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Issue no: 923

• FEBRUARY 24 - 27, 2017

• PUBLISHED TWICE WEEKLY

PRICE: GEL 2.50

In this week’s issue...

FOCUS ON ACCOUNTABILITY GIP and Amnesty International take a look at Georgian reality PAGE

4, 11

Aerosmith Batumi Concert Tickets on Sale from February 25 NEWS PAGE 2

Lavrov & the Visa Waiver POLITICS PAGE 3

Pointing the Finger: Yanukovich & his Euromaidan Commission POLITICS PAGE 6

Build Yourself a Bright Future – Invest in Green Diamond

The First 100 Days of the Georgian Dream Gov’t: A Reality Check

SOCIETY PAGE 9

Vicente Wolf on the Simplicity & Delicacy of Tbilisi Gardens SOCIETY PAGE 10

BY KATIE RUTH DAVIES

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n February 22, the Georgian Institute of Politics (GIP) presented its latest report, titled ‘The First 100 Days of the Georgian Dream Government: A Reality Check’. “Georgia’s 2016 parliamentary elections were assessed positively by a consensus of international observers. However, the results leave the country’s future uncertain. The ruling coalition Georgian Dream – Democratic Georgia (GD) managed to win a constitutional majority, a powerful mandate allowing the party to amend the country’s constitution without support from opposition lawmakers. The next four years will therefore test the strength of the democratic checks and balances built into Georgia’s political system, as well as test GD itself, which now holds more power than at any time in its short history as a political party.’- the opening of the report reads. Continued on page 4

Berlinale 67. The Winners and Losers on the Big Screen CULTURE PAGE 12


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NEWS

GEORGIA TODAY

FEBRUARY 24 - 27, 2017

CNF Signs Grant Agreement for Lagodekhi Protected Areas

The Lagodekhi Protected Areas. Source: GeorgianTour

BY KATIE RUTH DAVIES

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he Caucasus Nature Fund (CNF) has allocated EUR 240,000 to the Protected Areas of Georgia. A grant agreement was signed at the Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources Protection of Georgia confirming this commitment on behalf of CNF. The agreement covers the period 20172019, and was signed by the Minister of Environment and Natural Resources Protection of Georgia, Gigla Agulashvili, acting Chairperson of the Agency of Protected Areas, Tamar Kvantaliani, and the Executive Director of Caucasus Nature Fund, George Giacomini. According to the agreement, the Caucasus Nature Fund will cover a number of operational expenses relating to the functions and activities of Lagodekhi Protected Areas from 2017 to 2019. More specifically, the grant will cover salary top-ups for Protected Areas Staff (including rangers), infrastructure development, arrangement of parking place, renovation of a car park and much-needed biodiversity monitoring activities carried out in the Protected Area. The Caucasus Nature Fund has been cooperating with the Agency of Protected Areas for several years, and has made a significant contribution to infrastructure development and the motivation of key staff in the ten protected areas that it

supports. CNF’s support for Lagodekhi started in 2011, and since then Lagodekhi has made significant progress in a number of operational areas, including patrolling and monitoring capabilities and tourist infrastructure development. “CNF is proud to continue our support to the Lagodheki Protected Area,” said George Giacomini. “Since 2011, we have partnered with the Agency for Protected Areas and provide necessary funding to improve infrastructure and protection in the park so that Georgians and citizens of the world can enjoy the unique beauty in Lagodheki. Our new three-year grant, totaling EUR 240,000 will ensure that continues." CNF is a conservation trust fund created to safeguard the Caucasus eco-region, one of the most biologically rich and diverse areas on Earth. It provides grants to the protected areas of Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia, and builds the government’s capacity to sustain the parks for future generations. Initially established in 2007 by the German Government (BMZ), Conservation International and the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), and with only one staff member, today it is a committed team of 10 working in the Caucasus and Europe. In Georgia, CNF gave its first grant to Borjomi Kharagauli National Park in 2009. This emergency grant supported fire equipment and vehicles, with the first three-year grant agreement for Borjomi in 2010. Since then CNF has provided nearly EUR 2 million in funding to nine parks in Georgia.

Tbilisi to Join Travel Massive Community BY NINO GUGUNISHVILI

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aria Kholodilina, a Tbilisibased Ukrainian blogger and author of the project A Love Letter to Tbilisi, came up with yet another initiative to promote the country and its tourism sector: to connect Georgia with Travel Massive, the world’s largest free and open community and a major platform for travel insiders and professionals in the tourism industry. The discussion ‘Thematic Tours against Triviality’ held at the Impact Hub Tbilisi on Tuesday found local expats, journalists, travelers, and photographers exploring and sharing their experience of introducing Georgia through all its authenticity while avoiding a trivial approach to sightseeing. Daria, organizer of the event, says that the main aim, to bring together Georgian and expat travel insiders, was achieved. To Daria, it’s important to put Georgia on the Travel Massive map and raise country exposure through the community of travel and tourism professionals. “Travel Massive is a platform with a mission to discover and ultimately connect travellers in every city and every country around the world,” she says. Paul Rimple, journalist, founder of Culinary Backstreets Tbilisi; Maurice

Wolf, photographer, founder of “Brutal Tours;” Tatiana Remneva, writer, founder of Miracle Tbilisi; and Anna Koriphadze, a tour guide, spoke to guests at the event. Travel Massive was born in the US and then spread worldwide. According to the franchize, meetings in Tbilisi should be held at least once every 1.5 months, but active as she is, Daria wants to do them more often- every month. “If Georgians can find partners, bloggers, photographers, and travel agents; if they can network and promote their

businesses at Travel Massive, I will be happy,” she says. In March, Daria plans to organize an event on start-ups and innovations in the tourism sector, and in April there will be a meeting on voluntary tourism. Daria herself rented out space at the Impact Hub to organize the meeting on Tuesday. She got support from Spy Recipe and Marani Sanavardo. “I love young initiatives and it’s just great that we help each other,” she enthused.

Aerosmith Batumi Concert Tickets on Sale from February 25 BY THEA MORRISON

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he legendary rock group Aerosmith is coming to Georgia to perform at the country's hot new venue, the Black Sea Arena, near Batumi, on May 20. The five-member band will perform in Georgia as part of their 2017 European tour, AeroVederci, Baby! Tickets will be on sale from February 25 at the Black Sea Arena box office in Batumi, at the Tbilisi Philharmonic Hall, or online at www.tkt.ge or www.biletebi. ge. The full list of concert venues and dates for this tour can be found on the official band website www.aerosmith.com.


NEWS

GEORGIA TODAY FEBRUARY 24 - 27, 2017

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Georgia Sees IMF to Launch Soaring Increase in Technical Support Flight Operations Program in Georgia BY NINO GUGUNISHVILI

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he International Monetary Fund (IMF) is to begin a support program in Georgia for the coming three years, providing technical assistance to Georgia’s Revenue Service. The aim is to both enhance tax administration and ensure the effective implementation of EU Association

The IMF helps the Georgian authorities come up with solutions that serve the goals of growth and development in Georgia

Agreement requirements. Since 2012, the IMF has assisted Georgia in tax declaration, debt management and recovery, risk management and dispute resolution, legislative changes, audit reform, taxpayers’ service and voluntary compliance and tax administration issues. Further cooperation possibilities between the Ministry of Finance of Georgia and the IMF were discussed at the meeting of Minister of Economy, Dimitry Kumsishvili with Richard Doornbosch, IMF Alternate Executive Director, and Vitor Gaspar,

Director of the Fiscal Affairs Department at IMF, during their visit to Tbilisi. “We’ve been collaborating with the Georgian authorities quite intensively since 2012,” Gaspar said. “We’ve worked in the area of tax policy and revenue administration as well as in the area of public, financial management and expenditure policy. We’re extremely pleased with the very constructive engagement of the Georgian authorities, who always listen quite carefully to our advice before implementing a program.”

BY TAMZIN WHITEWOOD

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Dimitry Kumsishvili, Minister of Economy

ith an increasing number of airlines opening new routes to Georgia, tourist numbers are set to soar this summer season. For the first time in nearly five years, Georgia will see two new direct air-links to the UK. Wizz Air will operate twice-weekly flights from Kutaisi to London Luton Airport from June 18, and Georgian Airways (Air Zena) is set to commence a twice-weekly service from Tbilisi to London Gatwick. Georgian Airways have yet to confirm a specific date from which these flights will commence, the airline themselves stating the end of April of this year and TAV airports Georgia stating the beginning of May. Gulf Air has confirmed a new route

from Tbilisi to Bahrain from June, with thrice-weekly flights. To celebrate the launch, the airline is offering 25% off fares booked during the month of February. YanAir of Ukraine are expected to commence direct operations from Odessa to both Tbilisi and Batumi from June. Flights to/from Tbilisi will operate on Wednesdays and Saturdays, and Batumi on Thursdays and Sundays. Furthermore, FlyDubai has confirmed a new route from Batumi to Dubai, set to commence from June 22. The flights will operate three times a week on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturday’s using Boeing 737-800 type aircraft and offer a flight time of just 3 hours 30 minutes direct to the UAE. Tbilisi International Airport is to open a new arrivals terminal in late September this year as passenger numbers are set to increase, to ensure the airport can accommodate the increase in traffic.

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POLITICS

The First 100 Days of the Georgian Dream Gov’t: A Reality Check Continued from page 1

Authored jointly by Kornely Kakachia, professor of Political Science at the Ivane Javakishvili Tbilisi State University and GIP director; Bidzina Lebanidze, research associate and reader at the University of Freiburg and a senior analyst at GIP; Joseph Larsen, analyst; and Mariam Grigalashvili, researcher, the report aims to analyze the promises made by GD during the election campaign, based on assessments provided by a number of experts of the content, controversy and feasibility of each, and assess to what extent those campaign promises were implemented during the first 100 days of GD’s new government. Focus areas are: Economic Development, Social Policy, Foreign & Security Policy, and Democracy & Human Rights. In Economic Development, for example, in its first 100 days, GD aimed to introduce a Larization policy, introduce the Estonian corporate taxation model, increase excise tax, mobilize external funds for infrastructure and SME development, decrease the budget for agricultural projects, introduce new regulations for online gambling, and move forward with regards hydro power plant construction, the Free Trade Agreement with China, the National Strategy for Rural Development 2017-2020 and other infrastructure projects. While it says “changes were immediately observable in several domestic policy domains, including social and economic policy and the area of democracy and human rights,” the Report makes clear that GD’s record is far from unblemished, going on to highlight a number of areas in which the party has failed to deliver. The key findings of the report are stated below. 1. The universal healthcare system remains GD’s landmark reform, and the new government has pledged to increase investment. However, the system’s longterm fiscal sustainability remains an issue in light of modest economic growth. Higher growth rates are needed in order to ensure fiscal sustainability. 2. It is a welcome development that GD began implementation of lasting reforms in the sphere of defense. The reforms focus on fiscal sustainability and compliance with NATO standards. While necessary, the government should take care that these reforms are not be carried out at a cost of reduced defense capabilities or infringement of human and labor rights. 3. The introduction of the Estonian corporate tax model is a promising development expected to increase economic efficiency and productivity. However, the reform is projected to lead to a short-term decrease in corporate tax revenue, revenue which will have to be made up in other areas. The government has responded by increasing excise taxes. 4. The increase in excise taxes represents a major deviation from GD’s election program and raises questions about

GD’s adherence to a market liberal policy orientation. 5. Arguably, the most controversial initiative is the Larization policy. The policy is ambitious and demonstrates the sociallyoriented side of the government’s agenda, but due to the eligibility criteria, the majority of affected citizens may be unable to benefit. 6. Although the election program was rich with promises to reform the education system, the first 100 days left much to be desired in this area. The government has so far restricted itself to limited reforms, such as increasing salaries for certified school teachers. Major reforms that could drastically improve the quality of education have not been implemented. 7. GD’s dominant position in parliament is accompanied by weaker oversight of the legislative branch. Adopting a new constitution under such circumstances, which appears to be a priority of the new government, may further skew the system of checks and balances. 8. Recent developments in the media landscape - including the merger of three major television channels, controversial events surrounding the Georgian Public Broadcaster, and further bifurcation of the media landscape - may potentially endanger media pluralism. 9. The GD government has remained faithful to its pragmatic policy of accommodating Russian geopolitical interests while integrating with Euro-Atlantic structures. However, this balanced policy will become politically unsustainable if it fails to yield tangible results. 10. The government has continued its peaceful policy of confidence-building and reconciliation with the population living on the occupied territories. However, the government’s efforts are complicated by Russia’s intransigence and continued policy of creeping annexation. The international community has heretofore failed to effectively address the situation. GD still lacks a clear vision and coherent strategy for engaging with the population living on the occupied territories, with a view toward resolution of the conflicts. The full report can be found at http:// e x p e r t p o l l s . ge /w p - c o n t e n t / uploads/2017/02/Report_2017.pdf.

The Georgian Institute of Politics (GIP) is a Tbilisi-based non-profit, non-partisan, research and analysis organization founded in early 2011. GIP strives to strengthen the organizational backbone of democratic institutions and promote good governance and development through policy research and advocacy in Georgia. It also encourages public participation in civil society-building and developing democratic processes. Since December 2013 GIP is member of the OSCE Network of Think Tanks and Academic Institutions.

GEORGIA TODAY

FEBRUARY 24 - 27, 2017

Janelidze: Georgia is Ready to Settle Conflict with Russia BY THEA MORRISON

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eorgia stands ready to settle the conflict with the Russian Federation by exclusively peaceful means, in accordance with the relevant international agreements and with full respect for the fundamental principles of international law - said Georgia’s Foreign Minister, Mikheil Janelidze, at the United Nations Security Council discussions ‘Conflicts in Europe’ on February 21. The Georgian minister added that while the UN, OSCE and EU have been engaged in international talks between Georgia and Russia as the co-moderators of the Geneva International Discussions for eight years now, more needs to be done to deliver tangible results, which first and foremost requires political will and commitment from all. “A conflict that started in the early 90s reached a culmination in the 2008 Russian military intervention in Georgia and the consequent occupation of our territories. The international community failed to effectively respond to the early warning signs. Following the August War, we lost even the minimal existing safeguards, as in 2009 both UNOMIG and OSCE missions to Georgia were unilaterally blocked by Russia, despite the increased need of their presence to monitor the situation on the ground,” Janelidze stressed.

He warned that the aggression in Georgia and then Ukraine may be seen elsewhere if no action is taken today. “Georgia is committed to good neighborly relations and strives to have peace in the region. It was in this spirit that Georgia undertook the unilateral nonuse of force commitment, which was never reciprocated. Since 2012, the Government of Georgia has been seeking the de-escalation of relations with the Russian Federation by making constructive and practical steps,” he added. Janelidze stressed that despite Georgia’s constructive dialogue, the Russian Federation continues a policy which is aimed at the “factual annexation” of the Georgian regions of Abkhazia and Tskhinvali (South Ossetia) through illegal agreements on integration signed with the de-facto authorities of the regions. He condemned the decision by the occu-

pation regime to conduct a so-called referendum in Tskhinvali to rename the region “Republic of South Ossetia - Alania”. “The occupation regime in Abkhazia region took the decision to close the socalled checkpoints at the occupation line, further impeding free movement of the local population,” he added. The minister underlined that conflict resolution between Georgia and Russia must start with the withdrawal of Russian occupation forces from Georgia’s occupied regions. “We call upon the Russian Federation to reverse its illegal policy, comply with international obligations, including the August 12, 2008 Ceasefire Agreement, grant access to the international monitoring mechanisms, and allow the return of hundreds of thousands of IDPs and refugees who have been forcefully evicted from their homes,” Janelidze concluded.

Parliament of Georgia & UNDP Encourage Greater Participation of Women in Politics

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he Speaker of the Parliament of Georgia hosted a reception on February 21 to welcome newly elected women MPs and reiterate Parliament’s commitment to promoting equal opportunities for men and women. Under the theme, ‘We All Gain with More Women in Politics and Economy,’ the reception was organized with assistance from the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) and Government of Sweden, as part of the Sweden-funded program for gender equality in Georgia. Irakli Kobakhidze, Speaker of the Parliament of Georgia, opened the event with welcome remarks. Niels Scott, Head of UNDP in Georgia, and Martina Quick, Ambassador of Sweden to Georgia, addressed representatives of the Parliament and Government of Georgia, civil society and international organizations. Tamar Chugoshvili, First Vice Speaker

of Parliament of Georgia and Chair of the Gender Equality Council, presented an overview of the priorities and plans of the Gender Equality Council. Women hold 23 seats in the ninth Parliament of Georgia, 15 percent of the overall number of MPs. In the run-up to

local elections in 2017, the Gender Equality Council of the Parliament of Georgia, assisted by the Government of Sweden and UNDP, will pay particular attention to empowering women candidates and breaking gender barriers in Georgian politics.


POLITICS

GEORGIA TODAY FEBRUARY 24 - 27, 2017

Lavrov & the Visa Waiver OP-ED BY ZAZA JGARKAVA

Georgia Raises 3 Key Issues at IPRM Meeting in Gali BY THEA MORRISON

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he Foreign Minister of Russia, Sergei Lavrov, made two contradictory announcements about Georgia. On February 10, he told the newspaper Izvestia that a visa-free regime for Georgian citizens was not to be ruled out, then on February 18, at the 53rd Munich Security Conference, he told journalists quite plainly that Russia did not plan to renew visafree travel for Georgian citizens in the near future. Lavrov never stood out for his diplomatic announcements regarding Georgia, always voicing directly and openly the position of the Kremlin. Therefore, his announcement about a visa waiver was naturally understood in Tbilisi as the answer of Russia to the recent Euro visa liberalization. Even more, Official Tbilisi regarded Euro liberalization as a “favor” from the Kremlin. “The dialogue we’ve had with Russia since 2013 helped support the implementation of the European project,” bragged special representative of the Prime Minister of Georgia for Russia, Zurab Abashidze. To put it simply, Official Tbilisi was satisfied that the Kremlin had not incited European MEP’s against Georgia, thus blocking Euro liberalization. Nevertheless, the excitement of the officials in Tbilisi didn’t last long, because in Munich, Lavrov referred to Georgia as a territory that serves as a route for terrorists, extremists and drug dealers, “Terrorists, extremists and drug dealers often use Georgia and the South Caucasus as a path, and in this light, it is difficult to talk about visa-free travel,” Lavrov told journalists. Why did the Kremlin disappoint the

T Georgian Dream government? What happened this week to make the Kremlin so dramatically change its position? Former Georgian Ambassador to Switzerland, opposition MP Zurab Chiaberashvili, believes that Lavrov’s announcement is a signal for Georgia that it has to give up something more in order to receive the visa-waiver from them. “Lavrov directly said that when fully fledged relations are settled between Georgian and Russian law enforcement agencies, and risks can be minimized, perhaps then it will be possible to talk about softening the visa regimen further. What further implications do we need to understand what Russia wants in exchange, not even for full abolition of the visa regime, but for easing travel. This is the cornerstone of the concession policies that Georgian Dream (GD) has had since 2013,” Chiaberashvili said. Expert Mamuka Areshidze regards the transformation of the Kremlin’s position not as a reaction to the concession politics of GD, but on the contrary, to the purposeful policies that Official Tbilisi has with NATO. “The fact that a training center of NATO

standard is to open here and that Georgia is still determined to work with NATO, and that these relations are becoming tighter- this is what worries [the Kremlin],” Areshidze told newspaper Akhali Taoba. “You know why Lavrov mentioned the South Caucasus? Because the head of the USA visited Baku and although he met with Gerasimov, Chief of the General Staff of the Armed Forces of Russia, it was still considered that both the USA and NATO regard Azerbaijan as their potential ally”. That the ultimate goal of Russia to subdue Georgia has not been realized is proven not only by the opening of the NATO training center: no Georgian government can recognize the independence of the occupied territories, something which the Kremlin craves. This is why it has tried repeatedly to disintegrate Georgia into feudal principalities - poking at different times Adjara, Samegrelo and Javakheti. Because of Russia’s failure in this direction, the Kremlin is developing new bait, and there is a feeling that if such politics fail, in the end they will put the stakes on better-tried and tested ways, meaning military intervention, as happened in August 2008.

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he 43rd Incident Prevention and Response Mechanism (IPRM) took place in Gali, a town located between Georgia and its Russianbacked breakaway region of Abkhazia, on February 22. Georgians, Abkhaz, Russians and representatives of the European Union Monitoring Mission (EUMM) participated in the meeting chaired by the United Nations. The Georgian side raised three key issues at the meeting and demanded: 1. The arrest of Abkhaz Rashid Kanji Oghli, who killed Georgian citizen Giga Otkhozoria on the territory currently controlled by Georgia, on May 19, 2016. 2. The release of Georgian Giorgi Lukava, who is currently imprisoned in de facto Abkhazia for alleged terrorist activities. 3. Cancellation of the announced clo-

sure of crossing points at the GeorgiaAbkhazia boundary line, stressing that any kind of prohibition that restricts the fundamental rights of local residents will complicate their living conditions and pose a threat to security on the ground. The Incident Prevention and Response Mechanism was created in February 2009 as a result of the Geneva Discussions that followed the 2008 conflict in Georgia. The meetings are an opportunity to discuss, among other issues, the identification of potential risks, the follow-up of incidents and the exchange of information, as well as problems affecting the communities on a daily basis. The meetings are co-facilitated by the OSCE and the European Union Monitoring Mission in Georgia (EUMM). The Georgian side at the IPRM meetings is represented by the representatives of the State Security Service and the Reconciliation and Civil Equality Ministry of Georgia. The next IPRM meeting in Gali will be held on March 21.


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POLITICS

GEORGIA TODAY

FEBRUARY 24 - 27, 2017

Georgia’s Non-Existent Navy

BY EUGENE KOGAN

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ATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said after a February meeting of the ministers of defense, that six NATO members – Canada, Germany, The Netherlands, Poland, Turkey and the US – have “indicated their willingness to contribute to our presence in the Black Sea region, on land, at sea and in the air. Other Allies are also looking into how they can contribute.” It remains to be seen what exactly “willingness to contribute” is likely to entail. Two countries in the Black Sea region, Georgia and Ukraine, that aspire to become NATO members in the foreseeable future, are different in terms

of naval capabilities and their potential contribution. For instance, the Ukrainian Navy commissioned two GURZA-M missile-capable patrol boats on 6 December 2016. Furthermore, Oleksandr Turchynov, Secretary of the Ukrainian National Security and Defense Council (NSDC), said on 30 November 2016: even though “we do not have many ships, we are ready to participate in joint projects, such as joint patrols.” Mikheil Janelidze, Georgian Minister of Foreign Affairs, was rather diplomatic in saying on October 27, 2016: “Georgia participates in the NATO discussions regarding the Black Sea security in all relevant formats.” It should be stressed that Georgia lacks serious naval capabilities aside from a small number of Coast Guard ships, while, besides the Crimean Peninsula, Russia also holds a naval base in Ocham-

chira, Abkhazia (part of Georgia) from where it dominates the Black Sea all the way to the Turkish border. As expected, Russia has strenuously objected to NATO’s already heightened activity in the Black Sea. Sergei Lavrov, Russian Minister of Foreign Affairs, said in mid-December 2016 that “we perceive the proposed Ukrainian and Romanian idea to create a permanent active NATO Group in the Black Sea as provocation.” The fact that Russia has responded to NATO's decision by strengthening its position in the Black Sea, with Russia’s rearmament and an expanded range of exercises and naval patrols, is not considered provocation by Lavrov but rather business as usual. Thus, it can be said that Russia is indeed interested in reducing NATO's influence in the region by all available means, including military. The latter point can no longer be disregarded. As presented above, the balance of power in the region has shifted in favor of Russia, while NATO actions in the region are as usual coming late but fortunately not too late for the countries in the region. Still, NATO involvement comes with rather limited actions such as the creation of a multinational

naval brigade of about 5,000 soldiers. Nikolai Nenchev, Bulgarian Minister of Defense, said on October 26, 2016, that, “Sofia and Bucharest would work together and define their takes on the increased NATO deployment in the Black Sea by December.” December is gone and no joint definition of the two countries has been reached, since in early January 2017, a new government in Romania was inaugurated, while the current government in Bulgaria remains an interim government with elections due in spring. Nevertheless, Bulgaria has agreed to participate with 400 soldiers in a multinational brigade in Romania. Klaus Iohannis, President of Romania, said on September 27, 2016: “We believe that during 2017 we will be in a situation to declare our initial capacity for the multinational brigade and at an optimistic estimate, that brigade will be functional in 2018.” Whether or not NATO’s limited actions in the Black Sea region will deter Russian hostile actions against NATO member states or NATO partners, such as Georgia and Ukraine, remains to be seen. At least, after initial hesitance, NATO, prodded by Romania, decided to step in. The end result of NATO stepping in remains to be seen.

Pointing the Finger: Yanukovich & his Euromaidan Commission BY DIMITRI DOLABERIDZE

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eaping into the last wagon of the departing train of his political career, Viktor Yanukovich, the former Ukrainian president, hopes to rehabilitate himself. Politicians who are "former" tend to become very sincere people. Yanukovich’s calling on European leaders to create a special commission of the Council of Europe to investigate the events in Euromaidan looks much like an attempt to avoid the trial which the team of Petro Poroshenko is preparing today. At the same time, it can be seen as an attempt to siphon off the degree of responsibility for what happened during Euromaidan. Yet the EU is unlikely to show much, if any, interest in such a proposal, since it would mean indirect recognition of their own guilt for what happened to the Ukrainian people. This applies, in particular, to the failure of the agreements with President Yanukovych on the eve of the coup d'état. Agreements guaranteed by EU foreign ministers. Such a commission can clarify some nuances of the post-maidan situation in Ukraine, especially the fact that the Verkhovna Rada de Jure “deprived” the authority of Yanukovych long after the "revolutionary election" of Poroshenko. It turns out that all this time Yanukovych was the legitimate president of the country. The question remains,

then, who was Peter Poroshenko, who shook hands with all those European and American partners? It looks like it’s time to really assess the actions / inactions of the EU prior to, during and after Euromaidan. The second wave of European leader responsibility for what happened in Kiev and Donbass came soon after the creation of the "Normandy format" (a diplomatic group of senior representatives created to resolve the situation in the East of Ukraine) and the conclusion of the Minsk Agreements - 2. Yanukovych’s participation in various exposing processes for the EU and the US is dangerous, though. He represents a living witness to the behavior of Western leaders and the victim of the circumstances that developed as a consequence of their decisions. The departure of Obama and, in the long-term, François Hollande from the political scene smooths the corners, meaning their involvement in said political responsibility is unlikely to be punished. That is why Kiev forced the initiative to organize a trial for Yanukovych and his associates, a trial which is intended to achieve final justice for themselves. I doubt anyone pities Yanukovich. Frankly speaking, he made a huge number of mistakes and must pay for them. And the commission he asks for would serve as a trigger for a process that will lead the world community to full and clear understanding of what happened during the Ukrainian Euromaidan and after.


POLITICS

GEORGIA TODAY FEBRUARY 24 - 27, 2017

Watching Rustavi 2 OP-ED BY NUGZAR B. RUHADZE

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ustavi 2 TV, like any other TV station in Georgia save the Public Broadcaster, happens to be a direct product of the idea of media pluralism, the advent of which was seen in former soviet and eastern European countries, the nations of the so-called socialist camp, at the end of the ‘roaring’ 80s. The 70-year soviet monopoly over the means of mass communication was lifted overnight, opening the way for a multitude of media companies to establish the concept of freedom of speech, never before seen in Russia or its satellites, including our Georgia. Before that we had to satisfy ourselves with just a single state-owned radio and television system throughout the entire soviet space. The smaller local television channels and radios were a mere continuation of the holistic soviet electronic media monolith. All of us loved, watched and enjoyed it because there was nothing else to love, watch and enjoy. We lived in an emotionally balanced and stiffly standardized, ideologically pristine and impenetrable environment, deafening and blinding us to the raging noise and colors of the rest of the world. Today, in our little Georgia of a hardly one million viewership, our attention is spread across more than 50 different television channels and as many radio stations, all operating in this small but totally saturated media market. The pie to nibble on is tiny, so the players of commercial media can only put their hands on a miniscule slice of it, if any at all. Most go hungry, supported by their owners or mother companies alone. This is a typically Georgian way of working, when it is OK to have a non-remunerative business and still run it, something I will never understand. I suspect the root cause lies in that some of us crave to have certain clout in society, for which we are

Source: georgianjournal

ready to use our own funds- even if that means spending money which was never made. Regardless of the fact that most of the broadcasting TV companies fail to make money, they still want to remain in the market and, surprisingly, their electronic toys in the hands of youthful personnel are still the subject of financial transactions, meaning that they are often bought and sold, especially the ones that represent some commercial value. Rustavi 2 would be the most vivid example of the act of changing hands, although I have never seen a clearly written ‘biography’ of the company with a precise stipulation of the owners’ names, exact dates of done deals, the amounts of each and every knee of the effected transactions, the levied taxes, and the legally correct documentation thereof. The previous owner of Rustavi 2 unfairly forfeited the right to own his own TV company; years have passed since the deal, which was violently imposed on him, took effect, as a result of which he emigrated, only to recently reappear to claim back his property. This was interpreted in totally different ways by the government and its opposition – the former putting it as part of restored justice, and the latter interpreting the situation as the act of killing freedom of speech in the country. Society is divided over the issue: some think it fair to honor the former owner with the right court decision; some con-

sider the entire hullabaloo as a flagrant breach of freedom of expression; some are tired of the unmitigated noise made by the case, and others are radically disparaging the editorial style and content of Rustavi 2 itself. The buffs of the disputed TV station took to the streets, garnering several thousand viewers in front of the parliament building in Tbilisi. Speeches, petitions, emotions, criticism, appeals, placards, manifestations; all in obvious abundance ... Conclusions? On their way! Decisions? Not so far! Results? Unknown! The main question? Should the government be overly concerned about the goingson related to Rustavi 2. My diligently thought-over and affordably educated guess would be a clear “No,” and here is why: The recent rally worked to the governmental cause, showing to the world that freedom of speech and democracy are in full swing in Georgia, and proving to our own people that this leadership has a very different style of management from the previous one. Concerning the finale of the case, I would appreciate a governmental effort to find an ideal solution to the dilemma, compensate the sufferers and leave the TV station alone. Let them continue working in the format and content they are executing right now, because they are airing fumes that need to be aired. If those fumes are allowed to accumulate, it might be more dangerous for the regime than the releasing of said fumes.

Kvirikashvili said that supporting human capital development, which is one of the goals of the Millennium Challenge Compact, is of utmost importance for the country's economic progress. "We value this far-reaching support of education, especially since education is our Government's number one priority,” he said adding that young people's growing interest in innovation and modern technology is commendable. The PM promised young Georgians his full support in implementation of their innovative ideas. “I pledge support for every single one of their initiatives and I would like to invite every young innovator to try out Tech Park, which was launched a year ago," he said. MCA-Georgia was created with the mission to implement Georgia’s second Compact with the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC). MCC is an innovative and independent US foreign aid agency that is helping lead the fight against global poverty.

The Compact is the largest investment in Georgia’s education sector to date, and aims to develop Georgia’s human capital capacity for economic growth and reduce the country’s poverty rate. Launched in July 2014, the $140 million Compact, an international agreement signed between the Government of Georgia and MCC and ratified by the Parliament of Georgia, will be implemented over five years. MCA-Georgia, with funding from the Millennium Challenge Corporation, is implementing projects in general, vocational, and higher education focusing on the increasing the quality of education and developing Georgia’s human capital in the Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math fields. Kvirikashvili closed by expressing hope of further deepening cooperation with the US and stressed that the invaluable support of the American partners, in addition to consistent steps, will make it possible to introduce substantial change to the lives of the Georgian population.

PM Kvirikashvili Thanks US for Support under Millennium Challenge Compact BY THEA MORRISON

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he Prime Minister of Georgia, Giorgi Kvirikashvili, has thanked the United States (US) Ambassador to Georgia, Ian Kelly, and the US government for their support under the Millennium Challenge Compact and for 25 years of strategic partnership. “As a result of the work carried out under the $140 million compact, the lives of 1,700,000 Georgian citizens will change for the better,” the PM stated at the annual report event of the Millennium Challenge Account-Georgia (MCA-Georgia) on February 22. “Among the results of 2016, the San Diego University programs deserve special mention, as they will turn our young people into competitive professionals at the international level. Also, the modern program for professional education, with $12 million allocated for its development.”

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SOCIETY

GEORGIA TODAY

FEBRUARY 24 - 27, 2017

Swiss Development Raises Political Commitment of Women & Supports Sustainable Farming BY MANUELA KOSCH

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ive years ago, only three percent of women in the regions of Kvemo Kartli, Adjara and Samtshe-Javakheti attended community meetings. By spring 2016, the number of female participants had increased to 27 percent. This fundamental change was brought about through the launch of 19 Women’s Rooms in the municipalities of the three regions and the accompanying gender training and outreach of their village representatives, who took the message of women’s participation to the villages. Women’s Rooms are located in municipal buildings where visitors have access to various free services, for example internet, consultation, library, children’s corners and more. They function as a resource center and communal space which aims to help the local population access the local government and its resources, and encourages and increases women’s participation in decision making. Maia Mosiashvili has been involved in the process since 2012, when the first pilot Women’s Room opened in Tetritskaro in the Kvemo Kartli region. She says that the situation was very different then than it is today: “The idea was to create an accessible space in municipal buildings, a place where women could get information. We named it the Women’s Room to specially encourage women to use the services. But, of course, men are allowed to use the services, too. At the moment 40% of visitors to Women’s Rooms are men.” Between 2013 and 2016, almost 13,000

services were provided by the 19 Women’s Rooms. The most popular service is the free internet, followed by the consultations. Libraries and the children’s corners are less popular, but still more than 4,000 people have made use of them. Increasing access and the involvement of women in local governance is only one aim of Women’s Rooms. Another aim is to support them improve their livelihoods. One example of this is by starting their own businesses. Regular business trainings are provided by some municipal Women’s Rooms to teach rural women how to write a business plan and to start their own business. “They motivate and facilitate women in rural areas to become entrepreneurs,” says Mosiashvili. As the Women’s Rooms are financed by the municipalities, it is a good example of successful development cooperation. Financial help was only needed in the beginning when start-up funding for renovating and equipping the designated spaces inside the municipal buildings was provided by the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) and later by USAID. The sustainability of the funding through the ownership of the municipalities was built purposefully into the design. Women’s Rooms are part of the SDCfunded and Mercy Corps-implemented Alliances Lesser Caucasus Programme (ALCP) support to rural inhabitants, most of whom are dependent on livestock. Access to the resources of local government is an important part of their lives. Through the ALCP, the SDC is also supporting a wide variety of initiatives through the private sector and civil society to benefit farmers in the dairy,

and sells it to supermarkets in Tbilisi. It provides sustainable market access to farmers, and facilitates cheese production on their own in compliance with food safety requirements. Similar interventions were undertaken to increase the efficiency in the potato value chain. Upgrading potato storage facilities enables farmers to reduce their losses, which used to amount up to 30%. In addition, the store is used for information exchange and trainings where regular courses take place about potato growing and storage technologies.

MODERNIZATION OF VOCATIONAL EDUCATION NATIONWIDE

meat and honey sectors. These include the construction of an Alpine Botanical garden at the top of Goderdzi Pass to attract tourists to rural Adjara and to enable the local population to benefit from their environment.

INITIATIVES FOR SUSTAINABLE FARMING The SDC-financed projects for agriculture development in Georgia have contributed to increasing the incomes of 83,500 farmer households in the last four years, on average by 27 percent. Among these projects, the Rural Economic Development Program (RED) is working on different initiatives to improve the quality and quantity of meat, milk, cheese and potato production in Georgia. It supports the development of stable business relationships between farm-

ers and wholesalers. The RED supports, for instance, a model farm in Kvemo Kartli to provide technical assistance to dairy value chain actors. This farm has three main directions: (1) it introduced modern animal husbandry and milk production technologies to ensure the high quality and safety of the milk produced; (2) it introduced modern technologies of feed production which reduces production costs and thereby ensures profitable winter milk production; (3) it strengthened long-term relations between milk sellers and buyers, also improving dairy product marketing by ensuring the continuous supply of an increased variety of dairy products. Furthermore, the RED supported cheese-factories to meet food safety requirements. Farmers sell their milk to the factory which processes it into cheese

Modernization of the vocational education and training (VET) system in agriculture is the objective of the nationwide project financed by the SDC and implemented by UNDP Georgia. The previous system was primarily theoretical, providing the students with limited or no practical training on the job. With this project, Switzerland supports the Georgian Government to introduce and root the dual system of vocational education and training that offers local farmers both upgraded theoretical knowledge and practical skills in their field. Flexible modular training and work-based learning programs were developed and piloted to make VET attractive for young people. These projects are only a part of the work of the SDC in Georgia. If you would like to learn more about SDC’s strategy and their previous experiences in Georgia, read the interview with the Regional Director of the Swiss Cooperation Office for the South Caucasus, Mr. Olivier Bürki, in next Tuesday’s Georgia Today Business.


GEORGIA TODAY

SOCIETY

FEBRUARY 24 - 27, 2017

9

Build Yourself a Bright Future – Invest in Green Diamond

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nvesting in Georgia is becoming more and more attractive for foreigners. The stable political situation, sustainable and fast developing economy, diverse nature and developing tourism are the key factors that influence them to believe this an environment worth investing in. MAQRO Construction offers the best opportunity, product and payment terms to make the multifunctional residential complex Green Diamond an ideal investment. We spoke to MAQRO Construction’s Deputy General Director, Oguz Kaan Karaer.

TELL US ABOUT MAQRO CONSTRUCTION’S LARGE SCALE INVESTMENT, THE RESIDENTIAL COMPLEX GREEN DIAMOND The new residential complex of MAQRO Construction company, Green Diamond, launched on May 28, 2016 consists of three stages of construction, with the first seeing 731 units ready to move into by May, 2018. 500 units have already been sold, but we still have over 200 units available. In Green Diamond, there are four unit types: • 2 room apartment of an average 35 – 45 m2, with a starting price of $ 30 000 • 3 room apartment with open kitchen – of an average 55 m2, starting at $ 45 000 • 3 room apartment with close kitchen – of an average 75 m2, starting at $ 60 000 • 4 room apartment – 95 m2, with a starting price of $ 80 000 For payment in full, customers can enjoy a 15% discount from the listed price. It sounds unbelievable that in just 55 sq.m you can fit a three-room apartment, in 35 sq.m you can get two rooms, but in Green Diamond it is possible thanks to the optimal planning- and this is one of the strongest sides of the project. Customers have the chance to see the show rooms of all four apartments in the sales office, simplifying the buying process and showing them exactly what they will get. For those customers wanting something bigger, Green Diamond is offering apartments on the top two floors of the buildings with up to 250 m2.

TELL US MORE ABOUT THE PROJECT The unique residential complex is being built in an ecologically clean district of Tbilisi, near to the Olympic facilities. Next to Green Diamond will be the mega project Technological University, unique in Eastern Europe. The area of the residential complex is almost 70.000 m2 with more than 23.000 m2 of enclosed green territory- it is an ideal chance for residents to try a unique, brand-new and affordable life in Tbilisi. In the complex, you will find 23 living blocks (9, 11, 21 floor buildings) and 1772 units. You will be able to satisfy all your needs, including with three swimming pools, four basketball areas, four outdoor fitness areas, four children’s playgrounds, seven pergolas, indoor sport facilities, walking and running tracks, commercial areas, social terraces, a kindergarten and a school. As Green Budapest is the first residential complex, it became the visit card of MAQRO Construction’s quality. Green Budapest is currently handing over units, so people can be assured of the high quality, as in Green Diamond the construction and renovation materials will be exactly the same as in

Green Budapest. Those interested can visit the informative and interactive sales office to see the units and construction materials for themselves. Creating a proper product, optimal planning, affordable prices and flexible payment conditions have lead to the success of Green Diamond. People are grabbing this opportunity very actively and this makes us happy, too.

YOU SAY THIS IS THE BEST REAL ESTATE OPPORTUNITY FOR INVESTORS IN GEORGIA. TELL US MORE Green Diamond is becoming very popular among foreigners wanting to own an apartment in an ecologically clean district of Tbilisi, and I’m proud to say that among the future residents of Green Diamond are not only locals, but residents from several countries, including UAE, Qatar, Kuwait, Turkey, Iran, and Russia. Foreigners can take advantage of applying for residency after investing $35,000 in Georgia, so Green Diamond is an opportunity not to be missed!

HOW PROFITABLE IS IT TO INVEST IN GREEN DIAMOND? Investing in Green Diamond is very profitable for buyers. First of all, the unit planning and concept of the complex are very attractive, with a starting price of $800 per sq. meter. If the buyer pays in full, that price is just $700. In May 2018, when the construction of the first stage is finished, the customer can get approximately 50% profit within just two years. I think you agree that this is a very high indicator. A second example: A three-room $50,000 apartment in Green Diamond residential complex can easily be rented out for $500 a month. That means that the owner can recover the amount paid in just eight years with an early 13% return. In the real estate business, these rates are really high compared to other countries, where the yearly return is around just 5-6%.

MAQRO GROUP IS ONE OF THE LARGEST INVESTORS IN GEORGIA. WHY HAS GEORGIA BECOME AN ATTRACTIVE INVESTMENT DESTINATION FOR THE COMPANY? Since 2013, the Company has been bringing together a variety of projects, including residential complexes with unique concepts, Green Diamond and Green Budapest, the international 4-star Hotel Mercure Tbilisi Old Town, Hotel Ibis Styles (to open in March), Furniture Factory Glorya, Furniture store chain Bellissa and restaurant Dinehall, unique for its culinary creations and boasting a marvelous interior. As, in Georgia, there is a healthy and stable investment environment, we recognized the need for quality construction on the Georgian market. Therefore, we decided to share our own experience and to this day make huge and valuable investments. The residential complexes Green Diamond and Green Budapest are the largest-scale investments of international holding MAQRO Construction. Green Budapest, based on preliminary information published by the National Statistics Office of Georgia (NSOG), belongs to the ten largest investments of 2015 according to the amount of direct foreign investments made to the country, including Hotel Mercure Tbilisi Old Town. The

key to our success at MAQRO Construction has been a responsive approach to business and quality control, and the management team’s ability to recognize changes in the marketplace and adapt to them. MAQRO Construction continues to invest in the Georgian market and has ambitious plans for the future.

WHAT IS THE KEY TO THE SUCCESS OF MAQRO’S PROJECTS? Flexible and unprecedented payment conditions are one of the main reasons for selling apartments so well in Green Diamond. MAQRO Construction gives an opportunity for customers to use monthly payment and helps them to simplify the purchasing process. General payment terms are extremely tailored to

customers: 10% - first payment, and 30% of the total amount is distributed over 30 months, so it means that customers are paying only 1% monthly. When the construction is completed (May, 2018), customers need only pay delivery payment- 60%. The initial price for the fully renovated units with kitchen furniture, built-in appliances and bath headset is from $30,000. The clients can pay 3,000 USD for the first payment and $300 per month thereafter.

WHAT ARE MAQRO CONSTRUCTION’S FUTURE PLANS? In March, hotel Ibis Styles will be opened and soon we will launch the second stage of Green Diamond and use all the opportunities to develop other future projects.

Bollywood Masala Indian Restaurant

Find your next great lunch or dinner dining experience featuring time-honored recipes at New Bollywood Masala Indian Restaurant

Tel: +995 551 526 000; +995 592 900 002 Add: Str. Kostava 44, Tbilisi, Georgia Email: bollywoodmasala19@gmail.com


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SOCIETY

GEORGIA TODAY

FEBRUARY 24 - 27, 2017

Protecting Georgia from Floods

Second Hand Treasures BY TONY HANMER

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he Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources Protection of Georgia and United Nations Development Program (UNDP) summarized a fiveyear long initiative that aimed to introduce modern approaches in flood management and bring on climate resilient economic practices and adaptation measures. The closing event of the program on February 21 brought together representatives of the Georgian government, parliament, businesses, civil society and local municipalities. Shombi Sharp, Deputy Head of UNDP in Georgia; Ekaterine Grigalava, Deputy Minister of Environment and Natural Resources Protection of Georgia, and Tamar Bagratia, Head of the National Environment Agency, presented the achievements of the five-year work and described the future steps to making Georgia a flood resilient country. With over $5 million from the Adaptation Fund and UNDP, the program focused on the Rioni river basin, covering six municipalities in the flood risk areas and assisting 200 thousand local residents. Tangible results of this work since 2012 include

riverbank reinforcement at the 10 flood risk sites, planting of agroforests on 12 hectares to protect river shores from land degradation and erosion, establishment of an early warning system and modernization of the weather forecasting and water level monitoring service. The program assisted the Government of Georgia to introduce new policies, legislation and tools for promoting climate resilient economic practices and managing floods and flash floods. This included comprehensive analysis of the flood-related socioeconomic risks for 18 municipalities, a flood zoning policy to describe land areas in terms of their risk of flooding, and Weather Index Insurance Scheme which will come into force in the near future. In addition, the UNDP and Adaptation Fund commissioned a series of studies to collect complete and credible information about the hydro-meteorological threats in the Rioni river basin and create flood maps. Successful practices and models tested in the Rioni river basin can be expanded to the other regions of Georgia to reduce the risk of floods and protect the lives and livelihoods of the most vulnerable.

eople collect things for various reasons. I think that for me, since early childhood, it's been an attempt to gather memories, permanence, as we moved from country to country, house to house, while my father built power stations. Keys, interesting stones, coins... those were a few of the first sets in what was then Rhodesia. He, meanwhile, collected butterflies. A move back to Canada when I was ten and soon after this my teenage passion for comic books began, crowned eventually by paying $60 for a mint condition copy of Giant-Size X-Men No. 1 from 1975, in which most of the new characters were introduced. Now the same thing would cost me up to $5500, though I got out of the craze a few years later and sold it without a loss, at least. Here's the thing: I KNEW that if I could persuade dad to lend me $20000 back then to buy Action Comics No. 1 (1939) in mint condition, Superman's first appearance, it'd only increase in value. Now? Try one or two million dollars for this grail, the starting point of superhero comics, which taps deep into our nostalgia vein and several others, too. No sense living in regret, though, right? Right? If only. Almost all of my collecting has been of items "previously owned", as the euphemism nicely puts it; simply because they're usually cheaper to buy that way. I was shopping for winter boots as a present for a Georgian friend in the second-hand clothing shops near Tbilisi's Dynamo Stadium, a great source of occasional amazing finds. Case in point: I found some boots for myself that day, ones which I wore with trepidation all through my preresidence winter visits to Svaneti during all the bad Bandit Years. I'd paid 40 GEL for them, and then seen an identical new pair for over 300. My Svan friend who guaranteed my safety in Svaneti during those dangerous years, thanks to his scary mafia relatives, warned me that the boots only made me a more attractive target for armed robbery... but I wore them for about 15 years, seeing the Bandit Years end. A friend of mine ran a small town second-hand shop for a while in Canada, and there the finds occasionally were exactly what I was wanting. Two such were a pair of black snakeskin cowboy boots, my size, which I ended up giving to a niece because I could see myself getting them robbed off me in Tbilisi, let alone Svaneti; and an altimeter. My late father had a leather case hand made for this magnificent German device, and for that and its sheer perfect usefulness in my location, it's another thing I love having.

The one thing I couldn't get my hands on was a handmade bicycle from Canada, in Tbilisi; the shop's owner had already set it aside for his son, and I'm sure that he didn't know how many thousands of dollars it was worth. Ah well. My best recent find was a Harris Tweed jacket in exactly my size again, grey wool, hand woven in Scotland, as the label gloriously proclaims. This was in a Goodwill shop in Canada. Someone effectively paid me $2 to acquire it, though: the $8 price was surpassed by a pair of $5s I found in the pockets, meticulously origami'd into two tiny envelopes which have a trick to open them, so I've left them intact as souvenirs of the serendipity. I just had to find out how much this jacket would cost new: online, it would be 300 pounds sterling and up. Lookin' good, feelin' better! Now, such finds as these are few and far between. But the possibility of them makes every trip and rummage an adventure you can't match in a shop for new things, which is simply way too predictable. So, I'll stick with the bargain bins, thank you. By the way, the knitted Svan men's or boys' cap I'm modeling in the photo alongside my Harris Tweed jacket can be ordered in Georgian or Russian for 15 GEL from its maker in Tbilisi, traditional colors of gray, white, black or brown only: Zoya Mchedliani, 593 643117. Get it while it's hot! 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 1350 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

BIA to Host the First Annual Business Forum in Tbilisi BY NINO GUGUNISHVILI

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he Business Information Agency (BIA) JSC and Alliance Group Holding will host the first annual forum on the Georgian economy called Georgian Economy: Prospects and Challenges to be held on March 20 at the Radisson Blu Iveria Hotel Tbilisi. The forum is to be organized in cooperation with the Government of Georgia. The one day event will bring together over 400 leaders in politics, business, international organizations, associations, and embassies, creating a platform for communication between foreign investors and local companies, offering opportunities to network, and examining major issues of the local and regional economies. The forum aims to review Georgian financial markets and investments and their existing opportunities and challenges. It will also be a place to monitor recent trends and developments in major industry sectors. A corporate shopping event will be organized in addition to the business forum in order to offer Georgian businesses the opportunity to showcase

their products and services. The hope is to establish a tradition of having a day for Georgian businesses to attract new clients and form new partnerships based on event-exclusive terms for their services and products. BIA also offers organizational support to Georgian companies by planning B2B meetings with potential foreign investors and local entrepreneurs.


GEORGIA TODAY

SOCIETY

FEBRUARY 24 - 27, 2017

11

Vicente Wolf on the Simplicity & Delicacy of Tbilisi Gardens

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ouse Beautiful and Interior Design Magazine named Vicente Wolf one of the ten most influential American designers. Wolf has founded two interior design companies: VW Home by Vicente and Wolf and Vicente Wolf Associates and works on furniture design, and the designing of hotel and private home interiors. Right now, Wolf is working on the Tbilisi Gardens

apartment concept and design. We met him to find out more.

HOW DID YOUR COLLABORATION WITH GEORGIA BEGIN? Everything started four years ago, when I was offered the chance to get involved in the Tbilisi Gardens project. Since then, I’ve become better acquainted with the lifestyle of Tbilisi citizens,

Amnesty International Annual Report Includes Key Events in Georgia

BY THEA MORRISON

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n its 'Annual Report 2016/17-the State of the World’s Human Rights,' global movement Amnesty International calls on people around the world not to let the rhetoric of fear, blame and hate erode the vision for an open society based on equality. The Report shows the state of the world’s human rights during 2016 in 159 countries of the world and includes key events in Georgia, highlighting that concerns persist regarding the lack of judicial independence, selective justice, and political interference following a series of favorable rulings for the government in high-profile cases. The Report also mentions the secretly recorded private conversations and intimate activities by opposition figures and journalists that were leaked ahead of the October 8 parliamentary elections, noting that five people, including a former security official, were arrested on suspicion of being responsible for illegally obtaining said recordings. With regards freedom of expression, the Report notes that on February 15, 2016, Georgian Parliament dropped a bill that sought to make “insulting religious feelings” an administrative offence. The bill had been approved by the parliamentary Human Rights Committee and sought, among other things, to penalize criticism of religious leaders. The Report also covers developments in Georgia’s breakaway regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, noting that the de facto authorities and Russian forces in the breakaway regions continue to restrict movement across the administrative boundary line, detaining dozens of people. Mention is made of a number of detainees who complained of torture and other ill-treatment, including beatings, during the prolonged arbitrary detentions. “On 19 May, a man was killed by a Russian soldier

while trying to cross into Abkhazia. An investigation into his death by the de facto authorities was ongoing at the end of the year,” the Report says. Moreover, the document reads that amid concerns about torture and other ill-treatment by law enforcement officers, the government failed to bring forward legislation to create an independent investigation mechanism for human rights violations committed by law enforcement bodies. The Report also mentions the Rustavi 2 TV case, saying that on June 10, the Tbilisi Court of Appeals upheld the 2015 ruling of the lower court, which had transferred ownership of the pro-opposition broadcaster, Rustavi 2, to its former owner. He claimed that he sold the company more than a decade earlier under pressure from the then-government. “The litigation took place after the statute of limitations had expired, and was widely believed to have been supported by the current government with a view to depriving the UNM of its main mouthpiece ahead of the parliamentary elections,” the Report reads. The overall tone of the Report makes it clear that while in the studied countries some progress has been made in the safeguarding and securing of human rights, in 2017 the world feels unstable and in fear for the future. “Yet, it is in these times that courageous voices are needed, ordinary heroes who will stand up against injustice and repression. Nobody can take on the whole world, but everyone can change their own world. Everyone can take a stand against dehumanization, acting locally to recognize the dignity and the equal and inalienable rights of all, and thus lay the foundations of freedom and justice in the world. 2017 needs human rights heroes,” the document reads. Amnesty International is a global movement of more than 7 million people who take injustice personally. The movement investigates and exposes the facts, whenever and wherever abuses happen.

aiming to know what I can propose in particular.

WHAT IS THE CONCEPT OF YOUR DESIGN? Together with the Tbilisi Gardens project manager, we created the concept Light and Space, combining the idea of a green park and an airy sky-scraper. It was truly difficult to create something like this in a city already overloaded with buildings. In the evening, when you get home feeling tired, it’s important to have a comfortable atmosphere where you can easily forget your everyday problems, where you can relax. Of course, design plays a crucial role here- from the wall colors, floor coverings and kitchen to a comfortable bedroom. We’ve aligned all of it to our concept and created our line: light pastel colors, a refined and sophisticated atmosphere, top quality materials - all of this to be found in the style of Tbilisi Gardens. Every detail here is well-thought out. In general, there are several waves characterizing the architecture of Tbilisi. Some of the buildings and districts are filled with a distinctly Asian spirit. The second wave is the architecture of a later period which brings the atmosphere of a European city, and then there’s the third wave with mixed chaotic constructions. I think what is lacking is greenery and with Tbilisi Gardens we’ve worked to create such an environment. This will not be a tall build-

ing lost among other buildings of different sizes, where you’re unable to breath and there’s no space.

WHAT ELSE DISTINGUISHES TBILISI GARDENS FROM OTHER COMPLEXES? Apart from magnificent views, it has four hectares of green land. Exceptional tree species planted by Italian designers will bring a feeling of tranquility, healthy air, and proximity to nature. The inhabitants of Tbilisi Gardens can simultaneously live in the center of the city, in its chaos, and at the same time breathe fresh air and enjoy the beauty of nature. Tbilisi Gardens is not just a multi-floor apartment building. The territory is enclosed and the space is safe. There’s a lobby for meetings, while an event hall and a terrace are ideal places for larger gatherings. Tbilisi Gardens will have a swimming pool of Olympic standard and a gym. The project also considers a kindergarten and underground parking.

WHEN IS THE PROJECT DUE FOR COMPLETION? The first inhabitants can move in from 2018, and for full finalization of the project we’ll need six years. Tbilisi Gardens is a very special project for me, one which changed my plans radically and linked me forever to Tbilisi. I’m sure this product will bring changes to the locals, too, and encourage them to want to live differently.


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CULTURE

GEORGIA TODAY

FEBRUARY 24 - 27, 2017

Berlinale 67. The Winners & Losers on the Big Screen BY LILY FÜRSTENOW-KHOSITASHVILI

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he Berlin Film Festival is undoubtedly a celebration of film. In spite of the doubtful quality of some of the festival entries, irrespective of the increasing commercialization of the film branch and in spite of the crisis of the film genre in general, Berlinale 67 once again managed to lived up to standard. With a wide variety of film and video screened in the Festival sections of Competition, Panorama, Forum, Retrospective, Generation and Native, the professional audience members and film lovers lucky enough to get the tickets into the cinema halls, inevitably found films that met their expectations. Each Festival is as good as its participants and its winners. Tastes differ, yet at a certain point the choices of the Festival Jury, headed by filmmaker Paul Verhoven, and those of the author did coincide. And while it would be tedious to expand on the films that didn't make it – here's the author's personal review of the Festival's best of the best: The Other Side of Hope, an incredibly sincere, touching drama about the tragic fate of migrants and refugees in present day Finland, rendered with impressive cinematographic language, visual form and accompanied by a soul-searching

soundtrack, made a strong impression both on critics and audiences alike. Renowned Finnish filmmaker, Aki Kaurismäki, won Silver Bear for Best Director. Another Festival highlight was undoubtedly On the Beach at Night Alone by Korean Filmmaker Hong Sangsoo. A complex body of work dealing with the complicated relationships between an actress and a film director, a woman and a man, a woman and a woman; about the sincerity of true feeling and the courage to live up to it; and about the exchangeability of gender roles, social norms and continental boundaries. Subtly narrated, the camera zoomed into the inner worlds of the characters, penetrating into the deeper realms of feelings against the endless realm of an ocean background and walks on an empty beach. This quasi biographical film by Hong Sangsoo puts forward statements about general truths and relationships, underlying statements that are applicable to anyone, yet are as personal as ever. The main female character played by Kim Minhee was deservedly awarded Silver Bear for Best Actress for her authentic performance. Private lives, resurrection of the past and the unpredictable intricacy of human relationships, affection and love, were the topics of Volker Schlöndorff's film Return to Montauk, based on Max Fritsch's literary masterpiece of the same title. This partly autobiographical film

Aki Kaurismäki (right) with his star Sakan Kuosmanen

narrates episodes from the life of a writer who resurrects the past on the pages of his novel, mixing real life with fiction, making one question the traditional moral virtues, customary social behaviours, differences between truth and lies, and pouring light on the vague realms where reality ceases to exist before passing into fantasy and memory. The seascapes the camera captures of the ocean and sunlit beach pour light onto the opaque nature of desire. The Berlinale Retrospective was dedicated this year to Sci-Fi films, featuring a classic by Rainer Werner Fassbinder World on Wire, a film way ahead of its

time which analyzes the transformative powers of computer programming and its impact on human behaviour, morals, money and other issues – a timeless classic in the best traditions of Fassbiner's cinematographic style. Another focus of Retrospective was costume in film, this year featuring films with historical attire designed by the outstanding Milena Canonero, giving the audiences once again the chance to enjoy on the ebig screen unforgettable masterpices by Stanley Kubrik , Clockwork Orange, Shining, Sophia Coppola's Marie Antoinette and other films. Last but not least, the Berlinale Special

featured TV series on the big screen. As long-year Festival Director, Dieter Kosslik put it, Netflix is not the only one to come up with soap operas. Fassbinder set high standards for this genre back in the 1970s in his Eight Hours Don't Make a Day. The audiences could enjoy all episodes of the series throughout the duration of the festival – a treat one could hardly resist, because the problems, feelings and relationships captured by Fassbinder, one of the greatest German filmmakers of all time, are as relevant as ever, to say nothing of the brilliant acting by iconic Hanna Schygulla and Luise Ullrich in the leading roles.

about fighting for public space. These are books depicting gender issues not only in Georgia but throughout the region, including the South Caucasus, Turkey and Eastern European countries- those of Post- Soviet countries.” ‘Personal is Political’ was the slogan of a feminist movement in the late 1960s. Women said that their personal experience is not merely personal but is interlinked with socio-cultural structures existing within society, and therefore, it is political. This statement denoted that they could not handle these challenges alone. In Noghaideli’s book are cases in different countries and the retelling of how, though various means, they transform

their personal experiences into political ones. This book also sums up the Foundation’s gender conference of March 2016. In the opening speech, Etuna Noghadeli recalled several years ago, when the term “feminism” had a distinctly negative connotation. However, in her words, giving a positive sense to this word is still a hot topic in Georgia today. “Radical feminists think that the oppression of women comes from patriarchal society, whilst liberals focus more on legislative changes and therefore, are often criticized by the former,” the author said. The preface of the book ends optimistically: “The history of feminism is not only that of fight, but also that of victory”.

Personal is Political: Heinrich Boll Foundation Presents New Publication on Gender BY MAKA LOMADZE

G

ender Equality is still topical, even more so in our region, where a patriarchal mentality proliferates. On February 21, the Heinrich Boll Foundation hosted a presentation of the publication ‘Fighting for Public Space: Personal is Political’. “Public space is biased” the author, Etuna Noghaideli, Gender Programs Coordinator of the South Caucasus Regional Bureau of the Heinrich Boll Foundation, claims in the first line of her publication. She believes that the public space in Georgia remains an extremely masculine phenomenon, only reachable for young healthy men. This approach is affirmed by the fact that almost all the

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streets, parks and organizations bear the names of men. In the preface of the book, this fact is explained by the patriarchal values of most societies, in which the achievements of women are easily forgotten. The Heinrich Boll Foundation believes that women occupying the public space is a matter of politics. ‘Personal is Political’ comprises articles of Georgian, Russian, Turkish, Armenian, German and Czech researchers and activists that give the reader a multicolored picture of gender in terms of themes, as well as geography and positions. Unfortunately, the rights of many minorities remain unprotected in Georgia. It is enough to remember the May 17 parade in Tbilisi when those human protectors of LGBT rights were chased through the streets and beaten, includ-

FLIGHT NUMBER

TK 387 TK 385 TK 383 TK 386 TK 384 TK 382

WEEK DAYS

DEPARTURE

ARRIVAL

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05.50 11.45 18.10 01.40 07.30 13.55

07.25 13.25 20.00 04.55 10.50 17.15

07.40

09.00

20.45

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17.50 13.55

19.10 16.55

TK 381

ing by the clergy, who normally play the role of peacemakers and reconcilers. In Georgian politics, there is little tolerance towards a different opinion, leading to stigma and narrow-mindedness. It is believed that nationalism is the best position to take, and we should remember that Tbilisi city boasts an Orthodox church, Synagogue, Armenian Church and Mosque built very close to one another. “Apart from the presentation of two books, this is an in-depth look at different views about feministic mobilization and strategizing, accentuating liberal and radical feminists,” said Noghaideli. “Within the last two years, the Boll Foundation has published two very interesting publications,” said Tamar Tskhadadze, Associated Professor of Ilia State University. “The first was about antigender movements and the second, this,

EVERYDAY TK 380 TK 393 TK 392

EVERYDAY

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GEORGIA TODAY

CULTURE

FEBRUARY 24 - 27, 2017

13

The Velvet Session Project: Kote Kalandadze’s Acoustic Placidity BY MAKA LOMADZE

O

n February 19, the Blue Velvet Art-Café was transformed into a cozy venue for the presentation of the Velvet Session project. The first visitor was artist Konstantine (Kote) Kalandadze. Kalandadze has become a well-established artist on the Georgian alternative music scene since his beginnings in the early 1990s. His diverse musical projects range from hardcore rock, such as ‘Sick People in Dreams’ (S.P.I.D), and Russian language alternative rock, Nebo SSSR (Sky USSR), to the intimate semi-acoustic solo-project Parashutki (Parachutes). His most recent and active project is an experimental electro-rock band with the catchy name Lady Heroine. Besides making music, Kalandadze also directs films about Georgian underground musicians. He is currently working on the feature film ‘The Drummer’. The wide spectrum of his creativity tells us a lot about his being a multi-faceted and very talented artist who is constantly making discoveries. Kalandadze has his own distinct signature and diverse style. His musical works could be described as a vivid kaleidoscope of color. His recent projects are like story-telling, the short excursion into his soviet childhood of the album Lady Heroine consisting of songs with English texts:

April, Beautiful Amaze, Space Oddity, Eternal, There is a Light that Never Goes Out, and more. Velvet Session itself strives to create intimate live experiences for music lovers in Georgia and ensures inspiring performances and direct communication

with the artists. Live sessions will be held once a month in unique spaces and high quality videos will be produced for each event. Elene Gvetadze, founder of the Velvet Session project, talked to GEORGIA TODAY before the performance: “First,

we had just live performances. Then, we decided to adjust our environment to the artist and offer a cozy atmosphere equally comfortable for the audience and the performers. Silence is something that Tbilisi nightlife really lacks. The lives will not repeat themselves as each

and every performance will be specially arranged for that night in particular. Genres will not be confined. The only pre-condition is that it should be original music. Our credo is to create a common atmosphere for a musical ‘dialogue’. So far, we have been choosing artists ourselves and, in future, we plan to invite famous musicians from overseas, too.” “It’s a great comfort for an artist to be invited to a space that offers you everything you need,” Kote Kalandadze, first to try out the Velvet Session, told GEORGIA TODAY. “The program suits this [Blue Velvet] café. I usually have a band, but this time I did a solo performance. I mostly play lives at art-cafes, which are not really in abundance in Tbilisi. Acoustic music is less popular in Georgia and, unfortunately, there are very few places where an artist can find a high-level technical environment. But this isn’t a demotivation for me, as what matters most is the process of recording. I do believe that contact between musicians and the audience should not be distant- which is what makes this project so great”. The environment was as cozy and silent as promised, the audience tucked away from the daily rush and worries beyond the doors. The evening was very chamber-like, first and foremost because of the longed for acoustic sound, giving a simple hue to the whole performance, pacifying, as if ignorant of the high-speed reality of life.


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CULTURE

GEORGIA TODAY

FEBRUARY 24 - 27, 2017

WHAT’S ON IN TBILISI THEATER

TBILISI ZAKARIA PALIASHVILI OPERA AND BALLET THEATRE Address: 25 Rustaveli Ave. Telephone: 2 99 04 56 February 24 BALANCHINE Three one-act ballets By famous choreographer George Balanchine SERENADE, MOZARTIANA AND CONCERTO BAROCCO Start time: February 18 – 20:00, February 19 - 14:00 Ticket: 10 - 50 GEL GEORGIAN STATE PANTOMIME THEATER Address: 37 Rustaveli Ave. Telephone: 2 99 63 14 February 24 CHRIST Directed by Amiran Shalikashvili Start time: 19:00 Ticket: 12 GEL GRIBOEDOVI THEATER Address: 2 Rustaveli Ave. Telephone: 2 93 43 36 February 23 THE PLAYERS N. Gogol Directed by Giorgi Margvelashvili Language: Russian Start time: 18:00 Ticket: 10 GEL February 24 MARRIAGE N. Gogol Directed by Avtandil Varsimashvili Language: Russian Start time: 18:00 Ticket: 10 GEL February 25 SCARLET SAIL Alexander Grin Directed by Avtandil Varsimashvili Language: Russian Start time: 12:00 Ticket: 10 GEL ROYAL DISTRICT THEATRE Address: 10 Abesadze Str. Telephone: 299 61 71

February 25, 26 WOMEN OF TROY Directed by Data Tavadze Documentary Language: Georgian English Subtitles Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 10 GEL

LA LA LAND Directed by Damien Chazelle Cast: Ryan Gosling, Emma Stone, Rosemarie DeWitt Genre: Comedy, Drama, Musical Language: Russian Start time: 22:15 Ticket: 13-14 GEL

MOVEMENT THEATER Address: 182, Aghmashenebeli Ave., Mushthaid park Telephone: 599 555 260

JACKIE Directed by Pablo Larraín Cast: Natalie Portman, Peter Sarsgaard, Greta Gerwig Genre: Biography, Drama Language: Russian Start time: 16:30, 19:15, 22:00 Ticket: 10-14 GEL

February 24, 25 PERFORMANCE PARADISO Directed by Irakli Khoshtaria Our Theatre Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 10 GEL February 26 PERFORMANCE CONCRETE ZONE Directed by Kakha Bakuradze Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 15 GEL TBILISI VASO ABASHIDZE MUSIC AND DRAMA STATE THEATER Address: 182 D.Agmashenebeli Ave. Telephone: 2 34 80 90 www.musictheatre.ge February 24, March 2 DIVORCE Giorgi Eristavi Directed by Davit Doiashvili Musical Comedy Start time: 19:00 Ticket: From 8 GEL CINEMA

AMIRANI CINEMA Address: 36 Kostava St. Telephone: 2 99 99 55 www.kinoafisha.ge Every Wednesday ticket price: 5 Lari February 24 - March 2 FIFTY SHADES DARKER Directed by James Foley Cast: Bella Heathcote, Dakota Johnson, Jamie Dornan Genre: Drama, Romance Language: Russian Start time: 13:30 Ticket: 9-10 GEL

A CURE FOR WELLNESS Directed by Gore Verbinski Cast: Dane DeHaan, Jason Isaacs, Mia Goth Genre: Mystery, Thriller Language: Russian Start time: 16:15 Ticket: 10-11 GEL February 28 Event Cinema DOCTOR FAUSTUS Directed by Matthew Dunster Cast: Arthur Darvill, Charlotte Broom, Michael Camp Genre: Mystery, Thriller Language: English Start time: 16:15 Ticket: 17 GEL RUSTAVELI CINEMA Address: 5 Rustaveli Ave. Telephone: 2 55 50 00 www.kinoafisha.ge Every Wednesday ticket: 5 GEL February 24 – March 2 JOHN WICK: CHAPTER 2 Directed by Chad Stahelski Cast: Ruby Rose, Keanu Reeves, Bridget Moynahan Genre: Action, Crime, Thriller Language: Russian Start time: 13:45 Ticket: 9-10 GEL MUSEUM

GEORGIAN NATIONAL MUSEUM SIMON JANASHIA MUSEUM Address: 4 Rustaveli Ave. Telephone: 2 99 80 22, 2 93 48 21 www.museum.ge

PERMANENT EXHIBITION: GEORGIAN ARCHAEOLOGY FROM 8TH MILLENNIUM B.C. TO 4TH CENTURY A.D

MUSEUM OF SOVIET OCCUPATION Address: 3 Sh. Rustaveli Ave. PERMANENT EXHIBITION

EXHIBITION OF GEORGIAN WEAPONRY NUMISMATIC TREASURY The exhibition showcases money circulation on the territory of Georgia from the 6th century BC. to 1834. THE TESTAMENT OF DAVID THE BUILDER AND THE NEW EXHIBITS OF MEDIEVAL TREASURY The exhibition showcases: a fragment of the only surviving testament of David the Builder, a copy of its glass negative made by Aleksandre Roinashvili in 1895, paleographical blades of David the Builder's handicrafts created by Sargis Kakabadze in 1911, the richly embellished gospel "Ceremonial" (Sazeimo) which is through to have belonged to Queen Tamar, and more. September 27 (2016) – September 22 (2017) EXHIBITION STONE AGE GEORGIA MUSEUM OF FINE ARTS Address: 1 Gudiashvili Str. EXHIBITION LADO GUDIASHVILI AND GEORGIAN MONUMENTAL PAINTING The exhibition showcases Gudiashvili's monumental painting. IOSEB GRISHASHVILI TBILISI HISTORY MUSEUM - KARVASLA Address: 8 Sioni St. Telephone: 2 98 22 81 February 17 – March 5 ANNA KALATOZISHVILI MY EXHIBITION IS MY LIFE The exhibition showcases Anna Kalatozishvili's expressive artworks. According to Kalatozishvili, theater, art, and our daily life is a game; each of us a player who has the strength and ability to become an artist.

ART PALACE February 19 – March 4 This month showcasing a private collection of some of the world’s most prominent artists: PABLO PICASSO, WASSILY KANDINSKY, FRANZ ROUBAUD, MAXIMILLIEN LUCE AND GEORGIAN PAINTER GIGO GABASHVILI. The artworks belong to the private collection of Davit Kobakhidze, a US based art collector, and were bought at the Sotheby’s, Christie’s and other famous auctions. GALLERY

THE NATIONAL GALLERY Address: 11 Rustaveli Ave. www.museum.ge EXHIBITION OF ALEXANDER BAZHBEUK-MELIKOV'S ARTWORKS Dedicated to his 125-year anniversary Alexander Bazhbeuk-Melikov is a prominent representative of 20th century Georgian art. He was ethnic Armenian but he spent his entire life in Georgia and formed a basis for the development of the new and modern Georgian painting. MZIURI CAFÉ Address: Mziuri park February 26 SAKVI-RAO Every Sunday children will be hosted by famous children's writers with interesting themes Reading, coloring, competitions Participants Age: from 6 to 9 years Ticket includes lunch for children Time: every Sunday from 12:00 to 14:00 Ticket: 7 GEL MUSIC

TBILISI EVENT HALL Address: 1 Melikishvili St. Telephone: 2 99 00 99 February 25 MUSIC BAND ABRONI In Persian, ‘Abron’ means ‘marigold’. The aim of the band ‘Abron’ is to represent the Iranian culture; their music is saturated with the nature of Iranian folk song. Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 40-50 GEL MOVEMENT THEATER Address: 182, Aghmashenebeli Ave., Mushthaid park Telephone: 599 555 260 February 28 JAZZ AT MT RESO KIKNADZE QUINTET Free Admission Start time: 21:00 BASSIANI Address: 2 A. Tsereteli Ave. February 24 RA'S IN RESIDENCE BASSIANI: JOEY ANDERSON B2B DJ QU, KVANCHI, HUERCO S. B2B TEREKKE, HVL Start time: 23:59 Ticket: 20-40 GEL


CULTURE

GEORGIA TODAY FEBRUARY 24 - 27, 2017

15

Martisor Legends & New Beginnings Further, a group of Romanian and Moldavian ladies and children worked to create a “Martisoare” exhibition to share with the Georgian public. This is to be held in one of the main museums next week, venue to be confirmed. All are welcome to come and meet the Romanian tradition and receive gifts of Martisor. March 1st, a phenomenon old and ever new, has led the authorities of Romania, together with those of the Republic of Moldova, to begin procedures to include the Martisor on the UNESCO Heritage list.

BY LAVINIA CHITORAN-MULLER

M

artisor(pronouncedMartseeshohr) is a charming old Romanian tradition, celebrating spring, youth and femininity. It is also a nickname for the month of March (little

March). The holiday is celebrated at the beginning of spring, on March 1, in Romania, Moldova, and all territories inhabited by Romanians. Similar, though not identical, customs can be found in Bulgaria, Albania and Italy. From 1st to 9th March, the streets of Romanian cities are decorated with flowers, animal-shaped objects, lucky charms, small objects of art, and various gifts tied with red and white thread, the symbol of Martisor. The Martisor adornment of thread is a tradition which goes back some 8,000 years, when people

THE LEGEND

Children at European School learning about the Romanian tradition

CineClub-CineDoc to Screen ‘The Dazzling Light of Sunset ‘ BY KATIE RUTH DAVIES

F

lanked by her phlegmatic sidekick, Dariko is the only outside broadcast journalist at a local Georgian television channel. With derisory resources, she races from one report to another to give an honest, if not objective, image of the current events that shape her environment; from the capture of a “giant” owl to the obituaries, where we learn that the bearer of the Soviet flag fluttering over the Berlin Reichstag in 1945 has just been buried, and the elections. A kaleidoscope of characters, places and happenings unveil the life and values in the small world of a Georgian town as Dariko takes the audience on a trip into the community’s moments of revelation. The Dazzling Light of Sunset by Salome Jashi, screened as part of the monthly CineClub project in cooperation and partnership with CineDoc festival, is to be shown at Amirani cinema on Monday, February 27. After the screening, guests will have a chance to put their comments and questions to the director herself. Founder of the production company Sakdoc Film, Salome Jashi graduated the State University in Tbilisi in 2002 and the Caucasian School of Journalism and Media in 2003, after which she worked for the Georgian Broadcasting Company Rustavi 2 as a journalist. Besides television production, she also creates short video installations. She finished her MA degree, subject documentary film, absolving her practice at the Department of Media Arts at the Royal Holloway, University of London. One of her student films was screened in the National

Portrait Gallery within a discussion of self-portrait. At present, Jashi is working on several documentary projects. Filmography: Self-portrait One of Me (UK, 2006) Rezistence pro Existence (Georgia, 2006) Jejich Helicopter/ Their Helicopter (Georgia, 2006) Pane ministre (Georgia, 2008) Speechless (Georgia, 2009) The movie will be screened in Georgian with English subtitles. WHERE: Amirani cinema, Kostava Str. WHEN: 19:00 TICKET: 3 GEL. Tickets may be purchased online at www. kinoafisha.ge or at the cinema box office. Additionally, a donation of 2 GEL admission per person is requested to cover the cost of donations to the discussion group leaders, guest directors, film providers, etc.

PUBLISHER & GM

George Sharashidze COMMERCIAL DEPARTMENT

Commercial Director: Iva Merabishvili Marketing Manager: Mariam Giorgadze

GEORGIA TODAY

use to give each other red and white pebbles wrapped in string. The Martisor talisman itself, made of red and white strings of silk or wool, twisted together, is a symbol of renewal and the rebirth of nature. It is given to loved ones to bring them luck and wealth. The Dacians (Romanian ancestors) believed these amulets brought fertility and beauty and prevented sunburn. They were worn when the trees started blooming and were later hung on the trees themselves. In ancient Rome, New Year's Eve was celebrated on March 1 'Martius' — as the month was called in honor of the god Mars. Mars was the god of war and an agricultural guardian who ensured nature's rebirth. Therefore, the red and white colors of Martisor may represent the colors of war and peace. The Romanian and Moldavian community, The Center of friendship Moldova and Georgia – Casa Mare and The Center of friendship Romania and Georgia, with the support of the Embassy of Romania in Georgia and Honorary Consulate of the Republic of Moldova in Georgia, are working together to spread the beauty of the Martisor Romanian tradition in Georgia. Children from European School and the Tbilisi German International School organized craft workshops to make the traditional talismans and good luck postcards after hearing about the legends.

The fight of Spring and Winter There are many different legends which hint at about the beginnings of this beautiful holiday. One of them tells that on the first day of March Spring came out to the edge of the forest. It looked around and saw in the blackthorn a tiny snowdrop appearing from the snow. Kind Spring wanted to help the snowdrop and started to take away the snow and thorny branches. The Winter saw this and became angry. She brought severe wind and snow to wipe out a little flower. However, Spring covered the flower with her hands. She wounded her finger and hot blood dropped onto the flower. Thanks to that, the snowdrop came to life. Thus, Spring beat Winter. Since that time people have worn little Martisor as symbols of red blood on white snow.

EDITORIAL DEPARTMENT:

Editor-In-Chief: Katie Ruth Davies

Journalists: Tony Hanmer, Zaza Jgarkava, Maka Bibilashvili, Karen Tovmasyan, Dimitri Dolaberidze, Maka Lomadze, Tim Ogden, Joseph Larsen, Vazha Tavberidze, Nugzar B. Ruhadze, Nino Gugunishvili, Thea Morrison, Natia Liparteliani

Photographer: Irakli Dolidze Layout: Misha Mchedlishvili Webmaster: Sergey Gevenov Circulation Managers: David Kerdikashvili, David Djandjgava

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16

SPORTS

GEORGIA TODAY

FEBRUARY 24 - 27, 2017

Koshadze Shines in Georgia’s Rout of Germany BY ALASTAIR WATT

A

few weeks after celebrating his 21st birthday and in front of joyous home crowd, center Giorgi Koshadze demonstrated his vast potential by scoring two tries – and laying on another – in Georgia’s 50-6 demolition of Germany in the Rugby Europe Championship in a sunny Rustavi on February 19. Koshadze only made his debut for the national side last November in the gritty win over Samoa in Tbilisi, but is already staking a claim to be a regular starter for Milton Haig’s Lelos. He notched his first try for his country in the previous week’s victory in Belgium, only his second cap, and his upward trajectory continued in in familiar surroundings, given that he plays his club rugby for Rustavi Kharebi. Germany travelled to Georgia on a wave of positivity after a sensational win over Romania in the tournament’s opening weekend, but those good vibrations were quickly forgotten as the Georgians roared into an early lead. Fly-half Revaz Jinchvelashvili launched a mischievous chip-kick behind the German defence and before the visitors knew what was happening, the outstanding Koshadze snatched the ball before racing between the posts for a superb opening score after little more than two minutes. Merab Kvirikiashvili, making his 100th appearance for Georgia, completed the

simple task of converting to give the hosts a 7-0 advantage. The veteran full-back then endured a slightly forgettable moment as his kick was charged down by the on-rushing Germans who would eventually win a penalty, kicked by fly-half Raynor Parkinson in the 8th minute. The Lelos however soon added to their tally in the 17th minute after a spell of concerted pressure five meters from the German line, and when the ball was swung to the right, wing Giorgi Pruidze was waiting by the corner to touch down. Kvirikashvili again dispatched the subsequent conversion, doubling Georgia’s lead to 14-3. Though Georgia’s performance was, in the main, strong and fluid, there was the odd blunder, such as a handling error that led to Parkinson’s second successful penalty in the 27th minute, reducing the visitors’ deficit to eight. But the Germans, playing in a city that was partly built by German prisoners of war, would get no closer. In the 27th minute, Koshadze received the ball centimeters from the sideline before darting toward the German line, making a fool of Germany’s full-back Harris Aounallah with a clever dummy before touching down for his second score of the day. Kvirikashvili’s conversion from long range and an acute angle steered Georgia into a 21-6 cushion. There was to be no further scoring in the first-half which was prolonged by a nasty injury to hooker Badri Alkhazashvili who had to be lifted from the pitch

on a stretcher. After the interval, Georgia’s dominance grew more pronounced and in the 46th minute flanker Giorgi Tkhilaishvili powered his way across the line to secure a fourth try and bonus point, although Kvirikiashvili was this time denied by the post in his conversion attempt. Ten minutes later, Georgia increased their advantage as number eight Beka Gorgadze jumped above the hapless Aounallah to notch a fifth score for the Lelos. Kvirikashvili then missed a second conversion attempt in a row, leaving the

Georgians with a 31-6 advantage and over a quarter of the game to play. Gorgadze, also aged 21, would soon double his tally for the afternoon, but only after a determined run from the excellent Koshadze had presented him the opportunity. A third consecutive miss followed from the misfiring Kvirikashvili but by now such details were trivial, with the outcome long beyond any doubt. A second try of the afternoon ensued for Tkhilaishvili, with the flanker becoming the third Georgian to score a double, and this time Kvirikashvili made no mis-

take with the conversion, putting the Lelos into a 43-6 lead. Just as it appeared that Germany might score a try of their own in the closing stages, the Georgian defence held firm before experienced center and captain Merab Sharikadze raced away to register an eighth and final score, duly converted by Lasha Malaguradze to round off the scoring. Next up for Georgia is a trip to Spain on March 4 before they welcome neighbors Russia to Tbilisi on March 12, a match for which tickets are already on sale.

Issue #923  

February 24 - 27, 2017

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