Page 1 georgiatoday

Issue no: 855

• JUNE 24 - 27, 2016



In this week’s issue...


Conference Held Prior to NATO Warsaw Summit: Challenges and Expectations


Britain has voted. What will it mean for Georgian aspirations? PAGE 3


In the Middle of Nowhere POLITICS PAGE 6

David Cameron, British Conservative PM. Source:

EU Continues to Support Disaster Risk Reduction in South Caucasus PREPARED BY KATIE RUTH DAVIES


aving Lives and Livelihoods by Preparing for Natural Disaster- has been the core principle of the European Commission's disaster preparedness program "DIPECHO" since 1996. The fourth phase of the program to "Improve Resilience of Communities and Institutions in the South Caucasus” has already started. The official launch will take place on 23-24 June 2016 in Batumi. Continued on page 2

Ketevan Lomsadze, Program Officer of ECHO

‘Success is Contagious:’ TBC Bank and Geocell Present new Business Award Project


Marvel Artist’s Exhibition On at Art Palace CULTURE PAGE 14

Varvaridze, Painting to Breathe CULTURE PAGE 19




JUNE 24 - 27, 2016

Georgian Government Launches United Agro Project BY EKA KARSAULIDZE


he Georgian government on Tuesday officially launched the United Agro Project, an umbrella organization designed to streamline the State’s ability to keep citizens and other interested parties up-to-date on existing programs and new agricultural services. Six key agricultural programs have been included on the list including Georgian Tea, Plant the Future, Assist Smallholder Farmers to Conduct Spring Works, Agro Insurance, Preferential Agro Credit and Enterprise Co-Financing. The public will be able to use the single platform project to gather information, resolve outstanding issues and remain in close contact with state officials. The project aims to resolve many of the outstanding issues that Georgian Prime Minister Giorgi Kvirikashvili said continue to plague the country’s lucrative agricultural industry.

Government representatives were quick to highlight recent achievements in their attempt to overhaul the agricultural industry’s notoriously slow and bureaucratic procedures. According to the State’s claims, 150 new enterprises have recently been registered, and 700 others enlarged over the same period. Over 700,000 farmers have received annual financial support for agricultural works, and more than 200,000 hectares of land has been cultivated since 2013.

Archeological Dig May Confirm Georgia’s Status as Cradle of Wine BY EKA KARSAULIDZE


enice’s Ca' Foscari University and the Georgian National Museum (GNM) have recently discovered vine pollen from a vessel was used in ritual ceremonies by the Bronze Age KuraAraxes civilization, that may confirm that viniculture was first practiced in the world in what is now modern-day Georgia, Science Daily reported. The dig uncovered two animal-shaped ceramic vessels from circa 3000 BC at the Aradetis Orgora archaeological site, 100 kilometers west of Tbilisi. The vessels contained traces of well-preserved common grape vine pollen, which shows the importance of wine in the Kura-Araxes culture, according to Georgian palynologist Eliso Kvavadze. “Due to the context of the discovery, this suggests that wine was drawn from the jar and offered to the gods or commonly consumed by the participants of the ceremony,” said Ca' Foscari University’s Elena Rova.

Georgia is known as one of the world’s oldest wine producing regions. Grapes have been cultivated in the South Caucasus since the Neolithic period, with wine production dated back to the early Bronze Age. 27 researchers and students from Georgia and Italy took part in a major archaeological dig in the summer of 2015, when the vessels were unearthed. A new expedition is scheduled for June 17-July 31.

EU Continues to Support Disaster Risk Reduction in South Caucasus Continued from page 1

The regional initiative is funded by the European Commission Humanitarian Aid & Civil Protection Department (ECHO) and implemented in cooperation with four partner organizations: the Danish Red Cross, Oxfam, Save the Children, and ArbeiterSamariter-Bund Deutschland (ASB). During the launch event, representatives from international and local organizations will be present, as well as representatives of the State Security and Crisis Management Council of Georgia, the Emergency Management Agency under the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Georgia, the Ministry of Education and Science of Georgia, the Ministry of Sport and Youth Affairs of Georgia, the Ministry of Labour, Health and Social Affairs of Georgia, Adjarian Emergency Situations Management Agency, the Ministry of Finance and Economy of Adjara, the Ministry of Agriculture of Adjara, the Department for Protection of Environment and Natural Resources of Adjaran, and representatives of

municipalities from Adjara. The program “Disaster Risk Reduction to Improve Resilience of Communities and Institutions in the South Caucasus” aims at increasing resilience and reducing the vulnerability of communities and local institutions in areas prone to natural hazards, with a special emphasis on children, women and youth. It aims to boost the local capacities of communities to better prepare for and respond to disasters and further develop and include disaster management and risk reduction in education and national security planning. The concerted efforts of all partners involved in the implementation of this program will further strengthen cooperation among stakeholders, and foster the sharing of best practices in disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation. The program will be implemented in close coordination with the Government of Georgia as well as regional and local authorities to encourage the development of DRR policies and legislation for disaster risk reduction and sustainable program interventions.


GEORGIA TODAY JUNE 24 - 27, 2016


Damage Already Done: Ogden on Brexit OP-ED BY TIM OGDEN


read a quote from Admiral Bill Fallon of the US Navy the other day, in which he said that the West had its chance to fully stabilize Eastern Europe during the 1990s while Russia was weak, but 'blew it'. Looking at the state of things now, it isn't hard to imagine Europeans saying the same thing ten years from now. By the time this goes to print, the United Kingdom will have voted whether to remain a part of the EU or not. If Britain leaves, a plethora of problems will rear their ugly heads; London will attempt to negotiate trade deals with the Union, which will likely be in a punitive mood and unwilling to help a country which it feels has turned its back on the continent (indeed, Wolfgang Schauble, the German Minister of Finance, flatly stated 'Out is out' with regards to dealing with Britain after a possible Brexit). The Leave campaign have put their hopes in establishing deeper ties with the English-speaking world, something which it is currently unable to do due to EU laws which lock in most of Britain's trade with the continent. The Leave campaign claim that Britain will be better served by closer association with its sister nations of Australia, New Zealand and Canada (as well as its American cousins), while establishing links with Europe on its own terms. However, after President Obama flatly stated that assisting an independent Britain will not be a priority for the

American government (and his successor is unlikely to have a different stance on the matter), the UK could find itself somewhat adrift; Scotland might make another bid for independence, and with an uncooperative Europe unwilling to help, political and social anarchy is not an unrealistic prospect. Furthermore, French dissatisfaction with the EU is fuelling nationalism within its member states, most notably in France, Austria and Greece. A British exit could set off a chain reaction and the Union could conceivably collapse. Yet even if Britain remains, to some

Above all, what is most alarming is that the EU is not honest or intelligent enough to separate the issues of visa liberalization for Georgia, Turkey and Ukraine

extent the damage has already been done. Should the Leave campaign fail, other parties in other countries might be buoyed by the thought that their campaign to quit might succeed. In addition, coverage of Brexit has shown just how divisive the issue has proved, and it is in this way that Georgia's prospects of membership are at risk from internal factors as well as the EU's characteristic reluctance to grant Georgia anything meaningful. The West's policy of 'Next year' promises to Georgia every year since 2003 have already caused enthusiasm for both the EU and NATO to wane. A British exit from the EU could make matters significantly worse; the idea that one of the EU's most prominent members would quit an institution that has been talked of as one of the best hopes for Georgia's future will certainly call into question the benefits of membership in some circles. Georgians, being prone to bouts of fierce nationalism, will also not take kindly to the notion that most of its laws would then be dictated from Brussels, as well as having to partially shoulder the burden of migrant crises or (in the

distant future) potentially bailing out the floundering economies of other member states. I have written about the EU twice on these pages, but never before from the position that the EU needs to rapidly adjust its doctrine in order to still be taken seriously. Georgia's prospects of visa liberalization are more of a hot topic in Tbilisi than Brexit, the EU having promised to deliver a positive verdict before the summer and then delaying discussion on the issue to September. Above all, what is most alarming is that the EU is not honest or intelligent enough to separate the issues of visa liberalization for Georgia, Turkey and Ukraine. Vague details of Georgian criminal gangs in Germany were given as the reason behind delaying discussion of the matter before the statements were retracted; while Georgians have been found to commit crime in Germany, this is often simply petty theft and burglary rather than the type of organized crime common to Russia. Deplorable and shameful as Georgian crimes abroad are (no matter how minor), they pale in comparison

to the reported stories of sexual assaults committed by Syrian migrants across German and Danish cities since the beginning of the year. In response to this, Germany has organized seminars and classes on how to treat women in Europe and, while I am the first to admit that the behaviour of Georgian men towards women is often unacceptable, incidents of sexual assault in Georgia are rare. Besides which, with a population of barely 3.5 million, even a mass migration of Georgians to Germany would be but a drop in the ocean compared to the millions of Syrians pouring into Europe. It is my fervent hope that Europe will come to its senses, and convince those who want to leave to stay and welcome aboard those who want to join. Asking for sense in politics is, of course, a bit like asking for a condo on Saturn, but a man can dream. Yet if things go on as they are, with Russia becoming increasingly aggressive and Europe ever more divided, I can't help but think that ten years from now Brussels might wish it had acted differently.




JUNE 24 - 27, 2016

Conference Held Prior to NATO Warsaw Summit: Challenges and Expectations BY ZVIAD ADZINBAIA


n Wednesday June 22 a conference entitled ‘NATO Warsaw Summit – Challenges and Expectations’ took place at the Radisson Blu Iveria Hotel in Tbilisi. The event, organized by the Georgian Foundation for Strategic and International Studies (GFSIS) and Atlantic Council of Georgia, was dedicated to Georgia’s NATO track prior to the forthcoming NATO-Warsaw Summit on July 8-9. The conference sent a clear message that the Summit is a cornerstone in the process of defining the path for NATO’s future development: “Since the last Summit in the UK, major challenges have been posed to the Euro-Atlantic security system, both in conventional and hybrid dimensions.” This week’s conference, supported by the embassies of Poland and Romania and the NATO Laison Office in Georgia, brought together representatives of the Georgian government, think tanks, embassies, international organizations and expert communities to discuss the Alliance Summit agenda. The participants spoke of the signifi-

The panelists of the conference

cance of the Summit in terms of Black Sea regional security and NATO’s challenges and perspectives on its Eastern borders. In addition, the Alliance’s policy and its strategic approach to new threats and challenges, with a focus on Eastern Europe and Georgia, was broadly discussed. As a keynote speaker, James Appathurai, NATO SecGen’s Special Representative for the Caucasus and Central Asia, addressed the audience from Brussels. The NATO official underscored some key elements that the Alliance is going to focus on throughout the Summit. Appathurai said that during its time in Warsaw, Georgia will be involved in more discussion formats than any other NATO member country. “There is no other non-member state that has so much NATO in it as Georgia does,” stated

Appathurai, referring to the deepened cooperation between NATO-Georgia, and reiterating that Georgia has all the practical tools for membership. Drawing parallels from Georgia of the present day and before, Deputy Foreign Minister David Dondua, speaking at the Conference, looked back to the NATO Prague Summit in 2002. “Some high-level diplomats attending the summit almost laughed at us when we first declared officially that Georgia should join the Alliance,” Dondua remembered. Furthering this concept, State Minister of EU and NATO Integration, David Bakradze, highlighted that Georgia, contrary to the past, has become a model country in the region in terms of progressive transformation and overall success achieved. Georgia’s Defense Minister, Tina Khidasheli, who has appeared an ardent

advocate of Georgia’s NATO membership during her time in office, shared her deeply-held passion with the audience that Georgia will become an Alliance member in the foreseeable future. “Expansion of NATO, and therefore expansion of freedom, is unavoidable.” At the panel concerning NATO’s possible inclusion in Black Sea security matters, experts and official parties agreed that the Alliance should pay more attention to the Black Sea region. Turkish Ambassador to Georgia, Zeki Levent Gümrükçü stated that “for Turkey, Georgia being a NATO member means more security.” It was widely recognized during the Conference that NATO faces dangers from the side of Russia, which continues to challenge post-Cold War peace in Europe, starting with the war in Georgia

in 2008 and continuing with the aggression in Ukraine from March 2014. “Moscow’s ongoing occupation of Georgia, as well as the seizure and militarization of Crimea have complicated the security picture in the Black Sea region.” Even though Georgia was promised eventual membership in the Western Alliance at the 2008 NATO Bucharest Summit, and the country has been enjoying its Substantive Package granted in Wales in 2014, the question as to whether the political step will be made by all 28 members still remains unanswered. In this context, Georgia is widely requested to retain her strategic patience and wait for the ‘right moment’ for her eventual membership. Meanwhile, Georgia is getting ready for its 2016 parliamentary elections, which will play a significant role in the country’s future democratic life. Notably, in September, the North Atlantic Council (NAC) will visit Tbilisi, which undoubtedly sends a strong political message for the NATO aspirant country. At the same time, the opportunities Georgia is enjoying on her western path should be translated into real and unwavering actions from the government to finally realize the ability and willingness of the Georgian citizens and bring the country into NATO.


GEORGIA TODAY JUNE 24 - 27, 2016


The Merabishvili Fiasco OP-ED BY ZAZA JGARKAVA

A Tbilisi Hosts International Legal Conference BY MERI TALIASHVILI


eorgian President Giorgi Margvelashvili earlier this week opened an international conference focusing on the independence, competence and ethics of the legal profession in Georgia. “When we discuss the future of our country, I'm talking about the future of a country where lawyers with their high intellectual and moral standards are creators and guarantors of democratic governance. It is impossible for a state to create a rule-of-law society if everyone’s rights are not protected,” Margvelashvili said at the opening of the conference on Tuesday. More than 30 members of Georgia’s

Bar Association and foreign legal representatives discussed common challenges and practices that attorneys face both domestically and abroad. The participants discussed possible ways to tackle ongoing problems and ways to improve the quality of the legal profession. “This is the critical component when defending universal human rights. Justice is a cornerstone of statehood and lawyers are the cornerstone of a nation’s justice,” - Shombi Sharp, the United Nations Development Programme’s (UNDP) Resident Representative in Georgia said. The conference was organized by the Georgian Bar Association, with assistance from the Council of Europe, EU, UNDP, in cooperation with the Council of Bars and Law Societies of Europe and Tbilisi State University.

fter the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg indirectly recognized that the ex-minister of Interior Affairs Vano Merabishvili is a political prisoner, the agenda of the local government obviously changed. Opposing their initial comments, Georgian Dream representatives no longer refute the fact that laws were violated. More importantly, their informal leader, billionaire Bidzina Ivanishvili, admits that there are some black holes in the case of Merabishvili. The process of this transformation began right after a secret meeting was held between President Margvelashvili and one of the leaders of the United National Movement (UNM), Giga Bokeria. The Presidential Administration confirmed this a few days later, without releasing any official information whatsoever. Bokeria allegedly asked the President to pardon Merabishvili, offering the support of the UNM for the Presidential elections of 2018 in return. For President Giorgi Margvelashvili, this pardon is quite problematic in itself. As a precedent it automatically means that the cases of the former city mayor Gigi Ugulava and former Defense Minister Bacho Akhalaia will also come to the fore, as their cases (regarding pre-trial detentions) might prove they have violations of no less significance to Strasbourg. This would mean that Margvelashvili’s relations with the ruling party will be damaged for good, as would those with Prime Minister Giorgi Kvirikashvili, who will be responsible for the results obtained by the GD at the elections on October 8. Clearly, these will be far from impressive if the ex-leaders of the UNM leave prison in triumph.

Vano Merabishvili, shown here prior to his imprisonment, has been recognized as a political prisoner by the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg. Source:

Apparently, the President needed a few days to make up his mind. Three days after the meeting he ordered an investigation to be launched based on the comments from Strasbourg. The case concerns a claim that Merabishvili made during his court hearing, whereby he said that, blind-folded, he was taken to the office of the then-General Prosecutor, Otar Partskhaladze, and ordered to testify against President Saakashvili. Margvelashvili asked there to be an investigation of this case since Strasbourg saw political motives. Two days after the President’s request, and following a statement from Ivanishvili, the Prosecutor’s Office began investigation. When asked to assess the decision declared by Strasbourg, Ivanishvili said, “At that time I did not pay sufficient attention to the process. I remember when they said that allegedly somebody had put something on his head and taken him somewhere. I still believe this is absurd. The question is why the investigation did not begin at that time. If Strasbourg raised this question, it will at least be investigated now, but to me Merabishvili’s claim is unbelievable.” At first glance, the decision to pay heed to the comments from Strasbourg seems logical. However, thinking that the inves-

tigation will prove false Merabishvili’s allegation is wrong. The results of the investigation are sure to become a reason for political outcry this will drag on infinitely until the foreigners get involved. By arresting Vano Merabishvili, the Dreamers got themselves into serious trouble, considering the predictable reaction from the West, from which we can already see the “Yulia Tymoshenko Syndrome.” To be honest, nobody cares about Yulia or Vano (or Misha or Bidzina, for that matter); they simply dislike the fact that the new government imprisons representatives of the old one, as the strategic goal of the West in the postsoviet countries is to establish the peaceful change of governments by means of elections. And what Ianukovich in Ukraine and Ivanishvili in Georgia are doing is destroying this tradition at its roots. Just like other post-soviet elite members have the fear of being jailed if they submit their powers in peace, thus, they will neither conduct fair elections, nor transfer power to anyone without spilling blood. This syndrome predicts cataclysms and Libyan scenarios in the long run in this huge, heavily armed post-soviet space. Do the Europeans want this? Hardly.




JUNE 24 - 27, 2016

In the Middle of Nowhere OP-ED BY NUGZAR B. RUHADZE


he Constitution of the Republic has been altered and re-altered many times and still needs further alterations in order to turn it into the most reasonable and reliable blueprint for running the country. The main law of the land is not yet – and has never been – a trustworthy enough document to make sure that everyone is protected by the law, everyone must obey the law and no person or office in Georgia may be above the law. Accordingly, our unalienable rights are dubious, government of laws perennially faltering, self-government shaky and the separation of powers weird. Look, we happen to be a semi-parliamentarian and semi-presidential republic. As a consequence, it has become next to impossible to identify a number one Exec of the country, and certainly a female figurehead who would play up a First Lady stint to the nation. There are so many chiefs to boss us around, and we see so many hands in the main pouch of the nation, that the frequency of confusions on a decision-making level might soon reach a scary height. But the weird precariousness of the scenery on the leadership dais is just peanuts compared to what we really see around us on an everyday basis via broadcast and print media. Take, for instance, the current Georgian and Eurounion intercourse: they are engaged to be married with no foreseeable wedding date set. They might linger on in the live-in situation forever,

Forced into a Stop-Over: Visa-Liberalization has become a huge and beautiful blimp, carrying all of us freely, safely and legally to tens of European capitals where we will supposedly take a deep sigh of relief to be happy ever after. Source:

although the nuptials have already been signed. Fulsome laudations in Georgia’s address are heard several times a day on the part of the happily operating Western diplomats, but those panegyrics have never hit the bull’s eye, to put it figuratively. So we don’t really know where we stand in the wake of the Eurounion Association Agreement with Georgia which is supposed to bring thicker bread-and-butter on the tray to our undernourished people. For more clarity, the NATO-Georgian unconsummated and annoyingly procrastinated relationship is based on a more complicated scenario which promises more than a regular financial relief and straightening-out of the country’s moribund economy. The promised shelter in the NATO realm of secure European nations has not yet loomed on the

horizon in full size and contour for Georgia. Drills, documents, signatures, meetings, conferences, ambassadorials, ministerials, summits, and all those sort of shticks have all been in place with a very modest result, not totally unfruitful, though. And the process has been on in the last two decades with bilateral enthusiasm to drag us into the Alliance. Nobody can say with confidence where exactly and in what position we stand in the European military game – in occasional ephemeral hopes or in complete prostration – although the indigenous PR loud-speakers are at full blast for us to hear that we are almost members. To make the Georgians feel at home in Europe, and in full kinship with West, a new consular term has been launched and put into circulation in recent years,

a term which has tenaciously caught on and has forcefully grasped our hearts and minds. The lexical neologism, called Visa-Liberalization, has become a huge and beautiful blimp, carrying all of us freely, safely and legally to tens of European capitals where we will supposedly take a deep sigh of relief to be happy ever after. But, behold, the blimp has been forced into a stopover. Thank God it’s still hanging in the air with flicking lights of hope that better days are still in store for us to enjoy, provided our patience keeps strong and unexhausted until the blimp reaches its destination. The only problem is that blimps are fragile and they need favorable winds to reach the Promised Land. So, we don’t quite know where Georgia stands in terms of a visa-free entrance to Euronations.

The state borders of Georgia are not precisely and completely demarcated, hence are often violated and brutally moved at the whim and discretion of an invading northern neighbor. From time to time we even get murdered right at the border-line, as a result of which disapproving voices are heard internationally, while protests within the nation are heard like a voice in the wilderness. So, we don’t quite know where we stand in terms of our border security. Georgia is torn between two geopolitical orientations – Western and Northern. Both directions are strong enough to offer something promising. The respectively oriented political powers in the country are adamantly sitting on the platform they believe is most favorable for the nation, but none of those powers are smart and strong enough to take responsibility to lead us to that haven. So, we don’t quite know where we stand when it comes to our political future and the secure prospect of our posterity. The multilateral uncertainty we are deeply in makes us look like we are in the middle of nowhere, this meaning a major confusion about the nettling past errors, current unpalatable bungles and the immanency of future scary blunders. We need to know exactly where we are, speaking economically, ideologically, geopolitically and diplomatically. We need to know precisely what status we happen to have. We have to know in scrupulous minutiae what is in store for us both in the short and the long run– the Western version of bliss and prosperity or the Russian story of déjà vu indigence. The choice is not totally in our hands, but we might at least have our pinky in the pie.


GEORGIA TODAY JUNE 24 - 27, 2016


ACTS and Rotary Training, Breathing Life Into Georgian Babies BY GEORGIA TODAY


hen a healthy baby is born the everyone is happy, the parents, the family the community.

Two minutes… When a newborn baby is born and is struggling to breathe Neonatologists have just 2 minutes (120 seconds) to identify and treat the difficulties. With limited time it is critical that physicians and nurses are well trained in neonatal resuscitation and have all essential equipment with small sizes immediately available for rapid action. Currently, Georgia has one of the highest stillbirth and neonatal death rates in all of Europe especially in the rural mountain regions . For this reason a partnership was established in the spring of 2015 A Call to Serve (ACTS) International, a humanitarian and development organization based in Columbia, Missouri and the first international organization to come to Georgia in early 1992 after the collapse of the Soviet Union. A Call To Serve (ACTS) Georgia the first Georgian affiliate of an international organization, University of Missouri School of Medicine, the Georgian medical Association, and the Tbilisi international Rotary club and rotary south Missouri Rotary club and rotary districts 6080 Missouri, USA and rotary district 2452 Georgia and surrounding countries. Rotary provided the program funding along with donations from organizations and individuals. “Breathing Life Into Georgian Babies” is one of the first maternal and child health training programs undertaken by

rotary international as a vocational training team (VTT) Program worldwide. The partnership then developed an exceptional VTT pilot program for 9 Kvemo Kartli hospitals to train and equip their physicians and nurses in a special life-saving program for newborn babies called Neonatal Resuscitation Program (NRP). NRP sets the international standard for excellent care of newborn babies the first 2 minutes after birth. It is in these 2 minutes (120 seconds) that rapid action by well trained physicians and nurses can save the baby’s life if the baby is struggling to breathe. In June 2015 a team of expert physicians and nurses came to Georgia to launch this NRP training program with their Georgia partners, training a total of 125 physicians and nurses and providing all the essential supplies for saving babies’ lives. From the University of Missouri School of Medicine, Patricia Blair, M.D., team leader for the ACTS/ Rotary Vocational training team (VTT) also president of ACTS; Dr. John Pardalos, M.D. Medical director of the University of Missouri School of Medicine neonatal department and medical transport team, Erin Khul, R.N NICU; and Medical transport leader, Courtney Kater, RN.M.S. Obstetrics Department, Head St Joseph Hospital SSM system. ACTS Georgia and the Tbilisi International Rotary Club welcome the arriving University of Missouri VTT selected 4 outstanding Georgian physicians to be the main program trainers in the country: Giorgi Tsilosani M.D, PhD. ACTS Georgia President and VTT country program director David Kvirkveladze,M.D. Past president of Tbilisi Rotary International, VTT

medical director Shorena Chanketvadze, Neonatal Intensive Care (NICU) medical director Gudushauri Medical Center Khatuna Lomauri, M.D. Neonatal Intensive Care (NICU) medical Director Tbilisi State Medical Center These four Georgian physicians worked tirelessly to train additional physicians and nurses from the 9 Kvemo Kartli hospitals and the ACTS Dmanisi Women and Children Wellness Center. The team of four physicians traveled in the spring of 2106 to the University

Chelsea Clinton, daughter of Secretary Hillary Clinton met with ACTS/Rotary VTT team in Columbia , Missouri to discuss children health issue Ms. Clinton has a master degree in public health and is interested in Georgian VTT program " Breathing life into Georgia babies"

of Missouri School of Medicine and underwent extensive specialty training in Neonatal intensive care at the 48 bed newly renovated Neonatal intensive care unit. During their training they completed specialized courses in neonatal intensive care including the The four became the first Georgian physicians to be awarded this high level professional training certification in

Amiridze, M.D.PhD, were among the invited guests attending. Dr, Berduli spoke about the importance of the NRP training completed in Kvemo Kartli and the plan to complete similar training in all nine regions of Georgia. She thanked ACTS/ Rotary and the University of Missouri for their important role in the Kvemo Kartli pilot program Each of the 172 graduates were indi-

instruction from the American Academy of Pediatrics Neonatal Resuscitation Program (NRP). They were also awarded a neonatal intensive care Certification of Excellence from the University of Missouri School of Medicine and were recognized as a clinical faculty. Returning to Georgia ACTS/ Rotary VTT worked with the Georgian Ministyr of Health, to conduct 9 hospital assessments in the Kvemo Kartli region. The assessment data will be used by MOHLSA to decide the hospital ability in levels of neonatal care. The ACTS/|Rotary VTT team continued the training of Kvemo Kartli physicians and nurse, helping 172 physicians and nurses complete the full course training in the international standard American Academy of Pediatrics Neonatal Resuscitation program (NRP). June 19th saw a recognition and graduation ceremony held for these new NRP graduates at the MOHLSA training center in Tbilisi. Deputy Minister of Health Nino Berduli, M.D. and Deputy Governor of Mtskheta Mtianeti, Guram

vidually called to the stage and presented their certificates. Following the graduation ceremony a reception was held to honor the hard work of the graduates and their training team. Dr. Patricia Blair stressed the importance of completing the initial training in Kvemo Kartli and said that additional continual medical and nurse training activities will be ongoing for the next two years. The NRP trainings will be updated regularly by the ACTS/Rotary Georgian VTT team. The University of Missouri School of Medicine Neonatal Expert teams will arrive in the fall of 2016 and spring of 2017 including NRP trainers and professional medical transport teams. In addition, teams of Georgian obstetricians and Georgian medical transport experts will be invited to the University of Missouri School of Medicine Neonatal intensive care center. The ACTS/ Rotary VVT program is providing exceptional sustainable help to Georgia, helping save Georgian babies’ lives.

Turkish Businessman Omer Sar Seeks Intervention from Erdogan in Lawsuit against Vano Chkhartishvili BY MAIA MISHELADZE


urkish businessman Omer Sar, owner of a 5 percent stake in Prometko Georgia and JSCO, the operating companies of Poti Port, is suing Vano Chkhartishvili. According to lawsuits filed with the Investigation Service of the Ministry of Finance of Georgia and the Prosecutor’s Office of Georgia in 2013, Omer Sar is demanding damages of USD 3 mln which he believes was taken from these companies between 2008-2009 by Chkhartishvili. • Sar has claimed Chkhartishvili took USD 3 mln from companies which operate the Port of Poti in yet another example of an attempt by Georgian businessman Chkhartishvili to enrich himself following the death of his former business associate, Badri Patarkatsishvili. • Speaking to Versia, Mamuka Kakushadze, an attorney acting for Omer Sar, claimed that during negotiations Chkhartishvili admitted liability for the action. • Despite this, Chkartishvili has refused to come up with a sensible offer to settle and now Sar is now looking to diplomatic channels to solve the dispute which may end up causing serious problems for the Georgian government. The investigation has been constantly delayed and businessman Omer Sar has now decided take matters into his own hands. Versia can exclusively reveal that Omer Sar is planning to contact the President of Turkey and ask him to help expedite the issue with the Georgian authorities. Versia previously published articles on the tenders for control over Terminals 3, 4 and 6 in the port of Poti won by Prometco Georgia and JSCO in 2003. According to Omer Sar’s attorney Mamuka Kakushadze, after the Rose Revolution, managers and partners of the company were contacted by people close to the government who demanded

a 50 percent share of the company. “The company’s representatives told us that management would happen according to parity principles, however, after a couple of years, this principle was violated and their share was raised from 50 percent to 66 percent.” Kakushadze told Versia. “They even appointed their own representative, Levan Jgharkava, as the company director.” “Not even a month had passed since the passing of Badri Patarkatsishvili and they registered this company to a new company, Sonata Alliance Georgia, which is connected to Vano Chkhartishvili,” Kakushadze said. “With the help of Levan Jgharkava, Chkhartishvili took USD 3 million from the company’s account and transferred it to fictitious contracts. Jgharkava, who was a trusted person for Chkhartishvili, violated both corporate ethics and the law when he took out money from the company’s account, which still has yet to be returned,” Kakushadze said. As previously reported in GEORGIA TODAY, Sonata Alliance Georgia is the same vehicle used by Chkhartishvili to siphon money from another of Patarkatsishvili’s companies - Georgian Tobacco Production - into Pasquino Management Corp, a Panama registered company owned by Chkhartishvili’s two children. This transaction was recently exposed in a London High Court judgement. Following the 2012 parliamentary elections which resulted in a change of Government, Turkish businessman Omer Sar filed a lawsuit with the Investigation Service of the Georgian Ministry of Finance. An investigation was begun based on the lawsuit but was prolonged. Correspondingly, in 2013, Omer Sar filed a lawsuit in the Prosecutor’s Office of Georgia.

IN A RECENT INTERVIEW WITH VERSIA. OMER SAR’S ATTORNEY MAMUKA KAKUSHADZE SAID: “We held a press conference regarding this case in 2013. After this, Vano Chkhartishvili’s attorney stated that they were ready to solve this issue through negotiations, without the involvement of a Court of Law. Correspondingly, we

arranged meetings with Chkhartishvili’s lawyers at which they admitted to the debt and even gave us written documents which proved that they owe money to Omer Sar. But we haven’t managed to progress our negotiations since then. “I think this partly happened because the trial in London involving Chkhartishvili and Patarkatsishvili’s family ended. As we know Chkhartishvili lost that case and with it he probably lost every desire to return even a single cent to us.

YOU’RE REFERRING TO THE USD 3 MILLION WHICH LEVAN JGHARKAVA ALLEGEDLY TOOK FROM PROMETCO GEORGIA AND JSCO, RIGHT? Yes, but the USD 3 mln is based on the official exchange rate. Therefore we’re talking about 5 million GEL. This money belongs to the companies and not specifically to Omer Sar. We demand this debt be paid back to the companies or that they pay us our share of the money. We’re fighting for our own money; if Chkhartishvili doesn’t want to return the money he owes the companies, then he should at least pay us our share.

DURING THE PRESS CONFERENCE YOU STATED THAT CHKHARTISHVILI’S REPRESENTATIVES OFFERED YOU SOME KIND OF A DEAL. WHAT WHERE THEY SPECIFICALLY OFFERING? Chkhartishvili’s representatives travelled to Istanbul where they offered Omer Sar an amount of money which was less than we were demanding. In short they were bargaining, but Sar, who is fully coordinating with his Georgian partners, declined. First, the amount was considerably lower and also Sar is requesting this payment with his Georgian partners. Therefore, we declined their offer.

straight-forward in this case. If he chooses to accept this deal, his Georgian partners will be left with nothing.

DOES LEVAN JGHARKAVA ADMIT TO THIS DEBT? Yes, he admitted to it during the trial. He explained it by saying that he was following the orders of the majority shareholder partner. He said that this caused problems with the minority shareholders but he thought it to be the right thing to do.

AT WHAT STAGE IS SAR’S LAWSUIT NOW? It’s probably sitting on one of the shelves in the Prosecutor’s Office. Despite the fact that we contacted the Turkish Ministry of Foreign Affairs about this case and the Turkish Ambassador to Georgia sent a letter to the Prosecutor’s Office, we received the following reply: “The investigation is underway.” Because the investigation is being so blatantly delayed, Omer Sar is planning to contact the President of Turkey and ask him to request from his Georgian colleagues that the case be hastened.



Yes, but this is considerably lower than what we are demanding. Sar is very

Of course I knew that the main business partner was Vano Ckhartishvili. Levan

Jgharkava was just a trusted person following his orders. I had only met Chkhartishvili’s representative, Radi Ghvamberia, in their own office on Gergeti Street. During the meeting I demanded the return of the money Levan Jgharkava had taken from the company. As an exchange I offered them the chance to buy out my share. Ghvamberia told me that Jgharkava had taken the money and promised me that it would be returned, but unfortunately the promise was not kept. That is why I went to the Georgian authorities so they could investigate this case and prove the truth.

YOU ONLY MET THE MIDDLEMAN AND NOT CHKHARTISHVILI, RIGHT ? Yes I only met with Chkhartishvili’s representative Rati Ghvamberia.

IT’S A COMMON PRACTICE FOR A MIDDLEMAN TO BE TRUSTED BY BUSINESSMEN, BUT THEY FREQUENTLY ABUSE THIS TRUST. WHEN THE PROBLEMS WERE EVIDENT, DID YOU MEET WITH CHKHARTISHVILI? No, I only talked with the representative. But Rati Ghvamberia is not only a middleman. He’s Vano Chkhartishvili’s plenipotentiary representative who managed Sonata Alliance Georgia. Three years into the case, we found out that despite the fact that the investigation has begun, it is being delayed by the Prosecutor’s Office for some reason.


GEORGIA TODAY JUNE 24 - 27, 2016


‘Success is Contagious:’ TBC Bank and Geocell Present new Business Award Project BY TATIA MEGENEISHVILI


BC Bank and Geocell telecommunications company this week announced their joint project, the Business Awards 2016. According to the organizers, the project aims to promote the small and medium business sector of Georgia and foster its development. Winners will be named in the following nominations: Tourism Business of the Year, Agro Business of the Year, Georgian Product of the Year, Innovative Business of the Year, Marketing Campaign of the Year, Small Business of the Year, Business of the Year. General Director of TBC Bank, Vakhtang Butskhrikidze, said that Georgia’s future lies in the development of small and medium businesses (SMEs). “We started the promotion of small and medium businesses a long time ago and just in the last two years about 12, 000 representatives of the SME sector have passed trainings in various directions. We prioritized this direction for many reasons, the main reason being that without a strong small and medium

Nikoloz Kurdiani, Deputy Director of TBC Bank; Pawel Smalinski, General Director of Geocell; and Vakhtang Butskhrikidze, General Director of TBC Bank

business sector there can be no economic development in the country,” he said. The General Director of Geocell, Pawel Smalinski, also spoke of the necessity of SMEs and of motivating innovators to make their business ideas a reality. “We are honored to collaborate with TBC Bank. This is a unique bank which focuses on boosting the growth of busi-

ness in Georgia,” Smalinski stated. “SMEs have huge potential and perspectives in terms of generating wealth in the state economy.” Geocell is to be the sponsor of the Business Awards. “We will award one winner in the nomination of Innovative Business of the Year. Innovations are very important

Welcome to Indian Restaurant

for a better future and are the focus of our company. We believe this project will assist SMEs to boost their activities and achieve even greater success,” Smalinski said. Deputy Director of TBC Bank, Nikoloz Kurdiani, said that the project also aims to increase awareness. “The project will be annual and a spe-

cial commission will be created in order to select the winners. People must be helped to understand that starting a business is a good thing and there is nothing that can’t be achieved. ‘Success is Contagious’- this is our slogan. When one sees another person’s success, they should be motivated to do more themselves!” Kurdiani said.





JUNE 24 - 27, 2016

Discover Georgia’s Greatest Treasure – Vardzia BY BEQA KIRTAVA


ccording to legend, one day King George III went hunting with his companions and brought his little daughter, Tamar (soon-to-be King Tamar) along with him on the road. Once the field sport activities started, Tamar was left unattended and got lost in a cave. The King and his attendees immediately began the search, calling out – “Where are you Tamar?” Tamar heard their loud cries and shouted “I’m here, uncle!” (In Georgian: Aq var dzia!) That’s how one of the most significant places in Georgia got its name. Vardzia is a cave monastery located approximately 30 kilometers south of Aspindza on the left bank of the River Mtkvari, in the region of SamtskheJavakheti. It dates back to the 12th century, when it was excavated through the slopes of the Erusheti Mountain. Consisting of 242 rooms, the site includes several chapels, 25 wine cellars, a pharmacy and the Church of Dormition, which is famous for its series of wall paintings, including the portraits of King George III and King Tamar. However, Vardzia is not the only cave monastery in the region. An even older complex – Vanis Kvabebi (English: Vani’s Caves) lies 3 kilometers east of the Erusheti Mountain. It dates back to the 8th century and consists of several maze tunnels, 2 churches and a special defensive wall which was built later in the 13th century. Currently included in the tentative list of UNESCO’s World Culture Heritage, Vardzia frequently tops Georgia’s must-see attractions lists, alongside the Khertvisi fortress, which is located just 15 kilometers from the landmark. Khertvisi fortress served as the central defense building of Meskheti region back in the 10th-11th centuries. It was destroyed by the Mongol army in the 13th century and was later occupied by the forces of the Ottoman Empire during the 16th century. After 300 years, Khertvisi fortress was reclaimed by the joint Russian-Georgian army in 1828. According to legend, the fortress was attacked by Alexander the Great in the 4th century B.C., however, the credibility of the story is highly doubted by Georgian historians. As of 2016, the landmark is also

included in the tentative list of UNESCO’s World Culture Heritage. If you’re eager to visit Samtskhe-Javakheti and see the aforementioned sites yourself, we have the perfect place for you to stay. Whether you want to book a luxurious apartment or prefer a cheaper, small and cozy room, “Vardzia Resort” has got you covered. Located in the vicinity of the monastery complex and stretched over an area of 3 hectares, this boutique hotel with a total of 27 rooms (19 single or double, 3 triple, 2 lux, 2 family and 1 suite) has stunning panoramic

views. The local amenities include a separately located restaurant serving national and Meskhetian cuisine, an outdoor lounge bar, a spa center, entertainment complexes for adults and kids, two large swimming pools and wine tasting sessions in Vardzia Resort’s own wine cellar. To deliver a truly authentic experience, a part of the Resort is an old-style replica, which mimics the region’s 12th century architecture, besides the fully modern boutique style hotel. Moreover, you’ll have the opportunity to visit the 10th century St. Marine’s shrine on the territory, which was discovered during construction works and fully reconstructed, now attracting many pilgrims from all over the globe. Fishing enthusiasts will be particularly pleased with their stay, as the 7 pools created in the path of the river, which runs through the Resort, are perfect for catching a variety of fish species, including trout. Vardzia Resort also offers its guests sightseeing and many other kind of tours on request, plus culinary master classes. It has a large, modern and fully equipped conference room for 40 people at your service. Discounts are available for couples, honeymoons and tourist groups. So, what are you waiting for? Go to vardziaresort. com and plan your summer holiday in SamtskheJavakheti!



JUNE 24 - 27, 2016

Letters to Debbie Lee BY TONY HANMER


I am a severe nut allergy sufferer who has won a trip to the Republic of Georgia. I am, however, a little concerned after reading up on the national cuisine, as delicious as it sounds. Should I be? Sincerely, Nuts and Die Dear N.A.D., Just two words. Don’t even. To elaborate, the breath of anyone who has lived here falling on you may prove fatal. Georgia has a great many things going for it, including a truly fabulous and much underrated cuisine; but a good atmosphere for sufferers such as yourself is not one of these things. The country is positively suffused with walnut and hazelnut exhalations particularly. I greatly sympathize, but consider yourself exiled for life and try to pass on your winnings to another person not so tragically afflicted. Unless, of course, you DO have a death wish. Sorrowfully, DL


As a several years’ resident of Upper Svaneti, I admit to being puzzled about whether the towers of Mestia or Ushguli are older in general. Mestia’s are very regular, similarly sized and shaped, with almost all having two or three “eye” windows on each side. Ushguli’s are much more varied in form, with some much taller or squatter, and have anywhere from one to SIX “eyes” per side. So did the standardization happen first in Mestia, followed by a period of boredom and experimentation in Ushguli? Or did they play with the form first in Ushguli, then standardize it for Mestia? Thanks, Tower Troubled Dear TT, My sources tell me that this battle for the great prestige of having the older set of towers will be won by... nobody. What actually happened was a simultaneous “building battle,” with the two communities simply choosing different approaches to the problem of tower construction all those many centuries ago. The literature has nothing to say about this because “they weren’t talking to each other” (or anyone else) for more centuries following this period. Sincerely, DL



Can you tell me why khashi (a soup of tripe and trotters in milk & garlic) is the preferred Georgian hangover remedy? Sincerely, Dizzy and Vomiting Endlessly Dear DAVE, be a Simply this: it’s not supposed to tive. enta prev a be to osed cure, it’s supp comReally, if you knew that you had this at all? ing, would you dare to get drunk Sincerely, DL

I’ve heard that the Svans use, and even sell, “chewing gum” made from pine tree sap. Is this true? Sincerely, PineSol Anyone? Dear PSA?, All too true. A couple of further notes on the subject for your interest are that: 1) before chewing it, if you need to you can start a fire with it; and 2) after chewing it, a reaction with your saliva will turn it from amber color to purple. Please note that these two points necessarily exclude each other. Sincerely, DL (Dirol Lover)



about the origin Do you know anything habet, the one alp of the first Georgian beautifully) of st mo d (an ly ire ent made of circles? SO ns tio sec and es straight lin geometric! Sincerely, OmegaBet Dear OB, in Tbilisi has in The National Library ne version of sto t ien anc an es hiv its arc are tile puzsqu ing slid 3x3 se one of tho h one tile wit es on the zles, you know, aining rem the e slid missing so you can on? On its tiles siti po any to d un aro eight you like so much, are the lines and curves m make every the of s and combination y praiseworthy letter in that deservedl e guessed? hav uld wo o Wh et. alphab Sincerely, DL (DeLighted)

How can chicke manure for seed ns bear to peck through cow s to eat?! I’ve se en this myself! Sincerely, Disgusted and Horrified Dear DAH, Hmmm, and w expensive coffe e humans consider the most e from beans whi on the planet to be that made ch the body of cert have passed entirely through ai Google it: it’s a n wild cats in South-East Asia . thing, which it should be at $5 a cup or more. 0 Sincerely, DL the Unsurpr ised

Tony Hanmer runs the “Svaneti Renaissance” Facebook group, now with over 1300 members, at He and his wife also run their own guest house in Etseri:

Contact: Phone: 599 461908





JUNE 24 - 27, 2016

WHERE Launched at Dinehall, Praised by Tourism Administration Head

Excerpt: What Can Georgia Learn from Korea in Terms of Conflict Management?


massive media conference, titled ‘Journalists for World Peace,’ was recently organized by the Journalists Association of Korea (JAK). I was lucky enough to be invited (not without considerable support from the Embassy of Korea here in Georgia). 80 delegates from 50 countries, many of them from volatile regions, visited, tested and tasted the best South Korea had to offer – from thoughtful chats with high profile government officials in Seoul and Busan, to the high-tech confines of the Samsung Gallery, all crowned with a tour to the famed Demilitarized Zone between the North and South. True to the conference agenda, we, journalists and media representatives from all around the world, joined our voices and signatures, passing a resolution calling for world peace and denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula. As I was preparing to embark on what ultimately proved to be a quite perilous, if interesting, journey to South Korea, I was expecting a country that in many ways was supposed to be a complete opposite of my own, or rather a tale of what Georgia should have (or could yet) become, if the right decisions were made by the right people up top. To say I was wrong would be an understatement. While there are enough similarities between the two countries for a comparative analysis in the skillful hands and mind of an able political scientist, the ethno-cultural and, most of all, mentality differences render any possibility of creating a Korean model for Georgia a limited undertaking. In simpler words, we’re just too different. A nagging doubt tells me that this was exactly the case with the Singapore model that was so relentlessly pitched to Georgian people by the previous government, but this is another story. However, accepting differences, or rather, diversity, is what makes



uesday June 21 saw the official launch of the monthly tourist magazine, WHERE, designed and produced by the Georgia Today Group. The magazine targets incoming tourists of all social levels and means, providing them with an insightful and entertaining guide to the best places to Go, Stay, Eat, Drink, and Buy throughout Georgia. Each section is introduced by a celebrity or business person who knows Georgia well enough to suggest their personal favourite hotspots. Our team of experienced foreign and Georgian-born journalists then offers its own best sights, hotels and guest houses, restaurants and cafes, bars, and stores- with an often amusing narrative coming from the experience of having lived and travelled here for many years. The magazine is free and can be found in most hotels, restaurants and souvenir shops. In the Old Town souvenir shops you can also buy 130 GEL worth of WHERE discount vouchers for JUST 10 GEL- giving you the chance to get reduced prices on souvenirs, tours, fine dining, spa treatments and more. Head of the Georgian National Tourism Administration (GNTA), George Chogovadze, was present at the launch, held in the richly designed Dinehall on Rustaveli Avenue. “ will help tourists visiting Georgia to get to know Tbilisi and Georgia as a whole. It will be the prerequisite for them to leave our


country with better impressions,” he said. The new monthly WHERE tourist magazine echoes the mission of the GNTA to ‘showcase Georgia as an undiscovered unique travel destination to the world, encourage to explore once and inspire to come back.’ George Sharashidze, WHERE publisher, said at the launch, “I would like to thank the team of WHERE, qualified journalists and media professionals led by the editor-in-chief, Katie Davies, for the tremendous work done. Finally, after six

month’s of preparation, WHERE is out and available for all travelers, sharing the best ideas about where to go, stay, eat, drink and buy. Special thanks to our partner business companies for their belief in the WHERE management and editorial team’s capabilities of bringing the best ever product to the market. I hope that we have met their expectation in the first issue. However, our ambition to deliver the most comprehensive information about Georgia’s tourist potential has a longer-term strategy and we fully understand that more work should be done to increase the quality from issue to issue. I would like to wish an enjoyable stay in Georgia to all tourists and remind them to pick up a copy of WHERE – essential guide to Georgia!” The team behind WHERE magazine hopes to inspire many generations to learn more about Georgia and enjoy their stay here in such a way that they’ll want to come back for more!

the modern world tick and there are undoubtedly some lessons Georgia could learn from Korea. One field especially ripe in such lessons is that of conflict management. So here are 5 lessons that Georgia would do well to take from the standoff that has been taking place in the Korean Peninsula for more than 50 years now: 1. It Takes Two to Tango, Especially in DMZ “Korea remains the world’s only divided country” – was the line uttered in solemn tones by almost every Korean official we’ve met. While that’s a disputable notion (Cyprus comes to mind as the easiest example), it is true that unlike in many scenarios of interstate conflicts, where different ethnic groups are facing off, here we are dealing with two parts of the nation – and while one of them is more or less inclined to reconciliation (more on this below), the other has entrenched in its isolation as an only means of survival. The lesson here is that while you can impose “reconciliation”, just encouraging it is not enough unless both sides are willing to commit. Proof of this is the South Korean experiments turning the DMZ into a ground where the two groups would have a common foothold, hailed as a hugely important milestone in the peace process – while South Korea pushed for the creation of Kaesong Industrial Region, where thousands of North Koreans found employment, Pyongyang wasted no time in digging incursion tunnels beneath the demilitarized zone. Seeing its efforts going to waste amid yet another North Korean attempt to test nuclear missiles, Seoul authorities have ordered it to be “temporarily” closed down, recalling all staff and shutting down all activities in the process. Today, the demilitarized zone just lies there as a de facto border and a buffer territory, not a place for building peace and reconciliation. For the full version of this article, please go to




JUNE 24 - 27, 2016

The 25th Anniversary of German-Polish Good Neighborhood Cooperation



his year marks the 25th anniversary of the Treaty of Good Neighborhood and Friendly Cooperation between Poland and Germany, which was signed on 17 June 1991. To celebrate, the Georgian National Library on June 20 opened a threeday exhibition organized by the embassies of Poland and Germany in Georgia with the title ‘Poles and Germans. Stories of a Dialogue.’ The exposition depicted Polish-German relations in the 20th century and was officially opened by the Ambassador of Poland, HE Andrzej Cieszkowski; Ambassador of Germany, HE Bettina Cadenbach; and Deputy Foreign Minister of Georgia, Gigi Gigiadze. “The exhibition shows the development of relations between Germany and Poland from the Second World War onwards,” Her Excellency, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Germany Bettina Cadenbach told GEORGIA TODAY. “Relations were bad because Nazi Germany had committed numerous crimes against the Polish people, but in 1991, when we finally signed a treaty on good neighbor relations and cooperation, we turned our relations around and now we have a great exchange at the level of civil society and we have literally millions of Germans and Poles interacting every year, demonstrating that now Germany and Poland are really good partners and are both helping to stabilize Europe.” Nazi crimes against the Polish Nation are said to have claimed the lives of 2.77 million Christian Poles and 2.7 to 2.9 million Polish Jews, according to estimates of the Polish government-affiliated Institute of National Remembrance. The crimes were committed during the course of the 1939 invasion, as well as the subsequent occupation of Poland. The genocidal policy of the German Third Reich against the Polish nation was the epicenter of Nazi German war crimes (1939–45) and crimes against humanity. Therefore, not all nations would be so forgiving. Poles can without any exaggeration be considered to be one of the most dignified nations, if not top of the list, for choosing to begin reconciliation. “This is the 25th anniversary of the treaty between

Poland and Germany of our good neighborhood relations. We established really full-fledged relations not only between the states but between the societies as well. I think that this is a template to be followed by other peoples and nations in how to overcome a really difficult history and find a way to live peacefully and in a way which is beneficial to both nations,” His Excellency Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Poland in Georgia, Andrzej Cieszkowski, told GEORGIA TODAY. Gigi Gigiadze, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, told us, “Germany and Poland, two important European countries, are in Georgia marking one of the most significant events for them both. They have had a lot of serious problems but in spite of all, they managed to sign this significant treaty. I want to underscore those formats in which Germany and Poland cooperate for the benefit of the future of Europe, which serves to strengthen a united Europe, based on united values. This development of relations, between two countries which were not on friendly terms for logical reasons, is a bright example of how big a success the EU can be!” The turning point for reconciliation came at the initiative of the Polish clergy. Namely, in 1965, the Polish bishops sent a letter to the German bishops in which the necessity of reconciliation was mentioned. The document, supported by Christian aspiration and based on political foresight under the title ‘We pardon and ask to be pardoned’, was attacked by the Polish Communist Party. The Polish side found itself frustrated, as, in the response from German bishops, there was no mention of support in terms of the borders on Odra Nisa. Nevertheless, the letter written by the Polish bishops initiated the reconciliation process between Poland and Germany. It can be presumed then that the interference of the Georgian Church is not superfluous, just the contrary, it can help when all the political forces are unable to reach any results via long negotiations and meetings. A wide range of political, cultural and social events are scheduled across Europe to celebrate this crucial agreement in the Polish-German history of bilateral relations. The curator of the recent Tbilisi exhibition was the Polish History Museum, which put together the exhibition with the backing of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Poland and the Polish Parliament (Sejm).




JUNE 24 - 27, 2016

Marvel Artist’s Exhibition On at Art Palace

First MBE Awardee Presented with Medal BY KATIE RUTH DAVIES


EORGIA TODAY would like to once again congratulate Marina Tsitsishvili, President of the Georgian Branch of the English Speaking Union, who was awarded an honorary Member of the Order of British Empire (MBE) in the Queen’s New Year Honors List for services to UKGeorgian cultural and educational relations. She is the first ever Georgian recipient of a British honorary award. MBEs are given in recognition of exceptional achievement and service in the promotion of friendship and understanding between the UK and foreign countries. Her Excellency, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the UK, Alexandra Hall Hall, presented Marina with the medal and certificate, signed personally by HM Queen Elizabeth II, at a celebration ceremony in Marina’s own language center, The British Corner,

in Vake Park this Tuesday. The award is a recognition of Marina’s work to promote English culture and language in Georgia, including through establishing and becoming President of the Georgian Branch of the English Speaking Union; organizing an annual English language Public Speaking Competition; founding a non-profit Interna-

tional Center for Cultural and Business Relations to facilitate exchanges of students, statesmen and journalists between the UK and Georgia; supporting medical exchanges; and last year opening a school, performing arts center and cafe in in Vake Park, Tbilisi (The British Corner) to promote the English language, British culture and cuisine.



hursday 23 June sees the opening of an art exhibition of world-renowned American author and artist for Marvel’s Daredevil, Alias: Jessica Jones, and Kabuki- David Mack, at the Art Palace in Tbilisi. The exhibition showcases Mack’s career in comics and graphic novels. The artist will exhibit interior sequential art for Daredevil and Kabuki, as well as covers for Alias: Jessica Jones and Fight Club 2, personal work and celebrity portraits. Mack, known for his unique painted and collage-like work, began publishing Kabuki in 1994 with Caliber Press, and later moved the series to Image Comics.

It is now released through Marvel Comics' Icon Comics. He completed the first book, Kabuki: Circle of Blood, while still in college. Mack has also worked on other Marvel Comics publications, including Alias, New Avengers, and White Tiger. He also created the promo for the movie Mission Impossible 4 and works for MTV, as well as creating animations and characters for various gaming companies. Mack is exhibiting his cover painting for Fight Club 2, personal works and portraits of popular people. Among them are pictures of Prince and David Bowie. The exhibition will be open until June 30th at the Georgian State Museum of Theater, Music, Cinema and Choreography (Art Palace). Address: 6 Kargareteli Str., Tbilisi


ineClub,organizedbyNonna Sagaan Gubler and Tobi Walsh, is to host an Englishsubtitled Georgian feature film at the monthly showing in Amirani cinema next Tuesday, which sees audience members of all ages and nationalities coming together to get a taste of Georgian culture and cinema heritage. Directed by Shalva Shengeli and lasting just under an hour, this month’s film ‘The Ruler’ explores the kind of ideological issues typical for modern Georgia through the story of a conflict played out in a small Georgian village. The conflict? Should the monument of Stalin be left in the yard of the nunnery. This is the question tearing the village apart- strange, funny and sad as it is.

A nunnery on the one side, and the monument of a Soviet leader, who opposed religion at all costs, on the other. Some of the villagers favor the nunnery, younger people are more ambivalent than anything else, and others fight tooth and nail for the monument, which has

been saved by the village numerous times through the years. WHERE: Amirani Cinema, Kostava Str. WHEN: June 28, 19:00 PRICE: Tickets are available on the day at Amirani cinema- 5 GEL (3 ticket +2 GEL donation).

Second Phase Gudiashvili Exhibition Opens in Tbilisi BY MAKA LOMADZE


his year marks the 120th anniversary of Georgian painter Lado Gudiashvili birth. Considered a founder of Georgia’s contemporary art, a new exhibition of his art will be on display in Tbilisi from June 23 to October 23. The exhibition will focus on Gudiash-




vili’s works from the 1930-1950s. ‘SelfPortrait’, ‘Court Dancers’, Poetess’, and ‘Flattering Wife’ are among the paintings to be found on the second floor of the Gudiashvili Museum, whilst the third floor offers a graphic gallery full of satire depicting the Georgian past as well as the hard present reality. “This is not the debut of these works in Georgia. They have seen the walls of many prestigious galleries and museums worldwide. However, a compilation of this sort is new for Tbilisi. I


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think visitors will find the exhibition very interesting,” Anano Meliva, Gudiashvili’s granddaughter, told GEORGIA TODAY. Gudiashvili’s educational background in various European art styles is often credited with helping to form his unique style. Several of his paintings and pieces of graphic art show a distinct nod to the artistic trends that were sweeping the Western world at the time Gudiashvili was most active. “It’s a great exhibit of Georgian art.

10 Galaktion Street

The fact that it survived the Soviet era makes it unique and quite revolutionary. He has so many styles. I am a big fan of his satirical drawings, which are beautiful,” Antonio Enrico Bartoli, Italy’s ambassador to Georgia, told GEORGIA TODAY. WHERE: Gudiashvili Street 11, next to Georgian National Library, open every day except Monday and official holidays, from 11 a.m. to 18.30 p.m. The series of expositions is organized by The Gudiashvili Foundation, Georgian Ministry of Culture and City Hall.

Tel: (995 32) 2 45 08 08 E-mail:


GEORGIA TODAY JUNE 24 - 27, 2016


Conservation Experts from US to Preserve Darejan’s Palace



he American Friends of Georgia, with the financial support of New York Landmarks Conservancy and Ford Foundation, saw a week-long visit to Georgia of two of its representatives- leading US engineering experts who came to survey and share their expertise regarding the preservation of the Darejan Palace. The Palace, known as the Sachino Palace, is located in Tbilisi on the north bank of the River Mtkvari, a short distance from the Metechi Church. It was once the summer residence of Kakhetian Queen Darejan, seeing her temporary imprisonment there in the time of the Russian rule. The Palace was built in 1776 by King Erekle (Heraclius) II. American experts Edmund Meade (Principal and Director of Preservation in Silman) and Roderick Ellman (of the Mueser Rutledge Consulting Engineers),

who have worked on landmark conservation for more than 27 years, met with Georgian professionals working on the Darejan Palace reconstruction, reinforcement and geological surveys. Meade gave a lecture on June 15 ‘Preservation Engineering from a Structural Engineer’s Perspective.’ The lecture was organized by American Friends of Georgia with the support of the National Agency of Cultural Heritage Preservation. The lecture conducted at the Agency hosted a number of professionals and students in the field as well as a representative of the US Embassy Public Relations Department. Meade discussed the application of new technologies on historic structures, intervention that is durable and preserves the most historical fabric, and investigative and analytical methods that his company has advanced over the past 20 years. For illustration he presented his current works at the Guggenheim Museum in New York, Puerto Rico Cathedral and several other world monuments.

“Preservation of cultural heritage is vital for preserving the identity of the city, not only from a historical point of view but also for economical purposes. Darejan’s Palace, Narikala Fortress, Svetitskhoveli Cathedral, Jvari Monastery and monuments like these are the reason why tourists are eager to visit Georgia. I doubt whether tourists are interested in coming here to see high rise and glass buildings. Working intensively towards preserving your monuments is crucial. I’m very glad to be here and contributing to protecting Darejan’s Palace - one of the few rare Royal Palaces remaining,” Meade said. Lena Kiladze, Executive Director of American Friends of Georgia said, “Having these absolutely unique engineering experts here for the preservation of Darejan’s Palace is a privilege for us and I hope that all the relevant institutions- Municipality, Ministry of Culture and others in charge -will join us in protecting this landmark and postcard of Tbilisi,” she said.

End of an Era: Georgia’s First Prima Ballerina Laid to Rest in Opera House Gardens BY KATIE RUTH DAVIES


n Tuesday June 21, Georgia's first female prima ballerina, Vera Tsignadze, was laid to rest in the gardens of Tbilisi Opera House on Rustaveli Avenue. The burial followed a three hour wake in which hundreds of people came to pay their last respects- generations of Georgians who either remembered her grace, beautiy and lively personality directly, or who had heard about it from parents or grandparents. She passed away last Friday at the age of 90. “I remember watching her perform Gizelle when I was 10 years old," Prima ballerina Nina Ananiashvili told GEORGIA TODAY in an interview last year. "It was a privilege to watch her dance. I’d heard it was her last performance and it was such a believable one that I began crying- I really thought she was dying,” Nina said. “Luckily, I was sitting next to her niece, who was my classmate, and

she reassured me it was merely for show.” Minister of Culture and Monument Protection, Mikheil Giorgadze, spoke warmly of her talent and reputation, lamenting her death as a great loss to Georgian culture, while Nina Ananiashvili echoed the sentiments of many when she spoke of Vera's beauty, grace and

ability to light up every stage. Words describing Tsignadze’s performances could be heard passing between attendees as they sat or stood in the grandly decorated Opera Hall, Vera's coffin in the center surrounded by flowers and four Chokha-clad men, the delicate accompaniment of violinists and, later, the baritone power of Georgian polyphony singers in the background. Enlarged black and white photos showed Vera in her prime- a time when she she spun across the world’s stages with internationally renowned Vakhtang Chabukhiani, enchanting audiences along the way and leaving standing ovations and reverence wherever they went. In 2007, two stars were picked from the night sky and named after Chabukhiani and Tsignadze and, at the funeral, Nina reminded those present of this. "So, now, together, they can continue to shine their light down on us and watch over us,” she said. Messages of condolence were sent from theaters around the world to commemorate the sad loss. For many, Vera's passing truly is the end of a grand era.

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JUNE 24 - 27, 2016


TBILISI ZAKARIA PALIASHVILI OPERA AND BALLET THEATRE Address: 25 Rustaveli Ave. Telephone: 2 99 04 56 June 26 THE FIREBIRD THREE ONE-ACT BALLETS LES SYLPHIDES, FIREBIRD AND LE SPECTRE DE LA ROSE Mikhail Fokine Music by Igor Stravinsky Start time: 19:00 Ticket price: 10-50 GEL

GEORGIAN STATE PANTOMIME THEATER Address: 37 Rustaveli Ave. Telephone: 2 99 63 14

RUSTAVELI CINEMA Address: 5 Rustaveli Ave. Telephone: 2 55 50 00

June 24 STOP AIDS Directed by Davit Shalikashvili Start time: 19:00 Ticket price: 10 GEL

Every Wednesday ticket price: 5 Lari June 24-30 THE CONJURING 2 Directed by James Wan Genre: Horror Cast: Vera Farmiga, Patrick Wilson, Franka Potente Language: Russian Start time: 19:45, 22:30 Ticket price: 13-14 GEL

June 25 LULLABY Directed by Amiran Shalikashvili Start time: 19:00 Ticket price: 10 GEL CINEMA

June 30 PAGLIACCI Starring: Anzor Khidasheli, Irina Taboridze, Sulkhan Gvelesiani, Lasha Sesitashvili, Irakli Murjikneli Conductor - Davit Kintsurashvili Director - Temur Chkheidze Set and Costume Designer - Giorgi Aleksi-Meskhishvili Start time: 19:00 Ticket price: 10-50 GEL GABRIADZE THEATER Address: 13 Shavtelis St. Telephone: 2 98 65 93 June 24, 25 MARSHAL DE FANTIE’S DIAMOND Directed by Revaz Gabriadze English subtitles Start time: 20:00 Ticket price: 10-30 GEL June 26 RAMONA Directed by Revaz Gabriadze English subtitles Start time: 20:00 Ticket price: 10-30 GEL MOVEMENT THEATER Address: 182, Aghmashenebeli Ave., Mushthaid park Telephone: 599 555 260 June 24 RECITATIVE IN THE CITY Directed by Kakha Bakuradze Start time: 21:00 Free Entry June 25, 26 PERFORMANCE “FAN DO’S MAGORY” Start time: 19:00 Ticket price: 15 GEL

AMIRANI CINEMA Address: 36 Kostava St. Telephone: 2 99 99 55 Every Wednesday ticket price: 5 Lari June 24-30 INDEPENDENCE DAY: RESURGENCE Directed by Roland Emmerich Genre: Action, Adventure, Sci-Fi Cast: Maika Monroe, Joey King, Jeff Goldblum Language: English Start time: 19:30 Language: Russian Start time: 17:00, 19:30, 22:15 Ticket price: 10-14 GEL THE NICE GUYS Directed by Shane Black Genre: Action, Comedy, Crime Cast: Russell Crowe, Ryan Gosling, Angourie Rice Language: Russian Start time: 19:45, 22:00 Ticket price: 13-14 GEL NOW YOU SEE ME 2 Directed by Jon M. Chu Genre: Action, Comedy, Thriller Cast: Jesse Eisenberg, Mark Ruffalo, Woody Harrelson Language: Russian Start time: 22:15 Ticket price: 13-14 GEL A BIGGER SPLASH Directed by Luca Guadagnino Genre: Crime, Drama, Mystery Cast: Tilda Swinton, Matthias Schoenaerts, Ralph Fiennes Language: Russian Start time: 17:00 Ticket price: 10-11 GEL

The exhibition showcases artworks by the professors and students of the Tbilisi State Academy of Arts and other creative and educational institutions. Artworks were created on the theme of the Poem “The Knight in the Panther’s Skin” and are dedicated to the 850 anniversary of Shota Rustaveli. Among the objects are those made by children and adolescents with sight disorders. These objects are felt with light, motion, sound effects, touch and physical involvementplay and theatrical effects.

WARCRAFT Directed by Duncan Jones Genre: Action, Adventure, Fantasy Cast: Travis Fimmel, Paula Patton, Callan Mulvey Language: Russian Start time: 16:45, 22:15 Ticket price: 13-14 GEL

June 16 – December 16 THE EXHIBITION “NEW DISCOVERIES - GEORGIAN ARCHAEOLOGY” The exhibition will be held in the frame of the international conference On Salt, Copper, and Gold: The Origins of Early Mining and Metallurgy in the Caucasus”

NOW YOU SEE ME 2 (Info Above) Start time: 11:30, 14:10, 19:30 Ticket price: 8-14 GEL

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

INDEPENDENCE DAY: RESURGENCE (Info Above) Start time: 14:45, 17:15, 20:00, 22:15, 22:35 Ticket price: 9-14 GEL MUSEUM


PERMANENT EXHIBITION Here, visitors can discover the State’s personal files of “subversive” Georgian public figures, orders to shoot or exile, and other artifacts representing Soviet-era cultural and political repression in Georgia. The exhibition hall is equipped with monitors on which visitors can watch documentaries of various historical events. SHALVA AMIRANASHVILI MUSEUM OF ART Address: 1 Lado Gudiashvili St. Telephone: 2 99 99 09 May 18 – July 18 AVANT-GARDE 1900-1937 The exhibition is opened within the Georgian National Museum week dedicated to International Museum Day. June 22 –July 15 SOLO EXHIBITION “RETURNING FROM JOURNEY’S AFAR” BY ALEXANDER PAVLOV The exposition showcases 21 paintings by the Ukrainian artist and writer whose works are characterized by the aesthetics of abstract expressionism. Presented artworks reflect the artist’s thoughts on the current state of culture and society.


THE NATIONAL GALLERY Address: 11 Rustaveli Ave. PERMANENT EXHIBITION Niko Pirosmanashvili, David Kakabadze, Lado Gudiashvili and sculptor Iakob Nikoladze BAIA GALLERY Address: 10 Chardin Str Telephone: 2 75 45 10 June 14-24 MANANA TAVADZE’S EXHIBITION Textile, Applique GARDEN HALL 73 Agmashenebeli Ave. June 30 JAPANESE SUMMER FESTIVAL “NATSU MATSURI” Hall Events: Cosplay Contest Japanese dance performance Japanese Calligraphy - Shodo Origami Art Corners: Kvachi, Ülker Samxalova Handmade Pillows by Tamta Japanese Visual Kei performer: Sana Live concert Educational Program corners: Japanese Language and Culture Center Exchange program - Chikyujin Garden Events, Food Stalls: Yakitori, Taiyaki, Takoyaki, Matcha - Green tea ice cream, Cold drinks Start time: 12:00 – 20:00 Ticket price: 15 GEL MUSIC

EVENT HALL Address: 1 Melikishvili Ave. Telephone: 595 79 79 35, 2 98 39 41 June 25 TAMARA GVERDTSITELI CHARITABLE CONCERT “SHVIDKATSA” AND ZAKARIA PALIASHVILI SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA OF THE TBILISI OPERA AND BALLET THEATER Start time: 20:00 Ticket price: 10-25 GEL MOVEMENT THEATER Address: 182, Aghmashenebeli Ave., Mushthaid park Telephone: 599 555 260 June 28, 30 JAM SESSION WITH THE RESO KIKNADZE QUINTET Start time: 21:00 Free entry June 29 TANGO MILONGA Start time: 20:00 Tango Lesson: 5 GEL MTATSMINDA PARK June 25 MZESUMZIRA’s eZo 2016 Vol.2 LINE UP: 14:00 - Music selection by Grue 17:00 - Ert-Erti Direktori (Live performance) 18:00 - Gabunia (Mzesumzira) 20:00 - Oceanvs Orientalis (Live) (The Magic Movement, Istanbul) 22:00 - Ako (Mzesumzira) 00:00 - Britta Arnold (KaterMukke, Berlin) 03:00 - David Dorad (URSL, KaterMukke, Berlin) Start time: 14:00 Ticket price: 20, 30 GEL


GEORGIA TODAY JUNE 24 - 27, 2016


Varvaridze, Painting to Breathe BY MAKA LOMADZE


or Alexander Varvaridze, a middle-aged painter, a woman bears a bright orange color. Using mixed media, he is fond of different techniques and approaches. His portraits show him as an emotional painter rather than a realist, which gives him a lot of room for interpretation. And while his works are closer to abstract expressionism, he is open to modern tendencies, too, recognizing photography as an auxiliary part of contemporary art. Having taken more than ten years away from the brushes, he last year returned to his profession, finding it “hard to breathe” without the form of expression. The devoted artist says that one must give everything to any profession one serves. With six solo exhibitions under his belt, he is not lacking in international acclaim. Alexander Varvaridze took time out from the studio to talk to GEORGIA TODAY.

TELL US HOW YOU STARTED OUT ON YOUR PAINTING CAREER I was raised as part of a painter’s family, so I came into this gift naturally and I’ve been painting since my childhood. As for exhibitions, I started participating in them in my student years. My first one-

man show took place in 1994 at the History Museum, Tbilisi, followed by a number of group exhibitions. After two years, I made a second solo expo. Later on, I received offers from a foreign gallery delegation who then took some of my works to the Netherlands, where they saw the walls of a number of prestigious galleries. Most of those works got sold. In 1997, my personal exhibition was held in Le Haag, followed by a group art show in Maastrikh, Holland, and another one in Germany, where I also got an offer and some sales.

THEN YOU STOPPED PAINTING. WHY? AND WHAT DID YOU DO INSTEAD? At the end of the 1990s, when Internet was a new thing, I got interested in graphic design. Together with my family, I established a design studio and started designing books, webpages, clips, etc. My background in fine art helped me a lot and I was a fast success in the field. After many years of such work, I realized I couldn’t go on without bringing painting back into my life so I went back to it full-time.


thing superficially. The same can be said about fine art. It takes a lot of labor and time.

HOW BIG AN INFLUENCE DOES YOUR PERSONAL LIFE EXPERIENCE HAVE ON YOUR WORK? It comes from the mere process of painting, especially if my goal is being achieved. If the painting is a failure, my enthusiasm for it dims, making it harder to get what I want out of it. Right now I’m working on a canvas series that I began in my early period. I’m also working on drawings in which photography is a part.

IS PHOTOGRAPHY A PART OF MODERN ART FOR YOU, OR JUST AN AUXILIARY DIRECTION THAT MAKE ART MORE COMPLETE? I believe that it will be more a secondary means to make my works more colorful.



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Editor-In-Chief: Katie Ruth Davies

Journalists: Tony Hanmer, Tamar Svanidze, Zviad Adzinbaia, Beqa Kirtava, Meri Taliashvili, Eka Karsaulidze, Zaza Jgarkava, Maka Bibilashvili, Karen Tovmasyan, Dimitri Dolaberidze, Maka Lomadze, Tim Ogden, Ana Akhalaia, Robert Isaf, Joseph Larsen, Will Cathcart, Vazha Tavberidze, Nugzar B. Ruhadze

HOW MUCH HAVE YOUR ARTISTIC MESSAGES SHIFTED OVER THE YEARS? As the years have passed, new opportunities have emerged, as well as new technologies of expression. The artist in general tries to be hand-in-glove with those tendencies, and this might change the messages his/her art conveys.

WHAT IS YOUR ARTISTIC CREDO? I don’t have anything very concrete. However, if a person undertakes something, they should spend a lot of time on it and do their best to get the maximum results. It’s no use doing some-

Photographer: Zviad Nikolaishvili Layout: Misha Mchedlishvili Webmaster: Sergey Gevenov Circulation Managers: David Kerdikashvili, David Djandjgava

I differentiate one from another. However, some people say that there are some links which I don’t necessarily notice.

WHAT ARE YOUR PLANS FOR THE FUTURE? I intend to arrange exhibitions in Georgia as well as overseas. I have plenty of invitations, but my limited number of works hampers me due to the artistic break I took. Keep your eyes open for Alexander Varvaridze’s up-coming group and solo exhibitions. And if you can’t wait to see his works, go to: Those interested in Alexander’s studio works can see them at http://www.varvaridze. com/


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Profile for Georgia Today

Issue #855  

June 24 - 27, 2016

Issue #855  

June 24 - 27, 2016