Issue no: 992/101
• OCTOBER 24 - 26, 2017
• PUBLISHED TWICE WEEKLY
PRICE: GEL 2.50
In this week’s issue... Ruling GD Enjoys Overwhelming Victory in Tbilisi NEWS PAGE 2
Real Property Sales ISET PAGE 4
ON GEORGIAN DREAMERS GD saw a sweeping victory at the elections this weekend, while the voting process itself was named "fundamentally PAGE free" by int'l observers
BUSINESS PAGE 5
Grape Harvest 2017 Wrapped Up BUSINESS PAGE 6
US Trade Union Holds Business Meetings in Georgia BY THEA MORRISON
ith US Government support, 12 American corporations will hold around 150 B2B meetings throughout Georgia with the aim of increasing trade, investment, and people-to-people ties between the United States and Georgia. Participating companies are: Acrow Bridge, Baron Weather, Bechtel, Budget, Coca-Cola, Lockheed Martin, Miyamoto International, MWH, Nova Power, Obie Technologies, The Greenbrier, and VISA. Continued on page 2
Open Letter To Mayor Kaladze
NDI: Women’s Underrepresentation in Political Processes Problematic in Georgia BUSINESS PAGE 8
UK’s Mayhew International on Their Annual Visit to Tbilisi SOCIETY PAGE 13
Ian Kelly and over 30 representatives from the US Department of Commerce and the Foreign Investment Corporations attended a meeting with the Economy Minister
Understanding How the World Has Changed POLITICS PAGE 15 Prepared for Georgia Today Business by
STOCKS BGEOGroup(BGEOLN) GHG(GHGLN) TBCBankGroup(TBCGLN)
COMMODITIES CrudeOil,Brent(US$/bbl) GoldSpot(US$/OZ)
OCTOBER 24 - 26, 2017
Ruling GD Enjoys Overwhelming Victory in Tbilisi BY THEA MORRISON Representatives of US companies met with PM Kvirikashvili
US Trade Union Holds Business Meetings in Georgia Continued from page 1 The trade-investment mission, comprising 26 companies including 12 large corporations, arrived in Georgia last week and held a meeting with the Minister of Economy, Giorgi Gakharia. The US Ambassador to Georgia, Ian Kelly, and over 30 representatives from the US Department of Commerce and the Foreign Investment Corporations attended the meeting with the Minister. “We have exceptional political relations with the US and it is high time for arranging better economic ties, especially in terms of trade,” Gakharia stated. Mamuka Tsereteli, President of the America-Georgia Business Council, stated that the main purpose of the US business mission is to establish business contacts between potential business partners. Georgian Prime Minister, Giorgi Kvirikashvili also met the businessmen, stating it was an honor for Georgia to host the trade-investment mission of the country’s most important strategic partner.
He introduced the mission representatives to the current investment environment in Georgia, and already implemented reforms that all aim to further improve the situation. The PM also informed the guests about projects that are to be implemented in Georgia and spoke of potential investment directions, Georgia’s achievements and especially the country’s leading positions in various international ratings. The trade-investment mission from the US includes the companies that mainly operate in construction, logistics, communication and technology sectors. Ambassador Kelly noted that the US companies will explore available opportunities in different directions in Georgia. “This is part of our overall attempt to raise awareness about the Georgian market, about how open Georgia is to investment and partnerships, and the ease of doing business here. There are international rankings that rate Georgia very highly in that regard,” he said.
fter the Central Election Commission (CEC) counted votes of all 737 polling stations in Tbilisi, ruling party Georgian Dream (GD) mayoral candidate Kakha Kaladze was leading the race with 51.13%, followed by independent candidate Alexander Elisashvili at 17.49%.
The opposition United National Movement (UNM) candidate Zaal Udumashvili received 16.53%, European Georgia’s Elene Khoshtaria 7.12%, Irma Inashvili from the Alliance of Patriots 3.02%, Giorgi Vashadze 1.95%, Kakha Kukava 1.26%, Giorgi Gugava 0.96%, Tengiz Shergilashvili 0.25%, Giorgi Liluashvili 0.09%, Davit Shukakidze 0.05% and Nikoloz Saneblidze 0.05%. City Council (Sakrebulo) mandates, according to the CEC, will see the ruling GD with 40 mandates of a total 50 seats
(25 proportional and 25 majoritarian). Through the proportional election system, GD will have 15 MPs out of 25. The UNM will likely have five MPs on the proportional list. Presumably, three mandates will go to the European Georgia party and two to the Alliance of Patriots. Regarding the majoritarian election system, GD managed to clear all 25 majoritarian seats in the Sakrebulo, which means that, in total, the ruling party will have 40 MPs in the City Council.
GEORGIA TODAY OCTOBER 24 - 26, 2017
Int’l Election Observation Mission Says Fundamental Freedoms Were Respected this Weekend BY MATE FOLDI
e observed an election process where contestants had the opportunity to campaign freely, and in which fundamental freedoms of assembly and expression were generally respected, - said Corien Jonker, Head of the OSCE/ODIHR long-term election observation mission. “The predominant position of the ruling party is clear, and this affected different aspects of the elections. This predominance, however, comes with a responsibility to ensure that the opportunities of other contestants are not limited”. Fundamental freedoms were generally respected in the 21 October local elections in Georgia, and candidates were able to campaign freely, the OSCE/ODIHR reports. “Efficient administration of the elections and accurate voter registration contributed to the quality of the process,” the international observers concluded in a preliminary statement released on Sunday. “The entire context of the elections was shaped by the dominance of the ruling party,” the observers said. “Although partisan, increasingly free and active media fostered greater political debate, ” the statement went on. “Election day generally proceeded in an orderly manner, although negative evaluations of counting in some polling stations indicated some irregularities and difficulties in completing results protocols”. The Central Election Commission (CEC) and lower election administration bodies are said to have worked in a timely, efficient and professional manner. “While
the CEC generally enjoyed confidence among stakeholders, some opposition contestants questioned the impartiality of the election administration, especially in relation to the precinct election commission members appointed by the district commissions”. Prior to the elections, the CEC provided training for all levels of election administration, ran a comprehensive voter information campaign, and took initiatives to facilitate the participation of voters with disabilities. The campaign was said to have been largely subdued outside Tbilisi and for the most part calm, although there were a few “violent incidents”. Along with cases of pressure on voters, cases of the misuse of state resources were also reported, the observers said. “From the Congress perspective, misuse of public resources at the local level and the further consolidation of local self-government in Georgia need to be addressed after these elections. We remain willing to assist the authorities in their endeavours,” Stewart Dickinson, Spokesperson on Observation of Local
and Regional Elections, said on behalf of the Congress Electoral Assessment team. While there have been notable improvements in the freedom of media, broadcast media were perceived by observers as politically affiliated. Media monitoring showed that most of the media focused on the major election contestants, providing them with the opportunity to convey their messages through debates and talk-shows, in addition to advertisements. Monitoring identified a notable absence of critical and analytical reporting by the national public broadcaster, while coverage by the most-watched broadcasters, Imedi and Rustavi 2, varied significantly, with each favoring a certain political side. There were significant differences in the level of donations to campaigns, with the ruling party receiving 91% of private contributions. The State Audit Office, mandated to oversee campaign finance, is said to have worked in a professional manner, but the absence of deadlines for examining financial reports and publishing conclusions before election day lim-
ited transparency. Most recommendations by the OSCE/ODIHR and the Council of Europe Group States against Corruption (GRECO) in this area remain unaddressed. The report noted the recent removal of a two-year residency requirement had significantly improved the inclusiveness of the candidate registration process, and legal amendments allowed independent candidates to run for mayor. Female candidates were underrepresented in most races. A number of contestants withdrew their candidacies, some, reportedly, under pressure. The legal framework is said by observers to be comprehensive and provides an “adequate basis for the conduct of elections in line with democratic principles”. However, restrictions on voter and candidate rights, as well as gaps and inconsistencies, are said to remain. The July 2017 amendments to the Election Code were mainly technical and are said not to have addressed a number of previous key OSCE/ODIHR and Council of Europe recommendations. In an inclusive process, the CEC accredited 30 international and 71 citizen observer organizations. The participation of numerous observers and contestant proxies in all stages of the electoral process contributed to transparency. Observers noted that some accredited media representatives or citizen observers were affiliated with contestants and at times interfered in the process. More than 1,200 national minority representatives ran as candidates, some24 % of whom where women. A few instances of hate speech, threats, and tensions were noted. The election administration provided ballots, voter information and polling staff training in minority languages.
2nd Round of Georgian Local Elections to be Held in 6 Municipalities
Photo source: Reuters
BY NINO GUGUNISHVILI
ollowing the Preliminary results announced by the Election Commission Administration of Georgia, a second round of elections are to be held in six municipalities of the country. In Kazbegi Municipality, Georgian Dream party candidate Alexandre Zagashvili and Sandro Khamaruli from Free Georgia will compete for the mandate, while independent candidate Ramaz Nozadze will try to win over Georgian Dream’s George Guraspashvili in Khashuri. Levan Lipartia (GD) and Zaza Chacanidze from Patriots Alliance are the candidates for the second round in Borjomi. Konstantine Sharashenidze, an indipendent candidate, and Beglar Sioridze from the ruling party are to conpete to win in Ozurgeti; Grigol Vashadze, candidate from United National Movement, and Giorgi Chighvaria from Georgian Dream will competing in Kutaisi, and Mamuka Danelia from UNM and Alexandre Grigalava from Georgian Dream in Martvili Municipality.
OCTOBER 24 - 26, 2017
Real Property Sales
he Georgian real property market slowed down in April -17 (-16.2% compared to the previous month (MoM)) and gradually recovered over next two months: in May-17 (+20.8% MoM) and June-17 (+6.5% MoM). With a total of 24,673 property sales, The Georgian market in Q2 2017 grew by 12.7% (compared to
the same quarter of the previous year (YoY)). The share of Tbilisi in country sales increased to 39.8% in Q2 2017, and the capital remains at the top of the Georgian real property market. The Tbilisi market was followed by Adjara with 13.1% and Kvemo Kartli with 9.7% shares in Georgiaâ€™s sales. In Q2 2017, Tbilisi real property
sales grew by 23.9%, while outside of Tbilisi by only 1.2%. For Q2, 2017 the top three regions by sales in Georgia were: Tbilisi (9,814 units, 39.8%) Ajara (3,221 units, 13.1%) Kvemo Kartli (2,403 units, 9.7%) For Q2, 2017 the top three districts by sales in Tbilisi were: Saburtalo (2,332 units, 23.8%) Vake (1,714 units, 17.5%) Nadzaladevi (1,034 units, 10.5%)
YoY). Seemingly, the size of new buildings is decreasing both for residential and commercial properties. The total supply comprised of 161 (+10.3% YoY) residential buildings, with a total area of 210.3 thousand sq.m (-18.9% YoY), and 36 (+0% YoY) commercial buildings with a total area of 456.7 thousand sq.m (-35.4% YoY).
REAL PROPERTY SUPPLY
RESIDENTIAL PROPERTY PRICES
197 new buildings with a total area of 256 thousand sq.m were added to the Tbilisi supply during Q2 2017. Compared to last year, the supply of real property in the capital has increased with respect to number of buildings (+8.2% YoY), but decreased with respect to area of buildings (-22.4%
In Q2 2017, the Sale Price Index (SPI) for residential properties continued to decrease except in May-17 (8.5% MoM), while Rent Price Index (RPI) began to increase, with the highest gain in May-17 (5.3% MoM). During Q2 2017, the Average Sale Price (ASP) varied between USD
10 Galaktion Street
740 and USD 880 per sq.m and Average Rent Price (ARP) between USD 6.82 and USD 8.02per sq.m. After reaching the lowest point in April-17, both ASP and ARP trended upwards. In June-17, ASP in Tbilisi reached USD 870 (-1.1% MoM, 4.1% YoY) per sq.m and ARP increased to USD 8.02 (8.0% MoM,8.8% YoY) per sq.m. In Q2 2017, the most expensive and cheapest districts of Tbilisi were: by Average Sale Price: Mtatsminda (USD 1,044) and Gldani (USD 525). by Average Rent Price: Mtatsminda (USD 879) and Gldani (USD 456)
COMMERCIAL PROPERTY PRICES
In Q2 2017, the Sale Price Index and Rent Price Index for commercial property was characterized by a decreasing trend. In June-17, SPI declined to 0.819 (-14.0% (MoM, -5.4% YoY), while RPI fell to 1.010 (-5.3% MoM, -16.1%YoY). During Q2 2017, the Average Sale Price for commercial property varied between USD 1,002 and USD 1,103 per sq.m and Average Rent Price between USD 9.56 and USD 10.99 per sq.m. In March, ASP and ARP for commercialrealpropertiesalsodropped: ASP in Tbilisi declined to USD 956 (-9.3% MoM, -9.6% YoY) per sq.m andARPdroppedtoUSD9.56(-9.3% MoM, -9.6% YoY).
Tel: (995 32) 2 45 08 08 E-mail: email@example.com
GEORGIA TODAY OCTOBER 24 - 26, 2017
Open Letter To Mayor Kaladze is permitted in the contraflow bus lane on Davit Agmashenebeli Avenue? Why is there no cycle route through Rikhe Park, or behind the Public Service Hall? And, indeed, why can’t we have a riverside route the whole length of the city? Having double three-lane highways on either side of the Mtkvari just feeds the city’s car addiction. But the first and simplest thing to do is to install cycle parking across the city (especially at schools and universities) and proper Sheffield Stands, please, not those thin things we see in a few places now that don’t actually support a bike. Illustration by Victoria Lomasko of drawingthetimes.com
OP-ED BY TIM BURFORD
ear Mayor Kaladze, Congratulations on your election and the best of luck in your new job. Now it’s time to get to work! I’m the author of the Bradt Travel Guide to Georgia and I’m currently in Georgia researching the 6th edition of this book. Three years ago, I wrote your predecessor, Davit Narmania, an open letter in this newspaper pointing out various problems with Tbilisi’s streets and its transport system and suggesting some ways to tackle them. Very little has been done since then, and the fundamental problem, the addiction of the Tbiliselebis to their cars, has clearly got worse. There are various reasons for this, but one is that there is absolutely no real enforcement of parking restrictions and other traffic laws: people leave their vehicles wherever they want, on footways, in the middle of roadworks, blocking disabled access points. This is illegal, and in June 2016, your predecessor promised to clear the pavements/sidewalks of parked cars by September of that year. You’ll have noticed that this did not happen. It is simply a matter of enforcement. We know that the Georgian police can be reformed more or less overnight, and they have recently managed to crack down effectively on drink-driving. I think it’s time to do it again: instead of driving around with loudhailers telling stopped drivers to move on, they should enforce laws against using phones while driving, not wearing seatbelts (sitting on the lapbelt does not count), red-light jumping and speeding; and above all ticket, clamp or tow cars that are parked on the footways and sidewalks. The points-based driving license is a good start, but only if the police actually take an interest in these offences. And while you’re at it, tell them not to drive around with their emergency lights flashing - otherwise what have you got when it’s a real emergency? As in so many cases, Georgia needs to look at basic standard practice in the countries to the West. Somewhere like, oh, maybe Milano. The problem, of course, is not just traffic congestion, the fact that it takes so long to get anywhere and then there’s nowhere to park when you get there; it’s also that it’s almost impossible to cycle in Tbilisi or to go out in a wheelchair, and it’s also the fact that the city’s air is foul and dangerous. Georgia has become a
repository for Europe’s crappiest wornout cars: half the cars in Tbilisi are apparently over 20 years old, and every day another 170 cars enter Georgia, 130 of which are over ten years old. Naturally, these are filthy - and as I’m sure you know, an International Energy Agency study identified Georgia as having the world’s highest mortality rate due to air pollution (household and outdoor) in 2012. I was astonished to hear that air pollution is checked at just three sites in Tbilisi, and not 24 hours a day (and that the government roadworthiness test was actually voluntary for over ten years). At least the government is finally acting to restrict the imports of right-hand-drive cars, which are obviously accidents waiting to happen. The absence of an effective city planning system also creates huge problems - not just the aesthetic impact of out-ofplace tower blocks suddenly appearing in residential districts, but also the number of vehicles that suddenly have to use those narrow residential streets, and to find parking spaces, not to mention the pollution caused by the construction process. The city has to stop selling plots of land off for one Lari, whether to Bidzina Ivanishvili or anyone else, it doesn’t matter, but this just feeds the chaos. Roadworks are another disaster area in the city: I couldn’t believe that pedestrians had been forced to walk right on Rustaveli Avenue without any protective barriers for the time the Galleria mall has been under construction! It’s very easy to oblige contractors to install signs and barriers. Again, look at standard practice in the West. In July 2017, your predecessor produced a Green City Action Plan, aiming to control congestion and construction, to improve bus services (including continuing to replace the old yellow buses with blue ones fueled by compressed natural gas, as well as introducing bus lanes and bus-priority traffic lights), and to produce a cycling strategy. I live in Cambridge, where over a quarter of the population cycles to work, and this is not unusual across Western Europe. Obviously, the kilometer-long cycle track on Pekini Avenue has attracted some derision, with people asking how on earth they’re meant to get to it, but do please stick with it! Yes, a cycling strategy has to be about getting people from door to door, on safe roads throughout, but it’s also important to have some visible headline projects to spread the message. But why is there no indication whether cycling
In my letter of three years ago, I asked why so many buses terminated at Baratashvili Street - couldn’t they be linked up to allow longer, more useful journeys that people are currently using cars for? Likewise for the routes terminating at Orbeliani Square: link them up! Keep them moving! But alas, I see nothing has changed. I was in Ortachala the other day, wanting to go to Chugureti, but every single bus was going to Baratashvili Street. I know the ticket inspectors like to do all their checks there, but that’s really no reason for ALL the buses to go there. At least the airport bus (route 37) is now
operated by the bigger new blue buses, a huge help to all the people just trying to get from Rustaveli to Avlabari without waiting on Baratashvili Street. Speaking of the airport, the train is utterly pointless at the moment (I was the only passenger going all the way when I tried it out): to be any use, it has to run hourly (calling at Samgori and Didube for metro and marshrutka connections) to, say, Gori. If you were really ambitious, you could look for a Park-and-Ride site near Mtskheta. And I haven’t even mentioned rubbish and recycling! You have lots to do, Mayor Kaladze - good luck!
OCTOBER 24 - 26, 2017
Grape TBC Leasing Harvest 2017 Offers Operational Wrapped Up Leasing For the First
Time in Georgia
Photo source: Wines of Georgia Facebook
BY THEA MORRISON
eorgian Agriculture Minister, Levan Davitashvili, announced that 123,000 tons of grapes were processed in Georgia this year, an “unprecedented success”. While summarizing the grape harvest 2017, the minister noted that farmers had earned around GEL 150 million income from selling their harvest. “This is very important income for rural people. Their economic activity is successful and this success is linked to the success of the sector,” Davitashvili stated at the press-conference, adding that the private sector is strong, “the
result of the state programs implemented in the country over several years, as a result of which Georgia received dozens of renovated, new enterprises and modernized companies”. The demand on Georgian wine has also grown this year. "Since independence, we have not sold so much wine!” he noted. Davitashvili expects that 70 million bottles of Georgian wine will be exported this year in total. In 2016, 49.84 million bottles of wine were exported from Georgia. Georgian wine export in the period of January-September 2017 increased by 63% compared to the same period of 2016, with the National Wine Agency claiming that 52.7 million bottles of wine were exported from Georgia in that period.
BY NINO GUGUNISHVILI
BC Leasing has introduced its new product, operational leasing, or in other words a long-term car rental, available both for individual clients and legal entities, which, as TBC Leasing and the Bank’s representatives noted at the presentation held recently, enables one to “forget any hassle related to owning a car, with TBC leasing taking care of it all, making car ownership that much easier and stress-free”. Through acquiring operational leasing, the customer receives financing to get a new car from the center, which, for a maximum period of five years, is under the customer’s ownership, while TBC leasing has the responsibility of maintaining the vehicle. “Today is an important day, as for the first time in the history of the Georgian market and in the history of TBC leasing, we’re introducing a new product. TBC Leasing is one of the most important initiatives for the TBC Group, as it holds 70% of the market already, and acts as one of the key players. Developing TBC Leasing means developing the leasing market in Georgia. Operational leasing is well functioning in both Europe
Georgia Special, Georgian Products Exhibited in Berlin, Germany BY NINO GUGUNISHVILI
n exhibition and fair of Georgian products, named ‘Georgia Special’ was held from October 19 to October 21, at the historic Berlin Market in Germany. The aim was to promote traditional Georgian cuisine and wine, while
introducing Georgian restaurants in Berlin and products exported by Georgian companies. The event, held within the GeorgiaGermany Year celebration, was organized by the ‘Produce in Georgia’ Agency, Germany’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Embassy of Germany in Georgia, the Georgian National Wine Association, USAID/Reap and the National Tourism Administration of Georgia.
‘Georgia Special’ included a ‘Street Food Thursday’ event on October 19, involving a “street food supra” with traditional Georgian dishes like Khinkhali and Khachapuri, and a Farmer’s Market held on October 20 to 21, offering visitors the chance to try Georgian spices, walnut and plum sauces, Georgian natural wine and Georgian cheese. Cooking classes were offered for both children and adults throughout the exhibition.
and the US, but before this, it never existed in Georgia, so we decided to be the first to introduce it.” Nika Kurdiani, Deputy CEO, TBC Bank said. Customers can choose any service related to the maintenance of their cars provided by TBC Leasing, including insurance, functional help, assistance on the road, to list but a few. Whether it's car washing and filling up the fuel tank, or providing a spare vehicle for temporary use. The applications for operational leasing can be submitted through www. tbcleasing.ge or through the call center number: 2122111. Operational leasing is said to have numerous benefits and advantages, ranging from monthly payments being 30-40% less than with financial leasing, taking full ownership of the car after the leasing agreement period is over, or the possibility of returning the car when the agreement ends, which means the customer is not left with the problem of selling the car. Alternatively, the car can be replaced with a new one, bought from any automobile center in the country. “Our major goal is to provide consumers with new and innovative products and services on the market. We aim to create digital services for our customers to maximize their comfort. Within our
social responsibility, we aim to help our clients to renew their cars, subsequently decreasing the number of used cars on the market. We’re actively working with all our partners on the Georgian market.” Gaga Gogua, General Director, TBC Leasing said, pointing out that with the new operational leasing, they have created a flexible, high-quality product. As Levan Abashidze, Deputy Director of TBC Leasing stressed, operational leasing is set to take over all the insurance management of the car ownership, along with providing a range of services from replacing the car tires, to the selling of the vehicle if needed, something as every car owner knows can be extremely time consuming. “Our customers can choose the exact services they may need within operational leasing, or alternatively just use the leasing itself, without services being added, it’s up to them,” Abashidze pointed out, saying that operational leasing is an alternative to a car loan. “TBC Bank, along with all of its subsidiaries, always tries to be maximally innovative and oriented towards digitalization. We always try to provide services that would be less time consuming for our clients, which of course is tightly linked with technological development.” Nika Kurdiani said, rounding up the presentation.
OCTOBER 24 - 26, 2017
Georgian-German Business Forum Held in Hamburg, Germany of Supervisory Board, ProCredit Bank. Forum participants discussed the growing trade, business and economic possibilities of the two countries in investment, energy, logistics, agriculture and financial sectors, with bilateral meetings of Georgian-German companies held after the event, organized by the Ministry of Economy and Sustainable Development of Georgia, Georgian Embassy in Germany, Hamburg Chamber of Commerce and Eastern Europe Business Association of Germany. As the Ministry of Economy of Georgia reports, in the framework of the GeorgianGerman Business Forum, a memorandum of understanding was signed between the Business Association of Georgia and the Eastern Europe Business Association of Germany.
BY NINO GUGUNISHVILI
Georgian-German Business Forum was held on October 20, in Hamburg, Germany, with over 50 Georgian and German companies par-
ticipating. The Forum was opened by Mirco Nowak, Chairman of the Committee for Eastern Europe, Hamburg Chamber of Commerce; Giorgi Cherkezishvili, Deputy of the Minister of Economy and Sustainable Development of Georgia; Andreas Rieckhof, Secretary of State in the Ministry of Economic Affairs, Transport and Innovation of the City of Hamburg; and Christoph Freytag, Member
Nenskra Hydro Seeks NDI: Women’s Underrepresentation English Language Provider in Political Processes Problematic in & Computer Skills Courses Georgia in Svaneti
enskra Hydro JSC, the Nenskra Hydropower Plant project company, is to offer free English language and computer skills courses to community members in Chuberi and Nakra villages, Mestia municipality. At this stage, the company seeks a provider to ensure the implementation of such courses in the above-mentioned villages, for a one-year period. All interested individuals and legal entities can submit offers, although priority will be given to the residents of the Samegrelo-Zemo Svaneti region. Selected providers will be announced in November. The courses will be financed by the project company of Nenskra HPP, within the framework of its Community Investment Program. The Community Investment Program was developed based on needs of the population residing in the villages Chuberi and Nakra of Mestia municipality. The project aim is to facilitate the sustainable economic development of the region and create more opportunities for the local population.
It includes such directions as: smallscale infrastructural projects, support for development of small and medium enterprises, and skills improvement. “The main objective of the Community Investment Program is to create more opportunities for the population of the villages Chuberi and Nakra. It is very important for us that all projects within this program are implemented with the active involvement of local community members and are fitted to the real needs of the population,” said Teimuraz Kopadze, Chief Operating Officer of Nenskra Hydro. JSC Nenskra Hydro is a project-based company established 2015 as a result of cooperation between Korea Water Resources Corporation K-Water and JSC Partnership Fund. The company will construct the Nenskra Hydropower Plant in the Nenskra and Nakra river valleys in Mestia Municipality of the Svaneti region. The 280-MW Nenskra Hydropower Plant will generate approximately 1,200.00 GWh of electricity annually, which will be fully consumed by the Georgian market. www.nenskrahydro.ge
Laura Thornton, NDI Global Associate and Senior Director of the Institute’s office in Tbilisi. Source: PIA
BY THEA MORRISON
he National Democratic Institution (NDI) issued its preliminary assessment of Georgia’s October 21 local elections, saying Women’s underrepresentation in the political processes continues to be a problem in Georgia. The assessment reads that women made up approximately 37% of proportional, 16.5% of majoritarian, and 13.5% of mayoral candidates. It also says that the ruling Georgian Dream (GD) party, which won the elections at nearly all polling stations, nominated only two women mayoral candidates in 64 constituencies, while the United National Movement (UNM), European Georgia (EG), and Alliance of Patriots (AoP) nominated seven candidates each. As for the assessment of the elections in general, the NDI says elections day progressed without incident in most of the country, and Georgian voters, poll workers, party activists, and candidates demonstrated their commitment to democracy by participating peacefully. “However, NDI observers also reported several cases of serious procedural violations, errors, and delays resulting from lack of officials’ understanding of the
procedures, as well as instances of involvement of self-declared party-affiliated observers in the count,” the assessment reads. The organization also says that outside Tbilisi, the elections followed a campaign largely devoid of meaningful competition. They stressed that the playing field was uneven, with the ruling GD receiving approximately 90% of all campaign donations and enjoying ample media visibility, including coverage of government achievements and events. “In contrast, opposition parties faced a lack of resources and significantly lower visibility and reach. This imbalance, combined with a lack of extensive policy messages and debates in most of the country, hindered a real contest of ideas and values,” the statement reads. The organization believes that with the further consolidation of power in one party, prospects for vibrant and pluralistic democracy are at risk. “The responsibility, of course, lies with country’s leaders to create an environment that promotes genuinely inclusive governing processes and strengthens democratic checks and balances,” NDI said. The report adds that criticism of political parties and the non-governmental sector during the election campaign was mainly related to the misuse of administrative resources.
"We often hear complains about the misuse of administrative resources. This is nothing new for Georgia. I have observed political processes in Georgia for the last 10-15 years. I hope the time will come when this issue will no longer be on the agenda," said Per Eklund, former head of the European Union delegation to Georgia and member of the NDI observer mission. On Election Day, the NDI observers visited over 100 polling stations for the opening, voting, closing, and counting processes in their assigned regions.
Women made up approximately 37% of proportional, 16.5% of majoritarian, and 13.5% of mayoral candidates
GEORGIA TODAY OCTOBER 24 - 26, 2017
What’s Wrong with Being a Farmer?
BY MAIA Y. MCHEDLIDZE
eorgia, a small country as it is with the tiny economy it has, looks like one of the wonders of the world for its ability to feed its people adequately, and thus survive. Well, it is not a huge secret to divulge that we regularly borrow money; we accept economic and financial assistance from stronger economies as any other developing country does; we bring in more products than we send out to international markets; in a word, we do some magic day, in day out, year in, year out just to survive. Yet there is, within this country, the potential to feed its population well, and on top of that, to trade with the rest of the world its surplus products and make money. Oh, please do not confuse me with a serious professional economist – I am only an amateur wellwisher, nothing else! So, let me carry on with this little idea of mine: we have only to look around a little better and think well of what we have taken for granted. Georgia is a perfect land for farming, save the occasional raging of the elements, but farming is not popular here. We hate farming; our young men and women are prone, and are often compelled, to abandon the fertile beautiful farmlands where they were born and raised, to stick their desperate heads right into the poisonous industrial smog and look for happiness gropingly about on the heated asphalt of our wretched urban dwellings. And this is done just to make a living. Why is this anomaly hurled on our poor heads? One of the reasons should be the paucity of farming skill and desire. We have forfeited our readiness to farm extensively though Georgia is one of the fittest countries for agriculture. But a human being has not only a stomach to fill but also a sense of beauty and romanticism in its desire to do something with keen interest, and dreams to stand by and work for that thing. My most educated guess
would be that farming has lost its beauty and romanticism here, and nothing will bring it back except our endeavor to make it romantic and beautiful again, and lucrative, too. How to do this? We have to send our people back to the villages and make farmers the most privileged class in Georgia! Even urbanized rural migrants can’t always provide for their own prosperity in towns and cities because it takes a long time to get used to the new environment, to find a proper job and to realize oneself the way one needs, wishes and deserves. And to make people go back to their roots by doing this, not forcefully but voluntarily, is possible only if farming becomes attractive both as a source of income and a reason for feeling good morally. We have to make farming trendy and cool, and we can do this by organizing powerful PR campaigns among our youth in favor of farming as such. In this country, the vector of professional happiness is directed on diplomats, business managers, financiers and lawyers. Agronomists, veterinarians and farmers are ignored as a rule: our young people think those professions are not cool enough for them. We need to nurse love and respect for farming to our posterity, educating them accordingly and sending them to rural areas to create farms which will produce food products in abundance; let there be more boys and girls in Georgia who want to major in agriculture; we should build industrial partnership between farming and tourism. We have no need to import so many agricultural products! The other day, I read in one of the newspapers that the Minister of Agriculture of Georgia had made a statement about the necessity of approximating the level of rural and urban lifestyles. This was the dream of the “builders of communism” had, one which never came true. Maybe the future is for us to enjoy. And this can only happen if farming becomes a matter of pride and prestige. Of course, this won’t happen without financial investment and other substantial effort, but it is definitely worth it.
Brazil Sparks Gazprom’s Interest BY DIMITRI DOLABERIDZE
azprom plans to expand beyond the Eurasian continent and the first country in that other hemisphere to which Russian GAZPROM wants to take its technologies and capabilities is Brazil. Head of the Gazprom Representative Office in Brazil and Latin America, Shakarbek Osmonov, said that the holding has suggested local companies build the first Underground Gas Storage facility (UGS) there. "We have vast experience, and we have specialized companies that can supervise, manage and maintain these underground gas storage facilities. And Brazil is very interesting in that regard," Osmonov said. And this is only part of what Gazprom can offer. The holding is interested in increasing the return of oil and gas wells in fields with falling production as well as unconventional gas liquefaction technology at the junction of high and low-pressure gas pipelines.
"When the main gas pipeline arrives at the gas distribution station, a pressure drop occurs at the junction and very favorable conditions are created that are economically very efficient for the production of liquefied natural gas in small quantities," the representative of Gazprom explained. This technique is also of interest to Brazilian companies, since the gas transportation network in the country is still poorly developed, and many regions that need gas can receive it only in liquefied form. In general, the Brazilian gas market is young enough to be developed, at only 25 years old. The help of Gazprom, a veteran of the global gas industry, will be very useful in this Latin American country. And then, it has not been excluded, perhaps throughout Latin America. "Our strategic goal is to become a leader among the energy companies in the world. We need to be at the forefront, and in this regard, the internationalization of Gazprom's business, the move of this business beyond Europe and Asia, is very important. Here, in Latin America, we want to use the knowledge and know-how which we have accumulated,” Osmonov stated.
OCTOBER 24 - 26, 2017
Rural Women Strive for Greater Place in Georgia’s Development BY KATIE RUTH DAVIES
ast week the village of Duisi hosted a celebration of International Rural Women’s Day, with a community event attended by representatives of the Georgian Ministry of Agriculture, Ministry of Education and Science, local authorities, Pankisi Gorge residents, Government of Sweden and the United Nations. The theme of the day was challenges faced by rural women in Georgia as they strive for professional careers and economic independence. Talking to women farmers, Revaz Asatiani, Deputy Minister of Agriculture of Georgia, focused on the role of women in development of the nation. “Making development inclusive and equal for all is a key priority of economic and social programmes of the Georgian Government. Rural women are a tremendous human resource in the country’s progress to a sustainable future, and we need to think how to reflect their needs in state policies and programs. I strongly believe that economically and socially active women can bring a lot of positive change not only into their communities and families, but into society as a whole,” Asatiani said. There followed discussions about specific problems faced by women in the Pankisi Gorge. Women farmers and civil society activists brought a range of issues to the attention of the local and national
authorities, including the need for vocational and life-long education opportunities in the region and assistance to women to become more active in economic activities and local self-governance. “Women who live in rural areas in Georgia account for a substantial proportion of the agricultural labor force, including informal work, and perform the bulk of unpaid care and domestic work within their families and households,” said Maka Meshveliani, UNDP Project Manager. “This work usually goes unnoticed. We came to Duisi to mark the International Day of Rural Women, and to talk to the local community in order to explore the challenges and opportunities in women’s increased participation in economic life and decision-making processes”. At the end of day, local women farmers organized a fair of traditional local crafts, arts and foods. The International Day of Rural Women is an annual celebration on October 15 to recognize the importance of rural women in enhancing agricultural and rural development worldwide. The International Day for Rural Women is followed by World Food Day (October 16) and International Day for the Eradication of Poverty (October 17), highlighting issues that are inextricably linked with the empowerment of rural women. The Duisi event was organized by the Kakheti Regional Development Foundation (KRDF) with assistance from the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) and Government of Sweden, under the joint UN Program for Gender Equality.
OCTOBER 24 - 26, 2017
Legal Drawbacks: Presentation of Report on Single Parents in Georgia BY MAKA LOMADZE
atia G. never thought of formalizing her marriage at the civil registry and chose instead only the traditional church route. She couldn’t foresee then what difficulties that decision would bring her. After four years of marriage, facing separation, she came up against the issue of dividing jointly purchased objects, many of which she lost to her former spouse. Natia G. also had sole responsibility of financially supporting their only child. “The case is in court,” she says. “My ex-husband has been forced to pay alimony, but he covers it only partially. I can’t manage to work on a daily basis, as my 4-year-old child is extremely emotional and totally dependent on me. I can’t even send him to the kindergarden regularly. I depend on my parents to fully support us”. To understand what the main problems are for a single mother, Natia G. says, “Problems are not only connected with finances: the environment is negative, too. There’s almost no employer in Georgia that would have empathy for or support a single mother. Once, I had to rush home from work to look after my child and the next day found a very tense atmosphere waiting for me at work. I felt compelled to leave”. In her words, there is a certain stigma towards single mothers in Georgian society. “I wish the central authorities would do something about it,” she said. “It’s not enough for us mothers to sit back and dream of the day their children’s fathers will fully realize and ful-
fill their duties towards their children. The state structures should create job opportunities that would suit single mothers like us”. Natia G. is one of the beneficiaries of those 41 cases that the Human Rights Development Fund deals with. On October 16, at ‘Rooms Hotel’, the fund presented an account of the judicial state of single parents residing in Georgia. Nino Gvedashvili, Chairperson of the Human Rights Development Fund board, opened the meeting. “We were delivering consultations, as well as training, for single parents in the regions,” she said. “The authorities did take on board a number of recommendations. Among them was eradicating discrimination in the law. We also had meetings with municipalities that are actively cooperating with us”. Reportedly, 25 municipalities of the total 75 have special allowances for single parents. One of the aims of the project ‘Advocating the Rights of Single Parents,’ which is financed by the Dutch Embassy to Georgia, is to make single parents stronger. “The status of single parent has existed since June 2015. However, we discovered that the record of the law is discriminative as it does not cover all single parents,” Salome Mezurnishvili, project manager, stated. “They are treated as vulnerable people by the surrounding society. All the children who were born as a result of an unregistered marriage are considered ‘unlawful children’. However, the ratification of the law itself is a big step forward.” A single parent is a single woman or man who is in an unregistered marriage and who has, or has adopted, a juvenile child/children.
“According to the Georgian State Department of Statistics, there were 2,794 candidates looking to receive the status of single parent in 2015-2016. However, in Georgia, only 1,719 people had said status as of June this year,” Mezurnishvili noted. “Our project covered the regions of Shida Kartli, Kakheti and Imereti, as well as Tbilisi. However, there are practically no single fathers who have the ‘single parent’ status even though there are a lot of single fathers in general”. Reportedly, there is a benefit for mothers: there is no taxation for them if their monthly salaries do not exceed GEL 3000. However, reportedly, this law is old and does not apply to single fathers and is thus discriminative, as are a number of laws. Special rating scores are required for candidates to be entitled to take advantage of the mentioned
benefits. The Human Rights Development Fund became acquainted with the relevant practices, in this regard, of the Czech Republic, Germany, Spain, Sweden, Denmark, Norway, Lithuania, Estonia and Poland. “According to the special social laws of these countries, a single parent is a parent who is the only breadwinner of the family and raises juvenile children. In some cases, single parents are the grandparents of orphans, as well as those mothers or fathers whose spouses are in penitentiary institutions. As for allowances, there is some social aid, as well as preferences in tax rates, and support programs for their employment and training,” Mezurnishvili noted. There have been no appropriate studies on the social and economic guarantees of single parents that could then
be transformed into relevant laws. Reportedly, there is also no appropriate reaction from the State, resulting in inaccurate statistics. Levan Gogichaishvili, MP, head of the working group on appropriate legislation, also attended the presentation of the report. “I doubt we can find such a thorough study in public structures,” he said. “But we are planning for the future. First and foremost, the State Service Development Agency should pay attention to this research, as they’re the ones in charge of the relevant statistics and activities. It would also be good if the Ministry of Health got actively involved. I’m sure that this legislation will get the needed support in Parliament and we’ll hand such issues to the municipalities. That said, this project seems very costly and is beyond our budget as yet”.
The Marneuli Mosque Dispute BY NURANA MAMADI FOR THE HUMAN RIGHTS HOUSE TBILISI
he state assigned the Marneuli located Imam Ali Mosque to the Georgian Muslims Department for 49 years of use. The local population, which is claiming the mosque back under their ownership, appealed Tbilisi City Court and are being represented by NGO Human Rights Education and Monitoring Center (EMC). The NGO believes the state acted in political interests when assigning the historical mosque to the Muslims Department and neglected the right of property of the local Muslim community. “In 2014, they assigned the Imam Ali Mosque to the Georgian Muslims Department without informing the Marneuli population about it. The mosque was ruled by the independent body, the Shura (council), and is still ruled by it. The building was constructed with the money of the people. So, the population is claiming back ownership of the mosque,” said Mirtag Asadov, head of the Supreme Spiritual Department of the Georgian Muslims. The Imam Ali Mosque was constructed in Marneuli in 1739. During soviet times, the building was used for various purposes and then destroyed. In 1998, the local population restored the place of worship on their own initiative and with their own resources. Religious services were resumed in the mosque in 2000 and an independent ‘Mosque Shura’ administered it.
In 2011, the Imam Ali Mosque was registered as state property. In 2014, based on the recommendation of the State Agency for Religious Affairs, the mosque was assigned to the Georgian Muslims Department for 49 years of use. The Department is a public law legal entity which was established in 2011. Asadov, like many other Muslims, believes that the Georgian Muslims Department was established to gain influence over the Muslim community. “The Georgian government continues its attempt to reinforce and widen its control over the mosques,” he said. Kavid Gurbanov is a parishioner of the Imam Ali Mosque. “The mosque should belong to the people who go there to pray. I don’t like the mosque being assigned to an organization which was established by the State. A local place of worship should not belong to anyone but the local community. I don’t want this issue to become a reason for controversy between Muslim people. The best solution to the problem is to free the mosque from political influence”. Council member Amil Khalilov also requests the Imam Ali Mosque be returned to the local governing body-council. “The people constructed this mosque and the people should administrate it. The people elect the council members and they are the most-trusted and respected people in the local community”. Representatives of the State Agency for Religious Affairs said the Georgian Muslims Department received 160 mosques in Georgia for the use and, as in all other cases, the Imam Ali Mosque was assigned to them on request. Sheikh of the Georgian Muslims Depart-
ment Ramin Igidov believes opponents are deceiving society and trying to instill controversyintheMuslimcommunity. “All mosques in Georgia which are not registered to a concrete individual or private agency are assigned to the State. The same happened in case of the Imam Ali Mosque. The Ministry of Economics registered it and then assigned it to us for 49 years. The opponents have no ground to claim that the State registered the mosque as its property. The mosque belongs to the people but the State registered it. Ethnic Azerbaijani people are not the only Muslim community in Georgia; Muslims live in Adjara, Muslims are among the Kist and Avar communities. We unify all Muslims living in Georgia; we do not interfere in the activities of any mosque but only oversee them.” Lawyer of the EMC, Eto Gvritishvili, said the State assigned the Imam Ali
Mosque to the Muslims Department without substantial study of the historical and real ownership of the mosque. “The State did not take into account that a different organization, the Mosque Council, administered the mosque and carried out religious activities there. This case demonstrates a systemic problem which is related to the restitution of places of worship to the religious organizations which were seized during the soviet period. The State has not yet adopted the Restitution Law (return of places of worship under the right of
ownership), which could create equal and legal standards for all organizations. We see that the State returns religious buildings only to those organizations which are loyal to them. The Georgian Muslims Department is one such organization. Although there are several Muslim organizations in the country, the State assigns mosques only to the Department. With regard to the assignment of the historical Imam Ali Mosque, we can say that the restitution process of historical buildings is ongoing in due respect of political interests. Several religious organizations have had problems restituting historical places of worship, among them the Catholic, Lutheran, and Armenian churches and Muslim and Jewish communities.” The EMC’s lawyer thinks by infringing the property rights of a historical place of worship, the State rudely interfered in the affairs of the local religious organization and the space which is protected by the freedom of religion. The Tbilisi City Court will start discussion of the lawsuit on December 5, 2017. The defendant in the dispute is the State Agency for Religious Affairs, State Property National Agency and the Ministry of Economics and Sustainable Development. This article was prepared in the frame of a project implemented by the Human Rights House Tbilisi with financial support from the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in Tbilisi. Human Rights House Tbilisi is responsible for the content of the article and the views in it do not necessarily express the views of the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands.
GEORGIA TODAY OCTOBER 24 - 26, 2017
UKâ€™s Mayhew International on Their Annual Visit to Tbilisi BY TAMZIN WHITEWOOD
hose of us who have lived in Tbilisi, or Georgia in general, for long enough, are well aware of the issue of street animals. Whilst this is something that is being combatted over-time, it is still somewhat of an issue. The problem has two main issues: how
animals are viewed at large in the country, and a lack of vet training and knowledge. UK based Mayhew are a charity based out of London. The team travel to counties around the world to work with the local street animal population, as well as with local vets and nurses to teach up to-date knowledge and skills to help care for the cats and dogs on the streets. CEO Caroline Yates, Chief Veterinary Officer Dr. Ursula Goetz, and Dog Handler Josh Keegan at Mayhew are currently in Tbilisi, teaching at the Tbilisi Munic-
ipality Animal Shelter. Furthermore, the team spent the whole of yesterday at the University College Veterinary Centre in Dighomi, where they sterilized 43 street cats in one day.
The team also work closely with D.O.G organization Georgia, where they have a shelter near Lisi lake. The Charity are always looking for volunteers to help walk and look after the dogs, and the
Mayhew team work with them to vaccinate and sterilize the street dogs of Tbilisi. Further information can be found on the teamâ€™s website at www.themayhew.org
OCTOBER 24 - 26, 2017
British Ambassador on the Long History of Georgia-UK Relations
EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW BY VAZHA TAVBERIDZE
s the United Kingdom and Georgia are celebrating 25 years since the restoration of diplomatic relations, and as her majesty’s government was one of the first western powers to recognize the fledging Georgian state in 2018, GEORGIA TODAY and Panorama TV Show approached British Ambassador Justin Mackenzie Smith for an exclusive interview during his tenure at the International Black Sea University, before a massive audience of students and academic staff.
WHAT ARE THE CORNERSTONES OF GEORGIAN-BRITISH RELATIONS? We’re celebrating 25 years since the reestablishment of diplomatic relations between Britain and Georgia but our relationship goes back much further. Britain was among the countries which recognized Georgia’s independence in 1919 during the first Georgian Republic. And there are traces of our friendship which go back further to the 19th century and before. Today, in our “modern friendship,” there are three main pillars. First, we have a strong relationship regarding issues of stability. Britain strongly supports Georgia’s sovereignty and territorial integrity and is supporting the Georgian people and Georgian government to reestab-
lish both. We have a relationship on issues of resilience: helping to develop democratic institutions within Georgian society, be they in government, parliament, or society as a whole. And thirdly, what I am seeing after one year in Georgia are some very exciting people-to-people connections. In the education sphere, in culture, in sport, in rugby as well.
away. However, we had a referendum in 2015, the year before the EU referendum, and the majority decided to remain in the UK. That is the view of the majority and we in democratic, open and transparent society abide by the decision of the majority. And that is where we are today. Where we will be in 5, 10 years’ time, who knows?
TELL US ABOUT THE ROLE THAT THE UK PLAYED IN HANDING THE LORETASHIR TERRITORIES TO ARMENIANS.
WHAT IS THE BALANCE BETWEEN SELF-DETERMINATION AND TERRITORIAL INTEGRITY?
If you’ll forgive me, I’d rather not comment on that [laughing]. This is a subject for another study of our historic relationship in that fascinating period between 1918-21. What I do remember is the role played by Sir Oliver Wardrop who was British Commissioner to the Transcaucasus at that time and who made great efforts in delivering recognition of Georgia’s independence. Britain stood by Georgia then and I would say Britain is standing by Georgia today.
We start from the position of total support of Georgia’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. We’d like to help to find the solution. We believe the current status quo is not in Georgia’s interests. Things are going backwards in our assessment and we feel it important to continue to support efforts to find the way forward. We support this and previous Georgian governments’ initiatives internationally to draw attention to the unacceptable infringement of Georgia’s territorial integrity within its own borders in the UN, OSCE and other forums. We also play a part in the EUMM which, on a daily basis, monitors the situation at the ABL between these communities. Like many in Georgia, we believe that we must keep dialogue ongoing across these dividing lines because only through dialogue can a long-term solution can be found. And we do have expertise from our own experience in Northern Ireland and elsewhere in the world which we share with our Georgian friends.
THE STATE WEBSITES OF THE CAYMAN ISLANDS, UNDER BRITISH AUTONOMY, WERE FOUND TO HAVE LISTED ABKHAZIA AND SOUTH OSSETIA AS INDEPENDENT COUNTRIES All I would say is that the British government is 100% clear that we do not recognize the breakaway territories of Abkhazia and South Ossetia. We strongly support Georgia’s sovereignty and territorial integrity; we have made it clear internationally throughout the last 25 years.
BREXIT CAME AS QUITE A SHOCK FOR GEORGIANS, WITH MEMBERSHIP A COVETED GOAL FOR OUR COUNTRY. WHAT LESSONS AND CONCLUSIONS DO YOU THINK GEORGIANS SHOULD DRAW FROM IT? Brexit means we are leaving the EU but it does not mean we are leaving Europe. We cannot leave Europe. We are a European country by geography, by history, by culture, by psychology. We are leaving the EU but not NATO. We will remain a leading country in NATO, which is the cornerstone of Euro-Atlantic security. Nor are we leaving the UN where we have a permanent seat on the Security Council. It is a decision about the relationship between the British population and the EU, not about the relationship between the British population and the wider world. What it also does not mean is that we will stop supporting Georgia or Georgia’s ambitions to integrate with the EU or Euro-Atlantic institutions. Why? The answer is because we understand that ambition as an ambition to express European values. Those are values which we share in the UK: they’re about democracy, open and transparent societies, prosperity, and so on.
WHAT ABOUT THE CURRENT WAVE OF INDEPENDENCE REFERENDUMS? CATALONIA PULLED OFF WHAT SCOTLAND COULDN’T. DO YOU THINK IT MIGHT INSPIRE THEM TO ANOTHER TRY? Well, I’m Scottish and I would say one thing about the Scots: we tend to make up our own minds and decisions, for good or for bad. So far as events in Catalonia are concerned, PM Teresa May spoke with PM Rajoy and made clear that we support the upholding of the Spanish Constitution. That is the critical thing here: all our actions must be taken in accordance with the Spanish Constitution. As for Scotland, the SNP, which makes up the Scottish government, is having its annual conference and these exact issues are under discussion. For a percentage of the population, the ambition of independence has not gone
ONE OF YOUR PREVIOUS POSTS WAS OVERSEEING UK-RUSSIA RELATIONS. WHAT IS YOUR ADVICE TO GEORGIANS IN DEALING WITH RUSSIA? I don’t think the Georgian authorities need any advice from me on dealing with Russia. [laughs]. We are very supportive of the Abashidze-Karasin process, for example, as a way of keeping the dialogue ongoing on practical issues. But we understand how fundamentally difficult it is for the Georgian government and society to engage with Russia while Georgia’s territorial integrity and sovereignty is infringed, partly as a result of the actions of Russia. We have our own problems with Russia as well, let’s be honest. Just as with Georgia, we strongly take issue with the consequences of Russia’s actions in Ukraine. But we continue to believe that a way forward only can be found through some kind of dialogue. And we also continue to believe that Russia is much more than its government. There are strong historical links between the British and the Russian people, just as there are very strong historical links between the Georgian and the Russian people and we must not lose sight of those connections as we think about the long-term future of our relationship.
YOU’VE BEEN HERE ONE YEAR AND SPEAK AND UNDERSTAND GEORGIAN. WHAT’S YOUR TAKE ON THE COUNTRY? I love this country. I feel very lucky to be here as Her Majesty’s Ambassador to Georgia. It is a voyage of discovery for me. I’m still finding out about Georgian history, society, contemporary Georgian culture and I think there will be more than enough to satisfy me for the next few years. I’m enjoying being surrounded by the energy of “young Georgia”. With no disrespect to old Georgia, I have many “old Georgian” friends. But young Georgia, postindependence Georgia, is a new society and I think there’s real energy and dynamism and potential among young Georgians. And I see that every day. If that’s the way that I, as Ambassador, or we, as the British Embassy, can help support the development of young Georgia, I’ll be very happy.
GEORGIA TODAY OCTOBER 24 - 26, 2017
Understanding How the World Has Changed OP-ED BY EMILL AVDALIANI
he modern world has changed in a dramatic way over the past century. The question is interesting for Georgia as to what place the country has and will have in that quickly-evolving world. Political analysts often speak about what Georgiaâ€™s position will be in the region with a focus on the various military and political sides. However, beyond that, successive Georgian governments should also look at the wider and more important global dynamics playing out. In this article, I would like to outline the major trends disrupting existing modern processes in the world and ushering in a new world order for the next decades. There are three major developments: trade, telerobotics, and world population dynamics, which shape the modern world. The first two are very much interrelated. In trade, steamship was replaced by containerized shipping in the 1980s, decreasing the cost of moving goods across bor-
The Georgian gov't should consider population, trade and technology dynamics when determining Georgia's place in the region and the wider world
ders. The technology revolution which took place in the 1990s facilitated the movement of ideas around the globe. This also means that advances in telerobotics eventually caused geographic barriers to fall. Dissemination of information has allowed many emerging countries to become part of the phenomenon called the â€œglobal supply chainâ€? where everything from small details for smartphones to larger ones for cars are being created. Another phenomenon is that in order to keep up growth, a country in the modern world needs investments in technology. Technology-driven economies are more competitive, but there is a dilemma because the advancement in technology will slowly introduce robots. This is what is currently called the Fourth Industrial Revolution. The third major dynamic is that the world's population is getting older. The trend is seen across many parts of the world. Medical aid is becoming ever more effective, raising life expectancy levels. In ancient and medieval periods, large families were an economic asset since economies were agrarian and hard work was essential. In the modern world, women are less inclined to have children because of high costs. Women also are more inclined to pursue their professional careers. Fertility rates are declining: the number of children born per woman in the developed world is about 1-2 and the average birth rate is 3-6 children per woman. Nevertheless, the developing world, too, will at some point reach the red line after which fertility growth will stall. It could even happen that by 2050, the older population will outnumber children aged 0-14. This will mean that the labor force will decline significantly, forcing governments, in order to maintain economic growth, to invest further in technological advances. However, with those three interlocking forces of trade, industrial revolution and population dynamics, the world has become a much more complicated place in the last 100 years to simply show on a geographic or political map. Instead, imagine looking at the map which, along with rivers, mountains and seas, also shows major highways, bridges, large factories, trade routes, big
ports, airports and world supply chains across the oceans. It will be a fuller picture of the world we live in with consideration of major technological and scientific advances. New maps will also prove how geography is not as powerful as it has been for millennia. Humankind made too many changes to geography. For instance, progress in military technologies enables a country to cross the mountains or deserts. Internet and various supply chains made up of global companies such as Amazon, eBay, etc. changed the perception of state frontiers. True, it does not happen in very country around the globe: consider North Korea or Turkmenistan, but it nevertheless shows how for the first time in recorded history, the world has become an interconnected place through advances in
military and scientific spheres. Consider the European Union: frontiers play a minor role and economic progress trumps Europeâ€™s geography. North America, Canada and Mexico are already considered as a future trilateral economic powerhouse where frontiers will fall and joint highways, pipelines and other infrastructure will run through the entire continent from Alaska to the south of Mexico. This intersection of population, trade and technology dynamics creates a powerful force which impacts not only human behavior, but also that of entire states. It is those forces which Georgian governments should consider when trying to find what place Georgia occupies in the region and the within the wider world.
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