (RRMS) is the most
common form of disease (80-85%) and is characterized by episodes of new or worsening signs of symptoms (relapses) followed by periods of recovery (remission). Remission typically lasting from a few months to a few years. • The majority of people who are diagnosed with RRMS will eventually transition to Secondary progressive MS (SPMS) in which they experience steadily worsening disability over time. Relapsing forms of MS (RMS) include people with RRMS and people with SPMS. • The Primary Progressive MS (PPMS) is a debilitating form of the disease marked by steadily worsening symptoms but typically without distinct relapses or periods of remission. Approximately 15% of people with MS are diagnosed with primary progressive form of disease. People with all forms of MS experience disease activity – inflammation of the nervous system and permanent loss of nerve cells in the brain. This process can occur even if the patient does not have clinical symptoms. The main goal of treating multiple sclerosis is to reduce the disease activity as soon as possible to slow progression of disabilities. Despite available disease modifying treatments, some people with RMS continue to experience disease activity and disability progression. Ocrevus is the first and only therapy approved for both primary progressive and relapsing forms of multiple sclerosis. The effectiveness and safety of Ocrevus was confirmed by large-scale clinical trials (OPERA I, OPERA 2, ORATORIO). Ocrevus delivers superior reduction in disease activity and risk of disability progression.
FEBRUARY 23 - 26, 2018
Seven Years On: Etseri, Svaneti
ate: 17 February 2011 at 18:46 Subject: Hello from Mestia
Greetings, I have enjoyed your newspaper for much of the 11 years I have lived in Georgia - based in Tbilisi until 2007, and from then onwards in Svaneti. At the moment, following 2 winters teaching English in Ushguli, I am with TLG and doing the same job in Mestia's No. 1 Middle School. I would like to offer you the services of my photography and writing from Svaneti, samples of which are available on my blog [no longer available]... I also run the Svaneti Renaissance Facebook group, currently with over 220 members. Yours sincerely, Tony Hanmer Maia, [translated] Definitely reply with thanks and that we agree on letters from Svaneti, we'll start this week, article + photo for the usual fee. George Sharashidze Dear Tony, Thank you very much for your warm words and your interest in cooperating with Georgia Today. We would be very glad if you could send us 1 story with a photo on a weekly basis. Please let me know if that is all right for you and suggest any idea you will be writing about this week. Wish you and your Svan students and pupils all the best, Maia Edilashvili [then] Editor Georgia Today With these three emails, I began a new career. It was more than six months before I even met any of the GT staff in person in Tbilisi, but from then until now I have been able to write an article a week without missing one issue of the newspaper. In this time, I have amassed
nearly 300 stories just from Svaneti, a photo for each, and quite a few from elsewhere along the way (those Svan articles need a publisher; a book I dream of awaits.) The necessity of writing x words a week by a deadline has been a good impetus, although I must also say that there never seems to be nothing to write about. When I started, the renovation of Mestia and its road up from Zugdidi was in full swing, pushed into action by a very energetic Mikheil Saakashvili, then in his second term as President of Georgia. He was a frequent visitor to the town, skiing on newly restored Hatsvali runs, often with VIP guests. The place was booming. Since then, the road has been extended more than halfway to Ushguli and Tetnuldi Ski Resort has opened between Mulakhi and Ipari villages. Guest houses and hotels have mushroomed in Mestia and all villages in the region. Winter tourism has picked up enormously. There are some downsides too. Some village renovation has strayed far from the local esthetic, unconstrained by any building codes. Misha’s road, tarmacked to the edge of Jorkvali and cemented from there up, has suffered deterioration of its unprotected cement surface from the harsh elements of weather and rockfalls. Quite a number of places on it have seen heaving, sinking or outright falling away of the surface. Only emergency upkeep or repair is being done, meaning that this amazing road, our lifeline, could decay to its former 1- or 2-gear misery in a couple of years, more, then doubling the time from Zugdidi to Mestia. Crime and uneven police response remain challenges; the rule of law here is still often seen as unnecessary, a sissy thing. Be warned, visitors! It is an enormous privilege not only to live here but also to write about it, and I thank and salute the staff of GT for having me on board these years. Many more to come, I hope!
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 over 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
Municipalities Discuss State Policies to Ensure Well-Being of Children BY MÁTÉ FÖLDI
two-day working meeting with municipalities on ‘State Policies Combating Violence and Ensuring Wellbeing of Children and Families’ was run from February 20-22 at the Radisson BLU Iveria hotel. The event brought together municipalities from all over Georgia to agree on the roles and responsibilities of central and local governments in addressing family vulnerabilities and violence against children. The meeting was organized by the Ministry of Justice, the Ministry of Healthy, Labor and Social Affairs, the Ministry of Regional Development and Infrastructure and UNICEF, in partnership with the European Union. Participants included representatives of international organizations, governmental agencies, NGOs and the Public Defender’s Office.
Existing services for children and families are also scarce and insufficient
“Municipalities play a crucial role in protecting children from violence, providing support to vulnerable families and children with disabilities,” said Laila O. Gad, UNICEF’s Representative in Georgia. “Municipalities are accountable to provide necessary services and are also well positioned to monitor how the rights of children and their families are protected. However, it remains a huge challenge for municipalities to offer effective responses based on the needs of children and families. Existing services for children and families are scarce and insufficient. Strengthening municipalities is critical for protecting children and families from vulnerabilities and helping them to become active citizens. UNICEF has been working closely with
municipalities to develop services for children with disabilities and victims of violence, and to support them in fulfilling their duties. We commit to continue such support in close collaboration with the central Government of Georgia and other partners,” she added. Participants of the forum discussed steps undertaken by the Government of Georgia to address violence against children and to join the Global Partnership to End Violence Against Children, agreeing on the crucial role to be played by municipalities in addressing the needs of vulnerable families. “The safety and well-being of children and families concerns everyone. The recently adopted Association Agenda between Georgia and the EU reiterates
the need to broaden and strengthen measures to protect children against all forms of violence. We look forward to continuing our cooperation with the government and municipalities towards this end,” Head of Cooperation of the Delegation of the European Union Vincent Rey said. Other issues discussed at the forum were: • Steps undertaken by municipalities to introduce internal procedures required by the Child Protection Referral Procedures and to ensure professional capacity to identify, refer and respond to violence against children at the local level • Different types of inclusive services at the municipal level and existing best practices to protect the rights of children with disabilities and their families • On-going social protection programs and services at municipal level and central levels, including Targeted Social Assistance (TSA) program, the ways of improving these services and opportunities for developing social assistance schemes at the municipal level for those vulnerable groups that are out-side the TSA program. The meeting aimed to contribute to the implementation of the National Human Rights Strategy 2014-2020 and its action plan and the development of the State De-Centralization Strategy. Moreover, within the framework of the “See Every Color” campaign, aimed at reducing stigma against people with disabilities, UNICEF carried out a contest to identify those municipalities that have the best social programs which ensure
an inclusive environment for children with disabilities (adapted infrastructure, public transport, special programs and services, innovative approaches and involvement of both young people with disabilities and their parents). The top four municipalities were announced at the forum and awarded special prizes to recognize their contribution to protecting children with disabilities in the hopes of encouraging other municipalities to up the ante by creating their own inclusive environments. 15n municipalities took part in the contest organized within the framework of the communication for social change campaign, and a jury including the parents of children with disabilities chose the following winners: • Kutaisi Municipality - for the best practices aimed at development and social integration of children with disabilities and the active involvement of children and their parents; • Mestia Municipality - for the best practices aimed at development and social integration of children with disabilities and active involvement of children and their parents; • Bolnisi Municipality – for creating an inclusive and accessible environment for children with disabilities; and • Khelvachauri municipality – for the best innovative solutions for protecting and promoting the rights of children with disabilities and their families. Campaign See Every Color was initiated by UNICEF, with the support of the European Union and USAID, with active involvement of children with disabilities and their parents.
GEORGIA TODAY FEBRUARY 23 - 26, 2018
Korean Peace Marathoner on his Experience in Georgia
BY NINO GUGUNISHVILI
r. Song InYeup, Professor of the Korean National University, Friendship Ambassador of KoreaVolunteer Organization International (KVO International), Chief Representative of Korea International Cooperation Agency (KOICA) recently visited Georgia together with Korean peace marathoner and writer Mr. Kang MyongKu, as a part of the Run-Eurasia16,000km-Peace Marathon. The marathon is on from September 1, 2017- October 31, 2018. Georgia was the 9th country on their list of 18 countries to run through and they arrived in January, alongside Mr. Park HoJin, Mr. Kang MyongKu’s manager. The 14-month running marathon encompasses The Netherlands, Germany, Czech Republic, Austria, Hungary, Serbia, Bulgaria, Turkey, Georgia, Azerbaijan, Iran, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Kirgizstan, China, North Korea and eventually to South Korea (Seoul). The Run-Eurasia-16,000km-Peace Marathon participants say it is “the first and most difficult adventure in the long history of Mankind and serves as a chance to spread the atmosphere of Korean peaceful unification for world peace by removing the bad vestige of World War II.” “We run not just for a Guinness Record, or for sportsmanship, but for world peace and the peaceful unification of Korea,” Dr. Song InYeup told GEORGIA TODAY. “We want to spread peace along our route through Eurasia and we are sure our story will inspire young people to adventure and encourage them to con-
sider world citizenship. Georgia, is so peaceful, pretty and grand, lying between the Black Sea and Caucasus Mountains. Its people we met running along the road are so kind and generous,” he added. “For me, Georgia is mystic, because it is connected with Greek mythology, especially Prometeus who gave fire to humans for the first time and was punished by Zeus, chained to the summit of Mr. Kazbegi,” said Mr. Kang. “I enjoyed running all through Georgia.” They continued the Peace Marathon in Azerbaijan, aiming to run 45 kilometers every day, then on to Iran, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Kirkzstan, China, North Korea and ending the marathon in Seoul on October 31. Dr. Song InYeup told us it was his first time in Georgia and he found himself so touched and impressed by the country, he came up with a poem dedicated to it. “I was so greatly touched and impressed with the Georgian people’s kindness, the beauty of the land and quality of the wine, that I wrote a poem “Mystic Land, Georgia,” he said. “I hope your people like it and remember it as a poem of one Korean man who ran all through Georgia and fell in love with it!” Mystic Land, Georgia 㔶䢪㦮G⋮⧒SG㫆㰖㞚 ㌆ṫG㏷㧎㡓GGGGDr. SONG InYeup At the south of Mts Caucasus Holding the Black Sea to the west White clouds above our heads Always Sipping wine Talking warmly with strangers
Treating them as guests from God Hey, Turks, Persia, Soviets No more here, please This is the Republic of Georgia, forever Handing fire to Mankind Prometheus already left Helped by Heracles Still, eagles fly over mountains How grand, the sky-penetrating Kazbeg You are there as you've ever been It's Gergeti Chminda Sameba That's watched here as it's ever been Under the picturesque mountains Red roofs here and there It's Village Signagi, isn't it? Hey, you Who are dreaming of love and peace Never hesitate to come here Tossing round pebbles Pretty voices, murmuring ripples And blue waves Why are you called "Black Sea"? At Batumi The foolish traveller becomes a blank Shouting "Tamada" We sing, sing and sing "Tavisuplebas Dideba!" Raise your toast high We glorify freedom, freedom and freedom!!! (2018.1.18, at the valley of Mts Caucasus Congratulating KMK’s 5,000km on Eurasia-16,000km-Peace Marathon)
FEBRUARY 23 - 26, 2018
WHAT’S ON IN TBILISI THEATER
TBILISI ZAKARIA PALIASHVILI OPERA AND BALLET THEATER Address: 25 Rustaveli Ave. Telephone: 2 99 04 56 February 23 CAVALLERIA RUSTICANA Starring: Nana Kavtarashvili (Santuzza), Anzor Khidasheli (Turiddu), Elene Janjalia (Lucia), Vano Galuashvili (Alfio), Irina Aleksidze (Lola) Tbilisi State Opera and Ballet Theater choir and orchestra. Conductor- Papuna Gvaberidze Musical director- Zaza Azmaiparashvili Director- Victor Garsia Sierra (Italy) Scenographer- Italo Grassi (Italy) Start time: 19:00 Ticket: 10-50 GEL MOVEMENT THEATER Address: 182, Aghmashenebeli Ave. Telephone: 598 19 29 36 February 23 LABYRINTH Directed by Ioseb Bakuradze Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 10-15 GEL February 24 THE STORY OF A MURDERER Directed by Ioseb Bakuradze Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 10-15 GEL SHALIKASHVILI THEATER Address: 37 Rustaveli Ave. Telephone: 595 50 02 03 February 23, 24 KRIMANCHULI Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 15 GEL CINEMA
AMIRANI CINEMA Address: 36 Kostava Str. Telephone: 2 99 99 55 www.kinoafisha.ge
Cast: Chadwick Boseman, Michael B. Jordan, Lupita Nyong'o Genre: Action, Adventure, Sci-Fi Language: Russian Start time: 13:45, 21:45 Ticket: 10-14 GEL THE POST Directed by Steven Spielberg Cast: Meryl Streep, Tom Hanks, Sarah Paulson Genre: Biography, Drama, History Language: English Start time: 16:45 Language: Russian Start time: 22:00 Ticket: 17 GEL PHANTOM THREAD Directed by James Foley Cast: Vicky Krieps, Daniel DayLewis, Lesley Manville Genre: Drama, Romance Language: Russian Start time: 11:45 Ticket: 12 GEL FIFTY SHADES FREED Directed by James Foley Cast: Jamie Dornan, Dakota Johnson, Arielle Kebbel, Luke Grimes Genre: Drama, Romance, Thriller Language: Russian Start time: 16:30 Ticket: 10-11 GEL ALL THE MONEY IN THE WORLD Directed by Ridley Scott Cast: Michelle Williams, Christopher Plummer, Mark Wahlberg Genre: Biography, Crime, Drama Language: Russian Start time: 14:15, 19:15 Ticket: 12-17 GEL RUSTAVELI CINEMA Address: 5 Rustaveli Ave. Telephone: 2 55 50 00 www.kinoafisha.ge Every Wednesday ticket: 5 GEL February 16-21
Every Wednesday ticket price: 5 GEL February 22-28
BLACK PANTHER (Info Above) Language: Russian Start time: 22:30 Ticket: 13-14 GEL
BLACK PANTHER Directed by Ryan Coogler
THE POST (Info Above)
Language: Russian Start time: 11:45, 22:15 Ticket: 8-14 GEL FIFTY SHADES FREED (Info Above) Language: Russian Start time: 22:00 Ticket: 13-14 GEL CAVEA GALLERY Address: 2/4 Rustaveli Ave. Telephone: 200 70 07 Every Wednesday ticket: 8 GEL February 22-28
sewing machine, robe of Alexander Bariatinsky - Deputy of the Caucasus, Tambourine painted by Mihaly Zichy, feminine attire of Abkhazian and Ingilo women, and more. Exhibition NUMISMATIC TREASURY Exhibition showcasing a long history of money circulation on the territory of modern Georgia from the 6th century BC. to 1834. EXHIBITION STONE AGE GEORGIA ARCHEOLOGICAL TREASURE
BLACK PANTHER (Info Above) Language: English Start time: 14:30, 19:15 Language: Russian Start time: 13:00, 16:15, 22:15 Ticket: 11-19 GEL THE POST (Info Above) Language: English Start time: 16:30 Language: Russian Start time: 11:45, 19:10 Ticket: 10-19 GEL PHANTOM THREAD (Info Above) Language: Russian Start time: 22:15 Ticket: 16-19 GEL FIFTY SHADES FREED (Info Above) Language: English Start time: 17:10 Language: Russian Start time: 17:30, 20:00, 22:30 Ticket: 14-19 GEL MUSEUM
NEW LIFE TO THE ORIENTAL COLLECTIONS February 9 - March 9 ZURAB KALANDADZE'S 65th ANNIVERSARY EXHIBITION The exhibition showcases 27 of Zurab Kalandadze's artworks, created in 2002-2012, the main stylistic characteristic of which is the organic connection between myth and poetry. The exposition also showcases a sculpture "Tree of Love" designed with the glass laser carving technique. MUSEUM OF FINE ARTS Address: 1 Gudiashvili Str. Telephone: 2 99 99 09 December 14 – March 14 ANNIVERSARY-RETROSPECTIVE EXHIBITION GIGO GABASHVILI 155 MUSEUM OF SOVIET OCCUPATION Address: 4 Rustaveli Ave. Telephone: 2 99 80 22, 2 93 48 21 www.museum.ge
26 January – February 25 Georgian National Museum and Stedley Art Foundation present Solo exhibition CARDBOARD. WOOD. STONE BY CONTEMPORARY UKRAINIAN ARTIST ALEXANDER ZHYVOTKOV The exhibition in Tbilisi features the series: "Roads," "Kyiv. 2014," "Motherboard", "Variations in Stone" and "Vengeance Is Mine," which includes over 50 works created over the past five years. February 2 – March 3 "Michelangelo and the Sistine Chapel"- Georgian National Museum and the Embassy of Italy to Georgia present THE EXHIBITION OF PREPARATORY DRAWINGS BY MICHELANGELO BUONARROTI. An exhibition of six graphic works by Italian artist, sculptor, architect and poet of the Renaissance epoch - Michelangelo Buonarroti (14751564). ERTI GALLERY Address: 19 P. Ingorokva Str. February 8 – March 1 SUPER HUMANS. UTA BEKAIA’S SOLO SHOW Curator: Levan Mindiashvili DÉDICACE GALLERY Address: 27 Atoneli Str. Telephone: 599 42 54 14 February 9-25 WESTERN SECTOR BY MURTAZ SHVELIDZE MUSIC
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 The Royal dress of King Teimuraz II, Nino Gurieli's Georgian dress, Tekla Batonishvili's personal
PERMANENT EXHIBITION Discover the State's personal files of "subversive" Georgian public figures, orders to shoot or exile, and other artifacts representing Sovietera cultural and political repression in Georgia. GALLERY
DIMITRI SHEVARDNADZE NATIONAL GALLERY Address: 11 Shota Rustaveli Ave. Telephone: 215 73 00
TBILISI STATE CONSERVATOIRE Address: 8 Griboedov Str. Telephone: 298 71 86 February 28 BEKA GOCHIASHVILI JAZZ TRIO FROM NEW-YORK Beka Gochiashvili– Piano, Keyboards Marty Jaffe– Bass Jimmy Mcbride– Drums Start time: 19:00 Ticket: 50-100 GEL DJANSUG KAKHIDZE TBILISI CENTER FOR MUSIC AND CULTURE Address: 125 Aghmashenebeli ave. Telephone: 2 96 12 43 February 24 THE CONCERT OF CHAMBER MUSIC DEDICATED TO CREATIONS OF FAMOUS GEORGIAN COMPOSER VAZHA AZARASHVILI Chamber ensemble Georgia Modern Start time: 19:30 Ticket: 10 GEL MZIURI Address: Mziuri Cafe February 25 SAKVI-RAO Entertainment program for children Start time: 12:00 ASSA HALL Address: 4 Rkinis Rigi Str. Telephone: 577 98 58 58 February 23 Celebrate Man's Day with DAVID GOMARTELI Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 20-120 GEL
GEORGIA TODAY FEBRUARY 23 - 26, 2018
Georgian Film Horizon’s World Premiere at the 2018 Berlinale INTERVIEW BY LIKA CHIGLADZE
eorgian film and directors are reaching new heights, proven by the number of Georgian movies being featured and screened at a number of prestigious international film festivals. Georgian director Tinatin Kajrishvili’s recent film Horizon had its successful world premiere at the 68th annual Berlin Film Festival. The film was screened in the Panorama section of the 2018 Berlinale. The movie is the author’s second feature film to
be premiered at Belinale. Her previous feature debut ‘Brides,’ earned the Panorama Audience award at the 2014 Berlinale. With her new impressive and authentic drama the director once again gives an insight into human relationships with their ensuing psychological nuances and sensitivities. GEORGIA TODAY contacted Tinatin Kajrishvili and asked her to tell us about her new film. “The world premier was a great success,” she told us. “It was so nice that the tickets for all four screenings sold out just before the festival was launched. The stairs in the hall were full of spectators during the show, and the screening was followed by a discussion that lasted for more than 30 minutes!”
Contemporary Georgian Sculptor’s Works Displayed on Google Arts & Culture EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW BY LIKA CHIGLADZE
n a modern world without boundaries, art has acquired new shapes and forms. The fact that fantasy and human creativity has no limit is once again confirmed by the thrilling works of contemporary Georgian artist Tamara Kvesitadze. The artist, whose name has gone beyond Georgia’s borders, now appears on the largest online database of Google Arts and Culture, which is a huge virtual association that incorporates the artworks of world-celebrated artists from around the world. Now, most of her works are easy to enjoy, allowing you a deeper insight into Tamar’s masterpieces without needing to visit a gallery. Her interest in making dolls started from early childhood when the 8-year-old artist found an old doll in her grandma’s drawer. In the 1990s, during the times of hardship in Georgia, the painter with an architectural background started making dolls to earn a living. Later, she moved to the USA where she took the craft to a new level, eventually achieving success. Today, her masterpiece of moving sculpture named Man and Woman in Georgia’s Batumi city serves as a symbol of the seaside region, annually impressing millions of tourists and locals alike. GEORGIA TODAY talked to Tamara Kvesitadze about her latest success. “I did not expect my artworks to appear on Google Arts and Culture. It was really unexpected news and I’m very pleased that my art is being showcased on this prestigious platform. I was contacted by the Art Palace museum in Tbilisi and asked to send high resolution photos depicting my art. I was surprised that so many images of my art were selected and displayed. All my creations are captured by different photographers and are available in highresolution on the platform, offering visitors the chance to have a detailed look at each work,” the artist told GEORGIA TODAY. The Art Palace is the only partner of Google Arts and Culture in Georgia that cooperates with the platform, and it plays significant role in promoting Georgian art internationally. In 2016, the works of 20th century Georgian modernist stage painter Petre Otskheli were exposed on the platform. Tamara is the first contemporary Georgian artist to be featured in this virtual gallery.
canny observer of intimate relationships and their fracture points,” Variety.com wrote. The director said the working process on the film was both interesting and hard. “The shootings took place on an island on Paliastomi Lake. The crew had to work in the harsh conditions and freezing weather, which you can see in the film. Rain, snow, ice – all these are included in the film, adding a sad note to the whole picture. Apart from Paliastomi, the locations were in Batumi, Kobuleti and Tbilisi. The committee of Berliane looks out for the latest works of prize-winning directors and Horizon caught their eye at the Sarajevo Festival. The film attracted massive interest among world press, with large-scale publications such as filmuforia.co.uk, The hollywoodreporter, variety.com, and cineuropa.org dedicating lengthy reviews to it. The film will be released in Georgia in autumn, since we want the movie to be screened at Georgian film festivals as well,” she told us.
The architect, sculptor and painter is predominantly known for her mechanical dolls and kinetic sculptures virtuously combining art and construction. “I use various tools and techniques to embody my ideas. Mechanics is one of the techniques through which I bring my art to life,” she said. “I can’t say exactly where I draw my inspiration from, since anything can serve as a source to one’s imagination. It all started 20 years ago. For some years I worked and made dolls in the USA, then, after doing it for six years, I decided to shift to making sculptures. At the time, I didn’t realize how difficult it was to assemble the whole construction and make it move and so I work with Paata Sanaia, a technical engineer and the co-author of my artworks. I’m responsible for the artistic part, while he manages the technical side.” The artist has taken part in a number of exhibitions in many prestigious venues in different countries. Her latest most notable ones were at the Venice Biennial 2017 and the exhibition called Last Supper at Galerie Kornfeld in Berlin. “The gallery I cooperate with organized the exhibition called Supper Club. My two installations ‘Last Supper’ and ‘Caves’ were presented at the venue. Last Supper evolves around a biblical theme, with plates and dishes hung on transparent and extremely thin wires, creating the illusion that they are floating mid-air. The dishes have thin material attached to imitate shadows, giving the entire composition a 3D effect,” the sculptor noted. Tamara works in several studious throughout Europe, yet her main fundamental workshop is located in Tbilisi. Her next exhibition will take place in Berlin in September. Although she wants to showcase her works to the wider audience in Tbilisi, currently she is extremely busy and finds it impossible to gather all her works in one place. The renowned painter also hopes to hold a grand exhibition in the near future, but prefers to leave the place and time a secret for now. On her well-loved Batumi mechanical sculpture, Man and Woman, the artist says: “People mostly associate it with love, so it stirs positive emotions within viewers. Anyone can interpret this monument as he/she prefers, yet the main message that my work conveys is that being together is possible for only a little time. This short period for someone might mean a whole century. This is the simple idea behind the sculpture.”
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Horizon (Horizonti in Georgian) unfolds the story of a man named Giorgi who is abandoned by his wife for another man. The director shows the emotional state of the leading hero, who tries to escape his pain by fleeing the city and settling on a remote island on Paliastomi Lake, near the Black Sea, which perfectly suits his gloomy mood. Giorgi finds refuge in the company of elderly Georgians who mourn the old country. The leading roles are played by famous Georgian actor and actress George Bochorishvili (Giorgi) and Ia Sukhitashvili (Ana). “Tinatin Kajrishvili’s second feature-length drama is a meticulously and consistently told story about the end of a relationship,” reads the description on Berlinale’s website. Unfolding with great serenity and in long shots, it creates an image of deeply felt loneliness. The main character’s contemplative state quickly infuses the film as it becomes increasingly unlikely that he will break out of his isolation. And yet, in spite of all the hopelessness, the images contain great beauty. One can almost feel the cold wind blowing through the cinema, the first snowflakes, too. Ana has found somebody new. The city is far away, as are all thoughts of the future,” berlinale.de reported. The film was hailed by international media outlets and praised by critics. “As with her feature debut, the atmospheric ‘Brides,’ Kajrishvili once again proves herself a
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Published on Feb 22, 2018