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Issue no: 1153

• MAY 24 - 27, 2019 • PUBLISHED TWICE WEEKLY

PRICE: GEL 2.50

In this week’s issue... Human Rights Watch Supports Georgian Miners on Strike NEWS PAGE 2

Court Sends Another to Prison for Khorava Street Stabbing

FOCUS ON JAPAN-GEORGIA RELATIONS An exclusive interview with Ambassador Tadaharu Uehara

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May 26 – Georgian Independence Day BY SAMANTHA GUTHRIE

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unday, May 26, is Georgian Independence Day. The country will mark 101 years since the adoption of the Act of Independence amidst the chaos of the 1917 Russian Revolution. Georgia was conquered and annexed into the then-Soviet Union in 1921. The occupation lasted just over 70 years, until the collapse of the Soviet Union and the signing of the Act of Reestablishment of Independence on April 9, 1991. The short-lived First Democratic Republic is still a symbol of freedom, hope, and strength, and a point of pride for the nation. Continued on page 2

POLITICS PAGE 4

The Shadow of Moscow over Abkhazian Politics POLITICS PAGE 5

Sony Music Corp. Shows Off Georgian Wine Culture in Tokyo BUSINESS PAGE 11

Why You Should Spend a Night at the g.Vino City Wine Hotel SOCIETY PAGE 12

Two Brits Cycling 100,000km for Charity Arrive in Georgia SOCIETY PAGE 13

‘Performers from the Oldest Nations’ Musical Project Kicks Off between Georgian & Israeli Students CULTURE PAGE 15


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NEWS

GEORGIA TODAY

MAY 24 - 27, 2019

May 26 – Georgian Independence Day Continued from page 1

Image source: deskgram.net

Human Rights Watch Supports Georgian Miners on Strike BY THEA MORRISON

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uman Rights Watch (HRW), an international non-governmental organization based in New York, commented on the recent Georgian miners’ strike in Chaitura, and issued recommendations for the mineowning company and the Government of Georgia. Around 150 workers at a manganese mine in Chiatura went on strike on May 15 to demand a 50% increase in salaries and noting their labor conditions there are poor. HRW conducted research on the working conditions in extractive industries in Georgia, and heard how miners, like those on strike, work shifts of 15 consecutive days, working 12 hours a day underground, including at night. “During this time, they are required to live in a company dormitory, where, some told us, food is insufficient for the

effort required on the job, and restrictions on their movement keep them away from their homes and families,” says the organization. “The manganese company should listen carefully to workers’ complaints and take steps to ensure safe and fair working conditions. Georgia should bring its labor code in line with International Labor Organization standards and put in place a full labor inspectorate with powers and resources to monitor and enforce all labor rights,” said the HRW. The NGO added that in April, the United Nations Working Group on Business and Human Rights expressed concern that the organization of work and the dormitory system at the manganese mine were not consistent with international labor standards. Human Rights Watch stresses that poor working conditions are endemic in Georgia, where labor laws and enforcement remain substandard – even after recent government reforms. Continued on page 4

To celebrate the country’s hard-fought independence, every year Georgian cities transform into open-air playgrounds on May 26, with festivals and events that are enjoyed by both locals and tourists. In Tbilisi, where the largest Independence Day celebration is held, the central Rustaveli Avenue is shut down to vehicle traffic and lined with vendors selling homemade jewelry, accessories, toys, gifts, cosmetics, and clothing, alongside wine, chacha, churchkhela, and other treats. Over the holiday weekend, there will also be a variety of historical exhibitions, music and theater performances, and displays of Georgia’s military might. At 12 noon, on Tbilisi’s Liberty (Freedom) Square, new military conscripts and officers will take their official oath of service, while in the evening, the stages will give way to song and dance. See Page 14 of this weekend’s GEORGIA TODAY newspaper for full details and timings. Celebrations are also held outside the capital, including in Batumi, Kutaisi, Telavi, Akhalkalaki Kazbegi and Mestia. Even the Russian border crossing point in Kazbegi municipality will celebrate the holiday. In Batumi, a model ship will be assembled in the city center for visitors to learn about naval activities and try out a digital simulation steering a naval ship. Guests can also listen to music from the band of the Batumi State Maritime Academy, which is sponsoring the exhibition. In various cities, local universities, startups, and tech-centered companies will invite the public to see inside their

operations, presenting their products and visions. There will also be exhibitions celebrating Georgian inventors and entrepreneurs throughout history and noting major academic and scientific achievements. In the capital, Tbilisi State University will sponsor a replica of an archeological site. Guests who stop by will be able to dig for their own mock historical discoveries. Tbilisi State University has been one of the institutions

at the heart of major archeological discoveries in Georgia in recent years. The Georgian National Wine Agency will also have a booth, featuring traditional winemaking techniques, information about the country’s different grapegrowing regions, and tastings. Telavi, the capital of the eastern Kakheti region, the heart of Georgian winemaking, will center its celebrations around wine, chacha, and the harvest season.


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POLITICS

GEORGIA TODAY

MAY 24 - 27, 2019

Court Sends Another to Prison for Khorava Street Stabbing BY THEA MORRISON

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bilisi City Court has ordered a three-year imprisonment for another person in the Khorava Street case, on charges of false testimony. The person, D.G, who was found guilty by the court, was a minor on December 1, 2017 when the incident took place in central Tbilisi, where two teenagers, Davit Saralidze and Levan Dadunashvili, were stabbed to death in a brawl. The Tbilisi City Court shared the evidence submitted by the prosecution and found D.G. guilty of committing a crime under Article 370 of the Criminal Code of Georgia which envisages giving false testimony. The detained will have to spend one year and nine months in prison, as he has already spent six months in prison and the initial three-year sentence was decreased to two years and three months according to the Juvenile Code of Georgia. On May 31, 2018, Tbilisi City Court charged two minors: one for the premeditated murder of Dadunashvili and the second for the attempted murder of Saralidze; however, the court could not say who had killed Saralidze, which sparked mass protests in the capital. Georgia’s Chief Prosecutor Irakli Shotadze resigned amid the protest rallies,

while then-Prime Minister Giorgi Kvirikashvili ordered a re-investigation of the case to answer the many unanswered questions. Saralidze’s father, Zaza, asked the authorities to show him concrete results and arrest his son’s killers and all others involved, claiming he would not stop until all the offenders were held responsible. The police detained former high-ranking official of the Prosecutor’s Office, Mirza Subeliani, and Merab Morchadze on charges of failure to report a crime and exertion of influence on a witness, respectively. The Prosecutor’s Office of Georgia (POG) released a statement regarding the case: “As a result of investigation, D.G. provided false information on the killing of two youngsters in Khorava Street. The prosecution discovered that D.G., who witnessed and knew what the criminal act was, deliberately provided incorrect information to the investigation and the court to prevent the execution of the judiciary.” The family and the lawyer of the detained call the decision “political,” and say they will appeal the verdict. Lawyer Pridon Sikhuashvili claims that his defendant is innocent and the victim of a “political decision” of the government, which, according to him, wants to avoid Saralidze’s protests.

Image source: btcnn.com

“The judge did wrong when she sent an innocent child to prison. He was six months an illegal prisoner and now he will spend his best years in prison. They have deprived this child of all future

opportunities to develop,” the lawyer said. Kakha Ghlonti, father of the detained, says his son was used and had the blame of others put on him. “Is this justice? We have recordings

with Saralidze and others and we will publicize them. My son should not have been sent to prison. We have evidence and we will prove he is innocent,” he said.

The Age of a New Cold War

Image source: ft.com

OP-ED BY EMIL AVDALIANI

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t has been au courant since the Ukrainian crisis in 2014 that a new Cold War started between the West and Russia. Proponents of this view argued that Russia has been waging almost the same level of war as the Soviets in the 20th century. This mal-argued view, however, made world politicians and the analytical community believe that Russia should and will be a focus of the West's foreign policy. Few have discerned China as a true challenger to the US-led world. Many believe that America's trade war with China is just temporary, even a tactical

battle, with Washington seeking only to achieve better economic opportunities. The argument goes that once the trade issue is resolved, Washington and Beijing will return to normal relations. This might not be true. Beyond trade issues, there is a plethora of other economically and militarily important things on which the US and China do not agree. The US views the Chinese grand project 'Belt and Road Initiative' with suspicion, which aims at restructuring trade routes across the Eurasian landmass and redirecting them towards the Chinese heartland. For the US, this could create troubles, as Washington has historically viewed the Eurasian continent as a place where no sole country should attain enough power to dominate it entirely, or even half of it. The Soviets tried to dominate

the entire landmass, but their capabilities (aside from military) were limited, and communism was not attractive enough. The Chinese possess more financial resources to influence the Eurasian states, and this is worrisome for Washington. There is also a military problem: the Chinese are building their military fleet and a powerful land army. This will enable Beijing to challenge the US dominance in the South China Sea and the surrounding waters. In a way, China does what the US aimed to do in the 19th and early 20th century near its coast in the Caribbean Sea and Pacific Ocean. Control over those waters projected US power to a global scale and propelled its intervention in the two world wars. From the US perspective, if the Chinese manage to dominate their immediate waters,

Beijing's power will be projected over the Pacific and Indian oceans. This would mean China controlling military and economic routes, making the country a true global power, thus the US’ direct adversary. There are irreconcilable differences between the US and China and it should be emphasized that the trade issue or troubles around Chinese telecom companies (even if they are settled) does not represent a climax in the battle but just only part of the grand geopolitical struggle between the two giants. On top of this battle there is also an ideological difference which gives this competition a distinct mark. True, in the Cold War the Soviets were feared and despised for their official contempt for capitalism, but in China that is not the case. The West fears China because of the way the world would look under the Chinese dominance. No such historical precedent has existed in Chinese history and the Westerners fear exactly this lack of knowledge. Moreover, the West also sees the Chinese with contempt for its one-party rule and strong-hand approach to those who oppose it, often accusing Beijing, for example, of harsh policies towards the Uighurs in the west of the country. These ideological, one might even say civilizational, differences breed mistrust between China and the US, and this is most dangerous for the world. History shows that general mistrust

can be deadly. The British government entered the war on the allies' side in July 1914 largely because of fear of what a German-led Europe would be: better the devil you know with well-known rival France and even Russia, which had its own ambitions, but still ambitions which were controllable in the longer term. In a way, total mistrust towards Stalin, rather than a policy based on raw facts, led Hitler to attack the Soviet Union in June 1941. The US and China now see each other through these lenses, and this is dangerous for peace in the world. Again, trade issues might be resolved, but other troubles will arise which could spiral into an outright confrontation (not necessarily a military one, but still an open rivalry). Both countries will now accelerate their scramble for allies for a rising conflict and one actor is particularly important to watch – Russia. True, Russia-US relations are at an all-time low and it is hard to see how relations will improve, but the US will need to make a strategic decision whether to press Moscow and Beijing simultaneously, a strenuous task, or try to pull Moscow closer to its orbit by giving geopolitical concessions to the Russians in exchange for support in a struggle with China. The same will be done from the Chinese side: Moscow is too important to lose. Amid these potential scenarios, Georgia’s geopolitical future depends much on which side Russia will take.

Human Rights Watch Supports Georgian Miners on Strike Continued from page 2 The NGO believes that Georgian law does not provide for mandatory weekly rest or breaks during shifts, and the country’s labor inspectorate is not permitted to check all working conditions.

The recommendations issued by the HRW are as follows: • The manganese company should listen carefully to workers’ complaints and take steps to ensure safe and fair working conditions. • Georgia should bring its labor code in

line with International Labor Organization standards and put in place a full labor inspectorate with powers and resources to monitor and enforce all labor rights. Georgian Manganese believes the miners’ strike goes beyond legal frames. According to the company statement, the

miners’ demand for a 50% salary increase is too high and they offered employees a 25% increase, which was turned down. “Last year, a collective agreement was signed between the Georgian Manganese and Trade Unions, based on which the salaries were increased by 10%,” the

statement says, adding the agreement envisaged that the miners would not strike for three years. The company calls on its employees to go back to work, adding if it does not happen, they will take the case to the court.


POLITICS

GEORGIA TODAY MAY 24 - 27, 2019

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The Shadow of Moscow over Abkhazian Politics OP-ED BY ZAZA JGARKAVA

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nother scandal is happening in occupied Abkhazia. Leader of the local opposition Aslan Bzhania and two of his security guards have been transferred to Moscow for medical treatment. Due to poor health, the three were first taken to the hospital in Sochi, but after the loss of speech were taken to the emergency department in a Moscow hospital. As the date of the upcoming elections approaches, the opposition was preparing to name Bzhania as its presidential candidate, however, in light of recent developments, the plan has been turned upside down. Registration of candidates opened on May 22 and will last for ten days. If the current situation continues, it is likely that the elections could take place without Bzhania, leaving the opposition without a solid candidate. In order to avoid this, Bzhania’s supporters demanded a postponement of the elections and declared a protest. The opposition argues that Bzhania was deliberately poisoned right before the elections and that the diagnosis of pneumonia made in Moscow is not real. Their arguments are further strengthened by the test results carried out in a German laboratory, which revealed an increased level of mercury and aluminum in Bzhania’s blood. All parties seeking governmental power perceive Aslan Bzhania as the main com-

petitor to the current de-facto president and have even predicted his victory. But now, everyone is assured that if Bzhania fails to recover soon, Raul Khajimba will be unchallenged in his bid to hold on to his post. Although Bzhania is undergoing treatment in Moscow and doctors claim that the process of recovery is going well, it is no guarantee for the opposition. Quite the contrary, as being treated in Moscow can be regarded as a verdict for politicians serving in the breakaway regions: the second de-facto president of Abkhazia, Sergei Bagapsh, passed away just after undergoing medical treatment that was hailed as successful by the Russian doctors. The third “president,” Alexander Ankvab, barely survived heart surgery, also conducted in Moscow, and if not for the secret operation he underwent later in Tbilisi, presumably he too would have shared the fate of his predecessor. As a point of interest, the blood test results widely referred to by the Abkhazian opposition were done in Tbilisi. Notably, Aslan Bzhania and his guards started experiencing health problems after returning from a visit to Moscow. Moreover, if we also recall the unexpected death of the “prime minister” of the occupied territory, Gennadi Gagulia, in an unusual car crash on his way to Sokhumi after flying into Sochi from Moscow, we can safely say that Russia’s capital is a fatal city for leaders of occupied Abkhazia. The opposition is demanding an urgent investigation into Bzhania’s case and the postponement of the elections until it is

Image source: Pond5

finished. They believe it better for the elections to take place in November instead of July and reject the diagnosis determined in a Moscow clinic, which claims that Bzhania is ill with pneumonia. The organizers of the protest recalled the Skripal case in which the father and daughter were poisoned by Russians in England and who at first were treated for pneumonia. “We, as well as the whole society of Abkhazia, are astounded at the fact that Aslan Bzhania, who is known for leading a healthy life and who works out daily, has found himself on the verge of death within an hour,” said an opposition leader Teimuraz Khishba. The political party “Amtsakhara” openly declares that Aslan Bzhania has been poisoned and that they will provide proof

for their claims soon. MP Dmitry Dbar announced protest rallies: “If something hinders the return of Aslan Bzhania to Abkhazia or if somebody tries to finish what he was unable to finish, the opposition will be left without a way other than to shut down Khajimba’s government, not through the elections, but with a revolution.” As yet, the opposition protest has been expressed through 24/7 protests and the roads leading to Sochi and Zugdidi were closed by protestors for a few hours. The two-day protests and closing of roads proved enough for the Russian tourists, who left Sokhumi, while others cancelled their upcoming bookings in guesthouses. The buses travelling from Sochi to Sokhumi were obliged to return and the

de-facto government stated that the twoday protest had already brought a loss of 2 million Rubles for locals, which is a catastrophe for the already poor Abkhazia region. It seems that the financial loss and fear for the touristic season forced de-facto president Khajimba to make some concessions and change the date of the elections. Khajimba and the leaders of the opposition agreed that that the elections will take place on August 25 instead of July 21. Moreover, they will not demand official registration for participation in the elections from Aslan Bzhania. The opposition hopes that Bzhania will be able to recover completely before that date and be in full readiness for the elections.

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POLITICS

GEORGIA TODAY

MAY 24 - 27, 2019

Ambassador Tadaharu Uehara on Japan-Georgia Relations EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW BY VAZHA TAVBERIDZE

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EORGIA TODAY knocked at the door of the Japanese Embassy for an amicable chat with His Excellence Ambassador Tadaharu Uehara to discuss the relations between the two countries. “The political cooperation between Japan and Georgia has worked very well since the establishment of diplomatic relations in 1992,” the Ambassador told us. “Japan was one of the first countries to recognize Georgia’s independence. Since then, Japan has persistently supported Georgia in its territorial integrity and sovereignty. Just after the conflict with Russia in August 2008, the Government of Japan provided one million USD through the UNHCR as emergency humanitarian aid for IDPs.” Since 1998, Japan has been implementing various human security grassroots projects (GGP), which has continued for more than 20 years as an icon of Japan’s assistance to Georgia. It also strongly supports Georgia’s solid aspiration, based on the will of the citizens of Georgia, to consolidate its democracy and to be further integrated into the Euro-Atlantic community. “As the path towards democracy is always a long and winding road, I do hope that the citizens of Georgia are voluntarily taking part in creating the country’s democracy in a calm, healthy, and constructive manner,” the Ambassador noted. Japanese Foreign Minister Kono visited Georgia last September, launching the “Caucasus Initiative,” which focuses on development of human assets and infrastructure in Georgia. Under this initiative, Japan has developed many standout initiatives, among them the expansion of invitation programs, education programs, the Bilateral Investment Treaty, the provision of credit and investment insurance, and numerous large-scale cultural events, dialogues with students, business roundtables and forums. “Georgia is a very important country not only for this region but also for the international community, because it has the capacity to play a big role as the crossroad hub between east and west, north and south,” the Ambassador says. “With all this in mind, I think the cooperation between the two countries is on the right track and we’re now gaining momentum to develop this relationship even further.”

WHAT IS GEORGIA’S POTENTIAL IN THE ROLE OF A CROSSROAD HUB? Georgia has few natural resources, like Japan, but it is located at the crossroad of economies, between east and west, and north and south. This is one asset, as is its potential human capital. If Georgia utilizes these inherited assets, I trust that

it will overcome the difficulties and successfully pave the way to being a young, democratic, green and inclusive country. Everybody sees Georgia as a kind of economic corridor and also a communication corridor. To fully benefit from it, the country must have a strong stance on fundamental values such as democracy and rule of law. I really want Georgia to be a very democratic country; to be a showcase of what an independent, democratic country can be like in this region. This is also to the benefit of the international community.

rule of law and justice are. Of course, companies will want to sort out their private business without going to court, within the confines of their own headquarters, but sometimes we need to go to court for legal decisions and the importance of a well-working judiciary needs to be understood.

WOULD YOU SAY GEORGIA IS ON THE RIGHT TRACK?

WHAT DOES THE GENERAL PUBLIC OF JAPAN THINK OF GEORGIA?

Democracy is not an easy path. When we think about the long history of humanity, democracy, in its more modern form, only emerged about 200-300 years ago. The international community welcomes and supports Georgia’s stance to take the path to democracy, but my personal opinion is that we have a variety of democracies; our background is a different, cultural way of thinking, meaning we need to build our own democracy. Japanese democracy is different from that of the United States and European countries, and so I deeply believe Georgian democracy should be built and developed by Georgians, while keeping in mind that, fundamentally, democracy is supposed to represent people’s power and respect of individual rights. I really support Georgia’s path, because we too, the Japanese, need to make every effort to develop our own democracy. It’s a mutual challenge.

PLEASE TELL US ABOUT THE ECONOMIC COOPERATION BETWEEN THE TWO COUNTRIES. Until a couple of years ago, Japanese economic interest in Georgia was not so high and because there was considerable economic growth in the East Asia countries and most Japanese companies were focused on the Asian market. That, plus they had a very stereotypical notion: that Georgia is relatively small and there might be the risk of a second conflict after the war and Russian invasion in 2008. But things are changing. Last year, the Japanese Foreign Minister visited Georgia and this kind of high-level exchange is very important because Japan came to notice that this region has a very important role to play in peace in the Middle East and that it can act as a crossroad between East and West. Japan believes that it is very important to support this economic corridor, this bridge between Europe and China; in China there might be some Japanese companies interested in exporting goods from the west part of China to Eastern Europe through this kind of corridor. Another Japanese concern comes from the awareness that investment always requires stability of income and of the political situation. The rule of law and justice are also important for any potential disputes between stakeholders. I want to emphasize how important the

DO YOU THINK THAT THERE IS A DEFICIT OF IT IN GEORGIA? DO THE JAPANESE COMPANIES THINK SO? Yes, I think so.

Until a few years ago, many Japanese people had few, if any, idea about Georgia. However, I’m very happy to say that Georgia is becoming a hotspot among Japanese people. This is something to do with the incredible success of Sumo wrestler Tochinoshin and the recent growing popularity of Georgian orange (amber) wine. Japanese travelers are fascinated by the rich Georgian history, nature, culture, language, gastronomy, wine, and hospitality. Georgia can offer a lot of things to the Japanese. There is no doubt that Georgia can touch the heart of Japanese tourists. Although our journey for discovery of Georgia is relatively new, I think most Japanese travelers feel an affinity to Georgia when they come to know how deep the spirit of Japanese martial arts is rooted in society here, and when they experience the heart-felt hospitality for guests. To me, Georgian people seem to be more passionate in their quest for the virtue of Japanese martial arts than the Japanese. I believe we two nations have a very good chemistry.

WHAT COULD JAPAN TEACH GEORGIA ABOUT BEING ON TIME AND ORGANIZED? Very interesting question. But it’s no magic, just a matter of education and practice. When we’re school pupils, we are strictly taught not to be late for class. Your delay affects not only you but also those around you. This mentality continues in the workplace. It’s a kind of etiquette for Japanese to be punctual. Toyota cannot operate Just in Time (JIT) manufacturing if the auto assembly plant workers are not punctual. Shinkansen (the 300km/h Bullet Train), departs every three minutes with bumper-tobumper operation, passengers’ getting off and on, complete seat cleaning at the destination station, and Shinkansen has enjoyed no fatal accident since the beginning of operations 55 years ago. Shinkansen cannot safely operate if it is not punctual and its safety is not strictly controlled. This is the uncompromising commitment of the Japanese to the passengers, customers, co-existing society, family members, classmates, and any other stakeholder. When you do business with or work

for Japanese companies, you are regarded as a family member and must meet the standards to keep the quality of products and services, and to meet customer satisfaction. This is a promise to the people, company and society you deal with.

GEORGIANS BEING MUCH MORE “CHAOTIC,” HOW CAN THESE CONTRASTS WORK TOGETHER? I wouldn’t go so far as to call it chaos, but if you insist, I have to admit that I love this kind of chaos - because everybody wants to be flexible and enjoy a moment to themselves, to have breathing space, forgetting about any burdenit's really wonderful! But Georgia needs to understand that business always requires efficiency to be competitive. In such an environment, even one minute, one second, is precious. Georgia is now starting to export wine to Japan and honey to Europe. It's all very good, but if we want to make the business more competitive, then delivery should be very punctual. Customers want to have your wines and honey today, but if you can't deliver on time, you will lose those customers. Such efficiency and competitiveness need to be maintained, because you can be sure that your competitor is doing so. Another important point would be creating what is called a “corporate culture.” In the very competitive global economic environment, management and employee discipline are the keys to success in business. I hope that the Japanese management philosophy valuing “long-term sustainability” for the benefits of the multi-stakeholders- customers, employees and society - can significantly contribute to creating a competitive Georgian corporate culture. I believe that a business empowering people will always win customer trust, consistently create jobs and eventually sustainably make a profit.

THE JAPANESE ARE ALSO FAMOUS FOR THEIR INFRASTRUCTURE. ANY IDEAS WHAT WE CAN DO TO SOLVE THE TRAFFIC PROBLEMS PLAGUING TBILISI?

That is a problem we share. Our congestion was very severe, and we made every effort to change the traffic lights, introducing time limits and so on. But we still have roads packed with traffic and too many cars coming to one and the same place. It’s about adaptation and finding a solution, bringing traffic under the control of the police and infrastructure ministry.

WHAT WORKS BEST: FEWER CARS OR BUILDING MORE ROADS? Both. And also improving public transport. People opting for public transport is one of the most celebrated stories in Japan, reducing the number of private cars. We find youth don't even want a car these days because they know they can use public transportation.

TELL US ABOUT THE ROLE THE JAPANESE EMBASSY IN GEORGIA PLAYS IN PROMOTING THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN TWO COUNTRIES. As Ambassador of Japan, I would like Georgians to feel closer to Japan in many ways, whether its education, culture, business, or diplomacy. It is very important for us to reach out with our cultural events, countrywide and among the younger generation. I believe that developing people-to-people grassroots relations is crucial for the establishment of a good political, economic, and business relationship between the two countries. Culture, in particular, is very powerful in fostering peoples’ understanding and chemistry. I’m sure that cultural understanding and attachments are the foundation of diplomacy, and I’m happy to see that Georgian people are becoming more widely familiar with Japanese culture and people’s thinking. Our mission is to bring the two countries’ relations closer, for mutual benefits. I also want young Japanese to be more interested in the unforgettable experience to be had in Georgia, and I want young Georgians to understand the path Japan has taken, its failures and many successes, that helped it to get to where it is today.

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8

BUSINESS

GEORGIA TODAY

MAY 24 - 27, 2019

Lufthansa Sales VP on 14 Years of Lufthansa in Georgia EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW BY KATIE RUTH DAVIES

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n the eve of Lufthansa’s first regional meeting in Georgia in its 14 years of operating here, GEORGIA TODAY went to meet some of the top ranks of the Lufthansa sales team to find out more about the airline’s presence in Georgia and the changes it has seen since 2005. Dr Stefan Kreuzpaintner is the Vice President of Sales in Europe, Middle East & Africa (on his first visit to Georgia) and Rene Koinzack is General Manager of Sales (Ukraine, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia and Turkmenistan) and is a more regular visitor, having seen the slow transformation of Georgia from a post-Soviet country struggling to overcome social unrest, to an up-and-coming community with aspirations to be a successful member of the global community. Stefan gave us his first impressions, having flown in just prior to our late afternoon meeting: “I like it very much, I especially enjoyed the amount of green seen on descent and I’m looking forward to discovering more, as, while the data speaks of an increase in tourism, and a stable government and GDP, there’s nothing like getting a real taste of a country by exploring it.” Both Stefan and Rene are in Tbilisi for a large regional meeting, uniting Lufthansa representatives from Russia, CIS countries, Georgia and Israel: over 60 guests, including those from the Head Office in Germany. “We’ll be discussing sales and development, and it gives us chance to promote Georgia and show off it’s potential,” Rene, one of the organizers, tells us. “This shows the importance of Georgia for the Lufthansa Group because this is the first time [holding the regional meeting] here,” Stefan adds. “Many of us are here for the first time. We have a lot of data and statistics, but to actually come and get a real taste of the country, the people, enriches our knowledge about future development potential and whether the data meets the reality.” We ask about Lufthansa’s development in terms of its Georgian presence since

the first flight was launched in 2005. “It’s been a successful path,” Stefan says. “We started here 14 years ago out of our secondary hub, Munich, with very early morning flights serving the flow to Tbilisi. Now Munich is almost as big as Frankfurt. Introducing a second, daytime, service to Georgia, twice-weekly, shows the market is growing. One important milestone I can note came in 2008 when we transported 100,000 glass jars of baby food with German company HIPP via Lufthansa Cargo,” he remembers. “14 years of growth demonstrates that we are committed to the market and have always been stable in the market despite difficult [societal] circumstances.” With ever more budget airlines showing an interest in serving the Georgian market, we wondered if Lufthansa expected any negative impact on its sales. The answer was a firm “no.” “There is a clear philosophy at play here: if you have a sustainable and successful business model, then you can compete in your segment,” Stefan says. “Georgia is a nice example of a constantly growing GDP which shows that corporate demand is increasing- and Lufthansa is historically very strong in the corporate segment. At the same time, we are successful in the tourism sector in Georgia, in- and outgoing, in great part thanks to the visa liberalization two years ago, but also due to the actual increase in incoming traffic. This variety in customer bases differentiates us from our competitors. We have a premium approach to corporate travelers and are price competitive towards budget airlines.” Stefan reports that around one million passengers have used Lufthansa to fly to or from Georgia in the last 14 years. It’s an impressive figure, made more so by the uncanny fact that in this, its 14th year, the capacity was increased by 14%. “In the first trimester of 2019, we were overselling even our additional capacity. This once again demonstrates our success [here],” Stefan notes. We asked him to elaborate on that additional capacity. “The market is increasing in both corporate and leisure. We answered it by offering 14% more seats and by improving the quality of our services. We have night services leaving Munich in the evening and leaving Tbilisi at five in the

morning. Now we’re also offering daylight services, leaving in the morning on Tuesdays and Saturdays. This improves connections in Munich, making it attractive for point-to-point passengers flying into Munich but also increasing the quality of our schedule for connecting passengers flying to the US, European destinations and worldwide.” Knowing that Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) is a big thing in the West, we enquired after Lufthansa’s contribution to Georgian society. It turns out that despite one or two small projects, Georgia has yet to feature in the airline’s CSR strategy. It is, however, Rene says, something they would like to work on. “There are no concrete plans for Georgia yet,” Stefan confirms. “CSR, historically and currently, plays a very important role for Lufthansa Group. We have our own organization ‘Help Alliance’

which supports many initiatives worldwide- in Africa, the Middle East, Eastern Europe, India, South America. And environmental consciousness is an important step in our strategy. We’re upgrading our fleet, as a modern fleet contributes most to environmental friendliness. We just ordered 40 new long-haul aircraft which will be delivered from 2023 onwards. These new aircraft can operate with reduced CO2 emissions by up to 25%. Today, having a state-of-the-art fleet with an excellent on-board product shows a clear commitment to our passengers and our response to environmental issues.” As to future plans, the Lufthansa Group strategy is twofold, the Sales Vice President tells us, first highlighting their commitment to expanding their pointto-point airlines, Brussels Airlines and Eurowings, the “fastest growing platform within the Lufthansa Group in the last

few years,” which happened through integrating both Brussels Airlines and Air Berlin. “The premium approach, which is Lufthansa, SWISS and Austrian, further strengthens our penetration into the corporate environment, and we aim to make our hubs in Vienna, Munich and Frankfurt as convenient as possible for our passengers,” he says. “I believe in a step-by-step approach: we have a successful daily operation with early morning departure flights and now a 14% increase, making nine flights instead of seven. If those are successful, we’ll think about further expansion.” To close, we ask about Stefan’s plans during his two-day stay in the capital city. “Within the sales team meeting, we’ll be defining the regional market strategy and discussing how to improve products and services for customers. We’ll also be touring Tbilisi and the area around Tbilisi to get a feel for the country. I’m impressed with the alphabet and look forward to the wine,” he says. “Georgia is an important country for the success of our Munich hub, so I am very much personally interested. The airline business is about partnerships, so we’ll be meeting our business partners [while here], media, and a number of politicians, teaming up with the business and political community.” Both Rene and Stefan, it seems, are eager to see Lufthansa’s further success in Georgia and see potential for the market in the years ahead. *** Dr. Stefan Kreuzpaintner was appointed Vice President Sales Europe, Middle East & Africa Lufthansa Group Airlines in May 2017. In this position Mr. Kreuzpaintner is responsible for all sales and commercial activities in the EMEA region which comprises 74 markets in Europe (except for the airlines’ home markets Austria, Belgium, Ger-many and Switzerland), the Middle East as well as Africa. His sales organization integrates the Group’s premium airlines Austrian Airlines, Lufthansa and SWISS as well as the point-to-point-carriers Eurowings and Brussels Airlines. Stefan Kreuzpaintner reports directly to Heike Birlenbach, Executive Vice President Sales Lufthansa Group and Chief Commercial Officer Hub Frankfurt Lufthansa Group Airlines.


BUSINESS

GEORGIA TODAY MAY 24 - 27, 2019

Vendoo – A New Statement on the Georgian E-Commerce Market

BY KETEVAN KVARATSKHELIYA

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nline shopping has become an inseparable part of the modern era, while the concept of comfort and time-saving have gained vital importance. Georgia always follows the latest trends, and this case is no exception. On May 20, the representatives of TBC Group hosted the media sector at Rooms Hotel Tbilisi to mark the launch of the brand-new online shopping platform, Vendoo. The CEO of TBC Bank was first to address the audience and brief about the initiative. “Making the life of our customers easier has already been a major aim for TBC Group,” stated Vakhtang Butskhrikidze. “We always offer novelties to clientele and aspire to continue to do so. In addition, we aim not to limit ourselves only with financial and banking offers, but rather to aim to think beyond to other ways to simplify their lives. Vendoo is one of the clearest examples

of this, a project we have been working on for the last nine months.” Vendoo is a digital commerce platform which is to enable customers to easily purchase products from home. Amiran Sherozie, the CIO of TBC Group, also took to the stage and stated that Vendoo is a platform that contributes to connecting consumers and suppliers, serving as a specific mediator. By introducing the Vendoo program, the company aims to boost e-commerce across the country and supply clients with high-quality products. “The biggest ratio of online shopping in Georgia is seen on foreign websites. By introducing Vendoo, we are offering the population of Georgia a local, simple and comfortable high-quality alternative. In this way, we want to contribute to the development of e-commerce in Georgia,” Sherozia said. Support of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), as well as large companies, is of paramount importance for the creators of Vendoo. “SMEs and large companies who want to increase sales are offered a number of services, among them logistics, stock

management, digital marketing and analytics. TBC Group has always been oriented to facilitating the lives of customers and delivering them the highest-quality services. Vendoo is part of our digital strategy,” noted the CIO of TBC Group. Lasha Matchavariani, Director General of Vendoo, was the last to address the media reps. “Today is a very important day for TBC Group, as well as all our Georgian clientele, as today we are launching an e-commerce platform designed in accordance with all the international standard,” he said, going on to highlight the significance of assisting Georgian SMEs by introducing them to wider audiences, increasing their profit and ameliorating their capabilities. He also thanked the entrepreneurs for participation and formation of the strategies of Vendoo and noted that, due to the high interest of Georgian entrepreneurs, the Vendoo team has modified its strategy and by summer a separate category is to be added on the platform especially for Georgian products. The brand-new online shopping platform has been designed in accordance will the preferences and needs of the representatives of every segment of the population, those living in both rural and urban communities, and responds to their requirements to make the process of shopping maximally comfortable. “We have met this first challenge successfully and strive to upgrade to the next stage,” said Matchavariani. Vendoo currently boasts three categories: electronics, healthcare, and baby care, with nearly 7,000 products available. New categories are to be added once every two months, while approximately 250 new products will be introduced on Vendoo daily. The platform will be distinguished for a fast delivery service and special return options. The platform is to be regularly upgraded and promises to offer a multiplicity of surprises to clientele. Those who purchase or place products on Vendoo by July 1 will benefit from special offers, the Vendoo team says.

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BUSINESS

GEORGIA TODAY

MAY 24 - 27, 2019

‘Strategic Philanthropy’ – New Choice for a Better Future BY KETEVAN KVARATSKHELIYA

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he significance of Corporate Social Responsibility is rapidly increasing in Georgia, bringing together a multiplicity of both relatively small and large companies which strive to engage in social programs and contribute to the development of the country. Some business sector representatives allocate financial or other aid to the vulnerable parts of the society, a fact certainly worthy of appreciation. Yet, taking into account the fact that charity events are mostly organized as a response to urgent and unforeseen cases, such financial aid fails to contribute to sustainable outcomes, with the donor enterprises rarely following the full process and exploring the results of their assistance. To increase awareness in this regard, on July 4, the Center for Strategic Research and Development of Georgia (CSRDG), with the support of the European Union and Konrad Adenauer Stiftung (KAS), is to welcome business sector representatives at a training on ‘Strategic Philanthropy’. The carefully designed training session for local and international companies operating in Georgia, envisages all the challenges faced by entrepreneurs with regards CSR and aims to assist them to sophisticate their philanthropic programs and develop strategic approaches in order to achieve more

significant benefits for society and for themselves. It also aspires to fill the existing gap in knowledge and understanding of strategic philanthropy and its impact. The training is to be delivered by internationally acknowledged high profile trainer Professor & Dr. Michael Hopkins, who has huge working experience in both the educational and private sectors. To date, he is the CSR adviser for UEFA. Hopkins reads lectures in Geneva, Brussels, Great Britain, India and America. In 2013, he was named one of the “Top 100 ThoughtLeaders in the World” by Trust of America, and in 2014 the University of Delhi, India, awarded him a Lifetime Achievement Award for his work on CSR. He has written 102 publications and 15 books in the field of corporate social responsibility so far. The training will include a number of topics, including defining the term ‘Strategic Philanthropy’, as well as tips for companies about strategic giving. The format of the event is also interesting, as it will boast both theoretical and practical sessions. The deadline for application for participation is June 20, 2019.

ABOUT THE IMPLEMENTING ORGANIZATION: The Center for Strategic Research and Development of Georgia, which was established in 1995, has successful multiyear experience in the field of civil sector development in Tbilisi and the regions of Georgia. CSRDG focuses on

results that can improve the lives of individuals and society in general. It was the first Georgian organization to prepare and publish a sustainability report in accordance with the GRI (Global Reporting Initiative) sustainability reporting guidelines; the first Georgian-language textbook on CSR for higher educational institutions; and comprehensive analytical research on

“Corporate Social Responsibility and the Public Sector’s Role” (analysis and recommendations for the Government of Georgia).

ABOUT THE PROJECT ‘GEORGIAN CIVIL SOCIETY SUSTAINABILITY INITIATIVE’: Since January 2017, a consortium led by Konrad Adenauer Stiftung, in partnership

with Georgian civil society organizations Center for Strategic Research and Development (CSRDG), Civil Society Institute (CSI), Center for Training and Consultancy (CTC) and the Education Development and Employment Center (EDEC), has been implementing the Georgian Civil Society Sustainability Initiative (CSSIGE) in order to address key challenges of the Georgian civil society sector.

Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC) to Finance Construction of New Marine Terminal in Poti. The Signing Ceremony between Pace Group & OPIC Took Place in Washington D.C.

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planned for construction. Located on 25 hectares of dedicated land, the new terminal will require dredging work to take place in the harbour to a depth of 12m, which will result in the sea port being able to accept vessels up to 253m in length and with a load capacity up to 50,000 tonnes. Named the PACE Terminal Project, once completed, this new ultra-modern deep sea port and terminal complex in the Poti New Port Basin is expected to strengthen PACE Group’s powerful port infrastructure. PACE Group said cargo turnover will subsequently increase by 2.5 million tonnes, almost doubling the company’s current annual cargo turnover of three million tonnes. According to a statement from PACE GEORGIA - After completion of the PACE Terminal Project, the terminal is expected to become a unique and powerful maritime infrastructure, and will be seen as another big step for Georgia towards establishing the country’s own transportation corridor.

ACE Group, the largest transportation company in the Caucasus region, has received a $50 million funding boost from the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC) towards the development, construction, and operation of a new multifunctional marine terminal at the Port of Poti, Georgia. The signing ceremony between Pace Group and OPIC took place in Washington D.C. on May 14th. The signing ceremony of the loan agreement between the two countries in Washington was attended by President and CEO of OPIC Devid Bohigian, Managing Director of OPIC Kenneth Angel, Ambassador of Georgia in USA David Bakradze, President of PACE INTERNATIONAL llc Joseph Dolidze, General Director of PACE GEORGIA Irakli Tateishvili and Wings & Freeman representative Karlo Goginava. The $50 million investment is the largest loan approved by OPIC for one particular project in Georgia and the entire Caucasus Region. The total cost of the project is $120 million, with the first stage of investments being $93 million, of which $50 million will be financed by OPIC. A new ultra-modern terminal is now

English Book Fair to Be Held in Tbilisi BY AMY JONES

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n English-language book fair will be held from 30 May to 2 June in Expo Georgia in Tbilisi. The exhibition will fea-

ture English language non-fiction and fiction books such as classic novels the Hobbit and Lord of the Rings Trilogy by J.R.R. Tolkien and the Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling. In addition, visitors will be able to purchase English language learning books for higher education, primary and secondary education, and other

levels. The event, organized by English Book Education, aims to “connect the world with the words that matter, through books that spark thoughts, dreams, conversations and learning.” The event will start at 10 am at the Expo Georgia near Didube metro station.

Image source: wired.com


BUSINESS

GEORGIA TODAY MAY 24 - 27, 2019

Sony Music Corp. Shows Off Georgian Wine Culture in Tokyo

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he project ‘Georgia - Homeland of Wine,’ held in Tokyo’s Terrada Warehouse Exhibition Area, hosted thousands of visitors over a successful two months, giving them the chance to explore various fascinating aspects of the Georgian culture. Sony Music Communication designers were actively involved in the project implementation and, after familiarizing guests with Georgian traditions, the importance of the vine to Georgia was

shown in synthesis with a mystical and Georgian phenomenon: The Wishing Tree. The designers did not forget the Georgian ‘Supra’ culture either, adding a small figure of ‘Tamada’ (toastmaster) to this synthesis. As a result of the support of the Government of Georgia, the Ministry of Agriculture, the National Wine Agency of Georgia, Georgian Wine Association, National Museum and Sakpatenti, the initiative of the project was begun in Japan with great interest, and received very positive feedback.

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SOCIETY

GEORGIA TODAY

MAY 24 - 27, 2019

Why You Should Spend a Night at the g.Vino City Wine Hotel right values which will help them to pursue their personal and professional goals in life. We believe this will have a multiplier effect for the country as our graduates will bring our values to their new workplaces and share and inspire the people around them. Our new hotel is energy efficient, and in this way we also make steps to contribute to environmental standards.

BY KETEVAN KVARATSKHELIYA

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he g.Vino City Wine Hotel is one of the most outstanding among the multiplicity of hotels in the Georgian capital. This not just comfortable accommodation, but a go-to destination for those who aspire to enjoy a pleasant stay and discover the culture and history of Georgia at the same time, as g.Vino is totally based on the concept of wine – an unalienable part of the Georgian nation. GEORGIA TODAY sat down with the founders of the hotel, Lida Vardania and Mamuka Maisuradze, to find out about g.Vino.

YOU OFTEN HOLD WINERELATED EVENTS AT YOUR HOTEL. WHAT HAVE YOU GOT PLANNED NEXT? We recently had several successful events, including some which were wine related. Two events were dedicated to foreign winemakers who live in Georgia and create amazing wines from Georgian grape varieties. In future, we plan to invite several well-known natural winemakers and create a special dinner menu to pair with their wines. We will post the latest news on our facebook page.

WHEN AND HOW DID YOU DECIDE TO TRANSFORM THE CONCEPT OF WINE INTO A BUSINESS? We often travel in Europe and we enjoy spending our evenings in wine bars because of the typically casual and friendly atmosphere, and the idea came to us to open such a locale in Tbilisi. In 2015, there was only one natural wine bar (Vino Underground) created by several natural winemakers. We decided to bring the wine bar business to the next level and as soon found the perfect place to do it on Erekle II Street. Our goal was to on the one hand create a wine bar culture in Georgia, where you can have a glass or more with your friends, and on the other hand to create a place where city guests would have the chance to enjoy Georgian wine at its best. Today, the best complement we hear is when visitors say: “if we hadn’t been to g.Vino, we’d think Georgia didn’t have good wines.” Another reason to open a wine bar was to promote small winemakers. Many of them found a market to sell their wines on after sommeliers and wine importers tried their wines at g.Vino.

WHAT ARE THE MAIN ATTRACTIONS OF YOUR HOTEL? The g.Vino City Wine Hotel is first of all a lifestyle hotel where guests can enjoy a unique atmosphere: live in the old town but still in a very quiet atmosphere. The design of the hotel is a synthesis of old and new, which is probably a first on the market. We have invested substantially in thermo, hydro and sound insulation and equipped the hotel with high standard features (bedding, air-conditioning, etc) to ensure guest comfort. And, of course, we are proud to have a top-quality restaurant with our talented chef Tamta Kikaleishvili, who is doing some real magic with quality Georgian ingredients. All this paired with top-quality natural wines from the most prominent winemakers. What else could you ask for?

CORPORATE SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY IS OF GREAT IMPORTANCE TODAY. DO YOU HAVE ANY PROJECTS OR INITIATIVES IN THIS DIRECTION? The whole concept of our company is based on responsible entrepreneurship, and corporate social responsibility is part of our daily life. We source all products locally, from small farmers and entrepreneurs, offering them an opportunity to grow their business. As a socially responsible business, we want to give young, inexperienced, but enthusiastic people a chance to study and grow. Most of our staff are students and we know that our business might be a temporary job for the majority, but we are happy to create the perfect opportunity for them to get their first work experience in an atmosphere of freedom, creativity, openness, and to equip them with the

TELL US ABOUT THE CREATIVE WINE-RELATED ELEMENTS IN THE DESIGN OF THE HOTEL’S LOGO AND NAME. g.Vino is a play on words. Gvino means “wine” in Georgian. Vino also stands for Wine. The letter g separately underlines that it is Georgian wine, while the ‘dot’ expresses our contemporary style in the wine bar business. Initially, our logo was different, done from a drawing we made ourselves. Our current logo was done by our partners, Gastronaut and Kopeshia, and we consider it more professional than the previous one. If you look on Qvevri in the wine cellar, from the top it looks like our logo: a grape cut in half.

WHAT PLANS DO YOU HAVE FOR THE NEAR FUTURE? We are currently working on further strengthening our corporate governance and inviting new partners. We expect to benefit from this potential partnership from the capital and value-creation perspective. Larger capital will allow us to scale up and materialize some of the branching out plans within and outside country, though it is still a bit early to talk about the details.

WINE IS PARAMOUNT FOR GEORGIANS AND THERE ARE MULTIPLE VENUES WHERE ONE CAN TRY IT. HOW DO YOU COMPETE? Our wines are unique and most of them are in very limited quantities. Our strong relationship with the most prominent winemakers helped us to keep their wines in our bar. Aside from the more famous Saperavi and Rkatsiteli grapes, we offer wines made using rare grape varieties, such as: Buera, Gvinis Tetri, Tsulukidzis Tetri, Tsolikouri from Racha, Jgia, Mgaloblishvili, Dzelshavi and others. We are constantly looking for new and unique wines to extend our menu and in this way increase our customer experience. And, of course, our food also plays a critical role. g.Vino (the wine bar) is unique because it was first to bring Georgian food into a more bar food style (tapas style), and we continue this trend today.


SOCIETY

GEORGIA TODAY MAY 24 - 27, 2019

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Two Brits Cycling 100,000km for Charity Arrive in Georgia BY AMY JONES

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eeting Chris and Gabs on a dreary Thursday morning in Tbilisi, it's impossible not to be impressed by their story. Having cycled 8000 kilometers through Europe, they arrived in Georgia, country number 16, one month ago. Starting from their homes in Manchester on July 9, 2018, the first leg of their journey is just the beginning. They plan to cycle 100,000 kilometers through 67 countries, from Albania to Australia and even Antartica - a journey that will take at least seven years. Before leaving on their journey, Gabs worked on cruise ships making costumes and ran a costume shop, whilst Chris had been adventuring since selling his construction business seven years prior. They have both always been keen cyclists, having previously cycled the Coast to Coast route in the UK, around South East Asia, and from England to Spain. However, this trip had a different motivation. In 2017, shortly before their departure date for a world cycling trip, Gabs was diagnosed with breast cancer. Luckily, her cancer was discovered early following a mammogram scan which found DCIS, a pre-cancer, in her right breast. “All I remember after this meeting was sitting in the car park in shock, but thinking its only DCIS, and it’s been caught early so after my surgery, just a few weeks recovery time and I can get back on my

Image source - https://chrisandgabsworldcyclingtour.com/

bike and start our world cycling tour,” Gabs says. What in fact followed was over a year and a half of painful treatment, chemotherapy, and a double mastectomy, leaving her too sick to cycle. “I lost my hair and I felt sick every day

having treatment, but Chris was there supporting me every step of the way,” says Gabs. “I couldn’t have done it without him.” Weeks after receiving the all-clear from her doctors, the pair left on their mammoth new world bike tour. The goal of

their journey this time is to raise as much money as possible for Breast Cancer Prevent, a cause that is very close to Gabs’ heart due to the support she received from them during her treatment. “Many people don’t realize cancer can

be preventable,” Chris says. “They prefer to just not know about it, but there is a cure!” So far, the couple has raised £6,000 for Breast Cancer Prevent which will go directly to the charity, as their trip is totally self-supported. Aside from their fundraising efforts, Chris and Gabs hope to raise awareness on their trip by opening conversations with people about cancer, its diagnosis, and treatment. They have already had interesting personal conversations about cancer on the road. It’s not every day that you meet a recent cancer survivor cycling up gigantic mountains carrying over 60kg of equipment on her bike, fending off wild dogs, and sleeping in a tent in twenty below zero temperatures. “When you’ve been faced with death, you don’t know what life is going to throw at you,” says Gabi. “So we are just taking each day as it comes.” Now, the couple plans to take a few months of well-earned rest in Tbilisi, working on fundraising ideas and exploring Georgia. Not able to sit still for too long, they have already planned a hiking trip from Mestia to Urushguli. To keep up with Gabs’ and Chris’ incredible journey, you can follow them on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/ worldcycling2), Instagram (@worldcycling2) or visit their website (https:// chrisandgabsworldcyclingtour.com/) where they regularly post blog and video updates. Here, you can also donate towards the very worthy charity Breast Cancer Prevent. Remember, all donated money goes directly to the charity.

Zhordania’s Name Back Where It Belongs! OP-ED BY NUGZAR B. RUHADZE

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ood news comes in many forms and can often be far better than hearing of the trivial victory of a political player or party. And the good news this time around is that the memorable name of Ioseb Zhordania has been re-accorded to the medical enterprise to which it truly belongs. Here is the story of the case: Professor Zhordania founded his famous Institute of Human Reproduction in 1958, the first ever attempted and executed medical project of its kind in world history, thanks to which this outstanding Georgian physician worked ahead of the times for some 30 years. And there is not an iota of exaggeration in this account. As a matter of fact, it could even be taken as an understatement when it comes to his professionalism, scientific expertise and personality. The well-known heroic episode of his death speaks volumes about this great Georgian: after a plane he was on plunged into the Atlantic, he chose to save a little girl’s life by ceding her his lifebelt, doing so knowing he was unable to swim and well-aware that death was inevitable. Isn’t it amazing that Ioseb Zhordania dedicated not only his life but his demise to the happiness of a woman and child! Since then, a lot of water has run under the bridges of Georgia and the world. The Institute continued functioning under Zhordania’s name and the directorial

efforts of various managing figures, among them Professor Archil Khomasuridze, who boasts the longest and most prolific service history in the capacity of Director of the Zhordania Institute of Human Reproduction, having tens of thousands of reproduced human lives under his medical belt. Under his leadership, the Institute became the internationally recognized medical center of its profile. Sadly, the bizarre vicissitudes of life would have it that Khomasuridze be deposed and the gorgeous downtown building where the Institute was sheltered for many decades, be sold. Nobody knows how serious the exigency was for the then-government to choose to get rid of both the man and the facilities, but so it happened, against the will of the very effective director and to the detriment of the extremely efficient enterprise. Khomasuridze would not have been Khomasuridze, however, had he not found a way to start his career from scratch. In 2014, based on traditions bequeathed him by Professor Zhordania, and nursing the purpose of serving the same elevated targets and ideals, Professor Khomasuridze created a new clinic. He managed to do this only thanks to the initiative of his faithful fellow-doctors and encouraged by the efforts of the old Zhordania institute patriots. He bought new premises, refurbished them and brought them into a state-of-the-art condition. The new clinic was named ‘The Archil Khomasuridze Institute of Human Reproduction,’ which today is functioning with huge success as an absolutely

Image source: georgianjournal.ge

remunerative medical enterprise, so much needed for the future of this country. Professor Khomasuridze has just turned 77. He is vigorous, full of interesting new ideas and ever-present readiness to keep up his job as ever before in life. Meanwhile, his former Institute carried his name, whether fairly or unfairly, with

dignity or not – which is not exactly what matters now. What attracts most attention at this very moment is that Archil Khomasuridze decided to return the name of Zhordania to his current Institute, dropping his own name from its official title because he thinks that ‘Zhordania’ is no longer a common name, but a name with an imperative signifi-

cance for Georgia. He had to go through several court trials to win the case and get Zhordania’s name back where it genuinely belongs. This is not simply a fact of human modesty and altruism, nor is it a business-oriented move: this can only be qualified as justice done when celebration of human generosity is at its height.


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CULTURE

GEORGIA TODAY

MAY 24 - 27, 2019

WHAT’S ON IN TBILISI THEATER

TBILISI ZAKARIA PALIASHVILI OPERA AND BALLET THEATER 25 Rustaveli Ave. TEL (+995 32) 2 99 04 56 May 25 SWAN LAKE Pyotr Tchaikovsky’s two-act ballet Choreographic version and staging by Alexei Fadeechev Conductor: Papuna Ghvaberidze Start time: 19:00 Ticket: 10-120 GEL SHALIKASHVILI THEATER 37 Rustaveli Ave. May 24, 25 LUARSAB Based on Ilia Chavchavadze’s story “Man is the Man?!” Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 15 GEL RUSTAVELI THEATER 17 Rustaveli Ave. TEL (+995 32) 2 72 68 68 www.rustavelitheatre.ge May 28 Ira Kokhreidze's Inclusive Theater presents a philosophical inclusive theater performance CONTACT (With English subtitles) Stage director: Ira Kokhreidze Scenography/Coordinator- George Mikaberidze Music: Bachi Tomadze Scenario: Ira Kokhreidze Start time: 19:00 Ticket: 8-12 GEL GABRIADZE THEATER 13 Shavtelis St. TEL (+995 32) 2 98 65 93 May 26 STALINGRAD Revaz Gabriadze Directed by Revaz Gabriadze English Subtitles Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 20, 30 GEL May 28 Animated documentary film REZO Directed by Leo Gabriadze Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 15 GEL MOVEMENT THEATER 182 Aghmashenebeli Ave. TEL (+995 32) 598 19 29 36

May 23 PARADISO Directed by Irakli Khoshtaria Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 10 GEL May 24 Premiere DIVINE COMEDY Based on the work of Dante Aligieri Three 20-minute choreographic statements Directed by Ioseb Bakuradze Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 10-15 GEL May 26 DON JUAN Directed by Kakha Bakuradze Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 10-15 GEL May 30 THE STORY OF A MURDERER Directed by Kakha Bakuradze Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 10-15 GEL MUSIC & DRAMA STATE THEATER 182 Agmashenebeli Ave. May 29 WELCOME TO GEORGIA The Musical A musical, theatrical play and romantic comedy telling a story about Georgia and its people by combining song, dance, culture, traditions, history, national costumes and local cuisine. Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 50-80 GEL ROOMS HOTEL TBILISI Garden Hall, Rooms Hotel, 14 M. Kostava Str. May 24 CIRCE Experimental Platform for Dance and Theater presents: CONSENT In 1987, feminist musicologist Susan McClary likened Beethoven’s music, and in particular his 9th Symphony, to the act of rape. This dance proposes a counterargument. Choreography/Performance: Megan Bridge Music: Ludwig van Beethoven, Piano Sonata No. 32, Op. 111, 2. Arietta, performed by Charles Rosen. Dramaturgy: Peter Price MORPHIC RESONANCE Morphic Resonance is an

improvised duet by <fidget> codirectors, dancer/choreographer Megan Bridge and musician/ composer Peter Price. Choreography/Performer: Megan Bridge Age control: 18+ Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 15 GEL MUSEUM

GEORGIAN NATIONAL MUSEUM SIMON JANASHIA MUSEUM 3 Rustaveli Ave. TEL (+995 32) 299 80 22, 293 48 21 www.museum.ge Exhibitions: GEORGIAN COSTUME AND WEAPONRY OF THE 18TH-20TH CENTURIES NUMISMATIC TREASURY EXHIBITION STONE AGE GEORGIA ARCHEOLOGICAL TREASURE NEW LIFE TO THE ORIENTAL COLLECTIONS IOSEB GRISHASHVILI TBILISI HISTORY MUSEUM - KARVASLA 8 Sioni St. TEL (+995 32) 2 98 22 81 May 16 – June 10 Georgian National Museum in the framework of Museum Festival presents the photo exhibition “1993” of Swiss artist – Daniel Spehr. MUSEUM OF ILLUSIONS 10 Betlemi Str. Discover the Museum of Illusions Be brave enough to jump into an illusion created by the Vortex, deform the image of yourself in a Mirror Room, be free in the Infinity room, resist the laws of gravity and size ratio, and take selfies in every possible pose. Enjoy the collection of holograms, and discover optical illusions. MUSEUM OF BROKEN RELATIONSHIPS 10 Betlemi Str. THE MUSEUM OF BROKEN RELATIONSHIPS The unique collection of the museum aims to provoke feelings of understanding among individuals and serve as some kind of therapy for those who have experience break-ups.

MUSEUM OF SOVIET OCCUPATION 4 Rustaveli Ave. TEL (+995 32) 2 99 80 22, 2 93 48 21 www.museum.ge Exhibition RED TERROR AND GEORGIAN ARTISTS GALLERY

THE NATIONAL GALLERY 11 Rustaveli Ave. TEL (+995 32) 215 73 00 Until February 26 (2020) GRAND MASTERS FROM THE GEORGIAN NATIONAL MUSEUM COLLECTION XIX – XX CENTURY Until May 27 Exhibition ESOTERIC DE CHIRICO. A TRAVELER BETWEEN TWO WORLDS Showcasing 15 artworks of Giorgio de Chirico between 1920-1970, presenting that even his most “natural” artwork hints at the surrealist world.

May 29 MAMUKA CHARKVIANI’S CREATIVE EVENING Famous Georgian singers will take part in the event and will perform famous songs by Mamuka Charkviani. Start time: 19:00 Ticket: 10-35 GEL FABRIKA 8 Ninoshvili STr. May 30 Every last Thursday of the month: SOUNDWAVE presents unforgettable live sessions of underground music EKO & VINDA FOLIO Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 15 GEL 4GB The Center of Space Constructions, Saguramo May 24, 25 4GB- ELECTRONIC MUSIC FESTIVAL Start time: 22:20 Ticket: 150 GEL INDEPENDENCE DAY PROGRAM:

KOLGA TBILISI PHOTO May 4-27 Kunsthalle Tbilisi and GoetheInstitute Georgia present TABULA RASA An exhibition of stainless steel sculptures by Gabriela Von Habsburg. Exhibition includes works by: Giorgi Geladze, Salome Chigilashvili, Liza Tsindeliani, Giorgi Vardiashvili Curated by: Irena Popiashvili Venue: GNM Courtyard, 3 Shota Rustaveli Ave. ROOMS HOTEL 14 Kostava Str. May 16-25 In the frames of Oxygen Tbilisi No Fair, Dédicace Gallery presents site- and context-specific pavilion, encompassing the works of three artists with different visions and style. Exhibition: OXYGEN FLOW Participants: Zura Abkhazi, Koka Ramishvili, Manuchar Okrostsvaridze MUSIC

SOUNDS OF GEORGIA May 24, 25, 30 SING AND DRINK Mini concerts in the cozy atmosphere of Old Tbilisi, a mix of traditional Georgian music of different genres: folklore, a capella, guitar, and Georgian pop and city songs. Start time: 17:00 Ticket: 24 GEL Venue: May 2410 Erekle II Sq., Tekla Palace Hotel, May 25New Tiflis, 9 Agmashenebeli Ave., Wine bar ‘Wine Station’, May 30Europe Square, 2 D. Megreli Str., Hotel “Nata” RUSTAVELI THEATER 17 Rustaveli Ave. TEL (+995 32) 2 72 68 68 www.rustavelitheatre.ge

May 26 Rustaveli Ave.: 12:00-21:30 Exhibitions of the Georgian Defense Ministry Armaments and Ammunition, Expo of ‘Smart’ Products, Photo Expo, Puppet Theater of the Theatrical University, Puppet Expo, ‘Ptskala’ Puppet Theater, Musical program: Street Musicians, Children’s Quintet, Tbilisi State Conservatoire Jazz Band, David Iluridze Band, ‘Brass Band’ Led by Irakli Cholokashvili, Performances by the pupils of Musical School for Gifted Children and Evgeni Mikeladze School of Music, Expo of works by the students of A. Kutateladze State Academy of Arts, Master Classes, ‘Kimerioni Café’, Book Festival, Wine Festival, Exhibition of Street Painters, Exhibition of Agricultural products, Flower Show.

Liberty (Freedom) Sq.: 12:0021:30 Airplane-show and performance by the Defense Ministry Brass Band, Concerts by the Tbilisi ‘Big Band’, ‘Retro Band’, ‘Georgian Brass’, Mime Theater Company, Ensembles: ‘Rustavi’, ‘Martve’, Erisioni’, ‘The Sukhishvilebi’, ‘Abkhazia’, ‘Orbi’, ‘Mzlevari’, Sport Events, Exhibitions of Ancient Arms. Gldani Park: 12:00-21:30 Exhibitions of the Georgian Defense Ministry Armaments and Ammunition, Exhibitions, Sport Events, Musical and entertainment Program, Beer festival Varketili Sq.: 12:00-21:30 Exhibitions of the Georgian Defense Ministry Armaments and Ammunition, Musical and entertainment Program, Puppet Show, DJ Performances, Beer festival


CULTURE

GEORGIA TODAY MAY 24 - 27, 2019

‘Performers from the Oldest Nations’ Musical Project Kicks Off between Georgian & Israeli Students BY LIKA CHIGLADZE

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or the first time, an intercultural musical project has been launched by Tbilisi State Conservatoire (TSC) and the Jerusalem Academy of Music and Dance (JAMD) bringing distinguished young musicians together. The project, named ’Performers from the Oldest Nations’ is dedicated to 26 centuries of Jewish-Georgian friendship and the future cooperation between the institutions. It involves the participation of young students from both countries in masterclasses, discussions and concerts. The first stage of the project (JAMD X TSC) will take place on 8-13 June. Students of JAMD will visit Georgia and take masterclasses delivered by TSC professors Lali Sanikidze and Nodar Nakaidze. Apart from students, VicePresident of JAMD, Professor Michael Klinghoffer, will pay a visit to Georgia and hold masterclasses for conservatory students and music school pupils. Within the program, two concerts are planned: on June 10, at 7 PM, joint con-

cert of participants from both countries will be held at Steinway & Sons Georgia. This will be followed by a concert of JAMD students at the TSC Recitall Hall at 8 o’clock on June 12. Both concerts are free to attend. “I hope this project will create new friendships, connections and new musical interactions between two schools that have a great reputation and possess great traditions,” Klinghoffer told GEORGIA TODAY. “I hope that through this project we can build a long-lasting relationship. During my visit, I would like to meet people who I can share my ideas with about our role as music schools. This is on the one hand keeping and reviving the tradition and conserving it, and at the same time it is our goal to prepare the artists to change the world. There is less work and interest in the kind of music we do, but the 21st century is a time of independent musicians, and one of our missions is to educate and help students thrive in this wonderful world that holds many opportunities. I’m really looking forward to visiting Tbilisi for the first time,” he added. The second phase of the project (TSC X JAMD) is scheduled for the first half

of October in Israel. Within the frames of the project, five Georgian students (pianists) will visit Israel and collaborate with AMD professors Vadim Monastirsky and Yaron Rosenthal. The masterclasses will be followed by concerts. A concert by participants of the project will be held at the Steinway & Sons Showroom and will be followed by a concert of the Georgian students at the Eden-Tamir Music Center. As part of the project, five students from each country have been selected. From the Tbilisi State Conservatoire: Aslan Chikovani, Lasha Kvaratskhelia, George Shiolashvili, Salome Goderdzishvili and Tamar Jincharadze; and from the and Jerusalem Academy of Music and Dance: Hanan Becher, Omer Yaari, Dani Ozz, Eyal Urim, and Alexander Julakidze. The person behind the project is Georgian pianist Alexander Julakidze, who is currently pursuing his Master’s Degree at JAMD in Israel and who has held a number of concerts and activity promotes Georgian culture abroad. “For Tbilisi Conservatory students, exchange programs are not a novelty, so when I enrolled at the Jerusalem

Academy of Music and Dance, I often talked about it with my musician friends, including Maestro Vadim Monastirsky,” he told us. “During one such conversation, I suggested we organize an intercultural project between TSC students and JAMD. The TSC Rector asked assistance from the Georgian Embassy to Israel to organize the joint project on the Jerusalem end and we signed a memorandum of cooperation between the two musical institutions. It is the first agreement between Israel and Georgia in this direction and this is the very first artistic event based on a new student platform. From the very beginning, the project was supported by Steinway & Sons Georgia and thus concerts of 10 musicians will be held at the Steinway & Sons Showroom venue. The initiative is also backed by the Ministry of Education, Science, Culture Aand Sport of Georgia, which has helped TSC and its students to promote their talent beyond the borders of the country many times.” “The newly established friendship between these two music schools is as important as the friendship between our nations, which counts more than 3000 years. Such a past gives a good basis to form new friendships, share

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knowledge and inspire one another. I appreciate Alexander’s initiative and I am sure that this project will have great results in many directions for students of both music institutions,” Rezo Kiknadze, Rector of the Tbilisi State Conservatoire, told us. “Deepening cultural relations between two countries is extremely important, since cooperation of the Hebrew world with Georgia goes beyond simple collaboration in many fields,” said Paata Kalandadze, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Georgia to the State of Israel. “This is a truly historic and significant occasion that traces its roots back centuries. Bringing new life to these roots through such projects is equally important for both nations. Israel is a fast-developing countries which can also be perceived as an important route for transferring Georgian culture to the international scene. We should engage in organizing joint cultural projects as well as take part in Israel’s international festivals. Israel is notable for its world-renowned musicians and orchestras, who are impressed by young Georgian pianists and their capacities and are eager to share their experience and knowledge with them,” the Ambassador said.

Shakespeare Here: Etseri, Svaneti BLOG BY TONY HANMER

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y wife has been putting her university background in drama to good use recently. There has been a call for short numbers by school pupils based on Shakespeare in the Mestia region, which will be shown in the capital on Saturday. She asked me to put together a selection of the Bard’s sonnets, which most conveniently are also available in good Georgian translations of the difficult English. Some of these will be read by pupils, as well as a short biography of the man, whose very identity is still under much question after these centuries. A recent theory is that he was actually a woman; not without supporting evidence. Intriguing. It’s the Grade 4 class who are getting the most fun, though, acting out the closing scene from Romeo and Juliet, leaning towards the great modern American-set movie version which introduced the play to a vast new audience. For me growing up, Shakespeare really benefited from video, coming alive in ways which the printed page alone failed to do for me. I can still remember Mad Max and Cruella Deville doing Hamlet in about 1990, nailing it. For our generations, cinema is an important medium, and I say, the more

Shakespeare adapted into it, the better, to keep his legacy going without end. I drew the line at using a “real” toy gun borrowed from the shop for Juliet to kill herself upon discovering Romeo’s suicide, though; instead I offered to make a crude cardboard silhouette pistol, because I don’t want any young people or their parents getting ideas that we’re promoting murder of the self at all. I’ve added a cardboard mike for the reporter (narrator) and have offered an old camera and my tripod for the film crew who are involved with her. Practically every word from R+J made it into this film version we’ve been watching, although swords

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were replaced with guns and Prince’s music, along with that of others, was added. Brilliant, unforgettable, fresh but timeless. The class have watched the required clips to see how it was done, to get a feel for it, and are full of enthusiasm which my wife prays will continue into their graduation some eight years from now. If so, the world will be at their feet. Her dramatic gifts are key, too, in helping them forget that they’re even using their 3rd language. Whether it’s having a passionate debate about a controversial subject, talking to foreign tourists who speak no Georgian or Svan or even Russian, the more the children can just get

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

on with English as un-self-consciously as possible, the better. Plays are one medium for helping them do this. I hope my wife will have the chance to incorporate more drama into extra-curricular activities. The pupils love getting into it; some of them are real performers. Their parents usually know enough of the plot to follow along even if they’re not getting every word in English. And it’s helping show all generations that English knowledge here, in this little village high in the mountains, is wasted neither as entertainment nor as a help to future job prospects, here, in Mestia, in Tbilisi or anywhere in the world their

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hearts can dream of. Enough of apathy or of thinking that those dreams are nonsense, unattainable. The play’s the thing to set them on a course towards future success! Tony Hanmer has lived in Georgia since 1999, in Svaneti since 2007, and been a weekly writer for GT since early 2011. He runs the “Svaneti Renaissance” Facebook group, now with nearly 2000 members, at www.facebook.com/groups/SvanetiRenaissance/ He and his wife also run their own guest house in Etseri: www.facebook.com/hanmer.house.svaneti

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Profile for Georgia Today

Issue #1153  

May 24 - 27, 2019

Issue #1153  

May 24 - 27, 2019

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