July 24 - 30, 2015
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Georgia Today 24 p., Enterprise Georgia 4 p.
Eur opean Council Pr esident European President
Donald Tusk Con veys K ey Conv Ke
Tec hnical Launc h of echnical Launch Gar da bani Combined Garda dabani Cy cle Ther mal Cyc hermal P.12 Power Plant
Messa ges to Geor gia Messag Georgia
IN THIS WEEK’S ISSUE
Ex clusi ve Inter vie w Exc lusiv Intervie view with Pr of essor Prof ofessor Ma tthias Ma tthijs of Matthias Matthijs Johns Hopkins Uni ver sity: Gr eece Univ ersity: Greece and the Eur ozone Euro P.4 Crisis
Ar alace Hosts Artt P Palace Ger man Ar tist and German Artist Caucasus Exhibition Unprecedented display of the German perspective of 19th P.17 century Georgia. No flattery, just facts: Tusk positive about Georgia’s EU integration prospects. P.2
Gazpr om to Gazprom Ca pitaliz e on Capitaliz pitalize Geor giaGeorgiaAz erbaijan Gas Azerbaijan Contention? Following the fining of SOCAR and rumors of an Azeri gas price hike, the chance of Georgia looking to Gazprom is now more realistic than ever. P.6 FLIGHT SCHEDULE
Reducing Stillbir th: Stillbirth: Inter vie w with Intervie view Geor gia’ s MoH Georgia’ gia’s Health par tment De Depar partment Head “…based on current statistics, child mortality rates have actually reduced.”
Remittances Trends and Implica tions Implications
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Eur opean Council Pr esident Donald Tusk Con veys European President Conv Key Messa ges to Geor gia Messag Georgia By Nini Japarashvili This week Georgia hosted one of the top EU officials, Donald Tusk, President of the European Council, as he paid his first official visit to Georgia on July 2021, in the frames of his South Caucasus
gally placed signposts marking the socalled “state border” on the territory adjacent to the village of Tsitelubani of Gori municipality, and the village of Orchosani, occupied Akhalgori district, near Georgia’s main highway. After arriving at the conflict zone together with
“Georgia is definitely a front-runner [of the EaP]. This is not flattery. It is a fact.” – Donald Tusk, President of the European Council. trip to Armenia, Georgia and Azerbaijan. During the two days President Tusk met with top government officials and political leaders- President of Georgia Giorgi Margvelashvili, Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili, and members of the Georgian government. He also took time to speak with the Georgian opposition and other Members of Parliament and addressed Georgian troops deployed under EU Operations in the Central African Republic. The visit of the European Council President to Georgia comes at an important time, when tensions have grown at the administrative boundary line (ABL) after Russian occupational forces ille-
Kestutis Jankauskas, the Head of the European Union Monitoring Mission in Georgia (EUMM), President Tusk described the Russian actions as “provocative” and praised the Georgian government for reacting “responsibly” and “with cold blood” to manage this problem. Another message Donald Tusk conveyed during his stay in the country was related to Georgia’s plans for a visa-free regime with the EU, anticipated in 2016. Initially, the country hoped the EU would liberalize travel with Georgia at the Eastern Partnership (EaP) summit in Riga this May, but the EU Member States then said that it was up to Georgia to set the pace to fulfil the necessary steps for such a
EU Council President Donald Tusk with Georgian President Margvelashvili.
decision. In this regard, the European Commission is expected to review Georgia’s performance in December 2015. Meanwhile, Tusk noted “good progress” has already been made and the sides have set a “clear and ambitious timetable to finalize the process,” adding that he personally has a “very strong political will” in favor of such a decision. With regards to Georgia’s performance in the framework of the EaP, the EU policy framework which covers six post-communist states- Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Belarus, Moldova
and Ukraine - Tusk said: “Georgia is definitely a front-runner,” adding, “this is not flattery. It is a fact.” The European Council President underlined that Georgia has defined itself as a close associated partner of the EU and the bilateral relations between the two sides are strong and growing. He added that the EU has “an ambitious plan” regarding the country. Donald Tusk’s visit is an important political event, as he holds one of the top jobs in Europe. His elevation to the position of President of the European Council marked a coming of age for his native
Poland, but also for the eastern European countries, which are determined to integrate into the EU. President Tusk has an extensive knowledge of the post-communist states and Russia. The only Polish Prime Minister to win a second term since the collapse of communism in 1989, Tusk inherited a Poland that was hostile to Official Moscow, and his endeavors later led the country to successful EU integration in 2004. By definition, the President of the European Council is at the mercy of other European leaders. But Tusk’s personal support to Georgia is important, as the agenda-setting and mediation powers that go with the position allow him to shape the EU’s direction to a certain degree. In recent years, he has led the Europeans on getting tough with Vladimir Putin. Anticipating the Russian factor in the region during the two-day EaP summit this year, Donald Tusk said: “The Eastern Partnership isn’t a beauty contest between Russia and the EU…but let me be frank, beauty does count…if Russia was a bit softer, more charming, more attractive, perhaps it would not have to compensate its shortcomings by destructive, aggressive, and bullying tactics against its neighbors.”
Impor ted Leader s: Ho w the Inter net Mak es Inter na tional Citiz enship P ossib le Imported Leaders: How Internet Makes Interna national Citizenship Possib ossible By Lana Ghvinjilia (Or How the Ex-President of Georgia Got a Political Position in Another Country’s Region almost the Size of his Home Country). Globalization of human resources is not a new issue. Open borders, ease of travel, the European Union, internationalization of languages, and then the internet, make it very easy to import or export personnel – from a plumber to a CEO. But the World Wide Web is now bringing a new trend: moving political powers across state borders as it never has before. Many recent studies have proved that the existence of social media supports civic activity and public participation processes. As digital internet media brings new features to people’s social participation and culture, it also changes the way civil agencies interact with the public and, therefore, the way political relationships work. The number of books written on the Facebook and Twitter revolutions emphasizes that these tools have made community mobilization more comfortable. This gives us an idea that the possibility of active participation in some civil or political processes, while not being officially affiliated to one or another group or organization, may be attractive to citizens of post-communist countries. The degree of independence and voluntarism of associations effects the level of democracy of internal decision-making. While in western democracies social media and web 2.0 are mechanisms of wider and faster communication, in postcommunist societies, where civil activism is relatively young, online communities have become a stage for more political and civil activism. In 2004 Facebook did not exist. Georgians watching the Ukrainian Orange revolution live on TV were supportive, interested and appreciative. But unless they met Ukrainians, they could not share or discuss their opinions and impressions. In November 2013, Ukraine drew international attention once again. This time around we were able not only to comment and share information, but could offer support to one side or another. We could send money to the Maidan fighters, quickly organize various protests in front of embassies, and ultimately we could spread our own word about our
of his communications and the intensity of his responsiveness to the online community’s concerns play a role here. Certainly, the degree of Georgian involvement in online support and discussion of Ukrainian events brought the societies closer to each other. The availability of information from different sources about the Georgian experience and open discussion about the pros and cons of the reforms boosted Ukrainians’ interest and trust in the ex-president.
The Maidan revolution, which changed the history of modern Europe, started with a single twitter post by a blogger and it went on to become a worldwide topic for months. Social media was the driving force of all civil movements during the Maidan winter showing us that globalization of the public sphere within online social communities has brought its first clear political innovation. Lana Gvinjilia is the Head of PR at the Saakashvili Presidential Library.
First large manifestation for Ukraine held in Tbilisi, December 11, 2013. Photo by Lana Ghvinjilia.
concerns abroad. Whether here in Tbilisi, or in Hannover, anyone could become engaged in the political processes of another nation. Since winter 2014, 36 demonstrations have been organized by different nongovernmental, political or civil groups in Tbilisi. One of them (held in August 2014 on the day following Russia’s impertinent moving of its military forces into Ukrainian territory) was called by just a handful of students and one civil activist. Yet this very protest caught the eye of CNN. The video showing the burning of Putin’s portraits uploaded to I-report was broadcast on CNN the same day and collected more than 33,000 views. It is still a question for research to what extent such international civil actions make a real difference, but at least in this case we felt like participants ourselves. We did not need to ask for rights and we did not need to become citizens of a country in order to influence the politics there. Communicating through barriers is obviously easier when you’re multilingual. The Soviet past and experience of being a part of the Russian Empire has left its footprint and even today the majority of the adult population of post-Soviet countries can still communicate in Russian. The quality of understanding between us was also predestined by mutual history - belonging to one empire predetermines the sharing of not only problems but attitudes and values as well. How could the political leader of one country become accepted by society in another? It seems that for the first time since the days of the Tudors and Habsburgs, we are witnessing the political leader of one independent state gaining political power in another. Here, we will not discuss personality or any of the alleged unique skills of an ex-president of Geor-
gia. We will focus on that little tool that helped to make this makeover possible. Public space where public opinion could be constructed ‘online.’ Internet is free and even language barriers, thanks to the “google translate” option, cannot stop us from reading and commenting any more. Politics is largely influenced by the online sphere which seems to be getting more and more global. In 2011, recognizing the importance of the FB-oriented audience, Mikheil Saakashvili became an active FB user and his page became his key media tool right after he left the office and the country at the end of 2013. Despite the low frequency of his appearances on national TV channels, which are still recognized as the main source of information for the majority of Georgians, he managed to remain in the public eye. His Facebook audience increased by 100% in one year, but of course these are not all Georgians. In May 2015, NDI published the results of its study in Ukraine. One of the questions looked at citizens’ attitudes towards the western or eastern integration of the country. Odessa appeared to be the least western-oriented town in the country among the 18 surveyed. So, how did Mikheil Saakashvili, who is known as an active pro-western politician, become enormously popular in the Odessa region the day following his appointment as Governor there? Many prominent active or retired European and American politicians expressed their support and visited Ukraine during the Maidan revolution. That said, how many other examples of active political career extension in other states could we find? Perhaps in the online public sphere, the ability (or impression of ability) to interact with the leader, the informal style
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The ISET Policy Institute (ISET-PI, www.iset-pi.ge) is an independent think-tank associated with the International School of Economics at TSU (ISET). Our blog carries economic analysis of current events and policies in Georgia and the South Caucasus region ranging from agriculture, to economic growth, energy, labor markets and the nexus of economics, culture and religion. Thought-provoking and fun to read, our blog posts are written by international faculty teaching at ISET and recent graduates representing the new generation of Georgian, Azerbaijani and Armenian economists.
Ex clusi ve Inter vie w with Pr of essor Ma tthias Ma tthijs of Exc lusiv Intervie view Prof ofessor Matthias Matthijs sity: Gr eece and the Eur ozone Crisis Johns Hopkins Uni ver Univ ersity: Greece Euro Interview conducted by Charles Johnson Today I’m sitting down for a conversation across a continent and an ocean. Our guest is Professor Matthias Matthijs of the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS). He is the editor of the renowned and timely book “The Future of the Euro,” and twotime recipient of the Max M. Fisher award for excellence in teaching at SAIS. We will talk about the Eurozone crisis and the lessons small-state economies can learn from Greece’s situation. Charles Johnson - Professor Matthijs, thank you for sitting down with me. As your former student, it is exciting to chat with you in a professional context. Matthias Matthijs – Absolutely. It’s an honor. It’s great to see former students do well and move up in the world! CJ -Let’s start with what analysts are calling the “Graccident” and the subsequent deal made with Greece’s creditors. What’s the short and fast history here? MM – The basic story is that the Eurozone, for political reasons, was set up in a minimalist fashion in the early 1990s. Europe’s leaders constructed a common currency in a mainly technocratic fashion, around a powerful and independent central bank with a narrow mandate to conduct monetary policy and fiscal rules to keep member states from diverging too much from one another. Currency unions only function if they are embedded in broader economic, financial, social, and political institutions. As capital started flowing from North to South in the mid-to-late 1990s, financial imbalances started building up across the Eurozone. Investors did not believe the ‘no bailout’ clause of the Maastricht Treaty, and assumed Greek debt was as good as German debt. Once Angela Merkel’s government made it clear in late 2009 that there would be no easy bailouts, markets panicked. The euro crisis has been ongoing since then, largely as a result of the EU’s response, i.e. a combination of fiscal austerity and structural reforms with painstakingly slow progress towards building those missing unions. So far, real progress has only been made in building a banking
union. But the EU’s policy in austerity has been particularly damning in Greece, where the economy has shrunk by 25%. All indicators point towards a Greek economy that is shrinking even further right now. CJ - Let’s go to those typical questions of political economy: As the crisis continues who stands to lose? Who stands to benefit? Who is to blame? MM – In broad terms, the Northern creditors countries have had a relatively good crisis. The main losers of the crisis in Southern Europe so far have been the weakest, i.e. the unemployed who see their benefits cut, workers who experience falling real wages, and contractual service workers. However, the crisis has also been painful for elites in those countries, as they stand to lose their privileged and protected positions in the political economy due to structural reforms. However, if the crisis continues, the main losers may well be the EU elites and technocrats who have gained most from European integration. CJ – In your book “The Future of the Euro” you and Mark Blyth are heavily critical of austerity. Can you explain why you think it is a poor policy decision? MM – The main issue with austerity is that it makes political sense, but is very poor economics for countries that are experiencing recessions. It is simply disastrous for countries like Greece, who have been in a depression. Don’t take my word for it, but listen to Olivier Blanchard at the IMF, or my colleagues Carlos Végh and Guillermo Vuletin at SAIS. They have shown that the multiplier effect – i.e. the effect on the real economy of fiscal policy – is much larger during downturns. If Greece cuts government spending by 100 billion euro, it will do damage to its economy by shrinking national income by 300 billion. If the goal is to cut the Debt-toGDP ratio, we cannot focus on the numerator. Over the past 70 years, we have seen that most countries have lowered their debt-to-GDP ratios by growing out of it (expanding the denominator) and less by cutting deficits and debt (lowering the numerator). CJ - Now Austerity has its fans as well. What would you say to them? Is
Professor Matthias Matthijs of the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies.
there a third way to what seem to be intense polemics over cutting or raising government spending? MM – Don’t get me wrong. Austerity is not always and everywhere bad. The main problem in Europe is that everyone has been turning to austerity at the same time. There is a fallacy of composition here and a paradox of thrift. Since everyone cutting back also means people’s incomes (and therefore their demand) will be cut. Many Germans seem to believe that Southern Europe can become its own export powerhouse like China or Japan. But Berlin forgets that it can only be an export powerhouse because others are not. CJ –Now what about structural reforms in Greece? Should more money be transferred to Greece even if structural reforms are lacking? MM – I think there has actually been a lot more progress on structural reform than many people give the Greeks credit for. The Syriza government of Alexis Tsipras is committed to do this, and is in a much better position than his predecessors to take on vested interests. Even though, of course, a leftwing group like Syriza has its own sacred cows! If you look at the Greek civil service, for example, its employees have been cut by almost one third from roughly 900,000 workers to about 600,000. The
10 Galaktion Street
problem with structural reform is that they only pay off in the longer term. Combined with austerity in the short term they also tend to make things worse rather than better. The only way structural reforms can work – like they did in Germany in the early 2000s – is if they are combined with short-term fiscal and monetary stimulus to soften the blow, and if the rest of the country’s trading partners are growing at healthy rates. CJ – I’ll put you on the spot somewhat. Is the monetary union still a worthy experiment, or is it proving too complicated a beast to manage? MM – If Europe is willing to build the missing unions – financial, fiscal, and political – to make the common currency work, then it will prove to be a worthy experiment. For better or worse, democratic legitimacy today remains with the nation states. If the European Union is not able or unwilling to take a giant leap forward in political integration, I do not see how the euro can ever be on a solid footing. Then the Eurozone will stumble from crisis to crisis. That does not mean the euro will collapse, as the political will to keep it together is much stronger than many analysts sometimes believe. But there are limits. And we are pushing at those limits right now in Greece. CJ - I’m sure small-state econo-
mists will be analyzing Greece for a long time, but what could Georgian policymakers learn from this crisis when it comes to managing Georgia’s sovereign debt? My research shows that Georgia hovers around 37% of GDP, which is not too bad all things considered, but how can small states be proactive in preventing sovereign debt crises? MM – The main difference between Georgia and Greece is that the latter cannot print its own currency. Sovereignty therefore still matters a great deal. So, Georgia should think twice before it considers joining any future monetary unions! CJ – One more, and perhaps the most important question: Any plans to visit Georgia soon? The wine and khatchapuri are waiting! MM – I would love to, since I’ve never been. The Caucasus region is one I do not know much about and would love to learn a lot more. So, I will be waiting for an invitation from smart former students! CJ - Our guest today was awardwinning professor and author, Matthias Matthijs of the Johns Hopkins SAIS. Professor, thank you so much for your time and excellent analysis. MM – You’re welcome. The pleasure was all mine! This was fun.
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The Galt & Taggart Research team comprises Georgian and Azerbaijani finance and economic experts who have broad experience of covering the macro and corporate sectors of the two countries. Our current product offering includes Georgian and Azerbaijan macroeconomic research, Georgian sector research, and fixed income corporate research. For free access to Galt & Taggart Research, please visit gtresearch.ge or contact us at email@example.com.
Remittances - Trends and Implications By David Kutidze Workers remittances have significant social and economic implications for Georgia. They represent a major source of foreign currency inflows, and have increased six-fold to US$ 1.4 billion in 2014 from US$ 230 million in 2004, while their share to GDP has averaged 7%. Notably, remittances have expanded not only from traditional donor countries over 20042014, but also increasingly from countries that accounted for little or no inflows in 2004, such as Israel, Ireland, Iraq, Belarus, and China. However, increasing remittances are also a sign of poor employment prospects and socioeconomic difficulties in Georgia, pushing Georgian workers to overseas employment. It is noteworthy that a majority of Georgian emigrants are employed in Russia, which has traditionally accounted for half of total remittances. Consequently, the ongoing economic slowdown in Russia, along with the depreciation of the ruble, has negatively affected money inflows from Russia, which shrank 41.1% y/y in 1H15. Russia’s share has fallen to 38% of total remittances and we expect no improvement in the short term. In 1H15, remittances to Georgia have fallen from other major contributors like Greece and Italy, decreasing 19.4% y/y (US$ 20 million loss) and 12.4% y/y (US$ 7.5 million loss), respectively. The decreases can be attributed not only to economic troubles in those countries but to the lower remittance value in USD terms due to the weaker Euro. As ongo-
vestment component of remittances (as part of the flows goes to purchase real estate). Notably, private consumption increased 4.1% y/y in 1Q15 and there was little sign of imports adjusting to lower remittances in the beginning of 2015. However, starting from April we see significant import adjustment, which should limit the net impact on the current account stemming from lower remittances. At the same time, operations in real estate increased 5.2% y/y in real terms in 1Q15 and property registration continued growing in 2Q15 as well. To sum up, remittances are an important source of consumption, investment and hard currency inflows; however, they create vulnerabilities in recipi-
ing economic troubles in Greece are unlikely to subside in the near term, it is likely that Georgian emigrants will move to other countries for employment, while relatively few might return to Georgia. On the other hand, in 1H15 inflows increased robustly from USA (+26.4% y/y), Turkey (+20.6% y/y) and Israel (+37.4% y/y), accounting for 18.1% of total, which partially offset the decline of inflows from aforementioned traditional donors. As a result, remittances in 1H15 fell 22.8% y/y. Given the current trend, we expect remittances to decline by 18-20% y/y in 2015. Remittances are even more significant for other regional economies. They represent almost half of Tajikistan’s
ent countries when economic conditions are unfavorable in remitting countries. Georgia has no control over the external environment or its emigrants’ employment prospects, but it is capable of stimulating domestic economic activity and creating decent living conditions for its population. Enhanced economic prospects are essential for would-be emigrants to pursue employment opportunities within the country, positively affecting Georgia’s potential GDP. Therefore, policymakers have to be supportive of the business environment, implementing policies aimed at developing small and medium businesses and placing greater emphasis on employment generating sectors.
GDP, around 20% of GDP in Armenia, more than 25% of GDP in Moldova, and around 30% of GDP in Kyrgyzstan. Notably, in these countries, as well as in Georgia, money sent from emigrants employed in Russia comprises a significant portion of total inflows. A decrease in remittances has several economic consequences for Georgia. First, declining money inflows was one of the contributors to Lari depreciation, along with lower exports at the end of 2014 and beginning of 2015. However, the depreciation has helped the domestic currency value of remittances and expenditures, minimizing the effect on nominal GDP. Secondly, lower remittances mean lower consumption and in-
Gazpr om to Ca pitaliz e on Geor gia-Az erbaijan Gas Contention? Gazprom Capitaliz pitalize Georgia-Az gia-Azerbaijan By Zaza Jgharkava Unsavory scenes at a recent football match have appeared to dampen Georgian-Azerbaijani relations. Earlier this month, Dinamo Tbilisi played the Azerbaijani club Gabala. The tie, played in two legs with the first in Georgia and the second in Azerbaijan, brought out the worst in some of the supporters. In Tbilisi, Georgian fans unveiled flags staking a claim to modern day Azerbaijani territory, and a week later the Azerbaijani reciprocated in Gabala, listing several Georgian towns such as Marneuli on banners as being Azerbaijani territory. Skirmishes were also reported at both games between fans. This misunderstanding between neighbors deepened away from sport when the Georgian Competition Agency fined the Azerbaijani company SOCAR Georgia Petroleum over 14 million Lari for market infringements. In short it has been a tumultuous month for the two countries’ relations. Georgian Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili has downplayed the significance of the altercations on the football terraces: “Such provocations will bring nothing and it cannot pose a threat to the Georgian-Azerbaijani relations.” Despite this optimistic outlook, if we look at the
recent relations between the two countries closely, we will notice that the bond between Baku and Tbilisi has weakened in recent years. The cooling of relations began at the time of the presidential elections in 2012 when the Georgian Dream accused the outgoing government of increasing the gas tariff. Today, Georgia receives gas from several sources. However, all of the sources are Azerbaijani. 150 million cubic meters of gas per year is received for transiting gas from Russia to Armenia, but this is only a fraction of Georgia’s annual gas need. The rest is imported from Azerbaijan. Some is purchased at a discounted price as a transit country but the main agreement is signed
with SOCAR. Based on the agreement signed between Georgia and Azerbaijan, Azerbaijan provides 1000 cubic meters of gas for 160 USD, which is 90 USD less than Azerbaijan charges to other neighboring countries, including Russia. Georgia should therefore be keen to avoid any measures that might jeopardize this arrangement. SOCAR has already halted one of its investments in Georgia, the construction of the $700 million carbamide factory. President of SOCAR Rovnag Abdulayev told the Azerbaijani media that the reason for halting the project was the problematic negotiations with the Georgian government. He also reminded that cur-
rent Georgian government to carefully consider the agreement signed during Saakashvili’s reign. This comment of SOCAR’s president coincided with the emergence of the issue of restoring the Sokhumi-Tbilisi railway, which would most likely lead to an increase in tariffs. Last week after the Competition Agency fined SOCAR Georgia Petroleum, news appeared in the Georgian media about Azerbaijan increasing gas prices. The news agency “Tabula” wrote that, according to its sources, this was a direct response to the multi-million Lari fine imposed on SOCAR earlier in the month. SOCAR later denied the connection. Nevertheless, the prospect of Gazprom entering the Georgian market has been speculated upon amid the apparent contention with Azerbaijan. Gazprom’s name was mentioned in Par-
liament while discussing the anti-crisis program of the government when Minister of Economy Giorgi Kvirikashvili and Minister of Finance Nodar Khaduri let MPs and the public know that in order to improve the financial situation they would need to pursue “big privatization”, attract foreign investments and develop tourism. Interestingly, in all three directions the opposition detected a Russian involvement which was not rejected by the ministers. “We cannot prohibit trade to anyone”, this was the response of Kvirikashvili. It may have been previously inconceivable but now, with an apparent price hike being put forward from Azerbaijan, the chance of Georgia looking to Gazprom is now more realistic than it has been for some time, particularly when one consider the shareholding owned by Bidzina Ivanishvili in the Russian company.
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Turkish Authorities Name Prime Suspect in Suruc Attack By Eka Karsaulidze 20-year-old Abdurrahman Alagoz, a citizen of Turkey, is the main suspect in the terrorist attack in the city of Suruc near the Syrian border, according to the Turkish newspaper Hurriyet. Turkish police report that they found Alagoz’s documents on an unrecognizable corpse at the blast site. According to his mother, he left six months ago to go “somewhere abroad” and returned home only ten days ago. The Islamic State (IS) claimed responsibility for the deadly attack on July 20. Police also found the remains of a
woman who they suspect may be involved in the organizing of this attack. Her identity has not been established yet. As a result of the terrorist attack in Suruc on July 20, at least 32 people were killed and nearly 100 were wounded, said the Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Numan Kurtulmus. The attack was directed against volunteers, who were going to help in the restoration of Kobane, Syria, located near Suruc. As a result of many months of fighting between the IS and Kurdish fighters, Kobane has been almost completely destroyed. On July 22, two police officers were
killed in the Turkish city of Ceylanpýnar. The Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), a banned group in Turkey, claimed responsibility for the murders and in a statement on its website said that police officers have been shot “because of the cooperation with IS militants”, according to Reuters. After the terrorist attack in Suruc, hundreds of Kurds gathered at Taksim Square in Istanbul, chanting: “Erdogan is an accomplice of murderers”. Demonstrators said that Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan and the ruling party “support and cultivate the IS against Kurds”.
Demonstrators against IS in Istanbul (by epa.eu)
Crimes against Architecture By Michael Allen In Tbilisi, a major crime has escaped the coliseum of the Georgian justice system. While obsessed with dragging offenses of the previous government before the court of retribution, the architectural rape of the city and pillage of its green spaces continues. City parks and open spaces are sold off to developers with not even the slightest public oversight, whilst the historic jewels of Tbilisi’s architecture rot due to the lack of funding. There is no credible plan to deal with their preservation while the Presidential Palace is not even used by the current government because it is too expensive to maintain as well as being impractical. The current government magically went to sleep after its hard fought election and the building frenzy has slowed due to the lack of capital and lack of financial faith in Georgia. The city’s planning, or lack of, is a masterstroke of unimaginativeness, building thoughtless structures and shunning the local historic references; steadily diminishing the unique feel of the city. Hulking grey slabs and glass follies are thrown up next to fake nostalgia of others, combining to look cheap, generic, and out-of-keeping with the traditional Tbilisi neighborhoods. The city planners champion idiosyncrasies with no style. They promote dead-end design put forward by quick money developers who throw together quick buck boxes to live in, stifling any human creativity. The decay continues with the help of the Historic Preservation Committee whose remit is to preserve historic areas such as Sololaki. Their task is to police and punish illegal construction in historic areas and meet once a month with the city’s architects to review, accept or
View of the early construction works in Rike Park, approved under the previous government.
reject plans for the designated historic zones of Tbilisi. There were times when the committee would not even bother to show up for the appointment. To remedy the problem they decided to meet once every three months. Lifeless architecture is also bad for business and incredibly short sighted in what was a beautiful city with the potential to generate foreign revenue from architectural tourism. Lack of city funding has destroyed these areas that should be a major tourism boost for the city and return some form of civic pride to a population. Cities don’t lose their souls; people do, and the architecture of our time only reflects it. Weak architecture comes from weak architectural philosophies. The aesthetics of spaces are connected the experiences people have in them. Georgia’s turbulent recent history of revolution, failed war and a lack of economic hope for the general population, is shaping a cynical middle class and a disillusioned youth to create yet another lost generation who take refuge in old time religion, traveling back to a dream
of time of Eden, invoking religious yearning disguised as wisdom. Fuelled by a heady cocktail of faith and freshly minted democracy, Georgians love election time, not only because it gives them the right to scream, “throw the bums out”, but sidewalks, roads and the odd buildings get a temporary facelift. But how long can a city continue to put lipstick on a pig before the whole façade melts in front of us?
There is no the gold standard, not even a bronze or wooden one, when it comes to new architecture in Tbilisi. It should not simply be a collection of individual buildings but a cohesive layer of character and beauty. These crimes are typical of architecture motivated by financial rather than artistic or humanistic values. Will the city’s leaders look back proudly at their contribution of flashing light bridges, glass phalluses, sharp-angled concrete blocks with no sidewalk? Meanwhile, every now and then a shadowy deal is struck and another irreversible blight on the city’s skyline appears. Citizens shrug their shoulders knowingly and apologise with the common phrase “What can we do.” Not a question, but a statement of helplessness in the face of yet another government with an opaque agenda of fiscal greed and deceit with no real plan to support the electorate that brought it to power. You can become a crime stopper. If you see crimes against architecture in your area, speak out; write out, it is not too late. You have a voice. Learn how to use it.
A word from Peter Nasmyth, writer, publisher, co-founder of Prospero’s bookshop-cafe and member of the British Georgian Society: This opinion piece very starkly expresses feelings that many people hold in Tbilisi. I know dozens of Georgians and foreigners alike who would ascribe to this attitude. The theme of Tbilisi’s preservation as a historic city is an increasingly desperate one. With the proposed developments like Mirza Shape (and the semi completed Millenium hotel on Rustaveli) there seems almost no hope. There is a fear that City Hall has lost all sense of its own past; that Tbilisi’s unique character is being sacrificed for the sake of the worst kind of investment, both foreign and local and that the city may soon become an example to the world of how not to renovate historic districts. But I personally still feel there is hope; that planners and decision makers are capable of learning from other historic European cities. Not all restoration in Tbilisi is bad – indeed some is very good. One likes to point to this and other examples worldwide and hope they will be followed.
New Project to Assist Georgia’s Environmental Protection By Tamar Svanidze An environmental project worth 2 million Lari has been launched in Georgia to establish a national system of environmental monitoring, data analysis and reporting. On July 21, ecological and environmental experts, along with local authorities, met to discuss a new three-year strategy. Georgia, as part of the Caucasus ecoregion, is considered one of the 25 globally significant ‘biodiversity hotspots’, based on the richness of species and the significant level of endemism recorded. This new data collecting strategy will help the country to gather all environmental records in one space, available for public consumption. The project will establish a coordinated system of environmental data and information management in Georgia. It will promote cooperation between the different ministries to address environmental issues effectively and train technical and managerial staff in monitoring and data analysis. According to the fourth National Report to the United Nations Convention on Georgia’s Biological Diversity, due to poor and ineffective tools for data collection, storage and analysis the identification of actual changes in species and habitat conditions has become quite difficult in this area. “Our goal is to create a unified system of data, where all important infor-
mation, including legal frameworks about environmental issues will be collected. As a benefit of the project, Georgia will make its contribution to achieving global environmental goals, as well as create unified data bases and methodology,” head of the UNDP’s Energy and Environmental Protection program Nino Antidze said. The Deputy Head of UNDP in Georgia, Shombi Sharp, attended the meeting and highlighted that the initiative helps Georgia to improve environmental monitoring, data analysis and reporting under the three Rio Conventions: biodiversity conservation, climate change, and desertification. He also emphasized that Georgia has made significant achievements in the development and improvement of protected areas, but construction of the hydroelectric plants and dams are still sensitive issues. “Construction of the hydro power plants near urban areas should be con-
sidered carefully by the Government. It affects local people’s lives, as well as the environment and in this situation, careful planning and sufficient consideration of ecological aspects are essential,” Sharp said. The Rio Convention includes three conventions on Biodiversity, Climate Change and Desertification which were agreed at the Earth Summit held in Rio de Janeiro in 1992. Georgia joined the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) in 1994 and thus committed itself to the Convention’s three objectives: the conservation of biological diversity, the sustainable use of its components and the fair and equitable sharing of benefits arising from the utilization of natural resources. The project is being implemented by the Ministry of Environment Protection and Natural Resources of Georgia and is funded by the Global Environmental Facility (GEF), UNDP and Government of Georgia.
Alpine zone, Lagodekhi Protected Areas - Photo Paata Vardanashvili.
JULY 24 - 30
Setting the Standard: PMCG Wins the UNDP Gender Equality Awards P.13
MetroCity: Ahead of the Deadline
Technical Launch of Gardabani Combined Cycle Thermal Power Plant
Estonian Innovation: Tbilisi Wins Chance to Host Autumn Tech Events By Tatia Megeneishvili
By Eka Karsaulidze According to the representatives of MetroCity, construction of the complex is moving at a fast pace and is expected to be finished long before planned. MetroCity, by Metro Atlas Georgia JSC, is a huge complex in Batumi City. Its construction began in February 2015 and was expected to last five years, but it now seems that it will be successfully completed in April 2017. MetroCity can be found just 2 km from Batumi International Airport and 500 m from the city center. Prices start at 1425 USD. According to company’s
representatives, for those who can cover the down payment of 10% of the apartment price, the remaining amount can be paid over the next 36 months with 3% interest per year, and for those who cover 25%, the remaining amount can be paid over the following 60 months with 5% interest per year. The residential complexes include 464 apartments from 38 m2 to 300 m2 and are unique in their special maintenance services such as telephone and wake-up calls, visitor monitoring, common area and visitor control, 24/7 safety and security, concierge, 24/7 technical service assistance, and housekeeping service.
MetroCity consists of two residence complexes, two five star hotels, two casinos, private swimming pools, panoramic terrace restaurants, a spa, a shopping center including 100 brand stores, a sports club, a la carte restaurants, cinema, a bowling center, a playground for children, golden sandy beach and the biggest conference hall in Transcaucasia for 1500 guests. JSC Metro Atlas Georgia is an investment company which was founded in 2012 under the ownership of the brand Metro Holding, which has a share on the Istanbul Stock Exchange and employs over 35,000 employees in more than 70 companies worldwide.
Georgia’s Innovations and Technology Agency (GITA), a legal entity at the Ministry of Economy and Sustainable Development, with the Estonian organization Garage48 won a grant from the Estonian Government to be used for technological development. The total amount of the grant awarded by the Estonian Government is 40, 000 Euros and will be spent on the hosting of three large technological events in Tbilisi this autumn. GITA plans to start by holding a competition among programmers, a so called ‘Hack-a-thon,’ in September during which participants will have to create web and mobile applications on a time limit. According to Irakli Kashibadze, Head of GITA, doors are open to everyone. “No matter the age, gender or nationality, we welcome everyone who can think creatively. We are looking for the ideas which will bring progress and lead us to a brighter future,” said Kashibadze. In October, Tbilisi will host a ‘Makea-thon’ contest, in which engineers, programmers and designers will compete in the creation of various innovative products, again within a time limit. The participants will have the opportunity to
use Iliauni’s Industrial Innovation Lab, which is equipped with a 3D printer, laser cutter, and Computer Numerical Control (CNC) machine. The third and the final stage is a one week intensive training with Estonian mentors. Only the best participants from the Hack-a-thon and Make-a-thon will attend the training and get the chance to improve their business models and receive advice from successful and innovative Estonian company managers. Garage48 is an organization that provides a variety of activities for the development of the Estonian startup ecosystem. The organization has a partnership with leading players of the technological world such as Skype, Transferwise, Taxify, and Pipedrive. Representatives of well-known companies will also attend the training as mentors.
JULY 24 - 30
Technical Launch of Gardabani Combined Cycle Thermal Power Plant By Baia Dzagnidze The Partnership Fund, a state-owned shareholding company, has completed the construction of a 237 MW combined cycle thermal power plant in Gardabani, Kvemo Kartli region and organized a technical launch on July 22. The event was attended by Georgian Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili, Minister of Energy, Kakha Kaladze, and Turkish Energy and Natural Resources Minister, Taner Yildiz. The Plant was implemented with the goal to generate additional electricity and help reduce Georgia’s dependence on imported electricity in the winter by generating 1.6 billion kW per hour annually. Its productivity is
PM Irakli Garibashvili and Irakli Kovzanadze at the Plant Launch Ceremony
almost double that of Georgia’s other gas-powered thermal power plants and is more economical. Should problems occur with
the electricity supply in the country, the Plant will have a reserve capacity to supply Georgia’s energy grid for 25-30 minutes,
guaranteeing the sustainability of the whole system. “This will be the most reliable backup energy system, and will reinforce our energy security,” stated Irakli Kovzanadze, Executive Director of the Partnership Fund. “It is the first large-scale project implemented in the history of Independent Georgia,” he added. The Plant was financed jointly by the Partnership Fund and its daughter company Georgian Oil and Gas Corporation (GOGC), while Celek Enerji, a Turkish energy company, was the constructor. The project, estimated at $231m, started in January 2014 and included technologies of General Electronic and Skoda.
Second Domino’s Pizza Opens in Tbilisi
By Meri Taliashvili The largest chain of American restaurants, Domino’s Pizza, has opened a second restaurant in Tbilisi, at Chavchavadze Avenue 11. Domino’s Pizza signed an exclusive agreement for franchising with GeoPizza and plans to open 10 restaurants in the country over the next four years. The first restaurant was opened in April 2015 at Kostava Street 74.
The brand keeps world standards, offering the highest standards of service, agility and free delivery service. The highest quality ingredients give the best taste, making Domino’s Pizza products incomparable. Domino’s Pizza (Georgia) imports most of its ingredients from Europe and Turkey while the best local vegetable producers supply the brand with vegetables.
The grand opening of Domino’s Pizza on Chavchavadze Avenue was attended by Eric Anderson, Vice President for EMEA (Europe, Middle East and Africa); Dwight Nystrom from the US Embassy, Mikheil Alkhanishvili, Franchiser; Aslan Saranga, General Manager of Domino’s Turkey; Temur Chkonia, President of Coca-Cola (Georgia), and other important guests. US Embassy representative, Dwight Nystrom noted that American investment fosters US-Georgian relations and said that the US Embassy to Georgia is proud to support US investment in Georgia as it develops the Georgian economy. “This event is a great reminder that Georgia is open for business. We are excited to see American brands here and businesses that increase relations between the two countries. I am sure Domino’s Pizza will be as successful here as it is elsewhere in the world,” said Nystrom. Eric Anderson, Domino’s Pizza representative from Europe, Middle East and Africa, proudly expressed the brand’s
pleasure at opening another restaurant in Tbilisi. “We are very excited about Georgia. Tbilisi is a fantastic city and we felt we needed to be here, to be a part of Georgia. We are very proud to have two restaurants here. Domino’s Pizza wants to be number one in the world and in the region. We will keep opening restaurants not only in Tbilisi but throughout the country,” Anderson said. Mikheil Alkhanishvili, Franchiser: “We started our business in the Vake-Saburtalo District and plan to open restaurants in every densely populated area here as well as in other large towns [throughout the country]. By autumn we expect to open a third restaurant. We have already employed 60 people and that number will increase as other restaurants open.” Domino’s Pizza was founded in 1960 in the United States and is the largest network of pizzerias in the world. The brand is represented in 80 countries, employs 200,000 people in 12 restaurants and serves 5 million customers per week worldwide.
PASHA Bank Supports Summer Camp for Socially Vulnerable University Applicants Dozens of socially vulnerable students across Georgia have been able to spend time at a special summer camp in beautiful seaside town Kobuleti thanks to the co-funding of PASHA Bank and the organization of the Bright Georgia foundation. The educational experience was geared specifically towards university applicants from socially vulnerable groups. The summer camp hosted 30 participants who were selected by Bright Georgia foundation from different regions of Georgia. Successful applicants were then able to take part in a twoweek preparatory intensive course for university entrance exams. CEO of PASHA Bank, Shahin Mammadov: “Corporate
Social Responsibility is very important to PASHA Bank. We have implemented several CSR activities over the previous years and we intend to continue doing so. We believe that such educational projects are extremely useful for the youth and their future. We hope that the knowledge that the applicants received at the Summer Camp will help them
pass their exams with the desired results so that they continue their studies at different universities. We wish them success.” Two-hour preparatory seminars were provided daily for Georgian and English language exams as well as tests for analytical skills. Mock tests were held for the applicants in order to prepare them for national exams.
The summer camp also hosted special guests who shared their success stories with the applicants, discussing with them the importance of hard work and education for achieving life goals. Famous Georgian artists also visited the summer camp and spent time with the participants.
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Painting Batumi RED By Nini Gegidze New restaurant “Red Cafe” has been officially opened in Batumi, presenting a completely new concept with distinctive designs and an original interior decorated with materials and furniture sourced from the UK and Italy by its owner company, Redix. Red Cafe will offer guests a wide variety of drinks, delicious food and high quality service with prices starting at 3.50 GEL, from 9am to midnight all week through.. Georgia Today spoke to the manager of the café to find out the motivation for opening in Batumi. “Successful development of “Red Cafe” Tbilisi gave Redix the motivation to open a branch of the Cafe in Batumi. We wanted to create a positive space where everyone can chat, feel good and enjoy the atmosphere along with a delicious offering from our menu, while being just a stone’s throw from the beach.” Red Café is the second of its kind, the first located on Vazha Pshavela Avenue in Tbilisi. The first, however, is more of a ‘canteen’ style, serving the business elite of the area. Red Café Batumi is of a different feel. The opening ceremony on Saturday July 18th was exquisitely orga-
nized, with guests being offered drinks, a sumptuous assortment of food, and the chance to win giveaways. Guest Niki Gongliashvili enthused: “I love it here. The atmosphere is comfortable and sophisticated and the prices right. I’ll be coming here often!” Address: I. Gogebashvili Str. No.30, Batumi. Redix is a real estate asset and management company, with hospitality and agriculture also being among the main directions of the company. The compa-
ny has already implemented a number of projects: Hotel “Kabadoni” in Sighnaghi, wellness center “Club 71” in Tbilisi, “Le Port” in Batumi, “ Redix Kindegrarten” Tbilisi, a residential complex on Vazha Pshavela Ave., Tbilisi, as well as several business centers and commercial spaces. The company has a rich portfolio and planned projects that will be launched in the next two years, the biggest being Hilton Garden Inn together with mixed use residential space, and Abastumani hotel - resort.
Setting the Standar d: PMCG Wins Standard: ds the UNDP Gender Equality Awar ards
JULY 24 - 30
Eur of ast Transf er Eurof ofast ansfer Pricing Seminar
A Transfer Pricing Seminar was held at the Georgian-American University in Tbilisi, Georgia this week. The event was organized by Eurofast and supported by Bloomberg and the Revenue Service of Georgia. The seminar aimed at increasing local business awareness and compliance with the concept and application of Transfer Pricing, and providing an overview on international and local trends in this sphere. It was attended mainly by CEOs, chief financial managers, chief accountants and legal counsels of the largest multinational companies present in Georgia, as well as by representatives of the Revenue Service of Georgia and the Office of the State Minister of Georgia for Diaspora Issues. In the opening session of the Seminar, Eurofast’s Country Director, Anna Pushkaryova, and Dachi Kinkladze, Deputy Head of the Department for International Relations (Tax and Customs Administration), welcomed the partici-
pants. Anastasia Sagianni, Eurofast Head of Transfer Pricing Division, shared best practices and discussed Eurofast‘s international experience in this sphere, providing the concept and application of Transfer Pricing, global trends and managing risks and issues that affect the business. Avtandil Svanadze and Mr Giorgi Macharashvili, auditors and members of Transfer Pricing Group of the Georgia Revenue Service, presented recent developments and Georgian legislative framework in the sphere of transfer pricing, as well as shared facts and TP statistics in Georgia. The seminar provided an excellent opportunity for an exchange of information and ideas on Transfer Pricing Policies in Georgia and the region. For more information on the activities of Eurofast in the region please contact Country Director of Eurofast in Georgia Anna Pushkaryova via email email@example.com, or by phone +995 595100517.
Dr ge Spr eading Dr.. Geor Georg Spreading the Gospel of Geor gian Chur chkhela Georgian Churc
Ketevan Lekishvili, Marketing Manager of PMCG, accepting the award. Photo by Vladimer Valishvili / UNDP Georgia.
By Tatia Megeneishvili Policy and Management Consulting Group (PMCG) has won the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) Gender Equality Award 2015 for Gender Balance at the Executive Level. The minimum criteria that the UNDP has for the award for gender balance at the executive level are at least 30 % representation of each sex at the executive level, equal pay for equal work for female and male employees, and a gender– sensitive policy and strategy in the company. Executive Director at PMCG Olia Watt said that PMCG is very glad for the award. “We feel a lot of responsibility in terms of implementing and promoting gender equality, in business sector especially. That is why we are working on a strategy to communicate equality in the sector; to not only argue that equality is the right way, but also to show the private sector that it has real economic benefits,” Ms Watt said. She further stated her pleasure that the PMCG policy of equal opportunity for men and women in the workplace had been acknowledged and positively appraised by the UNDP, an organization of such high standing. According to Ms Watt, over the years, PMCG has stood by its belief
that women and men should be equally involved in decision-making processes. Indeed, in the pursuit of development, this devotion to gender equality is the only way to progress in today’s business environment. For decades now, the world’s leading innovative companies have been following this approach. Their development and success is a clear argument for gender equality. Samsung, IBM, Unilever, KPMG and Ernst & Young are among the leading examples in this regard. The world has never seen so many women in paid employment as it does today, and women everywhere are occupying top level management positions. However, there is still an imbalance to be addressed. “We believe that tomorrow will be even more diverse and we’ll have even more successful women,” Ms. Watt said, adding that, since its establishment, PMCG has strived to set a precedent whereby professionalism is universal, and not affected by gender. “We try to give equal opportunities to each member of staff, which is reflected in the everyday operation of the company. Individuals in the company are chosen entirely according to their knowledge, skills and experience. The governing board has an even composition in terms of gender: four males and four females. Each member is given an equal opportunity to
bring up ongoing topics which are then discussed in a round-table format. We realize that female team members need special support when it comes to pregnancy and childbirth. Therefore, we provide fully paid maternity leave to female staff. In addition, once an employee’s maternity leave has concluded, she has the opportunity to work in a flexible schedule, suited to her childcare needs. Every staff member of PMCG is covered by a corporate health insurance package that also covers their family members. PMCG creates a platform for each staff member to develop equally. Everyone has the opportunity to attend training courses, participate in conferences and even to continue studying abroad while remaining part of the company’s team,” she said. “We take immense pride in being a successful, innovative company that introduces international standards to many Georgian and foreign organizations, and helps a number of governments to improve their policies. Having established a strong position in the country, we are aware of the importance of acting as a role model, setting standards for other businesses to follow. We take our responsibility seriously to show other companies and organizations that equal opportunities, rights and working conditions is not something special or unique, but should be second nature to all companies,” Ms Watt concluded.
Dr. George Laboratory is a Georgian company that has opened a new window of opportunities for lovers of the sweet Georgian delicacy Churchkhela, producing entirely natural versions of it from high-quality wine varieties. Churchkhela is known as a perfect antioxidant and antiradiation for both adults and children. Known for its energy-building qualities, Churchkhela contains walnuts, grape juice and honey; the churchkhela also contains large amounts of natural vitamins, minerals, iron, which enriches the blood with oxygen. Moreover, as vitamin B stabilizes the nervous system, Churchkhela appears to be highly advisable for people engaged in mentally strenuous work, and/or spending a lot of time at the computer. In addition, Dr. George is producing Georgian national spices, distinguished by their unique piquant taste making every food delicious and giving
an exotic taste. “Georgian spices are the secret of Georgian cuisine” explains Maya Jajanashvili, one of the creators of Dr. George. The company is selling its products in European and American markets and has even sold its products through Amazon.com attracting a great deal of likes from international consumers, including Georgians living abroad. “Our product is in sterile hermetic packets sterilized in 140°C heat, so our products are absolutely defended from known microbiological problems.” explained Giorgi Khutsishvili, general manager of Dr. George. Dr. George has its own unique recipe for producing natural, healthy and aromatic products and invites all the Embassies and foreign as well as domestic companies to include its traditional and unique products in their daily menu. The list of products are available at the company website: http:// www.dr-george.ge/
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JULY 24 - 30
Reducing Stillbirth: Interview with Georgia’s MoH Health Department Head By Meri Taliashvili During a sermon at the beginning of July 2015, Georgian Patriarch Ilia II stressed the issue of mother-child care and claimed that the number of stillbirths has increased in Georgia. The Patriarch thanked Health Minister Sergeenko for his support but also requested him to pay more attention to the issue. Wanting to find out more, Georgia Today met Marina Darakhvelidze, Head of the Health Department at the Ministry of Labor, Health and Social Affairs of Georgia. Q: Ms Darakhvelidze, during one of his recent sermons, the Patriarch preached about the increased number of stillbirth cases in Georgia. Just how severe is the problem? A: Stillbirth is one of the most problematic issues of maternal and child health, linked to the quality of perinatal care in medical facilities. Since 2013, the Ministry has been working on a maternal and child death warning system which enables us to take each case of death for periodic analysis of the structure and cause. Yet based on current statistics, child mortality rates have actually reduced. In particular, Georgia has been able to reach the 4th Goal of Millennium Development, as, in 2014, infant mortality was 9.5% while under-five child mortality rate 10.9% (out of 1000 lives). According to the 2012 record, the ratio of stillbirths was 11.9 but in 2013 it was 10.6, so we see a significant reduction. The 2014 record shows the same figures as 2013. As for 2015, the stillbirth ratio, based on the first half of 2015, was 10.0 - again very reduced compared
to the previous years’ first six months data. As it was 10.3% in 2013 and 11.5% in 2014, it means that stillbirth has so far decreased by 13% in 2015. Despite this progress, the ministry believes that a lot is still to be done in this direction. Q: Is stillbirth more common in the capital or in the regions? A: The vast majority of cases of childbirth (about 99%) were observed in medical facilities and, based on the available data, we can say that 52% of cases of fetal mortality of 2015 have been observed in Tbilisi medical clinics, and the remaining 48% in the regions, though we should consider the fact that the referrals of complicated cases from the regions are dealt with in Tbilisi hospitals. Q: Who is responsible for the deaths of unborn children: the mother or the doctor? A: There may be many reasons behind fetal death, which may be related to the quality of care provided at a medical institution and to the heath and awareness of the woman carrying the child. Averting or mitigating pregnancy-related risk factors is possible if both the adequate medical assistance and the correct awareness of expectant mothers is present. Expectant mothers should bear in mind several factors that have a direct impact on their pregnancy. In such cases, the proper planning of pregnancy and the proper management of pregnancy significantly diminishes the chances of negative outcomes. The dynamics in the past years reveals that the number of mothers registering with medical facilities in the first 13
Marina Darakhvelidze, Head of the Health Department at the Ministry of Labor, Health and Social Affairs of Georgia.
weeks of pregnancy (antenatal visits) has increased. However, according to the statistics in recent years, the number of women showing up for all four mandatory antenatal visits is quite low, at 84 percent. Since a number of risk factors related to pregnancy and childbirth are identified by the second and subsequent visits, we may conclude that expectant mothers are unknowingly facing high risks and they may develop a range of problems related to pregnancy, childbirth, and postpartum recovery. Notably, abstaining from antenatal visits may be due to such factors as women’s insufficient awareness about the importance of these visits and/or poor medical services at women’s consultative medicine centers. In addition, equally important are behavioral risk factors, such as smoking,
alcohol and drug abuse, which pose a serious threat to pregnant women. Q: How does the Ministry of Health (MoH) intend to prevent said facts? Is there an action plan? A: The health of mothers and children is the most important issue in any country, and relevant indicators define the effectiveness of the healthcare system. This is exactly why, since 2013, the Maternal and Child Health Coordinating Council has been operating at the MoH, made up of employees of the ministry’s structures, representatives of international organizations and professional associations, and leading experts in the field. The Council is chaired by the Minister. The structure and reasons for maternal and child death are periodically analyzed at the meetings of the Coordinating Council, and the
opinions and recommendations of experts define interventions implemented by the Ministry in order to ensure better healthcare for mothers and children. As a result of the work of the Council, the issues of caesarian ( C ) sections and the artificial termination of pregnancy have been regulated. In particular, C-section guidelines and protocol were developed, strictly defining a list of cases requiring a C-section. A package of regulatory mechanisms for abortion was also developed, practically regulating all previously unsolved issues related to abortion. Based on the analysis of cases reviewed by the Maternal and Child Health Coordinating Council and taking into account international experience, the regionalization of perinatal services has already begun in Georgia, stemming from the concept for the regionalization of maternal and child healthcare services developed by USAID/JSI. The regionalization of perinatal services seeks to provide pregnant women, mothers, and newborn children with access to quality, safe, and timely care before, during, and after childbirth. This process is based on defining the levels of perinatal services, and it ensures the identification of functional ties between different levels, which, in case of complications, is the foundation of a timely and adequate referral of patients to a relevant facility. It is a very complicated and dynamic process, the proper planning and implementation of which makes rapid and radical changes to the existing situation and allows for a decrease in the number of maternal and child fatalities.
JULY 24 - 30
Global Alliance Pr omotes Primar y Healthcar e Promotes Primary Healthcare System R ef or ms in Geor Ref efor orms Georgia gia Global Alliance will assist Georgia in implementing primary healthcare (PHC) system reforms, Jean-Elie Malkin, President of the International Consulting Group of Global Alliance, told the international conference that was held at the national medical-training center of the Georgian Ministry of Labor, Health and Social Protection. The conference “Primary Healthcare: Future Perspectives in Georgia” was organized by Global Alliance. Experts Prof. Peter Makara from Semmelweiss University Budapest and Doctor Andrei Mechineanu introduced studies: 1) Cornerstone of Healthcare Services Supply Systems and 2) Primary Healthcare in Georgia: Renovation and Reinvestment. The presentations referred to the recent initiative of Georgian Health Minister David Sergeenko on primary health system reformation which aims to make a serious positive influence on public health. “For many years our health system has erroneously focused on the technologies needed to refine hospital treatment, high-technology operations and
developing unprecedented technologies. This is very important for the healthcare system, but this is only a part of the pyramid. This sector includes three main functions: prevention of diseases, early diagnosis of disease and its efficient management, and providing the population with medical education. These three main functions of the PHC system were pushed to the backstage in the past. Our main goal now is to restore the ground on which a normal healthcare system is based,” Minister Sergeenko said. “The Georgian Ministry of Health has shifted accents onto the PHC system as a cornerstone of the healthcare system. With the active involvement of professional doctors and nurses, and with the support of Global Alliance, the country is starting a new process to outline the importance of a PHC system.” “More resources, higher skills and higher quality are required to improve the system for public welfare. This is our goal,” Jean-Elie Malkin, President of the International Consulting Group of Global Alliance, said. “This means citizens will visit the primary health system and will have less need to visit secondary
David Sergeenko, Georgian Health Minister and Jean-Elie Malkin, President of the International Consulting Group of Global Alliance.
and third chains of the health system. Consequently, early diagnosis ensures higher chances for healing, and recovery will proceed at a higher quality.” “GEORGIAN PRIMARY HEALTHCARE SHOULD BE UNIQUE”- JEAN-ELIE MALKIN “New demands on PHC emerge due to aging, depopulation, need of prevention, and long-term care of non-communicable diseases (NCDs). Because of underinvestment in primary care in the
previous decades, the current supply of primary care requires the significant strengthening of network, infrastructure, human resources, and financing, and setting up of the right incentives to produce quality services and universal coverage with primary care,” reads the statement issued by the Georgian Ministry of Health and the international consulting group Global Alliance. Both Jean-Elie Malkin and Prof. Peter Makara underlined the importance of recognizing primary healthcare
(PHC) as the priority for the country. “Since the Independence Day of Georgia, primary healthcare has been stressed as the main priority by the government, however this remained true in rhetoric and nothing substantial has been done in this regard up until this point,” said Hungarian Prof. Makara, a specialist in Public Health Policy. Jean-Elie Malkin, who is actively working with the Minister of Health David Sergeenko in the Hepatitis C elimination program, in his turn told the media that Georgia needs to create its own PHC model that will be tailored to the country’s healthcare specificities. Mr Malkin stressed that many countries may have similar programs, but Georgia needs to focus on creating a unique model that will be successful for the country. “A PHC system has been established in Georgia, but we can always improve the system by giving more tools, skills, finance and recognition to the doctors who are in charge. Not only the doctors but also the med-sisters who work in primary healthcare,” said Mr Malkin.
Rene wing the Primar y Healthcar e System in Geor gia enewing Primary Healthcare Georgia
David Sergeenko, Georgian Health Minister.
Primary health care (PHC) deserves top priority focus in policy planning and in medical practice. A comprehensive PHC system is prevalent throughout the EU, comprising a wide range of health education, promotion, prevention, curative and rehabilitative, and terminal activities. Comprehensive PHC is not just for richer EU member states, it is also affordable and deliverable in countries like Georgia, at least in the long term perspective. Given the right incentives, in the Georgian health system there is a real opportunity to expand provision of
medical services in a PHC setting, which is a prerequisite of an improved healthcare system and the better health of citizens.. The remaining gaps in access to high quality PHC in Georgia are in part a reflection of the fact that monetary support for primary care has been lagging behind rhetoric. The situation in which primary care has been constrained by a lack of resources has, however, aggravated the lack of trust that Georgian citizen are willing to bestow on it, particularly when hospitals, secondary and tertiary care facilities are in better physical condition, better equipped and bet-
ter staffed. The rural population suffers disproportionately from this situation, and physicians, feldshers and nurses often act as de facto generalist staff, even when they are not fully trained to do so. Primary care facilities in Georgia are not yet in a position to take on the bulk of health services, as would be necessary for the full implementation of the family medicine model. There are a number of steps that would need to be taken to achieve this goal. In addition to the appropriate allocation of financing for human resources and equipment, as well as investments in the training of staff, these include revised payment allocation mechanisms, improved quality of care through the development and implementation of clinical practice guidelines and the enforcement of quality assurance mechanisms, more clearly delineated levels of care, and improved gatekeeping and referral mechanisms. Policy-makers need to be made aware of the concept of primary care and what it has to offer. This will require investment for advocacy and marketing activities to communicate the benefits of primary care to health professionals, policy-makers and the public. The role of primary care should not be defined in isolation but in relation to the constituents of the PHC system. Primary and secondary care, generalist and specialist, all have important roles in the
development of new Georgian healthcare system. There are varied definitions and options for the scope and role of general practice, PHC and specialists in Georgia. For instance, theoretically a primary care team can vary from a community nurse, a feldsher or rural general practitioner to a multidisciplinary team of up to 30, comprising specialist nurses, managers, support staff, family medicine and other primary care specialists (like in the most developed EU countries). The developmental process has to build on existing structures, private ownership and more than one organizational form can coexist in parallel. The rural medical point as an organizational framework can tackle the diversity of existing activities and offer different levels and scales of services depending on the size and quality of human and infrastructural resources, on the basis of a well established quality control and development system. In the long term, a gradually developing GP system, the new role of the general practitioner, better equipped and better remunerated on performance basis, may give an indication of the breadth of the primary care services provided, and the degree of uniformity in the services. Organizational structures in Georgia are changing, potentially giving way to integrated institutions comprising primary and secondary care. In the Geor-
gian healthcare system, services traditionally provided by hospital and secondary care specialists could now be increasingly the responsibility of the primary care team. A new approach is necessary: one in which primary care is seen in a positive light, with a proven contribution to health gain beyond control or costcontainment functions. The approach should be based on a comprehensive and integrated model developed in the frame of the new healthcare policy in Georgia. The new approach should combine a principle of equity, new universalism with affordability, economic realism with the objective of providing coverage for all and not coverage for everything. The renewed PHC will provide integrated primary health care to patients in a single point; will to a greater degree focus on diagnostic and treatment of chronic diseases and conditions; will provide accessible, appropriate and affordable health care to their patients; and increase the interest of the population in their own health and prevention of illness, including through promoting a healthy lifestyle, which could help improve diagnostic and treatment of chronic diseases. PHC will use effective and efficient information technologies and should provide a good working environment to attract and encourage a high quality workforce.
Ma yhe w Inter na tional Ar ri ves in Geor gia Mayhe yhew Interna national Arri riv Georgia By Beqa Kirtava As the general Georgian public’s awareness of animal rights and welfare seems to be slowly but gradually rising, it looks like many international organizations remain as eager to help as ever. A team of experts from Mayhew International, a UK registered animal charity organization, arrived in Georgia on July 23, 2015 for the second time this year, in order to promote companion animal welfare and the humane management of homeless cats and dogs through a network of community animal care initiatives. The cornerstone of Mayhew’s approach to fighting stray animal overpopulation is neutering. The organiza-
tion provides advice on the setting up and running of sterilization programs to not only their neighbors but also to countries like Afghanistan, India, Russia, Nepal and of course, Georgia. During the 10-day project Mayhew International plans to visit the City Hall Shelter to conduct master classes in reproductive surgery as well as shelter medicine, vaccination protocols and anesthesia issues. The team will also hold meetings with the representatives of the Agricultural University and its Veterinary Clinic and hopes to meet Tbilisi authorities as well, to discuss the developments with the Dog Survey, investment in the Municipal Shelter, the Civic Council on DPM (Dog Population
Management) and how it can input to strategy. The trip may also include visits to the Gori Municipal Shelter, GSPCA Shelter and Tbilisi Zoo, as well as a meeting with dog shelter owner, Tamaz Elizbarashvili. Mayhew International has a long history of work in Georgia. Dr. Mariam Chkhikvishvili was the first vet from the country to be trained at the company’s clinic in London and she now serves as the Head of the Agrarian University Veterinary Clinic & Chair of Homeless Pets Help Organization. A team from the organization visited Georgia back in 2013 to check the situation of the stray animal population and as the issue is undeniably problematic in the country,
Mayhew has provided help ever since. Mayhew International is currently working with the authorities to establish a dog population management strategy which includes: · the need for relevant legislation; · a dog population survey to established just how many dogs Tbilisi is dealing with; · vet training – raising standards of small animal surgery and care and encouraging the veterinary profession to be more involved in animal welfare projects; · a comprehensive education and awareness-raising program for Tbilisi residents so they can understand why there are dogs on the streets and what are the most humane and sustainable
methods of addressing this overpopulation; · a mass rabies vaccination program which will work towards making Tbilisi a rabies-free city and benefit both the people and the animals in our communities. According to the representatives of the organization, these are the long term plans which need to be brought to action in order to solve the overpopulation issue which has been persistent in Georgia for too long.
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Parishioner s and Pr ovidence – an Inter vie w with F vid Loner gan arishioners Pro Intervie view Frr Da David Lonerg By Joseph Alexander Smith In 2008, Irish priest Fr David Lonergan was asked to serve the Georgian Orthodox community in Dublin for two weeks while their own pastor was away. Seven years later, he’s still there and in the meantime has developed a deep love for the homeland of his parishioners. Currently in Tbilisi studying Georgian language and history, Fr David took time out from class to speak to Georgia Today about his journey. We all know that “the Lord works in mysterious ways”, but rarely so mysterious as the twists and turns that brought Archpriest David Lonergan from his native Ireland to Georgia on the other side of Europe. He, however, uses a different turn of phrase – “providence.” After working in special needs childcare, and establishing a successful transport service for children with special needs, Fr David heard a calling. “Once I got the business established I decided I’d go to university to study theology, so I went and did a BA in Philosophy and Theology, and during that particular course, some of the lecturers said to me that I had a very Orthodox view of life, and one of them suggested that I go and visit an Orthodox Church. So I did.” Fr David converted to Orthodoxy soon after, in 1994, and decided to pursue his work in special needs alongside
his vocation to serve the Church. “I then did a Masters in theology specializing in health-care chaplaincy and, at the same time, I did an MSc in Rehabilitation Management – I was very busy!” Fr David’s route to ordination brought him into contact with one of the leading figures of Orthodox Christianity today. Metropolitan Kallistos (formerly Timothy Ware) converted to Orthodoxy as an Oxford undergraduate and went on to pen some of the best-known books on Orthodoxy in the English language. “I got ordained by Metropolitan Kallistos in 2006 as a Deacon and 2007 as a priest in the Antiochian Church. At that time the Antiochian Metropolitan Gabriel was very ill and so Metropolitan Kallistos did all the ordinations for the Antiochian Church.” But through another twist in the story, Fr David wasn’t to stay with the Antiochians for very long. “In 2008, I was asked to help in the Georgian Church for two weeks while their priest was away.” Seven years later, he’s still serving them, overseeing a period of growth for the Georgian diaspora in Dublin. “Two months ago we had the ordination of the first Irish-Georgian priest, a young guy, Father George. He’s a native Georgian, his wife is Georgian, and they have their family in Ireland. As far as I know, he’s the first Georgian in the diaspora to be ordained a priest. It’s re-
Fr David Lonergan (right) with Irish President Michael D. Higgins (left) and members of the Georgian community in Dublin.
ally brought life into the parish, and having him there has given me the opportunity to come here and study Georgian!” Since taking on the Georgian parish in Dublin, Fr David has been keen to help Georgians in the diaspora to preserve their traditions and culture, as well as being an active promoter of Georgian culture in Ireland. “When I started working with the parish, we brought in a Georgian language school for the children, and we
have another guy who teaches Georgian dancing. I think it’s very important that the children don’t forget their roots - that they realise that yes, they’re Irish, but they’re also Georgian, and their roots are in Georgia.” “One of the things I became aware of very early on is that Georgia as a country isn’t very well-known abroad. With that in mind, in 2014 we persuaded the Dublin Port Authority to have a Georgian Festival of Culture. The chil-
dren from our parish provided the entertainment for all the city, from 2pm to 6pm over the entire June bank holiday weekend.” “We also had the Sukhishvilebi there - dancing in the evening, and also some of the best folk ensembles from Georgia. People loved it, they loved the music and there were Georgian flags all over the city. This year, we also invited the President of Ireland to come and pray with us for the people who died in the Tbilisi floods, which I believe makes him the only European head of state to attend a memorial event for the flood victims.” Fr David is currently in Tbilisi studying a course on Georgian history and language, hoping to pick up not just the language, but also something of the Georgian “way of thinking.” Now that the Georgian parish in Dublin has an ethnic Georgian priest, I asked Fr David if he plans to continue serving them. “Archbishop Zenon (of Dmanisi, Great Britain and Ireland) once asked me why I’ve stayed so long,” he laughs. “In the Divine Liturgy, just after the consecration, there is a hymn to the Mother of God. In Georgian it’s called ‘Ghirs ars cheshmaritad’ – ‘It is truly met’. Even if I have worries, even if I’m mentally not in the right place, the way the Georgians chant that hymn lifts my heart to heaven every time, and that’s why I stay.”
Home Ag ain: R ar e Pir osmani on Displa y in Na tional Galler y Again: Rar are Pirosmani Display National Gallery
Mikheil Giorgadze, Minister of Culture and Monument Protection of Georgia and Eka Kiknadze, curator of the National Gallery, viewing Arsenal Hill at Night at the National Gallery.
By Eka Karsaulidze A rare artwork by famous Georgian painter Niko Pirosmanishvili (Pirosmani), Arsenal Hill at Night, bought by philanthropist Bidzina Ivanishvili at a Christie’s auction on June 1, 2015, has been returned to the Georgian people. Moreover, from July 21 it is available at the Dimitri Shevardnadze National Gallery next to other artworks by Pirosmani. “This picture was last exhibited here
in 1919, and I am glad that it is back,” said Eka Kiknadze, curator of the National Gallery. “From today, Georgians and visitors can see this beautiful Pirosmani creation for themselves.” The highest-earning of Pirosmani’s creations, Arsenal Hill at Night had a long trip back home, having been in the possession of various owners over the years and sold at Sotheby’s and MacDougall’s auctions in 2007 and 2010 respectively. This year it was dis-
covered that the artwork would be sold at a Christie’s auction, but the Georgian National Museum Fund did not have sufficient finances to purchase it. Georgia’s former Prime Minister, billionaire Bidzina Ivanishvili bought Arsenal Hill at Night for 1,486,100 USD and donated it to the Georgian National Museum. After going through all the legal procedures, the artwork became part of the Contemporary Georgian Arts Fund of the Shalva Amiranashvili Museum of Fine Arts, where the biggest collection of Pirosmani artworks is displayed. “According to experts of the Georgian National Museum, the painting remains in an almost perfect condition. Despite the fact that our country has kept a sufficiently large collection of works by Pirosmani, it would be incomplete without this wonderful picture,” said Minister of Culture and Monument Protection of Georgia, Mikheil Giorgadze. All visitors to the National Gallery will have the chance to see the famous artwork during the whole week free of charge, starting from the July 21, 2015. Arsenal Hill at Night itself will be on display for six months.
Ar alace Hosts Ger man Ar tist Artt P Palace German Artist and Caucasus Exhibition
Lear ning the Local Mo ves: British Dr ama Students Visit Geor gia Learning Mov Drama Georgia By Katie Ruth Davies MA Ensemble Theatre students from Rose Bruford College in London have come to Georgia on a study expedition. Niamh Dowling, Head of the School of Performance at Rose Bruford College, and an international group of 12 students, will be travelling with MA Ensemble Programme Director Gabriel Gawin (who performed recently in ‘Songs of Lear’ with Teatr Piesn Kozla at festival in Tbilisi). The group will be based in Telavi and then briefly visit Tbilisi at the end of July. The expedition is part of the practical research of the College’s MA students and involves traveling to visit remote, indigenous and rural cultures in order to learn songs, musical material and dance. This serves as the start point for the performance or research work of the MA students. While in Georgia the group will meet Archil Medolishvili, song teacher, Mikheil Jidalishvili, dance teacher, and ensemble “Keselo” (directed by Revaz Orbetishvili)
from the village of Zemo Alvani. Performer training is the principle dynamic of the MA Ensemble Theatre program which focuses on the development and mastery of performance art through rigorous voice, body and mind training. Expeditions involve daily periods of physical and vocal training, research, living and experiencing other cultures, rituals and landscapes. On returning home, the students will begin projectspecific physical training, starting from the rituals, music and dances learned on the expedition and continuing for months and sometimes years afterwards in the rehearsal room. Material collected during an expedition serves as a point
of departure for new exercises, which delve into deep inter-connections between music, movement, voice and song, stories, rituals and text. From Georgia the group will travel to Gdansk to perform at the Gdansk International Shakespeare Festival. The group will be in Tbilisi on July 30th and will have an open work session. Rose Bruford College works with partners around the globe to deliver world-leading training in performance and technical theatre. The MA Ensemble Theatre team works worldwide with partner institutions on student and staff exchanges, collaborative projects and wider research initiatives.
Richard Zommer - Caucasian Characters, from the collection of Archil Gelovani.
By Meri Taliashvili The Georgian State Museum of Theatre, Music, Cinema and Choreograpy (Art Palace, Kargareteli Str, 6) is for the first time hosting an exhibition of 19th century German painters, with exhibits of both national and private collections being displayed side-by-side. The collection of Dadiani Palaces, Art Palace, Archil Gelovani and Lasha Kurava have been united as a one in an exhibition entitled: “German Painters and the Caucasus.” The paintings of Friedrich Frisch, Franz Krüger, Richard Zommer, and Paul and Helen Franken depict numerous towns and countryside views throughout the Caucasus region. The canvases are not only of aesthetic value but of historical importance also, representing as they do depictions of 19th century Georgia and the people living and working at that time. A special ex-
hibition catalogue is to be published by the end of August when the Art Palace exhibition will close. Giorgi Kalandia, Director of the Art Palace, spoke to Georgia Today about the “German Painters and the Caucasus” exhibiton. “This is an unprecedented exhibition because both state and private collections are being displayed together. The works depict the entire Caucasus region, which the German artists witnessed from Tbilisi to Baku. The exhibition will allow visitors to see the Georgia as seen from the German perspective. Georgian-German relations have a long story and grew particularly strongly during the 19th century. Such artists of the time are known to have been deeply engaged with the cultural life of Georgia, bringing European values to different aspects of social life throughout the country.
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Ar t-Gene: K aleidoscope of Geor gian Cultur e Art-Gene: Kaleidoscope Georgian Culture By Maka Lomadze The artistic folk festival Art-Gene 2015 Tbilisi was opened by Sukhishvilebi National Ballet on July 19, at the Ethnographic Museum, a fittingly entertaining start to the week-long festivities. This year, one novel feature of the festival has been the book trunk, organized by the partner organization Georgian National Library as the main topic of the festival this year has been declared ‘books and literacy’. The trunk enabled everybody to enjoy their favorite books, sitting in the fresh air under the open sky whenever they had a spare minute from choosing original pieces of jewelry, crafts and carpets, having fun with friends or family, sampling a concert and of course eating mtsvadi. A small window into the whole of Georgia was presented at the festival with every region able to showcase its cultural traditions and peculiarities. On the first day of the festival, visitors were entertained by folklore ensembles from Kvemo Kartli and RachaLechkhumi, and the spectators’ appetites were satisfied by various dishes including khachapuri baked in the famous tone ovens. With many tourists and expats sampling the festivities, Georgia Today spoke with Canadian Ryan MacDonald, who had been travelling the world and now found himself in Georgia. “I arrived a month ago. The whole Caucasus is very interesting with a deep, fascinating history. We do not learn too much in school about this region. I have a good impression of life here. Georgian culture has maintained so
much of its heritage. I heard that Sukhishvilebi National Ballet is playing tonight. A friend of mine attended their benefit concert and he said it was outstanding Overall, this [Art-Gene fest] is a wonderful display. There is a great selection of traditional crafts and actually I did not expect such a big selection. My friend and I came across a male and female Choir. It was very nice. I wanted to hear Georgian polyphonic singing for the first time and it was terrific.”
Art-Gene has now acquired an international reputation with foreign entertainers and performers now playing their part in this Georgian event. The first day was marked by the performance of the Latvian choreographic ensemble Saime who travel all over the world to perform, and had just visited Chile before coming to Georgia. On July 20, the festival showcased Imereti and Samachablo regions, ending with Robi Kukhianidze’s performance
20:00, 22:30 Ticket price: 7.50 – 12.50 Lari
THE EXHIBITION IS DEDICATED TO THE HISTORY OF THE ANTIOCCUPATIONAL, NATIONAL-LIBERATION MOVEMENT OF GEORGIA AND TO THE VICTIMS OF THE SOVIET POLITICAL REPRESSION THROUGHOUT THIS PERIOD. Here, visitors can encounter 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, where visitors can watch documentaries of various historical events. The exhibition also includes one of the train carriages in which the participants of the national uprising of 1924 were executed.It is also dedicated to the history of the antioccupational, national-liberation movement of Georgia and to the victims of the Soviet political repression throughout this period.
together with the group “Outsider”. The following day was dedicated to Guria, a region of western Georgia, as well as the southern region of Samtskhe-Javakheti capped with the concert of the group “Reggaeon”. On July 22 nd , the troupes from Samegrelo region stepped forward to the audience, which also coincided with the day of Abkhazia. Bakur Burdili and the band “Friendly Mosquito” were the finalists of the day. The night shows here were particularly impressive. On July 23, the regions of Svaneti, Kakheti and Pankisi were celebrated with the day culi=minating in a performance from the group Frani (kite). With festival concluding on July 26, there is still time to sample Art-Gene. On July 24, the sea port of Poti and the Shida Kartli region are on show, finishing with a concert of the ensemble “Mgzavrebi” (Passengers). On Saturday, the creativity of the people of MtskhetaMtianeti and Racha regions will be represented as well as the Latvian Choreographic Ensemble “Saime” for the second time. At the end of the day, Nino Katamadze, a widely admired Georgian female singer, extremely popular in Ukraine, will play together with her own
“Insight” music band. On the final day, Sunday, the festival will give the floor to Adjara region and Latvian choreography again. The festival will be closed by the group 33A and Niaz Diasamidze, another very popular and talented singer, performer and composer. Traditionally, the festival travels all around Georgia to seek new materials, songs and other folklore treasures. This year, Art-Gene was opened by the regional tour in Simoneti village, Terjola, Imereti region, which concluded in Surami. As usual, the final and main part of the festival has been taking place in Tbilisi. Art-Gene serves the purpose of promoting the national identity and values. It has managed to return a stimulus and sense of nostalgia for many young people who had decided to leave their villages. Now there is this small group of enthusiastic, fanatically in love with Georgia people – the Art-Gene organizers – who are mainly painters and musicians – ensuring that invaluable national cultural traditions are celebrated and preserved through the generations. Quite simply, Art-Gene is a huge treasure trove of Georgian past, present day and future.
Films a bout Tbilisi, P ar about Par artt 2 By Tsiko Inauri Otar Ioseliani said of Tbilisi: “It has always been an Armenian city – as it was built by Armenians. Armenians living in Tbilisi are builders, craftsmen, artists and philanthropists. They have built an amazing city, wonderful!”
WHAT'S ON IN TBILISI CINEMA AMIRANI CINEMA Address: 36 Kostava St. Telephone: 299 99 55 www.kinoafisha.ge July 24-30 MINIONS 3D Directed by Colin Trevorrow Cast: Chris Pratt, Bryce Dallas Howard, Ty Simpkins Genre: Action, Adventure, Sci-Fi Language: English Language: Russian Start time: 22:15 Ticket price: 11.50 – 12.50 Lari TERMINATOR GENESIS Directed by Alan Taylor Cast: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Jason Clarke, Emilia Clarke Genre: Action, Adventure, Sci-Fi Language: Russian Start time: 14:10, 17:00 Ticket price: 8:50 – 10.50 Lari UNFRIENDED Directed by Levan Gabriadze Cast: Heather Sossaman, Matthew Bohrer, Courtney Halverson Genre: Horror, Thriller Language: Russian Start time: 20:15 Ticket price: 11.50 – 12.50 Lari Pixels 3D Directed by Chris Columbus Cast: Adam Sandler, Kevin James, Michelle Monaghan Genre: Action, Comedy, Sci-Fi Language: Russian Start time: 12:10, 15:00, 17:10, 19:45, 22:30, Ticket price: 7.50 – 12.50 Lari RUSTAVELI CINEMA Address: 5 Rustaveli Ave. Telephone: 255 50 00 www.kinoafisha.ge Pixels 3D (Info Above) Language: Russian Start time: 12:15, 14:40, 17:10,
MINIONS 3D (Info Above) Start time: 17:25 Language: Russian Ticket price: 9.50 – 12.50 Lari TERMINATOR GENESIS (Info Above) Language: Russian Start time: 11:45, 14:30 Ticket price: 8:50 – 9.50 Lari UNFRIENDED (Info Above) Language: Russian Start time: 22:15 Ticket price: 11.50 – 12.50 Lari PIXELS 3D (Info Above) Language: Russian Start time: 12:15, 14:40, 17:10 Ticket price: 7.50 – 10.50 Lari ANT-MAN Directed by Peyton Reed Cast: Paul Rudd, Michael Douglas, Corey Stoll Genre: Action, Sci-Fi Language: Russian Start time: 14:10, 17:15, 20:00, 22:40 Ticket price: 9.50 – 12.50 Lari CAMPUS STUDIO Address: 8 Shota Milorava St. July 29 GEOAIR + ARCHIDROME IN COLLABORATION WITH CAMPUS STUDIO PRESENTS ALBERT ALLGEIER EVENT CINEMA SHIRÓ. Cinema shiró is a international film festival dedicated to a single movie. Start time: 19:00 MUSEUM MUSEUM OF SOVIET OCCUPATION Address: 1 Rustaveli ave. Telephone: 2 99 80 22
SIMON JANASHIA MUSEUM OF GEORGIA Address: 3 Rustaveli Ave. Telephone: 2 99 80 22 ARCHAEOLOGICAL TREASURE Examples of work by early Georgian goldsmiths were discovered during archeological excavations, and are currently reserved in the archeological treasury. The exhibition presents three periods development in the history of Georgian goldwork, from the 3rd century BCE to the 4th century CE: KURGAN CULTURE (3-2 BCE), “GOLDEN FLEECE COLKHETI” (8- 3 BCE), KINGDOM OF KARTLI-IBERIA (3RD CENTURY BCE-4TH CENTURY CE). June 27 – October 31 “GEORGIANS IN WORLD WAR II” IS AN EXHIBITION DEDICATED TO THE 70TH ANNIVERSARY OF THE VICTORY OVER FASCISM.
The exposition will showcase at least 250 little-known items from the collections of the Georgian National Museum, including the private letters of Georgian combatants, certificates, greeting cards, medals, orders, and weaponry such as guns, pistols, machine-guns, assault rifles, etc. made in the USSR and Nazi Germany. Visitors will have a chance to see the private pipe of Joseph Stalin and an ivory vase specially made for his 50th birthday.
July 24 FOLKLORE, POTI, SHIDA KARTLI Start time: 18:30-22:00
IOSEB GRISHASHVILI TBILISI HISTORY MUSEUM - KARVASLA Address: 8 Sioni St. Telephone: 2 98 22 81
EVENING CONCERT NINO KATAMADZE AND INSIGHT Start time: 22:00
SERGO PARAJANOVI – “21ST CENTURY DREAM” The exhibition is dedicated to Sergo Parajanovi’s art which was born due to the multicultural traditions of Tbilisi. The project aims to expose the innovative prospect of the diverse and creative inheritance of Sergo Parajanov in order to expand international artistic dialogue between Georgian and Ukrainian artists. GALLERY THE NATIONAL GALLERY Address: 11 Rustaveli Ave. www.museum.ge PIROSMANI’S 150TH The National Gallery is hosting pictures of David Kakabadze (18891952) and Lado Gudiashvili (18961980) together with sculptures of Iakob Nikoladze (1876-1951) and photographs from the National Archives of Georgia and Iakob Nikoladze House-Museum depicting the sculptor’s life and creative work. MUSIC ART GENE Address: Ethnographic Museum 1 Turtle Lake Road
EVENING CONCERT MGZAVREBI Start time: 22:00 July 25 FOLKLORE, MTSKHETA-MTIANETI, RACHA Start time: 18:30-22:00
July 26 FOLKLORE, ADJARA Start time: 18:30-22:00 EVENING CONCERT NIAZ DIASAMIDZE AND 33A Start time: 22:00 ART AREA Address: 10 Dodo Abashidze st. July 24 LIVE@TWILIGHT PRESENTS: ALEX KORDZAIA A.K.A. KORDZ Start time: 21:00 SALSA CALIENTE TBILISI Address: 106 Agmashenebli ave. July 25 SALSA CALIENTE TBILISI PRESENTS SOCIAL DANCE PARTY IN TBILISI (SALSA, BACHATA, KIZOMBA...) Entry: Free Start time: 20:00 VITAMIN CUBES Address: Turtle Lake July 24 RYAN ELLIOTT / HVL Start time: 23:00 Ticket price: 20 Lari
SOCIETY By Tony Hanmer Every now and then I depart from my usual beloved topic of Svaneti in these articles, particularly when traveling elsewhere. Off we go... Leaving our niece from Kakheti and another volunteer helper lady from Namibia at home to run the place and earn our eternal gratitude, Lali and I have set out for her first trip to Canada. After two visa refusals when we had been married for a year, we tried again. This time we had a cancellable return ticket for her, and the request of the relevant Ambassador to flag him when this next application was coming through. And... they granted her a 4year, multi entry visa! That’ll do by way of apology, thank you very much. En route, in Tbilisi, I had the chance to get another large photograph framed for my new house gallery, as in the picture here. It’s not one of mine, though: this is a glorious panorama of the Central Caucasus by Vittorio Sella in 1889, assembled from plate glass negatives when conditions in Svaneti were very challenging. Separate flights for the two of us, though. Mine, a free pair of one way tickets via TLG (Teach and Learn with Georgia), would have been quite a lot more expensive if we bought the equivalent for her. So she flew via Istanbul and Montreal, I via Warsaw and Toronto. In both cases, my stepmother, just about to turn 79 and still behind the wheel, met and would host
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Canada Crossing us, coming in a couple of days apart. I had the longer trip from end to end, with a 12-hour layover in Warsaw. This was made easier, however, by the addition of a ticket to Chopin Airport’s Business Class lounge, of which I took full advantage, never having been in such a place anywhere before. It made all the difference, with free food and wi-fi for the long wait. I could have got out and explored the city a bit on my EU passport, but generally I prefer to stay put when in transit. It’ll keep, though no doubt it has changed hugely since I was last here sometime in 1992. Once again, hugely grateful for not being six or more feet tall and having to cram such a frame into economy airplane seating! I even managed to watch the new Avengers movie... on a screen 8" on the diagonal, strictly 2D, no Dolby sound. Although LOT Polish Airlines didn’t seem to be offering free meals in Economy, there they were for the long flight into Toronto, and better than not eating, I ate them. Although I usually find jetlag worse going from Europe to North America, this time it hasn’t been too bad. Nightly melatonin pills, recommended by my mom, seem to help the body adjust to a sudden 10 time zone difference. Must remember this tip for the future. I have made this journey quite a few
times in recent years, so there’s very little cultural adjustment for me. But, although Lali has visited 41 countries now, it’s her first ever time to North America. She says the houses look “British or German” based on what she’s seen so far in the world. I have let her take in one of the world’s largest shopping malls, West Edmonton Mall with its 800odd shops and plenty of other features, and we’ve tubed down a segment of the Pembina River, which was great, relaxing fun on a warm day. My province of Alberta, though, has had a very hot and dry summer, with several counties declaring themselves agricultural disaster zones. When the rain has come during our stay, it has been too little, too late, and sometimes
including hailstones nearly the size of oranges. Many crops in this farm-rich prairie land are failing. Such are the caprices of depending on weather for your livelihood or at least part of it, as we know all too well in Georgia. A popular joke in compensated Kakheti a few years ago was, “Can you lend me 10000 Lari until the next hail?” I can only hope that Alberta will be as kind to its farmers. Another indication of the trend towards global warming, or just
a blip in typical statistics? In church, people kept coming up to my wife to confirm that she’s real; their first face to face encounter with her after six years of hearing that we were married. Here she is, in four dimensions! My father, who has been in a nursing home for a few years now with loss of balance and onset of dementia, recognized me at first glance. This was a huge relief, as you never know when the veil drawn across memory will become too thick. Mom has done a huge amount to keep him as fresh as possible, mentally and physically, since he became too much to handle at home on her own, falling and breaking bones. I am so glad that she’s here for him all the time, when I’m mostly halfway across the world. This is the other part of my life, although now it consists more of leaving home in Georgia to visit non-home in Canada than “going home” to Canada, where I have no property anyway. But here I have family and so many friends, I find I can slip back into their lives temporarily with little trouble, absorbing the changes of a year or so as we come together for a while. The whole time, keeping Georgia on my Mind.
Tony Hanmer runs the “Svaneti Renaissance” Facebook group, now with over 1000 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
“Geor gians in WWII” “Georgians Exhibition Depicts Sacrifices Made to Def ea ascism Defea eatt F Fascism By Maka Lomadze The world this year the 70th anniversary of defeating Fascism in World War II. Like most nations in Europe, Georgia suffered heavy casualties in the fighting with a high proportion of the Soviet army made up of Georgians. Across the world there have been numerous exhibits, documentaries and books depicting the lives of soldiers on the war’s various front. Now, the Georgian National Museum is presenting the exhibition “Georgians in WWII” to enlighten history and war enthusiasts of the conditions Georgian soldiers endured during the conflict. The curator of the exhibition Vakhtang Tsintsadze told Georgia Today: “The same exhibition was on display in the 1950s and 1970s. However, this version comprises new pieces too, for instance: Stalin’s pipe and vase. There is also a memorial blackboard from Italy where there is a street named after Georgian partisans. We have the audio-visual and textual materials from the very start of the war, when it was beginning in Poland in 1939. We also showcase the flags of Georgian partisans in Italy and France, which represented the symbols for unity.”. Visitors to the exhibition can also see the photos and other objects of Rusudan Zhordania, a female military pilot during the war from Abkhazia.
Georgian military factory.
During the war, all men aged from 18 to 55 were conscripted into the armed forces. Female soldiers were not unknown either, while the female war effort in various roles including as nurses and in manufacturing weaponry was absolutely essential. There are some pieces from different collectors, offering a diversity of perspectives on the conflict. There are materials from some Georgians who fought against the Soviets because they thought communism was no less a disaster than fascism. The majority of such people had initially fled Georgia following the Soviet takeover in 1921. Some photos display how villages and public schools connected and sent churchkhela, wines, and other kinds of food to warriors. There is one very sad photo showing how a Svan mother sees off her son to war. In the second hall, there is an exhibition of famous painters such as Elene Akhvlediani, Lado Gudiashvili, Zurab Tsereteli, and others. Andro Kandelaki was the only one who fought and painted simultaneously. This is a bloody story of hundreds of thousands of civilians who suffered and lost their relatives, children, fathers, husbands and grandfathers and is an emotional, even heartbreaking account of an era that should never be forgotten, or repeated. The exhibition is on until October.
JULY 24 - 30
Is K obiashvili the Man to R epair Geor gian Kobiashvili Re Georgian Football after its Summer of Discontent? By Alastair Watt A new low in the FIFA world rankings, first round exits of every Georgian club involved in European competition and an administrative blunder which saw Georgia’s captain wrongly left out of a Euro 2016 qualifier have been the lowlights of a summer to forget so far for football in a country that once contributed significantly to the top level of the beautiful game. As a capacity crowd drifted away from the Tengiz Burjanadze Stadium in Gori on July 21 having watched Dila Gori, Georgian champions and the country’s last remaining representatives in European competition, succumb meekly to a scarcely impressive Partizan Belgrade side, verdicts of doom and gloom reverberated in the cars and bars. For some years now, Georgians have been losing affection for domestic football. When asked about the state of football in the country, most Georgians will deliver a swift and damning description of its recent failures, and perhaps move the conversation swiftly on to rugby, a sport where Georgia are quickly emerging as a respected world force. You will still encounter Georgians of a certain vintage who will regale you with tales of the legendary Dinamo Tbilisi sides of the 1960s and the late 1970s and early 1980s which conquered the Soviet Union and became a feared opponent in Europe, lifting the European Cup Winners’ Cup in 1981 at the zenith of their excellence. The Soviet Union side that won the
first ever European Championships in 1960 contained three Georgians, one of whom – Slava Metreveli – scored a decisive goal in the final against Yugoslavia. Two Georgians also featured in the 1972 European Championships final while the 1982 Soviet Union World Cup team, which advanced to the second round, was littered with Georgians. Following independence, Georgia initially had an ensemble of talents to be envied with Giorgi Kinkladze, Giorgi Demetradze, Temur Ketsbaia and Shota Arveladze providing an attacking threat that pushed a country undergoing civil turmoil to within touching distance of Euro 96, edged out in qualifying by Stoichkov’s Bulgaria. Nearly 20 years later, Georgia languishes outside the world’s top 150 in the FIFA world rankings and its poorly attended and financially impoverished league is beginning to slide further into the wilderness in UEFA’s coefficient system. Naturally, with such a dispiriting state of affairs, questions are being asked of the competence of the national governing body, the Georgian Football Federation (GFF). One of its most outspoken critics is Levan Kobiashvili, the recently retired midfielder who earned 100 caps for his country and spent the bulk of his career in Germany’s Bundesliga. Kobiashvili has expressed his intention to run for the GFF presidency at the next elections, and launched a scathing attack on the current administration after it wrongly informed Georgia head
coach Kakha Tskhadadze that captain Jaba Kankava would be unavailable for their Euro 2016 qualifier with Poland in June due to suspension. In actual fact, Kankava, having received two yellow cards in the campaign instead of the necessary three, was free to play. “The executives of the Georgian Football Federation once more demonstrated their irresponsibility and lack of professionalism, when due to their carelessness an important national team player could not participate in a qualification game,” stated Kobiashvili on his official Facebook page. Whether Kankava’s inclusion would have spared Georgia from the defeat they suffered in Poland is debatable but Kobiashvili’s anger was understandable. He then took the criticism a step further, essentially demanding a changing of power in Georgian football. “The damage the governing body of the GFF has done to Georgian football
leaves them with no moral right to stay responsible for it in future. I think the time has come for the current leadership to go. They have to apologize to the supporters, set the date of the elections and stop doing a job they lack competence and expertise in!” concluded Georgia’s most ever capped player. Kobiashvili appears to be positioning himself for a tilt at the presidency, and has been gaining greater prominence in the public eye, most recently attending an opening ceremony for the Olympic village for the imminent European Youth Olympic Festival in Tbilisi. The German media have also lent their support to Kobiashvili with Berliner Zeitung’s Robert Matiebel claimed in the wake of the FIFA scandal that broke out in late May that “Kobiashvili and his love of sport outweighs any greed. These types of people are needed in sports organizations and if so, the risk of corruption would be much less.”
In its defense, the GFF, currently presided over by Zviad Sichinava, can point to improving performances at youth level. Georgia reached the finals of the European under-17 championships in 2012 and the European under-19 championships in 2013, and Georgian sides at both levels have consistently reached the elite round of youth competitions in the last few years. The GFF has also secured the right to host the 2017 European under-19 championships, as well as the UEFA Super Cup taking place in less than three weeks in Tbilisi. Georgia also has far greater priorities than football right now. The currency devaluation, omnipresent tension over the occupied territories and recovering from the catastrophic June 13 floods are just some of the pressing issues which render football utterly trivial by comparison. However, there is little question that Georgia is massively underachieving in a sport that once brought pride to its people. It has to be a source of envy if not embarrassment for the GFF that, with a fraction of the budget, the country’s rugby authorities have made incredible forward strides in the last decade while football has been in a spiral of regression for as long as some Georgian fans have been alive. Whether Kobiashvili is the white knight ready to revive Georgian football remains to be seen, but from the murky depths in which the national sport currently wallows, he appears to be worth the gamble.
PASHA Bank - Gener al Sponsor of Inter na tional Chess F esti val “Nana Aleksandria Cup” General Interna national Festi estiv Poti hosted the 10th International Chess Festival with the General Sponsorship of PASHA Bank. The festival is held annually under the auspices of Ms. Nana Aleksandria, a world chess legend, two times World Vice-Champion, and 12 times winner of the World Chess Olympics. Organized annually by Poti Local Municipality since 2006, the Chess Festival has now been sponsored by PASHA Bank for two consecutive years. The festival consists of tournaments in 10 different categories between juniors as
well as adult professional chess players. The festival is the biggest in the Caucasus by volume and the most important one considering the caliber of participants – counting many top rated male and female chess players. The festival is listed in the annual calendar of World Chess Federation FIDE with the games transmitted live online, enabling chess aficionados worldwide to watch in real time. “One of the main characteristics of our business approach is the fact that we are oriented on long-term partnerships,”
said CEO of PASHA Bank, Mr. Shahin Mammadov. “PASHA Bank has been operating in Georgia since 2013 and it is the second year in row that we are the General Sponsor of the chess festival. This sport has always been popular in Georgia and there are world-class Georgian chess players who have achieved international recognition and ultimate success. We hope that this tradition will continue and festivals like this will encourage and motivate young people to develop their skills in chess and beyond.”
Rising fr om the R uins: Help the Sc hool of Tomor from Ruins: School omorrrow By Beqa Kirtava Although more than a month has passed since the devastating June 13 flood, for many the disaster managed to leave a deep wound which is still wide open today. One of the many buildings destroyed in the huge wash of water, mud and debris that all but buried the Vera Valley, was the School of Tomorrow – a home of education to more than 200 students located on the territory of Mziuri Park. Today the institution is asking for your help to get ready for the new school year and Georgia Today sat down with the school’s Director, Ryan Arner to find out more about the center’s current state and needs. “The building was completely destroyed by the flood,” said Mr. Arner. “There is nothing left that the school can use for educational purposes when studies start again in September.” However, the institution did manage to properly end the educational year with the help of the Ministry of Education and Science. “When the flood hit, we were in our last week. So, all that remained were several final exams for some of our older students. The Ministry of Education arranged for our pupils to take their exams in other schools across the city. We
are very thankful for this assistance,” he said. As for the loss, the exact figure hasn’t yet been calculated, but an estimated $1.6-1.9 million is expected to emerge and despite the fact that many governmental and non-governmental organizations managed to raise millions of Lari, the School of Tomorrow has so far received a total of 70,000 GEL (with a further 22,000 GEL expected). “We have received help from some individuals and business as well as from a few private schools, such as the European School which donated 5,000 GEL. The famous British-Georgian singer, Katie Melua, provided financial assistance and the Georgian Institute of Public Affairs (GIPA) is also planning to help. But the Georgian banks were required to send all their money to the government fund, so they couldn’t directly donate to us,” explained Mr. Arner. Fortunately, the school has managed to find a new location – on Kavtaradze Str. However, the building needs to be made ready for September and is still in need of a variety of educational equipment including: · Furniture (desks, chairs, office furniture) · 15 computers (used PCs, any type) · A projector system
The School of Tomorrow building after the June 13 flood
· White boards or smart boards · About 5-10 air conditioning units When asked about the awareness of flood risks in the Mziuri Park location prior to June 13 2015, Mr. Arner said that when they first moved into the building the highway hadn’t yet been constructed, but said that the river had always had a reputation and they knew that risks existed. “Once the new road was cut that really changed things. Our American founder was constantly talking with the engineers about flood control and what might happen and they agreed to build a small flood wall be-
side the school,” he said. Mr. Arner also revealed to Georgia Today that there was another small flood on June 4, 2015, which, while not causing any substantial damage, was not stopped by the flood wall. When the June 13 disaster hit, the damage was inevitable- leaving the school completely devastated. “Now that we have found a replacement building, we have less than two months to prepare for September 15th; to clean the building, equip it, furnish it, etc. So, if there’s anybody out there that could donate even some time and labor, that would be greatly appreci-
ated,” Mr Arner said. Established in 1992, the School of Tomorrow has been eagerly involved in boosting the general education level in Georgia. The school’s main aim is to tailor learning processes to each of their student’s needs and help them to develop and thrive individually. The institution’s learning agenda is specifically adjusted so that the involvement of the teacher is minimal and the students’ creative juices are allowed to flow to the maximum possible. Following years of continuously educating highly successful graduates, the School of Tomorrow received international accreditation just a month before the June 13 disaster struck. If you want to donate to the School of Tomorrow, you can do so in the following ways: FOR GEL TRANSFER JSC “TBC Bank”, Central Branch NAME OF BENEFICIARY – “SCHOOL OF TOMORROW” LTD BEN’S ACCOUNT GE50TB7198636020100002 For PAYPAL (any currency) transfers use firstname.lastname@example.org If you’d like to donate any of the above-listed equipment, the school’s temporary office is located at #57 Tsinamdzgvrishvili Str.
GENERAL MANAGER - George Sharashidze BUSINESS MANAGER - Iva Merabishvili
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