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Issue no: 957

• JUNE 23 - 26, 2017

• PUBLISHED TWICE WEEKLY

PRICE: GEL 2.50

In this week’s issue... Carrefour & Wissol Group Georgia Form a Successful Partnership NEWS PAGE 3

FOCUS ON CONSTITUTIONAL CHANGES

As accusations and rumours fly, we grab an exclusive interview with Venice Commission Secretary, Thomas Markert PAGE 2&7

EU Market Opens for Georgia’s Black Sea Fish

POLITICS PAGE 4

Business Award 2017 BUSINESS PAGE 9

Shining Some WellDeserved Light on ‘Shuki Movida’ SOCIETY PAGE 10

Announcing the Release of ‘Georgia: A Guide to the Cradle of Wine’

BY THEA MORRISON

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rom now Georgia will have the opportunity to export its fish to the $500 million market of the European Union. The EU has included Georgia in the list of "third countries,” which will allow Georgia’s Black Sea fish and fish products to be imported to the EU market. This will be the third animal product to be allowed into the EU market after Georgian wool and honey. The information was released by the Agriculture Minister of Georgia, Levan Davitashvili and the EU Ambassador to Georgia, Janos Herman, at a special press-conference. “At present, $30 million worth Georgian products are exported to Turkey, which has been the only export market for Georgian fish to date,” Davitashvili said. “From now on, Georgian products will have the chance to enter the European market with higher purchasing ability, over $500 million, giving the sector the incentive to develop fishing and the entire industry,” he added. He went on to point to the next step: presenting a list of business operators recognized by Georgia who will be allowed to export Black Sea fish and fish products to the EU. The EU ambassador noted that Georgia has made important steps to get closer to EU standards. “Export to the EU will definitely increase and

Ukraine as an Insoluble Problem

CULTURE PAGE 13

Radio NRJ Partners with GEM FEST Agriculture Minister levan davitashvili and the EU ambassador to Georgia Janos Herman

Georgia has good potential in this direction… This decision will help Georgian fish become more popular on other markets. We look forward to continuing cooperation. Negotiations over other products are also underway,” Herman stated. In 2014, the Georgian side presented an application to the European Commission for the purpose of entering Georgia into the official list of third countries. Inspectors of the Directorate General Health and Food Safety and Food and Veterinary office of the European Commission visited Georgia in

order to observe the food safety control system and make an audit of Black Sea fish and fish products. As a result of their mission and recommendations, Georgia’s Ministry of Agriculture created an action plan and made certain steps toward bringing Georgian legislation closer to that of the EU, on the basis of which, Georgia has been added the list of third countries and the EU market is now open for Georgia’s Black Sea fish and fish products. Last year, Georgia was allowed to start honey export to the EU market.

CULTURE PAGE 15


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NEWS

GEORGIA TODAY

JUNE 23 - 26, 2017

Georgia Leads CIS Countries in Global Cybersecurity Index 2017

Opposition, NGOs Criticize Ruling Party on Election System BY THEA MORRISON

T BY THEA MORRISON

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eorgia is leading the top three ranked countries in the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) Global Cybersecurity Index 2017, released by the International Telecommunication Union (ITU). In general, Georgia’s place is 8th on the list, which means the country has improved its position by four stepsGeorgia was ranked 12th in the previous edition, released in 2015. “Georgia is top ranked in the CIS. After large-scale cyber-attacks on the country in 2008, the government has strongly supported the protection of the country's information systems. The Information Security Law established a Cyber Security Bureau with a particular emphasis on protecting critical information sys-

tems in the military sphere,” the Global Cybersecurity Index 2017 reads. The Global Cybersecurity Index (GCI) 2017 measures each nation's level of commitment to the ITU's Global Cybersecurity Agenda, with the aim of highlighting potential areas for improvement and driving cybersecurity to the forefront of national plan 134 Member States (including the State of Palestine) responded to the survey throughout 2016. The GCI revolves around the ITU Global Cybersecurity Agenda (GCA) and its five pillars: legal, technical, organizational, capacity building and cooperation. For each of these pillars, questions were developed to assess commitment. Through consultation with a group of experts, these questions were weighed in order to arrive at an overall GCI score. The survey was administered through an online platform through which supporting evidence was also collected.

he recent announcement of the ruling Georgian Dream (GD) party over moving to fully proportional elections from 2020 to 2024 was followed by harsh criticism from opposition parties and Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs). Georgia has a mixed electoral system through which voters can cast two ballots – one for a party in a nationwide vote, and another for a specific candidate in a respective single-member constituency. After the nationwide discussions and large-scale consensus over moving to wholly proportional elections, which was the main demand of the opposition, several days ago, the ruling party announced that the changes in the election system would not take place until 2024. Instead, the GD offered to reduce the 5 percent threshold to 3 percent. Parliamentary minority Movement for Freedom-European Georgia says that the ruling team “cheated” society and the Venice Commission when they refused to change the election system. “When GD was in opposition, they were the ones requesting the change to the current election system, now they are against doing it…The ruling party promised us they would take into account the remarks of the Venice Commission but they cheated us,” Giga Bokeria, one of the leaders of the European Georgia, stressed. Opposition party United National Movement (UNM) claims the ruling team acted based on its political interests. “We do not approve the package of amendments to the Constitution as most of the changes will go into force only

Georgia’s Justice Ministry Launches Website against Violence BY THEA MORRISON

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he Ministry of Justice of Georgia has started a campaign against violence, named ‘Imokmede’ and has launched a special website imoqmede. ge for those wishing to get involved in a large-scale campaign or to keep up-to-date with the latest related information, statistics or news about violence and its prevention. The aim of the website is to inform

society about the legal changes to 20 laws which protect human rights. It also gives information about what domestic violence entails and how it can be stopped or prevented on time. It also contains violence statistics, news, videos, posters and a hotline number for reporting incidents of violence. Visitors to the page can easily join the campaign by pressing the button ‘Join’ and can can ask any relevant questions to an online consultant. They can also leave anonymous messages about incidents of violence.

Further, the Justice Ministry is to hold meetings in educational institutions and organize trainings in justice houses and community centers throughout Georgia through the year. So far around 200 people have attended the trainings and in total 2500 persons are expected to be trained within the campaign. “Domestic violence is not a performance or film…The State cannot just stand by and watch it indifferently,” Justice Minister Thea Tsulukiani stated at the presentation of the campaign.

after eight years, as with the election system,” Roman Gotsiridze from the UNM stated. Both opposition parties, and also the third parliamentary opposition the Alliance of Patriots of Georgia, have boycotted the process of discussions on the constitutional amendments in Parliament. The ruling party, which has the constitutional majority with 116 MPs in a 150-seat legislative body, intends to discuss the amendments even without participation of the opposition. The leader of the parliamentary majority, Archil Talakvadze, underlined that Georgia will definitely have a proportional election system but not during the next elections. “Georgia will move to a more democratic electoral system and this will be reflected in the following elections because we are ready to reduce the election threshold,” Talakvadze said.

Georgia’s 12 leading NGOs issued a joint statement in which they condemn Georgian Dream’s decision about moving to proportional elections after eight years. “This decision is unacceptable and unfair…We positively assessed the introduction of a proportional system and this position was shared by the Venice Commission,” the statement of NGOs reads. The NGOs claim that after four month’s work with the Constitutional Commission and Venice Commission, the “unilateral” decision of the ruling party to delay introducing the proportional election system is “inadequate.” “Without the involvement of the interested sides and on the basis of their narrow political interests, Georgian Dream changed the agreed decision to move to proportional election system,” the statement reads.


NEWS

GEORGIA TODAY JUNE 23 - 26, 2017

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Carrefour & Wissol Group Georgia Form a Successful Partnership

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ajid Al Futtaim Retail, the retail arm of Majid Al Futtaim, the leading shopping mall, communities, retail and leisure pioneer across the Middle East, Africa and Asia, has announced its partnership with MP Development, the real estate arm of Wissol Group in Georgia. At the end of July, MP Development is to launch its next shopping center in the heart of Batumi City, where anchor tenant will be Carrefour supermarket. The 2,500 sq.m. store will offer customers the widest choice of fresh produce and household goods, with over 15,000 items at competitive prices and will create more than 150 new jobs. In addition to Carrefour Batumi, the second shopping center for MP Development will also carry fast food restaurants Wendy’s and Dunkin’ Donuts, a branch of Bank of Georgia, a pharmacy, toy shop, shoe and clothing shops and other retail shops of different profiles. Carrefour launched its first supermarket in May 2017 in the MP Development-owned shopping center located in Gldani, Tbilisi. Carrefour Georgia will take over two more supermarkets from Wissol Group’s Smart during the summer. Smart will continue to develop itself in its original format as small supermarkets, mostly located at petrol and natural gas stations in different cities and at rest areas on highways. Smart small-format supermarkets have shown great profitability; hence, it has become one of Wissol Group’s priorities to further develop this business. Carrefour was first launched in Georgia in 2012, with its first hypermarket in Tbilisi Mall. Today, Carrefour has two hypermarkets and six supermarkets in Tbilisi, with over 1500 employees. As a result of its successful partnership with Wissol Group, Carrefour will soon open its first supermarket in Batumi and two additional supermarkets in Tbilisi.

This step will initiate new opportunities and will help create new jobs to support the economy in Georgia. In line with Majid Al Futaim’s vision to create great moments for everyone, every day, Carrefour offers an exceptional shopping experience, providing the widest range of quality products at competitive prices as well as distinguished customer service. “It is highly valuable for us to have such close partnership with Carrefour that is economically interesting for both parties,” said Soso Pkhakadze, President of Wissol Group. “This partnership will bring solid investments, modern infrastructure and

Innovation Brings New Life to Civil Service Reform in Georgia

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eorgian public servants, civil society professionals and representatives of international organizations attended a two-day conference in Tbilisi to analyse the ongoing civil service reform in Georgia. The conference offered innovative Foresight Methodology recognized by one of the best tools in modelling policies and strategies. The conference was organized by the ServiceLab (Innovative Service Laboratory) of the Public Service Development Agency (PSDA), in cooperation with the Civil Service Bureau (CSB) of Georgia, and with assistance from the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), Government of Sweden and Government of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. “It is the second event arranged by ServiceLab to promote innovative thinking in Georgia’s public sector,” said Soso Giorgadze, Chairperson of the Public Service Development Agency (PSDA), speaking at the opening of the conference on June 22. “This time we are focusing on civil service reform, one of the critical elements of the ongoing Public Administration Reform in the country. The Foresight Methodology allows us to think ahead, anticipate potential developments, analyse risks and respond to future eventualities”. Through a series of brainstorming and simula-

tions, the participants of the innovative conference discussed possible scenarios of the civil service reform in Georgia and model responses to potential risks. The conference was led by Nur Anisah Abdullah, Professor of Amity University Dubai and international expert in Foresight Methodology. The conference coincided with the annual UN Public Service Day celebrated by the United Nations on June 23 to acknowledge the value and virtue of public service, highlight its contribution in the development process, recognize the work of public servants, and encourage young people to pursue careers in the public sector. The 2017 theme of the Public Service Day is: The Future is Now - Accelerating Public Service Innovation for Agenda 2030. “The ongoing reform is an important step towards building a strong, professional and impartial civil service in Georgia. Innovative approaches contribute to the reform process and benefit both public servants and citizens of Georgia,” said Natia Natsvlishvili, UNDP Deputy Resident Representative a.i. in Georgia. Public administration reform is one of the priorities of the Four-Point Reform program developed by the Government of Georgia in 2016. UNDP is supporting the key areas of reform through the UK-funded GBP 4.5 million initiative that will continue until the close of 2020.

more jobs. Batumi shopping center alone will create over 250 additional jobs.” “We are delighted with this successful partnership established between Carrefour and Wissol Group in Georgia,” said Philippe Peguilhan, Country Manager of Carrefour in Georgia. “It is our intention to develop several interesting projects together with Wissol Group. This partnership will pave the way for further expansion of Carrefour stores in Georgia, as well as further investments and more job opportunities.” Founded in 1992, Majid Al Futtaim is the leading shopping mall, communities, retail and leisure

pioneer across the Middle East, Africa and Asia. A remarkable business success story, Majid Al Futtaim started from one man’s vision to transform the face of shopping, entertainment and leisure to ‘create great moments for everyone, every day’. It has since grown into one of the United Arab Emirates’ most respected and successful businesses spanning 15 international markets, employing more than 35,000 people, and obtaining the highest credit rating (BBB) among privately-held corporates in the region. Majid Al Futtaim owns and operates 21 shopping malls, 12 hotels and three mixed-use communities, with further developments underway in the region. The shopping malls portfolio includes Mall of the Emirates, Mall of Egypt, City Centre malls, My City Centre neighborhood centers, and four community malls which are in joint venture with the Government of Sharjah. The Company is the exclusive franchisee for Carrefour in 38 markets across Middle East, Africa and Asia, and operates a portfolio of more than 175 outlets in 15 countries. Majid Al Futtaim operates 284 VOX Cinema screens and 30 Magic Planet family entertainment centres across the region, in addition to iconic leisure and entertainment facilities such as Ski Dubai and Ski Egypt, among others. The Company is parent to the consumer finance company 'Najm', a fashion retail business representing international brands such as Abercrombie & Fitch, AllSaints, lululemon athletica, and Crate & Barrel; and a healthcare business that operates City Centre Clinics. In addition, Majid Al Futtaim operates Enova, a facility and energy management company, through a joint venture operation with Veolia, a global leader in optimised environment resource management. The Company also owns the rights to The LEGO Store and American Girl in the Middle East and operates in the food and beverage industry through a partnership with Gourmet Gulf.


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POLITICS

GEORGIA TODAY

JUNE 23 - 26, 2017

Ukraine as an Insoluble Problem BY EMIL AVDALIANI

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kraine’s president Petro Poroshenko met his US counterpart, Donald Trump, on June 20 in Washington in what was their first one-on-one meeting since Trump’s election and which saw Poroshenko hailing US-Ukraine relations. Later, the White House released a statement saying that the two leaders had discussed "support for the peaceful resolution of the conflict in eastern Ukraine and President Poroshenko's reform agenda and anticorruption efforts�. Another interesting aspect to the meeting is that Poroshenko met with Trump before the latter’s expected first encounter with Russian President Vladimir Putin during the G20 summit in Germany next month. Putin and Trump are very likely to talk about a whole of range of topics, but the Ukraine crisis is sure to be one of the focal points. Indeed, Ukraine remains a sore point between Moscow and Washington due to Russian military and economic support of eastern Ukraine’s breakaway territories. As a reflection of this trend, just before Poroshenko’s visit, the US Treasury Department announced new sanctions against dozens of separatist fighters, leaders, and their allies who have been fighting Ukrainian forces in the eastern Donbas region. While new sanctions are being introduced against Russia, the new US administration has yet to formulate its policy towards the conflict in east Ukraine, nor has it said how far it will go in countering Russia. Recent years have also shown that Russian and US interests are highly divergent in the region, with both pursuing their own geopolitical goals. For Russia, Ukraine is important both economically and strategically: even without Poland or the Baltic States, Russia retains the status of a “Eurasian Empire�. Without Ukraine, Russia will increasingly become a state with more borders in Asia than in Europe. This will in turn make Russia more

Ukraine’s president Petro Poroshenko met his US counterpart, Donald Trump, on June 20 in Washington. Source: The Washington Post

heavily involved in long-term Islamic conflicts along its entire southern border. With an overall sharp decline in population numbers, there has been a drastic surge in past years in Russia’s Muslim population. It may have seemed like a natural internal population development in Western Europe and the US, however, for the Russian government it represents a grave problem resulting in an acute nationalist reaction in Russian society. It is exactly for this reason that the 45 million Slavs of Ukraine are crucial for Moscow. Moreover, although there have already been several examples of Slavic countries (Slovenia, Poland, Czech Republic, etc.) joining the EU and NATO, Ukraine following their path will irreversibly undermine the notion of the so-called “Slavic Union� and would leave Russia with just its Belarus brethren. Europe is on a desperate quest for security, but the same can be said about Russia. Ukraine within the EU and NATO, with ultra-modern Western forces and military capabilities, stationed on the Russian-Ukrainian border, will automatically create existential problems for Russia. From a proEuropean/NATO Kiev, it will be possible to have

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Address: 11 Grishashvili Str., 4600, Kutaisi, Georgia TEL 219 71 00 info@bwkutaisi.com

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 “T3 Hospitality Management,â€? providing the hotel management, has 20 years’ experience in hotel management in different countries globally.

effective influence not only on the North Caucasus but also Belarus, whose territory is used by Russian armed forces and thereby constitutes a major threat to Poland because of the long border the latter has with Belarus. For the US, keeping Ukraine is a strategic imper-

ative as it tries to prevent the resurgent Russia from projecting its influence in its immediate neighborhood. Restoration of Russian influence over the Ukraine territory would increase Moscow’s projection of power over the Black Sea and the South Caucasus, and will threaten eastern European security. Thus, from a strategic point of view, financial aid together with, for the moment, measured military assistance, are those steps the US would continue with. This shows those crucial differences between the two powers in the post-Soviet space and offers little chance for them to reconcile. Any change in US attitude towards Ukraine would prompt a fracture in the united Western front against Russia and a decrease of western prestige in such important countries as Georgia and Moldova. Although it is tempting at times to claim that the US will change its policy towards the Ukraine conflict or will recognize Crimea as a part of Russia, there is a range of strategic differences between Moscow and Washington. East European security, together with the increased Russian influence in the post-Soviet space, are at stake- making it difficult for the White House to change its course on Ukraine.

Spotlight on the Greater Middle East, Turkey & the South Caucasus BY MELIK ALKAN

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he Middle East, or as it is often named, the “Levant,� is a transcontinental region at the center of western Asia and Egypt. Significant bodies of waters, such as Persian Gulf, Suez Canal, Black Sea, the Indian Ocean, and the Tigris and Euphrates rivers, have historically been used as waterways for international powers. The Suez Canal and Red Sea connect the Mediterranean and European ports with Asian markets. The Arabian Sea, particularly the port of Gwadar in Southern Pakistan, will be critical for China's ascendance, and the potential shift of geopolitical power from the West to the East. The region is also named the Fertile Crescent for its geographical shape. Countries involved in the rivalries aim to gain upper hand advantages in the region by filling the vacuum after political crises leave a chasm. The US tried to deviate the region from Russia, while Russia considered it to be a peripheral region that needs to be taken care of. Russian relations with Egypt, Iraq, Tunisia and Algeria predate the collapse of the Soviet Union and since, Russia has constructed its presence by pouring Rubles into those states where leaders with an autocratic profile are most cordial. These two superpowers gained a strategic position through “proxy alliances or partners�, more accurately, the US made it easier to implement its policy in the Greater Middle East, made affordable and effective with the help of Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and Israel, among others- countries which collaborate with the US in several ways, from offering military bases, to providing logistics and facilitating diplomacy. Today, Russia blames the US for instability and harboring extremism in the Greater Middle East. Having reshaped its foreign policy, Russia seeks and pursues the opportunity to demonstrate its ability as a power broker in countries, or between countries, where US interventions have come into question since the Obama Administration. Russia collaborates with Iran, Egypt, and Turkey to carry out the grand plan to be a major competitor and an alternative power and broker. Russia also benefits from having relations with Turkey. Interestingly, Turkey is no longer a reliable partner for the United States as it slides toward Russia. With Russia seeming to be prolonging regional conflicts, Turkey could be more helpful if it allies with the United States. The case of Turkey in the region is more inextricably intertwined in different directions; as Turkey adopts different perspectives on the region from those of the US, especially with regards to arming and supporting the YPD, a Kurdish fraction Turkey sees as a terrorist organization but which the US believes is fighting effectively against ISIS. The US has to reconsider reliable alliances in Greater Middle East. In a nutshell,

the competing Russia and United States are watching Turkey carefully. To the minds of many experts, Turkey is becoming autocratic, which is why it is quickly sliding towards the Russian orbit.

CURRENT QATAR CRISIS IMPLICATION ON THE SOUTH CAUCASUS If it is necessary to reframe the Qatar crisis and its implications on the South Caucasus, it can be considered economically consequential and it is speculated that the negative effects of the row between Qatar and Saudi Arabia and its allies may spill over into Turkey and Iran. Many states in the Middle East have announced plans to cut diplomatic, bilateral and regional relations with the tiny peninsular state, allegedly due to their supporting terrorist groups. Qatar has so far denied accusations that it has been backing terrorism. In an attempt to mitigate the loss of regional interest, Qatar has boosted Qatar Airways, initiated military improvements, and doubled down on economic relations with friendly states. Turkey and Iran have, in turn, acted against the blockade led by Saudi Arabia. Turkey gave full assistance towards Qatar, mainly through food deliveries and increasing military presence there. Turkey does not believe that Doha backs terrorism. “Turkey is with Qatar in full support and the allegations are inhumane and un-Islamic,� President Erdogan said. Turkey approved the fast track and passed a parliamentary bill to deploy Turkish soldiers on Qatari soil. The bill raised the question that with one of the largest US States military bases of the Middle East already located in Qatar, who is Turkey to protect Qatar from? The wealthy Middle East states mainly invest in solar energy, tourism, property, hotels, and other investments in the South Caucasus. Qatar enjoys economic relations with three South Caucasus countries: Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia. In Georgia, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates have investments and additional economic interests. The UAE poured $155 million into the Port of Poti project with the 2008 deal, and has invested $140 million in hotels in Tbilisi. UAE, Qatar and Saudi Arabia also have economic and diplomatic relations in Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia. Saudi Arabia has deepened its ties in Azerbaijan, while the UAE has done so in Armenia. One of the most lucrative economic aspects is airways: Qatar Airways is one of the frequent airways serving the three countries alongside other airways from Middle East states. In return, the three South Caucasus countries have eased visa regimes and foreign investment taxation, opening business regulations and requirements with the Middle East. Qatar and other countries will continue pursuing investments and ties in the South Caucasus for mutual and multilateral benefits but the relations may be interrupted if Russian and American geopolitical strategies on Turkey and Iran take another course.


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POLITICS

GEORGIA TODAY

JUNE 23 - 26, 2017

The Longest Serving US Diplomat & His Vision of a New Free World INTERVIEW BY NANA SAJAIA, VOICE OF AMERICA GEORGIAN SERVICE

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fter 40 years in Foreign Service, Ambassador Daniel Fried retired from the State Department as the longest serving diplomat and joined the DC-based Atlantic Council. Fried, who oversaw the first phase of the Russia sanctions and worked on NATO enlargement, published an essay recently, in which he describes the modern understanding of the Free World, its implications, and US foreign policy. Voice of America’s Nana Sajaia sat down with the Ambassador to discuss, what he calls America’s “Grand Strategy” in the age of Russia’s “corrosive politics”.

A BIPARTISAN GROUP OF SENATORS AGREED ON A LIST OF NEW SANCTIONS TO PUNISH RUSSIA FOR MEDDLING IN THE 2016

PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION. WHO OVERSAW THE 1ST ROUND OF SANCTIONS? ARE ADDITIONAL SANCTIONS THE BEST WAY FOR WASHINGTON TO NAVIGATE ITS RELATIONSHIP WITH MOSCOW?

THE FREE WORLD…

I understand what the senators are after and I appreciate their commitment to holding Russia accountable for its aggression against Ukraine, not forgetting its aggression against Georgia in 2008, and its aggression directly against the United States with the cyber hacking of our elections. The senators are trying to do something, which is important and difficult. We do want to cooperate with Russia where we have common interests, and I am all for that. But we should neither expect too much from the Russians, nor should we, under any circumstances, pay Russia in advance with other countries’ equities for the privilege of working with them on areas that are supposed to be of common interest.

The Free World is a collection of those countries committed to a rule-based world, rule of law at home, democracy, and sharing a belief that the great democracies should work together to make the world a better place, which will also be better for their countries. Against the values of the Free World we have the notion of autocracies, the great dictators, who want to make the world in their own image, not a rulebased one, but a world where power is its own rationale and its own justification; a world of spheres of influence. In that world, a country like Georgia has no genuine sovereignty, but is merely a product of some great powers’ interest and game. To put it bluntly, in a sphere of influence world, a world run by the great autocracies, Georgia belongs to some other power. In the Free World, Georgia belongs to itself and its faith is up to Georgians.

IN YOUR RECENT ESSAY, YOU SPEAK ABOUT

YOU ALSO SPEAK ABOUT THE FREE WORLD-BASED US

FOREIGN POLICY. HOW WOULD YOU DEFINE THAT TO THE DEMOCRACIES IN EASTERN EUROPE THAT YOU HAVE WORKED ON FOR DECADES? According to the tenants of the Free World, the countries that emerged from the Soviet Union, as they build their democracy and economies and strong institutions at home, have every right to join with the great institutions of the transatlantic world. We made great progress on that for almost 20 years following the end of the Iron Curtain. We didn’t complete that task and Georgians would probably say, hey, what about us? Are we less deserving? And the answer is, you are equally deserving, you deserve to find your place in greater Europe based on what you do at home and not on what Moscow will let you do. Sometimes, history does not work out simply and that time for Georgia may come again. It might not be now, but it will come again.

YOU ARGUE THAT AMERICA IS

STRONGER WHEN IT WORKS WITH ALLIES AND NOT WHEN IT RECOGNIZES SPHERES OF INFLUENCE. HOWEVER, THE 2008 GEORGIA-RUSSIAN WAR WAS AN EXAMPLE OF RECOGNIZING SPHERES OF INFLUENCE FOR MANY It is a fair question to ask. After 1989, for 20 years, we had great success helping countries like Poland, the Baltic States and Romania to join the institutions of Europe and the transatlantic community. We tried with Georgia in Bucharest and we almost succeeded. I’m not going to pretend otherwise: we did not succeed and then the war happened and the West was divided, but that does not mean we recognize spheres of influence over Georgia. What it means is that we have to be realistic about what is possible right now in this phase of history; it does not mean history is closed for Georgia. Interview originally published here: https:// www.amerikiskhma.com/a/interview-withdaniel-fried/3906364.html

Memories of Socialism Dana Rohrabacher presents Georgian drinking horn to Reagan

BY NUGZAR B. RUHADZE

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little over 30 years ago, when the Soviet Union was still alive and kicking and the socialist agriculture sector was still functional,

very successfully too, a black Volga with government license plates rolled into the celebrated village of Shroma in Guria, marked with distinguished popularity throughout the Union. A secret service agent got out of the car and enquired after the Chairman of the local collective farm, the famous Mikhako Oragvelidze. He brought out a black-and-white

photograph which in the center showed Dana Rohrabacher, the now incumbent republican member of the United States House of Representatives, who had served as a speechwriter and special assistant to President Ronald Reagan from 1981 to 1988, and Mikhako Oragvelidze. The photo, labeled USSR, Georgia, Ozurgeti, Mikhako Oragvelidze, from Ronald Rea-

gan, White House, Washington in a handwritten note by Curt Weldon (today’s member of the House of Representatives and then aide to the American President), depicted the handing over to the American president of a Qhantsi, a horn drinking vessel. Recently, and accidentally, I ran into Oragvelidze’s grandson in Tbilisi, who told me this story, and later kindly supplied me with those historical photos. The story has it that in 1986, a high-ranking delegation from the US visited Georgia and the American President’s mentioned aide had an encounter with the amply decorated Georgian rural leader Mikhako Oragvelidze, who had actually achieved outstanding results in the farm activity of those times, having become an epitome of farming accomplishments which made him the foundation of the socialist idea of people’s well-being. The country itself was certainly poor, but it seems that flashes of occasional economic triumph were still seen. Those examples of success were usually generalized by the communist leadership to perpetuate the thought that socialism was not a historical mistake and that it made sense to continue working on it. This was exactly the reason the prominent American and other foreign guests were shown around the farms and enterprises which deserved the attention of curious foreigners. The entire idea was to prove to the world that in the fierce Cold War competition, socialism prevailed against capitalism, thus justifying the monstrous and almost moribund soviet economic and political experiment. But whatever it was, good things were happening, too, at least on the level of regular human interaction. The encounter between the capitalist American Dana Rohrabacher and the soviet Oragvelidze was the example of that possible benev-

olence between the diametrically different systems, which practically meant a chance to maintain peace in the world. People were people and they wanted to love each other and to cooperate somehow. As I was by Gia, Mikhako’s grandson, he was a kid when his powerful and famous grandpa asked him to bring out his favorite drinking vessel Qhantsi, which was then filled with the typical Gurian wine from the endemic Isabella vine. The jovial and gregarious Gurian host, who clearly exuded a regular human happiness, a sense of the achieved wellbeing and a pride for socialist content, made a toast to peace, drank the horn dry and gave it to Dana to toast to peace in the same way. After this, the host requested the guest to give the horn to Ronald Reagan when he returned to America, and to ask the President to drink a toast to peace in the world as they had just done. Imagine that the request was respectfully fulfilled and Ronnie accepted the Georgian souvenir and drank from it, too- wouldn’t that be marvelous? I believe that encounters like this can really make peace and cooperation between the peoples of the world, be it during that strange period of socialism or the tough times of capitalism. Reagans, Gorbachevs and Shevardnadzes –all of them just need to talk it out and work with (and like) men like Mikhako, notwithstanding their current political credos. Mikhako Oragvelidze was a man who created a good life for his community, whatever the understanding of ‘good life’ was at that time. He was a kind, astute and hardworking man, standing next to his people both in bliss and need. He was a good leader, and good leadership works anytime and anywhere, in the life of any nation.


POLITICS

GEORGIA TODAY JUNE 23 - 26, 2017

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Laws, Land & Voting: The Venice Commission’s View INTERVIEW BY VAZHA TAVBERIDZE

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onstitutional amendments, getting them approved, then getting a nod from opposition, then from the Ve n i c e C o m m i s s i o n (apparently, no nod is necessary from the people), has become a problem of Gordian knot-like proportions for the ruling party, Georgian Dream. The role of the Venice Commission is especially under scrutiny: were they really blackmailed by the government, as the opposition claims? How come their preliminary conclusion was leaked (and who did it?) and what are their views on the much-debated changes that are allegedly curtailing the President’s powers even further? With this and many other questions, GEORGIA TODAY and Panorama TV Show met the Secretary of the Venice Commission, Mr. Thomas Markert, for an exclusive interview.

WHAT WERE THE TAKEAWAYS FROM THE MEETING? DID YOU REACH A COMPROMISE, AND IF SO, ON WHAT ISSUES? It is not for the Commission to reach compromise but rather that compromise has to be reached within Georgia. But we did give an opinion on the text which was presented to us and I can say that, overall, our opinion is very favorable;

we appreciate the process, we appreciate the good cooperation with the Commission and we think that this revised constitution is a good step towards a more coherent parliamentary system and government in Georgia. So, overall, our assessment is quite positive.

WHAT DO YOU SAY TO CLAIMS THAT THE GOV’T IS PUTTING PRESSURE ON THE COMMISSION? It didn’t happen. Our cooperation with all Georgian authorities, with the Speaker, and also with the President, was always correct.

AND TO THE LEAKING OF THE COMMISSION’S PRELIMINARY OPINION PAPER? I can’t say as we sent the paper to both parties, to the President- who is not opposition but the Head of State, to the Parliamentary Speaker and to the permanent representation in Strasbourg. We have no idea who is responsible for the leak.

ONE FEAR IS THAT THE CHANGES MIGHT BE USED BY THE GOV’T TO FURTHER CEMENT ITS POSITION AND IMPOSE ITS AGENDA OVER THE OPPOSITION The overall aim to reform is to move Georgia to a fully-fledged coherent parliamentary system. It is normal in a

parliamentary system that the president is not elected directly by the people but elected indirectly, because if you elect the president directly it tends to store more powers. I don’t think it’s possible to be a neutral president if elected by the people because they campaign and then have to fulfil their campaign [promises]. The Commission does not say that it is necessary to have an indirect election of the president under the new constitution but we have no objection to this change, although it is important for us that this change is not carried out immediately, next year, but only from 2023. This shows that this systemic change, which is a new structure, is not an act directed against a specific person.

SOME SAY THE PRIME MINISTER IS GETTING TOO MUCH POWER IN HIS HANDS. THE NEW AMENDMENT SAYS HE CAN CHANGE MINISTERS AT WILL AND NEEDS NO CONFIDENCE VOTE FROM PARLIAMENT AFTER 5 MINISTERS HAVE BEEN REPLACED. WHAT’S YOUR TAKE? For us, it’s important that the rules of no-confidence in the government were amended, making it much easier for parliament to remove the PM and government. This is really a normal check on the powers of the PM in the parliamentary system. So, we have no prob-

lems with this approach.

WHAT’S THE EUROPEAN KNOW-HOW ON THE PROPORTION VOTING SYSTEM AND DISTRIBUTION OF NONALLOTTED MANDATE? I don’t think it’s only European knowhow because various systems work differently in different countries. In Georgia, we have seen that the mixed system gave overwhelming majority to one party and this is not good. Therefore, we welcome a change to the proportional system. Now these changes are qualified by different mechanisms, the 5% clause, prohibition of blocks and rules on wasted votes. We expressed concern especially with respect to the latter, however, we were informed by the Speaker that the plan is to change this rule and to limit this premium for the majority.

WHAT ARE THE REMAINING ISSUES THAT YOU EXPECT THE GOV’T TO DEAL WITH? There are number of minor issues concerning fundamental rights, different wording, etc. One issue we don’t agree with the majority and maybe opposition is that we would like to see the establishment of a second chamber, a senate, already- no more waiting for the reintegration of Abkhazia and South Ossetia in order to have different counterweight to the power of the government and the

majority. And there are some issues concerning judiciary. We were informed that the probationary period for judges will be abolished in a few years. We understand it cannot be done immediately, you have to prepare for it. And the issue of election and appointment of Supreme Court judges.

TWO OF THE AMENDMENTS ARE SPARKING QUITE A DEBATE– ONE MAINTAINS THAT THE DEFINITION OF ‘FAMILY’ IS A UNION BETWEEN A MAN AND A WOMAN, AND ANOTHER PROHIBITS THE SALE OF AGRICULTURAL LAND TO FOREIGN CITIZENS. WHAT’S THE COMMISSION’S TAKE ON THIS? As regards the first change, we’re not necessarily in favor. The current constitution was good enough and is preferable in so far as it leaves room for future development, but we don’t say that this change contradicts European standards. However, we are in the line that this change should not be interpreted as prohibiting the possibility for same-sex registered partnerships. As regards the other issue, it is not so much the concern of the Venice Commission. It is certainly good to have some flexibility in this respect in your future for European integration. So, it would be best not to have a strong constitutional rule on this but rather leave this regulation to organic law.


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POLITICS

GEORGIA TODAY

JUNE 23 - 26, 2017

Republic or Monarchy? T OP-ED BY ZAZA JGARKAVA

he Patriarch of All Georgia Ilia II came up with an initiative to make the republic a constitutional monarchy. The governmental party “faces” instantly turned it into significant political news and thus another political performance began. Who could be the Georgian monarch of the 21st century? What fate awaits the President? And, most importantly, what will happen to the new constitutional project? Interestingly, Georgian Dream substantiated adopting the latter, arguing the necessity of having a completely republican system in the country. 'Republic or monarchy' is the new puzzle for the government. The initiative to “revive” the monarchy is nothing new. In 2009, with the aim of “discharging” the situation, when the three-month so-called “Cell” protests against President Saakashvili’s government failed, the Patriarch advised both the government and opposition to turn the presidential system into a constitutional monarchy. Although the opposition at that time grasped the initiative, after Saakashvili’s victory, Ilia II went quiet on the issue. At another time though, in an interview with Russian Commersant, then-Minister of Interior Affairs Vano Merabishvili implied that the initiative was connected with the Kremlin and Russian interests. “Primakov has been appointed responsible for the issues of Georgia in Moscow. Afterwards, suddenly the project of the Georgian King from the Bagrationi family was initiated. The Bagrationi descendent was quickly married to another descendent from another branch of the same royal family, for which they separated the woman from her former husband. And what? The project, together with the marriage, collapsed. In Moscow, they are constantly searching for an heir for Georgia, but these attempts are completely doomed,” he said. Seven years have passed since that interview and the head of Russian Intelligence, Yevgeny Primakov, is dead, but apparently the issue of Georgian monarchy is still hot both for the Kremlin and Ilia II. High officials like Irakli Kobakhidze, Chairman of the Parliament of Georgia, and Eka Beselia,

Chairman of the Legal Issues Committee, met with the Patriarch of Georgia for consultation. The fact that the governmental party was so quick to react to the initiatives has raised doubts among the political elite that Georgian Dream is planning a monarchical revolution in the country. These were further enhanced because Patriarch’s statement suspiciously coincided with information in Georgian media about Bidzina Ivanishvili’s stroke. At a glance, Ilia II’s idea about substituting an informal king with a constitutional one might even seem logical if not for the fact that these monarchical processes have developed in a completely different direction. The thing is that, as a unified monarchical state, Georgia hasn’t had a king since the 15th century. Not only the Georgian Dream, but even the Georgian royal family descendants have no idea who should take the thrown in the 21st century. Some recognize the Bagrationi’s royal branch that emigrated and now resides in Spain, while others support those living in Italy, and some acknowledge the so-called Mukhranian-Bagrationi royal house, etc. In short, as they say here, even the “dog can’t recognize his master”. Most importantly, no-one, including the Bagrationi’s, has any idea about the alleged monarch of united Georgia, the one that will be subordinated by the so-called principalities of Abkhazia, Samegrelo, Guria, Imereti, Kartli, Kakheti, Samtskhe-Javakheti and Hereti. What makes things even more complicated is that in 1801, when Russia annulled the throne of Kartl-Kakheti, the united Georgian Royal Throne ceased to exist so God knows exactly which monarchy’s revival the Patriarch is on about. As strange as it may seem, said initiative will create even more arguments for the Kremlin about the issue of western Georgia, and especially Abkhazia, which was not part of that monarchy, the revival of which Ilia II reminds us so insistently from time to time.

Problems at Georgia’s Breakaway Regions Discussed at Geneva Int’l Talks BY THEA MORRISON

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eorgia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) reports that the 40th round of the International Talks of Geneva, established after the 2008 August War between Georgia and Russia, was held on June 20-21, where the participants of the negotiations were presented with individual status. The talks were co-chaired by representatives from the European Union (EU), United Nations (UN) and the Organization for Security and Co-Operation in Europe (OSCE), as well as delegates from Georgia, Russia and the United States (US), and authorities from de facto Abkhazia and Tskhinvali regions. MFA reports that the talks were held within a two meeting-group format. At one meeting, the sides discussed security and stability issues in Georgia’s breakaway Abkhazia and Tskhinvali regions, while the second meeting concerned the safe return of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) and refugees to their homes. Prior the talks, an informal informational session was held about the existing experience over the Administrative Boundary Line (ABL), during which the successful example of Cyprus was discussed. An invited expert informed the participants about how free movement and communication between the two divided communities in Cyprus has been established.

Georgian representatives again sharply raised the issue of Russia's annexation policy, saying “it is expressed in the gradual military, political, economic and humanitarian integration of Abkhazia and Tskhinvali regions with Russia.” The Georgian side also condemned the so-called military deal over the unification of South Ossetian and Russian armies under the Russian Armed Forces which was assessed as another illegal move towards the annexation of the region. The installation of barbed wire fences and new border signs, the kidnapping of Georgian citizens and depriving the local youth of an education in their mother tongue was also condemned by Georgian representatives. The co-chairs raised the Khurcha incident, where unarmed 31-year-old citizen of Georgia, Giga Otkhozoria, was gunned down by a Russian border guard on Georgian-controlled territory in the village of Khurcha, close to the Nabakevi Crossing Point at the ABL on May 19, 2016. They said the murderer, who is an Abkhazian citizen and who is wanted by Interpol, should be held responsible as soon as possible. Furthermore, the Georgian Delegation raised the issue of IDPs and their safe return to their homes in the occupied regions of Georgia. During the discussions, the representatives of the Russian Federation and de facto authorities of Abkhazia and Tskhinvali left the discussions in protest. The next round of Geneva Talks has been scheduled for October 10-11.


BUSINESS

GEORGIA TODAY JUNE 23 - 26, 2017

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Business Award 2017 A

lways coming up with new projects and ideas and encouraging people to try new things while helping them to archive their goals,

TBC Bank is to hold the annual Business Award 2017. The project, jointly run with the partnership of Geocell, aims to help minor businesses increase their reach and boost their success. The project

slogan is #ShareSuccess (#გააზიარეწარმატება), and sees attendees sharing their experiences with others and helping each other in every possible way, giving advice and offering new perspectives. This year, the focus will be on corporate social responsibility (CSR) as, in modern society, the success of a business which has financial results is reflected in what it does that is useful and interesting for society. Correspondingly, companies’ CSR projects will be displayed in interesting ways and awarded. The first Business Award was held in 2016 and saw a huge response. Over 1000000 people around Georgia heard about the project, 250,000 browsed the photo galleries, 90,000 watched the videos and approximately 100,000 shared them. Last year, 523 companies were registered, 15 became finalists and seven won in different nominations. These seven different nominations are: • Innovative Business of the Year

• Touristic Business of the Year • Agribusiness of the Year • Georgian Product of the Year • Minor Business of the Year • Business of the Year • Start-Up of the Year In every nomination except Start-Up, which is chosen by vote, the winner is chosen by jury members whose identities are kept secret until the final days of the project. The jurors will evaluate each business personally and then the scores will be summed up. Competitors will be assessed on the following criteria: • The potential of material or nonmaterial profit for society. • Development of innovative product/ service. • Positive effect on business and social environment. • Orientation to growth and development. • Initiative that raises the aspiration for production.

• Planting new tendencies in society. Every company in business can participate in the Business Award. Eligible companies need to have been registered before 2016. Eligible Start-Ups, should not have been registered before 2015. For nominations Minor Business of the Year and Start-Up of the Year, the company’s annual circulation should not exceed GEL 50,000. In the nomination of Innovative Business of the Year there is no regulation or limitation about the registration date of the company, or yearly turnover. The following businesses cannot participate in the Business Award: industrial units which have a cross-over into the banking-financial field; consultation, auditing and notary services; gambling and tobacco manufacture and realization. The Business Award is supported by the EFSE (European Fund for SouthernEastern Europe) and "Produce in Georgia" (აწარმოე საქართველოში).

Georgian Railway Hosts Annual CER Meeting BY THEA MORRISON

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n June 20, Georgian Railway hosted the annual meeting of the Community of European Railway and Infrastructure Companies (CER) in Tbilisi. CER usually holds such meetings twice a year in Brussels and in one of European countries. It is the first time that the meeting was held in a non-EU member country, Georgia. After signing the Association Agreement with the EU, Georgia has undertaken certain obligations and requirements, eight of which refer to the Georgian railway.

10 Galaktion Street

Mamuka Bakhtadze, Director General of Georgian Railway, opened the forum and noted that the Georgian Railway has made significant progress in its part of implementing the Association Agreement between Georgia and the EU. "Today, Georgian Railways is hosting a very important event. We are very proud of this, as this is the first time that a CER forum has been held outside the EU. This is an indication that we are part of the European family,” he said. Lochman positively assessed CER’s cooperation with Georgian Railway. "I’m happy to be taking part in this event. I have had the opportunity to talk with my Georgian colleagues and discuss not just internal issues but also issues that are in the interest of EU member states,” he said.

The forum, held in Tbilisi, is the best platform for establishing business relations with European Railway administrations. The main aim of CER is to support the interests of its member railways and organizations on the territory of the EU. Its slogan is "The Voice of European Railways" and it is the Ombudsman of the railway in the European Union. The annual meeting of the CER in Tbilisi was attended by European directors of European Union Railways. The Chair of the meeting was the Executive Director of CER, Libor Lochman. Head of the Transport Policy Department of the Ministry of Economy and Sustainable Development of Georgia, Ketevan Salukvadze, and representatives of the Ministry of European and Euro-Atlantic Integration also attended the event.

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


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SOCIETY

GEORGIA TODAY

JUNE 23 - 26, 2017

Shining Some Well-Deserved Light on ‘Shuki Movida’ BY KATIE RUTH DAVIES

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he world contains a plethora of stories. Most of them don’t get told. Many don’t get heard. Meet Shuki Movida (“The Light Has Come”), an online organization which aims to get some of the most touching stories in Georgia told, most of which highlight pressing social issues well=deserving of our collective attention. The idea, organizers admit, comes from Humans of New York. Stories of triumph, stories of difficulty, stories of the every day. Each captures a person with disabilities (or someone that cares for them) on film and then shares a glimpse of their story. “Our first post was on September 14, 2016,” Jeremy Gaskill, a former US Peace Corps Volunteer in Georgia, and current McLain Association for Children (MAC) Chief Executive Officer, tells GEORGIA TODAY. “It was started by MAC with the simple idea of raising awareness by letting individuals tell their own story. The stories come from a variety of places. Some are people we've worked with, others are people that were recommended to us. As the page has grown in popularity, people are now contacting us, asking us to come and interview them”. The Shuki Movida team, made up of three amazing people- Nika Zibzibadze, Karen Gaskill and photographer, Natela Grigalashvili- posts 1-2 stories per week with photos, each giving a peek into what it's like living with a disability in Georgia. “We've been really amazed to see the impact,” Gaskill says. “Each week, we watch as the new stories get shared around various parents’ groups in Georgia. Likes often climb into the 1000s and on a couple of occasions we've seen shares climb over that. We also get lots of comments

many from people wanting to know how they can help”. The team set up the project as a means of communicating a shared experience for those who are going through similar circumstances. “It’s a way of letting them know that they aren't alone in what they're going through,” Jeremy says. Karen Gaskill volunteers for Shuki Movida and provides editing and strategic direction. “Whenever I read a Shuki Movida interview and see a photograph, I feel like I’m getting a window into a life, into someone's unique story,” she tells us. “And I think the stories being told are ones we all need to hear, stories and lives we don't encounter often enough. Knowing a little bit about these people, their realities and challenges, opens up my perspective, my world, and influences my life. The stories are real and sometimes sad, but there is usually something in each one that is inspiring and broadening. They make us want to do more in our own lives. I think what makes Shuki Movida special is that the stories people tell are their own. And I appreciate the beautiful photographs Natela takes of each individual, highlighting personality, strength, feeling and hope. We never really know what it's like to live in someone else's shoes, but the stories and photographs of Shuki Movida can help us see a little better what the journey in their shoes is like”. The photos are captured on location by Natela Grigalashvili, an accomplished freelance photographer who hosts several shows each year and teaches photography at Tbilisi State University. “My work on the project turned out to be fascinating,” she says. “I realize how much I learn from each of these individuals when I see how strong they are and how they are fighting for self-assertion. This is one of the best projects in my professional experience.” We asked Jeremy which story he’d found most poignant, and after a moment of thoughtful reflection he admitted that

Dali Sikmashvili from Tsnori and her daughter Mariami, age 16: "Look at her smile, her happy, shining face. You will never see her bored or sad. To be her mother: this is a great gift from God!“

there were a few that came to mind. “One is a great story about a 19-yearold girl, Veriko, who grew up as a beneficiary of First Step, a Tbilisi-based day center and then graduated to become a teacher's assistant at the same center... There's another that highlights the love between a father, Levan, and his daughter, and shows a picture which captures a touching moment as they look at each other and he concludes, ‘she is my world’. There are several that highlight persons that suffered through the institutional system but have persevered...some have even found love,” he says. “I appreciate that each story is different. Some are very happy stories about overcoming obstacles. Others highlight the hopelessness or sadness they feel”. Common negative themes that appear in the stories are feelings of being different, of being looked at and viewed with pity or fear, the difficulties and frustrations of not having access to the services or support needed. Positive themes see appreciation for the oppor-

tunities the subjects have, or recognition by family that these persons can do or understand much more than the outside world thinks them capable of. “Another theme that comes up is the struggle against lack of information or understanding,” Jeremy tells us. “There are stories of misdiagnosis, of being confused and not having support. A feeling of isolation comes up frequently.” There are success stories, too: On November 9, Shuki Movida highlighted Shorena Kravelidze in Marneuli. In her story, she talked about how she was going to be graduating soon and said how hopeful she was that she'd get a job. The post was seen by an employer who then offered her a job. Jeremy says there have been a lot of questions from readers about how they can give money directly to the persons highlighted. “We ask each family if we can share their contact information if we get such a request. If they say yes, then we share it with individuals on a case-by-case basis,” he says. “Giving is

wonderful and I really admire the desire demonstrated, but we try and encourage people to look at the broader issue. We encourage them to move beyond just giving money in reaction to a particular and story to think about the broader story...” The posts appear on facebook and the stories, sorted according to the geographical location of the story-tellers, are then uploaded to their website shukimovida.com. At this point, awareness of their work is achieved through word of mouth. “Our goal is to cover the entire map each region - by the end of the year. Achieving this will involve more strategic planning. We have connections throughout most of the country and can reach out to many of them to learn of new stories. I think as someone from a community is highlighted, more people become aware of the project”. Nika Zibzibadze has served with MAC as a program officer since March 2016 and is currently pursuing his degree at the Caucasus School of Business. “I always say that that the biggest success of the project is that it gives people a platform to start speaking up for their children, their rights and, in general, for their life which is full of both challenges and successes,” he says. “What I love most in this project is that Shuki Movida brings happiness to the families. We visit the families with empty hands, there are no expectations from their side of any help, but they still look forward to meeting us and telling their life story”. “Our hope is that these stories will help connect people,” Jeremy concludes. “That hearing these stories will reduce the feeling of isolation, of stigma, and that they will begin to speak up more. We want them to get more involved- with each other, within the local government, in the lives of their children. We hope that the stories of success will resonate and inspire individuals, families and communities,” he concludes.

Training in Planning & Organizing Festivals for Festival Professionals in Adjara BY KATIE RUTH DAVIES

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ritish Council Georgia has been working successfully with the Ministry of Education, Culture and Sport of the Adjara Autonomous Republic in Georgia for some years within their signed memorandum of collaboration. On 20, 21, 22 and 23 June they organized a training on How to Plan and Organize Festivals, conducted by British expert Donna Close, a representative of Festivals and Events International and festival producer and strategic consultant with over 20 years’ experience in arts and cultural working in private and public sectors; in small creative businesses, higher education institutions, in local government, large arts organizations, and from within the community and voluntary sector. The aim of the training in Adjara was to provide delegates with the knowledge, understanding and a practical framework to be able to write a festival and event management plan. In addition, the concepts of time management, project management, customer care and customer experience as measures of success were introduced.

The training program was created on the basis of the research, workshops and face to face meetings with representatives of the festival sector in Adjara carried out by Nick Dodds, an expert from the UK, in November 2016. His study focused on the existing situation, achievements made and challenges being faced. The training participants had the chance to explore the experiences, achievements and challenges of UK festivals, make comparisons with the Georgian methods of festival management, share their achievements with the trainers from the UK and one another and absorb useful aspects from the UK experience. “We are happy to work in partnership with the Ministry of Education, Culture and Sports of Adjara Autonomous Republic and share the UK’s best practice in the field of Festivals Management and development,” said Zaza Purtseladze, Director of the British Council, Georgia. In July, the British Council plans to conduct trainings on developing a marketing plan. The British Council is the UK’s international organization for cultural relations and educational opportunities, changing lives by creating opportunities, building connections and engendering trust.


SOCIETY

GEORGIA TODAY JUNE 23 - 26, 2017

All in the Eye of the Beholder OP-ED BY ANNA SPONDER

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f there's one thing I've noticed about liberals, it's that they seem to be all-or-nothing types. The last time I put pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard), I wrote some disparaging remarks about Georgian men within the context of a recent indiscretion of the Georgian police. Some members of the online community appeared to take umbrage with my views of the male population here, asserting that my claims were simply stereotypes or over-generalizations. Their righteous fury reminded me of recent debates over the effect of Islam in influencing terrorism. Liberals will scream and shout that Islam is not the problem, that not all Muslims are terrorists, and to suggest that the religion has anything to do with the increasing number of attacks is ignorant (despite a demonstrable common element). In the same way, liberal champions (as well as outraged Georgians) online were quick to point out that my perception was all wrong, that I was clearly the “bitter ex-girlfriend” of a Georgian man (not true) who was just being spiteful (again, not true). Debunking criticism in the most emotive way possible seems to be a liberal trait, and often flies in the face of common sense. To hear the opinions of some commenters, you could be mistaken for thinking that Georgian men are actually all suave James Bond types who'd never think of hitting a woman or spending their day squatting on a roadside with sunflower seeds; but not once in my article did I suggest that there aren't gentlemen here either. Every country is filled with both the good and the bad, the sophisticated and the crude, the educated and the simple. I also don't understand why people feel the need to try and disprove generalizations that are grounded in fact, nor why they perceive themselves to be the target

of criticism. Just the other day I saw a group of the worst kind of English people – loud, aggressive, and impolite – and I shuddered, but should a Georgian have then come up to me and said, “English people are loud, aggressive and impolite,” I'd not have disagreed. After all, I know that I'm not like that, but I am willing to concede that many of my people are. Going back to the matter of terrorism, I was once told by three Iranian acquaintances that they firmly believed that the Koran was capable of inspiring violence. I'd take their opinion more seriously than that of a Western liberal who is more frightened of offending people than confronting ugly truths; after all, they were raised with it. First impressions, though, are hard to shake, and often reflect more than perhaps people would like to admit. My first impressions of Georgian males were formed years ago, and I can't say that I've seen or heard much to disprove me since (that is not, however, to say that I haven't met many educated Georgians who are far more congenial company than your average Brit). Impressions can have a lasting impact

on perceptions, too, as I believe I've demonstrated, but I think that this is something that even the government needs to consider. Not for nothing has Donald Trump been criticised for his awful baggy suits, or Jeremy Corbyn for his unkept appearance; they simply don't fit with the Western political scene. Now, you might argue that since they've both had significant impacts on politics, what does it matter? Well, Trump's impending impeachment aside, Corbyn isn't as well loved in Britain as social media makes him out to be, but in truth appearances are far less for them than for Georgian politicians, since they were lucky enough to be born in countries already in the West rather than one aspiring towards it. To many this might sound trivial, but in Western professional, political and diplomatic circles, these things matter. So, when European or American officials meet Irakli Kobakhidze and notice his messy long hair and his lack of a tie, or Kakha Kaladze's vacant expression and slightly open mouth, I wonder if they think what I think; for Georgia's Western aspirations, I sincerely hope not.

WHERE to Go, Stay, Eat, Drink and Buy in Summer

T

he latest issue of Where.ge is out! Packed full of the usual recommendations, tips and travel stories, it’s a guide you should not be without- even if you’ve lived here a while! Do you think summer in Georgia is just about sea and sun? Wrong! In Georgia, you get this AND skiing! Check out the recently opened ski resorts in Svaneti and get your skis on, even in the hot summer months. Don’t believe us? Check out our report from Mestia in the Where to Go section of the latest issue of Where.ge and get ready for a bonanza summer skiing experience. New summer ski resorts are not the only thing to read about Svaneti in this issue, as our Svaneti-based reporter Tony Hanmer suggests an exclusive tour of the Holy Icons. Exploring ancient religious art kept protected for centuries in the heights of that region is yet another reason for you, our respected reader, to visit Georgia’s stunning landscape in the sky. No doubt most of you will be visiting Batumi this summer. Get ready with our exclusive recommendations on exploring the fantastic Black Sea city and check out the top things to do on your drive there from Tbilisi as provided by our editor Katie Davies, who also takes you on a tour of spa resort Tskhaltuboa true soviet ghost town! Those of you planning to hang around the capital can read Rose’s Top 20 Things to Do in Tbilisi- from marveling at the metro stations to getting a scrub at the sulphur baths! For those culture vultures among you we offer an exclusive interview with famed sculptor Gia Japaridze, a look into the unique world of Georgian Dance and give the low down on

Georgian wine. Save the dates of most interesting festivals, exhibitions and concerts in your summer calendar- use the Where.ge event calendar to do it, with suggestions for every taste. Enjoy your summer in beautiful Georgia! Find out how and where in Where.ge!

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12

SOCIETY

GEORGIA TODAY

JUNE 23 - 26, 2017

Gordon Ramsay Experience - Chef will Cook for Guests in Forte Village, Sardinia Program: Program July 1 8:00 pm Pre dinner Cocktail 8.30 pm Charity Dinner "Gordon Ramsay & Friends"

ADVERTISING

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pend an evening with the most famous Michelin starred chef in the world today, the irrepressible Gordon Ramsay. Join him on July 1 and 2 for an unforgettable culinary experience at the Forte Village Resort. First he will host a cooking demonstration of one of his most famous signature dishes. You will then have the opportunity to attend the exclusive Gordon Ramsay & Friends charity dinner on July 1 to support the Gordon and Tania Ramsay Foundation to raise money for the Great Ormond Street hospital in London. This exclusive dinner will be hosted together with Carlo Cracco (2 Michelin Stars) the rising Italian culinary star; Emanuele Scarello (2 Michelin Stars) an expert on Italian regional cuisine. For those who enjoy the kitchen, on July 2, Gordon Ramsay will host a cooking demonstration with a restricted number of places. You can book either the dinner or both the dinner and the cooking demonstration.

Program July 2 5:00 pm Cooking Demo* 8:00 pm Dinner at Gordon Ramsay Restaurant (beverage excluded) *The program is subject to change Available Packages : Dinner & Cooking Demo: Euro 1.100,00 per person Dinner Only: Euro 500,00 per person Terms & Conditions: • Rates are per person • VAT and service included • The availability of places is limited and subject to availability at the time of reservation • The program is subject to change • Full payment is required to confirm the reservation. The package is nonrefundable. • The package does not include accommodation, it can be added to any type of room reservations BOOK NOW! Call: +39 0709218820 Write: holiday@forevillage.com Browse: www.fortevillage.com

Training Program for Open Letter: Etseri, Svaneti Adjara Guides to Be Completed BY TONY HANMER

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BY THEA MORRISON

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he training of tour guides in Georgia’s western Adjara region, being carried out by the Tourism Product Development Agency of the Adjara Tourism and Resorts Department, is in its final stage and saw the participating guides this week visiting the Skhalta-Khikhani and KhuloGoderdzi-Green Lake route. The two-week training program consists of a theoretical and practical program of lectures organized both at the Adjara Tourism Department and on location. The training is being delivered by historians, ethnographers and experienced tourist guides.

Last week, the mountainous Adjara guides went on the Chirukhi adventure tour in Shuakhevi, visited lakes Guli and Chirukhi, the Oladauri Museum and castles of the Darchidzes and Okropilauri. The guides also got acquainted with local guest-houses and their services. Practical and theoretical trainings of Keda and Machakhela guides are already complete and the guides are now waiting for evaluation at the Tourism Products Development Agency. By the end of June, practical training will be completed for guides of the Protected Areas of mountainous Adjara tourist routes. At the end of the training, participants will be awarded with certificates and the Agency will promote the highest rated guides.

o the Minister of Science and Education of Georgia, Mr. Sandro Jejelava Dear Sir, I wrote an email to you over a week ago regarding the great number of mistakes and ambiguities I found in a recent online mock English exam for Georgian high school students. This was one of the tests which they can either complete online and get an instant result, or print off and do on paper with someone then correcting it. In these ways, they can see how they are doing in English in general, get a feel for what the actual test will be like, and practice taking it. While this site is NOT an official Ministry of Science and Education site, and thus not said Ministry’s responsibility, it disturbs me much that such sites (there are more than one) are being used for assessments which cannot be accurate. My suggestion would be that the Ministry have someone, preferably a native English speaker, examine such sites and form an accurate opinion (based on statistics) of their tests’ quality. The number of mistakes I found in the 65-question test which I saw a print of was 13, or exactly 20%. Such an amount of errors leaves one wondering about the competency of those who compile these tests to correct them and give any kind of honest assessment of a pupil’s level of mastery of English. If I was such a pupil, I would protest publicly and formally request new, properly proofread tests before being able to participate. The Ministry might then make a public statement in the form of a warning of the statistically-based quality of the tests; and suggest officially sanctioned sites and tests, which would have no mistakes. The test which I read was found at www.online.exam.ge/english.html I also saw similar online mock tests at another Georgian website, while serving the end of my last term in Becho public school this last May. Again, grade 12 students were doing these tests to see how their English proficiency would fare in real-world tests like the one they were about to take; and the level of wrongness there was similar to the samples below, though I don’t remember that website. Here are some examples of actual mis-

takes from the test which I read through, with other unreported errors such as missing periods not noted: If I lost my handbag, ……… the police 1. 'd phone 2. 'll phone 3. 'm phone 4. phone [no personal pronoun in question] … 50 years old in 2013. 1. Will be 2. Is 3. Am 4. Am being [no personal pronoun in question; and all answers start incorrectly with capital letters] … her since she went to Germany 1. Won't see 2. Haven't seen 3. Didn't see 4. Wasn't seen

[again, no personal pronoun in question; and all answers start incorrectly with capital letters, when none of them is the start of the sentence] I … Portuguese because I lived in Brazil for ten years. 1. to understand 2. 'm understand 3. Understand 4. 'll understand [otherwise correct answer, 3, is capitalized, making it wrong] … anything about astronomy? 1. Do you knowing 2. Are you know 3. Are you knowing 4. Have you know [Well... which one is correct?] Sorry, we … green apples 1. any 2. no 3. nothing 4. none [Well... again, which one is correct?] Mark the correct answer:

1. ask your mother when will be lunch ready. 2. ask you mother when will lunch ready be. 3. ask you mother when lunch will be ready. 4. ask your mother when will be ready lunch. [3 is closest to being correct, but doesn't start with a capital letter and should have "your" instead of "you"] He is … officer in the army 1. -2. An 3. a 4. the [Again, 2 is closest to being correct, but doesn't start with a capital letter]

Where does this dialogue take place? Mark the correct answer We must run to the cinema. The film___ at 5 minute 1. runs 2. will run 3. run 4. is going to start [question should read "in 5 minutes", not "at 5 minute"] If I hadn't got married when I was eighteen, ... to university to study agriculture. 1. 'd go 2. was going 3. 'll go 4. 'd gone [Well... again, which one is correct?] [and my favorite:] Don't start making the past until I …you 1. 'm phoning 2. phoned 3. phone 4. will phone [making the past"...?!] Sir, I look forward to hearing from you about this matter, which I am sure has simply not been reported to you until now. I hear nothing but good things about you and hope that you will bring much needed further reform and improvement to the Georgian educational system! Tony Hanmer has lived in Georgia since 1999, in Svaneti since 2007, and been a weekly writer for GT since early 2011. He runs the “Svaneti Renaissance” Facebook group, now with nearly 1500 members, at www.facebook. com/groups/SvanetiRenaissance/


CULTURE

GEORGIA TODAY JUNE 23 - 26, 2017

13

Must-See Show by the Immortal Sergo Kobuladze BY MAKA LOMADZE

I

am from Rustaveli’s Country –is the title of the exceptional, unmissable exhibition of one of the most illustrious illustrators and painters of Georgia, Sergo Kobuladze. The T.G. Nili Art Space invites all to see the prints in focus, as well as reproductions, the originals of which are kept at the Tretyakov Picture Gallery, Moscow. Born in 1909, Sergo Kobuladze is considered one of the founders of Georgian Fine Art, making this a real must-see exhibition for Georgians as well as foreigners, equally interesting for professional artists, collectors, and art admirers. For years, the research object for Sergo Kobuladze was the compositional layering system of fine art and architecture on the basis on ancient artworks of the pre-Hellenic era, with the painter analyzing the proportions of ancient Greek sculpture. The exhibition displays two graphic works created on these foundations, alongside eight unique illustrations which Kobuladze made for the epic poem, ‘The Knight in Panther’s Skin’. “He learned sculpture thoroughly, penetrating into the depths of architecture and pre-Hellenistic art,” Tea Goguadze, curator of the gallery, said of Kobuladze. “He worked for years on the technologies of construction of compositions. Two unique examples of such works are these two [digital] prints- limited edition reproductions of the original works which are both rare and unique. We’ve been able to partner with Sergo Kobuladze’s family and obtain permission and

Limited edition print of Sergo Kobuladze’s work

their approval to publish and show these prints for the very first time”. “People are familiar with Sergo Kobuladze because he is famous for the illustrations he made for Knight in Panther’s Skin,” Alex Diasamidze, director of T.G. Nili Art Space, told GEORGIA TODAY. “This exhibition shows the unique side of the artist, which actually fits very well with the concept of our gallery, because it is a hybrid gallery in the sense that we focus on original works but also on limited edition fine art prints. Thus, we try to make fine art accessible for the middle class and also to the younger gen-

eration. It is specifically interesting for collectors. In this case, we often try to reveal the lesser known side of artists”. Notably enough, the two digital prints on focus are for sale, whilst the other reproductions of originals kept at Tretyakov Picture Gallery, Moscow, are being exhibited for display purposes only. The images of Rostevan, Tinatin, NestanDarejan and Tariel, created at the beginning of the 20th century, are vivid in color and impressive in shape and size. We asked Alex about the exhibition name. “We opened the exhibition on May 26, Georgian Independence Day. This year, its theme was specifically that, i.e. ‘I’m from Rustaveli’s Country’. Within the scope of some of the other activities, including those of the Ministry of Culture, we decided to exhibit Sergo Kobuladze, who is really famous for his illustrations of our great poem. In general, we want to help Georgian artists as we believe that they deserve more spotlight on the international art scene”. The exposition also showcases the working process: how the great maestro dealt with body, proportions, etc. At the very end, there is a photograph of the model, which shows how the work came to be, as well as two fusion pictures by a modern painter. T.B. Nili Gallery displays the works of many emerging artists, as well as already famous contemporary painters like Mirian Shvelidze and Rusudan Petviashvili. It is an art space for the future. For more information, visit: tgnili.com WHERE: Grishashvili 12 WHEN: Until the end of June OPEN: 12 to 6 pm, daily except Monday and Wednesday TICKET: FREE

Announcing the Release of ‘Georgia: A Guide to the Cradle of Wine’

V

inologue has announced the release of the latest title in its collection of wine guides: ‘Georgia: A guide to the cradle of wine,’ which was officially presented on June 9, the opening day of the 10th annual Winexpo in Tbilisi, Georgia, followed by a Q&A session with the authors at the popular Amber Bar in Tbilisi's exciting Left Bank neighborhood. The recipient of the Vintner Guild's prestigious Geoffrey Roberts Award in 2016, the book is the culmination of months of research across the entire country of Georgia. The resulting book is 300 pages in length, with countless full color photographs, extensive maps, cellar listings, and a great wealth of additional information about one of the oldest wine-producing countries in the world. As with the other books in the Vinologue series (which was started in 2007),

the book focuses on helping anyone from first time visitors to experienced wine professional navigate the ancient and at times exotic nature of Georgian wines. While there is a special emphasis on the production of and use of the ancient terracotta pots called kvevri (spanning 8,000 years), the book also delves into the production of wines in the more international methods of stainless steel and oak, as well as everything that comes in between as the Georgians are continually experimenting given the modern upswing in interest for their wines. The two authors are experts in their fields and Georgian wine enthusiasts. Miquel Hudin was the recipient of the Fortnum & Mason Award's Best Drink Writer of 2017 and is a Certified Sommelier who writes for countless international wine publications. Daria Kholodilina is a marketing and tourism expert based in Tbilisi with a very popular blog covering mostly Georgian food and travel.


14

CULTURE

GEORGIA TODAY

JUNE 23 - 26, 2017

WHAT’S ON IN TBILISI THEATER

TBILISI ZAKARIA PALIASHVILI OPERA AND BALLET THEATER Address: 25 Rustaveli Ave. Telephone: 2 99 04 56 June 23, 25 LAURENCIA * Premiere Two-act ballet A. Krein Choreography by V.Chabukiani (Choreographical redaction and staging by Nina Ananiashvili). Soloists on July 23– Nutsa Chekurashvili, Yonen Takano (State Ballet of Georgia) Soloists on June 25– Nino Samadashvili, Frank Van Tongeren (State Ballet of Georgia) Start time: 19:00 Ticket: 10-70 GEL June 28 NEDERLANDS DANS THEATER: NDT 2 Program: SLEIGHT OF HAND Choreography by Sol León & Paul Lightfoot MUTUAL COMFORT Choreography by Edward Clug Solo Choreography by Hans van Manen Cacti Choreography by Alexander Ekman Start time: 19:00 Ticket: 10-80 GEL June 29 NEDERLANDS DANS THEATER: NDT 2 Program: I NEW THEN Choreography by Johan Inger SLEIGHT OF HAND Choreography by Sol León & Paul Lightfoot Cacti Choreography by Alexander Ekman Start time: 19:00 Ticket: 10-80 GEL MOVEMENT THEATER Address: 182, Aghmashenebeli Ave., Mushthaid park Telephone: 599 555 260 June 23 IGI Jemal Karchkhadze Directed by Kakha Bakuradze Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 15 GEL

June 24 CEMENT ZONE Participants: Irakli Menagarishvili, Sandro Nikoladze, Simon Bitadze, Kakha Bakuradze, Ani Talakvadze, Qeti Giorgadze, Ekaterine Gabashvili Start time: 21:00 Ticket: 15 GEL June 25 PARADISO Directed by Irakli Khoshtaria Start time: 21:00 Ticket: 10 GEL June 29 THE TEMPEST William Shakespeare Directed by Kakha Bakuradze Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 15 GEL GABRIADZE THEATER Address: 13 Shavtelis St. Telephone: 2 98 65 93 June 23 MARSHAL DE FANTIE’S DIAMOND Rezo Gabriadze Directed by Rezo Gabriadze English Subtitles Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 10, 15, 20 GEL June 24, 29 STALINGRAD Rezo Gabriadze Directed by Rezo Gabriadze English Subtitles Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 10, 15, 20 GEL June 25 AUTUMN OF MY SPRING Rezo Gabriadze Directed by Rezo Gabriadze English Subtitles Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 10, 15, 20 GEL CINEMA

AMIRANI CINEMA Address: 36 Kostava Str. Telephone: 2 99 99 55 www.kinoafisha.ge Every Wednesday ticket price: 5 GEL June 23-29

TRANSFORMERS: THE LAST KNIGHT Directed by Michael Bay Cast: Laura Haddock, Mark Wahlberg, Gemma Chan Genre: Action, Adventure, Sci-Fi Language: English Start time: 16:15 Language: Russian Start time: 19:15, 22:15 Ticket: 10-14 GEL EVERYTHING, EVERYTHING Directed by Stella Meghie Cast: Amandla Stenberg, Nick Robinson, Anika Noni Rose Genre: Drama, Romance Language: Russian Start time: 22:00, 22:15 Ticket: 13-14 GEL THE MUMMY Directed by Alex Kurtzman Cast: Tom Cruise, Sofia Boutella, Annabelle Wallis Genre: Action, Adventure, Fantasy Language: Russian Start time: 22:15 Ticket: 13-14 GEL PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: DEAD MEN TELL NO TALES Directed by Joachim Rønning, Espen Sandberg Cast: Johnny Depp, Geoffrey Rush, Javier Bardem Genre: Action, Adventure, Comedy Language: Russian Start time: 15:00 Ticket: 9-10 GEL RUSTAVELI CINEMA Address: 5 Rustaveli Ave. Telephone: 2 55 50 00 www.kinoafisha.ge Every Wednesday ticket: 5 GEL June 23-29 TRANSFORMERS: THE LAST KNIGHT (Info Above) Start time: 14:00, 19:00, 19:25, 22:35 Ticket: 9-14 GEL EVERYTHING, EVERYTHING (Info Above) Start time: 22:00, 22:15 Ticket: 13-14 GEL PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN:

DEAD MEN TELL NO TALES (Info Above) Start time: 19:35 Ticket: 9-14 GEL MUSEUM

GEORGIAN NATIONAL MUSEUM SIMON JANASHIA MUSEUM Address: 4 Rustaveli Ave. Telephone: 2 99 80 22, 2 93 48 21 www.museum.ge PERMANENT EXHIBITION: GEORGIAN ARCHAEOLOGY FROM 8TH MILLENNIUM B.C. TO THE 4TH CENTURY A.D EXHIBITION OF GEORGIAN WEAPONRY NUMISMATIC TREASURY THE TESTAMENT OF DAVID THE BUILDER AND NEW EXHIBITS OF THE MEDIEVAL TREASURY September 27 (2016) – September 22 (2017) EXHIBITION STONE AGE GEORGIA May 18- November 18 EXHIBITION GEORGIAN COSTUME AND WEAPONRY OF 18TH-20TH CENTURIES June 15-30 Rustaveli Theater - Gogi Meskhishvili Design School Exhibition of STUDENT ARTWORKS The exhibition showcases installations, video art, scenic and 3D projects. June 16-29 Photo exhibition of sculptures by Georgian and Azerbaijani prominent artists MERAB MERABISHVILI & OMAR ELDAROV MUSEUM OF FINE ARTS Address: 1 Gudiashvili Str. March 6 – August 30 EXHIBITION MASTERPIECES FROM THE MUSEUM OF FINE ARTS COLLECTION

GALLERY

THE NATIONAL GALLERY Address: 11 Rustaveli Ave. www.museum.ge June 8 – September 11 EXHIBITION CONSTELLATION Artworks by Chinese contemporary artists- Ai Weiwei, Hu Xiaoyuan, Li Shurui, Liu Wei, Lu Pingyuan, Lu Shanchuan, Ma Qiusha, Wang Guangle, Wang Sishun, Wang Yuyang, Xie Molin, Xu Qu, Xu Zhen, Yan Xing, Zhang Ding, Zhang Zhenyu, Zhao Yao and Zhao Zhao. MUSEUM OF SOVIET OCCUPATION Address: 4 Rustaveli Ave. Telephone: 2 99 80 22, 2 93 48 21 www.museum.ge PERMANENT EXHIBITION Discover the State's personal files of "subversive" Georgian public figures, orders to shoot or exile, and other artifacts representing Soviet-era cultural and political repression in Georgia. MUSIC

TBILISI STATE CONSERVATOIRE Address: 8 Griboedov St. Telephone: 2 93 46 24 June 23 VOCAL MUSIC EVENING Vocal Music Evening Dedicated to Philimon Koridze Participants: Georgian Basses and Patriarch Choir of Tbilisi Holy Trinity Cathedral Choir Leader- Svimon Djangulashvili In program: works of Georgian, Russian and West European Composers Start time: 19:00 Ticket: 5 GEL MTATSMINDA PARK June 24 eZo is a music and arts festival organized by MZESUMZIRA Main Stage: Electric Soil, Sabo, Ako Von Unten, Martin Buttrich, Dinky Ukana eZo (small stage): Rati, Gabunia Start time: 14:00 Ticket: 20-40 GEL BLUES FESTIVAL June 24 MATT TAYLOR Start time: 17:00 Ticket: 40 GEL Venue: Near Lagodekhi Protected Area June 25 MATT TAYLOR Jam Session Start time: 19:30 Ticket: 20 GEL Venue: Near Lagodekhi Protected Area ROYAL DISTRICT THEATER Address: 10 G. Abesadze Str. Telephone: 2 99 61 71 June 24 Maka Makharadze Ballet Studio and little ballerinas Present FOREVER MOZART Staging by Mariam Aleksidze Start time: 16:00, 18:00, 20:00 Ticket: 10 GEL DJANSUG KAKHIDZE TBILISI CENTER FOR MUSIC & CULTURE Address: 125 Aghmashenebeli ave. Telephone: 2 96 12 43 June 24 Tbilisi Symphony Orchestra, the conductor of Tbilisi State Opera and Ballet Theater Revaz Takidze and his daughter, pianist working in Germany– Ani Takidze In program: works by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and Dmitri Shostakovich Start time: 19:30 Ticket: 10 GEL


CULTURE

GEORGIA TODAY JUNE 23 - 26, 2017

15

Sculpture & a Love of Life BY MAKA LOMADZE

E

rekle Tsuladze is a young sculptor who has already done a lot in his creative life. He believes that a human being is a very weak creature and therefore considers that even our professional choice is not our own to make and is more attributed to sub-consciousness and genes. If one looks at Erekle, one cannot guess what he is, as artists usually look…different…yet he is very neatly dressed, not accentuating his profession in any particular accessory or detail. He is an exceptionally interesting and multicolored personality who is keen on numerous spheres and hobbies. He justifies the saying that a talented person is talented at everything. Meet him below. “When I was asked who I wanted to be in my childhood, I answered ‘football player’. However, my grandfather was an architect, and my father and uncle are both sculptors. So, it didn’t take me long to realize who I really wanted to be. I still play football. I don’t drink. I don’t make an artistic image of myself by growing a long beard or wearing a hat or worn out trousers. However, I like the bohemian lifestyle: parties, women, traveling, etc. This is my gusto of life. I’m 30 now. I thought I’d have a wife and children by this age, however, no-one ever knows”.

HOW DO YOU EXPLAIN ART? This word is a feature of you, as a human, which helps you fix your own inner world. It is less important if others understand it- it is simply a means of self-expression. Art reflects one’s own life experience. You put everything that bothers you and that makes you happy. It inspires me to create statues of characters from my imagination, making them real.

WHAT INSPIRES YOU? Everything- even an odd insect sitting on a flower. I was educated and can technically work with various materials, yet the topics come to me from my everyday life.

THERE ARE ARTISTS WHO GET INSPIRED FROM DIFFERENT REALMS OF ART… Me, too. I also write scripts and novels. The Ukrainian Young Actors’ Theater has staged one of them. Currently, I’m working on a novel titled “Arte”. I also dream of becoming a film director and I love cooking- people love the dishes I create!

ARE YOU FOND OF TRAVELING LITERALLY AND FIGURATIVELY? Yes. I constantly travel inside myself and sometimes get lost in my own fantasies. I like this process. I’m fond of traveling in the direct sense of the word, too. I like the seaside and I dream of living in some exotic place for a while, fishing from a boat, lighting a fire on the beach… Lately, I’ve developed a passion for agronomy. I dream of arranging a paradise in my own yard.

HOW DO YOU LIVE LIFE? We’re alive today and that’s all we have. I think that life is interesting while we’re alive. We have no idea about the afterlife. Therefore, life should be full of events that are close to our own inner world. It doesn’t matter how, but one should express oneself. If I could, I’d write a song with great pleasure. I also make architectural projects. I aim to make a project for a maternity home shaped like an abdomen that breathes. I want it to be free of charge for everybody, regardless of race, ethnicity or religion.

Radio NRJ Partners with GEM FEST BY KATIE RUTH DAVIES

O

n June 22, at Radio Café (Dolidze Str. 2), a cooperation agreement between GEM FEST and Radio NRJ FM 104.7 was signed. In the framework of the event, George Sigua, founder of GEM FEST, and George Sharashidze, Director of NRJ Radio, shared their plans with attendees. Radio NRJ, which is one of the most popular music broadcasters in Europe and since March 14 is officially represented in Georgia, will support electronic music festival GEM FEST in Europe, Russia and Asia. Throughout the month-long GEM FEST in Anaklia, Radio NRJ will have an exclusive radio stand and mini bar for festival attendees. The world’s longest electronic music festival GEM FEST will take place in Anaklia from 14 July to 14

HAVE YOUR WORKS BEEN EXHIBITED OVERSEAS? Yes, in several foreign countries. In autumn, I’ll tour a few places outside Georgia.

WHAT ABOUT FELLOW ARTISTS? I’m on friendly terms with them. I don’t call them my competitors, as everyone has their own inner world. Some people like my creative works, some not, which is natural. I try my best. Generally speaking, sculpture is the youngest realm of art in Georgia. However, during this short space of time, Georgians have managed to leave their own signature in the history of sculpture, mainly in the 20th century, when a lot of important exhibits were created which already live in our world thanks to their individualism, sending significant messages for future generations. I’m happy that in such a small country as Georgia, I have compatriots who are world-famous. Apart from talent, Georgian artists are well-educated, too, assisted by genes and a long and deep history of art, which makes them unique.

IS IT POSSIBLE TO BE BOTH COMMERCIAL AND A HIGH-LEVEL ARTIST? Yes. If Michelangelo hadn’t worked to order, he wouldn’t have been able to survive. Who am I, after all? I also work if somebody calls me. However, it basically happens vice versa: I work and create whatever I feel like and then offer them to different companies. Everything is done for a reason. Sometimes, art serves an idea, sometimes money. I think the first is more common with me as I prefer to do it my way. I never started doing it to earn money. I was just working and enjoying. Money came to me itself.

WHAT ARE YOU WORKING ON APART FROM YOUR BOOK? A black puma who will occasionally find himself in a safe of icy diamonds. He sits down on such a diamond that changes its colors. I made this effect by fixing a glass stand and sensorial illumination.

WHEN WILL YOUR NEXT EXHIBITION BE? I’ll exhibit my new works in Tbilisi first, as it’s my home town. Then I’ll visit Azerbaijan, Russia, the USA, etc. The date is not fixed yet.

PUBLISHER & GM

George Sharashidze COMMERCIAL DEPARTMENT

Commercial Director: Iva Merabishvili Marketing Manager: Mariam Giorgadze

GEORGIA TODAY

August. During the festival, the world’s favorite artists will play and thousands of complementary events will take place. “I’m delighted Radio NRJ central office, at the request of Radio NRJ Georgia, decided to support GEM FEST,” said George Sharashidze, Radio NRJ founder in Georgia. “With this support we’ll help enlarge GEM FEST’s popularity throughout Europe, Russia and Asia- making Georgia even more attractive for tourists”. “The world’s longest EM festival and the world’s largest music radio broadcaster have now signed a cooperation agreement,” said George Sigua, Founder of GEM FEST. “Radio NRJ is a most important partner, giving us an opportunity to inform 25 million listeners in Europe what we are up to in Georgia. With the help of Radio NRJ Georgia, our festival will be talked about in countries such as France and Germany. This sees the start of a massive and systematic PR campaign for our listeners in Europe”.

EDITORIAL DEPARTMENT:

Editor-In-Chief: Katie Ruth Davies

Journalists: Tony Hanmer, Zaza Jgarkava, Maka Bibilashvili, Dimitri Dolaberidze, Maka Lomadze, Joseph Larsen, Vazha Tavberidze, Nugzar B. Ruhadze, Nino Gugunishvili, Thea Morrison Photographer: Irakli Dolidze

Website Manager: Tamzin Whitewood Website Copy-Editor: Gabrielle Guerrier Layout: Misha Mchedlishvili Webmaster: Sergey Gevenov Circulation Managers: David Kerdikashvili, David Djandjgava

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Issue #957  

June 23 - 26, 2017

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