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Issue no: 1170/190

• JULY 23 - 25, 2019

• PUBLISHED TWICE WEEKLY

PRICE: GEL 2.50

In this week’s issue... Weekly Entrepreneurial News @entrepreneur.ge NEWS PAGE 2

EU, Georgian Gov’t Sign EUR 28 mln SAFE Program NEWS PAGE 2

FOCUS

Russian Rugby Union Cancels Test Match with Georgia

ON BEATING THE BAN

Though Russian tourist numbers are down, Georgia's tourism sector continues to grow as the market diversifies

NEWS PAGE 3

June 2019: Average Hotel Prices & Hotel Price Index in Georgia

PAGE 2

BUSINESS PAGE 4

Image source: GNTA

Batumi Boulevard Development Plan

Tomsguide Publishing: HUAWEI P30 Pro Camera is Revolutionary

BY SAMANTHA GUTHRIE

BUSINESS PAGE 6

Top 5 Protected Areas in Georgia Visited Most Frequently

T

his week, Batumi Boulevard announced plans to open a tender for a company to provide functional zoning and landscaping on and around the boulevard. The boulevard is being updated in accordance with city development plans, which include preserving the historic parts of the boulevard and expanding its footprint, with particular emphasis on preserving its character and nearby historic buildings. The Batumi Boulevard was born in 1881 as a seaside park built by a German landscape artist, commissioned by the governor of Batumi. Today’s boulevard, divided into old and new parts, is approximately 7 kilometers long. The company selected by the Batumi Boulevard will have one year to complete the work, at a cost of 435,000 GEL ($151,300). The three-part pro-

SOCIETY PAGE 10

Needing Russia, Hating Russia POLITICS PAGE 11 Image source: In Your Pocket Prepared for Georgia Today Business by

ject will include research, the creation of a development plan, and the production of guidelines for the administrators of the Batumi Boulevard to follow. The project aims to produce a development plan that will preserve the landscape and architectural beauty of the old Boulevard, while establishing new recreation areas that can be enjoyed by both locals and tourists, and people of all ages and abilities. The deadline to submit a bid is August 19. The announcement is part of a series of efforts over the past few years to update and improve the tourist infrastructure of Batumi. In June 2016, then-Chairman of the Government of the Autonomous Republic of Adjara, Archil Khabadze, announced plans to invest $40 million in the development and reconstruction of the New Boulevard of Batumi. The original plan allocated 50% of the territory to tourist-recreation zones, and included the construction of hotels and other touristfocused facilities. Continued on page 3

Markets Asof19ͲJulͲ2019

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NEWS

@entrepreneur.ge Gamarjoba! I’m the Editor-in-Chief of the Georgian edition of Entrepreneur magazine and I’m here to share the top weekly Entrepreneurial news with you: National Delicacy will be of interest to those who think a good daily diet and saving time are equally important. Equipped with the latest technologies, the factory is located in Dedoplistskharo and offers premium as well as budget ready-made food for clientele, who can choose from 10 different dishes. Made of Georgian-only ingredients, the superiority of the brand comes in the simple and practical use of products and the fact they are 100% natural and chemical-free, feature in comfortable packaging and last up to two years. Currently available only in Tbilisi, Batumi and Rustavi, expansion is planned for the near future. Chef Saradjeff, a new restaurant, was launched by Nikoloz Sarajev, representative of the 6th generation of the renowned Sarajishvili family. He decided to use his family’s house as the venue for the restaurant, keeping the original appearance. The restaurant features a small wine cellar which stocks nearly 30 wines from local entrepreneurs. The founder of the restaurant is also the chef and recently introduced an innovative product to Georgia: additive-free dough. His brand shop has already become popular and a second is to be launched in the new restaurant. Canning company Kula is meeting the summer season with a brand-new factory which, Vano Goglidze states, is to be focused on the production of bio products. Test batches will be sent to Germany for the relevant certification, which will take around a year, though Kula plans to bring in the materials necessary for the juices from this summer. The company has three factories- the others being for juice and tinned meat, all located in the region of Gori. Follow the Entrepreneur Georgia Instagram page to get the latest updates from Georgian Entrepreneurs. For doing business with Georgian Entrepreneurs, write us on business@entrepreneur.ge

GEORGIA TODAY

JULY 23 - 25, 2019

Tourism in Georgia Continues to Grow After Flight Ban BY AMY JONES

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ata from the Ministry of Internal Affairs has revealed positive growth in Georgia’s tourism industry, despite the Russian flight embargo which began on July 8. TBC Bank released an analysis of the data in Caucasus Business Week which shows that although the number of Russians visiting Georgia has fallen, tourism grew by 3.2% year-on-year. In the first week of July in 2018, 52,144 Russians visited Georgia, compared to 50,030 in the same time period in 2019. The second week of the flight ban showed numbers dropping from 52,720 Russian visitors in 2018 to 41,423 in 2019, a year-on-year decrease of 21.4%. In addition, Russian airport traffic fell by 78.6% with Batumi and Tbilisi airport losing 88.1% and 75.2% of their Russian customers, respectively. The number of Russian travelers arriving in Georgia via the Kazbegi land border fell from 26,001 in 2018 to 23,544 in 2019. However, those traveling via alternative forms of land transport rose by 6% from 13,186 to 13,981. The Ministry of Internal Affairs’ data nonetheless reveals that a significant number of Russians are finding alternative flight routes to fly to Georgia. 2,898 Russians arrived via plane in the second week of July, possibly flying via Armenia or Ukraine. Although the number of Russian tourists visiting Georgia dropped by 21% in the second week of July this year compared to 2018, the number of visitors to Georgia still showed positive growth of 3.2% year-on-year as the tourism market diversifies. Russian President Vladimir Putin

Image source - Emerging Europe

imposed a ban on direct flights between Russia and Georgia following protests that erupted in Tbilisi on June 20. The protests, often considered to be antiRussian, began after a Russian MP spoke from the Georgian Parliament Speaker’s chair during a session of the International Assembly on Orthodoxy in Tbilisi. Protestors called for the resignation of the Parliament Speaker and the Minister of Internal Affairs and the end of Russian occupation in Georgia’s breakaway regions of South Ossetia (Tskhinvali) and Abkhazia. The flight ban was internationally criticized. Donald Tusk, the head of the European Commission, called the flight embargo “disproportionate, unfair and unjustified.” The government has launched market-

ing campaigns targeting both Russia and other countries in an attempt to lessen the effects of the flight ban. In addition, initiatives such as the social campaign #spendyoursummeringeorgia are encouraging tourists from around the world to visit. Tourism is an important industry for the Georgian economy. Last year, 8.7 million international tourists visited the country, bringing $2.6 billion in revenue in the first three quarters of 2018. 1,404,757 Russian visitors arrived in Georgia in 2018, suggesting that the flight ban could still have a significant impact on the Georgian economy. Georgia’s National Tourism Administration Head Mariam Kvrivishvili said that the industry could lose one million tourists due to the ban.


NEWS

GEORGIA TODAY JULY 23 - 25, 2019

Russian Rugby Union Cancels Test Match with Georgia

Image source: World Rugby

BY THEA MORRISON

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he Russian Rugby Federation published a statement saying that the Russian national team will not take part in TBC Rugby Series test match (RWC warm-up) against the Georgian national team, nick-named the Lelos, which was scheduled for August 27 in Tbilisi. The Russians, who will open World Cup 2019 with their match against host country Japan, say they have pulled out of the friendly match due to recent developments in Georgia, referring to antiRussian and anti-occupation rallies launched on June 20. In a statement issued on their website, the Russian Rugby Federation “sincerely apologizes” to the fans of both teams. They point out that they have watched with “deep concern” recent events in Georgia and, in particular, in Tbilisi. “Unfortunately, the actions of radical-minded individuals on the territory of Georgia lead to instances of disturbing public order and may pose a threat to the lives and health of people in this country,” the statement reads, adding that “due to these circumstances, the Rugby Federation of Russia considers it impossible to hold a match between the national teams.” The Russian Rugby Federation “deeply appreciates” the partnership established with the Georgian Rugby Union. However, the statement says they want to “recall that one of the fundamental principles of the game is solidarity and mutual respect

that go beyond cultural, geographical, political and religious differences.” Georgian Rugby Union President Gocha Svanidze replied to the decision of the Russian Rugby Union, saying the safety of all visitors is guaranteed by the Government of Georgia, and is also supported by the Georgian Rugby Union. Svanidze says Georgia has to accept Russia’s decision, “motivated by the current situation in Tbilisi and the risk of provocations.” “Georgia has hosted such games in the past, hosts them now and will host more in future, always in a safe, fair and positive atmosphere,” he stressed. He added that those who already purchased tickets for the Georgia vs Russia test-match can either attend the replacement match or get a refund. With Russia out, the Six Nations B champions of Georgia are searching for a replacement World Cup warm-up fixture. Rugby is one of the most popular sports in Georgia. The national team qualified for the Rugby World Cup four times, first in 2003, playing against rugby powers such as England and South Africa. The Lelos recorded their first ever World Cup win in the 2007 Rugby World Cup, where they beat Namibia 30–0. Since 2013, Georgia has hosted the World Rugby Tbilisi Cup. Georgia is currently considered a second tier rugby union nation and is one of the world's fastest growing rugby nations. The Lelos participate in the Rugby Europe Championship, and won the tournament in 2001, 2008, 2009, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016 and 2018. As of March 2019, Georgia has won 139 of their 222 representative matches, a winning record of 62.61%.

Batumi Boulevard Development Plan Continued from page 1 32,000 square meters of the New Boulevard of Batumi was previously been put up for auction with a starting price of $2.3 million. Orbi Group Millennium Construction Company bought it for $4.3 million. More than $520 million was invested in the New Boulevard’s reconstruction in 2016. In August 2018, the Municipal Development Fund of the Ministry of Regional Development and Infrastructure, supported by the Asian Development Bank (ADB), announced plans to commit $21 million to protect beaches and refurbish pedestrian bridges in the city. 12 pedestrian bridges will be constructed, and the damaged sections of the boulevard will be refurbished. The works are scheduled to be completed this year. In 2015, a similar project amounting to $20 million was also supported by the ADB. Among all the investment and ad-hoc projects, this week’s announcement marks the beginning of a new phase of development for the Batumi Boulevard, which will be led and framed in by a devel-

opment plan. The most recent Batumi Development Strategy, 2018-2021 was approved by the Batumi City Assembly in April of last year. “For the first time in the history of the municipality, we managed to develop a full 2018-2021 strategy for Batumi Municipality. This is a 240-page document, a very detailed book, for each service, in which all the measures necessary to achieve the goals set for the next four years, all the methods, timelines, budget, etc. are broken down into detail,” said Batumi Mayor Lasha Komakhidze. In the nearby town of Kobuleti, earlier this month renovations were completed on a two-kilometer stretch of coastline. The Municipal Development Fund of Georgia headed the renovation works, which cost GEL 9 million ($3.13 mln). The World Bank funded GEL 2 million ($70,000) of the total cost, with the state budget covering the rest. The rehabilitation works in Kobuleti began in 2017, but were delayed. The contract with the original construction company was cancelled after public outrage at the delays, and, ultimately, the State Construction Company completed the project.

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BUSINESS

GEORGIA TODAY

JULY 23 - 25, 2019

June 2019: Average Hotel Prices & Hotel Price Index in Georgia

Graph 1: In the graph, average prices for standard double rooms in 3 and 4-star hotels and guesthouses are given by region. 5-star hotel prices are provided above

I

n Georgia, the average cost of a room1 in a 3-star hotel was 137 GEL per night in June 2019. While the average cost of a room in a 4-star hotel in Georgia was 232 GEL per night and the average cost of a room in a guesthouse2 was 76 GEL per night. The average cost of a room in a 5-star hotel in Georgia in June 2019 was 448 GEL per night. In Tbilisi, the average price was 618 GEL, followed by SamtskheJavakheti - 417 GEL, Adjara – 384 GEL, and Kakheti - 369 GEL.

HOTEL PRICE INDEX In June 2019, in Georgia the hotel price

index3 increased by 1.5% compared to May 2019. The 3-star, 4-star and 5-star hotel price index increased by 3.6%, while for guesthouses, the price index decreased by 0.1%. In June 2019, compared to May 2019, the number of international travelers’ trips in Georgia increased by 20.8%, while among the international travelers, the proportion who stayed in Georgia for 24 hours or more (classified as tourists) increased by 11.1%4. In June 2019, compared to June 2018, hotel prices in Georgia decreased by 2.9%, this was mainly due to the prices of 3*, 4*,5* hotels. The prices of 3*, 4*,

Graph2: Number of Accommodations Registered on Booking.com Website

Table 1: Percentage change of prices in June 2019 over May 2019 and over June 2018

5* hotels decreasing by 7.3%, while the prices of guesthouses increased by 9.9%. In June 2019, compared to June 2018, the number of international travelers’ trips in Georgia increased by 19.9%, and among the international travelers, the

proportion who stayed in Georgia for 24 hours or more (classified as tourists) increased by 18%.

ACCOMMODATION MARKET IN GEORGIA ACCORDING TO BOOKING.COM WEBSITE

During June 2019, up to 10000 accommodations were available on booking. com website in Georgia. The prices of the majority of registered accommodation ranged between 50-150 GEL per night (57.5%), while only 4.1% of accommodation prices were above 400 GEL. Among the accommodation registered on booking. com in Georgia, the majority were in Tbilisi (38.5%) and Batumi (29.1%). These were followed by Kobuleti (5.1%), Kutaisi (4.8%), Borjomi (2.5%), Bakuriani (2.4%) and Mestia (2.1%). According to the property type, the most registered accommodation in Georgia on booking.com was apartments (49.1%), followed by guesthouses (21.2%) and hotels (17.6%). Among the hotels in Georgia registered on booking.com, more than half were unrated (56.7%), while 23.5% of hotels were 3-star hotels, 15.5% - 4-star hotels, 2.2% - 5-star hotels.

1 The results are based on the surveying of standard double hotel room prices of 3, 4, 5-star hotels and guesthouses in 10 regions of Georgia. Hotels were chosen arbitrarily according to random sampling principle. The study contains 71% (312) of all 3, 4 and 5-star hotels and 25% (456 guesthouses) of all guesthouses registered on www.booking.com The 3, 4 and 5-star hotel price data was collected by contacting hotels individually, while the prices of guesthouses were taken from booking.com. The average prices are arithmetic mean of standard double hotel room prices. 2 Guesthouse: a type of accommodation that is characterized by having a small number of rooms and services are usually offered by the resident family. 3 The calculation of the hotel price index is based on the recommendations given by the International Monetary Fund (IMF). The elementary aggregate price index is calculated by Jevons index (Consumer Price Index Manual-Theory and Practice (2004), Practical Guide to Producing Consumer Price Indices (2009)). 4 Source: GNTA 5 * Preliminary results

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BUSINESS

GEORGIA TODAY

JULY 23 - 25, 2019

Tomsguide Publishing: HUAWEI P30 Pro Camera is Revolutionary TRANSLATED BY KETEVAN KVARATSKHELIYA

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UAWEI P30 Pro is still the best choice for the mobile photography enthusiasts. 4-core cameras, created with Leica, take mobile photography quality to a new level. Moreover, HUAWEI P30 Pro offers innovative technological capabilities, helping users reflect their surrounding reality. It comes as no surprise, then to hear that renowned technological publication Tomsguide has named the HUAWEI P30 Pro „revolutionary camera with no rivals“. Due to its battery strength, the smartphone has also been included in the top-6 list of Cnet publication. The 5G technological revolution, incredible foldable display, sophisticated fingerprint scanner embedded in the screen, as well as other technological achievements: 2019 has certainly kicked off successfully, with the mobile industry offering various amazing and customer-based innovations. While upcoming novelties are yet to be revealed, one is obvious: battery strength is the most important function. HUAWEI P30 Pro is certainly a leader in the battery strength direction. The smartphone is equipped with the strong

4200mAh battery and energy saving smart technology, enabling clientele to use the smartphone the whole day through, almost uninterrupted. That is why HUAWAEI has been included in the top-6 list of the Cnet publication. The HUAWEI P30 Pro is equipped with four high-quality cameras, meaning that for the full utilization of capabilities it needs a strong battery. Its 4200 mAh battery supports up to 22 hours 57 minutes, and charging to 70% takes just 30 minutes. This figure is definitely an attractive factor for any consumer with a busy lifestyle for whom a smartphone is an inseparable part. Experts in the field claim that the smartphone has durability for the entire day, even during usage. In addition, the HUAWEI P30 Pro gives you an opportunity to reverse charge your friend’s phone too! The outstanding design of the HUAWEI P30 Pro certainly catches the eye, as, compared to other smartphones it is distinguished with a wide choice of colors to please customers of any taste. And then there’s the camera… The device is equipped with a 20-MP super wide-angle, 40-MP squared lens, with a diverse appearance, which, in order to obtain a maximally large zoom, uses the prism-base periscope system. The new architecture of the periscope lenses is comfortable and contains more optical layers without decreasing

the quality of images. Through the spectrum of colors, ensured by the 40-MP core camera, the superzoom lenses with OIS and AIS stability, offer 10x hybrid zoom of the same quality, without any losses. The HUAWEI P30 Pro amazes clientele, as well as photography enthusiasts, with the quality of images, even those shot in bad lighting. Reflecting images, which in general may not be captured

because of the light, is made easy with HUAWEI’s innovative technologies. Even trembling hands can’t beat the P30 Pro: the professional dual camera, along with OIS AIS, increases stabilization, guaranteeing you clear images. HUAWEI products and services are available in more than 170 countries and are used by a third of the world's population. There are 16 research and development centers operating worldwide in

the USA, Germany, Sweden, Russia, India and China. HUAWEI Consumer BG is one of three business units of HUAWEI, mainly focusing on the production of smartphones, personal computers, tablets and cloud services. The HUAWEI Global Network is based on 20 years of experience in the telecommunications business and serves to the production of innovative technologies to customers around the world.

A Budget Smartphone with Future Technology: HUAWEI P Smart Z Is Already in Georgia BY MARIAM MERABISHVILI

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UAWEI P Smart Z is the new model with a unique combination of progressive technology, revolutionary aesthetic design and affordable price, which allows the customer not to lag behind the times or trends in future technology. Sales of the P Smart Z series smartphones at HUAWEI's partner stores has already begun in Georgia. The HUAWEI Stark was developed primarily with students and young professionals in mind, users anxious to take advantage of their newfound independence, but also occasionally needing to put business before pleasure. Significant features of the model are the pop-up camera with the support of AI (artificial intelligence), durable battery, functional and efficient operating system, full HD screen, powerful graphics and distinctive aesthetic design. The 16-megapixel pop-up camera of the P smart Z, during normal use is hidden within the phone body. When front camera is activated, for instance when

taking selfies, it automatically emerges and hovers over the screen like a submarine periscope appearing from the surface. This futuristic design elegantly solves the location problem of the front camera and allows the screen to be fully utilized. The lens of the camera rises softly even after prolonged use. As a result of HUAWEI's strict tests, it can endure up to 100,000 different damaging situations. In addition, smartphones have a clever mechanism to protect against drops, automatically detecting the fall and retracting the camera lens. The front camera is equipped with artificial intelligence that automatically captures 8 common scenes of photography, including blue sky, greenness, closed space, and snowy views. Its light and background adjustment function, as well as the algorithm of making facial features prettier, and 3D portrait lighting effects, allows users to capture an excellent portrait. The P Smart Z is equipped with a 16MP + 8 MP + 2MP triple camera system. Through the basic 16 MP and 8 MP cameras, you are able to make crystal clean photos with the perfect perfection of detail and lighting technology. The 8 MP camera is capable of shooting at a

120-degree width and the 2MP sensor works in coordination with the main camera and allows you to shoot SLR quality photos. P Smart Z screen has taken a bold leap into the unknown, by envisioning a screen entirely free of holes, notches, or sliders, for an authentic full screen effect.. By relocating the front camera, earpiece, and ambient light sensor, the HUAWEI Stark achieves a sleek 19.5:9 screen aspect ratio. When streaming videos or gaming, the user can traverse distant landscapes and gaze into far-off horizons. With a 2340 x 1080 Full HD display and a jampacked pixel density of 391 PPI the HUAWEI screen appears to work like a magnifying glass, conveying detail on a minute scale. The wide color palette of

of 85% produces a rich and vibrant visual tapestry, providing the magnified display with bold textures and vivid features. . The HUAWEI P Smart Z is equipped with a modern eye comfort mode that filters out harmful blue light to prevent eye strain and fatigue. This function has been strictly tested for photo biological safety and been certified as effective by TÜV Rheinland . With the renewed, 12 nm process Kirin 710F chipset, smartphone work has been improved overall performance is 30% higher, while energy consumption is actually 30% lower. In duration, the strong battery comes close to the top players in the market. In addition, the EMUI 9 operating system includes leading F2FS 2.0 and EROFS technologies

that cleans up system cache, fragments, increases memory, and provides smartphone’s ordered performance for longer periods without delays. HUAWEI products and services are available in more than 170 countries and are used by a third of the world's population. There are 16 research and development centers operating worldwide in the USA, Germany, Sweden, Russia, India and China. HUAWEI Consumer BG is one of HUAWEI's three business units, mainly focusing on Smartphones, personal computers, tablets and cloud services. HUAWEI Global Network is based on 20 years’ experience in the telecommunications business and serves to provide innovative technologies to customers around the world.


BUSINESS

GEORGIA TODAY JULY 23 - 25, 2019

Good Signs for Georgia’s 2019 Hazelnut Harvest

Image source: Georgian Hazelnut Improvement Project

BY SAMANTHA GUTHRIE

A

midst the economic uncertainties and risks of Russia’s flight ban to Georgia, and harsh late spring weather in many parts of the country damaging crops, finally – some good news for Georgia’s

economy. Over the past few years, Georgia’s once promising hazelnut industry has been severely impacted by the brown marmorated stinkbug – an invasive pest that has been the target of several government and private eradication initiatives with mixed success. The stink bug problem reared its ugly head in Georgia in 2015. The bugs are thought to have first appeared in the Abkhazia region, which increased the complexity of eradication operations as Abkhazia is currently an occupied territory. The pests destroyed a large amount of Georgia’s hazelnut harvest in 2016 and continued to cause widespread devastation in 2017. The 2018 Georgian national budget included 4 million GEL ($1.6 million) for the fight against the pests, complemented by another 8 million GEL ($3.2 million) from USAID, which included tractors and sprayer trucks. International organizations, among them the International Plant Protection Convention and the European and Mediterranean Plant Protection Organization, are cooperating with the Georgian side to effectively counter the threat. This January, the Government approved plans to continue fighting the stink bug in 2019. “The plan includes more effective steps, including the improvement of communication with the population,” read a press release from the Prime Minister’s Office. As part of the new measures, farmers now receive text messages on their cell phones informing them about planned mitigation activities. Representatives of the National Food Agency have been holding regular public awareness meetings on the use of methods to protect homes and reduce stink bug populations. The National Food Agency asserts that their efforts have helped prevent the spread of stink bugs in eastern Georgia, and in western Georgia the pest’s populations have decreased.

GeoStat trade data from January – April 2019 shows that Georgia imported $24.5 million worth of edible fruit, nuts, and grapes, a $0.4 million increase year-on-year. The increase in imports is primarily driven by nuts, including hazelnuts, which had already exceeded $7 million in the first four months of 2019. Increased nut imports were necessary to balance the 24% decline in hazelnut production in 2018 (from 21.4 to 16.3 thousand tons) compared to 2017. In the first quarter of 2019, nut exports plunged to $13.6 million compared to $23.2 million over the same period in 2018. Now, Georgian farmers in the western regions of Ajara, Guria, Samegrelo, and Imereti are anticipating a strong hazelnut harvest for 2019. This year, says Executive Director of the Georgian Hazelnut Growers Association, Giorgi Todua, more than 40,000 tons of hazelnuts are expected to be harvested, compared to 2018’s 17,000 tons. The hazelnuts will be harvested throughout the month of August. Demand for Georgian hazelnuts is high, particularly in Europe. The Georgian Hazelnut Improvement Project is a five-year project (2015-2020) funded and implemented by the Global Development Alliance (GDA) (USAID, Ferrero, and CNFA) to increase the sustainable capacity and private sector development of the hazelnut industry in Georgia. The project has made a strong contribution to the restoration of the industry, providing more than 15,000 hazelnut farmers with technical assistance and pesticides. Todua gave advice to farmers this week, saying “little time is left before harvesting, and it is especially important to continue the fight against the stink bug and against fungal diseases. I would give three recommendations to farmers: spray the hazelnuts once more before the harvest starts; timely collect the harvest; and dry the hazelnuts properly.” The Georgian Hazelnut Improvement Project explains that hazelnuts are Georgia’s largest agricultural export by value and support the livelihoods of more than 50,000 growers and processors. “Due to inconsistent quality and lack of market distinction, Georgian hazelnuts often sell at lower prices,” they warn. The project aims to “transform and streamline the hazelnut value chain to improve the quality of Georgian hazelnuts.”

Karasin: Wine Sanctions Not on the Agenda BY ANA DUMBADZE

D

eputy Foreign Minister of Russia Grigory Karasin spoke about the supposed wine sanctions Russia was talking of imposing on Georgia. As he stated in an interview with RIA Novosti, at the moment the topic of imposing restrictions on certain Georgian products has been closed. “Amid the recent developments in Georgia, Russia was discussing the issue of imposing a ban on the import of the Georgian wine and mineral water. However, the President of the Russian Federation Vladimir Putin called for restraint and spoke in favor of a balanced approach. Thus, the topic of “wine” sanctions against Georgia is closed for now,” he said. Karasin noted that Russia “has itself been under the pressure of sanctions for many years,” and therefore the Russian side is cautious about the introduction of restrictive measures against other states.

As for the Russian travel ban against Georgia, Karasin said that the restriction on flights between two countries is temporary. According to Karasin, the flight ban will be canceled "when the Georgian side stabilizes the situation in the country, ends the Rusophobic campaign and ensures the safety of Russian citizens in Georgia."

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BUSINESS

GEORGIA TODAY

JULY 23 - 25, 2019

Batumi View – A Mesmerizing Product at 10% Off BY KETEVAN KVARATSKHELIYA

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atumi, also known as the ‘Pearl of the Black Sea,’ is one of the fastest-developing cities in Georgia, as well as in the entire region of the South Caucasus. Each year, Batumi treats local residents and visitors to new modern facilities, including incredible residential complexes. Batumi View is one of these treats, implemented in the capital of Ajara by the investment company Rekan Group Georgia under the banner “Batumi View Apartments - tailored to your highest Standards.” Indeed, designed by a group of experienced professionals in accordance with international standards, Batumi View represents a fabulous residential complex on the New Boulevard of the renowned Black Sea beach. Batumi View is a multifunctional complex boasting three buildings, set to integrate 810 hotel-type apartments as well as a five-star hotel with 280 rooms and a number of facilities following completion at the end of this year. GEORGIA TODAY spoke to Irma Kamadadze, Head of the Sales and Marketing Department, to find out more about the ongoing project.

WHAT MAKES BATUMI VIEW STAND OUT FROM OTHER PROJECTS? Batumi View is set to be one of the most outstanding projects in Batumi. It will boast all the necessary facilities, ensuring maximum comfort for all guests and meeting their requirements at the highest level. There will be an outdoor swimming pool, panoramic terrace restaurants with stunning views of the city of Batumi, a spa, and tennis courts for sport enthusiasts. In addition, Batumi View is to have a playground for children, making it ideal for

families with minors. Underground and aboveground parking places will also be available.

WHAT ABOUT THE LOCATION? It’s just 2km from Batumi International Airport and 600m from the city center. This makes it very

comfortable for both residents and visitors.

SOME CONSTRUCTION COMPANIES MAKE SPECIAL OFFERS TO ENTICE EARLY-BIRDS. DO YOU HAVE ANYTHING LIKE THAT IN STORE?

Actually, we do! Anyone wanting to buy an ideal apartment with mesmerizing views of the mountains and Black Sea can, from the end of this month, benefit from a 10% discount on the purchase of a property in the premium-quality residential complex. Don’t miss out!

International Conference ‘Modern Problems of Water Management, Environmental Protection, Architecture and Construction’ Architecture and Construction’ will be held in the Niko Nikoladze conference hall of the Georgian Technical University. Scientist and experts from 11 countries have already registered (from Georgia, Lithuania, Latvia, Russia, Belarus, Azerbaijan, Armenia, Poland, Spain, Portugal, and Italy). The Conference will kick off on July 25, at 10:00 AM, in the Niko Nikoladze conference hall of the Georgian Technical University (Tbilisi, Kostava Street 77). For more information, contact the Co-chair of the Organizing Committee of the 9th International Conference, the Director of the Tsotne Mirtskhulava Water Management Institute of the Georgian Technical University, Doctor of Technical Sciences, Professor Givi Gavardashvili. E-mail: givi_gava@yahoo.com; gwmi1929@gmail. com; Tel: 2 22 4094; Mobile: 593 153 470

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n relation with the 90th anniversary of establishment of the Tsotne Mirtskhulava Water Management Institute of the Georgian Technical University, on July 25-28, the 9th international conference ‘Modern Problems of Water Management, Environmental Protection,


SOCIETY

GEORGIA TODAY JULY 23 - 25, 2019

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Former Minister of Defense: Rose Revolution was Financed by Me BY ANA DUMBADZE

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ccording to Irakli Okruashvili, the former Defence Minister of Georgia under the United National Movement leadership and current leader of the Victorious Georgia party, the 2003 Rose Revolution was financed by him. “I had certain contacts and connections before and after the developments of the 2003 Rose Revolution. When you were saying that the 2003 Rose Revolution was financed by George Soros, or Bidzina Ivanishvili, actually, the entire campaign was financed by me. I had the relevant leverage for that, I have now and, very likely, I will have it in the future as well”, Okruashvili told journalists. The Revolution of Roses, often translated into English as the Rose Revolution was a pro-Western peaceful change of power in Georgia in November 2003. The revolution was brought about by widespread protests over the disputed parliamentary elections and culminated in the ousting of President Eduard Shevardnadze, which marked the end of the Soviet era of leadership in the country. The event derives its name from the

Image source: Ministry of Defense of Georgia

Georgia to Host Agile Spirit 2019 Exercise BY KETEVAN KVARATSKHELIYA

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climactic moment when demonstrators led by Mikheil Saakashvili stormed the Parliament session with red roses in hand. Consisting of twenty days of protests

from 3 to 23 November 2003, the Revolution triggered new presidential and parliamentary elections in Georgia, which established the United National Movement as the dominant ruling party.

TOURISM IN AJARA: CHALLENGES. ACHIEVEMENTS. POTENTIAL.

24th JULY 13:00 – 15:00 PARTICIPANTS: Entrepreneurs from tourism industry, Government, Media SUPPORTER: Department of Tourism and Resorts of Ajara HOST: Hilton Batumi

rom July 27 to August 9, Georgia is to host the Agile Spirit 2019 multinational exercise. The project, planned to bring together over 3,000 soldiers from the 14 NATO member states and allies, will officially kick off at the 2nd Infantry Brigade of Senaki, Western Georgia and will also take place at Orpolo and Vaziani fire ranges. The Ministry of Defense of Georgia reports that the major aim of the exercise is to enhance interoperability between the participating countries, sophisticate operational capabilities, as well as strengthen in terms of planning and exe-

cuting operations within the multinational environ and contribute to the maintenance of stability and security across the Black Sea Region. “Strength through Partnership” has been set as the main message of the initiative. The Ministry also states that the multinational exercise is complex and its scenario envisages staff and field trainings with life fire, engagement of maneuver and combat support elements in offensive and defensive operations. The countries, participating in the Agile Spirit 2019 are as follows: Georgia, UK, US, Poland, Lithuania, Latvia, Bulgaria, Belgium, Norway, Montenegro, Greece, Turkey, Ukraine, as well as Romania. It is the 9th time that Georgia hosts the exercise. It is to be led by the Ministry of Defence of Georgia and the United States European Command.


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SOCIETY

GEORGIA TODAY

JULY 23 - 25, 2019

Top 5 Protected Areas in Georgia Visited Most Frequently diversity of fauna, and you might be lucky enough to see Roe deer, hare, Beech marten, Grey wolf, Brown bear, Red fox or lynx. There is also a diversity of reptile species and flora. Tbilisi National Park directly borders with the masterpiece of Georgian architecture of the 6th century – the Jvari monastery of Mtskheta. There are numerous monuments of exceptional importance in Mtskheta and its surroundings, which are under the protection of UNESCO, including the 11th century Svetitskhoveli Cathedral, Samtavro Church of the same period, the 6th century monastery complex of Shio Mghvime and the Jvari monastery. All of Mtskheta is like a small city-museum and plays host to numerous Georgian and foreign guests daily.

KAZBEGI NATIONAL PARK

Source: Georgian Tours

BY THEA MORRISON

If you haven’t yet been to those Top 5 areas, put it on your summer list. Check them out below.

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PROMETHEUS CAVE

he Georgian National Tourism Administration (GNTA) reports that in the first six months of 2019, 411.905 visitors visited Georgia’s protected areas, which is up 10% on the same period of 2018. In January-June of 2019, the most visited protected areas in Georgia were: 1. Prometheus Cave 2. Martvili Canyon 3. Tbilisi National Park 4. Kazbegi National Park 5. Okatse canyon The Agency of Protected Areas reports that the number of foreign visitors increased by 27% in the mentioned period. In addition to this, in January-June 2019, Georgia hosted 3,862,444 international travelers, which is 8.4% more compared to the same period of 2018. In total, Georgia received 471,979 tourists last month (71,990 visits more, year-on-year). According to the statistics, in June, the number of international travelers amounted to 873,966,an increase of 20.2%.

The cave of Prometheus is located near the Georgian town of Tskhaltubo, 20 kilometers from Kutaisi in the Imereti region of western Georgia. The cave was discovered in 1984 and was soon developed as a show cave, in the past decade being installed with hand-railed concrete walkways and colored lights. It got its name from legendary protagonist Prometheus, who was said to have been chained to the mountains nearby. It is the biggest cave in Georgia, although only one tenth is open to tourists, and it takes about an hour to walk through. Surrounded by a 3 km landscaped area, Prometheus Cave is one of the most attractive tourist spots in Georgia. It is a unique experience to feel the underworld atmosphere in all its glory and colors. Tourists can take a guided walk along the 1600-meter trail and then an additional boat ride out via the underground river. Visitors are usually stunned with the breathtaking sight of stalactites, stalagmites, petrified waterfalls, underground rivers and pools.

MARTVILI CANYON Martvili village is located in the Samegrelo region of Western Georgia, 280km from Tbilisi. Martvili is one of the most popular canyons in Georgia and is divided into two parts, Upper and Lower. Paddle a dingy along the canyon from the Upper part to discover the 12-meter waterfall, or walk the renovated trail through the woods, past the steps ancient kings once used to access the natural pool. Due to the high humidity, the walls of the canyon are covered with moss, lending it a very green and jungle-like appearance. You will also see lianas that grow along the length of the canyon, small streams and numerous waterfalls. While visiting Martivili canyon, make a stop at the 6th century Martvili Monastery (Chkondidi).

Kazbegi has rich tourist potential: breathtaking nature, biodiversity, historicalcultural monuments, and an interesting local culture. Kazbegi National Park is located on the northern slopes of the main Caucasus range, in the basin of the Tergi River gorge. Boasting a total area of 9,030 hectares, all of the Kazbegi National Park is mountainous. Its lowest part is located 1400 m above sea level and the upper within 3000 – 4100 m. It was established with the aim of protecting Georgia’s high mountain ecosystems. There is very rich flora and fauna in the park, including Georgia’s Red List

TBILISI NATIONAL PARK Tbilisi National Park is located 25 km from Tbilisi and is included in the Green Zone of the city. Between Mtskheta and Tbilisi, the national park was established in 1973 on the basis of the previously existing Saguramo National Reserve (established in 1946), making it the oldest national park in Georgia. The territory of Tbilisi National Park is distinguished with a considerable

Source: georgianholidays.com

Source: ticket.vanillasky.ge

Source: otg.ge

Source: Georgian Journal

species, such as the East Caucasian tur, chamois, wolf (Canis lupus), Pine Marten, Brown bear, and lynx. The Strict Nature Reserve is the best environment for birds of prey like the Golden eagle, griffon vulture, Bearded vulture, the Caucasian Black grouse and the Caucasian Snow cock. Historical monuments, such as the 14th century Sameba temple, 10th century Garbani church, Sioni three-part basilica, Akhaltsikhe basilica and 17th century Sno castle also prove popular with visitors.

OKATSE CANYON Okatse Canyon is located in the western part of the country, 50 kilometers from Kutaisi, in the gorge of the River Okatse. The length of the gorge is about 3 km, the depth is 50 meters. Walk along the one-kilometer newly-renovated and handrailed suspension bridge 140 meters up to get the best views of the gorge. The footpath to the canyon passes through a beautiful forest area where you can see the ruins of the 18th century palace of the Dadiani noble family. The total length of the route from the visitor center to the canyon and back is about 7km. At the end of the walkway, you will find a viewing platform in the form of a jib crane hanging directly above the center of the gorge. This platform offers the best view of the surrounding nature and the Okatse River below.


POLITICS

GEORGIA TODAY JULY 23 - 25, 2019

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Needing Russia, Hating Russia OP-ED BY NUGZAR B. RUHADZE

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t is Georgia’s eternal blight that, historically, it is has always been faced with geopolitical choices never easy to make. A quarter of a millennium has passed since Georgia was compelled to unite its fate with Russia, and we are still in an exacerbated argument as to whether the move was right or wrong. At that time, it was a choice between Islam and Christianity. Currently, it is an alternative between Russia and the West. The choice-making itself is something we can live with, but our unfortunate lot is that we do not know for sure which way is more agreeable, as it was centuries before. What a curse! The nation is literally split on the issue, and feelings are so heated on both sides that we might never escape the quandary: the West is more civilized and hence more eye-catching, whereas Russia is more backward and thus less attractive; Russia is an occupant, permanently curtailing Georgia’s territory, and Georgia is incapable of defying the assailant; Russia is an adversary but it controls a lot of businesses and real estate here; Georgia is very angry with Russia in general but still receives a huge amount of Russian tourists with a great deal of deference and assumed benevolence in hopes of making some money on them; Georgia needs to make use of

Russia’s economic potential to push its product profitably into the Russian market but Georgians are, at the same time, aggravated that they need to rely on Russian shoulders; Georgia knows that it will never overpower Russia in anything on earth but still fights her, mostly verbally, at any possible opportunity; seemingly, Russia is out of this country lock, stock and barrel but she is still omnipresent materially, ideologically and linguistically; Georgia thinks that its de facto lost territories are still part of Georgia but they are gone in reality, goodness knows for how long - forever, if you ask Russia; socialism is done with but the socialist ways and means are still around; human rights are all in place but the struggle for them is still rampant; democracy has triumphed but autocratic manners are still in our blood; the West is prepared to support Georgia, but only vocally and in a lukewarm financial direction, unwilling to damage their own relationship with Russia for the sake of Georgia; the Georgians know for certain that nothing will put them on the right track to enhance their standard of living except a welldeveloped economy but still spend a monstrous amount of time on political blah-blah and street-oriented political life; the Georgian men and women are aware of the nation’s plummeting demography but still want to be convinced family planners. The choice that we are being forced to make will someday be made, but there

is no certainty that the pick is going to be the best one for Georgia, and there are no experts or fortunetellers around to confidently sign under any of the available options. If Georgia goes and joins the West, it will acquire a vested enemy in the form of Russia, who will never give Georgia a chance to enjoy the gifts of western civilization, even if the entire globe supports the idea of Georgia being a natural

part of the western world. If Georgia is reinvaded by Russia and dragged back into the Russian empire as a colony, as has happened more than once in the past, then our blood and efforts of the last thirty years will be washed down the tubes and the Georgian people will have to put up with whatever is left for them to enjoy. How about Geopolitical Neutrality? No! Because most political scientists

think that Georgia has no way of being an unaligned country in the present circumstances. This is why the implementation of a balanced relationship between Russia and Georgia, not making any additional waves, was one of the wisest decisions the Georgian governments of the latest 30 years made. Recently, somebody wanted to corrupt that pragmatic attitude. Hopefully, that ‘somebody’ has lost the chance forever.

Anti-Corruption Committee Working Group Meets BY SAMANTHA GUTHRIE

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n Friday, July 19, the working group of the Georgian Anti-Corruption Council met at the Ministry of Justice to discuss its agenda for 2019-2020. The working group based their program on previously developed strategies and action plans and survey data from international and Georgian organizations. They also conducted a risk analysis to define the priorities of the anti-corruption policies they will develop in line with the mandate of the Council. The Anti-Corruption Council was established on the basis of the Law of Georgia on Conflict of Interests and Corruption in Public Service. The functions of the council include: coordinating anticorruption activities in the country, updating the anticorruption action plan and strategy and supervising its implementation, monitoring the accountability of international organizations, initiating relevant legislative acts, and drafting recommendations for policymakers. Members of the Council are defined by Presidential Decree, and include representatives of different governmental and non-governmental agencies. The

Anti-Corruption Council is chaired by the Minister of Justice of Georgia, Thea Tsulukiani. The Council’s working group is a panel of experts from relevant institutions that work on a wide array of corruption prevention measures, according to their fields of expertise. The working group develops policy documents and reports on the implementation of the Action Plan developed by the Council. The Anti-Corruption Council developed a strategy and action plan to combat corruption in Georgia, with the cooperation of civil society and international organizations, approved by the President of Georgia. Both the strategy and action plan “identify corruption sensitive areas and provide for targeted actions aimed at the modernization of public service, development of administrative services and state procurement, reforming the public finance system, developing tax and customs systems, guaranteeing a competitive and corruption-free private sector, enhancing justice administration, increasing interagency coordination for prevention of corruption, improving the system of political party financing and preventing political corruption,” explains the Ministry of Justice. The Action Plan identifies 14 responsible agencies who submit regular reports on the implementation of the Action Plan to the Anti-Corrup-

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GEORGIA TODAY

EDITORIAL DEPARTMENT:

Editor-In-Chief: Katie Ruth Davies

Image source: Ministry of Justice of Georgia

tion Council. Since independence, Georgia has made great strides in reducing corruption, but there is a continuous risk of a reversal of that trend, and the challenge of balancing anti-corruption and human rights measures remains. In the 2018 Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI), released by Transparency International in January, Georgia had the best scores in the Eastern Europe and Central Asia region, coming in with 58 out of 100 points, above Montenegro (45) and Belarus (44). At the very bot-

Journalists: Tony Hanmer, Zaza Jgarkava, Maka Bibilashvili, Dimitri Dolaberidze, Vazha Tavberidze, Nugzar B. Ruhadze, Samantha Guthrie, Amy Jones, Thea Morrison, Ana Dumbadze, Ketevan Kvaratskheliya Photographer: Irakli Dolidze

tom of the region, Turkmenistan earns the lowest score in the region (20), with Uzbekistan (23) and Tajikistan (25) earning only slightly more. Overall, with an average score of 35, Eastern Europe and Central Asia are the second lowest scoring regions in the index, ahead of only Sub-Saharan Africa, which has an average score of 32. Georgia has advanced its score by two points since last year, taking 41st place among the 180 countries surveyed. The CPI 2018 does warn, however, that the country now faces “democratic backslid-

Website Manager/Editor: Katie Ruth Davies Layout: Misha Mchedlishvili Webmaster: Sergey Gevenov Circulation Managers: David Kerdikashvili, David Djandjgava

ing, making it both vulnerable to highlevel corruption” and is “a country to watch moving forward.” It attributes the downturn to “a lack of accountability of law enforcement, corruption and political interference in the judiciary, and government-sponsored attacks on independent civil society, among other issues.” Transparency International criticized Georgia for failing to establish independent agencies to take on this mandate of battling corruption. In an April 2019 survey, Transparency International found that while Georgians were almost never asked to pay a bribe in return for receiving public service (1% in the past 12 months), other forms of corruption are believed to be widespread. 59% of respondents say abuse of power by public officials is common in Georgia. 36% of respondents think abuse of power for personal gain by public officials is common, while only 15% think it is uncommon. 91% of those respondents who think such actions are common believe employers aim to hire their own family members, friends and relatives rather than using a fair, merit-based job application process. Regarding abuse of power, 86% of respondents think public officials abuse power in an attempt to protect their own or family businesses, 79% think there is inappropriate spending on the part of public officials, and 58% believe public officials take bribes.

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Profile for Georgia Today

Issue #1170 Business  

July 23 - 25, 2019

Issue #1170 Business  

July 23 - 25, 2019

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