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Issue no: 1179

• AUGUST 23 - 26, 2019 • PUBLISHED TWICE WEEKLY

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ON RUSSIA & ANAKLIA PORT Matthew Bryza on the hot political and business topics of today

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PRICE: GEL 2.50

In this week’s issue... NGO: Investigations Rarely Launched into Animal Mistreatment in Georgia NEWS PAGE 3

"I Should Have Shouted Louder" - Saakashvili on the 2008 War, Part 3 POLITICS PAGE 4

Chain of Blunders POLITICS PAGE 6

Human Rights Watch: Worker Rights, Safety at Risk in Georgia BUSINESS PAGE 6

HUAWEI Officially Presents EMUI10 Image source: thegreatermiddleeast.com

Car-Sharing Service Kicks Off in Batumi

BUSINESS PAGE 7

Urek’d

BY THEA MORRISON

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fter the capital Tbilisi, from August 22, an electric car-sharing service began in Georgia’s Black Sea coastal city of Batumi. The service is operated by AiCar Corp under the industrial holding AiGroup, which brings together AiCar, AiEnergy, AiPower and AiProduction. The industrial holding focuses on environmentally friendly projects and gives them top priority. AiCar entered Batumi with 20 electric cars, while AiEnergy has already installed eight charging stations in the vicinity of Batumi Railway Station and two in Kobuleti. The number of such stations is to be increased. AiEnergy creates a network of smart urban charging stations for electric transport in order to improve the urban infrastructure and adjust it to the emerging requirements for electric vehicles. At the presentation of a project by AiCar Corp

SOCIETY PAGE 8 Image source: kavkazplus.com

in Batumi on August 21, Head of Ajara Government Tornike Rizhvadze delivered a speech, noting that AiCar had brought 20 Renault Zoe model electric cars to Batumi. He also highlighted the number of Green Economy projects underway. “This is the economy of the future,” he said.

“This is the economy that, using the potential of our country to the end, makes the lives of our citizens even better. I would like to thank the company representatives, the City Hall, and the Prime Minister for his support.” Continued on page 3

Mamuliya’s ‘The Criminal Man’ to Be Screened at Venice Film Festival

CULTURE PAGE 11


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NEWS

GEORGIA TODAY

AUGUST 23 - 26, 2019

Matthew Bryza on Georgia-Russia Relations & the Anaklia Port Saga THE CONTI GROUP, A MAJOR AMERICAN ENGINEERING COMPANY AND A MAJOR SHAREHOLDER, LEFT THE CONSORTIUM RECENTLY. IS THAT A SIGN OF THINGS TO COME?

INTERVIEW BY VAZHA TAVBERIDZE

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he Anaklia Deep Sea Port is the most strategically important project Georgia has undertaken since the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan pipeline opened in 2005. The port will drastically reduce the time needed to transport cargo to Europe via the Black Sea, replacing several alternative routes including the Russian railways. At 16 meters deep, the port will offer not only economic transit but also military and security capability. Inevitably, the project has also heightened tensions between Georgia and Russia. Former US diplomat Matthew Bryza, who worked closely on issues of security and energy policy during his time in the region, told IWPR that there was a huge amount at stake if Tbilisi proved vulnerable to pressure from Moscow.

As far as I know, it was a supposedly longstanding decision on behalf of the Conti Group. If another good investment group buys out their share, there should be no concerns. And given that this is an incredibly promising project, there must be other legitimate potential investors that will take interest in it.

CONSIDERING THE POTENTIAL THAT ANAKLIA HAS, THERE HAS BEEN DISCUSSION ON HOW IT CAN CONTRIBUTE TO GEORGIA'S NATO PERSPECTIVE. WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ON THAT?

WHAT IS THE STRATEGIC IMPORTANCE FOR GEORGIA OF THE ANAKLIA DEEP SEA PORT? Strategically for Georgia, the Anaklia Port is a game changer. It provides Georgia, for the first time I might add, direct access to large-scale shipping from around the world. Obviously, it has a national security impact in terms of traditional military security, but it also has a great impact on Georgia’s economic place in the world. I’m already seeing here in Turkey that there are promising new logistical opportunities to deliver, for example material, food and other support, goods. For example, US military personnel in Afghanistan might consider using the Anaklia Port instead of having to transit military cargo into Afghanistan from Turkish ports, like Mersin, and drive across Turkey into Georgia. So, there will be a lot more business, a lot more economic activity, which will reinforce Georgia’s strategic relationship with the US. The port will also establish Georgia as a stronger global trading hub, which will be great in terms of strengthening its own sovereignty and independence and general security.

COULD YOU ELABORATE ON WASHINGTON’S STRATEGIC INTEREST? The Anaklia Port will strengthen Georgia's ability to stand on its own two economic feet and be more independent which will somewhat negate the leverage that Russia might try to apply on Georgia. This is exactly why Russia hates this project. While the US has never sought confrontation with Russia, the US also doesn’t want Georgia to have a difficult economic or political relationship with Russia. But Russia has decided on its own that it’s going to restrict Georgia’s independence, try to restrict it through undermining Georgia's territorial integrity. And so, for the US, anything that helps Georgia grow stronger as a coun-

Georgia should prevent itself from becoming addicted to cheap Chinese financing of infrastructure projects

try is a good thing, and the Anaklia Port will be such a good thing.

WHAT CAN BE DONE TO ALLEVIATE RUSSIAN PRESSURE? I hope that Russia will behave like it did when we were working on the BakuTbilisi- Ceyhan (BTC) oil pipeline and the South Caucasus gas pipeline two decades ago. Russia also hated those projects, because the way the Russian economic system works is to try to preserve and strengthen its monopolies. Russia had near monopoly power on exports of Caspian oil and gas and they wanted to maintain that. So, they resisted us. But at the end of the day, we knew, whether under President Clinton or President Bush, that Russia can only do so much; it only has so much leverage, it doesn’t get a vote in this. Georgia has a right to be independent. Russia is not going to use military force to block the Anaklia Port project, so unless the project gets consumed by this terrible internal legal dispute now going on in Georgia, the Anaklia Port will happen, and Russia will be unable to stop it. So, I’m not worried about Russian opposition in the long run, but to answer your question, I don’t think [it] will go away.

YOU MAINTAIN THAT RUSSIA CANNOT STOP THIS PROJECT AND YOU EXCLUDE THE OPTION OF MILITARY INTERVENTION, BUT WHAT ABOUT POLITICAL PRESSURE? Russia must have learned from the BTC “mistake,” but it’s not like Russia didn’t try to block it and it’s not as if Russia isn’t trying to block the Trans-Adriatic pipeline. In both cases, Russia financed non-governmental groups, supposed NGOs in Georgia, during BTC to oppose the pipeline on environmental grounds, and more recently funding NGOs in Italy saying that the Trans-Adriatic pipeline is a threat to some old olive trees in Italy. Having learned from the BTC experience, Russia’s ability to block a project like the trans-Adriatic pipeline is extremely limited. And so, when it comes to Anaklia, ultimately its leverage is going to be limited too. That said, I’m not saying, ‘Don’t worry about Russia’s attempt to use political or perhaps legal leverage inside the Georgian system’ - that is something to be aware of and to fight.

RUSSIA HAS FAR GREATER LEVERAGE ON THE GEORGIAN GOVERNMENT THAN ON THE ITALIAN. HOW REALISTIC A SCENARIO IS IT WHERE RUSSIA FORCES

GEORGIA TO ABANDON THE ANAKLIA PROJECT? I would say there is a low risk of that, because, fortunately, the US government has come out so strongly in favor of the Anaklia Port, a) through Secretary Pompeo’s statement and visit; and b) through the US Embassy in Tbilisi’s very strong statement about the legal case. And I have to say, such a statement is very unusual. It’s quite unusual to see something like what was written about the Khazaradze and Japaridze case. The US Embassy says they were closely following developments in this case, concerned about the context and timing and talked about an impartial legal system and how important the Anaklia Port is. That is the way a US government official says, ‘We fear that Russia is trying to use its influence inside Georgia to try and block the Anaklia Port project.’ And that is an astounding statement by the US Embassy. So, if that US support for the port project continues, I feel pretty confident that the pliability of the Georgian government will be quite low.

POMPEO ALSO WARNED GEORGIA AGAINST CHINESE INTERESTS. WAS THAT A SPUROF-THE-MOMENT THING WITH PRESIDENT TRUMP FEELING PARTICULARLY ILL-DISPOSED TOWARDS THE CHINESE THAT WEEK, OR SOMETHING MORE? President Trump’s approach to China has been confusing and at times contradictory. If you are a senior policymaker in the US, you really don’t know where President Trump is going to come out tomorrow on China. So, you have to be conservative. In the long run, there’s a consensus in Washington that the One Belt, One Road initiative reflects the manifestation of ulterior motives by the Chinese government, which isn’t simply to help countries develop economically but to extend Chinese influence and even control over economies. Therefore, it’s wise to be cautious - that would be the US approach towards One Belt One Road, including in Georgia. I think Georgia should prevent itself from becoming addicted to cheap Chinese financing of infrastructure projects, because if that happens, as we’ve seen in other countries, often the country in which Chinese infrastructure project is built loses ownership of it when they cannot repay the Chinese loans. So, I would just advise Georgia to be smart; don’t be greedy. Do what you always do, which is fight like crazy for your independence. Don't allow yourself to become dependent on any single investor, no matter what country it might be.

I think it will have an enormous impact on Georgia’s NATO perspective. It will be used to transport NATO - well, US - equipment to Afghanistan. NATO will use the port for military exercises in Georgia. But most importantly, Anaklia Port will provide a lifeline of support for Georgia in case, God forbid, it should find itself in another moment of serious tension. As we learned in 2008, there’s no Article 5 guarantee for Georgia. It's extremely unlikely that NATO will respond with troops on the ground if there is again Russian military action against Georgia. But in the immediate aftermath of Russia’s invasion of Georgia in 2008, we saw that there was a great need to get materiel into Georgia and a need to send a signal of deterrence to Russia. That was logistically challenging when Poti Port had to be relied upon, especially after the Russians sunk the coastguard boats the US provided to Georgia. But with a much bigger port like Anaklia, logistical options for NATO are much wider. The Anaklia Port will help pull Georgia towards the trans-Atlantic community, toward the EU too, by greatly expanding the volume of trade across the Black Sea or through the Turkish straits to the rest of the world. And the fact it will weaken Russia’s economic impact and its ability to control Georgia is Russia’s biggest fear. If there was a US or NATO presence in Anaklia regularly, of course Russia would strongly object to that as well. But I think the strategic challenge for Russia even more will be how Georgia’s economic ties with the EU will grow thanks to Anaklia Port.

IF RUSSIA MANAGED TO POSTPONE OR FREEZE THE PROJECT, WHAT WOULD BE THE COST REPUTATIONWISE INTERNATIONALLY? It would be a huge cost to Georgia for this hypothetical to happen. Then it would be pretty clear that Georgia is not a master of its own house and its independence is not real and is instead ephemeral. Given the project’s strong support from Georgian society and the top notch team developing it, if such serious investors will be sidetracked that means the country has quasi-independence at best and it will send a chilling signal about the investment climate in Georgia, which will mark a sharp reversal of the progress Georgia has been making since the Rose Revolution in improving its investment climate and so many areas. So, this would be a tragedy for Georgia.

A LEGAL CASE WAS RECENTLY OPENED AGAINST THE GEORGIAN SIDE OF THE CONSORTIUM. TBC BANK FOUNDERS MAMUKA KHAZARADZE AND BADRI JAPARIDZE WERE CHARGED WITH LAUNDERING $16.7 MLN IN 2007-2008, A MOVE THEY CLAIMED TO BE POLITICALLY

Its plausible that these accusations are being brought against Mamuka Khazaradze at this time because of ulterior motives MOTIVATED. WHAT DO YOU THINK IS HAPPENING? I know all the facts, but I do know the information circulating out there. So number one, there was a transaction years ago that was controversial. I've read that Mamuka and Badri insist the transaction was legal, officially approved. And as I remember, that transaction was during the Russian invasion of Georgia. During those tense moments, many Georgians were breaking down psychologically, including ministers in the Georgian government. There was a totally unclear situation throughout Georgia in the security and economic spheres, and economic desperation. This transaction happened in the middle of that period. Badri Japaridze is one of the people I have grown to trust and admire - more than the vast majority of people I have ever met. And he has a reputation within the US government as a person of the highest possible integrity, credibility and professionalism. Everything he touched in business has been successful: TBC, Borjomi way back in the late 90s which he made a Georgian business success story. He is a role model. And the same goes for Mamuka, though I know Badri a bit better. I find it extremely difficult to believe Badri could have ever been involved in money laundering or any illicit financial flows. These accusations shocked me to my core, even though I am not saying I know the facts, but I was shocked. And once again, the US Embassy seems to be quite concerned about timing, with a ten or 11-year-old case coming out at a moment when we know that Russia is trying to oppose the project that [TBC is involved in]. All of those factors seemed to create suspicion in the US Embassy among my former colleagues, who know a lot more about the situation than I do. I hope the facts will soon be known whether this legal case has any connection to jeopardizing the Anaklia Port project. As the project goes forward, the strong support from the US, and the Georgian Prime Minister's statement that it will be built, are reassuring. The PM’s statement is what the US government wants to hear and if the Georgian government continues to behave so, the project will be built, that's great from Washington’s perspective. Why Mamuka Khazaradze is so confident that the government is targeting him and the port project I have no idea. He knows much more than I do. But, emotionally, if you think you were charged unfairly in a case from 11 years ago, of course, you may indeed react strongly. Now, considering Mamuka also has political aspirations, all these factors are out there and all I can do is identify them and say its plausible that these accusations are being brought against him at this time because of ulterior motives.


NEWS

GEORGIA TODAY AUGUST 23 - 26, 2019

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NGO: Investigations Rarely Launched into Animal Mistreatment in Georgia BY THEA MORRISON

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aking into consideration the number of cases on animal mistreatment registered by countries with high animal welfare standards, a large number of crimes related to animal abuse still do not even reach law enforcement agencies in Georgia, and those that do reach them are rarely investigated - says the non-governmental organization ‘Institute for the Development of Freedom of Information’ (IDFI) which studied the legislation on animal protection in Georgia and the state of its implementation. The NGO requested public information from relevant state institutions. In addition, it researched international regulations on the subject and explored the practice of countries which excel in high animal welfare standards. The organization reported that there is a low number of court cases related to cruelty against animals in Georgia and said that the study had revealed that to-date, there has been no comprehensive legal base regulating issues of animal wellbeing in the country. “Adopting a Law on the Welfare of Domestic Animals will be a significant step towards increasing the living standards of said animals in Georgia,” the organization says. It also highlights that Georgia is a member of the International Organization for Animal Protection (OIPA); however, the country is not a signatory of the European Convention for the Protection of Domestic Animals. The NGO noted that the new article introduced in the Code of Administrative Offences, which holds parents responsible for acts of violence against animals committed by minors, needs further justification. “In addition to parents, the actions of minors are

Image source: Condor Ferries

significantly affected by preschool and educational institutions, as well as society as a whole. We find that, in practice, it will be impossible to prove that the misconduct of a minor was causally linked with improper parenting,” the findings read. The IDFI says fighting animal torture and illtreatment is a complex issue and the existence of comprehensive legislation and a responsible entity

Car-Sharing Service Kicks Off in Batumi

Continued from page 1 Mamuka Bakhtadze, Prime Minister of Georgia, at the presentation on Wednesday said he welcomes the fact the service has also been introduced in Batumi and noted the plan to launch the project in other cities and towns throughout Georgia. He also spoke about the importance of eco-friendly transport and the Green Economy concept which he presented last summer. "Our declared priority is a Green Economy, which leads to the main goal to overcome the most pressing challenge faced by our population - poverty. We are oriented towards implementing such projects that will help us attain this most important goal,” he said. Bakhtadze mentioned the electric car manufacturing plant which is being built in Kutaisi, West Georgia, adding that production will also be exported to the European Union, in parallel with supplying the local market. “We are transforming into an exporter country of high-tech commodity, something unimaginable some years ago,” he said. The PM thanked AiCar and AiGroup for implementing such innovative projects in the country. “This is a company that will carry out the most

ambitious project since the country regained its independence - construction of an electric car manufacturing plant in Kutaisi. This enterprise will be something to boast about in the 21st century. I am particularly thrilled that our citizens will be able to benefit from electric cars manufactured in Georgia from 2020. Moreover, this enterprise is destined to manufacture electric cars with the first ever design made in Georgia and it will be a truly unique outcome," he noted. Car-sharing is aimed at developing a system of public electric transport that offers short-term rental of electric 1,2 and 4-seater vehicles. Cars with keys in the lock are parked all over the city awaiting drivers. To rent a car, customers need only download the app AiCar and enjoy the service. All the vehicles under the project are equipped with validators, a monitoring system, all modern security systems, navigation system, a video recording system, and come fully integrated with iOS and Android mobile applications. Car-sharing is said to be the future of urban transport in Georgia. The mission of AiCar is to provide residents and guests of Georgia with the most ecological, innovative and comfortable alternative to a taxi or personal car.

specialized in identifying and reacting to cases of animal mistreatment, is necessary. “It is crucial for Georgia to announce its political will to establish high standards of animal protection on the international arena and to sign the European Convention for the Protection of Domestic Animals. It is also essential to conduct a comprehensive study into the problem. The latter is

impossible without full statistical data. It is important to generate and proactively publish detailed statistical data on animal ill-treatment,” the report claims. However, the organization says that recent amendments made to the legislation, introducing stricter sanctions for specific crimes against animals, should be assessed positively. In late spring, the Georgian Parliament started discussions on a new Draft Law on Animal Welfare which envisages mandatory registration of pets. The annual control of pets will also be compulsory. The bill says the registration of domestic animals will be free of charge and will see them registered on a special database. The draft also reads that the legislative record aims to establish a quality living environment for pets and ensure their well-being and protection. It reads that use of domestic animals for conducting scientific and laboratory experiments and carrying out surgery without the purpose of veterinary treatment shall be punishable by fine or by imprisonment for up to one year. Further, the unlawful killing of a domestic animal shall be punishable by fine or by imprisonment from one to two years. Animal training and distribution of video or photography of animal fights shall be punishable by fine or by imprisonment up to one year and betting money on pet fights or allowing usage of personal facilities or buildings for such fights shall be punishable by fine or imprisonment for up to two years. Violation of the rules of animal living conditions will result in a fine to the amount of one fifth of the violator’s monthly income. If the violator is an official, they have to pay half of their salary to create safe conditions for the pet(s). The Parliament of Georgia has already adopted a law on animal cruelty, initiated by Tbilisi City Hall, which tightens sanctions for mistreatment of animals. The torture or killing of domestic animals will now see punishment by imprisonment.


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POLITICS

GEORGIA TODAY

AUGUST 23 - 26, 2019

"I Should Have Shouted Louder" Saakashvili on the 2008 War, Part 3 INTERVIEW BY VAZHA TAVBERIDZE

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he former President of Georgia laid it all bare about the 2008 August War in a wide-ranging interview with the Institute for War and Peace Reporting (IWPR). One of the more peculiar things we had read about the war is that Mikheil Saakashvili spoke to Putin offering to abandon NATO membership ambitions in exchange for solving the conflict issue. We asked him about it. “No, it was pure rhetoric. I asked him at the very first meeting ‘So what's your main issue with Georgia? Is it NATO, the US, is it the presence of your troops in Georgia?’ Every time he would say, ‘America? We are friends with America too, what's the problem? NATO, look at what is NATO, should we be scared of the three planes they have in the Baltics, what's the issue? No issue. Our troops? Our own generals are saying they're useless; we have just old tanks; so there’s no point in discussing this.’ “Later, when he started to openly threaten us he said, ‘Ok, you're part of the West, so the West is doing this thing with Kosovo now and we have to do something against you; to which my response was, ‘If it's like that, then ok, maybe we will not be part of the West. Will that stop you doing these things to us and will you leave us alone?’ To which his response was very cynical. ‘I don’t exchange your territories for your geopolitical orientation.’ I didn't expect such a blunt, cynical answer but it was obvious what his position was.”

HAD THERE BEEN A SERIOUS OFFER, WOULD YOU HAVE CONSIDERED THAT SCENARIO? I don't know. For my country, I would consider just about anything but at that moment it was just pure rhetoric… Well, at least I can say now that every option was on the table and they refused to take any.

DO YOU THINK THAT LOOKS GOOD FOR YOUR WESTERNATLANTIST IMAGE? We were under threat of full annihilation. There was this moment when Condi Rice reached Lavrov on the third day of the war. She asked him what's Russia’s goal was in Georgia, the answer was ‘full annihilation.’ What do you do when you hear that? You have to at least rhetorically try every option. Was it ever doable? No, even if Russians were to agree. We were very vulnerable, we needed time. Russia, on the other hand, chose their timing really well. They were telling the Westerners about it; Deputy Defense Minister [Yuri] Baluevski met NATO ambassadors in Brussels during the NATO Council in March and he told them straight to their faces Russia would start a war in Georgia. The same thing happened with Bush when he met Putin in Sochi in May 2008. I remember, I think it was [former US diplomat] Matthew Bryza who was present at the talks, who told me what happened there, that Putin started screaming that there’d be war in Georgia. I remember I was startled and I asked, ‘Well, what did you say, what did Bush say?’ ‘Nothing,’ was the answer. Why? Because they already knew our position. That was seen by Putin as a major sign of weakness and some kind of semi-green light, Bush’s silence. He had to look straight into Putin’s eyes and say, ‘Stop, don’t you dare do it.’ By the way, Bryza had the clearest picture of what happened in 2008. There was the moment I was begging Bush to appoint him a US Ambassador to Georgia and he almost agreed, but Condi was against it.

THAT MAKES IT FIVE MAJOR POLITICAL FIGURES YOU JUST LISTED SAYING THAT RUSSIA

WAS GOING TO INVADE, AND YET YOU STILL CHOSE NOT TO BELIEVE THEY WOULD?

Enguri river. When it came to South Ossetia, we miscalculated.

Part of me believed and part of me did not, because it had never happened before- ‘these Western guys are competent, maybe they know something I don't know and maybe they have more leverage which I don't know about,’ I thought.

ANOTHER CONTROVERSY CAME WITH THE CLUSTER BOMBS THE GEORGIAN SIDE USED AND THE CIVILIAN CASUALTIES.

LET’S GO BACK TO TSKHINVALI. ANOTHER ARGUMENT OFTEN LEVELED AGAINST YOU IS THAT IF YOU WERE PLANNING A MAJOR OFFENSIVE, WHY NOT EVACUATE PEOPLE FROM THE VALLEYS? Because we didn't plan it, because we were too late: they were much faster, they evacuated Tskhinvali not because they were afraid that people would die, they would be happy for them to die. We’d had clashes in Kodori gorge and thought evacuating would be seen as another provocation. They evacuate, we evacuate; that’s declaring a war zone and we start… war, or what? Because war was the last thing we wanted. Nobody was actually prepared for mass operations in Tskhinvali from the start. It was a response to what the Russians were doing. It was never even discussed, because everybody's assessment, including Western military experts who were in Georgia, was that whatever happens will take place only on the autonomous territory.

IF YOU KNEW FROM MARCH THAT THERE WAS A THREAT OF RUSSIAN INVASION, NOBODY EVER THOUGHT OF CREATING A DEFENSE STRATEGY? We had the Kosovo example. And because Putin wanted to mirror Kosovo, we thought he’d settle for these territories. We thought the worst would be a smallscale engagement in those territories, he wouldn’t go further. We never discussed the option they’d invade Tbilisi.

SO WE WERE IMPROVISING OUR DEFENSIVE STRATEGY ON THE RUN? There was certainly a conservative defensive strategy prepared for some kind of local conflict, but it was not for a fullblown Russian invasion that goes to Tbilisi. No Western or Georgian expert ever advised this, and of course this was because if it ever happened, the defense would only be diplomatic and political; there is no way you can envisage a fullblown Russian attack on your capital and be ready for it. We had plans about Abkhazia, because we thought they would go there, so we had plans how to contain them there: to create defensive lines maybe at Kodori or the last line at the

We had things that were bought by many countries to this region; the Grad missiles, for example, bought by Azerbaijan, Central Asian and Eastern European countries. I’m sorry, but that’s what was on the market and I never went to inquire what they were buying. But whatever they were buying was meant for artillery. There were no civilian targets and we had given very clear instructions about that. If you look very carefully at what was hit in Tskhinvali, their government building and their own fire points were the targets that were fired at.

THE TAGLIAVNI COMMISSION REPORT SAID BULLETS WERE SHOT AT RUSSIAN PEACEKEEPERS, ONE OF THE MORE DAMNING POINTS FOR THE GEORGIAN SIDE. WAS ENOUGH EFFORT MADE TO REVOKE THEIR PEACEKEEPER STATUS? No, because had we started to revoke peacekeeper status it would have been seen by Westerners as provocation, prompting a war because we were arguing we wanted them to be replaced by international peacekeepers. If you just remove them without any replacement that would be provocation - and so we would argue at every international meeting. It was part of our narrative everywhere for many years – please, replace them with international peacekeepers. It never came to that, sadly.

HOW WOULD YOU RATE THE WORK OF THE TAGLIAVINI COMMISSION? It was a politicized commission. It was quite bad because the whole idea behind the commission was to get the responsibility off Russia, to share the blame. But we didn't have any choice, unless we wanted to openly go against the EU. The Americans were categorically against it. The Europeans would do it with or without our consent. Condi Rice, when I met her in New York, said, ‘The idea of the commission is crazy; it's total bullshit.’ And impartiality- there was a German legal expert [in the commission] who after the commission report was issued gave an interview to a German outlet saying the West should recognize Abkhazia. Tagliavini herself was very pro-separatist when she was in Georgia. I tried to talk to Bush in September [about her] and he told me, ‘Look, Misha, we have a world economic crisis right now,

we don't have time for you.’ And when the American President tells you he does not have time for you, that has to mean something. We had no allies left. We had to contain further Russian intrusion in the rest of Georgia. From Putin’s point of view, he had this moment where he thought he fell somewhat short, he didn't get me, he didn't get Tbilisi. So when the situation is so dire, would you also turn against the European Union? They weren't perfect allies, but we had no choice.

INTERNATIONAL AGREEMENT THAT DOES NOT GIVE YOU A SAFEGUARD MECHANISM?

DID THE COMMISSION’S CONCLUSIONS LARGELY AFFECT HOW THE WEST PERCEIVED THE CONFLICT?

THERE IS A STORY THAT DURING THE WAR, TURKISH PRESIDENT RECEP TAYYIP ERDOGAN FLEW TO MOSCOW TO NEGOTIATE WITH PUTIN OVER THE FATE OF BATUMI IF A FULL RUSSIAN INVASION WAS ON CARDS.

If you read the report, the facts are mostly reported accurately. But they say South Ossetia had the right to self-defense. It’s absurd. And they say troops were already in, but that was before the start of the conflict. So foreign troops invade, these ‘peacekeepers’ were in the middle of everything and there are telephone intercepts when they say, let us destroy this village, that village - peacekeepers are not supposed to destroy villages. The thing is, it was all about headlines: it was a Steinmeier game backed by Merkel to dilute Russia's blame because there was a world economic crisis and the last thing the West needed was to help Georgia against Russia, as simple as that. The Americans didn't play that game but they didn't object too much to it either, unfortunately.

HOW SUCCESSFUL DO YOU THINK THE CEASEFIRE PLAN NEGOTIATED BY THEN-FRENCH PRESIDENT SARKOZY WAS? It was an obvious disaster. But the plan French [Foreign Minister Bernard] Couchner proposed was quite good: a ceasefire, the full withdrawal of the Russians and the full respect of Georgian territorial integrity. Then Sarkozy comes back from Moscow with a plan which has two more points: security zones and that the status of the territory should later be the subject of international discussions. I said that it's not acceptable, and in the end it was dropped by the Russians themselves, the seventh point.

HOW WOULD YOU RATE THE JOB SARKOZY DID? Very bad. But Sarkozy really behaved like a clown, he was so incompetent… Sarkozy’s resentment towards America, toward Eastern Europeans meant he basically sidelined the Americans. The Americans did not want him on this mission. The positive part was that the Russians were to withdraw, but on the other hand there were so many bad things: sidelining the Americans, giving Russia security zones, giving them some kind of legitimate role and then the worst part of Sarkozy’s behaviour was that he forgot about this agreement within a couple of months. He basically sold it for Mistrals.

WHY DIDN’T YOU SAY ANYTHING ABOUT IT BACK IN 2009, 2010, 2011? EVERY TIME SARKOZY ARRIVED, YOU TREATED HIM AS A CLOSE PERSONAL FRIEND. He was still President of France and he had lots of things to decide and I mean he tried to be nice to us on a personal level. They gave us money for ski resorts at a very good rate. They gave us money for helicopters. They helped us in the international arena where they could not alienate the Russians. You couldn't call it broken relations, but whenever it concerned Russia, it was impenetrable.

THE SIX-POINT CEASEFIRE AGREEMENT HAS NO MEANS TO ENSURE THAT WHATEVER IT DEMANDS FROM THE PARTIES IS FULFILLED. HOW CAN YOU TRUST AN

That's the main problem; it made the good point that they had to withdraw but I stated from the start that the whole thing would go wrong. The Russians violated it right away because they got into the settlement of Akhalgori after that agreement. According to the agreement, we had to withdraw, and we did, and then the Russians just went in behind us. So, the agreement helped them.

All I can say is that no one really knew what Turkey would do, what Erdogan's goal was, but Turkish troops were mobilized [near the border] and that is why the Russians did not try to take Batumi.

WERE YOU DISAPPOINTED WITH HOW THE US RESPONDED TO THE CONFLICT? I think America responded a little bit late but when it did, it was quite proper. The only thing which was disappointing was Defense Secretary Robert Gates basically saying we won't use military force, and that's when the Russians took Akhalgori. Gates was disgustingly cynical and against our integration into NATO: he sabotaged our military training, was one of the initiators of the military embargo and so on. He told me when I met him at the Munich Security Conference, ‘Well I really don't think getting you into NATO is a good idea but our president wants it so what can I do?’ Then later there was a CIA meeting when Bush was telling us our military options and Cheney said, ‘Let’s employ cruise missiles’ and Gates said, ‘No way.’ If it had not been Gates but Rumsfeld, I think they would have used that option.

WHAT DO YOU THINK YOUR BIGGEST MISTAKE WAS? I should have shouted more. When I look back… I thought Crimea would make the world realize what happened in 2008. I had a conversation with John McCainwe gave our intercepts exclusively to the New York Times and they published a front-page article about the Russians invading prior to seventh -and I said, ‘John, it’s solid proof we didn't start the war.’ And he said, ‘Look Misha, I'm a military pilot, you don't need to tell me that; I know that tanks generally don't fly, especially Russian ones.’

THAT DOESN'T SOUND LIKE A MISTAKE, MORE A REGRET. We defied the existing world order in our part of the world. We were, well, maybe it's about me, I should have not put so much trust in the West, but it was our value-based approach. I was quite naïve about the West - I thought they always practice what they preach, that they believe in their own principles.

WHAT IS YOUR AND YOUR GOVERNMENT'S LEGACY WHEN IT COMES TO THE 2008 WAR? We stood up to the Russians, the state did not collapse, we held up four years under the tremendous pressure of various much bigger powers than we even imagined back then. When you look back at what kind of resources were involved, what kind of front was running against us, we in fact held up very well.


6

POLITICS

GEORGIA TODAY

AUGUST 23 - 26, 2019

Chain of Blunders OP-ED BY NUGZAR B. RUHADZE

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here are questions, questions, questions . . . most of them unanswered! But the other day, out of the blue, there flashed on the air a new 40-minute documentary titled: ‘We will peacefully win the war they triggered,’ “we” meaning the current government of Georgia and “they” connoting the preceding ruling power. Let us call it an unprecedented straightforward attempt to openly and fearlessly react to the historical issues still waiting for due unreserved interpretation. In the last three decades, Georgia has experienced a chain of blunders, first made by our zealous contemporaries of different time, rank and age, and then corrected with a lot of sweat and strain. The new documentary, produced by the well-known TV journalist Nikoloz (Nika) Laliashvili, is a thorough chronology of events, precipitously conducive to the infamous military confrontation of our time, known as the Russian-Georgian War of August 2008. The film has instigated a hot controversy, although the story told in it has already become an

accepted part of Georgia’s recent history. The only news in it is the freshened reading of facts, not succumbing to the arbitrary declaration by the preceding government that Georgia came out a winner from the bloody blitzkrieg with the Russian military juggernaut. Quick questions and brief answers: Did Georgia have to go to war with Russia? No, it didn’t! Was there a chance to win the war? No, there wasn’t! Did Georgia make a mistake by warring with Russia? Yes, it did? Did the former Georgian administration pursue a special latent goal of survival? Yes, it did! Did Georgia win the war? No, it did not! Has Georgia ever repented the dire decision? No, it hasn’t! Have we learnt a lesson from the stupid unwanted war? No, we haven’t! Should somebody answer those questions publicly? Most definitely, yes! And who can do that? Anybody who is daring and direct enough to do so! Of course, being under the spell of just one version of evaluation of the war that has had a huge negative bearing on the nation’s fate is against any principle of freedom and democracy. Before the contentious documentary in question saw daylight, the popular opinion was onefaceted, which is Georgia’s ex-administration being an innocent lamb, Georgia

a winner of the war, and Russia being the assailer without any reason whatsoever for sending her men and tanks to Georgia. Nobody has ever doubted that Russia is an occupant of our lands, but nor does anyone want to admit that the war has its political prerequisites, its reasons for actual fire and its tragic results which need to be thoroughly analyzed in order not to bungle decisions again in future. To know exactly whether the then-

Georgia’s chief executive was right or wrong to have so hotheadedly gotten involved in this war of unequal rivalry is an absolute indispensability for this nation so it can carry on with its numerous current and incipient national exigencies. And somebody should make the issue clear. This is exactly what the now-famous video interpretation of the Russian-Georgian war is doing, sincerely hoping to win the ongoing fight which

was set not by this government of Georgia but the one which thought that it could save its skin and face with a diehard belligerent move and precariously violent action that eventually played out as totally unpredictable for the entire world. The crux of the highly discussed film is whether we want to perennially continue living in the imaginative world of self-imposed truths or honor the actual facts, which have enough power to determine our future development. Don’t make a mistake though: the author is not burdening himself with the hard mission of analyzing the Russian-Georgian former, current and future relations. He is simply declaring that the nervous, hasty and voluntary decisions made by Georgia’s ex-and-exiled president before, during and after the damned war, was a typical example of playing a politician’s card to get out of the troubled waters he had gotten himself into thanks to his nature, his style of ruling the country and his unbridled disposition of making sudden moves both in state politics and his own social life. His behavior in war could serve as an even better lesson for Georgia than the war itself, because it was exactly the model of political performance that starts wars, wins wars and loses wars.

BUSINESS

Human Rights Watch: Worker Rights, Safety at Risk in Georgia BY ANA DUMBADZE

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he safety of workers in Georgia’s mines is at serious risk due to insufficient government regulation and resulting mining practices that prioritize production quotas and put workers’ safety in jeopardy, Human Rights Watch said in a report released today. The 60-page report “‘No Year without Deaths’: A Decade of Deregulation Puts Georgian Miners at Risk” documents how weak labor protections and limited government oversight have allowed mining practices that undermine safety to flourish. Georgian labor law does not sufficiently regulate working hours, rest time, weekly breaks, and night work, and does not provide for government oversight of all labor conditions. “Thousands of workers will be at heightened risk until Georgia regulates working hours and creates a system to inspect the broad impact of working conditions,” said Corina Ajder, Finberg fellow at Human Rights Watch. “ "It is entirely in Georgia’s power to protect workers and improve conditions for their health and safety". As the report says, Manganese, a mineral used in steel production, is among

Georgia’s top exports. The largest manganese producer, Georgian Manganese (GM), operates 11 mines and a processing plant, employing about 3,500 workers. Workers at GM mines told Human Rights Watch that because they work 12-hour shifts underground, including at night, for 15 straight days, they are often exhausted, and they have faced penalties for failure to make quotas. Miners said that in a rush to meet quotas or without sufficient rest, workers had suffered deep cuts, were buried under rocks as roofs collapsed, lost limbs, suffered concussions, or narrowly avoided serious accidents. "During shifts, the company requires miners to live in a dormitory, in part to maximize production. GM maintains that the arrangement ensures that miners get the rest they need in living conditions that enhance safety. But this requirement unfairly interferes with their freedom of movement and their family and home lives”, the report reads. According to the report, coal miners for Saknakhshiri LLC also cited working conditions that heighten risks to safety and labor rights. Miners said that a compensation system based on performance or quantity of coal extracted imposed production targets that could not be reached safely, encouraging workers to omit time-consuming safety measures.

Human Rights Watch cited other practices at odds with workers’ rights. These include long hours, inadequate breaks, no weekly rest days, non-payment of overtime hours, failure to provide copies of written contracts, and unfair wage deductions. Years of deregulation have left Georgian workers without adequate protection, Human Rights Watch found. In an effort to attract foreign investment, Georgia in 2006 abolished its Labor Inspectorate and dramatically reduced worker protection in the labor code. One study found that deaths at work soared by 74%, most of them in mining and construction. Since 2013, when a new government took power, Georgia has gradually introduced more labor protection, including establishing a labor inspectorate with a limited mandate in 2015. In 2018, Georgia was shaken when 10 miners died in two accidents within months in Tkibuli, in western Georgia. Following calls from non-governmental groups, in February 2019, Parliament gave more powers to the Labor Inspectorate to address health and safety in the workplace. Even after these amendments, which go into effect in September, the Inspectorate has a limited mandate. It cannot address the broader impact of long working hours, production pressures and difficult working

conditions, for example. Mining’s contribution to the Georgian economy and employment opportunities do not offset the serious labor rights concerns in the industry, Human Rights Watch said. In responding to the findings, Georgian Manganese said that the “human and social rights of our employees, their health and safety have always been of utmost importance for our company.” It acknowledged that “we may have some shortcomings in our work” and said it was “ready to tackle them accordingly.” Saknakhshiri LLC said it had established a dedicated safety department in 2017 and that “labor safety has been always a priority in the company.” Human Rights Watch is aware of ongoing efforts to address remaining gaps in the law, including with regard to overtime, days off, holidays, and minimum wages, and to strengthen the Labor Inspectorate. But no draft law has yet been introduced in Parliament, and there is no clear timeline for these urgently needed reforms. The Georgian government has made commitments in agreements with the United States and the European Union (EU) to strengthen its labor laws and oversight and enforcement systems. Georgia benefits from preferential tariffs on exports to the US, including manganese, provided that it respects

and enforces internationally recognized labor rights. Manganese producers, including those employing miners Human Rights Watch interviewed, benefit directly. Georgia’s international partners, including the EU, and the US State Department have criticized Georgia’s labor inspectorate system. In April, the United Nations Working Group on Business and Human Rights said, after a visit to Georgia, that it was concerned that the regulatory framework remains inadequate since it “will not cover the whole spectrum of labor rights.” The authors of the report recommend that the Georgian government should move ahead to reform its labor law to protect workers against long hours and pressures that put them at risk. The government should put in place a fullfledged, independent, and adequately staffed Labor Inspectorate with a mandate to inspect all working conditions in line with international standards. According to the HRW recommendations, mining companies in Georgia should respect workers’ rights and the safety of their employees, and work with employees and their representatives to carry out reforms that will improve safety. Georgia’s trading partners, including the EU and the US, should insist on full respect for labor rights.

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BUSINESS

GEORGIA TODAY AUGUST 23 - 26, 2019

7

HUAWEI Officially Presents EMUI10 Importantly, in recent years HUAWEI has invested heavily in EMUI research and development to improve system performance. Still, what makes a new interface stand out and what new features does it offer customers? Its advantages were discussed at the developer convention, where Wang Chenglu formally presented the EMUI10. EMUI10 offers three major innovations: UX design, improved functionality in all circumstances, and a new standard for smooth operation. Studies have shown that color is perceived differently in light and dark backgrounds. Consequently, darker backgrounds make colors and graffiti more contrasting and more comfortable for the customers to use. Through the revolutionary technology EMUI10 provides the support of HD video calls for various devices. Users can make audio and video calls anytime and anywhere. With the new technology, workflow is simplified: it can share a smartphone screen with a computer to make data exchange faster and easier.

BY MARIAM MERABISHVILI

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hat innovations can the smartphone industry offer mode r n co n s u m e rs? HUAWEI continues to invest in the EMUI research and development direction to maximize the improvement of uninterrupted system performance. HUAWEI officially introduced the result in the innovative EMUI10 at a developers’ convention. With the new EMUI10, the company offers customers the ability to connect with uninterrupted devices and applications. In addition, a new interface designed for a variety of devices reduces costs and at the same time increases efficiency.

According to Wang Chenglu, President of CBG Software (Engineering Division) at HUAWEI Customer Business Group, the EMUI10 offers its users the right functionality in any environment. Due to its limitless capabilities, the new technology presents special applications tailored to different scenarios, such as making audio and video calls in any situation, doing business tasks between different devices, and operating smart devices installed in your car. EMUI has made it possible to connect between several devices as well as between devices and applications and continues to improve the service experience in all possible environments. According to Chenglu, the beta version of the EMUI10 will undergo internal testing on the HUAWEI P30 series, and on September 8, on all other models.

The EMUI10 will also be available for the next generation of Mate series products. Currently, EMUI counts more than 500 million daily users in 216 countries and has support in 77 languages. Technological development began in 2012 with the launch of EMUI 1.0 and has been ongoing for seven years, and HUAWEI is working non-stop to further improve the technology. Based on growing statistics, the company estimates that around 150 million users are set to upgrade their smartphones with EMUI10. In recent years, the number of HUAWEI cell phones has increased significantly. In the company this year, the five-month sales figure reached 100 million. In the future, EMUI promises customers more application and synergy experiences, which will also increase sales significantly.

Smart devices are becoming more and more diverse as the application ecosystem, devices, and users grow. Developers face a big challenge when they have to adapt a lot of devices, use multiple languages and convert data to different devices. HUAWEI users can be confident that the company pays great attention to protection and security systems. Accordingly, the company is actively working to develop a reliable security system to improve the product. 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.


8

SOCIETY

GEORGIA TODAY

AUGUST 23 - 26, 2019

Urek’d

BLOG BY TONY HANMER

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o, we’re holidaying, as in last article I promised we would be, in this place on the Black Sea, less than five hours’ drive from home. Ureki is a smallish town whose numbers swell, actually multiply, dramatically during the summer season, and then ebb away like the tide to quiet, rather sad normality. Almost all of its commerce seems to be tied to these busy warm months. The sand is nearly black, apparently a bit magnetic and reputed to be quite therapeutic to be buried in up to your neck. Is there even a bank here? No. Hairdresser? You’ll have to look hard, but there is one. Shoe repair kiosk? Nope, despite the prevalence of Armenians: they’re almost all visitors like we are and, although this is a trade at which they excel, they left their kit at home because they’re vacationing, of course! Russians too are everywhere: We (Georgians) only hate your government, not you, it’s nothing personal and we are such a hospitable people, so come on over and we’ll not discuss the politics. Native English speakers are as rare here as the white peacock strutting around Kolkhida Spa’s complex like it owns the place. Although we do run into my editor and have a nice long, slow lunch together. Infrastructure? Hmpf! Sidewalks? What for? Have some roadside sand to walk on from shop to shop: souvenirs, ice cream, cafes, beachwear, shawarmas, fruit and veg stands. There’s not enough room for two lanes of cars and two of pedestrians, we know, but we’ll dodge each other and move slowly and all will be OK. Patience, please! That sinkhole which opened in the road? Eventually, once the local drama of pipes bursting, shops flooding with wet sand, men standing around and women screaming at them to get a plan going is over, they’ll dig it so deep a 5-a-side team could get lost in there, replace the pipes, refill it with sand and life will go on. New asphalt? Let’s not get hasty now! An exotic mix of angular new shiny glass and steel hotel architecture, dark asbestos-roofed

wooden homes in which one could imagine murder mysteries being filmed, and abandoned concrete half-built hotels line the streets, along with the odd tenting site. A budget for everyone, even for the guy who came to sell sweets from Tbilisi, can’t make ends meet, and is living on the streets. My wife asks me to stay put while she investigates a place for our own stay. The Kolkhida, in which we’ve done large group stays for reasonable prices, is now beyond reach: we were getting a group price, off season, when the Lari was much stronger. But without me to raise prices as the obvious foreigner, she does quickly find a cheap place with meals available if you want them, free unlimited Wi-Fi and ensuite bathrooms. Perfect! Well, except for the booming karaoke until midnight nearby. We complain, and there seems to be a result: next night it ends at 11 pm, for which we must thank them. The wind stirs up large waves on the sea, and swimming more than about 10 m out seems to be prohibited: undercurrents could drag you away, and there you’d be, lost at sea until the lifeguards could get you. There’s even a strong sideways pull taking you far from your little pile of towels and clothes on the shore, although not out. It’s a mix of cloudy and sunny with the odd shower, so not blazingly hot, which is fine. Strangely, no mosquitoes! Nearby Poti brings memories of hordes of them competing with frogs’ incessant mating croaks for Most Annoying Animal. Here, neither. The main thing is, we’re On Holiday while our dear Canadian friends run the guest house in Etseri, as they’d promised they would. Winding down, sleeping an hour or two more than usual, not planning much at all, being really lazy for a week or so. Just what the doctor ordered. Ureki will definitely do. Tony Hanmer has lived in Georgia since 1999, in Svaneti since 2007, and been a weekly writer for GT since early 2011. He runs the “Svaneti Renaissance” Facebook group, now with nearly 2000 members, at www.facebook.com/groups/SvanetiRenaissance/ He and his wife also run their own guest house in Etseri: www.facebook.com/hanmer.house.svaneti


CULTURE

GEORGIA TODAY AUGUST 23 - 26, 2019

Border Disputes – Georgian and Azeri Experts Work Towards Resolution BY AMY JONES

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xpert groups from the Georgia-Azerbaijan Bilateral Border Delimitation Commission have begun surveying sections of the border between the two countries to resolve issues surrounding the state boundary, announced the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Wednesday. On 20 August, the experts visited Vakhtangisi village and the David Gareji Monastery Complex, situated along the border, where ‘They examined the positions of the two commissions and presented their vision on the sections in question,’ reads a statement released by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Both the Georgian and Azerbaijani experts clarified their opinions on the border which will be submitted to the co-chairs of the commissions. The border between the two countries has been undefined since the mid-1990s. Following the collapse of the Soviet Union and conflicts in the Caucasus, Georgia and Azerbaijan have defined 66% of their boundaries, leaving 34% undefined. The Bilateral Border Delimitation Commission was formed after the fall of the Soviet Union. However, at the time, Georgia prioritized internal conflicts such as in Ajara and border issues with Russia rather than bilateral border issues. Over the past two decades, the undisputed borders have sparked tensions between border guards and locals. In April, clerics at the David Gareji monastery, listed on the UNESCO Tentative List of World Heritage, reported that

Image source: Georgia Tours

Azeri border guards prevented them, as well as tourists and pilgrims, from entering the monastery. The ban was lifted after several days following negotiations. The tensions further escalated in on June 14 when, according to clerics, Azerbaijani border guards removed icons from the monastery. Meanwhile in July, Archimandrite Kirion announced that Azerbaijan border guards had erected a tent within the complex. “The number of Azerbaijani border guards has been doubled and tourists and clerics are still not allowed to enter the Udabno Monastery,” he noted. Dating back to the 6th century, the David Gareji Monastery is dear to many Georgians who consider it to be part of the country’s cultural heritage. However, Azerbaijanis, who know the monastery

as Keshikchi, also consider it to be an important part of their own culture. The site is listed as one of the seven most endangered heritage sites in Europe. It is imperative that Georgia and Azerbaijan resolve their border disputes as some experts have warned that both Russia and Armenia could use them to their advantage. The European Union has been encouraging Georgia and Azerbaijan to resolve their border disputes as part of its EU neighborhood policy, although little progress has yet been made. The Bilateral Border Delimitation Committee will continue to survey the disputed border sections until 23 August. There is also a section stage of negotiations planned. In September, experts from both sides will meet in Tbilisi.

From Batumi to the Stratosphere: Art Exhibition in Space BY NINI DAKHUNDARIDZE

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atumi hosts this year’s International Print Festival LIFE N STYLE, made up of a number of events. The main theme of Print Festival LIFE N STYLE is “White is Black and Black is White”. Organizers of the event say that the event planned for the festival’s opening will be quite extraordinary. On Saturday, August 24, for the first time in art history, Artworks will be exhibited in space. LIFE N STYLE will kick off with a performance titled “To the Near Cosmos”, 45 km above sea level at 13:00. Three artworks of a Georgian artist, Romanoz, will be exhibited 45 kilometers above Earth, with specially designed equipment taking off from Batumi and traveling into the stratosphere. The journey from earth to stratosphere and back will be documented and the video broadcast after the return. Romanoz, the artist whose works will be sent into space, is a perfect fit for the project, considering his choice of art style. Romanoz is a transcendentalist artist. Transcendentalism, as a genre, extends its meaning beyond traditional ideas of limits and borders. “Transcendentalism is a trip to the subconscious where events, characters and time are transported to the canvas in artistic forms,” says the artist. Now these surreal, even rebellious “transportations to the canvas” will be transported further – to the stratosphere,

Image source: theculturetrip.com

giving the exhibition more conceptual and metaphorical meanings. This way, LIFE N STYLE brings subconscious back to its motherland, space. While crossing borders and limits in an eccentric manner is the main extravaganza of the festival, naturally, the exhibition will take place in its traditional location, Earth, as well. Simultaneously to the exhibition taking place in the stratosphere, a multi-media artshow will take place on land with exclusive silkscreen prints, installations, performances video-art and live experimental music displayed throughout the festival. The festival will feature a great musical background. Original sound created by Tete Noise presents a sonic spectral image that was specially made for the

paintings to be exhibited in space – meaning that in the sound, the painting is somehow transformed into music. The visual artworks’ image in the sound of Tete Noise can be seen with any spectrogram. The concept for the Exhibition in Space was generated by To Ko. The event is organized by Print Festival Life N Style. Financial supporter of the Festival – Batumi Municipality Mayor. Curator and idea-author of the festival, Nana Kirmelashvili says that the festival, within its opening and closing ceremony frames, aims to mark Georgia as unforgettable on the world art map. In addition, the festival serves as an awareness-raiser for the unique art form of printing, while also attracting young collectors.

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10

CULTURE

GEORGIA TODAY

AUGUST 23 - 26, 2019

WHAT’S ON IN TBILISI MUSEUM

GEORGIAN NATIONAL MUSEUM SIMON JANASHIA MUSEUM 3 Rustaveli Ave. TEL (+995 32) 299 80 22, 293 48 21 www.museum.ge Exhibitions: GEORGIAN COSTUME AND WEAPONRY OF THE 18TH-20TH CENTURIES NUMISMATIC TREASURY EXHIBITION STONE AGE GEORGIA ARCHEOLOGICAL TREASURE NEW LIFE TO THE ORIENTAL COLLECTIONS Until September 10 Under the joint initiative of Georgian National Museum and Georgian Post, Exhibition: STORY TOLD BY POSTAGE STAMPS Dedicated to the 100th anniversary of the first Georgian stamp. Until August 31 Multimedia technology exhibitionIMMAGICA. A JOURNEY INTO BEAUTY An impressive journey within time, introducing us to Italian paintings of the XIV-XIX centuries; a combination of voice, lighting, immersive visual and multimedia. Giotto– ‘Ognissanti Madonna’ and the ‘Scrovegni Chapel,’ Leonardo da Vinci– ‘Annunciation,’ Botticelli– ‘The Birth of Venus’ and ‘Spring,’ Raffaello– ‘The Madonna of the Goldfinch, Bellotto– ‘Piazza San Marco,’ ‘Castello Sforzesco,’ Canaletto– “The Chapel of Eton College”, Canova– ‘Amor e Psyche’ and ‘The Graces’. Until September 8 The Georgian National Museum and the Embassy of Japan in Georgia present Japanese CALLIGRAPHY MASTER KOSHU'S (AKEMI LUCAS) EXHIBITION "ECHO" Koshu took part in "Tokugawa and the Masters," part of which was hosted by the Georgian National Museum in October 2018. Koshu says her first visit to Signagi filled her heart with love and this is reflected in her subsequent works. "I hope my love for Georgia, poured into my artwork, is reflected and resonates in people's hearts, rippling out and leaving an echo for the future," she says. IOSEB GRISHASHVILI TBILISI HISTORY MUSEUM - KARVASLA 8 Sioni St. TEL (+995 32) 2 98 22 81

Until September 10 The Georgian National Museum within the project "Contemporary Art Gallery" presents VAKHO BUGADZE'S EXHIBITION: ‘THREE, FOUR" Together with Vakho Bughadze are artists Gogi Okropiridze and Katrin Bolt. MUSEUM OF SOVIET OCCUPATION 4 Rustaveli Ave. TEL (+995 32) 2 99 80 22, 2 93 48 21 www.museum.ge The exhibition hall is equipped with monitors, where visitors can see documentaries of various historical events. The exhibition also includes one of the train carriages in which the participants of the national uprising of 1924 were executed. It is also dedicated to the history of the antioccupational, national-liberation movement of Georgia and to the victims of the Soviet political repression throughout this period. MUSEUM OF ILLUSIONS 10 Betlemi Str. Discover the Museum of Illusions Be brave enough to jump into an illusion created by the Vortex, deform the image of yourself in a Mirror Room, be free in the Infinity room, resist the laws of gravity and size ratio, and take selfies in every possible pose. Enjoy the collection of holograms, and discover optical illusions. MUSEUM OF BROKEN RELATIONSHIPS 10 Betlemi Str. THE MUSEUM OF BROKEN RELATIONSHIPS The unique collection of the museum aims to provoke feelings of understanding among individuals and serve as some kind of therapy for those who have experience break-ups. GALLERY

THE NATIONAL GALLERY 11 Rustaveli Ave. TEL (+995 32) 215 73 00 Until February 26 (2020) GRAND MASTERS FROM THE GEORGIAN NATIONAL MUSEUM COLLECTION XIX – XX CENTURY ARTTENT Mtatsminda Hill, Top of the Funicular

August 25-31 ANATOMY OF EXISTENCE: GROUP EXHIBITION OF MORE THAN THIRTY GEORGIAN ARTISTS. ARTTENT is a space for art presentations and sales, fully dedicated to the most interesting concepts and ideas in Georgian contemporary art. ARTTENT Tbilisi unites selected Georgian galleries, artists and the best conceptual spaces. Entry: 8 GEL CINEMA

TBILISI HILLS GOLF & RESIDENCES ISANI-SAMGORI DISTR. August 23 MIDNIGHT IN PARIS Taste hot, cold and alcoholic drinks made by our professional bartenders and feel the fresh air in the middle of nature Language: English Start time: 21:00 Ticket: 20 GEL August 29 THE SHAWSHANK REDEMPTION Language: English Start time: 21:00 Ticket: 20 GEL MUSIC

GEORGIAN FOLK SHOW 10 Rustaveli Ave. Every Tuesday, Friday, Sunday The first full and systematic folk show made for tourists. Tourists in Georgia can visit all the Georgian regions in just one hour through our renowned folklore. Start time: 20:00 Tickets: 40 GEL FOLKLORE CONCERTS FOR TOURISTS Sanapiro Str. Bldg 2. Every Sunday August 18 Folklore Evenings of ensemble EGARI Offering folklore events to popularize Georgian folk music among tourists, the concerts present songs, trisagions, instrumental music, dance, and urban folklore from different parts of Georgia, as well as ethnojazz music. Guest can hear live polyphony and a diversity of instruments (Salamuri, Panduri, Chonguri, Chiboni, Doli). Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 50 GEL

CANUDOS LOUNGE & CLUB 1 Lech and mAria Kaszinski Str. August 16 PANCHO & TIKA JAMBURIA Start time: 23:00 Ticket: 20 GEL ESCOBAR BAR 15a A. Zurabishvili Str. August 24 BABILONI/CJ BORIKA/DJ TOKKS Start time: 21:00 Ticket: From 20 GEL AJARA

BLACK SEA ARENA Shekvetili Festival Verdi in Georgia August 23 "AIDA" Giuseppe Verdi Arena di Verona Production Conductor: Pier Giorgio Morandi Director: Alfonso Signorini Scenographer: Giuseppe De Filippi Starring: Suzana Branchini (Aida), Deyan Vatchkov (The King of Egypt), Daniela Barcellona (Amneris), Sergio Escobar (Radamès), Gabriele Viviani (Amonasro), George Andguladze (Ramfis)… Start time: 21:00 Ticket: 20-80 GEL August 25 OPERA GALA Final concert of the Festival, featuring international opera stars Start time: 21:00 Ticket: 20-80 GEL PALMA LAGUNA Batumi Boulevard August 25 NIGHT JAZZ AT PALMA LAGUNA Outdoor pool by Rezo Kiknadze quintet: Reso Kiknadze- tenor saxophone, Lashs Sakvarelidze- alto saxophone, Nika Gabadze- guitar, Khatia Koridze- bass, Irakli‚ Kuku‘ Choladze– drums Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 15-540 GEL SOHO BATUMI Seafront Promenade, Batumi August 23 STEFAN BINIAK Start time: 23:00 Ticket: 30 GEL August 24 STEPHANE Start time: 23:00 Ticket: 30 GEL August 25 LELA TSURTSUMIA Start time: 23:00 Ticket: 30 GEL INTERNATIONAL FESTIVAL NIGHT SERENADES August 25– September 4 August 25 FESTIVAL OPENING CEREMONY– Sandro Nebieridze Pyotr Tchaikovsky– Serenade Interval Samuel Barber– Adagio for Strings D. Shostakovich– Piano Concerto No. 1 Sandro Nebieridze– Piano David Shamanauri– Trumpet Vakhtang Matchavariani– Conductor Pyotr Tchaikovsky- Serenade for Strings Samuel Barber- Adagio for Strings Dmitri Shostakovich Piano Concerto No.1

Venue: 1 Rustaveli St., Batumi Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 10-40 GEL August 27 Vivaldi ‘Four Seasons’– Nana Iashvili Dmitri Shostakovich– Chamber Symphony Interval Antonio Vivaldi– Four Seasons Pantelis Kogiamis– Conductor Nana Iashvili– Violin Dmitri Shostakovich– Chamber Symphony Antonio Vivaldi– Four Seasons Venue: Ilia Chavchavadze State Drama Theater, 1 Rustaveli Str., Batumi Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 10-40 GEL August 28 XX CENTURY MASTERPIECES Benjamin Britten– Simple Symphony Pablo Sarasate- Carmen Fantasy for Violin and Piano Ana Lisa Bezrodny- Violin Interval Sulkhan Tsintsadze- Miniatures Vaja Azarashvili– Cello Concerto Jan-Erik Gustafsson- Cello Vakhtang Matchavariani– Conductor Benjamin Britten Simple Symphony Pablo Sarasate- Carmen Fantasy for Violin and Piano Sulkhan Tsintsadze Miniatures Vaja Azarashvili Cello Concerto Venue: Ilia Chavchavadze State Drama Theater, 1 Rustaveli Str., Batumi Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 10-40 GEL ECHOWAVES FESTIVAL Anaklia Friends Package: Buy 5 tickets and get 1 free ‘A Tent for 2’ deal includes: a tent on wooden frame, mattress, bedding. There are lockers, showers, toilets, a restaurant and parking on the territory August 25-28 EchoWaves is an electronic music festival that invites you to experience the beautiful seaside resort of Anaklia, Georgia, in the shadow of stunning mountains, promising unforgettable summer memories. Start time: 23:59 Ticket: 120-200 GEL UP2YOU Seafront Promenade August 24 FIDELES Start time: 22:00 Ticket: 20 GEL August 25 SALIO Start time: 22:00 Ticket: 20 GEL August 27 OWL FROM BESHUMI Start time: 23:00 Ticket: 20 GEL BATUMGORA Cable car Argo FOLKLORE SHOWS EVERY DAY All summer long, enjoy traditional folk shows every day from 8 pm. Enjoy UNESCO recognized traditional folk dances and songs, Georgian drum shows and master classes in dancing 250 meters above sea level. Start time: 20:00 HOTEL MARTINI Kvariati August 27 GOOFY LAND Start time: 15:00 Ticket: 30 GEL


CULTURE

GEORGIA TODAY AUGUST 23 - 26, 2019

11

Night Serenades Festival 2019 BY KETEVAN KVARATSKHELIYA

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enowned American musician Billy Joel one said: “It's an explosive expression of humanity. It's something we are all touched by. No matter what culture we're from, everyone loves music,” and really, what could be better than listening to a piece of great musical composition and delving into an endless universe of imagination? In Georgia, locals and guests of the country have for years been given the chance to attend performances of an increasing list of wonderful artists and enjoy incredible music. 2019 is no exception and after hosting the world stars of the pop music genre, among them Jessie J and the Black Eyed Peas, two Georgian cities Tbilisi and Batumi are to launch the 11th edition of the Night Serenades Festival, a real celebration for the classical music enthusiast. The story of the Night Serenades Festival began more than three decades ago, in 1982, when prominent Georgian violinist and conductor Liana Isakadze launched the first concert within the scope of the festival in the city of Pitsunba, Abkhazia. However, due to political developments, the event was suspended for a number of years and was given a new life just 11 years ago, in 2009. The Night Serenades has found it own niche in the hearts of classical musiclovers and has become an inalienable part of the Georgian summer, as it takes place at the end of the month of August. GEORGIA TODAY sat down with Giorgi (Giga) Isakadze, Creative Director of the Festival and nephew of Liana Isakadze, to learn more about the upcoming event. “This year, we launched a very interesting and direct program in terms of soloist pieces,” he starts with enthusiasm. “That’s as well as an incredible orchestra

request he perform it.” Isakadze also noted the wonderful novelty that the world-renowned musician will include a part of the Georgian musical treasure in his repertoire. Vaja Azarashvili is also to be among the honored guests of the festival. Along with Jan-Erik Gustafsson, famous violinist Anna-Liisa Bezrodny will also take to the stage and offer a virtuoso duet to the attendees. Aside from stunning performers, this concert is outstanding for yet another feature as it is to introduce the perception of music in colors, where the works of Vivaldi will be played against a background of wonderful artistic works. At the Night Serenades Festival, Sandro Nebieridze, a young and promising Georgian pianist, will also perform. The Creative Director of the event also focuses on the charity elements of the Festival and notes that on August 27, locals and foreign visitors in Batumi will have a chance to attend one of the concerts for free. “The program of the festival is certainly very diverse and brings together numerous themes. And it takes a lot of time and effort from our team to form a descent program, which will underline the individualism of performers and offer an absolutely new concept.” We ask Giga Isakadze about the audience and interest of youngsters in classical music. “Today, youngsters are actively offered different genres of music, representing a part of the commercial sector and a source of major financial gain. It is obvious that classical music concerts cannot have such a large-scale. However, we do everything we can to make our festival interesting for all age groups and the fact that we also have youth performers may also serve as an inspiration or motivation for adolescents,” he tells us. We also ask him to share his plans for next year’s Night Serenades, to which he replies with a smile, “All will be revealed!”

program, which will include Serenade of Tchaikovsky, Barber’s Adagio, Chamber Symphony of Schostakowitsch and more.” He does not forget to mention the local composers, saying that the miniatures of Georgian Sulkhan Tsintsadze will also be performed at the Festival. “The symphonic orchestra program is equally wonderful, though,” continues Isakdze, noting that the guests of the festival will have an incredible chance to enjoy Beethoven’s 8th Symphony, which in general is performed rarely and has not been played for wide audiences in Georgia for 20 years. In addition, Isakadze tells us that the five-day festival will be completed by Nino Surguladze, famous Georgian Opera singer, who is to take to the stage with Manuel De Falla’s “El Amor Brujo”, which in English is translated as “Magical Love”. While speaking about Surguladze and her piece, Isakadze’s enthusiasm was impossible not to see. “De Falla’s ‘Amor Brujo’ is full of Spanish-Gypsy fiery temper and emotions, strongly accentuating the brilliant performance the Georgian singer is expected to offer listeners.” Isakade says he had a great desire for the program to include a number of works of Georgian composers and goes on to share an interesting story with us. “This year, we invited an absolutely fantastic cellist, Jan-Erik Gustafsson, who has his own festival in Finland after Night Serenades and is terribly busy. But despite this, he accepted our invitation with pleasure and is now preparing to mesmerize the audiences of Georgia,” he says with a smile. “I sent the concerto of Vaja Azarashvili, firstly performed by my father, National Artist of Georgia and Professor Eldar Isakadze. My father and Liana successfully introduced the work of Azarashvili beyond the borders of our homeland. Music itself, which Vaja devoted to the memory of his father, is absolutely mesmerizing in its depth. Gustafsson admired it and accepted my

Mamuliya’s ‘The Criminal Man’ to Be Screened at Venice Film Festival BY KETEVAN KVARATSKHELIYA Image source: mes.gov.ge

Georgia, US Sign Memorandum of Understanding on Cultural Heritage Preservation

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ollowing the numerous accomplishments made by Georgian films at various international festivals, a work of yet another Georgian filmmaker is preparing to be introduced to wider audiences at the 76th edition of one of the world's major cinematographic events, the Venice International Film Festival, launched within the framework of Biennale 2019. The latest film from director Dmitry Mamuliya, entitled ‘The Criminal Man’ (Borotmokmedi), is a Georgian-Russian co-production bringing together a cast of Georgian actors and telling the story of a 25-year-old factory engineer whose life is drastically changed when he witnesses the killing of a prominent sportsman. At the 11-day festival taking place August 28 – September 7, the work of Mamuliya

BY KETEVAN KVARATSKHELIYA

is set to be screened six times on September 4-6, within the scope of one of the sections of the Biennale named Orizzonti. ‘The Criminal Man’ has been launched

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Image source: Venice Biennale

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as the joint work of Georgia’s Millimeter Film and Russia’s Kinokult. Shooting of the feature took place in Georgia in 2015 and 2016, and was resumed in 2018, after a pause.

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

n August 20, Mikheil Batiashvili, Minister of Education, Science, Culture and Sport of Georgia, and Paul Packer, Chairman of the United States Commission for the Preservation of America’s Heritage Abroad, signed a Memorandum of Understanding which envisages the launch of a mechanism for further collaboration in the cultural field. The Ministry reports that the USA has already signed this type

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of memorandum with a number of Eastern European states. Mikheil Batiashvili highlighted that the US is one of the major strategic partners of Georgia and noted that the two countries have close partnership in all branches of the sphere of education. The Minister also stated the Memorandum of Understanding is to contribute to the enhancement that collaboration. Packer also commented, saying that signing this document yet again outlines the successful cooperation between the governments of the two states and demonstrates how much the USA values Georgia and supports it in various fields.

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Profile for Georgia Today

Issue #1179  

August 23 - 26, 2019

Issue #1179  

August 23 - 26, 2019

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