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Issue no: 1103

• NOVEMBER 23 - 26, 2018

• PUBLISHED TWICE WEEKLY

FOCUS ON A NATO RE-THINK Our exclusive interview with former NATO head Anders Rasmussen reveals that he might have done things differently

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In this week’s issue... 13 New Recycling Corners Open in Tbilisi NEWS PAGE 3

Modern Russia: Still an Empire? POLITICS PAGE 5

Perspectives of China – US Relations: The Necessity of Talks to Overcome Misperceptions POLITICS PAGE 7

Entrepreneur November Issue Presented at Iota Hotel BUSINESS PAGE 10

Image source: bookcellarinc.com

Georgian PM Meets EU Top Officials in Brussels

HUAWEI WATCH GT: Powerful Battery, Sophisticated Design & Smart Features for Fitness Lovers BUSINESS PAGE 11

Geostat to Establish a Population Register with EU Support

BY THEA MORRISON

SOCIETY PAGE 12

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ithin the frames of the official working visit to Belgium, members of the Georgian government, led by Prime Minister Mamuka Bakhtadze and European commissioners, held a high-level meeting, chaired by President of the European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker, in Brussels on November 21. The sides agreed to further solidify and enhance cooperation through more than 25 concrete actions across three focus areas: economy, education and justice, which, according to the European Commission, will advance cooperation within the framework of the Association Agreement. The key outcomes delivered by the high level meeting read that Georgia has received billions of euros in support to develop its economy, education and other fields. According to Juncker, the more Georgia reforms, the more the EU will support it. "Georgia is a proud country, built on the cour-

Lali Kandelaki on Her Final Performance in Don Quixote & Brooklyn Mack on Dancing with Her CULTURE PAGE 19

Image source: PM’s Press Office

age and ambition of its people. Georgia's commitment and desire to step-up its cooperation with the European Union shows that our relationship is a priority; today, we have agreed on many ways in which we as the European Commission can return this commitment, in concrete terms…You can count on the European Union

to believe in Georgia's future, and to firmly defend its territorial integrity,” he stated at the joint press conference with PM Bakhtadze. Juncker underlined that partnership between Georgia and the EU goes back a long way thanks to the shared history and geography. Continued on page 3


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NEWS

GEORGIA TODAY

NOVEMBER 23 - 26, 2018

Gas Safety Campaign Continues in Tbilisi BY SAMANTHA GUTHRIE

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arlier this week, Tbilisi's Deputy Mayor Irakli Bedneliani spoke with reporters about the progress of a joint initiative between KazTransGas-Tbilisi and Tbilisi City Hall. City Hall has called on KazTransGas - Tbilisi to take measures to further tighten the safety aspects of gas heaters and water heaters in residential apartments. "In 2018, there were 16 cases of CO2 poisoning and 13 deaths throughout the capital [attributed to residential gas leaks]. These numbers represent specific

families who have lost their loved ones... I would like to ask the residents of the capital, if there is any threat, to call the KazTransGas Tbilisi hotline at 114 and request [an immediate] gas inspection," said Bendeliani. Gigla Tamazashvili of KazTransGasTbilisi joined Bendeliani to discusst he details of the safety campaign and gave the population specific recommendations. "We call on our customers to take into consideration our advice and recommendations, which are issued by KazTransGas-Tbilisi staff during planned inspections. Additionally, KazTransGas - Tbilisi is available for residents of the capital 24-hours a day and whenever they call, the employees are ready to come, free of charge," said Tamazashvili.

Photo: Tbilisi City Hall

Campaign to Green Tbilisi Continues on Chavchavadze Avenue BY SAMANTHA GUTHRIE

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ver the past several weeks, Tbilisi City Hall has been carrying out an aggressive campaign to turn Tbilisi green. Thousands of trees, bushes, flowers, and grassy areas have been planted throughout the city. As part of Mayor Kakha Kaladze's 'Take Care of the City' campaign, a 6,000 square meter area along Chavchavadze Avenue has been planted with 2,500 bushes privet, English yew, photinia, cherry

Photo: Tbilisi City Hall

laurel, box, and holly, among other species. Kaladze himself visited the planting works for a photo opportunity along with local celebrities and public figures. The 'Take Care of the City' campaign "is a very important project," said Kalakdze, "This is not a single event. The spring rally will be held throughout the city. Most of what we need is renovating the the parks, squares, creating new city parks. Of course, the green spaces generally make the city more beautiful and promote ecological improvement. This is kind of work that will create the future of our city to be the most beautiful, well-

organized and ecologically clean." Within the autumn planting campaign, the road leading to the Kostava-Shartava streets, Saakadze Square, the Tskneti highway, the middle dividing line near Cholokashvili street, Pekini Avenue, and the territory adjacent to the National Archives of Georgia have already been 'greened.' Around 7,000 saplings have been spread across Tbilisi. Evergreen and decorative shrubs were selected to best suit the landscape and climate of Tbilisi. An additional 6,000 trees that are already more than three meters high have also been planted.


NEWS

GEORGIA TODAY NOVEMBER 23 - 26, 2018

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Georgian PM Meets EU Top Officials in Brussels

Continued from page 1

“We have backed, since 2014, with €590 million of financial support, the efforts of Georgia and we hope to unlock a further €45 million of micro-financial assistance in the near future,” he added. In his speech, the Georgian PM thanked Junker and the European Commissioners for their support. He underlined that the high-rank meeting held on Wednesday creates unique opportunities for Georgia, a country which has “always strived towards the European family.” Bakhtadze underlined that Georgia does its best to fulfill all the requirements of the Association Agreement by implementing new reforms and developing democracy. “We intend to increase and expand participation in EU programs and agencies. This is especially important because it strengthens our institutional capabilities and gives us a high level of compatibility with EU policy,” he noted. Within the framework of the first meeting of the highest level format, several agreements were signed with the European

side, which envisages allocating assistance of up to €231 million to Georgia. The Delegation of the European Union to Georgia informs that since 2009, the EU has supported access to finance for more than 63,000 small, medium and micro-sized enterprises in Georgia, with about €700 million lent to create jobs and increase exports. “New programs worth €100 million will further support access to finance in the local currency. The External Investment Plan Guarantee will allow new investment projects in Georgia,” the statement reads. In addition, Commissioner Johannes Hahn and Georgian Foreign Minister David Zalkaliani signed a financing agreement worth €49 million for the European Union to support economic and business development in Georgia. Under the agreement, the European Union and Georgia will work together to develop a better legal system for business, modernize financial services, and innovate business models. "Today, the European Union is Georgia's number one trading partner, account-

ing for 27% of its total trade," said Commissioner Hahn, adding the European Union has helped 37,000 Georgian companies to receive loans since 2009, and has helped over 90,000 people have access to free legal services. The EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy/VicePresident of the European Commission, Federica Mogherini, stated after the meeting that Association Agreement is bringing tangible benefits to Georgian and EU citizens alike and gives them a framework to cooperate even more closely. “Whether it is enhancing Georgia's resilience to hybrid threats, providing support and facilitating access to finance for small and medium enterprises, investing in transport infrastructure, or giving young Georgians more opportunities to come to Europe, either to study or travel, we are determined to continue to deliver concrete, positive results,” Mogherini stated. Before attending the high-level GeorgiaEU meeting, PM Bakhtadze met President of the European Council, Donald Tusk. Tusk evaluated the dynamics of Georgia-EU relations as positive and reiterated his support to Georgia. Pending reforms in Georgia with respect to economic development, strengthening of democratic institutions and modernization of educational system were discussed during the meeting. The conversation also touched upon the existing electoral environment in the country. The President of the European Council underlined the practice of conducting free and fair elections in Georgia and positively evaluated the first round of the presidential elections.

13 New Recycling Corners Open in Tbilisi

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n November 21, 13 new waste separation corners were opened in Tbilisi. Separation corners are located in different parts of Tbilisi: next to the buildings of four district halls, universities, public schools, metro stations, and more. The opening ceremony was held at the Vake District Hall. The waste separation corners have been supported by USAID’s Waste Management Technology in Regions, Phase II (WMTR II) program implemented by CENN and Tbilisi City Hall. With USAID/ WMTR II support, 10 recycling corners were opened in the previous year in different parts of Tbilisi. Therefore, Tbilisi already has 23 waste separation corners located in public places, where citizens can bring their separated waste - PET plastic bottles, paper, glass and aluminum cans to be recycled. Supta Samkaro Ltd., a private

waste aggregating company, collects the separated waste, pre-treats and delivers the paper and glass waste to local recycling companies, while the plastic and aluminum waste is exported to various countries including Turkey and Ukraine. The USAID/WMTR II program assists the Government of Georgia to modernize the country’s waste management sector and support sustainable development and inclusive economic growth, ensuring responsible management of natural endowments that minimize adverse impacts from waste on human health and natural resources. USAID/WMTR II assistance includes support in developing a waste recycling system in the country by improving the operations of private recycling companies, creating waste separation opportunities for citizens, establishing strong partnerships between the public and private sectors and reaching out to a broader audience to recycle.


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POLITICS

GEORGIA TODAY

NOVEMBER 23 - 26, 2018

Former NATO Head Rasmussen on Giving Putin the Wrong Signals I think that is for Georgia and Ukraine to decide. If Georgia decides to apply for membership or to work towards membership of NATO, then NATO should allow that process. And, of course, it's not only Georgia who can decide at the end of day whether Georgia can become a member, and we have very clear criteria in the NATO treaty: we say membership should be open to all European countries that live up to democratic standards and can contribute to the improvement of Euro-Atlantic security. Georgia at this stage has fulfilled two of the three criteria, the third is whether Georgia will contribute to an improvement of overall security; that's of course a discussion which also relates to the destiny of Abkhazia and Ossetia. But again, that issue should be solved in the dialogue between Georgia and NATO as is not for Moscow to decide.

EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW BY VAZHA TAVBERIDZE

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ATO erred in not immediately granting Georgia and Ukraine a Membership Action Plan (MAP) in April 2008, says the former head of the Alliance. Anders Fogh Rasmussen, who served as Secretary General between 2009 and 2014, told us in an exclusive interview for the Institute for War and Peace Reporting that this failure had sent “the wrong signal” to Russian President Vladimir Putin and may have contributed to the decision to attack Georgia in August of the same year. It later became clear, Rasmussen continued, that Putin would see any concessions as weakness, which meant Russia had become a “strategic adversary” rather than a partner.

WHAT COULD HAVE BEEN DONE BETTER? In general, I think we did the right things. We took the opportunity after the collapse of communism and the fall of the Berlin Wall to try to include our Eastern partners both in the EU and NATO; that

If Georgia and Ukraine clearly want to become members of NATO and the European Union, we should allow that process to start

was the right thing to do and we enlarged both NATO and the European Union. Then, in 2008, at the NATO summit in Bucharest, we also decided that Georgia and Ukraine would become members of NATO. I think that was also the right thing to do. Personally, I was in favor of granting a MAP to Georgia and Ukraine then and there. I think we should have done that and by not doing that, we sent the wrong signal to Putin, who thought he could then act aggressively, and he did so that same year, in August 2008 attacking Georgia. So, in retrospect, I think we should have pursued that path to give a membership action plan to both Georgia and Ukraine. That wouldn't [have been] a guarantee of membership, but it would have sent a powerful signal.

YOUR PREDECESSOR, JAAP DE HOOP SCHEFFER, RECENTLY STATED THAT NATO CROSSED A RED LINE IN RELATION TO RUSSIA IN BUCHAREST, AND THAT PUTIN'S REACTION WAS UNDERSTANDABLE. To be honest, I haven't seen that interview. What I believe is that we should base our policies on the fundamental principle that each and every nation, including Georgia and Ukraine, have an

inherent right to decide their alliance and affiliation themselves on a sovereign basis and that's why we had to live up to the ambitions of Georgia and Ukraine at that time. They requested a MAP and they got a NATO-Georgia commission. It's not for Moscow to decide, it’s not for Brussels to decide; it’s for Tbilisi and Kyiv to decide.

FOR MORE THAN A DECADE NOW, GEORGIA HAS BEEN TRYING AND FAILING TO STEP THROUGH THE PROVERBIAL OPEN DOOR TO NATO. If Georgia and Ukraine clearly want to become members of NATO and the European Union, we should allow that process to start; we shouldn't be saying no. Whether they fulfill the necessary criteria remains to be seen, and at the end of the day, it’s of course a common decision, but I don't think in advance we should say, ‘No, you will stay alliance-free or as a neutral space between Russia and NATO.’ We cannot accept that approach.

WHAT DO YOU THINK OF THE THEORIES RESURFACING THAT GEORGIA AND UKRAINE SHOULD BECOME NEUTRAL OR NON-ALIGNED STATES?

HAVE ANY GEORGIAN OFFICIALS SUGGESTED THEY MIGHT GIVE UP THE BREAKAWAY REGIONS IF NATO LETS GEORGIA IN? I'm not going to comment on internal discussions with the Georgian authorities. It's for Georgia to decide whether that might be a solution. There will be no pressure from our side concerning the two regions. From an international law perspective, they are still part of Georgia.

Had we taken Putin seriously, surely we might have reacted differently spirit, is to maintain a very firm stance and transatlantic unity, because as much as he wants to cultivate the image of himself as a strongman, he respects other strongmen. That's why we should act and not give concessions because he will consider any concession [to be] a weakness.

HAD NATO AND THE WEST IMPOSED SANCTIONS ON RUSSIA BACK IN 2008, COULD YOU HAVE REINED THEM IN? ONE EXAMPLE: RUSSIA PULLED OUT OF THE INTERNATIONAL CRIMINAL COURT INVESTIGATION INTO THE 2008 WAR WITHOUT ANY REPERCUSSIONS WHATSOEVER.

We thought that we could turn Russia into what we call a strategic partner, and you might recall we had a NATO-Russia summit back in 2010 in which we decided to develop a strategic partnership. But today we have to realize that Russia is not a strategic partner: it is a strategic adversary. It's as simple as that, so we have to adapt to it. I'm not that optimistic anymore, but based on my knowledge about President Putin’s psychology, I see the only way to get him to understand that he needs to engage constructively, in a cooperative

Well, today we have seen that they repeat themselves - I mean what they've done, their bad behavior in Ukraine. Seen retrospectively, you might argue that had we known that, we might have reacted more harshly, more resolutely, in 2008, but we decided to give it another chance. When I took office, one of my three main priorities was to develop this stronger partnership with Russia. We thought it was possible, but Ukraine showed it was not. And finally, let me tell you this - very recently I went through my notes from the 2008 summit. I saw in my notes that Putin made statements regarding Crimea that are very similar to what he later did publicly. So, had we known that and had we taken him seriously, surely we might have reacted differently. But, still, I would argue we did the right thing - we gave them a chance.

erless Authoritarianism”. On the one hand, he established control over all governmental branches, enabled a massive constitutional majority in parliament and also a large majority in the municipalities, he completely cleaned the political pitch and every more or less experienced politician was put aside, but … he left in the hands of his main opponent “nuclear” resources such as: popularity, respect, influence, talent and a creative broadcasting TV station! In such paradoxical circumstances, authoritarianism as well as dictatorship will inevitably come to ruin. Of course, Mikheil Saakashvili would never make such a silly mistake of enabling the existence of such a popular oppositional TV station. The moment he did, it was over! The only thing is that he had the discernment to feel the momentum and “follow” the process in 2012. Obviously, Ivanishvili is not planning to do the same and is asking his apprentices to announce a revolution.

Who will follow Ivanishvili towards a revolution and who won’t is the main question, not only for the opposition but the whole Georgian Dream too. Today, the 115 MPs of GD are distributed over eight fractions. This union is inhomogeneous and isn’t necessarily based on any level of loyalty for Ivanishvili. There was a time when the parliamentary list was created by Bidzina Ivanishvili, now-Mayor Kakhi Kaladze and ex-premier Giorgi Kvirikashvili. The ones they chose made it into parliament. These people have different ideas and political goals, and it seems that Ivanishvili’s statement about the “return of the old” meant that he doesn’t trust the ones that were chosen by Kvirikashvili and Kaladze, and in the future battle he needs loyal people. To what extent the Dream will fall apart after the elections is unknown, for now, the only thing we can say is that if Grigol Vashadze gets chosen, this process will accelerate and become irreversible.

IN 2009, YOU WERE VERY OPTIMISTIC ABOUT RECHARGING THE RELATIONSHIP WITH RUSSIA. WHAT HAPPENED TO THOSE PLANS?

The Irreversible Choice OP-ED BY ZAZA JGARKAVA

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he Central Election Committee (CEC) has decided to hold the second round of elections on November 28, a Wednesday, in the middle of the working week. The only thing the government can do to guarantee people head out to the boxes is to make it a holiday and put the final dot to the Presidential elections 2018. Everything else is now up to the voters and who they will choose – Salome Zurabishvili or Grigol Vashadze. Before the CEC announced the official date of the second round, an activist of the Georgian Dream said in Telavi that it would be November 11, later, the same date was spoken by the Tbilisi Mayor Kakha Kaladze. Only afterwards was the official date made public. There is a feeling that both the govern-

ment and opposition are getting ready for a completely different date, not November 28; it seems as if the presidential elections are a prelude before the crucial upcoming battle; political apocalypse in the face of a civil war has been announced. The ruling party leaders are threatening chaos and turmoil to follow if Grigol Vashadze gets elected. But what does electing a president deprived of any rights have to do with “civil war” or revolution? GD leaders Pokhadze, Volski, Beselia, Mdinaradze, Talakvadze and others give no explanation. A Leninian explanation is that revolutions happen in places where the government can no longer manage the way it could, while the people do not wish to live the same way any longer. Apparently, this is what GD is trying to hide from us: this is why they are hiding the real reason behind the alleged upcoming revolution. However, there are other reasons as well, ones that threaten the ruling party with a much more dramatic

outcome than a revolution. Everyone remembers the coalition of Georgian Dream in 2012, a union of a few political subjects that claimed victory over the United National Movement and came to power. The parliamentary elections in 2016 saw an already unified party as the GD took part in the election as an independent party. As they proudly ranted at the time, they were now without “extra burden”, by which they meant the Head of the Parliament and his party Republicans, Gubaz Sanikidze’s forumers and the Free Democrats. Bidzina Ivanishvili became sole leader of the party, winning almost everything he could have won, and his party was presented with the parliamentary majority. However, instead of a political renaissance for Ivanishvili, he has been left in political decadence. Within the last six years, Ivanishvili has created one of the most vicious and paradoxical systems known to the political science: “Feeble Dictatorship” or “Pow-


POLITICS

GEORGIA TODAY NOVEMBER 23 - 26, 2018

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Modern Russia: Still an Empire? OP-ED BY EMIL AVDALIANI

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he 20th century was a century of collapsing empires. Even though it is considered that the last of them, the French and British, disintegrated following World War II, the Soviet Union fitted in many ways into an empire model. The Soviets hated the word “empire�. It was associated with everything negative that the leaders of the Soviet state of the 1920s had fought against. The Soviets intended to give more autonomy to the peoples, Georgians, Ukrainians and others, of the former Russian Empire, thus creating a state where every big nation was equal and small ethnic groups were given some sort of autonomy. But from the 1930s onwards, the new Soviet elite started to evolve in such a way that more and more ethnic Russians were taking over major positions in state structures. The rise of the Russians within all the major cultural, political and industrial positions might be seen as proportionate to the number of Russians in the Soviet Union. True, the Russians constituted the biggest single nation in the Union, but they were still fewer than 50% of the total number of the popula-

tion. This very fact makes the Soviet Union, bastion of anti-imperialism, a pure imperial state, a state where the Russians had to take on huge financial and human resources to control and develop the outlying territories around the Russian heartland: the space from the Baltic Sea and the Ural Mountains southwards to the Black and Caspian Seas. Almost the same distribution, 44%, of ethnic Russians existed in the Russian Empire before 1917 and, again, the political elite put pressure on the core Russian resources to control the imperial periphery and wage wars with the neighboring states. In a way, the dissolution of the Russian and Soviet Empires was a result of the unwillingness of the Russian nation to bear further the brunt of administering Ukraine, Belarus, the South Caucasus and the Central Asia.

MODERN RUSSIA Thus, when the Soviet state broke up in 1991, the Russians, for the first time in the last 500 years, had a possibility to build a nation-state within the borders of the modern Russian Federation. Ethnic Russians now constitute around 80% of the total population and, based on the numbers, it can be argued that a Russian nation-state has been achieved. However, when one looks at the map

of the country, the territories populated by the non-Russians are large and located at the borders with neighboring countries. Moreover, the Chechens, Tatars, Bashkirs and others have already been experiencing for a long period of time their own political and historical conscience (not necessarily based on democratic principles). Where the ethnic Russians still hold a comfortable majority in the federation, various projections claim that that number will significantly decrease in the coming decades, while the number of the Muslim population will increase. This is troublesome for Moscow, as it will undermine the very base on which the modern borders of the Russian Federation exist. More Muslims will force Moscow to make concessions to North Caucasian and other minority-populated territories. This is purely an imperial concern, which shows how, despite their numerical superiority, the balance of power within Russia is fluid (though spanning several decades) and depends on the core Russian elites and their loyalty to the government in Moscow. These problems also reflect that an imperial pattern is still existent in Russia and, like many other empires of the 20th century, the modern Russian state too tries to homogenize the issues such

Image source: russiatrek.org. By Valentin Kalininskiy

as state structures, language of instruction at schools, etc. The same happened under the Romanovs and the Soviets. Both systems started out giving concessions to large ethnic minorities to win their favor by taking into account the local and regional context when it came to methods of rule. However, later on they began implementing policies of gradual Russification (primarily through advancing the instruction of the Russian language), homogenization of government mech-

anism and inculcation of Russian patriotism. Thus, what we are seeing in Russia, the non-continuation of the power-sharing agreement with Tatarstan, diminution of instruction of ethnic languages in the regions, as well as the Kremlin’s concern about Russian nationals living abroad, is highly reminiscent of the Romanov and Soviet policies. Perhaps, we can expect in the near future an intensification of the process within Russia.


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POLITICS

GEORGIA TODAY

NOVEMBER 23 - 26, 2018

While Russia-Georgia Relations Are Stuck, in Abkhazia & Samachablo the Situation is Fluid BY EMIL AVDALIANI

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he political and economic situation in the breakaway territories of Abkhazia and Samachablo (South Ossetia) is fluid. Recent reports by various local and international organizations point to difficult conditions under which the population lives in those regions and what progress is being made to alleviate the situation. The ‘Consolidated Report on the Conflict in Georgia’ of the Council of Europe, which covers the period from April to September 2018, provides interesting details on how the peace process is going with Abkhazia and Samachablo. The 44th round of the Geneva International Discussions (GID) was held on 20 June. According to the Co-Chairs, the security situation on the ground was assessed by the participants as relatively calm and stable. There were diverging positions expressed by the participants on a draft joint statement on the non-use of force. Despite the differences, the Co-Chairs claimed to be continuing their work on this issue. However, it is difficult to fathom that any meaningful progress could be made as the positions of the breakaway de facto leaders go against what the Georgian central government claims, with Tbilisi expecting the statement on nonuse of force to lead to the full implementation of the 12 August 2008 Ceasefire Agreement and international security arrangements on the ground. The 45th round of the GID was held on 10 October, the 10th anniversary of the launch of the format. Overall, it can be argued that the core issues on the GID agenda still remain to be resolved. Tbilisi and de facto leaders of the breakaway regions cannot agree on crucial issues which are linked to geopolitical differences between Georgia and Russia. A further problem which affects the climate of the GID discussions: the cases of the tragic deaths and killings of Georgian citizens in conflict-affected areas. While there is a need to have a proper investigation into those tragic deaths, and the participants of the GID sessions

Crossing the Abkhazia-Georgia border at the Enguri River. By Clay Gilliland/CC BY-SA 2.0

often say this, no real steps towards justice have been made. Looking at Russia-Georgia relations over the past 25 years, we tend to overemphasize mistakes made by the Georgian governments, or solely stress how geopolitically active Moscow has been in the South Caucasus. However, if we look closer at the dynamics of the bilateral relations, one might find a strong consistency on the side of the Georgian leaders. From today’s perspective, some in Georgia would think that the Georgian government could have solved the issue by giving up its EU/NATO membership stance and embracing a pro-Russian position under Russian guarantees that Abkhazia and Samachablo would rejoin Tbilisi. But in geopolitics, this thinking does not always work, as Georgia’s geographic

position allows Tbilisi to be more active as a regional transit hub, and not be oriented solely towards Russia. However, this also does not preclude Georgia and Russia from talking to each other. Regional developments and, most importantly, the geographic situation, show that Russia and Georgia cannot avoid each other. Indeed, recently it was reported that, following Georgia, on 18 May, Russia also signed a contract with the Swiss company SGS on the monitoring of cargo goods passing through the border with Georgia, as part of the 2011 accords on Russia’s accession to the WTO. Both Russia and Georgia have reiterated that they intend now to move forward with the practical implementation of the agreement.

But improving relations with the Russian government is one foreign policy issue, yet another is winning on the ground in Abkhazia and Samachablo through economic and socio-cultural means. In that sense an interesting move by Tbilisi was announced on 4 April, when the government approved the “Step to a Better Future” peace initiative consisting of a set of proposals to facilitate trade, education and mobility to the benefit of conflict-affected communities in Abkhazia and Samachablo through a special, status-neutral approach. Although the overall security situation on the ground was assessed as relatively stable and calm, in meetings with the delegation, the Georgian officials described the security environment as fragile.

The political situation in the regions remains volatile. For example, in Abkhazia the opposition parties have recently called on de facto President Khajimba to refrain from seeking “re-elections” in 2019 and have announced mass rallies in the coming months. Inter-ethnic problems also increase as the ethnic Georgian population in Abkhazia continued to face a complex and uncertain situation regarding their basic documentation. Access to education in the native language remains a divisive issue in Abkhazia. While the Abkhaz language is considered to have remained for years in a vulnerable position due to lack of material support. In schools in Ochamchire and Tkvarcheli, instruction is offered exclusively in the Russian language whereas in Upper Gali schools, Georgian is taught as a foreign language and literature for two hours per week. In Samachablo, active so-called “borderization” is ongoing. Its effects are felt in particular as regards agricultural livelihoods. In many cases, farm land has been effectively cut off in a number of villages. “Unauthorized” crossings continue to be treated by the de facto authorities as violations of the so-called “border regime,” leading to detention and administrative punishment of those concerned. Nevertheless, the regions are still connected to the rest of Georgia. The abovementioned “Consolidate Report” states that following the 2017 closure of the two crossing points into/from Abkhazia in Nabakhevi and Otobaia, around 3,000 people per day use the main bridge over the Inguri River to enter Samegrelo. As to the situation in Samachablo, international observers estimate that some 450 crossings per day take place along line. Thus, while Georgia-Russia relations remain stuck because of large geopolitical differences, on the ground the situation is fluid and leaves a significant space for moves to be made by Tbilisi to gradually gain advantages on the ground. Various steps should be made through which ethnic groupings living in both territories can be attracted to better economic and overall social life offered by Tbilisi. In that sense, the “Step to a Better Future” peace initiative is an interesting one with great potential.

NGO ISFED Speaks of Pressure & Intimidation Ahead of Runoff Elections BY THEA MORRISON

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on-governmental organization ‘Society for Fair and Elections and Democracy’ (ISFED), has released an interim report on the pre-election environment in Georgia ahead of the November 28 runoff. The report reviews the period from 29 October to 19 November and says that the pre-election environment of the second round is characterized by sharp polarization and negative campaigns compared to the first round. “Aggressive rhetoric has increased between the first and second rounds. Upon completion of the first round, the ruling party's representatives made annoying statements, and projections about the threat of civil war and possible destabilization if the opposition candidate wins. Later, the independent candidate supported by the ruling party said she had received death threats,” the document reads. The report notes that media, between the first and second rounds, has become sharply polarized. ISFED mentioned that Imedi TV made a statement after the first round about transferring to "emergency mode" against the United National Movement and their presidential candidate Grigol Vashadze, and TV company Rustavi 2 strongly expresses support for

Image source: ISFED

the opposition candidate, criticizing ruling Georgian Dream (GD) supported Salome Zurabishvili. The NGO claims pressure is being put, in different municipalities, on public officials as well as on individuals employed in the private sector and other vulnerable voters. According to the report, senior officials of different municipalities regularly hold meetings with public servants and demand support for Zurabishvili. In some cases, this resulted in job dismissals. “These are facts of pressure and intimidation of voters, as well as the use of

administrative resources, because in most cases senior officials carry out such pressure abusing their power," the report says. The interim report reads that a representative of Zugdidi City Hall tasked teachers of Kortskheli village to vote for Zurabishvili and to write down the first letters of their names next to the presidential candidate’s name on the ballot paper. “A similar case was observed in Borjomi, where the employees of kindergartens were told to vote for ruling party-backed presidential candidate Salome Zurabishvili,” the NGO said,

adding the teachers of Vale kindergarten, Akhaltsikhe district, were instructed to vote for Zurabishvili too. In Kareli, the teachers of kindergartens were asked to vote for Zurabishvili in exchange for an increase in their salaries,” the organization added. ISFED Executive Director Mikheil Benidze said that during the reporting period, they revealed 40 facts of pressure and intimidation. The organization also revealed 1 fact of threat to a presidential candidate; dismissal from jobs on political grounds - 3; Physical confrontation - 5; Alleged vote buying - 13;

Use of administrative resources - 14; Hampering of pre-election campaign - 2; 6 cases of damage of campaign materials and 1 case of interference with observer activities. “So many facts of pressure and intimidation in just three weeks represents an alarming tendency…In most cases, the pressure is not directed towards one person but towards a group, mainly civil servants or people employed in state institutions,” he stated. After presenting the report, the NGO representatives held a meeting with Ross Wilson, acting US Ambassador to Georgia. “We are observing tense elections…I don’t want to go deep into the political disagreement existing in the country. Polarization is high and many issues need to be resolved,” Wilson said after the meeting. The acting Ambassador noted that civil society is a significant part of democracy being a positive side of Georgia and other countries too. Justin McKenzie Smith, British Ambassador to Georgia, also commented on upcoming second round of the elections. ”Georgia’s democratic reputation is its most precious asset. I urge all sides to take care of it. The long-term costs of damaging that reputation are hard to calculate,” the Ambassador’s tweet reads. The second round of presidential elections will take place on November 28. The first round was carried out on October 28.


POLITICS

GEORGIA TODAY NOVEMBER 23 - 26, 2018

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Perspectives of China – US Relations: The Necessity of Talks to Overcome Misperceptions BY DR. BENYAMIN POGHOSYAN, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, POLITICAL SCIENCE ASSOCIATION OF ARMENIA

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s experts and politicians all over the world seek to grasp the key contours of emerging world order, sometimes dubbed the Post-Post-Cold War Era, there are few things agreed upon by the vast majority of them. Only one issue is clear: US – China relations will define the course of the 21st century. Will the US be able to accommodate the rise of China, keeping its role as a top global power? Will China be ready to be a part of the Westerncreated world order? Or will it try to do that, simultaneously amending it to Beijing’s goal to establish China as a centered global order? Perhaps the key question regardless of future developments is: will both sides be able to manage their relationships and avoid overt conflicts or is a future China – US clash inevitable? Western and Chinese perceptions of mutual intentions differ. According to conventional Western thought, China’s key goal in the 21st century is to establish its zone of influence over the vast neighborhoods of Eurasia, transforming its economic might into geopolitical leverage and to challenge the US as the sole superpower with a long-term goal of undermining US-supported world order. The latest US National Security Strategy clearly depicts China as a revisionist power. The Western experts explain the contradictions between China and its neighbors in the South China Sea through this prism, as “clear proof” of

China’s growing ambitions for regional supremacy. Thus, the US strongly believes in the necessity of China’s containment, viewing the big Chinese neighbors, India and Japan, as natural allies in this situation. The Chinese Belt and Road initiative is perceived through this lens, as a clear geopolitical project aiming to increase Chinese influence over the participating states and making China better able to compete with the US. However, China’s perceptions of Beijing’s goals and motives are different. According to some top Chinese experts, the key source of misperception is the difference between Western and Chinese concepts of developments. The Western concept of development inextricably contain the notion of exploiting others’ resources for own advancement. The inter-European wars, as well the history of European colonialism, covering vast territories of Asia, Africa and America and large-scale slave trade, prove this notion of Europeans exploiting others’ resources for development. Thus, Europeans are viewing the Chinese growthoriented policy through their own lens: Chinese development will usher in the exploitation of outside resources, first of all neighboring states, and later spreading through the Euro Atlantic area, with the Belt and Road initiative being the main vehicle of this policy. However, the Chinese concept of development is based on two key pillars: hard work and use of its own resources. Thus, Chinese strategic culture does not envisage the inevitable exploitation or simple robbery of outside resources. The Chinese experts argue that the West should not perceive China based on its own calculations and should understand the differences in conceptual level to avoid misunderstandings.

Image source: asia.nikkei.com

Beside these conceptual issues, the recent steps taken by President Trump’s administration to embrace unilateralism, reject globalization and undermine international institutions such as the World Trade Organization, makes things more complicated. The US withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal and imposition of secondary sanctions against European companies who continue business with Iran, aggressive use of tariffs and other protectionist means not only against China but also against several EU and NATO member states, repeated statements targeting US allies to stop freeriding and paying the necessary price for American protection, creates serious cracks in Trans –Atlantic bonds and makes the future of Euro-Atlantic insti-

tutions less predictable. Meanwhile, China acts in the opposite direction. During the 8th Beijing – Xiangshan Forum held in Beijing in October, the Chinese Communist Party Politburo Standing Committee member, Chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress, Li Zhanshu stated that China is committed to multilateralism, supports the UN-centered multipolar world, rule-based free-trade system, rejects unilateralism and will never seek hegemony over its neighbors. Another interesting notion recently put forward by China is the rejection of alliances as exclusive blocs supporting small groups of states and targeting third parties. Instead, China promotes the idea of establishing partnerships as ways to

provide for win – win cooperation among states. China views the Belt and Road initiative as a model example of a partnership-based approach. China and its neighbors are actively embracing this notion. In October, China and Japan signed agreements to jointly implement more than 50 projects in Belt and Road member states. China, Japan, India, South Korea, New Zealand and Australia have launched negotiations with ASEAN to sign a “Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership” free trade agreement, which will create the world largest free trade zone. On November 14, during RCEP member states meetings in Singapore, the Chinese Prime Minister Li Keqiang emphasized that the deal should be signed in 2019. Simultaneously, China has started negotiations with Japan and South Korea to develop a free trade agreement between the three states. Thus, almost all Asian economies are involved in different layer negotiations with China to promote rule-based free trade partnerships. Without doubt, the active cooperation of Japan and South Korea with China does not mean their rejection of a strategic alliance with the US. The American involvement in East Asia remains a key pillar for Japan and South Korea’s hard security, especially given the unpredictability in North Korean nuclear talks. Thus, the world is moving towards a multi-center construction where different centers will have simultaneously diverging and overlapping interests and will cooperate or compete with each other based on a case-by-case approach. However, the US – China relations will remain the key issue of world geopolitics for decades to come and there is an urgent necessity to have more bilateral talks to avoid unnecessary escalations.


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POLITICS

GEORGIA TODAY

NOVEMBER 23 - 26, 2018

Political Europe: a Reality as We Know It? BY VICTOR KIPIANI

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his country continues to follow the path of European integration as tirelessly as ever and despite the strong buffeting of many different headwinds. The road is frequently bumpy and the driver occasionally sloppy, with the inevitable wrong turns and detours, but the passengers can look back to some very notable milestones such as the Association Agreement with the EU and the visa-free regime with the Schengen Area. Oddly enough, however, and somewhat controversially, the more mature and all-embracing this process of integration becomes, the more the timing of its end-result becomes uncertain. The EU-Georgia Association Agreement gives Tbilisi practical means to bridge the gap by harmonizing its institutional, business and regulatory legislation with that of the EU. This is a demanding process that periodically puts the country under great strain as it attempts to leave its clumsy political past behind and adopt European policy-making standards. But are we absolutely sure that the political Europe is precisely the one we see when we travel there for business or pleasure? Is the European ‘polity’ an exact extension of the Europe we witness when paying for gifts at the cash desk? Does Europe’s political structure correspond to the consumer-driven sophistication we experience when we sip at a cup of coffee in a cosy Europeanstyle café? Does it really mirror the same welcoming feeling that guests from politically un-European countries usually feel when strolling through the cheerily decorated streets of EU capitals? The soundness of Georgia’s European political choice is beyond doubt, but let us measure the progress the country has made and the remaining distance more realistically. We should also formulate our own ‘realpolitik’ towards political Europe by accurately identifying the strengths of our bargaining position as well as what is to be given up or accepted in return. To adopt this new approach is to admit to ourselves that the European ‘polity’ ceased to be an idealistic motivation some two decades ago, and that, prompted by a surge of populism, egocentrism and the European elite’s ‘splendid isolation’, it has surpassed the boundaries of romanticism more visibly of late. Overall, the EU seems to be losing its political and economic integrity and increasingly to be turning towards transactionalism. This transactional approach is vividly reflected in the EU’s dealings with matters such as the expansion of political Europe beyond its eastern members to the new nations that technically, geographically and culturally speaking also share a common European history and civilization. It would be highly expedient for us, Georgians, to rediscover Europe with its political, institutional and structural foundations, to gauge how complex the reality is and to identify exactly where we neatly fit into the overall European political architecture. It is also time to base the process of our European integration on a more realistic and results-oriented premises, e.g. by asking ourselves how we can make use of some of our ‘inner’ European affiliations to our advantage? How can we avoid becoming trapped in the numerous current that in the long run are eroding the European feeling and spirit?

ALLIANCES AND GROUPINGS Georgia remains committed to joining the EU, and its efforts continue to be

as unflagging and irreversible as ever; various legal and operational instruments it has introduced are a clear testament to this process. But at its end, the EU is increasingly being torn apart by internal frictions and fissures such as fiscal disunion, political discord and the refugee crisis (to name but a few). As a result, and as we mentioned in one of our earlier articles, Brussels can nowadays be likened to a ship attempting to navigate the almost impassable straits between the Scylla of its ailing economic union and the Charybdis of its frail political union. The prospect of Georgia becoming a member any time soon is consequently becoming dimmer by the day, but the more pressing issue is the need for Georgia to formulate and adopt an idiosyncratic approach to the question in response to Europe’s ‘volte-face’. At the same time, we should also be sufficiently astute to afford Europe’s core members the respite they need to fix some of their internal problems and possibly rework their enlargement policy. Yet occasionally pausing efforts to push the Georgian and European ends together should not, however, harm the process of Georgia’s rapprochement with the EU, nor should it discredit the latter in the eyes of the aspirant country. Hence the need for interim but nonetheless ground-breaking institutional arrangements for the painless transformation of inner Europe into a wider Europe. Among the strategies that have been proposed in this regard is that of a so-called ‘two-tier EU’ that would allow existing member states to retain exclusive access to key spheres of security, foreign policy and fiscal and monetary matters without undue interference by second-tier member states aspiring to become fully-fledged members of the Union at some future point. In return, the latter group would have a say in the re-constitution of a new union of truly European nations in genuine partnership. (See ‘Georgia's New European Modus Operandi’, The Financial, 6 March 2017.) Although a new modus operandi such as this could seem highly controversial and somewhat unrealistic, existing formulas could also be used as ‘short cuts’ on Georgia’s road towards EU integration, with Tbilisi being granted all the requisites of a near-full political membership. One of these short cuts could be further deepening Georgia’s ‘EU membership’ by co-operating even more closely with EU member states in Central and Eastern Europe, and in the Baltic-Black Sea ‘Intermarium’ in particular. The growing importance of the latter is linked to its re-emergence within the overall Euro-Atlantic security design, as set out in the conclusions of the recent NATO summit. Primarily envisaged as a buffer zone made up of former Soviet satellites (the Baltic states, Poland, Hungary, Slovakia, Romania and Bulgaria), the Intermarium concept is gaining wider meaning as a means to parry the designs of a revisionist Russia. Georgia’s profound engagement with the region is doubly important since the latter is formally part of NATO and is the most economically vibrant part of Europe (although some countries of the Intermarium do not belong to the Eurozone). This concept therefore presents Georgia with a good platform from which to enter ‘inner’ Europe—particularly considering the possible expansion of the Intermarium into the so-called ‘Three Seas’ model. Also known as the BalticAdriatic-Black Sea Initiative, the Three Seas model aims to be a useful geopolitical instrument capable of unifying the EU’s Eastern European members in the fields of logistics, connectivity, infrastructure and energy.

Image source: mapswire.com

When considering different formal or ad hoc groupings of Central and Eastern European countries, Georgia should be mindful of those which may not always fall in neatly with its own strategic course, and must carefully scrutinize the advantages and disadvantages they present. For instance, possible groupings include the ‘16+1’ platform, a multilateral framework set up by Beijing to reach out to and co-operate with 11 EU member states and 5 Balkan countries in Central and Eastern Europe. Presented as a ‘win-win’ extension of China’s Belt and Road Initiative, ‘16+1’ is nevertheless seen by various analysts as a means whereby Beijing can pave the way for Chinese bank loans and implement its global infrastructure push on a bilateral basis. In a nutshell, the platform’s Central and Eastern European members stand to lose their collective bargaining power, with those having accepted Beijing’s largesse being forced to acquiesce in China’s official agendas and policies. This process undoubtedly needs to be watched carefully by all the stakeholders involved. Although both the Intermarium and Three Seas model are ideas rather than established systems, they may be worth considering should Tbilisi wish to rationally and responsibly time its progression towards EU membership according to solid increments rather than rapid and improvised (and sometimes unrealistic) policies. Besides, by grouping Georgia with other (likeminded?) Eastern European countries, either model could perhaps give Tbilisi a competitive edge of sorts in its dealings with Europe’s inner ‘polity’.

EUROPEAN POWERHOUSES Notwithstanding the role of major amalgamations of European states, with the EU surely being the most important of these, a few ‘singular’ states can exercise a dominant, quasi-veto power when EU accession policy is discussed. These stalwarts undoubtedly include Germany and France, as has indeed always been the case throughout European history, and have a powerful say when it comes to key matters of the European agenda. Driven in part by the immigration crisis, Europe has begun to split into Western and Eastern parts according to two very different appreciations of ethnic and cultural diversity. Various controversies, triggered by frictions among and between the ‘imitated’ (Western Europe) and the ‘imitators’ (Eastern Europe), have under-

mined the Europeanization process—not to mention the further eastwards expansion of Europe’s political and monetary union. Besides, Russia’s patent meddling in European affairs makes it more difficult for the EU to preserve its political and economic cohesion, let alone pursuing further eastwards expansion. It is true that France has adopted a more assertive tone under Macron. Along with his heralding of the ‘beginning of a new momentum’ for the country, this assertiveness has also had extensive foreign policy implications, as France seeks to play a greater role among efforts to further the European agenda. But this new-found will seems to be crumbling rather rapidly these days, undermined by disagreements with other member states over the future of the Union (and with Germany in particular over the level of solidarity of EU fiscal and monetary institutions). These differences of strategic view weaken France’s ability to compromise while furthering European integration, and hinder the process of non-member Eastern Europe countries discussing their EU integration, political or otherwise. Germany's foreign policy is also clearly changing under new foreign minister Heiko Maas. For decades, the country’s foreign policy was driven by both the West (the United States) and the East (Russia), and began to tilt more westwards under Merkel. What is particularly noteworthy under Maas, however, is the rebranding of Germany’s traditional Ostpolitik into a ‘New Ostpolitik’ that, while taking into account the needs of all Europeans, argues strongly in favour of more co-operation with Central Europe and holds that ‘the experiences and perspectives of the countries of Eastern Europe beyond Russia must also be factored [in]’ (Maas, addressing the Romanian Ambassadors Conference on 27 August 2018). Notably, Berlin’s New Ostpolitik is foreseen to be based on the ‘Trimarium’—an alternative name for the Three Seas Initiative—as well as upon the strategic importance of Central and Eastern Europe (particularly considering reborn rivalry in and over the region) and the belief that Germany’s relations with countries of the region should be more independent, and not always necessarily entertained through the EU. Irrespective of the rather bleak prospects—largely due to our own transitional bumps and the EU’s innermost

pitfalls—of our becoming fully politically integrated with Europe any time soon, it is obvious that Georgia’s progression towards Europe must not slow down, and that the country ought to press on incessantly through a combination of various formulas for ‘getting there’ and by complementing established patterns with improvisation and accommodation.

FURTHERMORE… Georgia should without the shadow of a doubt continue to do its homework according to the Association Agreement, and do so assiduously and patiently. Tbilisi clearly has to further broaden the format of its co-operation with EU institutions, increasing the country’s presence and visibility on European stages, and must keep a close eye on the emergence of new initiatives (e.g. PESCO, a treaty-based framework to jointly develop defence capabilities and make them available for EU military operations). We must examine and make use of every new possible point of entry to Europe, but we should not forget that even if we successfully follow the letter of various treaties and instruments, doing so may still fall short of Europeanizing the spirit of the process. We need more ‘Europe in Georgia’, and a policy should be carefully designed and deployed to persuade the boards of European businesses to decide to establish branches in the country. This is reminiscent of Lee Kuan Yew’s From Third World to First, which recalls the concerted efforts of Singapore’s leadership to attract world-class businesses, an injection of much-needed human capital and expertise that ultimately set the scene for the territory’s remarkable economic growth. Identical or similar idiosyncratic and unorthodox patterns must be applied to our case as well. Expanding on the question of human capital, one of our national priorities should be to send students and professionals abroad for them to obtain the best education and training possible and usher world-class knowledge and expertise into various strata of society once back in Georgia. Nothing can help bring Georgia closer to Europe more than investing in people and talent. Words, however solemn the declaration may be, are not enough to ensure our Europeanization: what is needed is action and the persuasive and physical demonstration of our dedication and determination.


POLITICS

GEORGIA TODAY NOVEMBER 23 - 26, 2018

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Active First Two Weeks for New US Representative to Georgia BY SAMANTHA GUTHRIE

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eorgia has been without an ambassador from the United States since March when Ambassador Ian Kelly's two-and-a-half-year

term ended. The White House has still not appointed a new ambassador, but Ross Wilson, former ambassador to Turkey (2005-2008) and Azerbaijan (2000-2003) is now at the embassy in Tbilisi as interim ambassador - officially chargé d’affaires, ad interim. His term began on November 8. Wilson has served 30 years in the US Foreign Service, working at the US embassies in Moscow and Prague, and served as Consulate General in Melbourne, in addition to his ambassadorships. In Washington, Wilson was Principal Deputy to the Ambassador-at-Large and Special Advisor to the Secretary of State for the new independent states of the former Soviet Union in 1997-2000. He also served as Deputy Executive Secretary of the State Department for Secretaries Baker, Eagleburger, and Christopher; Chief of Staff to Deputy Secretary of State Robert Zoellick; Chief US Negotiator for the Free Trade Area of the Americas while on detail to the

Image source: US Embassy in Georgia

Office of the US Trade Representative; and in the State Department’s offices dealing with the USSR and Egypt. In 2010-2014, Ambassador Wilson was Director of the Atlantic Council’s Eurasia Center, where he led the Council’s work on the former Soviet states, Turkey, and regional energy issues. Wilson was most recently a distinguished senior fellow at the Atlantic Council, visiting lecturer in International Affairs at George Washington University, chairman of the board of the Institute of Turkish Studies, and chair-elect of the board of Global Minnesota. He is a member of the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma, originally from Minneapolis, Minnesota.

Wilson's first big public meeting with a Georgian government official was on November 9, the day after he arrived, with Foreign Minister David Zalkaliani. After the meeting he spoke to the press, saying “I want to begin by thanking the Foreign Minister for making himself available to me on my very first day in Georgia. We had, I think, an excellent conversation that familiarized me, or refamiliarized me, with Georgia’s perspective on a range of issues that are important to the United States. I am delighted to be back in this country; I have been in and out of Georgia for nearly 40 years. I have seen, and see again now,

just during the course of yesterday and today, tremendous positive achievements that this country has made in consolidating its independence, its sovereignty, and its success as an important and stable country in the South Caucasus. I should also say how honored I am to have been asked by Secretary Pompeo and his team in Washington to come here, to serve as the leader of America’s mission in this country, to provide Ambassadorial level representation at a time that is important for US interests, it is important in US-Georgia relations, it is important for the future of this country. My appointment here reflects the immense priority and commitment that the United States attaches to our relationship with Georgia and its success. I should note that our Embassy and its leadership under Elizabeth Rood have done an outstanding job here. I think my role will be to try to add to that, to further US-Georgian relations, to further America’s interests, to help this country to address some of its problems, many of which I discussed with the Minister. My country will continue to do everything it can to support Georgia’s independence, Georgia’s sovereignty, and in particular to support its territorial integrity.” On November 16, Wilson met with the candidates for the upcoming presidential run-off elections - Salome Zurabishvili

and Grigol Vashadze. After the meeting, he spoke to the press, saying he was pleased with the meeting, and that they discussed "the upcoming election and broader political situation." He noted that the meetings "were a welcome opportunity to hear their perspectives and ideas for the country,” and that he “underscored [the United States’] support for Georgia’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, and the importance of its democratic institutions for the country’s success.” He called for civility during the pre-election period, saying “we urge all sides to refrain from harsh rhetoric and polarizing attacks and engage in calmer, constructive dialog that will foster respect for democratic values, civil society, and stability." On Monday, Wilson visited Kutaisi for the launch of the new USAID Agriculture Program and commented that the pre-election period is an interesting time to have come to Georgia. Tension around a political competition is “somewhat normal for any democracy,” Wilson assured, while urging actors “on all the sides” to exercise restraint. “Georgia will continue to be, certainly, should continue to be an open democratic society. Tolerance and respect for others of different political persuasions will continue to be important the day after the election and next year and the year after that,” he reiterated.

to justice by making it more easily available to citizens,” said Louisa Vinton, UN Resident Coordinator / UNDP Resident Representative in Georgia. The EU and Georgia hope to implement projects that support “developing fair, high-quality and efficient mediation, as a real alternative for citizens to solve their disputes in an amicable, swift and win-win way” said Peter Danis, Justice Program Manager at the Delega-

tion of the European Union to Georgia. Supported by the European Union (EU), UK Aid from the UK Government, and three agencies of the United Nations: the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), International Labour Organization (ILO) and UN Women, Tbilisi Mediation Days was the second international conference in Georgia to discuss the role of mediation in modern justice systems.

Tbilisi Mediation Days for a Better Justice System BY AMY JONES

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n November 21 - 22, a twoday international conference ‘Mediation Days 2018’ took place in Tbilisi focusing on alternative mechanisms of dispute resolution and ongoing reforms in the justice system of Georgia. Over 100 experts and practitioners of mediation from countries around the world, including Denmark, Iceland, the UK, Austria, as well as Georgian mediators, lawyers, judges, prosecutors, social workers, and representatives from the government, civil society, and international organizations, attended the event. Being the initial method of dispute in the field of justice, mediation plays an

essential role in society. As Georgia faces challenges caused by massive urbanization and modernization, the likelihood of conflict and the number of disputes in the country is increasing. The conference created an important platform for debate on civic meditation as well as cases deriving from criminal law. Gender in mediation, the specifics of collective lawsuits related to the labor code and the perspectives of bringing meditation into employment disputes in the public service were the focal point of the panel discussions and workshops. Bringing together mediation experts is an important step to developing a strong mediation base in Georgia. “Georgia has made important steps forward in developing mediation and its legal framework,” said Mzia Todua, acting chairperson of the Supreme Court of Georgia, “To keep pace, we need to

share the best international knowledge and practices.” The introduction and popularization of mediation will ensure a faster resolution of disputes in the courts. Internal disputes can be settled and prevented if the civil service uses mediation to build a sustainable and diverse legal system. It could be expected to decrease the caseload of courts by at least 30%. Moreover, it improves communication between citizens and the increases the possibility of settling disputes outside court. Alternative Dispute Resolution should, therefore, be a significant element of justice reforms and should be made easily accessible to all Georgians. “Everyone must be protected before the law and enjoy access to different mechanisms to exercise this right. Mediation and arbitration are a way to widen access

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


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BUSINESS

GEORGIA TODAY

NOVEMBER 23 - 26, 2018

Banks, an Amateur’s View OP-ED BY NUGZAR B. RUHADZE

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he chatter about Georgia’s faulty banking system continues nonstop. Banks are described as a pack of crooks, robbers, bandits and greedy usurers. Although it is an indispensable fiscal mechanism for executing numerous financial and economic transactions of various content, a bank’s main job is to sell money. Here is the ABC of interaction between a borrower of the dough and the owner of that volatile commodity: compelled by some financial exigency, we go to the bank with a request they loan us a certain amount of money for a certain fee for a certain amount of time. Banks usually respond with pleasure to this kind of appeal from a customer and agree based on a certain set of rules. This is the bank’s immediate job and functional responsibility. As a result, a customer either borrows the requested amount or refuses to go for it, all depending on whether the loan conditions are acceptable or not. I have borrowed money from banks in various countries, in most cases in the United States, where life literally stands on bank-and-customer relations.

While it is true that the borrowing is much more agreeable than the payingback, that’s just the way it is: we all borrow with joy and return with regret. America is a country of people who habitually owe money to one or another financial institution, and no great tragedy is made of it. Yes, people go bankrupt there every so often, but they don’t make a fuss about it, and even if they do, nothing changes: they either pay back what they borrow or they go bankrupt and live with it. That’s the routine! Evictions are commonplace too, based on unpaid debts, and all that’s happening in the strongest country in the world! Here in Georgia, things are a little different. Here people go to banks, they hear the banking rules and conditions, they might not like them but still go ahead and borrow the money without any confidence that the debt will be paid back. It is understandable that Georgia is still at its developmental stage of economy and financial culture, but money is money and it has almost the same rules of circulation as elsewhere in the world. The rules are almost the same because the main features of money are the same– it buys and sells or is bought and sold. I am nobody’s advocate and I also know that some of the rules and banking con-

Image source: infinitaccounting.com

ditions in Georgia in general might be somewhat cabalistic, but the main thing we should hear well and put up with is that nobody is forcing anybody into any financial transaction, and no deal may be done unless the mutual legal and financial agreement between the bank and the client is achieved and signed. We should not borrow unless we are

sure that we can pay back. The entire world knows that banks are not angels, and not only in Georgia. Banks are vultures everywhere and they are building their financial potential on human weaknesses, but we the people also have a tool against the banks, and that’s our brains, telling us not to touch OPM – other people’s money – unless you are

convinced that you are capable of bringing it back to the hands from which you borrowed it. This is rule number one. Rule number two is to do without the OPM if this is at all possible, and rule number three – listen to the loan rules and conditions as heedfully as you can, understand them inside-out, weigh them diligently, and then borrow only as much as you can handle. A borrower must remember that if banks are legally right, they will never waive even one cent of the loaned money. This is just their nature, and if they deviate from this sacred rule, they will go bankrupt and may even trigger the collapse of the state. Finally, if a customer thinks that banks are unlawfully treating them, using certain inequitable ways and means against the wronged clientele, then the financially harmed crowds should go not to the banks to complain, but instead petition the government to change the banking rules on a legislative level. So why waste time with protests and why squander money on painting banners and slogans, no matter how fair and reasonable they may seem to be. I know we borrow money, as we can’t do otherwise, it being in some cases a matter of survival. And still, if you borrow legally, you have to return just as legally. And timely too, for that matter!

Entrepreneur November Issue Presented at Iota Hotel

BY MARIAM MERABISHVILI

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bilisi’s IOTA Hotel hosted the launch of the Entrepreneur Georgia November issue and a panel discussion ‘Entrepreneurs in Tourism.’ Respondents featured in Entrepreneur magazine’s November issue participated in the panel discussion moderated by George Sharashidze, Entrepreneur Magazine Editor-in-Chief. David Kuprashvili, the founder of the IOTA Hotel; Daria Kholodilina, dariko.net; Tamuna Jakonia and Tamar Giorgadze of Zen Travel, and Nino Kirvalidze of Racha House also took part. The Zen Travel founders explained that the travel company, created two

years ago, operates with an innovative system that offers an alternative style of travelling, with an integrated approach to physical, emotional, mental and spiritual wellbeing. Daria Kholodilina talked about a number of projects, including her recent wine guidebook, wine tours and importing a so-called ‘goat-mug’ – a horn-shaped coffee mug. David Kuprashvili, as the owner of the designer hotel, emphasized the importance of individualism and a focus on details at the inception of a particular project or business, while Nino Kirvalidze spoke about the importance of the Racha region for tourism development in Georgia. Editor-in-Chief of Entrepreneur Georgia, George Sharashidze, then summed up the event and commented about the benefits of serving the final ‘mission’ to promote entrepreneurship in Georgia.


BUSINESS

GEORGIA TODAY NOVEMBER 23 - 26, 2018

HUAWEI WATCH GT: Powerful Battery, Sophisticated Design & Smart Features for Fitness Lovers

BY MARIAM MERABISHVILI

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itness is becoming ever more popular and is now part of more and more people's everyday lifestyle. People employed in offices attach great importance to training to reduce stress levels and improve their physical capabilities. However, most are unsure how to train properly, in many cases hiring professional fitness instructors, which can prove to be an expensive pleasure. Recently, Huawei released the HUAWEI WATCH GT, a perfect new smart watch that is characterized by high resistance, a sophisticated design and numerous smart features. The HUAWEI WATCH GT is also enhanced in training management and offers courses tailored to marathon training, cardio exercises and more. To ensure efficiency and a great outcome, the watch offers wearers a complete analysis of the results of the exercise undertaken. Many newcomers amateurs take up private lessons so the trainer can individually tailor the course to them. With this in mind, the HUAWEI WATCH GT is designed with a special exercise system that offers recommended professional courses from level 0 up

The HUAWEI WATCH GT features welldeveloped approaches, effective exercises and professional manual courses

to professional, cleverly personalizing solutions taking into account the user's capabilities. For beginners, the HUAWEI WATCH GT makes running the top priority, and then gradually upgrades the programs depending on the user's capabilities, with users who exercise regularly given increasingly more advanced exercises to do. With the professional training system, the HUAWEI WATCH GT can monitor users’ status in real time (heart rate, etc.). At intervals, the watch can remind the wearer to speed up or slow down, finish the exercise or change the level of training, helping the customer to stay in control and train correctly. In addition, the HUAWEI WATCH GT will evaluate the results after exercise, presenting professional data, including exercise status, load, restore time, VO2 max, and the overall effect of training.

TRUSEEN TM 3.0 - HEART RATE MONITORING FOR IMPROVING THE EXERCISE METHOD The HUAWEI WATCH GT is able to monitor the users’ status and collect information by employing TruSeen TM 3.0 heart rate monitoring technology, developed independently by Huawei as a result of four years’ work. Through this technology, the watch can receive stable and accurate information about the wearer’s heart rate in real time. Unlike other smart watches, the HUAWEI WATCH GT is distinguished with high precision and improved connectivity, thanks to the TruSeen TM 3.0 technology. And when the user is not exercising, the watch can monitor the wearer’s general health status. 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.

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SOCIETY

GEORGIA TODAY

NOVEMBER 23 - 26, 2018

Leading Georgian Travel Agencies Awarded at Starway 2018 by Coral Travel BY KETEVAN KVARATSKHELIYA

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he Starway awards was organized for the 16th time by the Coral Travel tour operator. Coral Travel is one of the biggest and most successful tour operators in Turkey, offering more than 30 travel destinations to its customers. The important and equally prestigious festival in the sphere of tourism was hosted by a number of the most luxurious hotels in Antalya, Turkey, from October 15-22.

Image source: hotline.travel

The event was held in order to reward the most successful partner agencies of Coral Travel operating in number of countries, including Russia, Ukraine, Poland, Germany and Georgia. Starway 2018 stood out for its scale, seeing up to 500 participants and a variety of events. The ongoing trend of the tourism development in Georgia was also reflected at the Starway 2018 awards and the four leading Georgian travel agencies gained success in two categories. Global Travel was labeled as “Perfect” and Toy Travel, Good Travel and Air Travel named as “Best”.

Geostat to Establish a Population Register with EU Support in line with international best practices. The mission is built on the foundation of several pieces of legislation – the Association Agreement between Georgia and the EU, the Action Plan: EUGeorgia Sub-Committee on Economic and Other Sector Cooperation, and a 2008 European Council Regulation on population and housing censuses. The European Commission’s Technical Assistance and Information Exchange Instrument (TAIEX) organized the visit in cooperation with Geostat. TAIEX supports public administrations in EU member states and partner countries, including Georgia, to implement EU legislation and share best practices from Europe. TAIEX delivers workshops, sends expert missions, and organizes study visits. Currently, Geostat provides a business register, that lists Georgian businesses organized by type of economic activity, ownership type, legal status, region, and business demography indicators. For more information on Georgia’s population and demographics, visit the Geostat website.

BY SAMANTHA GUTHRIE

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ater this month, experts from Estonia will visit Georgia to meet with more than 20 representatives from the National Statistics Office (Geostat) and other relevant ministries and agencies. The mission aims to help the country establish a population register. Geostat has plans to establish a population register, and the expert mission will share experience and draft a report with recommendations towards that goal. The population register will be a list of every person in Georgia, with identifying information such as address, date of birth, sex, and personal identification number. Population registers in some cases include additional, more detailed information, such as place of birth, date and place of death, date of arrival/departure in the country, citizenship and marital status – even language, ethnicity, educational attainment, and occupation. UN Stats explains that a population register is generally a continuous process and must be updated constantly with changes to the characteristics recorded in the database in order to be useful. Comprehensive, detailed population registers can offer researchers and policy makers information on key factors of life in a country, such as internal and international migration and demographic distributions. A population register can make a national census easier. The most recent national census was conducted in 2014.

Image source: European Union

The next census is scheduled for 2024. The EU mission has several goals for its visit to Georgia and subsequent report. First, the team will analyze the current legislative framework and the country’s institutional and technical capacity. They plan to provide two sets of recommendations: on the use of definitions and methodologies to establish and maintain the register, and on developing legislation, institutional, technical, financial, and human capacity to establish the register. Finally, they will advise relevant authorities on an implementation plan

The long-term delivery service of 25 to 50 kilograms sacks from China. With the organic responsibility of the Trading Company "HanLin" from Alashankou. E-mail: yuechungian@163.com Tel/Fax: 86-0909-699-5859

World Day of Remembrance for Road Traffic Victims Held in Tbilisi

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n November 18, the Georgia Alliance for Safe Roads, with partner organizations, marked the World Day of Remembrance for Road Traffic Victims on one of the “black spots” in Tbilisi, Khudadovi Street, where “illegal races” have been seen and cases of accidents with victims have been recorded. The goal of the event was to remind road users and the government that road accidents are preventable if the right measures are taken regarding safe infrastructure, safe transport and awareness of road users. Organizers, professional racers, residents living near Khudadovi Street and representatives of the civil sector participated in the event. An awarenessraising meeting between people and racers about the safety and risks on the roads was organized and trees were planted in honor of the deceased in the place of car accidents. The World Day of Remembrance for Road Traffic Victims has been marked since 2005 by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the United Nations (UN). The slogan for this year was ‘Roads

have Stories.’ Roads and streets are more than connections from point A to point B. They tell stories, some of them tragic, that are worth remembering. 342 died and 6,754 were injured in the first nine months of 2018 in Georgia. Road accidents and the number of injured

increased by 8% compared to the previous year. The Georgian mortality rate for road accidents is three times higher than that of the EU. For more information, please visit: https:// worlddayofremembrance.org/


SOCIETY

GEORGIA TODAY NOVEMBER 23 - 26, 2018

Important Reasons We Should Drink Beer ADVERTORIAL

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rinking beer in moderate amounts can have amazing benefits for your health! It might be hard to believe, but beer is gaining a reputation as a healthy beverage among public health professionals. Let’s find out why it is not a ‘crime’ to drink beer, (but, of course, always in moderate amounts).

CONSUME SOLUBLE FIBER AND CHOLESTEROL WILL DISTURB YOU NO LONGER! One liter of beer can contain up to six grams of soluble fiber, which is one third of the daily recommended sum. Soluble fiber supports the proper functioning of the digestive system, extracting excessive amounts of cholesterol and sugar at the same time. A 230ml can of beer contains approximately 5.7g of carbohydrates. There is only 2.5g of residual sugar in it; the rest is nutritional fiber. 175ml wine (a standard glass) contains 5.9g of carbohydrates, but 5.6g out of it includes free sugars and it does not contain nutritional fiber.

SUPPORT YOUR HEART FOR BETTER HEALTH! Beer really can decrease the risk of the heart-disease. It increases the level of ‘good’ cholesterol (HDL) in the blood and prevents it from clotting (it can decrease the amount of clotting factors). Caution! Drink only moderate doses!

BEER STRENGTHENS BONES! There is high content of the mineral silicium in beer, which contributes to the strengthening of bones. Beer represents one of the few silicium-containing products recommended for women after menopause. According to a 2009 study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, when comparing individuals consuming too much or too small amount of beer, the ones drinking larger quantities had much stronger bones. Even though beer may have a positive impact on the strength of bones, it is important to remember that it cannot serve as a cure for osteoporosis, as calcium, vegetables and exercise are the best ways to ensure health and strong bones.

DECREASE THE RISK OF CANCER! Heterocyclic amines (HCAs) represent a carcinogenic substance which is formed during the heat treatment of meat. Placing meat in a wine or beer marinade can decrease carcinogenic HCA by nearly 88%; according to a 2009 study published in Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, a beer marinade is much better for reducing the level of HCA. However, due to the fact that frequent and unbalanced consumption of alcohol may become a catalyst for cancer of the digestive system or oral and breast cancer, it is vital to consume only a moderate amount of alcohol.

DECREASE THE LEVEL OF SUGARS! Alcohol can decrease the level of sugar in your blood. A large-scale study carried out in Harvard in 2011 examined about 38,000 middle-aged men and revealed that in those who consumed a balanced amount of alcohol (approximately 2 glasses per day), the risk of diabetes decreased by 25%. However, it is worth noting that the glycemic index of beer is 100, which means it can sharply change the level of sugar in blood. But in case of modest quantities the effect will not be corrosive, as the glycemic value of beer is 6, due to the low content of carbohydrates.

BEER – THE STRENGTH OF ENCEPHALON! A large amount of alcohol can damage the encephalon, however, with balanced consumption, it can genuinely strengthen the mind and even prevent dementia. Those who consume a glass of alcohol per day decrease the risk of a worsening of their intellectual capabilities by almost 20%, in comparison with those individuals who do not consume alcohol at all.

“BEER BELLY” – MYTH

OR REALITY? The term ‘beer belly’ is a myth. The real reason for the extra weight is the consumption of more calories in comparison with the burnt energy. In spite of the fact that beer may support the intake of calories, it represents only a minor part of the equation. Consumption of beer is mostly accompanied by the intake of a large amount of food, which can cause obesity. Beer contains approximately 630KJ and 12g of carbohydrates, which is less than a slice of bread. Moderate consumption together with a healthy lifestyle will not cause you to gain extra kilograms if the quantity of calories and carbohydrates is controlled in your daily diet.

DUPLICATE PROTEINS AND NUTRIENTS! In terms of nutritional qualities, beer contains way more B group proteins than wine. According to a 2001 antioxidant nutrient’s study (Nutrition Reviews Publication), beer contains approximately double the amount of antioxidants than white wine and just half that of red wine. Particular antioxidants differ in beer, as hops and yeast, used for the production of beer, contain flavonoids that differ from the ones found in grape.

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SOCIETY

GEORGIA TODAY

NOVEMBER 23 - 26, 2018

The Last Gadget BLOG BY TONY HANMER

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am writing this one on my new cell phone. Not typing letter by letter using one finger: that would be sheer, frustrating torture. Instead I bought a cheap little bluetooth keyboard in Tbilisi, downloaded an app which lets me write and manipulate a variety of text formats, and have this on my lap, with the phone’s screen beside me. Works like a charm! This is all part of seeing what my phone can be used to do, a list of things which is growing alarmingly long when I consider both hardware additions and software ones. I started this list as a Samsung Notes item while on the way home to Svaneti by minibus. That short text I did type entirely onscreen, letter by letter, but this article is too long for such unnecessary bother, so here I am with the keyboard. There are some things which I don’t have the money or interest to do my phone. The main one of these is serious photography. I already have an 18 MPixel 35mm digital SLR camera and several good lenses to go with it. Even if my new cell phone could take RAW format photos, which it can’t, I would have to cumbersomely adapt those lenses to it, and its own lens is tiny compared to the cropped 35mm frame my big camera has. So, no. But, for example, I could add a thermal imaging camera onto the phone. This is a physical device which lets me see the color temperature of things, in either still shots or recorded video. Where this would be very useful is in tracking heat flow and loss in my big Svan house and

better insulating those points where there is significant loss. Maybe a onetime process, but a very practical one. Other things which either already exist or are on the sci-fi horizon but bleeding into our reality include: - a wall-size projector for movies. In a cell phone? Coming soon! Also able to project its own virtual keyboard onto a small but fold-out flat surface, so I can eventually do away with the physical keyboard too. - a laser pointer, not only for Power Point presentations but to do things like measure distances. I’ve been wanting to note the height of every tower in Svaneti and beyond, and this would be the thing, rather than a separate device, which already exists but is a) another expense and b) yes, another device to lug around. My goal is to cut down on the number of these! - a molecular scanner. For foods, water testing, chemical analysis of various substances, etc. - a vermin repeller, emitting sound to scare away anything from dogs to insects to rodents, each requiring its own frequency. - a programmable remote control for the TV, computer, other smart devices around the home and elsewhere. Of course, it would have to by very well shielded against hacking, as would the things I wanted to control it with! This seems to be an ongoing escalating battle between attackers and defenders. - a scanner in both 2D and 3D, of sufficiently high quality to save all my old photos in high detail and bit-depth. 3D, for objects to render by 3D printing. - a library storage area for all my e-books, which I am already quite comfortable reading onscreen. Ditto for audio, in

The First Step: 20 years Caring for Children

good enough quality to link to either wireless earbuds or speakers - the aforementioned (in an earlier article) telescope and microscope, with analysis of what I’m looking at in either case. - flashlight; mirror; glove warmer! - of course, the “Oracle”, because it’s connected to Google, from where I can learn anything on the spot instead of having to memorize it. - a fractal programmer, using free software which already exists, and renderer in sizes as large as time and electricity permit. This is a special niche interest of mine, but it points to the hobbies of anyone and how they can be followed using one’s phone. All of these things, and the rest which I can dream up, make this little device really indispensable. So the next questions are, how can I a) back up data in case it gets lost, b) how can I find the phone itself when it does get lost (not if)? Because these things do happen, even in my own experience. If I make it so universally useful, I must go to some lengths to protect it too! I am coming into these realizations rather late, as a recent smartphone adopter, but better now than never. My sci-fi readings are creeping ever closer to reality, and I hope to be there for the merge. Tony Hanmer has lived in Georgia since 1999, in Svaneti since 2007, and been a weekly writer for GT since early 2011. He runs the “Svaneti Renaissance” Facebook group, now with over 1900 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

#EndViolence – Results of Communication Campaign against Violence against Children in Georgia Discussed

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GO ‘The First Step’ celebrated its 20th anniversary on November 20, at Otium. For 20 years, The First Step has been taking care of the children with special needs, involving numerous businesses, individuals and friends of the charity, working to change the attitudes to children with particular needs and to the concept of charity in general. The celebration was dedicated to the history of the non-profit organization and to those people who contributed to its development, whose help was vital for its existence. The event saw the Georgian National Ballet Sukhishvili and the group The Quintessence perform. The celebration had a charitable character, with the works

of The First Step beneficiaries and Georgian designers exhibited and sold. The First Step has maintained its leading position in issues connected with children for 20 years, permanently working to improve the qualifications of its employees, launching modern international practices, and proving itself competent and trustworthy, serving more than 500 children per month while keeping up a dialogue with the government, donors and partner organizations. Let’s take care of children together! Contact: Guchi Tavkhelidze, Head of Marketing & Public Relations (+995) 599 26 55 88. For additional information about “The First Step” and the programs the organization runs, please visit: www.firststep.ge; facebook. com/firststepgeorgia/

he world celebrated the day of adoption of the Convention on the Rights of the Child on November 20 and UNICEF summarized the campaign held in Georgia against violence against children. The campaign included discussions, open classes, and meetings with teachers and parents, where the negative results of violence against children were considered. It was noted that a violent attitude towards children is quite frequently seen as a social norm. Georgia joined the International Child’s Day: “GoBlue” is the slogan of the UN Agency for Children of 2018 and numerous monuments in the capital Tbilisi were lit up in blue. According to the latest studies, child poverty and violence against children remain major challenges for Georgia, as does access to education. Information, gathered in the Ombudsman Apparatus reveals that children remain among the most unprotected groups in the country. Communication campaign ‘End Violence’ carried out by the UN Agency for Children, with , support of the EU over six months worked to change social norms about violence against children, initiating social dialogue to inform as many people as possible to apply the alternative, positive methods of bringing

up children. As a result of the campaign groups of supporters were created, who continued discussions for further changes. Seven meetings in local communities with more than 200 participants were held throughout Georgia. More than 300 parents engaged countrywide in the discussions, over 200 pupils and 30 schools took trainings about positive disciplinary methods, more than 200 children participated in public debates on the theme of violence, learning ways of the peaceful resolution of conflicts. “On this day, the UN appeals everyone to ‘Go Blue’, to help unprotected children become worthy of more attention. The aim of our campaign in Georgia was to influence those harmful norms that are

connected with violence against children. The right to live is the primary right of children, as is the right to education, the opportunity to develop and live without violence. Although the Georgian government has made particular steps to solve these difficulties, challenges like child poverty still remain,” said Dr. Ghassan Khalil, the Head of UNICEF Georgia. The issue of children is no longer on the worldwide agenda. So the organization met November 20 with the new campaign, “turn the world blue,” sharing and supporting the ideology of UNICEF. Famous celebrities are engaged in it, signing a petition and calling on world leaders to raise awareness about the problems suffered by children. “The ‘End Violence’ campaign helped us initiate dialogue in the society about what violence is, but it is important to continue this dialogue until we see a real change,” said Dr. Khalil. “UNICEF is working closely with the government to strengthen the state child protection mechanisms, but the desired change cannot happen without changing public attitudes and norms. There is a need to integrate communication for social change into the state policies and budgets. It is no accident that we are talking about violence on World Children’s Day, a global day of action ‘for children, by children’ to raise awareness for many children that are victims of violence, unprotected and neglected,” he added.


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CULTURE

GEORGIA TODAY

NOVEMBER 23 - 26, 2018

Tbilisi Baroque Festival 2018 to Host Italian Ensemble ‘ZEFIRO’

BY KETI KVARATSKHELIA

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n Greek mythology, Zephyr (Zefiro in Italian) was the tender and kind God of the Western Wind. In 1989, the Italian oboist Alfredo Bernardini, together with Paolo and Albero Grazzi, founded the Ensemble ZEFIRO, which specialized in 18th century oboes

and a wind repertoire. Since then, ZEFIRO has participated in numerous famous European festivals in Amsterdam, Barcelona, London, Milan, Munich, Paris, Potsdam, Prague,Salzburg,Utrecht,Viennaandmore. They have also performed in Israel, Egypt, Japan, Korea, the USA, Canada, Argentina, Chile, Uruguay and Brazil. The ensemble consistently receives positive reviews from both the public and the press. ZEFIRO’s recordings include six sonatas

for two oboes and the bassoon of Jan Dismas Zelenka, the full repertoire of Mozart for winds, fragments from the three operas of Mozart, their interpretation of 12 winds and contrabass (Lirettos, Lorenzo da Ponte); the Concerti per vari strumenti of Vivaldi, concerts for oboe, bassoon and strings. The latest recording of the ensemble received international awards, among them the Grand Prix du Disque and the ‘Premio Nazionale Classic Voice’. ZEFIRO

is acknowledged worldwide as a virtuoso performer of the baroque period wind repertoire. ZEFIRO’s activity is divided into three formations: chamber ensemble, wind group (“Harmonie”) and baroque orchestra, which covers a vast part of the baroque repertoire from Vivaldi Concertos to Handel Operas, from Bach Cantatas and Haydn Masses to wind music by Mozart, Rossini and Beethoven. On November 22, the ZEFIRO musicians

presented a concert named ‘An Evening in Harmony in Vienna’ and perform the compositions of F. Krommer, W.A. Mozart and L. van Beethoven. The concert took place on the Small Stage of the Rustaveli Theater, prior to which an introductory lecture was offered by David Gigineishvili in the foyer, where spectators received information about the music that was to be performed during the concert.

Swiss Ambassador Ends Tenure with Photo-Exhibition & Farewell Reception we experienced and appreciated the outstanding hospitality and friendliness of the Georgian people. And we soon became familiar with Georgia's stunning landscapes, its rich cultural life and heritage, its culinary traditions, its incomparable wine, and, of course, its equally incomparable polyphonic music which is being presented tonight by the Didgori Ensemble. Three years on, we look back on a most exciting, rewarding experience, both professionally and privately.” During Ambassador Beglinger’s tenure, Switzerland and Georgia continued to develop their friendly, close and trusting ties, seeing numerous opportunities to cultivate and strengthen the relationship and cooperation, “from high-level bilateral visits, in matters of trade, economic and social development, science, education (especially VET) and culture; in the frame of Switzer-land’s protecting power mandate on behalf of Georgia and the Russian Federation; and in order to pro-

Photo by Goga Chanadiri

BY KATIE RUTH DAVIES

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t the end of November, the Ambassador of Switzerland in Georgia, Lukas Beglinger, is to complete both his ambassadorial assignment to Georgia and his 32-year diplomatic career. In recognition of his time here, he and his wife Barbara held a farewell reception at the National Parliamentary Library on November 19, though the Ambassador noted it is more a “see you around” event as they plan on making Georgia a permanent home. Brightening the event,

which was attended by numerous representatives of the diplomatic corps, government and cultural sector as well as businesspersons and media, was an exhibition of the similarities between Swiss and Georgian culture. The photos were published in a book by the Swiss Embassy in 2017 to celebrate 25 years of Georgia-Switzerland diplomatic relations. The photo book, entitled ‘Switzerland and Georgia – a close relationship in pictures,’ is meant to illustrate how much the two countries have in common, from the color of their flags to the strong local identity and traditions, to which both the Georgian and Swiss peoples are attached. Those similarities, carefully and cleverly captured by a

professional photographer, both surprised and excited guests, many of whom were heard to say that they would like to visit Switzerland, inspired by the images on display. “When we arrived in Georgia in September 2015, our knowledge of this unique country was rather general,” the Ambassador noted. “We knew that Georgia had experienced a long, tough and turbulent history, including in recent times, after having regained its independence. We were aware of Georgia's manifold challenges and opportunities as a country in transition, with an unresolved conflict. And we knew this would render our professional life challenging and interesting, too. From the first day of our stay,

Photo by Goga Chanadiri

mote human security, peace-building and conflict-resolution in the region, with a little help here and there from Georgia’s Swiss friends who are in a position to offer neutral, credible mediation and facilitation services, in close cooperation with our international partners,” the Ambassador noted. Before a delightful buffet and wine reception against a background of polyphony from the Didgori Ensemble, Ambassador Beglinger presented National Parliamentary Library representative Professor Emzar Jgerenaia, Head of the Department of Science and Culture, a complete edition of the ‘Historical Dictionary of Switzerland’ to be included in the Library’s collection. “May this encyclopedia promote the knowledge and understanding of Switzerland’s history among the Georgian public and herewith contribute to further strengthening the solid foundations of our relationship!” the Ambassador said.


CULTURE

GEORGIA TODAY NOVEMBER 23 - 26, 2018

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Iconic Georgian Painter Exhibits in London BY AMY JONES

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conic Georgian painter, Levan Lagidze, is exhibiting work in London for the first time in 20 years. Running from 19 November to 8 December, the exhibition will showcase new paintings from the artist at Katrine Levin Galleries at La Galleria Pall Mall. Known for his abstract philosophical paintings, especially of nature and landscapes, Lagidze has been prominent in the art world for many decades. Having graduated from the Tbilisi State Academy of Arts in 1981, he participated in various exhibitions in the USSR and founded an art studio at the Tbilisi Painter’s House in the early 1980s.

Following the collapse of the Soviet Union, he opened the Lagidze Gallery in Tbilisi, to provide Georgian artists with financial support and an exhibition space. His work has been exhibited all over the world, including the Modern Art Museum in Moscow and the Modern Art Museum in Kuwait. The exhibition in London will showcase 25 new paintings by the artist.

OPENING TIMES: 10 AM - 6.30PM Monday to Friday 11 AM - 6.30PM Saturdays

ADDRESS: Katrine Levin Galleries at La Galleria Pall Mall 5b Pall Mall London SW1Y 4UY

Photo source: Levan-lagidze.ge

Concert Dedicated to 100th Anniversary of Poland’s Independence Held in National Library of Georgia BY LIKA CHIGLADZE

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n November 18, the Embassy of the Republic of Poland in Tbilisi held a concert in the Hall of the National Library of Georgia, marking the 100th Anniversary of Poland Regaining Independence. The concert was opened by Mariusz Maszkiewicz, Ambassador of the Republic of Poland to Georgia. “This concert if one of the events marking Poland’s 100th anniversary since gaining back its independence,” the Ambassador told GEORGIA TODAY. “The concert was preceded by the visit of Speaker of the Polish Parliament Marek Kuchcinski to Tbilisi on 5-6 November and the opening of the Polish Institute in Georgia aimed at developing cultural and historic relations between two countries. The Hall of Polish Art and Literature named after Henryck Hryniewski (1869-1938) has now been opened in the National Library of Georgia. The latter was a distinguished Polish painter who painted the walls of the hall at the National Library. We are proud that Poles have played a role in the cultural development of Georgia. As a part of the celebration of the National Independence Day of Poland, on November 11, 2018 a gala concert devoted to Frederic Chopin’s music was held at Tbilisi Conservatoire. The 5th Fryderyk Chopin competition featured young gifted Georgian pianists. We are pleased that Georgian youth are starting their musical career by performing pieces of this great composer, appreciated and loved not only by Polish people but also by other nations around the world. The concert held at the National Library was supported and organized mutually by Polish organizations and the Polish community in Tbilisi. The classical music evening was dedicated not only to National Independence Day, celebrated on November 11, but also to Konstanty Gorski, a Polish composer and musician who spent some years in Tbilisi. I think it is a good occasion and hints at the building of yet another bridge between Poland and Georgia,” he said. The classical music concert, funded by the Senate of Republic of Poland, featured both Polish and Georgian renowned artists, including Lela Mchedlidze (violin), Nino Jvania (fortepiano), Yoanna Ayers (vocal), Kamil Urbanski (fortepiano),

A Powerful Performance Ends GIFT Festival REVIEW BY AMY JONES

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Giorgi Shaverzashvili (fortepiano), and Villi Grigoryan (vocal). Additionally, the Choir of the Polonia, Cultural and Educational Center led by Nana Kalandadze, dancing and singing ensemble of the Polish school, as well as Trio Bravo presented their shows as part of the program. Specifically for this occasion, famous Polish composer, conductor and pianist Kamil Urbanski paid a visit to Georgia to take part in the concert. The musician is the winner of the Warsaw Jazz Pianists Competition as well as the owner of the Grand Prix of Bielska Zadymka Jazzowa contest. In addition, he also claimed the Polish phonography industry award Fryderyk in 2013. Kamil deliver concerts in many countries around the world including Poland, the USA, the UK, Czech Republic, and Slovakia, and now had his very first concert in Georgia. The central theme of the concert was forgotten pieces by Gorski, little known to both Polish and Georgian society, yet an incredible composer and a virtuoso violinist. The program also included patriotic Polish songs and the anthems of both countries. “With this event, we celebrated Polish Independence Day and performed pieces by Polish composer Konstanty Gorski,” Urbanski told GEORGIA TODAY. “Although he is little known in Poland, we are putting in effort to promote his name. It is my first concert in Tbilisi and I’m very excited to be here and to perform for the audience at the National Parliamentary Library of Georgia. The hall is very beautiful and the acoustics really unique. It became a kind of rediscovery of this distinguished Polish composer for me. His music is completely

different to other music of that period, something ‘post-romantic.’ The piece I performed has a harmony which is close to jazz, and yet Gorski lived before the jazz era, which makes his music so unusual and special,” the pianist added. Nino Jvania who played one of the Gorski pieces, shared her emotions about the concert with GEORGIA TODAY. “It is always interesting to rediscover and play those composers who have been forgotten over time, especially such musicians who really deserve more recognition and are worth remembering. Gorski is one such composer. If fortune had favored him, he would have become one of the most vivid representatives of the Polish composers’ school. We thoroughly researched his pieces and we hope that in the future his music will be recorded on CD,” she said. A competition ‘Following the evidence of Konstanty Gorski’ was organized in the framework of the project, with participants invited to search for documents, music notes, posters, articles and any other materials documenting the artistic activities of Gorski in Tbilisi (where he lived between 1883 and 1890). A number of prizes were funded by the Krakow City Council, LOT Polish Airlines and Hilton Hotel Batumi. First prize went to Daria Szlezyngier, a young Polish researcher living and working in Tbilisi. She was awarded a two-night stay in Hotel Hilton Batumi by Hilton representative Nana Kontselidze. The competition was organized as part of a project co-financed by the Senate of the Republic of Poland as part of its support to the Polish diaspora and Poles abroad in 2018.

ofesh Shechter pushed the limitations of dance as a language with his presentation of “Show” at Rustaveli Theater on November 16 and 17. The show marked the final performance of the GIFT Festival, an annual celebration bringing the best of the visiting arts to Tbilisi. The bodies of eight dancers twisted in bold, exhilarating and tribal movements, leading the minds of the audience far away from the theater to a dark and sinister world of desire, murder, and comedy. Internationally-acclaimed artist Hofesh Shechter is an Israeli choreographer, dancer, and composer based in London. Talented dancers Riley Wolf, Juliette Valerio, Zunnur Sazali, Adam Khazhmuradov, Natalia Gabrielzyk, Emma FarnellWatson, Robinson Cassarino and Neal Maxwell brought his wild and wicked performance to life. Composed of three acts, The Entrance, Clowns and Exit, each equally thrilling, the world becomes a stage and its a nightmare. The repetitious choreographic sequences of murder and life, love and hate, pain and laughter pose inherent human questions about the morality of society and how society came into existence at all.

Notably, there was no lead dancer. Instead, the talented dancers changed roles regularly, portraying perhaps the chaos of society and how each member of the world contributes in some way. The changing scenes and clothing of the three parts seemed to show a society evolving into a stranger and stranger world: the instinctive violence of a fragmented society reflected in tribal movements and sounds. The audience watched, transfixed, as dancers slit each other throats and shot each other, only to get up for the whole process to begin again. All the while, the constant beat of the pulsating score sounded and smoke rose eerily throughout. At one point, the dancer Riley Wolf walked off the darkly-lit stage into the middle of the auditorium. The silence was suddenly broken and the audience jumped as he let out a piercing cry. The last twist after the show seemed to have come to an end was a final sequence of murder and celebration as the dancers continuously killed each other in celebration only to get up and do it again, reaffirming the message of the performance. The audience almost reflected the essence of the play by cheering the disturbing scene. For many in the audience, it was perhaps a harrowing and uncomfortable performance. Its message was powerful. The end was marked with a standing ovation, a deserving response to an undeniably touching show.


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CULTURE

GEORGIA TODAY

NOVEMBER 23 - 26, 2018

WHAT’S ON IN TBILISI THEATER

TBILISI ZAKARIA PALIASHVILI OPERA AND BALLET THEATER 25 Rustaveli Ave. TEL (+995 32) 299 04 56 November 24, 25 GEORGE BALANCHINE CHOREOGRAPHY EVENING George Balanchine’s One-Act Ballets – Symphony in C, Serenade, Mozartiana. Start time: 19:00 Ticket: 10-50 GEL Start time: November 24- 19:00, November 25- 14:00 SHALIKASHVILI THEATER 27 Rustaveli Ave. November 24 SHAKESPEARE SONNETS Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 15 GEL GABRIADZE THEATER 14 Shavteli Str. TEL (+995 32) 298 65 93 November 23 MARSHAL DE FANTE’S DIAMOND Revaz Gabriadze Directed by Revaz Gabriadze English Subtitles Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 20, 30 GEL November 25 RAMONA Revaz Gabriadze Directed by Revaz Gabriadze English Subtitles Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 20, 30 GEL November 28, 29 Animated documentary film REZO Directed by Leo Gabriadze Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 15 GEL MUSIC AND DRAMA STATE THEATER 182 Agmashenebeli Ave. TEL (+995 32) 234 80 90 November 27 WELCOME TO GEORGIA A musical, theatrical play and romantic comedy telling a story about Georgia and its people by combining song, dance, culture, traditions, history, national costumes and local cuisine. Musical Language: English, some Georgian With English subtitles Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 50-80 GEL MOVEMENT THEATER 182 Aghmashenebeli Ave. TEL (+995) 598 19 29 36

November 24 SILENT, REHEARSAL! Directed by Kakha Bakuradze Performance consists of various short novels: "Good Morning", "Cinemat", "Welcome-Host", "Shirley Beis", "Painter", "Bohemian Rhapsody" Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 10-15 GEL November 25 LABYRINTH Directed by Kakha Bakuradze One-act Mystery with live music The performance describes different phases of human life. People move in an endless labyrinth: social, urban, emotional or communicative. Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 10-15 GEL

THE GIRL IN THE SPIDER'S WEB Directed by Fede Alvarez Cast: Claire Foy, Sylvia Hoeks, Lakeith Stanfield Genre: Crime, Drama, Thriller Language: Russian Start time: 14:10 Ticket: 12 GEL BOHEMIAN RHAPSODY Directed by Bryan Singer Cast: Rami Malek, Joseph Mazzello, Mike Myers Genre: Biography, Drama, Music Language: English Start time: 19:00 Language: Russian Start time: 22:20 Ticket: 12-15 GEL

Every Wednesday ticket: 8 GEL November 23-29

November 24, 25 AUTUMN SHOW Start time: 13:00, 17:00 Ticket: 10-25 GEL

RALPH BREAKS THE INTERNET (info Above) Language: English Start time: 16:40, 19:45 Language: Russian Start time: 11:15, 14:00 Ticket: 11-19 GEL

AMIRANI CINEMA 36 Kostava Str. TEL (+995 32) 299 99 55 www.kinoafisha.ge Every Wednesday ticket: 5 GEL November 23-29 WIDOWS Directed by Steve McQueen Cast: Viola Davis, Michelle Rodriguez, Elizabeth Debicki Genre: Crime, Drama, Romance Language: English Start time: 19:45 Language: Russian Start time: 16:40, 19:40, 22:15 Ticket: 13-14 GEL

Performers: Quartet IBERI, George Khaindrava- 1st violin, Tamar Bulia- 2nd violin, Irakli Japaridze- Viola, Murad Ibrahimov – Cello, CONCERTINO TBILISSI, George Shilakadze- conductor. Start time: 19:00 Tickets: From 7 GEL

MUSEUM OF SOVIET OCCUPATION 4 Rustaveli Ave. TEL (+995 32) 2 99 80 22, 2 93 48 21 www.museum.ge

November 26 LE NOZZE DI FIGARO CONCERT OF OPERA EXCERPTS W.A. MOZART LE NOZZE DI FIGARO Libretto by Lorenzo Da Ponte Comic opera in four acts (Acts I and II) Count Almaviva- A. Kapanadze (B.A. IV c) Rosina- M. Bebia (M.A. II c) T. Dalakishvili (M.A. I c) Figaro- N. Natroshvili (M.A. II c) Z. Nakheuri (B.A. III c) Susanna- M. Tsiklauri (B.A. III c) M. Sharashenidze (B.A. III c) Marcellina- S. Mishvelidze (M.A. I c) Cherubino- H. Tetruashvili (B.A. II c) A. Matchavariani (B.A. IV c) GG Bartolo- G. Paikidze (M.A. II c) D. Pataridze (M.A. II c) Basilio- Z. Shukakidze (B.A. III c) Antonio- T. Gogritchiani (B.A. IV c) Orchestra and Choir of the Opera Studio Staging Conductor- Gogi Tchitchinadze Conductor- Levan Jagaev Staging Director- Maia Gachechiladze Staging Artist- Neiko Neidze Choirmaster- Mikheil Edisherashvili Piano- N. Zakaidze, N. Rukhadze, E. Chinchaladze Spinetta- Ekaterine Chinchaladze Manager of the Opera Studio- Irina Ramishvili Start time: 19:00 Ticket: From 5 GEL

PERMANENT EXHIBITION November 6-30 KATYN - IT HAS BEEN AN UNUSUAL MORNING GALLERY

CAVEA GALLERY 2/4 Rustaveli Ave. TEL (+995 32) 200 70 07

TBILISI CIRCUS 1 Heroes’ Sq.

CINEMA

November 29 – January 20 Georgian National Museum in the framework of the Project “Contemporary Art Gallery” presents SOLO EXHIBITION OF LIA BAGRATIONI A MAD TEA-PARTY

FANTASTIC BEASTS: THE CRIMES OF GRINDELWALD (Info Above) Language: English Start time: 13:45, 16:30, 19:30, 22:00 Language: Russian Start time: 13:30, 19:20, 22:30 Ticket: 11-19 GEL BOHEMIAN RHAPSODY (Info Above) Language: English Start time: 16:20, 22:15 Language: Russian Start time: 13:50, 22:30 Ticket: 10-19 GEL MUSEUM

RALPH BREAKS THE INTERNET Directed by Phil Johnston, Rich Moore Cast: John C. Reilly, Sarah Silverman, Gal Gadot Genre: Animation, Adventure, Comedy Language: Russian Start time: 12:00, 13:30 Ticket: 13-14 GEL

GEORGIAN NATIONAL MUSEUM SIMON JANASHIA MUSEUM 3 Rustaveli Ave. TEL (+995 32) 299 80 22, 293 48 21 www.museum.ge

FANTASTIC BEASTS: THE CRIMES OF GRINDELWALD Directed by David Yates Cast: Eddie Redmayne, Katherine Waterston, Dan Fogler Genre: Adventure, Family, Fantasy Language: English Start time: 14:20, 22:00 Language: Russian Start time: 16:40, 19:40, 22:15 Ticket: 13-14 GEL

NUMISMATIC TREASURY STONE AGE GEORGIA ARCHEOLOGICAL TREASURE NEW LIFE TO THE ORIENTAL COLLECTIONS

Exhibitions: GEORGIAN COSTUME AND WEAPONRY OF THE 18TH-20TH CENTURIES

IOSEB GRISHASHVILI TBILISI HISTORY MUSEUM - KARVASLA 8 Sioni St. TEL (+995 32) 298 22 81

THE NATIONAL GALLERY 11 Rustaveli Ave. TEL (+995 32) 215 73 00 September 11 – November 25 EXHIBITION BERNINI'S SCHOOL AND THE ROMAN BAROQUE October 9 – January 17 (2019) NIKO PIROSMANI’S RENEWED EXHIBITION October 10 – October 5 (2019) EXHIBITION MASTERS OF GEORGIAN ART DÉDICACE GALLERY 27 Athoneli Str. at the Dry Bridge November 16-26 DIMA FILATOV (UKRAINE), PERSONAL EXHIBITION K ART ON MUSIC

TBILISI EVENT HALL 1 Melikishvili St. TEL (+995 32) 2 99 00 99 November 23 NIAZ DIASAMIDZE & 33A Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 35 GEL November 27 #FORLUKA Participants: Stephane, Lela Tsurtsumia (live music performance)& Non Stop Band), Maka Zambakhidze, Sparkle, Dato Evgenidze, Nato Gelashvili, Kuchis Bichebi, Nini Karseladze, Marika Tkhelidze, Tika Jamburia, Nini Badurashvili, Elene Kalandadze, Achiko Nijaradze, Forte, Mariko Ebralidze, Achi Furtseladze, Teatraluri kvarteti, Duta Skhirtladze Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 25 GEL SILK FACTORY STUDIO 59 M. Kostava Ave. November 23 FLAMINGO: KEVIN SAUNDERSON, DELANO SMITH, K-HAND, PIOTR BEJNAR, DINA Start time: 13:00 Ticket: 40 GEL CLUB 10/11 6 Saakadze Slope November 23 SOPHO BATILASHVILI, ZVIAD BOLQVADZE & NIUTONE Start time: 22:00 Ticket: 35 GEL TBILISI STATE CONSERVATOIRE 8 Griboedov St. TEL (+995 32) 2 93 46 24 November 24 TEMUR AKHOBADZE Young Pianists 1st International Competition E. Mikeladze Central Music School Association Lira AWARD CEREMONY GALA CONCERT Start time: 14:00 Ticket: 10 GEL November 24 The concert is dedicated to the 90TH BIRTHDAY OF BIDZINA KVENADZE Program: Shavleg Shilakadze- string quartet, Bidzina Kvernadze in memoriam (first performance), Zurab Nadareishvili– Litany, Bidzina Kvernadze- Symphony for Strings

November 29 GIACOMO PUCCINI LA BOHEME (Libretto by Luigi Illica and Giuseppe Giacosa) (Acts III and IV) Mimi- T. Kikalishvili (B.A. IVc.) A. Kharaidze (B.A. IVc.) Rodolfo– V. Mtchedlidze (B.A. IV c.) Musetta– Q. Papinashvili (M.A. I c.) S. Phadiauri (M.A. I c.) Marcello– A. Kapanadze (B.A. IV c.) Schaunard– A. Khkhushvili (B.A. III c.) Colline– I. Melikishvili (B.A. IV c.) Customs sergant- I. Abashidze (B.A. II c.) Maid- M.Shvelidze (B.A. II c.) Orchestra of the Opera Studio Staging Conductor– Papuna Ghvaberidze Staging Director Maia Gachechiladze Staging Artist- Neiko Neidze Piano- T. Alavidze, N. Leshkasheli, E. Chinchaladze Manager of the Opera Studio - Irina Ramishvili Start time: 19:00 Ticket: 5-10 GEL REPUBLIC 6 First Republic Sq. November 24 FLAMENCO SHOW @REPUBLIC Start time: 21:00 Tickets: 70-400 GEL TBILISI BAROQUE FESTIVAL Rustaveli Theater November 25 JOSEPH HAYDN & WOLFGANG AMADEUS MOZART I Joseph Haydn- Symphony #26 in d minor, “Lamentatione”, Hoboken 1/26 Symphony # 49 in f minor, “La passione”, Hoboken I/49 II Wolfgang Amadeus MozartREQUIEM in d minor, KV626 Introitus (Requiem asternam) Kyrie. Sequentia (Dies irae, Tuba Mirum, Rex Tremendae, Recordare, Confutatis, Lacrimosa) Offertorium (Domine Jesu Hostias) Sanctus. Benedictus. Agnus Dei. Communio (Lux aeterna, Cum sanctis tuis). ‘Georgian Sinfonietta’, Ensemble ZEFIRO, Tbilisi Choir Baroque, Mariam Kublashvili (soprano), Nutsa Zakaidze (mezzo soprano), Giorgi Davitadze (tenor), Givi Gigineishvili (bass) Start time: 19:30 Ticket: 10-30 GEL


CULTURE

GEORGIA TODAY NOVEMBER 23 - 26, 2018

19

Lali Kandelaki on Her Final Performance in Don Quixote & Brooklyn Mack on Dancing with Her EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW BY ANA DUMBADZE

O

n November 16, on the stage of the Tbilisi Opera and Ballet Theater, Prima Ballerina Lali Kandelaki gave her final Don Quixote performance. Complementing the thrilling dancing was excellent artistic and lively choreography (by Nina Ananiashvili and Alexey Fedeechev) and splendidly colorful costumes and sets providing a great sense of life and vitality. The theater orchestra provided a rousing rendition of the ballet score. “Overall, the production was extremely likeable and enjoyable and a crowd-pleasing, fitting tribute to the marvellous career of the endearing Lali Kandelaki which fully deserved the standing ovation it received at the end,” said spectator Andy Bukavs, Member of the Friends of the Georgian Ballet. Lali Kandelaki is considered one of the most outstanding performers of the ‘Chelita Variation’ in Don Quixote, having danced the role several times, not only in Tbilisi but also in other theaters around the globe. Her performance on the stage of the Bunka Kaikan in Japan, where she was partnered by principal dancer of the American Ballet Theater, Ángel Corella, was especially remarkable. At the November 16 performance, Kandelaki, leading soloist of the Ballet Company of the Tbilisi Opera and Ballet Theater, danced with Brooklyn Mack, a world-renowned international principal guest dancer. The performance was received warmly by the Georgian audience and received positive feedback. Kandelaki’s final performance in Don Quixote, and her inimitable partnership with world-famous ballet star Brooklyn Mack, left the spectators excited and impressed. And the event proved especially emotional and important for Lali Kandelaki and her fans. GEORGIA TODAY met the Georgian Prima Ballerina prior to her performance, to find out how she was feeling about her final Don Quixote performance, her partnership with renowned ballet dancer Brooklyn Mack and her future career plans. “I can’t even remember how many times I’ve performed in Don Quixote. I’ve danced Chelita with successful partners on the stages of so many theaters around the world,” she told us. “It is a very emotional and exciting moment in my life, performing in Don Quixote for the last time. But while it’s a sad day for me, it is also a great honor and joy. I’ve had a very successful 30-year career and I’m happy with how I danced Chelita.” According to the Georgian Prima Ballerina, the partnership with Brooklyn Mack was a matter of great importance and an honor. “He is a world-famous ballet star and it is a great honor for me to have him

visit Georgia to perform in Don Quixote. Brooklyn has done brilliantly helping me to perform my final ‘Chelita Variation’ and I’m very grateful and excited about it,” she said. This was not the first partnership between the Georgian Prima Ballerina and the Mack, as they danced together in January 2017, in Tbilisi, at Andris Liepa’s Gala Evening, performing a ‘Pas d'Esclave’ from Le Corsaire by A. Adam. “He is a reliable and experienced partner and I always feel calm and confident while dancing with him: I trust Brooklyn and know that I can rely on him,” Lali noted. Despite the fact that Lali Kandelaki gave her final Don Quixote performance on November 16, fortunately for fans, she will continue to perform and says her “career is not over yet,” though she noted that she is not going to continue her career abroad. “I will continue dancing here in Georgia and will still participate in performances. I wanted my final Don Quixote performance to be very special and memorable, for my fans to remember me in this role. Of course, I will still perform in other plays, but Don Quixote is especially important for me. I wanted my final ‘Chelita Variation’ to be a success and did my very best to make it that way. I’ve been performing abroad for years and always felt proud to be a Georgian ballerina. I got a lot of offers to perform in the name of various countries, but I always refused. Today, I’m happy and proud that I contributed to raising awareness about my country internationally and that I successfully expressed what I wanted to say through my career,” she elaborated. Kandelaki tells us she has a special love for the followers of her career. “The Georgian audience is quite critical,” she noted, but at the same time “is very fair.” “When I compare the Georgian audience with the foreign, I see they can be quite critical, especially of successful dancers. However, they have a very warm heart and can be loving when you truly deserve it. I’m very thankful for their love and I love them back!” she said. She recalled her first Don Quixote performance in the 1990s, a very difficult period in modern Georgian history. “There was a [civil] war in the country, and we had to overcome many challenges. I want to thank everyone who worked at the Theater at the time, keeping it going. Sometimes, we had to perform in front of just five spectators, and it was awfully cold in the concert hall. It is impossible to express the hard working conditions of the time. It was very difficult to dance, but when you’re standing on stage, you forget about the problems. I did my best to please my audience in 1991, when I danced the ‘Chelita Variation’ for the first time. I was very nervous, as I was only 18 and it was a big responsibility for me to perform this part. But it was time for me to start performing the leading roles and I’m very thankful to all the directors who saw my

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talent and gave me the responsibility,” she told us. GEORGIA TODAY heard from several attendees of Kandelaki’s final Don Quixote show, all of whom evaluated it with positivity and, in many cases, awe. “Being a member of Friends of the Georgian Ballet, I am honored to have had the privilege of witnessing Lali Kandelaki’s achievements throughout the years,” said Andreas Heidingsfelder, Sheraton Grand Tbilisi Metechi Palace General Manager. “I can certainly say that her final performance in Don Quixote was extraordinarily remarkable, together with the talented Brooklyn Mack. As always, she demonstrated flawless technique paired with spectacular artistry. Who wasn’t at the Ballet missed a remarkable performance! Along with Nina Ananiashvili, I consider her to be a supreme ballerina of the Georgian Ballet and beyond. With immense pleasure, I wish her the greatest success with all of her future endeavors and really hope to see her back on stage again.” “The final performance of Lali Kandelaki in Don Quixote provided a hugely entertaining and memorable evening,” said Andy Bukavs, Member of the Friends of the Georgian Ballet. “The immensely popular Tbilisi-born prima ballerina of the Georgian State Ballet Company danced the lead role of Chelita with sparkling vitality as well as wonderful grace and charm. She also managed to add a delightful warmth and likeability

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

to the character with her easy smile. Opposite her, the American ballet star Brooklyn Mack provided a spectacular and highly energetic performance in the role of Basilio, his high leaps on occasion leaving the audience gasping. Both principal dancers clearly enjoyed performing together and exuded happiness and pleasure. They were also ably supported by an exciting and apparently effortless performance from the ‘corps de ballet’.” GEORGIA TODAY also got the chance to talk to Brooklyn Mack prior to last Friday’s show. We asked him his impressions of Georgia and how it was to dance with Lali Kandelaki. “This is my second visit to Georgia. The first was quite short- only two days. Despite that, I feel very positive about this country. People are quite warm here, and there’s great food and wine. My partnership with the Georgian ballet dancers has been awesome. The Georgian audience is very warm-hearted. When I dance, I always give the spectators my best and I can feel the positive energy coming back at me from them,” he said. Of his partnership with Lali Kandelaki, the renowned ballet dancer said that it was a great pleasure for him to dance with Lali and to contribute to her successful final ‘Chelita’ performance. “My partner is amazing. I’ve danced successfully with her before, and that time after only one rehearsal. She’s very

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passionate and responsive, and it’s always a pleasure when you feel your partner’s energy while dancing. I’m glad and honored to be here in Georgia and to help her with her last Don Quixote performance. We wanted this performance to be especially successful and I think we did it,” he said. Brooklyn Mack has performed in Don Quixote many times. When asked about the reasons behind the show’s unchanging popularity, he noted that the youthful spirit and positive emotions it brings to the audience are what makes it so widely loved throughout the world. “Don Quixote is such a fun ballet, not heavy,” he told us. “It’s light-hearted and brings a youthful spirit. It shows young people dancing and falling in love, so the performance itself is quite romantic and full of optimism. The world is full of sad and tragic things that can pull us down, but we all need love. So, such a special performance expressing carefree youth will always be popular and loved by the wider audience,” he said. When asked about his future plans, Mack said that at this stage he has no current projects set for Georgia, but that he would definitely be back to visit. “I would really love to visit Georgia again, as I really enjoy being here. My career has been taking me round the world performing as an international guest star, but from next year, I’ll be looking to settle down in my career and find a new base,” he said.

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Issue #1103  

November 23 - 25, 2018

Issue #1103  

November 23 - 25, 2018

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