Issue no: 829
• MARCH 25 - 28, 2016
• PUBLISHED TWICE WEEKLY
PRICE: GEL 2.50
In this week’s issue... Georgia’s Art Palace Receives Europa Nostra Special Mention Award NEWS PAGE 2
FOCUS ON TERRORISM
In the wake of the Brussels attacks, we analyze what is being done to halt the increasing acts of terrorism and the illegal seizure of sovereign territory
European School Makes History as First CIS Member School in Georgia BY KATIE RUTH DAVIES
he European School in Tbilisi has been awarded membership of the prestigious CIS (Council of International Schools) and is the first to achieve such status in Georgia. Alan Scott, a school support and evaluation officer on a visit to European School, said: “The range of programs and services on offer at the European School is impressive for the size of the school. It is well-resourced with appropriate science labs, computer labs, library, cafeteria and physical education spaces. Continued on page 2
We Are Not China! Pre-Election Recruiting and Returns POLITICS PAGE 5
Obama’s Foreign Policy POLITICS PAGE 6
Ezo - Just Like Mom Makes! SOCIETY PAGE 10
The Lioness of the Keyboard Hits Tbilisi CULTURE PAGE 17
Georgia’s 6 Nations Claims Louder than Ever after Rout of Romania SPORTS PAGE 19
MARCH 25 - 28, 2016
Tbilisi Zoo Hosts New Animals
BY EKA KARSAULIDZE
evere flooding in Tbilisi on June 13, 2015, killed most of the animals in the Tbilisi Zoo. A huge number of European zoos expressed immediate support and offered to transfer some of their animals to Tbi-
lisi. Director of Tbilisi Zoo, Zurab Gurielidze, promised that the Zoo would begin settling new animals in spring 2016 and, as promised, on March 20, the first new Zoo residents arrived from Riga, Latvia. Among the new animals are a camel, a yak, two Ara parrots and three alpacas- never before seen in Georgia. Representatives of the Zoo assure that the animals are in great condition despite the long journey and are already acclimatized to Tbilisi and ready to meet guests. “Currently, the Zoo is in the process of restoring and constructing new enclosures. Therefore, it was decided at the first stage to take only those kinds of animals whose cages did not require significant cost to build. We will be preparing completely new cages for primates and carnivores, which can also be taken on in the near future,” said Gurielidze. Gurielidze says they are also expecting to receive animals from Great Britain, Holland, France, Israel, Turkey and many other countries in May. Among them are likely to be macaque, hamadryas baboons, a kangaroo, mongooses, penguins, porcupines and a koala. Zoo guests will be able to see not only familiar animals, but also those, such as the alpaca, which have never been kept in Georgia before. In parallel with the restoration of the old Tbilisi Zoo, a new facility is being built on the territory of Tbilisi Sea, to which the animals will be moved at a later date. Gurielidze noted that, although the construction of a new zoo is expected to take a few years, they are already building cages for animals such as bears and wolves. Visitors can already enjoy the recent arrivals from Riga at the acting Tbilisi Zoo.
European School Makes History as First CIS Member School in Georgia Continued from page 1
The school is justifiably proud of its closed circuit television studio and IT construction and school management has ambitious plans for further facility development both at the current site and elsewhere. Each classroom has a computer and projector and the school has over 200 computers in all. The school is cleaned to an excellent standard. It demonstrates commitment to the continuous professional development of its staff, and this development is informed by students` learning needs. There is good provision for professional development in place with a current emphasis on IB certification and AP training. The ICT manager reports that staff is always trained in any technology introduced to the school. Students are regularly assessed using both internal and external tests including MAP testing, IB and AP tests, periodic national examinations in the Georgian section, and SATs.” The CIS is a membership community committed to high quality international education. The CIS community includes more than 660 schools and 475 colleges and universities representing 110 coun-
tries, among them Washington International School, United Nations International School (New York), Atlanta International School, International School of Geneva, Institut Auf Dem Rosenberg, Stanford University, Columbia University New York, University of Oxford, London School of Economic and Political Science, Kings College, and Queen Mary University. The European School in Tbilisi is now proud to be on that very same list. CIS, a global non-profit membership organization, provides services to primary and secondary schools which aim to assist in the development of students as Global Citizens having the knowledge, skills, values and attitudes that they need to be able to contribute to a more inclusive, just and peaceful world. European School IB 12th grader, Giorgi Kikoria, told us: “As a 12th grader, I have experienced the stress of applying to dozens of universities. The first thing those universities look for in my application is the school from which I got my diploma. For me as a student, European School’s CIS membership means credibility from the university’s point of view, giving me the ability to compete with students from around the globe.”
Georgia’s Art Palace Receives Europa Nostra Special Mention Award
BY TAMAR SVANIDZE
eorgia’s Georgian State Museum of Theatre, Music, Cinema and Choreography (Art Palace) has received a Special Mention prize by the jury of Europa Nostra for its outstanding contribution to the conservation of historic paintings, furniture and other elements. According to Europa Nostra’s official website, the Special Mention prize for Cultural Heritage was originally announced during the European Heritage Congress held from 10-14 June 2015 in Oslo, Norway. The juries awarded the Special Mention status to 16 different heritage achievements from 13 European countries. A Special Mention prize is awarded for outstanding contributions to the conservation and enhancement of heritage.
The Art Palace museum comprises more than 300,000 objects that provide comprehensive information on the development of Georgian theater, cinema, circus, folklore, opera, and ballet, as well as providing insight into the lives of eminent figures in the respective fields. Some museum exhibits date back to the classical era: of particular note is the antique mask which was excavated by archaeologists in the town of Vani. The Ministry of Culture and Monument Protection in Georgia, the National Agency for Cultural Heritage Preservation and the National Committee at the International Council of Museums (ICOM) and the US Embassy in Georgia were responsible for preparing the museum’s nomination. Uniting 400 member organizations and 1500 individual members from about 50 countries, Europa Nostra focuses on saving Europe’s endangered historical monuments, sites and cultural landscapes.
GEORGIA TODAY MARCH 25 - 28, 2016
Holding Back the Tide: Brussels’ Importance to the West and its Allies OP-ED BY NICHOLAS WALLER
uesday’s terrorist attacks in Brussels, which left more than 30 dead and dozens in critical condition after brothers Khalid and Ibrahim el-Bakraoui detonated themselves in the administrative heart of the European Union, is yet another sign that the West’s fractured approach to combating radical terrorist groups like ISIS is simply not working. For the third time in just over 16 months, a major European city – not including attacks in Istanbul – has been successfully targeted by followers of the Islamic State, leaving scores dead and most of the continent’s leaders still searching for a coherent strategy to counter future attacks. Lost in the tragedy of Charlie Hebdo, Paris and now Brussels is a powerful message to Western leaders – including US President Barack Obama – that the fight against ISIS has thus far failed to achieve its main goal of ultimately crushing the group’s appeal and destroying its ability to indiscriminately kill both Muslims and non-Muslims alike. Obama’s plodding and exceedingly muddled strategy to defeat the Islamic State in Syria and Iraq has done little to dent ISIS’ charismatic appeal, disrupt its propaganda or even prevent it from killing Europeans on their own soil. One of the targets of the Brussels attacks was a metro station directly adjacent to the European Union parliament — a
target ripe with symbolism for a group bent on destroying the basic foundations of the European project. That ISIS quickly claimed responsibility for twin attacks carried out by members of a large Belgian cell that had been trained in Syria and who lived in an otherwise quiet European country, was a signal to the West’s governments that nothing has changed since 130 people were killed in Paris in November 2015. Tuesday’s bombings were possibly a retaliatory action by ISIS affiliated groups as they came just four days after Belgian police arrested the sole survivor of the Paris attacks, Salah Abdeslam. According to Brussels’ chief prosecutor, the country’s security services now believe a major terrorist operation may have been in the works as police impounded a huge weapons and explosives cache after raiding the house of a cell commanded by Abdeslam. The nature and scope of Abdeslam’s official relationship with ISIS remains unclear. His actions in Paris – where he abandoned his fellow terrorists in their suicide mission – ran counter to the group’s praise of martyrdom and was a direct violation of the ideological importance that ISIS places on the act. This could indicate that he and his associates are, at best, affiliates or followers of the Islamic State, rather than official ISIS agents.
LACK OF COHESION Western law enforcement agencies, security services and governments – many of which belong to some of the
most advanced and richest nations on Earth – have all failed to properly coordinate a strategy that would ultimately put an end to ISIS’ disciples in Europe and North America. This is more than troubling; it has proven deadly. Unlike its far larger neighbors, Germany and France, Belgium is a relatively weak country institutionally. It suffers from poor intelligence and security coordination, while at the same time is one of Europe’s main contributors of wouldbe jihadis travelling to Syria. Limited resources and even poorer coordination with some of the world’s best intelligence services in Paris, Berlin and London have left the country adrift in its effort to halt the flow of radicalized Muslim youths in Brussels’ impoverished Molenbeek neighborhood from leaving for Syria to join ISIS. The Islamic State’s powerful public relations and propaganda tools continue to find a huge following amongst a growing number of young Europeans who are attracted to the violent, irreverent life of an international jihadist with easy access to an endless supply of money, power, sophisticated weaponry and the seductive appeal of having a place of purpose among like-minded individuals. Very few of these young people have more than a passing knowledge of the teachings of Islam, though the vast majority do come from Muslim families. Rather, they’re more often attracted to what they see as an empowering status symbol in a wider, international movement. This stands to explain why so few take
umbrage at ISIS’ brutal treatment of women and minorities as well as its teaching of Takfirism, which equally brands Muslims and non-Muslims as apostates. Dubbed jihadi-chic by the Western media, this deadly new youth subculture in the Islamic world is a formidable foe. And while its various branches have scored stunning successes with increasingly brutal attacks from California to Ankara, it can be defeated.
A CALL TO RECALIBRATE Obama has repeatedly insisted that a military coalition of Western, Turkish, Arab and Kurdish allies can defeat ISIS. Since coordinated combat operations were launched in August 2014, following ISIS’ stunning victories in northern Iraq, more than 20 per cent of the group’s territory has been recaptured. Few Western officials, however, advocate a deeper military commitment that would include the deployment of large numbers of ground forces. This indecisive policy has essentially frozen the efforts of the international coalition to destroy ISIS militarily and paralyzed its efforts to formulate a coherent policy to combat the group’s poisonous hi-tech propaganda campaign. Inaction at both ends has opened the door for third parties, namely Vladimir Putin’s Russia, to enter into the fray and further complicate matters by stifling the West’s strategy towards the Islamic
State and the wider security crisis in the Middle East. Putin’s recently concluded six-month air campaign in Syria did nothing to combat ISIS, but succeeded in propping up his erstwhile ally Bashar al-Assad, killed thousands of civilians and neutralized most of the forces on the ground capable of defeating the Islamic State in combat. Russia’s unscrupulous Kremlin-controlled media has gone to great lengths to castigate the West’s approach to Syria and helped Putin successfully defend his support for the autocratic Assad regime and the five-year civil war that it has waged on its own people. The ensuing migrant crisis that has engulfed Europe for the last 18 months has nothing but benefitted Putin in his attempt to fracture Europe’s cohesion, and with it, the NATO alliance itself. The ‘weaponization’ of the refugee crisis by Putin’s formidable propaganda machine both within Russia and the Middle East has strained Europe to the breaking point and distracted the US and UK in their efforts to combat the growing appeal of groups like ISIS. Putin’s manipulation of the refugee situation and the facts on the ground has forced the West to deal with hot-button issues including resettlement, rising crime and a firebrand form of nationalism that has swept through Europe, the UK and US over the last year. Continued on page 9
MARCH 25 - 28, 2016
35th Round of Geneva Talks and its Peripheries BY ZVIAD ADZINBAIA
n March 22-23, the 35th round of the Geneva International Discussions took place. As per tradition, the main format for discussing Georgia’s occupied territories involved official parties from Georgia, the Russian Federation, as well as OSCE, UN, and EU representatives and the US as cochairs of the format. Representatives of the de facto governments of Abkhazia and South Ossetia were also invited. The Georgian Foreign Ministry (MFA) says special attention during this round was paid to the grave human rights situation in the occupied territories, including new discriminative regulations targeted against ethnic Georgians, as well as the negative impact of the so-called borderization process on the daily lives of the local Georgian population. Davit Dondua, head of the Georgian delegation of the MFA, said prior to the event that his team hopes that other participants alongside Georgia will approach the negotiations responsibly and ensure that the issues on the agenda are discussed in a constructive manner. Optimistically, the discussion faced a palpable aftermath leading the parties to agree on restoration of the Gali Incident Prevention and Response Mechanism - which ceased to operate in 2012. The MFA says the restoration of the Mechanism will positively contribute to
pragmatically addressing the security and humanitarian needs of the local population. Yet prior to the Talks, the Russian Foreign Ministry on Monday released a statement claiming that Tbilisi is actively making anti-Russian outleaps. The statement emphasized that during the Karasin-Abashidze meeting - a format set between Russia-Georgia in the absence of diplomatic ties – Russia called on the partners to be moderate in terms of their ‘PR-exercises’ in order to prevent damaging normalization of the bilateral relations between the two countries. The Russian MFA underlined that the ‘Georgian propaganda’ negatively affects the atmosphere surrounding the Geneva Talks, and highlighted as an example the Georgian MFA’s quarterly reports on human rights in its occupied regions. Russian government-supported information agency Sputnik then spread information announcing the alleged opening of a diplomatic office in Rome by the de-facto South Ossetian government. The report said that after three years of laborious work, Ossetia was able to open its representation in the Italian capital, hoping for Italy’s support in terms of recognizing South Ossetia’s independence. The story immediately triggered a public outcry in Georgia. Georgian Ambassador to Italy, Kakha Sikharulidze declared the information disseminated through some websites should not be given credit and explained that the country of his diplomatic residence respects
The location of the Geneva International Discussions. Photo: www.mfa.gov.ge
Georgia’s territorial integrity and “such a thing should be ruled out.” Following the report, the Georgian MFA also stated that Georgia and Italy are firmly cooperating on the track of Georgia’s non-recognition policy and Italy honors Georgia’s sovereignty as well as territorial integrity. There were further surprises last week in addition to those mentioned above. Abkhazia’s so-called representatives participated in the well-known annual tourism exposition held in Paris, 17-20 March. Georgia’s ex-Ambassador to France, Mamuka Kudava, criticized the Georgian government for neglecting the issue of Abkhazia’s non-recognition policy. Kudava complained that the government must be attentive with regard to some world renowned agricultural and tourism fairs in order to prevent ‘such lapses’ in the future. He urged for con-
tinued efforts started by their predecessors to take care of Georgia’s territorial integrity.
COMMENT FROM THE AUTHOR Russia and Georgia have fought a grave war for Abkhazia which has been a sovereign part of Georgia for centuries. The currently Russian-occupied region in Western Georgia faces deadly stagnation in almost every segment, including economy, education and security. The Russian government, a key protector of Abkhazia’s puppet regime, has provided some limited subsidies for the Abkhazian residents at the price of utilizing the region for military purposes in the Caucasus region. Although over 200,000 Georgians were forcefully displaced from Abkhazia as a result of Russia’s ethnic cleansing in 1993, some 30,000 Georgians still remain in Gali district. The main concern of the
Georgian government has been the gross violation of fundamental rights of those Georgians living under permanent pressure of both Abkhaz and Russian forces. The Geneva International Talks was established following the Russia-Georgia war of August 2008, which ended with the cutting of diplomatic ties between the two countries. Georgia supported the format which would allow some essential humanitarian measures to be taken in order to protect the rights of Georgians in Abkhazia and Tskhinvali regions, as well as for work to be carried out on ultimate peaceful resolution of both conflicts. In addition, the Geneva format has been unprecedented as three moderating parties of the US, the UN, the EU and the OSCE prevent the Russian side from exerting direct diplomatic pressure on Georgia. The 36th round of the Geneva Talks will be held on 14-15 June.
GEORGIA TODAY MARCH 25 - 28, 2016
We Are Not China! Pre-Election Recruiting and Returns OP-ED BY ZAZA JGARKAVA
eorgian politics has already switched to pre-election mode. The first versions of elections have been announced by the Georgian Dream (GD) and the United National Movement (UNM),
from which we will need to choose in autumn. The governmental party plans on renewing its members at the expense of the host and the players of the popular show ‘What? Where? When?’ while the UNM is placing its bets on the economic experts and lawyers experienced in TV debates. Although officially the management of both parties denies the existence of such lists, as they say “there’s no smoke without fire.”
The Video Terror OPED BY NUGZAR B. RUHADZE
cannot boast my skill and sophistication in a complicated trade like ruling a nation, but I can definitely claim a humble general knowledge of governmental structures of various types and times that I have acquainted myself with thanks to the textbooks I have had a chance to lay my hands on throughout my lifetime. For instance, I am quite familiar with the Platonic understanding of state and its management ways and means; I possess a smattering of Confucian philosophy too, and I have read much about Machiavellian insight and practice of handling a ruling regime; I have gone through Hitler’s political biography in detail and I have diligently learnt the Stalinist methodology of governing an empire; my attention has been attracted by ancient atrocities, perpetrated by emperors Nero and Caligula, and the appalling deeds committed by our contemporary infamous political cannibals like Idi Amin and Pol Pot. This all said and taken down, I do not really know how many states in the world would use extensively the video footage of its citizens’ personal lives for the purpose of suppressing and intimidating them for political reasons, trying to control the unruly individuals and potential nemeses by compromising their reputation, if need be, by using the photo, video and audio evidences of a risqué character against them. What I know for sure is that this kind of video activity has burgeoned lately in Georgia to the chagrin of most of us who still want and intend to live here and feel happy. This is really scary! What happens is that some invisible unauthorized hand is shooting a video of people while they are engaged in one of the most natural human bodily activities, plainly called sex, to later put on the air via available media of mass communication. If the question here is ‘why?’, then the answer would probably be ‘why not?’ from the sick unbridled sadist who has a chance and technical ability to exploit the viciously shot and cruelly produced video pieces to the best advantage of those who would pleasurably use the taped excerpts of our personal life as a weapon of political struggle. The real tragedy of the current hideous moment is explicit in the question ‘why not?’ because it reflects the working style of the creators of those personal-life videos. With those videos out on the air now and in the future, not one member of this society will feel protected. The sense of insecurity becomes overwhelming even if you are one hundred percent sure that they cannot hurt you as you have done nothing that
might stir the abominable sadist’s interest towards your personal life. An analogy with the Abominable Snowman is asking to be used here because both are invisible and dangerous in the same exact way. I don’t believe there is anything sarcastic in my effort to perpetuate the term ‘Abominable Sadist’. This is only my desperate attempt to react to what our entire society thinks is wrong and intolerable. In our happy times of freedom and democracy, we should not be exposed so brutally and unceremoniously to those dreadful means of political confrontation. Just imagine our people frightened to death because every move of theirs is video or audio recorded, including their behavior in their own bedrooms. I understand that objections like exclamations of this kind are not enough to curb the Abominable Sadist. Video and audio products have a nasty quality of being easily copied and momentarily distributed. On top of all that, just think about the victimized unlucky and unsuspecting characters of those cinematographic masterpieces being buried alive – cursed and condemned forever. Thinking even better, the act of criminalization of video and audio activity of this category might be helpful to eradicate cyber-terrorism from our lives, but not enough as a measure. Georgia has taken the recent sleazy development very seriously. The problem has hit the newspaper pages, TV screens and radio waves; streets have once again witnessed the protesting manifestations; government has started investigation and our public has declared the activity illegal. The impression is that the country has made another strong step towards what makes Georgia and its people look and sound more democratically minded than it has ever been. Video terror cannot have its way in this country. OK, so much for loud words and emotional interpretations! In reality, the danger is real and present, and it needs proper handling. Otherwise, forget about the long dreamed about freedom and the looming-on-the-horizon democracy. Those two things are inching their way towards Georgia with such nerve-wrecking tardiness! This is why we really need some patience to equip ourselves with. If only patience!
The Georgian media had reason to spread such information after the parties and non-governmental organizations mistakenly received a list of fifteen GD majoritarans, together with an excel file showing the borders of the new election districts from the governmental party’s headquarters. This is when it became known that the government planned on renewing its list with popular talk show people. Unlike that of GD, the UNM’s renewed party lists were announced by the Governor of Odessa Mikheil Saakashvili, the third president of Georgia, who said in an interview that the election list of the former governmental party would by all means be renewed. Following this interview, media spread news that Mikheil Saakashvili’s wife, Sandra Roelofs, would be running as a majoritarian MP in Zugdidi, Western Georgia and that the two former Presidents of the National Bank, Giorgi Kadagidze and Roman Gotsiridze, were among the first twenty people on the list, together with former Public Defender, Giorgi Tugushi, and lawyers Otar Kakhidze and Zaza Bibilashvili, who showed themselves during the sensational trials of Vano Merabishvili and Rustavi 2. Economic expert Giorgi Bedineishvili and political expert Elene Khoshtaria also top the list, alongside popular pianist Khatia Buniatishvili and former Foreign Affairs minister Eka Tkeshelashvili. The main impromptu about the election lists was stated by the governmental party, and it turns out ex-premier Garibashvili plans on returning to the
big game. It seems that his three month political vacation has come to an end and it is highly likely that he will rejoin Georgian Dream, not as a regular member, but in the role of a leader. The fact that the former prime minister posted this information on his Facebook page should be enough to lead to speculation that this will be the case. This is quite an unexpected political move. In light of this, the role of the active Prime Minister Giorgi Kvirikashvili becomes ambiguous; who will he become? If Garibashvili returns as a leader of the Georgian Dream then it will mean that the first person of the country, according to the Constitution, will be two unofficial controlling people – expremier Garibashvili from the party, as Kvirikashvili is a member of GD, and ex-premier Bidzina Ivanishvili, from the government. Maybe the governmental party really thinks that the return of Garibashvili will give a “second breath” to GD, but it can be said with confidence that it is their political opponents who will get the real “second breath” in such a case. Even if this renewal is received positively by the people, overall, in the election year it will raise doubts about the bureaucracy and the stability of the government in general. The “suspected bureaucracy” will no longer be a useful lever for the ruling party during elections. Our country is not China. Therefore, while we can still somehow imagine a “Georgian Stalin”, a “Georgian Deng Xiaoping” or even both, is impossible!
MARCH 25 - 28, 2016
Obama’s Foreign Policy BY JOSEPH LARSEN
s President Obama’s time in office comes to a close, his supporters and critics are beginning to write his presidential history. The Atlantic writer Jeffrey Goldberg recently made a big step in that direction with “The Obama Doctrine,” a narrative essay that draws upon a number of personal interviews with the President. Goldberg provides an intimate, dispassionate account of Obama and his foreign policy. Like his predecessors, the President is a complicated man whose views and values aren’t easy to separate from the everyday sausage-making of foreign policy. Is he a thick-skinned realist? A triggerhappy neoconservative? Or, as his lofty rhetoric suggests, is Obama an idealistic liberal? The Obama Doctrine goes a long way toward answering those questions.
NO TIME FOR TRADITION Readers will notice a president with little respect for tradition, whether that means traditional ways of thinking about foreign policy—what Obama derisively calls the “Washington playbook”—or the country’s traditional allies. In discussions with Goldberg, Obama refers to American partners in Europe and the Arab world as “free riders.” He also blames Britain and France for the colossal failure of the 2011 NATO intervention in Libya: “When I go back and I ask myself what went wrong, there’s room for criticism, because I had more faith in the Europeans.” Obama also has no regrets over his inaction in Syria, despite the fact that its five-year-long civil war has killed nearly half a million people, triggered a humanitarian and political crisis in the European Union, and strengthened Russia’s geopolitical position in the Mediterranean. “I’m very proud of this moment,” he tells Goldberg, referring
to his 2013 decision not to authorize air strikes against Assad. Believing that Syria would be yet another entry in America’s long list of failed interventions abroad, he washed his hands of the situation. The human toll is regrettable, but nothing could be done.
ALL THE KING’S STRAW MEN Despite Obama’s many strengths, I’ve been critical of his tendency to reduce the arguments of his opponents to straw men. This is a common thread in his interviews with Goldberg. In the President’s view, proponents of intervention in Syria offered no plan other than fullscale invasion and regime change (“invade the country and install a government you prefer”). This is patently false; the administration had a range of options short of putting boots on the ground, with the imposition of a no-fly zone being just one. Obama’s defense of American inaction in Ukraine also looks like him flailing
at a straw man: “We have to be very clear about what our core interests are and what we are willing to go to war for [italics mine].” As cabinet members John Kerry and Ashton Carter made clear, the administration could have supported Ukraine financially and militarily without going to war against Russia. Obama justifies the lack of action in Ukraine in two ways: it’s not a major strategic interest to the United States, and Russia’s close proximity means Moscow will always have the upper hand: “Ukraine, which is a non-NATO country, is going to be vulnerable to military domination no matter what we do.”
THE OBAMA DOCTRINE LAID BARE So, what is Obama’s philosophy on foreign policy? He is a cautious man with a realist outlook (he often refers to “core interests” and “direct threats”), but he
also has a liberal’s respect for multilateralism. The latter becomes obvious when he speaks about China. Unlike many people in Washington, Obama believes that a strong, prosperous China can be a reliable partner for the United States. Perhaps by accident, he acknowledges that the US would benefit from being balanced by a strong rival power: “multilateralism regulates hubris.” This statement says it all. Obama is a realist who believes that international stability is achieved through balance. A United States that is unmoored in multilateral institutions and unbalanced by rival powers poses a danger to both itself and the international community. Goldberg defines Obama’s strategy in simpler terms: “Double down in those parts of the world where success is plausible, and limit America’s exposure to the rest.” For a president with such sophisticated views on foreign policy, he has strikingly little interest in making it.
MARCH 25 - 28, 2016
“Culture is Not One of Life’s Luxuries. It is Life Itself”
eorgia, Armenia and Azerbaijan – all three countries have started to speak the language of contemporary art thanks to a project promoting culture. People serving a common cause and having shared interests have been unified by the Regional Art and Culture Project, implemented with the support of the Swiss Cooperation Office for the South Caucasus to last until February 2017. “This is a place where people meet, exchange information, fall in love, embrace new ideas, and learn from each other,” Catherine Vasenina, a dance critic, wrote about the new Project. “Contemporary dance is very open and liberal; it combines many different genres and stands out from other forms of arts. The mixture of choreographic language presented at this Festival has been conditioned by various factors. The diverse and interesting traditional culture of Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia is an almost intact source of inspiration; authentic material that can be used originally, while it is still little known to the world of modern dance. The best way for the Caucasus to introduce and assert itself is to join the traditional culture of contemporary dance, which can be done through this Festival.” Vasenina’s expectations were met: in 2015 the South Caucasus Contemporary Dance & Experimental Art Festival was held for the second time in Tbilisi. Two years ago the Festival was opened in a small hall at the Royal District Theatre. Considering the interest of the audience, in 2015, performances were conducted at the Rustaveli Theater involving a higher number of participants and guests. Shortly after the launch of the project, Swiss dancer and choreographer, Romain Guion, said that the organizers of the Festival were ambassadors of contemporary dance to the Caucasus, and the Festival itself served as the source of inspiration and a means for its numerous participants to discover themselves. The idea of the project was born in 2012 as a response to the fact that in Georgia, and throughout the South Caucasus, experimental art and contemporary dances were undervalued compared to other traditional forms of art. Along with the Festival, the program of the project comprised different activities for the South Caucasus performers, including masterclasses in choreography and contemporary dances by foreign
Bicycle Workshop, Tskaltubo Art Festival, ©FDFA
choreographers. Every year the region hosts tours of choreographic companies from foreign countries and local professionals are sent abroad to improve their skills. Mariam Alexidze, Artistic Director of the Festival, choreographer: “It took us quite a while to break through classical basis and create something alternative and new. We invited participants with interesting ideas and performances from all three countries of the region. I remember the first meeting when the participants had almost no contact with each other. Gradually the dances eliminated the differences between them, and soon they became friends and started to speak the language of dance. We can see how they grow professionally and become better every day. We are very glad and proud of their success: they often get offers from abroad and continue to work independently. This is what we want to achieve: to assist their further development. Apart from dances, the Festival involves experimental art, which is also very interesting. For example, this year a Performance Festival was conducted.” The Project was born in two organizations simultaneously – the Culture and Management Lab and the Swiss Cooperation Office in the South Caucasus. Very soon after the start of the project young artists appeared in Tbilisi equipped with two mobile folding platforms with plants, benches, a micro library and a projection screen. “The Garden on Wheels” stopped at different parts of the city for a few hours to turn them into a garden, create a green area and a platform for contemporary art. The young “bethonization” tendency in the city was supported by group Door on the Corner and other artists offering interesting events of visual and performance art. This was the first project of the Regional Art and Culture Project in South Caucasus. The creative beginning was followed by equally interesting events: depicting the forgotten culture, the everyday life and lifestyle of Dukhobors living in Javakheti in photos; the project “Discover your Pirosmani” offering exhibitions and expositions that made many viewers ponder art as a live process; Tskaltubo Art Festival, through which many creative people from different countries and cities established contacts with one another; the festival of contemporary arts “Ventilation” in Kutaisi; and the electronic music festival “Sound-
“Fly Away Black Swallow” performed by Mariam Aleksidze’s Contemporary Georgian Ballet, ©FDFA
spring” in Batumi, involving lectures, masterclasses, workshops, etc. “The Regional Art and Culture Project in the South Caucasus plays a significant role in generating new ideas; and a small grants program is a good start for implementing cultural projects,” one of the creators of the first Georgian video art archive, Alexi Soselia said. The online archive unites the moving pictures created by Georgian artists from 1990s to present. Two days after the presentation of the archive, the Pompidou Center got interested in the collection and, as a result, a number of exhibitions and presentations were held in Georgia and abroad including participation in Bonn Videonale. That online platform is where curators from different countries often find interesting videos and, consequently, invite Georgian artists to video exhibitions. In future the project curators aim to create a video art archive that covers the whole Caucasus. Tamar Janashia, Executive Director, Culture and Management Lab: “Many people in Georgia still think that art is
a picture exhibited in a museum, while modern art exceeded the limits and restrictions long ago. We are trying to make the program as diverse as possible. All projects we finance represent different fields. A lot of things are happening in different regions of Georgia, which we cannot see from the capital. So it is our goal to cover all the regions and help people contact one another. We are working in four directions: the first involves social projects for marginalized groups carried out by the Swiss non-governmental organization Artasfoundation. That organization facilitated implementation of many interesting projects in different parts of Georgia, including Abkhazia (43 events were held in 2015 alone). The second direction concerns the Festival of Contemporary Dance and Experimental Art; the third has to do with the Small Grants Program; and the fourth direction involves advanced trainings for South Caucasian culture managers. During the pilot phase we gained valuable experience which helped us to identify priorities for the future and to choose the right path. The main phase of the Project comprising 36 months started in September 2014 and involves Georgia, Azerbaijan and Armenia. We solved the problem with regional programs, namely the practice of implementing projects in all the countries according to the same principle. We worked individually with representatives of each country and set priorities after consulting with them. The new component, which was added to the main phase of the program and will start as of February 2016, is the professional development of cultural managers.” Olivier Burki, Regional Director of the Swiss Cooperation Office for the South Caucasus: “The Caucasus is distinguished for its cultural diversity: monumental architecture, strong folklore, the art of jewelry, painting… and the tradition of hospitality. All these need further development and new forms, which requires the coexistence of experimental and traditional art. Our interest in contemporary art is conditioned by the following factors: it gets less attention than traditional culture; it is undergoing the process of development, and is facing challenges and problems. Today, the people working in that field have lit-
tle chance of survival and development. We want to promote and encourage the professional growth of talented young people. The project is aimed at supporting innovations in the South Caucasian countries and creating diverse culture and art through a dialogue in the regions as well as in cities. Considering the multiethnic character of the region, art and culture is one important contribution to harmonious interaction among people. This Project is also important because of the social component implying involvement of socially vulnerable groups of population with little possibilities of development. According to the policy of the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC), culture is not one of life’s luxuries, it is life itself. Culture is very important and valuable for us, we are glad and proud to foster its expansion.” The Swiss Cooperation Office for the South Caucasus is the main organization implementing humanitarian and other development projects funded by different agencies of the Swiss Government. The organization started its activities in the region in 1988 (the first project was rendering aid to the victims of the earthquake in Spitak, Armenia) and has since achieved considerable success in such priority fields as providing internally displaced persons with accommodation, reducing the risk of natural disasters, economic development in rural areas, supporting infrastructure projects and economic policy. Olivier Burki thinks that the Contemporary Art and Culture Project will also contribute to economic growth in the region. The efforts taken in that direction have already produced good results. Olivier Burki: “The role and function of the Swiss Cooperation Office is to contribute to poverty reduction and providing better living conditions for people. Culture and economics are closely connected with each other and culture can be used for economic development and growth. There is a big potential for that, for example, tourism and the projects carried out within the frameworks of our program, which help to attract tourists. Many people come to attend and participate in festivals. The projects must now become sustainable to be able to function independently.”
MARCH 25 - 28, 2016
Serving the Eternal: Ogden on Church and Russia Kisses Syria Goodbye. Politics Mission Accomplished? BY MARY KALAN
n March 14 President Putin announced that Russian military forces were to withdraw from Syria. This came as surprising news for many political pundits, journalists and politicians. Russia will still maintain its capacity from the Khmeimim airbase, southeast of Latakia, and from its long-standing naval base in Tartus. Putin pledged to protect these two bases from sea, land and air, saying that he considers “the objectives that were set for the Defense Ministry to be generally accomplished.” But does that mean that it is now time for diplomacy to kick in? And what does this move mean? Russian forces entered Syria and began airstrikes in the fight against the Islamic State terrorist organization (ISIS), however, many saw it as a cover up, the real reason being to stabilize and support the regime of Bashar Al-Assad. This move raised the stakes in Russian-American relations, reaching a peak when Turkish forces downed a Russian mili-
tary plane. It’s also diverted the attention of the West from Russian actions in the West and opened a path for closer cooperation between Moscow and Washington. In a way Putin can claim victory in Syria. He wasn’t bogged down in this Middle Eastern conflict, unlike the US which fought wars both in Afghanistan and Iraq. The Assad regime is more stable than it was even a year ago. More importantly, Russia made the Syrian opposition accept a ceasefire that started February 27th and gained Russia a position at the negotiating table. Even the US had to step back from its original position that there would be no peace talks until Assad quit. It’s been a win-win situation. Assad is not able to gain more territory without Russian support, thus he will be more inclined to negotiate with the armed opposition. Russian withdrawal will also prevent a military clash with Turkey. Either way, it’s good news for the people of Syria if the negotiating process continues and if all sides try to find a compromise. And it’s very good news for Russia, because they accomplished their main goal in making the West recognize them as a vital player at the world’s negotiation table.
OP-ED BY TIM OGDEN
henever the Patriarch sticks his oar into politics, it causes a mad scramble in Parliament that I’m sure upsets a few tables and chairs and causes papers and folders to be sent flying in every direction as the dutiful MPs hurry to show how seriously they’re considering the words of His Holiness. Whether this is due to a sincere desire to serve the leader of their Church (which goes to show they aren’t fit to be politicians in the first place) or a fear of being seen not to jump to the Patriarch’s every wish really makes no matter. Every Georgian is aware that going against the Church is the political and social equivalent of diving into a dustbin full of used syringes. One only has to remember the words of Giga Bokeria, a politician widely renowned for his intellect, who said that the Church and its priests should keep out of politics. While I don’t doubt that Bokeria is as clever as they say, his remarks were comfortably within the realms of common sense. The backlash, however, was astounding; nobody seemed to consider his comments, and instead just enjoyed being outraged at the fact that he had dared direct criticism at the Patriarchate. Nor does anybody seem to be able (or willing) to acknowledge the Patriarchate’s blatant contradictions. The Patriarch has said many times that “Georgia belongs in Europe”, despite the Church’s rejection of Western values. Tolerance and equality come to mind; the attacks on gay rights activists in 2013 were led by priests, and though a few were arrested long after the event, they were released without charge. With every political party currently enjoying tentative support from the public at best, it is hardly surprising that the majority of politicians don’t have the stones of Giga Bokeria to criticize the Church; why, according to a recent poll, the Patriarch is the most trusted man in Georgia! This week, Ilia II decided that life sentences
should be abolished, as, apparently, “nothing in this life should be endless. Only God is eternal”. We’ll ignore the fact that His Holiness seems to have missed the fact that since life itself has an end, so a life sentence is far from eternal, and concentrate on the relatively few lifeserving prisoners in Georgia. After Bidzina released a large number of inmates in a general amnesty in 2012, there are not all that many people still serving a life sentence (providing they weren’t released and then banged up again). Those still left inside are probably there for a damned good reason, and while I appreciate that my own beliefs and politics are somewhere to the right of Louis XIV, Georgia’s prison reform programs have hardly been effective. I had first-hand experience of this when I met the uncle of one of my former partners. He had shown his criminal mastermind by threatening a taxi driver with a knife, which had resulted in a prison sentence of about ten years (I’m a big fan of Georgian harsh justice; Britain’s soft sentences have damn near crippled the country’s justice system: I know,
I was raised by criminal lawyers). He was later released, professing to be a changed man and talking to a priest every day. Exactly what he and his friend the priest were talking about is anyone’s guess, but soon enough he went on a rampage that resulted in an overturned car and an assault on an innocent bystander. Perhaps the priest was trying to show him what kind of things they got up to at the anti-homophobia rally. You’ll have gathered that I don’t have much time for the Church (or any organized religion) as an institution, but I’m not against personal faith. I’ve just never been stupid enough to confuse religion with belief in God. If Georgia is to have any future as a democratic society, the Patriarchate’s meddling in state affairs must stop. Whatever your belief on life imprisonment, to accept that it is the Patriarch’s place to comment on issues such as this is nothing short of willful ignorance or extreme stupidity. Let the priests contemplate the divine hereafter, dunk babies and put crowns on married couples’ heads, and let the government decided the fate of criminals. Personally, I’d put them into Dinamo Stadium with some swords, shields and spears and let them fight it out. There is a distinct lack of gladiatorial games in the modern world.
If Georgia is to have any future as a democratic society, the Patriarchate’s meddling in state affairs must stop
GEORGIA TODAY MARCH 25 - 28, 2016
Ukraine in Desperate Need of Democracy
Holding Back the Tide: Brussels’ Importance to the West and its Allies Continued from page 1
This has deeply shaped public opinion and forced electorates from Marseilles to Boston into dealing with the rise of xenophobic populist demagogues like France’s Marie Le Pen and the US’ Donald Trump, rather than form a cohesive alliance against enemies that the Western world has stood against since the Cold War.
Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko
OPED BY MARY KALAN
n November 2013 people started gathering on the main square of Kiev, the Maidan in order to show their government that they disapproved of the presidential decision to stop the process of association with the EU. And although the first protests were peaceful, it soon became clear that there was a split between the Eastern Russian-speaking regions of Ukraine, and Western Ukraine. This conflict played a great role in changing international relations and highlighted changes on the international arena. What we can see now is a country at civil war that doesn’t control its Eastern borders and is suffering from insurgents fighting their army and controlling their major industrial cities. Has anything really improved in the state of the country since 2013? Those who overthrew Yanukovich believed that by electing president Poroshenko they could open the way for a transparent and accountable government that could lead the country to a democratic future. In 2013, people in Kiev demonstrated to the world that they were a sovereign nation that wouldn’t accept pressure from the outside and which is willing to fight for its ideals. As prominent political scientist Benedict Anderson wrote in his book ‘Imagined Communities,’ “Nations are political communities.” In broader sense Ukrainians became a nation when they demanded political independence and accountability from their government. It seems that nothing has principally changed in Ukrainian politics since then and dissatisfaction with the government in Ukraine has been growing for some time in light of a devaluing currency, a hike in utilities prices against a drop in the living standards, and allegations of corruption in the highest echelons of the government. And it is not just the ministers who are corrupt, but President Poroshenko himself who breaks promises. Politicians break their promises all the time, but a strong leader, if he wants to remain popular, should know that certain promises must be kept. For example, he promised to sell his confectionary empire Roshen, but instead transferred the company into a blind trust, and, unlike the Ukrainian economy, which that same year declined by 6.8 percent according to World Bank, his company’s profit increased. Despite pressure from the West he didn’t sack his main ally, the prosecutor Victor Shokin, who was accused by many of stalling corruption investigations. Only after the suspension of direct loans from the International Monetary Fund was Shokin forced to resign. This demonstrated Poroshenko’s inability to lead and make firm decisions about his government and his allies. People were promised reforms and instead they
witnessed constant fighting in parliament, the decline of the Hriyvna and of the economy as a whole; they see that their rulers are as corrupt as those backed by the Kremlin. Poroshenko urged the coalition to decide on a new cabinet after two small parties quit while Yatsenyuk,whosurvivedtheFebruary16no-confidence vote, wants to lure another party back into the alliance to avoid early elections. With a parliament in constant disarray it is hard to have any political course or to launch needed reforms. And given the lack of confidence in the current government and Yatsenuk as Prime Minister, a cabinet reshuffle seems to be one of the only legitimate ways to turn the ineffective government into a working one. The other possibility is early elections, which is not in the interest of the parties in the current governing coalition who are likely to do less well than they did in the November 2014 election, given the lack of economic improvement and other clear accomplishments. Yet without either the Prime Minister or the resignation of the current cabinet, or early elections, it is unclear how further deepening of the political crisis can be avoided. On the other hand during the no-confidence vote, the Opposition block that contains supporters of the former president did not vote to oust the prime minister, but abstained, which means that they are not ready for early elections and that they know that without new faces and a clear political program they won’t be able to win the elections. It could also mean that the Ukrainian oligarchs support Poroshenko. The situation is similar to the state of Georgia in 2002 when crime and corruption were rampant. People had to pay bribes to accomplish the simplest thing; policemen were not paid a normal salary and so looked for any opportunity to take a bribe. People finally took to the streets to demand respect and accountability. Building a democratic system is very hard and a leader needs certain strength not only to firmly lead the nation through this hard process, but also to step down when needed. Unfortunately for Ukraine there is no such leader; someone who could bring a new generation of politicians that would have national interest at the top of their agenda. Sadly, for the people of Ukraine, their current leader Mr Poroshenko lacks not only political will and insight, but also charisma and the instinct that could have helped him to solve at least the political crisis. The future of the country looks gloomy indeed, but this is the way true changes come about; through mistakes and wrong decisions, when one political generation takes over from another. If Ukrainians want to prove to the world that they are indeed a sovereign nation, they must take the democratic way, which is hard, but necessary in order to build a better future.
Shortly after the Paris attacks in November, there was widespread speculation that France might invoke article 5 of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization’s charter, whereby an attack on one NATO member will be treated as an assault on the alliance as a whole. French President Francois Hollande opted not to do so, but he did publicly declare that France was from that moment on at war. Much like his counterpart in Washington, Hollande has yet to define whom the war is being fought against. And similar to Obama, he’s been unwilling to fully commit France’s vast military and intelligence resources to the conflict’s front line, wherever and with whomever that may be. While a limited amount of coordination has taken place with regard to the relative low number of air strikes carried out by NATO members, save for Turkey, a unified approach within the alliance has yet to be created that would combat the robust and far more affective information war that both ISIS and Russia have declared on the West. NATO has long sought to expand its influence in the two decades since the collapse of the Soviet Union, and when the alliance expanded into countries that once comprised the Eastern Bloc, it consciously took on the responsibility of defending the Western aspirations of its new members. At present, the alliance still has the option of expanding its unmatched military capabilities by opening a social and information front aimed at thwarting the influence that both ISIS and Putin currently enjoy.
Contact: www.edelbrand.ge Phone: 599 461908
While both Moscow and ISIS militants gain from the success of the other, officials in NATO have to assume that a major defeat will also carry over.
THE NEED TO UNIFY AGAINST A COMMON FOE Western leaders must remember that the NATO alliance is a powerful, multinational tool that neither Putin nor ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi has at his disposal. Furthermore, aspirant countries Georgia, Bosnia and Ukraine, all of whom embody the ideal of the European project, must be incorporated into a newly emboldened NATO. Western governments must remind themselves that the alliance was created by likeminded nations as the champion and chief defender of the West’s core values. These are the same ideals that are such an existential threat to Putin’s autocratic regime or the maniacal barbarism of ISIS. When high profile political figures like Trump or the UK’s radical leftist Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn call for an end to the NATO alliance or a withdrawal of its key members over budgetary concerns, this only plays into the hands of the alliance’s main adversaries. European governments do have a precedent they can follow when combating such threats. They successfully assisted one another to end the merciless 1970s terrorist campaigns carried by Marxist groups that included Germany’s Baader-Meinhoff and Italy’s Brigata Rosse. A similar effort, under NATO’s direction, must be undertaken to counter any threat emanating from the faceless bureaucratic halls in Moscow or the deserts of northern Syria. The EU and US remain the world’s two great bastions of democratic capitalism. But more has to be done to ensure that acts of terrorism and the illegal seizure of sovereign territory are never an option for those who promote force and totalitarianism as an alternative to an open society. History will not look back kindly on those who fail to halt that ominous growing tide.
MARCH 25 - 28, 2016
Ezo - Just Like Mom Makes! BY LEA HARRIS
ith my fifth visit to Tbilisi under my belt, I’m inspired and encouraged by the attitude of the new restaurants that have appeared over the past three years. Don’t get me wrong, I love khinkali and khachapuri, the traditional staple of Georgian cuisine, but I hanker for the more homely, everyday food that would be found in the homes of ordinary folk. On this trip we were staying in an Airbnb apartment. Our host told us of several new places that had opened in recent months and Ezo was one of them, just five minutes’ walk from our front door. “Are you sure you know where you’re going?” said the concerned husband as we turned into G. Kikodze St. “Of course!” I replied as I wandered through the gates into a courtyard with a small fountain and a few tables and chairs. We had
arrived at Ezo and I was pleased to see that the outside space wasn’t filled with parked cars as seems to be the norm. We stepped inside the curtained terrace and found the place buzzing with the Tbilisi Bo-ho set, locals and foreign visitors alike (the mix of accents was gratifying - French, English, American as well as Georgian). The staff speak excellent English. We were given a table under the red glow of a heat lamp (there are tables inside and they even have a kids’ corner). Along with the menus, we were give bread and dips; a vibrant green herb, salsa and a creamy one. As we worked our way through the menu and dips, we were offered Adjarian citrus schnapps made by a friend of the owner. We were suitably impressed with the spirit; nowhere near as rough as some chachas, it was warming, potent and delicious! We made our choices. I settled for the pan-fried meatballs with mash potatoes, the perfect comfort food for a chill February evening, while he went for the veal and potatoes. The dishes arrived swiftly and I was surprised with mine; I was
expecting maybe four or five dainty meatballs but what I got were two huge bull’s balls! Oh my, the grin on my face must have said it all. This was a manly plate of food that had a real depth of meaty flavor; I was in serious umami heaven! The husband’s dish was elegant by comparison, but no less tasty, and by Georgian standards the meat was tender. The potatoes were superb. I could wax lyrical about them as I’m a real carb gal. Both dishes had a gentle heat from a deft hand in charge of the chili seasoning. We overloaded with baked veg with walnuts; layered eggplant, zucchini, carrots, peppers, whole garlic cloves, broccoli and tomatoes. Again, there was a
chili kick that punched its way through the interleaved veggies, partly tempered by the walnut sauce. I love Georgian amber wine while he is partial to the odd glass of Saperavi; both wines complemented our meal. There is always room for pudding and the sweet side of the meal was more European, with apple pie, chocolate pie and a good execution of carrot cake served with a sublime orange custard, which is what I plumped for. Excellent espresso with a thick, long lasting crema with another glass of the citrus schnapps left us replete. This isn’t refined cooking- this is simple, mostly organic ingredients that
have been sourced as locally as possible and cooked as simply as possible, packed with flavor and exactly what I’d been searching for. We loved Ezo so much that we went back a couple of days later, ordering the Racha ham and potatoes and the seasoned pork entrecote that had been hung properly - it was succulently juicy and extremely tender. Once again, we left with smiles on our faces. EZO G. Kikodze St. 16, Sololaki Telephone: +995 32 299 9876 Tues - Sun 1-10pm Bar until 1am.
GEORGIA TODAY MARCH 25 - 28, 2016
The Climate Challenge from a Georgian Perspective ANNUALLY ON 23RD OF MARCH. CAN YOU TELL US MORE ABOUT IT AND IF THE NEA JOINED THE CELEBRATIONS THIS YEAR? World Meteorological Day was founded in 1950 by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), an intergovernmental organization established for meteorology and having a membership of around 191 worldwide Member States including Georgia. Each year, the celebrations focus on a theme of topical interest and this year’s theme, “Hotter, drier,
BY TAMAR BAGRATIA
limate change is a reality we can no longer ignore. Many have observed unprecedented changes since the 1950s. We see the impacts in our everyday lives- the warming of the atmosphere and ocean water, reduction in the amount of snow and ice, the rise of the sea level and an increase in greenhouse gas concentration.
THE NATIONAL ENVIRONMENTAL AGENCY (NEA) IS A STATE INSTITUTION THAT OBSERVES AND MONITORS THE CLIMATE CHANGE PROCESS. WHAT HAS BEEN DONE TO OBSERVE THIS PROCESS? The hydrometeorological observation network of NEA comprises 11 manual meteorological stations, 14 meteorological gauges, 73 automated meteorological stations as well as 19 manual hydrological gauges and 45 automated hydrological stations. Regular meteorological and hydrological observation is performed on basic meteorological elements; the transfer and processing of data recieved from the stations into electronic format is done on location and by the Agency’s meteorological and climatological unit specialists in accordance with World Meteorological Organization (WMO) reccommendations. The data gained from relatively long-term (over 30 years) observation points is used for studying climate change and research. Our overall goal in this direction is to enhance the observation network by increasing the number of stations, to introduce modern technologies in the field and to analyze the risks associated with climate change regarding the extent of climate change impact on water resources, agriculture, etc.
ACCORDING TO THE NEA RESEARCH AND STATISTICS, WHAT TRENDS ARE EMERGING TODAY IN GEORGIA? WHICH PARTS OF THE COUNTRY ARE MOST VULNERABLE TO CLIMATE CHANGE? The instrumental meteorological observation in Georgia dates back to 1837 while regular observation has been carried out since the early 20th century. From the mid 1950s, the meteorological observation data has been collected gained from the whole territory of Georgia. During the last 25 years, for most of the western part of Georgia, the temperature has increased by on average 0.3 - 0.50 0C, the most rapid rise was indicated in the east part of Eastern Georgia, where
the temperature increment indicated 0.4 - 0.70C. The annual overall precipitation change in the past half century was of mosaic character. For most of the western part of Georgia we observed an increase in precipitation by 5-10%; for most of the eastern part of Georgia, unlike Western Georgia, over the last 25 years there has been a reduction of precipitation by 5% compared with the previous period.
DOES CLIMATE CHANGE RESULT IN AN INCREASE IN VARIOUS NATURAL DISASTERS? The impact of climate change on geological processes is inevitable. Long and abundant precipitation, as well as snowfalls, lead to floods/flashfloods, landslides and debris-flows, avalanches and high likelihood of extreme weather-related natural hazards. This is in addition to land erosion processes in the sea coastal zone as well as along river banks. Research and statistics clearly indicate the activation of these processes during the last several decades, which resulted in a higher number of casualties and great damage to the country’s economy and natural ecosystems.
WHAT IMPACT CAN CLIMATE CHANGE HAVE ON VARIOUS ECONOMIC SECTORS? The negative impact of climate change on the agricultural sector results in an increase of drought frequency and power, in a change of temperature regimes and precipitation volume, and other factors which in turn leads to changes in crop sowing periods, vegetation phase duration, yield and irrigation matters. In terms of energy safety, most alarming is the decline of water resources - a negative result of climate change which can create problems for the water resource based Georgian energy sector. That said, at present Georgia has no water resource related problems, but intensive melting of glaciers and floods, during which a lot of water is wasted, causes enormous damage to the environment in general and in the near future this will result in a lack of water resources. One should note the growing interest of energy, tourism and construction industries to prepare for such future scenarios. These scenarios should be taken into account in different aspects of planning (for example, modification of dam design, agricultural potential and alternative agricultural insurance), particularly where weather extremes are main determinants.
WORLD METEOROLOGICAL DAY IS CELEBRATED AROUND THE WRODL
wetter. Face the Future,” was chosen to illustrate the reality of climate change. The NEA, as a member of the international meteorological community, celebrates Meteorological Day annually. I would like to take this opportunity and congratulate all Meteorologists in Georgia and around the world and wish them professional growth! Tamar Bagratia is head of the National Environmental Agency
MARCH 25 - 28, 2016
Maidan Square and Sulfur Baths BY GULNUR KAZIMOVA
er scrawny little body can hardly be seen in the sulfur steam and her skin is blushed. Khatuna Jafarova is an ethnic Azerbaijani woman from Rustavi. She is 73 and habitually comes to Tbilisi to wash in the sulfur baths. “Sulfur water has so many healing powers that no medicine can compete with it. Look at my thick hair! This water heals my knee pains. My people work here; so I come here, talk with them and share my problems with them,” Khatuna says. Maidan Square in the center of Tbilisi is famous for its sulfur baths. Many inhabitants of the Maidan area are ethnic Azerbaijanis. You can see steaming chimneys, which look like mosques, poking up from the red brick domes of the numbered bath houses. Nearby, men argue over backgammon and domino boards. A statue of the late President of Azerbaijan, Heydar Aliyev, stands overlooking security officers of the Azerbaijani oil company SOCAR who guard the territory of Maidan Park. When you enter the 5th Bath House you will see a corridor heading in two directions: one for women, one for men. In both parts the communal baths are more crowded. People pay 3 Lari for a communal bath and 30 Lari for a private room or 80 Lari for a VIP bathroom. The dressing room is watched
over by an ethnic Armenian woman. She says she has been working in the bath house for eight years and gets on well with her ethnic Azerbaijani colleagues. “I’ve made friends with many Azerbaijani people here. I’m a citizen of Georgia. I think problems are a political issue. We, ordinary people, should have good relations.” Sulfur-bath attendant Marina Aliyeva stands at the entrance advising new-comers to get soaked with soap and shampoo. Then she grabs water with vinegar and scrub and heads to the communal room. She said the vinegar easily takes lime and microbes out, “We have a difficult job but I got used with it and don’t get easily tired. I’ve been working here for 11 years. People say sulfur water smells bad but I’ve already got used to it and cannot smell it. Most bath attendants are Azerbaijani people. Azeri men are working in the men’s part. Our daily salary is 5 GEL. I have 4-5 clients per day. In summer we have more tourists. I work every third day and at the end of month I don’t get much salary but since there is no other option, I have to live with it.” Another female bath attendant, who did not say her name, said ethnic Azerbaijani employees do not have permanent salaries in the bath. Only Georgian employees have stable salaries. “I don’t know Georgian and Russian language well. I asked them several times to give me a job at the cash desk but they said no. Only Georgian employees get stable salaries. They don’t allow us to work in the betterpaid positions. Neither we nor Armenians.”
Honored for their Sacrifice: The Ulma Family Museum in Markowa
On March 17, the Georgian National Parliamentary Library played host to a global exhibition ‘Good Samaritans from Markowa’
BY MAKA LOMADZE WITH MERI TALIASHVILI
he Memorial Family Museum of tragically murdered Józef and Wiktoria Ulma was officially opened on March 17 in Markowa in the South-East of Poland. Józef and pregnant Wiktoria Ulma, along with their six children, were shot and killed by the Nazi Germans on March 24th, 1944, in Markowa, for hiding Jews in their home during the Holocaust. They also killed the 8 Jews hiding in the Ulma house. To commemorate this fact, on March 17, the Georgian National Parliamentary Library played host to a global exhibition ‘Good Samaritans from Markowa’ for the known and unknown names of Poles who were murdered for assisting Jews during the Second World War. In the spotlight was the Ulma Family. The exhibition was opened in the Georgian capital alongside events being held in 28 countries simultaneously, prepared in 14 languages, including Georgian, Chinese, Burmese and Thai. The opening of the Museum in Markowa was attended by the high officials of the country, including the President of Poland, Mr. Andrzej Duda. Live videos were screened in the following cities: Vienna, Brasilia, Paris, Tel Aviv, Toronto, Vilnius, Berlin, Hamburg, Dusseldorf, Oslo, Bern, Bangkok, Rangoon, Washington, Chicago, New York and Rome. The exhibition in Tbilisi was organized by the Polish Embassy in Georgia, Ivane Javakhishvili, Tbilisi State University and the International Fund ‘Lea.’ It was opened by Andrzej Cieszkowski, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Poland, who mentioned that the Museum of the Ulma family refers to not only this particular household but
also to all the Polish who tried or succeeded in the salvage of Jews from Nazis. “Assisting Jews during World War II was a very courageous act from anyone in Polish society. They knew that helping Jews would earn them capital punishment, yet they risked their lives for them. By opening the Ulma Museum, we want to honor every one of them and first of all the Ulma family itself,” Ambassador Cieszkowski told GEORGIA TODAY. Darejan Tvaltvadze, vice Rector of Tbilisi State University, said, “I think those who saved the life of at least one person in the War saved his own soul and made his own small but significant contribution to the salvaging of Mankind. Over 6 million Jews died in this horrific war. Grigol Peradze, graduate of our university, who went to Poland and was a lecturer at Warsaw University, is a person who unites us – Georgians and Poles – in this kind business. This sin of Nazis has no boundaries. But limitless, too, is the kindness of the heroes.” Over 6,600 ethnic Poles are commemorated in Israel’s Garden of the Righteous in Jerusalem for aiding Jews during World War II. And in 1995, Israeli Yad Vashem, the Authority of Holocaust Martyrs and Heroes Remembrance, posthumously bestowed the Ulma family the titles of ‘Righteous among the Nations.’ On the 60th anniversary of their execution, a stone memorial was erected in the village of Markowa to honor their memory. Poland’s diplomatic missions abroad are very much engaged in the numerous events marking the launch of the Ulma Museum as well as in raising awareness of those Poles who risked their lives to save Jews during the Nazi German occupation of Poland. The Ulma Museum will stand as the first place of its kind to commemorate the brave acts of the selfless Poles. Polish embassies and the Polish government kindly invite all to see the exhibition at the Ulma Family Museum in Markowa.
The Maidan Sulfur Baths, a center of Azerbaijani cultural life but hosting many underpaid Azeri workers.
Hasan Allahverdiev, who lives near the sulfur baths, said the bath is not only a working place for local Azerbaijani people; it is an indivisible part of their daily life. “In the past, Azerbaijani people used to come here more frequently. Not everybody had a bathroom in their house and even residents of remote villages used to come here. Maidan was place where Azerbaijani people gathered. It is part of our culture. Going to the bath is a tradition. Today, the Azerbaijani people rarely come here; mostly tourists come here who are curious about the sulfur baths.”
Khatuna Jafarova walks slowly back home from the bath. She believes if she takes a bath in the sulfur water every week, she will stay healthy for the remainder of her life. 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 MARCH 25 - 28, 2016
Medication Prices Decline, Stricter Quality Control Required BY KETI DIDEBULIDZE Economic expert Solomon Pavliashvili
Hospital Sector Development to Reduce Outflow of Patients to Foreign Hospitals BY KETI DIDEBULIDZE
he Austrian company AlphaMedic has reached the final stage of the tender announced by the Partnership Fund for the rehabilitation of three hospitals in Tbilisi. AlphaMedic Consortium unites such experienced companies as FMK, Keppie, The Health Partnership, and FESP. As discussed in previous articles in GEORGIA TODAY, the Authorities plan to carry out the management of the mentioned three clinics using the public–private partnership (PPP) model. We spoke to economic expert Solomon Pavliashvili. “The Authorities and the private sector will be partners, but the management will not be public. The legal entity of private law and the government will be represented by their stakes. This is a form of co-participation through which the state owns a stake. According to my information, the election stake must be owned by a private company. “The Partnership Fund has already
implemented similar projects, for example, Rixos in Borjomi. In this case, the government acts as a partner and it is not decisive whether the partner is represented by the government or a private company. The form of management will be either a limited liability company or a joint stock company. The project will be implemented through co-participation. I think it would be better for a private company to fully own this or that enterprise, but in this specific case, the government is applying stimulating mechanisms, an acceptable approach in this case, as this is the mission of the Partnership Fund,” Pavliashvili said. “I believe medical tourism is one of the most progressive directions in our country and it would be excellent if the Authorities promote its development. The three hospitals will be equipped with modern technology, the staff will be retrained and the service quality will increase. If all these plans are fulfilled adequately, Georgia will be able to develop medical tourism and the number of patients leaving for foreign hospitals will decrease if high-quality medical services are available at affordable prices,” Pavliashvili concluded.
Nino Popkhadze, head of the NGO Healthcare Platform
ino Popkhadze, head of the NGO Healthcare Platform, talked to GEORGIA TODAY about the decline in medication costs. “Georgian pharmaceutical market realities are changing at high speed following on from statements by the major pharmacy networks regarding plans for lowering the cost of medication. Moreover, the Georgian Healthcare Group (GHG) (Bank of Georgia holding) recently purchased the GPC pharmacy network. Medication price reduction is the logical result of new rules of the game on the market. Despite pharmaceutical companies referring to the GEL exchange rate recovery to substantiate the medication price reduction, this is not the only reason they reduced prices. First, Humanity Georgia recently entered the market with serious ambitions to supply affordable and highquality generics. As reported, much of the company-imported medications are already being sold at 30% lower tariffs through various pharmacy networks. According to latest reports, Humanity Georgia plans to import 200 new medications. Naturally, this move will inspire additional changes in the market and medication prices will cheapen further. The Humanity Georgia portfolio consists of the most indemand drugs. Another important determinant that is expected to intensify the price reduction process is related to the purchase by Georgian Healthcare Group of the GPC network of pharmacies. This was an unexpected transaction and, naturally, it will cause changes in the market. GHG has become a serious market player, in fact, one of the leaders in the hospital sector and health insurance markets, thanks to the acquisition of GPC pharmacies. It is questionable whether it is expedient and correct to unite the full cycle of the healthcare field under the same umbrella, but it is a fact that GHG is
gaining momentum and the company is relying on the serious financial potential of the Bank of Georgia. GHG is able to achieve any business task quickly. Its entrance into the pharmacy business will further boost the lowering costs of medication because the company will supply medications to its own insurance beneficiaries and patients and also serve potential clients outside its own networks. I believe the government is efficiently
applying due leverages and promoting a competitive environment without interference in the business process. Thanks to these efforts, the Authorities have kept their promise to lower medication prices and make them affordable. Therefore, at this stage, we should set stricter quality control mechanisms for citizens to be confident that all medications on the market are efficient and of high quality,” Nino Popkhadze said.
MARCH 25 - 28, 2016
Kakhet-away BY TONY HANMER
ast week’s list of possible future articles has grown and grown; more of those soon. Meantime, come with me to the other end of the country from my usual abode... It only took me ten hours door to door from my house in Upper Svaneti to my wife’s family home in the Lagodekhi region of Kakheti, east Georgia. Not bad, considering the distance and the roads, and the three forms of transport I needed: marshroutka (minivan bus), Tbilisi Metro and shared taxi. Once again I rejoiced in not being over-tall as I traveled, put my journey pillow around my neck, switched on my e-book reader and ignored time out of existence. And once again experienced the time travel effect when leaving from and returning to Svaneti: you move forward roughly a season as you descend, in this case from a minus 12 degree morning to fruit trees blooming, and reverse the process at the other end (always harder).
I hadn’t been to my in-laws’ place for a couple of years or so, and it was a good time to see them. No one has aged noticeably, but the house is getting some much needed attention in the form of renovation, with a well and in-yard water arranged, as well as in-house water in the process of being finished. My brotherin-law has even sent the outflow to exactly the same kind of destination as I have: an underground rock-lined pit, there to leach into the surrounding land. He might have had no choice, but he did it well. The fig tree whose leaves did a similar job for my wife and me at our honeymoon bedroom’s window as they did for Adam and Eve is gone now, though, its shadow deemed more of a nuisance than its fruit a benefit. My wife had asked me to take some photos of the udders of her parents’ two cows to compare with those in our Svan village. Being that this pair give a full bucket of milk per session, I can see why she wants people to see; it’s quite impressive. Now that our own two are both giving us all their milk, their heifers weaned off it onto whey and hay, I’m free to use all the milk for cheese-mak-
10 Galaktion Street
ing, with my press from last summer working hard. But more milk than the half of the Kakheti amount which we get, I can’t actually imagine using, or needing; I’m not yet set up for such a volume of cheese, either in storage space or in the time to work with it. We have plenty for now! I was there for the wedding of my wife’s cousin, and this, in comparison with the typical Svan version, was mercifully early and short- we had left the feast long before it would have even started in the mountains. Kakheti, too, is in full bloom, so it’s really Svaneti which is “back” in time compared to the majority of the country. Everywhere people were working on their gardens or in the fields, taking advantage of the warmth to get things going as soon as possible. Now that I have seen, and been involved in, the amount of work it takes to coddle cucumbers into fruition, I can tell you that in my opinion they should cost their weight in blue cheese, if not gold. Instead—it’s peanuts, as they say!
Backbreaking, not to mention heartbreaking. Not for me. On the night train back from Tbilisi to Zugdidi, I had decided to go first class (a two-berth cabin), being that it’s a mere ten Lari more than second class’s four berths. My travelling companion was a practising surgeon from Samegrelo, now widowed, returning to his ancestral home to tidy it up. Last year he was the oldest participant in an international run in the east, completing five kilometres. His age? Ninety-three. The train rocked me to sleep as it usually does, another thing I’m always grateful for. After several hours’ wait to fill our marshroutka to a cost-effective point, it was back up, backward into the fiercely resurgent winter currently affecting us, warmed by my wife’s waiting arms. Our passengers included a couple from Kazakhstan and a young lady from Brazil, who is torn between inability to bear her country’s political crisis and need to know what’s going on back home. A normal party, in other words. Home again! Tony Hanmer runs the “Svaneti Renaissance” Facebook group, now with over 1300 members, at www.facebook.com/groups/SvanetiRenaissance/ He and his wife also run their own guest house in Etseri: www.facebook.com/hanmer.house.svaneti
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MARCH 25 - 28, 2016
Female Painter’s Talent, a Tasteful Mix of Georgian Folk Traditions and Innovations
BY MAKA LOMADZE
t is not possible to witness the rich palette of colors embodied in her dresses, coats and mats, or to catch a glimpse of her compositions, and not to become intrigued by Tina Kldiashvili’s persona. The exhibition ‘Kaleidoscope’ took place on March 18-23 at Tbilisi History Museum under the Georgian National Museum umbrella, revealing her latest works and resulting in high interest and unanimous admiration. The exposition showcased 24 works by the artist that were displayed to the public for the first time. Among them were 7 works in felt, 7 silk papers and 10 costumes which Kldiashvili created in 6 months and united under one idea, the ‘Kaleidoscope’ of life. Tina Kldiashvili graduated the Apolon Kutateladze State Academy of Arts. She was a rector of the Academy and now she is the Dean of the Design Faculty. For many years, she has worked as a teacher and is involved in a variety of educational and exhibition projects. Under Kldiashvili’s leadership, the manufacturing technology of the Georgian historic Blue Tablecloth has been restored, contributing to the promotion of folk arts. She also works with felt, Gobelin/tapestry and batik and also synthesizes various technologies. She has participated in exhibitions in Georgia, France, Italy, Germany, USA and Canada. In Bulgaria and the US, not only were her works exhib-
ited, but the displays were followed by fashion shows of her garments. She also actively takes part in folk art symposiums and conferences. “This is my job, my creative work, my way. I’m always inspired. Several years ago, I started working on and developing new technologies. I opened a school and taught youngsters even outside it. I really wanted to create something new. I would qualify my works as synthesized felt,” the artist told us, adding that she has also used print technologies. Ketevan Trapaidze, Manager of Educational Direction of the Tbilisi History Museum told GEORGIA TODAY, “Tina Kldiashvili is a distinguished painter who is well known in respected circles not only in Georgia but also in the West. Today’s exposition, as always, very distinctly conveys a positive disposition, which spreads all over the guests. You can see how full the exhibition hall is. I can ensure you that this is the case at each of her expositions. Tina Kldiashvili is very well acquainted with the Georgian folk traditions, but always adds an innovation of her own.” Ketevan Pkhakadze, architect, was one of the many guests in rapture at the exhibition. “These artworks are created with the highest level of professionalism. The artist holds exhibitions annually and she never repeats herself. She always manages to astonish the viewer. Her garments are so delicate and subtle – the most beautiful mixture of conservative traditions and modernity. I am enjoying the exhibition immensely and wish as many people to come as possible to see what good and exquisite artists we have,” she told GEORGIA TODAY.
GEORGIA TODAY MARCH 25 - 28, 2016
The Lioness of the Keyboard Hits Tbilisi
FOR SALE 9,8 ha non-agricultural, privately owned parcel for industrial use
(cadaster code # 01.19.26.004.088) located next to Tbilisi Airport (It is possible to divide it into several parts) Liza Leonskaia - legendary female pianist
BY MAKA LOMADZE
iza Leonskaia - legendary female pianist, born and raised in Georgia, recently turned 70 and gave two unforgettable concerts to celebrate. The first one took place on the 21st of March at the Opera and Ballet Theater- a concert dedicated to the 90th jubilee of the National Symphonic Orchestra, and the second on the 22nd at Rustaveli Theater, where she participated in a soiree dedicated to the 50th anniversary of the Sulkhan Tsintsadze Georgian State String Quartet. On the first day, Leonskaia, together with the National Symphonic Orchestra, under the baton of famous conductor and composer, Nika Rachveli, performed Beethoven’s Concerto No.3 for piano, capping it with Scriabin’s Poem of Ecstasy, which was dedicated to the memory of the recently deceased soloist of orchestra percussion, Ms. Diana Metreveli. Therefore, together with the birthday disposition, the first concert bore a sad hue, too. At the Rustaveli Theater, together with the Sulkhan Tsintsadze String Quartet made up of Constantine Vardeli, Tamaz Batiashvili, Nodar Jvania and Otar Chubinishvili, Leonskaia played Maurice Ravel’s String Quartet F dur and Antonin Dvorak’s piano Quintet A dur. Having worked for many years in Germany, the quartet members came back to Georgia in 2006 on the initiative of the Georgian National Music Center. Liza Leonskaia was considered a wunderkind. She gave her first concert at the age of 11 and, with extraordinary talent, continued her studies at Moscow Conservatoire, attaining prizes at prestigious international piano contests such as
Enescu, Marguerite Long and Queen Elizabeth competitions. Her creative path was strongly influenced by collaboration with Sviatoslav Rikhter, one of the greatest musicians of the 20th century. This friendship and cooperation lasted until the death of the latter. It implied not only giving of advice and studying, but also duos, as Rikhter acknowledged her particular talent. Her international career began shortly after she left Moscow for Vienna. Her irreversible success story began following her sensational performance at Salzburg Festival in 1979. As a soloist, she has cooperated with all leading orchestras of the world: New York, Los Angeles London, Berlin and Royal Philharmonic Orchestras, BBC Symphonic Orchestra London, Zurich Tonhalle Orchestra, Cleveland Orchestra, Hamburg, Koln and Munich radio orchestras. “I dreamed of inviting her and my dream came true,” Nika Rachveli told
A wunderkind, she gave her first concert at the age of 11 and, with extraordinary talent, continued her studies at Moscow Conservatoire
journalists before the concerts. “It’s symbolic, as Leonskaia and the Orchestra both have birthdays.” Leonskaia is an honorary and frequent guest at the Salzburg, Vienna and Lutsern prestigious summer festivals. She gives solo concerts at leading concert halls of Paris, Madrid, Barcelona, London, Edinburg, Munich and Vienna. In spite of her tight solo career, she pays considerable attention to chamber music, collaborating with Emerson, Borodin and Artemis quartets. A lot of records confirm Leonskaia’s particular performing class. She has received the Caecilia Prize for Brahms piano sonatas, Diapazon d’Or for Liszt works, and more. In her second homeland, Austria, she is a real star. Liza is the honorary member of Vienna Konzerthaus. In 2006, she got the highest award of Austria in the sphere of culture – first degree Honor Cross. Today, Leonskaia is baptized as a ‘lioness of keyboard.’ Her virtuoso technique is beyond any praise, received with great warmth and delight everywhere. Besides being a great musician, Leonskaia is a great philanthropist. She was one of the first to give a helping hand to talented Georgian youngsters and established the SOLO Charity Fund. In 20 years, she has funded over 100 gifted Georgian young performers, including Khatia Buniatishvili, Anita Rachvelishvili, and Levan Tskhadadze. She is still observing the promising young musicians’ development, the majority of whom are studying in the US and European conservatoires and schools. “The members of the quartet are my old friends and colleagues with whom I have played several times. After so many years, it was a great pleasure to have played with them again,” Leonskaia said following the concert held at Rustaveli Theater.
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MARCH 25 - 28, 2016
WHAT’S ON IN TBILISI THEATRE
GRIBOEDOVI THEATRE Address: 2 Rustaveli Ave. Telephone: 2 93 43 36 March 25 THE ELDER SON Alexander Vampilov Directed by Giorgi Margvelashvili Small Stage Language: Russian Start time: 18:00 Ticket price: 5 Lari March 26 VAUDEVILLE, VAUDEVILLE Directed by Vakhtang Nikolava Musical Comedy Language: Russian Start time: 18:00 Ticket price: From 5 Lari March 27 SCARLET SAIL Alexander Grin Directed by Avtandil Varsimashvili Language: Russian Start time: 18:00 Ticket price: From 5 Lari ILIAUNI THEATRE Address: 32 a Chavchavadze Ave. Telephone: 2 29 47 15 March 25 ANTIGONE Directed by Gaga Goshadze English Subtitles Start time: 20:00 Ticket price: 10 Lari TBILISI NODAR DUMBADZE STATE CENTRAL CHILDREN’S THEATRE Address: 99/1 Agmashenebeli Ave. Telephone: 2 95 39 27 March 26 THE PRINCESS, FROG, HANSEL AND GRETEL
Directed by Dimitri Khvtisiashvili Language: Russian Main Hall Start time: 12:00 Ticket price: From 6 Lari CINEMA
AMIRANI CINEMA Address: 36 Kostava St. Telephone: 2 99 99 55 www.kinoafisha.ge Every Wednesday ticket price: 5 Lari March 25-31 LONDON HAS FALLEN Directed by Babak Najafi Genre: Action, Crime, Thriller Cast: Gerard Butler, Morgan Freeman, Charlotte Riley Language: English Start time: 22:00 Language: Russian Start time: 12:00, 14:15 Ticket price: 8-14 Lari STRANGERLAND Directed by Kim Farrant Genre: Drama, Thriller Cast: Nicole Kidman, Joseph Fiennes, Hugo Weaving Language: Russian Start time: 19:30, 22:15 Ticket price: 13-14 Lari BATMAN V SUPERMAN: DAWN OF JUSTICE Directed by Zack Snyder Genre: Action, Adventure, Fantasy Cast: Ben Affleck, Henry Cavill, Amy Adams Language: Russian Start time: 19:00, 19:10, 22:15 Ticket price: 13-14 Lari RUSTAVELI CINEMA Address: 5 Rustaveli Ave. Telephone: 2 55 50 00 www.kinoafisha.ge
Every Wednesday ticket price: 5 Lari March 25-31 LONDON HAS FALLEN (Info Above) Language: Russian Start time: 17:35, 20:15, 22:00 Ticket price: 1-14 Lari BATMAN V SUPERMAN: DAWN OF JUSTICE (Info Above) Start time: 12:00, 16:00, 19:15, 22;30 Ticket price: 8-14 Lari JANE GOT A GUN Directed by Gavin O’Connor Genre: Action, Drama, Western Cast: Natalie Portman, Joel Edgerton, Ewan McGregor Language: Russian Start time: 17:15, 19:40 Ticket price: 11-14 Lari THE DIVERGENT SERIES: ALLEGIANT Directed by Robert Schwentke Cast: Shailene Woodley, Zoë Kravitz, Theo James Genre: Action, Adventure, Sci-Fi Language: Russian Start time: 14:30, 22:00 Ticket price: 9-14 Lari DEADPOOL Directed by Tim Miller Genre: Action, Adventure, Sci-Fi Cast: Ryan Reynolds, Karan Soni, Ed Skrein Language: Russian Start time: 12:00 Ticket price: 8-9 Lari MUSEUM
GEORGIAN NATIONAL MUSEUM SIMON JANASHIA MUSEUM Address: 4 Rustaveli Ave. Telephone: 2 99 80 22, 2 93 48 21 www.museum.ge
December 21 - March 31 THE TRAVELING MUSEUM OF THE CAUCASUS THE PERMANENT EXHIBITION NUMISMATIC TREASURY March 22-31 KOKA GOGSADZE’S FIRST SOLO EXHIBITION - “MY LIFE” March 24 – April 15 PHOTO EXHIBITION “ILLUSIONS” BY MANANA MENABDE The exposition showcases the artist’s photo series created on different photo motives from the 1990s to the present: Tango Shadows, Mannequin and the Life, Graphic Photos, Watercolor, Pastel, Light and Shadows. SHALVA AMIRANASHVILI MUSEUM OF FINE ARTS Address: 1 Lado Gudiashvili Str. Telephone: 2 99 99 09 www.museum.ge March 11-27 THE OPENING OF THE EXHIBITION STREPPE BY BRITISH ARTIST AIGANA GALI. ZURAB TSERETELI MUSEUM OF MODERN ART Address: 27 Rustaveli Ave. Telephone: 2 14 84 11, 2 98 60 04 www.momatbilisi.ge
March 11-27 EXHIBITION ‘STREPPE’ BY BRITISH ARTIST AIGANA GALI. GALLERY
THE NATIONAL GALLERY Address: 11 Rustaveli Ave. www.museum.ge PERMANENT EXHIBITION Niko Pirosmanashvili, David Kakabadze, Lado Gudiashvili and sculptor Iakob Nikoladze March 25 – April 14 Jubilee exhibition of Georgian prominent Temo Gotsadze FROM BLUE STALLIONS TO ABSTRACTION THE EUROPE HOUSE Address: 1 Freedom Sq. Telephone: 2 47 03 11 March 14-27 Georgian Center for Security and Development (GCSD) presents the documentary photo exhibition: A LOOK BEYOND THE HEADLINES’ BLACK & WHITE GALLERY Address: 46 Iakob Gogebashvili Str. March 28 BESO DARCHIA’S EXHIBITION STIGMA
March 9 – April 3 EXHIBITION OF PAINTINGS BY MERAB ABRAMISHVILI Exhibition curator: Baia Tsikoridze
MAGTI CLUB Address: 22 Rustaveli Ave. Telephone: 591 40 49 49
SHALVA AMIRANASHVILI MUSEUM OF ART Address: 1 Lado Gudiashvili St. Telephone: 2 99 99 09 www.museum.ge
March 25 EKA KVALIASHVILI I AM A WOMAN Start time: 19:00 Ticket price: 30, 35 Lari
GEORGIA TODAY MARCH 25 - 28, 2016
Georgia’s 6 Nations Claims Louder than Ever after Rout of Romania group victories at last year’s World Cup and Georgia’s case for stiffer regular opposition is stronger than ever. Wales head coach Warren Gatland has already questioned whether a relegation/promotion play-off could be initiated, a thought not echoed in increasingly twitchy Italian rugby circles. Perhaps Georgia suffers for its location. Welcoming Italy to the fold at the turn of the century, increasing the Five Nations to Six, seemed a straight forward transition with a trip to Rome hardly an imposition for players, fans or pundits. While tourism is growing here, Georgia and Tbilisi remains off the beaten track and is a six-hour charter flight from London. Were the exploits of Georgian rugby being carried out by Spain, Germany or Netherlands, you wonder whether the reception would be quite so lukewarm. Georgia will visit Scotland in the fall, upon the delivery of a promise by the IRB to give tier two nations like Georgia more experience against tier one sides. It is a step in right direction, but a small one. Hosting Georgia is one thing, but you don’t appreciate the passion and potential of Georgian rugby until you experience it in their backyard. The Lelos have earned the right not only to play the elite nations, but to host them. Bring England, Ireland or Wales to Tbilisi for a test and the penny might just drop.
BY ALASTAIR WATT
hree tries in each half gave Georgia an emphatic 38-9 win over Romania in front of more than 50,000 ecstatic supporters at the Dinamo Arena in Tbilisi on the early evening of March 19, a result and an attendance which reverberated around the world of rugby. Clinching yet another European Nations Cup, Georgian fans greeted their heroes euphorically during a richly deserved lap of honor while head coach Milton Haig’s jubilation alongside his two daughters on the Dinamo pitch was clearly visible. In a swashbuckling display, tries from Anton Peikrishvili (2), Alexandre Todua, Giorgi Pruidze, Giorgi Nemsadze and Karlen Asieshvili steered the Lelos to an historic triumph. The 29-point winning margin represents Georgia’s biggest win over Romania, traditionally seen as Eastern Europe’s main rugby power, but now struggling to keep up with a Georgian side that overtook them years ago and continues to warrant serious consideration for entry into the Six Nations. Newspapers and rugby commentators across Western Europe, reflecting on another underwhelming Six Nations campaign for Italy who now lie two places
The 29-point winning margin represents Georgia’s biggest win over Romania
below Georgia in the world rankings, have again been raising the Georgia question this week. Not only have Georgia gone more than four years without a defeat in the European Nations Cup, essentially a secondtier Six Nations, they have now twice in the space of two years attracted a crowd of over 50,000 for a rugby international against a lesser side (the other occasion being 2014 v Russia). It is worth considering for a moment what kind of crowd Scotland or Italy would attract to a home rugby international with Romania. Sparse, is the answer. Add to that the unprecedented two
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