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Issue no: 914/62

• JANUARY 24 - 26, 2017


In this week’s issue...

FOCUS ON GROWING WINE TOURISM The Georgian Wine Association officially releases its new easy-to follow Wine Guide


Gulf Air to Start Direct Flights to Tbilisi



A Case for an Antidumping Law in Georgia?

Source: GeorgiaTravel


EBRD Promises €300 million Investment to Georgia BY THEA MORRISON


he European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) President, Sir Suma Chakrabarti, said the EBRD plans to invest €300 million in Georgia this year. The statement was made at a meeting with Georgia’s Prime Minister, Giorgi Kvirikashvili, held on January 20 in Davos, Switzerland, within the framework of the World Economic Forum 2017. Increasing investments in Georgia, incentives for the private sector, and prospects for developing the business environment were the key issues of the meeting. Moreover, the sides discussed the role of the

EBRD in the development of Georgia's economy and the ongoing EBRD investments in Georgia. It was emphasized that in 2016, EBRD invested a record-breaking amount of around €250 million in Georgia. The Georgian PM introduced the government’s Four-Point Plan, which envisages modifying Georgia's income tax rules, improving governance, accelerating infrastructure projects and developing education. Chakrabarti responded by confirming that the EBRD supports Georgia's ongoing reforms and plans to increase its investments and financial assistance in the future. “The cooperation of EBRD and Georgia is very strong,” the EBRD president said at the meeting. “And the plans for 2017 are even stronger. I hope to get around €300 million into Georgia this year-

PASHA Bank Sponsors Green Project: Hackathon “Smart City” PAGE 5

Butterflies, Crystal & Gold: Wedgwood in Georgia PAGE 8

The Inauguration: Reactions in Tbilisi SOCIETY PAGE 9

PM Kvirikashvili and EBRD President, Suma Chakrabarti

so this is clearly a very good relationship, and it is not just about investments. It is also about trying to change policies, which will make Georgia even more attractive for investors.” The World Economic Forum 2017 was held on January 17-20 and gathered political leaders, economists and heads of almost 1000 large companies and organizations to discuss global, regional and economic agendas for the coming year.

Ukraine's Potential New President Marked POLITICS PAGE 10 Prepared for Georgia Today Business by

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JANUARY 24 - 26, 2017

Choice Hotel Group Visits Georgia BY NINO GUGUNISHVILI


he British Georgian Chamber of Commerce (BGCC) organized the visit of Choice Hotel Group representatives to Tbilisi on January

19-20. Considered to be a leader among the global hotel brands since 1941, Choice Hotel Group is one of the largest and most successful, operating four brands: Ascend Collection (5 star), Clarion (4 star), Quality (4 star), and Comfort Inn (3 star). The group boasts 6,400 hotels in 35 countries worldwide. During their visit to Tbilisi, Georg Schlegel, Managing Director, and Max Cergneux, Senior Director, held meetings with the representatives of the Ministry of Economy and Sustainable Development of Georgia, Georgian National Tourism Administration and with a number of development and construction companies, including the Partnership Fund. As Mako Abashidze, Founder-Director of the BGCC, exclusively told

GEORGIA TODAY, the BGCC approached Choice Group in November last year in order to discuss opportunities and potential projects in Georgia through meetings in London with Max Cergneux, Senior Director. Choice Group then conducted an independent market study on tourism development and strategy in Georgia, identifying Georgia as a potentially interesting market for their hotel brands, while the BGCC set to organizing a business trip to Georgia for company representatives, preparing all logistics and meeting schedules. “I would like to mention the great support of Lika Kardava, founder of Property Georgia, who helped us to identify and arrange these very interesting and fruitful meetings with market-leading companies in Georgia,” Abashidze said. Following the visit, Omega Group, one of the Founder-Members of the BGCC, is in the process of negotiations with Choice Hotel Group on two potential projects in Tbilisi and Batumi. The Honorary Chairman of the BGCC, Zaza Okuashvili, will continue working in this direction to help the sides finalize the details.

Mako Abashidze, BGCC Founder Director, and Choice Group Representatives. Source: Irakli Dolidze/GT

Georgian Products at the International Agricultural Exhibition in Berlin



evan Davitashvili, Minister of Agriculture of Georgia, attended the Agriculture and Gardening exhibition opening in Berlin, Germany. Gruene Woche 2017 is considered to be one of the largest and most prestigious events in the agriculture sector, held annually since 1926, with over 400,000 visitors attending the exhibition each year.

Over 1500 companies are participating in the event this year. The Georgian stand features 17 wine companies: Kimerioni, Tamari’s Marani, Bebu, Chelti, Tibaneli, Badagoni, Mildiani, Kindzmarauli Corporation, Schuchmann Wines, and more, while Georgian traditional sweets: churchkhela, gozinaki, dry fruits, lemonades and tea are displayed alongside Chacha and Georgian spices. Minsiter Davitashvili will be attending the ministerial within the framework of the Gruene Woche 2017.

Gulf Air to Start Direct Flights to Tbilisi BY NINO GUGUNISHVILI


he Kingdom of Bahrein’s national carrier Gulf Air is to begin flying direct to and from Tbilisi airport three times a week from

June 2017. “We are pleased to respond to passenger demand by opening this latest destination. Launching in June 2017, our new

route to Tbilisi, Georgia, will cater to summer movement and leisure travellers from the GCC region,” said Maher Salman Al Musallam, Gulf Air Chief Executive Officer. One of the largest networks in the Middle East today, Gulf Air started to operate in 1950, and now serves 43 cities in 24 countries across three continents. “As part of our longstanding mission, we are always looking for ways to introduce and strengthen business and tourism links between key global destinations

and the Kingdom of Bahrain and the region,” Maher Salman Al Musallam added. “The addition of Georgia to our network map follows extensive discussions and negotiations with the Georgian aviation authorities and we thank them for their support to date and their contribution to our efforts going forward in ensuring the success of our new route. I believe this is yet another positive development for Gulf Air in 2017 and one that will appeal to our passengers around the world.”




Bank of Georgia: Georgians Positive about Larization of Loans

The Larization Program was launched on January 17. Source: cbw.ge



ank of Georgia Association President, Zurab Gvasalia, says he believes the Georgian people are positive about the recent government initiative to begin the larization of loans. The Larization Program is a one-time measure for borrowers who were affected by the sharp depreciation of the national currency, Lari. The program was launched on January 17 and will continue for two months. The Larization Program means that loans received in US dollars before January 1, 2015, and signed for against real estate collateral, will be eligible for conversion into Lari loans. In total, 33,000 loans have been identified as eligible within the program. Gvasalia added that the interest of citizens towards the program is very high, and over 2000 people have

already converted their loans from USD to GEL. “The local society is very active towards the program, which means that they approve of the move to convert loans into the national currency. The Georgian banking sector is ready to serve all people willing to convert their loans,” the Bank of Georgia Association President said. The government is to provide subsidies to ensure favorable exchange rates for loan-holders wishing to ‘de-dollarize’. In turn, the NBG will provide the appropriate level of cash liquidity in Lari. The subsidy will not cover individuals whose sum of outstanding loans as of November 28, 2016 was more than $100,000, or if loans were transferred to another bank. The subsidy will also not cover individuals whose annual income in 2015 exceeded 100,000 GEL. $40,000 is the maximum amount of a loan that can be converted into Lari. The program is being administered by the Government of Georgia and the National Bank of Georgia (NBG).

Canada Revealed as Georgia’s Top Trade Partner in 2016

External merchandise trade in Georgia last year increased by 20 percent. Source: bpi.ge



he National Statistics Office of Georgia (GEOSTAT) released preliminary data on Friday about external merchandise trade in 2016, which shows that Canada was the top trade partner of Georgia last year, followed by Turkey and Russia. GEOSTAT data reads that in 2016, external merchandise trade in Georgia amounted to $11966 million, 20 percent higher year-on-year. The exports equaled $2114 million (4 percent lower), while the imports stood at $ 9852 million (27 percent higher). The negative trade balance was $7738 million in 2016 and its share in external trade turnover constituted 65 percent. Export excluding re-export amounted to $1658 million, 1 percent higher yearon-year. In 2016, the external trade turnover of Georgia with European Union (EU) countries amounted to $3601 million, growing by 14 percent compared

to the corresponding indicator of the previous year. Exports amounted to $571 million (12 percent lower), while imports amounted to $3030 million (20 percent higher). In 2016, the external trade turnover of Georgia with the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) countries totaled $2721 million (lower by 3 percent compared to 2015). Exports stood at $739 million (12 percent lower), while imports equaled $1983 million (1 percent higher). The top ten trading partners in the total external trade turnover of Georgia amounted to 68 percent in 2016. Georgia’s main exports in 2016 were: copper ores and concentrates (worth $312 million, or 15 percent of total exports), nuts (worth $179 million, or nine percent of total exports) and ferro-alloys (worth $169 million, or eight percent of total exports). As for the main imports of 2016, they were: medicines (worth $2.89 billion, or 29 percent of total imports), petroleum and petroleum oils (worth $619 million, or six percent of total imports) and motor cars (worth $473 million, or five percent of total imports).

Ambassador: Strong Cooperation between US and Georgia to continue BY THEA MORRISON


he United States (US) Ambassador to Georgia, Ian Kelly, in reaction to concerns over Donald Trump’s accession to US presidency and his “America First” policy, says he believes that the existing strong cooperation between Georgia and the US will continue under Trump’s administration. The Ambassador says that the new administration has already expressed readiness to continue economic cooperation with Georgia. “We will see what policy the US has once the Secretary of State is appointed. However, I can

assure you that Georgia-US relations will remain strong and I think they may even be strengthened," he said. “I will advocate Georgia-US trade relations,” Kelly confirmed, adding that he is calling for the US Chamber of Commerce representative to visit Georgia. Donald Trump is the 45th President of the USA. He won the general election on November 8, 2016, against Democrat rival Hillary Clinton, and assumed office on January 20. At age 70, he is the oldest and wealthiest person to assume the presidency. Since the elections, his comments have led to concern that his ties with Putin’s Russia will strengthen to the effect that relations with Georgia will be damaged. For Tbilisi’s reactions to Donald Trump’s inaugural speech on January 20, see page 9.




JANUARY 24 - 26, 2017



The ISET Policy Institute (ISET-PI, www.iset-pi.ge) is an independent think-tank associated with the International School of Economics at TSU (ISET). Our blog carries economic analysis of current events and policies in Georgia and the South Caucasus region ranging from agriculture, to economic growth, energy, labor markets and the nexus of economics, culture and religion. Thought-provoking and fun to read, our blog posts are written by international faculty teaching at ISET and recent graduates representing the new generation of Georgian, Azerbaijani and Armenian economists.

A Case for an Antidumping Law in Georgia? BY GIGLA MIKAUTADZE


rotectionism and any kind of import restrictions have supporters in every country, and Georgia is no exception. Recently, I attended a lunch meeting on the need for an antidumping law, organized by Georgian Lawyers for Independent Professions, Governing for Growth (G4G), and the Society of Free Individuals. Participants from different sectors and institutions presented their views on the possible economic consequences of antidumping regulations currently being discussed by the Georgian government. From an economist’s perspective, I believe there are number of factors to be considered and analyzed before the final decision to adopt the law is made. The rationale behind anti-dumping duties is to save domestic jobs, but they can also lead to higher prices for domestic consumers and reduce competitiveness of domestic companies on international markets. According to the Government of Georgia, a draft law on antidumping is now complete, but the Ministry of Economy is still considering the risks of the new regulation. “The Antidumping Law is elaborated in accordance with the WTO regulations. However, everyone should realize that this law is not a panacea,” said Dimitry Kumsishvili, Vice Prime Minister of Georgia. The stated purpose of the draft law is to help ensure competition by

Main users of antidumping

Main targets of antidumping







South Korea








Chinese Taipei






















Source: www.antidumpingpublishing.com

in Georgia, in evaluating the threats of dumping, we have to take into account the size of the local market and the insignificant role of the country on the world market in all industries. It is very doubtful that Georgia faces a genuine threat of dumping from its trade partners. During the last 25 years, there has been no evidence of dumping, aside from the cheap import of various products which are never welcomed by local producers, but which do benefit consumers and producers who use the imports as inputs to their own production. Supporters of antidumping usually question whether the pricing practices of foreign firms are fair, which, in my opinion, is the wrong question to ask. Before enacting any antidumping law, we should be asking whether it is in the national interest to provide protection for domestic producers. Even if importers’

imposing protective measures on imported goods that the government believes are sold below “normal value,” defined as the market price in the exporting country. The idea of antidumping finds its roots in the United States, where the Antidumping Act was enacted by the US Congress under the heading of "Unfair Competition" in 1916. Once antidumping was effectively applied in a number of cases involving troublesome imports, and local producers benefited from it, supporters of this type of regulation started to grow, especially after wide scale trade liberalization which put competing domestic industries under bigger pressure. It is also interesting to analyze the sectors involved

in antidumping investigations. The main appeals happen in traditional capital-intensive industry sectors, such as metallurgy, chemicals, machinery etc., due to the inflexibility and high fixed costs of these industries. Usually, these sectors are also quite labor intensive, hence very sensitive from a social policy perspective. Governments usually impose antidumping duties based on investigations. An antidumping investigation occurs when the proper state agency, upon a valid complaint from a local industry, tries to determine whether imported goods are being sold at below-the-price in the producer country, i.e. being 'dumped'. These investigations require significant human and institutional resources in order to gather solid evidence of antidumping against suspected importers. Recently, Georgia itself became a suspect in an antidumping case when, in 2015, the EU Commission initiated an antidumping proceeding concerning imports of certain manganese oxides originating in Georgia. In the absence of reliable data on domestic prices, export prices from Georgia in the EU were compared to the prices in the United States of America and to the constructed normal value which takes into account the estimated manufacturing costs, sales, general and administrative costs, and profit in Georgia. At the end of 2016, the complainant had to withdraw their claim, since the investigation had not brought to light any evidence of dumping, and the case was closed. Going back to the need for an antidumping law

prices are “unfair,” that does not necessarily mean that protection is in the national interest. In addition, while thinking of antidumping regulation, we must not forget its impact on bureaucracy. As mentioned above, antidumping actions are based on comprehensive investigations, requiring well trained staff and a strong institutional setup. “Antidumping is a bureaucratic, not a legal process,” says Finger in Antidumping: How it Works and who Gets Hurt, and it will definitely increase compliance costs and the risk of corruption. The main goal of Georgia at this moment is to improve the business environment in order to promote foreign direct investments and economic growth. Therefore, any kind of new regulation must be considered carefully. To summarize, lawmakers should analyze not only the benefits created for particular interested groups, but also the costs and losses for other players on the market. Procedures should be clear about the costs of the requested protection, and the identities of the persons or groups who will bear those costs. For instance, if the targeted imports are needed materials, more expensive import means higher costs for producers, and will possibly effect domestic jobs. It is obvious that the government will always be under pressure from local producers, interested groups, and lobby organizations demanding import limitations, but before imposing any restrictions they must review such potential issues in detail and decide whether they deserve relief from the liberalization policy.

Sectors involved in antidumping investigations in 2014 (source: http://www.antidumpingpublishing.com)



PCR Molecular Genetic Laboratory Officially Opened


n January 18, the PCR molecular genetic laboratory was officially launched. The molecular diagnostic laboratory was established with the donation and support of the Czech Republic Development Cooperation through the project 'New challenges in diagnostic aspects in pediatric Hematology/Oncology in Georgia'. The project was implemented with the International Association for Aid to Children

Suffering from Leukemia. Contribution for this laboratory was also provided from charity organization American Friends of Georgia and JSC Telasi. Molecular-genetic diagnostic tests for children with leukemia and lymphoma will be performed in the molecular laboratory for the first time in Georgia. This will significantly improve treatment standards and will give rise to new, updated treatment protocols, which will enable the high accuracy treatment of each


PASHA Bank Sponsors Green Project: Hackathon “Smart City”


n January 28-29, Caucasus University will host the hackathon “Smart City,” where student teams will compete to generate innovative solutions to make Georgia’s capital city a better place with regards to parking, ecology, queues and other related environmental issues. The teams will be evaluated by the following criteria: whether the innovation is applicable in real life, and its originality. The winner of the Green Project contest will be awarded a prize from PASHA Bank. The Green Project comes as part of the Bank’s December 2016 promise to dedicate its CSR activities to environmental projects throughout 2017. The Bank already planted 2017 Georgian pine trees to help rehabilitate war and firedamaged forest near Borjomi. “We consider it important to involve

the young generation in ecological issues and to hear their initiatives on how to care for the environment in a better and more effective way,” said Anano Korkia, Head of the Public Relations and Marketing Department at PASHA Bank. “This hackathon will actually generate badly needed innovative ideas. In 2017, we plan to get involved in several Green Projects and the sponsorship of this contest is one of the steps we gladly took in this direction. We even have in mind to participate in the realization of one of the ideas brought up during the hackathon contest”. The hackathon is being held with the support of the Georgian Innovations and Technology Agency. The organizer is startup accelerator ‘C10’ at Caucasus University. Co-organizer of the hackathon is management company for startup accelerators ‘Blender’. Sponsor of the hackathon as a supporter of the Green Project is PASHA Bank.

patient with leukemia and lymphoma. The laboratory will function with the cooperation of International Association for Aid to Children Suffering from Leukemia and the M. Iashvili Children’s Central Hospital. All the work will be carried out under the supervision of the University Hospital in Motol, Prague, Czech Republic. The visits of foreigner specialists and the training of staff in Motol’s University Hospital are planned in 2017.

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JANUARY 24 - 26, 2017

Georgian Wine Association Presents First Georgian Wine Tourism Guide BY NINO GUGUNISHVILI Wine Tourism Guide. Source: GWA


he Georgian Wine Association presented a new wine tourism guide at their head office on Friday. The new guide is the first book published in the English language in Georgia to feature over 120 wineries across all regions of the country. It has a listing of 40 wine bars and shops, nearly 200 recommended restaurants, and 200 hotels. The book has QR codes which can be scanned through the Smart Phone App to easily find out more about the selected venue. After scanning the QR code, locations appear as pinned on Google Maps. For those who have never used a QR scanning code, the guide explains how it works and how to use it. The book covers all regions in Georgia with precise and detailed information on what to see, where to stay, where to taste wine and where to dine out. In addition to the brief history of the country, the new guide provides useful information for tourists on how to enter Georgia, and brings useful tips to help visitors get around more easily, with a

list of tourism information centers also included. The reader can get acquainted with the 800 years of wine making tradition in Georgia, followed by a section titled “Chronicles of Georgian Wine” which begins in the 6th century BC and leads those interested up to the present, namely September 2016, when the first UNWTO Global Conference on Wine Tourism was held in the country. The newly published guide also has a section on traditional Georgian wine making in Qvevri (clay wine amphora), and introduces all the Georgian grape varieties. Regional cuisine, major historic sites, and Georgia’s nature and wildlife reserves are also featured in the book. The Georgian Wine Association was established in 2010 and, as Tata Jaiani, Communications and Business Development Manager, said at the presentation, since that time, its main focus has been on supporting the development and promotion of Georgian wine both on local and international markets, offereing a strong network with the international wine community abroad. “This book is unique in Georgia in that it has QR codes for all the destinations, locations and venues,” Jaiani said. “We wanted to make a very detailed guide about Georgia and its wine regions and grape varieties. We also wanted to underline that when travelling to different regions of our country, it’s important to not only taste local cuisine, but also to have a taste of the different wines. All the places listed in the book, from the small guest houses and wine bars to the restaurants, are checked and recommended by us. We have tried to focus on the information most convenient and

The reader can get acquainted with the 800 years of wine making tradition in Georgia



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It will help to support the country’s economy by featuring and promoting small wine sellers and guest-house services useful for travelers”. As many of the tourists who come to Georgia often choose to travel independently, without the help of tourist agencies, and seek budget accommodation, the newly presented wine tourism guide could be their best companion along the way. It also claims to be an attempt to support the country’s economy through featuring and promoting small wine sellers and guest-house services, thus assisting them to be discovered by tourists. The Wine Tourism Guide will be available in all major bookshops throughout Georgia, as well as in wine shops, wine bars and museum gift shops. It will also be available in Daunt Books, London, UK, and in the Dussmann Bookshop in Germany. The Georgian Wine Association plans to publish the Georgian Wine Tourism Guide in the Russian language later this year.


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RETAIL FPI | Food Prices on Fire


n the first half of January, Georgian retail food prices went up. Compared to mid-December, ISET’s Retail Food Price index experienced a significant 10.1% increase. Prices increased across key food commodities as the result of the holiday-related slump in demand. The Georgian Lari depreciation applied additional upward pressure on the GEL prices of imported food products.

IN THE SPOTLIGHT The largest bi-weekly increases were observed for pork (35%), carrots (35%), and tomatoes (34%). At this time of the year, most fruits and vegetables become more expensive. However, it turns out that “borsch” is not a popular dish the during holidays, as prices dropped for cabbage (20%) and onions (4%). Unlike other fruits, the price of bananas, which became more expensive last month (price of bananas increased by 15% m/m), now decreased by 3%. Overall, during the last month, only

a few food items did not gain in value (see Table 1). It is noteworthy that eggplants became 95% more expensive, as the traditional dish of eggplants with ground walnuts is “a must” for the Georgian New Year supra.

YEAR-ON-YEAR PERSPECTIVE When looked at from an annual perspective (January 2017 vs. January 2016), on average, retail food prices are 6.2% lower. In this regard, Georgia reflects an overall downward trend in international food prices. For 2016 as a whole, FAO’s Food Price Index went down by 1.5% compared to 2015. On the other hand, the depreciation of the Turkish Lira last year might have put additional downward pressure on Georgian food prices (the exchange rate between the Georgian Lari and the Turkish Lira moved down from 0.80 to 0.70 from January 2016 to January 2017). In addition, Georgian retailers appear to be better equipped to source fresh products from Georgian agricultural producers this year.

Table 1. Percentage changes in prices (m/m)





JANUARY 24 - 26, 2017

Butterflies, Crystal & Gold: Wedgwood in Georgia INTERVIEW BY KATIE RUTH DAVIES




he Christmas gift-buying season may be over, but Wedgwood products- and their potential to bring pleasure to the receiver- are eternal. From tea and dinner sets to crystal glasses- all Wedgwood stores offer a wonderland of sophistication and playful elegance. Last year a branch of Wedgwood was opened in Georgia, gracing the central Vake district on Chavchavadze Avenue. GEORGIA TODAY spoke to company founder, Nelly Nadirashvili, to find out what it took to bring Wedgwood to Tbilisi.

WHAT INSPIRED YOU TO BRING WEDGWOOD TO GEORGIA? Family gatherings around a beautifully decorated table are among the most precious memories I keep from my childhood. Whether it was an everyday dinner or holiday celebration, each item was chosen with tenderness and care. I guess I inherited the love for tableware without even realizing it. Wedgwood china is known internationally for its quality and craftsmanship. Wedgwood products are truly beautiful and enhance every home and table. One day, I realized that Georgia could also be part of the amazing world of Wedgwood and that it would be great to give Georgian customers the chance to appreciate the quality and style of Wedgwood.

WHAT MARKET RESEARCH DID YOU CARRY OUT BEFORE SETTING UP SHOP HERE? DID YOU DO THAT MARKET RESEARCH INDEPENDENTLY OR OUTSOURCE THE TASK? It is usual to carry out various studies prior to making investments. Preparatory work took lots of our time. We carefully looked into the political and economic situation in the country, studied competitors in the field and evaluated customer behavior towards purchasing the type of goods that Wedgwood and its family of brands offer. All the observations were conducted independently.

I am a practicing lawyer who is trying to use the knowledge and skills acquired during my years of practice not only in the professional field, but also to make my Wedgwood dream come true.

Wedgwood, together with its family of brands, has a huge range of products, including formal and casual table settings, bone china and crystal tableware, candlesticks, vases, and other collectibles like clocks, ornaments, special Christmas decorations, annual plates, etc. Wedgwood also offers special wedding lines, HORECA lines, kid’s products, and more. You can see a classic style that recalls the 19th century Georgian evening gatherings, as well as modern shapes and unpredictable matchings of floral and geometric lines that is so trendy for the modern Georgian look. Wedgwood also offers tea, perfect not only for everyday use, but for those who have a passion for gatherings and drinking tea in style. Wedgwood teas also make the perfect complement to the fine Wedgwood teaware.

WHAT ARE YOUR EXPECTATIONS FOR THE FUTURE OF WEDGWOOD GEORGIA? We only officially opened the Wedgwood Tbilisi showroom a few months ago, but within even such a short period of time, we have managed to appear on customers’ shopping lists. Many of our visitors are well informed about Wedgwood, already have some items at home and are eager to add new pieces. Others are simply happy to see a new showroom in the center of Tbilisi where they can find different products matching their sophisticated taste. The attitude of our customers and willingness to buy memorable and desired gifts for every occasion gives us strong ground for optimism for future development. We believe Georgian customers will appreciate the quality offered by Wedgwood and more Georgians will opt for Wedgwood products to grace their birthday parties, wedding ceremonies, Christmas dinners, family gatherings and other major celebrations. Along with Wedgwood there are other brands represented in the showroom. All of those brands are from the same luxury level and also offer high quality products, including: Rogaska, a Slovenian brand that has been producing mouth-blown crystal since 1665; a leading American brand Lenox, with all its family of brands; Sambonet – a leading Italian brand for flatware and hollowware; and German Hutschenreuther. So, the Wedgwood Tbilisi showroom has many things to offer customers with a different taste and lifestyle.

Wedgwood Tbilisi Founder Nelly Nadirashvili with British Ambassador to Georgia, Justin McKenzie Smith

so being with other well-known brands on the same market is more exciting than problematic. Moreover, Georgian customers are very artistic, stylish and trendy. They need a variety of choices to suit their creativity while choosing a present or a tableware decoration for themselves. By entering the Georgian market, Wedgwood opened a wider choice of better sophisticated ranges for home décor lovers.

to purchase an entire tea/coffee or dinner set. We will be further developing offers and posting relevant information on our official Facebook page, Wedgwood Georgia, so keep your eyes open so as not to miss an opportunity to get something special.


I do have my favorite collections in each brand we represent in Georgia. And of course I have some of those items at home – the Renaissance gold collection for my mixed, classic - modern mood, and for more Alice-in-Wonderland style, I often meet friends over the Butterfly Bloom tea set. I also have some items from Waterford, Royal Albert, Reed & Burton from Lenox, and more.

In preparation for the Christmas and New Year holidays, we had a number of interesting offers for our customers- up to 30% discounts on Christmas decorations and also discounts on a vast majority of items in the showroom. Furthermore, we have special offers and promotions for those who want


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Peace March for Women’s Rights in Tbilisi

Photo by Monica Ellena



uild Bridges Not Walls and Men of quality don’t fear equality are only two of the many slogans to be seen being held aloft on cardboard signs and hand-made banners by the colorful group of children, men and women of all ages who met on Saturday afternoon in front of Tbilisi Concert Hall to fight for women’s rights with the Women’s March Tbilisi. Shouting their slogans, the peaceful group headed along the streets of Tbilisi to conclude the march in front of the old parliament building on Rustaveli with speeches made to the crowd gathered there. The main message of the speeches was: “We sup-

port equality, tolerance, and inclusion; we want the voice of the silent majority to be heard.“ Participants afterwards spoke of their pride in having taken part in such an important movement, and their great desire for their messages to be heard around the world, not least throughout this small country of Georgia. This is not to be the last such gathering, as Inge Snip from the organizing committee has already announced plans for a number of events to be held over the next few years. Woman’s March Tbilisi was part of a worldwide movement, begun in Washington DC, USA, where hundreds of thousands of Americans went to the street this Saturday, the day following the inuguration of US President Donald Trump. In total, it is believed that more people took part in the protest marches than attended the inauguration ceremony itself.

The Inauguration: Reactions in Tbilisi



acebook has, since Donald Trump became the President-Elect last November, been consistently entertaining with regards the man who, through his eloquence, body-language and personal Tweets, has generated a plethora of creativity; from cartoons and photo montages to the "Trumping" make-up tutorial and the "Life Accordion Trump" videos. Reactions to these have been naturally mixed, with some finding them immature and others taking them as a good-natured dig at Trump. Wanting to get a taste of how Tbilisi's ex-pat community viewed the 45th President of the United States of America and to witness his inauguration on the big screen, I went along to the celebratory (or commiserative) event at DivexFabrika, a wellknown and well-loved ex-pat hangout. The crowd was made up of as many locals as foreigners, and there was a distinct feeling that the majority of locals weren't all that bothered with the events unfolding on the screen and in the most powerful country in the world- as Trump was declared President, they sat playing cards and joking. Some of their friends were watching the Georgian Eurovision Final in Tbilisi Concert Hall, about as far from anything American as one can get. The reaction from the Americans and Brits gathered at the bar was far different from the Georgians, however. Eyes glued to the giant screen, Trump's declarations of a new America were interspersed around me by expletives, anger and genuine incredulity at the major turn-around the world is facing. "...today we are not merely transferring power from one administration to another, or from one party to another - but we are transferring power from Washington, D.C. and giving it back to you, the American People," Trump said in his inaugural address. Yet the majority of Americans, staring in shock at the screen, seemed to be feeling rather powerless.

As Trump declared his "America First" and spoke of the protection of military and God, a cry of "Fascist!" was heard in the room. Some Americans had hands to their foreheads in disbelief. His messages were strong, patriotic; perhaps messages that an American could believe in. But few that I spoke to believe that President Trump will stay true to his word, especially considering his choice of team members, the latest scandal being Betsy DeVos. "We will get our people off of welfare and back to work - rebuilding our country with American hands and American labor. We will follow two simple rules: Buy American and hire American," (bang goes Georgia's trade aspirations, then). "We will seek friendship and goodwill with the nations of the world - but we do so with the understanding that it is the right of all nations to put their own interests first. We do not seek to impose our way of life on anyone, but rather to let it shine as an example for everyone to follow. We will reinforce old alliances and form new ones," (a trembling fear of a Russian alliance, and what it could mean for Georgia, circulates the room) "-- and unite the civilized world against radical Islamic terrorism, which we will eradicate completely from the face of the Earth. At the bedrock of our politics will be a total allegiance to the United States of America, and through our loyalty to our country, we will rediscover our loyalty to each other," the President said. "This is the most totalitarian speech the world's heard since the 30s," one attendee said, shocked. "Every decision on trade, on taxes, on immigration, on foreign affairs, will be made to benefit American workers and American families. We must protect our borders from the ravages of other countries making our products, stealing our companies, and destroying our jobs. Protection will lead to great prosperity and strength." The sensation at this moment was that Georgia could have very little to hope for in its future dealings with the Trump administration. We will see. The song that the bar owners chose to play following his speech seemed scarily appropriate to many there: 'It's the end of the world as we know it...'




US Mission to OSCE Condemns Russia’s Destruction of Cultural Heritage in Occupied Abkhazia


JANUARY 24 - 26, 2017

Ukraine's Potential New President Marked BY DIMITRI DOLABERIDZE



he United States (US) Mission to the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) released a statement on Thursday, saying the US condemns the destruction of a registered historical site near the village of Tsebelda, Gulripshi, a district of the Abkhaz region of Georgia. The US mission reports that the destruction by Russian forces on January 3, in order to prepare the area for a military firing range for its Southern Military District’s 7th brigade, is in contravention of Georgia’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. “The site consisted of ruins dating from the 8th and 9th centuries and the late Middle Ages, as well as a 20th century cemetery. All of these elements of the cultural heritage of Georgia and the Caucasus were irretrievably lost,” the statement reads. The US Mission to OSCE says that Russia’s continued occupation of Georgia’s Abkhaz and South Ossetian regions is unacceptable. They call on Russia, as a party to the conflict, to fulfil its obligations under the 2008 ceasefire agreement, including by withdrawing all its forces to pre-conflict positions, providing unhindered access for humanitarian assistance, and reversing its unilateral recognition of these Georgian regions as independent states. “We unequivocally support Georgia’s sovereignty, independence, and territorial integrity within its internationally recognized borders, as well as its aspirations to integrate into EuroAtlantic institutions,” the statement of

the mission reads. The US side also expressed concern over the announcement by de-facto Abkhaz authorities of the closure of two controlled crossing points along the Abkhaz administrative boundary line at Nabakevi-Khurcha and Otobaia-Orsantia by the end of this month, saying this action could further restrict freedom of movement, including of schoolchildren and patients requiring medical treatment. “We are also concerned that de-facto Abkhaz authorities intend to create an enlarged “border zone” along the Abkhaz administrative boundary line, requiring special permits to enter, which would further hinder movement,” the statement reads. At the end, the mission reiterates that the United States encourages the Chairmanship to resume consultations on reestablishing a meaningful OSCE presence in Georgia. The OSCE statement comes in response to Georgia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ January 10 call for the international community to act, in which it claimed the Russian Federation is destroying Georgian cultural monuments on the territories of the occupied regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia. The MFA said that Russia’s actions are directed against the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Georgia, and called on the Russian Federation to desist from the practice of destroying Georgian cultural monuments in the occupied territories. Georgian President, Giorgi Margvelashvili, also condemned Russia’s actions, claiming them to be a “deliberate act of vandalism in violation of international law, including the 1954 Hague Convention on the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict.”

ll the men of Poroshenko live in fear as their king clearly sits on a tottering throne. More so as now, at last, there is a real contender for the seat of said king. At least, this is how it seems to the Ukrainian president and his entourage: Ukrainian oligarch Viktor Pinchuk, a figure marked for the future leadership role in every aspect. Pinchuk is married to the daughter of ex-president Leonid Kuchma and has a financial capacity a third in size over other Ukrainian businessmen. More importantly, however, he has never been tainted in any political scandal. He even managed to take part in financing the presidential election campaign of Hillary Clinton without amassing problems with Donald Trump: Hillary was financed, but Trump was not mocked by him, at least in the public space. Unlike Poroshenko. Pinchuk’s article, published in The Wall Street Journal, outlined his position with regard the Ukrainian problems. His plan is simple: to improve relations with Russia and to rebuild the economy of Ukraine. The issue of territorial ownership of Crimea is to be observed with closed

eyes and a pretense of non-existence. In Donbass, the presidential election needs to be held immediately- and let them sort out their problems themselves. Kiev’s attention should be focused on helping those who have been forced to flee their homes. Simply put, they need to make arrangements to integrate refugees from Donbass. European integration has to be forgotten - at least temporarily – as Ukraine has no time for it, while accession to NATO, a pipe dream that will certainly never be realized, must be recognized as such. The expected result? Fewer problems for Ukraine. Following such a seditious article, how would Victor Pinchuk be perceived in the current Ukrainian establishment?

Had he done such on TV, he would have been accused of being mentally ill and forthwith forgotten. But his words were published in a reputable American newspaper. What if the White House read the article (which it surely did), and decided that Victor Pinchuk, a reasonable man willing to make necessary agreements, was therefore a very suitable candidate for the post of President of Ukraine? Needless to say, in Kiev the creative author was not appreciated. Petro Poroshenko and his orderlies even boycotted the traditional breakfast organized by Pinchuk in Davos. Shame... as there sat David Cameron and Henry Kissinger, who found it quite worthy an event and did not even think to refuse the invitation.

Venice Commission President: Improvements Still Needed BY THEA MORRSION


he Venice Commission delegation, led by President Gianni Buquicchio, arrived in Georgia on Friday on the invitation of Parliament Speaker Irakli Kobakhidze, who simultaneously chairs the State Constitutional Commission which is tasked with carrying out constitutional amendments before April 30. After the meeting with Kobakhidze, the President of the Venice Commission said that the Constitution of Georgia is in line with international standards, but still needs to be improved. Buquicchio welcomed the readiness of the Parliament Chair to share the remarks and views of the Venice Commission

during the implementation of the amendments to the Constitution of Georgia. “We made some critical remarks when amendments were made to the Georgian Constitution in 2010. We do not impose anything on you, we just want you to improve the Constitution and bring it into full compliance with international standards," Buquicchio told the current Georgian government. Speaking at a news briefing after the meeting, Kobakhidze said that the sides discussed all details pertaining to the work of the Constitutional Commission and agreed on cooperation plans. “All the recommendations of the Venice Commission will be carefully reviewed. Parliament will not adopt any constitutional amendment if it is negatively assessed by the Venice Commission,” he said. Prior to meeting with the Parliament

Speaker, the Venice delegation met with NGOrepresentativesandconstitutionalists. They also met ex-Parliament Speaker, Davit Usupashvili, who chaired the State Constitutional Commission before, and the representatives of parliamentary minority factions. The Venice delegation was also hosted by the President of Georgia, Giorgi Margvelashvili, whose administration has refused to take part in the work of the Constitutional Commission. The presidential administration reports that, along with the issue of the Constitutional Commission, the sides discussed the “third wave” of judicial reforms, which were endorsed in December and have to be signed by the President by January 25. “We appreciate the President’s role. He seems to be impartial and neutral and guarantees democracy in the country,” Buquicchio said.


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Saakashvili, Trump & the Breakup of the UNM OP-ED BY LINCOLN MITCHELL


he continued breakup of the United National Movement (UNM) should not be a big surprise to anybody who has been paying attention to Georgian politics over the last four or five years. Political parties that lose four consecutive elections, in this case two for parliament, one presidential and one local election, rarely hold together. This is particularly true in countries like Georgia where almost all political parties are relatively new. The big question facing the post-UNM party led by former UNM stalwarts David Bakradze, Gigi Ugulava and Giga Bokeria, is whether it is too little, too late. Those three leaders, as all sentient Georgian voters know, have been leaders of the UNM for around a decade. It is not clear whether they will be able to successfully rebrand their new

party or simply be seen as old wine in new, albeit Saakashvhili free, bottles. It has been the case for at least a few years that the UNM, even under a new name and following a split of some kind, will only thrive if it separates itself from its former leader, who remains able to command some foreign attention but is far from beloved in Georgia. Presumably because of Saakashvili’s widespread appeal and power within the party, it took many others in the UNM leadership longer to figure this out than they might have. Once they did, however, it became very clear to them that political survival for them was impossible unless they separated themselves from their party’s erstwhile leader. The separation that the breakaway faction, which is, importantly, larger than what is left of the UNM, was not easy, or friendly. Ugulava’s comment that Saakashvili “does not radiate leadership anymore,” was one of the nicer things he said about his party’s founder and longtime leader. Saakashvili’s response



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was also telling. He noted that Ugulava spent more time attacking Saakashvili than Bidzina Ivanishvili, the founder of the ruling Georgian Dream (GD) party that Saakashvili has long demonized as the real leader of Georgia and a Russian stooge, had. Saakashvili also added that period of “losers governance” within the UNM was over because Bokeria, Bakradze and Ugulava had left. First, while such comments are another reminder of Saakashvili’s fixation on Ivanishvili, a sentiment that may well be mutual, they also represent an appalling lack of self-awareness. While Bakradze, Ugulava and Bokeria, and those who have followed them out of the UNM, may not be extraordinary politicians or vote-getters, if there is one person who is responsible for the recent electoral defeats suffered by the UNM, it is Saakashvili, the man most identified with the party. It will be difficult for these politicians, who for so long were seen as Saakashvili’s loyal lieutenants, to craft a new party that is not dogged by the Saakashvili legacy, but it is apparent that this is the task they have created for themselves. The question of where Saakashvili goes from here is more difficult to answer, but it is also very important for Georgia’s future. This is further complicated because Saakashvili’s future in his recently adopted country of Ukraine is also unclear. He resigned as governor of Odessa late last year, but remains involved in Ukrainian politics where he has formed his own political party and positioned himself as a kind of anti-corruption advocate at large. It is yet to be seen whether the Ukrainian electorate shares this image of the former Georgian President and Odessa governor. One hint of how Saakashvili may seek to position himself can be seen in some thoughts he posted on Facebook on January 11th. The post is lengthy, but worth quoting in full. “President-elect Trump visited Georgia on a business trip (in 2012). During this trip and during my visits to see him in New York, I've been with him in different situations of social interaction. I can confirm that while he is a very interesting and impressive personality, who is fun to be with, he is also a very dignified and careful man and I cannot imagine him finding himself in a situation when his actions could be used against him by the likes of Putin. I believe that the whole thing is a classic example of black PR and I am speaking of it from my personal experience as they've used plenty such dirty tricks for many years against me, too.” Saakashvili is trying to do the seemingly impossible task not just of defending Donald Trump from charges that intervention on the part of Russia and

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Saakashvili could continue to cultivate his relationship with Trump, who is very susceptible to flattery and more or less understands foreign policy, and politics more generally, through the lens of who says nice things about him and who does not; and Saakashvili certainly understands that Vladimir Putin helped get him elected, but to also suggest that the entire Trump-Putin saga is something that is the product of dirty tricks by Trump’s opponents. It is not clear from his comments whether the former Georgian President believes Russia, the Democratic Party or both are the dirty tricksters in this scenario. This reflects Saakashvili’s need to continue to present himself as a leading anti-Putin voice, while also seeking to curry favor with the new American President. Saakashvili’s description of Trump has some truth to it. The new American president is interesting, and perhaps for somebody like Saakashvili, fun to be with. However, other than his widely known germaphobia, Trump is anything but careful; and by now most Americans could think of hundreds of adjectives that come to mind before the word “dignified” to describe their new leader. Continued on page 12


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JANUARY 24 - 26, 2017

Saakashvili, Trump & the Breakup of the UNM

Continued from page 11 Saakashvili’s motivation here is that his best gambit for remaining relevant in Georgia is to present himself as having a special relationship with Donald Trump. However, this will be of no value to Saakashvili if Trump continues to be tainted by the broad perception that Trump, not Ivanishvili or any of Saakashvili’s critics or political opponents, is the real Russian stooge. Notably, there is little evidence that Saakashvili, despite his one-time friendship with Trump, has had much contact with anybody on the incoming Trump administration, or that anybody in that administration has given the former Georgian President and former governor

of Odessa much thought. That creates a major problem for Saakashvili because he has already compromised his calling card, his outspoken opposition to Putin, by being apologist for somebody who is widely suspected of having an inappropriate political relationship with Putin. This may mean nothing for Georgia. Perhaps with no political base other than a much-weakened rump UNM, Saakashvili will internalize the reality that his moment in Georgian history has come and gone, but there is no guarantee that will happen. If it doesn’t, Saakashvili could be a force of great uncertainty for Georgia. In his efforts to reinsert himself into Georgian politics, Saakashvili could continue to cultivate his relationship with Trump, who is very susceptible to

flattery and more or less understands foreign policy, and politics more generally, through the lens of who says nice things about him and who does not; and Saakashvili certainly understands that. The goal of Saakashvili’s effort to flatter the American President is to make Saakashvili a player again, something that is eased by the pre-existing relationship between the two men. If that happens, Georgia can hope that Saakashvili uses that relationship to help Trump arrive at a different position on Putin, but Saakashvili would also use that relationship to frame Trump’s understanding of Georgian politics. That understanding would place Saakashvili as the shining beacon of hope for Georgia. That understanding, if it became the foundation for

American policy on Georgia, would be a disaster for Georgia, and a problem for the US as well. It could lead to American suspicion of the current Georgian government, to Saakashvili’s view that the government of Georgia is anti-democratic and illegitimate gaining more traction in the US or even support for the belief that there is a desire in Georgia for Saakashvili to return to a leadership role. As Bokeria, Bakradze, Ugulava and others seek to create a new political force in Georgia- one with the pro-west orientation of the UNM, but without its political baggage, a task made all the more difficult because those three have been carrying much of that baggage for many years -they will do so in a changing Georgian, and global political context.

Saakashvili, for his part, will continue to try to find his place in both settings. It is not always useful to speculate too much about Saakashvili, or any other politician, but the breakup of the UNM heralds a new chapter in Georgia’s political party development, and because he was a critical cause of that breakup, of Saakashvili’s career as well. We also know that simply slipping off into obscurity is something Saakashvili has never been able to do. The Georgia Analysis is a twice monthly analysis of political and other major developments in Georgia. Lincoln Mitchell is a political development, research and strategic consultant who has worked extensively in the post-Soviet region. Read more on lincolnmitchell.com.

Profile for Georgia Today

Issue #914 Business  

January 24 - 26, 2017

Issue #914 Business  

January 24 - 26, 2017