Issue no: 1001
• NOVEMBER 24 - 27, 2017
• PUBLISHED TWICE WEEKLY
PRICE: GEL 2.50
In this week’s issue... City Hall & KazTransGas Tbilisi: 82 Dead, 350 Intoxicated by CO2 in 3 Years NEWS PAGE 2
Bilateral Arrangements: A Transitional Stage to Heighten Georgia's Security? POLITICS PAGE 4
Russia’s Unlikely Withdrawal from Syria POLITICS PAGE 6
ON THE ISANI TERROR ATTACK
Find out the details of the story inside
Photo source: thepeninsulaqatar.com
Director of the Secretariat Energy Community on Liberalizing Georgia’s Energy Market
3rd Official Ceremony of the Welcome to Georgia! National Tourism Awards BUSINESS PAGE 10
What Foreigners Say about Tbilisi SOCIETY PAGE 11
Sergei Malov to Perform ‘Cello & Spala’ on November 24
EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW BY DIMITRI DOLABERIDZE
he editor wishes to apologize to readers and Mr Kopac for printing the incorrect version of this interview in Tuesday’s GEORGIA TODAY Business newspaper. Here is the correct version in full. Janez Kopac is the Director of the Energy Community Secretariat, an international organization which brings together the European Union and its neighbors, to create an integrated pan-European energy market. The Community has similar institutions as the EU, and the EU is a member of the Energy Community. Presently, the Energy Community has nine Contracting Parties: the six Balkan countries, Moldova, Ukraine and Georgia. By adopting the Energy Community Treaty, the Contracting Parties made legally binding commitments to adopt core EU energy legislation, the so-called "acquis communautaire”. Continued on page 9
CULTURE PAGE 15
NOVEMBER 24 - 27, 2017
City Hall & KazTransGas Tbilisi: 82 Dead, 350 Intoxicated 2 by CO in 3 Years BY THEA MORRISON
bilisi City Hall and gas suppliercompanyKazTransGas Tbilisi stated that during the last three years, 82 people died and 243 were intoxicated by the Carbon Dioxide in Tbilisi. Deputy Mayor of Tbilisi, Irakli Bendeliani, and representatives of KazTransGas Tbilisi, announced that they have launched a joint social campaign in the capital, ‘For More Safety’. Bendeliani underlined that the vast majority of fatal incidents was observed in the winter period. He explained that in order to eliminate intoxication cases, the representatives of KazTransGas plan to visit every family in the capital and check the installed gas devices. “The employees of KazTransGas will also give recommendations to our population, in order to avoid fatal conse-
quences in the future,” the Deputy Mayor stated. Chief Engineer of KazTransGas Tbilisi, Giorgi Lepsveridze, talked about the social campaign and asked citizens to take into account the recommendations given by gas experts. He noted that only last year, 29 died and 125 was intoxicated by CO2 in Tbilisi. “Unfortunately, 40% of customers do not listen to our employees' instructions and continue to use improperly installed gas devices,” he noted, calling on Tbilisi residents to be more careful, while Lepsveridze urged citizens to call the company's hot line (2 40 40 04), or call service number 114, when they purchase or re-install gas devices. He highlighted that the gas company employees work 24/7 and can, on request, check any device anywhere in the capital. “Unfortunately, the majority of fatal incidents occur in rented flats. We call on the population to call us and have their devices inspected as soon as they rent or buy a flat,” the engineer stated.
Economy Ministry: Business House Construction Set for Launch BY THEA MORRISON
eorgia’s Ministry of Economy and Sustainable Development reports that the construction works of a Business House are to be launched in the near future. Business House is a new model for effective state-business relations that will unite more than 600 state services needed for the business community to function effectively. Economy Minister and First Vice-Premier Dimitry Kumsishvili, met the representatives of the construction sector on Tuesday at a presentation of the Business House project. The meeting discussed the planned tender terms for construction and installation works of Tbilisi Business House. The information was presented by the project company Dmark and Bureau Veritas Georgia. “It is vital that the selection process of
the construction company be absolutely transparent,” Kumsishvili said, adding that, once operational, business people and legal entities can visit the new Business House or go online and access the services via a new electronic platform. Business House will be built in the Ortachala district of the capital city and will offer the following services: State property management and privatization, Natural Resources Licenses, construction permissions, energy projects, agriculture assistance state programs, ‘Produce in Georgia’ project and Partnership Fund services. Spaces inside the Business House will be divided into several areas, including immediate service area, general service area and consultation service area. The foundation for the country's first Business House was laid in September, 2016. It is expected that around 250 people will be employed at the new Business House, which will have the capacity to provide more than 600 services to approximately 1,200 customers daily.
GEORGIA TODAY NOVEMBER 24 - 27, 2017
Isani Counter-Terrorism Unit Operation: Gunfire & Grenades BY THE GEORGIA TODAY TEAM
bilisi was on high alert on Wednesday as a special operation commenced at 4am on Monk Gabriel Street in the Isani district of Georgia’s capital city, where gunshots had first been heard during the night. The special operation was carried out by the Counter-Terrorism Unit of the Georgian State Security Service, leading to the inhabitants of two apartment buildings being evacuated and a public school being closed. The Counter-Terrorism Unit tried to negotiate with the suspects, encouraging them to surrender, but they refused, opening gunfire and throwing hand grenades. The situation finally drew to a close on Wednesday evening, with the Security Service announcing at 7PM that one member of the terrorist group had been arrested and three killed. They also claim that the suspects were not citizens of Georgia, and are allegedly members of a known terrorist organization, having been under surveillance for some time as part of an ongoing international investigation. The mission was not without casualties on the Georgian side, with a 41-yearold member of the Counter Terrorism Unit, who was wounded early in the
Photos by: Lukas Aubin for Georgia Today
operation, later dying in hospital from a series of injuries. He has yet to be named. A further two officers were wounded and taken to hospital. Two members of the Special Task Unit of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Georgia were also wounded. Mayor of Tbilisi, Kakha Kaladze, has assured residents of the evacuated apartment buildings that any damage caused will be fully compensated for. He also said that the families who were evacuated will be offered shelter, with the Isani municipality to register them and
provide them with temporary housing. The Mayor also offered his condolences to the family of the counter-terrorism unit officer who died. “The safety of our citizens is paramount,” he added. Aslan Jabraelov, believed to be one of the owners of the apartment in question, was interrogated by police. He claimed he rented out his apartment a month ago at the request of his brotherin-law, without knowing who the new inhabitants were. Full identification of the terrorist group members, and investigation of their possible links with international
crime, is ongoing within the international anti-terrorism cooperation framework. Prime Minister of Georgia, Giorgi Kvirikashvili; Head of the Georgian State Security Service (SSS), Vakhtang Gomelauri; Interior Minister, Giorgi Gakharia; and Deputy Health Minister, Zaza Sopromadze, visited the officers who were wounded during the 22-hour anti-terrorism operation at the referral hospital in Isani on Wednesday evening. The PM called on citizens to refrain from making any speculations at this stage of the investigation.
“Of course, questions can be asked, and there are institutional formats in which these questions can be answered, but we can’t go into too much detail of these highly sensitive operations,” he noted. Kvirikashvili added that it is safe for people to go about their everyday business in the city. “Our main priority was the safety of our citizens,” The Prime Minister said of the operation, thanking the police officers and the counter-terrorism unit for their work and wishing a speedy recovery to the wounded officers.
NOVEMBER 24 - 27, 2017
Bilateral Arrangements: A Transitional Stage to Heighten Georgia's Security? OP-ED BY VICTOR KIPIANI
hilst the security architecture of the Cold War largely remains in place, some noticeable changes are undermining its ostensibly formidable character, and these should not be overlooked. This trend is of paramount importance, and Tbilisi must keep a close watch on events in order to avoid being sidelined or ‘lost in translation’ when designing a national security agenda and communicating the latter to Georgia’s strategic partners. Among the developments that need to be carefully monitored are a number of bilateral defense agreements of various shape and size which may complement and underpin the Alliance's collective defense system. These notably include attempts to further boost the US pivot to East Asia by outlining new prospects for partnership with Japan and increasing military co-operation with South Korea; but whilst creating an effective counterbalance to the North Korean threat by may be a leading factor of this new configuration, creating new regional security alliances capable of deterring China’s revisionist policies calls for a long-term strategy. In addition to the numerous geographical factors influencing efforts to redesign both global and subregional security models, several other equally challenging processes both within NATO and between its members are adding to Georgia’s headaches. Readers will no doubt already be quite familiar with the various centrifugal movements calling for more national sovereignty in various NATO (and EU) member states, which therefore need not be discussed here. More alarming, however, are the issues that are gradually driving wedges between the Alliance’s 29 members, and that have led to a growing number of regional clubs and intergovernmental agreements. Some relatively recent examples of this include Macron's France seeking greater rapprochement with Trump's
administration; America’s growing defensive stance in Poland and Warsaw’s willingness to become a new ‘center of gravity’ for efforts to counter Russian revisionist pressure between the Baltic and the Black Sea; and the de facto operations of the ‘Northern Group’, an alliance of 12 northern European nations keen to reinforce their regional security and defense. And as if that was not enough, NATO’s western and eastern halves continue to argue over the desirability of further eastwards expansion to new states sharing borders with Russia. But all this is just the tip of iceberg when considering the question of Georgia progressing from ad hoc, project-based forms of co-operation with the Alliance to more systematic ones. Although the
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author has been arguing for some time that Tbilisi deserves to be granted a ‘short cut’ to NATO integration, and that the country could be waved through the Alliance’s often overly orthodox (and occasionally obsolete) membership criteria (q.v. ‘Georgia's Foreign-Policy "Great Game": a Multifaceted Coin’ or ‘Georgia's NATO Membership: A Definitive Decision Has (Yet) to Come’, both published in GEORGIA TODAY), we should all be aware of current contradictions and discord, and recognize the fact that bilateral security arrangements can complement the country’s chosen strategy of NATO integration.
SOME (HELPFUL) PARALLELS At first glance, the case of Israel seems rather obvious. The 2012 US-Israel Enhanced Security Cooperation Act, after referring to the ‘special bond’ which links the two nations, deepens security and defense ties through a variety of actions including the expansion of ‘joint military exercises’, the provision of ‘defense articles and defense services’, the expansion of ‘already-close intelligence cooperation’, etc. More importantly, and particularly considering the fact that Israel is not a member of NATO, the Act also calls for ‘an expanded role for Israel within [the Alliance], including an enhanced presence at NATO headquarters and exercises’. In addition, the agreement recommends that additional surplus United States Department of Defense items and services be transferred to Israel under certain conditions. Yet although the 2012 US-Israel Act does provide some helpful tips and guidelines, and therefore may at first seem to be a good example, it is not really relevant to Georgia (contrary to widespread public belief). Beyond the ‘special bond’, the Act rests upon Israel’s contributions to military innovation (which have saved the lives of American soldiers and have yielded advanced military technologies), its first-hand experience of modern combat, and the value of the satellite imagery and other intelligence it can share. An example which is perhaps closer to the Georgian scenario of seeking to ‘upgrade’ the country’s status to that of a strategic defense partner is the San Francisco System. Named after the city in which the United States and Japan signed two treaties in 1951 setting out the terms according to which Japan’s independence would be restored, it grew to become known as the ‘hub and spokes’ system. In essence, the United States were the hub, and the spokes were a number of bilateral defense treaties with various Far Eastern countries, notably Taiwan, South Korea and Japan. The case of Taiwan, by the way, is unique, since the US do not entertain diplomatic relations with the island. Instead, a Taiwan Relations Act states that in case of ‘any threat to the security or the social or economic system of the people of Taiwan’ and ‘any danger to the interests of the United States arising therefrom’, the American President and Congress shall ‘determine the appropriate action in response to any such danger’ (not to mention sales of advanced military equipment). Yet whilst the Taiwanese example is relatively vague in terms of defining a legal obligation to defend, the US-Japan Security Treaty explicitly states that ‘each Party recognizes that an armed attack against either Party in the territories under
the administration of Japan would be dangerous to its own peace and safety’. In turn, America’s mutual defense treaties with South Korea and the Philippines use almost identical language (with some caveats for disputed territories claimed by the latter), and are also considered as pillars of America’s strategic rebalancing in Asia. Overall, the key factor which unites this network of asymmetric alliances is a ‘common danger’ which does not necessarily trigger an armed response, and each alliance is predominantly premised upon a political agreement rather than a strict legal obligation. That said, these agreements undeniably serve as a solid deterrent to any aggressive assertions of revisionist powers.
WHAT THIS ALL MEANS FOR GEORGIA Military considerations are the key ingredient of any asymmetric bilateral treaty alliance, but they are by no means the only one. Georgia is in many ways the West’s key partner in the region, but its status needs to be upgraded to it formally becoming a major defense partner. The co-operation framework should go beyond the supply of defense articles, and should instead focus heavily upon issues of organization structure, planning and personnel. Having been granted a ‘Substantial Package’ by NATO, Georgia is already half-way to a higher level of partnership (and therefore status). Putting aside any shyness or hesitation, the synergy has to be full and unreserved, and history remembers quite a few successful attempts to reform foreign armed forces (the American program to transform Greece’s military after World War II being a particularly good example). But one must also remember that in Georgia’s case, the story is not merely about weapons. Tbilisi’s loftier goal is to ensure a solid and reliable system for the country’s defense, particularly as Georgia surpassed all its neighbours long ago in terms of democracy building, accountability, governance, the sustainability of public services, etc. The country is also a reference among a number of Eastern European nations in terms of transparency, and efforts to support its welfare and encourage further success would obviously send a powerful signal to other, perhaps less exemplary, countries. Making any choice clearly requires a careful calculation of pros and cons. Bilateral agreements, on the other hand, which involve two states enjoying different levels of status and power, are about achieving a balance. Consequently, they can be likened to a contract whereby a major power guarantees and supports a smaller country’s security in case of military conflict and, in return, influences its foreign policy. For Georgia, however, this latter disadvantage will always largely be watered down by the strong alignment of its foreign policy agenda with those of its partners. And besides, the country needs a real and effective response to mitigate the subversion and military threats which seek to punish Tbilisi for its unwavering commitment to the free world (unique in the region, alas). ‘Thinking fast’ but not ‘thinking slowly’, with creativity and boldness present, is the pre-requisite for both Georgia and the free world goal of making this country safer while simultaneously improving Western agendas.
NOVEMBER 24 - 27, 2017
You Can’t Have Your Cake & Eat It, Too OP-ED BY NUGZAR B. RUHADZE
istorically speaking, there have been tons of fits and starts, pros and cons and ups and downs in Russian-Georgian relationships, but the geopolitical deadend that the two nations are suffering right now is the worst of all the previously endured incisive bygones. Russia and Georgia are today nowhere in their state-to-state relationships, within which diplomatic methodology is no longer functional, economic exchange is moribund, political efforts are ineffective, cultural ties are lackadaisical, grassroots interaction is lukewarm and military action is irrelevant. The past was a little better: something, if not everything, worked somehow and had a certain effect. Currently, the name of the situation is frustration, impotence and hopelessness. The future is blurred. And there is not even an iota of exaggeration in all this. So, what to do? Nothing! Just watch and wait, and do not upset the hardly moving remaining RussianGeorgian applecart, as decrepit as it is at this moment in time. This is one position. There is another out there: go and talk to Russia and make them do some positive thinking in favor of the wounded and defeated Georgia which does not seem to be very interesting to Russia right now. The impression is that, for Russia, Georgia has lost the charm it once enjoyed. The mainstream Russian political thought has it that Mother Russia needs no more panhandling satellites and dependents on her dilapidated bandwagon. Notwithstanding this Russian attitude, there are some political groups and personalities in Georgia, some of them officially recognized and some not, who are tearfully squeezing their rugged path through the piles of the rotting debris of RussianGeorgian fumbled-up affairs. There are many of them and they have a good number of supporters in the country, too. The proponents of the undelayed reinstatement of the Russian-Georgian marriage, as unequal as it has always been, think that Georgia’s western orientation is a huge pain in the
neck for the lost nation, and a mended love affair between Russia and Georgia could very well be an effective painkiller. Conversely, the western-direction fans maintain that a recovered Russian-Georgian embrace is conducive to an inevitable fiasco for the Georgian nation, which might even mean that Georgia will plunge into poverty and misery forever as a result. Two controversial positions, within which the Russophiles are desperately trying to break the ice and endear themselves into Russian decision-making circles to earn certain dividends and favors. At least, this is what the wicked tongues are saying and perpetuating. One cannot persist with the idea that the Russophiles are not doing anything useful at all, as the lovers of the West try to purport, but the results of the Russophile efforts are nothing but peanuts as yet. One of the reasons for the paucity of the outcome should be the fact that those Russia-oriented groups and politicians are egregiously disparate. What if somebody put them and their endeavor together as one monolithic political power and went on the offensive together instead of making separate ways to the hearts and minds of the reigning Russian political and administrative elite? Well, to do this, you need to be a little away from the Georgian national character which has its solid say in politics: we are separation-prone more than consolidationoriented, and this must be the gist of every evil that we have been stumbling over in the last thirty years, not to say the full history of our nation! The Westlovers in Georgia have every chance to take it easy and relax because the western vector of prospective development is part of the political officialdom of the country. Russia-lovers are in a more difficult stance for two reasons: the first is that the Russians are not wealthy enough potential partners and the second must be the broken-down Russian-Georgian relations that have come to this tragic political culde-sac. Understandably, this is very difficult to overcome. The lightest and brightest Georgian dream would be that we have the friendship, benevolence and cooperation of both Russia and the West, but can we have our cake and still eat it?
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Russia’s Unlikely Withdrawal from Syria
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OP-ED BY EMIL AVDALIANI
he Russian entrance in the Syrian war has certainly increased the reputation of the Russian military, allowed valuable training, and enhanced Moscow’s political clout in the conflict itself and the Middle East overall. Still, even though Bashar al-Assad’s regime managed to survive and even become stronger, Moscow is looking at ways to get out of the Syrian war. Yet, this will be very difficult to see through as Russia would face considerable geopolitical constrains in doing so. Despite earlier reports from 2016 of Russia withdrawing its forces from Syria, Moscow is now openly hinting at closing off its operation in the Syrian battlefield. One of the latest signs that the Kremlin is exploring possible exit strategies came during a recent visit by the Syrian president Bashar al-Assad, to Sochi, Russia, where he met Putin and the latter expressed his satisfaction with the military operation in Syria. Putin also said that the war is nearing an end. In October, Russian media outlets announced that the future of the Russian involvement in Syria was discussed at the meeting in Tel Aviv between Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu and his Israeli counterpart, Avigdor Lieberman. The Russia minister said that the Russian operation in Syria is nearing its completion. Moreover, the Russian presidential press secretary Dmitry Peskov also noted that Russian military successes in Syria and described them as “the beginning of the end” of the war in Syria. Yet another sign came on November 22, when the Russian, Iranian and Turkish presidents met and released a joint statement on the future of Syria. The leaders agreed to organize a “congress” involving the Syrian government and Syrian opposition forces. Indeed, since Russia's intervention in Syria, Moscow has succeeded in many ways to stabilize the Syrian battlefield by providing the loyalist forces with concrete military support for future operations. For one, Russia's involvement restored the military advantage to Syrian troops. Furthermore, its entry into the conflict not only secured the existing Russian military infrastructure on the Mediterranean, but also allowed it to expand. Moreover, the military successes increased Moscow's geopolitical weight, making the country one of the major players in the Syrian conflict, and, through its participation in the war, it also weakened any serious potential for fighters in Syria and Iraq to increase their operations across most of the post-Soviet space and in Russia itself. There do exist additional strategic reasons for
Russia to leave the Syrian battlefield now. For example, Moscow's relations with important Syrian rebel backers such as Turkey and the Gulf Cooperation Council have been shaken since Russia’s intervention in 2015. From the Russia point of view, re-establishing former contacts with these Middle East countries will be a profitable foreign policy move for the country’s economy. Relations with Turkey are developing fast and many believe that this might come at the cost of Russia leaving its positions in Syria. Beyond that, there is also a purely psychological reason: Russian support for the Syrian government has come at a price as the rate of Russian military casualties has steadily risen over the past several months, resulting from greater Russian military involvement in the Syrian battlefield. Related to that is the Russian fear that Moscow might be stuck in Syria for a long time, increasing the potential for more casualties. The Russians are still haunted by Soviet misfortune in Afghanistan in the 1980s and believe that the time is now ripe for withdrawal as Moscow amid its various Middle East successes. But there are serious constrains on Russia. Moscow needs a negotiated political resolution to the conflict where Moscow’s position would be strong enough to safeguard its military and political influence. There is also a real possibility that potential Russian withdrawal would look like what happened in 2016 when President Putin ordered the immediate pullout of the bulk of his forces from Syria after 5½ months of airstrikes. However, it is also remembered that back then this was only used by the Russians to regroup their forces in Syria to further continue their operations alongside the Syrian loyalists and Iranian allies on the ground. To look at the potential Russian withdrawal from the bigger strategic view, one should remember that the Russians also entered the war in Syria with the hope that by gaining momentum on the Syrian battlefield, the West would become more amenable to Russian interests in other conflicts around the globe. One such conflicts is Ukraine. The Kremlin’s intentions appear clear: political leverage in Syria would influence the West’s negotiating position in Ukraine, which remains the most crucial theater for Russia’s position in the Eurasian landmass. However, so far, the West has successfully blocked these Russian initiatives. Emil Avdaliani teaches history and international relations at Tbilisi State University and Ilia State University. He has worked for various international consulting companies and currently publishes articles focused on military and political developments across the former Soviet space and the Middle East.
NOVEMBER 24 - 27, 2017
Giragosian: Russia is taking Armenia for granted INTERVIEW BY MALGOSIA KRAKOWSKA
rmenia’s foreign policy is rife with security dimensions. On the one hand, it hosts a Russian military base, yet on the other it has close relations with NATO. We met with Richard Giragosian, the Founding Director of the Regional Studies Center (RSC), an independent “think tank” located in Yerevan, Armenia, Senior Expert at Yerevan State University’s Center for European Studies (CES) and a contributing analyst for al Jazeera and Oxford Analytica, a UK-based global analysis and advisory firm.
WHAT GUIDES ARMENIA’S RATHER UNIQUE SECURITY STRATEGY? For Armenia, the guiding principle for defense, military security, economic development and foreign policy is defined by a “small state” strategy designed to seek “balance” between the competing interests of much greater regional powers, such as Turkey, Russia and Iran. For Armenia, this quest for balance also involves efforts to maximize strategic options, as evident in the country’s approach to managing the inherent contradiction of maintaining a close relationship with Russia while deepening ties to the West. Obviously, the danger for Armenia stems from the now apparent overdependence on Russia, whereby, after several years of a steady mortgaging of Armenian national interest, involving the Russian acquisition of sectors of the economy, a reliance on Russian gas imports, and more structurally, Armenia’s position as Russia’s foothold in the South Caucasus, have combined to upset that delicate balance.
AFTER THE 2014 RUSSIAN INVASION OF UKRAINE, RUSSIA HAS DONE QUITE WELL LOSING FRIENDS RATHER THAN MAKING THEM. AS A RESULT OF SANCTIONS, THE KREMLIN’S IMPERIAL AMBITIONS HAVE BEEN HUMBLED. WATH IS RUSSIA UP TO WITH ARMENIA? Armenia is the host of the only Russian base in the region, a member of the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) and, most recently, of the Eurasian Economic Union (EEU). Although Armenia has sought to avoid being caught in the broader confrontation between Russia and the West, the impact from the Russian annexation of
Crimea and Moscow’s aggressive actions to support a war in Ukraine have been fairly significant. But the most dynamic factor for Armenia has not been Ukraine, but rather, Russia’s policy to arm Azerbaijan. Moreover, there is a deepening crisis in Armenian-Russian relations, driven by various factors, but most notably due to Armenian resentment over Russian arms sales to Azerbaijan and frustration over the inadequacy of faith in Russian security promises after the April 2016 “four-day war” over Nagorno-Karabakh. The crisis is also deepened by the degree of arrogance and asymmetry with which Russia “takes Armenia for granted”.
HOW DOES ARMENIA’S MEMBERSHIP IN THE EEU, AND THE EASTERN PARTNERSHIP DEFINE THE NATURE OF THE COUNTRY’S NATIONAL SECURITY? In terms of overall national security, Armenia is seeking to garner greater strategic alternatives. This is seen first in the country’s move to overcome the setback from the forced sacrifice of its Association Agreement with the EU following Russian pressure on it in 2013. In March, Armenia was able to regain European confidence and, in a rare “second chance,” was able to “initial” a new EU-Armenia Comprehensive and Enhanced Partnership Agreement (CEPA). This new EU-Armenia CEPA presents a fresh start for the deepening of relations between the two parties. Despite a difficult and complicated context, both the EU and Armenia have demonstrated the necessary political will to negotiate a new compromise agreement that takes into account Armenia’s commitments and limitations as a member of the Eurasian Economic Union.
DESPITE THE HUGE POPULARITY OF PROEUROPEAN BLOCK “TSARUKIAN”, RUSSIAN FUNDED RULING POLITICAL PARTIES AND INVESTMENTS DOMINATE THE ARMENIAN ECONOMY. ARE YEREVAN’S EUROPEAN ASPIRATIONS UNDER THE KREMLIN’S THUMB? Unlike many of the former Soviet states, where Russia’s reliance on instruments of “soft power” have triggered serious concern, in the case of Armenia, the limits of Russian power are evident. You can say that Russian soft power in Armenia is neither soft, nor very powerful. I think that the main point to be made is that, from a broader perspective, the effective application of Russian soft power is inherently limited. There is
Photo source: eurocaucasusnews
little genuine appeal or attraction for the post-Soviet countries. Many, if not all, these countries are merely seeking to manage the threat of a resurgent Russia. Even for the more authoritarian states, appeasing Moscow is about regime survival.
WHAT VALUES DRIVE THE FORMATION OF RUSSIAN FOREIGN POLICY TOWARDS ARMENIA? In the battle of ideas and ideals, Russia offers little in terms of values. The Russian position is one of threat and coercion. This stands in stark contrast to Western or European ideals of attraction or seduction, based on values of political pluralism and opportunities for economic prosperity. Against this backdrop, it is also clear that Russia’s position stems from one of weakness, not strength, is driven by insecurity not confidence, and is rapidly exhibiting signs of dangerous overextension. These fundamental weaknesses of Russia’s much heralded, but often exaggerated soft power are most evident in Armenia. For Russia’s approach toward Armenia, there has been a heavy reliance on instruments of hard power, exploiting Armenian military insecurity over the unresolved Nagorno-Karabakh conflict with Azerbaijan and manipulating the country’s economic insecurity. The Karabakh conflict remains the simplest instrument for leverage over both Armenia and Azerbaijan, with Armenia as a willing recipient of Russian security promises and cheaper weapons, and Moscow now as the number one arms provider for Azerbaijan.
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SPEAKING OF OPPORTUNITIES, WOULD YOU CONSIDER CHINA’S NEW SILK ROAD A STROKE OF GEOPOLITICAL LUCK FOR YEREVAN? For Armenia, as the smallest country in the region, the strategic opening of the Belt Road Initiative offers an important reversal of decades of exclusion and reaffirms the imperative for overcoming the country’s pronounced geopolitical and geo-economic landlocked status. And yes, it is a “stroke of luck” in terms of a rare case where Armenia’s geography is less a prison and more a promise for economic engagement. Although the pace of closer ArmenianChina relations has accelerated in recent years, Chinese interest and engagement in Armenia is not necessarily a new or novel development. For example, China has provided economic aid to Armenia every year since 1999, and in terms of bilateral trade, Armenia has also embarked on a low-profile effort to turn to China. This has also been surprisingly successful, as China recently emerged as Armenia’s second-largest trading partner, as bilateral trade increased to some $480 million in 2015 according to official Armenian statistics. But the most important element of Armenia’s strategic “pivot to China” is not limited to trade. The emergence of a more robust military and security relationship with China stood out as an equally significant achievement for Armenia. More specifically, despite its security partnership with Russia, Armenia is seeking an alternative to an over-reliance on Russia.
THE NEWLY LAUNCHED BAKU-TBILISI-KARS (BTK) RAILWAY BYPASSED RUSSIA AND ARMENIA. SOME EXPERTS BELIEVE THAT IT MAY INTENSIFY ARMENIA’S ISOLATION. DO YOU THINK THAT THOSE FEARS ARE MERITED? China seeks to recapture the dynamism and repeat the display of the globalized benefits from an Asia-centered trade network. Such a revitalized “Silk Road” also offers a chance of “connectivity” for formerly remote and isolated regions, and an opportunity for connectivity over conflict and trade integration over destruction, essential for regions like the South Caucasus. For the three countries of the South Caucasus, the sheer scale and scope of this initiative reinforces a broader strategic vision that has been demonstrably lacking. And for each of the three states, there are unique opportunities which only foster a convergence of mutual interests over the more traditional conflict that has impeded all efforts at restoring regional trade reinvigorating economic cooperation. Paradoxically, the membership in the Russian-dominated EEU may offer an advantage. More specifically, as an EEU member state, Armenia can offer a degree of dual access, for the BRI to attract interest from other EEU members using Armenia as a platform, and also as a mechanism for the BRO to widen its reach by utilizing Armenia as a bridge into much larger markets and to link to the vaster Russian transport networks. Malgosia Krakowska is a Polish journalist focusing on international security issues
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GEORGIA TODAY NOVEMBER 24 - 27, 2017
Director of the Secretariat Energy Community on Liberalizing Georgia’s Energy Market Continued from page 1
GEORGIA TODAY spoke to Janez Kopac on his recent visit to Tbilisi, where he was attending a two-day event organized under the auspices of the EU4Energy Governance project. The EU4Energy Initiative is part of the Eastern Partnership. In this specific initiative, the European Union works with the six Eastern Partner countries (Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine), as well as the five states of Central Asia (Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan), to improve energy supply, security and connectivity, as well as to promote energy efficiency and the use of renewables in the region. As far as a robust legislative and regulatory framework is vital for the development of a sustainable energy sector, the EU4Energy governance project, part of the EU4Energy Initiative of the European Union, works with the six Eastern Partner countries to strengthen their legislative and regulatory frameworks, to draft policy recommendations, and to help identify investment opportunities in key strategic energy infrastructure projects. “This international organization is the waiting room for EU membership. We were bigger in the past (Romania, Bulgaria and Croatia were also Contracting Parties), but after they became EU members, they seized to be individual Parties of the Energy Community, because the EU is an integrated unit. The main purpose of the organization
is to bring EU energy rules into the wider European neighborhood, to create an internal energy market that is transparent, competitive, environmentally sustainable and secure. Unfortunately, Georgia cannot benefit from all these elements because it is not geographically connected with any EU state or Energy Community Contracting Party. Yet, it can significantly benefit from using the same approach, which is based on many years of experience in the European Union. It is not easy to establish a functioning electricity and gas market and mistakes are easy (and quick) to make. The EU learnt from its mistakes. So, Georgia can benefit from the EU’s experience and avoid making such mistakes, and thus implement the necessary reforms effectively. In Georgia, the energy market, electricity and gas, which is over-regulated, is definitely not efficient.
TO RENDER ITS ELECTRICITY SUSTAINABLE, GEORGIA MUST ENSURE THE FULL TRANSPARENCY OF ITS ELECTRICITY MARKET, WHILE GRADUALLY MOVING AWAY FROM PRICE REGULATION. WHAT KIND OF RESPONSIBILITIES IS GEORGIA TAKING ON? In general, an electricity market should be liberalized, which means that every producer sells electricity at the market price, because if the market price is not high enough, the producer will not sell
it. If it is too high, however, the producers make an excessive profit and additional suppliers will enter the market. Of course, under EU energy market rules, every consumer has the right to choose a supplier. The electricity network (cables, distribution and transmission systems, high voltage cables) is regulated by the national energy regulator. In Georgia this is GNERC. The new electricity market rules are designed to bring more competition to the market. One such measure is allowing third-party access to energy infrastructure, thus allowing others to use it. This is the main idea of the competitive market: how to dismantle natural monopolies of transmission and distribution cables from the competitive activity of supplying electricity. Supply and generation are free from state intervention, and networks remain regulated. On an unregulated market, the seller and buyer sign a bilateral agreement; the state, ministry or energy regulator has nothing to do with it. The government can only intervene in exceptional cases. Such intervention is called “public service obligation” and must be very limited in time and well-justified. The government defines who is to be deemed as a ‘socially vulnerable’ customer, which is someone who cannot afford to be exposed to the free market and thus receives support from the state budget. Such a system must be transparent.
WHAT BENEFITS DOES SIGNING THE ACCESSION PROTOCOL TO THE ENERGY COMMUNITY
TREATY BRING GEORGIA? The new legislation, soon to be adopted in Georgia as a result of its signature of the Accession Protocol, will increase the transparency of retail markets and strengthen consumer protection. A liberalized energy market will offer the best deal for consumers, which for the first time can choose the energy supplier, whether it be the one offering the cheapest price or the best services. Membership in the pan-European Energy Community will also support the development of energy infrastructure projects of regional significance. In addition, the Energy Community also has a strong sustainability dimension under which Georgia will have to follow EU norms in a number of energy efficiency, environmental and soon also climate related areas. Policies like decreasing air pollution and preventing environmental damage, thus contributing to a healthier living environment, are at the heart of the Energy Community. The EU4Energy Governance Project, financed by the European Union, helps Georgia and the Energy Community to achieve these objectives.
HOW CAN GEORGIA COOPERATE WITH ITS NEIGHBOURS IN THE ENERGY FIELD UNDER THE NEW FRAMEWORK? The EU is surrounded by countries who respect the same rules. Georgia is surrounded by countries that do not need to respect such rules. This means that
if Georgia’s electricity production exceeded its consumption, companies could stop producing energy, or sell it to neighbouring countries. Turkey is already voluntarily quite aligned with EU rules in the electricity sector and we hope that Armenia will start to apply European, and now also Georgian, rules and standards as soon as possible. That said, any cooperation is better than no cooperation; any element of the internal energy market norms and rules is better than no element. For example, Turkey is already a member of the South East European Capacity Allocation Office, which means it offers cross-border electricity capacities via tenders organized in Europe. Georgia can also start the process within the South East European Capacity Allocation Office. The result would be the country’s first direct connection with Europe. Turkey is also an observer to the European Network of Transmission System Operators for Electricity (ENTSO-E), and tries to follow all the rules of ENTSOE. I am sure that Georgia will become a member and not an observer of ENTSO-E in the near future. This will create two Transmission System Operators in the region that must apply common rules, which is vital for cross-border cooperation. This will bring benefits to both sides. It will always be a win-win situation. This (Georgia becoming an ENTSO-E member) would be a very responsible decision. I am optimistic about the future of energy reforms in Georgia, which will follow the European pathway.
NOVEMBER 24 - 27, 2017
US Promises to Ensure Poland's Security from Russia for $9 billion BY DIMITRI DOLABERIDZE
he US is to sell Patriot antimissile systems to NATO ally Poland, a transaction which, the State Department argues, is carried out in the name of a "safer Europe". Congress is allowing 15 days for objections to be raised, which, the German edition of Die Zeit reported on November 21, given the close defense cooperation with Poland, is extremely unlikely. Speaking about concluding the deal with Poland, the State Department stressed: "Security in Europe, which can withstand air and missile threats, as well as other forms of aggression, is a guarantee of peace and stability not only in NATO, but also on the European continent as a whole." The terms of the deal were agreed during the official visit of President Donald Trump to Warsaw in July this year. It is assumed that Patriot will become part of the Polish defense system in case of possible aggression from Russia. The Polish leadership is motivated by the fact that last year, the Russian govern-
ment deployed a number of Iskander tactical missile systems on the territory of Kaliningrad, the Russian exclave, along the border with Poland and Lithuania, which aroused the vigilance of the Eastern European neighbor. The Patriot system is a mobile groundbased system that provides protection against attacking missiles. Its launchers can be placed on trucks, and guided missiles can be launched from aircraft in order to destroy the target mid-air. The deal on the purchase of military equipment between the US and Poland involves the acquisition of four radars, four control stations, 16 launchers and 208 PAC-3 rockets, as well as related additional equipment plus training. The cost of delivery of nine Patriot batteries is said to be up to $9 billion. According to preliminary estimates, the deal should bring US defense companies Raytheon, Lockheed Martin and Northrop Grumman up to $ 10.5 billion. Earlier, the US supplied the advanced Patriot PAC-3 anti-missile systems to Japan, another ally. Now the complexes are on the air base of Yokota with the aim of striking in case of a threat from North Korea.
Georgia’s Kumsishvili: Tourism & Export up by 28%
BY THEA MORRISON
irst Vice-Premier and Minister of Economy Dimitry Kumsishvili told International Monetary Fund (IMF) that tourism and Georgia's exports have increased by 28% compared to last year. “Tourism is booming, generating 28% more revenues than last year. Exports have grown by 28% and remittances transfers by 22%,” the Minister stated.
Kumsishvili, talking on the sidelines of the IMF Annual Meetings, said that to achieve such robust growth, the government had worked out a Four-Point Reform Plan which combines four necessary strategic directions: economic reforms: open governance, infrastructure investment, and reforms in education. “In the first two quarters [of 2017], the private sector created an additional 5% of new jobs,” he added. The IMF states the Georgian economy has performed well in recent years, posting a 4.7% growth rate for the first eight months of 2017.
JSC Georgian Railway Appoint New Director
he JSC Georgian Railway Supervisory Board have appointed Davit Peradze as the new Director of the company. Davit Peradze was the Director of Mtkvari HPP Ltd in the Co-Investment Fund of Georgia. He holds a Bachelor’s Degree from the Faculty of Mechanics, Mathematics, Finance and Banking of the Ivane Javakhishvili Tbilisi State University, and has a Master of Science in Civil Engineering and Architecture from Kharkiv National University in Ukraine. Peradze has worked in various positions at Georgian Railway, between the years of 2004-2007 under the Booz Allen Hamilton / USAID project.
3rd Official Ceremony of the Welcome to Georgia! National Tourism Awards
n November 22, the Welcome to Georgia! National Tourism Awards Project, together with the Official Sponsor JSC Bank of Georgia, held a Press conference at the head office of the Bank. The press conference was attended by Co-Founder/CEO of the Welcome to Georgia! National Tourism Awards, Maryna Chayka; Head of MSME Banking Department in Bank of Georgia, Zurab Masurashvili; Head of the Georgian National Tourism Administration, Giorgi Chogovadze; Deputy Head of the Economic Development Department at Tbilisi City Hall, Alexandre Togonidze; Partner of BDO Georgia, Maiko Khachidze and honorary Jury Member, Irakli Lekvinadze. On December 6th, the Third Official Ceremony of the Welcome to Georgia! National Tourism Awards will be held at the Rustaveli Theater, where the 20 best companies will be named among the different nominations. Bank of Georgia is the Official Sponsor of the Award Project for the second year
and, within this partnership, two Special Nominations were created: “FASTEST GROWING COMPANY OF THE YEAR IN THE SME SEGMENT AWARD” and “THE BEST WOMAN ENTREPRENEUR INTHETOURISMINDUSTRYAWARD”. Bank of Georgia is preparing special prizes for the winners of these two nominations, to be announced at the Official Ceremony itself. 270 different companies representing the tourism and hospitality market from all over Georgia, including hotels, travel agencies, festivals and events, restaurants, cafes, wineries, and travel photographers are hold the status of Nominees of the Welcome to Georgia! National Tourism Awards 2017. Each nominee was assessed in accordance with internationally recognized methodology by the Professional Jury Board, which consists of experts of international and local travel, culture and hospitality markets, who were separated according to categories depending on their main professional activity. As a novelty, organizers implemented Round Table meetings for the Jury Board to analyze and discuss all processes. To guarantee fairness and transparency, independent auditor “BDO Georgia”
monitored all the processes, calculated the results and, based on the points awarded to each Nominee, determined the finalists and the winners in each nomination. The Official Awarding Ceremony is a closed event and will host more than 650 guests: all nominees and project partners, the government sector, private business, and international and local media. The main mission of the Welcome to Georgia! National Tourism Awards is to encourage the tourism and hospitality industry in Georgia and to promote awareness of the high-achieving tourism business and brands that create a positive image of the country worldwide. For the third year already, the Georgian National Tourism Administration of the Ministry of Economy and Sustainable Developments of Georgia is Co-organizer of the Award Project. Tbilisi City Hall is Official Supporter; Alliance Group is the General Sponsor of the Award Project. “We see this project as globally important,” Maryna Chayka said. “The hospitality sector needs such a project that will motivate market leaders and help Georgia develop as a tourist destination”.
GEORGIA TODAY NOVEMBER 24 - 27, 2017
What Foreigners Say about Tbilisi
BY TOM DAY
he number of foreign citizens coming to Georgia grew by an impressive 26% last year and that number is expected to increase by 40% this year, according to a recent survey. This isn’t hard to believe: everywhere you look, foreign nationals are exploring and enjoying the country. Many are even deciding to stay and even build businesses here. This is more evident than anywhere in the capital city. But what do they really think about the place? This week, GEORGIA TODAY took to the streets of Tbilisi to interview a number of foreigners who have spent an extended amount of time here, from a couple of months to a few years. They were asked about a range of topics, including how they feel here, opinions on food and drink, public transport and the local people. Feedback was generally positive, but the majority expressed bad feelings about public transport. All (except one) expressed great appreciation for Georgian food, such as Khachapuri and Khinkali. The vast majority agreed that local people are warm, welcoming and helpful and most were in agreement that Tbilisi is a city full of opportunity and growth. Here, they tell us about the city in their own words: Natalie Taylor, 25, from San Francisco, California, teaches English as a foreign language and has been here for the past three years. “I absolutely love it here. I’m a foreigner, but I’m a foreigner at home in Georgia. I feel completely free to do what I like, and I think Tbilisi is such a cool, fascinating city. I’ll never get bored of it. Traffic is a nightmare, so I usually take the metro to get places because it's fast,
cheap, and efficient. Georgians are unlike any people I’ve ever met; they are unique. Generally, they are extremely friendly and welcoming, especially when you’re their guest. I've learned that in Georgian culture, a guest is considered a "gift from God" and should be treated accordingly. Georgians are direct and, in my opinion, can be aggressive at times, but nothing ever seems to be done or said out of hate.” Rebecca Ernest from the US, has been here since September. “I feel happy [here], but still very much feel like a foreigner. I think that not speaking Georgian is a bit of a hindrance, but it’s pretty easy to get by with English. I’ve also noticed that a lot of Georgians will go out of their way to help someone out. They may seem a bit cold, but as soon as you get to know them, you see they’re warm, kind, and helpful. I’m 100% obsessed with Georgian food. Khinkali is one of the best creations on this earth, and don’t get me started with the wine. I really like the restaurant Sakhli #11. I’ve had two amazing dinners there since moving to Georgia, and they easily accommodate a big group.” Katie Davies from the UK is the author of the Blood Omen Saga and Dark Wings book series and has been here for 10 years. “I feel very free here. I very much felt that the UK was a ‘nanny state’- looking over your shoulder at every turn and providing nice clear signs to guide you on the way; total chaos here in comparison, but a definite sense of ‘use (or not) your common sense and on your head be it.’ What I like most is the POTENTIAL of the place: that it is far enough behind that it can be guided by the experiences of the West and yet it has the chance to make better choices, so in that respect it is a creative atmosphere which encourages innovation: “Your only limit is yourself,” as they say. I love Georgian food, but too much without enough exercise and it goes
straight to the belly/hips! My favorites are Khinkali and chips or Chakapuli (beef and tarragon stew- I make my own variant at home). I love Machakhela restaurant (a chain), the Okrokhana branch- you can sit in the wooded garden and enjoy the fresh air and views across the hills to the Botanical Gardens- just 10 min up from Freedom Square! DiveX in Fabrika is one of my top choices for bars, as is Ibis Styles. I’m very happy with the public trans-
port here and use it all the time. They could do with more buses and minibuses at rush-hour, but otherwise the service is great for getting around the central districts and further afield. The big disadvantage is no metro in Vake, but a lot of buses and minibuses fill the gap.” Daria Kholodilina, 28, was born in Ukraine has been here for four years. “Tbilisi has so much potential, and there are a lot of things to be done and niches to be filled. I’m glad to have chosen this city. Georgian food is the best. I like Shavi Lomi, Leila and Salobie Bia restaurants. Cafe Volver is my choice when I feel like Georgian wine and non-Georgian food. Cafe Hurma and Pin-Pon Cafe are for breakfasts. There’s a good deal of laziness [from locals], negative thinking, patriarchal mentality, infantilism or things like not answering the phone or messages. But there’s also kindness, hospitality, and understanding that life is short and sometimes you should just take your time and enjoy it for a while. I made several loyal friends here, and I'm happy to have them in my life.” Anna N. came here from Germany in May 2012 and teaches German and Japanese at an international school. “I’ve felt many emotions living in Tbilisi. There have been good and bad times. In the beginning, I loved to explore the city and its mixed architecture. I very
much enjoy the other side of the river (away from Rustaveli, Saburtalo and Vake), where the city looks much more original. Most of the time I feel happy, but I’ve been depressed here. Tbilisi is a very stressful city, especially when it comes to traffic, commuting and reckless behavior in the streets. I like Georgian food very much. It’s very rich and tasty, but I can’t eat it every day. My all-time favorite Georgian dish is Khachapuri Ajaruli. It’s very heavy, but never disappoints. The variety of bars, pubs and restaurants has been blossoming in the last couple of years, which reflects one aspect of positive city development. Tbilisi has a huge variety of different pubs and bars, so you can find something special for every taste. I believe [Georgian wine] is the best in the world. I don’t like European wines anymore.” Shahnoza Muminova is a business owner from Uzbekistan, who has been back and forth since 2008. “Sometimes, I feel like I want to leave and never come back because everything annoys me so much, but when I go, I start missing it within 2-3 months. Now I know that, wherever I am, I need to come back regularly. I love the food here (except Khachapuri… but please don’t tell the Georgians!), however, I think they could have a bit more seafood. It’s a pity because they have a sea, but no seafood culture. My favorite restaurants are Taverna Monadire, Taghlaura and Shemoikhede genatsvale One bad thing about Tbilisi is the public transportation. It is slowly improving; a few modern busses on the route, with air-conditioning, etc., but it’s way too slow. Minibuses are hell and the metro
is dirty, not [regular] enough during peak hours…and taxi drivers smoke inside the car and are not always polite. [Georgians] are special people… It takes time to understand their mentality and behavior, and then it takes even more time to accept it. Once you do, you can be very comfortable with them.” Ian Shynkarenko from Ukraine has lived in Georgia for 2.5 years working on international projects. “Every time I come back to Tbilisi from my business trips, I say ‘it’s good to be back home!’ Kharcho is my favorite food; it’s different in each place you eat it and, in most cases, very tasty. My favorite restaurants are The Terrace on Kokobadze Str., Armazi’s Tskaro near Mtskheta and Tom Yum Asian Food on Baratashvili Street. Hazem H., a Syrian national, has been in Tbilisi for more than four years. “I feel comfortable in this city; free, already familiar with transport, directions and streets. I’m also seeing a lot of changes in this city compared to when I arrived four years ago, which makes me happy about the future of this country. I’m not a wine-lover, but when I taste Georgian red wine, I find it very smooth and delicious. Carolyn Rice, originally from the US, has been here nine years but first visited in 2002. “I’m happy here; there are loads activ-
ities that don’t break the bank. Lots of interesting places, good food, good wine, good art and music, and lovely people. Anything I don’t like? Of course! Even the most wonderful places have a negative or two. I don’t like the trash in the streets. I don’t like the number of smokers blowing their smoke into my face. But I wouldn’t trade living here for anything; the positives outweigh the negatives. I was in Georgia when corruption was high, when it took 13 hours to drive from Tbilisi to Batumi because you were stopped every 15 minutes or so to pay a bribe. Saakashvili changed all that, but there is much that still needs to be done. The government should pay attention to pollution and parking problems in the city, not by creating more parking in the center, but introducing park-and-ride from outside the city. They could learn a lot from other large cities.” Kenneth Monette from New York retired from the US Navy and now teaches English. He has lived here for just over seven years. “Tbilisi is very safe; I’ve never been hassled. I’m an easygoing person, so I feel relaxed and thoroughly enjoy just about everything in the city. I’m always in a good mood here, especially in Old Tbilisi! I really like Khinkali, Mtsvadi, Lobiani and Khachapuri (only when it’s fresh, though). My favorite Georgian meal is Khinkali: cheap, filling, delicious and goes well with beer. It’s great to have with a small group of friends and enjoy great conversation while eating it. I love the Georgian wine, especially homemade wine from the villages. I was never a fan of white wine, but I like the Georgian white. Red wine is the best here, in my opinion: Saperavi is my personal favorite, I drink it with just about every type of food I eat, even with pizza. I’ve lived and traveled in many countries around the world, but I can honestly say the Georgians are the most hospitable people I’ve ever come across, and, like me, they are ‘crazy’! I mean crazy in a fun and good way of course! Message to other foreigners: Keep an open mind, be patient, and always expect the unexpected when you live in Tbilisi, and Georgia in general, because every day can be so different from the last!” Erika Copeland from the US has been here for 6 years. “[Tbilisi] a few years ago was a depressing place. Now, with it becoming a more modern city and seeing attitudes changing, I’ve really started to love this place. I like how new businesses are constantly popping up and neighborhoods are changing. It's a great city to just wander around and have a look at the mix between old and new. I feel very free and happy to go to districts I love...but the traffic and the number of cars is making this nearly impossible for most people. I’ve never seen a city so small with this many cars.” Neil Hauer (27), a Canadian analyst and journalist who has been here since the start of September. “I feel quite inspired here. The city is the exact opposite of where I came here from. It’s exciting, bustling, in the middle of everything and with a great international scene. I’ve only really scratched the surface of the city and the country at this point, so I’m still very excited to be here. Honestly, I can’t imagine how anyone lives here in the summer, given that it was 33 degrees and humid for most of September. The weather lately has been very nice and mild though, given that my hometown in Canada has been blanketed in snow for a month, I think I’ll enjoy the winter here. I have almost exclusively good things to say. Georgians are very kind and friendly people, with a good balance between modernity while maintaining their culture and traditions. The only thing I’d change is the amount of shouting that happens.”
NOVEMBER 24 - 27, 2017
Not about the Math, 2 BLOG BY TONY HANMER
till with me, dear reader, or joining for the first time? You’ll need to look at last week’s article for this one to make much sense, as this is part 2, the final part. Again, no formulas, just a few fractions. And more pictures, of course. My tiles of the square can take up the following proportions of it: all (1: not really a tile), ½, ¼ or 1/8. The ¼ ones I consider to be the main type for the square, though all four types are infinite in number. This is because there are the same number of tiles required as the square has sides. The triangle’s versions can be one (also not really a tile), 1/3 or 1/6 of its space, with the 1/3 type my main one here, again related to the triangle’s number of sides. We won’t be getting further into tiles of the cube here, as square- and triangle-filling ones are enough of a subject in themselves, and this newspaper is also effectively 2D, making clear 3D tiling representations a challenge anyway. A tile of these kinds has two parts, like its parent shape: exterior (edge) and interior (filling). The programming of each tile requires both parts to be used, in the correct amounts and proportions to each other, to result in a tile: no holes (too small) or overlaps (too large), remember! Consider one side line of a square or triangle. This line can be divided into
two or more equal pieces, as many as you like. The number of divisions is the SIZE of the shape. The shape’s interior can similarly be divided, based on its property of being a reptile, reducible into smaller copies of itself. (The interior line segments are all “double-sided” lines, each line segment being shared by exactly two of the reptile’s smaller shapes.) These divisions give us all the working material we need from which to construct our tiles. Each line segment must be used exactly once in the tile-making process. The simplest kinds of tile have: 1) all line segments (interior and exterior) connected; 2) all their exterior line segments on one side of the shape; 3) all their interior line segments made up of double sided lines. Other types break one or more of these rules, but are also tiles. All can be beautiful or ugly or anywhere in between. And there IS a roughly common perception among different people of “more or less beautiful”, which is a profound admission. If a square tile has all its interior and exterior lines parallel, then the resulting tile will fill ½, not ¼, of the square; there are infinitely many such tiles. If a triangle’s lines, on the other hand, are all parallel, its tile will fill 100% of the triangle. You might then conclude that there is only one of this triangle-filling shape, and in one sense you are right. However, the order in which its line segments are selected will affect the fractal pattern of its coloring, should we choose to color it based on this order and not just as a boring solid triangle. So here,
with many other new ones…) Infinities can be both thrilling and daunting, taking a finite human mind to the edge of madness if dwelt upon to the point of obsession. A tile for every person on the planet? As many per persons as you like, actually. The same for every atom in the universe! That’s what infinity means. My tiles can be programmed using the simple L-systems or Iterated Function Systems (IFS) languages for generating fractals on a computer. They can, too, be drawn on squared or triangularly ruled paper. I mostly use the freeware program FractInt, originally in DOS but now available for non-DOS Windows, Apple and Linux too. This concludes my introduction of what I call Hanmer Tiles, which I discovered in 2003. Any book showcasing them will only ever be an infinitely small part of the whole, no matter how many thousands or millions of pictures it contains. But that should not prevent such a book from being produced. For more examples online, please see https://www. behance.net/gallery/729496/EndlessTiles-of-the-Equilateral-Triangle-andSquare
too, is an infinity, though just of patterns in a triangle, not of tiles of it. We need not go into 1/8 tiles of the square or 1/6 ones of the triangle here, as the ones described above are the most interesting, and they are all infinite, anyway. But there is another thing we should think about: no-one will ever exhaust the set of tiles of the square or triangle,
to the end of time. I found over 6000 of them in a few years’ occasional work, using only squares and triangles up to size 6! (The larger the size of the parent shape, the more tiles can be found for it, although the formula for calculating the number of tiles based on size has eluded me so far. All the tiles for size 2 are duplicated in size 4, and 16, etc., along
Tony Hanmer has lived in Georgia since 1999, in Svaneti since 2007, and been a weekly writer for GT since early 2011. He runs the “Svaneti Renaissance” Facebook group, now with over 1700 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
Vaccinations against HPV: The Road to Preventing Cancer BY MAKA LOMADZE
n November 15, at Courtyard Marriott Hotel Tbilisi, a national conference entitled ‘Implementing Vaccine against Human Papilloma Virus (HPV)’, was held, organized by the National Center of Disease Control and Public Health, under the Georgian Ministry of Labor, Health and Social Affairs. The event was supported by World Health Organization (WHO). Papilloma virus represents the most wide-spread virus infection of the urinary tract (UTI) and reproductive organs, amongst other diseases in women as well as men. According to the data of WHO, 630,000 cancer cases are registered among women, caused by papilloma virus, among which 530,000 (84%) are cervical cancer cases. There are 266,000 reported cases of mortality from this, which represents 8% of the mortality figure of cancer cases in women. As far as frequency is concerned, cervical cancer is in fourth position globally, and in fifth position in Europe. In Europe, over 67,000 cervical cancer cases have been registered, with 28,000 resulting in death. Oncological diseases remain an important challenge for the Georgian health care system. 70% of new cases of new cancer diagnoses is in the 30-70 age groups whilst 26% is over the age of 70. Only 1% of these cases is within the age group of 0-15, and 0.4% - among 15-19. 24% of all female age groups is between the ages of 15-49. WHO realizes that cervical cancer
and other diseases connected with human papilloma virus represent an acute problem on a global scale, from the point of view of protecting public health, and includes the recommendation to include the vaccine against HPV in the national immunization programs. From 2006, the aforementioned vaccine was implemented in 71 countries (31%), among which are the USA, Austria, Australia, Belgium, Israel, United Kingdom, Italy, Canada, France, Greece, Latvia, Luxemburg, Denmark, Finland, Czech Republic, Cyprus, Lithuania, Slovenia, Croatia and others. Over 100 million people worldwide have been vaccinated. Vaccination represents an effective way to protect women against cervical cancer – almost 95-100% of vaccinated patients develop anti-bodies.
HPV comprises of the types (type 16 and type 18) which are the most widespread, causing cervical cancer or genital warts. Vaccines also guarantee’s the protection from the strains of HPV which are not in the vaccine. In 2016, with the support of the Global Alliance of Vaccination and Immunization (GAVI), the vaccine against HPV was implemented in 23 countries. Support from the alliance will enable the all parties to protect 40 million girls from cervical cancer by the year of 2020. In this way, it is calculated that 900,000 deaths will be avoided globally. GAVI gives an opportunity to various countries, including Georgia, to vaccinate 9-year-old girls who were born in the years of 2008-2009, free of charge, within the period of 2017-2019. Considering the
fact that the support of the alliance is sufficient for the two-fold vaccination of 15,000 girls, the vaccination will be delivered to Tbilisi, Kutaisi and two autonomous republics of Ajara and Abkhazia. It is a pilot program, which in case of success will become a ground for a gradual implementation of HPV in the country, and will drastically decrease the cases of diseases caused by HPV. The best age for vaccination is the 9-14 age group, which boosts a formation of strong and effective immune responses before starting a sexual life. In most cases, the infection arrives before the age of 25, shortly after the start of sexual contact. The minimal interval between the twofold vaccinations is 6 months. HPV is safe, and has almost no side effects. It is
recommended to see ta doctor in case of any side effects. “This vaccine is only implemented on the market 11 years ago. Research suggests that two-fold vaccinations can ensure protection for the rest of patients’ lives. There are no cases of cancer among the first cohorts of vaccinated girls. The papilloma virus is a perfidious illness because it has no symptoms. Nobody can diagnose its existence before the pre-cancer or cancer symptoms emerge. Around 200 women die of cervical cancer per year in Georgia,” Paata Imnadze, Scientific Head of National Center of Disease Control and Public Health told us. “Cervical cancer is a very serious public health issue in countries of the WHO European region, and also in Georgia. It is very important to have a comprehensive approach to vaccinate girls early in their life to protect them through their lives, and then, to have a cervical cancer screening to make sure that the risk can be detected through screening. Why is vaccination so important? It prevents not only cervical cancer but also other cancers which can be caused by HPV,” Liudmila Mosina, Technical Officer of WHO regional office for Europe, commented. “Today’s conference is very important. I represent Kutaisi, which has been selected. I used to work at the screening program for 5 years. This problem is quite topical. Sexual life has rejuvenated, and that is why, I believe, that vaccinations will contribute a lot to protect girls, and boys too, from cancer” Irma Ioseliani, gynecologist- reproducer told us. The free vaccinations against HPV will begin from December 1 at relevant polyclinics.
GEORGIA TODAY NOVEMBER 24 - 27, 2017
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A Music Critic on Criticizing the 21st Century Arts BY DIMITRI DOLABERIDZE
gia, at which point GEORGIA TODAY caught up with him to find out about his standpoint.
IS THIS YOUR FIRST TIME IN GEORGIA? WHAT ARE YOUR IMPRESSIONS?
usic critic Kyriakos Loukakos is a leading vocal connoisseur in Greece. He is an attorney at law and a Dr. of the Cologne University. In 1991, he was hired as a member of the Strategic Policy Unit of the Greek Ministry of Home Affairs and, since 1998, he has been working as a senior investigator at the Quality of Life Department of the Greek Ombudsman’s Office. But music was always his greatest passion and from 1994 to 2010, he commented and presented almost every opera feature for Greek Radio 3, including innumerable EBU direct relays and deferred transmissions, as well as an extensive series of vocal artists’ and conductors’ portraits. In 1997, commemorating the 20th anniversary of her passing, he presented a 27- hour step-by-step biographical radio homage to Maria Callas as well as all her recorded roles for the first time in radio chronicles. Since 1998, he has been the music critic of the Sunday edition of the Athens daily journal “I AVGI”. He has contributed texts for practically every major musical institution of his country and has supervised a seven set CD edition of operas in rare archival recordings featuring distinguished soprano Vasso Papantoniou. In 2011 he contributed the extensive texts and overall supervision to a 4-cd set, published by “The Friends of Music Society” of the Athens Megaron Concert Hall and devoted to hitherto unpublished recordings from the archive of the late (mezzo) soprano Arda Mandikian, a close collaborator of Benjamin Britten and Sir Peter Pears as well as the Dido in both the first ever complete performance of Berlioz’s Les Troyens, (Oxford, 1950), and the subsequent first complete recording of the first part under the baton of Hermann Scherchen. In 2005, 2009, 2012 and 2015, Dr. Loukakos was elected as a Chairman of the Greek Drama and Music Critics’ Association. Kyriakos Loukakos recently attended a double colloquium planned by the International Association of Theater Critics and Ministry of Culture of Geor-
It’s my first visit but not my first acquaintance with the Georgian element: I’m lucky to be in the same executive council with a very famous music critic in Greece, George Leotakos, whose wife is Georgian, and through her I already gained some knowledge of the Georgian mentality and way of thinking. My visit now is a double mission: to get to know better Georgian culture through this very hospitable Georgian theater showcase, and at the same time pay attribute to the fatherland of a very dear person to me.
WHAT MEETINGS DID YOU HAVE WHILE HERE AND WHAT ARE THE OUTCOMES? There are two levels in this showcase. The main platform is the theater showcase, organized by the Georgian section of the International Association of Theater Critics, with the presentation of a selection of theatrical locales, and a parallel, unofficial one, allowing us to get acquainted with other creators of the Georgian scene. We had the opportunity to attend many interesting performances in very beautiful theaters. The second level was a small congress, a colloquium, organized by the President of the International Association, Margareta Sorenson, and the Georgian representatives, with a very interesting subject: “theater and populism”. This is something really incendiary in these times, in which populism seems to be gaining ground in even traditional countries throughout the world. It was really a very nice occasion and was of particular interest to us that the Georgian Ministry of Culture offered us two stages for the colloquium, which is not common, even in countries well known for their cultural interests. Now the outcomes. An outcome is not really something one can expect from such meetings, but there were very interesting views and a pallet of themes that lead us to know better and remember the origins of populism from ancient Greece, the theater of Aristophanes; its existence, which has always been here,
but at certain historical periods dance gaining the upper hand, sometimes with fatal consequences for democracy, for human rights, for peace and what’s most important, for economic growth.
WHICH VIEW OR THEME DID YOU MOST ENJOY DURING THE COLLOQUIUM? The colloquium focused on critics’ contributions and a crucial question was what criticism does about populism in theater, if elitism is existent, when elitism becomes a target of populism or if it is something that is there just to promote populist ideas. Many colleagues, among them myself, stated that critics don’t have the influence they once did because more and more major journals decided not to have a critic as a contributor: they prefer to have cultural journalists who promote to the spectacles before they are shown. And, despite the internet, we have noticed an increase in the alienation of the younger generation from traditional cultural interests.
HOW WE CAN SOLVE THIS PROBLEM? No solution was given [during the colloquium], but thoughts and views were expressed. It was a kind of introspective into this problem, which isn’t easily solvable. If it were, things could improve easily. We decided that we must take advantage of old technology, as lowering the standards should not be part of our tendency; it would undoubtedly fail to bring people closer to art if we let the standards drop. It was a very interesting discussion and, of course, the dialogue is ongoing.
WHAT ARE YOUR FUTURE PLANS AND ARE YOU GOING TO CONTINUE COOPERATION WITH THE GEORGIAN THEATER? Future plans for the time being don’t involve visits to Tbilisi, though I consider this journey merely my first to Georgia, because I want to have a follow up. I liked the country, I liked the food and wine, I liked the people. It was a modal organization on the part of the Georgian showcase, set in a very friendly and very rewarding atmosphere. So, I hope and intend to contribute as much as I can from my position to have follow-ups in Georgia-Greek relations in future.
NOVEMBER 24 - 27, 2017
WHAT’S ON IN TBILISI THEATER
TBILISI ZAKARIA PALIASHVILI OPERA AND BALLET THEATER Address: 25 Rustaveli Ave. Telephone: 2 99 04 56 November 24 LA TRAVIATA Giuseppe Verdi Starring: Salome Jicia, Otar Jorjikia, Sulkhan Gvelesiani, Nutsa Zakaidze, Manana Iordanishvili, Tamaz Saginadze, Irakli Mujiri, George Chelidze, Levan Makaridze, Paata Sukhitashvili, Temur Akhobadze. Tbilisi State Opera and Ballet Theater choir, Ballet dancers, orchestra. Conductor- Alberto Veronesi (Italy) Director- Laurent Gerber (Switzerland/Italy) Choreographer- Massimo Bellando Randone (Italy) Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 30-170 GEL November 30 LA TRAVIATA Giuseppe Verdi Starring: Salome Jicia, Otar Jorjikia, Sulkhan Gvelesiani, Nutsa Zakaidze, Manana Iordanishvili, Tamaz Saginadze, Irakli Mujiri, George Chelidze, Levan Makaridze, Paata Sukhitashvili, Temur Akhobadze. Tbilisi State Opera and Ballet Theater choir, Ballet dancers, orchestra. Conductor- Zaza Azmaiparashvili Director- Laurent Gerber (Switzerland/Italy) Choreographer- Nina Ananiashvili Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 10-130 GEL SHALIKASHVILI THEATER Address: 37 Rustaveli Ave. Telephone: 595 50 02 03 November 24 TERENTI GRANELI Directed by Amiran Shalikashvili Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 20 GEL November 25 CHRIST Directed by Amiran Shalikashvili Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 20 GEL MOVEMENT THEATER Address: 182, Aghmashenebeli Ave., Mushthaid park Telephone: 599 555 260
November 24 RECITATIVE IN THE CITY Kakha Bakuradze, Sandro Nikoladze, Irakli Menagarishvili, Simon Bitadze, Dato Kakulia, El banda del “მუდო” Start time: 21:30 Ticket: 10 GEL
SUBURBICON Directed by George Clooney Cast: Matt Damon, Julianne Moore, Oscar Isaac Genre: Crime, Drama, Mystery Language: Russian Start time: 19:10 Ticket: 17 GEL
November 24 INTRO Directed by Kakha Bakuradze Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 15 GEL
COCO Directed by Lee Unkrich, Adrian Molina Cast: Edward James Olmos, Benjamin Bratt, Alanna Ubach Genre: Animation, Adventure, Comedy Language: Russian Start time: 11:50, 14:10, 16:45 Ticket: 8-11 GEL
November 26 THE TEMPEST Directed by Ioseb Bakuradze Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 15 GEL November 19 SILENCE REHEARSAL Director: Kakha Bakuradze Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 10 GEL CINEMA
AMIRANI CINEMA Address: 36 Kostava Str. Telephone: 2 99 99 55 www.kinoafisha.ge Every Wednesday ticket price: 5 GEL November 17-23 KHIBULA Directed by Giorgi Ovashvili Cast: Hossein Mahjoob, Kishvard Manvelishvili, Nodar Dzidziguri, Lika Babluani, Zurab Antelava, Lidia Chilashvili, Galoba Gambarov Genre: Drama Language: Georgian with English Subtitles Start time: 14:15, 19:10, 21:30 Ticket: 9-14 GEL
RUSTAVELI CINEMA Address: 5 Rustaveli Ave. Telephone: 2 55 50 00 www.kinoafisha.ge Every Wednesday ticket: 5 GEL November 24-30 THOR: RAGNAROK Directed by Taika Waititi Cast: Chris Hemsworth, Tom Hiddleston, Cate Blanchett Genre: Action, Adventure, Sci-Fi Language: Russian Start time: 16:45 Ticket: 10-11 GEL COCO (Info Above) Start time: 12:15, 14:45, 17:15, 19:45 Ticket: 8-14 GEL JUSTICE LEAGUE (Info Above) Language: Russian Start time: 19:45 Ticket: 8-14 GEL
JUSTICE LEAGUE Directed by Zack Snyder Cast: Ben Affleck, Gal Gadot, Jason Momoa, Robin Wright, Connie Nielsen, Amy Adams Genre: Action, Adventure, Fantasy Language: Russian Start time: 16:10, 22:00 Ticket: 10-14 GEL
GEORGIAN NATIONAL MUSEUM SIMON JANASHIA MUSEUM Address: 4 Rustaveli Ave. Telephone: 2 99 80 22, 2 93 48 21 www.museum.ge
WONDER Directed by Stephen Chbosky Cast: Julia Roberts, Jacob Tremblay, Owen Wilson Genre: Drama Language: Russian Start time: 19:15 Ticket: 13-14 GEL
Exhibition GEORGIAN COSTUME AND WEAPONRY OF 18TH-20TH CENTURIES The Royal dress of King Teimuraz II, Nino Gurieli's Georgian dress, Tekla Batonishvili's personal sewing machine, robe of Alexander
Bariatinsky - Deputy of the Caucasus, Tambourine painted by Mihaly Zichy, feminine attire of Abkhazian and Ingilo women and more. November 25 – December 14 Exhibition FROM TRAVELLINGS MUSEUM OF FINE ARTS Address: 1 Gudiashvili Str. Telephone: 2 99 99 09 March 6 – December 31 EXHIBITION MASTERPIECES FROM THE MUSEUM OF FINE ARTS COLLECTION November 14 – December 9 Exhibition CROSSROAD RELIGIOUS & ETHNIC DIVERSITY OF GEORGIA IOSEB GRISHASHVILI TBILISI HISTORY MUSEUM - KARVASLA Address: 8 Sioni St. Telephone: 2 98 22 81 November 24 – December 12 CHINESE CONTEMPORARY ART EXHIBITION ART AND PEACE The exhibition showcases artworks by various well-known Chinese artists from the Chinese Artists Association. The 29 works include oil painting, printmaking, sculpture, watercolor, synthetic materials and more. November 28 – January 10, 2018 GNM Tbilisi History Museum Contemporary Art Gallery will host the exhibition STATE OF PLAY: ART IN GEORGIA IN 1985-1999 The exhibition will present works by 24 Georgian artists from the 1980-90s, among them:: Gia Edzgveradze, Guram Tsibakhashvili, Iliko Zautashvili, Karlo Kacharava, Koka Ramishvili, Kote Sulaberidze, Keti Kapanadze, Kote Jincharadze, Levan Chogoshvili, Lia Shvelidze, Luka Lasareishvili, Maia Naveriani, Maia Tsetskhladze, Malkhaz Datukishvili, Mamuka Japaridze, Mamuka Tsetskhladze, Misha Gogrichiani, Murtaz Shvelidze, Niko Tsetskhladze, Oleg Timchenko,
Tea Gvetadze, Temo Javakhishvili, Vakho Bugadze and Ushangi Khumarashvili. The exhibition will also showcase photo documents depicting 8090s Georgia created by Guram Tsibakhashvili. ART PALACE Address: 6 Kargareteli Str. THE FIRST TIME IN GEORGIASIMON (SIMONIKA) DADIANI’S EXHIBITION GALLERY
THE NATIONAL GALLERY Address: 11 Rustaveli Ave. Telephone: 2 15 73 00 www.museum.ge October 5 – November 30 Dimitri Shevardnadze National Gallery is to host two Italian exhibitions: UNIVERSAL VALUES: BOTTICELLI, THE BEAUTY AND CARAVAGGIO, THE LIGHT, DISPLAYING MASTERPIECES OF ITALIAN PAINTING MUSIC
TBILISI STATE CONSERVATOIRE Address: 8 Griboedov St. Telephone: 2 93 46 24 November 25 STUDENT SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA Vano Sarajishvili Tbilisi State Conservatoire Student Symphony Orchestra Conductor: Mirian Khukhunaishvili Soloist: Vato Jordania (piano) Program: Grieg– ‘Peer Gynt’ Suite #1, op.46 Beethoven– Concerto #5, E-flat major Beethoven– Symphony #8, F major, op.93 Start time: 19:00 Ticket: 5 GEL November 30 MUSIC FOR MENTAL HEALTH Alexandre Tsomaia, America-based Georgian pianist, will conduct a charity piano recital in support of Mental Health. Lasha Bugadze’s lecture on the topic of ‘Music and Mental Health’ Art exhibition by people with mental health problems. The charity event aims to raise money for development of community-based mental health care. Start time: 19:30 Ticket: 15-50 GEL TBILISI BAROQUE FESTIVAL www.tbf.ge November 24 GS, Sergey Malov (Violin, cello da spalla) Part 1 H.I.F. Biber– Passacaglia for solo violin J.S. Bach– Suite for cello in C major BWV 1009 J.S. Bach– Partita for violin in E major BWV 1006 Part 2 J.S. Bach– Overture from Cantata in D major, BWV 29 C.F.E. Bach– Concerto for cello, strings and B.C. W 172 in A major J.S. Bach– Concerto for violin, strings and B.C. BWV 1052R in d minor Start time: 19:30 Ticket: 5-30 GEL Venue: Rustaveli Theater BUDDHA BAR Address: Rike park November 25 SOFIA NIJARADZE’S CONCERT Start time: 21:00 Ticket: 30-40 GEL
GEORGIA TODAY NOVEMBER 24 - 27, 2017
Premiere of Bergman’s Drama at Royal District Theater REVIEW BY MAKA LOMADZE
n November 22-23, a premiere took place at the Royal District Theater seeing young female director Sophio Kelbakiani stage ‘From the Life of the Marionettes,’ based on the well-known namesake movie drama of Ingmar Bergman. Successful businessman Peter Egerman is deeply in love with his wife, and yet is ready to kill her at any instant. “I tried to offer separate scenes as physical evidence to spectators by means of fragmented story-telling,” Ingmar Bergman wrote about the original film. “I have consciously denied any definitions: this is a case is for spectators to unknot. There is not a single character who will tell the whole truth or reveal their own motives. Here, all of them are guilty in different ways”.
Nani Chikvinidze and Giorgi Sharvashidze
Well-known Nani Chikvinidze is the only experienced cast member in Kelbakiani’s stage version, playing the mother of the protagonist Peter (Giorgi Sharvashidze). His wife, Katarina, is well-embodied by Natuka Kakhidze. It is difficult to figure out whether her character really has lovers. To be more exact, she searches for them. On this hazardous journey, she meets psychiatrist (Gaga Shishinashvili), her husband’s doctor who openly flirts with her. Peter drinks a lot and sleeps less and less. He says that he finds joy in nothing, confessing that even though he hates his wife and the universe, he is still eager to watch her body moving, having wild sex with her without feeling. He asks his psychiatrist to help him, as he has a savage desire to kill his wife; however, the latter responds that there is “hardly any medicine to cure the human mind”. “We tried to see this drama from our own prism,” Kelbakiani told GEORGIA TODAY. “We studied what influences society can have
on a person, be it in upbringing or other factors. The process was extremely complicated, as the material is very difficult to work with. The whole two months of preparation was full of discoveries”. “This role was particularly psychological,” actor Sharvashidze told us. “We had to do a lot of research. I learned what a catastrophe bad relations can lead to in one’s life, career and family: one has to fully analyze everything. It’s better to end such unhealthy relations, otherwise, it can end tragically,” he added. The drama was translated by Guram Ghonghadze and the set decoration is by Elisabed Chichinadze from the Gogi Alexi-Meskhishvili Design School. The film ‘From the Life of the Marionettes’ was directed in 1980. It was produced in West Germany, as Ingmar Bergman was at the time a tax exile from his native Sweden. The title is an excerpt from a quotation in ‘The Adventures of Pinocchio’ by Carlo Collodi.
Sergei Malov to Perform ‘Cello & Spala’ on November 24
or the first time in Georgia, ‘Cello and Spala’ is to be performed on a Georgian stage, a performance which dates back three centuries. On November 24 at 19:30, Sergei Malov will hold a concert at Rustaveli Theater. Cello and Spala is a series of German and Austrian Baroque music, namely the works of Heinrich Babier, Yohan Sebastian Bach and his son, Carl Philip Emmanuel Bach. After graduating from Salzburg Mozartum and Hans Aisler High School in Berlin, Malov won several international competitions as a violinist (Hayeksee Competition 2008, Mozart Competition 2010, Michael Hill Contest 2011) and Alist (Tokyo, 2010). In September this year, he became a Professor of Music at the Zurich Music Academy, and released his latest album ‘Hommage á Ysaÿe’. Nowadays, he performs concerts around the world.
As a solo performer, he has collaborated with orchestras such as the London Philharmonic, BBC, Bavaria Radio, Helsinki Symphony and many others. Also of note is his cooperation with Baroque Ensemble ‘Berlin Academy of Old Music’ (AKAMUS Berlin). Malov's repertoire is diverse, featuring many pieces, from Baroque to contemporary. The composer's creation and great improvization is always visible in his performance. Malov, in his multilevel recordings, also exquisitely combines numerous instruments. A Sibelius concert will be performed at the Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra, and a Stravinsky concert, with the Tampere Symphony Orchestra, are planned this upcoming season. Public lectures will also be held within the framework of ‘Tbilisi Baroque Festival’: On November 29, Gia Bugadze's lecture ‘Karavajjo and Karavajizism’ will be held and on December 5, Tea Mukeria will conclude with the public lecture ‘Voice from Venice – Vivaldi’. Attendance at lectures is free and are held at 18:00 at the Tbilisi Conservatoire Chamber Hall (3rd floor).
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November 24 - 27, 2017